The modern thought police is hard to spot, as it often seeks cover under soothing words such as “democracy” and “human rights.” While each member state of the European Union likes to show off the beauties of its constitutional paragraph, seldom does it attempt to talk about the ambiguities of its criminal code. Last year, in June and November, the European Commission held poorly publicized meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg whose historical importance regarding the future of free speech could overshadow the recent launching of the new euro currency.
At issue is the enactment of the new European legislation whose objective is to counter the growing suspicion about the viability of the multiracial European Union. Following the events of September 11, and in the wake of occasionally veiled anti-Israeli comments in some American and European journals, the wish of the European Commission is to exercise maximum damage control, via maximum thought control. If the new bill sponsored by the European Commission regarding "hate crime" passes through the European parliament, the judiciary of any individual EU member state in which this alleged "verbal offence" has been committed, will no longer carry legal weight. Legal proceedings and “appropriate” punishment will become the prerequisite of the European Union’s supra-national courts. If this proposed law is adopted by the Council of Ministers of the European Union, it automatically becomes law in all European Union member states; from Greece to Belgium, from Denmark to Portugal. Pursuant to this law’s ambiguous wording of the concept of "hate crime" or "racial incitement," anyone convicted of such an ill-defined verbal offense in country "A" of the European Union, can be fined or imprisoned in country "B" of the European Union.
In reality this is already the case. In hindsight, the enactment of this EU law appears like the reenactment of the communist criminal code of the late Soviet Union. For instance, the communist judiciary of the now defunct communist Yugoslavia had for decades resorted to the similar legal meta-language, such as the paragraph on "hostile propaganda" of the Criminal code, Article 133. Such semantic abstraction could apply to any suspect - regardless whether the suspect committed acts of physical violence against the communist state, or simply cracked a joke critical of communism.
For the time being the United Kingdom enjoys the highest degree of civil liberties in Europe; Germany the lowest. The UK Parliament recently turned down the similar "hate crime" law proposal sponsored by various pressure groups. However, numerous cases of mugging of elderly people of British descent in English cities by foreign, mostly Asian gangs, either go unreported, or do not have legal follow ups. If a foreign suspect, charged with criminal offense is put on trial, he usually pleads innocent or declares himself in front of often timid judges as a "victim of racial prejudice". Thus, regardless of the relative freedom in the UK, a certain degree of de facto self-censorship exists. The proposed EU law would make this de facto censorship de jure. This could, possibly, trigger more racial violence, given that the potential victims would be afraid to speak out for fear of being convicted of “hate speech” themselves.
Since 1994, Germany, Canada and Australia have strengthened laws against dissenting views, particularly against revisionists and nationalists. Several hundred German citizens, including a number of high- profile scholars have been accused of incitement to racial hatred or of denying the holocaust, on the basis of the strange legal neologism of the Article 130 ("Volkshetze") in the German Criminal Code. From this poorly worded yet overarching grammatical construct, it is now easy to place any journalist or a professor in legal difficulty if he/she questions the writing of modern history or if happens to be critical about the rising number of non-European immigrants.
In Germany, contrary to England and America, there is a long legal tradition that everything is forbidden what is not explicitly allowed. In America and England the legal practice presupposes that everything is allowed what is not specifically forbidden. This may be the reason why Germany adopted stringent laws against alleged or real holocaust denial. In December of last year, a Jewish-American historian Norman Finkelstein, during his visit to Germany, called upon the German political class to cease to be a victim of the "holocaust industry" pressure groups. He remarked that such a reckless German attitude only provokes hidden anti-Semitic sentiments. As was to be expected, nobody reacted to Finkelstein's remarks, for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic themselves. Instead, the German government, via its taxpayers, agreed last year to pay further share of 5 billion euros for this fiscal year to some 800.000 holocaust survivors. Such silence is the price paid for intellectual censorship in democracies. When discussion of certain topics are forbidden, the climate of frustration followed by individual terrorist violence starts growing. Can any Western nation that inhibits speech, and the free expression of diverse political views -however aberrant they may be - call itself a democracy?
Although America prides itself on its First Amendment, free speech in higher education and the media is subject to didactic self censorship. Expression of politically incorrect opinions can ruin the careers of, or hurt the grades of those who are “naive” enough to trust their First Amendment rights. It is a growing practice among tenured professors in the USA to give passing grades to many of their minority students in order to avoid legal troubles with their peers at best, or to avoid losing a job at worst.
In a similar vein, according the the Fabius-Gayssot law, proposed by a French Communist deputy and adopted in 1990, a person uttering in public doubts about modern antifascist victimology risks serious fines or imprisonment. A number of writers and journalists from France and Germany committed suicide, lost their jobs, or asked for political asylum in Syria, Sweden or America.
Similar repressive measures have been recently enacted in multicultural Australia, Canada and Belgium. Many East European nationalist politicians, particularly from Croatia, wishing to visit their expatriate countrymen in Canada or Australia are denied visa by those countries on the grounds of their alleged extremist nationalistic views. For the time being Russia, and other post-communist countries, are not subject to the same repressive thought control as exists in the USA or the European Union. Yet, in view of the increasing pressure from Brussels and Washington, this may change.
Contrary to widespread beliefs, state terror, i.e. totalitarianism is not only a product of violent ideology espoused by a handful of thugs. Civic fear, feigned self-abnegation, and intellectual abdication create an ideal ground for the totalitarian temptation. Intellectual terrorism is fueled by a popular belief that somehow things will straighten out by themselves. Growing social apathy and rising academic self-censorship only boost the spirit of totalitarianism. Essentially, the spirit of totalitarianism is the absence of all spirit.
