Croatia – Leadership Antagonism Feeding Non-Assertion of Hard-Won Independence From Yugoslavia

Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia (L), Andrej Plekovic, Prime Minister of Croatia (R)

It is an incredible and angering preposterousness that Serbia is still acting towards Croatia as if Croatia had never become an independent state, as if it never seceded from Yugoslavia, as if the Homeland War of Serbian aggression against Croatia had never occurred (and if it did both sides were equally aggressors and equally victims!). What is equally absurd and preposterous is that Croatia is allowing this with no sanctions except cheap words and rhetoric! In persecuting Croats Serbia is using its own laws and sometimes the laws of former Yugoslavia to keep a perpetual train of indictments for alleged war crimes against Croats, allegedly committed on Croatian soil, while the brutal Serb aggression and onslaught ensued on Croatian soil, for perhaps no other reason than to press on with the obscene idea of equating the aggressor with the victim and Serbia denying its own aggression.  In 2020, the Zagreb County State’s Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against six former members of the former Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army JNA Air Force for rocketing the Banski Dvori (Croatia’s Government Building at the time its President Franjo Tudjman was inside) in October 1991 and so Serbia is now filing indictments against Croats for the same period of war of aggression event.

Croatia is not responding in a manner other independent states, whose independence arose from successful defence from brutal aggression, would respond. Countries that cherish their hard-won independence would at least make strong steps in diplomatic relations terms. It is utterly unacceptable that, in the least, Serbia’s Ambassador to Croatia has not been sent packing back to Serbia as Croatia’s first-hand response to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Office having on 19 May 2022 indicted four retired Croatian Air Force officers: Vladimir Mikac from Ptuj, Zdenko Radulj from Osijek, Zeljko Jelenic from Pula and Danijel Borovic from Varazdin on suspicion of committing war crimes against civilians. prosecutors, ordered the rocketing of a column of refugees on Petrovacka cesta near Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna near Novi Grad on August 7 and 8, 1995. The indictment was filed on March 31 but was returned to prosecutors on May 6 for further processing. In the mentioned event, 13 people were killed, six of them children, and 24 people were injured. According to the indictment, the prosecution proposes that the accused be tried in absentia.

According to Croatian media sources, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated on 20 May 2022 that at a short meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Davos, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Serbian indictment against Croatian pilots.

“We pointed out that the law, by which Serbia has been expanding its jurisdiction to the territories of other countries for years, is unacceptable to us and that such a move for Croatia is certainly a signal of a step back in our relations, not a step forward,” Plenkovic told reporters in Davos. Well, Plenkovic does rather good lip service but when it comes down to what is convincing and what Croatian people deserve, he fails miserably. He as Prime Minister must demonstrate that Serbia’s actions regarding these indictments are not acceptable by imposing strict diplomatic measures, at least. Most commonly used in free and democratic countries are official protests with Ambassadors or sending Ambassadors back to their countries until matters resolved. 

“These indictments have occurred despite our years-long attempts to convince them not to play with fire and that it will cost them. I cannot be more polite; I hope they are listening to me. Leave that alone. Otherwise, they should not be surprised by reactions by right-wing lawmakers in the Parliament. The problem is that the majority of people in Croatia think like that,” President Zoran Milanovic told reporters on Tuesday 24 May 2022. President Zoran Milanovic repeated on Wednesday 26 May 2022 that Serbia should watch its actions and that he was only asking for “a fair relationship” between the two countries, adding that Croatia could have indicted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic but made a political decision not to do it.

Fierce lip-service from both the Prime Minister and President of Croatia! No decisive actions on diplomatic levels, at least, to demonstrate they mean what they say!

Croatia has been in a political quagmire for quite a while and to make decisive steps against Serbia in this case, to protect the dignity and righteousness of Croatia’s victory against Serb aggressor, for freedom and independence, both the Prime Minister and the President must be at least on professional talking terms if such terms do not come naturally. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic have not seen eye to eye on anything for quite some time and have publicly displayed intolerance towards each other as well as disturbing antagonism. But, unlike Milanovic, Plenkovic appears more interested in serving Croatia’s Serb minority than national Croatian interests even though majority of that Serb minority formed a significant part of Serb aggression against Croatian secession from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s! This fact would appear to be a major factor in the current political impasse and crisis Croatia is suffering currently.

