It is supposed that among the persons who can have or have an influence on the adoption of that Law on the Disclosure of Information, exist persons which are against the opening of the Archives for the public at all, in part related to the servants of the former Yugoslav Secret Service called UDBA and Yugoslav People’s Army Secret Service (Counterintelligence service) called KOS and their activities in the former Yugoslavia.
For many years I’m making research regarding crimes of the communist system and trying to find the reasons why we still don’t have the Law on Disclosure of information, as well as the institute in which all this information and documentation would be saved, and about the consequences which are arising from the avoidance of that process. In my previous articles 1 published in Vijenac, a journal of the Croatian Mainstream, 2 the analysis of the situation already started and was given, and in the meantime, nothing much important doesn’t happen, except that the Initiative 1481 of the Croatian Mainstream, whose purpose was the implementation of the Resolution 1481 of the Council of Europe, doesn’t exist any more. Simply, the silence has started, after the six round tables which have been held on that subject at the Croatian Mainstream during 2015 and 2016. Is that a question of fear, possible blackmail or something else, it is not known. I held a speech on the first Round table which has been held in the organisation of the mentioned Initiative on September 15th, 2015, in the Croatian Mainstream under the title “Models of Lustration in the Post Communist countries” of which summary has been published on my website 3.
The high costs for the disclosure of the secret archives in Germany
Historical facts are always important for the present explanation and a better understanding of the future. That shows the example of Germany. So, Germany has adopted The Stasi Records Act in 1991 which regulates procedures related to the disclosure and storage of Stasi records. By the same Act is regulated its scope and purpose 4. About the importance of the Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records Act, is talking the fact that the Office was using 100.000.000€ annually from the State budget, for its work. Now, Germany again emphasizes its importance by establishing the Office of the Federal Commissioner for the victims of the SED dictatorship 5 in the German Bundestag, as the successor of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records Act, which is acting independently in the German Parliament (Bundestag) as the Ombudsman (Ombudsperson). SED is the abbreviation of the Socialist United Party (originally: Sozialistiche Einheitspartei Deutschlands). The question is: why any of the ombudsmen in Croatia didn’t raise the question of the opening of the secret Archives of UDBA and KOS? According to the Croatian Ombudsmans’ Act, the Ombudsman is a Commissioner of the Croatian Parliament for promotion and protection of Human Rights and liberties confirmed by the Constitution, Laws and International Legal Acts on Human Rights and freedoms which Croatia has been adopted. As Croatia is a member of the Council of Europe (CE) and the European Union (EU), it accepted the Resolutions of the CE and European Parliament (EP) related to the disclosure of the information on crimes committed in totalitarian regimes. But why the resolutions are not implemented in the legislation? These subjects definitely would belong to the scope of work of that institution. We don’t have the answer to the question of why that Office is not acting in that direction.
On September 17th, 2021 entered into force Amendments according to which the STASI records Act was integrated into the Federal Archives Act of the Republic of Germany. Having in mind that the STASI Records Act remained in force at all in its original form, the procedure of the access to the Stasi Acts remained the same. So, in that part, nothing has changed. Why this is important to emphasise? Because Croatia still doesn’t have the Act on the Disclosure of Information which should regulate this extremely important subject. The Croatian Law on the Archival material and Archives which is in force from January 1st, 2020 has been written so generally, so it can be interpreted as needed; on this or another way; as does it suits to whom. The purpose of every Act is to regulate the behaviour of every citizen and institution of the exact part of the life in the particular country. So, everyone has to act according to the Law and if doesn’t do that, the same Law regulates the sanctions. In that way, the states became legally settled and because of that reason, the Laws in the States have to be well made because they ensure the Rule of Law. Is our Law on the Archival material and Archives ensures access to the information related to the documents of UDBA and KOS? No. Why not? We can just presume that among the persons who can have the influence and have it on the adoption of the Law on the Disclosure of Information, probably exist persons which are against the opening of the Archives for the public at all, in the part related to the servants of UDBA and KOS and their actions in the former Yugoslavia. Croatia couldn’t influence the opening of the Archives in Serbia, in Belgrade, of course, but it could influence its opening in Croatia.