The ongoing legal proceedings in the Hague against Serb and Croat war crimes suspects, including the Serbian ex-president Slobodan Milosevic, must be put into wider perspective. The unfortunate and often irrational hatred between Serbs and Croats had for decades been stirred up and kept alive by the communist Yugoslav secret police. The longevity of the artificial, multiethnic Yugoslavia was not just in the interest of Yugoslav communists but also of Western states. The long-time Western darling, the late Yugoslav communist leader, Marshall Josip Broz Tito, had a far bigger share of ethnic cleansings and mass killings. Yet, for decades, his crimes were hidden and went unreported in the West.
The first part of the following essay represents a brief excursion into the Croat victimology. The second part covers the poor legality of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
When talking or writing about state terror in former Communist Yugoslavia, one must inevitably mention those who were either assassinated or wounded outside the jurisdiction of that state. The assassination attempts were carried out by Yugoslav secret police (OZNA, UDBA) agents - although the decision "to make a kill" had to be first reached at the very top of the late Yugoslav Communist regime. During Communist ex-Yugoslavia, there was the whole spectrum of UDBA victims, particularly among former Croatian political emigres living under foreign Western jurisdictions. Of course, this sensitive theme can be addressed from a variety of different perspectives: historical, sociopolitical, psychological, ethical, and theological. Statistics or the "body count" of the UDBA terror is very important - but what appears to be even far more relevant are the persons who carried out those killings. Who gave the orders, and what were their motives? Such a wide-range analysis can, hopefully, be of some help, particularly in understanding today the poor legitimacy of the Tribunal in the Hague.
Moreover, such a broad-based approach is all the more important as the results of UDBA lawlessness went beyond its immediate victims. Each act of silencing a different, or dissident-minded opponent, or to physically eliminate somebody who refuses to pledge allegiance to a given state ideology, often exacerbates opposing views. Indeed, it can lead to a wider armed conflict, resulting in wars, mass killings, ethnic cleansings, etc. These end-results (which were recently confirmed by the violent break-up of ex-Yugoslavia and the subsequent Communist party -inspired aggression on Croatia, were also part and parcel of a larger socio-political package, leading to, but also deriving from, the spiral of mass psychosis, nationalist mythologies, general insecurity, the culture of resentment, and the resurgence of most primeval animal instincts amidst wide layers of population.
Regarding the scope of the Yugoslav secret police (UDBA) terror, one must not attribute them an excessive importance. In the last analysis, victims, following World War II in Yugoslavia, can be counted in hundreds of thousands, and victims in the recent war in the Balkans in several dozens of thousands. Therefore, attributing special significance to a relative small number, i.e. over a hundred victims of the UDBA terror in foreign countries, may sound biased - particularly when one compares this relatively low figure to the much higher figures mentioned above. Yet the difference in significance regarding the volume of the crime does not minimize the gravity of the crime; all victims are equally important. The only difference is how and in which historical circumstances these killings took place, and what is the causal relationship between the post- Word War II victims, UDBA victims, and Croat and Serb victims of the recent war. It is more or less taken for granted that mass killings occur in a war like scenario. Yet victims of the UDBA terror, which are discussed here, happened in peace time, in free and democratic Western countries, i.e., in societies in which everybody is entitled to his opinion and his pursuit of happiness. The criminal acts by the UDBA were committed abroad, and for them the Yugoslav Communist government (and their today's recycled followers both in Croatia and Serbia) bear direct responsibility. Moreover, those post-World War II crimes went beyond the legal framework of Communist ex-Yugoslavia.
The question must be raised as to why the Communist regime, even after the establishment of Communist Yugoslavia in 1945, continued to assassinate its political opponents, including those who resided in Western countries. One might believe that political opponents of Communist Yugoslavia who lived in the West did not pose a tangible threat to the ruling Yugoslav Communist League. This is all the more important considering the fact that Western countries, in which Croatian political emigres lived, or still live, were by no means sympathetic to the vision of establishing an independent Croatian state. Quite to the contrary; Western countries often did their utmost to preserve the "unity and integrity" of Communist Yugoslavia. But a threat to Communist Yugoslavia from Croatian emigre Western-based circles did exist - for a simple reason that the state of Yugoslavia and its Communist elite could not rely on the good will of the Croatian people. This weakness of Communist Yugoslavia did represent a problem to the Yugoslav authorities, because any state and any regime without legitimacy (regardless of its claim to legality), unless founded on the will of its citizens, does not have long-term survivability. The regime in place could be upheld only by sheer force. In an uncompromising effort to secure its survival, the Yugoslav Communist regime decided, very early on, to "neutralize" all separatist Croats, including those living in Western countries. This method of "neutralization" often took place in a beastly manner. The new Republic of Croatia, today, does not need to be kept alive by using force against its dissidents, because its support is solidly anchored amidst the majority of its citizens. It does not have to fear a handful of individuals, or a handful of small extremist parties. Far more dangerous for the survival of Croatia are the individuals, who in the name of some "ultra-Croatiandom," or some "mega-Croatian" statehood, continue to act in a radically opposite way to their much vaunted agendas. This danger is all the more great because it often operates under cover of fake Croat patriotism. Very early on, the ring leaders of the Communist machinery realized that their policy of "Yugoslavenisation" or "Titoisation" could not have positive effects among the Croatian people. Therefore, they viewed anybody who dared advocate the idea of the Croatian state independence, as a mortal enemy. On August 10, 1941, at the very beginning of the formation of Yugoslav Communist partisans units, late President Josip Broz Tito, stipulated that the "provocateurs, traitors must be immediately liquidated." Those who fell into this category were often advocates of Croatian state independence. Following these official Titoistic stipulations, only a few months later, the leader of Slovenian Communist Partisan units, Mr. Evard Kardelj (under his conspiratioral name "Bevac"), in a written report sent to Tito regarding the liquidation of opponents, carried out by his partisan units, noted: "Our machinery of execution is made up of 50 well trained men, armed with pistols and hand grenades. In view of the much increased terror undertaken by the Italian (Fascist) occupying forces, and local Slovenian "Bela Garda" collaborators, we had to increase the number of our activities. These men are capable of everything. Almost every day collaborators and traitors are eliminated along with members of the occupying (Fascist) units, etc. There is no police protection for those whom our VOS takes for a target..." Classical UDBA Terror
Here is a typical example of Communist terror. On the one hand, Partisan and Communist executions, during WWII in the Balkans were carried out in order to scare the local population; on the other, to incite the occupying Fascist and pro-fascist forces to carry out retribution killings, and create additional mass psychosis, along with the sense of insecurity, further prompting local population to join the Partisan movement directed by the Yugoslav Communist Party - and the Red International.
