Twelve Generals‘ Letter

The Twelve Generals‘ Letter ( Croatian : Pismo dvanaestorice generala ) was an open letter , signed by twelve generals of the Croatian Armed Forces , which criticized the government, politicians and media for perceived criminalization of the Croatian War of Independence and asserted that war veterans had undignified treatment. On September 29, 2000, the Croatian media reported that Croatian President Stjepan Mesić was active-dutyofficers. The affair was a source of significant controversy in Croatia and is considered one of the key events in Mesić’s ten-year presidential incumbency.


Croatia underwent major political changes in late 1999 – early 2000. The first President of Croatia and leader of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Franjo Tuđman , died in office in December 1999. In January 2000 Tuđman’s HDZ, a nationalist party that had ruled Croatia since independence in 1991, lost power in the parliamentary elections and was replaced by a center-left coalition of six parties. Stjepan Mesić , one of Tuđman’s fiercest critics, won the presidential elections in the same month.

The new liberal and pro-European government began to investigate crimes committed by Croatian forces in the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995), aiming to improve cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Training of Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague . [1] [2] These developments enraged the war veterans‘ groups and extreme nationalists. [2]

After a key whistleblower and war crime witness Milan Levar was murdered on August 28, 2000, a wave of arrests of war crime suspects followed. [2] In response, veterans‘ groups organized protests that escalated into threats and violence. [1] An anonymous death threat was sent to President Mesić and Prime Minister Račan . [3]

The new government also began a cycle of defense reforms, [4] which was further concerned among high-ranking officers of the Croatian Army who were themselves war veterans.


Was the letter titled „An Open Letter of Croatian Generals to the Croatian public“ ( Croatian : Otvoreno Pismo hrvatskih generala Hrvatskoj javnosti ) and Organized into six points. [5]

The first point noted „with bitterness“ that a significant proportion of media and politicians spoke of the Croatian War of Independence as „something bad, problematic, even shameful, while in fact it was the foundation of Croatia’s freedom, independence and sovereignty“. [1] [5]

The signatories stressed in the second point that they were not against the sanctioning of individual criminal acts. However, they asserted that recent actions by the police had left the impression of a crackdown on terrorism or organized crime, rather than an act of a democratic country within the rule of law, in agreement with the actual circumstances and the dignity of war veterans. Croatian Army officers. [5]

The third point denounced what the signatories called „unnecessary show of force“ and presumptions of guilt, including speculation about indictments by the ICTY, deeming them detrimental to tolerance and democracy in Croatia. [5]

The fourth point in conflict, violence and terrorism, which the signatories are deemed to be in the interests of „anyone responsible“, war veterans in particular. [5]

The fifth point is a comment by the signatories on the speculation of the reorganization of the Croatian Army. They declare their support for the promotion of the most educated and most able individuals, „which means those who are themselves in the Croatian War of Independence“. [5]

In the sixth and final point, the signatories urged the government, the civil society and the media to „resist the negativist, historically incorrect and untrue portrayals of the Croatian War of Independence“ and to „protect the dignity of Croatian officers and soldiers“ foundations of Croatian freedom and independence, the future of a democratic and prosperous Croatia. [5]

Was the letter signed by General of the Army (Ret.) Janko Bobetko , Lt. Gen. Ante Gotovina , Lt. Gen. Krešimir Ćosić , Maj. Gen. Mirko Norac , Admiral Davor Domazet-Lošo , Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ivan Korade , Maj. Gen. Damir Krstičević, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ivan Čermak , Maj. Gen. Ivan Kapular , Maj. Gen. (ret.) Nojko Marinović , Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ivan Basarac and Maj. Gen. Miljenko Filipović . [3]


In its first public comment on the letter, Croatian President Stjepan Mesić noted that it also supports the dignity of the Croatian War of Independence , provided that the government is still functioning, and that it is not everyone „. He said that they were responsible for the letter’s creation. [3]

The Office of the President of Croatia and the Croatian Ministry of Defense called the „inappropriate“ letter. The Ministry of Defense also described it as „unprofessional“, noting that the law forbids the members of the Croatian Armed Forces. [3]

