Croatia’s Former President Stjepan Mesic Finally Hits Thin Ice

Former President of Croatia Stjepan Mesic Gets government funding cut Photo: direktno.hr

Former President of Croatia
Stjepan Mesic
Gets government funding cut
Photo: direktno.hr

 

Croatia’s former president, that politically communist leprosy, Stjepan Mesic is finally it seems getting some just deserts. Slowly but surely his public presence of political authority seems finally destined to die a death of starvation. Disappear. His communist colleagues in power had some years ago secured that he has and maintaines the office of former president for life!

So, for this year’s budget Mesic’s office was to be provided 777,000 kuna/similar amount every year. That is almost 12 years average salaries in the country where most ordinary worker earn much less and pensioners even less. After the release of the draft budget last week, Bridge coalition headed by Bozo Petrov (deputy-rime Minister) announced an amendment to the effect that it would reduce the amount provided to Mesic’s office by 600,000 and redirect that money to the needs of civilian invalids of the Homeland War.
And, indeed, on Monday 21 March new Croatian government budget containing the above amendment for cutting the funds to the former president’s office was passed in parliament with a majority of votes. Most Social Democrat/communist opposition voted against without a hope of succeeding. Mesic is on his way out of public life as propped by taxpayer money.
What a great gesture! Hoorah!

One more communist vein funded by the government – down!
Such a hefty cut to government finance practically means that the running of Mesic’s office as former President is severely disabled and incapacitated.
Celebrating this denial or withdrawal of funds for Stjepan Mesic’s office of Former President has roots in many underhanded, rotten and treasonous activities pinned to him. His arrival in 2000 as president of Croatia after Franjo Tudjman’s death marked the end of unity among the Homeland War veterans, unity with diaspora, end of free expressions of patriotism and national identity… Mesic had resumed with moves to criminalise Croatia’s Homeland War and throw mud and lies against Franjo Tudjman and other leaders who fought for secession from communism. Mesic continued to be an embarrassment. He sent dozens upon dozens of Homeland War generals into forced retirement – the process of destruction of the Croatian military-defense structure had commenced. He opened classified presidential archives after Tudjman’s death to British journalists and secret services, on purpose omitted parts of archives that would indicate any proper procedures undertaken in war by the Croatian defense forces and leaders, went to the Hague International Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia to give secret testimony against Croatia (which thus sadly went unchallenged by the Croatian professionals, officials or people in many parts); he sowed fear with his lies and innuendoes of crimes among the veteran population to the point when veterans were no longer certain of their freedom or existence. He, Mesic, knew how to divide and conquer – hence ten years at the helm as president.

His evil aim was to detudjmanise Croatia, kill every idea of the defensive Homeland War and proceed with the destruction of independent and democratic Croatia envisioned by Franjo Tudjman and supported by majority.
It’s a futile attempt to fight against my beliefs, primarily against the firm commitment to anti-fascism, by practically abolishing my office,” Mesic said last week when the amendment to cut the government funding for his Office of Former President was announced. “For neither the parliament nor the government can abolish me. While I live, I will consider it our duty to work for the benefit of the country, which I had the honor of serving as president for ten years,” Mesic stressed that his office will not close! Why would taxpayer money go on funding him and his office when its work is against Croatian independence and democracy for which thousands lost their lives and glorifies communist (which he calls antifascist but has nothing to do with antifascism)!
Mesic’s reaction to the passing of the budget in parliament on Monday 21 March was: “It should be clear to everyone that the office of former president is not in question here … I am in question. That is a reckoning with me. I have never spent any big millions nor will taking away my right to use the Office save millions. My office costs around 800,000 kuna per year. Whatever these people do, whether it is the HDZ leadership, which undoubtedly stands behind this, or ‘protruding players’ like Bridge coalition and Party of Rights, they will not shut me up.”

