Croatian Homeland War Values Lost In EU

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic
President of Croatia at Brookings Institution
28 September 2018
Photo:Pixsell

In its quest for control over different nations the European Union political machine has gradually planted in its modus operandi the term “Consolidation of Europe” and its practical applications that evidently replaces the term of “accession”. Hence, if one is to go by Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s, the Croatian President’s statements made in New York at Brookings Institution during the past week, the path of consolidation rather than the path of accession will expand the EU into the so-called Western Balkans or South-East Europe. While consolidation generally is a desired pursuit within a unified body of nations in reference to the EU it reeks of political ploys to expand the EU by creating allowances; perhaps even the undesirable/unjustifiable ones such as burying brutal history without true reconciliation and responsibility for crimes perpetrated in the name of national politics, equating the victim with the aggressor.

One cannot consolidate that which does not exist – that is, several countries in South East Europe are not EU member states and so, to achieve EU expansion, EU is now referred to as Europe! Make your own conclusion as to what that means, I’ve made mine!

Consolidation in this context in essence means that the European Commission plays a progressively larger role in shaping policy and controlling its implementation across member states. The development agenda is evolving in a consolidationist direction, with a greater focus on collective solutions to global problems. This is the source of rather loud protests by some member states that fight to assert their national interests (some attached to historical events) within the European Union or are threatening to leave the Union because of imposed controls that wash away or erode individual member state sovereignty and what that sovereignty means to particular member states. Without high-level supporters the EU would have found it difficult to move in the consolidationist direction and, as far as Croatia is concerned, the support for a consolidationist approach sadly means the sacrificing of upholding as the highest of national values, the values of the Homeland War, which created the modern independent state! The core conditions favouring greater consolidation, including the interests of Member States, do not appear to be met as we have seen particularly through various “patriotic” moves made in Hungary or Italy; Brexit in itself; the widening gap between current Croatian national politics and core values of Homeland War means that decommunisation, lustration, Homeland War veterans status in society are the pain that chews away into oblivion the values Croatia defended and asserted during the Homeland War. Up until recently there was in the EU enthusiasm for greater cooperation, but it seems this is now being replaced with enthusiasm for greater consolidation.

The dangers of consolidation lie in the fact that consolidation itself also means greater sacrifice of national values and the Croatian Homeland War values are gradually eroded on down the ladder to make way for EU values; for EU control.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic spent the past week in the US where she attended the 73rd UN General Assembly meeting and several events organised for her tour, including the International Leaders’ Forum hosted by the influential public policy organisation Brookings Institution on the 28th.

Retired US Marine General and former commander of the NATO ISAF, John R. Allen, emphasised at that forum that prior to becoming the president of Croatia as Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO “ … in everything she (Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic) did she brought distinction not only on behalf of Croatia but on behalf of all the liberal-democratic states in the community of nations.” Whether Grabar-Kitarovic’s apparent liberalism stops her from sticking to and emphasising worldwide the values of Croatia’s Homeland War as opposed to those of the EU is a moot point but in no uncertain terms a point that creates unease, if not anger, with many Croatian patriots.

The Forum at Brookings Institution on 28 September included the following:

John R. Allen: How do you see, how do you reflect upon Croatia joining the EU?

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: Looking at our EU membership I have to say that for Croatia it was a huge success because that was one of the goals that we put forward when we were striving for independence from Yugoslavia…so when people say or are even sad about the breakup of Yugoslavia we have to say that all of our countries in the territory used to be independent states at one point or another and we were part of different state contracts that sort of tried to exploit the fact that we need to be equal and that we need to express not only our national interest but the collective interest in the region… European Union has become more complex than when we strived to become a member state… we were at war, we were victim of aggression and occupation in the early nineties. We were member of the Berlin Wall, we were member of the Iron Curtain … and we were members of the reasons, the values why the EU was founded. The great success of the EU was incorporating the countries that were behind the Iron Curtain by making them part of democratic societies, market economies and by upholding the values of freedom of the individual but also of the responsibility not just towards your own nation but towards the EU and towards the human kind…working together towards global peace no matter how limited our capacities may be either in the national function or on the level of the EU but making the EU really the most successful integration process in the world so far. And despite all the circumstances that we are facing today, we are very proud to be one of the nations that supports a EU of equal nations, that is against any divisions, any kind of a EU that would be divided or any multi-tiered EU, that we are part of the EU that cares about its neighbours…it took a while for Croatia from being a member country following EU rules to start participating, creating rather than following…