The task of carrying out this mission was handed over to the OZNA, which later, after Word War II, changed its name to the civilian police security apparatus, under the name of UDBA and the KOS. In fact, as the Communist Partisan movement, as a result of the Allied help, grew stronger, on May 13, 1944 the Yugoslav Partisans formally founded the "Section for the People's Protection" (i.e. OZNA). This organization, among the Croatian people, brings back bad memories, because it was through the OZNA that Communist leadership carried out mass or individual killings, which took place during Word War II and immediately after Word War II. Following the dissolution of the pro-fascist NDH ("Independent State of Croatia") in 1945, the OZNA received the order, immediately after its first round of killings in post-World War II war months, to continue eliminating well-known Croats, who had managed after Word War II to escape and hide in foreign countries.
The early OZNA chose as its first victim Dr. Ivan Protulipac, who was assassinated in Trieste, Italy, on January 31, 1946. Dr. Protulipac was a founder of "The Eagle and Crusading Youth" in the former monarchic Yugoslavia. He was also a successor to Dr. Ivan Merz, the much praised leader of the "Croatian Catholic Youth."
Two and a half years later, i.e., on August 22, 1948, the UDBA tried to kidnap in Salzburg, Austria, Dr. Mato Frkovic, who during Word War II, in a short lived NDH ( "Independent State of Croatia") held a high ranking place in the government. The same year, the OZNA (from then on "UDBA"), assassinated in Austria, Mr. Ilija Abramovic. Only a few months later, on March 16, 1949, the UDBA kidnapped in Rome, Italy, Mr. Drago Jilek, who had worked as the interim Head of the Intelligence Service of the NDH, during Word War II. After the former Chief of the Security of the NDH, Mr. Dido Kvaternik had been deposed from office, Jilek assumed control of the pro-fascist World War II, Croatian UNS ( Ustasha Security Service).
The kidnapping of Drago Jilek by the Yugoslav Communist police agents coincided, strangely enough, with a tragic case of the most prominent Croatian Communist leader, Mr. Andrija Hebrang. It is widely considered that the UDBA wanted to find out what kind of contacts existed during and before World War II between high ranking Croat pro-fascist Ustasha officials and high ranking Croatian Communist and Croatian antifascist officials and intellectuals - whose common and apparent goal was, or may have been, the establishment of an independent Croatian state.
Victims of the Yugoslav Communist Security Service, i.e., the UDBA, included not just pro-fascist Ustashi or anti-communist Domobran ("Home Guard") individuals, or members of former Croatian military units, but also prominent Croatian Communist and Partisan figures, such as the poet, Ivan Goran Kovacic, Dr. Andrija Hebrang, and a former Croatian Communist military officer - turned dissident - Mr. Zvonko Kucar. This further confirms that for the UDBA and the Yugoslav Communist regime, the main criteria for coming to terms with "hostile elements," was not ideological affiliation of the target-victim ("left vs. right"), but primarily the removal of all those who showed any inclination towards any form of Croatian statehood or/and Croatian nationhood.
Obviously, not all details can be mentioned about every UDBA victim; neither can one separately cover all the facts leading to the death or kidnapping of the victims. One must, therefore, focus only on some of the most salient examples of UDBA state terrorist activity: From 1946 to 1949 two assassinations were carried out; one failed attempt of assassination; one kidnapping; one person was reported missing.
From 1950 until 1959 no assassination took place; two failed assassination attempts took place (against the former Ustashi exiled leader, Dr. Ante Pavelic, and Dr. Branimir Jelic); one kidnapping; one failed attempt at kidnapping.
From 1960 until 1969, twenty assassinations took place - all expect one during the period from 1966 to 1969; four failed assassination attempts; one kidnapping ( Dr. Krunoslav Draganovic, in Italy); two persons reported missing ( Mr. Zvonimir Kucar, 1960, and Mr. Geza Pesti, 1965).
From these figures it may be concluded that the number of assassination by the UDBA increased dramatically during that period. The reason for that was the fact that the Yugoslav President Tito, as a follow-up to the important Plenary Congress of the Yugoslav Communist League, which was held on the Island of Briuni in 1966, after having fired his chief of the Yugoslav Security, Mr. Aleksandar Rankovic, decided to loosen up somewhat the repressive tools within Communist Yugoslavia - but to sharpen up repression, i.e. UDBA killings of Croatian emigres outside Yugoslavia, i.e., in Western countries.
