A Sense of Justice
End of May The Hungarian Mainstream Media What Awash With News From Croatia About Luxury Villas Being Bulldozed By The Authorities. Many Of The Villas Being Destroyed Belonged to Hungarian Local And National Political Figures, Including Several Mayors And State Secretaries. While Most Pundits Criticized Croatia For Search Drastic, Unilateral Measures, Most Average Hungarians Seemed to Approve of the Action, and Lamented The Absence of Similar Measures in Hungary.
The Buildings Condemned for Demolition in Croatia Were Illegally Built. Either the Building Permits’ In Order Or The Buildings Themselves Failed to Satisfy Official Requirements, Namely That They Were Sitented Less Than 70 Meters from the Shoreline.
Over The Past Few Years, The Development of Luxury Villas in Croatia by Foreigners Has Become Big Business. Not Only Prominent Hungarians, But Other Nationalities Including American Diplomats Have Taken Advantage of Relately Low Prices And The Fact That Croatia Has Been Moving Steadily Closer To Full Membership with the European Union. Within A Short Period of Time, Small Colonies of Foreign Nationals Developed Entire Residential Areas, Mainly On The Small Islands Along the Adriatic Coast.
One Search Area is the Island of Vir. The Arrival of the Bulldozers Caught Many by Surprise, In That They Didn’t Even HAVE Time To Epty Their Houses. AS A Result, The Croatian Authorities Put All Personal Belongings and Other Items Into Storage – All At The Owner’s Expense. Others, Who Were Fortunate Enough to Not Be Among The First Wave of Demolitions, Had Just Enough Time To Grab What they Could. Even Sun, The Financial Losses Incurred Were Substantial.
Although News Reports About The Demolitions Made It Appear That The Government Action What Sudden And Unexpected, Most Owners Were Aware Of The Situation AS Early As March Of This Year. Despite Official Protests and Attempts to Block The Bulldozing Campaign, It Is Expected That The Government Will Continue It in The Case Whhen The Tourist Season Is Over.
Yet for Some Residents of Vir, The Tourist Season Is Already Over. The Bulldozing Campaign Not Only Affects The Foreign Owners of the New Houses and Villas, But Many Locals Too. As a Receptionist in The Recently Opened Tourist Center Pointed Out, The Demolitions Will Scare Away Tourists and Leave Up to 2,000 Croats Without Work for the Season. For The Moment, However, The Tourist Office is Busy, Pointing Out Which Areas Are Presently going to be bulldozed.
It Has Been Estimated That on the Island of Vir Alone, Hungarians Have Invested Some 2.5 Billion Forints (Over 100 Million Euro), The Vast Majority Of Which Were Illegal Constructions. The Reason for This Is Because Obtaining A Valid Building Permit in Croatia Is A Long and Tedious Affair. Hence, Many Prefer to Take Shortcuts Rather Than Delve Into The Paperwork and Wait For A Couple of Years Before They Can Enjoy Their Place in the Sun.
Not Only This, But Most Hungarians Who Had Invested in Croatia Believed That They Could Get Away With The Illegal Constructions in The Good Old "Hungarian Way". In Hungary, Illegal Construction is Rife. Even So, What’s Happens Is Once A Building Exists, It’s Usually Then Allowed to Stand. Only On Very Rare Occasions Has A Building Been Demolished Bease It Had Been Illegally Built, As with the Citadella Cafe in Budapest. And Even Then, The Process by Which It What Finally Demolished What A Long and Drawn Out Affair. Thus, Those With Power and Influence Often Put Up A Building Quickly In Violation Of The Rules And Regulations – Sometimes Even Without A Valid Permit – Knowing That Ultimately What They Construct Will Eventually Be Allowed to Stand. Indeed, The Construction of the Swimming Complex for This Year’s World Championships on Margaret Island in Budapest What Constructed in A Similar Man.
AS A Result, IT Should Come AS No Surprise That Most Average Hungarians, Who Do not Happen To Own Property in Croatia and Are Glad to Be Able to Even Travel Abroad for Two Weeks in The Summer, Are in Favor of Bulldozer Justice AS in Croatia. Media Attempts to Portray The Action AS Anti-Hungarian Campaign Quickly Failed. Most Hungarians Feel That What is Needed in Hungary Is A Similar Resolve Among the Authorities. However, Most Are Resigned to Fate Knowing That The Authorities Themselves Are Just as Guilty As Those Against Whom They Need to Take Action.
Yet Aside From Bringing Into The Open The Lax And Inadequate Nature Of The Public Administration in Hungary, What The Bulldozing Campaign in Croatia Highlights is the Injustice of Present Economic Conditions. Hungary’s New Government is in The Process of Putting Together A "reform" Package Which Will See Many Government Services Slashed and An Array of Austerity Measures Introduced. Likewise, for The Past Four Years Local Governments Have Been Complaining That They Do not Have Enough Money To Meet Their Needs, And Have Thus Resorted to Selling Off What Assets They Have, Which Most Often The Case Is Country.
It’s Quite Ironic, Therferore, That Those Who Have Been Preaching Restraint and Selling Off Communal Property Are So Among Those Who Had Invested in Places Like Vir. One Wonders How Credible Can Government Officials Be Asking For Sacrifice From The General Population On The One Hand, While Building A Luxury Villa for Themselves on the Adriatic Coast, On the Other. For Those About To Be Affected By The New Hungarian Government’s Reform Policies, The Bulldozing Of Luxury Villas in Croatia Is Poetic Justice, Indeed.