Croatia: Huffing and Puffing at Huffington Post


Huffington Post has 27 March conspicuously decided to publish on its website John Feffer’s, a George Soros “Open Society Fellow”, interview with Danijel Srb, president of Croatian Party of Rights, which Feffer equally conspicuously published only 21 March even though the interview was held mid-October 2012!

While in principle the practice of journalists holding onto their material until the “right” time comes for publishing it, the fact that EU Parliament representatives’ election campaign is currently at full swing renders it most conspicuous that Feffer (and Huffington Post) decided to publish an interview which talks about Croatian World War II Ustashe movement (Nazi collaborators) and fails abysmally at noting that there were potent and equally widespread anti- Fascist/anti-Nazi movements in World War II Croatia as well. Furthermore, it surely could not be by accident that John Feffer (and Huffington Post) decided to publish a lengthy interview with the president of a minor Croatian political party (Party of Rights) who has been huffing and puffing about what things are “wrong” in Croatia (and European Union for that matter) and yet has done little, if anything (apart from complaining), to actually solve them. It has failed monumentally in gathering any significant following among the people and that, in itself, could well confirm a wide discord between the Party’s values and program and the nation.

Whether this interview is designed to portray an image of Croatia as a country that does not trust the European Union, or to portray the European Union as a destructive conglomerate, which sucks into oblivion the sovereignty and identity of individual nations that make it up, is a matter for individual preferences, but both impressions are possible.

It is of note that Huffington Post omitted to let its readers know that Danijel Srb – president of the anti-EU Croatian political party – had the day before they published Fiffer’s interview presented himself and his Party’s colleagues as candidates for EU Parliament in the coming elections.

When he presented his Party’s candidates for the EU Parliament Srb said “although they are Eurosceptic, they have put themselves forward as candidates because without them the identity and the sovereignty of Croatia within Europe will be endangered.”  He claimed that the candidates of the two largest parties in Croatia will in EU Parliament be raising their hands to directives and that these will have an advantage over the interests of Croatia.

One cannot avoid the feeling that Danijel Srb and his Croatian Party of Rights know little about the “job descriptions” of EU Parliament representatives, while at the same time shrugging off as unimportant the fact that not a single country member of the EU has lost its identity or its sovereignty throughout the decades of the Union’s existence.

It is of course, a matter of skill to be able to represent and fight for the interests of ones own country in such a wide Union of countries, and Srb’s party do not seem to possess such a skill.

Does Danijel Srb truly believe that “thieves of sovereignty and national identity” fill the EU Parliament and he will come among them to stop them from thieving the Croatian ones!? That is surely the wrong attitude to harbour and certainly the one that brings the least of wanted results.  The right attitude to have would, to my view, be: here we are in the EU, let’s all join forces and make this world better for all the people in it.

Given that we are here on the subject of Croatian parties of Rights, the conservative lean of political orientation linked to right wing ideology, we need to know that there are more than one: Croatian Party of Rights, Croatian Pure Party of Rights, Croatian Autochthon Party of Rights, Croatian Party of Rights Dr. Ante Starcevic, and Croatian Party of Rights 1861.

Among them all, the EU Parliament candidate from the Croatian Pure Party of Rights, dr. Tomislav Sunic (non-party candidate) stand out far above the rest. Sunic, an academic, world acclaimed author of several books, a former diplomat, part of the European New Right movement, is in no way superficial or irrational (as Srb seems to be) when it comes to national identity and the facets of its sustenance within the intricate political and economic weave of the modern world.

Being a EU Parliament candidate myself, I’d rub shoulders with Sunic in EU Parliament much rather than with Danijel Srb. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Tomislav Karamarko: A good notch above all new candidates for Croatian Democratic Union leadership

Tomislav Karamarko

The Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica/ HDZ), having been the predominant force in national politics in the two decades since Croatia split from Yugoslavia, has been facing a struggle for leadership after steep parliamentary losses (December 2011) and allegations of corruption of individual former leaders or party dignitaries.

A month after  CDU lost at general elections and its leader Jadranka Kosor was replaced as Prime Minister by Zoran Milanovic of the Social Democratic Party (December 2011), five candidates have emerged to challenge Kosor for CDU party leadership.

