Refugee Crisis Diverted To Croatia As Hungary Seals Borders

Refugees walking into Croatia from Serbia, Wednesday 16 September 2015 AFP Photo

Refugees walking into Croatia from Serbia,
Wednesday 16 September 2015
AFP Photo

As Hungary completed its fence and closed all access to it from Serbia on Tuesday 16 September, declared a state of emergency, brought in the new law to impose a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone breaking through the fencing, Serbia – as expected – has commenced loading buses filled with Syrian and African refugees sending them to Croatia’s border. Refugees keep saying they want to get to Germany or Sweden and there seems to be no end in site of those saying that. Germany is tightening its border controls and so is Austria – another “stepping stone” to Germany from the route that starts in Turkey, hops onto Greece and then towards Germany. Early this morning the first group of migrants has reached Croatia – a new route to northern European Union countries, a day after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia.
The migrants had travelled by bus from southern Serbia. Hundreds spent the night in the open. Alerted to the possibility of refugee influx, Croatian interior minister Ranko Ostojic said on Tuesday 15 September that Zagreb had prepared an “emergency plan in the case of an influx of thousands of refugees”, but did not give details. “The government will quickly activate that emergency plan if need be,” Mr Ostojic said.


President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has Tuesday 15 September written to Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic seeking an emergency meeting of Croatia’s National Security Council on the issues of the refugee crisis and its possible effects upon Croatia.

President Grabar-Kitarovic considers that such a meeting of National Security Council needs to be called as soon as possible due to the waves of refugees and their social, economic and safety implications.
It’s necessary to examine what has been done so far, and especially that which is in front of us, finding appropriate measures for the appropriate public administration or government authorities with which we could respond to this question, which is not only a humanitarian one but also one of security. Based on the information I have, I hold that the migration crisis will not settle down any time soon even if the EU did come to an agreement regarding quotas for member states to take, and having in mind the restrictions and measures being placed at borders of EU and Schengen countries (Hungary, Austria, Germany, Slovakia) that could bring this crisis to Croatia consideration of these matters at a national security council meeting cannot be postponed,” she said.

Syrian refugees reach Tovarnik in Croatia Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Syrian refugees reach Tovarnik in Croatia
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

President Grabar-Kitarovic considers it necessary to avoid possible scenarios of raising physical barriers at border between Croatia and some neighbouring EU member country or turning back large numbers of migrants into Croatia in cases where they pass through its territory on their way to desired destination.

Recent history has taught us that numbers of refugees swell overnight and alarm bells sound everywhere. Fear of the unknown mixes uneasily with the wish to help a fellow human being. New border restrictions and rows over allocating migrants have shown bitter divisions in Europe over the crisis.

Europe is facing the biggest asylum crises since World War II, and it is not disappearing any time soon. Because most have not been processed and declared refugees in need of asylum, claims that illegal migrants are using the crisis as a way of reaching a country of their choice for a better life are attracting more and more believers.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen

Today, the French presidential frontrunner Marine Le Pen has raised the fear factor a notch when she compared the surge in asylum seekers coming into Europe to the invasion of Rome by barbarians.

Without any action, this migratory influx will be like the barbarian invasion of the IV century, and the consequences will be the same,” the Front National (FN) leader told supporters during a rally ahead of December’s regional elections in Arpajon, a suburban town in southern Île-de-France, the region that includes Paris.
We must immediately stop this madness to safeguard our social pact, freedom and identity.”

Over 1 million asylum seekers are expected to arrive in Europe by the end of this year, more than twice as many as last year.

Croatian police guide refugees Wednesday 16 September 2016

Croatian police
guide refugees
Wednesday 16 September 2015


So far all we’ve heard coming out of EU are ideas for and pleas of fair burden-sharing – setting quotas of refugees each EU member state should take in. Given that most refugees interviewed – that I have heard, anyway – talk of going to Germany or Sweden this should have been a signal enough to the EU and UN political leaders that pleading to countries to take in their “quota”, their “fair share” of refugees, is ludicrous. The refugees know only too well that Germany and Sweden have the best welfare system, better welfare payments than most other countries, so why should they settle for the poorer countries! If they are forced to go to a country with lesser welfare benefits most may indeed keep on trying to get to the richer countries one way or another. Certainly, many refugees are of the age and apparent stamina not promising a productive working life, so welfare is what gives them hope.