On September 29, 2000, President Mesić announced that he was retiring all seven serving officers (Gotovina, Čosić, Krstičević, Kapular, Filipović, Domazet-Lošo and Norac) who signed the letter. [1] [6] [7] He stated that „those who thought a coup d’état in this country could have achieved with pamphlets have played the wrong card.As of today, they are not members of the Croatian Army.“ [6]

Mesić’s actions produced by the political parties. The ruling coalition parties supported the move, calling it „logical“, and even „necessary“, while Ivo Sanader , president of the HDZ, criticized it as „extremely dangerous“. [8] [9] Mesić was also severely criticized by Croatian war veterans‘ organizations. [8] [10] [11] The polls showed that the majority of Croatian public supported the President’s actions. [6]

An article by Nacional Weekly, which is about to be published. [6] [12] President Mesić, however, dismissed such speculations as „nonsense“. [12]


One year into his first term, Stjepan Mesić said that he was one of the best movers he had made a president. [13]

On several occasions it has been speculated that the retired general could return to active duty. On October 2, 2000, President Mesić hinted that his decision might not be final for Maj. Gen. Krstičević , stating that Krstičević’s fate is dependent on „his further conduct“. [14] [15] At 33 years of age, he was the youngest among the signatories, and was – apart from Nojko Marinović – the only general of the Tuđman era with no party affiliation. [15] [16] Krstičević declined Mesić’s implicit offer, saying that he had „nothing to repent for“. [16]

In the 2003 election campaign , Ivo Sanader , president of the HDZ, announced the possibility of reactivating the generals. However, according to Nacional Weekly, Sanader has abandoned the idea of ​​its inability to implement the President Mesić, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. [17]

The issue was raised again in the 2009/2010 presidential election . Three presidential candidates, Milan Bandić , Andrija Hebrang and Nadan Vidošević , stated that, if elected, they would rehabilitate the generals and return some of them to active duty. The eventual winner of the election, Ivo Josipović , rejected this suggestion, saying that the generals‘ retirement was final. [18]

Mesić’s decision to withdraw is one of the most important events of his presidency. [4] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] Stjepan Mesić’s successor Ivo Josipović commented that this was Mesić’s best move in both of his five-year terms, [24] while Croatian military analyst Igor Tabak described it as a „hard decision to take“, since it came early in the month, and went against an old authoritarian system that was still strong. [4] The move is seen as significant in the context of the depoliticisation of the army and defense force Reforms That Ultimately led to the accession of Croatia to NATO in 2009. [4] [25]On the other hand, Mesić’s criticism contends that the „blow“ was non-existent and that its decision was essentially a continuation of anti-military sentiment which the general had had to do to their patriotic duty. [26] [27] [28]


