The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the situation in view of destructive actions and politics led by the President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović that are threatening regional peace and stability, and examined their consequences the region, for the EU and for Croatia. The most relevant and interesting sections from the analysis entitled “Croatia and the West Balkan region:Grabar-Kitarović and Vučić on a joint mission to (de)stabilize the region” are published below.
For the past few months, President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (HDZ) has been intensively shifting Croatia’s inner political problems as well as her personal political conflicts and ambitions to the foreign-political field, thus causing destabilisation of the West Balkan region and consequently threatening the EU security and defence system.
In Serbia, the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić (SNS) won his inter-party war for supremacy over Tomislav Nikolić (SNS), who was the most recent President of the Republic of Serbia. President Grabar-Kitarović is still in constant conflict with the key officials from Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and she has extended this conflict also to her relations with the Government of the Republic of Croatia. The problems stem from the internal political restructuring of HDZ and the preparations for the next general election in Croatia. President Grabar-Kitarović is sparing no effort to gain the absolute dominant position in HDZ and to ensure her candidacy at 2019 presidential election in Croatia. Her conflict with the incumbent Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković (HDZ) is only the tip of the iceberg of political frictions and interparty tensions within HDZ.
In order to gain political points within HDZ Grabar-Kitarović has escalated tensions with the neighbouring countries by opening political issues that have not been subject to any political consensus between Croatia and other countries, as well as by direct interference in the inner political affairs of those countries. Regrettably, Prime Minister Plenković has often tried to copy her irrational and perilous foreign (in) security policy, thus further aggravating the damage caused by actions led by Grabar-Kitarović. The so-called generals lobby and (again) the Herzegovinian lobby play an important role in inner political restructuring - not only in HDZ but also in other political parties. Grabar-Kitarović is trying to establish “close cooperation” with the above stated lobbies which have existed since the time of the first President of the Republic of Croatia Franjo Tuđman (HDZ) and have shown intemperance when it comes to power and brutality when it comes to disintegrating Bosnia and Herzegovina with the formation and revitalisation of the para-state known as the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. This close cooperation between Grabar-Kitarović and the above stated lobbies has brought numerous results, such as the appointment of Daniel Markić as director of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) on proposal of general Ante Gotovina, establishment of personal connections and relations with the controversial Zdravko Mamić, and constant pressures on the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU and NATO to implement the federalisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and/or to make changes to the election law in order to formally establish the (extinguished) para-state of Herceg-Bosna. In the future those lobbies will obviously be assessed and valorised based on the “who gives more” principle. Thus the incumbent Vice Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the Republic of Croatia general Damir Krstičević (HDZ) has already been mentioned as the potential candidate for the next president of the Republic of Croatia. The latest statement by retired Admiral of Croatian Navy Davor Domazet-Loša that Croatian infantry could reach Ljubljana in 48 hours represents another proof that the so called generals lobby has been reactivated in Croatia and that President Grabar-Kitarović deserves most credit for Croatia’s regression to the rigid policy that once almost brought Croatia into isolation from the international community and which is partly the subject of pending court proceedings or judgements made by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague .
It is known that former President of the Republic of Croatia (2000-2010) Stjepan Mesić sent to retirement war generals who had become “a state within the state”. Now the incumbent government has re-mobilised them; thus the recent dismissal of retired Admiral Domazet-Loše reminds of the dismissal of HDZBiH chairman and president of the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna Mate Boban (HDZBiH) by Franjo Tuđman due to pressures of the international community and his responsibility for destroying the Stari most (the Old Bridge) in Mostar. In the attachment to this analysis it is shown how Franjo Tuđman used his generals and especially General Ljubo Ćesić-Rojs (HDZ) who - by Tuđman’s order - secretly sent a report from the 5th HDZBiH Assembly in Mostar on 6 May 1998 which contained his proposals and assessments that were later accepted and implemented by Tuđman (see Attachment No. 1 to this analysis).
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has dedicated most of her professional career to foreign policy, serving for Croatia as well as for international organisations, including NATO. She was elected President of the Republic of Croatia on account of her international experiences and connections, as the voters believed they could trust someone who understands the functioning of the international politics and would therefore integrate Croatia as soon as possible into the western civilizational systems of political, economic and security values. Unfortunately Grabar-Kitarović blended with lightning speed in Croatian daily political games and succumbed to the structures that still dream about the so-called Greater Croatia project, siding with (post)war lobbies and triggering security problems at the regional and European levels.
Unlike Aleksandar Vučić who will have to spend his whole term of office as President of the Republic of Serbia pretending he advocates and promotes the European and western values while developing close ties with Russia and with Serbian war profiteering structures, Grabar-Kitarović plays the opposite role in Croatia where she has to pretend to be more of a patriot than the “Father of the Nation”, late President Tuđman.
Analysts have noted that the above actions of Croatian and Serbian presidents may have dangerous repercussions and effects on regional and European security and stability. Both states aim to destabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the matrix set by late presidents Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević (SPS): Vučić by supporting the separatist tendency of the President of the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik (SNSD) who is also referred to as the “new Radovan Karadžić”, and Grabar-Kitarović by supporting treacherous and hypocritical politics of HDZBiH leader and member of BiH Presidency representing the Croatian nationals Dragan Čović (HDZBiH) which resembles the past politics of the Hague convict Jadranko Prlić (HDZBiH).
