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Italian Security in the MENA and Balkans, Part 5: Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

By Matteo Albertini and Chris Deliso

This, the fifth installment in our present series, assesses the modern relationship between Italy and Croatia, and with Bosnia in diplomatic and security affairs. While the latter countries are Balkan neighbors, their different historic relations with Italy and differing local realities mean that Italy has to take a different approach with both. At the same time, lingering terrorism concerns in the Balkans are keeping Italian security services active in a region where numerous international interests vie for power and influence.

Croatia: Diplomatic Context

Diplomatic relations between Italy and Croatia have always been close, but Italy took a more pacifistic track (as it would before the intervention in Kosovo) in the period immediately before independence declarations and war in the former Yugoslavia. After the initial attempts to save the collapsing Yugoslavia with De Michelis’s 1991 initiatives, Italy followed the German and the European decision to recognize Slovenian and Croatian independences.

As we reported in the first article in this series, in the following years Italy was marginalized in the talks for ending the war and excluded from ground-level Contact Group activities. However, it started to develop its connection with the two newborn Eastern Adriatic countries. A generic support for Slovenia and Croatia spread in the Italian population, also thanks to the good offices of the Catholic Church, especially in the first years of the conflict, before the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina reached its peak.

Occasional matters of diplomatic tensions regarded mostly the legacy of WWII and the reciprocal accusation of war crimes then. It is important to remember that these contentious subjects had previously been almost entirely expunged from the diplomatic discourse during Yugoslav years, in order to maintain good relations with an important commercial and diplomatic partner. Italy thus reemerged at a time soon after the end of the war in Croatia, when a more critical perspective was arising about the Tudjman years.

The cyclical diplomatic crisis between Rome and Zagreb peaked on two occasions: in the year 2000, when Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi decided to bestow the last Italian administration of the town of Zara, during Fascist times, with a Medal of Honor; and in the year 2007, when a dispute broke out between Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and his Croatian counterpart Stipe Mesic, caused by some harsh comments made by the Italian president during the commemoration for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Italians in Istria and Dalmatia after WWII.

Bilateral relations improved in the following years. The Josipovic presidency opened a new era of neighborly diplomacy, when Italy constantly supported Croatian accession to the European Union.

Croatian Secret Service Shake-ups and Historic Relations with France

The current director of Croatia’s Security Intelligence Agency (SOA, Sigurnosno obavještajna agencija) is Danijel Markic, born in France, a former member of French Foreign Legion and a fighter in the Croatian special forces during the war in 1991-1995. Markic was nominated on 29 March 2016 by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitanovic and Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic. This appointment was partly a nod to Croatian nationalism, but it might also restore some old alliances that will put Italy and its closest partners on a new footing in Zagreb.

Unlike predecessor Dragan Lozančić, who was well connected in American high circles spheres (and who holds a PhD from New York University), Markic has historic military and intelligence ties at the highest levels with France, and could exploit his own relations with French intelligence. This adds an interesting new element to the general Balkan intelligence mix, since the French have largely been staying on the sidelines in recent years.

As reported by Italian magazine LookOutNews, Markic is in close contact with the retired French general Philippe Rondot, former chief of French intelligence (DGSE, Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure). Rondot, who is now 80 years old, is perhaps most famous for his role in the 1994 capture of terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (‘Carlos the Jackal’) in Sudan.

Rondot’s connections with the Croatian military and security structures during and after the war of the 1990s were revealed when he became collateral damage in a reputational dispute between rival heavyweights on the French political scene. In 2009, Britain’s Telegraph reported that it had taken investigators “two years to decipher” several handwritten notebooks that police had seized in a raid on the general’s home. “His diaries, written by hand in small writing across the square lined paper, have thrown an embarrassing light on the machinations of France’s secret services and raised concern that spymasters are operating outside of the law,” the newspaper reported.

“They will be produced as evidence in the forthcoming Clearstream trial in which the former prime minister Dominique de Villepin will be accused, along with three others, of complicity in an attempt to smear the reputation of his political rival, Nicholas Sarkozy, by means of a fake list of off-shore bank accounts,” the newspaper added.

The British and French media put most attention on this internal aspect of the case, as well as on Rondot’s propositions for targeted assassinations and relocation of senior members of Saddam Hussein’s government after 9/11, in case they might be ‘useful.’ But what is most relevant for our present study is an additional detail reaffirmed in the Rondot diaries: the role of French intelligence in Croatia, due partly to French Foreign Legion ties, and what this could mean for future intelligence activities on Balkan soil and beyond.

The diaries “appear to detail how French intelligence services protected Ante Gotovina, a Croat general who had served in the French Foreign Legion and was wanted by the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia for alleged war crimes,” stated the same Telegraph article. Rondot’s notes “claim that a French secret service officer was with Croat soldiers when they carried out the ‘Oluja’ [Operation Storm] offensive, in which Croat forces ethnically cleansed around 200,000 Serbs from part of the Krajina region, killing at least 150 people. Gen Rondot noted: ‘General Ante Gotovina told me he would never reveal the links that existed, during the time of the war (in former Yugoslavia) between him and us,’” the British newspaper reported.

This connection is significant because, while the cumulative actions behind Gotovina’s 2005 capture on Tenerife remain opaque, Britain had been most vocal in opposing Croatian EU membership until he was caught. (Gotovina was found guilty of war crimes by the Hague, but finally acquitted on appeal, in November 2012).

The chronic antagonisms that emerged between and within partner and rival intelligence services in the post-war hunt for alleged war criminals like Gotovina took up considerable energy and time. It also caused network destruction and complicated infighting in various services.

The question now will be whether, with the appointment of war veteran Markic, the old ties will be restored, and if so what could come of it. Italy, as traditionally a close of ally of Britain with extremely effective intelligence ties in Croatia could provide a useful check on French influence.

Another Aspect of Italian-Croatian Intelligence Issues: Wikileaks and the Hacking Team Case

From the Italian point of view, what is more interesting is a controversial episode involving attempted business dealings between SOA and an Italian firm. During Lozancic’s tenure, SOA sought to acquire special hacking software from Hacking Team (this Milanese firm was discussed in the first part of this series, in regard to the Regeni case in Egypt). But Croatia was far from the only country affected when Wikileaks released one million Hacking Team emails, in July 2015.

According to Wikileaks, the emails revealed “the inner workings of the controversial global surveillance industry.” For Croatian media, however, domestic revelations proved most exciting: local media reported that the hacked emails compromised national security.

The alleged damage included revelations like budget problems, inter-agency rivalries over location of procured equipment, and even the names of intermediary companies, SOA employees and interior ministry officials in communication with the Italian company. According to an 8 February 2016 article in Croatian newspaper Jutarnij List, the hacked emails cumulatively revealed that “foreign companies easily obtain information about the functioning and problems of the Croatian intelligen0ce apparatus.”

SOA fired back the next day, denying all of these claims in a statement carried by the Croatian security blog Obris.org. While it confirmed that it had been in communication with Hacking Team since 2011, and operated legally through a Croatian intermediary company, SOA denied that any of the security breaches illustrated by the newspaper report had occurred. SOA added that Croatian citizens should maintain trust in the professional workings of the agency.

As with the Regeni case in Egypt, it remains unclear to what extent the embarrassing leaks have damaged or compromised links between SOA and Italy’s AISE, but it is reasonable to expect that the case was as much a headache for the latter as for the former. With the change at the top of Croatian intelligence services and the Italian government’s orientation towards Hacking Team and other Italian cyber-exporters, we should expect some decisions in the near future.

Regardless of this specific case, it will be interesting to see if the Croatian intelligence leadership change influences Italian-Croatian relations. It is possible that the strategy will change accordingly with the change of presidency. Markic’s appointment caused a political crisis for the Oreskovic government when it became clear that the new president, Grabar-Kitarović, had no trust in Lozancic.

Italian Diplomatic Structure and Recent Activity

On 12 May 2016, Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was in Dubrovnik to attend the ministerial meeting on the Ionian and Adriatic Initiative (IAI)/EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR).

As reported in the previous articles of this series and in previous Balkanalysis.com publications, this initiative represents one of the pivotal strategies to reaffirm Italian diplomatic leverage in Southeast Europe. The EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) – which was launched on 18 November 2014 under the Italian Presidency of the European Council and spurred by the political impetus of Italy – aims at rationalizing resources and sectoral policies by focusing on four common “Pillars”: fishing and the ‘blue economy,’ interconnectivity of infrastructures and electricity, the environment, tourism and culture.

The partners in EUSAIR, in addition to the EU Commission, include eight countries. Four of them are EU member states (Italy, Slovenia, Greece and Croatia) and four are non-EU countries (Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro).

The IAI/EUSAIR Ministerial Meeting held in Dubrovnik was thus a strategic direction-setting opportunity for the EU Commission and the partner countries. The meeting was followed by the EUSAIR Forum, which will present the strategy to the public and provide an opportunity to open a debate with the region’s representatives of civil society and opinion makers.

The Italian MFA announced on this that “Minister Gentiloni’s diplomatic mission falls within the scope of Italy’s staunch and constant action to reaffirm its role as a key partner of the Balkan Countries, also in the prospect of the Italian Presidency of the Berlin Process [the summit will be held in Italy in 2017]; an assertive role that Italy is playing by leveraging all the regional cooperation instruments (EUSAIR, IAI, Trilateral meetings with Serbia and Albania, Central European Initiative – CEI).”

Italy’s historical cultural, religious and political links are reflected in a robust diplomatic presence, which also helps conceal one of its largest regional foreign intelligence outposts.

As we noted in the second part of this series, in addition to its Zagreb embassy, Italy has a cultural center and trade commission in the capital, and consulates in Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Bule, Pulja and Split. The current ambassador, Adriano Chiodini Cianfarani, was previously ambassador to Pakistan and has held numerous high-level positions both in the Rome MFA and abroad, in 2011 having been in charge of the Turkey-Cyprus portfolio.

In a 27 July 2016 interview with Croatia’s Nacional, Ambassador Cianfarani specified the above-mentioned Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and EUSAIR in regards to bilateral cooperation. According to the ambassador, both countries “are fully committed to further improve our relations, which are good not only at the political level, but also in all other areas, especially in the economic field, since Italy is among the first partner of Croatia.”

When asked about Croatian politics, the ambassador replied that a “short-term political crisis” should not be “a key influence” on the economy. “It should be noted that there are decisions that government must bring, therefore political stability is important, but in the meantime, life goes on and everyone involved in production and various services simply must work,” the ambassador said. “It is a sign of maturity of a country. In any case, after the next election, we want Croatia stable government.”

The Italian diplomat’s interview also revealed a perceptibly different approach to the political crisis in Croatia than, for example, to Macedonia’s (which is recounted in the third part of this series). Whether or not this is due to Italy’s special relationship with Croatia, the latter’s EU status, or other reasons, Italian diplomacy in Zagreb has been generally softer and less demanding.

Diplomatic Structure of Italy in Bosnia-Hercegovina

In Bosnia, Italy lacks the same depth of historical and cultural overlap as it does with Croatia. Also, Bosnia’s poor economy and complicated political and bureaucratic structure make it a ‘special case’ in the Balkans. (Readers interested in the views of several generations of Bosnians will enjoy Balkanalysis.com author Lana Pasic’s ebook, 20 Years after Dayton).

Italy’s Sarajevo embassy has a fairly healthy staff of 16, according to the Bosnian MFA (though three members are based in either Serbia or Croatia). It should also be noted that, as is the case with Albania, a number of countries run their diplomatic relations with Sarajevo out of embassies in Rome, which cumulatively is advantageous for Italian intelligence and counter-intelligence operations.

Unlike his counterpart in Zagreb, who arrived from Pakistan near the end of 2015, Italian Ambassador Ruggero Corrias has been in Bosnia since 2013. He is a former Air Force officer, with diplomatic experience particularly in the US and South America, and is in frequent contact with Bosnian leaders to find ways for improving bilateral ties and promoting Bosnia’s EU path.

Italian Diplomacy’s Focus on Economic Development

However, much remains to be done. While affirming that the situation in Kosovo “is improving,” one American diplomat in Italy stated for Balkanalysis.com that “the real quagmire in the Balkans is Bosnia. The situation has not changed in years and I do not have much faith in future changes.”

Since political and social progress is perceived as depending on economic growth, Italian diplomatic efforts are focusing on economic development programs. Italian diplomatic support seeks, for example, to help Bosnia-Herzegovina get a new credit program from the IMF. But the road to achieve such goals is long and hard as it relies on the reform of public administration, banking system reform, and a major privatization plan.