The whole point of lustration, getting rid of highly positioned people in communist Yugoslavia from high positions in democratic Croatia, is a key element in succeeding with democracy and economic progress. Stepan Mesic may be adamant to keep on doing what he is doing outside of the state funded office but that is an entirely different kettle of fish. The international players or leaders will know he is not supported by the government and will hopefully cease wanting to deal with him on political and business issues important to state.

Croatia's Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic 2016 Budget-ready in his cabinet Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

Croatia’s Prime Minister
Tihomir Oreskovic
2016 Budget-ready in his cabinet
Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

 

So, this is one of the best news I have heard for months coming out of Croatia. Finally Croatia’s leadership has stepped up to the mark and publicly declared, where it counts – in the public purse of taxpayer money – that it will no longer pay for Mesic’s work as it serves no positive value for Croatia’s democracy and economic progress etc. This step has the hallmarks of lustration even though the Office of Former President is not in the strict sense an office of public service. Those hallmarks are in the shedding of communist damaging effects from where it counts in Croatia as Stjepan Mesic together with a well state-funded office did leave domestic and international impressions of power closely tied to governmental power.

 

Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic thanked members of Parliament and his team of ministers for passing the budget on Monday. He expressed trust in the new budget and hopes it will be a solid foundation upon which to build a solid future for Croatia.
Good for you – Croatia! Get rid from public influence of that political rot and communist current like the former president Stjepan Mesic. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Still Bypassing Diaspora In Correcting Mistakes Of Communism

Tihomir-Dujmović-22-prosinca-2015

 

In late 1980’s and early 1990’s it was the conservative, centre-right political ideology that gathered 94% of Croatia’s voters behind Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ to vote for and fight for Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia and Croatia’s independence as sovereign and democratic state. Under the leadership of its first president, Franjo Tudjman, Croatia was set on a path that would see the shedding from all aspects of public life and administration of remnants of communist habits and detrimental processes. Tudjman’s speeches contained recipes for Croatia to develop and grow into a democracy including using foreign consultants from developed democracies, training Croatian leaders political and business in leading the changes that had to occur if Croatia was truly to move away from communist regime of Yugoslavia, etc. But Tudjman died just a year after the final piece of Croatia’s sovereign territory occupied by Serb aggressor was re-integrated into Croatia. Tudjman’s HDZ lost government as well a couple of months after his death, much so due to the communist lobby that had become strong with Stjepan Mesic’s leadership and public lobby. In early 2000 the League of Communists/known as Social Democrats by then won government and Stjepan Mesic became the president. Of course, any plans to shed communist Yugoslavia from Croatia’s public administration and government initiatives disappeared into the dark of night.

Every time general elections came around after that there have been high voter expectations and conservative election candidates’ promises that an incoming conservative government if elected would deal decisively in stemming out the remnants of communism that stifle progress both economic, social as fit in a well-functioning democracy. Dealing with communist crimes and putting lustration in place were among the formally and informally bandied ways of cleansing Croatia’s democratic future from past communist habits and processes and so too were legislative changes needed to accommodate progress and a vibrant, entrepreneurial, economically viable and prosperous Croatia. Ivo Sanaders’ HDZ government (December 2003 to January 2008), whose leader ended up in courts for corruption, and that of Jadranka Kosor’s (July 2009 to December 2011) made no strong moves in this direction and, indeed, they continued with the alienation of the Croatian diaspora (that amazing resource of positive support Croatia had harnessed in the 1990’s and without which Croatian independence would simply not have been achieved) started in 2000 by Stjepan Mesic and Ivica Racan’s Social Democrat/Communist League prior government. Then came the Zoran Milanovic Social democrat/Communist League led government in late 2011 to January 2016 and it, of course, was not in the business of shedding from Croatia the ideals of communist Yugoslavia it still held close to its heart. To be fair though, there were certain legislative changes that needed to be brought in during this mandate as essential part of the path to EU membership, however, even these changes of legislative nature did not change the hearts of former communists – Croatia was and is still riddled with red tape and behaviours at public administration levels that, in essence, stifle progress and democracy. Zoran Milanovic’s government coincided with communist Ivo Josipovic’s presidency, who won office after Stjepan Mesic held two mandates – so conveniently positioned to evade the necessary changes away from communist past. Centre-right aligned president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was inaugurated in February 2015 and she brought with her an apparent wealth of experience and democratic wisdom from having studied and worked abroad for many years. Then came the new government in Croatia in January 2016, mainly consisting of conservative centre-right HDZ but in coalition with MOST independent list with prime minister Tihomir Oreskovic as the leader alighned with no political party but, like Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, bringing in a wealth of corporate, business and entrepreneurial knowhow picked-up through working abroad in the “real and competitive business world” of the world.

