Dr Jure Burić – An Interview: “Croatians will continue paying a heavy price until lustration happens!”

Interview by Ina Vukic

October this year will mark 30 years since the beginning of the siege of Dubrovnik and its surroundings and the bombing of its walls and vital structures, which culminated on 6 December 1991; the deaths of civilians and soldiers. You were the mayor of that city when the Yugoslav Chetnik aggression indiscriminately hit the city and its people with its murderous weapons and intentions. How much do you vividly remember those days of the attack on Dubrovnik, and can you tell us what was going through your mind the most at that time?

In summer of 1991 a decision was made by the Municipal Council of the City of Dubrovnik, in fact the then Municipality of Dubrovnik to accept and take in refugees from Vukovar. Our people from Vukovar were offered accommodation and holidays in all our hotels. Other places by the sea did the same, offering free accommodation to a certain number of refugees for a certain period of time. At my suggestion, which was unanimously accepted (I was then leading “social” matters on the Council), we offered all refugees from Vukovar accommodation for an unlimited number of people and for an unlimited period of time – not knowing that we, ourselves, would soon become refugees, and our citizens of Vukovar were shelled once again!

All resources from the Red Cross, Caritas, hotels, associations, … were made available and after the public announcement, we prepared for the reception of numerous refugees. Very soon, several thousand of unfortunate people found themselves in Dubrovnik. We selflessly wanted to help them in their suffering and alleviate the sad fact that their husbands, fathers, brothers, relatives … remained in their city defending it and losing their lives for it.

How profoundly distressing were the testimonies of women and children who escaped from the hell of war and found refuge with us. We organised swimming lessons for them, all kinds of events, sports competitions, to try to at least alleviate a little bit their grief for their fathers and their city. We regularly followed the events in Vukovar and found ourselves slowly preparing for the defence of our city – in case it became necessary.

One part of our people based their defence strategy on the fact that the City would not be attacked (after all, who would dare attacking the Pearl of the World and the UNESCO-protected city!). One part of our people, including myself, based their defence strategy on another fact and that was that our neighbours were not so smart and that there would be attacks.

Fear and unrest were felt in the City. An interesting event took place at a larger gathering (a full cinema hall right in the centre of the old town). Speakers lined up and each in their own way “analysed the situation” and fearing the fate of Vukovar. At one point of such fear and uncertainty, my compatriot from Velja Međa-Andrija Oberan, came up to the podium.

What will he say now – I’m really interested, I thought.

And Oberan began:

‘My people, I came to this city in torn trousers twenty years ago – following my belly for bread. I didn’t really have much schooling and I applied for work on a building site. The first morning I saw people around me making some agreement between them and collecting money, so I asked what it was about and if I could participate as well?’ ‘You can, Vlach,’ they told me. ‘We are collecting money for brunch’! ‘And what is a brunch?’

‘Well, it’s something like your breakfast, you Vlach.’

‘Okay, here’s the money, and what will be for that brunch’

‘White kidneys,’ they replied.

After a while, a car comes in and a large pot was taken out of the trunk, and I approached to see what the white kidneys were! I lift the lid and see – well, my people, these are testicles!

Now, whoever has balls, let him not be afraid of war, and who has white kidneys – I can’t help him! – That was the shortest and best speech I heard in those times!

Bombing of Dubrovnik, December 1991

In your opinion, what was your role in the fight for freedom, for the independence of Croatia?

It was felt that the war would not bypass us either. The Government of the Republic of Croatia had appointed me as the “War Commissioner for Southern Croatia” – one of six War Commissioners in the country!

And? On October 1, 1991, in the early morning hours, the first grenade fell on Dubrovnik.

On the same date, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) began with the ritual burning of my birth house in Ravno (Herzegovina), which was, of course, thoroughly looted by Serbs and Montenegrins before that. As it was then – so it is today – unrestored and without a roof. However, “journalists” have long ago renovated it and luxuriously equipped it – so much about our objective “journalism”!

So that is the date of the beginning of the war in BiH, and not the few months later as Alija Izetbegović said – when the shelling of Sarajevo began!

It is interesting that in Dubrovnik, the first victim of the Serbian grenades was one

honest and good man in his home Miličević- a Serb! Civilian of course!

Were the people around you, and you, fully committed to the goal of Croatian independence?