On 23 February 2016, Ambassador Corrias thus met with the director of the Bosnian Central Bank, Senad Softic, and affirmed Italy’s commitment to the growth of Bosnia’s economy. “Italy – which holds more than 30% of the bank market through Unicredit Group and Intesa San Paolo – has a great interest in supporting the reform process and backing Bosnia’s European future, after last week’s request of adhesion,” he stated.

These subjects were at the center of the meeting, after which both underlined that “despite a positive GDP trend and monetary stability, endemic unemployment and foreign debt growth clearly show the fragility of the Bosnian socio-economic system.”

Italy is the second-largest commercial partner of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a total trade exchange of more than 1.5 billion euros annually, and more than 70 companies working in the country. Italy thus has a major interest in boosting Bosnia’s European accession procedures and thus exploit its dominant position. This (and other) data was reported in the latest research published by the Ministry for Economic Development, and is available here.

The Italian Military Presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina, still a quasi-protectorate, hosts the second-biggest Italian military deployment. The Italian military operates inside the operation EUFOR Althea (which took the place of NATO’s SFOR) with 900 servicemen. In 2010 the United Nations enlarged its functions: aside from the original mission of maintaining security in the country, EUFOR Althea is also reinforcing and training the Bosnian Armed Forces. Italy has also participated, since 2003, in the European Union police mission (EUPM), which contributes to the creation of a multiethnic and professional police service in Bosnia.

All these missions have been recently refinanced by the Italian government for the year 2016 in the Financial Law of November 2015.

Terrorist Threats, Migration and Security Risks: the AISE 2015 Annual Report

Italian intelligence concerns about terrorism and Bosnia are expressed in the last report published by AISE about its actions during 2015. The report clearly underlines that the primary threat to Italian security is international terrorism and the ramifications of the Islamic State in Northern Africa and Europe.

Italy is now more “exposed” to terrorist attacks than ever, as the events in France and Belgium clearly showed in the last year. It does not surprise that 47% of all reports requested of AISE by Italian state institutions and police in 2015 concerned international terrorism. Also, according to the report, some 79% of these country reports were about Middle Eastern or Northern Africa countries.

Interestingly enough, and despite the heavy press coverage regarding the possible jihadist threat from the Balkans, these countries represent altogether only 3% of the total request for country reports. This low number underlines one of the introductory remarks reported in the first chapters of the present series: Italy considers terrorist threats coming from the Balkans and North Africa more a matter of security and investigation, to be conducted by police forces rather than by AISE.

Thus the Italian intelligence activities in these countries are performed, in cases where they are performed, mostly in support of police actions, even if this is not the primary goal of intelligence activities in the classic sense. But terrorism has changed in recent years too, acquiring some of the peculiarities of organized crime, and frequently coordinating its operation through online platforms and communications systems. This phenomenon thus requires tools of investigation carried out mainly through intelligence services.

During 2015, the AISE report also reveals, there were also repeated warnings about the possibility of terrorist infiltration among the migrants following the route through the Balkans, especially in countries like Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Such countries have also sent foreign fighters in Syria and been home to cells of radical Islamist groups.

As the AISE 2015 report continues, “the risk of terrorist infiltration in migratory flows […] is more concrete on the Balkan trajectory, especially in relation with an informative framework which affirms: security vulnerability due to the dimensions of the refugees’ flux from the Syrian-Iraqi battlefront; the centrality of the region as primary route for foreign fighters going to and coming back from the Middle East; the confirmed numbers of more than 900 volunteers enrolled by the Islamic State, and the presence on the ground of strengthened local extremist groups, capable of radicalizing migrants.”

Police Cooperation between Bosnia and Italy

Meanwhile, police cooperation continues: as Balkanalysis.com has reported in recent years, many operations conducted jointly by Italian and Bosnian officials have uncovered parts of the jihadist webs between the two countries. The most important arrest was that, in 2014, of Bilal Bosnic, accused of being a wandering recruiter for the Islamic State, and charged with proselytism amongst the Muslim communities in Northern Italy. He was arrested with 16 others in September 2014, and later sentenced to seven years in jail for recruitment.

Italy and Bosnia both represent important hubs for foreign fighters. One of the latest reports on the subject, from early August 2016, concerns a young Pakistan national, Farook Aftab- who incidentally was also captain of Italy’s under-19 national cricket team (a detail which underlines that global jihadism can recruit also well-settled citizens of a country, as with the perpetrators of the Paris and Brussels attacks). According to Italian website lettera43, Aftab was expelled from Italy on terrorism charges, after police learned of his allegedly plan to move in Bosnia to train to join Islamic State.

Conclusions

Croatia and Bosnia are neighboring countries, but obviously at different stages of development and with different defining features. For Italy, it could be said that Croatia is ‘easier’ to deal with, but then again, the rewards – and potential damage – as the Wikileaks case showed – are proportionately higher. The presence of the Catholic Church in both countries is also a force multiplier for Italian interests, as is the traditional role where Italy has felt comfortable- that of providing cultural soft power.

Thus, the news this June that Italy is providing equipment and expertise for the Sarajevo National Museum’s new center for cultural heritage restoration might be more significant than it first appears. The simple fact that Italy is offering this – as opposed to Muslim countries that have long been active, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran – may be seen as a sign to Bosnians that their country has not been completely forgotten by Europe. As Balkanalysis.com originally reported in January 2012, this and other cultural landmarks had been closed due to internal bickering and a lack of budget. The current Italian project thus has an unstated but tangible value on not only the cultural but also political and socio-religious levels.

Of course, such ventures aside, Italy will be most preoccupied with commercial relations in both Croatia and Bosnia, as well as monitoring political stability and risk – from elections to possible secessionist trends – and may try to increase its intelligence activity for both internal use and allied use. Intelligence leadership changes may indicate a return to old friendships- time will tell.

Developments in the Croatian Catholic Church under Pope Francis

Balkanalysis.com Editor’s note: the following article, which documents structural developments in the post-conflict Catholic Church in Croatia, compliments other 2014 pieces concerning Pope Francis’ visit to Albania, and his more recent trip to Turkey.

 

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 By Lana Pasic

Official relations between the Republic of Croatia and Holy Sea were established in January 1992, when the Catholic Church recognized Croatia’s independence. This decision of Pope John Paul II, one of the first such recognitions, was followed by a flurry of relations from European states. A year later, the Dioceses and Croatian Bishop Conference (HBK) were instituted. All of this activity was somewhat controversial at the time, considering the violent nature of Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia, and the ultra-nationalist HDZ government of the time, and the Church’s checkered history during the WWII period, when Croatia’s fascist Ustase regime ruled.

This historical context has some significance still; as shall be seen, some of the policies Pope Francis is taking now seem to be in order to diminish the influence of Church figures that are or were close to the right-wing HDZ governments that dominated the political scene during the 1990s conflict period.

The Croatian Church: Organization and Policy Shifts

The Croatian Bishop’s Conference BK) was first led by Archbishop Josip Bozanic, who had close ties with the then-ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). In 2007 Marin Srakic was appointed to replace him at the post.

Since establishing relations with Croatia, the Catholic Church has had three heads- Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church when Croatia achieved independence. He visited it three times- in 1994, 1998 and in 2003, and gave his support to its international standing and European path. Neoconservatives within then the church in Croatia very much supported Pope Benedict XVI. Both of them were well liked in the country, and there are even Croatian Facebook fan pages for the two Popes.

In recent years, however, there has been a move by the Catholic Church in Croatia to distance itself from the political regime. Since the appointment of Pope Francis, this depoliticization has also been supported by Holy See’s representatives in Zagreb. It is likely that this new policy, on the national level, has something to do with Pope Francis’ stated goal of developing ecumenical relations worldwide with other Christian churches. Thus a step back from Croatian nationalism in religion may also help the Vatican to improve relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Restructuring of the Catholic Church in Croatia

In 2008, dioceses in Croatia were restructured; the former Diocese of Djakovo, Bosnia et Srijem was split into two, with Djakovo gaining a status of Archdiocese.

The Diocese of Djakovo and Srijem previously were joined in 1773, and the separation now follows the border of the Republic of Croatia.

Croatian media and citizens at the time were curious as to why the restructuring was suddenly occurring, and what it might mean. However, the representatives of the Holy See in Belgrade announced that there was no political reason behind the split. The Catholic Church in Croatia has stated that the separation is for practical reasons only, with the purpose of strengthening the institution. They have also emphasized that the administrative borders of the Diocese of Srem should now be upheld.

Croatian Catholic Church Officials

This diocese separation took place when Marin Srakic, at the time Bishop of Djakovo (1997-2008), was appointed as the President of the Croatian Bishop Conference. He became the Archbishop of Djakovo, a position which he held until 2013, when he retired.

Srakic was controversial for his criticism of the government. He had a significant role in moving the Church away from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and diminished the influence of Cardinal Bozanic, a former head of the HBK. He was the first Croatian Archbishop to visit Jasenovac, a WWII concentration camp where hundreds of thousands of Srebs were killed, and he also criticised the policies of the Ustase’s Nazi-linked Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during WWII. However, at the same time he also supported Branimir Glavas, a Croat general and a convicted war criminal.

Srakic’s successor, Đuro Hranić, was the Auxiliary Bishop for the area and was also the President of the Council for Religious Education. So far, it seems that he is continuing Srakic’s ideas, policies and relations with the state.

Conclusions: A Turn from Nationalism in Religion

The restructuring of the Catholic Church in Croatia has defined the territorial borders of the dioceses within the state, and has strengthened the institution; not only that, it also seems to have increased the influence of the Djakovo Diocese.

A gradual separation of the Church from the state seems to be motivated by both, internal forces within Croatia and also others within the Holy See itself. At the beginning of this year, an announcement was made that the Pope will retire four right-wing bishops in Croatia, all of which are nearing the age of 75- a normal time for retirement. But Pope Francis, it is believed, will not be replacing these bishops with similarly nationalistic clerics. It thus seems that the Catholic Church in Croatia is now also moving towards more sensible policies and the adoption of Pope Francis’ rhetoric regarding a moderate and depoliticized Church.

This reflects the changing of not only personalities, but national and ecclesiastical challenges. Croatia, now an EU and NATO member, is far from the days of war, when religious nationalism was marshalled against a perceived existential threat. Nowadays, the threats are different. For while Croatia is still among Europe’s most devout Catholic countries, mass attendance is falling, and the Church would like to address this issue as well as poverty, drug abuse, secularization and youth outreach.

The focus on these challenges, which is clearly visible in an examination of statements and programs from the Church and related NGOs and charities, would seem to indicate that the Vatican now regards Croatia as a country in ‘developed Europe,’ where the Church has similar problems, and no longer in the ‘developing Balkans.’

 

Lingering Security Concerns in Kosovo, as Imam Attacked by Radical Islamists

By Christopher Deliso

Despite several recent reports suggesting that radical Islam in Kosovo no longer represents a significant security threat, the beating of a prominent Albanian imam by Drenica-area Wahhabi Muslims indicates that the challenge within the Muslim community – the real target of the foreign-funded extremists – persists. The disproportional yet unexplained influence of these extremists in the fledgling state’s judicial and law enforcement institutions, cited by Islamic Community officials themselves, represents a challenge for the EU’s nascent law-and-order mission, EULEX.

The Latest Incident

On 12 January, Radio-Television Kosova (RTK) reported that Mullah Osman Musliu, chairman of the Islamic Community in Drenas in central Kosovo had been attacked and beaten by nine Wahhabi extremists. These men were arrested, though four were soon released. The other five remain in police custody.

The imam was reportedly a major funder of the former Kosovo Liberation Army that fought Yugoslav security forces throughout the late 1990s. The area involved, and indeed the whole Drenica region, was a hotbed for ethnic Albanian nationalism during the war. Indeed, considering that extremist impulses anywhere can be redirected according to the goal at hand, it is not surprising that the major foreign Muslim donors and lending institutions sought to strengthen their position here from the beginning.

According to a transcript, the incident occurred when Musliu visited a mosque in the village of Zabel in order to elect a new local imam. Across the Balkans, religious-based violence has often centered on issue of candidates for such positions, with the Wahhabis often disagreeing, violently so, with the candidate supported by the mainstream Islamic community. Along with ideology, control over Islamic Community funds and properties is often the main reason for dispute.

