APRIL 13 2010 12:46h
Luckily, Croatia is not like North Korea because those who published a register of Croatian war veterans would probably get executed.
Croatia is a land of secrets. Even the things that ought to be available to public were declared a secret data. For example, contracts to sell the Sunny Hvar to a famous Orco group from Luxembourg were secret as well as decision to sell Croatia's oil giant INA to Hungarian MOL, or a former Croatian Telecom to Deutsche Telekom or the formal list from the Register of Croatian Veterans which is currently treated as a top secret... However, even the things that are not officially recognized as secrets are often treated as the government's top classified data. It is almost impossible to get through the usual channels and obtain, for example, a list of individuals using privileged pensions despite the fact that, following the logic of fairness, taxpayers have a right to know where their money goes. Any attempt at lifting the veil of mystery, however, is bounced against the invisible rubber wall erected by bureaocrats. Since the list of "privileged" certainly includes some who do not fit the criteria by any means, why would our bureaucrats expose themselves to the public revolt when they can easily wrap things in a veil of secrecy and make themselves untouchable.
Secrets swell like purulent ulcers in Croatia. Combating the secrets whose eligibility for secrecy is questionable can only be done through the underground. Some may remember the time when the list of Croatia's voters and a data on how many voters registered for each polling place appeared on the Internet. The public was shocked to find that many small communities had great numbers of non-existing voters. This revelation raised lots of dust and government bodies were in panic, but Marko Rakar, a blogger who published the data, was never threatened with imprisonment. The list of voters, perhaps, is not a very important state document. However, Internet ''guerrilla'' who published the index of Croatian War Veterans had a different experience. The Register is something else. Great political story. Prolonged political dispute. The best kept secret. And now it is broken, even briefly and data which was at least three years old, was now available to all. Hacker or whatever it was that invaded the closely guarded zone must be punished, says the government. Intruders who stole a state secret must be imprisoned, say some leaders of veterans' organizations. ''I would not want to be the one who published the index'', says the head of HVIDRA and HDZ member Josip Djakic threatningly. Hysteria, which flared at the time of the index publication, spread like a wild fire. Luckily, Croatia is not like North Korea or the perpetrators would probably be sent to the firing squad.
Yes, they did break the law and the Constitution. And yes, action like this carries its consequences. And it is also very likely that the diligent police work and intelligence officers will be able to identify the perpetrators, locate them, arrest them and possibly transfer them to the Remetinac prison. However whatever the punishment that they face might be, this will still not change the essential question of what is the logic behind a decision to declare the register containing the names of people who defended their country at the cost of their own lives - a secret. These people are the Croatian pride. They should be honored. They should stand out. They should be admired. They should not be denied or declared a state secret. Why should they be afraid of trouble as Andrija Hebrang claims they are on heir behalf? Why would the people who defended their country from the aggressor be uncomfortable? If the Registry contains some security sensitive information, is it not possible to find a way to protect this data only? By declaring the registry of Croatian soldiers a state secret government is leaving a vast space open for abuse speculations, rumors about cover-ups, fakes who pretend to be the heroes ... Responsible authorities should create conditions to transform the issue that has become the subject of political manipulation into a manageable topic contained within the framework of logic, fairness and common sense.
It is actually unclear why the Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor chooses not to do so. Why doesn't she initiate new laws and ensure a legal publication of the registry? If, as the relevant Minister she inherited register's status and could not do anything other than to sort them or advocate interests of the previous government, as a Prime Minister she has a different position and the absolute power to initiate the process. If Kosor, as a prime minister, has the power to encourage anti-corruption campaign, create an atmosphere in which arrests of corrupt state officials are possible, if she shows good will in revealing a secret contract for the sale of INA to MOL, it is unclear why she is holding back in this case. It is hard to believe that she is protecting somebody or that she owes something to some one. She might be afraid of initiating new attacks against herself as the index of Croatian defenders would be one of her biggest projects. Or she fears that public disclosure of the registry would show that, like in recent corruption cases, the extent of abuse is very dramatic. She might fear that illegal activities would place HDZ party under a new attack ... Either way, the truth is the only remedy for all the ambiguous situations. Experience teaches us that it always comes out sooner or later, with more or less difficulties. There's always a way for truth to becomes available and to check whether it is in accordance with the law or not.