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By Nenad N. Bach | Published  09/1/2003 | Politics | Unrated




by Brian Gallagher

The Croatian Herald, Australia No. 981 - 29th August 2003

I write this from Croatia itself, specifically the
beautiful island of Brac. It seems an appropriate time
then to put forward a proposal to improve the Croatian
situation. Some form of pro-Croat political journal is
needed - for both a Croatian and international
audience - to be published in Croatia. It would
contain accurate information about the serious issues
that face Croatia, and also rebut allegations and
charges made not only by the international media, but
in some parts of the Croatian media.

It's no secret that Croatia's image is not what it
could be. Unpleasant articles routinely appear in the
international media, recently in the Guardian and in
the Canadian media. Further, internationally funded
groups such as the Institute of War and Peace
Reporting publish material that continually shows
Croatia in a bad light.

Much of this reporting has to do with issues such as
Croatia's war for independence, the war in BiH and The
Hague tribunal. And a lot of this reporting is
inaccurate or biased. Croatian diplomacy does nothing,
and consequently we have a situation in which Croatia
is seen as being equally guilty with Serbia. Indeed,
we seem to be moving into a situation where Croatia is
seen as having been the aggressor. In discussion here
in Croatia, it is clear that some in the Croatian
media are also promoting an anti-Croat line -
primarily magazines such as Feral Tribune, Globus and
Nacional. This may seem surprising, but there is a
constituency in Croatia for such material; essentially
the losers in Croatian independence - or perhaps more
precisely Croatian democracy. I.e. those circles that
were privileged either by the communist party or
Serbian elites or both - one should not forget that
Yugoslavia in many ways was a Serb dominated racket,
with all the human rights violations that entailed.

What should emerge in Croatia is a monthly -
regularity is important - journal that would be
published in both Croatian and English - for the
international audience - and would deal with Croatian
issues in a serious way.

Such a journal does not need to be something sold on
every news stand to be effective. For example, in
Britain, the Eurosceptic European Foundation publishes
the European Journal, which is not widely available
but does inform commentators and politicians. I am not
suggesting that such a journal be anti- European
Union, simply that its focus should be a pro-Croat
one, something desperately needed. That said, some of
the bizarre notions some Croats have about the EU
could be tackled.

The attitude of Croat self-hatred by some, coupled
with continued Serb propaganda efforts and the
Croatian government policy of silence will have
appalling effects on Croatia. Consider the economic
effect. Can Croatian business thrive in the world
market with such a negative political image of the
country? I suspect not. It's a topic that Croatian
business people should really start thinking about.
Perhaps they could sponsor such a journal.

The journal could address topics such as Croatian
involvement in the BiH war and the Gotovina case with
reference to the evidence that is freely available in
numerous documents and testimonies which nobody seems
to refer to - material beneficial to Croatia. Articles
about the reality of Yugoslavia - UBDA and all the
rest of it - would also be a good thing, rejecting the
fairy tale image of Yugoslav harmony in some quarters.

It should also take time to refute the more damaging
stories that appear in the Croatian press with hard
evidence. It would have a bias towards current
affairs, and highlight favorable developments abroad,
such as Charles Shrader's book on the Muslim-Croat
civil war in BiH and Robin Harris' history of
Dubrovnik. Indeed, such people should be invited to

Such an initiative would have to be done in Croatia;
it can't be done by anyone else. The Croatian Diaspora
does what it can - and can help in this - but only
Croats in Croatia can really change things. There are
enough smart people in Croatia to make it work. It
should certainly not be connected to any political
parties. No-one on the Croatian political scene is
doing the work necessary to undo the political damage
that Croatia has suffered over the past few years. Too
much effort, perhaps. An influential, respected,
independent political journal could go a long way to
ensuring that a pro-Croat attitude - based on hard
facts and evidence - takes hold amongst the Croatian
media and body politic, and indeed the international

"Wishful thinking" is no doubt one reaction to this.
Quite probably, but a debate is needed about how to
realistically change the Croatian situation - a
situation which is currently not tenable at all.

© Brian Gallagher

My 'Viewpoint from London' column appears fortnightly
in the Australian 'Croatian Herald' and thereafter

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