The attack on Musliu represented the second time in recent months in which Islamic Community members were attacked by extremists, who take their inspiration, and funding, from the austere Wahhabi sect of Islam, official state religion of Saudi Arabia. This and other Muslim states were leading donors to post-war Kosovo, building hundreds of mosques in the process, though their contributions are said to have dried up considerably due to much of the population’s disinterest in Islamic activities. Following Kosovo’s independence declaration in February of 2008, the reticence of many Muslim states to recognize this status led to widespread speculation that an element of revenge was justly playing out.

Calling the attack against him “an attack against the institution,” Musliu added: “this was not an accident. This was well-organized. Everyone involved in that attack passed at least by two mosques to come and pray in the mosque I was in,” according to the RTK transcript. Identifying his attackers as known extremists from the villages of Gllobar, Krajsmirovc, Nekoc, Preteshtica, and Llapushnik, the imam summed it up thus: “all the bearded-men of Drenica were involved in this attack.” Also condemning the attack was Kosovo’s Islamic Community representative, Resul Rexhepi.

A Question of Internal Influence?

A very interesting detail that emerged from this event was Musliu’s comment that authorities should react- “if they are not scared, because there is no security for our judges and police,” reported RTK. Rexhepi echoed this concern by stating that he wanted “to believe in the justice of our authorities.”

Considering that the number of radical Islamists among Kosovo’s Albanian population is relatively small, and that their appeal has been successfully repelled by secular consumerism and increasingly, Catholic conversion, the question of intimidation and other hostile tactics being exerted on judiciary and law enforcement officials in Kosovo becomes more acute. If the forces of radical Islam are indeed weak, then what could possibly inspire fear among such officials?

In the author’s past interviews with numerous American and European security professionals in Kosovo, the issue of intimidation of local authorities and the locals in general has been cited. Most significant, however, was a report that mid- to upper-level judicial appointments in certain regions of Kosovo, as well as other civil sector positions, were being given to fundamentalist sympathizers. If such practices are continuing, the European Union may encounter friction in the operations of its new judicial oversight security body, EULEX.

The 1,900-strong law-and-order component of the EU civilian mission replacing the long-running UN mission in Kosovo, EULEX will provide foreign judges to hear cases together with local judges, ideally, enhancing the latter’s professionalism and local validity, while taking some of the pressure off of them in controversial cases.

According to a senior representative, EULEX also contains a 35-person counterterrorism unit, of which two or three will be Americans. (A few American judges are also slated to be in the mix there, though EULEX primarily draws on nationals of EU countries, plus Croatia, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway).

A more concentrated and capable security unit will indeed be a welcome improvement on the UNMIK’s often shoddy efforts. Nevertheless, the disorganized and competitive nature of intelligence-gathering between in Kosovo will remain, with important countries continuing to run their own operations from ever-larger and more sophisticated diplomatic headquarters, and NATO forces continuing to operate their own.

Owing to its all-pervasive former role, UNMIK was frequently scapegoated by locals of different ethnicities in Kosovo. However, the EU claims that its own new venture will be a ‘technical’ mission only, thus giving local authorities more responsibilities and control. This also means that pressure on law enforcement and the judiciary from ‘pressure groups’ such as Islamic radicals and organized crime syndicates will increasingly target local institutions, rather than foreign ones, though this pressure may well be exerted subtly, and in ways invisible to the casual outside observer.

To keep abreast of the situation, the EULEX will thus depend largely on the relative capabilities and testimony of its own on-site local judicial (and other) advisors. Their objectivity and the character of local pressures they endure will play important roles in the quality and quantity of information they receive. As with all other issues, that of fundamentalist Islam will be influenced by this test.

Foreign Support Continues

On December 30, 2008, Croatia’s Javno reported that a Kosovo Helsinki Committee study recently came to the “shocking revelation” that local Wahhabi leaders have been receiving “millions of euros” from Austria and other European countries, and that these funds are being used to pay Kosovo Muslims around 200 euros monthly to adopt the mores of Wahhabism. Of course, this is neither shocking, nor much of a revelation, considering that it has been standard procedure for foreign Islamic funders ever since NATO dislodged Yugoslav governance of the province in 1999.

The central role of Austria as a hub for Wahhabism in Europe dates back to the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s, when it was the base for the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a major al Qaeda funding conduit for the Bosnian mujahedin. During the war, it laundered approximately $2.5 billion for the Bosnian Muslim government of President Alija Izetbegovic.

The agency had been opened in Vienna in February 1987, by a Sudanese doctor and jihad apologist, Fatih al-Hasanayn. As former NSA analyst John R. Schindler wrote in his engrossing study Unholy Terror, “no person can claim greater responsibility for the achievements of the Bosnian jihad [than al-Hasanayn], who handled the Muslim money that was the lifeblood of Sarajevo’s war effort.” Calling the Austrian capital a “spy’s paradise,” Schindler notes that the state police there “had a well-deserved reputation as a security service that looked the other way, particularly if the questionable activities were aimed outside Austria.”

After the Bosnian war, and especially after September 11, 2001, much effort was made by Western governments to dislodge radical Islamic networks and agencies such as the TWRA in Europe’s capitals. However, the foundations such groups established have survived in immigrant communities centered around radical mosques in places like Vienna and Graz, as well as cities in Germany and northern Italy, as Balkanalysis.com has reported.

Although much reduced in financial strength and overall reach, these groups continue to operate in some capacity and tend to be the ones with most links to the Balkans, chiefly through the Bosnian, Albanian and small Macedonian Muslim diaspora communities. Two intelligence documents from Western European security services, recently reviewed by Balkanalysis.com, harmonize with open-source information indicating the continued importance of Austria as the main intermediary for disseminating funds and propaganda from foreign Wahhabi sponsors to the Balkans.

Fluid Alliances?

In the Croatian article, one Kosovar imam in particular is cited as responsible for the growth of radical Islam- Shefqet Krasniqi, “the only [imam] who can attract more than ten thousand believers to his prayers.” The article provides an image of this Albanian preacher at one of his gatherings). Krasniqi denies being a radical, and accuses Kosovar leaders of having ‘strayed from their faith.’

As Balkanalysis.com reported in October 2008, the Vatican’s increasing (if subtle) attempts to convert as many Albanians as possible ‘back’ to Catholicism are bound to inspire fierce opposition from the most committed among Kosovo’s Islamists. Thus, even if the total number of the latter is relatively few, their future reactions may become more extreme as Catholic efforts become more aggressive.

Nevertheless, Catholicism as a social mobility option has its rivals. And, for Kosovars, it seems almost as if a bidding war for their loyalties is on. In the Croatian report, Besqim Hisari, head of the Kosovo Helsinki Committee is quoted as saying that ‘you can only imagine how easy it is to get people to be recruited. The Wahhabists perfidiously exploited the difficult situation in Kosovo. And once they get the taste of the money, all these people will, without doubt, identify themselves with Wahhabism.’

This frank admission of pecuniary motive contrasts with depictions of Kosovars given in articles such as a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed touting Kosovo as a “model of tolerance.” According to pieces such as this one, the Kosovars are not dangerous Muslims, because they are hardly Muslim at all, and undyingly pro-American (plus, in a creative new addition to the national brand, they are apparently great admirers of Israel as well).

Nevertheless, as is the case elsewhere in the Balkans, the people of Kosovo are motivated primarily by perceived self-interest. Were America to change its foreign policy on Kosovo, such a change could not fail to register in various ways among large segments of the population.

There are instructive examples. Take Germany, which has gone to great lengths to earn its highly positive perception amongst Kosovo Albanians. Nevertheless, the arrest of three alleged BND officials at a bombing site in Pristina in November 2008 spread suspicion and doubts amidst a rumor-prone populace. The event quickly died down, but if misused by the (politically controlled) local media, could have resulted in demonstrations or worse. (The power of sensationalist media to marshal street mobs was vividly attested during the March 2004 riots, which targeted Serbs across the province).

Of course, change we can believe in is not to be expected from the incoming Obama administration, as the United States has made great political, military and financial investment in keeping Kosovars on its side. Both parties realize this, and have adapted their behavior and ambitions accordingly.

Analysts sometimes forget, even willingly so, that the primary reason for this lavish American attention is not altruism, but rather a security concern: that is, to prevent Kosovo from going down a different path. The attested continuing activity of Islamic extremists in the province represents just one of the potential paths that outside powers are still trying to usher the Kosovars down.

For present policy-making concerns, the Islamists’ relative chance of success is not particularly important. What is important to note is that they do remain a security threat which represents an unneeded distraction for Western nation-building processes, one which will have to be handled by Kosovo’s new EU security mission over the months ahead. The EU’s capability to understand, assess and eliminate this threat, one which was inexcusably allowed to happen by the previous UN administration, will have great ramifications for future Balkan security.

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Croatia’s Judiciary Shortcomings

By Elisabeth Maragoula*

Croatia represents somewhat of the Western Balkans’s beau ideal, advancing without much trouble down the road towards European Union accession. It is by and large meeting the EU’s benchmarks and cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). However, the country still faces its biggest obstacle in reforming the domestic judiciary system, and in so doing assuring that war crimes are prosecuted fairly.

Earlier this month, the Croatian media focused on what could have been presented as a TV drama: “Live from The Hague,’ the epic trial of former top Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac. The three, considered heroes in their home country, are charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the 1995 Operation Storm, which left at least 37 ethnic Serbs dead and forced some 200,000 to flee.

However, while the heroes of the “Homeland War’ have received great media interest in Croatia, much less attention has been paid to the 20 to 30 war crimes trials held annually in local county courts – where Balkan justice is really put to the test.

So far, reforms have been sluggish. “There is slow progress,” says Documenta Director Vesna Terselic, though “there are still outstanding issues.” For example, says Terselic, there remains a need to intensify investigations, analyze the backlog of verdicts and cooperate regionally in the exchange of documentation.

Croatia’s current judiciary system is complex. Unlike Serbia, where a single court hears all the war criminal proceedings, Croatia has 21 county courts which are eligible to hear the trials, she explains. However, only 15 of them are active.

Today, there is more political will to finish these smaller cases than in the 1990’s or even a few years ago, but “courts could do more and there is always a clash [regarding] how much political will there is on intensifying investigations,” Terselic maintains.

Further, several NGOs, the EU and US have all cited a practice of bias against Serbs by the Croatian judiciary. There are still “major concerns,ÔøΩ? says Omer Fisher, researcher at Amnesty International’s (AI) Balkans team. “Despite some steps to investigate and prosecute war crimes against Croatian Serbs, widespread impunity continued for crimes allegedly committed by Croatian army and police officers,” AI’s 2007 Report said.

The European Commission reiterated this message in its 2007 Progress Report on Croatia. “A common standard of criminal accountability is not being applied irrespective of ethnicity. There remains widespread impunity for war crimes committed against ethnic Serbs.”

Since 1991, “more than 98 percent of the charges involved persons associated with Yugoslav Army or Serb paramilitaries, while less than two percent involved members of the Croatian armed forces,” the US Department of State cited a report by the chief state prosecutor as indicating in its 2007 Human Rights Report on Croatia. The US pointed out problems such as a case backlog, intimidation of witnesses and in-absentia group trials.

In its 2007 Report (.PDF), the Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights noted that there has been little change from past policies. “The fact that the majority of war crime trials was conducted in absence of accused persons points to the policy which was used… in the early nineties.”

Ivo Josipovic, International Criminal Law Professor at Zagreb University, believes the county courts can perform fair trials, but admitted that improvements could be made. Over the “last several years, the situation is better,” he says, though it is “not always good enough.” When the accused is not present, “the picture of what happens is not good enough.”

Establishing the rule of law is a vital step on the path to joining the EU. Croatian authorities have shown goodwill in cooperating with the Hague, for example when they assisted in the capture of Gotovina in the Canary Islands in 2005; and in winning the trust of the ICTY, which in the same year transferred to the county courts the case of former Croatian generals Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac, charged in the 1993 Medak Pocket operation.

“What we are doing is not only in order to meet EU membership criteria, but for our own sake as well. If judicial reform is something worthy in itself, and it is, then we have to implement it for our sake,” Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader vowed earlier this month.

Croatia is slated to wrap up negotiations with the EU in 2009, and join in 2010. There has been progress in Croatia’s ability to prosecute war crimes on its own territory, but more attention needs to be paid to the system’s shortcomings, so that an impartial and just system is in place before then.

……………………………..

