Communist Yugoslavia Secret Services Archives Needed To Fight Against Organised Crime

The report on cooperation in the fight against organised crime in the Western Balkans was adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday 26 October 2021 by 60 votes in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions.  In the report Members of the European Parliament urged governments in the region to significantly increase their efforts to go forward with reforms in the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The report says that the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia) are countries of origin, destination, and transit for human trafficking, and they serve as a transit corridor for migrants and refugees and as a location for money laundering and firearms trafficking.

There is a lack of genuine political will in fighting the organised crime in these countries and MEPs want Western Balkan countries to address fully the shortcomings of their respective criminal-justice systems, including the length of legal proceedings. While not located within the Western Balkans for the matters addressed in this report, Croatia as a country that used to be a part of communist Yugoslavia until 1991 still has a great deal to answer for and fight against when it comes to organised crime and corruption.

The report said that Members of the European Parliament insisted that “fighting organised crime and advancing towards European Union integration are mutually reinforcing processes and call for an accelerated integration process.” The EU should, according to its Members of Parliament, support these efforts through financial assistance and practical cooperation. Call me a pessimist and a cynic in this if you like, but judging from the fact that organised crime and corruption are rooted in these societies of former communist regimes or similar political and social realities, the EU money dished out to root out corruption will be largely swallowed up by the same corruption, to feed itself, unless political power landscapes are changed in those countries or the EU actually controls every euro given and does not give money away.

As a member state of former Yugoslavia Croatia has also inherited widespread corruption as organised crimes from it. As such, Croatia could play a significant role in its input into fighting organised crime in those countries of Western Balkans that have their eye on being members of an extended EU member country because it possesses “inside knowledge” of organised crime. But given the alarming level of organised corruption still plaguing Croatia one must doubt as to whether much will change in Western Balkans on account of Croatia’s input. To be effective in this Croatia would need to shed most of its public administration heads and replaced them with those who have no links whatsoever with the corrupt echelons. Or, assisting the EU in this role from Croatia should be persons who would not qualify for lustration if lustration was to occur as well as not be a descendant, child, or grandchild of those who would qualify to be lustrated whether now living or not. It sounds like a big ask but, in essence, it is not because Croatia has quite a number of those who would qualify and who had during the life of former Yugoslavia either lived there or lived abroad as part of the diaspora.

Croatia’s criminal-justice system is certainly there where Western Balkans’ is and it needs a complete overhaul, however, we are not likely to see this occur while those aligned with the former communist Yugoslavia mental set control all aspects of public administration including judiciary.

The Report says that the main factors that make Western Balkans societies vulnerable, are the lack of employment opportunities, corruption, disinformation, elements of state capture, inequality, and foreign interference from non-democratic regimes such as Russia and China. Croatia, even after 30 years of seceding from Yugoslavia still has these problems plaguing its progress and everyday life.

Links between organised crime, politics and businesses existed before the break-up of Yugoslavia and have continued since the end of the conflicts of the 1990s, and Members of the European Parliament “condemn the apparent lack of will of the responsible authorities in the region to open the former Yugoslav archives and for files to be returned to governments if they want them.”

The report welcomes the conclusion of cooperation agreements between Eurojust and the governments of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, as well as the authorisation to open negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. MEPs urge the Council to authorise as soon as possible the opening of negotiations for a similar agreement with Kosovo.

It is of great interest to monitor how the recommendation from the Report that says that “Responsible authorities should open the former Yugoslav archives” will fare. Knowing the utterly corrupt persons that held the corrupt and criminal Yugoslavia together, influence of whom poisons many a responsible authority in former Yugoslavia countries, including Croatia, the opening of all archives is likely to be stalled for generations to come. Unless of course there comes a time when the political landscape changes and new generations, unpolluted by communist Yugoslavia nostalgia, come to be the authority that makes such decisions.

