Traitors are outing themselves. Croatian citizens are signing up to the Register of Traitors of Croatian National Interests in their thousands.
New jobs, higher economic growth, lower debt, less bureaucracy… these are just some of the main goals of the new Croatian government which took power on Friday. However, there is one proposal made by one of the new ministers which has attracted by far the greatest interest of Croatian public. Even before he took office, new Minister of Veterans Affairs Mijo Crnoja said that his Ministry will prepare a Register of Traitors of Croatian National Interests. He also wants to compile a Register of the Aggressors on the Republic of Croatia, a Register of Illegal Privatization of Public Companies, to implement lustration at all levels of government… A lot of work for a minister who is supposed to deal with problems of the Homeland War veterans, as reported by Index.hr, Jutarnji List and 24Sata on January 25, 2016.
His proposal for the traitors register is presented as a reaction to policies of the former government which published a Register of Croatian Homeland War Veterans, as a way to find out which of the over 500,000 people who have veteran status in Croatia are real veterans, and which are those who illegally acquired their status just for the benefits which it brings. However, the whole process was hampered by strong resistance from members of the numerous veterans’ organizations, who claimed that the “Communist” government was conducting a witch-hunt against Croatian veterans.
Crnoja, who is a retired lieutenant colonel, was proposed as a candidate for Veteran Affairs Minister by HDZ’s Veterans Committee, with the support of HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko. “We have prepared a program of activities, which will bring back the dignity of Croatian war veterans. Veterans will be happy and Croatia will flourish”, said Josip Vidović, secretary of HDZ’s Veterans Committee.
Asked to comment on Crnoja’s statements, First Deputy Prime Minister and HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko said that “we need to understand our veterans and their sensitivity”. “For a while, veterans were subject to a witch-hunt, they were humiliated and called liars. In response to this, let us see who were the aggressors and I think it is legitimate to ask such questions. This is not a hunt against people, but a hunt for the truth”, said Karamarko. He pointed out that Minister Crnoja was a hero and a veteran of the Homeland War. “We support him”, said Karamarko.
Crnoja’s plans have caused protests among opposition MPs and members of various NGOs, who believe that such a register would represent a threat to democracy and free speech, and would serve for the government to intimidate its political opponents. During the parliamentary debate about the new government on Friday, the issue of the register was featured prominently in speeches by many opposition MPs. Also, at the entrance to the Parliament, human rights organizations staged a protest against Crnoja.
Božo Petrov, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of MOST, HDZ’s junior coalition partner, said yesterday that his party would never allow such a register to be compiled and published. His statement was later confirmed by Nikola Grmoja, MOST spokesperson: “We absolutely do not support such idea. We do not want a witch-hunt. Croatia has a lot of economic problems that need to be addressed”, said Grmoja and added that both HDZ and SDP are in some kind of campaign for internal party elections. “The rhetoric lately has been very strong and we do not support that, because we have to deal with more serious matters”, he added.
As a reaction to Crnoja’s proposal, SKROZ collective opened a webpage, www.registar-izdajnika.org, where all those who are against the proposal can mockingly register themselves as traitors. They explained they had decided to open their own register because they were aware of the difficult economic situation in the country, so they had decided to help the Minister and register themselves on a voluntary basis. “In that way, not only did we speed up the identification of traitors, but we have spared the Ministry and other state institutions the hassle of conducting public procurement procedures”, wrote the collective.
So far, more than 4,000 people have registered as traitors with different descriptions of their “treacherous crimes”. Here are some:
“At the cost of being burned at stake by the patriotic forces, I claim that Communist secret service does not exist anymore.”
“I have voted for left parties, I have voted against the marriage referendum, I believe in freedom of speech and some other undesirable things.”
“I am for tolerance, freedom of speech and diversity.”
“I do not need subtitles in Serbian films.”
“I have repeatedly participated in the gay pride, I was not married in church, my daughter does not attend religious classes in school.”
If anyone else is interested in applying, the address is: www.registar-izdajnika.org