The 2016 new government was ushered in with high expectations from the public for tackling the remnants of communism that stifle democratic progress, healthy public dialogues and economic development. Lustration, condemnation of communist crimes, legislative and procedural changes to aid and ease the process of investments and economic growth, tapping into the potential and significantly positive knowledge, economic and demographic resources that lie with the diaspora are just some examples of the plethora of measures popularly thought of as necessary to carry Croatia into the originally drawn plans for democracy, freedom and prosperity. But the evidently desired progress in moving away from communist habits is not yet visible to the originally desired degree and constant suspicions as to the democratic intentions of some politicians of note keep reverberating in Croatia’s public life. As to harnessing the resources from the diaspora for the betterment of Croatia, for movement far away from communist tracks, nothing solid or reassuring is seen on the horizon: just lots of talk from politicians and leaders but little if any right action.

Slobodna Dalmacija’s journalist, Tihomir Dujmovic, has recently in his article “America” addressed so eloquently and so clearly the detrimental, stifling effects of communism in Croatia.

 

“…I have roamed across America…listened to the destinies of hundreds of displaced Croats. Hundreds of sad destinies caused by communist sadism, which forced thousands of Croats to establish their homes far away from their beloved country,” writes Dujmovic and continues: “As far as possible away from Tito’s terror! …When I watch our people in America, when I compare them in their past years to us and when I watch our former poor that have regularly achieved a decent life living abroad, a person cannot but curse communism … It is here (in America) that we can truly see what Tito had done to us, it’s here that you can see in what misery and poverty our parents lived at home (in Croatia) and we with them, it’s from here that you can truly see the level to which the (communist) system had destroyed us…In that sense, today as a state we are really not doing anything else except correcting the mistakes that communism brought us.

In the first instance, the communist mentality that is not being extinguished…for example look the Cadastre registries…they (communists) took your land, invented the Cadastre and entered their names into the land register! We have not to this day solved this question. And there is a whole sea of similar topics.

When you listen to our people living abroad and when you listen to their counterparts in Croatia the first thing you see is a mound of zombies in the homeland whose every business enterprise has been nailed down with a hammer. In Cleveland I met Ivan Katic who has been living there for 40 years, he started without a single dollar in his pocket and without high diplomas, but his business spirit is such that he now employs a hundred people and his annual business turnover is $30 million. Look at him and his business sense that was developed by America, the standard America permitted, and then look at his counterpart in Slavonia, from where he went to America, and you will see what communism has done to this nation. If you were not a part of the communist elite, in order to live like a man, in order to be permitted to earn money, in order to develop your own business sense, in order for your children to be educated outside the communist ideology, you had to go thousands of miles away from that hellish fire.

So, what have our people found in America? Nothing except the opportunity Tito had not given to them. The opportunity to work and earn well, an opportunity to develop without needing to sell their soul to the Party! I watch them and I watch my parent’s generation and I can grab with my hands that crime that was perpetrated here (in Croatia). Because communism took away our soul, killed all creativity, nailed to the ground all business entrepreneurship, crushed the national conscience and destroyed the work culture, which our grandparents fundamentally had.

