Saturday, August 30, 2003

When Anything Else Fails, Blame the Serbs

This is the most popular explanation of all Croatian problems, including poor showings of national football team. Vedran Mardešić (Vedran Mardesic), City of Split anti-drug official who is, unlike Ante Barbir, still under criminal investigation, used Serbs as a convenient bogeyman in his interview for Slobodna Dalmacija. He claims that the evil Serbs used to flood Split with cheap heroin in 1980-ies, in an obvious attempt to blunt the rebirth of Croatian nationalism among Split youth. He also hints that the criminal investigation against him is part of the same perfidious plan – Mardešić's apparent, albeit modest, success in decreasing the number of heroin addicts in Split, stood in the way of those who wanted to destroy Croatia.

To say that Mardešić is full of it would be understatement. It is truth that Split indeed was the heroin addiction capital of former Yugoslavia in 1980s. Yet drug problems of Split, even in that time, were nothing compared to the drug problems in small towns of Dalmatia, where the rates of youth heroin addiction used to be even higher than in Dalmatian capital. One of those small towns included Knin – the very hotbed of Serbian nationalism in Dalmatia; according to Mardešić, evil Serb narco-lords poisoned even their own.

Mardešić also fails to explain how Croatian independence and cleansing of Serbs from Dalmatia failed to stop heroin epidemic in Split and Dalmatia. In 1995, the very year when rebel Serbs got kicked out of "Krajina", price of heroin was lower than the price of marijuana.

The real explanation for heroin epidemic in Split could be found in strings of scandals associated with Ivan Skender, Croatian citizen who was recently arrested in Austria with few kilos of cocaine during widely-publicised drug bust. Name of Ivan Skender was already known to Croatian public. Few years ago Feral Tribune published 1997 transcripts of Franjo Tudjman's conversations with his subordinates. One of them mentioned Ivan Skender as "one of biggest drug dealers in Dalmatia and Herzegovina". Tudjman's government seemed to be aware of his activities, but failed to act upon them. Račan's (Racan's) government followed the same example, and some of its members went even further – Veterans Ministry granted Ivan Skender, man claiming to be "Patriotic War invalid" with an apartment 2001. Only after the scandal did minister Ivica Pančić (Ivica Pancic) announce the review of apartment and invalid status policies.

In short, Croatian governments, past and present, participated, or at least turned the blind eye to booming drug trade in Split. Serbs had little or nothing to do with it.


Post a Comment

<< Home