Suffice to say that there are multitudes of politicians in power or those holding authority in Croatia for whom the opening of Yugoslav archives would reveal alignment with UDBA (communist secret services in former Yugoslavia) communist purges operations and grand thefts for personal gain; an abominable, criminal past that included persecution and assassinations of anti-communist Croats and stealing public wealth for personal gains. Further problem for the opening of Yugoslav archives rests in the fact that when former Yugoslavia crumbled apart Serbia retained much of the archival material pertaining to the country’s federal depository held in its capital city Belgrade. Serbia did not do the decent thing and returned to all the former states of Yugoslavia their rightful archives – Serbia kept them all and it is not a member state of the European Union. Those archives would undoubtedly also reveal, among many other facts, the nasty historical fabrications Serbia has engaged in against its neighbouring countries, particularly Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.     

Communist Yugoslavia Secret Service files (UDBa) hide everything that the lustrated or those prosecuted for endangering human freedoms, political and civil rights, destroying families would be accused or members of the service lustrated or those prosecuted for endangering human freedoms, political and civil rights, destroying families and various blackmails and interfering in political and economic life and installing in political parties would be charged with. But Croatia’s criminal justice serves largely those it needs to protect from such lustration or prosecution. Secret service files hide everything unknown that would shed light on various historical and political deceptions, montages and that it would produce grounds for a different understanding of the 20th century history that is based on facts rather than communist or Serb fabrications.

Plights by several Croatian politicians in the opposition to the HDZ or SDP governments since year 2000 for the opening of accessibility to all Yugoslav archives, wherever on the territory of former Yugoslavia they may be held, have been numerous. Lobbying for the opening of the archives has been quite rich. But all to no avail! Will EU succeed where others have failed!?  The answer to the question “what is in those secret services files” appears with more urgency as Yugoslav secret services files continue to remain a “taboo topic” despite the landscape where, on surface, all the government officials and leaders swear to their personal commitment towards the truth! EU has been asking for access to those archives for over a decade and this Report regarding fighting organised crime on Western Balkans is just another notch in the string of asking.

The Report’s other significant recommendation is that political and administrative links to organised crime must be eradicated. This all sounds very great, just like the European Parliament’s declaration condemning all Totalitarian Regimes from the past some 12 years ago (2009). But the European Union authorities still to this day fail to punish or impose consequences upon Croatia for encouraging symbols of communist Yugoslavia totalitarian and murderous regime to thrive on the streets of Croatia that lost rivers of blood in the 1990’s while trying to secede from communist Yugoslavia. All this tells me that the European Parliament and the EU authorities have no real political will to contribute effectively to the achievement of recommendations from the Report on cooperation in the fight against organised crime in Western Balkans. I, for one, would love to see Yugoslav secret services archives open for all to access and study and show the truth but somehow, I fret that in my lifetime I will not see that without a miracle of political change. There appear to be too many individuals with power at some level within the countries’ machinery involved with organised crime in both Croatia and in the Western Balkans and only a miracle can rid the people of that scourge. The miracle, of course, can be shaped at the next general elections. Ina Vukic

Croatian Homeland War Values Lost In EU

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic
President of Croatia at Brookings Institution
28 September 2018

In its quest for control over different nations the European Union political machine has gradually planted in its modus operandi the term “Consolidation of Europe” and its practical applications that evidently replaces the term of “accession”. Hence, if one is to go by Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s, the Croatian President’s statements made in New York at Brookings Institution during the past week, the path of consolidation rather than the path of accession will expand the EU into the so-called Western Balkans or South-East Europe. While consolidation generally is a desired pursuit within a unified body of nations in reference to the EU it reeks of political ploys to expand the EU by creating allowances; perhaps even the undesirable/unjustifiable ones such as burying brutal history without true reconciliation and responsibility for crimes perpetrated in the name of national politics, equating the victim with the aggressor.

One cannot consolidate that which does not exist – that is, several countries in South East Europe are not EU member states and so, to achieve EU expansion, EU is now referred to as Europe! Make your own conclusion as to what that means, I’ve made mine!