Grabar-Kitarović and Vučić are both in their own way jointly responsible for disagreements and conflicts with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Hungary, Kosovo, Romania, Albania and even Italy, while direct relations between Croatia and Serbia are constantly marked by war rhetoric with an emphasis on the last regional war and World War II.
Analysts have noted that the war profiteering structures acting together with Croatian and Serbian presidents represent a great danger for peace in the region, especially bearing in mind that Grabar-Kitarović formally represents the Euro-Atlantic aspirations (EU and NATO) while Vučić is oriented towards Russia and its interests in the West Balkans. Croatia is using her EU membership to realise its specific nationalistic tendencies in the region, notably regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, while trying to “Croationalise” its NATO membership, ignoring the fact that NATO is a transnational organisation for collective defence and security. Analysts believe that the EU and NATO officials should be further warned of Croatia’s past and potential future misuses of EU and NATO membership for the realisation of its politics from the recent past which are the subject of pending court proceedings or judgements made by the Hague International Criminal Tribunal.
The hysterical and unfounded attacks at Bosnia and Herzegovina by Grabar-Kitarović have been reflected in the last annual report of Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency in which it is stated that there are 10,000 members of Salafi movement in the “south-eastern neighbourhood of Croatia”. Accusations and implications by Grabar-Kitarović that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the base of Islamic radicals and potential terrorist attacks are nothing but the recycled statements about Bosnia and Herzegovina made by Tuđman. In her criticising and smearing of the Hague International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) and the first-instance judgement against the war-time prime minister of the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna Jadranko Prlić and other defendants, Gabar-Kitarović stated that in her diplomatic contacts she would warn other states about the inconsistent practice of ICTY regarding joint criminal enterprise (JCE) that is used to establish collective liability against her. In numerous so-called presidential transcripts that were endorsed by Franjo Tuđman who recorded all his meetings and that were submitted to ICTY by Croatia, Tuđman described Bosnia and Herzegovina as a fictional and made-up Islamic state that represents a terrorist threat to Europe. Grabar-Kitarović is actually the advocate of Tuđman’s politics, as she is trying to annul the legal decisions of the judgement against Jadranko Prlić and other defendants by rejecting the joint criminal enterprise and the conclusions on the aggression of the Republic of Croatia against Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to remove the name of Tuđman as one of the key organisers and participants of JCE from the ICTY judgement.
The statements made by Grabar-Kitarović about thousands of Islamic Jihadists in Bosnia and Herzegovina are nothing but a well-thought-out diplomatic action to send a message to the key states in the world and show that in 1990s Tuđman fought against the creation of the Islamic state in Bosnia and Herzegovina and against “Islamic terrorists” and that he was not a part of war plans that led to concentration camps and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim to annex certain parts of another sovereign state to the Republic of Croatia. Grabar-Kitarović utilised her SOA intelligence agency to falsify and make up the figure of 10,000 Salafists in order to support her Islamophobic statements and activities, so that she could exert pressure on ICTY and some influential states that have connections and staff in ICTY in view of the forthcoming judgement on the appeal which is expected in November 2017. She has nevertheless concealed the fact that more than 250,000 Muslim Bosniaks took part in defending Croatia and that 1,180 of them lost their lives fighting for Croatia.
The documents attached to this analysis contain some examples of the so-called presidential transcripts that were used before ICTY in the proceedings against Jadranko Prlić and others (see Attachments Nos. 2-4),notably the meeting of 8 March 1993 between Franjo Tuđman and the representatives of the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna (Attachment No. 2), the meeting of 4 December 1993 between Tuđman and the representatives of Croatian Home Guard (Attachment No. 3) and the meeting of 12 January 1994 with the bishops of BiH Roman-Catholic Church (Attachment No. 4). At all those meetings Tuđman made negative statements and comments regarding Bosnian Muslims and based his theses on the fact that the Islamic state in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential terrorist base. The statements made by incumbent President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović resemble those Tuđman’s observations on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosniaks.
By well-thought-out fabrication of disinformation and lies about the invasion of alleged Jihadists and terrorists from Bosnia and Herzegovina and parallel revitalisation of the so-called Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, a para-state which was abolished with the Washington Agreement, Grabar-Kitarović is directly destabilising the region, the EU and Croatia itself.
Analysts have noted that the intelligence and security agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina played and still play the strongest role in the prevention of any incidents in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, especially during the tourist season, which includes the blocking of false information on potential terrorist targets in Croatia. If BiH officials assumed the same position towards Croatia in their public statements as Grabar-Kitarović did towards BiH, while even misusing the security and intelligence agencies, the position of Croatia as one of the most secure tourist destinations in the world would definitely be undermined.
President Grabar-Kitarović has embarked upon a very dangerous geopolitical game by producing the alleged Jihadists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the end, this could bring most damage to Croatia, Croatian tourism and to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Eager to save the dead Tuđman from the second-instance judgement of ICTY Grabar-Kitarović is threatening the peace and relative stability in the region, in Europe and also in Croatia.
Ljubljana, 23 September 2017