International recognition of Croatia’s independence is one of the most important events in Croatia’s history and Croatia with its diaspora celebrate that 15 January 1992 event every year and so too this year. Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, in his HRT TV interview on 13 January 2017, leading up to the celebrations of that Day of international recognition of Croatia’s independence, left an impression of a well rehearsed, autocued, but a calamitously lacking thanksgiving speech. While, rightly so, thanking Croatia’s veterans for Croatia’s independence, albeit like some rehearsed parrot – he totally omitted to say a single word about the diaspora’s contribution; truly disappointing. And this is a Prime Minister of a government that keeps trying to convince the nation how important the diaspora is in Croatia’s economic and other recovery.
“First of all, we can be proud to be a part of that generation that has experienced the independence of the Republic of Croatia and I think we need to, before anything else, always remember and express our gratitude to the veterans who had enabled our freedom and our independence, to the stately wisdom of the first president of Croatia, dr Franjo Tudjman, who had in exceedingly complicated international circumstances, together with the other actors in the then Croatian government, enabled the achievement of the international recognition of independence of Croatia, which we mark on 15 January…” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Croatian national TV.
Croatian diaspora and its enormous contribution to the efforts in asserting recognition of Croatia’s independence in the countries Croats lived in, was simply dropped out of PM Plenkovic’s vocabulary. What can one think about that? Not much, except something that includes an assessment that the PM is superficial and careless about this most important milestone in Croatia’s history. Not a PM that can easily be respected by people who cherish Croatian independence and the enormous work and suffering and sacrifices that went into it, to bring it about.
To top this shameful blunder by the Prime Minister comes the Minister for veterans’ affairs, Tomo Medved, at the celebration of the Day of the international recognition of Croatian independence in Karlovac and says that it’s “like coming out of the Homeland war as victors but that it feels as though someone has, somewhere along the way, stolen that pride and as if they have sowed some seeds of depression and hopelessness into the ground… As if we don’t live in the most beautiful country in the world, and as if we don’t have the most prosperous and the best conditions for life. Perhaps, besides missing that optimism, somewhere in us during the ten or fifteen years after the Homeland War that decisiveness and ease of decision making, which you Croatian veterans, generals, war commanders, city Meyers, leaders from the war days, also went missing…”.
As far as I have been able to observe and ascertain, the fact is that Croatian veterans have always kept their pride in what greatness they had achieved for Croatia’s independence but that pride had often been largely ignored and belittled by all governments in Croatia since at least year 2000. So, for the minister to talk about “theft of pride” rather than “theft of opportunities to express and reward that pride” is a bit too politically, or otherwise, “rich” for me to digest.
I now turn to the best speech regarding the international recognition of Croatia’s independence ever delivered – the speech delivered by Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president on 15 January 1992; and I celebrate that day accordingly.
“Today’s date, 15 the January 1992, will be engraved in gold letters into the overall 14-centuries of history of the Croatian people on this, for us holy ground, between the Mura, the Drava, the Danube and the Adriatic Sea. After declaring its independence and sovereignty, and breaking its state-legal ties with the former Yugoslav Federation, Croatia has achieved international recognition of its independence. Having, despite all the ominous adversities and limitations, safeguarded during its entire history its national and state identity, Croatia is, after full nine centuries, returning into the international community of nations as a free and internationally recognized country. The act of the recognition of Croatia by all the countries of the European Community has a special historic meaning due to the fact that the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the international recognition of Croatia’s independence can no longer be brought into question and also in the framework of the community of world nations… Enormous efforts, suffering and victims of people of our days, both of the Homeland and emigrated Croatia are equally built into that realised goal, which was dreamt about for centuries. We have achieved that through decisiveness and prudence …” were words spoken by Croatia’s first President dr Franjo Tudjman on 15 January 1992.
25 years on we remember well and with pride, the efforts, the sacrifice, the victims and the victorious that achieved this crucial milestone for independent Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)