*Elisabeth Maragoula is the EU Affairs editor for New Europe newspaper in Athens, Greece. She has worked for Associated Press Television News and the Los Angeles Times in Rome, and speaks Italian and Greek. Elisabeth holds an MA in International Relations from Schiller International University in Paris, and a BA in Economics from UCLA in her native state of California. Her research and articles focus on a range of Balkan issues.

Slovenia Pledges Support for Croatia’s EU Bid, as Maritime Dispute Continues

The only former Yugoslav republic to have made it into the EU thus far, Slovenia, also became honorary president of the 27-nation bloc on January 1. The six-month rotating presidency offers a good opportunity for countries, especially the smaller ones, to make their voices heard and to gain prominence in the area of foreign affairs. Slovenia, which will be succeeded by perennial European powerhouse France in June, is however overseeing things at a time which most would find exquisitely undesirable: that is, the moment when Kosovo’s Albanian majority are threatening to declare independence from Serbia, and when Greece is threatening to veto Macedonia’s NATO accession hopes at the alliance’s April summit in Bucharest.

Along with trying to navigate these rather weighty and tortuous issues, little Slovenia has longstanding interests closer to home that it would like to see rectified, which have recently resulted in some acrimonious rhetoric between Slovenian and Croatian politicians. However, while the tone of diplomatic communication has been strained over the past few weeks, a more positive note was struck today following a meeting in Munich between Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Jandrokovic and his Slovene counterpart Dimitrij Rupel.

According to Javno.hr on Saturday, the meeting was characterized as having been “very positive and constructive.” The major theme to emerge was Slovenia’s stated support for Croatia’s EU membership. “Slovenia wants Croatia to become a member of the European Union and to remove all obstacles and difficulties as soon as possible,” Rupel attested. For Croatia, which is also looking to join NATO in April, the support of Slovenia will be very helpful towards the realization of its membership hopes in both institutions.

Easier said than done, however. There are major lingering issues between the two neighbors and former Yugoslav sister republics, which include an unresolved sea border dispute, and a controversial Croatian declaration of a protected ecological fishery zone. “Among the several disputes, the unresolved sea border and, in particular, jurisdiction over the Piran Bay, remains the largest outstanding feud,” reports Anes Alic of ISN Security Watch.

“The area in question is less than 20 square kilometers in size. Under a draft agreement in 2001, Slovenia was to receive 80 percent of the Piran Bay. The deal was never ratified, and now Croatia is pressing for 50 percent of the bay,” adds Alic. “The two countries are also locked in disputes over the mutually owned Krsko Nuclear Power Plant, Croatian citizens’ foreign currency deposits in the defunct LB bank and several other border crossings.”

Croatia‘s plan for a restricted fishery zone, something which has raised the ire of Slovene and Italian fishermen, is a point of national pride among Croats and was officially voted in 2003. Croatia has accused its Adriatic neighbors of illegal poaching that depleted fish stocks, and has also pointed out the frequency of maritime accidents, including fuel spills, that it says have negatively impacted the country.

However, the EU and especially Italy and Slovenia are opposed to Zagreb’s unilateral decision. On December 10, 2007, Brussels “reminded” Croatia to respect an agreement it signed in 2004 to not make such a declaration “until a joint solution in the spirit of the EU is found.” Slovenian diplomats stated in December that any intransigence from Zagreb could result in their country blocking EU negotiations with Croatia, especially in the area of “five or six segments that are related to borders,” said Foreign Minister Rupel.

On Saturday, Javno.hr reported that Croatian President Stjepan Mesic believes that the border disagreement should be solved by The Hague International Court of Justice, and that Croatia would accept any decision made by the court. Croatian diplomats are concerned that Slovenia’s temporary power as EU president will give it an extra advantage on the issue in the coming months. “The situation is intensified now that Slovenia presides [over] the European Union, and this is not a good thing,” President Mesic said. However, he added that the disagreement is a “bilateral matter which can be solved.”

On February 7, in an official visit to Zagreb, the chief of the European Parliament’s Foreign Policy Commission, Joan Mircea Pasku, met with Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and affirmed the EP’s offer to assist in resolving the border disputes. Interestingly enough, the Croatian navy’s planned fleet upgrades regarding new patrol boats is apparently motivated by the country’s zeal to monitor any Slovene or Italian incursions into the contested fishery zone- and not by any NATO candidate reforms.

Croatia Builds on Tourism Success with New Ryanair Routes, Increased Visits

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- Croatia, the only former Yugoslav state so far to have made a major industry out of tourism, won another victory with recent announcements of new air routes to Pula on the northwestern coast. This, coupled with demonstrated increases in visits this summer, indicate that the Adriatic state is continuing to inspire the confidence of the European tourism industry.

On August 9, leading European budget airline Ryanair, based in Ireland, announced a Dublin-Pula route among 12 new routes from Dublin. The announcement came two weeks after the company announced a Stansted (London)-Pula route.

The route, which will begin on February 8, 2007, will operate three times a week. Ryanair predicts it can attract over 40,000 passengers during 2007 for the Pula-London route, constituting “a massive boost to tourism” for the region.

Although prices fluctuate constantly, current price inquiries for a Dublin-Pula ticket on the website return base results from 9.99 euros to 49.99 euros. Travelers are advised to check early and often to get the best price, as free or next to free sales are not uncommon from this extraordinary air carrier.

Ryanair, which has memorably mocked the slowness and expense of everyone from the British railways to competing airlines, has moved from strength to strength over the last few years. For the first three months of its financial year (ending June 30) it achieved record net profits of 115.7 million euros. Passenger numbers increased (by 25 percent, to 10.7 million) while revenues jumped a staggering 40 percent, to almost 567 million euros.

However, second quarter earnings are going to be hit by the British “terrorist plot” hysteria beginning August 10, which paralyzed all airlines operating in and out of the country. Outspoken Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary won praise for his principled stance against the British Airports Authority, lambasting its restrictions on carry-on baggage and accusing it of failing to provide enough workers to process passengers in order to fulfill the sudden and strict new security measures handed down by the “panic merchants” in Whitehall- which according to O’Leary are “insane.”

Ryanair and other leading budget airlines might have to deal with up to 10-12 million extra bags a year unless the British government comes to its senses. The company is now threatening to sue in light of its losses after being forced to cancel hundreds of flights. To keep the mood light, the airline is now running a 99-pence-per-ticket “Let’s Beat Terrorism- Keep Britain Flying!” campaign with an animated Churchill on its website.

Given its experience in public relations dating back to lobbying propaganda during the wars of the 1990’s, it’s no surprise that Zagreb learned quickly to draw in tourists. Of course, the thousands of islands that dot the jagged Adriatic coast don’t hurt, either. CNN commercials advertise Croatia as “the Mediterranean as it once was.”

Unlike most of its Balkan neighbors, Croatia keeps detailed statistics of tourist inflows and revenues generated from tourism. The latest numbers from the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), covering July 2006, indicate a 2 percent rise over July 2005 in visitors to the Adriatic coast (a total of 2,505,840 tourists). In a sign that Croatia is successfully expanding the limits of the traditional July-August high season, year-on-year June returns registered a 10 percent increase.

According to the HTZ, “most of the registered foreign tourists arrived from Slovenia followed by Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.” With the entry of Ryanair into the market, however, that is bound to change. The red-hot Adriatic property market too, which has seen wealthy Northern Europeans scarf up villas along the sea for attractive prices (though still much higher than in other Balkan states), is going to help sustain budget air flights, even during the off-season.

Indeed, in discussing the new Stansted-Pula route on July 26, a Ryanair spokeswoman stated that “a large percentage of these [40,000 new] passengers will be high spending British tourists.”

Pula itself is a 3,000-year-old city located on the southeastern end of the Istrian Peninsula and boasts the world’s sixth-largest Roman amphitheater. During the summer, musical, theatrical, dance and other performances are held almost daily. Distinctive architecture includes temples, churches, archways and castles from Roman to Austro-Hungarian times, numerous churches and even an aquarium set in a 118-year-old fortress.

Pula is also located not far from Trieste, Italy to the north (which has long been a part of the Ryanair network) and close to Rijeka, from where begins the long Dalmatian coast famous for its islands and beaches.

For more information on Pula and other destinations in Croatia, see the official websites of Pula and of the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Our Man in Yugoslavia: The Story of a Secret Service Operative

Our Man in Yugoslavia: The Story of a Secret Service Operative

By Sebastian Richie

Routledge (2004), 191 pp., 15 contemporary photos, 3 maps

Reviewed by Christopher Deliso

Our Man in Yugoslavia: The Story of a Secret Service Operative is not only the intriguing and likeable account, for the first time, of the adventures of the first covert British agent in occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War. It was also a labor of love, as the agent happened to be the author’s grandfather.

In the work, military historian Sebastian Richie fleshes out the diaries and reminiscences of this remarkable man, Owen Reed, by consulting other primary sources such as the British National Archives and War Office records. Ritchie also makes use of secondary academic studies and thus contextualizes the daring tales of Reed’s adventure in occupied Croatia and Slovenia within a larger analysis of the significance of the British secret endeavor towards the prosecution of the Allied campaign in the Balkans. Nevertheless, this scholarly view does not detract from the narrative, which moves along at a good pace, telling a story that had never before been told in detail.

The appeal of Our Man in Yugoslavia is thus not limited to military historians, though the book does undoubtedly make a valuable contribution to the literature. It will also appeal to general readers interested in Balkan history, and indeed to anyone who can be captivated by a rousing tale of one ordinary Englishman who found himself literally dropped into a completely new and dangerous world, and somehow survived to tell the story, doing many good deeds in the process.

Beginnings

Considering the prevalence of endnotes and photos, Our Man in Yugoslavia is not actually so lengthy and can easily be read within a day or two. The book is divided into an introduction followed by ten chapters.

The first gives a brief recounting of Reed’s middle-class upbringing near London, his studies in Oxford and his love of theater. In fact, Reed dropped out of the university because of his desire to be a thespian, a vocation that lasted until marriage in 1934, when he found a reliable income with the BBC to be more prudent. He became a radio broadcaster but still kept acting part-time, until war broke out. Reed unhesitantly volunteered for the army. During the 1930’s he had “watched the rise of national socialism in Germany and its subsequent expansion n Europe with a terrible sense of inevitability founded on popular British perceptions of the First World War,” notes the author (p. 7).

However, the RAF refused to accept him because of a previous bout with rheumatic fever. So Reed went back to the BBC, and was later accepted by the army’s Royal Armored Corps (RAC) in October 1940. Training officers noted his strong potential for leadership and interpersonal skills, and in May 1942 was part of a battalion that shipped out to Egypt. On the huge tanker that would take the soldiers the long way around Africa (to avoid the German-controlled Mediterranean), Reed was admitted into the inner circle of officers when he became the ship’s news broadcaster.

The rest of the chapter describes the arrival of the battalion in July, 1942 in Egypt and closes with the account of the disaster that befell the troop in an ill-timed tank battle with the Germans from which Reed luckily escaped. The fighting left Reed with “an overpowering sense of despair and abhorrence” (p. 23) at the folly of war.

Chapter two describes how Reed luckily became ill with hepatitis at a base camp near Alexandria- an event that would change his fate for the rest of the war. He was sent to convalesce in Palestine, never to return to combat.

In Palestine, Reed was again given broadcasting duties and might have, save for a relapse of his illness, been shipped off to Baghdad. Instead, he was made a captain and sent to Cairo, part of the BBC team in spring 1943. However, he found the job dull and longed to take a more active role in the war effort. He would soon get his chance.

Background: British Intelligence and Yugoslavia, 1939-1943

Chapter 3 departs from Reed’s experiences in the Middle East to set the stage for his next deployment, in Yugoslavia. The chapter tells the fascinating story of Allied efforts to collect intelligence in the Middle East and Europe from 1939-1943, and specifies the roles and relative successes of the different British secret services, the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service, later MI6) and ISLD (Inter-Services Liaison Department, or the SIS’ middle Eastern Branch), and the SOE (Special Operations Executive).

The author states that the German occupation hampered the SIS’ activities in Europe: their “activities became largely confined to stations on neutral soil, such as Stockholm, Lisbon and Berne, or to more peripheral capitals like Istanbul and Tangiers… [and] relied heavily on networks established by London-based intelligence services in exile, such as the Czech, Norwegian, Polish, Dutch and French secret services” (p. 41). Plus, in July 1940, SIS Section D (geared towards irregular units in occupied countries) was “lost” when Churchill created a “sabotage and subversion” branch, the SOE (Special Operations Executive).

