Books on Croatia
Update No: 117 - (22/02/07)
The return of the repressed
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on February 13th expressed contempt for
comments made by Croatia's president over what Italy views as a World War Two
massacre of Italians. The emollient way that the history of the Second World War
is written, between goodies and baddies, is being put into question.
Henry Ford once said: "History is bunk." He later retracted it, but
his saying has become notorious.
Recent events in South-East Europe rather bear out his detractors, at least as
regards the Balkans.
One thing is indisputable - it was Mussolini and Italy who invaded the Balkan
countries of Albania and Greece in 1939-40, not the other way round. Italian
troops in league with the Nazis then encroached on Yugoslavia, being evicted by
the Partisans with extensive British support (those interested can read all
about it in Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches, a not unimportant participant
in the events of the time. When he explained to Churchill that the Partisans
were communist and would establish a communist regime if victorious, the
following exchange took place:-
Churchill: Do you intend to live in Yugoslavia after the war?
Maclean: No, sir
Churchill: Neither do I.
Italy and Croatia Reopen Old War Wounds
A furious row was raging across the Adriatic in mid-February over the Second
World War after the presidents of Croatia and Italy traded accusations of racism
and barbarism. Italian diplomats called off visits to Zagreb and summoned the
Croatian ambassador in Rome for a stiff talking-to; and the Italian prime
minister, Romano Prodi, attacked Croatia after its president, Stipe Mesic,
accused his Italian counterpart of racism and trying to rewrite history.
Croatia and Slovenia were stunned by a speech on Remembrance Day, February 10th,
by Italy's president, Giorgio Napoletano, devoted to the suffering of Italians
in former Yugoslavia towards the end of the Second World War. Describing the
pogroms of Italians by Yugoslav communist partisans as "the barbarism of
the century," "ethnic cleansing" and a campaign of annexation of
Italian territory fuelled by "Slav bloodthirsty hatred and rage," Mr
Napoletano stirred a storm of controversy and appeared to raise questions about
Croatia's bid to join the European Union.
Mr Prodi and his foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema waded into the row on
February 13th, with Italian officials implying that while Italy had faced up to
its fascist past, Croatia had yet to do so.
"We don't need any lessons in fascism from Italy," quipped a Croatian
politician after Mr Mesic said the Italian statesman's speech smacked of
"open racism, historical revisionism, and political revanchism."
The dispute has to do with the pogroms and population shifts enforced at the end
of the Second World War all across central Europe, but it also touches on
sensitive current property claims and compensation demands.
Just as millions of Germans were kicked out of central and eastern Europe and
many of them killed when the Third Reich collapsed, so, after the fall of
Mussolini and the capitulation of Italy, were Italian fascist occupiers and
indigenous Italian communities expelled from the eastern Adriatic - the areas of
Dalmatia and Istria that belonged to Yugoslavia and now form parts of Croatia
It is estimated that 150,000 Italians were kicked out by vengeful communist
partisans under Josip Broz Tito, and that 15,000 were killed. Many of the
corpses were dumped in the thousands of caves that perforate the limestone
karsts of Dalmatia and Istria.
Mussolini's fascist movement had annexed the eastern Adriatic before the war and
occupied it during the war. Mr Napoletano further outraged the Croats by
conferring a medal on an Italian fascist governor of a stretch of Dalmatia who
was executed in 1947 after being tried for war crimes by the Yugoslavs.
Observers were surprised by the strength of the language used by both sides,
since both presidents are former communists with roots in the wartime partisan
movements who fought guerrilla wars was against the fascists.
Similar rows are currently simmering between Germany and Poland since a German
lobby has gone to the European court to reclaim property lost at the end of the
war. But the German government opposes the German claims and distances itself
from the German lobby. Observers noted that had a German president accused
Poland of barbarism and bloodlust, as Mr Napoletano had accused the
"Slavs", the international impact would have been immense.
The issue of Italian suffering at the end of the war in former Yugoslavia was
brushed under the carpet for decades. But two years ago, the rightwing
Berlusconi government in Rome established a day of remembrance for the victims,
and last year a publicly-funded Italian feature film on the events was screened
to huge impact in Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia.
In former Yugoslavia, the film was seen as a sentimental outrage that falsified
history, demonised "Slavs", and failed to provide any context for the
revenge meted out against the Italians.
