In one week, on January 11, Croatian presidential candidates Ivo Josipovic and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic face their final battle for the Office of the President. One of the more significant platforms pursued by Grabar-Kitarovic in her election campaign is “the return to where Franjo Tudjman stopped”.
“He (Tudjman) is a man who gathered us all around the idea of freedom and independent Croatia and, led by him, the Croatian people and all the citizens who fought for Croatia, our state was created and it’s now our duty to complete the work he started and take Croatia into prosperity,” she said in December 2014 at the 15th anniversary of Tudjman’s death.
January 4, 2015
When Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991 the communist Yugoslav Secret Police (KOS, UDBA) controlled a great deal and Croatia was faced with a brutal war of Serb/Yugoslav People’s Army aggression. This was the time just after the “Berlin Wall” came down, promising freedom and democracy to Eastern European countries that had been suffocated by Soviet-led or Soviet associated communist regime for decades, since WWII.
Franjo Tudjman, announcing paths to freedom from the Yugoslav communist regime and democracy for Croatia started the tearing down of the “Berlin Wall” that had existed within former Yugoslavia since WWII. In the early 1990s Croatians, led by Tudjman, along with Slovenians and eventually Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, turned towards West (while Serbia and Montenegro, along with those organised individuals in the other aforementioned Yugoslav states wanted communism to flourish, dug their vicious pro-communist heels in) and broke their ties with Yugoslavia, which was dominated by the Serbs. Most, but not all, from the Serbian minority in Croatia tried, with the help of the Yugoslav Army, to stop Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia. After several years of bloody armed struggle, Croatians managed to militarily defeat the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian rebel forces.
But this success of Croatian Homeland War veterans and their leadership was not to see uninterrupted the next phase that would entail putting into place all the necessary political, ideological, administrative and legislative actions within Croatia that would see Tudjman’s path for a truly democratic and prosperous Croatia in action. The viciously ardent communists, led by Stjepan Mesic, staged and aided an all-out war of vilification against Tudjman and Croatian Homeland War Generals, setting their sights on criminalising the war and equating the victim with the aggressor. As the new Croatian state was formed during the Homeland War, the former Yugoslav communist Secret Police was not dissolved, allegedly because the new Croatian leadership could not risk an ‘internal war’ with the remains of the totalitarian regime. At the time Tudjman was to support lustration – removing from higher office those who were operatives of the Yugoslav Secret Police – the chase to vilify him as an ultra-nationalist who participated in joint criminal enterprise against Serbs in Croatia picked up and constantly threw dust into the eyes of those who wanted to work on further and more profound democratic changes in Croatia. (It took 18 years for the International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia to peel off this vilifying coat when in 2012 Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were acquitted of crimes they were charge with as Generals of Tudjman’s army…)
By the year 2000 “reformed“ communists came to power in Croatia, both in Government led by Ivica Racan and in Presidency of Stjepan Mesic. Ivica Racan’s former Communist Party changed its name to “Social Democratic Party,” yet everything else remained the same. They kept their close relationships with the Serbian minority in Croatia and the Serbs in former Yugoslavia – with the same old communists in their respective positions of leadership. Stjepan Mesic, having been ousted as parliamentary speaker in 1994 by Tudjman on account of his vicious and vilifying attempts to oust Tudjman from power, had meandered through creating new political parties to acting as independent to stay in power and continue his work on burying the democracy Tudjman had set as Croatia’s goal.
Social Democrats and Mesic had pushed on with “drowning” Tudjman and Croatia’s Homeland War and resurrecting communist Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito along with suffocating the efforts to bring communist crimes perpetrated during the times of communist Yugoslavia to justice. Croatia’s current president Ivo Josipovic had picked up where his predecessor Mesic stopped and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic where Racan’s government had stopped. Croatia had become a battleground where values of communist Yugoslavia were elevated above those of Tudjman, Homeland War and democracy and, hence, widespread corruption that has its roots in communist Yugoslavia continued to flourish no matter which political party was in government after year 2000.
“Instead of reforming the economy and cutting the government costs, Croatia continues to borrow and sell off national treasures, while increasing taxes. As of today Croatia is the EU member with the GST/VAT at 25%, and with the highest unemployment rate, especially among young professionals who increasingly seek relief from poverty and existential hopelessness abroad.
The Croatian media scene is dominated by the same people who used to glorify former dictator Tito. The current head of the national television, the “HRT,” is Goran Radman, himself the last president of Tito’s communist youth organization. This well-rehearsed team sends to jail or fires someone every week because of “corruption,” in order to distract people’s attention from the real problems. The majority of cases involve political opposition leaders.
The media is served a steady stream of “secret” witness depositions, demonstrating how the country is being robbed. At the same time the attention is drawn away from the real problems, concealing the fact that the fleecing of the country is carried out by the government itself.
Increased taxes, no investments, no encouragement for private investment projects, halting the funds earmarked by the EU – all this seems to be the hallmark of the Josipovic’ regime” writes Dan Rados of The Daily Caller in his thought-provoking article titled “Is Serbia controlling Croatia by blackmailing its president”.
All that and much more seems the hallmark of the politics of those who do not want a democratic and prosperous Croatia and they are those who remain loyal to the values of communist former-Yugoslavia. One wonders how much of this pro-communist Yugoslavia outlook has stopped Ivo Josipovic visiting again the protest-camp site outside Veterans’ Affairs ministry building in Zagreb where 100% war-invalids have been rallying for changes and rights since October 2014! I.e., aloof faced, Josipovic has visited the protesting veterans on 24 October and has done not a thing then or since then in attempting to truly listen to the suffering veterans, to create or help create a constructive dialogue and seems unperturbed by and deaf at the veterans’ plights. His excuse for failing to speak to the protesting veterans since late October is that he has invited them to visit him in his office! And this is the man who tries to tell the people that he too holds that independent Croatia of today is based on the values of Croatia’s Homeland War (as well as antifascist)! The communists of today, such as Josipovic, seem brazenly and spitefully determined not to let Croatian Homeland War veterans achieve fully an upper hand they deserve.
Throughout the campaigning for the presidency of Croatia it has been so refreshing to come across a candidate like Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic who, unlike Josipovic, emanates with democratic justice, providing for citizens’ and human rights for everyone based on the law of the country, due process and fairness. She is adamant in unifying the Croatian nation into working towards the goals set by Tudjman and, unlike Josipovic and the Social Democrat led government, appears to place Homeland War veterans above any former communist or antifascist crusader. With her victory on Sunday 11 January Croatia is surely to start breathing fairness and justice once again and the “Berlin Wall” will finally tumble-down for Croatia just as it has many years ago for the other European countries adversely affected in the past by it. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)