Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Beljak Apologises for Justifying Political Assassinations in Ex-Yugoslavia

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak on Monday apologised for his tweet in which he said that the number of killings carried out by the Yugoslav intelligence agency UDBA was insufficient.

Two days after the controversial tweet, which has been interpreted as his condoning of politically motivated assassinations of emigrants by UDBA during the time of communist-ruled Yugoslavia, this parliamentary deputy and mayor of Samobor on Monday tweeted that he was sorry about his "clumsy and unfortunate tweet", justifying his reaction as being part of a broader discussion that was full of insults and lies.

"I am sorry if my tweet was construed as my support for political assassinations. That, of course, is not true. I am sorry If I insulted anybody. I made a mistake," Beljak wrote today.

Two days ago, he wrote that if UDBA killed over 100 people in the Croatian emigrant community in the USA, Germany, Canada and Australia, "then it was not enough. We could see who did all sorts of shit and caused the wars from 1991 to 1999. Fascists in the former Yugoslavia and other countries who, unfortunately, managed to escape UDBA."

Beljak's comment was prompted by a tweet written by a person named Renato who said that "Yugo-nostalgics fail to realize that there were over 100 political assassinations outside of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1990. The UDBA was active in every Croatian immigrant community in the USA, Germany, Canada and Australia."

More politics news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Mustač Extradited to Croatia, Taken to Remetinec Prison

ZAGREB, November 29, 2019 - Former Yugoslav and Croatian intelligence official Zdravko Mustač, who was sentenced by a German court with another Croatian intelligence official, Josip Perković, for involvement in the murder of dissident Stjepan Đureković, was extradited to Croatia on Thursday afternoon.

Mustač arrived in Zagreb aboard a regular flight from Munich around 12:45 and around 14:15 he was admitted to the diagnostics centre of Zagreb's Remetinec Prison. After a medical check-up, he will be transferred to a penitentiary where he will serve the rest of his 40-year prison term.

In late October, Croatia's Supreme Court rejected Mustač's last appeal and his attorney said then that she expected that he could be transferred from Germany to a Croatian prison in about 30 days.

The Supreme Court had rejected as inadmissible Mustač's appeal against its decision upholding an earlier ruling by a Velika Gorica court that Mustač should serve a 40-year prison term to which his verdict by a German court, sentencing him and his associate Perković to life imprisonment for the 1983 murder of Stjepan Đureković, was converted.

The Supreme Court ruled that Mustač's last appeal was inadmissible because the procedure in question concerned the recognition and execution of a foreign court's verdict in line with a special law.

Together with the 77-year-old Mustač, the 74-year-old Perković, too, was convicted by the German court for the same crime and he was transferred to Croatia on July 11.

Even though the German court delivered the same verdict for the two former intelligence officials, the Zagreb County Court, which was in charge of Perković as his residence was in Zagreb, ruled in line with national legislation that he should serve a 30-year prison term. Perković is currently behind bars in Glina.

In August 2016 a Munich court sentenced Perković and Mustač to life imprisonment for their roles in the murder of Đureković, who was killed by as yet unknown perpetrators in Wolfratshausen outside Munich in July 1983.

They both pleaded not guilty and after the German court's verdict they turned to the European Court of Human Rights which they expect to order a new trial.

Mustač's attorney Lidija Horvat recalled that in July 2019 the defence had also filed a complaint of unconstitutionality against the Velika Gorica court ruling and the Supreme Court ruling which imposed and upheld a 40-year prison term against Mustač.

Horvat said they believed that the Croatian courts erroneously applied European law and had therefore asked the Constitutional Court to address the European Court of Justice on the matter of application of the principle of mutual recognition of rulings in criminal cases, to see if by converting the German court's verdict the Croatian courts should have borne in mind that the punishment should not be harsher than it would be if the accused served it in the country where the verdict was handed down.

She recalled in that context that in Germany, where they were sentenced, Mustač and Perković would be granted a so-called obligatory conditional release after 15 years in prison.

More news about the case can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Deadline Extended for Payment for Ex-Communist Political School in Kumrovec

ZAGREB, November 14, 2019 - The government on Thursday extended a deadline for the payment of the necessary amount by the Zhongya Nekretnine company for the Kumrovec-based Hotel Zagorje until 31 December.

In mid-June, the government decided to sell the Kumrovec-based Hotel Zagorje, which used to be a political Communist school in the former Yugoslavia, to Zhongya Nekretnine company that has been the sole bidder, at the price of 14.09 million kuna (1.9 million euro).

Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang is a co-owner of the Zhongya Nekretnine company and during her visit to the compounds in that northwestern Croatian region she said that according to an initial estimate, around EUR 20 million would be invested in the entire project.

The premises of state-owned Hotel Zagorje, which is in a dilapidated condition, covers 27,000 square metres.

The new owner was expected to pay the purchase price within 30 days upon the conclusion of the sales contract. Upon the company's failure to do this within the initial deadlines, the government enabled the bidder to pay the necessary amount until the end of this year.

In the event that the bidder missed the new deadline, the advance payment of 598,000 kuna will be retained by the government.

More Kumrovec news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Croatia Requests Explanation for Disappearance of Yugoslav Succession Funds

ZAGREB, November 14, 2019 - After media reports that Croatia asks Serbia to give it back 148.5 million dollars, which is a part of the total succession fund after the break-up of the Yugoslav Federation (SFRY) and which Belgrade reportedly unlawfully spent, Foreign Affairs State Secretary said on Wednesday that Croatia demanded the explanations of how the funds went missing.

The State Secretary Andrea Metelko Zgombić told reporters that Croatia would insist on the compensation of those funds.

The Zagreb-based Večernji List daily reported on Wednesday morning that at the time of its disintegration the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) had 645.55 million dollars deposited in foreign currency accounts in banks outside the federation.

According to the model for the distribution of this sum in the succession process, Croatia is entitled to 23% of that amount, which means that Croatia should get 148.5 million dollars.

However, at the start of the negotiations on the distribution of that part of the succession sum, Serbia informed the other countries-successors that only 56 million dollars had been left on those accounts, declining to give any explanation where the rest of the money had ended up, the daily said.

According to the daily, Croatia possesses evidence and documents showing that Serbia used that money to pay the foreign debts of its companies in the 1990s.

During the fifth meeting of the Standing Joint Committee for monitoring the effective implementation of the succession agreement, which was held in Zagreb on Wednesday, Croatia raised the issue of those funds.

"Croatia will insist that the explanation should be given of how that money disappeared and also on the mechanisms for compensation to be provided by the country which is found to have used those funds unlawfully," said Metelko Zgombić.

The Agreement on Succession Issues regarding the former SFRY was signed in Vienna in 2001, and entered into force in June 2004.

The document reads that the foreign currency accounts of the SFRY in mixed banks had 645.55 million dollars.

Metelko Zgombić said that all sides in the negotiations showed "understanding" and were willing to sit at the table to discuss this matter.

Since the entry into force of the agreement, the Standing Joint Committee of senior representatives of each successor State, held only five meetings.

The Croatian official admitted on Wednesday evening that the implementation of the agreement was going on at a slow pace, since each decision of the Joint Committee must be adopted unanimously.

More news about Croatia and the former Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Supreme Court Upholds 40 Year Jail Term for Ex-Intelligence Officer Mustač

ZAGREB, July 18, 2019 - The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Velika Gorica County Court decision convicting a former Yugoslav and Croatian intelligence official Zdravko Mustač to 40 years in prison for the 1983 murder of political emigrant Stjepan Đureković.

Mustač was tried and sentenced by the German Court to life in prison and Velika Gorica County Court translated the conviction to the Croatian system of 40 years in prison.

Mustač's defence attorney appealed the conviction and the Croatian Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. He will be probably transferred to a Croatian prison at the beginning of September.

Mustač, 77, was convicted along with another former intelligence agent, Josip Perković (74) who was extradited on July 11 to Croatia to serve the remainder of his 30-year jail term.

Perković and his one-time superior Mustač were handed over to Germany early in 2014 on the condition that after the trial they could serve their sentences in Croatia.

In August 2015, the relevant court in Munich sentenced them to life imprisonment for their roles in the murder of Croatian dissident Đureković in Wolfratshausen, outside Munich, in July 1983. Đureković was killed by as yet unidentified perpetrators.

More info about Croatia in Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Convicted Intelligence Officer Perković Transferred from Germany to Zagreb

ZAGREB, July 11, 2019 - Former Yugoslav and Croatian intelligence official Josip Perković (74) was transferred to Zagreb's Remetinec Prison on Thursday after Germany handed him over to the Croatian authorities so that he could serve his prison term for the 1983 murder of political emigrant Stjepan Đureković.

Perković arrived in Zagreb on a regular flight from Munich and was admitted to prison at 2.50pm.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said earlier in the day that Perković would spend some time at the prison's diagnostics centre after which it would be decided in which prison he would serve the remainder of his sentence.