However, Yugoslavia was for some time a more successfully venture. From the late 1930’s, the SIS had managed to maintain a presence throughout Yugoslavia through a network of consulates and even British Council offices, regarding which the Germans “harbored a profound suspicion.” Indeed, “during 1940 Belgrade and Zagreb became veritable hotbeds of espionage and intrigue” (p. 42). But by April 1941, when the Germans declared war on Yugoslavia, most of the English had had to escape the country.

The ISLD had been formed in Cairo in 1940 to oversee intelligence in the Middle East, but also became important by diverting German attention and by using neutral Turkey as a staging-post for operations. On Sept. 27, 1941, the head of ISLD in Cairo, Cuthbert Bowlby, proposed using Malta as a base for air drops into occupied territory, including the Balkans (p. 46). While the initiative did not get off to a successful start, it would later be through such air drops that Reed entered Yugoslavia along with supplies for the resistance movement.

The second half of this chapter (pp. 47-56) provides a fascinating overview of the evolving British perceptions of the two Yugoslav resistance movements, the Chetniks of Draza Mihailovic and the Partisans of Josip Broz Tito, who after initial cooperation turned on one another in November 1941. While the presence of the exiled Yugoslav royal family in London and British conservatism led much of the elder leadership to support the Chetniks, the younger officials, some with Communist ideological sympathies, urged Britain to aid the Partisans exclusively. The turf war that evolved due to this disagreement would affect Reed’s future clandestine work in Yugoslavia, as the two sides in London squabbled over who to support and how.

While eventually pragmatism would carry the day, with the realization that only Tito’s movement provided for ethnic inclusivity and thus an overarching national resistance movement, in the beginning Churchill and his staff were inclined to support the Chetniks. The chapter provides extraordinary details into how individual officers in the Yugoslavia Section in London developed allegiances or sympathies to one or the other side, and how this affected the volume of intelligence or interpretation of it that was passed on to superiors. Reed, who is described as entirely non-political and good-natured, would be caught in the middle of this struggle for policy control.

The Action Begins

By the end of July 1943, Owe Reed was disappointed with his lethargic existence in Cairo and sought to get a more active role in the fighting. However, he was told that he was “too old’ to be sent back out. Nevertheless his BBC work in the field had allowed him to be introduced to important figures in the British war effort, and one night “he was told to visit a particular address after nine o’clock that evening, to knock three times at the door and to ask for a certain colonel.” Reed recounts:

“It was the full sort of corny film works: a grill in the door slid back revealing bars, and an evil oriental face appeared and I identified myself, and heavy padlocks were undone and the door creaked open, and inside was a very agreeable man in a colonel’s sort of army uniform” (p. 63).

The man was ISLD director Cuthbert Bowlby, and Reed was told nothing about his future job, except that “he would have no identity” and would have to “hand himself over” to the organization “in a quite unqualified way.” Faced with such alluring prospects, Reed accepted and was sent again to Palestine, where he was trained in radio signals work, survival in hostile terrain and the Serbo-Croat language. He received further training in Egypt, and was able to write that “I am the repository of monstrous stores of secret information which makes me rather dizzy to think of but is enormously interesting” (p. 66). On October 12, 1943 Reed, a colleague and a Canadian-Yugoslav interpreter were flown from the North African coast, and dropped over partisan headquarters near Otocac in Croatia- to what were known as the Judge and Fungus Missions’ (p. 67).

However, the party was unexpected by both the few British already on the ground and, more significantly, by the Partisans. Tito had not received a request from the ISLD to insert more staff, and so the arrival of Reed and Co. violated procedure. It was a tense few weeks before the Partisans gave the official approval, and Reed and his small staff began to send out radio signals to the ISLD reporting both on German military plans and the situation on the ground with the Partisans.

By January 1944, Reed had been promoted to major and was cooperating well with the Partisans, who appreciated his efforts to speak their language and of course the airdrops of British aid that he coordinated. It was an exhausting job, and made more difficult by the departure of his translator to the Slovenian front and by the evacuation of an important colleague. A step-up in German attacks in April 1944 also made Reed’s job more harrowing, and tried — with limited success — to get reinforcements and extra supplies sent, in order to keep the mission itself going. Because of the fighting he was kept on the move, living in much less predictable circumstances than he had with the BBC in quiet Cairo.

In his own words, Reed used the Partisan resistance as a “pair of binoculars’, drawing on their human resources to collect large amounts of raw data on everything from German troop movements to political developments and the living conditions of neighboring areas. The author underscores that this was a difficult job because of the locals’ tendency to either present too rosy a picture of events, or else to leave out vital pieces of information. It was an unenviable role; Reed found himself caught between his Partisan supervisors, who of course had their own agenda and their own spin on things, and his paymasters in London and Cairo, who were themselves factionalized and sought to use or manipulate the intelligence to advance their own causes. However, on more than one occasion Reed received complements for his information, which proved useful to the British war effort in southeast Europe.

The chapter also contains the account of Tito’s dramatic escape to the island of Vis, before the Allies turned the tied elsewhere in Europe, and by June 1944 the German retreat from Croatia had begun. At about the same, Reed was also persistently pleading with Allied air forces in Italy to evacuate wounded Partisan soldiers and, later, war orphans. Despite some delays owing to poor weather, Reed’s persistence eventually bore fruit and doubtless many lives were saved because of him (pp. 94-96).

Chapter six of the book goes over the same time period once again, but outlines instead the exploits of other soldiers and remarkable, larger-than-life figures also working at the time in Croatia and Slovenia. It is in the final three chapters of the book, however, that the most harrowing developments occur. Reed was recalled at the end of June 1944 to report directly to his superiors regarding a dangerous and likely possibility: that a triumphant Partisan army would lay claim to Trieste. This was strongly opposed by the Allies who, now having Italy on their side, did not want to do anything to compromise their position- especially anything that might enlarge the western territory of what looked to be a Soviet client state in the making.

Towards the Drama of Trieste

It was into this new drama that Owen Reed arrived once more, by way of an airdrop into Istria on Sept. 9, 1944. Tito and Churchill had met a month earlier, but failed to come to an agreement on the disputed territory. The British wanted a joint Anglo-American military administration of Trieste “until the Italian frontier with Yugoslavia was agreed under the relevant post-war peace treaties” Tito, however, hoped to present the Allies with a fait accompli by annexing a region in which he already enjoyed some measure of popular support (p. 127).

This time Reed’s job would be much harder. The good cheer that had greeted him in Croatia when he was coordinating air drops and even attending cultural events as an honored speaker were over. The contours of the coming Cold War were emerging and the Partisans were growing increasingly distrustful of British and Allied intentions. In fact, just before Reed’s second coming Tito had ordered a British naval attache who had been assisting the Partisans and the ISLD to leave (p. 128).

Part of the problem was that, with other fronts cleaned up, there were now simply too many relocated Allied military men skulking around behind Partisan lines, with apparently little to do. Reed himself noted that “the function of the men thus infiltrated is not clear…  in some cases it is not established that they have any function at all” (p. 129). In a matter of only a few months from when Reed had been leading the mission single-handedly, the situation had changed completely.

The rest of the story chronicles the list of misunderstandings, suspicions and delaying tactics surrounding the new Allied-Yugoslav relationship, as the showdown over Trieste continued. On the 13th of October, a few weeks after his two Slovenian translators had been mysteriously detained and disappeared by the Partisan authorities, Reed was reassigned from Istria to Slovenia, where the German occupation had been brutal not only for the locals but for the British intelligence liaison corps, some of whom were captured and killed while navigating a dangerous frontier on the edge of the Reich.

In Slovenia, Reed was constantly watched by his Partisan minders and accompanied everywhere he went, both because of the new Cold War suspicions but also in order that the Communists could try to keep the British from seeing that much of the local populace was opposed to Tito (p. 143). Reed also bemoaned a lack of cooperation from the Partisans, and even the Russian attache (who were treated much better than the Allied guests) complained too about the unprofessional quality of Partisan intelligence (p. 144). By mid-February 1945, Reed had been evacuated for the last time, sent to Bari to be debriefed by the ISLD staff.

On March 16 he was returned for one final mission to Yugoslavia, landing on the Croatian island of Vis. However, despite a warm welcome from his former colleagues in the Partisan units, inter-agency bickering with stubborn British SOE officials in Croatia left Reed essentially with no clear assignment, and he lived “on the accumulated goodwill” of his hosts, in a villa by the sea and free to move around. Yet the growing tensions over Trieste, coupled with his unclear brief, left Reed susceptible to the whims of Partisan leaders now growing more alienated to the West.

On May 1, 1945 this “most enthralling race” as Reed described it, heated up as Partisan units entered the city ahead of Allied troops coming from the west. As the month war on, the Allies and Tito were bogged down in talks about the future of Trieste, and Reed unhappily found himself having to listen to Yugoslav complaints of Allied duplicity.

Nevertheless, he was taken along for the ride to Zagreb, when the Partisans liberated the city on May 8, experiencing along the way the mixed reactions of “rapturous” Serbs and the “scowling peasants” who supported the fascist Ustashe government, which had just fled. But the Trieste standoff was worsening, and soon it was decided to shut down the British military mission, as the threat of war between the Allies and the Partisans massed in Trieste seemed a distinct possibility. Read hung on for as long as he could, trying to help with the evacuation of Allied personnel including some recovered French POWs. But on the 17th of June, 1945 he left.

After various debriefings (one presided over by the new Soviet sector chief, the infamous Kim Philby) and a SIS job offer which he politely declined, Read decided to return to the life of BBC broadcasting. He died in 1997, at the age of 87.

Although he did not live to see the publication of Our Man in Yugoslavia, he did contribute much to it in the form of personal interviews. And, despite all the hassles he had endured during his wartime missions, until his death Reed still fondly recalled his experience of the peoples of Yugoslavia — who where themselves at war through much of the 1990s. At the end of the book, Reed relates his hope that “they might be able to live together in peace. They certainly deserve it” (p. 182).

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Stjepan Radic, the Croat Peasant Party, and the Politics of Mass Mobilization

Stjepan Radic, the Croat Peasant Party, and the Politics of Mass Mobilization, 1904-1928

By Mark Biondich

University of Toronto Press (2000), 344 pp.

Reviewed by Christopher Deliso

This invaluable contribution to Croatian political life in the early twentieth century, centered on the towering figure of Stjepan Radic (1871-1928), chronicles the development of Croatian political and national identity from the waning years of the Hapsburg Empire and the Great War through the first decade of the fledgling Yugoslav kingdom.

Throughout this comprehensive work, the author relies on numerous primary as well as secondary sources, some unpublished, including copious excerpts from the writings of Stjepan Radic and his brother Antun, close partners in the making of the Croat Peasant’s Party that would dominate the nation’s political imagination following 1918.

Who was Stjepan Radic? For non-Croats, he might be just another one of those obscure and forgettable Balkan politicians of yesteryear who met a violent death owing to his political beliefs. For Croats, however, he is considered as a national father, an eloquent statesman and passionate proponent for Croatian independence during the complex period of transition between Austro-Hungarian domination to the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after 1918. In fact, as author Biondich notes, Radic proved so popular throughout the twentieth century that his legacy was re-appropriated several times by subsequent (and diametrically opposed) political players in Croatia, sometimes in defense of deeds that would have had Radic spinning in his grave.

A Helpful Introduction

The book is divided into seven chapters and a conclusion, which lay out in a generally chronological fashion Radic’s personal and political development, as he went from poor village boy to student activist to opposition party leader, and finally to the central figure in Croatian politics before his untimely death in August 1928, two months after an assassination attempt in Belgrade’s parliament.

Compared to the following chapters, the first introductory chapter is quite compressed, necessarily so, as it endeavors to summarize the entire 19th century history of Croatian nationalist currents, starting with the inclusive Illyrianist movement of Ljudevit Gaj (1836-49), which climaxed with a rousing call for “…a single culture for the South Slavs under the neutral Illyrian name” (p. 7) before fizzling out under Austrian centralization efforts.

This movement, and the literally “Yugoslav” one of Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Racki that followed in the 1860s, were primarily supported by Croats and arose in reaction to aggressive assimilation attempts by the Hungarians (whom the author somewhat strangely refers to throughout as ‘Magyars,’ though no other peoples mentioned are referred to as they call themselves).