So, while Tito’s satraps masochistically taunted us, America and the West offered their hand to the Croats who knocked on their door, offered their hand to their creativity, rewarded and encouraged their entrepreneurship and let them attend church and hold the Croatian flag with pride, without being followed by secret police…That’s why I hold communism and Yugoslavia in contempt because they have stolen half a century from us. Because they murdered generations and stole their opportunity to live like people. Thousands of Croats would not have moved from their villages were they permitted to live like people, thousands upon thousands of Croats would not have left the land had there not been talk of impending liquidations of biblical proportions during the first days of revenge in 1945…They decided how much land you will cultivate, they decided how many square meters you will live in, they decided what you may sing and when you could revel. With what right? With the right of a pointed gun to the head! With head jerking towards Huda pit (mass grave of mass murders/communist crimes), in which you will end up if you don’t stop saying what you think. There’s still a sea of emotions towards the homeland within the Croatian diaspora, a sea of good will to return and, once again, it is the homeland’s move. This is the time of crossroads and truly the last chance for the homeland to offer it hand towards the emigrated Croatia that has been waiting for too long for that hand.”

While Dujmovic may have omitted to address the contribution Croatian diaspora could make to a better and more prosperous Croatia without necessarily returning to Croatia to live, the clear message remains: the governments of Croatia have done nothing much since the death of Franjo Tudjman (1999) to truly make the diaspora a continuing active, equal and vibrant part of the imagined prosperous Croatia. Not counting those individuals living in the diaspora continuing to contribute to the betterment of Croatia the lack of large-scale involvement from within Croatia towards diaspora is alarming and detrimental to Croatia in every way. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Prickly Croatia – Israel Relations: Aloysius Stepinac’s List Was Longer Than Schindler’s!

 

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at Yad Vashem/ Israel with Branko Lustig (in hat)  Photo: Office of President, RH

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at Yad Vashem/ Israel with
Branko Lustig (in hat)
Photo: Office of President, RH

For reasons many cannot understand, even if their bias against Croatia is profound, Israel’s political establishment had in 1997 taken an anti Croatia, anti-Franjo Tudjman stand. Indeed, Israel had then pronounced Franjo Tudjman a “persona non grata” in Israel because, it was reported, Tudjman had in his books underestimated the number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust! Indeed, Tudjman was labelled by various Jewish organisations across the world as Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic because of the numbers he estimated perished in the Holocaust. Overestimates or possible overestimates of number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust had never, so many decades after the fact of the Holocaust, to my knowledge, set in motion such hateful and drastic measures on the level of state relations!

After Franjo Tudjman’s death in 1999 all three Presidents of Croatia had officially visited Israel, apologising for the crimes of the Holocaust that occurred during WWII in Croatia. Apologies, of course, are always the right thing to do as they contain, or should contain, the spirit of regret and compassion and, hopefully, determination that things apologised for shall never reoccur. Presidents Stjepan Mesic (2000-2010) and Ivo Josipovic (2011-2015) are both of hard-core communist extraction and had, as expected, molded their apologies for the Holocaust while in Israel in such a way to openly suggest that fascist or Nazi supporters were still active or “mysteriously in ghost-like fashion coming out of the woodwork” in Croatia – still.  “Apologies” of this nature are nothing more than attempts, on false but politically potent grounds, to cover up communist crimes committed in Croatia during and after WWII. Many Croatia’s “leading” Jews had, particularly since 1991, followed the same line because I dare say, most were and are communists of former Yugoslavia.

It is of great importance to note that no president of Croatia has so far, it seems, “lobbied” to Israel regarding the factual research findings by Dr Esther Gitman about the significant work of Croatia’s Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, beatified and in line to be canonised a Saint of the Catholic Church.

