Homeland And Diaspora Equally Deserving For International Recognition of Independent Croatia

The Daily Telegraph Mirror - Australia 17 January 1992 the day after Australia as first non-European country recognised Croatia as independent and sovereign country Photo source: Ina Vukic

The Daily Telegraph Mirror – Australia
17 January 1992 the day after
Australia as first non-European country
recognised Croatia as
independent and sovereign country
Photo source: Ina Vukic

International recognition of Croatia’s independence is one of the most important events in Croatia’s history and Croatia with its diaspora celebrate that 15 January 1992 event every year and so too this year. Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, in his HRT TV interview on 13 January 2017, leading up to the celebrations of that Day of international recognition of Croatia’s independence, left an impression of a well rehearsed, autocued, but a calamitously lacking thanksgiving speech. While, rightly so, thanking Croatia’s veterans for Croatia’s independence, albeit like some rehearsed parrot – he totally omitted to say a single word about the diaspora’s contribution; truly disappointing. And this is a Prime Minister of a government that keeps trying to convince the nation how important the diaspora is in Croatia’s economic and other recovery.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Photo: Screenshot hrt.hr 13 January 2017

Croatian Prime Minister
Andrej Plenkovic
Photo: Screenshot hrt.hr 13 January 2017

First of all, we can be proud to be a part of that generation that has experienced the independence of the Republic of Croatia and I think we need to, before anything else, always remember and express our gratitude to the veterans who had enabled our freedom and our independence, to the stately wisdom of the first president of Croatia, dr Franjo Tudjman, who had in exceedingly complicated international circumstances, together with the other actors in the then Croatian government, enabled the achievement of the international recognition of independence of Croatia, which we mark on 15 January…” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Croatian national TV.

Croatian diaspora and its enormous contribution to the efforts in asserting recognition of Croatia’s independence in the countries Croats lived in, was simply dropped out of PM Plenkovic’s vocabulary. What can one think about that? Not much, except something that includes an assessment that the PM is superficial and careless about this most important milestone in Croatia’s history. Not a PM that can easily be respected by people who cherish Croatian independence and the enormous work and suffering and sacrifices that went into it, to bring it about.

Croatia's Minister for Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved Photo credit: www.kamenjar.com

Croatia’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Tomo Medved
Photo credit: http://www.kamenjar.com

To top this shameful blunder by the Prime Minister comes the Minister for veterans’ affairs, Tomo Medved, at the celebration of the Day of the international recognition of Croatian independence in Karlovac and says that it’s “like coming out of the Homeland war as victors but that it feels as though someone has, somewhere along the way, stolen that pride and as if they have sowed some seeds of depression and hopelessness into the ground… As if we don’t live in the most beautiful country in the world, and as if we don’t have the most prosperous and the best conditions for life. Perhaps, besides missing that optimism, somewhere in us during the ten or fifteen years after the Homeland War that decisiveness and ease of decision making, which you Croatian veterans, generals, war commanders, city Meyers, leaders from the war days, also went missing…”.

 

As far as I have been able to observe and ascertain, the fact is that Croatian veterans have always kept their pride in what greatness they had achieved for Croatia’s independence but that pride had often been largely ignored and belittled by all governments in Croatia since at least year 2000. So, for the minister to talk about “theft of pride” rather than “theft of opportunities to express and reward that pride” is a bit too politically, or otherwise, “rich” for me to digest.

 

I now turn to the best speech regarding the international recognition of Croatia’s independence ever delivered – the speech delivered by Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president on 15 January 1992; and I celebrate that day accordingly.

Croatia's first President dr Franjo Tudjman delivering televised speech on the occassion of international recognition of Croatia's independence 15 January 1992 Photo: screenshot

Croatia’s first President
dr Franjo Tudjman
delivering televised speech on the occassion of
international recognition of Croatia’s independence
15 January 1992
Photo: screenshot

Today’s date, 15 the January 1992, will be engraved in gold letters into the overall 14-centuries of history of the Croatian people on this, for us holy ground, between the Mura, the Drava, the Danube and the Adriatic Sea. After declaring its independence and sovereignty, and breaking its state-legal ties with the former Yugoslav Federation, Croatia has achieved international recognition of its independence. Having, despite all the ominous adversities and limitations, safeguarded during its entire history its national and state identity, Croatia is, after full nine centuries, returning into the international community of nations as a free and internationally recognized country. The act of the recognition of Croatia by all the countries of the European Community has a special historic meaning due to the fact that the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the international recognition of Croatia’s independence can no longer be brought into question and also in the framework of the community of world nations… Enormous efforts, suffering and victims of people of our days, both of the Homeland and emigrated Croatia are equally built into that realised goal, which was dreamt about for centuries. We have achieved that through decisiveness and prudence …” were words spoken by Croatia’s first President dr Franjo Tudjman on 15 January 1992.