Consolidation in this context in essence means that the European Commission plays a progressively larger role in shaping policy and controlling its implementation across member states. The development agenda is evolving in a consolidationist direction, with a greater focus on collective solutions to global problems. This is the source of rather loud protests by some member states that fight to assert their national interests (some attached to historical events) within the European Union or are threatening to leave the Union because of imposed controls that wash away or erode individual member state sovereignty and what that sovereignty means to particular member states. Without high-level supporters the EU would have found it difficult to move in the consolidationist direction and, as far as Croatia is concerned, the support for a consolidationist approach sadly means the sacrificing of upholding as the highest of national values, the values of the Homeland War, which created the modern independent state! The core conditions favouring greater consolidation, including the interests of Member States, do not appear to be met as we have seen particularly through various “patriotic” moves made in Hungary or Italy; Brexit in itself; the widening gap between current Croatian national politics and core values of Homeland War means that decommunisation, lustration, Homeland War veterans status in society are the pain that chews away into oblivion the values Croatia defended and asserted during the Homeland War. Up until recently there was in the EU enthusiasm for greater cooperation, but it seems this is now being replaced with enthusiasm for greater consolidation.

The dangers of consolidation lie in the fact that consolidation itself also means greater sacrifice of national values and the Croatian Homeland War values are gradually eroded on down the ladder to make way for EU values; for EU control.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic spent the past week in the US where she attended the 73rd UN General Assembly meeting and several events organised for her tour, including the International Leaders’ Forum hosted by the influential public policy organisation Brookings Institution on the 28th.

Retired US Marine General and former commander of the NATO ISAF, John R. Allen, emphasised at that forum that prior to becoming the president of Croatia as Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO “ … in everything she (Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic) did she brought distinction not only on behalf of Croatia but on behalf of all the liberal-democratic states in the community of nations.” Whether Grabar-Kitarovic’s apparent liberalism stops her from sticking to and emphasising worldwide the values of Croatia’s Homeland War as opposed to those of the EU is a moot point but in no uncertain terms a point that creates unease, if not anger, with many Croatian patriots.

The Forum at Brookings Institution on 28 September included the following:

John R. Allen: How do you see, how do you reflect upon Croatia joining the EU?

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: Looking at our EU membership I have to say that for Croatia it was a huge success because that was one of the goals that we put forward when we were striving for independence from Yugoslavia…so when people say or are even sad about the breakup of Yugoslavia we have to say that all of our countries in the territory used to be independent states at one point or another and we were part of different state contracts that sort of tried to exploit the fact that we need to be equal and that we need to express not only our national interest but the collective interest in the region… European Union has become more complex than when we strived to become a member state… we were at war, we were victim of aggression and occupation in the early nineties. We were member of the Berlin Wall, we were member of the Iron Curtain … and we were members of the reasons, the values why the EU was founded. The great success of the EU was incorporating the countries that were behind the Iron Curtain by making them part of democratic societies, market economies and by upholding the values of freedom of the individual but also of the responsibility not just towards your own nation but towards the EU and towards the human kind…working together towards global peace no matter how limited our capacities may be either in the national function or on the level of the EU but making the EU really the most successful integration process in the world so far. And despite all the circumstances that we are facing today, we are very proud to be one of the nations that supports a EU of equal nations, that is against any divisions, any kind of a EU that would be divided or any multi-tiered EU, that we are part of the EU that cares about its neighbours…it took a while for Croatia from being a member country following EU rules to start participating, creating rather than following…

John R. Allen: It’s important to recognise that the trauma that Croatia went through in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia in what they would term and what we should all learn more about – the Homeland War – the destruction that Croatia went through, the personal sacrifices of the citizens of Croatia, the entire region went through that war, to have Croatia emerge from that moment of national trauma and seek to be part of an organisation that stands for values and equality nation-for-nation you could have gone another way and I think we are all better for that.

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: It wasn’t an easy process and when you say that unfortunately the EU is sometimes perceived as a foe that couldn’t be further from the truth. The EU is the biggest partner of the US and Croatia and countries like Croatia are really your biggest partners and your biggest allies and when I listened to President’s speech in the UN asking for respect and saying that the US will provide assistance only to those countries who respect the US, that trade should be free and fair, well I can say that we think reciprocally as well. We want to be respected as well and we want that free trade as well. For instance Croatia has been asking for an avoidance of double taxation treaty ever since the nineties but we haven’t been able to conclude the treaty apparently for a lack of administrative capacity, which is hard to believe looking at your administrative capacities as the US, so when president Trump asks for free and reciprocal trade we ask for the same. We ask that Croatia be given the same respect and the same benefit of concluding that avoidance of double taxation treaty which in my opinion is just a technical issue that can be negotiated very quickly…

John R. Allen: You don’t like the term the Balkans, you have another term for it – South East Europe – and there are candidate members in that region that could accede to the EU and eventually to NATO. As you think about the region …what does that mean for us? What does that mean for the region? What advice would you give to the states potentially acceding to those two organisations?

