Croatia: Josipovic’s helter-skelter politics

Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic

The palpably ever-present helter-skelter in the Croatian left-wing politics have shown their unsavoury face during the past week, again.

It’s blatantly obvious that the head of the Croatian state, President Ivo Josipovic, just like his predecessor Stjepan Mesic has absolutely no visible strategy or ordered plan for the integration of Croatian Serbs into a desired and needed homogeneity of Croatian citizenship. Furthermore, he, just as his predecessor Stjepan Mesic, shows that he has absolutely no strategy or plan as to how to afford the Croatian war veterans of 1991-1995 the status of defenders of democracy – for that’s what they were and that’s what they are. These two issues are paramount in Croatia’s progression into a fully fledged democracy.

On the belief that all Croatian Serbs as ethnic minority actually want to, after all, live as citizens of Croatia without many of them twisting their neck backwards in Belgrade’s direction, I must agree with Josipovic when he said during the past week that representatives of all Croatian Serbs must be heard and not just those of one group. The latter, of course, refers to groups huddled around Milorad Pupovac, president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party/SDSS in Croatian parliament who has used his parliamentary mandates and his “state funded privileged existence as wheeler and dealer of Serb issues in Croatia” to cause more damage than good for the process of reconciliation. In fact Pupovac has towed the Belgrade line always – still to this day denying and minimizing the horrendous damage done to Croatia by Serbs in early 1990’s.

So, when Croatia’s President Josipovic stood up to Pupovac, telling him there are other Serbs in Croatia besides the ones he represents who must be heard and everyone needs to be given an opportunity to be heard, I thought this was – finally – what Croatia needs. Indeed it was only relatively recently that all of the numerous ethnic minorities in Croatia got a mention in Croatia’s Constitution when the Preamble was amended from mid-2010. But until recently mostly the Italian minority and the Serb minority were the only ones that received decent public coverage and representation; due public care.

But the helter-skelter politics on ethnic minorities’ integration are not really abandoned by this seemingly positive move by Josipovic. Unearthing the likely roots of this public row between Josipovic and Pupovac revealed that it may well have been a bitter reaction by Josipovic to scandalous allegations made by Croatian Serbian National Committee in newspaper Novosti (enthroned years ago with anti-Croatian propaganda, with Pupovac grip but funded by the Croatian government!) against Josipovic that alleged Josipovic was closely associated in the ZAMP affair which looked at how a close personal friend of Josipovic allegedly secured enormous profits in heading the company that channeled royalties from copyrights into its bank accounts.

Josipovic accused Pupovac of having monopolised the dealings with Croatia’s Serb ethnic minorities and of having cemented an “ethno business” with this for personal gain rather than for the gain of Croatian Serbs.

The fact that in a bizarre and inconsiderate move Josipovic invited and brought Veljko Dzakula – rebel Serb leader from early 1990’s who was instrumental in injecting ferocious winds into the brutal Serb aggression against Croatia in early 1990’s – to the official commemoration of the 17th anniversary of Operation Storm in Knin on August 5 does not serve as supporting factor for an eventuality where Josipovic might be seen as having matured politically and abandoning his haphazard ways of addressing Serb integration into Croatian citizenship.

There is simply no plan or strategy visible; it’s all about grabbing headlines that linger on for a day or two and then – nothing! Well, not nothing, really, as people at large are quite annoyed with having to bear the picture which tells them that the politicians have done so little on such an important issue. Integrating ethnic minorities into a democratic Croatia is not something that’s achieved through sporadic public rows or sweeping statements. What on earth have the public servants and the politicians been doing all these years?

Holding onto tatters of communist Yugoslavia any which way?

It would seem to me that the strategy to achieve integration of Croatian Serbs into Croatian citizenship must start with the declaration of the righteousness of Croatia’s Homeland War. Instead of doing this Josipovic (and prime minister Zoran Milanovic) still pussyfoot around the fact that Croatia had to defend itself from brutal Serb aggression and – wait for it – brag to the world that Dzakula’s presence at the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of Operation Storm contributes to the legality of Croatia’s liberating military Operation Storm (1995).

