Madman On The Loose In Serbia Threatens Peace And Human Dignity

Vojislav Seselj, indicted war criminal awaiting ICTY verdict

Vojislav Seselj,
indicted war criminal
awaiting ICTY verdict


Vojislav Seselj’s return to Serbia (after being temporarily released from war crimes tribunal in the Hague on account of advanced illness and pending judgment) happened just days before the 23rd anniversary of the fall of Vukovar (18 November), which is a very important date for the Croats and which evidences untold atrocities committed in the early 1990’s against Croats and other non-Serbs in Croatia at the directive and under Seselj’s or Serbian Radical Party’s directives (whose members at the time also included the current Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic).

A master at rubbing salt into the wounds and enjoying it, as on 18 November Croatia mourned and remembered its dead, its raped, its devastated lives from Serb aggression, Seselj tauntingly published from Belgrade headquarters a statement in which he congratulated the Serb chetniks on their liberation from Croats of Vukovar on 18 November 1991! (He reportedly also sent such a press release to the Croatian media). For Seselj, for Greater Serbia ideology occupation, murder, rape, ethnic cleansing means – liberation! Furthermore, in the same statement Seselj and his Serbian Radical Party vowed to pursue with their aim in ensuring that the territory they had occupied in Croatia in 1990’s, which was then liberated by Croat forces in 1995, becomes Serb territory again.


Croatia reacted with horror to these statements by Seselj, but the Serbian government remained quiet. Seselj’s excesses have also unleashed a hailstorm of criticism against the ICTY, with detractors saying Seselj’s release deals a serious setback to the court’s mandate to promote post-war reconciliation.
To “correct” the lack of Serbian government’s reaction to Seselj’s hateful and violent public rhetoric, its foreign minister Ivica Dacic has come out saying that there is no need to react to Seselj for Seselj is not a political factor in Serbian government. Oh dear, he may not be, but he is certainly raising hell in Serbia and abroad!
As suggested by my previous post on the issue of Seselj’s temporary release from prison, there are many disquieting questions to be answered as to why the war crimes tribunal would release its prisoner pending judgment to receive medical treatment in their own country, far away from the court and far away the capacity of being able to monitor such treatment. As if to provoke outrage, numerous exceptions were made for Seselj’s case. The Office of the Prosecutor, run by Serge Brammertz, did not participate in the deliberations for temporary release. And the final order, published on November 6, stipulates only that Seselj should refrain from witness and victim intimidation and return promptly to The Hague when summoned. No restraints were put on Seselj in terms of political activity. The trial chamber also took the unusual step of circumventing a final consultation with Seselj that would allow him to accept or deny the terms of his release. Nor is it clear the trial chamber received detailed information about the state of Seselj’s health.
The November 6 ICTY court order approving Seselj’s release notes only that the judges had “received additional confidential information that points to a deterioration in the accused’s health.” The dissenting opinion in the matter by Judge Mandiaye Niang (PDF) describes Seselj as “gravely ill,” adding, “We know this despite his refusal to allow his medical file to be disclosed officially.”

If you, the fair and just minded reader, are confused and enraged at this point, know that you are experiencing an outrage at the lack of justice in this matter, at the lack of consideration for the victims of the brutal crimes committed against Croats under Seselj’s tutelage and orders. The courts that the just world has known to this point require expert evidence in cases of ill-health claims. In this case, Seselj has refused to disclose health records to the court and the court released him anyway! What calamity for human kind!

So far, Seselj has yet to show any overt signs of serious health setbacks. Indeed he appears as strong as an Ox and his voice is full of strength and energy; he emanates a dynamic stature and drive, he refuses to undertake medical treatment he’s reported to be returned to Serbia for. Certainly, he could be very physically ill nevertheless, and, in a mad rage to push his political agenda. Whichever it is, it’s certainly not what the ICTY said it was going to be (medical treatment/ exceptional humanitarian grounds).


Presented with Seselj’s public grandstanding, ethnic hatred speeches, raising unrest the ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz would like the world to believe that his office cannot appeal the temporary release decision without access to Seselj’s medical records! How about appealing on grounds that decision should not have been made without medical records in the first place!

Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic stated that he wrote to the ICTY president Judge Theodore Meron, alerting him that Seselj’s hate speeches could destabilise peace in that part of Europe.

Former ICTY prosecution spokesperson Florence Hartmann used irony on Saturday 22 November when she commented on the Seselj situation and Croatia’s reaction to the Slovenian Delo:

They (Hague war crimes tribunal) are absolutely above everything, above international standards, above the UN Security Council, and even above God.”
“They’ve temporarily released a madman,” she continued.
If I were in Croatian president Josipovic’s place, I would not write to the president of the Hague tribunal, Meron, but instead I would write to the member states of the UN Security Council and ask them: what is happening? We are paying enormous sums of money for the work of the tribunal and in return we are receiving only attempts to revise the conflict’s history and premature release from prison of a madman,” said Hartmann. Hartmann said that there is more and more of nationalism emerging and that “we would not have that were it not for the fear of confronting the past.”
Croatian member of EU Parliament, Tonino Picula (Social Democrats) said that good care should be taken to ensure that “individual pathological cases“, such as recent statements by Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, did not affect entire societies. “Croatia should be extremely cautious, considering its recent past, and the European Parliament is a forum where we can discuss this in good time,” he concluded.