In all this difficult time of hopelessness, there was still hope. We trusted our President Franjo Tudjman and our brave defenders. We knew that we would defend and organise our Homeland in the way that befits a Croatian person. In a report for HTV, I told the deceitful and inconsistent world: with your eyes on the Croats, you remain deaf and blind and dumb, but know that these tortured old men and hungry children will not give you peace, and the public will condemn you that you could have prevented this war – and you did not!”

And a message to the aggressors – Serbs and Montenegrins:

“When you think that you killed the last man from the ruins, the hand of the Croatian defender will be raised, and he will spoil your plans”!

How would you describe the Croatian spirit of the 1990’s?

The Croatian spirit in those difficult times was constant, strong, unbreakable. It drew its strength from the fact that we were getting stronger every day and increasingly armed despite the will of the world. Thomson’s “Čavoglave” was sung by both old and young, fuelled by strength and hope for our better tomorrow in togetherness. We extended a hand of reconciliation to our former persecutors, following President Tudjman’s advice that we must all be one, because that is the only recipe for success.

I caved in, inside, and extended my hand to the man whose hand beat my late friend Bruno Busic, because he was now a true Croatian defender who was ashamed of his unreasonable act. And everything somehow “was in tune” until the former communists, seeing that nothing bad would happen to them, got stronger.

Then they spat on that outstretched hand, and they still spit on it today.

How would you describe the Croatian spirit of today?

I wrote this poem at the time of the strongest Serbo-Chetnik and Montenegrin aggression against Croatia, when the “Red Army Barracks” threatened Osijek, and General Branimir Glavas awakened hope, when they killed Vukovar and the heroic defenders led by General Blago Zadro, when they destroyed Dubrovnik … while General Mirko Norac defended Gospić, when the five-pointed star polluted our Blue Adriatic …… autumn 1991.

THE SAME MESSAGE WAS VALID THEN AND IS VALID TODAY !!! – TO US AND TO THEM!

WE ARE ALL READY FOR CROATIA!

When at dawn the first ray,

Caresses the blue sea

And it illuminates your rivers

The golden fields of your mountain

When it awakes the Lika wolf

Herceg Bosna angry snake

And a pirate from the Neretva

Let them in if they can.

Vucedol dove

Zrinjski Castle, Senj Tower

Sinj Alkar calls the Fortress

If they are allowed, let them in

From Velebit the fairy is calling

I greet you, Dubrovnik

Beautiful Istria and the Littoral

Slavonia and Zagorje

Posavina, Dalmatia

Wake them all up

He sang a song of paradise

We are all READY FOR CROATIA!

You were the County Prefect (Župan) and you were a member of the Croatian Parliament, and as far as I remember, among other important things, you once asked for the termination of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, at least temporarily. Your request was not implemented, can you tell us something about that?

I served as the first prefect (župan) of Dubrovnik-Neretva County – honourably and responsibly trying to respect all people, and to those from the international community who visited me very often and insisted on reconciliation with the aggressor, I made clear what kind of reconciliation was possible.

I would tell them that, when the time came, Croats would forgive, but know that they will never forgive themselves if they allow something similar happen to them in the future.

On one occasion I asked them if they had heard of the “school of democracy” in Dubrovnik founded at the very beginning of the war. Of course they had not heard of it, and they remained amazed. Then I told them – on the day when the first grenade fell on Dubrovnik, we founded that school and we were professors, not students, because there were Serbs in the same shelter with us – probably relatives of those who sent us those grenades, and that not a hair fell from their heads, while their property remained intact. Find me just one example of such warfare in the whole world?!

And when they told me that they were worried about how the Serbs from Trebinje would feel one day on Stradun (Main street in Dubrovnik), I answered them very vividly: I guarantee you much better and more comfortably than the Germans in Paris ten years after the end of the Second World War!

This is where communication would usually end, and I would report it to my President Tudjman at the earliest opportunity – just in case. The President would not be angry with me – on the contrary, he was glad that someone could say something, and he for understandable reasons could not.

Dubrovnik, December 1991

You were an important member of HDZ Party from its conception until 2018, when you withdrew from membership, and the Croatian media published, among other things, one of your messages to HDZ, which read “You have become a ‘spiritual Chernobyl’ in the Croatian people.” Please tell us something about your decision to leave the party into whose fabric you been woven for decades.