From 1970 until 1979 twenty-eight Croat emigres (including the well-known Croatian dissident writer, Mr. Bruno Busic) were assassinated by the UDBA; 13 failed UDBA assassination attempts; one kidnapping (of the Croatian poet Mr. Vjenceslav Cizek); four failed attempts of kidnapping (including the one of the former high ranking exiled Croatian Communist official Franjo Mikulic; one person missing.
Spurred by the crushing of the "Croatian Spring" in December 1971, the Yugoslav Communist regime became particularly intent on eliminating Croatian emigre dissidents - often without any scruples. Thus in 1972, in Italy, a whole Croatian family was killed, Mr. Stjepan Sevo, his spouse and his nine-year old daughter.
In 1975, in Klagenfurt, Austria, a 65 year old Mr. Nikola Martinovic was the target of the UDBA assassination. Mr. Martinovic was known in Croatian emigre circles, before his violent death, as a caretaker of the graves of Croat soldiers and civilians who were the victims of the Yugoslav Communist units in southern Austria, near the town of Bleiburg, in May and June 1945.
The same year, i.e., 1975, shortly before his death, Mr. Martinovic planned to organize large anti-Yugoslav demonstrations in the vicinity of Bleiburg. However, Yugoslav Communist government officials sent a note to the Austrian government, requesting the interdiction of the Croatian emigre mass gathering. Since it did not work, the UDBA had to take the matter into it own hands.
From 1980 to 1989, seventeen emigre Croats were assassinated (including Mr. Stjepan Durekovic, a former high ranking Croatian Communist and head of the state-owned "INA", (largest oil refinery in ex-Yugoslavia); nine failed assassination attempts - including one against myself (Mr. Nikola Stedul, n.t.); and one kidnapping.
From these figures it can be seen that for the period stretching from 1946 to 1990, the OZNA, the UDBA, and the KOS carried out over one hundred assassinations and/or assassination attempts against Croat emigres. Regarding the rough break-down of this figure, it follows: in Western Europe eighty-nine UDBA assassination attempts; nine in North America; six in South America; two in Australia; two in Africa. As far as figures regarding individuals countries are concerned, the majority of assassination and assassination attempts took place in the Federal Republic of Germany - fifty-six; ten in France; nine in Italy.
The total number of UDBA victims is a follows: sixty-seven killed; twenty-nine failed assassination attempts; four successful kidnappings; five failed kidnapping attempts; four persons reported missing - who were in all likelihood also UDBA victims.
Beside UDBA targets of emigre Croats over that period of the same time, there were also twelve emigre Serbs killed; four ethnic Albanians. The above figures are based on various sources, and it is quite likely that all victims have not been counted and covered here, and that the fate of some still remains to be elucidated.
Three Objectives With each assassination Communist Yugoslavia aimed at achieving three goals: a) to eliminate a political "trouble-maker"; b) to scare other dissidents and emigres both at home and abroad; c) to leave general impression both in Yugoslavia and abroad that Croat emgires were fighting among themselves their own turf war. Each assassination was followed in Communist Yugoslavia's state-controlled journals by words that "Ustashi-Fascist-Croatian nationalists fighting war among their own ranks." The media mega-language of Yugoslav state-sponsored journals must be thoroughly examined. Indeed, many Croats in Communist Yugoslavia were persuaded, as the result of incessant Communist propaganda, that the deaths of emigre Croats was a direct result of underground infighting.
It should be pointed out that any effective organization among Croatian emigres, was virtually nonexistent and, legally speaking, impossible to achieve. All foreign security services kept Croatian emigre groups under strict observation, especially those Croats abroad who intended to overthrow the Yugoslav Communist state. In many cases, Western-based security and intelligence services even worked hand in hand with Yugoslav intelligence services, including the Yugoslav diplomatic corps. Croats abroad, and those in the former Yugoslavia have been well aware of these Western attempts to prevent the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and to make quite costly the establishment of the independent state of Croatia. It is also clear why many Western countries glowingly supported the decades-long Yugoslav and Titoistic experiment - if for no other reason than as a desire to keep status quo in the East-West cleavage, and as a country-pawn in the geopolitical gamble of the Cold War - during which Communist Yugoslavia, as a non-aligned buffer-state played an important role.
Just as the world passively witnessed, in 1991, the break up of Yugoslavia, so too did the world passively observe serial UDBA killings of Croatian political activists abroad. Even the Libyan leader Colonel Moamar Khadafi in an interview with the German Der Spiegel : once said. "Tito sends his agents to the Federal Republic of Germany in order to liquidate Croatian opponents. But Tito's prestige doesn't not suffer at all in Germany. Why should Tito be allowed those things and why am I not allowed to do the same. Moreover, I have never given a personal order to have somebody killed in foreign countries."
The above quotes may be further confirmed by many more further killings of Croatian emigre dissidents - which was barely ever covered in full in the Western media. One example should suffice: When the Russian writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Union, in 1973, the entire Western media was deluged with protests aimed at the Kremlin handling of this case. By contrast, when the Croatian dissident Bruno Busic was assassinated by the Yugoslav secret police UDBA, in Paris 1977, the event was mentioned as a side story - with unavoidable speculation that Busic's death may have been the result of the Croatian emigre infighting.
The travesty of the present legal International Criminal Court in the Hague is that its judges never wishes to examine the root cause of the recent crimes committed in ex-Yugoslavia. It never occurs to Hague prosecutors that there were large scale infra- and extra- judiciary historical precedents for the more recent crimes which they are supposed to impartially adjudicate.
