Croatia: Finally – Tito’s Bust Goes Bust

Josip Broz Tito bust copy

An almost incalculable number of crimes against humanity are the legacy left by Josip Broz Tito, the leader of former totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia and yet the sculpture of him in the form of a bust has managed to remain in the main foyer of the Office of the President of Croatia all this time since Croatia succeeded to break away from Yugoslavia, becoming an independent and democratic country, now a member of the EU.



If we take the transitive verb “bust” as meaning “unusable” then, indeed, the bust sculpture of Tito in the top office of this democratic country simply can no longer be tolerated, nor is it appropriate since Tito’s track-record in planning and encouraging the perpetration of incalculable crimes against innocent people had actually rendered the presence of his bust unusable and inoperable in a system of freedom and democracy and self-determination.
The communists and former communists of Yugoslavia/Croatia have insisted on having Tito’s bust displayed in that prominent place, as is the office of Croatia’s President – arguing that Tito and his WWII endeavours represent the very notion of antifascism upon which independent Croatia was created and built. However, the very truth of the matter is that modern Croatia was created by an overwhelming number of people who rejected communist Yugoslavia as created and maintained by Josip Broz Tito and his followers.
Praiseworthy – one of the first moves made by the new president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, as she stepped into her role of president was to announce the removal of the bust of Tito from the Office of the President. In this move, Grabar-Kitarovic emphasised that she continues to hold antifascism as an important foundation of Croatian independence and democracy but that Tito was a dictator and, therefore, a sculpture of his image has no place being there. The first president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, considered Tito as one the great statesmen in post WWII Europe, however, he also emphasised that Tito was responsible for the widespread communist crimes committed against innocent people under his leadership.
Certainly, the true antifascism many Croats say they subscribe to cannot be associated with Tito’s communism even though this is exactly what they’ve been trying to do and trying to protect ever since Croatia broke away from the former communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. Indeed, by insisting on communism as being equal to antifascism – the last two presidents of Croatia (Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic) have managed to make Croatia a painfully backward and divisively active country when it comes to facing the ugly truth of Tito’s (Yugoslav) communist totalitarianism. They continue misusing and abusing the term “antifascism” by pinning it to Tito’s communists.



EU’s condemnation of totalitarian regimes and their crimes simply does not go with having Tito’s bust displayed in the Office of the President of one of its member countries. Furthermore, one must conclude that breaking away from communist Yugoslavia also means placing into history, and not keeping alive in the Office of the President, the symbols of communist Yugoslavia, which is a bust of Tito.
Former president Stjepan Mesic, seeking that Tito’s bust be placed in his “former president’s office”, has expressed his protest against the removal of Tito’s bust from the Office of the President, saying that such a move heralds “not only an accommodation to the rigid right-wing and profascist and neofascist circles in Croatia, but also demonstrates an alarming indication of cramped efforts to erase a part of Croatian history and to remove the memory about the antifascist battle, which is one of the brightest pages in that history…”
But of course, not a word from Stjepan Mesic about the communist crimes perpetrated during his “brightest pages” of Croatian history! This obnoxious political scourge Croatia has been burdened with surely must end. One cannot tolerate accusations of profascism and neofascism, where there are none, even if they are, as in the case of Stjepan Mesic – desperate and last ditch efforts to save Tito and communism from the gallows they deserve. If these are not justified grounds to do away with the office of former president Stjepan Mesic by the same standards as for Ivo Josipovic – i.e. five years after the presidential mandate end, then I do not know what are. Croatia simply cannot tolerate the incessant vilification of its people who were not communists during the life of former Yugoslavia!
The only way unity, to which president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fervently aspires, can be achieved is through the truth. It will take the strength of Croatia’s new president – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic – to separate true antifascism from Tito’s/communist Yugoslavia antifascism. True antifascism cannot and must not be associated with communist crimes of WWII and post-WWII.
So, thumbs up to you and your courage – president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic!
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zbg); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: New Payments For Sports Excellence Reflect Communist Mentality