To add to this miserable political show, Josipovic, instead of lifting Croatian war veterans of early 1990’s as the most deserving defenders of Croatian independence and democracy, reverberates the antifascists idiocy which attempts to brainwash the masses into thinking that Croatia’s war veterans of 1990’s are the same as the communist Partisans of WWII. The brainwashing attempts go even further as Josipovic claims that if it was not for antifascists, today’s independent and democratic Croatia wouldn’t exist.

It is no wonder that Croatia has so many difficulties in achieving homogeny among its people. People know only too well that communist Partisans fought for Yugoslavia and for communism, not for Croatian independence and democracy. People know that communist Partisans committed horrendous crimes against their own people and nothing Josipovic or his predecessor Stjepan Mesic say can bring Croatian war veterans of 1990’s to see themselves as same with Partisans. They are simply not the same; they are simply much better.

The helter-skelter politics of former communists, who in many cases have never accepted Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia, is thus a perfect breeding ground for continued unrest and disenchantment but also for extreme, unrepentant (for Serb aggression against Croatia) political nutters such as Dzakula and Pupovac to hold onto or gain greater footholds that stifle meaningfully lasting and real integration of all citizens into independent Croatia.

If Josipovic (and the Social Democratic Party/SDP led government) have a strategy for homogenisation and integration of Croatian citizenship that is expressed in abovementioned ways of public blusters then the strategy may as well have been drafted by Paul McCartney and the late John Lennon:

“When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide

Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride

Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.


Do, don’t you want me to love you

I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you

Tell me, tell me, tell me, come on tell me the answer

You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer.


Helter skelter, helter skelter

Helter skelter”.

Josipovic may be a lover, a musician and a dancer, but he ain’t no strategist. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian leftist government’s pathetic attempt to erode the dignity of Victory Day

Banner at Cavoglave Croatia 5 August 2012 People celebrate 17th anniversary of “Victory Day and Homeland Gratitude” and “Day of Croatian Defenders”

Whether the fact that communist party predecessors of the current leftist Croatian government had rejected in 1991 the will of the majority of Croatian people to secede from communist Yugoslavia, (walked out of parliament when declaration of independence was being voted on June 25 1991) had anything to do with the bizarre taste left by the official celebration in Knin last Sunday 5 August is anyone’s guess. But, one cannot help leaning that way and shake one’s head in troubling disbelief.

How did Croatia get here? How did Croatia’s biggest day of celebrations become so controlled and contrived with a plot to dampen joys of victory, of freedom?

Last year the government was criticised far and wide (domestic leftists and selected leftist foreign media) for sending greetings from the Fort of Knin to the ICTY’s prison cells, to Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac – who symbolise the courage for Croatian freedom.

This year, no greetings to the Generals from the official celebration at the Fort of Knin – a lot about Serb victims though, and how they too must be recognised.

Well, last time I checked all victims of the war have been recognised and recorded in Croatia a long time ago. If that were not so then the numerous criminal court proceedings that have been going on in Croatia would not have been going on.

So, who’s pulling whose leg, and why?

The current Croatian leftist government decided that the official celebration at Fort of Knin on 5 August would be humble in numbers but not so humble in references to Serb victims. The unforgivable element of this is that they (government) did not specify which Serb victims need to be recognised: the innocent civilians of Serb ethnicity, the Croatian rebel Serbs (extracted from civilian population)  who reaped horror against Croatians and non-Serbs, or the Serbs from Serbia who came to Croatia to help Croatian rebel Serbs murder and ethnically cleanse as many Croatians and non-Serbs as possible.

Just as well the unjustifiably tortured and vilified as ultra-nationalistic Croatian musician Marko Perkovic Thompson attracted more than 100,000 revelers at the celebrations in Cavoglave of Croatia’s “Victory Day and Homeland Gratitude” and “Day of Croatian Defenders”.

Despite the government’s and the President’s moves to shrink the size of the “official” celebration for free and independent Croatia, besides their inviting to the celebration the, oh so deeply compromised, rebel Serb leader Veljko Dzakula, the people celebrated big time in Cavoglave – away from the government; away from the president.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), largest political party in opposition, led by its president Tomislav Karamarko, also celebrated (in Knin) away from the government, away from the president. They were not invited to the official celebration. Karamarko was also the only politician to question the credibility and suitability of Dzakula as an appropriate Serb guest at the official celebrations. Go Karamarko!

Karamarko seems to know well that reconciliation does not depend on the ad hoc whims of politicians but must be built up from the grassroots, from the people who fought and who suffered.

