by Marko MARKOVIC
Were you too harsh in you statement? Would you have made an equally strong statement after a good night sleep?
No, just look at what is going on. Military transporters in Gospic and the surrounding villages are blocking the road to civilians. Representatives of a foreign force in sovereign Croatia are blocking movement to civilians in the Gospic region. Let any expert for international law explain to me that this is not a desecration of sovereignty of an independent country. Present authorities claim that they are behaving in accordance with the Constitutional Law about the Cooperation with the Hague, that was adopted by the former HDZ-led authorities. Supposedly the HDZ is to be blamed for everything. Neither the HDZ nor the SDP are at issue here. The issue here is Croatia.
What bothers you the most in the Declaration about the Cooperation of Croatia with the Tribunal in the Hague?
It is the matter of principle that foreign investigators cannot conduct an investigation on the soil of a sovereign state. That is wrong and everything else follows from there. The Declaration is an admission of impotence and a confession of the Government that it is unable to itself process alleged crimes. The present Government is attacking the HDZ, the HDZ is attacking them, and both of them have made mistakes.
Your statement, "we are still armed" and "if the Declaration is adopted, we shall have to return to war" was understood by a part of the political public as a call for a military coup and a call for execution of advocates of closer cooperation with the Hague?
That was not a call for a military coup, nor for anyone's execution. I said that in 1990 and 1991 we were not armed but we managed to defend ourselves. Today we are armed and will find a way to protect both our individual and national interests. We shall not allow a violation of the Constitution and law of the Republic of Croatia.
Until recently the official government line was that it is impossible to commit a war crime in a defensive war. Today the situation is totally different. The Hague is full of Croats and the Homeland war is increasingly frequently viewed through the prism of crime?
That is a huge problem. If one reads Croatian newspapers it seems that it has been forgotten that all of us, Croatian warriors, were the pride of the nation. As if we have forgotten Vukovar, Pakrac, Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Gospic, Petrinja, and Skabrnja, as if we have forgotten the days of pride and glory and the time of the operations Flash and Storm. Let us recall the celebrations in Zagreb and Split when the warriors were returning from their victories; the nation celebrated. It cried and celebrated. It greeted its sons, its husbands, friends, relatives and neighbors. During five years of the war, almost half a million Croats wore uniform. Are all of us, all half a million, criminals? The people would have to react and say: enough!
The Declaration emphasizes that "it is the task of the ICTY to establish individual responsibility for committed war crimes, and thereby render void accusations of collective guilt" and besmirching of the whole Homeland war and especially the operations Flash and Storm?
That does not make sense. I would accept it if there was someone, for example Marko Markovic (you have a neat name and surname) who after the end of the Storm killed two innocent elderly ladies and was tried and sentenced in front of a Croatian court for that crime. No one would have a problem with that. On the contrary, every sensible man would support something like that even if Marko was a hero of the Homeland war. However, what the Hague tribunal is doing in Croatia and what the Croatian Government is allowing it to do is beyond tolerance. Just think, they claim that General Marko Norac is a war criminal. If he is a murderer as the newspapers claim, than the Minister of Defense who proposed the President to promote Norac to that rank is also responsible for that act. The President of the state, late Dr. Tudman is also responsible, since he promoted Norac to the rank of general and appointed him for a commander in the Croatian Army. What happens with Sinjska Alka and the people of that region who elected him for their patron. They also share the responsibility since they gave highest honors to such a "criminal".
Which statements from the Declaration caused the most anger among the volunteers from the Homeland war?
The whole situation is absurd. The Government is lecturing the Parliament what to do, telling the representatives that they are silly. Besides the discussion was forced and the Government accepted it and the Hague investigators have been in Gospic for more than a week. And not only do they not intend to leave, but they have announced the arrival of another 30 investigators. I can't believe that. If someone told me that three years ago, I would have been prepared to shoot. I watched today (Friday, auth. rem.) Goran Granic in the Parliament. He was saying something that was almost unintelligible, it was obvious that he was having a hard time, his voice was shaky. He was advocating grand treason, defending grand treason, and by crying he demonstrated that he was aware of what he was doing. This time Racan threw Granic in the fire to defend indefensible. Granic's tears were not sincere tears. History will not forgive him his treason.
What are the proposals of the Association of the Volunteers?
All volunteer associations are this time absolutely united in the defense of the dignity of the Homeland war and Croatian warriors, as well as the protection of the complete Croatian State. The adoption of the proposed Declaration does not only imply the doubt regarding the necessity of the Homeland war but also implies the demeaning of the Government, the Parliament, the Constitution and annulment of the whole Croatia. By that act the present Government admits that it is incompetent, that Croatian judiciary is incompetent and cannot conduct a simplest investigation. With this Declaration the governments admits that it is incompetent. If that is the case, it should resign.
What are your arguments for the claim that the Declaration is unconstitutional?
With the Declaration the Government admits that war crimes have been committed before anyone has been sentenced for them, admits that the Croatian judiciary is not fulfilling its constitutional obligations, it admits that ministries are not applying Croatian laws. We reminded the Government of the Constitutional articles that state that "the soveregnty of the Republic of Croatia is unalianable, indivisible and cannot be transferred", then that "the government is based on the principle of division of authority to legislative, executive and judicial branches". It is also necessary to mention article 133 of the Constitution that states that "international treaties by which international organization or alliances are given authority reserved for the Croatian authorities according to the Constitution must be approved by two-thirds of representatives in the lower house of the Croatian Parliament". All those elements are seriously violated in the Declaration, and the Croatian sovereignty was seriously violated by its adoption.
Besides, bishop Jezerinac at the Eucharist Congress in Split also warned the Croatian authorities that "we must not avoid the mention of all our victims from the Homeland war but also of all those who through history sacrificed their lives for independent Croatia. It would be treason to fail to do so." And what are our authorities doing? What do current servants of Belgrade in the Croatian authorities wish for and are trying to achieve? They want to cause chaos, to provoke the volunteers from the Homeland war to act. What is the current association to the mention of Gospic? Crime. And the crime that was allegedly, supposedly, committed by Croats. Some representatives are talking about three states and three peoples that were sucked in a war. Not some representatives but Vlado Gotovac who once upon a time was a favorite of the nation. Then representative Stazic who stated that an investigation is conducted against only four generals and that that is only 0.00001 percent of people who participated in the operations Flash and Storm. Even Ivan Milas would be ashamed to say something so stupid. And what about Vesna Pusic? What has that woman, a small daughter of a venerable father, managed to state in only three months since her election to the Parliament. Even Rojs [Croatian army general from Hercegovina, Ljubo Cesic Rojs] gave up on her. I do not know if she is paid by Belgrade, but the way Vesna Pusic is today defending Serbs and Serb policy, they do not need the embassy in Zagreb.