The other strain of Croatian political thought, exclusive nationalism, emerged in 1861 with the creation of the Party of Right by Ante Starcevic and Eugen Kvaternik. These essential two positions on Croatia’s political future would remain at the forefront of the debate throughout Radic’s life, and at different times he would embrace both possibilities while remaining committed to Croatian self-determination, and especially increasing the leadership and rights of the peasant class whose support he sought above all.

Besides continuing to lay out the political background for 19th century Croatia in its relations with the Hapsburgs and neighboring states such as Serbia, this first chapter also creates a context in which the later Radic phenomenon can more easily be understood. Biondich discusses the anger caused by Hungarian chauvinism and oppression of the local population through tax increases, political decisions, voting manipulation and manufactured animosities between Croatia’s Croat and Serb populations. The author associates much of the villainy with the reign of the Hungarian Ban, Count Károly Khuen-Héderváry (1883-1903), and presents economical statistics that show a growing rate of peasant indebtedness wedded with distrust of the urban elite created the right conditions for a viable (and previously unexploited) populist movement – that of Stjepan Radic – to emerge at the turn of the century.

The Formation of a Political Visionary: the Early Years

Chapter 2, which concentrates on Radic’s early education, travels and political development, is perhaps the book’s most interesting segment. We are treated to the unlikely story of how a boy from an impoverished peasant family in the Croatian hinterland developed an insatiable desire for study and travel. Radic’s lifelong dream of peasant emancipation from foreign overlords and the Zagreb intelligentsia alike, and for national self-determination on a political level, was propelled by an invincible, sometimes naive sense of self-belief and a restless need for constant action. From an early age, Radic was certain both of the righteousness of his quest and of the head-on way in which he would achieve it.

The detailed summary of the young and poor Radic’s determination to get an education and travel throughout Europe, all in the name of fulfilling a grandiose national ambition, a scenario so incongruous with the modern Western world, is very revealing. When he first came to Zagreb against his family’s wishes in 1883, to study in the gymnasium, he was so poor that he was often found “…obtaining his daily meals from the public kitchens of Zagreb’s charitable institutions” (p. 29).

Despite the hardships of living in orphanages, fainting from hunger and suffering beatings and run-ins with the powers-that- be, Radic finished his schooling and went on to enroll in the Zagreb law faculty in 1891. During this time he also tapped the pulse of the peasantry by traveling extensively throughout his native Croatia. He also satisfied his somewhat starry-eyed Pan-Slavic dreams with trips to far-away place such as Ukraine and Russia.

Indeed, there was no doubt that young Radic was precocious; however, it is pushing it a bit to say, as Biondich does, that the ardently nationalistic youth “broke with” the veteran politician Ante Starcevic in 1892 (p. 33). Whoever heard of a 21 year-old “breaking with” anyone? This is to look at things a bit in retrospect.

Stjepan Radic developed a reputation as a nationalist student agitator through acts like his public denunciation of Hungarian Ban Károly Khuen-Héderváry, a deed for which he was rewarded with 4 months in jail and termination from the university. Never to be deterred, Radic decided to continue his studies in Prague, where he would, in his own words, prepare to one day “…unify and liberate Croatia with the help of the just and eternal God and sincere and faithful friends” (p. 35).

In Prague, Radic would develop a strong admiration for the Czechs (and corollary dislike of the Germans). Before being expelled yet again for agitating and sent home, Radic made a fateful meeting with a young village schoolteacher – his future wife, Marija.

Back in Zagreb, Radic continued to demonstrate his flamboyance by leading a group of student demonstrators to burn a Hungarian flag before the grand appearance in Zagreb of the Emperor Franz Joseph. While the stunt got Radic jail time yet again, it also increased his stature as a future political leader.

After more travels abroad, and studies in Russia and France, Radic began working with his student peers to realize some of their political goals. Turning from his earlier, hardline nationalist pro-Starcevic orientation, Radic and his peers embraced the concept of narodno jedinstvo (national oneness) so as to include the Serbs in their anticipated project of “political education and practical work” (p. 44) for improving the condition of the rural population.

Indeed, national or religious affiliation mattered far less for Radic than did one’s place in society (which is why his party was originally mistakenly condemned as Socialists). His view of the peasantry as the core of the Croat nation and the upholders of the nation’s culture, traditions and identity versus the foreign overlords and disaffected intellectuals/bureaucrats in Zagreb was romanticized, but there was a ring of truth to this contrast. Yet despite its vibrancy, the electorate Radic chose for himself had its limitations. As the author notes,

“…Despite his emphasis on realism, he tended generally to idealize the peasantry. This romanticized vision of the village in turn led him grossly to exaggerate the peasantry’s potential and actual political strength” (pp. 56-7).

By the end of the second chapter, we reach the point at which Radic’s political career can really be said to begin in earnest – the creation of the Croat People’s Peasant Party (HPSS) in December 1904. Although the party would, always under Radic’s control, undergo various permutations of doctrine and tactical shifts, it was essentially committed to a certain set of political values in vogue at the time in Europe’s growing agrarian and populist movements.

Paradoxes of Political Belief

The remainder of the book is devoted to chronicling the ups-and-downs of Radic’s 24-year career as a political leader, in terms of his party’s successes and failures. The author always sets the narrative in the context of larger regional events, which means that the reader learns quite a bit also about Austro-Hungarian policy and Serbia under Nikola Pasic, Radic’s more famous contemporary. The topic that provides the thread of the narrative is the attempt to elucidate Stjepan Radic’s sometimes almost paradoxical political views, and how he sought to make them conform into one platform.

For example, Radic was a devout Christian, and based his politics in Christian ethics, but he was equally adamant in his opposition to clericalism, opposing cultural chauvinism and conversion tactics, whether they come from the Croatian Catholic clergy or that of the Serbian Orthodox. He was also friendly to certain forms of capitalism, strenuously defended the right to private property, and opposed statism.

Yet at the same time, Radic also sought various protective measures to be enforced so that economic manipulation of the peasantry would be lessened. And though he lobbied in defense of the rural poor, Radic did not give much thought to the urban poor or workers; indeed, he spoke out harshly against Communism, which he distrusted for its opposition to private property, the lifeblood of the landed peasantry.

Radic was also an anti-imperialist, yet at various points he proposed, in vain, a settlement with the mortally wounded Austria for Croatia to remain part of the empire as an autonomous republic. He instinctively sensed imperialism behind Serb attempts to dominate the first Yugoslav kingdom. Yet despite many of his countrymen, he was not anti-Serb, and sought to protect the rights of Serbs living in Croatia.

Indeed, in a 1902 riot, Radic had even prevented a mob of angry Croats from gutting the store of his neighbor (a Serb). Rather uproariously, he then suggested that the real enemies of the Croatian people were not the Serbs but the Hungarians, and could the mob please follow him along to the railway station where they could protest against the latter (p. 59). Once again his zealousness was rewarded with a short trip to jail.

At various times throughout his life, Radic looked favorably on the idea of Slavic national unity. However, during his whole life there were certain peoples who were not seen as being friendly: the Hungarians, as we have seen, and the Germans, whom Radic feared for their perceived expansionist desires. The author does also consider at various points apparent anti-Semitism in some of Radic’s proclamations, but notes that this attitude is part of a larger denunciation of all those connected with the kind of urban capitalism and liberalism that was ruining the peasantry (p. 76).

He also echoed a common view that the Jews were the agents of “Magyarization” (p. 110). And some of Radic’s anti-Jewish statements were made specifically in the case of Josip Frank, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who bizarrely enough went on to become the head of Starcevic’s Party of Right. Radic, along with many others, observed that it was somewhat remarkable for a non-Croat religious convert to be leading the ultra-nationalistic Croat party. In the end, what the HPSS claimed to stand for was for the Croats “…to work alone, and without the Jews… that is our anti-Semitism” (p. 77). Radic was also motivatedIn an interesting passage, Radic contrasts this position “…we cannot be anti-Semites like the Germans” (p. 53).

A Commitment to Peace

Finally, the mature Radic’s most attractive quality was his firm commitment to non-violent change. He condemned any attempts to change the Croatian political situation through violent means, even in the post-WWI years when the situation became much more tense due to the Serbian King Aleksandar’s centralizing proclivities, as well as the fact that more extreme youth elements were emerging from among the ranks of the HDSS peasant poor.

It was no accident that Radic’s pan-Slavism cooled after seeing the revolutionary events in Russia. He was firmly set against Bolshevikism, and more often than not his proposals were for how to realize his dream of national self-determination within a larger confederation, whether it be the Austrian Empire, a Yugoslav state, or even something more fanciful such as a “Trans-Danubian Federation” of Central European countries stretching as far as Poland.

It is a real testament to the man that, unlike so many of his contemporaries, he never counted on war or ethnically chauvinistic views to sell his agenda. After 1918, when the HPSS started polling well for the first time (eventually becoming the second-largest party in the whole Yugoslav kingdom), the authorities became more and more anxious about the party’s potential for revolt. Clampdown tactics such as banning rallies, dissolving meetings and electoral fraud ensued, but Radic always remained patient and committed to peaceful political change. Few leaders would have been able to resist the temptation to start a civil war when they achieved optimum strength. Radic was one.

Confused Tactics

This is not to say that Stjepan Radic was always sincere or motivated by the high ideals he endlessly voiced. Radic was, essentially, a man driven by the single goal of making Croatia an independent (or at least autonomous), peasant-run state, and he proved very versatile in employing all available means towards this goal. Yet sometimes he was too clever by half, to the point of bewildering colleagues and observers. As one perceptive critic, the Scottish historian R.W. Seton-Watson, put it in 1924:

“…the trouble with Radic is that he flutters like a butterfly from one idea or policy to another. Whenever I talk with him, I find myself almost always in agreement with the principles and views which he lays down. I even think that we have the same aims, and I certainly believe in his honesty. But he has no political ballast, and I never feel sure that he will not say something quite contradictory to the next person he meets” (p. 207).

Indeed, Radic’s policies can only be considered consistent in that they always supported what wasmost expedient for Croatian interests, as he perceived them. So while he criticized excessive nationalism as well as imperialism, and visibly chafed under Austro-Hungarian rule, Radic was happy to scavenge what he could from their victories-   for example, Austria’s annexation of Bosnia in 1908. In this light it is a bit nauseating to hear him say “…Bosnia is nationally and historically Croatian, and political circumstances have brought it under the same ruler as the rest of Croatia” (p. 111). This is far from the only iteration presented in the book that is rich with unprincipled opportunism.

Sometimes Radic’s best-laid plans simply backfired. His opposition to communism did not prevent him from making a high-profile trip to Soviet Russia, where he entered his Croatian Peasant’s Party into the Krestintern in the hopes of getting more international prestige for the Croatian cause. Instead, this just provided more ammunition for his Serbian rivals, who accused the HPSS of being secret Communist sympathizers (only a few years after the Yugoslav kingdom had banned the official Communist party), thereby giving the authorities more apparent justification for interfering with the party’s activities.

By the far the greatest test of Radic’s credibility came however in 1925, when after several years of principled abstention his party officially entered the parliament in Belgrade – thereby legitimizing the Yugoslav government, which they had previously refused to do – and simultaneously dropped its federalist platform (Chapter 7).

That Radic did not become his country’s Michael Collins following this capitulation can be attributed both to his firm control of the party he had created, as well as to an apparent passivity and fatalism among the people, who had never really expected they would prevail. Although angry dissidents started questioning why Radic could not deliver the goods for Croatia, he was also the only significant leader the nation had.

In the final 3 years of his life, Radic became more radicalized due to increasingly authoritarian tactics from King Aleksandar. His tragic death in August 1928 elevated him to an almost mythic status that was felt immediately (some 300,000 people attended his funeral). Unfortunately, however, Radic’s commitment to peaceful protest would be forgotten by the increasingly radical strain of Croatian nationalism that manifested itself in the fascist Ustashe regime of WWII.

Two Critiques

There is much more that can be said about this factually-rich, well-sourced work, but space does not allow us to go into more detail. We might conclude by making two small criticisms.

As author Mark Biondich states, the book grew out of a PhD thesis, which would seem to account for a certain repetitiveness that pervades the work. I estimate that some 20-30 pages could be eliminated from the text, without causing any harm to the argumentation, simply by weeding out repetitive passages.

More seriously, where Stjepan Radic, the Croat Peasant Party, and the Politics of Mass Mobilization, 1904-1928 falls short is in that it occupies a somewhat uncertain space between political biography and political history. After the second chapter on Radic’s early development, we are presented with less and less information on the man himself, in regards to his personal relationships and interactions with others.