One would think that both the government and the opposition have an absolute right to be present at official state celebrations that celebrate the people of the nation, the victory of the nation. But no, not for the leftist government of Croatia!

The bizarre taste of the “official” celebration of Croatia’s “Victory Day and Homeland Gratitude” and “Croatian Defenders Day” (at the Fort of Knin – the town that rebel Serbs had cleansed of Croatian and non-Serb people and declared it the capital of Republic of Serbian Krajina) associated with the final liberation of Croatian territory from Serb aggression and occupation through Operation Storm has to do with the mix the following unsavoury occurrences:

  • The president of the country (Ivo Josipovic) invites the rebel Serb leader (who took active part in planning the Serb aggression, murder and ethnic cleansing in 1991) Veljko Dzakula to the official celebration, who says Serb victims need to be recognised;
  • The Greater Serbia politics mouthpiece in Croatia, Milorad Pupovac didn’t come to Knin but his attitudes are nowhere near looking into the eye and confronting the brutal Serb aggression, murder and ethnic cleansing (1991 – 1995) which catapulted the Croatian people into the self-preservation, defence mode. Pupovac instead published a statement on the Serbian National Council website enumerating the wrongs, according to him, done to Croatian Serbs – the Serb victims that fell during Croatia’s Homeland War, the flight of more 250,000 Serbs from Croatia, according to him… He did not specify how many of these victims and fleeing Serbs were actually Serbs from Serbia that flooded Croatia in order to help Croatian rebel Serbs murder and ethnically cleanse the Krajina region. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with one word, that the whole tragedy would have been avoided had the Serb minority accepted the will of the majority. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with one word, that Serbs did not want peace, that Serbs did not want to live in Croatia, that Croatian Serbs wanted the Croatian territory they occupied and ethnically cleansed to be a Serbian state. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with a single word, that Croatia had a right to defend its own life from aggression and murder. He did, though, state that Serbs were native people of Croatia. Please, someone, help this man understand that Serbs are not native people in Croatia, Croatian Kingdom existed many centuries before Serbs started settling there to form an ethnic minority.

It is so crystal clear, judging from Pupovac and Dzakula, as Croatian Serb leaders of note, that many Croatian Serbs have not accepted Croatia as the country they belong to simply as citizens like any other. It’s a given that rights under citizenship, including ethnic minority rights, are to be respected and available to all. I hanker for the day when Croatian Serbs will demand compensation for war losses from Serbia – why should Croatia pay for everything, including resettlement costs of those that fled Croatia under instructions from Serbia!

  • Croatia’s defence minister Predrag Matic Fred, otherwise known as Stuffed Bird, made swift changes to the official celebration protocol, removing invitations for parliamentary opposition leader/s, other dignitaries reportedly for lack of space at the celebration site – the Fort of Knin;
  • Croatia’s President Ivo Josipović said at the celebration of the 17th anniversary of the Operation Storm in Knin that Serb victims needed to be recognised. 

He did not specify which Serb victims needed to be recognised: the Croatian Serbs or the Serbian Serbs that pounced upon Croatia 1991 with guns and knives like wild, hungry animals. As far as I’m concerned these are not victims – they are casualties of war (war that they started and persevered with). As for civilian Serb victims then yes they must be recognised and they have been recognised both in written records and in spoken language but Josipovic seems like he has just landed into Croatia from Mars – or from some Belgrade based dungeon that still guards the Yugoslav flag.
  • Croatia’s prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, wasn’t any better than Josipovic when he said: “To win in peace means to extend a hand to our co-citizens of Serbian nationality and recognise their victims and bow to them. The war in Croatia perpetrated big evil, and Croatia was at the brink of destruction…”

Will someone please tell Croatia’s leftist government and president that the Serb victims have been recognised a long time ago and that’s why there are numerous court cases and investigations going on under their very own government departments. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia’s D-Day: Operation Storm 1995

Croatian Operation Storm 5 August 1995 Photo: MORH Ministry of defence Repubplic of Croatia (centre left: General Ante Gotovina, centre right: President Franjo Tudjman – standing above liberated town of Knin)

The profound respect, delight and the sense of ultimate justice for freedom WWII D-Day generates in the lands of WWII Allies is nothing less, nothing more than what “Operation Storm 1995” generates for Croatia and Croatians – except for the misguided few.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his historic message to the troops prior to their landing in Normandy on June 6 1944: “You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you”. It was the beginning of the end of WWII – the Allied forces stormed the beaches of northern France in a surprise attack on Nazi-occupied Europe. D-Day brought the beginning of the ending of the horrors of the Holocaust with steel resolve.

