Ever since Stjepan Mesic embarked on his attack (initially covertly then overtly) against Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman from about mid-1993, intending to bring down the significance of Tudjman’s cries for democracy and to criminalise Croatian Homeland War the politics in Croatia have often seemed disjointed and often irrational in recent years. After Tudjman’s death in 1999 the people (or at least the majority of voters) had often voted against the interests of democratic reform announced as essential by Franjo Tudjman in 1990. In the past fifteen years Croats have managed to thoroughly corrupt the democratic system through the intricate network of a permanent political class composed of anti-fascist lobbyists underpinned by the perpetuation of the illusion that Communist Yugoslavia was a success story of multi-ethnic unity and through the controlled media. The mainstream media in Croatia has gradually crumbled into snippets of inflammatory or sensational “fly-by-night- news” bearing without a shred of guiding commentary that would assist in the building of democracy and truth.
Indeed, there was a time – and that time was Tudjman’s time – when idealism for freedom and democracy triumphed over power and many Croatian men and women of good will from all over the world, voluntarily, without expecting any kudos or material reward, entered public activism, lobbyism out of a purer motive of doing something for their country – Croatia. For them Croatia symbolised pure love for freedom and democracy. Freedom (from oppressive communist Yugoslavia) was achieved and democracy although engraved into Croatia’s Constitution suffered frustrating setbacks.
Despite Tudjman’s attempts from 1993 to embark upon ridding the power-wielding institutions of the former highly-positioned communist Yugoslavia operatives, they came out of the woodwork (largely due to Stjepan Mesic’s and his political camp’s resistance to lustration) creating a new mesh of power that would see the corruption that thrived at all levels of government for decades in communist Yugoslavia, which excluded oppressively any other ideology but communist – consolidate its suffocating effects on democratic progress.
There’s little doubt that the greatest danger to the survival of free and democratic Croatia (or any republic for that matter) is corruption, corruption being favouring special or narrow interests over the common good. Croatia is there now and the current presidential election campaigns are increasing the speed with which Croatia may become a totally special interest political system, separated from the common good; the good of the people.
And so, how do uncorrupted political leaders survive in a corrupt environment. We must fear that they cannot unless they possess equal cannon fodder to defend themselves from attacks that have no ingredients for common good but all the ingredients of furthering corruption and distorting the truth, which would if given a chance build on democracy.
And so I come to a freak Croatian media “frenzy” whereby numerous media outlets published a letter written to the Croatian presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on a Facebook page by Danica Ramljak, a highly educated individual who has spent more than two decades living and working in the U.S.A. In that letter Ramljak evidently sets out to denigrate Grabar-Kitarovic as a deserving candidate for the President of Croatia by asking Grabar-Kitarovic to provide her answer to the 10 questions she (Ramljak) has asked in the letter.
And I shake my head in despair: what chance of democracy and truth has Croatia got when educated people like Ramljak publicly ask stupid questions that should not have passed a decent Editor’s desk into the “print-room”? What chance does democracy in Croatia have when media outlets download from Facebook pages material that is highly inflammatory and based on an evidently malicious agenda to mislead the public and vilify people without even warning the public that the contents of that material may misrepresent the truth or proper role of a public official?
Only someone who does not want progress in democracy in Croatia can ask and publish such questions. Only someone who wants political corruption to thrive in Croatia can ask and publish such questions.
Ramljak in her questions that to me appear stupid, vilifying and malicious suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as the Croatian Ambassador to the US was responsible for bringing American investors to Croatia (and failed)! Even a child knows that an Ambassador does not create or control state laws and regulations for foreign investments – and God knows Croatian laws and red tapes have been hopeless and repelled many an investor. Furthermore, investing is the sole prerogative and choice of an investor and Ambassadors are no herders. Ramljak then suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as Ambassador is to blame for not enough US tourists visiting Croatia because she did not promote Croatian tourism enough as Ambassador – truly, Ramljak needs a few lessons in choice and individual right to choice, in democracy – actually. Even if it were the job of an Ambassador to promote the tourist industry (as opposed to supporting it) – which it is not – one surely cannot attach blame to that Ambassador for a personal choice a tourist makes regarding their holiday destination.
Furthermore, Ramljak claims through a question that Grabar-Kitarovic secured her high position in NATO while working in Washington as Croatian Ambassador to the US and that her employer (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) did not know anything about that. It seems that the democratic right to do whatever one pleases in one’s private time (away from the job or working hours) or to pursue private matters (and seeking a new job is a private matter), does not factor in Ramljak’s idea of democracy and human rights. Certainly, Ramljak offers no evidence of any wrong doing by Grabar-Kitarovic and yet has the nasty gall of strongly implying it.
Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel “For Whom The Bell Tolls” graphically describes the brutality of civil war (Spanish Civil War) and the Spanish Civil War is all about politics: it’s a conflict between the leftist “Republic” and the fascist Nationalists. All of the characters the novel focuses on fight for the Republic, some of them with a zeal which borders on the religious. Yet what the Republic stands for is somewhat up for grabs: it’s a troubled coalition of Communists, anarchists, and those who simply believe in “freedom” or “the people.” The optimism or idealism felt by some characters is sharply contrasted with the reality of Republican politics – constant lying, infighting, and control by foreigners.
While there are no fascists in Croatia, there are communists like Ivo Josipovic (also presidential candidate and current president) who would like the world to think that there are fascists in Croatia. I do hope that the bell will toll loud and clear at the coming presidential elections in Croatia and rid it of those who engage in such political corruption as Ramljak has shown through her atrocious letter that seems to me has embraced the mud-slinging tactics Josipovic never strays far away from. While the politically corrupt media do, I trust Grabar-Kitarovic will not dignify the questions put by Danica Ramljak in her publicised letter with answers! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)