Sunday, 31 March 2019

Operation Plitvice Commemorated

ZAGREB, March 31, 2019 - A wreath-laying ceremony was held in Plitvice Lakes National Park on Sunday to mark 28 years since the launch of Operation Plitvice and the death of police officer Josip Jović, the first defender of Croatia to be killed in the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Apart from the Jović family, wreaths were laid by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the parliament speaker's representative Anđelko Stričak, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mirko Šundov, national chief of police Nikola Milina and representatives of war veterans' organisations.

Jović, 22, was killed and nine other police officers were wounded in a police operation after Serb insurgents occupied Plitvice Lakes National Park and blocked the D1 state road that connects the country's north and south. Jović was a member of the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit.

The operation was launched on the morning of 31 March 1991, Easter Sunday, and is also known as Bloody Easter. According to police reports after the operation, 29 Serb extremists were arrested and 18 were charged with armed rebellion, including Goran Hadžić, a member of the main committee of the Serb Democratic Party, and Borivoje Šavić, secretary of the executive committee of the party's Vukovar branch.

Although the Croatian police regained control of the local police station, they had to withdraw later on and the area remained under rebel control until August 1995 when Operation Storm crushed the Serb insurgency.

Jović has been posthumously promoted to the rank of major and decorated with high state medals.

More news about Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Vlaho Orepić Discusses Issue of Fake Residences and Voting System

Independent parliamentarian Vlaho Orepić discussed various issues surrounding the Croatian political and social structure, claiming that ''the failure to properly deal with fake (fictitious) residences by the authorities is politically motivated and purposely left unresolved with the aim of influencing the outcomes of the upcoming elections,''

The fact that there is no real intention of the current authorities to remove fake residences from the electoral register and bring some order [to that situation] and accordingly, Croatia conducts a policy of banalisation when it comes to the conditions for obtaining Croatian citizenship were grounds for a press conference held by independent MP Vlaho Orepić.

On Tuesday, February the 5th, 2019, on the premises of the Croatian Parliament, Vlaho Orepić held a press conference on which he once again pointed out to the media and the public the problem of fake residence registration.

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The fact that this issue remains unresolved means people who have their permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia are denied the right to elect their own authorities, and Croatian citizens living outside the homeland (whose voting rights are indisputable and come directly from what is written in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Ustav Republike Hrvatske) are also deceived in this way.

The conclusion which has now been arrived to, given that a response from the relevant minister wasn't given even after the issue was brought up in parliament, is that there is simply no sincere and real intention of the current government to even try to tackle an extremely important issue so that honest elections can be carried out in the future. Orepić has therefore also called upon political and social structures to take a stance and engage with the aim of protecting legality of upcoming elections and democratic processes in the Republic of Croatia.

"What worries me, and what has inspired a series of both formal and informal reactions from me, even this press conference, is the fact that false (fictitious) residences are politically motivated and protected with the aim of influencing the outcomes of the electoral process(es) in the Republic of Croatia. My goal is to put an end to fake residence [registration] and the type of politics which permits that same cheating in the elections. My goal is fair elections,'' stated Orepić.

According to new statistics, Croatia has fewer than four million inhabitants (approximately 3.750 million), according to official data we can count almost 4,175,000 people with health insurance and as many as 3,746,286 voters. The fact that the number of voters isn't actually correct has been indicated by the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), published in July 2017, which states that just children under the age of fourteen alone which are registered amount to 600,000. It's totally clear that Croatia has no accurate and publicly available list of citizens and voters, nor does it have the political will to have this problem solved.

From the mentioned numerical indicators, as well as from the legal definition of residence, which reads as - residence is the place and address in the Republic of Croatia where the person permanently resides in order to exercise his/her rights and obligations related to living interests such as family, professional, economic, social, cultural and social other interests - it's clear that a lot of people who don't meet these conditions have been entered into the electoral register.

They are listed [on the electoral register] on the basis of their false registrations of residence in the Republic of Croatia and thus, in addition to voting and other rights, they enjoy economic ones which come with residing in the Republic of Croatia.