Refugees walk into Croatia from Serbia

Refugees walk into Croatia from Serbia

So, what is the solution? Certainly political and practical order must be introduced. An orderly asylum system must be introduced across all EU so that the welfare system is equal everywhere and same rights and entitlements to refugees equal across all countries there. Then, the possibility of quotas or distribution could perhaps succeed. The other alternative is the collapse of the Schengen free-movement and each country fending for itself. We’re seeing this slowly occurring with the mounting of police forces and other resources to stop or divert refugees from Germany and Austria’s borders; a milder version for the time being of what Hungary has introduced.


Steered into Croatia from Serbia after Hungarian border closed 16 September 2015

Steered into Croatia from Serbia
after Hungarian border closed
16 September 2015

Without a standardised system, a standardised approach across Europe with regards to the refugees and asylum, xenophobia will blow out of all proportions and spin Europe into unrest and instability. Europe must take charge in this crisis and not permit refugees to steer it or be in charge of it. Refugees deserve protection and care but overwhelmingly on the terms of their host country and not the other way around. Europe must stop walking on eggshells and playing the game of hypocrisy: it must bring order into the processing of refugees since the UN is largely failing at this as some kind of a blanket policy and practice steering wheel. We live in democracies where compliance with the law is required of us; it should be no different for the refugees. Without order there is chaos and chaos leads to unrest. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Blood Boils In Vukovar Once Again – This Time For Human Decency

Vukovar Croatia 3 September 2013  Photo: Goran Ferbez/Pixsell

Vukovar Croatia 3 September 2013
Photo: Goran Ferbez/Pixsell

The Croatian government at this moment surfaces as a bully in a schoolyard filled with hurting children.

The Croatian government says the law must be respected and applied. Nothing wrong with that – except when the government ignores the full verse and meaning of the relevant legislation. While Croatia’s 2002 constitutional law on minority rights provides for the establishment of bilingualism (or multilingualism) when one or more ethnic minorities make at least a third of the total population in a particular region. Serb ethnic minority reportedly fulfilled that criteria in Vukovar in the 2011 census, however, that census is considered questionable given that it according to many consists of a relatively large number of Serbs who have a registered address in Vukovar but do not reside in the area.

Furthermore, the same Constitutional law stipulates that in the event of applying the minority rights to bilingualism the government must ensure that such an implementation does NOT cause a disturbance in the relationship of the ethnic minority with the national majority. This is an important subclause of the law Croatian government seems to have been ignoring for months and have failed abysmally in addressing the deep unrest its announcement to erect in Vukovar public signage in both Latin (Croatian) and Cyrillic (Serbian) scripts.

It was February of this year when the Committee for Defence of Croatian Vukovar (the symbol of suffering, mass murders, ethnic cleansing … perpetrated by Serb aggressor against Croatia from 1991) stated at a 20,000 people public rally in Vukovar against the introduction of signs on public buildings in the Croatian and Cyrillic script that it has “filed a motion asking the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of the law on national minorities’ rights, that it wants the government to see to the arrest and prosecution of war criminals, and parliament to hold a discussion on the enforcement of the constitutional law at issue, that it wanted state institutions to enforce the law on the residence of every resident of Vukovar, and the town council to stop amendments to the town statute that would enable bilingualism in Vukovar”.
It was April of this year when another colossal in numbers (some 60,000 people) public rally occurred in Zagreb against the introduction of Cyrillic script on signs at public buildings and places. The Headquarters for the Defence of Vukovar sought at the rally that the authorised institutions of the government declare the city of Vukovar an area of special piety for all citizens in the country and the world and that in light of that Cyrillic (Serbian) should not appear alongside Latin (Croatian) script in public places.
If, within three months, you do not commence upon this request, you will, in that way, let us know that you do not respect our sacrifice…if, then, you come to Vukovar on the 18th of November, we will show you that you are not welcome there…”, said at that rally Tomislav Josic, president of Committee for the Defence of Vukovar.