End of Part 1
NIKOLA STEDUL TOMISLAV SUNIC Dr Sunic is an author, former US professor in political science and a former Croat diplomat. He is the author of Titoism and Dissidence (1995). His website is www.watermark.hu/doctorsunic/
Mr Stedul is a former Croat emigre, who was a victim of the Yugoslav secret police assassination attempt in Scotland, October 1988. He was also a former president of the Croatian National Democratic Party in Croatia.
Catching up with the West is a big dream of all post-communist countries in Eastern Europe. This dream transpires through imported liberal slogans such as “transition,” “integration,” and “market democracy” and is aired daily on all local TV and radio wave lengths. This rhetorical switch from former socialist command economy to capitalist market economy appears to East European leaders far more palatable than the necessity of removing their own ossified past. In fact, movers and shakers of the New World Order had never given the green light to East European masses to forcefully remove communist officials from power. Between local nationalists and local ex-communists, global plutocrats opt for the latter.
In reality, though, the transition to a market economy has been going on for years, yielding meager results, and only in some areas of Eastern Europe. Countries, such as Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, which appear now on the fastest track to “catching up with the West,” benefit from geographic vicinity of the affluent Germany. Other post-communist countries, further to the east, do not have the same comparative geographic advantage and offer little incentive for direct foreign investments.
New World Order sharks, despite their financial ingenuity, commit serious mistakes, assuming that rapid economic growth in Eastern Europe can be solely achieved through liberal formulas or by resorting to some Asian role modeling. What was successful in de-nazified Germany in the 1950s, or in Thailand and Singapore in the 1980s, does not apply to present-day Romania, Ukraine, or Croatia. It is also a frequent error among US politicians and businessmen to project their own wishful thinking onto Eastern Europe or occasionally pump their tax payers' money into the hands of bankrupt East European leaders. The gap between Eastern and Western Europe is bigger today than ever before, and is likely to become even larger. In terms of economic output, from a ratio of 1: 2 in 1989, the gap in productivity between East and West increased threefold in 1999, notably to the ratio of 1: 3 and 1: 4, respectively. On the whole, East European countries have reached only 60 to 70 percent of their 1989 communist GDP levels. In plain English, this means that the majority of East European citizens, in terms of their purchasing power, are worse off than during the last days of communism.
The leading slogan, which had brought down communist economies, was the popular outcry to “join Europe.” The main motor behind it was the idea, albeit naive, that Western prosperity would suddenly follow suite. But catching up with the West has not occurred, and one can sense now a widespread nostalgia for the economic predictability and guaranteed social security that communism once provided. The proverbial homo sovieticus is well alive, although he carries now a false veneer of a would be Melrose Place broken-English macho entrepreneur.
A Western visitor should not be duped by the shopping mall glitz in Croatia's Zagreb, Hungary's Budapest, or Russia's Moscow. Nor should the presence of East European rowdy young “conspicuous consumers” be viewed as a trade mark of improvement in living standards. The core of democracy is its middle class, which quite simply was physically destroyed after the communist take over in the early 1920s and late 1945, respectively. Despite overzealous mimicry by East European leaders to copy the free market cannons, notably by the incessant regurgitation of slogans such as “the rule of law” and “market democracy,” in reality, a mixture of Western- imported bandit capitalism and local shadow economies is in full swing. This is true not only for Russia but for practically every country in the region. The so-called basket-case economies of the Western tele-guided liberal-leftist Croatia, let alone the bankrupt post-Milosevic Serbia, garner little support from their respective citizenry. In a not too distant future, the rising social apathy may result in a mass appeal for yet another strong man. In such a fragile economic environment governed by poor imitators, with each of them tainted by a murky totalitarian past and each waffling empty marketeering slogans, it would be unwise for US and EU businessmen to make professional commitments. Of course, for global money-flow architects, such as the WTO and the IMF, it is easy to lecture East Europeans on the virtues of market democracy. Yet, despite their planetary influence, modern plutocrats ignore the heritage of embedded communist psychology. In fact, present political elites, be it the Baltics or in the Balkans, seem to be well versed in political survivability of any kind. Other than verbal virtuosity in free market recitals, all of them know deadly well that cut-throat, free market competition has no chance of long-term success in Eastern Europe.
The road to genuine democracy in Eastern Europe can only be achieved through the reeducation and the removal of the communist mindset. Even post-war Germany, prior to its economic miracle, had to start the process of de-nazification first in order to attain a certificate of democracy later. For the present ruling class in Eastern Europe, it is impossible to shed its paleo-Bolshevik carapace. Half a century of communist social leveling, the culture of mendacity, and the lack of self-initiative have left deep scars on all East Europeans, including its own victims. This tragic area of Europe has historically been subject to unpredictable tremors. A new version of Western bandit capitalism, mixed with the terrorist legacy of Stalinism, will soon exacerbate these tremors to an unseen boiling point.
Amidst breathtaking changes in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia appears as a cadaver that simply refuses to rot away. Not long ago the Yugoslav communists could claim to be the first initiators of their self-styled perestroika, and their maverick self-managing communism engendered considerable awe in many Western well-wishers. Today, however, Yugoslav institutions are turning into anachronisms, and Yugoslavia's ill-conceived federalism has pushed its six constituent republics to the brink of civil war.
With the recent electoral success of conservatives in Slovenia and Croatia, Yugoslavia is the only country in Eastern Europe where non-communist governments in the north cohabit with communist governments in the south. Constant ethnic provocations and chauvinist slurs from all six republics have made Yugoslavia an ungovernable and unlivable state whose break-up is threatening to turn the Balkans into a European Lebanon. Bracing for the coming deluge, Slovenia and Croatia are already bidding farewell to the remainder of Yugoslavia and are eagerly courting the favors of their West European neighbors.
