Thursday 10 December 2015 will mark 16 years since Croatia’s first president and father of the modern and independent Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, passed away. Remembering Franjo Tudjman this year is an event that needs to consider the current political confusion in Croatia; the current stalemate in forming a new government; the divided electorates between the centre-left, the centre-right and the new Bridge coalition of independents; the stage at which Croatia is on the road to realize all reforms for a prosperous democracy Tudjman spoke of way back in May 1990 when the first free Croatian Parliament was inaugurated. If we look closely at Tudjman’s “strategic and action plan” weaved into his speech for a democratic, well-rounded and prosperous Croatia we see that points he put before us have mostly not been attended to or even partially achieved. This pertains to point 4 and onward in the part of his speech delivered on 30 May 1990 and which I have translated into English.
Much, much work lies ahead of Croatian governments of the future and I pray that they will refer to and pay close attention to the points made by Franjo Tudjman all those years ago:
“… Honorable representatives and parliamentary officers!
At the end of this inaugural address, allow me to endeavor and put forward, in the briefest of points, some of the most urgent and immediate tasks that stand before the new democratic government of Croatia.
1. New Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. The fundamental determinants of the new Croatian Constitution have been set in advance through the plebiscitary declaration of Croatian people for democratic freedoms of citizens and for state sovereignty at recent elections. Best-known people from the political and scientific life will be included into the Constitutional Commission. The new Constitution of Croatia must be free from all ideological dissents; it must be based on experiences of creating a Croatian state and in the spirit of the most democratic traditions of modern Europe and North American reality and science of law.
2. Regulating the new constitutional position of Croatia in Yugoslavia. Given that we need to start from the fact that Croatia is situated in the system of Yugoslavia, which is a recognized member of the international order, we are prepared for negotiations with the representatives of the other nations of SFRY and federal bodies for the purpose of contractual regulations of mutual relations. Based on the totality of historical experience we hold that the state sovereignty within the community of other nations of SFRY can only be secured on confederative foundations, as is a contractual alliance of sovereign states.
3. Inclusion into Europe and Europeanization of Croatia. Simultaneous with democratic transformation we need to undertake all necessary steps for Croatia to be included into the European Union as soon as possible. For centuries, Croatia has been a constituent part of the Western European (Mediterranean and Central-European) culture. Even when it did not have a full political state subject status, Croatia was inseparably connected to the Western European civilization. The contribution to European life several centuries ago as well as through later history by Croatian Latinists bears loud witness to that fact. The return to that cultural tradition must be multilayered. In European integration Croatia must secure its independence and faster progress.
4. The establishment of the rule of law system in a state and the modernization of government administration. Consistency in distribution and responsibility of legislative, executive and judicial powers is a precondition of every genuine democracy. Thorough de-politicization of the judiciary and ensuring its absolute independence is among our first tasks. De-bureaucratization and modernization of the entire government administration requires organizational reform, and personnel and technological update.
5. Spiritual renewal. The democratic movements within the period of the implementation of the first free elections have led to a kind of spiritual revival of the Croatian national pride. The declaration by the enormous majority of Croatian people of choosing the HDZ program goals had, in reality, marked the ending of that “civil war” which had lasted in Croatia since the time of World War II. The victory of the democratic spirit and unity between all Croatian citizens, regardless of their past and their views, has created the preconditions for the removal of all fatal divisions. Finally, divisions of people into first and second grade citizens, into conquerors and conquered, into suitable and unsuitable, into trustworthy and enemy, must disappear. We aspire to create a society in which human and work abilities, citizenship and moral virtues, and not origin and attitudinal orientation, will determine the position and value judgments about an individual in society. Beside that, we want to build the genuine democracy in which the rule of the majority will mean the protection of the minority.
6. Radical changes to proprietary relationships and economy. Our democratic government is accepting Croatia in which there is a concerning state of economic impoverishment and general lagging behind Europe. It is necessary to find ways out of public ownership and create conditions for legal and financial security of all economic entrepreneurial projects, as soon as possible. In order to find the most favorable and the fastest solutions for changes in proprietary relationships, for the needed denationalization and re-privatization, for an effective tax system and bank and exchange operations, we need to, along with all our ones, engage competent foreign professionals.