Did the man become a demagogue, as indeed some believed? One might get this impression from the few cited letters to his wife, who is addressed almost as a party member receiving political truths. Did he not have something more intimate to say? We don’t know. Similarly, we hear little of his family or his relationship with his children. Did they have no influence on him? To take another example, we learn that his beloved brother and close collaborator Antun died suddenly in 1919 – but nothing is said of the effect this must have had on Stjepan.

It seems likely that the author was simply forced, by the sheer mass of data and accelerated pace of events post-1918, to devote full coverage to political events instead of personal. Yet we to some degree lose sight of Radic the person in this way- even in the very era when he was making his most crucial decisions. In a way, by the final chapters the book becomes more a biography of elections and ephemeral coalition governments than of a person.

To be fair, it is clear that the author set out to do more than document one politician’s life. Biondich is essentially interested in Radic in the context of how he helped to consolidate a Croatian national political consciousness. Yet even in this case, it would be really useful to find out how Radic – by all accounts, charismatic and compelling – interacted with specific leaders or party members on the rural level, considering that his party’s entire raison d’etre was the peasantry

How did he gain, and then keep the trust of that peasantry? How was he able to ensure that violence did not break out? How was he able to ensure party unity? Who were the most important local leaders, and to what extent did their party efforts employ the “education” and professionalization Radic brought with him from his studies and experiences abroad, and to what extent did they rely on existing clan and other rural systems of power?

Finally, were there perhaps any local leaders who should share some of the credit with Radic for creating a juggernaut that became the second largest party in Yugoslavia, with ambitions to branch out to Macedonia and Serbia? These are all key questions for the matter at hand.

Despite these shortcomings, however, this engrossing study proves its value abundantly. It offers an excellent and detailed introduction to Croatian politics in the first third of the twentieth century, and is laden with facts and citations from hard-to-find statistics and sources from a variety of languages. Biondich has made an admirable attempt to bring to life one of the most enigmatic and striking political figures in modern Balkan history, sadly one whose caution and patient dedication to peaceful change went unheeded in the 2 decades after his death.

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Western Media Ignores Serb, US Memorials of Jasenovac Death Camp

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- Although they swarmed to the 60th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of the largest WWII concentration camp at Auschwitz on 27 January, the Western media almost completely ignored a similar event held this past Sunday to recognize the 60th anniversary of the closing of Jasenovac, the notorious Croat Ustasha concentration camp at which between 300,000-700,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and “others” were tortured and murdered in the most horrific ways imaginable.

A quick search on Wednesday of Google News, which is a fairly accurate indicator of media coverage in that it carries many new stories from the major (and many minor) Western media outlets, shows that only three Western sources have reported on the event, at least so far. The French AFP offered a paragraph on the event, which was picked up by Greece’s Kathimerini, no doubt because Greece has historic sympathies with the Serbs. The alternative news source IPS ran a lengthier article. But a third mention of the Jasenovac event by that firm friend of Western governments, the Czech-based TOL, seems to have only been performed in order to contrast it with alleged anti-Semitism in Serbia.

In fact, the only (non-Serbian) reports devoted to the event were carried by media bodies from the other side of the world – Russia’s ITAR-TASS and China’s Xinhuanet.

In contrast, Google gives 59,000 entries for January’s Auschwitz memorial – even though it ignored Sunday’s memorial for the largest of Croatia’s wartime concentration camps.

Alas, with the exceptions of the AFP and IPS, the Western media was completely missing in action on Sunday. Perhaps this was because the event took place in the all-but-forgotten Serb Republic of the Bosnian Federation. However, this ignorance of such a symbolical event is hypocritical, considering the media’s love for symbolic commemorations in places like Auschwitz, and considering that Jasenovac was one of the largest concentration camps of the war.

This enforced ignorance seems to confirm the opinions of critics who believe that the issue is being willfully ignored. According to Carl Savich, who has written extensively on the subject, the issue of war crimes carried out by Western allies Croatia at places like Jasenovac is something that should be ignored at all costs: “since we [the West] supported Croatia so much in the Yugoslav secession wars of the 1990’s, and since the Croatian government still won’t own up to it, this story is something that has been swept under the rug…. Yet it is one of the great untold stories of the 20th century.”

However, Croat nationalists like the Holocaust-denier and late former President Franjo Tudjman have dismissed the story as nothing more than a “myth.”

The Western media’s disinterest in the Jasenovac commemoration is also strange considering that representatives from Western and EU states were in attendance, as well as representatives of the World Jewish Congress and the World Gypsy [Roma] Congress.

“…A most atrocious form of genocide was committed at Jasenovac, as hundreds of thousands of innocent elderly, women and children died there just because they belonged to a different creed or different ethnic groups,” said the President of the Bosnian Serb Republic, Dragan Cavic, according to Xinhuanet. Cavic urged the participants “to continue punishing the butchers by gathering here every year and reminding them about their victims.”

However, unlike the usual image Westerners have of the thoroughly demonized Serbs, Cavic spoke of forgiveness. He “…called on the Balkan nations to break the vicious circle, which turns today’s victims into tomorrow’s hangmen and transforms today’s hatred into tomorrow’s revenge.”

His statements were echoed by Serbian President Boris Tadic, who was also in attendance: “…all of us need exceptional responsibility so that our region wouldn’t be regarded as a place of crimes anymore.”

One might argue that the Bosnian ceremony was ignored because it took place in a forgotten Balkan backwater. However, more difficult to explain, considering that it was held in New York, was the apparent ignorance of another Jasenovac commemoration on Sunday which also included worldwide Jewish groups. It was organized by the Jasenovac Research Institute, which recently petitioned the Croatian government to give reparations to Jewish survivors of Jasenovac, as the German government has done. In a circular letter of 25 February to the EU Presidency, JRI National Coordinator Barry Lituchy wrote:

“…Croatia’s refusal to come to terms with its past crimes is in direct contravention of the laws and practices of the European Union. To allow Croatia entry in to the European Union without forcing it to resolve its longstanding disputes with its own Holocaust victims would constitute both an in insult and an injury to these victims as well as a travesty of immense proportions.

To allow Croatia’s entry under such conditions would inevitably harm and undermine the reputation and stature of the E.U., for these are claims that will never go away or be forgotten. They must be settled legally and it is yours and the European Union’s responsibility to recognize this beforehand. I feel certain you will agree.”

A NY Times report three days later by Nick Wood, devoted to Croatian war crimes, mentioned only the latter-day case of Ante Gotovina – but nothing about Jasenovac and other WWII concentration camps, even though the story is out there and the JRI letter was copied to Jewish groups and diplomatic luminaries, including New York Senators Hilary Clinton and Charles Schumer.

Another Side of the Pope: John Paul II’s Balkan Legacy

By Carl Savich

What will be Pope John Paul II’s legacy? In the week between his death and funeral, the media have lionized him with candy-coated encomiums as a peace-loving pope who brought down Communism and ushered in the New World Order. His place in history is assured as a determined anti-Communist who revitalized the Roman Catholic Church. He will also be remembered as an energetic evangelist for his faith, traveling to over 120 countries during his reign.

Yet what kind of a role did the “peacemaker” Pope play in the recent Balkan conflicts? And, despite his many journeys and outreach to leaders of other faiths, why did John Paul II not seek to reconcile Orthodox Slavs and Roman Catholic Slavs in the Balkans? In the end, did the Pope only exacerbate religious tensions and animosity in the Balkans?

John Paul II: First to Recognize Croatia

In 1991, Pope John Paul II became the first to recognize Croatia as an independent state. Committed at a time when tensions were high and dialogue was called for, this act was needlessly reckless. It gave great prestige and legitimacy to the cause of Catholic Croatia, which the Pope championed for his own narrow religious goals. His recognition helped spark a tragic civil war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Serbs and Croats. The premature and irresponsible recognition foreshadowed the carnage, killing, displacement and suffering in the former Yugoslavia.

“I am not a pacifist,” said John Paul II In 1991, in the context of the first Gulf War. A few years later, bolstered by his ‘just war’ rhetoric, he demanded of Bill Clinton and NATO to intervene in the Bosnian conflict, when Roman Catholic Croatian troops were being militarily defeated by Bosnian Muslim troops. Using the rationale that “‘the aggressor must be disarmed,” the Pope also incited the US to intervene militarily against the Bosnian Serbs to prevent the military defeat of Roman Catholic Croats in Bosnia. Of course, he has always veiled this intent behind the theology of the “duty” of the international community to intervene in cases of perceived genocide.

However, at the same time that he sought to protect the rights of Catholic Croats, Pope John Paul II was indifferent to the plight of the Serbian Orthodox population of Krajina. All he wanted was to recognize Croatia, a Roman Catholic state that worshipped the Vatican. He abjured negotiation, compromise, reconciliation. He was silent when Roman Catholic Croat troops, with NATO and US help, ethnically cleansed over 350,000 Krajina Serbs in 1995. This was the largest single act of ethnic cleansing during the Balkan conflict. The peace-loving Pope showed that he was a hypocrite.

Croatia was an obsession with Pope John Paul II. It was his Poland-next-door. He was determined to destroy the Yugoslav federation and socialism, as he had the Soviet Union. John Paul visited Croatia on three occasions: September 10-11, 1994; October 2-4, 1998; and, his 100th foreign visit, June 5-9, 2003. But on this last visit, a Bosnian Muslim sent him an e-mail threatening to kill him “in the name of Allah.”

The Pope: a Supporter of Holocaust-Denier Franjo Tudjman

The Pope’s behavior toward the Balkans becomes especially controversial in light of his treatment of morally corrupt leaders. He never criticized or condemned Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman, a known Holocaust denier and rabid anti-Semite.. It was Tudjman who had denied that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, maintaining instead that only 900,000 Jews were murdered. He also called Israelis “Judeo-Nazis” who were carrying out genocide against Palestinian Muslims. Tudjman also denied the World War II Croatian Ustasha genocide at Jasenovac, which he dismissed contemptuously as the “Jasenovac myth.”

Tudjman was a known racist who had plans to annex Bosnia-Hercegovina into a Greater Croatia. Yet John Paul II was silent about Tudjman. He visited Croatia in 1994 during the civil war, thereby giving moral support to the Tudjman regime in its efforts to ethnically cleanse the Krajina Serbs. The Pope had no sympathy for their rights or aspirations. All he ever cared about was the expansion of Roman Catholicism.

A Pope Who Beatified Backers of the Ustasha’s Genocidal Regime

On his second official papal visit to Croatia, Pope John Paul II made the shocking decision to beatify Croatian Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, a man who had supported the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Roma. In Roman Catholicism, beatification is the step prior to sainthood. The beatification occurred at a huge open-air ceremonyat the shrine of Marija Bistrica on October 3, 1998. This was meant as a slap in the face to all Orthodox Serbs. It would be like the Nobel Peace Committee awarding Adolf Eichmann a posthumous Nobel Prize for Peace. The action demonstrated his total and profound contempt for the Serbian people, for the Orthodox religion, and for the legacy of 60,000 Jews killed in Ustasha death camps.

The body of Stepinac is preserved and embalmed in a glass case in Zagreb. In beatifying Stepinac, the Pope ignored a request from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to await the results of an investigation into his role in genocide and the Holocaust during World War II, angering Jewish organizations in the process. But that didn’t deter the man who mass-produced more saints than any other pope in history, by lowering the requisite standards. All that mattered to the Pope was that Stepinac was anti-Communist. That Stepinac was also pro-fascist, pro-Ustasha, and pro-Nazi did not seem to bother the Pope at all; he was to be revered as a “martyr” in the conflict against Communism.

Who was Alojze Stepinac? Stepinac was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb during World War II. He welcomed the Nazi occupation and dismemberment of Yugoslavia in April, 1941, and supported the Ustasha regime of Ante Pavelic. The core around which the Ustasha movement was based was Roman Catholicism, and it was accordingly backed by Pope Pius XII, otherwise known as “Hitler’s Pope.” No matter about that – the BBC reported that, as with Stepinac, Pope John Paul II decided to put Pius XII “on the road to sainthood,” despite an outcry from Jewish groups.

The regime embarked on a campaign of genocide which resulted in the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, along with Jews and Roma. Many of the massacres were organized and conducted by Croatian Roman Catholic priests. The largest concentration camp in the Balkans, Jasenovac, was commanded by a defrocked Roman Catholic priest, Miroslav Filipovic. How could a Roman Catholic priest engage in the torture and mass murder of Christians?

