Interview with General Zeljko Glasnovic MP

General Zeljko Glasnovic Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora visiting Australia, December 2016 Photo: Ina Vukic

General Zeljko Glasnovic
Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora
visiting Australia, December 2016
Photo: Ina Vukic

General Zeljko Glasnovic is a Member of Croatian Parliament representing the Croatian diaspora and is currently visiting Australia. General Glasnovic was born in Croatia and had spent much of his life living and working in Canada. He returned to Croatia at the outbreak of Croatia’s Homeland War in 1991, joining the Croatian National Guard. He served in the Canadian Army, the French Foreign Legion, the Croatian Army (HV) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and fought in a number wars: The Gulf War, the Croatian Homeland War and the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was elected Member of Parliament in November 2015 and again in new elections held September 2016. I met up with General Glasnovic during his visit to Australia and conducted the following interview, which I hope will enlighten many readers particularly with regard to issues affecting the Croatian diaspora and its relationship with Croatia. These issues and questions had also arisen during the forums and meetings General Glasnovic has in the past ten or so days held with Croatians across three states of Australia (South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales).


1. Given that you are a member of the Croatian Parliament representing the diaspora your visit to Australia could be seen as a member of parliament visiting his constituency. What was the main reason or reasons you decided to make this journey?


Glasnovic: Basically, there is no comprehensive strategy towards the Croatian Diaspora including Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There’s much talk and little concrete action. Dialogue is not a strategy and Croats are being deliberately excluded from economic and political development and I would like to develop a strategy, hence my visit to the Croatian diaspora.

2. You have held a number of meetings or forums across Australia during this visit, would there have been any major issues of concern that may have been put to you by Australian Croats or that may have arisen during these forums and if so what were they?

Glasnovic: The problems are the same in Europe, in North America and in Australia. Croatians in the diaspora are victims not only of a dysfunctional legal system but also of socialist bureaucracy and post-communist mindset. For example, in the war, between 1992 and 1994 the Croatian diaspora contributed over US$ 660 million to the country’s defence in armaments alone, today the diaspora contributes at least 16 billion kunas to the country’s economy and despite this contribution of at least 4% Croatia’s GDP the country’s political elite have done everything possible to prevent integration in the return of Croatians living abroad. Examples are numerous, these are rhetorical questions: Why has no one up to now compiled a unified list of Croatians living outside Croatia and offered everyone Croatian citizenship? Why haven’t the Croatians living abroad been enabled to vote electronically? What is the reason behind that? There’s no electronic voting as in other countries. What is the purpose of renewing documents every six months for Croatian citizenship, e.g. birth certificates can’t be more than six months old – so, Croatians are born every six months…

It’s mind boggling that a Croatian born abroad to Croatian parents needs on average three years to obtain citizenship.
Preventing people from coming points to the fact that they’re not only victims of socialist bureaucracy but also of a corrupt and dysfunctional legal system.

How is it possible that over twenty years after the end of the war there’s still no set of regulations that determine the relationship between the Croatian State and the Croatian diaspora; no one has yet put forward a unified law dealing with the rights of Croatians living abroad.

3. The diaspora should have a direct influence on political decision processes in Croatia and that is facilitated via having a number of seats in parliament dedicated to elected representatives of the diaspora. Given the size of the Croatian diaspora do you consider 3 seats adequate or representative or do you believe the number of seats should be increased to adequately represent the number of Croats living in the diaspora?

Glasnovic: What we have is discrimination in reverse and the best proof of that is the voting system, which allows minorities more representation in parliament that the much more numerous Croatian diaspora, which is restricted to the current three symbolic seats in parliament. Constitutionally the Croatian diaspora plus Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be allowed a minimum of three more seats in parliament. These members of parliament should be deployed globally and cover North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

As far as economic diplomacy is concerned they would be the best ambassadors for investment in the country. As the situation stands now – there’s no existing framework that enables Blue Chip investments in the country, while, for example, Kuwait is investing US$4 billion in a suburb of Sarajevo. The only large investment in Croatia in last decade has come from IKEA. Serious corruption in Croatia is another symptom of communist mentality and it is the Achilles’ heel of the Croatian state. Black market economy in Croatia is more than twice that of what it is in European Union states.

