Patriotism is about loyalty to the principles upon which a nation was founded and today’s Croatia is founded on the Homeland War of 1990’s. We cannot allow the idea of patriotism to render us disillusioned because disillusion sows the seeds for authoritarianism to run riot and ravage the fabrics strung together to form the nation in all its intended glory. That is what is happening to our Croatia where the governments of the past two decades have maintained the hated authoritarianism that made former communist Yugoslavia a hell on earth for the ordinary (non-Communist Party affiliated) Croat. Authoritarianism has been the culprit for inaction in stamping out corruption that plagues the lives of Croatians during and since Yugoslavia. Authoritarianism has been the culprit in attempts (and successes) to silence and quash the great power in the betterment of life for all that the Croatian diaspora possess.
The Croatian diaspora has and shows the threads that make up patriotism in remarkable ways!
Patriotism is love of country, and we should delight in celebrating democracy achieved through the victorious Homeland War, individual freedoms, captivating culture, stunning landscapes and, as the national anthem says, sun-kissed fields.
But patriotism is more than a shoutout for Our Beautiful Homeland (Lijepa naša domovino) or a standing ovation for those who serve and served Croatia in ways that most putting their hands together without having acted for Croatia will never do. Patriotism is also respect for democratic institutions, a desire to make Croatia better and a passion to defend against national threats.
Like democracy, patriotism itself needs regular check-ups, especially now with an ever-widening social chasm that will surely become more pronounced through this election year as Croatia’s economy sinks deeper and deeper into the pit of no return unless both HDZ and SDP incompetent governments are voted out. More and more, it’s evident, less and less attention is paid to citizens’ obligations in a democracy and for that we can only blame the HDZ and SDP governments and their controlled mainstream media; more and more the diaspora-based citizens’ obligations in democracy are undermined and threatened to irrelevance and for that we can blame the same governments.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This is one of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s most well remembered quotes, worldwide, because of its gravitas and its universality. As Croatians, legal citizens of Croatia living outside Croatia, we should view patriotism as an avenue for identifying systemic problems related to our rights and plights within our Croatian homeland society and proposing solutions, rather than blindly upholding or passively permitting the existence of oppressive systems and essentially oppressive people in authority, we have been served with in Croatia’s governments since year 2000. General elections for the Croatian Parliament are imminent – they will be held on 4th and 5th July 2020.
While the bitter fact remains that both HDZ and SDP governments in Croatia have, on the side of apparent malice towards the diaspora, severely cut the number and accessibility to polling booths in the diaspora and denied the diaspora the ease of electronic and postal voting, the other side of the coin shines with the diaspora’s will to participate in the betterment of Croatian society; for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren. That is, in fact, the side of the coin that moved the Croatian diaspora in its exceptional efforts during early 1990’s in helping create the free and independent state of Croatia. Our job is not yet done, though, we must participate in the ongoing battles to rid Croatia of remnants of the communist Yugoslavia oppressive and unfriendly public administration and red tape that frustrate normal living all Croatians deserve.
Each and every one of us in the Croatian diaspora, who holds the citizenship, needs to come out and vote at the coming elections. I am aware that for many that is a logistical difficulty because of the distances to the nearest Croatian Embassy or Consulate. But, remember please: we endured the same, if not worse difficulties when we acted in high spirits and physical hardships during the times of the Homeland War to ensure Croatia achieves independence!
Voting from the diaspora in the elections for the Croatian Parliament is one of the leading qualities of one’s patriotism for the Homeland. In the country with the freedom achieved through the Homeland War and with the mighty resources we have in the diaspora, we must not permit our metaphorical house plants of peers (those who live in Croatia and love Croatia as much as we in the diaspora do) just wilt, and blame the oppressive and unfriendly governments for the decline in standards of living in Croatia. After all, Croats from the diaspora fought “tooth and nail” during the Homeland War so that Croats in Croatia could have a good life and a prosperous life like most in the diaspora do, so that many of us could return to the Homeland and feel at home. Certainly most of us did not feel at home before emigrating or fleeing from communist Yugoslavia.
The Croatian diaspora can’t keep neglecting our Croatian people in Croatia that are struggling as we do by not voting in general elections, hence giving room to those who do not love democracy and Croatia as much as we do to get into government.
Like we did during 1990’s, we must call on our legislators and influencers to bring sunshine back into the lives of many Croatians struggling to live in Croatia. We can only do that by having a greater say in the outcome of general elections for the Croatian Parliament.
We must mobilise again and vote at the coming general elections in early July.
We can’t keep dwelling in negativity that criticisms of the governments bring.
We must try our hardest to reel in, with our votes, a new government that will bring about real changes in Croatia for Croats living abroad and in Croatia.
Please vote on 4th or 5th July 2020. Croatian citizens with residence in the Croatian diaspora and Bosnia and Herzegovina can register to vote ahead of the general elections by filling in the appropriate Form for that and providing a copy of Croatian citizenship ID such as passport or Domovnica/ photo ID by 24th June. Citizens of Croatia living abroad can also register to vote at the polling booth on polling the above days in July.
For your convenience please click this link for a copy of the Registration to Vote Form, print it, fill it in, email or fax or take it to you nearest Croatian Embassy or Consulate BY 24 JUNE and contribute positively to the outcome of general elections. Without your contribution Croatia’s progress into a society that is fair for all, without corruption, simply will not happen in the foreseeable future. Ina Vukic