Without Slovenia, or possibly without the southern province of Kosovo, where the Serbs still exercise their iron muscle, Yugoslavia could continue to hobble on, but its life would not last a minute with Croatia's walkout. The second largest and richest republic and the arch-rival of Serbia, Croatia is experiencing a nationalist revival whose aftershocks are putting the last nails in the coffin of fractured Yugoslavia. The secessionist drive among Croatian and Slovenian nationalists has been met with hostility and outright fear among influential Serbs and their power base in the army and diplomacy. Left to itself, and cut loose from affluent Slovenia and Croatia, the lone Serbia knows all too well that it is doomed to shrink fast into a obscure landlocked Balkan state.
The terminal illness of Yugoslavia probably would never have occurred without the emergence several years ago of the wildly popular Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milosevic-a man who rose from a provincial apparatchik to a chief torchbearer of Serbian nationalism. Milosevic's fiery speeches galvanized Serbs, triggering in turn similar nationalist appetites among other scared republics. Today all four major ethnic groups are displaying an impressive litany of past injustices, angrily blaming each other for their real or perceived ethnic plights.
No less ominous is the conduct of the Serbian intelligentsia. Once it could proudly claim to be the most progressive and reform-minded in Eastern Europe; today it has entered an alliance with the mob rule. However, its support of Milosevic's heavy-handed policy in the southern province of Kosovo has yielded results different from those it originally anticipated. The continuing exodus of ethnic Serbs from this little enclave, which by now is 80 percent populated by Moslem ethnic Albanians, will further legitimize neighboring Albanian's claims to an ethnically pure and aggrandized Albania. The skyrocketing baby boom among Albanians is already changing the demographic picture of the entire Balkans.
Among Yugoslav nationalisms there has never been a net loser or a net winner; the rendering of ethnic justice to one ethnic group is invariably perceived as injustice by another group. More than any other European state, the patchwork of Yugoslav nations, which were glued together by force rather than by consent, has earned Yugoslavia a sorry name of a levitating "seasonal state." One wonders what will happen with the superpowers' security arrangements when Yugoslavia disappears from the map.
Ironically, Yugoslavia's survival so far is due to its shifting ethnic balance of power as well as to the lack of any organized pan-Yugoslav opposition. The very inter-ethnic anarchy of Yugoslavia accounts also for its morbid longevity. Undoubtedly, if the events of 1914 or 1941 were to be repeated today, Yugoslavia would immediately disintegrate, with Slovenia and Croatia flocking to the West, and Serbia shrinking farther under the watchful eyes of its inimical Hungarian and Bulgarian neighbors.
Today, the remainder of the Yugoslav Communist League, with its power base in Serbia, has been caught unprepared. Ethnically fractured and ideologically discredited, the communists can no longer resort to the cliche of external "Soviet threat," or point to internal "reactionary fascists" in order to keep themselves in power. Even hard-line communists must admit that there are simply no more scapegoats.
Can Yugoslavia survive? Yes, but only as an authoritarian or a totalitarian state led by its largest ethnic group. A democratic Yugoslavia is a contradiction in terms. A democratic Yugoslavia can exist only if it breaks up first.
In the wake of the joint declaration in Geneva between Presidents Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, some foreign journalists have jumped to the conclusion that such an agreement amounts to the creation of some sort of alliance against the Bosnian Muslims. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The joint declaration is a small but important step in the possible normalization of relations between Serbia and Croatia. This breakthrough paves the way, we hope, for mutual recognition of internationally recognized borders.
It may seem ironic that Croatia, a victim of Serbian aggression, is the first country to begin normalizing relations with Serbia, or what is left of Yugoslavia. This decision was not solely Croatia's choice, but also that of the international community. Croatia and President Tudjman are doing their utmost to help restore peace in this part of Europe.
Nonetheless, Croatia's decision to sign this declaration in no way means that Croatia will abandon efforts to bring about a lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary, Croatia has been more than forthcoming with the Bosnian Muslims on the future structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also bear in mind that Croatia is accommodating more than 150,000 Muslim Bosnian refugees, for whom most of the cost is covered by the Croatian Government.
Croatia and President Tudjman do not hold all the cards for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian Serbs still control 70 percent of Bosnia's territory, while it is the Bosnian Croats who have lost a considerable amount of territory to the Muslim forces since the breakup of their alliance.
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.
C'est une voix discordante dans le concert de célébrations organisées en Croatie pour l'entrée du pays au sein de l'Union européenne, officialisée ce 1er juillet 2013. Tomislav Sunic, croate et américain, ancien diplomate et professeur en sciences politiques, désormais intellectuel à plein temps, a grandi dans la détestation du communisme version Tito. En janvier 2012, il a voté contre l'entrée de son pays dans l'Union européenne. Lui qui a appris le français en lisant "les lettres de Daudet" et "la plume d'Aron" dit naviguer librement entre la pensée économique de gauche et une approche de la culture de droite. Conflit serbo-croate, situation économique difficile, corruption..., l'auteur de La Croatie : un pays par défaut ? (2010, éd. Avatar) se montre plus que pessimiste quand on lui demande si cette adhésion peut aider à régler les problèmes de son pays. Entretien.
Le Point.fr : Quel regard portez-vous sur l'entrée de la Croatie dans l'UE ?
Tomislav Sunic : Pour l'heure, je pense que l'Union européenne, telle qu'on peut l'observer, relève plus d'un "constructivisme académique" que d'une réalité politique qui refléterait la volonté de ses peuples. C'est le problème essentiel. En fait, le projet européen tel qu'il est, je le crains, me rappelle beaucoup l'ancienne République de Yougoslavie.
