|Blaž Nikola Kraljević|
|Birth name||Nikola Kraljević|
16 September 1947|
Lisice, Ljubuški, Yugoslavia
|Died||9 August 1992
Kruševo, Mostar, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Buried at||Varda, Kruševo, Mostar|
|Allegiance||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Service/branch||Croatian Defence Forces
Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Years of service||1991–1992|
|Commands held||Croatian Defence Forces|
|Awards||Order of Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan|
He become a political activist in Australia in 1967. After a process of democratisation, he returned to Croatia and joined the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP). In December 1991 he was named a commander of the HSP's paramilitary formation, the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) in Herzegovina. As a commander of HOS, he participated in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Serb forces. Because of his refusal to cooperate with the Croatian Defence Council, a military formation of the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia he entered into a conflict with the Herzeg-Bosnian leadership. At the same time he built close relation with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Bosnian Muslim army, which soon made him an instrument for destabilisation of Herzeg-Bosnia. Kraljević, led by the fascist Ustaše ideology, promoted the idea of Croat-Muslim cooperation in creating a Greater Croatia with borders on the Drina river, while considering Bosnian Muslims to be Croats of Muslim faith.
He was killed along with his escort under unexplained circumstances at a checkpoint in Kruševo near Mostar. Some of his associates claim that he was killed under orders of the Croatian political leadership.
Youth and emigration
Blaž Kraljević was born in Lisice near Ljubuški in Herzegovina. He was one of the eight children of Nikola and Mara Kraljević. He left Yugoslavia in June 1966 and went to Germany, from where he went to Australia in April 1967. He opened a restaurant with his colleague Ante Šuto in an immigrant neighbourhood St Albans in Melbourne. During that time, he joined the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood (HRB). He was supposed to travel in Frankfurt along with Šuto, Zdenko Marinčić and Ilija Lovrić in order to join the Bugojno group. However, only Marinčić and Lovrić went to Frankfurt, while Šutalo voluntarily left few weeks earlier. Kraljević was arrested a day before the travel, on 19 May 1972, by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) because of illegal liquor. The arrest was suspicious because such offense rarely ends with an arrest, if ever, especially by the ASIO. Kraljević was released on 21 June 1972, a day after Bugojno group crossed the Austrian-Yugoslav border.
After his release, the Croatian émigrée circles in Australia become suspicious of Kraljević and his role in the emigration. He was questioned by the HRB, and after they found out he secretlly contacted an agent from the ASIO, Kraljević moved to Canberra, leaving the state of Victoria, as advies by the ASIO agents. His cooperation with the ASIO was not known to the other Croatian émigrée circles in the rest of Australia, so he was able to continue his political activity in Canberra. In 1976 he founded a branch of the Croatian Natonal Council called Rakovica, and was elected its president. Next year, he joined the Croatian Republican Party and become president of its branch called Zemun. At the end of October 1977, a temporary Croatian mission was founded by the emigrants, and Kraljević was named its treasurer. As he managed responsibly, he was elected a secretary of the Croatian Inter-Social Committee in Canberra, that was made of representatives of the majority of the Croatian emigrant organisations, associations and societies. Because of his political activity in Canberra, the Austrlian authorities refused to give him a citizenship and a passport until the end of the 1980s. Shortly before the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1988, just few years before the collapse of Yugoslavia, Kraljević, imitating Dinko Dedić, Ante Šuto and Antun Babić from Melbourne, founded the Croatian Information Centre in Canberra that was supposed to inform the local media about the situation in Croatia.