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That this is politically motivated has also been indicated by the fact that the second day after Vlaho Orepić's dismissal as Minister of the Interior, the disclosure and deletion procedure of false residence registrations in the Republic of Croatia (mainly regarding citizens from neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) was suspended. Activities related to the abolition of fake residences are a legal obligation of the chief of police administrations, but in spite of that fact, all of those who were engaged in carrying out this work were prevented from continuing with it.

While Vlaho Orepić was the Minister of the Interior, in just two and a half months, about 45,000 fake residence registrations were removed, and over the next four months that number rose to 75,000. The estimates are that at the present moment, there are at least 150,000 fictitious residence registrations in the Republic of Croatia, which brings a whole range of election process outcomes as well as the legality of the authorities at all levels into question.

"I hope all political, judicial and other social structures will realise the importance of this issue. From the government, the security services and the justice system, I expect an urgent reaction, just as was done with the recent attempt to try to discredit the Minister of Agriculture (Tomislav Tolušić). I expect from the umbrella of war veteran associations to stand up for the legality of the election process in the Republic of Croatia, especially with the engagement of Mr. Josip Đakić as a parliamentary representative and as a war veteran.

I expect the support of the President of the Croatian Parliament, Mr. Gordan Jandroković, and especially the two vice-presidents Mr. Milijan Brkić and Mr. Božo Petrov because they know very well what I'm talking about and what I'm fighting for. I also expect the support of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to whom this issue must be in focus because it's in the interest of citizens, and all the citizens of the Republic of Croatia, and without whom we cannot even begin to talk about the rule of law as the basis for the survival of every single legal state,'' concluded Vlaho Orepić, MP.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

President Visits Western Slavonia

ZAGREB, March 2, 2019 - A ceremony was held in Pakrac, in Western Slavonia, about 130 kilometres east of Zagreb, on Saturday to commemorate the 28th anniversary since the start of the Homeland War. Those present were addressed by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Mayor Anamarija Blažević, Pozega-Slavonia County Deputy Prefect Vedran Neferović, and war veterans.

Grabar-Kitarović particularly thanked those who had defended the town against Serb paramilitary forces. "Western Slavonia was a strategically important area for our defence in the early spring of 1991. The Greater Serbia aggressors knew that. They attacked Pakrac and other towns on the axis between Pakrac and Virovitica to carve up Croatia and break it," she recalled.

"The initial burden of the defence was on the Croatian police who showed the unbreakable spirit of the Croatian people and resoluteness of Croatian authorities to stop the Greater Serbia aggression," the president said, adding that 1991 was the most difficult.

"That was a key year in which we successfully defended Croatia and laid the foundations of the victorious Croatian army and successfully conducted the first offensive and liberating military operations," she said. "I have made a formal proposal to create a Western Slavonia Medal of Honour to be given to all defenders who fought on this front," she said.

The day's commemoration started with Mass for all defenders killed in the war or who have died since, and was followed by a victory march of Croatian veterans and their families to a local cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony.

The commemoration was organised by local government and the associations of Croatian police veterans from Pakrac and Lipik under the auspices of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Twenty-eight years ago, Croatian special police forces liberated Pakrac from occupying rebel Serbs who had captured the town's police station the day before. During the operation, three police officers were wounded while the rebels were forced to withdraw behind the hill overlooking Pakrac.

The event of March 2, 1991 was preceded by the decision of the predominantly Serb Town Council to annex the town to the breakaway Kraijna region, suspending the Croatian Constitution on February 28. This was followed by the recruitment and armament of Serb police reservists. The rebels took down Croatian flags from the police station and municipal offices and raised Serb flags. The next morning Croatian special police arrived and fighting ensued, with the Croatian forces quickly taking control of the police station, removing the Serb flags and restoring Croatian law in the town.

More news on the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

“New Generations Should Know about Homeland War, Condemn Ustasha Regime”

ZAGREB, February 21, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday the government was determined to embark as of the next school year on a "frontal application" of the education reform and new curricula in every subject, adding that the goal was to have new generations know the values of the Homeland War, take clear positions on the Holocaust, and condemn the Ustasha regime.

Speaking at a government meeting, he said 37 curricula had been agreed, adopted and published, and that the two remaining would be agreed too.