25 years on we remember well and with pride, the efforts, the sacrifice, the victims and the victorious that achieved this crucial milestone for independent Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Helping Bosnia And Herzegovina On Its Way To EU Earns Croatia Knife In Back

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at Halal Day 2016 ceremony in Croatia Photo:Goran Kovacic/Pixsell

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at Halal Day 2016 ceremony in Croatia
Photo:Goran Kovacic/Pixsell

 

Very recently Russia mended its broken relations with Turkey. Turkey considers Bosnian Muslims/Bosniaks as its brothers. Russia is desirous of wielding influence in order to stop EU expanding to Eastern Europe where Russia keeps building its influence. In efforts to strengthen its hold on southeastern Europe the EU would like Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to become a member of the EU and has in past few months depended upon Croatia quite a bit to assist BiH on its path to EU membership. Comes 31 October 2016 and Croatia’s ability to influence BiH’s path to the EU suddenly seems drastically affected by the arrest in Orasje, a northeastern BiH town bordering with Croatia, of 10 Croats of Croatia/BiH dual citizenship for alleged war crimes that allegedly happened almost 25 years ago. Croatian politicians and public media have been preoccupied with protesting against and commenting these arrests during the past week. It appears the arrests have a greater political significance as implicating Croatia in the chain of command in these alleged crimes than in actually naming or listing individualised and specified crimes alleged in the indictment issued by BiH state prosecution.

 

In about April 1992 when Serb led forces and rebels started bombing and attacking the town of Orasje and its surrounding clusters of villages – an area with majority Croat population situated at the northeastern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia, the time ahead demanded that the town and its people be defended. Orasje managed to defend itself from the Serb onslaught only to wake up on 31 October 2016, two days after Prime Minister Andrej Plenovic’s visit to BiH, and see 10 Croats (members of the wartime Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina [BiH] also known as Bosnian Croatian Army) arrested for alleged war crimes in 1992 and 1993 against prisoner of war Serbian nationals; the other 18 reportedly charged with these crimes of varying ethnicity have disappeared off the face of the earth – cannot be found.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic upon his visit to BiH on 28 October 2016 spoke up for Croatia's support for all Croats living in BiH Photo: Hanza Media

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
upon his visit to BiH on 28 October 2016 spoke up
for Croatia’s support for all Croats
living in BiH
Photo: Hanza Media

1992 was the time when Serb advances into Bosnian Posavina in the north and into central Bosnia in the early weeks of Serb onslaught against Bosnia and Herzegovina were reversed by joint Muslim and Croat forces. Croat population of Orasje remained loyal to the cause of the Bosnian government (defend the country against Serbs) and put up a stiff resistance to the Serbs.

 

Croatian government and the rest of the political apparatus say they were totally surprised by these arrests in Orasje; that they never suspected anything like that could happen in the neighbouring, friendly BiH. But in reality, Bosnia and Herzegovina has for some time now been a melting pot of troubles to come as the 1995 ineffective Dayton peace agreement draws nearer the edge. And indeed the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said that “the arrests have been in preparation for some time, but that their timing is indicative…Croatia has informed its partners in NATO and the EU about these arrests…” he said.

 

Frankly, who cares what NATO and the EU, or anyone else, think today when the very credibility and the just cause the defense of Orasje from Serbian onslaught in 1992/1993 is at stake here.

 

Attending a ceremony dedicated to Halal Day in Croatia on Wednesday 2 November 2016 Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic also expressed utter surprise at the arrests of the ten Croats in Orasje, saying that “Orasje is an area where Bosniaks and Croats fought together for their bare existence, for their self-preservation (being), for their lives, and their fight is a symbol of resistance against Milosevic (Slobodan) and Karadzic (Radovan) regimes.” She said that we need to wait and see all the facts or until all the facts of those alleged crimes are confirmed.

 

Well then, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic – why have you not withdrawn your Ambassador from Bosnia and Herzegovina as an interim measure of protest against this atrocious political hunt against Croatian nationals who only defended their and their children’s and families’ lives? Why has the BiH Ambassador to Croatia not been sent packing on a temporary basis until controversial issues to do with these arrests are ironed out with pure facts?

Tomo Medved Croatian veterans' affairs minister Photo: Denis Ceric

Tomo Medved
Croatian veterans’ affairs minister
Photo: Denis Ceric

This would particularly be an appropriate measure given that there are reported serious difficulties with the indictments or charges, suggesting political bias. Croatian minister for veterans’ affairs Tomo Medved said Saturday 5 November that the Veterans are bitter about these arrests “because of the selective application of the command responsibility in these cases. If they (Bosnia and Herzegovina state prosecution) perform certain investigations and if certain criminal acts are found to exist then certain or concrete individual perpetrators should answer for those criminal acts, but this type of approach of widely applying command responsibility is unacceptable.” Source HRT News 5 November 2016.