After the multy-party system was implemented in Croatia, the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) was founded in Zagreb. The first HSP's commissioner for Australia was Miro Hedješ from Melbourne, a member of the Australian-Croatian Society and the Croatian Liberation Movement (HOP). However, in the mid March 1991, Hedješ resigned as he was convinced that the HSP's leadership should cooperate with the Croatian government and to support it. Dobroslav Paraga, president of the HSP, replaced Hedješ by Kraljević. During his entire stay in Australia, Kraljević was passive towards, as he called them, the "old men from HOP" as they didn't, as he thought, "understood the time in they were living" and that they, with their "worthless ustašising, are only "damiging to the Croatian cause". His nomination for a commissionare was somewhat strange, because out of all emigrant organisations, only HOP supported the HSP.
Arrival in Croatia
Kraljević became reserve towards the Croatian emigration and took position that "his place was in Croatia". After he arrived in Zagreb, Paraga named him a head of the Propaganda Office. He tookover that post from a former journalist of the Globus weekly, Nikola Šolić. Emigration in Australia, and especially that in Canberra, blamed Kraljević because he gave several thausands of the Australian dollars to Paraga insted of the Croatian Army. Kraljević thought that in this way he would contribute more to the defence of Croatia.
War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Croatian Party of Rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina was registered there on 10 April 1991. On 13 June 1991, in a hotel in Ljubuški, the leadership of the HSP, along with Paraga, declared the June Charter by which they "established the Independent State of Croatia in its historical and ethnic territory". Kraljević returned to Herzegovina in October 1991, bringing Paraga's decision regarding dismissal of Ivica Karamatić, the HSP's coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kraljević replaced Karamatić, a poet from Posušje, with Mladen Bošnjak who resided in Osijek at the time. In mid December 1991, Kraljević moved to Herzegovina permanentlly in order to establish HOS War Headquarters for Herzegovina. The War Headquarters was founded on 18 December 1991 in Ljubuški. His associate Katica Pernar was named his secretary. Under Paraga's discretion, Kraljević subordinated HOS to the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH).
At the same time, Kraljević made tense relations with the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia and closened to Alija Izetbegović and the Bosnian Muslim Territorial Defence (TO RBiH), that will later transform to the Army of the RBiH. Even than it was clear that Izetbegović and TO RBiH don't regard Croats as friends. In the name of the HOS War Headquarters, Kraljević issued a Declaration on 9 May 1992, in which he called the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) to subordinate to the HOS and the TO RBiH.
The Bosnian Muslim leadership started with instrumentalisation of HOS in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to destabilise the HVO. The politics of the HSP and the HOS suited to the Bosnian Muslim leadership because of their vision of a unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the HSP and the HOS had final goal of creating a Croatian border on Drina river, that is, to create a greater Croatian state. The Muslim leadership understood that their project was impossible, and that it was opposed to the Bosnain Croat vision of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a federal country.
HVO started negotiations with Kraljević in order to establish a joint command and organising a joint defence. Croatian general Nijaz Batlak and HOS commander Ivica Primorac negotiated with Kraljević for several times, however, Kraljević refused any form of cooperation because he claimed that HVO isn't led by the "real Croats". Primorac, Kraljević's aid, entered into conflict with Kraljević because of his attitude towards the HVO. Nevertheless, he organised meetings between Batlak and Kraljević, but with no avail. Slobodan Praljak, a HVO general, also negotiated with Kraljević, but he also faild to gain Kraljević's agreement for cooperation between the HVO and the HOS. Commander of the HVO in Ljubuški, Ivica Tomić, held a meeting with HOS commaner from Croatia, Mile Dedaković and Kraljević, in order to sour out the conflict between the HVO and the HOS. Dedaković argued that the HOS and the HVO should cooperate in order to protect the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Kraljević, once again, refused any sort of cooperation and demanded a subordination of the HVO to the HOS. Kraljević soon issued an order in which he forbid to HOS soldiers to stop at the HVO checkpoints, which they started to do since July 1992 in Mostar. After the Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian president Alija Izetbegović signed the Split declaration on 22 July 1992, in which HVO was recognised as legal and legitimate armed force of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kraljević met with Bosnian Muslim general Sefer Halilović. At the meeting, they arranged that HOS would take over the power in Ljubuški, Čapljina and other areas of the West Herzegovina.