John R. Allen: It’s important to recognise that the trauma that Croatia went through in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia in what they would term and what we should all learn more about – the Homeland War – the destruction that Croatia went through, the personal sacrifices of the citizens of Croatia, the entire region went through that war, to have Croatia emerge from that moment of national trauma and seek to be part of an organisation that stands for values and equality nation-for-nation you could have gone another way and I think we are all better for that.

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: It wasn’t an easy process and when you say that unfortunately the EU is sometimes perceived as a foe that couldn’t be further from the truth. The EU is the biggest partner of the US and Croatia and countries like Croatia are really your biggest partners and your biggest allies and when I listened to President’s speech in the UN asking for respect and saying that the US will provide assistance only to those countries who respect the US, that trade should be free and fair, well I can say that we think reciprocally as well. We want to be respected as well and we want that free trade as well. For instance Croatia has been asking for an avoidance of double taxation treaty ever since the nineties but we haven’t been able to conclude the treaty apparently for a lack of administrative capacity, which is hard to believe looking at your administrative capacities as the US, so when president Trump asks for free and reciprocal trade we ask for the same. We ask that Croatia be given the same respect and the same benefit of concluding that avoidance of double taxation treaty which in my opinion is just a technical issue that can be negotiated very quickly…

John R. Allen: You don’t like the term the Balkans, you have another term for it – South East Europe – and there are candidate members in that region that could accede to the EU and eventually to NATO. As you think about the region …what does that mean for us? What does that mean for the region? What advice would you give to the states potentially acceding to those two organisations?

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: That region is an indispensable part of Europe so currently it’s a vacuum that needs to be filled, so we’re not talking about enlargement we’re talking about consolidation of Europe and South East of Europe is not only a more neutral geographical term for the region but it’s the right term because it’s Europe, it’s a part of Europe and it shouldn’t be called anything but Europe. I know that there are a lot of people in the region who call themselves proud Balkans’ inhabitants, and I respect that, but again I resist the term because I think it has been a barrier to that consolidation of Europe and of the EU. Croatia has been one of the staunchest supporters of integration of our neighbouring countries in the EU and NATO for those who choose to do so. We have been doing everything we can to help them politically and tactically in helping to fulfil the criteria…another aspect is Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and we have the elections coming up on the 7th of October and I have been openly criticised by some politicians in BiH for interfering in the domestic affairs. Well first of all I have to say that in today’s world when it comes to human rights and the rights of nations and minorities, appealing to internal affairs unfortunately is a distinction that belongs to undemocratic countries…additionally Croatia is one of the signatories of the Dayton Peace Accords which are also the Constitution of BiH, so it’s our obligation to uphold that Constitution, to protect the rights of the Croatian nation as one of the constituent nations of BiH and the entire territory and I will never get tired or discouraged to continue to fight for the equal rights of every nation including the Croatian nation … so what I want for the outcome of these elections is to produce a functioning government … and to protect the Croatian nation as one of the constituent nations in the country…Now, when it comes to Serbia, I’ve invested so much of what I would call political capital in improving our relations with Serbia and I must say that I’m really not happy about the inflammatory rhetoric that comes from the other side, because within just a few minutes you can create situations that cannot be repaired for years afterwards. And what we want is full normalisation, we want to resolve issues from the past, in particular the missing persons from the war. There are still thousands of families on both the Croat and Serb sides waiting for their closure and we want to solve the border issues and we want to help Serbia to proceed on the way to the EU but they must fulfil the same criteria that Croatia has fulfilled as well…”