In those times I couldn’t even dream that the Cyrillic alphabet would return to Vukovar, that we will ratify the Istanbul Convention, because of which I withdrew from the HDZ party in 2018. That we would silently send our generals to The Hague, believing that this court will be fair! But in fact, The Hague was for The Hague! By joining the HDS (Croatian National Assembly – that was its official name at the time), I only continued to fight for the national interests of my people.

In the meantime, the STATE one got lost?! Why? Realising all the ugliness of the court in The Hague, I asked for the termination of cooperation with such a court. I also demanded a ban on the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet in two cities in Croatia – Knin and Vukovar, because of all the evil that had happened to the Croatian man in those cities. Unsuccessful of course.

This is what I wrote to the HDZ leadership in 2018 as my resignation from membership:

“I would like to be wrong, but I already see that the Istanbul Convention will be ratified by the Croatian National Parliament, and so that I do not wait for this joke to play out, which in fact is a tragedy – I am honestly sad that you forced me to this act, I have decided:

I, Jure Burić, a retired doctor and politician, and my wife Ljiljana Burić, a proud Croatian mother of five of our children with an address in Dubrovnik, no longer want to be members of the HDZ party.

We do not want to be your co-chairs, because you are no longer followers of its founder, Dr. Franjo Tudjman.

I came into politics from the position of head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Cervicofacial Surgery at the Hospital in Dubrovnik.

While the late President was still alive, I performed many honourable duties in the Croatian state. First as a War Commissioner (one of six in Croatia) for Southern Dalmatia, then the chief of war ambulance for the same area, the first mayor of Dubrovnik-Neretva and finally a representative in the Croatian State Parliament – that’s what Parliament used to be called!

We leave the party because we are

Ashamed of

your arrogance,

your hypocrisy,

your contempt,

your inconsistencies,

your servitude,

your cowardice,

your greed for positions,

your waiver of

GOD’S LAWS.

You have become a ‘spiritual Chernobyl’ in the Croatian people.

WE ARE ASHAMED BECAUSE YOU HAVE LOST SHAME!

Persistently beyond all reason and even though the Holy Father Pope Francis, Kaptol, Croatian bishops, the Croatian people together with their respected Croatian intellectual sons, members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, who have CLEARLY decided AGAINST THE RATIFICATION OF THE ISTANBUL CONVENTION you still claim that it is a ‘deeply Christian act’ and that you are on the same side as the church?

AND, ratifying the Istanbul Convention with a gender ideology is a SATAN job and NOT a Christian act, which offends every follower of Jesus and an honourable Croat.

You are persistent in claiming that your ‘interpretation’ gives security to the Istanbul Convention from non-implementation of gender ideology, and you know that it is an ordinary pamphlet, a legally worthless paper with which you only rub people’s eyes (after all, why distance yourself from something – what is missing ?!)

Well, you will not anoint ours and that is why with this act we stop being members of a party that has nothing to do with its founder, the late President Dr. Franjo Tudjman.

God enlighten your mind!

One day, when, with God’s help, Tudjman’s honourable follower does come, if we are still alive, he can count on us.”

Bombing of Dubrovnik 1991

Do you think that the composition of the Croatian Parliament has changed since you left it and if so how?

With the death of President Tudjman, everything turned upside down. The people have chosen the people who will lead the state and state policy from the ranks of former communists who never had love for the Croatian state.

They don’t even have it today!

Because had they had it, they would not have passed such laws and they would never have ratified the Istanbul Convention, from which, by the way, Istanbul itself has recently withdrawn!

Why do my people accept the abnormal as normal – it’s not clear to me nor will it ever be!

Do you think that Croatian politicians in the functions of the legislative and other authorities were and remain irresponsible towards Croatia and the values ​​of the Homeland War after it completely ended with the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia in 1998?

Have we accepted the Brussels dictatorship in place of the Belgrade dictatorship? Have we lost our national pride and common sense?!

Why don’t we look up to the Hungarian President Orban and the Poles. Why do we reject our faith and our nation?

Why are we again “good servants of bad masters”!

We did something wrong in these “Lead times”. I know what!

