Croatia: Shammed Democracy – Persons With Military Background Cannot Have Opinion

Croatian Assembly of Generals meets  Photo: Sanjin Strukic/Pixsell

Croatian Assembly of Generals meets Photo: Sanjin Strukic/Pixsell

For many citizens it landed like a much needed balm of good and promising prospects of advancement to the shattered state of political confusion, lack of clarity and direction as to national interests and the seething economic hopelessness the Croatian nation has been suffering in a crescendo for at least a decade – about to reach boiling point. For the government and its supporters (including many media outlets) it landed like a bomb out of nowhere.

48 Generals from the Croatian Assembly of Generals (largely forcefully retired by former President Stjepan Mesic) met Saturday 2 March in Zagreb to do what needs to be done: look at what’s happening in Croatia and come out with some expectations, some standards expected from the government in order to protest and advance interests of Croatia and its people.

The fact that 48 Generals met signifies very strongly that, indeed, all things are not right. Croatian HRT TV writes that some had labelled this meeting as “a state of internal aggression“!

The Generals among other things came out with concerns regarding the official number of Serbs in Vukovar as propagated by the government to be adequate in order to apply the law regarding bilingualism in the area. In relation to the Generals’ meeting it’s been stated that there are some 20 – 30 people registered as residents at one house address – blatantly obvious abuse of the law and the government does not seem to be wanting to review the fake census figures upon which it says it will base its introduction of the Cyrillic language in Vukovar. The Generals also emphasised that they will not permit the government to sell off Croatian lands, water sources … to foreigners through its Strategic investments proposal, which had recently caused a great deal of distress among the general population of Croatia.

This seemingly sudden and decisive step by the Croatian Assembly of Generals alarmed the government and its supporters (including much of media outlets) and the resulting out pours could easily be summed up as scrambling, laughable panic of Bolsheviks.

Evidently shielding his government from further derogatory criticisms that point to incompetence – of which it has had more than plenty in the last year, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Predrag Matic, topped his own usually subterfuge and inconsiderate self. He actually stood up before the media and, sourpuss straight faced, blurted out his: “Where have they been these past 20 years“! (Referring to the Generals, of course)

Can you believe this garbage!?

Well, for starters, the generals had, like most citizens, more than likely spent the years after the war allowing the governments to develop, further and set in place the goal that, at the beginning of 1990’s,  94% of Croatian voters set for themselves. That goal was to secede from communist Yugoslavia and develop a society of democratic freedom and order. Thousands of Croatians lost their lives for that goal; all of the Generals and war veterans placed their lives at risk and at disposal for that goal.

It is only too right and expected of those who placed their lives at risk for the goal of independent and democratically prosperous Croatia to question what government have done or are doing in ensuring that focus is kept on the goal. But not only that, they have that same right as citizens who voted at the referendum about secession and democracy.

As things go in life, sadly, when you have a bunch of would-be-antifascists like Croatia’s former President Stjepan Mesic, Croatia’s current President Ivo Josipovic, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Josip Leko pandering to also would-be-antifascist minister Matic’s vomit against the Generals’ meeting, then it becomes crystal clear that such meetings are absolutely necessary in order to return to Croatia at least some semblance of democratic freedom of expression the society enjoyed during dr Franjo Tudjman’s era; to return to the point where the door to furthering democracy in Croatia was shut and almost bolted when the politically repulsive character by the name of Stjepan Mesic weaseled his way to the top and – start again with a political heart that is truly and in earnest democratic (not some hybrid of communist resistance to change).

Mesic’s criticism of the Generals’ meeting was : “ a country where there’s rule of law, it’s not normal for generals to participate in some special political options“.

President Ivo Josipovic said that “Croatian Assembly of Generals brings Organisations such as Croatian Assembly of Generals, in democratic countries, have as their main task the preservation of military traditions and the support of the system of defence… but, entering into daily politics brings two dangers: firstly, the danger to the organisation itself – generals differ in their personal political thinking and this will cause its disintegration and neglect of its main task. Secondly, an organisation, although part of civil society, whose connotations are military, brings about unpleasant associations with militarisation of politics...”

Can you believe this garbage!?

The Generals’ had risked their lives for free and democratic Croatia, they are citizens of the democratic Croatia and yet, if they have and express an opinion about what the government is doing and how things could be changed for the better – they’re causing unpleasantness! Heck, they don’t have the right to say anything about the country’s government and situation, even though that country is their home and they are its citizens like any other!

