President Threatened with Death

I may say that it was only a matter of turbulent reflections and the politically hot headed individuals. Also, I could describe everything that has happened in the last days as a conflict of former close associates and leave expressed hatred to their common memory. However, this time, it was something much more important than just a dispute, threats and announcement of a conflict with a former political companion.

It began immediately after the verdict of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the former Yugoslavia was pronounced, by which six Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina were sentenced to high sentences, during which the accused general Slobodan Praljak drank a deadly poison. This is why the responses of the highest representatives of the Republic of Croatia to the sentence, calls for contempt of court and requests for review were not accidental and imposed in a political hurry. However, they were also not, as a kind of support, intended neither for the sentenced nor for their families. They pointed to the main culprit in the court decision in The Hague, the former president of the state, Stjepan Mesić. Then it started.

Vladimir Šeks, a senior official of the ruling Croatian party and personal advisor to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, pointed out on December 14th, more or less inadvertently, to the actual content of the Croatian state response. At a public hearing, held in the hall of the Split Atrium hotel and dedicated to Franjo Tuđman, he spoke about traitors, forgers of Croatian history, pygmies and liliputans who were going to the dump of history. That those are the ones who betrayed the ideas of Tuđman’s Croatia and especially Stjepan Mesić, who falsely testified in The Hague and whose testimony was the basis of the verdict of the Croatian six, and that he was indirectly guilty of the death of general Praljak. Just a few days later, general Ante Prkačin continued even more louder and proposed the public hanging of Mesić.

This was followed by deadly silence. The silence of two of whom I would expect to protect Mesić, Andrej Plenković and the president of the state Kolinda Grabar Kitarović. It would have been a naive assumption that the two of them, because of the abundance of work, simply overlooked the extreme hostile statements. The assessment that they did not want to interfere and become part of the dangerous reflections of the Šeks’s call for the lynching of the former president of the state, would deceive us and lead us into a course of political moralization. We would have no answer.

Neither Plenković nor Grabar Kitarović could stand in the defence of Mesić, although they were intimately convinced that it was necessary to respond to hate speech. Therefore, it is necessary to start from their assessment that it is better to remain completely quiet.

Franjo Tuđman triple recorded all his conversations and meetings. On a stenographer’s record, with his personal notes and sound recordings. Shortly after his death, the officers of The Hague war crimes tribunal were given reliable information that the Croatian government kept evidence of Croatian involvement in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and military operations against Serbs in Croatia. And that there was an extensive archive of the Bosnian Croat militia secretly transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina and carefully hid in the barracks in Split and Zagreb.

One of Tuđman’s videos is dated 13 April 1999. Without this document, we could not have understood today’s attacks on Mesić. To be more specific, Tuđman raised the issue of cooperation with the court in The Hague for the first time on this meeting. The issue was related to the trial of Bosnian Croat commander general Tihomir Blaškić, indicted for a gruesome massacre, killing and destruction in Ahmići. Tuđman began to worry about a strategy of the planned defence that wanted to prove that there was a double line of military command in the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. Participants of the meeting estimated that such a defence would be detrimental to Croatian national interests. Blaškić was sentenced to 45 years in prison and everyone, except, of course, him and his family, were satisfied. Killing, burning and raping were only military offenses for which the commander was responsible and convicted. And they were nothing more than just that. In his appeal, Blaškić’s lawyer Ante Nobilo established for the first time the thesis that the command structures in Herceg-Bosna were only a cover for the operation of Croatian police, named Jockers, who carried out ethnic cleansing and were practically directly connected to the authorities in Zagreb.

In the first months of 1998, Mesić testified in The Hague. The prosecutor Mark Harmon then asked him for the first time and surprisingly about the meeting of Tuđman and then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević in Karađorđevo, on March 25, 1991, adding a key question of whether Tuđman informed him after returning from Karađorđevo “that Serbia and Croatia were going to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina between themselves?” Mesić replied that from what Tuđman told after returning, he could understand that Bosnia could not survive, and that Croatia would be able to establish the borders of the former Banovina from 1939, as well as that in that division it would receive Kladuša, Bihać and Cazin, and that all this would be “our territory”. The Hague Tribunal began to assess killing and gruesome massacre in Ahmici not only as a military crime against the armless civilian population, but also as a planned policy of ethnic cleansing. Blaškić’s was acquitted of the guilt by the court. Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte and her assistant Anton Nikiforov, I met him in 2001, after Tuđman’s death, succeeded in obtaining his stenographer records and after numerous, James Bond resembling complications, also the secret archives of the Bosnian militia. The recordings of Tuđman’s meetings, also or primarily those related to Bosnia and Herzegovina, could become a subject of study. Even the recording that was obtained by the court in The Hague even before Tuđman’s death, which indicates the manner of the president’s conflict with everyone who tried to convince him that the politics of the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a state insanity and that Croatia must support the sovereignty and integrity of the neighbouring state. But also that the application of the principle of the division of B&H and the resettlement of the population, as well as the ethnic purity as Milošević proposed, would result in war. Tuđman also reminded them that their assessments were wrong, because only the political demarcation of B&H offered by the Serbs would enable peace. At the same time, Tuđman continued, such a demarcation with which Croatia would get Herceg-Bosna, also possibly Posavina, and for geopolitical reasons, the Cazin and Bihac area as well, would optimally satisfy Croatian national interests, “not only now, but in the future as well, because we would joined the Croatian national body within the broadest possible limits. ”

We must, at least partially, understand today’s attacks on Mesić and the silence of those who are supposed to come out and condemn the hate speech, within all those backgrounds of Tuđman’s doctrine of solving the Yugoslav issue. And the rebellion of a significant part of the Croatian politics and the Catholic Church against such a division of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mesić is also guilty today because he did not realize that Blaškić and others sentenced to practically life sentences of prison were only indirect damage, completely insignificant in relation to the great state plans for Greater Croatia. Plenkovic and Grabar Kitarović had to remain silent.


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