Opinion

Is Serbia Controlling Croatia By Blackmailing Its President?

Background

The father of Croatia’s current president Ivo Josipovic, Mr. Ante Josipovic, was a very influential member of the communist inner circle during Tito’s Yugoslavia. There is evidence that he has committed some very serious crimes. These crimes resulted from his leadership in the “Ideological Commission” of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. His office was responsible for the execution of over 100 Croatian dissidents and journalists outside of the former Yugoslavia, mainly in Germany. These crimes would almost certainly result in jail time in several EU countries, for the elder Josipovic. Someone in Serbia with access to old Yugoslav archives has the evidence about elder Josipovic and is using it to blackmail not only President Josipovic, but other implicated Croatian officials as well. The end result is that today, there is increased influence of Serbia in the government of Croatia.

Why does this matter?

Russian President Putin and his team are drawing parallels with Serbian expansionistic tendencies in Balkans, and adjusting their plans in Ukraine. Having learned from the Serbian military debacle with Croatia, they know that having a president who is easily manipulated, or even blackmailed by them in the other country, is a proven shortcut to achieving their goals.

The presidential elections in Croatia were held on December 28th 2014. The election campaign has brought up various issues concerning the disastrous state of the Croatian economy, corruption in the judicial branch of the government and lack of freedom of the press and media. All of these issues are being directly controlled and overshadowed by the personal interests of the Croatian ruling elite, with President Josipovic’s main interest being to keep his father out of jail.

Croatia’s paradox

The Republic of Croatia is a member of the EU and NATO; however Serbia’s influence in Croatian institutions has never been greater. The Josipovic/Milanovic government of Croatia has 10 ministers of Serb origin (out of 21 government members), who are pursuing an old Serb dominated-Yugoslav (now they call it regional) agenda rather than Croatian interests.

Croatians paid dearly for their independence from the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia by tens of thousands of young lives in 1990s. The president of Croatia publicly promotes The communist red star as a symbol of pride, although that was the same symbol worn on the uniforms of the army that 20 years ago was destroying Croatian cities like Dubrovnik and Vukovar during the Homeland War.

Moreover, the National Security Adviser to the President of Croatia is also the son of the former chief of the Yugoslav Secret Police, who is presently standing trial for the assassination of several Croatian immigrants in Munich, Germany, during the Yugoslav epoch.

Describing his meeting with President Ivo Josipovic in his recently published memoirs, the former Serbian Ambassador to Croatia Mr. Radivoj Cveticanin cites how Ivo Josipovic provided him with secret court records on criminal proceedings for the war crimes, even before he had become president of Croatia. Mr. Josipovic confirmed he had meetings with the Serbian ambassador, but said he was only giving him books.

All these facts point to the paradox: Croatia – the youngest EU member, that achieved its independence in a bloody war, is being led by the neo-communists who are actively working to drown Croatia in yet another Serbo-Russian-dominated alliance with the Balkan countries.

The people of Croatia who fought so hard for their independence are watching in disbelief all of their accomplishments and dreams being taken away, by media manipulation and by prosecution of victims rather than aggressors.

Croatians never tore down their Berlin Wall, they just repainted it

When Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991, everything was controlled by the Yugoslav Secret Police (KOS, UDBA), from every top politician to the last worker at the factory. Tens of thousands of people were paid to spy on their co-workers and neighbors, keep track of their habits and whereabouts, and report any “suspicious activity. As required, anyone could have been pronounced guilty for “activities against the people,” and then convicted to serve a long jail term, or get a life sentence, or even get executed.

In the 1990s Croatians, along with Slovenians, turned towards West and severed their ties with Yugoslavia, which was dominated by the Serbs. 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. 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. Following the achievement of their centuries-old dream to finally have their own country, Croatia’s original surge in nationalism began to deflate, and by the year 2000 “reformed“ communists came back to power in Croatia. The 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.

It is interesting that today no one in Croatia is providing answers to simple questions like:

Who were those snitches (secret agents), communist prosecutors, judges and reporters who made the media serve as judge and jury, even before the cases had reached the courts? Where are they now? Tito’s dictatorship had fearmongering executioners, responsible for hundreds of thousands deaths. Where are they now?

Economic meltdown followed a political one

It sounds incredible, but Croatia fought the economic crisis by drastically raising taxes, which ruined the already weakened economy. Croatia is applying old economic models, already forgotten by other former communist countries. 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 highest VAT (value added tax) at 25 percent, and with the highest unemployment rate, especially among young professionals who seek their future elsewhere. For a country of 4.5 million people, the departure of 2,300 medical personnel in the years 2013 and 2014 amounts to an exodus. They left to look for work in other EU countries, the U.S. and Canada.

On the other hand, no one in the government  wants to provide the reasons why there were no EU funds claimed by any Croatian agency or any government body in 2014, despite over 1.5 billion euro budgeted by the EU for Croatia!?

Romans ruled by providing bread and games; Croatian rulers provide only games

Populism is the key lever in neo-communist actions everywhere. One can see the examples in Eastern Europe and in the countries of Central and South America. In Croatia the executive branch of the government has control over the judicial branch (particularly the prosecution) and direct control of the media.

Many state prosecutors are former Yugoslav communist secret police officials or their close relatives, and many present judges are the same ones that used to preside over the communist trials. 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 vast 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.

Intense pressure is being exerted by the media and the government against the few remaining courts and judges who do not side with the government’s neo-communist politicians. Some Croatian judges admit: “It is better for the ones I convict to end up in the media, than for me not convicting them.”

Everyone in Croatia is scared of the media. They are privately owned, and tightly connected with the structures of the previous Yugoslav communist regime. Even the Journalists Association, although formally a trade organization, is politically active and skewed to neo-communist side. It seems as if their headquarters is serving as the campaign headquarters for the current president.

According to the latest polls 76 percent of Croatians think that the country is headed in a wrong direction. Nevertheless the incumbent president chose the campaign message of, “this is the right way.” He is a master of populism, who is otherwise a professor of law with an honorary doctorate from the University in Kalingrad, Russia, and a PhD thesis with the title “Arrests and Incarceration.” He has followers in Serbia and others who have a hard time adjusting to the disintegration of Yugoslavia.