It is unbelievable and cruel to the victims of Serb aggression that Croatian state policy without notable and decisive protest and action evidently permits Serbia, the aggressor, and the defeated side of the Homeland War to prosecute members of the victorious side of the war in which Serbia was the aggressor. This, of course, is not the first time this has happened with the announced indictments against four Croatian pilots who are allegedly responsible for the attack on Serb civilians after the “Storm” military operation that liberated significant parts of Croatian territory from Serb occupation in August 1995. Many would rightly so say that official Croatia permits such odious aberrations because its official heads and politicians in power since year 2000 have remained mental communists, are nostalgic of communist Yugoslavia. They are not wrong as Croatia has yet to put its official foot down at Serbia’s depraved attempts to deny its responsibilities for aggression, ethnic cleansing on non-Serbs, mass murders, genocide, destruction across Croatia.   

Not only Serbia’s laws that have extended their legal jurisdiction beyond the borders of the Serbian state are of grave concern, but also the treacherousness for Croatia of the behaviour of leading Croatian politicians, which was especially evident during the persecution of Croatian generals directed by The Hague tribunal. The former President Stjepan Mesic, who testified against his country (Croatia) at The Hague tribunal, led the evil pack that attempted to criminalise Croatia’s defence against Serb aggression and yet suffered no consequences for it in Croatia! All the Prime Ministers of Croatia including the current Andrej Plenkovic have made no positive moves to turn this tragedy around and putting Croatia’s victory over Serbia’s aggression first.

The excuse of allowing the process of reconciliation with the aggressor (Serbs) has given way the emergence of many insufferable injustices against Croatians and Croatian war veterans.

Perhaps giving amnesty against indictments for war crimes to many Serbs who committed war crimes in Croatia during the Homeland War as part of negotiations for peaceful reintegration of occupied areas of Croatia’s Danube region in 1998 has given Serbs the courage to act upon their pathological idea that they had a right to commit crimes in Croatia? 

On 15th January 1998 Croatia achieved, without a single shot fired, the liberation from Serb occupation of its Danube region which two-year process is known as the Peaceful Reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem.

It was the Erdut Agreement, which was signed on 12 November 1995, that enabled the peaceful restoration of Croatian sovereignty over the Croatian Danube region which was under the control of Serb paramilitaries and rebels since the launch of the Great Serbian aggression against that part of Croatia in 1991.

The Erdut Agreement on Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem was signed on 12 November 1995 in Erdut and Zagreb by the then-presidential chief-of-staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, the head of the Serb negotiating team, Milan Milanovic, and by the then US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, and UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg as witnesses. The treaty marked the beginning of the UN’s two-year transitional administration in the area during which Croatia restored its sovereignty over the temporarily occupied parts of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, which enabled reconstruction in the area ravaged in the Great Serbian aggression on Croatia and the return of refugees.

The Erdut agreement was reached by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio. The 14-point document provided for a two-year transitional period under UN supervision, a transitional administration, formation of a multi-national police force, local elections, and demilitarisation 30 days after the deployment of international peacekeepers. Seven provisions of the agreement dealt with human rights, refugee return, and property restitution or compensation…

Reintegration of Croatia’s Danube region was achieved without a single bullet being fired but, more than two decades on, it is evident that not all bullets are of fire but that there are many made of political obscenities. Croatia has still to assert the values of its own War of Independence and it is unlikely to do that any time soon with the current make up of government and leadership. Without decisive actions to that effect the political climate may, hopefully, develop into a strong push to change the current oblivion among its leaders towards what Serb aggression did to Croatian people. A great deal of work is still needed to achieve the democracy in Croatia that its first President, Franjo Tudjman, announced in his speech on 30 May 1990 at the inaugural session of the Croatian Parliament. Perhaps with all his strengths and courage even he may have never imagined that ridding Croatia of communist Yugoslavia would be so very harsh and difficult despite the fact that 94% of Croatia’s voters voted to secede! Ina Vukic

Servicing Serbia’s Propaganda Israel’s Gideon Greif Abuses Holocaust And Fabricates Parts Of Croatia’s History

Gideon Greif (L), Photo: N1

For years now I have been writing articles regarding the monstrous pursuits of Israel’s historians such as Efraim Zuroff and Gideon Greif that blacken Croatia and Croatians during World War Two. Suffice to say both are and have been on Serbia’s propaganda train against Croatia, maybe even its payroll, while attempting to cover up the fact that WWII Serbia was one of the first European countries to declare itself “Free of Jews” or “Judenfrei” having exterminated some 94% of its Jews to May 1942! Efraim Zuroff of Simon Wiesenthal Centre had appeared staunchly pro-communist, defending the atrocious communist crimes, or ignoring them for years and, yet, in victim numbers they counted many many more victims than the Holocaust itself! The numbers of people they claimed, together with Serbia, that perished in Croatian camps during World War Two, without a shred of evidence but with lots of hatred of Croats and Independent Croatia, are monstrous and abominable. And so I was truly happy at reading a recent article (11 May 2022) in Israels’ Haaretz.com portal by its highly-acclaimed journalist Sam Sokol on these matters of Holocaust abuse and fabrications of history by Gideon Greif, which I too pass onto you readers and followers of my blog articles. It is great article in support of the truth we all seek to cast out eyes upon sooner or later.