Contrary to the view one may form from following the Croatian media, this, of course, is a normal event. Everywhere one looks (in developed democratic societies) electoral defeats are assessed; political parties re-grouped, new programs emerge … Every political party in the democratic world undergoes (or should undergo) a major “SWOT” (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) analysis after a defeat at general elections.

Such a “SWOT” analysis is, I guess, best done as a group “brainstorming” effort within a party/organisation. But, proposals made by individuals are also acceptable and indeed can create a refreshing change if changes within a Party or its programs are needed.

Changes to a political party after electoral defeats are those, should be those that reflect the best interests and needs of the people (voters) within the democratic State.

On January 23rd, CDU announced that presidential elections will be May 20th at the party’s 15th general assembly.

Soon after, Jadranka Kosor had announced her candidacy for re-election as leader (president) of CDU and so had five other members of CDU. The five new candidates are: Marko Karamarko (former minister of internal affairs); Milan Kujundzic (medical doctor), Darko Milinovic (former minister of health); Domagoj Milosevic (former deputy prime minister) and Drago Prgomet (member of CDU central committee).

Most candidates for CDU leadership go about building a public profile of themselves – hoping I guess that the information will flow to party members and translate into votes at the general assembly in May.

Some candidates try to impress by “name dropping” of “world VIP’s” they know or who support them (e.g. Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel) (Kosor), some have announced retirement from politics if they’re not elected (Milinovic), some claim that CDU is sick and needs to be cured and that with the disappearance or weakening of CDU, the Croatian state is also endangered, democracy disappears (Kujundzic), and so on.

Well, there is no way that democracy can disappear from Croatia because it’s well rooted in the political system with many (maybe too many) political parties floating around. CDU as a political movement had made sure of that from the very beginnings of Croatian independence, under the leadership of Franjo Tudjman.

Judging by the fact that there are 6 candidates for its presidency, CDU is in strife.

Change seems imminent if it wants to secure electoral victory for government at the next general elections. Relationships and mechanisms within the party itself don’t interest the public (except members of the party), what interests the public is/ will be: can CDU be a better governing party than the current Kukuriku (Cock-a-doodle-doo) alliance or any other political party/alliance that may emerge as a serious contender at next elections?

Kosor is a “known” quantity and CDU had lost at the general elections miserably, despite her excellent leadership in bringing Croatia to the doorstep of EU membership and not doodling around the fight against organised crime and corruption.

With the dynamic, often confusing and comic commotion created by the mere existence of 6 candidates for the presidency of CDU and the spins the Croatian media churns out on a daily basis, Kosor just might be re-elected. Better the “devil” you know … as the proverb goes. She certainly has the stamina to change CDU internally, give it the facelift it needs in becoming appealing to the electorate again.

From the new 5 candidates for CDU presidency Tomislav Karamarko stands out by miles from the others.

One knows where one stands with Karamarko: he takes his “political” job seriously, dedicates himself in achieving results and outcomes in difficult circumstances – he is a people man.

As police minister he had mounted a determined, hard fight against corruption and organised crime as well as pursuing Communist crimes from WWII and after. He recognised the high importance these issues have to the future well being of the Croatian nation and acted accordingly.

When in February 2011 asked if he had political ambitions Karamarko replied: “Every person who’s within the political sphere must have political ambitions. My ambition is to be useful to this country.”

There are those in Croatia who consider Karamarko too right-wing to be “liked” by EU circles and that as such he would not be accepted.  That’s plain wrong and mere political point scoring. Right-wing political parties, conservatives, are well alive and kicking across the EU and the Western world, even the far-right parties such as the British National Party hold seats in EU Parliament.

One only needs to look at the interactive map produced by the Guardian in UK last year to see how more and more EU countries, faced with economic and immigration problems, are turning conservative.

Croatia needs more of right-wing orientation in order to become stronger as an entity within the international arena, to be recognised as a force that has a great deal to offer and share.

Karamarko now takes this attitude of being useful to his country into his election campaign for the leadership of CDU. For him, CDU is a mere vessel to “deliver the goods” for all the people of Croatia. And that is what a political party must do.

