Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic – Communist Wolf in Democratic Sheep’s Skin

Protest against Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic - Sydney March 10th 2014

Protest against Croatia’s Prime Minister
Zoran Milanovic – Sydney March 10th 2014

On his non-official visit to Australia (from 9 March) Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic was met with a total ban of access to Croatian clubs and vast majority of Australian-Croatian community organisations. The Croatian community by a vast and landslide majority rejected to see him, to host any of his appearances bar the Croatian studies centre at the Macquarie University where he appeared to witness the signature to a funding agreement between the Croatian government and Macquarie University on the basis of which Croatia would fund $750,000 over five years for Croatian studies there. It’s important to know that Croatian studies at this university was founded in early 1980’s using significant funds raised by the local Croatian community.

In Sydney.  On Monday 10 March, a peaceful but loud rally was held against Croatia’s Prime Minister’s visit to Australia by members of the Croatian community. The placards conveyed the messages such as: “Milanovic Tito’s Puppet”, “Milanovic Not Welcome” “Milanovic is a disgrace” etc. and the verbal messages conveyed at the rally are listed below in this post. Those who turned up at the rally on that Monday were not many as it was a working day for most people but some fifty people did turn up to serve as the Croatian community’s mouthpiece (for at least 50,000 in Sydney gravitating to clubs, churches, community associations etc.) – to ensure that the silent protest against Milanovic by the vast majority was heard loud and clear. And it was! SBS World News program covered it.

When interviewed by SBS TV World News Milanovic was on the defensive so much so that he had no difficulties in assuming he knows all about the people who were rejecting to receive him in the Croatian community. He said that those people have lived in “isolation” (still live in the WWII past etc.). He said that his government had nothing to do with political persecutions that had forced many Croats to emigrate to Australia.

“ Many people came to Australia as victims of political persecution or come from such families and I can understand that, but I wasn’t the one who persecuted them. Those times have passed. My government is liberal and social democratic and by no means Titoist or Communist. I have nothing to do with that, unlike some people from the opposite political camp. I think that some people here live in the past too much,” Milanovic said in an interview with the Australian public broadcasting network SBS.

Sydney 10th March 2014 Protest against Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic

Sydney 10th March 2014 Protest against
Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic

And so Milanovic, just like a well seasoned communist, went on the attack against those Croatians in Australia who protested against him and totally ignored the reasons why the rallies and protests occurred and these include:

his government’s appalling treatment of Homeland War victim’s rights and of war veterans,

his government’s utter rejection of 700,000 signatures (out of possible 3 million voters!) for a referendum on Vukovar to be declared a place of special piety,

his government’s persecution of several individual activists,

his government’s inaction in processing communist crimes,

his government’s rejection and battle against extraditing to Germany of a suspected communist criminal (regarding murders by Yugoslav communist secret police of Croats abroad)…

No Mr Zoran Milanovic – Australian Croatians never have and never will live in isolation! Their protests in Australia were all about what is currently occurring in Croatia that deserves worldwide condemnation!

Milanovic took a bitter issue with being branded “Tito’s puppet” by the Croatian community in Sydney and he said on SBS TV: “Some people here are labelling me as a Tito’s puppet, which couldn’t be more ridiculous. I never served in the Communist Police, which many of my political opponents did. I was never a member of the Communist Party.”

Well, well of course Milanovic was never a member of the communist party – he is too young for that! Communist party dissolved in Croatia in 1990 and was re-branded as “Croatian League of Communists”, which was later re-branded again into “Social Democratic Party” of which Milanovic is the president! And when one pays a closer look at his politics and actions in politics the stench of communism is always present regardless of his rhetoric! In fact, Milanovic was a member of the communist party all his adult life it seems – he chose the communist-at-heart-SDP and not any other (more modern) political party to be a member of.

Sydney 10 March 2014 protest against Croatia's  Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic

Sydney 10 March 2014 protest against Croatia’s
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic

The only way Milanovic could convince anyone that he is not a communist would include active pursuit of lustration, active pursuit of condemning communist crimes and active pursuit of a public apology to the Croatian community by him, his former SDP colleague president of Croatia Ivo Josipovic and the former president Stjepan Mesic for vilifying the diaspora so! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Stjepan Mesic – Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire! But, Not When Tito In Hell Is Concerned!