“Six months ago, Prof. Gideon Greif was on top of the world.

A respected Holocaust scholar, he was set to receive Germany’s highest civilian honor for his research on the Sonderkommandos, Jewish prisoners who were forced to dispose of bodies at the Nazi death camps. Years earlier his research was adapted into an award-winning feature film, ‘Son of Saul.’

But the civilian honor in Germany was soon rescinded amid allegations that Greif was a genocide denier who tried to whitewash the murder of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Now the 71-year-old scholar, who this year announced plans to revise a controversial war crimes report he co-wrote on behalf of Serb nationalists, again faces allegations of sacrificing historical accuracy to bolster a nationalist narrative.

He allegedly has inflated the death toll at Jasenovac, a Croatian death camp where, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German-allied Ustasha regime murdered between 77,000 and 99,000 people during the Holocaust.

The controversy relates to Greif’s cooperation with the Serbian government to produce an exhibit, and later a book, about Jasenovac. According to Greif, at least 700,000 people died at the camp, a figure repudiated by contemporary scholars and promoted by Serbian nationalists.

Both the exhibit and the book followed a number of cooperation agreements brokered by the Serbian Foreign Ministry and signed by Greif in 2016 and 2017 on behalf of two groups he was affiliated with, the International Group of Experts GH7-Stop Revisionism and Shem Olam, an Israeli Holocaust education and research institute. The Serbian signatories included civil society groups and the country’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.

The result was a 2018 UN exhibit about Jasenovac curated by Greif and sponsored by the Serbian Foreign Ministry. It was soon followed by the 700-plus page book ‘Jasenovac: Auschwitz of the Balkans,’ where Greif said his efforts were part of a ‘Serbian-Jewish bastion against revisionism.’

In the book, Greif credited an Israeli Foreign Ministry official for his first meeting with the Serbs and stated that the Israeli ambassador to Belgrade was present when he signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgrade on behalf of Shem Olam.

Greif wrote that the Croat Ustashas even surpassed the German Nazis in their wickedness and in their bloodlust, juxtaposing statistics about Auschwitz and Jasenovac on facing pages and highlighting various death toll estimates in a way appearing to equate the two camps.

He also quoted estimates that the death toll at Jasenovac, where the majority of victims were ethnic Serbs, could be as high as 1.4 million, exceeding even Auschwitz, though the number he has promoted in a raft of media appearances is significantly lower.

‘I would say that the minimum number is 700,000 and maybe more,’ he said on Serbian television in 2019. ‘So this is the beginning number. Maybe about 800,000 Serbs, 40,000 Jews.’

But this estimate has been discredited by modern scholarship, said Yad Vashem historian Rob Rozett, who added that Greif’s estimate was based on inflated figures produced by the communist Yugoslav government following World War II.

The scholarly community, including Yad Vashem, ‘has rejected those numbers,’ and Greif’s conclusions ‘are way outside of what scholars consider to be legitimate discussion these days,’ Rozett said.

‘Serbian nationalist narrative’

Ernest Herzog, the World Jewish Congress’ Belgrade-born director of operations, recalled a visit by Greif in 2019 where the historian tried to win the Congress’ support for a Jasenovac event in Jerusalem. Herzog said he declined the offer because he believed that Greif only presented ‘the Serbian nationalist narrative.’

‘I wasn’t sure he was aware what he was getting into,’ Herzog said. ‘It’s not that I think he’s some kind of a crook, but I just think that he ended up on the wrong side of history when it comes to this because on Jasenovac he didn’t explore all the avenues and research, and completely dismissed all the work done in the ’80s and the ’90s.’

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff, referred to as an expert in Greif’s book, had a different take.

Referring to honors Greif has received from Serbia – including the country’s Gold Medal of Merit in 2019 – Zuroff said that while he couldn’t identify Greif’s motives, ‘it seems clear he has been given rewards of different sorts and perhaps it’s those rewards that motivated him to produce the kind of goods that the people who gave him the rewards want to see.

The question is what are you willing to do to receive those awards,’ Zuroff said, adding that ‘it’s sad to see what happened to this person.’