4. There has recently actually been an initiative in Australia seeking Croatian clubs and community organisations’ endorsement in approaching the relevant authorities in Croatia for the purpose of adding seats to the parliament for the diaspora: one for Australia and New Zealand, one for North America and one for South America. What is your opinion on such initiatives?

Glasnovic: Initiative is great but you can’t implement the initiative unless you have functional legal institutions, pragmatic laws and the legal mechanism that will enforce these laws. The Croatian judiciary is still bogged down in quagmire of ineffectual laws that Croatia has inherited from the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). This fact combined with the communist mindset is the biggest stumbling block to modernisation.

Zeljko Glasnovic (L) Ina Vukic (R)
General Glasnovic visits Croats of Australia

5. When it comes to taking part in political decision processes in the diaspora via voting at elections, the fact that the polling booths are impossibly limited to consular or diplomatic premises and, therefore, not easily accessible or not at all accessible for majority of voters represents a discriminatory approach towards Croats living abroad wishing to vote. Croats living in Croatia have reasonably good access to polling booths. A solution to this problem would undoubtedly be in electronic and/postal voting system. Has there been any progress in making legislative changes or additions to accommodate such voting and if not do you think such legislative changes have a chance of being brought into the Parliament?

Glasnovic: Spoke of this before but yes – no progress at all, the sabotage continues.

6. A particular problem seen by the diaspora lies in the Income Tax rules in Croatia by which Croats on Australian Age Pensions returning to live in Croatia also fall under the Croatian taxation rules which are disadvantageous to them. That is, the Australian taxation laws under which their pension was earned provides them with income tax free thresholds that renders their pension income almost tax-free while under the Croatian income tax thresholds their pensions are taxed quite highly. It seems Croatia has not signed an avoidance of double tax agreement with Australia when it comes to the Australian Age Pension not coming under Croatian taxation rules. Do you have any information on this issue that may clarify where Croatia stands with double taxation agreements with Australia?

Glasnovic: The very idea of double taxation on pensions is an absurdity but Croatians returning from abroad to retire in Croatia are not a burden to the tax system. Their pensions are a direct bonus to the Croatian economy. The law should be scrapped.

7. What are currently the general prospects for the returnees in Croatia to establish themselves, and also, to contribute to a national development debate and agenda if they exist?

Glasnovic: A national development agenda does not exist. The bureaucracies, the corruption I mentioned – there’s absolutely no political will to develop a comprehensive action plan that will enable Croatians to return.

There’s no institutional framework to implement any sort of strategies for returnees, no programs …the present state of affairs only confirms that Croatians from abroad have been deliberately excluded from Croatia’s everyday life.

8. What are some things you consider could be done in order to improve the participation of the diaspora in Croatian economic recovery and demographic profile?

Glasnovic: Another thing that handicaps any type of plan of return of Croatians from abroad is a lack of integrated collective action from the Croatian diaspora itself. Croatians abroad have become increasingly disenchanted and apathetic which is a direct result of alienating politics towards the diaspora, particularly since year 2000. Nation building is a process and, as associated with disenchantment, Croatians living abroad may believe their help in rebuilding the country is no longer required.

The process of decommunisation has never been implemented in Croatia and this is an important stumbling block for Croatia’s relationship with its diaspora. Also importantly, the questions of communist crimes, confiscation and the nationalisation of property remain unresolved. I call Croatia – Croslavia, because what we actually have is a dysfunctional state that is a sort of communism after communism.


