Whether one believes or not in the concept of “deep state” (in Croatia’s case it would be more like a “deep-UDBA-state” [UDBA referring to the state secret police of former communist Yugoslavia]) is in the face of evident consequences of actions – irrelevant. Although one comes across the equating of deep state concept with conspiracy theories it is difficult to circumvent the fact that applied political developments in Croatia in the aftermath of the Homeland War and secession from communist Yugoslavia have provided evidential platforms where the concept of deep state is no longer in the realm of conspiracy theories but in the realm of objective conviction from facts encountered. That conviction associates itself to a conclusion that there is an unseen bureaucracy that really holds the reins of power in Croatia; a state within a state, “imperium in imperio”, or a label for all individuals and organisations whose power is not institutionalised in existing organs of state, but it is so strong that it has control over the most important decisions in the country. It could probably be described as the coupling of the most influential representatives of the political establishment, military-industrial complex, intelligence services, civil society and mainstream media.
Deep state apparatus is in the coupling of those who see national sovereignty of the state as their greatest enemy. They are bound by common anti-sovereign-state tendencies, common ideology of globalism, liberal capitalism, open borders and multiculturalism and a common goal, which is influencing the making of strategic state decisions in order to protect their acquired position of monopoly and personal interests. To the observant eye this deep state in Croatia consists of a group of communism-aligned critics, state bureaucrats and intelligence figures, as well as the media. It’s like an all-pervasive shadow government dominating the political life of the country that invests no efforts except sabotage to decommunise Croatia into a fully functional democratic state.
Resistance and sabotage to decommunising Croatia (which was the natural and intended path to follow after the Homeland War ended) into a functional democratic state free from former communist Yugoslavia mindset and rigid totalitarian public administration, where power lies in the public official rather than the consumer, are evidenced in the country’s crucial “establishments” such as the judiciary, education, economy, foreign affairs, land titles, media, electoral access, the diaspora … Suffice to say, none of these “establishments” can to date boast of a complete overhaul outcome that would lend itself to a national system that puts independent Croatia first, above all else.
Multitudes of democracy-building aspects of national importance have in the aftermath of the Croatian Homeland War been either derailed, sabotaged, muted, ignored, ridiculed … all in the evident pursuit of sabotaging that for which the Homeland War was fought: a functional democratic Croatian state, free of communist Yugoslavia in mind and deed.
Actions of a deep state are based on the strategy of causing chaos – a constant public and secret discrediting of governments and politicians whose activities are prominent in attempts to achieve even a semblance of justice towards victims of communist crimes, towards victims of Serb aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s, towards achieving lustration, towards decent economic sustainability and, in particular, engagement of the well-endowed diaspora…
Various publications worldwide sought to define the term “deep state,” generally agreeing that it originated in Turkey, where secretive conspiracies hatched in the corridors of power and removed from the democratic process shadow the nation’s politics.
It’s not hard to see why so many Croatians believe in the existence of an all-powerful deep state. As far as Croatia is concerned, the country has had a series of “affairs” that can be linked to the activities of a deep state, which is characterised by the mindset and protocols found in former Yugoslavia. In the first place, this refers to para-intelligence underground activities in Croatia (identified as UDBA activities even though UDBA itself had ceased to officially exist with the breakup of former Yugoslavia) reflected in countless publicly expressed experiences and implications connected to illegal surveillance of people and their movements, to eavesdropping on phone calls and conversations. The targets for destruction and oblivion appear to include patriotism and Croatian national conscience underlined by the common good and well being, which, if permitted to thrive, would lead to that prosperity for all Croatian people Homeland War was fought for.