Karamarko freely and with confidence points to his loyalty to Croatian independence, to paths laid down by Franjo Tudjman – free, sovereign, democratic and prosperous nation that upholds the values of the Homeland war and war veterans.

Recently Karamarko was interviewed on Osijek TV about his candidacy for president of CDU and from about 9.00 min on the televised interview above he said:

My main platform: Economic independence is essential for national independence. We have sovereignty, constitutional, legal…  but it should not remain a dead letter on paper … if we’re not going to have economic independence … the program with which I’m coming out in the coming month, month and a half …  is actually called ‘New Croatian Independence’ where I place an accent on entering European Union, how are we going to be in EU?

 Are we going to be swept away because someone is going to buy out our I would say valuable potentials, economic, natural, water, sea and in the end the potentials of our people, or are we ourselves going to make use of them in adequate and useful ways…in the way that we will offer something to the EU and take something from it.

.…and there in that correlation, that co-existence, one sees I would say a good future.

 What I like to say is that we need to enter the EU with a name and a surname.

We cannot enter it as some breakaway part of former Yugoslavia but as authentic Croatian value with diligent quality people we have… look, our people everywhere in the world in EU function fantastically somehow we function the worst in Croatia but, here, Croatia has neared, entered the EU and there is no reason for us not to achieve those standards while protecting our what I call potentials whether they’re human or natural economic

… see what we can offer, Europe needs to see our values, in reality it already has, and that’s why we’re entering into the EU  but we need to protect that we are the ones who inherit the results of this good position of ours, the geostrategic and everything else that are our potentials”.

There’s no sense in beating around the bush: both the CDU and Croatia are in strife. CDU, rightly so, wants to be in government again – as any serious political party does; Croatia is in economic turmoil with alarming downturns and existential fears spreading like wildfire at the grassroots of its growing numbers of unemployed. To top the latter the sense of “everything will be all right, EU will help us” seems to pervade throughout the Croatian society.

No, EU will not help the people – any help from economically embattled EU would only be makeshift, band-aid. Croatian people simply must turn to themselves and overcome the economic strife they’re in, by utilising more their own great people potentials and those of natural and industrial resources.

Tomislav Karamarko’s program, message, is clear on this and if that means his political orientation is palpably to the right, that can only be good, that can only be right, just as it is in the many countries of EU today.

It’s been over a hundred years when in April 1899, in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt (US conservative/Republican president 1901-1909) said:

Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness”.

CDU (HDZ) has seen Croatia through more than a tolerable share of difficulties and tragedies, national and personal. The past twenty years have been unkind to Croatia and yet, it has prevailed. One learns by one’s mistakes, and mistakes are an inherent part of development and growth. CDU will overcome this strife, this test of time where many destructive forces within and without Croatia continue trying to destroy the national pride that has sustained Croatian people through centuries of oppression and hardships. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian Antifascists (a.k.a. Communists) losing the plot on democracy

Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic

Croatian president Ivo Josipovic delivered a speech at the “Days of Antifascism in Opatija” 7 – 9 March.

Given his past political affiliations, one could say that there’s nothing unusual about his  attendance of the Days of Antifascism. He had been an active member of the League of Yugoslav Communists for years (1980 – 1990); later he aligned himself with the Social Democratic Party in Croatia (in government currently), which arose from the League of Communists. Antifascist is just an another name for Communist as far as the mindset and political orientation go.

But, he declared himself politically independent in the office of the president and his attendance of antifascist meetings and keynote speaking causes concern and places serious doubts as to his political independence, or neutrality.

His speech in Opatija sounds with alarm bells, clearly and loudly: Josipovic is telling the world that right-wing politics don’t practice democracy, or can’t be trusted to practice it. Furthermore, he steers in the direction that “radicalism” is attributable to right wing politics and not the left. He suggests that protests and demonstrations are not an expression of democratic processes but rather some evil force of right wing politics devoid of good intentions for the people. And to top it all off he imputes reprehension and aggressive tendencies against the European people who have voted right wing politicians into parliaments.