7. Demographic revival. The former total politics of the past several decades have brought the Croatian national being into a state of demographic endangerment. Beside the change in the spiritual political climate it is necessary to undertake urgent and purposeful steps towards preventing further emigration of our citizens as well as towards increasing natality.
8. Return and inclusion of emigrants. The establishment of spiritual unity between domiciled and emigrated Croatia is undoubtedly one of HDZ’s successes, which already have significantly contributed to the carving out of democratic transformation. The new Croatian government should undertake purposeful steps on all levels for the enablement of the quickest possible return of as many Croatians as possible from the world to the homeland. We also need to seriously address the possibility of moving one part of members of Croatian minorities to the depopulated hearths of many parts Croatian countryside. Investments by Croatian émigrés in all areas of economic life should be motivated through special privileges. Our distinctive attention must be focused on that because they have enormous work experiences, technological and financial potential at their disposal with which they can significantly contribute to a faster economic and democratic transformation of their homeland.
9. The necessity of changes in public services. We need urgent and big changes in almost all areas of public life. Culture, science and education, health and social welfare, insurance, media and other public services are burdened with problems and substantial financial difficulties. The old regime leaves us spiritual and material desert in many areas, especially in education and teaching. We need the return to our pan-European educational traditions as much as we need a radical turnaround into the futuristic informational era. We need to remove the effects of coercion inflicted by ideological narrow-mindedness upon the culture and the arts. Releasing the potential of creativity of modern artists and culturally ambitious people, striving towards genuine appreciation of the authentic national cultural heritage, but also keeping in step with the superior accomplishments of modern culture of other nations.
10. Moral renewal and work ethics. The unnatural real-Socialist system leaves us the inheritance of fatal consequences especially because it had, through its perversion, demolished and belittled all traditional values and moral norms. This equally relates to family and school education, to professional, work and business ethics. Distortions in value system paved the way for the escape or apathy of the wise and the capable, and for the advancement of the incapable and inconsiderate careerists. It’s going to be a hard and long-lasting job making changes to such a distorted value system, but we must commence with that job immediately, in all spheres and pores of life.
Franjo Tudjman 1990
Honorable representatives and officers of the first truly democratic Croatian Parliament!
In conclusion, I thank you once again on the trust you have shown and, at the same time, allow me to direct these words to all the citizens of Croatia and to the entire Croatian nation. Resurrecting – at the time of the electoral breaking point – the subdued and injured national conscience and the thwarted pride of Croatian people, and also the lost hope all Croatian citizens, we have inspired, by releasing the enormous spiritual irrational energy of the whole nation, an exultant reviving zeal. It’s up to us now, up to the new democratic government of Croatia, to maintain that elation and to channel that reawakened energy into work and creative endeavors for the realization of the sacred ideals of freedom and prosperity of our homeland. On that road, and for that divine goal, the primary and the largest responsibility is on all of us, the elected members of Parliament and representatives of the new Croatian democratic government, but also, on all Croatian citizens. That is, together we must be imbued by the awareness that we cannot expect from our Croatia more than we, ourselves, contribute to its advancement, so that we, ourselves, and our children, and children of our children may enjoy the fruits of our work.
Just as I had believed that the Croatian people would utter their mature word at the first democratic elections, from which this Croatian Parliament originates, so too am I all the more firmly convinced that, with the leadership of its true presidency, they will be able and will know how to build the life which free people deserve in their one and only, from suffering weary but sacred homeland.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your attention and for your role in this historical occurrence, and also to all those who gave us their trust, and, whom we must not and will not betray!
May our democratic and sovereign Croatia live and progress!”
Source: http://www.sabor.hr (Croatian Parliament website)
Translated into English by: Ina Vukic, prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)
First published on Oct.09 2015