"Tito is in Hell" - Stjepan Mesic, 1992

“Tito is in Hell” – Stjepan Mesic, 1992

When children know or think someone is telling lies they shout: “Liar, liar, pants on fire”.  I’m not a child, I’m a well informed adult and, indeed, was present when in 1992 Croatia’s former president Stjepan Mesic visited Australia in his capacity as one of the leaders of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), and in his speeches he, in no uncertain terms praised the WWII pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia as well as WWII pro-Communist Partisans, placing them on equal footing as victors for Croatian state.  Now Mesic is denying this even though irrefutable evidence exists.

I shout: Liar, liar, pants on fire!

When one of these speeches appeared on Youtube some seven years ago, Mesic first said it was a political stunt by his opponents, that the film was doctored, that he never said those things … when truth struck and the authenticity of the speech video was confirmed, Mesic as president of Croatia actually appeared on a televised address to the nation saying that he had to talk like that because Croats in the diaspora were all fired-up on fascism (Ustashism)!

Furthermore he said that the 30-second video was taken out of context and that he could not remember if he made such a speech, or where, that he does not know if the video is authentic!

This history has repeated itself last Sunday, which suggests that the man is not to be trusted with what he says is the truth.

Mesic appeared on Croatian TV last Sunday 6 October on the On Sunday at Two program. The TV interview by Aleksandar Stankovic was particularly organised around the issue of bribes for armoured military vehicles deal with Finland’s Patria about which I wrote in my previous post.

At 43.46 minute of this HRT TV interview Mesic was asked: “How could it have happened to you to praise the Independent State of Croatia (NDH)?

Mesic replied: “I never praised NDH

Stankovic: “Well OK, you said that it was an expression of historical aspirations …

Mesic: “I did not say …”

Stankovic: “Well OK, you said over there at the assembly in Australia…”

Mesic: “Never… no aspirations, you have falsified that a little but probably because you are not informed.”

Stankovic: “Well, I’m not uniformed … the speech from 1992 exists…”

Mesic: “Well, the speech exists and you find it and then we can…”

Stankovic: “We have spoken about that before, you do not need to deny it now, I remember you told me in the program that your theory was that Croatia was being created then and then one said what one didn’t mean …”

Mesic: “No, no, I said that what I thought but I would now perhaps reformulate but also say that what I thought, that is what did I say, I said that Croats won twice, the first time the Kingdom of Yugoslavia disappeared because we were all against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Ustashes did not topple Kingdom of Yugoslavia, it disappeared by the will of the occupying forces but it was of benefit to us because Yugoslavia disappeared, and the real victory we won was with the NOB (National Liberation Movement) victory in 1945 when we came on the side of victory and were on the side of victory … that is what I said”.

So, Mr Aleksandar Stankovic and the world’s public, since Mesic asked for the speech to be found I have made the effort in finding it – for truth’s sake!

Here is what Mesic actually said in 1992 (and I personally remember he said the same on a number of occasions and in the video below there’s a glimpse of me in the background at the end of the video, so it is authentic 100%): “Those who are older remember that in 1971 Tito, who created Yugoslavia, which was not Croatian but Croatian only in that Croats lived in it but did not rule in it, said that river Sava will flow upstream before Croatia will have its army, and now if he hears me from Hell I must tell him that as far as we are concerned Sava can flow even sideways but Croatia has its army and its state.  We have created a state after 900 years, but during those 900 years Croats did not stand still, they were always determined for the Croatian thing and Croatian state. Even in the Second World War Croats were victorious twice and we must tell that to everyone, to our friends and to our enemies.  Croats were victorious when in 1941 on 10th of April they declared the Croatian state. Because Croats did not declare that state because they were fascists, but because they had a natural and historical right to their state. But the results of WWII are known and it’s also known that Croats won for the second time in that war because they found themselves at the table together with the Allies and to those who consider that Croats were on the other side, who want to win over those Allies and muddy the Croatian deed, we must tell them that Croats were for a Croatian state, and Croats did not fight for the white or the red flag but for the red-white-blue flag”.