He preaches that democracy should include the rights of all, and yet he denies the peoples’ rights to vote in accordance with their beliefs, to be radical, to express their national feelings, their disenchantments, their demands for a different or better outcome in their lives. Last time I looked even radicalism is considered a right within democracy.

Is Josipovic losing his plot when it comes to recognizing the plethora of democratic existence and practice, I wonder? But then again, deep down, he may still be stuck in the extreme leftist radicalism of Communism where there was no democracy.

Josipovic said on Friday March 9: “In the modern European society there is no danger from left radicalism and extremism. The right radicalism is threatening European democracy, right-wingers win a serious number of places in parliaments. What to do so that history doesn’t repeat itself? The key word is democracy which will prevent aggressive political movements, but democracy is not enough, especially not as a technique.”

He stressed that fascism and antifascism in Croatia are associated with World War II.

So why on earth would he attend the Days of Antifascism and give them a current relevance? Bizarre.

He warned that the disempowered parts of society are inclined towards undemocratic options, that it’s easy to gain their following, there are, for example, offensive words directed towards players of different colour at a football match, he said and continued:

“We must not forget that the virus of radicalism can easily contaminate the society. Social crisis is where this virus finds fruitful ground. One model has come against the wall, liberal kind of capitalism obviously gives no answers to the problems which we encounter. What’s happening in Greece and elsewhere is a dangerous symptom we must think about, I’m not sure that we have recognised the right way out of this. The problem is how to create more in socially acceptable ways, and the key of success is to find a way to work more and better. Work is the foundation of prosperity and democracy, and the essence is in fair allocation. If we don’t find a way for economic recovery in Europe and in Croatia we’ll face a crisis of large consequences. Croatia is predominantly a democratic society, it’s sensitivity to social justice is pronounced, but all that won’t be enough if every day, in every activity, we are not ready to work at the essence of democracy, in the first instance at freedom, social equality and equal chances for all. Let’s do everything so that Croatia gets as close as possible to that ideal.”

It’s obvious that Josipovic and Croatian antifascists are mimicking the sentiments of leftist (antifascist) organisations of UK and other Western countries where the economic woes resulting in unemployment and poverty are used to advance the idea that left politics are the “savior” of democracy or peace. For example, in September 2011, Jamie Pitman, a UK left inclined, in response to the English Defence League protests said:   “…in times of austerity and a poor economic climate, fascism and racism can flourish. We need to beat fascism by turning out in bigger numbers than them – not resorting to violence but providing a bigger show of strength.”

So, Josipovic is saying nothing original when he said: “Social crisis is where this virus finds fruitful ground”. It’s really what Pitman said a few months ago in London and what other leftists have undoubtedly said before him.

The Croatian Antifascist (a.k.a. Communist) political currents are keeping “Fascism” alive through their rhetoric and scaremongering while purposefully suppressing the very facts upon which Communism arose as a political force that seized state power. It was back in 1917, October Revolution in Russia – the Communists were the extremist radicals (if we’re to use Josipovic’s label for modern movements of national pride fuelled by economic crises). The Yugoslav Communists were no better than the Russian ones; while fighting against “Fascism” they also cut the finishing blow in 1945 by deposing the King. It’s difficult to give credence to Antifascists’ finger pointing at Fascists when it comes to aggression and radicalism when Antifascists practiced the same; they just haven’t been answerable for their aggressive and radical deeds.

As a point of interest, the former president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, also attended the Days of Antifascism in Opatije. He too shed his political party membership when he became the president in 2000.

There doesn’t seem to be much of political independence in either Josipovic’s or Mesic’s office of the president of Croatia. One wonders whether their activities in the Antifascist arena keep a nation (Croatia) at constant loggerheads for its World War II history; stifle the smooth progress of democracy. How difficult can it be to place both Fascism and Antifascism firmly into history, not just say they belong to history?

Franjo Tudjman

The thought flows with nostalgia to the days when dr Franjo Tudjman sat in that office, reconciling the past belongings, pursuing ways to unite historically divided political winds of Croatia into a spanking new democracy where both the right and the left politics had a place and the mandate to compete for peoples’ trust, without the decades old history calling the shots. Ina Vukic, Prof.; B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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