Croatia should implement the Resolutions of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament
Germany is a great example of a country that has made a resolution, clarification and disclosure of the past and improved and made a clearer picture of the future. The communist, like all other totalitarian regimes, has been repressive and it should not be good to protect any of these systems, which Croatia regularly is doing by not adopting the Law on Disclosure of Information. It remained in the shadows of the past and economic growth is weak. It is proven a better growth in the economies in the post-communist countries in which a lustration has been made. At the same time, the governing coalition in Croatia, this one, likewise the previous one, doesn’t respect the Resolutions of the European Parliament, of which, one of the latest has been brought in 2019, the Resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, which calls on all Member States of the EU to make a clear and principled assessment of the crimes and acts of aggression perpetrated by the totalitarian communist regimes and the Nazi regime 6. For the implementation of the noted stipulation of the EP, it is necessary to open Archives at all, because it is not possible by another way to reconsider the crimes and acts of aggression from the mentioned totalitarian regimes.
On December 15th, 2021 the EP brought by the majority of votes (531 votes for, 48 against and 117 restrained) a Resolution on cooperation on the fight against organised crime in the Western Balkans, which besides other “notes that links between organised crime, politics and businesses existed before the break-up of Yugoslavia and have continued since the 1990s; condemns the apparent lack of will of the responsible authorities to open the former Yugoslav archives; reiterates its call, therefore, for the former Yugoslav archives to be opened and, in particular, for access to be granted to the files of the former Yugoslav Secret Service (UDBA) and the Yugoslav People’s Army Secret Service (KOS), and for the files to be returned to the respective governments if they so request” 7. It applies too to the Western Balkans countries which want to join the European Union and already started the negotiations about it. Probably the EU determined that has made a big mistake when allowed to Slovenia and after to Croatia to join the EU, despite they, until then and now, didn’t open secret Archives of the former Yugoslavia secret service. That fact is noted in the article which refers to International Law and has been published in the Canadian Institute for International Law Expertises’ Journal for International Law 8. On that way has been made a relation between a lustration and economic growth, and the existence of the crime, which includes the corruption and limits the economic growth too.
It is difficult to us which wanted a Croatian country, dreamed about it and we know how the communist system was repressive, where it was not allowed to speak, to write about Croatian history nor to sing the Croatian songs, to watch today how the some people which were mostly serving in the communist system, are destroying it; which don’t love it, then only see in it the source of the earning and getting rich themselves and their people and families, through the next generations. In many cases, enrichment wasn’t legal and was without any care about the interest of the nation and the state. The damage already has been done but it is still possible to discover the perpetrators of the communist crimes through the opening of the archives which consist of the data on the former Yugoslavia Secret service servants and their actions. Without a clean past, it is not possible to have a healthy and bright future.
1. Kristina Gogić, „Communism will end with lustration“, Vijenac 574, https://kristinagogic.com/en/communism-will-end-with-lustration/
2. Kristina Gogić, „Hiding of informers“, Vijenac 589, https://kristinagogic.com/en/hiding-of-informers/
3. Kristina Gogić, „Models of Lustration in the Post Communist countries“, https://kristinagogic.com/en/lustration-is-still-going-on-in-eastern-germany/
5. The Federal Archives https://www.stasi-unterlagen-archiv.de/en/the-agency/future-of-the-stasi-records/ accessed 31 October 2021
6. European Parliament, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2019-0021_EN.html accessed 1 November 2021
7. European Parliament, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0506_EN.html accessed 15 January 2022
8. Gogić K, „European Fund for Strategic Investments, Does it need extra action to make a full success“ (2019) 1 CIFILE Journal of International Law 20 https://kristinagogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/CIFJ_Volume-1_Issue-1_Pages-17-21.pdf