TUE, 06 JAN 1998 17:00:02 GMT
AIM Zagreb, 19 December, 1997
After two three-year mandates, from 1991 until 1997, Ivan Supek could not be re-elected to the post of the president of Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU). Ivo Padovan, othorhinolaryngologist with a world reputation, replaced him on 16 December and he will be at the post of the president of HAZU for the next three years. Although the statute of the Academy does not prescribe any form of "presidential campaign", moreover there are even certain limitations in presentation of candidates, this campaign nevertheless took place and everybody agrees - it has never been fiercer and filthier, and the results, like in numerous similar situations, were fixed, arranged and rearranged in the presidential palace of the Croatian president.
Ever since the Croat Democratic Community (HDZ) came to power, a fierce process of instrumentalisation of all institutions in Croatia began, scientific and cultural inclusive, all in order to put them in the service of keeping HDZ in power. The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Croatian PEN have remained the only institutions in that ruthless seven-year war that the HDZ has not managed to silence and get control of. Nothing but the name has remained of European Croatia which Boris Maruna day-dreamed about, the first writer of Croatian diaspora who has recently said goodbye to editting the biweekly for culture Vijenac published by Matica Hrvatska, while other things and processes we are witnessing nowadays just confirm the old truth that people who distinguish themselves with knowledge, ambition, energy and wisdom, fare the worst in Croatia, Maruna concluded pessimistically in his farewell speech.
There is plenty of evidence for such a stand. When the authorities cannot close down faculties, they decide to establish new ones, such as the Croatian studies and the affiliated studies of journalism. The acute international pressure exerted on Croatia because of limitted freedom of the press resulted in foundation of a large number of journals, but unsuccessful and mostly with a low circulation, such as Hrvatski obzor or even those which openly advocate intolerance to everything that is contrary to daily policy of the current authorities, in which Hrvatsko slovo, allegedly "weekly for culture" of the Society of Croatian writers blazes a trail. The attempt to establish a parallel union of journalists ingloriously failed although Hloverka Srzic Novak was supposed to be its head, but introduction of the value-added tax which is coming into force on the first day of next year will put book publishers into the same position like ashtray manufacturers - the tax of 22 per cent will not be avoided even by books, which was evaluated by the publishers as the worst blow struck against Croatian culture "since the seventh century". If one adds to this picture of anti-intellectualism and general rustication the fact that the Institute for Social Studies was put under control of the HDZ, independence of HAZU and PEN became even more terrible for the ruling party.
Ivan Supek, nowadays the head of the Movement for Democracy and Social Justice, non-partisan and non-governmental organization, could remain the president of HAZU as long as he did not oppose decisions of the ruling team, decisions which most frequently were neither reasonable nor had anything in common with brains. The move that the regime will never forgive Supek for is that he intervened with German chancellor Helmut Kohl explaining the insaneness of the war between the Croats and the Muslims in B&H, after which estrangement occurred in very friendly relations of Germany towards Croatia. Opposition to policy of Tudjman and the HDZ towards B&H made Supek the "villain", and it was just a matter of time when the regime would set out to square accounts with him. Supek, the world known, highly esteemed and influential intellectual was too big a risk which the regime did not wish to take until recently.
The detonator of the explosion and the beginning of barrage at Supek was the letter written by Franjo Tudjman, member of the Academy, to Ivan Supek, member of the Academy, on 20 June this year, six months before Supek's presidential mandate in HAZU expired. In this "Open Letter" which was given the largest space and attention by Vjesnik, Tudjman accused Supek of supporting forces which, as the Croatian president chose to interpret, wished to kill him, quoting Supek's interview to Feral Tribune and a note from Tjednik as main evidence. All those quoted in the "Open Letter" replied - the Feral, and the Tjednik, and Supek, of course, but plaintiff Tudjman did not appear in public concerning this matter any more. As so many times before, he stated a thesis, but it was not his business to waste time with it any more. The elaboration of the thesis was taken over by president's toadies and flatteres who do not mind being close to any authorities - communist or the so-called democratic, and who rejected their dignity for the "sake of a higher cause", such as "lying for the homeland".
The starting point for silencing Supek and moreover for disciplining HAZU was the thesis that the Academy had to be above daily politics, and this was supposed to mean that it should not at all be engaged in it, except for its department of politicology. "HAZU must deal with politics only where it is supposed to - in its department of politicology", declared Ivo Padovan the newly elected president of the Academy to Tjednik, back in August when he was still just one of the candidates for president. This statement was just a confirmation of the demand launched in public some time before that by Zeljko Bujas, also member of the Academy and apologist of HDZ authorities. According to his opinion, "institutional individuality of HAZU makes it an irreplaceable element of Croat identity", which served him to draw the conclusion that "president of HAZU with his responsible position above daily politics must himself be an unquestionable part of such institutional individuality", so that by its Statute, HAZU should ban its president public appearances on current social and political issues. This paved the way to election of the new president, and criteria according to which he would be elected. Exceptions from not appearing in public could be made by the future president only in case of expressing support abroad to the policy pursued at home, it was additionally suggested.
Ten days before the elections in the Academy, Supek concluded that the choice of the president would reflect the choice "whether the Academy will continue with independent policy, therefore, with persons who are not subordinate to any party, or whether the decision would be to have a team which is more or less inclined to president Tudjman and the HDZ". The decision to elect Ivo Padovan to be the new president of the Academy resolved this dilemma in favour of Tudjman and the HDZ. Although Padovan nowadays enjoys a reputation of an exceptional scientist, politically he stands on the positions of the HDZ, as he openly manifested by supporting their last election campaign. Nobody had any doubts nor questioned this appearance of his as a political appearance in public which might not belong to politicology. Vladimir Paar and Ivan Aralica, both members of the Academy, the latter being also a member of the supreme advisory body of the president of the Republic, also passed over in silence this appearance of Padovan's, although they were the very ones who replied to Supek and his stand that "HAZU must not shut itself up in ivory towers of science and arts, but participate more openly in resolving social problems", assessing this as inappropriate for "modern times".
All decisions in the Academy are reached by a "silent majority", and Supek knew very well what that meant. "Each members of the Academy (...) must make more money, must ensure promotion for his children and grandchildren, and he can do it only if he cooperates with the HDZ. Because HDZ holds all the money, the entire Croatian economy. Therefore, people adjust. (...) I know members of the Academy who have 30 thousand kunas a month, who are members of various boards and have other sources of income. Therefore, corruption has also permeated to a certain extent intellectual circles", declared Supek recently. He did not give any names, so it remained an open question whether he, perhaps, had in mind Vlatko Pavletic, president of the Croatian State Assembly (as the Assembly is called since a few days ago) who has added membership in supervisory boards to his title of the member of the Academy.
After all, election of Padovan for the president of the Academy was a choice that could not be avoided. His rival Vlatko Silobrcic simply did not stand a chance, since, following in the steps of Supek's views, declared that the Academy's stands were insufficiently respected, and that "its voice must be heard" when longterm interests of Croatia are at stake, due to all the forms of pressure, withdrawal of financial support to the Academy's departments, and even open threat by the President. That is how the Academy bent its backbone and joined the destroyed science, dilapidated institutes, instrumentalised universities and an avalanche of trash which has replaced art in the state which educated youngsters are mercilessly runing away from.