Main topic

ESSAYS AND STUDIES

CROATIAN SEPARATISM FROM 1918. UNTIL 1991.

Abstract

  1. Jovic claims that according to a detailed analysis of the survey carried out by the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb during the first multi-party elections in Croatia, only 15 percent of Croats were in favour of full and unconditional independence, while 64 percent were in favour of a confederate restitution of Yugoslavia. The war that ensued was the result of the desire of a specific part of the elites of that time, identity creators and nationalist political leaders to separate Croats from Yugoslavia and Serbs and Serbs from Croats (and in some cases, from Yugoslavia (Jović 2017,13-14). We do not support the stance taken by D. Jovic. We can’t think of a case when a confederation of states was long-lasting (Switzerland is a confederation in name only). Confederation is just a first step towards independence. We believe that the confederation equaled independence in 1990. In 1990, in the post communist period, Croats did not just fall in love with Yugoslavia and rejected the decades-long strife of their ancestors for an independent Croatian state. It was a planned slow move to independence. In this paper, we have aimed to prove that the desire of Croats for an independent state has existed even before 1918 and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Croats were constituted as a nation and only moved from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Kingdom of the SHS. As indicated by the national prefix in the partie’s names: the Croatian Peasant Party, the Croatian Party of Rights, the Croatian Union, their objective was to show that they represent a specific nation. It completely disregarded that the history of Yugoslavia between the two wars, was not only a history of conflict, but also a history of continuous attempts to reach a compromise between, primarily, Serbs and Croats (Јовић 2017,109-110). The Croatian Peasant Party cooperated with the government, the People’s Radical Party and finally with the opposition, the Democratic Party. How come it worked with everybody? Was it because of tax exemptions, foreign policies, road construction, electrification plans? The answer is negative. The reason behind it was that The People’s Radical Party was more often the ruling party while the Democratic Party recognized the national distinctiveness of Croats and the federation as the state organization, which was of immense interest to Croats. Let’s presume what would have happened had Croatia declared independence in 1991, if the war hadn’t broken out, and they didn’t have the recognition of the international community and the rest of the SFRY, following referendum in which Croats reached a consensus that Croatia would become an independent state. They would have blocked the central authorities on the territory of the Croatian Federal Republic. They would not send their citizens to federal army. They would not participate in federal sports leagues. They would not send their athletes to national teams. They would not send their political representatives to federal institutions. They would not pay money to mutual funds. Nontheless, they did have their own republican bodies, the parliament, the president, the prime minister, the police. Moreover, they formed military units, the National Guard Corps. We can only imagine a campaign favouring independence in Croatian media. What if republican authorities took control of Croatian borders, and if there were sporadic altercations, would a single Serb be allowed to enter. During the phase one, Croatia would not even need recognition, but if the world powers saw the mood among the population, they would certainly take it into account.The supportets of SFRY often point to the referendum and ambiguous question the population was asked. In the referendum held on May 19, 1991, the citizens of Croatia were asked two questions: are you in favor of the Republic of Croatia, as a sovereign and independent state, guaranteeing cultural autonomy and all civil rights to Serbs and members of other nationalities in Croatia, with right to join the sovereign countries with other republics (according to the proposal of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia to resolve the state crisis of the SFRY)? The second question was: are you in favor of the Republic of Croatia remaining in Yugoslavia as a federal state (according to the proposal of the Republic of Serbia and the Socialist Republic of Montenegro to resolve the state crisis in the SFRY?). In response to the first question, 93.24% of those who voted in the referendum (83.56% of those with the right to vote) answered yes and 4.15% answered no. When it comes to the second question, 5.38% of citizens voted in favour, and against 92.18%. The citizens of Croatia have clearly stated that Croatia should remain in Yugoslavia. This is a valid point, but something that is not emphasized is: that on the same occasion, they declared themselves in favor of the prospect for Croatia to enter into a confederate status with other Yugoslav republics. Thus, it would guarantee cultural autonomy and all civil rights for Serbs and members of others nationalities in Croatia (Јовић 2017,221-222). Croats knew what the referendum was about, that it was a referendum on complete independence. If it had not been the case, the referendum would not have even been organized. They would have been happy with their standing in Yugoslavia and the question wouldn’t have been raised and a referendum organized. Besides if they had been cheated on the referendum, why don’t they return to a union today and initiate the foundation of a new Yugoslavia? They got the independence, but they discovered they were not better off. Together we were better off, and in the future, we will have a bigger territory, greater population, a powerful army. We would have more success in sport. But no parliamentary party in Croatia is thinking in that direction. We will analyze the situation in Catalonia and Scotland where there are movements for independence and draw a parallel with Croatia. Catalan athletes play for Spanish national team in basketball, football, handball, or water polo. Political parties based in Madrid operate in Catalonia alongside separatist parties and have the influence similar to the People’s Party and the Socialist Party.There is no consensus on independence among Catalan population. Which parties based in Belgrade acted in Croatia as part of the SFRY, following the dissintegration of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Can we imagine the Serbian Radical Party acting in Croatia or the Socialist Party of Serbia, the Serbian Renewal Movement, or the Democratic Party? If we disregard Serbs in Croatia, how many Croats would vote for Belgrade based parties. In Scotland, the ruling Scottish National Party has been advocating for Scottish independence through non-violent, political means and by elections since it was founded in 1934. Although the SNP is in favor of an independent Scotland, it is running at the UK level and has MPs in the UK Parliament. There is no consensus on independence in Scotland, which is important for the survival of Great Britain.In Scotland, the most powerful British parties are London based, such as the Conservative Party and the Labor Party. The Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1997 was a Scott, Tony Blair and in 2010 Scott Gordon Brown, both Labor. Croats Ante Markovic and Stjepan Mesic held important positions in the SFRY in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and even then, Croats were not happy. There are no paramilitary units in either Catalonia or Scotland. They existed in Croatia in the 1990s. In a democratic Yugoslavia nationalism would be allowed but violence would be stopped. Nationalists would be offered democratic means to fight for secession (the same means separatist parties in liberal democracies have), but any attempt to start a civil war would be thwarted by effective police and military action. (Јовић 2003,66). Imagine this situation, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is in power in Croatia and nonviolently advocates independence with Ustasha iconography. They have the control of the state television, claiming that they are Serb-enslaved, economically exploited. They introduce the kuna as a monetary unit, and the Croats are still in the federal army if they haven’t decided to boycott. And if the HDZ changes its way of fighting and it becomes necessary for the Croats in the army to intervene against their compatriots? Police in Croatia which is an even more homogeneous formation to intervene against their compatriots? Both options are hardly conceivable. Then who should intervene, the Serbs with the army and the police? Slovenians, Bosnian Muslims, Macedonians, Montenegrins along with Serbs. A difficult situation, some members of these nations might participate, but there would certainly be no consensus on this, which would create numerous problems. The Croats started their path towards independence before 1918 and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovene. In their time as part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes they demanded for a Croatian federal unit, then theyfounded the Banovina Hratska in 1939 within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1941 they were a part of NDH, from 1945 they were part of communist Yugoslavia until the referendum of1991 and the recognition of independent Croatia in 1992.

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PERIODICS Political Review 2/2020 2/2020 УДК 323.173(497.13)“1918/1991“ 91-112
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