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac
Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

It is certainly not far fetched, by a long shot, to conclude that Croatian pro-communist Jewish and Serb lobby would not want Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac vindicated by indisputable facts which point to the overwhelming lies and false grounds upon which communists persecuted him as Nazi-collaborator immediately after WWII. Former communist operatives and influential persons within the Yugoslav Communist Party between WWII and 1991 have too much face to lose were the truth to be accepted as truth. No matter, the truth still stands and its enemies are identified in this case. The battles for truth and recognition of it may, hence, be easier than before.

Modern Croatia is not a successor to the World War II independent state of Croatia and its ideologies,” Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told i24news, in an exclusive interview at the end of a two-day visit to Israel, 24 July 2015. Kitarovic, who during her visit participated in a Yad Vashem ceremony in which Croatian-American producer Branko Lustig donated his “Schindler’s List” Oscar to the Holocaust memorial, brushed off any connection to what she calls “a dark period in our history that casts a shadow on Croatia’s past.”

I find it regretful that there seems to have been no opportunity during this visit to refer to Blessed Aloysius Stepinac while at Yad Vashem or elsewhere in Israel. Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac had his own “Shindler’s list” and saved thousands upon thousands of Jews during WWII Croatia! After access to historical documents/archives had been possible at the fall of communist Yugoslavia his “list” is found to have been much longer than Schindler’s! His list was longer than Schindler’s and yet state politics keep this truth hidden or are not inclined to talk about it publicly!

 

A book by Esther Gitman

A book by Esther Gitman

Part of Croatia’s World War II history, the collaboration with the Nazis has been a prickly issue in diplomatic relations with Israel, which were established in 1997. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has, on this occasion of visiting Israel, maintained the stance of her predecessors Mesic and Josipovic, and “focuses on building relations with Israel today and is strongly committed to the victims and survivors in order to prevent future atrocities”. “There is no connection today between the Nazi ideology and modern Croatia,” Grabar-Kitarovic said, and vowed that she feels “no resentment” from her Israeli counterparts, reports i24 news.
In addition to the Ustashi regime, which was a collaborationist Nazi regime, there was comparably one of the biggest anti fascist uprising resistance movements in Croatia,” Grabar-Kitarovic said, mentioning that members of her own family participated in this movement. “These people who fought fascism and Nazism put Croatia on the right side of history, and what is embedded in our constitution today is our anti-fascist and anti-Nazi roots and the Homeland War that we fought back in the 90s in order to liberate Croatia from aggression and occupation,” Grabar-Kitarovic said in Israel last week.
I use this opportunity to condemn every totalitarian regime – Nazism, Fascism, Communism,” said President Grabar-Kitarovic at Yad Vashem in Israel, and emphasised education as the strongest weapon against every form of radical ideology, divisions, hatred and racism. “We must tell the truth because we are denuded in this place, we have no and carry none of our official functions. We are here as human beings. As people, as parents, sisters and brothers we have the responsibility to pursue for the truth.”

All what President Grabar-Kitarovic said in Israel last week stands as truth but such plethora of historical references still omit the fact that many, including Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, are considered as Nazi-collaborators, participants in the Holocaust, when the truth and facts point the other way – the righteous way! So, I often agonise and ponder: why is it so difficult for the Holocaust remembrance environment to accept the truth about Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac’s role in helping and rescuing Jews? An answer that comes to mind is that communists of former Yugoslavia have, on false grounds and utter lies, made Aloysius Stepinac synonymous with the concept and reality of the Holocaust in Croatia and to now accept him for what he truly was – innocent of those charges, would somehow take  a significant part of the heavy gravity away from the act of the Holocaust! So, the Holocaust remembrance environment seems in part to prefer perpetuation of untruths rather than facing the truth. Nothing can take away the heavy gravity the Holocaust carries for human kind – for it was an abomination – but unjust treatment of individuals within this environment, unwillingness to recognise the actual rather than reported or estimated truth, do add to its tragedy for human justice. I do hope that the pursuit of truth of the Holocaust in Croatia will surface with the righteousness of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac: with a proud revelation of a Schindler’s List not even the revered Schindler could match! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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