The rather recent affairs and processes of that chaos calibre, of national significance, that come to mind are:
- the deliberate undermining of people’s expressed will for referendums on Electoral Law changes and on repealing of Istanbul Convention related laws recently passed
- all events happening around the country’s largest company – Agrokor – including the finance minister Martina Dalic’s resignation, i.e. the so-called Borg affair
- the infuriating resistance to solve the problems of jobs-for-bread-without-productivity (particularly related to thriving nepotism that was embedded in the operations of former communist state) (known as “uhljebništvo” in Croatian vernacular) and clientelism (a system based on the relation of client to patron with the client giving political or financial support to a patron [e.g., in the form of votes] in exchange for some special privilege or benefit) – the Agrokor and INA affairs are particular evidence of clientelism
- the case of purchasing Israeli fighter planes F-16 where the public was fed with an array of so-called experts who influenced the formulation of public belief that the government was wasting enormous funds, it can’t afford, on purchasing old planes;
- the Munich trials for murder (communist/UDBA assassination of patriotic Croats) of former Yugoslavia UDBA/KOS operatives (Perkovic/Mustac) – even though the trial findings led to life sentences, in order to deactivate its possible influence on pursuing a solid reckoning with communist crimes the matters associated with their guilt are kept suppressed from the public
- persons occupying judges’ seats in the Constitutional Court are in an overwhelming ratio persons actively and ideologically associated with the former communist regime
- Croatian diplomatic echelons are saturated with former communists or communism-aligned persons whose political agenda evidently includes participation and/or driving the suffocation of Croatia as an independent Central European state to favour the pushing of Croatia into the so-called Yugosphere, a Balkanised region that would see former Yugoslav states returning to a kind of an alliance that is utterly unnatural to the modern and independent Croatia
- the political football currently played in order to reduce the possible effectiveness of the announced protest in Vukovar to be held on 13 October against ineffective, inadequate prosecution of Serb war crimes committed in Vukovar area during the war
- the mainstream media has become the main battleground for the conquest of political power in Croatia – on the whole the Croatian mainstream media is pro-liberal and leftist, pro-communist Yugo-nostalgic, and there is no conservatively oriented mainstream media, which would offer to the public the opportunity for a healthy and essential balance of views/events otherwise freely available to the public of functioning democracies
- the Homeland War veterans status and the absolutely superior significance of the Homeland War to the achievement of independence for the country is barely pinned to the country’s Constitution and widely ignored in everyday life of Croatia as a sovereign state
- the political influence of Serb minority in decision-making in Croatia is staggering even though great many from its echelons were the drivers and, in one way or another, executors of the bloody and brutal aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s
All of these and countless other affairs and happenings in Croatia demonstrate the devastating influence of deep state on democracy or its full development and application. The tension between loyalty (to what communist Yugoslavia was) and expertise has never subsided in Croatia despite the fact that rivers of Croatian blood were spilled in order to secede from the communist regime and utilise expertise to achieve full democracy – this problem has much to do with the cultural space inherited from communist Yugoslavia.
The surge in the usage of the term deep-UDBA-state is understandable. The deep state appears to be an appropriate way to describe the complex networks tying together the various state apparatuses. In particular, it can easily be invoked to explain the seemingly invisible, drawn out, and arcane processes by which public policy is actually negotiated and made. Beneath the politics of convenience is the reality that a large segment of the Croatian governments really have and still operate without much, if any, transparency or public scrutiny, and have abused their powers in myriad ways that leave an ordinary, taxpaying citizen, still a servant to the “power” behind the “counter”.
The conservative movement has, in vain, it seems, spent decades calling for complete overhaul and democratisation of public administration – for the axing of “careerists” and counterproductive to democracy public servants; they have called for a complete overhaul of the judiciary; they have called for lustration and for condemnation of communist crimes…
Today, looking in, Croatia is led by deep state and steered in the direction away from Croatia’s founding goals; the political and governance chaos spills into confusion and incessant protests from various groups amidst the masses. Yet, the deep state does not appear as fighting for its life even though the battleground appears ripe. With the stalwarts of former communist regime and Yugoslavia wielding prominence of power in mainstream media and backstage deals the future of the Croatia that the majority of people wanted when they voted to secede from Yugoslavia hangs in the balance. But the battle is neither fully nor partially engaged despite the battleground’s ripeness.
What would it take to fully engage in battle against this deep state? An extraordinary and focused force of unity between the patriotic homeland and diaspora forces such as Croatia saw in the early 1990’s? No doubt about that!