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(E) Feudal system of state-owned property transfer
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/30/2005 | Opinions | Unrated
(E) Feudal system of state-owned property transfer


Feudal system of state-owned property transfer

The Vecernji list published a brief article on the 13th of March, 2005,
about the recent encounter of a former Minister in the Croatian
government, a member of Parliament, and president of the Croatian Tennis
Alliance, Mr. Radomir Cacic, with Croatians living in California. The
engagement was so “stormy� that some Croatians from Los Angeles and San
Pedro publicly expressed their displeasure at statements uttered by Mr.
Cacic such as: “corruption is inbred in our people,� or that he “became
rich the easy way, and most especially during the war.� He also uttered
statements such as: “things are done in Croatia according to feudal
practices,� and that the members of the politico-economic elite in
Croatian, regardless of their party affiliation manage to “come to a
mutual understanding among themselves,� when transfer (the so-called
privatization) of state-owned property is in question. He went on to say
that “there is no reason why any state-owned property should be sold to
Croatian émigrés when we in Croatia can buy it ourselves—we too have

The statements made by Cacic speak volumes. They deserved far more space
in the Croatian media than the brief article in Vecernji list
provides—not for the purpose of attacking Mr. Cacic or so that a protest
can be mounted because of his statements. Stipe Bubalo was right when he
responded—somewhat reluctantly—to Mr. Cacic in San Pedro’s Hrvatski Dom
by thanking him for his frankness.

The “hot potato� remarks made by Cacic need to be addressed with a bit
more reflection. The former Minister and present representative in the
Croatian Parliament—a man in the very center of governmental
power—publicly states that lawlessness reigns in Croatia; that he became
rich through muddy deals; that party opposition isn’t the result of
various strategies and options seeking a better future for Croatia, but
little more than multi-colored smoke and mirrors. What is most
disturbing is that he—and by extension, other members of his
class—believes that corruption is “inbred in our people.� This, I
suppose, means that there is no hope that a rule of law will serve as
the road to a societal and economic rebirth. Judging by his statements,
it matters little to him or to the ruling class that the existing
“feudal system� be changed since the system assured him—as he himself
states—ownership of seventeen businesses.

We frequently hear that Croatia desires foreign investments. However, in
view of the statements made by Cacic in California, investments by
Croatian émigrés are not welcome. It is perfectly normal and realistic
that he, or anyone else in Croatia, should sooner wish to buy what is up
for auction than someone in far-off California. However, as far as we
can see from what is happening in Croatia as relates to transfer of
state-owned properties, it is all a matter of shuffling papers and
spending money that seems to circulate in the same closed circle as
opposed to the introduction of fresh new capital into the Croatian
economy. It is clear that this can be done without difficulty since “we
manage to come to a mutual understanding among ourselves�—regardless of
party affiliation. This is why no former or present government in
Croatia is willing to raise the issue of the transfer of state-owned
property. Why would they spoil a good thing for themselves?

Aside from the “feudal system of state-owned property transfer,� what
bothers many Croatian émigrés is the question that asks by what logic
are foreign (non-Croatian) investments in banks, hotels, the media,
telephone, etc., accepted and valued as something positive while
investments by Croatian émigrés are seen as undesirable—what is more,
are rejected in a very primitive manner? If no logic is to be found in
this, then what is at play? Is there some fear of Croatian émigrés and
their capital at play? If such fear does exist, then what is the cause
of such fear?

In all likelihood, Mr. Cacic disenchanted and frayed the nerves of
Croatians in California. I am just as convinced that Croatian
Californians did as much for him. Nonetheless, perhaps their encounter
was more beneficial than we might think. Cacic revealed what is in his
heart through his statements. He showed us a true picture of the ruling
class in Croatia. On the other hand, his hosts in the Hrvatski Dom in
San Pedro pointed out (we hope) to him (and his like-minded friends)
that many Croatian émigrés are not only concerned about a “stari kraj�
that they sometimes wish to visit out of sentimentality, but are
concerned about a homeland that is as much theirs as it is his. They
further pointed out that what is happening in Croatia is not all the
same to them. They want Cacic to know that they can and want to be a
part of Croatia’s (better) future. Furthermore, it is clear to all who
care about Croatia that much sweat and tears will be needed if Croatia
is to become a land that we, our children, and grandchildren will not
only visit but will one day return to her and invest our intelligence
and money in her future. This is nothing more than “emotion� for Cacic.
For those who are reasonable and well-intentioned, this should be a part
of the Croatian national program.

Dr. Ante Cuvalo, Chicago

Translated by Dusko Condic, Chicago
Published in Croatian - Hrvatski Vjesnik, Australia, March 24, 2005


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