Interview by: Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Accusations of Revisionism Denounced As Cultural War Waged By Post-Communist Elites


Croatia's Minister of Culture Zlatko Hasanbegovic Photo:

Croatia’s Minister of Culture
Zlatko Hasanbegovic

Regular readers of this blog will know that the Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic has had to endure incessant attacks since he was appointed a minister in the new Croatian government over his position as a historian on WWII Croatia. His views are severely criticised, painted as revisionist in the utmost of negative connotations and the criticisms have rendered much of the worldwide media an orchestrated series of attacks using utterly ugly and unfair hate speech. But criticisms did not stop at attacks via the media – and although communist rattles such as Efraim Zuroff from Jerusalem based Simon Wiesenthal Centre have sought that the minister be removed from his post,  some more known personalities recently also wrote  an open letter seeking Hasanbegovic’s dismissal as minister.


The call (open letter) has received large international support from prominent figures, members of civil society and the world of culture. This support represents 35 countries, who call for revisionism and genocide denial to be removed from the heart of the Croatian government,” wrote (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement) on 24 May 2016.

It appears quite extraordinary that an organisation that “prides” itself on fighting against racism, such as EGAM, actually condones and fuels racist attacks and abuse against Croatia’s minister Hasanbegovic, whose political plight and agenda heavily rests on determination to finally achieve justice for the victims of communist crimes in Croatia during and post-WWII. But, looking deeper into EGAM, it looks more like a political arm for the defence and justification of communist crimes rather than an independent body truly fighting racism in any of its forms.
The internationally leftist flavoured call to rid Croatia of its minister Hasanbegovic, EGAM writes about, was first published 23 May 2016 in Libération, a the French far-left newspaper.

Mr. Hasanbegovic uses the evidence of crimes committed after the World War II as a point of identifying anti-Fascism as Communism, which is inadmissible,” writes Libération.


However, nothing could be further from the truth.


What Hasanbegovic actually said on the topic antifascism/communism was that communism (as in Yugoslav communism) was not antifascist, that is, that to the communists antifascism was nothing more than “a mask behind which historical intellectual, philosophical, political and human shame of communism is hidden, but also the weapon for restraining everything that did not comply with the communist idea of proletariat world dictatorship.” This of course is quite different to what Libération would perhaps like us to see.


Libération brands Hasanbegovic as revisionist and writes that one of Hasanbegović’s first moves was to abolish the Commission for Non-Profit Media – which was in the hands of leftists, according to the Minister – and to get rid of “critically-minded journalists” on Croatian Radio Television. Cutting government funding to useless non-profit media or NGOs whose functioning goes against their own purpose – for which they received government funding in the first place – is not a move of a revisionist but a move made by numerous government everywhere with view to bringing order in government subsidy schemes. With the public space cluttered by too many media outlets in Croatia it was about time the government started cutting some from its own purse and allow these non-profit media outlets to fend for themselves and turn into profit media, as public media mainly should be.

As shown on the website the open-letter in Libération against Croatia’s minister of culture was signed by a string of personalities such as the Italian Marxist theoretician Antonio Negri, conservative French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, Italian Nobel Prize for Literature winner Dario Fo, “Nazi hunters” Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, and others like human rights activists, artists and – unbelievably – Michael Danby, a Labor Party member of Australian Parliament for Melbourne Ports! It appears this was the only parliamentarian on the list of signatories and an Australian taxpayer, the Australian Parliament, the Croatian Parliament… must indeed ask the question as to why a Member of Parliament (Australian) would sign a letter as Member of Parliament seeking to oust from office a minister of a friendly country (Croatia)? Such behaviour of blatant hate attacks by a Member of Parliament against a Member of Parliament of a friendly country, outside official Parliament business to boot, must not be tolerated and should be condemned, severely sanctioned. The open letter maliciously stated, “Zlatko Hasanbegovic exploits violence of totalitarian regimes to discredit the struggle against fascism, which he insidiously mixes with the crimes of communism, which is a distortion of the truth. He was not chosen for his competences in the field of culture, but to promote the ideology he represents. In his speeches and publications, he puts into doubt historical truths and basic values of our political union”. What an abominable attempt by the persons signing the open letter to deny victims of communist crimes justice.