We had to implement LUSTRATION at all costs after the end of the war (since we couldn’t or were not permitted to do before!). Yes – lustration – so, that way, it could not happen that our politics is run by people from the former communist system. Every, even the smallest cooperation with UDBA needed to prevent such “minds” from participating in the government of the Croatian state!

We didn’t do that, and we are paying the price and will continue paying a heavy price until the moment lustration happens!

Another evil that is equally important is theft.

Theft that has crept into all the pores of our lives. Both political and economic ones.

People no longer have human shame and God’s fear. All that matters is money, and how to get it – who cares. Handcuffs around the wrists of our political leaders and respected fellow citizens are becoming something that seems normal, and no one is surprised anymore at such sights.

Have these people ever gone to church and listened to sermons. I also bear a grudge towards the people of the Church. They are not consistent, they have ceased to be Stepinac’s followers, and how could they not be when their chief asks for the opinion of Bishop Irinej on Stepinac’s holiness. God forbid that this chief was there instead of St. John Paul II, because he too would perhaps ask that Bishop if he can and should he recognise the independence of Croatia.

There is no authority in the Church, no authority in the State, people’s memories removed, and, regardless of this, I still trust in God’s providence and His intervention, and hence, I do not lose hope and believe in a more certain future of my Croatian people!

When it comes to Croats, what do you dream about?

I no longer have dreams. I have dreamed all my dreams. Thanks be to God, I have received my beloved Croatia, healthy and in my mind. Stipe or Ivo can lead her … anyone, but they must know and confront the fact that it is mine, not their Croatia, that it was created in the blood and unseen love of her best sons! I want to keep her like that in my mind and with such a desire one day stand before the Lord!

———————–

ABOUT: DR. JURE BURIĆ – Born 1946 to Croatian parents in Ravno, Bosnia and Herzegovina; studied Medicine at University of Zagreb, Croatia; specialised in Otorhinolaryngology; participated in the Croatian Spring uprise of early 1970’s for greater autonomy and freedoms of Croatia within Yugoslavia; Former Mayor of Dubrovnik, Former Croatian War Commissioner for Southern Croatia during Croatia’s Homeland War; Chief of Crisis Headquarters for Dubrovnik; First and Former District Prefect (Župan) for Dubrovnik and Neretva Region of Croatia; former Member of Croatian Parliament.

Easter In Croatia – 2021 Looking Back To 1991

(R) Josip Jovic, the first casualty in Croatia’s 1990’s pursuit for independence. (L) Giant and magical Easter eggs proudly on display in front of Zagreb Cathedral 2021

Easter of 2021 is the second Easter of most difficult times many have seen when it comes to celebrating togetherness, together. The pandemic is the culprit. At Easter we usually crowd the churches, and, in our homes, we gather so that we can all experience the spirit of contemplation during the greatest celebration of Christianity. This year many across the world will not have this togetherness in physical presence but the soul, the heart and the mind connect and stay connected, cementing the love and joy in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

My thoughts and the thoughts of multitudes in the Croatian diaspora are with our first Homeland, Croatia. Croatia is being tested once again as the third wave of Covid-19 looms and threatens the very existence of community life in the coming months. And so, the Homeland and the diaspora shall remain united with faith and optimism.

Croatian diaspora keeps the Homeland in its heart and draws strength from Croatia, which feeds identity and belonging like little else in life. This source of strength in most difficult times has been proven a thousand times and we are familiar with the strength Croatian diaspora offered when defending Croatia from brutal Serb aggression became a matter of life and death. It was Easter 1991 when the first blood was shed in the goal of Croatia’s freedom and in preserving Christian identity, away from communist Yugoslavia.

Croatian diaspora’s love for Croatia is the compass that guides us in the crossing of any difficult road of life. On reflecting upon Croatia’s history, the sufferings and the sacrifices for freedom one may indeed compare this pain with the pain and suffering Jesus Christ endured on his torturous way to the Calvary. But just like Easter Day, the day of His resurrection, as we imbibe Croatia’s lush beauty, wine and cuisine cultivated by centuries of tradition in celebrating Christ, the utmost sacrifice and pain in achieving victory for its independence, we find that history never tasted so good; just as faith never tastes so good as it does at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

At Easter 2021 it is inevitable for Croatians to contemplate on Easter 1991 with great sadness but also exquisite joy at what would be achieved once torture of bloody aggression was suffocated and victory came like resurrection of the Croatian thousand-year dream. Freedom and independence.

