What did local bishop tell the participants of the assembly session in Mostar?
Bishop Peric Delivered Moral Lecture to Those Who on Paper Recognize Croatian Nation While in Practice Denying Its Rights
Hrvatska Rijec, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, March 10, 2001
- Democracy. If in Bosnia-Hercegovina, as in other civilized nations of the world, democracy should function in the social sense as the rule of majority (and everyone agrees it should!) then I welcome this assembly as a civic expression of the will of the Croat voters, and as a politically achieved and morally allowable mode of self-protection of this people. Even those who consider themselves to be teachers of democracy cannot avoid its laws!
- Referendum. If the Croat nation in Bosnia-Hercegovina has the right to self-protection of its essence and its rights, obligations and freedoms (and it is obvious it does!) then I welcome this assembly as an expression of the will of that nation, unanimously expressed at the referendum last year. That is why this assembly, as a social and political institution, should remain stable and long-lasting, even if all the political parties change or are abolished by force, while all the participants in this session of the assembly leave the political stage; I say, it needs to remain as an institution, as that is the will of the Croat nation in Bosnia-Hercegovina, that will organize itself in the most suitable self-sustaining state organization within the country.
- Equality. It there are three nations in Bosnia-Hercegovina (and obviously there are!) they are necessarily forced to rely on mutual respect, cooperation and equality. That is why I welcome this assembly as a representative body based on the democratic choice of the Croat nation that wants to live with other nations on the basis of equal rights - the right to life, based on the principles of return of all to their homes, secured survival worthy of a man, cultural and educational self-awareness, guaranteed right to use the language, secured health protection, the right to self-defense, the right to own mass-media, the right to work and distribution of income, the right to use national symbols, basic freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and conviction, to the national self-determination and sovereignty, respecting the external borders of this country. By helping its own people, the assembly will help other nations as well.
- People and the international community. If the Croat people wanted (and it did want as it found itself in grave troubles!) an intervention of the powerful international community in the senseless bloodshed, then I welcome the assembly that will demonstrate that this people, grateful for the political intervention that helped stop the war (which could have been stopped by the same international community at its very beginning), did not want to pass from one state without basic rights to another one. Nor could it sign and deliver its identity, sovereignty and subjectivity to that very same international community, so that it could refashion it, cut it and reshape it as it pleases. This people is prepared to face the historical truth, to face human justice; it desires long-lasting peace and it is prepared to mutually forgive everyone, but it is not prepared to bear slavery. Nor would Croats put up with the process in which their sins are magnified ten times on the world stage, while sins and crimes of others are equally reduced. The truth gives birth to justice, justice brings peace, and the true peace creates mutual reconciliation!
- Revision. If every political institution is subject to change and improvement (and obviously they all are!) then I welcome the representatives of this assembly as legitimate negotiators with the representatives of the international political community, and I wish them to in this search for an exit from the BH crisis find a peaceful, just and long-lasting state organization, revising not only some already implemented unjust laws, but above all revising the imperfect Washington agreement from 1994 and even less perfect Dayton agreement from 1995. We shall never cease repeating that those international acts legalized and allowed that, due to the unjust division of the country, the Croat people remain not only halved but even existentially endangered, removed from the parliament and pilloried in the Hague Tribunal. The responsible representatives of the international community are aware of all that, and nevertheless they remain deaf to similar public pleas. The assembly with its peaceful work can be a clear response to the world political strategy and its tactics with the Hague Tribunal whose important intention, based on the understanding of the people here, is to organize the country in this counterintuitive manner, after pacification in Dayton, even at the cost of prison sentences to 15, 25, and 45 years for the defenders of the Croatian people, most of whom voluntarily reported to be tried and to whom, after several years of waiting for trials, not a single individual crime has been proved. They say that the international community has spent too much money on this BH project to now be able to return from the wrong path. An intelligent person, after getting lost, knows that it is less costly to return to the right path than to continue wondering around! This assembly, with its decisive, responsible and serious activities, according to internationally accepted principles, can assist both its people and save the honor of the hard of hearing and confused international policy in BH!
- People, not "others". If Croats are a self-aware, aboriginal and autochthonous people in Bosnia-Hercegovina (and indeed they are!) then I welcome this assembly that will as a legitimate factor tell the international community to stop creating laws that aim to promote the other two nations to true nations, with true political and state institutions, while at the same time consistently moving the Croats to the column of "others", endangering their political will, and thereby also their name, language, culture and all that makes this nation distinct from others. The other two nations should also not allow that. This assembly will deal with their legitimate representatives in equal status and through consensus find the best solutions, if necessary in presence of the international community.
- Divide et Impera. If the international community (I do not know whether that term refers to the representatives of the European Union, the USA or the United Nations) is convinced that by the force of SFOR it can implement or embody a political contradiction, i.e. recognize on paper the Croat nation while in practice denying its political will and voices, then I welcome this assembly that will as a legitimate partner demand from the international community to stop using the "stick and carrot" method in its dealings with the Croat nation and its representatives.
Sanctions that are imposed through willful removal of political representatives, violent break ins of SFOR soldiers into Croat institutions, manipulation of the election rules, biased division of economic assistance and so on, can never be educational, moral, or democratic with respect to any nation, nor do they serve as a source of pride for those who use them.
Similarly, if the international arbitrator arbitrarily changes the Federation, state and Dayton constitutions, and obviously he does modify then and then disingenuously claims that he cannot change something he had imposed himself, the I welcome this assembly that will as a legitimate and respectable partner demand from the international community to stop using local political representatives who do not enjoy popular support. Despite the claims of the international community that such moves benefit the people, they only discredit the international community and harm the Croat nation.