Si c'est le cas, on peut s'attendre à un avenir qui déchante...
Bien sûr, la désintégration yougoslave ayant abouti à des guerres inutiles et désastreuses. Conçu sur papier à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, le projet yougoslave semblait tout à fait valable, sauf que plusieurs mythologies nationalistes (slovène, serbe, croate, etc.) allaient finalement conduire à son éclatement sauvage. Au niveau européen, il me semble que l'on procède là aussi à des élargissements sans vraiment sonder le terrain.
Que voulez-vous dire?
Je ne suis pas le seul à penser que le projet européen est mal défini. Depuis le Traité de Rome en 1957 jusqu'à aujourd'hui, il se dirige d'abord vers "l'économisme", soit un capitalisme sauvage, et favorise la création d'une oligarchie mondialiste... Fatalement, cela va rejaillir sur le sort des peuples. Regardez par exemple le Mécanisme de stabilité européen, qui donne une immunité quasi totale à des décideurs non élus. Ils échappent au triage démocratique !
Que la Commission et la Banque centrale européenne rédigent nos lois, dans la grammaire comme dans la substance, voilà un projet qui me paraît particulièrement anti-démocratique. C'est ce qui me fait prédire que l'on se dirige malheureusement plus vers une rupture que vers une consolidation européenne. Bruxelles parle un langage économique, mécanique, super-capitaliste, qui nous fait mal, qu'on soit croate, français, de gauche ou de droite.
L'adhésion de la Croatie a pourtant été entérinée par un vote démocratique [66,67 % des votants ont dit oui, NDLR].
Certes, mais ce référendum a souffert de 60 % d'abstention [56,46 % exactement, NDLR]. Ce n'est donc qu'une petite couche de la population qui a voté oui. Si l'on compare à 1991, 85 % de Croates s'étaient déclarés pour la sécession d'avec la Serbie. Voilà un plébiscite qui était non seulement légal mais doté d'une légitimité à part entière. Dans le cas du référendum pour l'UE, on a fait chuter à dessein le palier de votes pour rendre le référendum valide...
De plus, il faut savoir que l'immense majorité de la classe politique croate est composée des nostalgiques de la Yougoslavie de Tito, que ce soit le président, Ivo Josipovic, ou même le Premier ministre, Zoran Milanovic (centre gauche, élu en 2011), issu d'une célèbre famille communiste. Des gens qui, paradoxalement, sont devenus les principaux supporters de l'"intégration" ! Ils pensent que tous nos problèmes vont être résolus à Bruxelles, par une pluie d'argent. Je caricature, mais c'est l'esprit.
Justement, l'économie croate compte 20 % de chômeurs, 50 % chez les jeunes. L'Europe a promis une enveloppe de 14 milliards d'euros au pays. N'est-ce pas là un signe positif ?
Tout à fait, nous sortons de quatre années sans croissance, même si notre dette souveraine reste bien inférieure à celle de la France par exemple [59 % du PIB contre 91,7 %, NDLR]. N'oublions pas aussi que toutes les familles ont leur expatrié (en Europe, en Amérique du Sud, etc.), ce qui permet de s'entraider. On a une vraie culture de la débrouille, aussi. Je ne pense pas que notre situation soit catastrophique.
En revanche, je pense que ce sont les grands apparatchiks de l'UE, tel M. Barroso, qui ont besoin de la Croatie plutôt que le contraire. Pour se donner bonne conscience, pour dire : "Regardez comment on continue d'intégrer." Et de faire un peu oublier au passage les cas grecs et portugais, qui ont pourtant été, à l'époque, les premiers bénéficiaires des aides européennes...
La Croatie est classée 62e sur l'indice de perception de la corruption par l'ONG Transparency International. Que faire pour lutter contre ?
C'est un de nos grands problèmes, c'est certain. Nous n'avons pas eu, comme vous en France en 1945, une "épuration" après la fin de la guerre. Nous aurions dû nous débarrasser des membres de la police secrète, nous n'avons pas assez fait table rase de la période communiste.
L'entrée dans l'UE peut tout de même constituer une étape pour tourner la page du passé. Par exemple, en aidant à enterrer la hache de guerre avec Belgrade ?
N'oublions pas que, dans les années 90, quand beaucoup de Croates étaient pro-européens, Bruxelles ne s'était pas donné beaucoup de peine pour stopper les atrocités entre la Croatie et la Serbie.
Par ailleurs, je pense que cette adhésion ne résout en rien la question de la vérité historique, qui nous mine d'un côté comme de l'autre de la frontière. Je plaide pour une grande conférence qui réunirait des intellectuels de tous horizons pour qu'on règle une fois pour toutes la question de la "victimologie". C'est-à-dire qu'on se débarrasse de cette bataille de chiffres, dans laquelle on compte nos morts de part et d'autre sans souci des faits. Mes compatriotes construisent trop souvent leur identité de "bon Croate" en opposition avec le "mauvais Serbe". Il faut vraiment sortir de cette nécessité d'exister dans le dénigrement de l'autre...
Mais que ce soit à Bruxelles, Zagreb ou Belgrade, tout le monde est imprégné du même "économisme". Tout se résume aux mathématiques, aux chiffres. Il faudrait plutôt mettre en valeur nos idées spirituelles, intellectuelles, culturelles. Je suis pour une Europe culturelle, que l'on parle tous les langues des uns et des autres, plutôt qu'un mauvais anglais.
