by Marinko CULIC
But, what if Racan is right?! What, namely, if this government really acts in accordance with its deepest convictions, even some sort of "mission" and is giving its everything to fulfill it? True, it realizes that all of its ideas haven't worked and, therefore, so to speak, it does not hide in front of the public its disappointment that the number of unemployed has risen to the depressing figure of 400,000. But even those defeated throngs of unemployed that are being produced daily are merely a part of a Spartan vision of this country in which its economy is envisioned as a rotten tree that needs to be slashed down until we reach the healthy core that will then one day pull the country out of this quagmire.
Obviously, roughly the same should be expected from the revision of the privatization that has recently been announced. It will essentially legalize HDZ's model of privatization, with only one difference. The new authorities claim that they will be much stricter in the implementation of the law and in sanctioning of violations. And that is the catch of the first year of this government of six coalition partners. In many key sections of the society they haven't tried to create their own model of action, but have simply superficially polished the old HDZ's mode of operation, slapping it afterwards with an important sounding new name. It is enough to look at the painful birth of the new defense and security system for the country, with uncertainty whether the birth will happen at all, to realize that the passion for a better and better polished yesterday has deep roots.
Most importantly, the accession of Croatia to the Partnership of Peace last spring did not change anything. It made sense to expect that after that the Army, as well as a part of the Police, would start its transformation to a cheaper service that only "runs errands" in the bigger Western defense alliance. However, only some tiny steps have been taken in that direction as obviously a part of the coalition of six still nurtures the myth of "regional power" that they are not willing to give up at the cost of open conflict with their partners in government. Actually, the whole past year can be viewed as a conflict of two factions that differently, or at least not always identically, view the way to deal with that and other key parts of Tudman's legacy.
Instead of remembering that year by an event from its end, the Zagreb summit that was the crown of affirmation of the new authorities, it turned out that an event from its beginning was far more important. That is the news from the Hague that the Tribunal had conducted an investigation against Tudman. This news received very little official commentary in Croatia, but it is by all means the key event in the year 2000. Namely, afterwards many scandals followed and again significantly complicated the relations of Croatia with the world. The last year also ended marked by one of such scandals (the Stipetic affair).
Most importantly, however, the announcement of that investigation against the first president of Croatia unleashed a whole Gulf stream of not always visible events, one of which is nevertheless pretty clear. That is that the main part of the coalition of six shares Tudman's view of the war between 1991 and 1995, which they anyway mostly borrowed, as they never had their own views. Thus, by refusing to apologize to Bosniaks, the government forcefully denied that Croatia had carried out an aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina, which sounds nearsighted on two accounts. First, by that the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina was characterized as an internal, therefore a civil war, which means that there no one attacked anyone. It seems the inhabitants of Bosnia-Hercegovina jumped at each other in order to draw borders between themselves. Unfortunately, it was forgotten that the same view applies to the war in Croatia.
In order to avoid that trap, the coalition of six nervously cut that associative chain and as quick as possible fell back in Tudman's embrace. The war in Croatia is now officially, based on a special declaration of the Parliament, declared for an exclusively "defensive war" and, according to increasingly used terminology, also a "holy war". It is actually tragicomical that the coalition of six with so much awe stresses such a view of the war even after two chief advocates of such an interpretation have left the scene, first Tudman (end of 1999) and then Milosevic (late 2000). Those departures should have marked a decisive change in the former Yugoslavia, but that hasn't happened so far.
This is that much more important because the ideological anchor of the "new left" that the coalition of six was holding on to is now gone. The defeat of the Democrats in the USA has practically dissolved the international "Third Way" alliance, made up from American liberal democrats and European liberal social democrats. It cannot be said that Croatian liberal (Budisa) socialdemocrats (Racan) have been very zealous and aware members of that alliance. But when recently they ended up in trouble with the Hague, they woke up and hastily knocked on the door exactly in Washington and London.
Now, however, the axis Washington-London has been broken, but no one has found it worthy of a comment in Zagreb. Who knows whether anyone has even noticed that. Ugh, this country is such a good setting for the play about geese and fog! But, damn, just when you need him the most, the geese leader Zvonimir Separovic is not around.