Italian officials have made it clear that Croatia could run into problems with
its EU bid unless it is more accommodating towards Italy. Zagreb fears it may
face demands either to return or sell property in what are now much coveted
holiday hotspots in Dalmatia and Istria.
War invalids receive pensions
In echo of another war, that fought to obtain independence, the Croatian
government is paying attention to victims among its own population.
During the government's mandate, 33,000 claims for the war invalid status came
in, while due to the extension of the legal dead-line where every defender who
brings a medical documentation on their illness can request an invalid status,
regardless of the fact more than 10 years have past from the war.
This caused an increase of war invalid numbers of around 44,000, and still
growing. Namely, even 75 per cent of requests were approved and another increase
of 15,000 is expected, the Jutarnji list daily reports. In this year's budget
even 411 million kuna was reserved for invalid pensions, but also additional 91
million for "new" war invalids.
With the status of an invalid, a person obtains the right to an invalid
defender's pension, which is 4,955 kuna in average, while retirement according
to age is around 2,100 kuna. Seeing how the situation in the country is bad,
surely each defender will try to use their right and insure their safe future.
Sanader: We Respect Everybody, but HDZ is Best!
This is an election year in Croatia. But it is not due until December. A lot
can happen between now and then.
The fracas with Italy can only do the incumbent government good. Wrapping round
the flag is the order of the day.
At the 10th convention of HDZ Youth, Premier Sanader said to political
adversaries that the HDZ would win in this year's elections again.
The convention of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Youth was attended by the
ruling party's elite, including Prime Minister and HDZ president Ivo Sanader,
Parliament President Vladimir Seks, Minister of Family, Homeland War Soldiers
and Inter-Generation Solidarity Jadranka Kosor, Finance Minister Ivan Suker and
The convention was opened with Croatia's anthem and a minute of silence in
honour of the first Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, as well as all those who
had been killed for their country.
After a greeting by the HDZ Youth president Margareta Madjaric, the attendants
were addressed by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
" This is an important meeting for the whole party because the youth
represents the HDZ's force," said Sanader.
He recalled the time of establishment of the party, saying that "then one
had to take hold of fate for the lock of hair of Khairos and fulfil a
"Our youth must be open towards others and those that are different, as
well as the challenges of the global process," he said.
He added that the HDZ was proud of all its achievements and that he firmly
believed in the party's victory in the coming election.
Foreign investments reach 1.75bn Euro in 2006
The latest figures from the Croatian central bank revealed that Croatia has
attracted 1.75 billion Euro of foreign direct investments in 2006, the Croatian
news agency HINA reported, cited by Croatia Post.
Since 1993, the foreign investments in Croatia have reached 13.15 billion Euro.
The figures show that investments in banking services were dominant in the
structure of ownership investments in 2006, amounting to 789.4 million Euro. The
majority of foreign investments between 1993 and 2006 were made in the banking
sector (over 3.3 billion Euro). The post and telecommunication sector follows
with 1.59 billion Euro, the chemical industry with 961.3 million Euro and the
production of petroleum products with 543.8 million Euro. According to the
figures, Austria leads the investment with 2.95 billion Euro, Germany follows
with 2.13 billion Euro, France with 1.16 billion Euro, the United States with
1.14 billion Euro and Italy with slightly over a billion Euro.
Demand for skilled IT professionals
According to a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine
Ambassador to Austria, Linglingay Lacanlale, said that Croatia urgently requires
skilled, English-speaking IT professionals for a growing telecommunications
industry, targeting both the government and private home users, Croatia Post
This indicates that skilled and English-speaking Filipino technology
professionals can find a place in the Croatian IT industry. Croatia Trade and
Investment Promotion Agency Director, Slodoban Mikac, was quoted as saying:
"The Agency monitors the markets in English-speaking countries like the
Philippines," as Croatia will "be increasingly oriented towards medium
and small investments, both local and foreign." The total size of the
Croatian IT market is expected to increase from US$672 million in 2005 to around
US$985 million in 2010, with software and services growing on the back of a
steady rise in private sector investments. The "e-Croatia," a Croatian
government initiative, aims to complete computerisation of the county's
education and government systems and to bring key services online. The Internet
users in Croatia are too low with only an estimated 230 private Internet users
in every 1,000 population.