The point of this is not just what Mesic said but also how he attempts to discredit the truth and make up stories as he goes; even attack those who put out the truth if that truth goes against him! It transpires from all this that the man was never to be fully trusted and his stories and spins should be put aside and the Croatian office of state prosecutor must seriously investigate the allegations against Mesic that suggest he may have been involved in serious corruption in the Patria case of armoured military vehicle supply from Finland.

I, for one, am disgusted at the reality that Croatian taxpayers and deficient government budget keep funding Mesic’s office as former president, with all the trappings that cost millions every year and yet Mesic has the hide to lie like this to the very people out of whose taxes his office is funded! I guess corrupt practices and political underground that keep the so-called antifascists or communists like Mesic afloat in the public arena are strong in Croatia.

Mesic who places himself at the helm of antifascist movement in Croatia says that Josip Broz Tito went to Hell after he died.

Therefore, as I see it, he subscribes to the ideals of those he himself considers went to Hell after they died! Will he now may say that the above video from 1992 when he said Tito was in Hell is also a falsehood! What will his antifascist association say when they hear what he said about their celebrated Tito? Will he also now say that he had to speak like that in the diaspora because the diaspora did not like Tito? Well, let him try – he will not succeed because there were multitudes of persons in his audience then who came from the so-called “Yugoslav” (as opposed to Croatian) clubs in the diaspora. They were all there because Franjo Tudjman managed to reconcile both sides of Croatian WWII politics into one single aim: independent and democratic state of Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: A misguided Critique Of Parliamentary Opposition

Tomislav Karamarko

Tomislav Karamarko

Unlike in most “Western” parliaments, Croatian parliament has no officially elected position/role of Leader of the Opposition; in Croatia the title Leader of the Opposition is unofficially attached to the Leader of the political party holding most seats on opposition benches. Yet, much of the Croatian public and media act towards Tomislav Karamarko (President of the largest political party in parliamentary opposition, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ), as though he occupies an officially elected Leader of the Opposition role and treat his strengths or weaknesses through that prism, which in fact does not exist as a formal and binding role such as the one of the Prime Minister, for example. Croatian Parliament has a number of political parties sitting on opposition benches (Labour Party, HDSSB, Croatian Party of Rights dr. Ante Starcevic etc.), leaders of which are also afforded public and media regard as being in opposition.

Tomislav Karamarko, although not officially the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Croatia cops criticisms left, right and centre and is expected to “save” the economic and political disaster that has peaked in Croatia during the past year   – singlehandedly!

One wonders whether these criticisms are truly for the benefit of the overall good for the country or whether they are political manipulations rooted in the Cock-a-doodle-doo coalition government, which benefits politically from criticisms of a party in opposition in that its own disastrous shortcomings and incompetence blur-up or even get to “look good” at times.

Any political party, which has suffered major electoral losses (such as HDZ did at the last general elections), has an absolute right to regroup and revitalise itself. After all, that’s what we see happening in every democratic country after general elections. Nothing wrong in that, in fact, that is how democracy works (and should work) because every regrouping and every revitalisation of a political party happens in pursuits of winning government at future elections.

The Opposition’s main role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable. In Croatia this gets complicated by the fact that any leaders of any of the several political parties in opposition can put on a hat of “opposition leader”, on any day, on any issue and in that sea of different “opposition hats” the public is served with a fertile ground for opposing discourse and lack of firm alternative direction. Another role of parliamentary opposition is to utilise the sittings of the parliament as opportunities for scrutinising the policies and administration of the government. This happens in the Croatian parliament, however with no clear and official “government in opposition” sitting on those benches – many sessions end up as multi-edged swords where all that can be heard are rows between individuals that lead to little, if any, changes or constructive debates.

A couple of days ago I came across an article in Vecernji List, written by journalist Zvonimir Despot, which evidences the fact that there is quite significant misunderstanding in Croatia as to what Tomislav Karamarko as leader of Croatian Democratic Union – in the current political and economic circumstances – should or should not do. Apparent misunderstanding of the structure of Croatian parliament and its roles here is not the problem, for people can learn, but when such misunderstanding targets a politician to create the belief and false perception that such a politician is not doing his job (as Leader of Opposition, which does not exist) for the country, then one simply must respond – without bias, without preferences, with pure reality in mind.