Human justice and freedom does not lie in international power and military potential, nor in financial power, and the Hague Tribunal, but in divine law, in human dignity and dignity of nations, provided by the Creator. As a sensible nation, Croats will with gratitude receive "good services" of the international community, for everyone's benefit.
- Justified struggle. For 400 years Jews lived in Egypt, not as a nation, but as slaves, toiling on pharaoh's plantations and building pyramids. All the time they were referred to as the so-called "citizens", lacking human rights and civic freedoms. In certain periods they even lacked the right to the lives of their male children. Based on that, they were neither second, nor third class citizens. They were actually twenty second class citizens.
Moses, with his brother Aaron, inspired by the Lord our creator and liberator, stood in front of the powerful pharaoh, led the convicts and "citizens". Until then, the people were lawless. Snatch, cheat, kill, those were their customs, as long as no one knew or could catch you. That's the way it was until Moses returned from the God's mountain Sinai with God's constitution, the Ten Commandments. You shall have no other gods before me! Honor your father and your mother! You shall not murder! You shall not steal! You shall not covet! You shall not bear false witness! You shall not commit adultery!
Croats and Croat Catholics were during the last four centuries in Bosnia-Hercegovina mostly Ottoman slaves and prisoners. And for the seventy years of the past century they were more in emigration and Yugoslav prisons, and in fear than in their free land. The Croat people does not want to be in anyone's, either domestic or foreign, chains, but wants to be a nation on its own land, with human dignity, self-respect and respect of others. It wants to respect all the commandments and all just human laws.
Conclusion. A judicial clerk in Austria-Hungary, Martin Djurdjevic, in his "Memoirs from the Balkans", reprinted last year in Stolac, relates the following incident. During the war between Ottomans and Austrians (1875-1878), following a suggestion of the Ottoman empire, which started making huge promises to the Christian serfs, "plenty and reforms" (page 83), as long as they gave up their struggle for rights and freedoms, the western consuls appeared as Sultan's spokespersons and went to negotiate with the leaders from the south-eastern Hercegovina. Thus, the consuls of the international community arrived one day on the border between Hercegovina and Dalmatia, between Dubravica and Bijeli Vir (page 10). The dialog went as follows:
"Your uprising and actions are not justified," said the consuls.
"Many years of suffering justify our uprising," the leaders replied.
"But the Sultan is powerful, with a powerful army. He will eventually destroy you," responded the consuls.
"He has been destroying us for 500 years, and look, some of us are still alive and prepared to fight until death for our freedom," replied the leaders.
"When you eat the little food you hold in your hand, what will you eat? You will starve," the consuls threatened sanctions.
Mijo Ljuban from Sjekose grabbed a handful of soil, put it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed it. Then he said:
"We shall never lack this food of gods".
They say that the British consul Holmes cried when he saw that (page 84).
When this excerpt was read to the contemporary British "consul in the Balkans", lord Owen, he only smiled (page 8). That is at the same time the difference between international politicians from the past and those active today. Both then and now, they defend only one side, and our situation was the same then as now. But we shall not eat this soil, as legendary Mijo from Bajovci [sic]. We shall, following God's wishes till the soil and nurture it, as this people can live on its land from its own work. When the war stops, work begins. We in this land, organized according to God's commandments and human laws; love towards procreated and newly born life; law of family strength and unity; external organization and peace; in the country in which seven times as many people will not die on roads as on the front, we want to respect just laws, and then others will also respect us and without too much delay recognize, respect and include us in the European integration.
Conference of Bishops Supports Principles from Peric's Speech!
Members of the Conference of Bishops for Bosnia-Hercegovina, at a meeting in Sarajevo, held on March 8, 2001, among other discussed the state of the Croat people in the country and in connection with that issue the following statement.
- We express deep gratitude to the Holy Father, who on February 9, 2001, repeated to the representatives of the international league of humanists his fatherly concern for the peoples in Bosnia-Hercegovina and among other said: "Support and understanding are needed to overcome the existing social, political and economic troubles, and to find as good solutions as possible that correspond to the legal expectations of all three constituent nations".
- We unanimously support the principles stated by bishop Ratko Peric as a local bishop in his Greetings to the Croat Assembly Session held in Mostar on March 3, 2001.
- We express our disagreement with the manner used by the international representatives of the international community in Bosnia-Hercegovina to ignore the electoral will of the Croat nation, expressed in the November 2000 elections.
- As the Croatian nation, as the other two nations, is constituent everywhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina, we believe that the decisions of the international community about the election law, and the method for the elections of the members of the presidency, and about the role of the House of Nations, harm the equal status and equality of the Croat nation with respect to the other two nations.
- We call on the international representatives to seek and find suitable solution for the current crisis through dialog with legitimate representatives of the Croat people.
- We urge the political representatives who were legally and legitimately elected to represent the national interests of the Croat people everywhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina, to be open for dialog with all those seeking a just social-political organization for this country and all of its inhabitants.
- We distance ourselves from those who would like to abuse important interests of the Croat people for their own purposes, as well as those who would like to degrade the Croat people to the status of an ethnic minority, for the sake of their imagined goals, and thereby, instead of helping it to return to its homes, force it to leave this country.
- We call on all members of the Croat people to behave in dignified manner, and especially on the faithful Catholics to pray and rely on God's providence.
Secretariat of the Conference of Bishops for Bosnia-Hercegovina
Translated on May 10, 2001