Easter of 1991 became to be known as Bloody Easter (“Krvavi Uskrs”). Every year, 31st March marks the anniversary of the death of Josip Jovic, the first Croatian defending Croatia killed in the Homeland War. He sustained fatal wounds in the area of Plitvice Lakes when Serb rebels mounted a vicious onslaught against Croatia’s efforts to pursue a path of secession from communist Yugoslavia. This incident of recent Croatian history hinted that the battle for Croatian freedom and independence would be difficult and bloody. It is this tragic event that will go down in our history as Bloody Easter.

Croatian peoples’ intention to get out of communist Yugoslavia and become a sovereign, independent State had accelerated during 1990 as changes on the political landscape saw new political parties formed towards a democratic future, Croatia’s Constitution being written, Croatia’s diaspora connected to help fight for democracy and on 30th May 1990 Croatia held its first session of a democratic Parliament, inaugurating the Croatian Parliament. A section of Croatia’s Serbs who did not want to be a part of independent Croatia even though, overall, they were a minority in Croatia, grew into terrorist formations and in October 1990 proclaimed a part of Croatia their so-called “Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina” (SAO Krajina). Ethnic cleansing and abuse of Croatians living in that region was evidently on the cards.

The day prior to the Bloody Easter incident at Plitvice Lakes in 1991, Serbian extremists and rebels in that region organised the so-called “rally of truth”, demanding that the Plitvice Lakes National Park remain part of the rebel Serb freshly self-proclaimed and so-called SAO Krajina. The next day, another illegal decision to dismiss the management of the National Park and the beginning of terrorising non-Serb workers followed. A bus full of Serb extremists from Knin had arrived in the Plitvice area, known worldwide for its natural beauty and under the protection of UNESCO. Serb rebels entered the administrative building of the National Park, blocked the main public road to the south, to the so-called SAO Krajina, at dawn the SAO Krajina flag was found raised at the Korana River bridge in the area.  

These events at Plitvice called for immediate intervention. The young Croatian police force had a task of establishing order and peace in the park area. However, before dawn on March 31, rebel Serbs ambushed a convoy of vehicles with Croatian special forces on the main route not far from Plitvice hotels.

Gun fire opened from the surrounding forest, and an anti-tank mine entered the bus full of Croatian police officers, which fortunately did not explode due to an unpulled fuse. This was followed by the police officers’ hurried exit from the bus, lying down by the road, opening fire in the direction from which the shooting came and slowly advancing through the thick fog and deep snow that surrounded Plitvice that Easter.

The conflict lasted for several hours. Unfortunately, in the action, an enemy bullet fatally wounded 22-year-old Croatian policeman Josip Jovic, a member of the Special Tasks Unit of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, Rakitje. Despite the quick intervention by the ambulance medics, Jovic died from wounds on the way to the hospital. A dozen more Croatian police officers were wounded.

Serb rebels issued an ultimatum to Croatian forces to leave Plitvice. But that was resolutely rejected. Although the action of the special units of the Ministry of the Interior in Plitvice was of a limited character, and in the totality of all future horrendous events of the Homeland War it was relatively small in scope, but it was the first such action of defending Croatia, above all successful, which far exceeds its importance in armed terms.

Croatians stood their ground to defend their people and land at Easter 1991. A show of remarkable and extraordinary love of Homeland was set in action then. The faith in the Croatian nation that smouldered and sparkled in the hearts for a thousand years was fortified, once again, by action of courage and love there at Plitivice Lake in 1991, at Easter! Let’s keep it that way – Croatia and its diaspora!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

Happy and Blessed Easter everyone!

Ina Vukic

Croatia – Heed The Book Of Amos

 

On 30th August 1991 sixteen Croats were killed and 95 wounded in Vukovar in the attack by the Belgrade-;ed Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbian terrorists; Vinkovac and Nustar were viciously attacked also.

30th August 1993 the International Conference on the protection of victims in Geneva coined a phrase: never since WWII has there been so many civilians exposed to the cruelties in war as those imposed by the war led by Serbia against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

30th August 2020 the Croatian government treads a dangerous path of reconciliation with the Serb aggressor by taking more steps in equating the Homeland War victims (Croats) with the Homeland War aggressor (terrorist Serbs from Croatia and Serbia). Individual deaths of Serbs in Croatia during the war are given more or equal weight to the mass deaths of Croatians and ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs.

