Mladen Pavković Translated by: Dr. Dorothy McClellan
PROF. DR. SC. PAUL ZVONIMIR ŠEPAROVIĆ
A year ago, at the age of 94, (January 30, 2022), Prof. Paul Zvonimir Šeparović passed away in Zagreb. Dr. Sc. Paul Šeparović was a politician, lawyer, former government minister, and one of the founders of the Croatian Victimization Society.
In addition, we will also remember him as the initiator and president of the Croatian National Ethics Court, which morally condemned a number of Croatian persons who worked against Croatia, for which some could never forgive Dr. Šeparović.
I published several conversations with Dr. Šeparović. Well, considering that after his death almost no one published a single line about him, nor is he mentioned on the occasion of various national and other anniversaries, I believe it will be interesting to read again – what he said and thought. This is just a portion of one of those conversations... Namely, when I asked him whether this is the Croatia he fought for since 1990, he said:
“We wanted a free, independent, democratic, internationally recognized Croatia. We have mostly achieved this, but instead of a well-ordered state, we have a lawless country, permeated and almost destroyed by corruption. The territory, this remnant of remains, is now being eroded by our neighbors. Instead of progress and well-being, we have hopelessness, young people do not see prospects and leave, and the government, leadership of the state, is below every criterion of expertise and success. The country has lost its reputation. From being victorious, we have become a country of the obedient, where important matters are decided by others.”
In the beginning, you were close to the first Croatian president, Dr. Franjo Tuđman, and after that you parted ways… Why and for what reasons?
“Because of evil people who were envious of my successes in foreign policy and were eager to take my place. In the spring of 1992, in a survey by the Institute of Social Sciences on the popularity of politicians before the election for the President of the Republic, I was at the top of the list, where Dr. Franjo Tuđman took only fourth place. His advisers must have warned the president about it. Mate Granić published an interview with Butković in the local weekly under the title “How I Dismissed Šeparović”; It was in February 1992. In the midst of my strongest activity for entry and admission to the United Nations, which we succeeded in accomplishing on May 22, 1992. Then Šarinić asked the President, who will sit in the benches of the General Assembly on the day of the reception. The president answered: “The Minister.” I did not completely part ways with the President. In the last year of his life, when he was threatened with an indictment in The Hague, he invited me to the government as Minister of Justice. Unfortunately, he died in December and we all lost the election on January 3, 2000.”
Is Dr. Franjo Tuđman the greatest Croat among Croats?
“He was one of the greatest. Great were the kings and princes, Tomislav and Zvonimir, great was Father of Homeland Ante Starčević. Great was also Dr. Franjo Tuđman. He created the modern Croatian state with us. He is undoubtedly a great historical figure among Croats. One of the biggest.”
How did you then, and how do you now view Croatian foreign policy? Who is to blame for the fact that relatively little is known about Croatia in the world?
“In the past, foreign policy as a central state discipline was victorious, successful, and effective: At the beginning of Croatian statehood, at the time of the first kings and princes, when the pope recognized us, then when we were declared the forerunner of Christianity, and the foreign policy of the Republic of Dubrovnik, which maintained its independence not only with the thick walls of the Minčeta, but also through the skillful diplomacy between the Ottomans and Venice – successfully and wisely they were among the first to recognize the independence of the USA. We were also victorious when we were recognized by Europe on January 15, 1992, and by the whole world on May 22, 1992.
We were not supported by Orthodox countries, nor by non-aligned countries, nor by England and France, nor by Slovenia. Slovenian President Rupel went around the world asking them to recognize his country and not Croatia, saying we are not twins, and that Croatia does not have control over their territory. No one but the Holy See and Germany wanted us, but we succeeded. Because I didn’t stick to the worn-out’s principle’s that politics is the art of the possible. I always went for more than possible, goal-oriented politics. That proved to be the most successful approach.
Today, there is no Croatian foreign policy. In Paris, Goldstein meditates under the image of the villain Tito, Paro flees from Washington and does not welcome the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister is constantly dealing with Ukraine, he even sends an Ozbold woman to Kyiv on a mission, and I nicely, publicly warned him that he is in the game on the other side, that of great Russia’s. Merkel favors the Chetnik Vučić, our natural ally Orban is playing with Slovenia against Croatia, in Zagreb the former nuncia (official representative of the Vatican) regularly drank coffee with Vesna Pusić, until recently the American ambassador was sending Serbian promotional material claiming religious freedom does not exist in Croatia…Thus, we could list cases of failures of Croatian diplomacy, which is silent or plays the wrong card.”
