October this year will mark 30 years since the beginning of the siege of Dubrovnik and its surroundings and the bombing of its walls and vital structures, which culminated on 6 December 1991; the deaths of civilians and soldiers. You were the mayor of that city when the Yugoslav Chetnik aggression indiscriminately hit the city and its people with its murderous weapons and intentions. How much do you vividly remember those days of the attack on Dubrovnik, and can you tell us what was going through your mind the most at that time?
In summer of 1991 a decision was made by the Municipal Council of the City of Dubrovnik, in fact the then Municipality of Dubrovnik to accept and take in refugees from Vukovar. Our people from Vukovar were offered accommodation and holidays in all our hotels. Other places by the sea did the same, offering free accommodation to a certain number of refugees for a certain period of time. At my suggestion, which was unanimously accepted (I was then leading “social” matters on the Council), we offered all refugees from Vukovar accommodation for an unlimited number of people and for an unlimited period of time – not knowing that we, ourselves, would soon become refugees, and our citizens of Vukovar were shelled once again!
All resources from the Red Cross, Caritas, hotels, associations, … were made available and after the public announcement, we prepared for the reception of numerous refugees. Very soon, several thousand of unfortunate people found themselves in Dubrovnik. We selflessly wanted to help them in their suffering and alleviate the sad fact that their husbands, fathers, brothers, relatives … remained in their city defending it and losing their lives for it.
How profoundly distressing were the testimonies of women and children who escaped from the hell of war and found refuge with us. We organised swimming lessons for them, all kinds of events, sports competitions, to try to at least alleviate a little bit their grief for their fathers and their city. We regularly followed the events in Vukovar and found ourselves slowly preparing for the defence of our city – in case it became necessary.
One part of our people based their defence strategy on the fact that the City would not be attacked (after all, who would dare attacking the Pearl of the World and the UNESCO-protected city!). One part of our people, including myself, based their defence strategy on another fact and that was that our neighbours were not so smart and that there would be attacks.
Fear and unrest were felt in the City. An interesting event took place at a larger gathering (a full cinema hall right in the centre of the old town). Speakers lined up and each in their own way “analysed the situation” and fearing the fate of Vukovar. At one point of such fear and uncertainty, my compatriot from Velja Međa-Andrija Oberan, came up to the podium.
What will he say now – I’m really interested, I thought.
And Oberan began:
‘My people, I came to this city in torn trousers twenty years ago – following my belly for bread. I didn’t really have much schooling and I applied for work on a building site. The first morning I saw people around me making some agreement between them and collecting money, so I asked what it was about and if I could participate as well?’ ‘You can, Vlach,’ they told me. ‘We are collecting money for brunch’! ‘And what is a brunch?’
‘Well, it’s something like your breakfast, you Vlach.’
‘Okay, here’s the money, and what will be for that brunch’
‘White kidneys,’ they replied.
After a while, a car comes in and a large pot was taken out of the trunk, and I approached to see what the white kidneys were! I lift the lid and see – well, my people, these are testicles!
Now, whoever has balls, let him not be afraid of war, and who has white kidneys – I can’t help him! – That was the shortest and best speech I heard in those times!
In your opinion, what was your role in the fight for freedom, for the independence of Croatia?
It was felt that the war would not bypass us either. The Government of the Republic of Croatia had appointed me as the “War Commissioner for Southern Croatia” – one of six War Commissioners in the country!
And? On October 1, 1991, in the early morning hours, the first grenade fell on Dubrovnik.
On the same date, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) began with the ritual burning of my birth house in Ravno (Herzegovina), which was, of course, thoroughly looted by Serbs and Montenegrins before that. As it was then – so it is today – unrestored and without a roof. However, “journalists” have long ago renovated it and luxuriously equipped it – so much about our objective “journalism”!
So that is the date of the beginning of the war in BiH, and not the few months later as Alija Izetbegović said – when the shelling of Sarajevo began!
It is interesting that in Dubrovnik, the first victim of the Serbian grenades was one
honest and good man in his home Miličević- a Serb! Civilian of course!
Were the people around you, and you, fully committed to the goal of Croatian independence?
In all this difficult time of hopelessness, there was still hope. We trusted our President Franjo Tudjman and our brave defenders. We knew that we would defend and organise our Homeland in the way that befits a Croatian person. In a report for HTV, I told the deceitful and inconsistent world: with your eyes on the Croats, you remain deaf and blind and dumb, but know that these tortured old men and hungry children will not give you peace, and the public will condemn you that you could have prevented this war – and you did not!”
And a message to the aggressors – Serbs and Montenegrins:
“When you think that you killed the last man from the ruins, the hand of the Croatian defender will be raised, and he will spoil your plans”!
How would you describe the Croatian spirit of the 1990’s?