 

Ilija Vucemilovic, president of veterans’ Tigers association, said “our brothers in Bosnian Posavina are bearing a heavy cross, going through injustice just because they defended their homes in impossible circumstances…”

Ilija Vucemilovic president of Tigers Croatian Veterans Association

Ilija Vucemilovic
president of Tigers Croatian Veterans Association

And so, while Croatian president, prime minister or everyone else cannot meddle in the indictment for crimes issued in Bosnia and Herzegovina or in the Bosnia’s criminal justice system they can certainly bring in measures of disapproval as to the contents or ways of those indictments until pure facts are revealed. These measures to my view would be to send the Bosnian Ambassador packing from Croatia until matter resolved and withdraw the Croatian Ambassador from Bosnia until matter of facts and specific individual responsibility for each crime is clear.

Considering some reports appearing in the media, the arrests are no surprise as the truth may well point to the fact that the Croatian intelligence services and secret police have under the Social Democrat, anti-Croatia communist government led by Zoran Milanovic and under president Ivo Josipovic, whose advisors appeared equally anti-Croat, in Croatia, purposefully engaged in hiding information as far back as 2014 that Bosnian state prosecution was investigating some 28 individuals in relation to wartime Orasje (and other places). Since President Grabar-Kitarovic expressed total surprise last week regarding the arrests one can assume that her predecessor Josipovic and his advisers passed on zilch information on the matter. One truly cannot but ascribe malice against Croatia in this. It is, furthermore, of no surprise that Bosnian Muslims have continued and will continue digging for possible indictments against everyone else for war crimes in order not to face their own horrendous, murderous actions during the war in BiH or to minimize the gravity of crimes committed by Bosniaks, which crimes still seem to evade full justice. They will forever protect the Mujahedeen and BiH Army forces that slaughtered thousands. Unless of course a significant number of war crimes indictments are thrown in their direction.

Croatian OM Andrej Plenkovic (L) Bakir Izetbegovic, president of BiH presidency (C) Dragan Covic, Croat representative on BiH presidency (R) 28 October 2016 Photo: Klix.ba

Croatian OM Andrej Plenkovic (L)
Bakir Izetbegovic, president of BiH presidency (C)
Dragan Covic, Croat representative on BiH presidency (R)
28 October 2016
Photo: Klix.ba

 

Many believe there will be many more indictments against Croatian nationals as Bosnia and Herzegovina ponders on its future as a country where all three nationalities (Bosniak/Muslims, Croats and Serbs) have equal rights and representation in parliament regardless of their numbers. Bosniaks do not want to give up their self-imposed superiority over Croats in the Federation part of BiH; Serbs don’t want to give up their autonomy from others in their ethnically cleansed Serbian Republic entity.

Whether these arrests will prove to be more a political message calling for Croats to desist from seeking equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina than a justified prosecution against individuals committing specific crimes, is yet to be seen. Certainly, the level these indictments seem to be directed at – general chain of command allegedly present at the time of the alleged crimes – does not appear to serve justice as well as prosecuting individuals who actually may have committed specific crimes would. The West and the EU will not accept they made a horrendous mistake with their 1995 Dayton Agreement plan and the calamitous distribution of power in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in effect stripped the Croats of equal rights as one of three constitutional peoples of BiH. It is certainly suspicious that at this stage when Croats in BiH are talking up their equal rights to Serbs and Muslims/Bosniaks in BiH they are suddenly facing group indictments for war crimes. Regardless of the fact that war crimes may have occurred, and that individuals from all three constitutional peoples of BiH may have committed war crimes and need to face the courts, the move to catch only Croat suspects en masse at this time undoubtedly has the function of destabilizing Croatia’s efforts in assisting BiH in its path to EU membership and also in destabilising Croats’ rights as equals in BiH. Unacceptable! Croatia’s leadership must show more strength in defending the self-preservation people of Orasje were forced into during the Serb aggression. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian National Ethics Tribunal In The Making

dr. Zvonimir Separovic

dr. Zvonimir Separovic

In this era we live in, it has become more and more unsettling in a democracy to watch politicians in government or power turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the plights of their constituents (citizens) to protect and improve the interests of the people, the nation. Cries of helplessness ring at every corner, in every crevice of the developed as well as of the undeveloped nations. The ethics in activities of those in power that affect the citizens’ and the nation’s very lives and livelihood have become to resemble a kind of a “fly-by-night” phenomenon and, yet, they are crucial to the preservation or destruction, if unchecked, of humanity and prosperity.