1960 Olympic Gold Medalist  Ante Zanetic

1960 Olympic Gold Medalist
Ante Zanetic (click photo to enlarge)


A new article/regulation within Croatia’s Sports Law has since late 2013 made provisions for the “permanent monetary monthly payments to Olympic and Paralympic games medal winners, to winners of medals at Olympic games for the deaf and world competitions in Olympic sports and disciplines”. This applies to medal winners within the national representation of former communist Yugoslavia as well as of modern and independent Croatia. And so it should be, after all winning Olympic or World Championship medals has always been a hard and demanding career filled with big personal sacrifices pursued for the love of sport and one’s country, for international prestige and respect of a whole nation, not just for the sportsperson winning the medal involved.

But when it comes to Croatia, the country evidently ruled by a government heavily influenced by nostalgia for the former communist Yugoslavia regime, matters of respect and merit become contaminated and bitterly twisted – all in the pursuits of hiding, whitewashing and distorting the truth about the oppression that Yugoslav totalitarian regime served upon multitudes, many of whom fled or left the country to live in the free world of Western democracies.

Ever since the death of Franjo Tudjman (1999), modern Croatia’s first president, there has been a strong presence of renewed alienation of Croatian diaspora championed by those politicians who call themselves antifascists. The diaspora is a strong reminder that communist Yugoslavia was, in fact, not the “great” regime the antifascists promote it to have been and these communist regime crimes and oppression apologists don’t want such reminders around! Instead of reconciling with the past and recognising all Croats as equally meritorious in helping build or be a part of true democracy, no matter where they might live, the current government of Croatia slides into biased and discriminatory practices in legislation, just as it used to happen in Yugoslavia.

These new regular monthly payments to medal winners represent recognition of sporting excellence. But, this new provision for “Olympic medalists’” also excludes the deserving sports legends living abroad from any such recognition! One must live in Croatia to qualify for such payments! The truth is that there are Croats who won the Olympic and other world championship medals for Yugoslavia (and Croatia since 1991) who have lived abroad for many years and decades and yet they do not qualify!

So a law or provision under a law targets a specific merit (Olympic medal for Yugoslavia or Croatia) and the reward for that merit but discriminates the meritorious on the basis of their place of residence! It fails purposefully to honour the fact that sports Olympic champions are known to reside abroad; its exclusion particularly targets those who had sought freedom from communism in the West! Such legislative machinations are a mentality from communist Yugoslavia, which often excluded from benefits and punished those who were against its regime regardless of their personal merits and skills. It’s a reminder of the “old” days when laws were passed to serve and benefit “the boys of the communist brigade”!
On 15 September 2014 the Croatian newspaper Vecernji List published an article about these new payments for Olympic medalists. It caught my eye particularly because it published the name of Ante Zanetic who lives in Australia and it said that he, a golden Olympian, “who escaped from communist Yugoslavia to Australia” is not taking advantage of this entitlement. This intrigued me so I decided to contact Mr Zanetic and ask him about it.


Ante Zanetic Olympic

He said he knew nothing about the Olympic medalist regular monthly payments and had never been contacted by anyone to even comment on the law.

This law is discriminatory,” he said. “It seems to me the law is tailored for rewarding those who were faithful and are faithful to communist Yugoslavia, friends of minister Zeljko Jovanovic and his former assistant Petar Skansi. It is tragic that this Croatian government is passing laws on these payments for Olympic medalists, many of who are wealthy, while the population is to a great extent hungry and rummages garbage bins for food.

Of course this law is discriminatory. How can you devise monthly payments for Olympic medalists for former Yugoslavia and exclude those who no longer live there but are medalists! How can you deny the right to recognition of a person’s proven excellence just because they no longer live in the country!