The Croatian spirit in those difficult times was constant, strong, unbreakable. It drew its strength from the fact that we were getting stronger every day and increasingly armed despite the will of the world. Thomson’s “Čavoglave” was sung by both old and young, fuelled by strength and hope for our better tomorrow in togetherness. We extended a hand of reconciliation to our former persecutors, following President Tudjman’s advice that we must all be one, because that is the only recipe for success.
I caved in, inside, and extended my hand to the man whose hand beat my late friend Bruno Busic, because he was now a true Croatian defender who was ashamed of his unreasonable act. And everything somehow “was in tune” until the former communists, seeing that nothing bad would happen to them, got stronger.
Then they spat on that outstretched hand, and they still spit on it today.
How would you describe the Croatian spirit of today?
I wrote this poem at the time of the strongest Serbo-Chetnik and Montenegrin aggression against Croatia, when the “Red Army Barracks” threatened Osijek, and General Branimir Glavas awakened hope, when they killed Vukovar and the heroic defenders led by General Blago Zadro, when they destroyed Dubrovnik … while General Mirko Norac defended Gospić, when the five-pointed star polluted our Blue Adriatic …… autumn 1991.
THE SAME MESSAGE WAS VALID THEN AND IS VALID TODAY !!! – TO US AND TO THEM!
WE ARE ALL READY FOR CROATIA!
When at dawn the first ray,
Caresses the blue sea
And it illuminates your rivers
The golden fields of your mountain
When it awakes the Lika wolf
Herceg Bosna angry snake
And a pirate from the Neretva
Let them in if they can.
Zrinjski Castle, Senj Tower
Sinj Alkar calls the Fortress
If they are allowed, let them in
From Velebit the fairy is calling
I greet you, Dubrovnik
Beautiful Istria and the Littoral
Slavonia and Zagorje
Wake them all up
He sang a song of paradise
We are all READY FOR CROATIA!
You were the County Prefect (Župan) and you were a member of the Croatian Parliament, and as far as I remember, among other important things, you once asked for the termination of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, at least temporarily. Your request was not implemented, can you tell us something about that?
I served as the first prefect (župan) of Dubrovnik-Neretva County – honourably and responsibly trying to respect all people, and to those from the international community who visited me very often and insisted on reconciliation with the aggressor, I made clear what kind of reconciliation was possible.
I would tell them that, when the time came, Croats would forgive, but know that they will never forgive themselves if they allow something similar happen to them in the future.
On one occasion I asked them if they had heard of the “school of democracy” in Dubrovnik founded at the very beginning of the war. Of course they had not heard of it, and they remained amazed. Then I told them – on the day when the first grenade fell on Dubrovnik, we founded that school and we were professors, not students, because there were Serbs in the same shelter with us – probably relatives of those who sent us those grenades, and that not a hair fell from their heads, while their property remained intact. Find me just one example of such warfare in the whole world?!
And when they told me that they were worried about how the Serbs from Trebinje would feel one day on Stradun (Main street in Dubrovnik), I answered them very vividly: I guarantee you much better and more comfortably than the Germans in Paris ten years after the end of the Second World War!
This is where communication would usually end, and I would report it to my President Tudjman at the earliest opportunity – just in case. The President would not be angry with me – on the contrary, he was glad that someone could say something, and he for understandable reasons could not.
You were an important member of HDZ Party from its conception until 2018, when you withdrew from membership, and the Croatian media published, among other things, one of your messages to HDZ, which read “You have become a ‘spiritual Chernobyl’ in the Croatian people.” Please tell us something about your decision to leave the party into whose fabric you been woven for decades.
In those times I couldn’t even dream that the Cyrillic alphabet would return to Vukovar, that we will ratify the Istanbul Convention, because of which I withdrew from the HDZ party in 2018. That we would silently send our generals to The Hague, believing that this court will be fair! But in fact, The Hague was for The Hague! By joining the HDS (Croatian National Assembly – that was its official name at the time), I only continued to fight for the national interests of my people.
In the meantime, the STATE one got lost?! Why? Realising all the ugliness of the court in The Hague, I asked for the termination of cooperation with such a court. I also demanded a ban on the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet in two cities in Croatia – Knin and Vukovar, because of all the evil that had happened to the Croatian man in those cities. Unsuccessful of course.
This is what I wrote to the HDZ leadership in 2018 as my resignation from membership:
“I would like to be wrong, but I already see that the Istanbul Convention will be ratified by the Croatian National Parliament, and so that I do not wait for this joke to play out, which in fact is a tragedy – I am honestly sad that you forced me to this act, I have decided:
I, Jure Burić, a retired doctor and politician, and my wife Ljiljana Burić, a proud Croatian mother of five of our children with an address in Dubrovnik, no longer want to be members of the HDZ party.
We do not want to be your co-chairs, because you are no longer followers of its founder, Dr. Franjo Tudjman.
I came into politics from the position of head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Cervicofacial Surgery at the Hospital in Dubrovnik.