It would seem that neither Mesic nor Josipovic have the will to enlighten the nation that one can indeed separate one’s career from one’s duties as ordinary citizens.

The Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Josip Leko, said that “in a democratic society and country everyone has the right to their own opinion, to criticise, and there are no problems when we look at it that way. The problem arises when an organisation of generals arises, the connotation is entirely different in that situation. I would not want the generals to judge about the political options“.

Can you believe this garbage!?

Can the situation regarding who can and who cannot express an opinion about the government be placed on the right tracks in Croatia, I wonder? It’s still stuck in times of former Yugoslavia when only those chosen by the government could form and express opinions about the life in the country, about the state of the nation.

I wonder if this would-be-antifascist lot are aware of the fact that, from George Washington to Barrack Obama, the majority of U.S. Presidents came into office as Veterans – 32 out of 44, in fact, had active military background when they entered the Office of the President.  No need to emphasise here that a similar situation with persons of military background being actively involved in the political life of their country is found in many democracies.

Stjepan Mesic, Ivo Sanader, Josip Leko, Predrag Matic can rest assured that what the Croatian Assembly of Generals is doing – is very normal for democracy and what they themselves are saying, is not normal for democracy. Am not at all surprised at such distortion of democratic normality by the Croatian political “leaders” – after all, some of them and their “lapdogs” were the ones who undoubtedly derailed the 1990’s plan to build and develop in an organised way the democracy in independent Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Veterans Register – the monster cometh!

Croatian Veterans Register at   Photo: Pixsell

Croatian Veterans Register at
Photo: Pixsell

Some applauded the idea, others criticised it and Croatia’s minister for veterans’ affairs Predrag Matic published it. On 19 December the Veterans Register went live, into the cyberspace – names for eternity, with pride – said minister Matic.

In my last post on this issue I feared that the register would create a monster- and it has.

Indeed, regardless of the accolades pinned to the Veterans Register by the Croatia’s government – minister Matic said on the occasion of launching the website that this was the most honourable register in Croatia’s history and that the names in the register were inscribed into Croatia’s foundations – the Veterans Register has in its post-natal moments created monumental controversies, contention, bitterness, and floods of complaints pointing fingers to masses of fraudulent, false veterans.
War Veteran’s Minister Predrag Matic says that the Register will help out veterans to easily access benefits and secure their rights, whilst “weeding out” false veterans. It has been widely reported that there have been many who have enjoyed the benefits of the status as a War Veteran even though the closest they came to the war was watching it on TV.
It seems that patterns of behaviour towards achieving personal gain instituted by the Communists in former Yugoslavia after WWII are still alive and kicking. It’s widely known that the numbers of Partisan veterans swelled enormously after WWII in former Yugoslavia, where true and false veterans alike, reaped benefits (some still do).

The fact that false veterans can access War Veterans’ benefits over decades is beyond my sense of decency and democratic government’s obligation towards its people. However, it’s not beyond the governments that haven’t moved much away from Communist “tricks and party-palsy-walsy” style of pocketing the money that doesn’t belong to you.
This week, the Veterans’ Affairs Ministry had, within the first two hours of the Register going live, received some 10,000 emails from individuals reporting false veterans on it. Minister Matic has stated that such cases are to be forwarded to the police and the office of the public prosecutor and that his ministry will not deal with them. The problem is that some claim that there are about 150,000 (out of 500,000 on the Register) false veterans and the administrative nightmare to sort the true from the false is growing by the day. Assuming this number of false veterans is close to correct it will take the best part of twenty years to sort this monster out.
All Minister Matic has to say is that the Register is a “living thing” and can be changed – added to or subtracted from.
Well, he is wrong. Veterans Register should be just that – nothing more and nothing less.
On quick search of the Register I discover that Dr. Franjo Tudjman, the first president of Croatia and commander of armed forces during the war to which these veterans on the Register belong, is not on the Register! According to those who compiled the Register Tudjman has not spent a single day on the battlefields or a single day working for the war effort away from the battlefields.
Croatia’s minister for internal affairs, Ranko Ostojic, confirmed that the number of veterans on the Register was incorrect. “I think that it’s very important that Croatia finally clears these numbers up … it’s necessary to differentiate between those who really were on the battlefields from those who crept into that list.”