It goes without saying that the government and society can no longer promote and enforce ethical behaviour solely through the utilisation of ethical codes of conduct or through the promulgation of a plethora of legislation. Something new is required – a measure that will at least serve as a deterrent for unethical behaviour which imposes irreparable or profound damage to national interests.

A group of citizens of Croatia has decided to establish the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal, which will not have behind it the force of the police or the State court system. It will, though, have the force of ethical arguments and public “finger pointing” at those who have inflicted damage upon Croatian interests and who have worked against Croatian independence and have betrayed Croatia in relation to its fight against Serb aggression.

As dr. Zvonimir Separovic, recently said at the launch of his book “The Croatian Claim” (Hrvatska Tužba) – pertaining to Croatian lawsuit against Serbia for genocide that was recently heard at the ICJ in The Hague – “Pantovcak (The Office of the President of Croatia) is a larger Serbian branch than the Embassy of Serbia in Zagreb, itself!” This statement needs no explanation, no corroboration – for it is the political truth that is bringing multitudes to their knees.

And so we are at the dawn of a new era in Croatia. A new era that will see a public Tribunal (Croatian National Ethics Tribunal) pave the way of standing firmly and loudly against the betrayers of Croatian national interests.

Proposal for the establishment of the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal

POSTULATES:

Croatia is in a deep political, moral and general crisis. The group of politicians in government does not manage the country with Croatian national interests at the helm. Betrayal of national interests is at work. It is time to establish a national ethical court that would bring judgments against individuals for betrayal of the country (treason).

We can find examples in Ancient Rome where individual citizens could raise a national claim (Actio popularis) against those who had acted contrary to public interests. In the last century we come across the Russell, and later the Sartre’s international tribunal that brought judgments against the U.S.A. for the war in Vietnam and later against Israel for the discrimination against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. At the instigation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela formed Commissions for Truth and Reconciliation at which informal judgments were delivered in South Africa – this was a form of lustration and a small number of individuals did consequently end up in official courts.

Different to the examples above, the Croatian case would mount a national ethics tribunal that would judge upon the responsibility for public actions when it’s assessed that the same constitute a betrayal of national interests.

National interest is defined as the aim a State has in the areas of economy, military or culture, but it can apply to wider areas as every interest that is of vital importance for the survival and prosperity of the people and the State.

Members of the Tribunal would be prominent individuals of moral integrity, professionalism and reputation, prominent personalities from public life. Judgments would be based on known ethical principles. The judgment is only moral in nature. Judgments would only be made in cases of severe breaches of ethical principles in public activities.

THE FIRST PREPARATORY MEETING

The Preparatory meeting with view to founding the Tribunal was held on 24 April 2014 and initiated by the Croatian Victimology Society. Those present included Prof. dr. Andrija Hebrang, Zeljko Olujic – prominent lawyer, dr. Nikola Debelic, prof.dr. Danko Milosevic, dr.Srecko Sladoljev, prof. Nevenka Nekic. Ante Beljo, Miljenko Romic – academic artist, Zdravko Vladanovic – lawyer, Rozalija Bartolic – the Association of Homeland Widows, Negzana Pavicic from Skabrnje, dr.med. Aleksandar Soltysik, and the meeting was chaired by dr. Zvonimir Separovic – the President of the Croatian Victimology Society. Apologies with support for the Tribunal were recorded from prof. dr. Zeljko Horvatic, Marko Franovic – Sydney, Australija, Ante Glibota – Paris, France , prof. dr. Josip Faricic – Zadar, prof. dr. Hrvoje Mazija, Zvonimir Hodak – lawyer, prof. dr. Branimir Luksic – Split, Vlado Iljkic – Headquarters for the Defence of Croatian Vukovar, Croatian Army general Tomo Medved, academic Slobodan Novak, prof. Josip Jurcevic – historian and politician, Mate Kovacevic – publicist.

The meeting accepted and delivered the following conclusions:

1. The establishment of the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal (HNES) is justified, current and socially beneficial;
2. The Tribunal in its activities is independent of the State and Political parties, objective, legitimate and it does not deliver executive decisions;
3. Research for the Tribunal’s use is undertaken by committees or by individuals appointed by the Tribunal;
4. The Tribunal proceedings are open to the public, Tribunal’s decisions are published to the public;
5. The person who is the subject of an investigation or a claim will be notified about the sitting of the Tribunal at which the hearing will take place, and they have the right of presence at the hearing;
6. The Tribunal’s Founding Assembly to be held by the end of May 2014 and other potential members of the Tribunal shall be invited to it;
7. The Organising Committee – Zvonimir Separović, Zeljko Olujic and Zdravko Vladanovic will prepare the draft of the Program Declaration and other essential documents for the Founding Assembly. ( Source of details regarding the founding process of the Tribunal: Dr. Zvonimir Separovic)
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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