The issue is that “individual pathological cases” such as Seselj cause a great deal of suffering and fear and must be stopped at once, not discussed about “in good time”. One can discuss and discuss about a madman ‘till the cows come home’ but nothing will change. Firm action is needed.
On a more promising note, though, MEP Andrej Plenkovic of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that the European People’s Party (EPP) was planning to propose a resolution at a European Parliament session in Strasbourg next week to condemn Seselj’s behaviour. It’s an urgent matter to stop the rhetoric that caused the crimes of the 1990’s in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Seselj should have been on his way back to the Hague prison – yesterday! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: EU Parliament Elections – Winners are Losers in Dismal 20.84% Voter Turnout!

July 2013 EU Parliament representatives for Croatia   Photo Pixsell

July 2013 EU Parliament representatives for Croatia Photo Pixsell

Were you to observe the media buzz in Croatia, with all the pomp and ceremony (including photos with brightly coloured shawls around politicians shoulders, balloons, confetti, champagne …) you would think there was a major event in Croatia that ended in victories of unseen avalanche  proportions; political landslides large enough to cause earthquakes of at least 9 points magnitude on the Richter scale.

Just prior to the EUP elections held on Sunday 14 April the Electoral Roll was “sorted” (meaning the authorities found that there is now 3,738,708 eligible voters living in Croatia (or have a registered address of abode there). The Croatian Electoral Commission (Državno izborno povjerenstvo/DIP) says that 20.84% of eligible voters actually voted at EUP Elections in Croatia.

This translates into some 780,000 people in total who actually voted.

Out of that number of votes, according to results of 98% counted by DIP, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which also includes candidates of the Croatian Party of Rights Dr Ante Starcevic (HSP AS) and the BUZ pensioners’ party, won 32.93%.
The coalition consisting of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Croatian People’s Party (HNS) and the Croatian Pensioners’ Party (HSU) followed with 31.95%.

The Labour Party finished third with 5.76%.

Hence, it is likely that 6 seats will go to HDZ coalition, 5 to SDP coalition and 1 to Labour.

While it is customary to congratulate the winners and say well done to all others who participated in the electoral race, the dismal voter turnout is surely a sign of a political and democratic swamp suffocating Croatia.

Certainly, one cannot claim a victory in the name of the people with the choice of only 20.84% represented in these results.

This is among the WORST voter turnout for EUP in EU history! Furthermore, one could safely conclude that the 2013 EUP elections in Croatia may well reflect the results of much of political party vote recruitment (or voting in accordance with party orders).

The following are votes counted for the winners:

HDZ list of candidates:

Ruža Tomašić (63.882)

Andrej Plenković (37.015)

Dubravka Šuica (30.979)

Davor Stier (13.752)

Ivana Maletić (4.424)

Zdravka Bušić (4.010)
SDP list of candidates:

Tonino Picula (110.278)

Biljana Borzan (17.584)

Marino Baldini (1.631)

Oleg Valjalo (1.325)

Sandra Petrović Jakovina (3.806)
Croatian Labour list: Nikola Vuljanić (6.351)
Not much to celebrate about, is it!?

Flimsy electoral victories if I ever did see one!

Indeed, the many anti-EU Croatian voters have not voted at these elections; others are simply too disillusioned with the government and opposition and do not have enough energy to get out and vote – try and change the political landscape in Croatia (it’s almost like mass depression from widespread unemployment and impoverished living standards is working for the benefit of the “big” political party machinery).

With local government elections coming up in May, HDZ, which has had a difficult time in trying to reinvent itself after its significant loss at the December 2011 general elections, is hopeful that, given its success at the EUP elections, it will also reap similar rewards at the local ones.

SDP with its coalition has lost significant ground among the voters. The EUP voters have sent a strong message to the government it seems.

Or, one major party may have been a better “recruiter” of votes than the other?

While EUP elections voter turnout has been known to be at low levels in several countries, from time to time, in Croatia, where a dismally low voter turnout in January 2012 (around 29%) for EU referendum secured Croatia’s progression into EU membership, these EUP elections in Croatia are a symptom of serious disillusionment with the way democracy is going as well as persistence of the significant anti-EU voter sentiment.

Very low voter turnout also signifies apathy that has the capability of endangering the system of democracy. And when you have this, where people simply do not vote, do not speak up (vote) – for whatever reason – then the wheels of political party machinery that go about securing votes, recruiting votes, really start spinning; to keep the party in power. And, this is usually the least those who do not vote want!

It needs to be said that election campaigns for EUP by candidates have been most humble and certainly not widespread, especially when it comes to the smaller parties and independents’ lists of candidates.  Time was very limited. Also, many would have realised that it would be a “waste” of precious money to try and campaign properly amidst major party activities and various media manipulations.

Be it as it may, the candidate list (Democratic Centre Party) I was on did quite well, considering. We won a total of just over 6,000 votes and this is a great success for which my colleagues and I are most grateful. Our “maiden” voyage into the electoral-scape saw our Joint Movement of Good making a positive impact.  Our program got more votes than some of the electoral “winners” who are “going to Brussels”.

We wish them all the best and mat they do Croatia proud!

If one could go so far as to foresee the future for the next general election in Croatia (2015) on the basis of EUP election results we could be looking at a hung parliament (between the two major party coalitions), or a miracle might happen and people will actually make an effort and go to the polls, vote and create a wonderful new political landscape that will move democracy in Croatia to its deserved and long awaited levels of full citizen participation, thus sever the ties with political elitism inherited from communist times and shatter the seeming “invincibility” of the political elite. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Sydney)

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