18 November is significant in that it was on that date in 1991 when Croatia’s Vukovar fell into Serb hands after it had been ethnically cleansed of Croats and non-Serbs, after multitudes fled on foot with barely the clothes on their tortured bodies, after multitudes of Croats from Vukovar had been tortured and imprisoned in Serb concentration camps set up in the vicinity, after Vukovar had been completely destroyed and its buildings and homes reduced to unsightly rubble … but beastly murders and tortures of Croats from Vukovar did not stop on 18 November 1991 – two days later the Serb aggressor had rounded up some 300 Croat patients and civilians found at the Vukovar Hospital, dragged them to Ovcara nearby and slaughtered every one of them.

And we must never forget, as units of Serb-led Yugoslav Army members and Croatian Serb Chetnik rebels marched into Vukovar with only one aim in their sight – to murder every single seed of Croatian life there – they sang and chanted in Vukovar streets: “Slobo, Slobo, send us some salad, there’ll be meat, we’ll slaughter the Croats” (Slobo meaning Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic).

As I write this post – Vukovar is once again under siege. This time it’s hundreds of police guarding the city’s public places from Croats who, once they discovered that the government had in the dark of Sunday night erected bilingual signs on some 20 buildings, decided to smash, bring down those signs on Monday morning (yesterday) and rowdy citizens rallied and protested.

HRT TV evening news on Monday 2 September showed a woman in Vukovar saying the words to this effect: This is UDBA (Communist secret police) style, they came in the night and erected the signs on our buildings just like sons were massacred in the night and we still cannot find their bones…

Several people including police were reportedly slightly injured in scuffles between the protesters and the police in Vukovar yesterday as protesters climbed on each others shoulders and hammered down several Latin/Cyrillic signs mounted during the previous night. Five protesters we arrested for causing damage to public property; others vowed they’re not moving from there and that the police would have to carry their bodies away.

President Ivo Josipovic has called for unity among all political parties to condemn the actions of the protesters in Vukovar; he said law must be followed and applied. Ranko Ostojic, minister of internal affairs was adamant that law on minority rights will be applied and protesters causing damage punished and made to pay for the damage they have caused. He further said that all those who think that the constitutional law on ethnic minorities’ rights should not be applied are free to initiate its amendment, “and then we will apply a new one when it is adopted.”

Josipovic and Ostojic and the whole of the government appear as if they’ve just climbed from under a rock where they’ve been sleeping for the last six months! Indications are that they have done nothing to assist the citizens who have been seeking amendments to the law for quite a time; they’ve done nothing to take into consideration the part of the same law they’re applying that clearly states that application of the law must not cause unrest among the citizens etc. They’ve done nothing to examine the reliability of 2011 census figures and ensure that Serb minority in Vukovar does in fact amount one third or more and not less as is suspected.

And then Ostojic has the gall to say: “Those who fell in Vukovar fell for democratic Croatia, for a country of the rule of law and order, certainly not for violence.

How can we expect peace, non-violence, from people when the government itself does not appear to have applied the full meaning of the law in this case?  Like a thief (or like Stalin …), the government erected the bilingual signs in the dark of night, completely bypassing the full spirit, meaning and conditions of that law, which to my understanding means: bilingual signs can only be erected if they do not cause unrest, intolerance and stifle dialogue.

The siege of Vukovar is not over. Reportedly busloads of people from other parts of Croatia are arriving there and the protests against Cyrillic signs continue – people want Vukovar to be exempted from bilingual signage – to be declared as a place of remembrance for the horrors Croats suffered in the 1990’s war of Serb aggression. It’s not as if Croats are intolerant of bilingualism after all Croatia already has bilingual signs in other regions. In the northern Adriatic Istrian peninsula they are in Italian and Croatian. In other areas where there is a sizable Serb minority there has been no resistance to the use Cyrillic. But the government’s bullying stance in Vukovar will, it seems, ensure that this democratic reality of peaceful bilingualism in several places across Croatia is buried and belittled. Perhaps that’s what the government wants because it seems even the minister for the interior, Ostojic, doesn’t seem to think much of it as evidenced by his above said statement.

When a government does not know how to talk to its citizens, how to preserve their human decency then it’s up to the people to assert their rights to it. 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)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: