JELSA, Croatia — Does Croatia’s Prosek jeopardize Italy’s Prosecco?
Croatia is gearing up to celebrate its entry into the EU, but don’t pop the corks just yet. A heated trademark battle over the country’s beloved sweet dessert wine has some feeling less than bubbly, mirroring rapidly declining enthusiasm among Croats for membership in the economically battered bloc.
The EU has ruled that once the Balkan country becomes its 28th member on July 1, Prosek can no longer be sold under that name across the EU – even at home. It maintains that Prosek’s name is too similar to Prosecco, Italy’s sparkling beverage.
And, it’s not just Prosek that’s in trouble of disappearing. EU member Slovenia claims Croatia has no right to market Teran, a red wine made in the northern tip of the Adriatic shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.
Croats are fiercely proud of their wine, a cherished product of the sunny, rocky Croatian islands on the aquamarine Adriatic sea. Many Croatians have sacrificed for EU membership, including losing jobs in unprofitable state-funded companies ordered shut by the bloc, and some see the wine ruling as adding insult to injury.
Joining the EU will give Croatia access to new markets and its citizens freedom to work in other countries, but some Croatians are beginning to agree with other EU residents who have chafed at what they consider interference by bureaucrats in Brussels. When Croatia gained independence from Yugoslavia in a bloody war some 20 years ago, about 75 percent of its population of 4.3 million wanted to be a part of the EU. The latest polls show the number has dropped to 45 percent.
Croatians point out that Prosek and Prosecco are different products, one sweet, the other bubbly. And the Croatian brand has a tradition dating back centuries, whereas Prosecco is a product of the latter half of the 20th century.
“Prosek is an established brand that has been produced in these areas for more than two thousand years,” Croatian winemaker Andro Tomic said at his Romanesque winery in Jelsa, a picturesque town on the Adriatic island of Hvar. “Prosek was made here long before the current Italian state started to exist.”
Prosecco, produced in Italy’s Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia wine regions, enjoys legal brand protection under EU rules that govern other wines like Champagne and Port.
Tomic, Croatia’s leading wine expert, said he is trying to help Croatian authorities in their race to protect the Prosek name before EU entry.
“I can’t even think what would happen if our Prosek disappears,” Tomic said. The wine has an ancient tradition in the Dalmatian culture of Croatia’s eastern coast, where parents make the drink when a child is born, and then put the bottles aside to be opened on their wedding day.
“Every house here has been making Prosek,” Tomic said. “Taking Prosek away from Dalmatia would be like taking away the sea.”
Unfortunately for Croatia, its neighbor Slovenia also claims the country has no right to produce and market another famous wine, Teran, once it joins the EU. The EU has ruled that the name is protected and belongs to Slovenia.
‘Unfortunately for the truth’, Croatia does not have to account for its horrific WWII genocide, or a long standing, continuous nostalgia for Nazism.
Croatia and its neighbor have been at odds over a number of political and territorial issues since both split from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and since Slovenia become an EU member in 2004. Croatian winemakers allege that the Slovenian wine ban is inspired by politics.
This is for those who may not have read the commentary I wrote in 2002 entitled Bitter Harvest in Croatia.
by Stella L. Jatras
16 February 2002
we drink the blood of Serbs from Knin”
(The Washington Post, 31 Sep 00. Croatian graffiti)
In a Washington Times article (30 Sep 00), “Croatians are doing just vine, thank you,” Linda Joyce Forristal paints a glowing portrait of a nation at peace and content with itself and the joys of growing grapes and making wine along the Dalmatian Coast. However, another article which appeared in The Washington Post on 31 September paints a different picture. “It was not unusual to see such chilling graffiti as:’We Croats do not drink wine, we drink the blood of Serbs from Knin,’ (which rhymes with “wine” in Serbo-Croatian – The Washington Post, 31 Sep 00. Croatian graffiti). It refers to the capital of the Krajina region of Croatia from which 250,000 Serbs were “ethnically cleansed” in 1995. Both articles clearly illustrate the way the American media tend to give legitimacy to Croatia while treating Serbia as a historical footnote.
In her article, Ms. Forristal gives the readers a “crash course” in the history of Croatia. She writes, “A thousand years ago, Croatia’s shape was round.” Although Croatia was, at that time, “The Kingdom of Croatia,” it should be noted that the Kingdom of Croatia was an independent nation for only a brief period after which it was swallowed up by the Kingdom of Hungary, which reduced Croatians to the status of vassals. After the fall of the Kingdom of Croatia, there was no independent Croatia from the Middle Ages until The Independent State of Croatia was established by Nazi Germany in 1941, a status which ended with the defeat of Hitler. On the other hand, Serbia has a continuous history of independence beginning in 850 and ending only in 1918 when the Serbs voluntarily gave up their separate kingdom to become part of Yugoslavia. Even under 500 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire, which began with battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389, Serbs maintained their national identity.
Ms. Forristal quotes the Albanian writer, Ismail Kadre, the author of “Three Elegies for Kosovo,” who writes that “Serbia’s invasion of modern-day Kosovo and other former Yugoslav republics occurred about the time of the 600th anniversary of the defeat in 1389.” In order to get a more balanced sense of Kosovo’s history, I would recommend that Ms. Forrestal also read the book, “Kosovo,” by William Dorich with illustrations of Serbia’s beautiful monasteries and churches. As though guided by the hand of God, Bill Dorich had a premonition that these churches and monasteries should be preserved in his 1992 book. It was as though he knew that many of Serbia’s holy sites in Kosovo, their Jerusalem, would be destroyed and desecrated. As a matter of record, more churches (thus far over 100) have been destroyed by Albanian hatred in the first two months since KFOR entered Kosovo than under 500 years of Ottoman rule. I would also like to point out at this time that the Serbs at one time had been the majority in Kosovo until being driven out by the Ottoman Turks, followed by Hitler, Tito (himself a Croat), and by the Kosovo Liberation Army and ethnic Albanians.
Considering there is only a handful of Serbs left, thanks to our misguided foreign policy of turning Kosovo over to the Kosovo Liberation Army, (now the Kosovo Protection Corps), this band of cutthroats is engaged in sex slavery (Washington Post, 24 April) and drugs (Kosovo Supplies 80% of Europe Heroin, The Guardian, 13 March) to name a few of their fine attributes which don’t seem to concern our leaders.
So who are the actual victims? Who have been ethnically cleansed from their own land? The period of Croatian subjugation under Hungary and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire lasted until the First World War, when Croatia fought on the side of Germany. When Croatians saw that Germany was going to lose the war, they fled to their Serbian enemies where they asked and became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From that period on, Croatians undermined the Yugoslav government by its effort to become an independent nation, including its collaboration with Nazi Germany in WWII. Croatia finally achieved its present-day status when recognized as an independent state in 1992, following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Since then, one of its final actions to form an ethnically pure state was the attack on the Krajina region in 1995 with U.S. military aid, technology and air support, during which over 250,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed and thousands of Serbian men, women and children, were murdered. To facilitate this unpleasant task, “Croatian troops going into action were given hard drugs by their officers and doctors to overcome their fear,” and to “forget the horrors of battle” (The Guardian, 1995), and “to attack villages, to cut throats and to kill in cold blood you need a strong anesthetic-a shot of heroin or cocaine was ideal.” (Stated by a Croatian soldier identified only as Davor, The Washington Times, Sept. 5, 1995). Since 1992, over 650,000 Serbs have been ethnically cleansed from Croatia with little hope of returning to their ancestral homes.
Ms. Forristal speaks of “Serbia’s invasion of modern-day Kosovo,” which is quite striking since Kosovo is a part of Serbia. To claim that Serbia invaded its own country is ludicrous. How does one invade that which belongs to them? In her brief history of Croatia, Ms. Forristal does not write of the dark side of Croatian history, especially during World War II when over one and a half million Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were exterminated in Croatia’s death camps so brutally that even the Germans were appalled. In his article, “Croatian-run death site remains dark secret,” Andrew Borowiec writes: “The ghosts of thousands of inmates slaughtered in a World War II Croatian concentration camp haunts former Yugoslavia and mar future relations among its ethnic groups.” During WWII, Andrija Artukovic, the Minister of the Interior in the “Independent State of Croatia” was quoted as saying, “Kill all Serbs and Jews including children so that not even the seeds of the beasts are left.” Truly a vintage year!
But what has changed? “Croatians greeted German troops with their right arms raised in a Nazi salute as they chanted ‘Heil Hitler.’ Mobs chase minorities from their homes, kicking them and pelting them with eggs as they flee into the woods. Europe in the 1940? No. Croatia in the 1990s.” (The Washington Times, June 15, 1997). And from Newsweek, 1996/1997, “Croatians greeted the Germans, an expression of solidarity dating back to the alliance between Croatia fascists and the Nazis,” with the “straight-armed fascist salute.” Where was the outrage from the media? Where was the outrage from our politicians? Croatia is once again flying the same fascist checkerboard flag that it flew in 1941 when Hitler recognized Croatia as an Independent nation. Streets have been renamed honoring their war criminal, such as Andrija Artukovic.” In other words, Croatia today has its pure Croatian state that Hitler could only promise. Furthermore the map of the Balkans drawn by Hitler in 1942 is almost identical to today’s map of the Balkans created by NATO.
What else was missing from Ms. Forristal’s brief and colorful history of Croatia? What about this account from a Canadian newspaper? “MPs listened in silence Monday as a colonel recounted the story of the Canadian army’s biggest firefight since Korea, the 1993 Battle of the Medak pocket, that left troops picking up 16 corpses of murdered [Serbian] civilians and nursing their own wounds.” (The Calgary Herald, 28 Apr 1998). Canadian forces were trying to stop the further slaughter of over 1,000 Serbian men, women and children by Croatian soldiers. It took over four years for the Canadian people to learn of Croatian troops, supposedly our allies, attacking Canada’s Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. With friends like these, you don’t need enemies.
