Croatia back in chaos? (The Washington Times, December 28, 2001)

I read with interest Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s Dec. 26 Op-Ed column on Croatia and its difficult road to democracy, “Not yet Bush of the Balkans.” Mr. Kuhner is right in critically assessing the pervasive Balkanesque cronyism and corruption in Croatian politics. Yet he briefly and only sketchily mentions the large-scale massacres and removal of thousands of Croat civilians and competent professionals by the former Yugoslav communist security apparatus, which is still partially alive in Croatia.
One’s view of what happened in ex-communist Yugoslavia and later in the late President Franjo Tudjman’s Croatia depends on the observer’s vested interests, his ethnic prejudices and his historical perspectives. One thing remains certain, though: Croatia lacks solid elements of civil society and ignores the Western rules of meritocracy.

Similar to other post-communist countries in the region, modern Croatia is deeply infected by the legacy of communist mendacity and double-dealing and the spiral of silence and civic fear. Waffling empty Western-imported cliches about human rights and market democracy, the revamped Croatian diplomacy shows amazing signs of provincialism and incompetence. What a would-be democratic Croatia needs is a solid dose of re-education and decommunization.

Undoubtedly, a staggering number of Mr. Tudjman’s officials were recycled communists who briefly put on display a feigned Croat patriotism. Was not the current President Stipe Mesic also Mr. Tudjman’s pal until their fateful split in 1994?

These remarks may seem of minor importance, but what is worrisome is the present ungovernability of Croatia. Mr. Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan may have good intentions about the country’s future. Yet, good intentions do not suffice to make a good politician or make a country safe for entry into the rich men’s club of the European Union or NATO.

Furthermore, the coalition government at bureaucratic loggerheads with Mr. Mesic has an unsavory international reputation as a coalition of five swingers making poorly mimicked passes at the European Union. Apparently, this is because of a naive effort to extract a certificate of good democratic behavior or some putative charity from credulous EU and U.S. taxpayers. With mutual mudslinging within this motley crew of four diverse parties, a question remains: Is Croatia a governable entity?

Mr. Tudjman did his best to bring Croat ex-communists and anti-communists together. His motto was “reconciliation.” The present Croatian government is doing exactly the opposite; it is unstitching the country and driving a wedge between expatriate and homeland Croats, between the former communists and the right-wing opposition figures, and between the politically correct and politically incorrect.

Outside of regurgitating in broken English and in the old wooden communist lingo slogans such as “free market” or “necessity for economic transition,” the present political class in Croatia is a carbon copy of the late “homo sovieticus” universe albeit with the mandatory and feigned liberal veneer.

Forty-five years of communist and Titoist terror brought about negative selection and depleted the Croatian society of honest, law-abiding and professional Croatian politicians irrespective of their ideological creed. Hence, the country is gripped by paralysis and slated for long-term instability.

Slowly, but surely, Croatia is pushing its way back into a still unnamed and unknown chaos.

The Washington Times

TOMISLAV SUNIC

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2001/dec/28/20011228-034324-6699r/#ixzz3OpLNj7kK
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