Amos’s message (The Book Amos) stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. Salvation comes through judgment, Amos teaches us. Hence, you must first be judged in order to be saved and what the Croatian government and President are doing is to free the Serbs and Serbia from being duly judged for their brutal aggression against Croatia and saved regardless of the fact they have not been judged.

But, Croatia stands strongly divided on this unnatural process of reconciliation.

The culture of competitive victimhood is detrimentally promoted by the minority Croatian government who has chosen to collaborate with members of former rebel Serbs in Croatia (the aggressors) rather than with those who uphold the values of the Croatian Homeland War of 1990’s. Using lies and half-truths the government of Croatia is helping its Serbian coalition partners to upstage the Croats as to who was the biggest victim in the Homeland War! The fact that Serbs were the cruel and genocidal aggressors and the Croats in absolute need to defend their lives and homes from such a cruel aggression has been buried for the sake of the government’s reconciliation politics that rest on competitive victimhood.

As elsewhere in the world so too in Croatia, the single greatest challenge in politics right now into which seemingly every single debate and issue and struggle Croatia has fits into is how we handle disagreement. The Croatian social media and independent media as well as some mainstream media are filled with bitter disagreements with what the Croatian government is doing:

Almost humiliating the Croatian people and veterans who fought the Serb aggressor and saved Croatia not only from continued communist oppression but also from continued oppression from Greater Serbia appetites in Croatia.

Just a few recent examples of humiliating the Croatians and their glorious victory over the brutal Serb aggressor easily slot into the formula for reconciliation which spells out disaster for the Croatian nation. These are the commemoration of six Serbs killed in Grubore on 25 August 1995, the comments made by Milorad Pupovac a couple of days ago that he will insist on making Serbs in Croatia feel safe…all in all, fuelling the competitive victim culture so that the Serb aggression ends up not looking so bad!

Many Croats in Croatia and outside it are angry, bitter, there is a lot of upset. The former rebel Serbs in Croatia as well as members of government, especially the communist Yugoslavia nostalgics,  seem to have lost the capacity to disagree with the Croats who keep providing them with the need to reconcile the Homeland War through what it was: a victory over the aggressive neighbour (Serbia) who never acted neighbourly. The former rebel Serbs, Serbia, Croatian government and the Croatian President keep coming up with individual examples of supposed injustice to the Serb aggressor or their civilian population in Croatia who were not civilian but often armed and always aggressive towards their Croat neighbours. They have lost the national perspective of it all because they never had the Croatian national perspective and they never wanted an independent Croatia.

To butter-up this atrocious political garbage that panders only to former communists and Serb aggressor against Croatia in the 1990’s Milorad Pupovac, Member of Croatian Parliament for Serb minority, said a few days ago in his statement to the Croatian public television that “it’s a big deal that the Andrej Plenkovic cabinet and President Zoran Milanovic, together with us from the Serb community, have decided to change the trend and stop the spreading of hate produced by war.”

Well – no hate was produced by the war – hate against independent Croatia started the War and pursued its destructive path against Croats all the way, to today. Croats do not hate Serbs, many Serbs helped Croatia defend itself against Serb aggression, but Croats as a rule do not like injustice and liars!

The hallmark of every great civilisation is not how it handles agreement but how it handles disagreement. Handled badly, as the Croatian government and President do, disagreement with the national plight and deserved status inevitably leads to the development of hatred, that is, their disagreement with the Croatian national plight is interpreted as hatred for the Croatian national plight.

In the Book of Amos, Chapter 5 where it says “There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground”; Chapter 6, where it says “you have turned justice into gall (bitterness), so all your righteousness tastes like poison fruit” what the prophet is saying is that if the quest for justice becomes bitter, even if you get it right, it tastes like poison to everyone. The cries for justice in Croatia for the Homeland War are very bitter because its government in association with its former Serb rebels and aggressors have turned away for justice to the Croatian fallen defenders in the war of Serb Aggression and justice for war reparations.

