A few years ago, after we had been threatened with liquidation by Mercep's group accused of war crimes in Pakracka Poljana, we asked the police to protect us. The chief of police sent several "guys", one of whom kept a picture of Ante Pavelic [Croat pro-Nazi leader in WWII] in his office that we had regularly visited to be questioned about Feral's "terrorist activities". That guy was supposed to protect us from Them, who killed Serbian civilians in Gospic and Pakracka Poljana in the name of their Leader. Of course that we were more than eager to stop being "protected" by Tudjman's police. Is there anything strange in the fact that Levar didn't ask for police protection from the new government, which was, according to a Hague investigator, obliged to do that? Did he know, just like any other critic of Tudjman's legacy, that he could not trust the police, whose main officials are still the HDZ cadres? Did he know how much he could trust the "rule of law" in the state whose leaders had sworn to establish close cooperation with The Hague Tribunal, but soon afterwards verified the worst parts of Tudjman's reign and gave up every radical political change so that they could flirt with the people accused of war crimes?
A whole series of Budisa's and Tomac's lamentations about the need to protect the Homeland War, meaning protect the war criminals from legal persecutions, can no longer be dismissed as an excess. It stinks too much of an implicit obstruction of the cooperation with The Hague Tribunal and closes the only recently opened doors to the world. Haven't precisely such irresponsible policies enabled terrorism, by almost making it legal, just like in Milosevic's Serbia?
Zdravko Tomac commented on Levar's murder with these words: "We ought to condemn a terrible thing that happened not only to that man and his family, but to the whole Croatia", and "the murder of Levar is a gunshot at Croatia" (Novi List, 30 August). These statements bring up only one question: is this man normal and should he be allowed to work in politics? These are the statements of a man whose every appearance during the last eight months was a true moral attack on all the people that had elected the new government. This makes Tomac's statement even more disgusting than that of Tihomir Oreskovic, the man accused by Levar, together with "general" Norac, of crimes in Gospic: "I don't give a shit". It is more disgusting than that of the fascist Mladen Schwartz: "The New Croatian Right Wing received the news about the liquidation of the notorious liar and Croatian traitor with relief". This is a statement without precedent, even in Tudjman's Croatia, but also without legal consequences that would follow in a state based on law.
However, this is something that we expect from people like Oreskovic and Schwartz. They have no power, at least no official power. But, Zdravko Tomac is the power, and his recent nationalist scream in Vukovar - "We have to say enough to The Hague Tribunal, we will not extradite our generals..." - was a true "gunshot at Croatia". Racan has never disowned that statement, and that was undoubtedly a signal to the terrorists to put their words into effect. Of course, the purpose all this was to protect the "dignity of the Homeland War". One of those Tomac's "generals" is Mirko Norac, the man accused by Levar of ordering murders in Lika, known also as a friend of the mayor of Zagreb and an SDP member, Milan Bandic.
The issue is not only who killed Milan Levar, but who are the people Croats elected to lead their country after Tudjman? How does Drazen Budisa feel today, after spending months singing suspicious odes to the Homeland War and claiming that he "will strongly oppose the indictments issued by The Hague Tribunal against Croatian generals"? Did he really believe that his efforts to "protect" Tudjman's legacy, including the cover up of the crimes in Lika, would remain only a theory? Will Budisa's party colleague, Jozo Rados bear responsibility for bowing at the grave of the father of Croatian neo-Ustashas Gojko Susak? Does Racan think today that he should have listened to the advice of President Mesic and removed the monument to Jure Francetic, instead of meekly condemning "such right-wing acts"? Does this government think that they should have punished the people who demolished the Serb monument in Veljun, which didn't happen because of the "lack of evidence"?
Who is the man whose duty is to say to Tomac to keep his mouth shut, to do something about Budisa's dangerous "Croatianism", to fulfill electoral promises about the cooperation with The Hague Tribunal? Is that man Ivica Racan, the man who resolutely rejected the idea to apologize to the Bosnians for Tudjman's aggression only a few months ago? Of course it is him, but the best that he and his government can do is make a statement with which "the Croatian Government severely condemns the crime against Levar...". And even this came late, after the Croatian Television had tried to hide the news about the political murder in the middle of the TV news, as if the brutal murder of a Hague witness is an irrelevant event. SDP's editor took a step further, babbling something about "justified anger", which was supposed to mean that Levar got what he deserved. This vulgar alliance between the government and journalism reminds of the glorious days of Franjo Tudjman, but at that time we at least knew where we were.
And today? Isn't tolerance of Ustashe ideology and silent advocacy of the fatal Tudjman's strategy of "reconciliation" between everything and everyone - in one word, a condition of comfortable demagogic inaction by this Government - dangerous "shooting at Croatia"? And finally, isn't the political murder of Milan Levar only the first consequence of such politics, but also an announcement of a continuation of the decade we believed was behind us?