One would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fit the rigorous process of accession Croatia was forced to undergo (including Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac answering to false criminal charges of Joint Criminal Enterprise and the ensuing ICTY battles to reach acquittal of those charges) into a process of consolidation, simply because consolidation in itself “naturally” requires compromises; compromises that Croatian people may not want when it comes to Serbia and its aggression against Croatia in the early nineties. While President Grabar Kitarovic is right saying that EU membership was one of Croatia’s goals when it fought to secede from communist Yugoslavia, the sad and unpalatable truth is that the Croatian Homeland War values for democracy (decommunisation), patriotic togetherness, upholding cohesive state-building ideas, to name just three, are the values that are being pushed into insignificance, or diluted to tepidity, in this consolidation of EU process she has evidently invested and is investing efforts into! Ina Vukic

Croatian President Boosting Prospects For EU Independence From Russian Energy Supplies

First Meeting in New York of Adriatic-Baltic-BlackSea Group initiated by Croatia's President 29 September 2015 Photo: predsjednica,hr

First Meeting in New York
of Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group
initiated by Croatia’s President
29 September 2015
Photo: predsjednica,hr

 

While the hopeless, destructive, narcissistic and redder than red Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said maliciously, commenting on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s attendance of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in late September 2015, that he had “better things to do than go shopping in New York”, Croatia’s President Grabar-Kitarovic was hosting the activation into practice of her initiative and idea for the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea cooperation. The first meeting (convened on the side-lines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly held at the UN in New York on 29 September 2015) of the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea cooperation forged with the participation of 12 countries at the initiative of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic decided to maintain this form of cooperation and to hold their next meeting in Zagreb in 2016. The group, comprising of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland and Romania would seem ideally positioned to strategically and effectively shake the rug under the Russian control of gas energy supplies in particular as well as being an ideal circle of states that can bash out the negative and economic progress-stifling remnants of the former communist regimes in that part of the world. It’s important to note that this group is not a new formal political organisation, though, but a frame within which the already existing avenues and networks of cooperation will be channeled in a more focused and concentrated manner in order to achieve the most effective outcomes for the three areas of concern.

Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group countries map

Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group
countries map

The meeting in New York resolved to focus on three areas – energy, transport and telecommunications – and create/develop a Central-European region’s north-south-bound infrastructure in these fields of energy, transport and digital communication, through joint action for the acquisition of EU funds and talks.
Furthermore and with regards to the suffocating refugee crisis Europe is currently hit by and politically buckling under, the meeting reached a palpable consensus to pursue the line which insists that Europe alone cannot be solely responsible to solve the crisis but that it is a global matter and call for a global response.

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic hosting the 29 September 2015 Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group meeting at UN

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
hosting the 29 September 2015
Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group meeting at UN

The Baltic states can set a perfect example for the Adriatic and Black Sea regions of how to strengthen regional cooperation and create a common market in the context of economic and administrative reforms,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius. According to the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy, the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea regions have many opportunities to deepen their political cooperation and to coordinate actions more closely, in particular in the fields of energy and transport: exchanging experiences in diversifying energy supplies, creating an integrated European energy market and more actively developing the North-South Transport Corridor.

