Many Australian Croats as part of the Croatian diaspora are looking forward to the Croatia Uncensored tour that commences next week, headed by the Member of the Croatian Parliament for the Diaspora, retired general Zeljko Glasnovic. Much to talk about, much to ask, much to pursue especially given that Glasnovic has been one of the leading voices and staunchest promoters in the Croatian Parliament and in public for a decommunised and lustrated Croatia.
Croatian people are certainly not the only nation in the world where, when it comes to the state of the nation, people at large are attracted to the problem rather than the solution. Whether a solution to a problem comes, or not, can only depend on actions devised, employed and implemented from the pool of complainants, the unhappy, the angry, the disillusioned, the devastated, the desperate… And so we come to the burning issue of pervasive, in terms of democracy repulsive communist mindset in Croatia despite the brilliantly successful defence of Croatian independence during the war of Serb/Yugoslav aggression in early 1990’s.
Post year-2000 in Croatia there has been no government in power in Croatia that has had a “smooth run”. On the contrary, every such government is marked by loud protests from the masses as well as from individual politicians (usually the independents and opposition) that not enough is done to successfully transition Croatia into a fully functional democratic state by way of reforms and lustration. Lustration, or ridding Croatia of institutionalised communist habits and mindset was/is The “weapon” essential to democratic progress. But, no doubt about it, nepotism, corruption tied to political favouritism, dependency on government/state bred into the nation by the communist regime, among other tactics employed by a totalitarian regime had a life of their own, resisting viciously and indiscriminately needed change and progress.
Despite the economic and standard of living persistent crises, what Croatia had since year 2000 was every government telling or boasting to the nation of reforms and progress it has pursued and achieved but the most important reform – lustration – was not and is not a part of that progress. And yet real progress depends on lustration – absolutely! Lustration for Croatia is akin to the foundations of a solid house; in the sense of building a democratically functional state of Croatia all facets of operational communist Yugoslavia must be excavated from the foundations and Croatian values pursued during the Homeland War, War of Independence, must be cemented into the foundations. Disillusionment and bitterness about the fact that this still has not been done continues and is seen on almost every corner.
And, yet, the fact that the people (i.e. masses / general population) are the ultimate authority in this and every country has it seems eluded the disillusioned. That is to say, much to the government’s delight – I dare say – one cannot see a unification of all that are pursuing lustration, i.e. raising to the top as the national priority of values fought for, paid for in blood and devastation during the Homeland War. And so the past governments thrived on this, as does the current one.
The current Croatian government, as those before it, continues to push the Brussels (EU) so-called Western Balkans project as the key statehood question! Bypassing and downgrading, as all others since year-2000 have, the actual key Croatian statehood question that’s embedded in the values of the Homeland War. To make matters alarmingly worse, Prime Minister Andre Plenkovic has at a public forum in Dubrovnik last week in his speech referred to “some conflicts that have occurred in this region” (not calling those conflicts by their real name “Serb aggression)! The Croatian public was rightfully outraged, for even if after the speech Plenkovic insisted that he was just referring to conflicts in Kosovo, the sensitive and disillusioned public took those words as also referring to the war of Serb/Yugoslav aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s. After all, why wouldn’t they? The values of Croatia’s Homeland War, apart from hollow rhetoric at certain commemorations, are neither upheld nor promoted through essential reforms, which must include lustration.
There are many examples throughout the past couple of decades or so of government and presidential public rhetoric holding or suggesting that what occurred in Croatia in early 1990’s was a “civil war”! Such statements are malicious and designed to keep communist Yugoslavia breathing, in the hope for a new lease on life; they are fodder for the so-called Western Balkans project. This project factors highly in the heads of some EU leaders, movers and shakers; promoted by Germany’s Angela Merkel especially. The resolve to support Croatia’s independence during the early 1990’s demonstrated by Germany’s key supporters for an independent Croatia Helmut Kohl (former German Chancellor) and Hans-Dietrich Genscher (former German Foreign Minister) has with the coming of Merkel been drowned into insignificance. Plenkovic’s reported ambitions to succeed at leading the EU Commission after Jean-Claude Juncker goes can safely be associated with his line of pursuits that includes supporting the Western Balkans project. To add weight to this, however repulsive and unwanted that weight is to a great majority of Croatian people, Plenkovic’s government, in its seemingly tight coalition with the Independent Serb Democratic Party in Croatia and its president Milorad Pupovac, has opened wide gates for Serbs to wield power and cause distress in Croatia, pushing the line of belittling Croatia’s Homeland War and attempting to negate the bloody and brutal Serb aggression against Croatia in early 1990’s; keeping alive the Greater Serbia project within Croatia; supporting Serbia’s deplorable denial of aggression against Croatia and the utterly repugnant Serbia’s propaganda relating to World War II in Croatia. At this point suffice to say, that Pupovac has, as recently as last month, threatened one of Croatia’s leading researchers into WWII facts on Jasenovac camp, Igor Vukic, for unveiling research results/facts that blow the communist and Serb propaganda against WWII Croatia out of the water!
When in August 2018, on the Day of Croatian Homeland War Victory celebrations, Pupovac accompanied Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic in Backa Palanka, Serbia, to give weight and meaning to Vucic’s statement in which he maliciously compared modern Croatian state to a Nazi state, there were no sanctions in Croatia against Pupovac (Member of Croatian Parliament) nor against Serbia. Not even sending Serbia’s Ambassador in Croatia packing, like most countries would do!
No lustration, active degradation of values of Croatia’s Homeland War, negligence and dismissiveness of the importance Croatian veterans and victims of Serb aggression should play in society, active support of Serb anti-Croatian independence politics in Croatia, to name but a few spurs lining the path of keeping the notion of a Yugoslavia alive in Croatia; it is like Yugoslavia still exists there, albeit in a mini version.
A good example demonstrating this for a fully functional democracy (thoroughly rid of communist Yugoslavia) atrocious state in Croatia is perhaps entwined in the recent words by Vukovar’s Mayor Ivan Penava, who is calling the people to a public rally for human rights in October 2018:
“ All crimes have a first name and a surname, after all that has passed, not all Vukovar citizens can remain hostages of past, present and future deals and negotiations. I seek that we take a clear and decisive stand towards the events of the past, the Yugoslav People’s Army, the Greater Serbia and that we embed without compromise such a relationship in everything we do, on every occasion. It’s impermissible that as a State and a system we have no strength for pointing out the perpetrators, for demanding the acknowledgment of the evil perpetrated by the criminal regime, seek apology and compensation for the victims. Besides all that, we are pursuing alliances with those who among themselves hide the guilty, who know everything about certain crimes but choose to stay silent…In light of that, the City of Vukovar is organising and invites people to a peaceful, non-political rally for basic human rights, and against the shameful silence of institutions of Croatian society…” Ina Vukic