Face à une situation géopolitique fort imprévisible, il n’est pas étonnant que les gouvernements occidentaux préfèrent miser sur une Yougoslavie unifiée et intacte, bien que cela ait abouti - histoire à l’épreuve - à davantage de haine entre ses divers groupes ethniques. La Yougoslavie « forte et démocratique aux frontières inviolables », comme on le laisse entendre à Bruxelles et à Paris, s’inscrit dans une logique jacobine secondée aujourd’hui par le nébuleux concept de global democracy cher à M. George Bush. Or la démocratie dans un pays multiethnique, en l’occurrence la Yougoslavie, ne veut pas dire grand chose. Dans un pays à composantes ethniques diverses, les droits des peuples prennent souvent le dessus sur les droits de l’homme, de même que les nationalismes sont souvent perçus comme le seul véritable moyen de conquérir la liberté. Pour un Serbe, se définir comme « yougoslave » signifie préserver la Serbie « piémontaise » dans une Yougoslavie centralisée, alors que pour un Croate la seule Yougoslavie acceptable ne saurait être qu’une alliance d’États indépendants. Tous comptes faits, il ne s’agit plus d’un choix entre une Yougoslavie autoritaire et une Yougoslavie démocratique, mais plutôt entre la Yougoslavie et sa dissolution. La démocratisation de la Yougoslavie est en même temps le début de sa fin.
Si dans le futur, faute de trouver une formule satisfaisante pour résoudre le problème de la poudrière balkanique, le Conseil de l’Europe devait avaliser la dissolution de la Yougoslavie et l’émergence à sa place de petits États indépendants, il est fort probable que cela soulèverait en chaîne de lourdes questions sur l’Europe de Versailles, entraînant, par suite, une déchirante révision de l’histoire européenne, l’examen du rôle du « double endiguement » ( double containment ) américain, etc. Quoi qu’il en soit, l’Europe de 1992 semble être embourbée dans de nombreuses contradictions ; d’une part, sa classe politique ne cesse de prêcher le droit à l’autodétermination pour tous les peuples européens ; d’autre part, elle insiste sur leur intégration rapide par le biais d’une philosophie néo-libérale, nivellatrice de différences culturelles.
Part of the cause of the never-ending quality of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina lies in the excessive legalism of international organizations. In 1991, when Yugoslavia began to fall apart, Croatia expected the European Community and United Nations to quickly accept its bid for independence, hoping that its international recognition would stave off the looming Yugoslav Army aggression.
In the absence of international recognition, and due to its lack of firepower, Croatia could not put up credible deterrence against Yugoslav, i.e. Serbian, territorial appetites. Croatia had to wait six long months before it was finally recognized by the European Community, and several more months before it joined the UN club.
Meanwhile, it had lost 25 percent of its territory to the invading Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army, and continues to shoulder a burden of over 500,000 refugees and displaced people.
In order to explain away its blatant aggression, the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army elegantly described its onslaught as a "necessary procedure to punish Croat, CIA-sponsored fascist outlaws." Unfortunately, these widespread myths still abound in Serbia.
It must be noted that a large number of Croatian officials have an anti-fascist and democratic background and are resolutely opposed to all types of totalitarian temptations. It is, indeed, remarkable to observe the proliferation of different political parties and media openness in a war-threatened Croatia.
Over the last two years, the United Nations and other international actors have not been able to find a solution for the Serb-occupied territories in Croatia, let alone put an end to the carnage in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina. Today, international actors and some media representatives seem to be running out of formulas on how to end this conflict in the heart of Europe.
Some foreign politicians and journalists now resort to the self-serving cliché that the chaos in Bosnia-Herzegovina is inherent to the "tribal" and "religious" history of the warring Balkan peoples. When this quasi-racist argument fails to hold ground, the guilt for the ongoing killings is then attributed to the Serbs, Croats and Muslims alike.
The legal options for Croatia and neighboring, war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina have been difficult since the day of Serbian aggression. The international community has constantly pushed the Bosnian Muslims and Croats to negotiate with the invading Serbs, thus inadvertently providing legitimacy to the Serbian land grab.
This exercise in international "legal equidistance," while seriously crippling the credibility of the United Nations, risks sparking a much wider war in the Balkans.
The True Culprits in the Balkans The race for victim status in Bosnia-Herzegovina appears to be over. The Serbs, as the main aggressors and initial perpetrators of “ethnic cleansing” hardly qualify. The international press has obviously decided that the Croats do not qualify either, despite the fact that the Bosnian Croats have lost considerable territory to the Moslems since the break-up of their alliance. The Moslems seem to have realised, after months of hope, that the international community is unwilling to help them take on their real enemies, the Serbs. Consequently, they have turned on their former allies, the Croats. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the lines between the Croats and Moslems have moved exclusively in the Moslem’s favour, resulting in more than 100,000 Croatian refugees and displaced persons from Bosnia-Herzegovina. While the Press and international organisations have free access to Moslem fighters in Croat POW camps – thanks to the vigorous intervention of Croatia’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Mate Granic – the fate of thousands of Croats in similar Moslem camps remains unknown. The current goals of the Moslem side have been made clear by their spokesman, Chuck Sudetic, recently quoted in the New York Times: “The international community will recognise our right to the territories we win. The international community has said in no uncertain terms that it is ready to legitimise the acquisition of territory by force, and that’s the way it will be in the future.” He went on to state that while the Serbs were too strong to fight against, the Croats were weak. Unfortunately, it is this recent Moslem calculation which has precipitated Croat-Moslem fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, no Croatian aggression. Fighting between Moslems and the Croats would never have erupted had the international community reacted promptly to early Serbian aggression against both of those communities. Maybe by the time this conflict spreads throughout the Balkans, Europe and the world will finally figure out who the real culprit is.