For his part, Greif seemed aggrieved by the criticism against him, complaining in a statement to Haaretz about ‘vicious incitement’ and ‘terrorist-like pressure’ that he said included 23 death threats in recent years.

‘I do not know another historian in the whole world who lives in the shadow of death threats just because he expresses his own opinions,’ Greif wrote, adding that his research on Jasenovac was not part of the cooperation agreements he signed, which were ‘standard agreements for academic, educational, pedagogical and research cooperation.’

His books ‘were not funded by any Serbian government office, and no one but me had any influence on their content,’ he added. ‘I received no payment, not even one shekel, not even one euro, not even one dollar.’

Dismissing the 1.4-million-victim number as unrealistic, Greif said that ‘statistical issues like the number of victims concern me less, and are secondary to me, firstly because my attention is given to the world of the victim.’ He said he based his work on a number of works published decades ago by Yad Vashem, which he considered the ‘most reliable and well-established sources.’

He added: ‘I have no interest in reducing or increasing the number of murders at Jasenovac. I try to choose the most realistic and authentic data available to me.’

One source he mentioned was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which he said put the death toll at Jasenovac at 500,000.

Emil Kerenji, a scholar at the museum, said that between 77,000 and 99,000 people were murdered at the Croatian camp, a number in line with an estimate by Ivo Pejakovic, the head of the Jasenovac memorial site in Croatia. He said his database currently contains the names of over 83,000 victims.

‘Dr. Greif didn’t make any research regarding the number of victims of Jasenovac camp. As far as I understand, he simply quoted estimation of 700,000 victims or more, which were the official numbers of victims during the period of Yugoslavia,’ Pejakovic wrote in an email.

‘So he disregarded all new research that was done in the last years and decades. There is no methodology or research to comment on.’

Ono Academic College, where Greif lectures on history, distanced itself from the controversial scholar’s book on Jasenovac. It said in a statement that even though its logo appeared on the cover of Greif’s book, it had nothing to do with it.

An Israeli official, meanwhile, disputed Greif’s claim that the Foreign Ministry facilitated his cooperation agreements with Belgrade.

‘We have no recollection of ever putting him in touch with the Serbs,’ the official said.”

Ina Vukic

Shame On You, Shameful and Defeated Serbia

Bojan Jovanovic, Photo: Screenshot danas.rs

At this doorstep of Christian suffering that Good Friday represents, at this doorstep of Christian joy that Easter, the resurrection of Christ, brings it is fitting to be reminded that it is up to us all to contribute to the end of sexual violence, abuse and assault against children and young people. And when it comes to ending such abuse and suffering brought upon by members of the clergy and Church hierarchies, by the Church, then indeed Christians especially are morally and otherwise duty bound to assist in rooting out such evil from the temples of God on earth.

And then, when a state or its government and government politics are one with the Church, such as Serbia is and has been with the Serbian Orthodox Church, then it gives me great satisfaction to relay here that this year, 2022, a representative from a Balkan country is reportedly for the first time in history of the global fight for justice for children and young people sexually abused and violated by a Church invited to speak at the Brave Movement’s Global Survivors Action Summit to be held on 27 April 2022. The invitee is from Serbia, Mr Bojan Jovanovic, a former deacon of the Serbian Orthodox Church who has for some time now been fighting for justice for victims of sexually abused children and young people within the Serbian Orthodox Church.

As an overture for the above Summit Mr Jovanovic has presented the following on the 13th of April 2022 at the “Survivor Speak Out” global meeting organised by the Army of Survivors organisation and his paper is indeed eye-opening, worth reading and motivating towards greater efforts to end such abhorrent violence towards children and your people. Certainly, Mr Bojan Jovanovic has shown profound courage for speaking out as he does in the defence of and for justice of the vulnerable and abused.

“SURVIVOR SPEAK OUT

13.04.2022.

Paedophilia and sexual violence in the Serbian Orthodox Church, under the state protection Of Serbia

I am speaking from Serbia, from the European Midnight. There is no ray of light anywhere there. All the light has fled from the earth to heaven, and it shines upon us only from above. And yet, we who are weak in everything, as we are now, we are strong in hope and faith, in the dawn that is nigh. My soul is filled with greatness excitement in this place and on this day when I come out in front of you to express what words cannot express.

Invited to speak, and not permitted to betray your expectation, I pray to God that my speech will be a solace and joy to all who listen to me as well as to those who expect consolation.

You ask who is this man who comes from a nation that you know only by its evil. You ask why I am speaking in the wish to help people who attack me every day.