Perković and his one-time superior Zdravko Mustač (77) were handed over to Germany early in 2014 on the condition that after the trial they served their sentences in Croatia.

In August 2015, the Supreme Court in Munich sentenced them to life imprisonment for their roles in the murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković in Wolfratshausen, outside Munich, in July 1983. Đureković was killed by as yet unidentified perpetrators.

On May 14 this year, the Croatian Supreme Court dismissed Perković's appeal and upheld the Zagreb County Court ruling of December 2018 that translated the German sentence of life imprisonment into a 30-year prison term, which he is to serve in Croatia under Croatian regulations.

Mustač is still in custody in Germany. The County Court in Velika Gorica has converted his sentence into a 40-year prison term.

Following the sentence handed down by the German court, both Perković and Mustač have turned to the European Court of Human Rights.

Perković's lawyer Anto Nobilo said on Thursday he hoped the court in Strasbourg would rule in his client's favour and that he would be released from prison in a year or two.

More info about Croatia as part of Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Dubrovnik's Red History Museum Becomes a Must-See

ZAGREB, July 7, 2019 - The Red History Museum, the newest museum in Dubrovnik, has in a short time become an unavoidable cultural place to visit in that southern city, which itself is a museum.

One of Dubrovnik's 19 museums, the Red History Museum was opened in April this year and it features an exhibition that describes everyday life in communist Yugoslavia.

Visitors to the popular international travel website TripAdvisor recommend it as one of the three museums and one of the first ten places in Dubrovnik to visit.

Located in the city's Gruž industrial district, in the inconspicuous basement of the Factory of Carbon Graphite Products, once the city's most successful socialist factory, the museum was established by five young enthusiasts, who financed the project with their own money.

One of them, Krešo Glavinić, said he was happy that in only one month the museum had received as many comments as some museums received in a year.

Two of some 300 items on display are a red Yugo 45 car and a K67 kiosk, which was designed by Slovenian Saša Maechtig and until 1990 was exported to many countries, ending up in the depot of New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

The museum holds about 1,000 Yugoslav-era items that were bought at flea markets or on the internet.

The choice of exhibits, the museum's founders say, was determined in line with work done by prominent researchers of political and cultural history and the history of tourism and everyday life.

"We bought a basketball with Dražen Petrović's signature from a collector in Slovenia and a portable Iskra TV set from a Roma in Pančevo," Glavinić said.

The permanent exhibition has been designed in such a way to show an average socialist apartment.

The exhibits, interactive solutions and extended reality serve to acquaint visitors with socialist urban planning and housing construction, self-government and associated work, economic reforms, women's rights, the 1971 movement calling for greater emancipation of Croatia as a federal republic, as well as with film, media, education, sports etc.

The exhibition also includes items testifying to the politicisation of the youth, youth labour drives, the cult of Tito and the 1980s crisis, which serve as an introduction to the last section of the exhibition, entitled Dealing With Enemies and showing artefacts of secret services and stories about the red era totalitarianism, dissidents and the authorities' attitude to religion.

"While working on the museum's concept, we had in mind people without any experience related to socialism - young people, tourists and students. The purpose of the exhibition is to intrigue them without making any final value judgements," Glavinić said, adding that talks were underway with schools and universities, not only from Dubrovnik or Croatia, on organised visits.

More Dubrovnik news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

More than 10,000 Gather in Kumrovec for Tito's Birthday

ZAGREB, May 25, 2019 - More than 10,000 fans of former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito arrived in his birthplace of Kumrovec on Saturday to mark the Day of Youth and Joy, his official birthday, wearing Titovka caps, scarves, uniforms and T-shirts with his image, although this year there were far fewer flags with insignia of the former federation.

Although Josip Broz Tito Alliance president Jovan Vejnović said several buses were stopped at the Slovenian-Croatian border because some of those going to Kumrovec carried those insignia, the president of the SABA antifascist alliance, Franjo Habulin, said he had no information about the confiscation of flags or other items.

Vejnović said this year there were far more police monitoring the gathering than in recent years, and that "for the first time in 15, 16 years of this gathering," they called the participants to order.

Vejnović said he would like the message sent out from Kumrovec to be that people of good will gathered there for the Day of Youth and Joy celebration.

He said those who gathered there were concerned about developments on the territory of the former Yugoslavia and the creation of national tensions instead of a space for communication, agreement and cooperation.