One gets the impression that you are constantly fighting for the betterment of Croatia, but that this fight has only brought you trouble so far. Or does it just seem that way to us?
“I do not have any special troubles, beyond what is usual. My university teaching career remained my most important preoccupation. As a professor emeritus, I still meet with students today. My involvement in the world and national victimology movement brought me numerous welcome encounters and I had the feeling that I had chosen my occupation well - dealing with victims. If you meant politics, I also had real successes, recognitions. I had the pleasure of participating in important world events. I met quite a few distinguished people. The meeting with the Holy Father John Paul II enriched my spiritual life. I met many heads of state, kings, all of which brought a certain feeling that my life was not in vain. And that it was good and useful for the betterment of the Croatian people. Those were my drops in Cesarić’s vision of a waterfall.”
We were at war, we won, but we do not officially have recognition of Heroes of the Croatian Defense Homeland War. How is that?
“You have done the most in regard to this. You gave recognition and wrote monographs about General Ante Gotovina and others. You, above everyone else, recognized the heroism and suffering of Mother Kate Šoljić who lost four sons and a son-in-law in the Homeland War and four brothers in the communist interwar terror. We in the Croatian Victimology Society named her honorary president. Mother Kata is our heroine.”
How would you solve the “For Home We Are Ready” greeting today, i.e. the red communist five-pointed star?
“I would leave them alone. I would not exaggerate like the Hungarians who cancel a can of Heineken beer for the sake of a red star. Nor would I follow the Italians who defend highlighting only fascist signs. Well, they still have “bundles of wheat” - fascist signs, at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Our young men died on all the battlefields of Croatia with the slogan for “For Home We Are Ready”. Protection came with the law from the time of Račan. The greeting is legitimate. And as far as Heineken’s star is concerned, our Croatian Ozujsko beer is the best for me.”
Dr. Paul Zvonimir Šeparović, Dee Dee and Doug Dretke, Executive Director, Correctional Management Institute of Texas, Dr. Dorothy S. McClellan, Regents Professor, Texas A&M University-CC
What can Croatia do that it has not done, in terms of war damage, searching for the missing and the like with Serbia, which, along with Montenegro and the JNA, was an aggressor against the Republic of Croatia?
“As Minister of Justice, I filed a lawsuit against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) before the International Court of Justice. The court did not accept that Serbs committed genocide, but found elements of genocide. Apparently there were not enough dead (!) for it to be a crime of genocide. Croatia is not doing enough to condemn the aggressor. Both the state and individuals could claim payment of war damages. There are legal and moral principles and laws for this.”
You also had to establish a “court” for alleged Croatian traitors. After you condemned them, what happened?
“Few wanted to publish those condemnations. Today, Croatia is in the deepest crisis. In this situation, a group of patriotic intellectuals and citizens decided to warn the public about the extreme danger in which the people and the country of Croatia find themselves. For this purpose, we founded the Croatian National Ethics Court (HNES). We gathered more than 50 people. In the presidency are Dr. Nikola Debelić, Academician Josip Pečarić, Prof. Josip Jurčević, Prof. Zdravko Tomac, writers Nevenka Nekić and Đuro Vidmarović, Ante Beljo, lawyers Zvonimir Hodak and Željko Olujić, the late Slobodan Novak and Prof. Branimir Lučić... Our members are also members of Serbs in Croatia: Nenad Vlahović, president of the Serbian Just Party in Croatia and Predrag Peđa Mišić, veteran of Vukovar, now an officer of the Croatian Army.
We ethically condemned Stipe Mesić, Ivo Josipović, Vesna Pusić, Milorad Pupovac, Zoran Milanović, Budimir Lončar, Vesna Teršelič, Carl Bildt and, to top it all off, J.B. Tito, one of the ten biggest criminals of the twentieth century.
We also campaigned for the removal of his and other names from our squares, streets and shores and the passing of a law prohibiting the display of signs of totalitarianism, even communism, and the passing of a law on lustration... With “Circle for the Public Square” in Zagreb, we succeeded in removing the hated name. The controlled media ignored us, but the Croatian media and veterans’ associations and numerous citizens supported us. In Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall at our grand gathering, the hall was filled to capacity--many could not enter the hall.”