While the late President was still alive, I performed many honourable duties in the Croatian state. First as a War Commissioner (one of six in Croatia) for Southern Dalmatia, then the chief of war ambulance for the same area, the first mayor of Dubrovnik-Neretva and finally a representative in the Croatian State Parliament – that’s what Parliament used to be called!
We leave the party because we are
your greed for positions,
your waiver of
You have become a ‘spiritual Chernobyl’ in the Croatian people.
WE ARE ASHAMED BECAUSE YOU HAVE LOST SHAME!
Persistently beyond all reason and even though the Holy Father Pope Francis, Kaptol, Croatian bishops, the Croatian people together with their respected Croatian intellectual sons, members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, who have CLEARLY decided AGAINST THE RATIFICATION OF THE ISTANBUL CONVENTION you still claim that it is a ‘deeply Christian act’ and that you are on the same side as the church?
AND, ratifying the Istanbul Convention with a gender ideology is a SATAN job and NOT a Christian act, which offends every follower of Jesus and an honourable Croat.
You are persistent in claiming that your ‘interpretation’ gives security to the Istanbul Convention from non-implementation of gender ideology, and you know that it is an ordinary pamphlet, a legally worthless paper with which you only rub people’s eyes (after all, why distance yourself from something – what is missing ?!)
Well, you will not anoint ours and that is why with this act we stop being members of a party that has nothing to do with its founder, the late President Dr. Franjo Tudjman.
God enlighten your mind!
One day, when, with God’s help, Tudjman’s honourable follower does come, if we are still alive, he can count on us.”
Do you think that the composition of the Croatian Parliament has changed since you left it and if so how?
With the death of President Tudjman, everything turned upside down. The people have chosen the people who will lead the state and state policy from the ranks of former communists who never had love for the Croatian state.
They don’t even have it today!
Because had they had it, they would not have passed such laws and they would never have ratified the Istanbul Convention, from which, by the way, Istanbul itself has recently withdrawn!
Why do my people accept the abnormal as normal – it’s not clear to me nor will it ever be!
Do you think that Croatian politicians in the functions of the legislative and other authorities were and remain irresponsible towards Croatia and the values of the Homeland War after it completely ended with the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia in 1998?
Have we accepted the Brussels dictatorship in place of the Belgrade dictatorship? Have we lost our national pride and common sense?!
Why don’t we look up to the Hungarian President Orban and the Poles. Why do we reject our faith and our nation?
Why are we again “good servants of bad masters”!
We did something wrong in these “Lead times”. I know what!
We had to implement LUSTRATION at all costs after the end of the war (since we couldn’t or were not permitted to do before!). Yes – lustration – so, that way, it could not happen that our politics is run by people from the former communist system. Every, even the smallest cooperation with UDBA needed to prevent such “minds” from participating in the government of the Croatian state!
We didn’t do that, and we are paying the price and will continue paying a heavy price until the moment lustration happens!
Another evil that is equally important is theft.
Theft that has crept into all the pores of our lives. Both political and economic ones.
People no longer have human shame and God’s fear. All that matters is money, and how to get it – who cares. Handcuffs around the wrists of our political leaders and respected fellow citizens are becoming something that seems normal, and no one is surprised anymore at such sights.
Have these people ever gone to church and listened to sermons. I also bear a grudge towards the people of the Church. They are not consistent, they have ceased to be Stepinac’s followers, and how could they not be when their chief asks for the opinion of Bishop Irinej on Stepinac’s holiness. God forbid that this chief was there instead of St. John Paul II, because he too would perhaps ask that Bishop if he can and should he recognise the independence of Croatia.
There is no authority in the Church, no authority in the State, people’s memories removed, and, regardless of this, I still trust in God’s providence and His intervention, and hence, I do not lose hope and believe in a more certain future of my Croatian people!
When it comes to Croats, what do you dream about?
I no longer have dreams. I have dreamed all my dreams. Thanks be to God, I have received my beloved Croatia, healthy and in my mind. Stipe or Ivo can lead her … anyone, but they must know and confront the fact that it is mine, not their Croatia, that it was created in the blood and unseen love of her best sons! I want to keep her like that in my mind and with such a desire one day stand before the Lord!
ABOUT: DR. JURE BURIĆ – Born 1946 to Croatian parents in Ravno, Bosnia and Herzegovina; studied Medicine at University of Zagreb, Croatia; specialised in Otorhinolaryngology; participated in the Croatian Spring uprise of early 1970’s for greater autonomy and freedoms of Croatia within Yugoslavia; Former Mayor of Dubrovnik, Former Croatian War Commissioner for Southern Croatia during Croatia’s Homeland War; Chief of Crisis Headquarters for Dubrovnik; First and Former District Prefect (Župan) for Dubrovnik and Neretva Region of Croatia; former Member of Croatian Parliament.
Autor: CroExpress Datum objave: 25.07.2021.