Municipal head Robert Šplajt said the gathering in Kumrovec was something positive and that the town had the chance to revive its 1980s heyday.

Habulin said the gathering was focused on those with youthful and creative energy whom this country needed, adding that "it's necessary to create long term and stable economic conditions, a fiscal policy, a monetary-credit policy, to subordinate everything to the opening of new plants and to job creation so children will have somewhere to work."

Deputy county head Jasna Petek said the message from the gathering should be that Croatia was created on anti-fascism, as stated in the constitution, adding that Tito, by putting the Partisan movement on the side of anti-fascism in 1941, had built its foundations "into all the achievements we have today."

Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić said he expected to see today "many flags under which the biggest victories in the history of our people were won, under which people were killed but also triumphed."

He said history could not be revised. "We have met here first and foremost because of the man who organised the National Liberation Struggle (NOB) and brought Yugoslavia and all its republics and provinces to the victors' table."

He added that there would have been no present-day Croatia without the NOB. "We welcomed victory at the victors' table and revisionists should understand that," he said, adding that Yugoslavia had been an authoritarian but not a totalitarian state.

Hundreds of people from the former Yugoslavia gathered at the House of Flowers, Tito's resting place in Belgrade, to honour him on May 25, his official birthday, bringing wreaths, flowers, and flags and insignia of the former Yugoslavia and the former League of Communists of Yugoslavia.

Despite controversies and disputes between historians and those who lived in Tito's time over his role in the post-WWII executions of members of the defeated armies and political opponents, modern history ranks him among the most prominent leaders and statesmen of his era.

Thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia visit the House of Flowers every year on May 4, his death anniversary, and on May 25, a public holiday in the former federation.

Tito is linked to the communist and Partisan movements and the antifascist struggle which, in WWII, was crucial for the establishment of the Yugoslav federation, and to the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement.

More than 200 heads of state or government and senior delegations from 127 countries attended his funeral in Belgrade on 8 May 1980. Since then, more than 17 million people have visited the House of Flowers. Annually, the most numerous are tourists from Western Europe and the US, and increasingly from China, Japan and South Korea.

More news about Tito can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Chinese Want to Invest in Former Communist Political School in Kumrovec

ZAGREB, May 24, 2019 - Chinese investors will invest EUR 20 million in Hotel Zagorje in Kumrovec, which used to be a political school in the former Yugoslavia, Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang, co-owner of the Zhongya Nekretnine company, the only company that submitted a bid for that property in a recent tender, said on Friday.

Yu attended a ceremony in Kumrovec, some 60 kilometres northwest of Zagreb, at which State Assets Minister Goran Marić presented municipal head Robert Šplajt with a decision whereby the recreational area in the municipality's Razvor settlement would be transferred to the ownership of Kumrovec municipality.

The Chinese businesswoman answered questions from the press about her plans for investments in the former political school. She said that according to an initial estimate, around 20 million euro would be invested in the project.

We are interested in developing some types of tourism and I believe that this area is suitable for congress and health tourism, Yu said, adding that cooperation with the tourism sector on the coast was possible but that the plan was to develop year-round tourism in Kumrovec.

Asked how much the fact that former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito was born in Kumrovec would be used for tourism purposes, Yu briefly said that they respected history and that Tito was a very important part of the region's history. We hope to introduce a new style in tourism, increase gross domestic product and help the local community in its development, the Chinese entrepreneur said.

Yu has visited Kumrovec a number of times and said she wants to convert Hotel Zagorje into a real hotel as well as create a memorial park honouring Tito.

Bids for the devastated state-owned Hotel Zagorje, which covers 27,000 square metres, were opened on May 7. The only bid submitted was that of the Zhongya Nekretnine company, worth 14.09 million kuna.

Marić said that the ministry had accepted the bid and forwarded a proposal to the government to sign an agreement with the bidder. Currently, the opinions of the relevant ministries are being awaited, Marić said.

More Kumrovec news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Red History Museum Opens in Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, April 20, 2019 - After months of preparations, the Red History Museum in the southern Adriatic town of Dubrovnik opened its doors on Saturday.

Located in the Carbon Graphite Products Factory - TUP premises in Gruž, the museum brings some new content about the origins of the socialist idea and how it spread around the globe and to the area of today’s Croatia.

The idea was to create a time capsule for visitors, however, the museum is not only an exhibition space. There will also be movie screenings and lectures to help visitors learn about different versions of Communism.

More news about Croatia during the times of Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

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