Do you also think that Croatia is still ruled by the former UDBA people?
“UDBA is everywhere! Perković and Mustać were at the top in our newly restored state. They have power and great influence on the government. There are lists of UDBA associates in which there are big surprises.”
And how to recognize those people who are like chameleons?
“When they approach you, say their code name, if you know it. I’m joking. I have already mentioned that there are lists and whoever is interested can get acquainted with them. Lists.”
You have collaborated with many Croatian politicians and politicians. In whom were you most disappointed?
“I will tell you only one name - Mate Granić. There he is now on Pantovčak.”
And, could you have made a significant mistake in some of your political decisions?
“There are no infallibles. I am no exception. Since you’re asking, here’s my answer. I should not have agreed to go from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs to the position of Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.”
Why is it that little or almost nothing is said in our country about communist victims, or rather why no one has ever been convicted of communist crimes?
“The Croatian Victims Society has never tired of pointing out and revealing the victims of communism. During the Homeland War, we had war testimony forums where victims of crimes testified. Since 1998, we have been holding Croatian Victims congresses every three years. We have 6,000 pages of documented victims’ testimony. We have published numerous monographs in our Documenta Croatica library. Many others have also researched. The research corps of Prof. Josip Jurčević is too rich with evidence of hidden graves and terrible crimes. Bleiburg, Ways of the Cross, Kočevski Rog, Huda Jama, Macelj... to name just a few capital crimes of communism. You, Mr. Pavković, personally, and your association pointed out many crimes and their victims. It is a sad truth that no one was held accountable for communist crimes. Most of the criminals are already in hell, but there is no condemnation of communist crimes, this is stopped by these antifa hiding behind antifascism.”
In your opinion, is it permissible to touch Kumrovec, which is all in the spirit of Tito, the party and communism, that is, the failed Yugoslavia?
“Kumrovec is a tame village in Zagorje, which they turned, and some still maintain, into a mythical place. It is up to the investigators to shed light on whether this person Josip Broz was even born there and how it is that the locksmith can easily play Chopin, that he does not speak the Croatian language. Kumrovec should not be demolished, the buildings located there can be used for humane purposes, say a home for neglected children, children with disabilities and the like.”
Have you also been sued or convicted because of some of your political views or actions?
“I was not been tried or sued, but at the end of the eighties I received increased surveillance. In preparation for the Fifth World Congress of Victimology in 2010, two people “from Zrinjevac” came to me with a warning that they would monitor the work of the congress and that there should be no Amnesty International, nor public demonstrations for the release of political prisoners. I replied that representatives of Amnesty International will be present at the congress, and since we are a scientific gathering, we will not go out into the street. But here, in this country of ours, two years ago I was called to a “debriefing interview” at the Trešnjevka police station on the complaint of Vesna Teršelič, that she felt threatened by the conviction of HNES. So, in our time, from our police.”
You were once a candidate for president of the Republic of Croatia. What did that experience bring you?
“It is difficult to make predictions in politics. I realized that without the media and without large financial resources, you cannot easily succeed in public bidding for such a high office. Neither Budiša nor I succeeded. Stipe Mesić succeeded twice in a row! This is the absurdity of politics.”
And one more thing - How do you see Croatia in the next 50 years?
“It is thankless and difficult to predict in the long term. I wish and hope that Croatia will become a country of prosperity, freedom and constant progress. But now we have programmed chaos, demographic disaster, brutal corruption, inappropriate government, threat to our national territory, and other troubles. You have to come out of all this whole and alive. God will provide and it will be good and better. In addition, we are part of a world dominated by violence and a constant struggle for power. The world is heading towards disaster, the Third World War is also mentioned. War threatens humanity, not just individual nations. Some talk about the last days, so it is ungrateful to predict the future. It is anything but idyllic. And Croatia is in a very prominent geostrategic position.”
Commemoration of Professor Emeritus Zvonimir Šeparović in the lobby of the National and University Library in Zagreb. Addressing the ceremony, Minister Grlić Radman.
Vlado Košić, Bishop of Sisak, spoke about this Croatian giant at the funeral:
Today we say goodbye to a man who was a respected fighter for the freedom of his people, and an expert in the field of international law.
He contributed enormously to the establishment of the Republic of Croatia. That is why we will not forget him, and while praying to God for his soul, we are also praying for our Motherland.
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