Speaking of the history curriculum, Plenković said the government's goal was to have the education system aligned to the market's real needs. At the same time, the standard of the knowledge and the information people get through education must very clearly instil in children the key identity issues, the key value system, based on historical facts, and explain Croatian history, language and culture, he added.

"That's our political goal - that new generations know what the values of the Homeland War are, and also that they take clear positions on matters such as the Holocaust, condemn those regimes that were the worst during World War Two. We have no dilemmas about the Ustasha regime."

Speaking of a draft history curriculum that underwent public consultation and was fine-tuned, the prime minister said it did not downplay the Holocaust.

He said that after Education Minister Blaženka Divjak put the curriculum back into public consultation, the government would like "two or three more authorities from the academic community to be consulted so that a draft can be agreed on which we can reach a broad expert and social consensus."

Speaking to the press before the cabinet meeting, Divjak reiterated that she decided to put the history curriculum back into public consultation because the draft she received from the expert working group downplayed the Holocaust.

She called on everyone to participate in the consultation without ideological disputes so that the most important historical events could be presented appropriately and students could understand them and take a position, for example by condemning the Holocaust.

More news on the curriculum reform can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

No War Reparation Discussions with Serbia

ZAGREB, February 14, 2019 - After a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nela Kuburović on Wednesday, Croatian Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković reiterated that he was not "that satisfied," with the cooperation between the two ministries over the past year and that war reparation was not discussed.

Bošnjaković reiterated that at a meeting with the then Serbian justice minister last year, they had defined certain objectives and that at today's meeting they "evaluated where they were at and what to do next."

"I cannot say that I am overly satisfied with the way things have functioned over the past year, but then we have formed two commissions. One was tasked with defining an international agreement regarding processing war crimes and the other was to work on exchanging information about persons against whom criminal proceedings were being conducted or have been convicted. The commissions did work and we can't say they didn't, but they haven't made any recommendations," Bošnjaković said.

He underlined the wish to intensify meetings between the task forces and that by summer they come up with their recommendations. He explained that an international agreement will define how to regulate war crimes prosecution, adding that it would be above the Law on Jurisdiction that Serbia adopted.

He added that Serbia delivered a list of about 70 names of people in Croatia that Serbia has indicted but that they did not have the full list due to technical problems regarding data collection. Croatia however has sent Serbia a list of 1,300 names.

Asked whether the ministries' delegations discussed war reparation, Bošnjaković said that this was not discussed as that "isn't in the remit of the Justice Ministry but other ministries."

During her visit to Croatia, Minister Kuburović also met with representatives of ethnic Serb minority organisations.

More news about relations between Croatia and Serbia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Filming of ''Maslenica 93'' Liberation Action Film to Begin This Autumn

When looking at Croatia now, the tourist Mecca busy recording arrivals and overnight stays each year, doggedly determined to beat last year's numbers, the war torn former Yugoslav republic seems like centuries ago. The reality however is that the Homeland War is recent in the minds of many, and as Croatia moves forward, it would do well to remember those who have not yet managed to. At the very least, they should be honoured in all ways possible, a new film on Maslenica 93 will do just that.

As Morski writes on the 22nd of January, 2019, the victorious Croatian army troops who bravely participated in Operation Maslenica will have their first feature film about the first major liberation operation completed by the Croatian armed forces during the Homeland War. The recording of the film, directed by Ivona Juka, should begin this autumn.

Confirmation of the filming of the film about Maslenica was confirmed to Radio Zadar by Anita Juka, who pointed out that no feature film about a military operation that was a significant milestone in the Homeland War has yet been recorded.

''So far, we've talked to more than ninety Croatian defenders, and Danijel Kotlar was the starting point for us and the key to our relationship with other defenders who participated in the action. What attracted us especially to the story of Maselnica is the fact that it was a victorious battle, and in Croatia there have been several quality films about the war, but Croats had always lost in them. It seems to us that time has finally come to film a film that deals with a victorious battle,'' Juka added.

She confirmed that the film director would be her sister Ivona Juka, and that the start of shooting is scheduled for September this year.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Radio Zadar

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Assistant Minister Relieved of Duties After Advising a Break-In

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - The government on Thursday relieved Assistant Minister of Veterans' Affairs Nenad Križić of duty at his request, and Minister Tomo Medved told reporters Križić had committed an oversight with the best intentions.