Beside, I did not escape from communist Yugoslavia to Australia, as the Vecernji List article says. The truth is that when about two weeks before Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito was to head the big celebrations in Split, 50th anniversary of Hajduk Split football club, in 1961, the Yugoslav representation football team, of which I was a part, went on tour to play in Germany and Denmark. I did not return to Yugoslavia with the team, knowing the Yugoslav secret police UDBA assassins were all over Germany at the time, targeting Croatian nationals, I traveled with a forged passport to Belgium, spent time in prison for that, but thanks to the help of the president of the FC Bruges, I was finally successful in obtaining political asylum in Belgium.

I had already been recognised worldwide as one of the top 11 world football players and so I played football for FC Bruges, but by 1963, the painful condition from which I suffered all my life – Spina Bifida – required surgical attention to my spine and my football playing days were over. It was in 1967 that I came to Australia, where I joined my brother Marko who had also left communist Yugoslavia and had been in Australia for several years.

So, to put it as it is: the communists of Hajduk Split football club have never forgiven me for noticeably spoiling Tito’s big day of celebration in Split, 1961, by seeking political asylum in Belgium. They could not bear the thought that one of the world’s top football players had so publicly rejected communist Yugoslavia by not returning to it after the well-publicised matches in Germany and Denmark had ended. They (Hajduk club) did not acknowledge me in 1996 when I visited after the war in Croatia had ended, they did not invite me to the club’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2011, and so they did not contact me regarding this new Olympic medalists’ monthly payments law. They in Croatia passed a law by which people in the diaspora have no rights even though they are entitled.

The young people in Croatia do not know that the conflicts between football clubs Hajduk and Dinamo had been caused by the communist Yugoslavia secret police UDBA and it’s still going on and if it turns out that Ivo Josipovic gets another mandate as president of Croatia, it’ll be the end of any hope of Croatia becoming a truly democratic and fair and decent country.”

Croatia’s Prime Minister, Zoram Milanovic, had stated that this monetary reward for excellence is the fairest possible because there is no means testing! You have a medal, you can get the payments if you’re poor, you can get them if you’re wealthy –  but you cannot get them if you did not win a medal or if you won a medal but you live abroad! What’s fair about that!


If this is not a living proof of communist mentality kicking about in Croatia today I don’t know what is. It is not as though the authorities do not know about Zanetic and those medalists like him and how to contact them – it as much about suppressing the fact that truly great people of Croatia (Yugoslavia) did not agree with communist Yugoslavia and its regime as it is about the utter discrimination between those with equal merits, just as communists operated during Yugoslavia – political agenda took precedence over professional and other merits. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


About Ante Zanetic – football merits earning him the title of sports excellence covered by the new law in Croatia:
Born in 1936, Blato on island of Korcula, Croatia. Completed Teacher’s college in Dubrovnik. Started playing football (soccer) in local Blato club at young age and then played for Dubrovnik during tertiary studies to end up in 1955 playing for Hajduk in Split, Croatia (Yugoslavia). He played 250 games for the club, numerous matches in the state of Croatia representation team and 15 games as member of Yugoslav football representation team. At the Olympic games in Rome, 1960, he won Gold and soon after Silver medal at the 1960 European Nations’ cup in Paris. In 1960 he was proclaimed as the best right midfielder in Europe while the UK World Soccer magazine listed him among best 11 football players in the world (GROSICS, BERGMARK, SANTAMARIA, N.SANTOS, VERGAS, ZANETIC, JULINHO, PELE, DI STEFANO, PUSKAS and GENTO).

Ante Zanetic Bruges

Croatia: Make Goli Otok Memorial To Victims Of Communist Crimes!

Goli Otok/Barren Island Communist Yugoslavia prison for political prisoners

Goli Otok/Barren Island
Communist Yugoslavia prison
for political prisoners


On 31 July 2014 the Croatian government announced its so-called “Projects 100” – an action of the State Office for State Property Management (DUUDI) which aims to put into functionality the state property, or use them as an engine of development of local units and raise significant funds, opinions and ideas to the public. The public is invited to express an interest, to submit opinions, suggestions etc by 15 September 2014; contact email address:

All interested parties can submit proposals, which will be reviewed and public tenders for the lease, rental, sale, etc.., will follow.