In my view, it’s contemptible what the veterans’ affairs ministry has done. To have the true and deserving war veterans exposed to suspicion and derision by being associated with false veterans and parasites (as is the case in this Register) is unforgivable. Minister Matic now expects the citizens, the police or the public prosecutor to do the job he should have done prior to publishing the Register. Who, except a political spineless grub would launch a Veterans’ Register (the pride of country’s independence) that’s riddled with fraudsters and parasites? Not anyone who truly respects the contribution veterans have made to Croatia’s independence, that’s for sure. Not anyone who truly upholds the glorious dignity of that independence.
In my opinion, the publishing of such a shonky Veterans Register could only be done by those who in essence do not respect the true war veterans but who thrive on scandals, sensationalism and seeing people fighting in the streets; seeing neighbour go against neighbour – for that is what is happening: the hunt for false veterans has overshadowed the glory of the true ones. Nasty business – indeed. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: War Veterans Public Register – a monster in the making

Croatian Veterans' Resister - "Names for Eternity"

Croatian Veterans’ Resister – “Names for Eternity”

Croatian minister for veterans’ affairs Predrag Fred Matic has recently announced that the government’s decision is final: it will publish War Veterans Register (Register of those who defended Croatia in the 1990’s Homeland War) by Christmas. Much controversy and opposition to the publication of the Register have surfaced since the idea for the public register kicked off some two years ago. While some, including the minister, believe that such a register will assist in the veterans’ ease of access to securing their rights and benefits as veterans and “weed out” the false veterans (which are many, it’s claimed), others fear that such a public register will be open to all sorts of abuses and endanger the lives of many veterans – particularly in the region where tempers run hot from past and current efforts by some politicians to equalise the victim with the aggressor.

Indeed, once the names on the Register are let loose into the cyberspace there’s no telling what could happen to whom, by whom. Not a good feel at all, despite the fact that minister Matic is trying to assure everyone that the Register will contain the names of those who defended Croatia with honour and dignity and that there is no danger whatsoever for individuals on the Register.

What an obscenely depraved assurance!

Even with “positive” consultations and assessments received by the ministry from different professional sources no one can say with 100% confidence and surety that absolutely no danger exists. One is, after all, dealing with possible dangers that can occur from criminal minded individuals who carry in them a sense of injustice or some kind of craving for revenge. One cannot guarantee absolute safety in a demographic post-war climate that still carries a lot of unresolved issues and personal grievances regardless of whether those grievances are real or imagined.

Minister Matic’s determination to publish the Register is so strong that all criticisms and arguments against it even in the parliament don’t seem to have made any difference. On the contrary, the minister’s resolve now verges on ridiculous and idiotic. For example, on 30th November 2012, in parliament, while defending the decision to publish the Register, Matic said: “If any veteran gets trapped on any state border only because he is a Croatian veteran I will go to prison instead of him, be sure of that!” (Source Croatian TV/HRT News)

Unlike in most “Western” countries where veterans registers exist and details accessible via Freedom of Information legislation, Croatia seems to be planning publishing the whole Register that will contain information which can relatively easily identify any particular veteran on it: Full name, name of one parent, date and place of birth, number of days active during the war, military unit – other details will not be published, however, could be released with the individual veteran’s written approval.

Threats of lawsuits against the minister or ministry of veterans’ affairs are emerging thick and fast.

Dujomir Marasovic, member of parliament (HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union) who argued fiercely against the publication of the Veterans’ Register finally said 30th November that names of members of the intelligence agency’ UDBA secret police of former Yugoslavia, members of WWII Partisans who are still in receipt of a war pension, 30 thousand members of the Italian Fascist Occupation Army in receipt of pension in Croatia should also be published on a Register. Damir Kajin, IDS/Istrian Democratic Party, supported Marasovic’s motion in parliament (Vecernji List).

Dinko Buric, HDSSB/ Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja, repeated in parliament that his party, along with the Register of Croatian veterans wants to see published the names of all participants in the Serbian aggression against Croatia (Vecernji List).

Josip Djakic , president of The Union of Veterans, HVIDRA, expressed similar attitudes in 2010 when he said: “Hypothetically speaking, if this register is public then we have to make others public, as well. Like the one with the names of all the Partisans, people who worked for the secret services in Yugoslavia, JNA officers, soldiers of Serb Krajina…”.

One thing is clear: the public has the right to know about its war veterans, however, information that can easily identify an individual should not be readily available to the public (e.g. place of birth and name of parent). The public at large does not have the right to know personal details that can easily pinpoint the identity of an individual. The fact that Croatian government plans to include this information in the public register is very concerning and to my view (and evidently to the view of many) such information will place individuals in danger. Such information should only be available on application and appropriate scrutiny. Someone should stop the publication of such sensitive information on the Register. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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