Atonement for wrongs against Franjo Tudjman and Croatia’s War of Independence

Franjo Tudjman

On November 16, 2012, the ICTY Appeal Chamber acquittal of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac also acquitted the first president of Croatia dr. Franjo Tudjman of war crimes.

Those that criticise this ICTY Appeal Chamber decision criticise it in ways that have nothing to do with justice for the individuals convicted by ICTY Trial Chamber in April 2011 and acquitted by ICTY Appeal Chamber.

Certainly Serbian politicians and media as well as some convincingly pro-communist Croatian NGOs (e.g. Documenta – Centre for Dealing With the Past), when referring to the ICTY Appeal Chamber’s acquittal of Croatian Generals, keep pounding about how there were crimes committed during and after the Operation Storm in Croatia. It would seem that criminal justice, defined by the due process of presumed innocent until proven guilty, means nothing to these peddlers of communist propaganda.

They just do not seem to have the decency and patience to isolate their unnamed individuals who breached Dr Franjo Tudjman’s and his leadership’s orders not to commit crimes and who have or may have committed war crimes, and simply concentrate on those individuals as criminal justice should. These crimes perpetrated by their unnamed individuals have nothing to do with Croatia’s defense policy and practice at time of Serb aggression and liberating occupied territory. Despite that fact, these peddlers of injustice keep pestering the world into thinking that aggressor was the same as victim during the 1990’s Croatia’s war of Independence.

Swanee Hunt: “The bloody Serb incursion into Croatia and Bosnia happened while I served as U.S. Ambassador to Austria in the mid-1990s. In Vienna, I hosted symposia and negotiations to stop a war in which 90 percent of atrocities were committed by Serbs, although the percentage of indicted war criminals didn’t approach that balance. The Dayton Agreement ended the Bosnian war in 1995. Perhaps heartened by their reward of almost half the country (when they comprised one-third of the population), the Serbs enjoyed their role as the neighborhood bully until 1999, when NATO intervened with air strikes to protect the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo”.

As the deceptive political dust from Serbia and some Croatian NGOs that maintains hollow and baseless rhetoric of a Croatian joint criminal enterprise in 1995 Operation Storm continues much of the rest of the world – including myself – sees fragments of atonement for wrongs done to the first President of Croatia, dr. Franjo Tudjman and his leadership circle. The atonement may be discrete or invisible to the naked eye at this time, but it’s emerging nevertheless.

The 15 April 2011 ICTY Trial Chamber judgment against the Croatian Gotovina and Markac wasted no time in including the already deceased Franjo Tudjman (who had no opportunity to defend himself in court) in its utterly unjust ruling in which it “found that Tudjman, who was the main political and military leader in Croatia before, during, and after the indictment period, was a key member of the joint criminal enterprise. Tudjman intended to repopulate the Krajina with Croats and ensured that his ideas in this respect were commander of the armed forces…” 

ICTY Appeal Chamber finding of November 16, 2012, also acquitted Dr Franjo Tudjman and his leadership of this horrible conviction by the Trial Chamber.

Credible sources claim that Zarko Puhovski (the co-founder of the first alternative Yugoslav political organisation UJDI [Udruženje za Jugoslavensku demokratsku inicijativu/Association for Yugoslav Democratic Initiatiative] in 1988), Sasha Broz (granddaughter of Josip Broz Tito, long-time leader of Communist Yugoslavia) and Vesna Terselic (leader of controversial and highly political NGO the Documenta – Centre for dealing With the Past, in Croatia) went to Belgrade in 1998 and, in collaboration with Savo Strbac (rebel Serb politician), compiled the main thrusts of ICTY Prosecution charges against Croatia, i.e. Operation Storm and, hence, those charged for war crimes in relation to it, including the Croatian Generals. These trips to Belgrade occurred around the times when Croatia’s former President Stjepan Mesic appeared secret witness for the Prosecution at the ICTY.

These were the times when public vilification against Franjo Tudjman took a ferociously accelerated path.

Be it as it may, justice is slow and truth revealed in the end. As for dr. Franjo Tudjman, the thoughts that settle the heart of Independent Croatia after the ICTY Appeal Chamber acquittal could be summarised by Ian McEwan quote from ‘Atonement’:

I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life.”

Although there’s no mention of Tudjman’s name, the atonement for wrongs done against him seeps through the words of Doris Pack, German member of the European Parliament and its rapporteur on Bosnia, who said during the past couple of days:

it would be good for the Serbian public to realise as soon as possible that the 1995 Operation Storm was a legitimate operation by the Croatian army, regardless of the fact that crimes were committed…Croatia fought a justified war to reclaim one-third of its territory that had been lawlessly occupied by Serbs and from which Serbs had expelled all Croats … the Hague war crimes tribunal’s recent acquittal of Croatian general Ante Gotovina meant that he was not responsible for war crimes in any way.

The perpetrators of the crimes committed by the Croatian side in the war are on trial and sentences are being handed down … crimes were committed against Serbs in the war as well but the perpetrators were convicted… The Hague’s acquittal of Croatian generals was a signal to everyone that the tribunal (ICTY) was working correctly and that it was not biased … Gotovina’s acquittal had helped Croatia close an unhappy chapter of its history.

The world would indeed be a nicer place if Serbia and those that support its wicked and false stance on Operation Storm were to heed Doris Pack’s above words. After all, Doris Pack was part of the European Union power brokers that served hardships and fired vilification against Dr Franjo Tudjman and Operation Storm during 2000’s and now have enough courage to admit a wrong. But, sadly, the pro-Communist threads run deep and there’s much still to be done for peace and reconciliation.

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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