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic: That region is an indispensable part of Europe so currently it’s a vacuum that needs to be filled, so we’re not talking about enlargement we’re talking about consolidation of Europe and South East of Europe is not only a more neutral geographical term for the region but it’s the right term because it’s Europe, it’s a part of Europe and it shouldn’t be called anything but Europe. I know that there are a lot of people in the region who call themselves proud Balkans’ inhabitants, and I respect that, but again I resist the term because I think it has been a barrier to that consolidation of Europe and of the EU. Croatia has been one of the staunchest supporters of integration of our neighbouring countries in the EU and NATO for those who choose to do so. We have been doing everything we can to help them politically and tactically in helping to fulfil the criteria…another aspect is Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and we have the elections coming up on the 7th of October and I have been openly criticised by some politicians in BiH for interfering in the domestic affairs. Well first of all I have to say that in today’s world when it comes to human rights and the rights of nations and minorities, appealing to internal affairs unfortunately is a distinction that belongs to undemocratic countries…additionally Croatia is one of the signatories of the Dayton Peace Accords which are also the Constitution of BiH, so it’s our obligation to uphold that Constitution, to protect the rights of the Croatian nation as one of the constituent nations of BiH and the entire territory and I will never get tired or discouraged to continue to fight for the equal rights of every nation including the Croatian nation … so what I want for the outcome of these elections is to produce a functioning government … and to protect the Croatian nation as one of the constituent nations in the country…Now, when it comes to Serbia, I’ve invested so much of what I would call political capital in improving our relations with Serbia and I must say that I’m really not happy about the inflammatory rhetoric that comes from the other side, because within just a few minutes you can create situations that cannot be repaired for years afterwards. And what we want is full normalisation, we want to resolve issues from the past, in particular the missing persons from the war. There are still thousands of families on both the Croat and Serb sides waiting for their closure and we want to solve the border issues and we want to help Serbia to proceed on the way to the EU but they must fulfil the same criteria that Croatia has fulfilled as well…”

One would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fit the rigorous process of accession Croatia was forced to undergo (including Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac answering to false criminal charges of Joint Criminal Enterprise and the ensuing ICTY battles to reach acquittal of those charges) into a process of consolidation, simply because consolidation in itself “naturally” requires compromises; compromises that Croatian people may not want when it comes to Serbia and its aggression against Croatia in the early nineties. While President Grabar Kitarovic is right saying that EU membership was one of Croatia’s goals when it fought to secede from communist Yugoslavia, the sad and unpalatable truth is that the Croatian Homeland War values for democracy (decommunisation), patriotic togetherness, upholding cohesive state-building ideas, to name just three, are the values that are being pushed into insignificance, or diluted to tepidity, in this consolidation of EU process she has evidently invested and is investing efforts into! Ina Vukic

Croatia: Benghazy Scrubber Scrubs Western Balkans


Croatia Forum

Lately, Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, is best known, or, rather, notorious, for her role in objecting to the initial set of the Benghazi attack talking points when she reportedly asked that references to al Qaeda and previous CIA warnings about threats posed to U.S. diplomats in Libya be scrubbed from the document. I.e., she is said to have demanded that (accurate) assessments of terrorist involvement be scrubbed, along with references to (accurate) intelligence warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi leading up to the 9/11/2012 attack on US diplomatic compound in which four Americans were murdered. Nuland’s role provided the closest thing to smoking-gun evidence of a cover up.

Then I assume all of us remember when in January/February of this year on YouTube, there was uploaded an audio recording of a confidential telephone conversation between Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine – Jeffrey Payette. Offended by the indecision of European Union leaders in the fight against Moscow’s “evil intentions” in Ukraine, the cheeky high-ranking American did not hesitate to use dirty words towards the European Union (“Fuck the EU”).

Episodes like these draw attention to the type of people who are deciding the destinies of the world – trying to teach others.