Hasanbegovic defended his positions by answering to these attacks in an interview with French Le Monde newspaper published 25 May 2016, which are according to him a “cultural war” led by leftists and liberals exercising a cultural and social hegemony without taking into account the end of communism.


You are very criticized by cultural, thousands of artists ask for your resignation, is this not a problem?” asked Jean-Baptiste Chastand of Le Monde.


I was criticised by some of the cultural and artistic community, but I am sustained by another. I have to deal with a kind of cultural war. In our post-communist society there are indeed still divisions on interpretations of the past, including Yugoslav. But in my case, part of a courteous and civilised debate has been exceeded. There is a hysteria, a smear campaign, from a pseudo-left that continues to exert a kind of cultural and social hegemony without taking into account the fall of communism,” replied Hasanbegovic.


This is completely unfounded nonsense” said Hasanbegovic defending himself against these attacks. “I am surprised by the superficiality of people who allowed to be pulled into a smear campaign launched by armchair critics from Zagreb without ever reading any of my statements, articles or books,” he added during Le Monde interview.


Hasanbegovic says, for Le Monde, that his work aims to get rid of the remains of communism, in a post-communist country, still infiltrated by “a pseudo-left that continues to exercise a cultural and social hegemony.” Accused to have pushed to resignation the president of the Agency for Electronic Media and the president of the Croatian Television, he denied his involvement in these resignations and recalled that both of them were influential members of the former Yugoslavian communist party and that it was not acceptable that they were at such posts.


Furthermore, in his interview for Le Monde, he was asked to explain his positions regarding the WWII pro-Nazi Ustashi regime – active between 1929 and 1945, his ties to Alain de Besnoist and Tomislav Sunic – associated with “new right” movement in the EU, and his ties with nationalists. Finally, he needed to answer to the accusation of revisionism.


About being seen as a nostalgic of the Ustashi regime, he explained his aversion of the Bolshevism and his support for auto-determination of each nation, and recalled the particular context of that time: “I regret that the Croatian people had failed to exercise their right to national self-determination after the Second World War. Each Croatian will give you the same answer as every Lithuanian, Latvian or Estonian. I regret that we found ourselves in Yugoslavia, a Bolshevik undemocratic system, against our will. But, of course, I do not regret the defeat of the Ustasha regime, which was responsible for many crimes.”


On Alain de Benoist and Tomislav Sunic, Hasanbegovic said that Benoist is one of the greatest French intellectuals alive, whose many works have played an important role in his own intellectual formation, and that Sunic did important academic work, even if he does not agree on everything with him, but does respect him for his academic work.


Regarding his links to nationalists, he simply explained his love for his country, and added that he was honoured to be in associated with the people who fought for his nation. About revisionism, he explained that his work to honour the Croatian victims and the national martyrs is not in any way a minimisation of the suffering of the other victims of WWII, such as Serbs, Jews or Roma. He simply recalled that the Croatian victims are the only ones who have not received enough consideration until now, and that it was his priority to ensure they receive due consideration.


Tomislav Karamarko President of HDZ First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

Tomislav Karamarko
President of HDZ
First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

The majority party of Croatia’s ruling coalition, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ, held its elections in Zagreb on Saturday 28 May 2016 and members overwhelmingly voted their support for Mr Tomislav Karamarko as President and leader, but what delights also is the fact that Zlatko Hasanbegovic received an overwhelming (more than any other candidate) vote as elected member of the Party’s presidency. The 200,000 + members of HDZ have thus sent a strong message they reject the racist and hate attacks waged against the minister worldwide by the left, pro-communist lot. Such resolve does make one proud to be Croatian at this time! Nothing but the truth will suffice, no matter what occurs in between. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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