Words to the same effect were, I remember, delivered by President Franjo Tudjman to Croatian troops in the lead-up to Operation Storm 1995 against the Serb occupying forces.

I have not yet seen any D-Day commemorations, anywhere, where the enemy (members of the Nazi) are invited to participate. Just imagine if such an invitation went out in Britain, France, USA, Australia …! All rage would be unleashed across those the lands! D-Day is, after all, a day to honour those who fought; who lost their lives in order to liberate Europe from the brutal Nazi occupation.

Indeed, the place and times of any reconciliation between people are such that they must not, under any circumstance, contaminate the honour and remembrance of the moments in history that held the key to freedom, independence and the beginning of the ending of horrors endured by a nation.

Vecernji List reports that Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic has invited to the 17th anniversary commemoration of Operation Storm (5 August) the president of Serbian Democratic Forum, Veljko Dzakula! This man Dzakula was the political leader of rebel Serbs in Slavonia (Croatia) and although in February of 1993 he took part in the unsuccessful attempts by the Croatian government for peaceful transfer to Croatian authority, towards normalizing life for the locals on the battlefield, he was, nevertheless, prior to that – a rebel Serb leader. In the mind of Croatian people, he would have taken a strong political role behind what was to become a horrendous nightmare for Croatia – Serb aggression, occupation, ethnic cleansing, genocide, rape …

While Croatia’s president Josipovic might think (wrongly!) that Dzakula’s presence at the 17th Anniversary commemoration of Operation Storm could bring a certain confirmation of legitimacy for the Operation Storm the fact is that Operation Storm is legitimate without any testimonies from former Serb rebel leader.

The legitimacy is written in all the horror that occurred on Croatian territory at the hands of Serbs from 1991 to 4th August 1995. The legitimacy of Operation Storm is the fact that Operation Storm was waged for the ultimate need of self-preservation of Croatia within its historical and sovereign borders.

It is indeed painful, to the core, that Croatia’s leftist president and current leftist government are seemingly tolerated, albeit only coyly criticised in some media, for this utterly unfair move to bring among the revelers for Operation Storm elements that have the capacity of playing down the deserved honour to be bestowed upon Croatian war veterans on this day. Such contamination of this proud moment in Croatian history is unforgivable!

While I do not need to repeat what has been written many times about the corrupt political moves to equate the victim with the aggressor it is in that light that I see this shameful invitation by Josipovic to Dzakula.

Josipovic has perhaps read (and given utterly misguided credence to) Boris Divjak’s (one of the founders of Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina) 2006 depraved sentence: “The conflict continued throughout much of 1995 but, after Croatia invaded the Serb region of Krajina in early August …” (Page 237, paragraph 3)

Croatia did not invade a Serb region with Operation Storm. Croatia liberated its own region with Operation Storm. Operation Storm is D-Day for Croatia – the day we remember the victory over the suffering and horrors imposed upon Croatians and non-Serbs of Croatia by the Serb aggression and invasion between 1991 and 1995.

Furthermore, Josipovic and Croatia’s leftist government are perhaps still contemplating on withdrawing the Croatia’s lawsuit at International Court of Justice (ICJ) (filed in 1999) against Serbia for genocide. Serbia in its counterclaim at ICJ (2010) claims, besides dredging out WWII Ustashi crimes against Serbs that 1990’s war in Croatia has absolutely nothing to do with, demand that Croatia “amends its Law on Public Holidays, Remembrance Days and Non-Working Days, by way of removing the ‘Day of Victory and Homeland Gratitude’ and the ‘Day of Croatian Defenders’, celebrated on the 5th of August…

The time in Croatia, and internationally, has indeed come when political manipulation must stop and truth – prevail.

May Croatia’s war veterans of Operation Storm be praised and reveled for eternity for, not only did they liberate Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression but many also, led by Croatian General Ante Gotovina, went on to stop further genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina via operation that lifted the Serb siege of Bihac. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)  

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