Križić was relieved of duty after the Telegram web portal published text messages in which he suggested to veteran Mario Vrbanić, who asked him for help in finding a permanent home, to "break into a flat, and we will look the other way."

Telegram published an article in which Vrbanić, who lives in Vukovar in a rented flat and has no fixed income, says he spoke with Križić countless times, and on several occasions with Medved too, asking them to help him find a permanent home.

Vrbanić claimed he received countless promises and that Križić told him he would talk to the state secretary at the central office for reconstruction and housing, Nikola Mažar, tell him "to look the other way a little" and let Vrbanić break into an empty flat.

The minister said Križić committed an oversight in corresponding with Vrbanić "with the best intentions" and that he tendered his resignation, which the government accepted.

A few days, when the scandal broke out, the ministry stated, among other things, that data provided from the registry of war veterans shows that Vrbanić was not granted war veteran status.

More news on the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Croatian Demographic Crisis: Documenting Šibenik's Losses

The Croatian demographic crisis is something that is making all the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late, but just how ''new'' is this negative and concerning trend? It would appear that the tap has been trickling for a great number of years. The popular historic Dalmatian city of Šibenik is an unlikely but excellent example of this.

As SibenikIN writes on the 8th of January, 2019, in the face of the Croatian demographic crisis, in his latest blog post, Ivo Jakovljević has written about the gradual reduction of the Šibenik population since the beginning of the Homeland War, the largest reduction caused by the plague back in 1649. All this, as Jakovljević writes in his blog post, has influenced Šibenik's age and education composition with long-term consequences, even in terms of the local surname composition.

The largest demographic changes in 300 years occurred in the area of ​​Šibenik-Knin County during the Homeland War between the years 1991-1995 this was highlighted by the population census taken in 1991, and then again in 2001. Not only did the total number of inhabitants decrease significantly (in part due to deaths on both the Croatian and the Serbian side, and mainly in the face of forced migration), but there were also changes in many other areas, too.

As opposed to the economy being the main driving force for the negative trends the country is experiencing today, war migrations played a huge role in the Croatian demographic crisis back then. During the Homeland War, from the summer of 1991 onwards, a lot of movement could be witnessed. These displaced people were predominantly Croats, and also some Serbs who didn't agree with Greater Serbian politics. Individuals and families were expelled from their places of residence in many cases during the war, and many of these people moved to Šibenik and the unoccupied areas of Šibenik-Knin County, while a smaller number went abroad.

As of mid-1992, amid the continual spread of the war in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, many refugees, made up mainly of Croats and Bosnians, also arrived in the wider Šibenik area. At the beginning of August 1995, a significant number of Serbs left not only Šibenik-Knin County but Croatia as a whole, heading generally in the direction of the Banja Luka area and towards Belgrade, and from those areas they were displaced in all directions, with some even heading towards the north of Kosovo.

Hundreds of them (mostly younger, more mobile and better educated people) then continued moving onwards to Central Europe, with some of them even heading much further afield, outside of Europe to Canada and Australia. During the time of the pre-war crisis in Kosovo, after 1995, many people from Janjevo arrived in the village of Kistanje, and later settled and declared themselves as Catholics.

At the end of this pattern of deep demographic shock, the total number of inhabitants in Šibenik-Knin County during the period between 1991 to 2001 decreased from 152,125 to just 109,799. According to the latest estimates by the Central Bureau of Statistics (due to the chronic low birth rate and the somewhat new trend of economic emigration - predominantly to Zagreb, Germany, and Ireland) in 2019, there may be less than 100,000 in total.

Thus, from 1991 to 2001 the total number of inhabitants in the aforementioned county decreased by 42,326 persons - almost one third! Then, from 2001 to 2019, by about ten thousand. Among the emigrants from 1991 to 2001, almost three quarters (or 74 percent of them) were Serbs.

In Šibenik-Knin County, Serbs once made up as much as 40.7 percent of the population. Just ten years later, Serbs were no longer a majority in any one of the counties. This trend continued, and in 2011, the number of Serbs in the county decreased from 60,800 in 1991 to 11,518 in 2011, and in Šibenik, there were 1,434 Serbs recorded in 2011. On the other side of that same medal, the number of Croats in the total composition the population in the county increased from 58.42 percent in 1991, to 83.80 percent in 2001, and then to 85 percent in 2011.