  1. ^ Jump up to:d Steele, Jonathan (30 September 2000). „Croatia’s president gives seven generals their marching orders“ . The Guardian . Retrieved 7 December 2010 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:c Thorpe, Nick (September 14, 2000). „Croatian war crime suspects rounded up“ . The Guardian . Retrieved 19 December 2010 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:d „Hrvatski generali pozivaju da get prestane blatiti Domovinski rat“ . (in Croatian). Croatian Radiotelevision . 28 September 2000. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016 . Retrieved 7 December 2010 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:d RAIC, Ante (31 October 2010). „Croatian Defense Reforms and Issues of National Security: Interview with Military Analyst Igor Tabak“ . . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:g „Otvoreno Pismo hrvatskih generala Hrvatskoj javnosti“ [An Open Letter of Croatian Generals to the Croatian Public] (in Croatian). Croatian Radiotelevision . 28 September 2000. Archived from the originalon 20 November 2014 . Retrieved 7 December 2010 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:d Fitzpatrick, Pat (9 October 2000). „Letter sparks shot rumors“ . Central Europe Review . 2 (34) . Retrieved 9 December 2010 .
  7. Jump up^ „Croatian Leader Fires 7 Protesting Generals“ . The New York Times . October 1, 2000 . Retrieved 9 December 2010 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:b „Predsjednikovu odluku ocjenjuje if u rasponu od jedino moguće do – krajnje opasne“ (PDF) . Vjesnik (in Croatian). September 30, 2000 . Retrieved 18 December 2010 .
  9. Jump up^ „Mesić umirovio sedam generala“ . Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). September 30, 2000 . Retrieved 20 April 2017 .
  10. Jump up^ „Dubrovački stožer nezadovoljan Mesićevim umirovljenjem generala“(PDF) . Vjesnik (in Croatian). October 3, 2000 . Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  11. Jump up^ „Vlast svjesno radikalizira političku situaciju, tvrdi Ðapić“ (PDF) . Vjesnik(in Croatian). October 3, 2000 . Retrieved 18 December 2010 .
  12. ^ Jump up to:b „Mesić: Nagađanja o državnom udaru u Hrvatskoj su besmislena“(PDF) . Vjesnik (in Croatian). October 4, 2000 . Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  13. Jump up^ Rožanković, Miroslava (7 February 2001). „Mesić: Moji najbolji potezi su umirovljenje generala i Zagrebački summit“ (PDF) . Vjesnik (in Croatian) . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .
  14. Jump up^ „Iako I odluka konačna, za Krstičevića bi is mogla promijeniti?“ (PDF) . Vjesnik (in Croatian). October 3, 2000 . Retrieved 14 December 2010 .
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Lasić Igor (6 October 2000). „Pismo opasnih namjera“ . BH Dani (in Croatian). No. 175. Oslobođenje . Retrieved 20 April 2017 .
  16. ^ Jump up to:b Marijačić Ivica (24 January 2001). „General Krstičević: Nisam nor pokajnik, a ni izdajnik!“ . Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian) . Retrieved 14 December 2010 .
  17. Jump up^ „Sanader umirovljene generale true u MORH?“ . (in Croatian). November 25, 2003 . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .
  18. Jump up^ Malić, Gordan; Nezirović, Vanja; Vuković, Rozita (25 November 2009). „Bandić, Hebrang and Vidošević žele rehabilitirati pobunjene generale“ . Jutarnji list (in Croatian) . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .
  19. Jump up^ Butković, Davor (21 July 2007). „Predsjednik“ . Jutarnji list (in Croatian) . Retrieved 15 December 2010 .
  20. Jump up^ Butković, Davor (9 January 2010). „10 godina Stjepana Mesića“ . Jutarnji list (in Croatian) . Retrieved 15 December 2010 .
  21. Jump up^ Dežulović, Boris (20 January 2010). „Srećom, Mesić za rat ima tek mjesec dana“ . Jutarnji list (in Croatian) . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .
  22. Jump up^ Čulić, Marinko (19 February 2010). „Mesić – odlazak tužnog viteza“ . Novosti . No. 531. Serb National Council . Retrieved 20 April 2017 .
  23. Jump up^ „Škare Ožbolt za Zagreb News“ . Zagreb News (in Croatian). December 13, 2009 . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .
  24. Jump up^ „Josipović: Umirovljenje generala najbolji I Mesićev potez“ . Večernji list(in Croatian). December 10, 2009 . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .
  25. Jump up^ Đikić, Ivica (8 April 2010). „Biografija Stipe Mesića (8): Na ručku s Gadafijem“ . (in Croatian) . Retrieved 15 December 2010 .
  26. Jump up^ Tuđman, Miroslav (24 March 2010). „Izlaganje prof. Dr. Miroslava Tuđmana s predstavljanja knjige“ Hrvatska iz mora rova “ “ . Portal Hrvatskoga kulturnog vijeća (in Croatian) . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .
  27. Jump up^ Pavković, Mladen (5 June 2007). „Jučer i danas – Pismo 12 generala“ . Portal Hrvatskoga kulturnog vijeća (in Croatian) . Retrieved 16 December2010 .
  28. Jump up^ „Nakon ogulinske tragedije pojavit će teza da Hrvatskoj do trebaju oružane snage!“ . Dom i svijet (in Croatian). No. 321. Croatian Information Center. December 4, 2000 . Retrieved 16 December 2010 .