This is what is so troubling about the Roman Catholic Ustasha movement and the genocide it committed during the Holocaust. It is so troubling that Pope John Paul II censored and covered-up this genocide. He never even acknowledged or admitted it to himself. The Ustasha genocide was suppressed from his memory.

The Roman Catholic Ustasha genocide against Orthodox Serbs shocked, disgusted, and appalled even their Nazi minders themselves. Here is what Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD and Heinrich Himmler’s second-in-command in the SS, the person who organized the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution was organized, said about the Ustasha. In a February 17, 1942 letter to Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler, Heydrich wrote:

…The number of Slavs massacred by the Croats with the most sadistic of methods must be estimated at a count of 300,000…From this it is clear that the Croat-Serbian state of tension is not least of all a struggle of the Catholic Church against the Orthodox Church.

Stepinac himself revealed his contempt for Orthodoxy, and saw the Ustasha genocide as the “working of the divine hand.”

The Ustasha Roman Catholic priests were also determined to exterminate the Jewish population of the Balkans. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sarajevo, Ivan Saric, wrote an “Ode to Pavelic” in which he endorsed the genocide against Serbs and Jews:

…Against the Jews with all their money,

Who wanted to sell our souls,

Betray our names

These miserable ones.

You are the rock on which rests

Homeland and freedom in one

Protect our lives from hell,

From Marxism and Bolshevism.

On May 25, 1941, Roman Catholic priest Franjo Kralik wrote that the Final Solution against Croat Jews and Bosnian Jews was justified as an act of God:

…The movement for freeing the world from the Jews is a movement for the renaissance of human dignity. The Almighty and All-wise God is behind this movement.

A Roman Catholic priest from Udbina, Mate Mogus, even advocated genocide against Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Roma:

…Until now we have worked for the Catholic faith with the prayer book and with the cross. Now the time has come to work with rifle and revolver.

It is hard to comprehend how such a brand of Roman Catholicism can be said to be following the teachings of Jesus Christ. And this explains why it has been so meticulously censored, suppressed, and covered-up in the so-called West. And this is why Pope John Paul II never apologized for the genocide committed against Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Roma. Pope John Paul remained in denial and suppressed this well-documented genocide until the end.

Eleanor Roosevelt called the Ustasha genocide one of the worst crimes of World War II. Yet it is one of the greatest cover-ups of the 20th century. Mainstream historians in the West have always covered it up and suppressed it, and thus it remains one of the major falsifications of the history of the Balkans. And Pope John Paul II, though himself a Slav, did nothing to expose this massive cover-up.

Vatican and ultra-nationalist, neo-Ustasha Croatian propaganda portrays Stepinac as a “martyr” to Communism and as an innocent who protected Jews and Serbs. The Pope echoed this neo-Ustasha propaganda about Stepinac. According to the neo-Ustasha falsification of history, Stepinac was a good man, a rescuer of Serbs and Jews who should be deemed a Righteous Gentile according to the Yad Vashem.

This is a falsification of the facts. Stepinac not only supported Pavelic and the Ustasha Movement, but also Adolf Hitler and Nazism. In a January 1, 1942 quote in the Croatian Sentinel, Pavelic said: “Hitler is an envoy of God.” Stepinac was the first to welcome Ante Pavelic, the Ustasha, and the Nazis. He was the Supreme Vicar of the Ustasha Armed Forces.

He was a part of the Ustasha Parliament in Zagreb. He was photographed with high ranking Vatican officials, Nazi and Ustasha military officers, and even shaking hands with Ante Pavelic, who he admired as a true Roman Catholic believer. One person’s saint is another person’s war criminal. Nothing illustrates this better than the Stepinac case.

After World War II, Stepinac was arrested by the Communist regime and tried and convicted for his complicity in war crimes and mass murder. Of course, this trial is dismissed by neo-Ustasha propaganda and the official history as a Communist show trial meant to discredit Roman Catholicism. Stepinac served 5 years in prison as a convicted war criminal for complicity in genocide. He died in 1960 under house arrest.

Stepinac’s Yugoslav War Crimes Trial

The theory of command responsibility cited today by the Hague and international war crimes law experts was employed in the postwar trial of Archbishop Stepinac. He was found guilty according to this theory. A 1947 publication, The Trial of Stepinac, relates the findings of the Yugoslav War Crimes Commission. Here is what it says in this official Yugoslav Government report of the trial published in Washington, DC:

…Investigation by the Yugoslav War Crimes Commission established that Archbishop Stepinac had played a leading part in the conspiracy that lead to the conquest and breakup of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was furthermore established that Archbishop Stepinac played a role in governing the Nazi puppet Croatian state, that many members of his clergy participated actively in atrocities and mass murders, and, finally, that they collaborated with the enemy down to the last day of the Nazi rule, and continued after the liberation to conspire against the newly created Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia.

Here is the evidence they presented.

Before World War II, Roman Catholic societies were set up, such as the Crusaders or Krizari, organizations that fomented the fascist/Nazi ideology. Stepinac appointed its leaders. The Vatican acted as a liaison between Ante Pavelic and Croatian leaders before World War II. It was the Vatican that was giving refuge to Pavelic and preparing his possible takeover in Croatia. Stepinac obviously knew about all of this.

Roman Catholic priests became administrators in the Ustasha state. Stepinac was the Supreme Vicar of the Ustasha Army. Stepinac was also a member of the Ustasha Parliament or Sabor along with many other prominent Croat Roman Catholics. This made him a part of the Ustasha government or political leadership, and under command responsibility he can be held accountable for crimes committed by those under his authority.

Stepinac endorsed the Ustasha state. He called on its military leader, Slavko Kvaternik, and congratulated him on April 28, 1941, in a pastoral letter that asked the clergy “…to respond without hesitation to his call that they take part in the exalted work of defending and improving the Independent State of Croatia.”

As we have seen, prominent Roman Catholic priests in Croatia praised and supported the Ustasha, fascism, and Nazism. Official Roman Catholic publications were guilty of incitement to genocide. Stepinac was the top of this hierarchical ladder under command responsibility.

The Croat priests wanted to create a “clerical-fascist” state like the one established by Roman Catholic priest Josip Tiso in Slovakia, a Nazi puppet state run by a Roman Catholic priest and church. The Franciscans were militant sponsors of the Ustasha state. Roman Catholic priests under the Ustasha regime endorsed the Final Solution of Croat Jews. In Catholic media, they rationalized the Nazi position on Jews and approved of the Final Solution. Moreover, many Catholic priests took an active part in the mass murders of Serbs and Jews. The
y also incited Croat laymen to commit genocide. In his sermons, Priest Srecko Peric in Livno actually entreated his parishioners to “kill and massacre all Serbs.”

Stepinac took no action against these priests.

Further, on November 17, 1941, Archbishop Stepinac convened a Bishop’s Conference in Zagreb, “…at which the forcible conversion of Serbs was given canonical sanction.” Over 250,000 Orthodox Serbs in Croatia were in fact forcefully converted – something which for his supporters indicates the good archbishop’s benevolence!

Stepinac was also Supreme Vicar of the Ustasha Army, and was made so by order of the Vatican. In other words, not only was he part of the clerical and political leadership of the Ustasha regime, he was also a member of the military. Each Ustasha military unit had a Roman Catholic priest accompany it.

A huge number of Orthodox Serbs (estimates range from several hundred thousand to 750,000) and about 60,000 Jews were murdered under the Ustasha regime. Stepinac knew this crime was going on and actually sanctioned it, being one of the top leaders of the regime.

When Stepinac concluded that Hitler would lose the war, he began to take steps to make it appear as if he was against Pavelic and the Ustasha. But this was a joke. He continued to help Pavelic until the last days of the war.

The Vatican Expedites Nazi Escape

Following World War II, the Vatican helped many of the Croatian Ustasha war criminals to escape through underground routes and channels. Croatian Roman Catholic priest Krunoslav Draganovic organized the “ratline” that allowed Ustasha political leaders such as such as Ante Pavelic and Anrija Artukovic to flee.

The Pope has never acknowledged the role the Vatican played in allowing these Nazi collaborators to escape from the Balkans to Argentina and other countries in South America, despite the fact that the Vatican was later sued for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and other items which the Ustasha regime had seized from murdered Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Roma during World War II. The money was kept in the Swiss National Bank. The Vatican allegedly used the Ustasha gold to finance and organize the rat lines that allowed top Ustasha leaders to escape.

But the Pope never apologized for the role that Roman Catholic priests such as Alojize Stepinac and the Croatian Roman Catholic Church in general played in the Ustasha genocide committed in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina during World War II.

By beatifying a convicted war criminal, Pope John Paul II showed his utter contempt for the Serbian people. He exacerbated the animosity and conflict between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He did not want reconciliation, but conquest. Pope John Paul did nothing to reconcile the Catholic and Orthodox communities in the Balkans. Indeed, he has made matters much worse. His legacy will be one of failure and deliberately missed opportunities.

The Pope’s Silence on Continuing Genocide Against Christians in Kosovo

Pope John Paul II remained silent about the continuing and ongoing genocide against Orthodox Serbian civilians in Kosovo-Metohija and in Krajina. Artemije, the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Raska and Prizren, lamented “…the inexplicable silence of Christian and democratic Europe in the face of such grave crimes committed against a Christian and European people.” In a December 16, 2003 L’Espresso article in Italy, Artemije accused the Vatican of having been “amply implicated in the events” in Kosovo.

Unlike in the later case of Iraq, the Pope did not condemn the illegal and criminal NATO bombing and occupation of Yugoslavia and Kosovo-Metohija in 1999. After a meeting with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, he reportedly told Draskovic that all the destroyed church buildings and houses belonging to Serbs in Kosovo must be rebuilt. But that was about the extent of his concern or interest in Kosovo. He also promised Draskovic that he would read the book on the destruction of Orthodox churches in Kosovo, Crucified Kosovo.

Despite speaking loudly and clearly in support of Christians the world over, Pope John Paul II stood silently by while over 150 Serbian Orthodox Churches and cathedrals were looted, burned, demolished, desecrated, and destroyed by Albanian Muslims in ethnic attacks meant to eradicate the centuries-old presence of Serbian Christianity in Kosovo-Metohija. His silence was glaring. Where was the condemnation of the March 2004 “pogrom” or “Kristallnacht” in Kosovo, where over 35 Serbian Orthodox churches were destroyed and demolished and Serbian Christians were brutally murdered?

Conclusion

Pope John Paul II will be remembered as the Pope who helped spark the carnage and killing and displacement of the Balkan conflicts. By recognizing Croatia, he started the ball rolling that resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people. It was his act of recklessly and arrogantly recognizing Croatia that was partly to blame for the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. He could have chosen the path of negotiation, rapprochement and reconciliation that many world leaders were counseling at the time. Instead, he chose confrontation and conflict. He chose something that he must have known would lead to war.

Diplomatic recognition is a matter appropriate to the political. The Pope should have focused on religion, not politics. Like Alojze Stepinac before him, he chose politics and Croatian nationalism over religion. He contributed greatly to the wars that destroyed and dismembered Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

In the West, of course, the Pope will be remembered as the man who brought down Communism, while traveling relentlessly and providing interfaith outreach on a scale not seen by any previous pope. But his legacy will be remembered differently in the Balkans. He failed to acknowledge the Roman Catholic role in the Ustasha genocide of World War II. He failed to take a stand on the continuing and ongoing genocide of Orthodox Christians in Kosovo-Metohija.

He had an opportunity to use his enormous stature and respect in the eyes of the world to make a difference for peace, but he chose not to do so. In the end, he only exacerbated the historic conflict between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. He made matters worse. In the Balkans at least, his legacy will be one of failure.

Partial Bibliography

Braham, Randolph. The Vatican and the Holocaust. NY: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Cornwell, John. Hitler’s Pope. NY: Viking Penguin, 1999.

Dedijer, Vladimir. The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican. NY: Prometheus, 1988.

Manhattan, Avro. The Vatican’s Holocaust. Springfield, MO: Ozark Books, 1986.

Ibid, Vatican Imperialism in the Twentieth Century. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1965.

Paris, Edmond. Genocide in Satellite Croatia. Chicago: American Institute, 1961.

Yugoslav Embassy. The Case of Archbishop Stepinac. Washington, DC: Yugoslav Embassy, 1947.

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