Czech villa on island of Vis

Czech villa on island of Vis

This action is about 100 prime state owned properties and 20 million square meters of undeveloped to developed construction sites and buildings. Properties are located in all counties, and most often involves the former military property. (PDF Table of properties on offer)

The State Department has in its press release named some of the most attractive properties from the list and these include villas in Lovran, Opatija, Dubrovnik and Plitvice, former political school of Tito in Kumrovec, military base Muzil in Pula, Hotel Iz from Zadar, the Czech villa on the island of Vis. Extracting and Duilovo in Split, Kovcanje in Mali Losinj, Sisak Steel Mill, Goli Island (Communist held prison island), residential buildings in Zagreb, data center Deanovec and Vjesnik media building in Zagreb.


Duilovo in Split, Croatia

Duilovo in Split, Croatia

The aim is to put into place functionality of the real estate assets of Croatian sea and this can be in the service of economic growth and should be the engine of development of local and regional government, and it is also an opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs, investors, county, municipality, for those with the vision and idea, “said DUUDI Office.

Muzil in Pula, Croatia

Muzil in Pula, Croatia

One property from this list that captures my attention is Goli Otok (Naked/Barren Island) – indeed it captures the attention of many. Naked Island was a high security, top secret prison island during communist Yugoslavia where political prisoners (those who did not agree with communism) in their tens of thousands were sent, without trial or any due process of justice or right to a defence, from 1949 until 1988! It was a place where the worst breaches of human rights the world had ever seen were perpetrated. It was a place of harsh hard-labour, torture and death that persisted during Tito’s reign in Yugoslavia and after his death in 1980.

Goli Otok has no place on the government’s list of “Projects 100” – it should be made into a memorial place for communist crimes, just as Jasenovac is a memorial for the crimes of the Holocaust!


Villa Cingrija in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Villa Cingrija in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Indeed the Association Goli Otok “Ante Zemljar” has recently written a letter to the Croatian government expressing similar suggestions. “We hold that the only correct path is for the government of Croatia to put forth a law that would declare Goli Otok a memorial area, that a specific form of tourism be developed for it, which would be based on the development of democracy, on human rights teachings and on the development of the culture of remembrance…” the letter says.

Indeed, today, the memory of Goli Otok remains deeply embedded in minds of the generations which grew up in communist Yugoslavia. Profound distress at the very thought of its existence during the times of communism lingers like a plague, like a bitter-angry piercing taste that needs neutralisation; needs appropriate closure and that closure can only be realised by ways that include the making Goli Otok into a memorial deserved by all the victims of communist crimes, wherever they occurred.

The coming month will tell as to whether the Croatian people, associations, businesses… come up with ideas that will see a viable and lucrative revival of the listed properties on the “Action Projects 100” Croatian government initiative. Certainly, many have come to atrocious state of disrepair and abandonment, which only feed despair and depression. It’s a pity though that corruption in public departments (local and state) still reigns “mighty” and one could easily see many a good idea fall into the gutters. Regardless of that, though, I do trust ideas and suggestions will pour in abundantly, for if they do not, one can easily visualise the government selling off these properties on the cheap to selected buyers just as it has done for most of the corruptly privatized concerns in the past two decades. As to Goli Otok a Petition to the Parliament regarding turning it into a memorial place of communist crimes as well as a submission to that effect to DUUDI would be welcomed by the masses, I’m sure! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


Here are photos of some other prime real estate on offer in “Projects 100”

Villa Lovor Lovran, Croatia

Villa Lovor Lovran, Croatia


Villa Izvor, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Villa Izvor, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia


Villa Toplice Lovran, Croatia

Villa Toplice Lovran, Croatia


Political School from Tito's Yugoslavia in Kumrovec, Croatia

Political School from Tito’s Yugoslavia in Kumrovec, Croatia



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