We were lead to believe that most of Dubrovnik had been destroyed by Serbian mortars, yet the photo in Ms. Forristal’s article shows a city intact, with its original tile roofs. J.P. Maher, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Chicago, visited Dubrovnik to see for himself the truth about the war. He writes, “A few months earlier, the press was filled with stories that the Pearl of the Adriatic had been reduced to rubble. The stories were fakes.” He further writes, “The dramatic ‘Dubrovnik burning’ pictures were shot with long lenses. This compresses perspective making it look like there is no distance between objects that are quite separated in real space. Thus, columns of smoke billowing up are superimposed on the walled city. Dubrovnik’s Old City never burned and was never even targeted by the federal forces. To the contrary,” Professor Maher writes, “the only building in the Old City of Ragusa to be gutted by explosives and fire was the library and treasury of the Serbian Orthodox church, which housed a priceless collection of medieval manuscripts and icons. It was not navy guns that did the damage, but plastic and incendiary devices planted on the spot by Croatian forces.” Many of the precious icons stolen from the Serbian Orthodox church have appeared for sale in Germany and throughout Europe. Perhaps that is why the photo of Dubrovnik looks untouched by war – because it never was! Furthermore, I had received a call around the time of Croatia’s “Operation Storm” from a Sephardic Jew from New York (thousands of Jews having been exterminated in Croatia’s death camps) who was very concerned with what was happening in Croatia today and he told me that the FBI was reportedly investigating the “Buy a Tile Fund” to rebuild Dubrovnik for defrauding contributors out of millions of dollars.
I look at the photos presented in Ms. Forristal’s article, the smiling faces of Croatian maidens in native costumes, the beautiful, peaceful scene on the Adriatic harbor, and I think to myself, “compare this scene to the destruction, suffering and deaths as a result of 78 days of NATO’s U.S.-led unmerciful bombing, and it makes we wonder. What did these people, the Serbs, ever do to us that we should hate them so? What did they ever do than to be our allies in two world wars, who have never harmed the single hair of one American and who rescued over 500 downed American pilots at great sacrifice to themselves while Croatians were turning our airmen over to the Nazis for execution?”
So I leave Ms. Forristal and your readers with the following quotes:
“The gigantic campaign to brainwash America by our media against the Serbian people is just incredible, with its daily dose of one-sided information and outright lies…What is today’s reality? The murderers of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies are back (in Croatia) from the U.S., Canada, Argentina where they fled after World War II. The Serbs fought the Nazis, and they paid a terrible price for standing at the side of the allies against Hitler. Humanity owes them a debt of gratitude.” – John Ranz, Chairman of Survivors of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, USA.
“In World War II, Hitler had no executioners more willing, no ally more passionate than the Fascists of Croatia. They are returning, 50 years later, from what should have been their eternal grave, the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Western allies who dug that grave with the bodies of their servicemen have the power to stop them, but do not.” – A.M. Rosenthal, 15 April 1997.
“What worries us, is that those in power in Croatia are largely the same as in the Nazi era. In some cases, they are exactly the same people, now in their seventies and back from exile under Communists. In other cases, they are children of the Ustashi.” (Croatian Nazi Party). – Jewish leader, scholar and historian Dr. Klara Mandich, The London Independent.
“The HDZ (current ruling party of Croatia) adopted the old symbols of the fascist Ustasha regime from World War II. The new Croatian authorities have chosen as the state symbol the same checkered shield.” – Menchen Shelah, Israeli Historian, University of Haifa.
“Thank God my wife is neither a Serb nor a Jew.” – Dearly departed Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, quoted in The British Guardian.
“This organized anti-Serb and pro-Muslim propaganda should cause anyone believing in democracy and free speech serious concerns. It recalls Hitler’s propaganda against the allies in World War II. Facts are twisted and, when convenient, disregarded.” – Yohanan Ramati, Director of the Jerusalem Institute for Western Defense.
“Croats will ‘kill people for the color of their skins’.” – U.S. Colonel Fontenot, Commander of NATO forces in Northeastern Bosnia.
“The Big Lie” technique is alive and well. Croatia has used the media and skillful image manipulation to hide its renewed genocide against the Serbs while at the same time ensuring that Serbs themselves are wrongly accused of the same type of crime and more.” – Gregory Copley, Editor-in-Chief, Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy,
“But you can understand Croatia best by saying flatly that if there is one place in the world where a statue of Adolph Hitler would be revered, it would be in Zagreb.” – Edward Pearce, The (London) Evening Standard, 7 August 1995, “Victory smiles that hide the roots of evil.”
I’ll drink to that.
During the early morning hours, between August 8 and 9, 1996, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona was vulgarly defaced by graffiti and urination. The desecration of this house of worship was the act of a Croat Fascist USTASE group in the U.S.A. “Here, I find the same guys who killed by my father, my brother, my uncle, 45 of my relatives, are desecrating my church,” said Vlado Brodich, president of the church board of directors.”
…no arrests were ever made.