Despot writes: “When the government in power is incompetent, when there is no way out of crisis, when it delivers catastrophic decisions, day in and day out, and churns out even more comical statements, then it is logical that a great deal is expected from the opposition. That it be active when it’s not in government, and that it prepares the path for its coming to power, but that it also offers a new program, new people, new freshness, new face of Croatia, an alternative to the voters, and to only distribute armchairs and the same used party machines, let alone imposers”.

While Despot’s writing about what opposition should do falls in line with what opposition does in parliamentary democracies, where lines between government and opposition are officially defined, his attack against Karamarko in the article, to my view, is completely out of order, especially if we appraise the big picture of the Croatian parliamentary structure and official roles. In criticising the opposition, Despot should have also referred to all the other leaders of all the other parliamentary parties in opposition. Karamarko does not have the official mandate to take upon his back the work opposition as a whole should be doing; he is one among several “opposition leaders”, so why single him out? Because he leads the largest number of chairs on opposition benches!? Not justified, in my book.

What Despot could have done, to further democracy in Croatia, is seek that Croatian Parliament actually elects a Leader of the Opposition – and if Constitution does not allow that, then seek legislative changes – who could then take on the role Despot is talking about with accountability and mandate.

In the situation as is – with several political parties claiming and practicing the opposition stake – it is indeed most prudent of the Croatian Democratic Union not to offer its program to the public just yet. Parties in opposition simply do not divulge their secrets, their whole programs too far in advance of parliamentary elections and, hence, protect their right to present their programs to the public when the time for that is right. Otherwise, divulging their programs and plans too far ahead of elections runs the risk of the incompetent government attempting to benefit by plucking out parts of opposition’s programs and developing them as their own.

People in Croatia, it seems, are most disappointed in current government’s performance but it is not the job of the Croatian Democratic Union to stop the government from drowning in its own incompetency.  The job of any political party in opposition is to let the incompetent party in government drown – lose at next elections.

The job of the Croatian Democratic Union, and the job of any political party in opposition is to demonstrate, during the campaigns leading to election day that they can be a better government than the incumbent. It’s too early for HDZ or any political party in Croatia, in opposition, to start their election campaign so far away from election date.

Furthermore, Despot seems to interpret unity, or attempts to achieve unity within HDZ as fostering a “personality cult”, spreading negative connotations against the party. He says: “ … in that party, nurturing of personality cult continues. Whether Karamarko sees that, or not, whether he knows that, or not, whether he likes or dislikes it, whatever, the personality cult is once again in action. How? Well, because HDZ is still steered by practicing all for one, one for all, which is really the usual interparty democratic method”.

I have yet to see a successful political party operate in disunity and without a strong, distinct leader.  To my experience of democratic elections there has never been a party elected into government, which presented itself as disunited and without strong leadership figures presented to the public. While Despot attempts to compare such a scenario of rule by “personality cult” with the cult of Josip Broz Tito, of communist Yugoslavia, one cannot but disagree with this parallel. There were no multiparty democratic elections under Tito and no different personalities among which the public could choose its future leader of government. Furthermore, Despot offers the public a kind of a “sob story” for the embattled ex-Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, whose membership in HDZ apparently hangs in the balance after she had spoken against her own political party (HDZ) in public recently. Reacting to Karamarko’s reprimanding reactions to this, Despot holds that Kosor should be afforded respect regardless of what or how she is!

Politics and governments are all about leadership. If there is no leadership, there is no guidance and, eventually, no real progress. Why someone would compare the building of today’s HDZ leadership to Tito’s way of governing through his personality cult is beyond me! It is unfair because the modern workings of competing political parties within the milieu of democracy actually require personal and party competitiveness that leads to competition as to who can better deliver for the good of the people, of the nation – if elected into government.  Karamarko has inherited a political party in shambles (HDZ) and it stands to reason that much work needs to be done to revitalise it and to regroup it, if it wants to run for government at the next elections. However, to label any regrouping or revitalisation measures in HDZ from spectators’ stand (by journalists or member of public…) as following “personality cult” practices is just plain unfair and, most likely far from the truth. It would be much more productive for Croatia if the media were to worry about educating the public about how its hard won democracy should work in their daily lives, rather than misguiding it by allowing it to think that it has only one party in parliamentary opposition role and that one party may not have the right and the freedom to organise itself as it sees fit. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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