What the Croatian government seems to be wanting to achieve in its profoundly flawed reconciliation politics is the perception that there were only victims (Croatians and Serbs) in the Croatian Homeland War of 1990’s and no perpetrators of criminal aggression! This is the stuff powder keg for future unrest is made of and it has nothing to do with any ethnic rivalries between Serbs and Croats they are trying to peddle to the world but it has everything to do with falsifying the facts of that recent history, with hypocrisy equating victim with the aggressor.

There is a distinction between legal term and psychological term of victim. When in law we talk about a victim what we mean is that there was a perpetrator of a crime and then the person who suffered that crime and in order to restore justice one has to fight for the right of that victim. When justice collapses in the society hope collapses with it.  So, it is always important tom think about how to figure out what is right. That is the right or healthy thing to do, but in the psychology of competitive victim culture, which appears to be promulgated by the current politics of reconciliation in Croatia, there is a wrong or unhealthy side.  As Psychologists have for decades talked about competitive victim culture this what is happening in Croatia at the moment is fundamentally unhealthy. The reconciliation politics that the Croatian government is pushing for in partnership with the Serb aggressor is trying to train the victim (Croats) that they are not victims, the only victims! Accelerating the destructive competitive victimhood in the Croatian state.

When we are talking about victim culture, psychologically we are dealing with something vary difficult and very dangerous and that’s why Amos talks about not turning justice bitter.

Competitive victimhood narrative in Croatia falls into the usual formula: you did this, yes but you did this … both sides, Croat and Serb are forced into a competition to see who has been hurt the most, when the truth and justice is a very simple thing to deliver. And this is utterly wrong. It is a fact that Croatia was attacked in 1990’s by Serbia and rebel Serbs from within. The Croatian government is pandering to the European Union undercurrents of politically and morally corrupt push for equating victims with aggressors so that peaceful co-existence may be achieved. What a monstrously corrupt and unfair proposition!

Amos stressed that social justice was the key to building an enduring future. Unfortunately, many people fail in Croatia to heed him – the social justice for Croatia has only one entry door and that door is to heed the message of 1990’s 94% of voters choosing to rid themselves of Yugoslav communism and oppression – completely. This has not been done, this door has been shut by former communists, if anything, the powers that be since year 2000 are chipping that choice away, making it almost null and void by forcing a reconciliation with the unrepentant aggressor, who did not and does not like that choice the people made. The possible consequences of such reconciliation politics are too ugly to contemplate.

The Book of Amos tells us that the transgressions that require judgment are nearly entirely comprised of acts of oppression. It is hard to read the book of Amos and not conclude that the Lord is deeply moved when one nation deals cruelly with another, or when the weak and helpless in society are crushed by the powerful. The entire book of Amos shines a powerful light on society, revealing its dishonesty, corruption, and violence. That being the case, overwhelming disaster naturally follows.

Croatians must not allow competitive victimhood to become a debilitating issue for the independent nation that arose from the rivers of blood during the 1990’s Homeland War. They must take action against the injustices with role models that uphold and act on the truth behind the fight for independence. Otherwise, they will be rendered helpless and their future controlled by the very same force that attacked Croatia and its people.

For real and lasting reconciliation facilitating forgiveness among groups involved in brutal conflicts, even in intractable conflicts, requires reducing competitive victimhood which stems from the conflicting parties’ motivation to restore power and a positive moral image. While Croatian Serbs and the Croatian government are trying to dig out any event that saw even a single Serb killed wrongfully in Croatia during their aggression against Croatia and flag that as overwhelming evidence to say that Croats too were brutal, if not more brutal than Serbs, there will be no reconciliation. The Croatian government and President have got it wrong! One cannot bring about lasting and true reconciliation post a brutal and genocidal aggression without the aggression being nationally condemned and called by the name it deserves! One cannot ask for forgiveness for a deed if that deed has not been established in the national creed as a deed that requires forgiveness. The Croatian government of today with its Serb partners are trying to further erode the factual history of the Croatian War of Independence and that the War did ensue because of Serb aggression; brutal one at that!

The way things stand at this moment it appears that the people rather than the government in Croatia take heed of the Book of Amos. Changes that give true credence to Croatia’s War of Independence as the foundation modern Croatia is built on are on the horizon, visible from the Croatian grassroots. They are in the unrest and painful discomfort that the current government reconciliation politics are causing among a widespread Croatian population that voted for independence, that fought for independence, that has lost family lives for independence.  Ina Vukic

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