The same trend changed the confessional composition of Šibenik-Knin County. The number of Catholics increased from 54.9 percent in 1991 to 82.8 percent in 2001, while the share of those of the Orthodox faith decreased from 38.02 to 7.31 percent.

The long-term consequences of war victims, forced and voluntary emigrations, and war and transitional economic damage in the broader Šibenik hinterland, right up to Drniš and Knin, have resulted in some significant changes in the area's surname structure, which - judging from both from the 2001 census and from the much later 2011 census, has seen the apparent disappearance of a subset of traditional Croatian and Serbian surnames from the Šibenik hinterland.

Want to find out more about the Croatian demographic crisis and much more? Give our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages a follow.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Anniversary of Deaths of Five European Peace Monitors Commemorated

ZAGREB, January 7, 2019 - A commemoration was held in Podrute near the northwestern Croatian town of Novi Marof on Monday for five European Community peace monitors – four Italians and a Frenchman – whose unarmed helicopter was shot down there by a Yugoslav Air Force MiG-21 on 7 January 1992.

On board the helicopter were Italians Colonel Enzo Venturini, Lieutenants Marco Matta, Silvano Natale and Fiorenzo Ramacci, and French Lieutenant Jean Loup Eychenne.

Attending today's commemoration, presidential envoy Mate Granić, a former foreign minister, said the sacrifice of European peace monitors was incorporated in the foundations of the present-day Croatian state.

Croatian Foreign Ministry's State Secretary Zdravka Bušić said that the shooting down of the unarmed helicopter was an act of shooting at innocent civilians who were seeking a peaceful resolution.

Novi Marof Mayor Siniša Jenkač said that the attack against the helicopter of the European Community observer mission clearly pointed to the fact who the victim was and who the aggressor was in the Homeland War, and this is why that tragic event is so important.

Military envoy of the Italian Embassy in Zagreb, Angelo Malizia, said that remembering the event that occurred 27 years ago was sorrowful, yet "a feeling of pride exists, because the sacrifice of four Italian soldiers and a Frenchman was not in vain."

Fabrice Duda of the military envoy of the French Embassy also attended today's commemoration.

More news on the Homeland War can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Former JNA Officers Accused of Targeting Croatian Government Building

ZAGREB, December 30, 2018 - Former Yugoslav army JNA officers, accused in Croatia of shelling the Croatian leadership's HQ in Zagreb in 1991, were heard, at Croatia's request, by the Belgrade High Court's war crimes chamber but did not testify, saying they were not free to reveal state secrets, their lawyer Dušan Bratić said on Sunday.

"They all cited the obligation to keep military secrets because at the time of the acts they are charged with, they were senior officials of the then JNA or were bound by oath as commissioned officers," Bratić told Hina about last week's hearing.

The hearing was held at Croatia's request, based on the Croatian-Serbian agreement on international legal aid. It was attended by general Ljubomir Bajić and colonels Slobodan Jeremić, Đuro Miličević, Ratko Dopuđa and Čedo Knežević. The sixth accused, pilot Davor Lukić, is unavailable to both Serbian and Croatian authorities. He has both countries' citizenship and lives in Johannesburg.

According to Croatian prosecutors, they shelled Banski Dvori, on Bajić's order, during a meeting of Croatia's then president Franjo Tuđman, the then chairman of the former Yugoslav presidency Stjepan Mesić, and former Yugoslav prime minister Ante Marković, with the objective to kill Tuđman, whereby they committed a war crime.

The defence says the investigation findings are incorrect, claiming, as reported by Belgrade media today, that the explosion at Banski Dvori was caused by former Yugoslav general Petar Stipetić on Tuđman's orders.

In 2017, Croatian police pressed charges against the six former JNA members for planning, organising and carrying out the attack on Banski Dvori, accusing them of a war crime against civilians and attempted assassination of senior state officials.

In December 2017, Bajić told Serbian media that he ordered the targeting of Banski Dvori in 1991. He said he ordered the attack without consulting the state leadership of the then Yugoslavia.

More news on the Homeland War can be found in our Politics section.

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