On 2 August 1992, Izetbegović made a decision on HOS as integral part of the TO RBiH and named Kraljević a General Staff member. Such Kraljević's actions created an inter-Croatian conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Čapljina, HOS was composed out of Bosnian Muslims. In July 1992, because of large number of unevidented soldiers that were mostly unknown, the HOS in Čapljina started to make problems to the HVO, that was under command of general Praljak. Because of that issue, Praljak met with Kraljević, and asked him to subordinate HOS to the HVO, or to make an evidence of his enlisted soldiers. Kraljević refused Praljak's suggestion. The similar problem occured in Stolac, where 90% of HOS soldiers were Muslims, as well as in Mostar, another Western Herzegovinian town. According to the report of HVO's intelligence service from 8 August 1992, the Bosnian Muslims got directives to join only Army of RBiH and HOS, in order to fight against the HVO.
During the war, Kraljević was led by the fascist Ustaše ideology. A Greater Croatia with borders on the Drina river was his final goal. He believed that Bosnian Muslims were Croats of Islamic faith. In his appearances he attacked the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia and its president Mate Boban accusing them of being "anti-Croatian". In the Dretelj camp, the HOS abused and killed the Serbian civil population, while Kraljević named Edib Buljubašić a commander of the camp, a notorious serial killer that later confessed war crimes commited in Dretelj.
After the relations between the HOS and the HVO become more tense, the Croatian authorities of Herzeg-Bosnia issued a directive in which they demanded the arrest of all HOS commanders that are refusing to cooperate with the HVO. In that time, HVO planned the Operation Bura against Serb forces, in which they needed aid from the HOS. During that time, HOS mentained good relations with the Bosnian Muslim TO RBiH. HVO tookover all checkpoints from the police and implemented a special control regime in Mostar due to war situation. After an organised meeting between Kraljević and Bosnian Muslim officers from the TO RBiH, Kraljević went towards Ljubuški, but during his travel, he was shot at the HVO checkpoint in Kruševo near Mostar. Kraljević and his escort were all killed, while HVO's one soldier was killed and one wounded. HVO had in plan to arrest Kraljević and take him to Split, where he was supposed to agree on the HOS' subordination.
Croatian minister of defence Gojko Šušak proposed to the Croatian president Tuđman that he should decorate Blaž Kraljević, which he did on 3 December 1996. Kraljević was decorated with the Order of Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan, a decoration given to killed soldiers.
- "Kako je i zašto poginuo Blaž Kraljević" (in Croatian). Ljportal. 9 August 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Svjedočenje Ivice Primorca, July 2005. Accessed on 20 December 2014.
- Press release (in Croatian). Command of HOS War Heaquarters of Herzegovina, 29 March 1992. Acessed 20 December 2014
- Marijan 2004, p. 103.
- Testimony of Ivica Primorac, March 2006. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- Testimony of Stanko Primorac, p. 22. November 2005. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- Report of lieutenant commander Petr Zelenika of the Municipal Headquarters in Mostar to Mate Boban, 20 July 1992. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- Minutes of the Session of the Presidency of the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia. 14 August 1992. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- Testimony of Stanko Primorac, pp. 28. - 29. November 2005. Accessed 20 December 2014
- Report. Municipal Headquarters Mostar, 9 August 1992. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- Operational Zone Central Bosnia: Military District of Vitez. Military Intelligence Service, 8 August 1992. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- DVD-V-238-P, pp. 1., 3. Accessed 20 December 2014.
- "Zločini u Dretelju: Zarobljenici sa masnicama na licu". Oslobođenje (in Bosnian). 17 April 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- "Titoizam: optuženik za zločine u Dretelju kao svjedok humanizma u filmu Brozove" (in Croatian). Dnevnik. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Odluka. Narodne novine, 21 January 1997. Accessed 20 December 2014 (in Croatian).