Croatian President at Visegrad V4 2015
On 8th/9th October 2015 Croatia’s president Grabar-Kitarovic attended in Belatonfured, Hungary, as special guest the meeting of the heads of states of the Visegrad V4 Group (The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). Topics discussed at this high-level meeting included migration, climate change, energy, security and stability in the South-East Europe area. President Grabar-Kitarovic emphasised that the acceptance of linked goals in sustainable development from the climate change agenda achieved in New York for the post-2015 period was a significant step forward. She said that energy-related connections between the countries in the Group was mutually beneficial and that energy efficiency and energy independence were important elements of national security and political stability of every country, its economy and its citizens’ standard of living.
With the building of the LNG terminal on the Island of Krk and our linking with the Visegrad group countries, but also within the framework of the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative, which I have recently presented, we would secure not only the energy independence for our countries but also the political and economic ones and thus shield our countries from possible manipulations such as the closures of gas supplies or the manipulation with pricing,” stated Grabar-Kitarovic.
Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 accelerated and underscored the need for the EU to do more to safeguard energy supply to Europe, which relies on Russia for about a third of its gas, almost half of which is piped via Ukraine. Under the European Commission initiative on Central, Eastern and South-Eastern European Gas Connectivity (CESEC), the countries will also focus on making the best use of existing infrastructure by allowing reverse flows. Projects, such as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is set to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, an LNG terminal on island of Krk, Croatia, and system reinforcement in Bulgaria and Romania, have been identified as top priorities.
LNG Croatia has extended its deadline to year-end for bid submissions from equity investors to build its import terminal on Krk Island. The company has extended the deadline from December 15 to December 31, “in agreement with the European Commission at the request of companies for which the LNG business is not a primary one”.
LNG Croatia’s planned €600 million, 1.6-2.4 million tonne a year LNG terminal has been designated a strategic investment project, supplying gas to EU member states in the Central Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe and beyond, to reduce reliance on piped Russian gas. LNG Croatia plans to start construction next summer, for completion in 2019.

UN, New York, 29 September 2015 First meeting of Adriatic Baltic Black Sea Group hosted by Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

UN, New York, 29 September 2015
First meeting of
Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group
hosted by Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

It has been said over and over again that it is unlikely Europe could significantly reduce its overall dependence on Russian gas any time before 2030 for both existing contractual and supply/demand reasons. While contracts are legally binding the latter is particularly an interesting aspect of this unhappy relationship defined by dependency, alternative sources for gas can be developed particularly for countries in the Baltic region, Central East Europe and Central South Europe that are wholly or heavily dependent on Russian gas. Europe has spent years trying to wriggle free from its dependence on Russian energy and the whims of its volatile president, Vladimir Putin. So, having in mind the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group developments one needs to ask why is the continent considering signing up for a new gas pipeline that will keep Europe hostage to Russian energy shenanigans and outright blackmail for decades to come? The agreement revealed at the beginning of September 2015 between Russia’s Gazprom PJSC and European companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, EON AG and Engie to expand the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea (designed to shift gas into Western Europe), completely neglects and defies the interests of Eastern Europe and in particular the fact that Poland and Slovak leaders have called this deal a betrayal to European unity! Russia’s multi-billion-dollar plans to expand the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany seem to be taking shape faster than most observers expected — and stand in stark contrast to the bevy of other stillborn energy projects Russia keeps announcing. In conclusion, it seems clear that there is a front of western companies willing to push forward the expansion of the pipeline connecting Russia with Germany, while politicians and companies from Eastern Europe are ready to equally table their requests and a push for locating new sources of gas within the EU geographical span. The interests of Western and Eastern European blocks are clearly diverging. If not carefully handled, that could be a problem, especially in a moment where migrations and complex geopolitical moves seem to already be fracturing Europe. The Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group initiative seems to have given the Eastern European block new stronger wings in the pursuit of achieving independence from Russian gas supplies and may indeed be a factor that will help slow down if not thwart Nord Stream 2 project and turn the European companies into exploring new sources of gas on the continent rather than tightening ties with Russia. Of course, it all depends how strong the political resolve is in the EU to actually phase out its dependence on Russian gas. If the resolve is high and real we will perhaps see more LNG terminals across Europe mushroom, lifting up local economies in the process.

Possible Gas Pipelines from Krk Island LNG Terminal Croatia

Possible Gas Pipelines from
Krk Island LNG Terminal
Croatia

The pathway to reducing or phasing out dependence on Russian gas is precisely dotted with new LNG terminals and pipeline connections and the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has scored an enormously positive mark in this by initiating the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group. And yes, she did go shopping in New York: shopping for stronger cooperation between countries affected by energy dependence on Russia. No wonder Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic – a die-hard communist idealist who keeps his government’s sights fixated at mollycoddling Russia rather than looking more Westward – didn’t like the President’s latest visit to New York! Perhaps Croatia will score an even more positive mark in the upcoming general elections on 8 November and vote the incompetent Social Democrats out of government. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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