Croatian Veterans Vie For Register Of Aggressors

Croatian veterans Djuro Glogoski (in wheelchair) and Josip Klemm (pushing the wheelchair) head to meet with Croatia's Prime Minister for the first time since the veterans' protest commenced more than 200 days ago Photo: Index/Hina June 2015

Croatian veterans Djuro Glogoski (in wheelchair)
and Josip Klemm (pushing the wheelchair)
head to meet with Croatia’s Prime Minister
for the first time since the
veterans’ protest commenced more than 200 days ago
Photo: Index/Hina
June 2015


Last week, the Croatian veterans renewed their request for the government to create and publish a Register of Aggressors (against Croatia in early 1990’s) just as Veterans Register was created and published a couple of years ago. There are mixed feelings about this among Croats and those leaning towards nostalgia for communism and former Yugoslavia, or those who stand against lustration and processing of communist crimes, would have us believe that a Register of Aggressors places people suspected of war crimes (or those who aggressively rebelled against Croatian independence) into lifelong “suffering” linked to their name being on the list etc. Well, I would think that if a court clears a suspect of all charges then his/her name comes off the list. And if a person had been found guilty, then he/she deserve for their name to remain on that list, just like a criminal record of serious crimes remains.


Victims from Serb aggression against Croatia - overwhelmingly too many!

Victims from Serb aggression against Croatia –
overwhelmingly too many!

The Croatian veterans would reportedly have Croatia’s rebel Serbs, including those who have been given amnesty by the late president Franjo Tudjman, on that list. One could safely say that the amnesty could have well prevented many a thorough investigation into criminal behaviour during the rebellion against Croatian independence and that there are those who did commit war crimes on the amnesty list from late 1990’s.
According to the General Forgiveness Act passed in Croatia in 1996, soldiers who participated in the military actions against Croatia cannot be criminally prosecuted, except if they had committed war crimes. In other words, one cannot be prosecuted for the act of taking part in war operations but can for acts of looting, rape, killing of civilians and other war crimes.
It’s rather amusing to watch the opponents to the Register of Aggressors, who have spent more than two decades wrongfully bad-mouthing and rubbishing Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tudjman, and now find themselves spinning accolades of praise for him for showing what they say great statesmanship in extending amnesty to rebel Serbs for their rebellion,

Franjo Tudjman, in late 1990’s, made some political concessions and compromises within the then international political currents, that were in the business of carving “justice” in Croatia and former Yugoslav territory, and extended amnesty from prosecution for rebellion against Croatia to thousands of Serbs who were active in the aggression against Croatia and many among them could have been rapists and killers. Such efforts (amnesty) were made, I understand, to achieve some peace, steps towards reconciliation … But they have not worked apart from adding to the excuses Serbs continue using in denying their aggression against Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina)!
Those who support the Register of Aggressors claim that such a register would assist in information, evidence and fact gathering regarding any war crimes as well as assist with putting in motion court proceedings for them. They claim that it is both absurd and unfair to publish the Veterans’ Register and not the Aggressors’ one! Indeed, I would totally agree! After all Croatia would have no need to have the veterans proposing the Registry of the Aggressors were it not because of the aggressors who placed Croatia in the position to defend itself and its people from aggression.
Those against the register claim that its existence could result in people taking the law into their own hands, especially in smaller places, towns… Some who are against the register fear that the criteria for confirming the names to be included in the register may not be tight or objective enough. E.G., could two neighbours join forces and accuse someone of having been an aggressor just as people used to be accused as “elements against the state” in the former communist Yugoslavia.


Those against the Register may also argue that the very inclusion of a person’s name on the Register of Aggressors automatically labels him/her as “guilty until proven innocent”, which, of course, if that were the case, would be contrary to the Constitution. Those supporting the Register may argue that the inclusion of a person’s name in the Register of Aggressors does not and must not signify any guilt of any crime but is a list that compliments the records of Homeland War army, military or paramilitary operatives, i.e. the Aggressors were also military, paramilitary or army operatives just as those whose names are on the Veterans’ Register are.



A question should also be asked: should the amnesty given in 1996 now be revoked?


Sound reason would say – yes! It’s causing grief and unrest incessantly – there is a difference between forgiveness and justice. Justice must come and forgiveness may or may not – it is the prerogative of the victim to forgive or not! Absolutely! We can urge and encourage a victim to forgive his/her aggressor, killer, rapist… but we cannot force the victim to forgive against his/her will. It is human to forgive but it is also human not to! The aggressor, killer, rapist…should ask for forgiveness if forgiveness is to be given but Croatian rebel Serbs have not asked for it and continue denying their rebellion as wrong even if it did cost almost insurmountable devastation.
Some journalists and politicians in Croatia think that an Aggressors Register is an absurdity because the rebel Serbs from 1990’s cannot pose any threat to Croatia any longer!
Croatian Serbs have still, after hundreds of years, not accepted Croatia as their home but in many ways gravitate toward Belgrade. But let’s say such observations may be seen biased so, let’s look at the Public Report for 2015 (PDF version here) issued a couple of days ago by the Croatian Security & Intelligence Agency (SOA): according to this report Croatia still has serious security issues with the Serbian Chetnik movement that commits its activities towards achieving a Greater Serbia. These ideals were the ones that murdered and ethnically cleansed non-Serbs frantically in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990’s war of Serb aggression. Every single follower or supporter of such a movement must stay on a “watch list” and Aggressors’ Register is one of those, as far as I’m concerned.

Croatian Security Intelligence Agency Report 2014_Page_01

The SOA Public Report 2015 in Chapter 11 on Extremism says: “ Organisations and followers of Chetnik movements continue to be active in the states around us but also wider. In this, there are contacts maintained with the like-minded people in the Republic of Croatia as well as with other organisations and individuals with Greater Serbia ideological platforms.”
Here, one could say, is a very credible, valid and legitimate foundation for the creation of the Register of Aggressors!


“…You have no right to forget your past, because the nation that forgets has no future. However, you should not remember it for revenge, but for peace…”, is one of the strong messages given by Pope Francis in Sarajevo on June 6.
Funny thing about this is that some Croatian journalists wrongly think that Aggressors’ Register should not be created because it suggests revenge and lingering of urges for revenge.


Well, no – even Pope Francis knows that to achieve complete peace the wrongdoers must be held to account, justice has due process and that indeed often involves punishment, which is not the same as revenge.
So next time, someone writes that rebel Serbs of 1990’s no longer pose a threat to Croatia, turn a deaf  ear and a blind eye to that – and support the Register of Aggressors! Support the Croatian veterans in this! 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.