Victoria Nuland,  AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

Victoria Nuland,
AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

And on Friday 11 July 2014 Nuland attended in Dubrovnik the 9th “Croatia Forum” held around issues of EU enlargement into the Western Balkans region. She called for struggle against corruption and for democratic recourse to preserve the values of transatlantic community. She sent a serious message to the corrupt Balkan politicians that the United States know for their corrupt practices and their undemocratic rule.

Europe can’t be whole when kleptocrats treat states as a bonanza of spoils for themselves and their cronies. And it can’t be free when elections are rigged, independent media is silenced and minorities are vilified. And it can’t be at peace when corrupt officials use political, economic and judicial intimidation to stifle opposition and rip off their own citizens,” Nuland said to the participants of the forum and continued:
Corruption also threatens national sovereignty because every dirty politician in our midst, every dirty non-transparent contract that we allow, creates another wormhole of vulnerability and an opportunity for mischief by outside forces. From the Balkans to the Baltic to the Black Sea, we must understand, as those on the Maidan did, that corruption is not just a democracy killer, it’s another grey tool in the arsenal of autocrats and kleptocrats who seek to extend their influence, weaken our democracies and enrich themselves at the expense of our citizens”.

Nuland said the gas price dispute, Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine underlined the energy security threat facing Europe. Europe’s energy security needs much work and “building up diverse flow capabilities and capacities and building up deeper networks throughout the continent,” was what was needed. “Croatia has an essential role to play, as an energy security hub for the 21st century… You (Croatia) have spectacular assets to do that so long you as you make smart choices as you are going forward,” Nuland said.

Nuland did not spell out what choices she considers “smart” but given that Croatia is already an EU member perhaps she was using the Croatian platform to address the non-EU members at the forum such as Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania… Perhaps it her address was not about energy security but about gaining anti-Russia support and in doing so all sorts of compromises, scrubbing of war crimes etc., could emerge to fast-track some of these countries into EU membership as a matter of harnessing might for the looming cold war against Russia.

According to Croatian news agency HINA, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov said in Dubrovnik on Saturday 12 July that the European Union should not use Western Balkan countries’ desire of joining the bloc to force them to choose between Europe and Russia.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said for Croatian Radio that Jean-Claude Juncker’s (European Commission President-designate) statement, that there will be no new EU members in next five years, may be true but sends a wrong message because without enlargement, there will be no security and thus the credibility of the EU is at risk, while Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said that every EU member state should undergo an assessment every ten years and that he is certain that many would not pass on the criteria test that Serbia is now expected to pass.

Carl Bildt, who was one of the architects of the abysmally failed Dayton agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, should truly stay out of this exercise of contemplating EU extension into Western Balkans. He has nothing to offer for any real peaceful solution.

The likelihood that Croatia’s leaders will swallow head-and-shoulders Nuland’s glowing compliments to Croatia as a country that “could become a regional energy hub” is very, very high. The carrot is likely to become even more attractive now that Germany’s Angela Merkel said 15 July in Dubrovnik at a meeting of eight Western Balkans heads of state that her country would support the “region’s” future in the EU.

Croatian current leadership of communist extraction will do everything and anything to intercept and set back any processes dealing with post WWII communist crimes and there are two such cases in German courts at this very moment. One wonders whether justice in these will be compromised for a goal of uniting Western Balkans against Russia. Perhaps Nuland’s “smart choices” include a scenario where Croatia should stop pursuing justice for its own victims of communist crimes and of 1990’s war crimes.

While I completely agree with Nuland on the points of corruption and kleptocrats I find it extremely unsettling that it was she who points to the wrongs of it. If I consider the definition of corruption as a moral impurity or deviation from the ideal then her Benghazy scrub would certainly brush at least some corruption against her character. One wonders how much scrubbing of corrupt individuals’ tracks may occur in the process of making Croatia the energy hub of Europe. One wonders what the price the people will pay if their leaders take up the “offer” to lead the way in that region in a cold war against Russia. The huge numbers of unemployed, hungry and poor are not interested in any cold or hot war; their prime concern is how to bring food to the family table.

Certainly, it would be welcome if Croatia picked up on investments necessary to make it that hub, but I fear the biggest beneficiaries of such an exercise will not the Croatian people or workers. I gladly wait to be proven wrong on this. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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