I speak because the truth cannot be known, it must be revealed and only in such a way can the unfortunate Serbian people be separated from events that pull them to the bottom.  

Having nullified the sense of institutions Serbia is a state that has abolished itself and it is a waste of time to expect revitalisation of any process.

They are trying to portray the church as a community of love, unity, and unconditional trust.

Such a wrong attitude creates the feeling of security and freedom in the clergy and allows them to manipulate unhindered with their position and ideas because they are supposedly representatives of the Church. On the other side, believers are afraid to share their experience. That silence gives additional wind to the back of the clergy and that’s why we are where we are. Instead of the Church acknowledging its atrocities, accepting the reality, publicly apologise, and in such a way regain the trust of the believers, who are less and less in numbers, instead of condemning criminals from their ranks who inflicted, and still inflict, harm not only others, but also to the very institution behind which they hide, the Church has hidden itself under the wings of the political thieves who use it for compensating for the decaying social and moral system and covering up daily political mess.

Despite the constant denial of the existence of organised paedophilia and sexual abuse by the clergy of Orthodox Churches – Russian, Greek, Serbian – who want to show it as individual cases, facts tell us otherwise. The Serbian Orthodox Church is a closed institution, and its own privileged position has led directly to decades of abuse which has not been sanctioned, and paedophiles and sexual predators remain beyond the reach of the law.

Documentation is being destroyed, victims are being destroyed, victims and their families are being pressured, and corruption utilised as well. All of this further discourages victims from speaking out in public. And so, victims of violence become victims of the system or the church-political mafia. Behind the cover up stand all systems in Serbia and every authority.

After their defeat on the battlefields the Serbian people found themselves in justified political isolation and economic stagnation … but the spirits of the (great) Serbian ideology have reawakened in that the hellish plan, this time called “Serbian world”, and have once again started with the rattling of weapons ” (quote from the book “Protocols of Greater Serbian Ideology”). After returning to the public scene, the Serbian Orthodox Church did not seize the opportunity to get rid of compromised personnel and various agents in its ranks to be able to reform and return to the path of God’s mission with the help of many intellectuals who were at its disposal.

So that all its responsibility for its crimes may be abolished, the hierarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church lands in the lap of Serbian political elites who exploit it as compensation for the disintegration of the socio-moral system. In this way an ideology worse than communism emerged in Serbia.

Due to various political entanglements and complicated legacies, the Serbian Orthodox Church has so far pulled through without effective punitive measures being brought against her, and her abuse of the authority God’s mission remains unpunished for the time being. I have spoken several times before and I have extensive documentation about crimes in the Serbian Orthodox Church such as paedophilia, murder of a sexually abused child in a monastery and similar acts.

The integration of church, state and nation has led to the cover-up of decades of sexual abuse of children within the Serbian Orthodox Church, denying victims any opportunities. The victims are boys who lived in monasteries during their schooling to become priests, they found themselves at the mercy of paedophile priests and bishops. In addition to being educated in obedience and respect for the clergy, theologians were threatened with harm to themselves and their families if they told anyone about the sexual abuse. These were not empty threats.

The victims are also children who are recruited from poor families, environments where it is forbidden to talk about that, children from divorced marriages.

Other cases did not go as far as the murder of theologian Milić Blažanović, but they did cause irreparable damage to young victims who have been living with trauma for years, leading cramped lives and continue suffering from depression, anxiety, other mental illnesses, they use drugs and try to commit suicide.

The truth about the crimes of Saint Sava’s ideology within the Serbian Orthodox Church should contribute to the final liberation of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbia and the entire region from the bearers of evil that threatens the collective security and human destinies of many who have fallen victim to this crime gang.

THERE IS A REASON FOR EVERYTHING AND FOR EVERY PURPOSE THERE IS TIME UNDER HEAVEN. TIME TO BE BORN AND TIME TO DIE, TIME TO TEAR DOWN AND TIME TO BUILD.

TIME TO BE SILENT AND TIME TO SPEAK.

The church’s sexual abuse of children and young people has created a foyer of hell.

 Human abysses and double morals are being opened.

For many, it is news that after a while they just google and start looking at it indifferently. Unlike many who just follow it, the victims carry that crime with them all their lives and for them nothing happens normally anymore.

There is no forgiveness for this sin from the point of view of the victims. And are the “Gods” in mantles truly untouchable or does it become a thing of the past?

LET’S NOT ALLOW CRIME TO GO WITHOUT PUNISHMENT AND REPENTANCE.

Bojan Jovanovic

Belgrade, Serbia

www.mdinainternational.org

Written and translated by Ina Vukic

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