Last Wednesday, less than a week ago, on 24 August, on almost unnoticed Catholic holiday, the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Zoran Milanović held in his hands, for the first time, a new measurement of the pre-election mood in the whole country. He was most likely surprised by the results, if not in whole, then at least in terms of the final forecast that, on September 11, the early parliamentary elections in the Republic of Croatia will end up by repeating the previous ones. That his party of social democrats will lose the election again.
That is when he probably made a decision. Just an hour or two later, he called, at his wish, a meeting with key representatives of veterans’ organizations of the Croatian army. Precisely those who extorted his government with various requirements, those who set up camps in the city centre, and those who had firstly only warned him politically, and later threatened, during protest marches across the capital, to use a kind of weapons, petrol bombs. Of course, Milanović knew their basic requirements, therefore, he knew exactly which topics will prevail on the convened meeting. Certainly, he was aware, on the first place, of their message to the public from the end of September 2015. Almost one year ago. They sent word to him, at first directly, that they requested from the prime minister, who “acted as a deserter in the war, to not boast now, because the war is over,” and then, and it was time of Croatian blockade of the border with the Republic of Serbia, that they want to live in safe country that has good relations with all its neighbours, including with Serbia.
Milanović met again last week with the same representatives of veterans’ organizations of the Croatian army and special police. His attitude was surprising. Almost incomparable with attitudes and vocabulary of the representatives of the member states of the European Union. He marked two neighbouring countries, the most important ones for Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the countries with which they share a common history, as those regarding which he would have to start the fiercest conflict as the new prime minister. Milanović was beating the war drums. At the same time, he was stressing that Brussels, and even less Angela Merkel, could not tell him what he could do and what not.
A day later, a footage of that closed and confidential conversation went public. It was immediately followed by different speculations of which one of the participants of the meeting that was not held in public premises or in the head office of the veterans’ organizations, but in Milanović’s office, was able to secretly film all. The answers were different, and there were many of them. Somehow, only one was missing. That the conversation was secretly filmed by many of them, but that all of this together was forwarded to the public by the host himself, former Croatian prime minister and aspirant for the new parliamentary victory. The reason could be only one. When Milanović was reading the analysis of the measurement of the election mood and assessments that the electoral stalemate position would be repeated, he could probably assess only one thing. That he needed new allies. In fact, new voters. Those who never voted or would never vote for leftist parties, and especially not for his party.
A conversation with the representatives of veterans’ organizations was some kind of political message aimed directly at them. Therefore, it had to become public. And precisely because of this, the spoken and recorded had to be more binding and resounding flirting with a horrible past.
Former Serbian president, Slobodan Milošević, met on 16 March 1991, at a similar closed meeting, with the then presidents of Serbian municipalities. He had two messages. That borders were always decided upon by the strong ones and that, if they had to fight, they would fight. Only a week later, on March 25 of the same year, in the state residence, Karađorđevo, he met with Croatian President Dr. Franjo Tuđman for the first time directly and privately. They started an agreement on the division of areas of interest. Knin remained Croatian in return for an agreement on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The late professor, historian Dr. Dušan Bilandžić, published in his Memoirs a note on the sudden phone call of the Croatian president and invitation for an urgent meeting. Tuđman informed Bilandžić, on 10 April 199,1 on the basic agreement with the Serbian leader on the division of the neighbouring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was clear, Bilandžić wrote, who was urgently appointed by the president for the leader of the negotiating group which was supposed to implement the division of the neighbouring country, that Tuđman is talking about the new Croatian borders, about the borders of the Banovina of Croatia. These dialogues have again become politically relevant today, so many years later, due to the dangerous announcements of the leader of the Republika Srpska of referenda and new organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And the assessments of the candidate for the new Croatian prime minister of the conditions in that country have only confirmed this.
After the death of the president Dr. Tuđman, the Republic of Croatia became, probably due to the key decisions made by his party follower and Prime Minister Dr. Ivo Sanader, in 2013, a full member of the European Union. A whole set of commitments was adopted back then. Therefore, on the regulation of all outstanding border issues with neighbouring countries as well, and that it would not ultimately restrict the admission of new countries from the region. That it would delete, in its state policy, a vocabulary of threats and insults to the neighbouring countries, therefore, all those doctrines, and the mentioned one from the agreement in Karađorđevo as well, which were fully self-understanding at the beginning of the bloody wars.
Milanović has erased everything with his pre-election calculation and statement. And did the greatest damage to the Republic of Croatia.
Not only because of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who is meeting these days with European leaders, with a single question of how to save Europe, but primarily because of new search for cohabitation of countries of the European Union. It is obvious, more or less, that there will be a difference between a hard core of the EU, between states which defend greater and closer cooperation and other peripheral member states. However, no one wants to put again on the table major regional problems, disputes and threats.
Croatia has fully outstanding all border issues with neighbouring countries, except Hungary. Even with Slovenia. The both long and systematically prepared agreements on the settlement of border issues, the first one prepared by the former Slovenian Prime Minister Dr. Janez Drnovšek and Croatian Prime Minister Dr. Nikica Valentić, and later those prepared by Dr. Drnovšek and Ivica Račan, also prime minister, were terminated at the very end, or even after the signature, by Croatian side. Now, the countries are facing the final decision to be issued by the Arbitral Tribunal. Government of Zoran Milanović has already announced, almost a year ago, that it will not respect the court’s decision, and that it considers it void. Slovenia has a duty, after the Milanović’s statement, to emphasize, in European dialogues, which will follow almost without interruption by the end of this year, that the border disputes with neighbouring Croatia, after the decision of the arbitral tribunal and in accordance with the reached agreement, will be final.