Jadranka Kosor: This is a Free Country

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Confirmation that Croatia is a free country came recently from the mouth of one of the most responsible officials. I will use this circumstance in writing a letter to the renowned and globally acknowledged Croatian scientist Ivan Đikić who is guaranteed the freedom to leave Croatian science for good. Hoping the freedom I will use in a free country won’t cost me anonymous letters about me not loving my country, I freely write, therefore:

Dear Mr Đikić,

since you wrote your last letter saying goodbye to scientific work in Croatia, I cannot stop pondering the reasons why you wrote it in the first place, as well as the consequences of that and your other letters to the Croatian public and high ranking officials. There are no consequences, they can’t be counted on the fingers of one hand due to a prevalent indifference of the general public (in their comments in various media), the public that waves its hand, guided by the blunt phrase: “Whoever is not here, will not be missed.” This was the underlying message to you along with the nonchalant statement stating this is a “free country” form which anyone is free to leave.

Certainly, anyone is free and all are free so they can go and never comeback, and you, they said, misunderstood the parliamentary discussion as you are far away and cannot tell what the issue really is. And you didn’t win any elections, as was said before. Thus the story, as far as those responsible for your departure, is over.

Your story regarding the opposition is over too, dear Mr Đikić. They initiated the procedure to replace the Education Minister for plagiarism, not preparing thoroughly for that discussion, save for two-three exceptions, so they threw around general phrases and lacked real political speech to convince the public of what is a notorious scientific fact. This is witnessed by the silence of certain university professors ranked high in the opposition who still have international plans, but also the fact the HNS chief, the party that wanted to raise its rating on replacing the minister, didn’t even show for the recall voting. This speaks of the motive strength and “just” fight to the last breath, atom of power and discussion argument on honour in science. So it’s fitting to claim the position “I took no part in it” in voting to keep the political wolf fed ad political goats intact. As always, in line with political customs in a free country which you, Mr Đikić, from the outside, naturally, cannot understand.

Truth be told, as was said, many of the MPs demanded the minister recalled did reach for your thoughts from letters and statements which placed you on the line and attracted anger from those who are still insulting you in comments. They covered themselves in your analysis, your data and your courage, exposing you further. Instead of conjuring up their own sentences from their own thoughts, their positions, political clarity and courage. They waved your name as a flag, but many of them did not venture into serious study of facts you spoke of. The battle is over, the flag has been removed.

I know you are accustomed to something different, I know it is normal for you to voice your position without calculations and fear, but you assumed wrongly in this case. As you wrote and spoke many times how you spoke to the Prime Minister and essentially understood each other and agreed. You spoke of your belief that everything said in one on one conversations will soon be seen in decisions on the plagiarism of the first among ministers. Here you were wrong just like you were wrong to wait for answers to your letters to the Parliament Speaker and Prime Minister. Quite naively, you feel it is normal for those letters to warrant an answer, with dialogue including both questions and answers and even a change of stance.

With us, you see, it is often not like that. A bit more will be said on the proven or unproven plagiarism of the minister of education and science in margins and footnotes, but the message has been clearly and finally sent to you about leaving freely as this is a free country, so we will not spend more time with this as we have more important issues to resolve. Such as forming the Commission on Facing the Past. As in Croatia the plaque with “Za Dom Spremni” (for homeland ready, fascist phrase from World War II) is still a “delicate” issue which made the Jewish organisations boycott the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Finally, at a conference for carefully selected journalists, madam President who still hasn’t relocated as promised, asked about your departure from Croatian science due to ignorance of plagiarism clearly stated she is sad to see people leave Croatia whether it was “Đikić or another young person.” And she continued on the necessity to boost optimism, faith in one self and the nation, the lack of welders in Croatia, occupations that are not appreciated anymore and so no, answering a question about you being free to leave, without mentioning you by name.

Maybe someone would try to keep you and your scientific potential in the service of humanity here, if you were, for example, a welder. Not to say I don’t understand the problem of a lack of welders in Croatian shipbuilding and I bow to the profession as they perform a tough job with special skills and knowledge. The thing is, you see, we should be fighting equally for both Đikićs and welders alike, offering them the best conditions to work and stay.

Dear Mr Đikić, plenty more could be written on everything you wrote and hoped for. By coincidence, grace to your letters, you met Croatia, the free country. Our MPs elected plagiarists to the Constitutional Court and people who misrepresented themselves abroad. In the State Election Commission we have a man who received money in a parking lot somewhere. We have the Conflict of Interest Commission whose decisions are fiercely politically classified from politically strong personas. We have in the Parliament an Ethics Committee, which means nothing to most politicians although it is elected by the very Parliament to whom the government answers, including the education minister. But these are old facts which cannot convince anyone of anything.

Maybe just a conclusion that nothing was said about plagiarism by MOST nor HAZU. Post festum, MOST has announced actions if there is no reaction from Augsburg, as if it is not part of the government and has no power to decide. They wouldn’t accept you in HAZU, silent on the plagiarism case. But, the public is commenting how their respected member voted against Croatia in the arbitration proceedings around MOL. This cannot be verified as those circumstances are a secret in the interest of a secret procedure.

Dear Mr Đikić, finally, there remains a question why you put yourself out there. My opinion is you did so as you care for Croatia and that you care. So I thank you as a true patriot. You’ve shown love in times of war too, as well as later. With donations, work with students, financing your own trips. But also with attempts to use arguments to preserve truth and honour in science and society. I hope you will, despite the ignorance and ridicule, remain a role model to the youth who devotedly complete their MA or doctoral work as well as to all young scientists who have packed up or are doing so to leave this free country.
I still believe that one day, just like those young people, you will return to your homeland. Croatia needs true patriots who love it without false pathos and self-loving in big words, but with many real results. We who live in Croatia must learn to accept those who are different, those with differing values and those who fearlessly point to omissions and injustice. We must learn also to accept the one who criticizes with arguments is not the enemy and the one who doesn’t keep silent is not the traitor.

And yes, we must learn to accept your name will be noted in history, scientific and any other, while the names of the current participants of the story of Đikićs and welders will be forgotten after this or that election.

I salute you with particular respect.

For the original and more from Jadranka Kosor’s blog, click here.


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