Critical Junctions of State and Citizenship: A Case of Early Retirement of Military Personnel in Post-war Croatia
Department of Sociology Center for Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb, Croatia Zagreb, Croatia
First steps toward democracy and market economy in Croatia were taken during the 1991-1995 war for independence. Period during and after the war was marked by mass migration, increases in poverty and unemployment, corruption, and general feeling of uncertainty. Many citizens became soldiers over night; some were mobilized, while most volunteered. In the post-war years, some war veterans who were eligible to retire left the Military forces, while a significant number of them remained active as military personnel. After the elections in 2000, under pressure from the World Bank and IMF, Croatian government decided to downsize its military sector. Military budget exceeded the needs of the peace-time period. A set of measures was introduced to facilitate the process of downsizing the military. Law concerning military personnel entitlements changed, the early retirement scheme was introduced, while a number of requalification programs were designed to help those who retire early. From 2002 until 2006, after being deemed as non-perspective workforce within the military, approximately 13.000 servicemen decided to retire early and were off to find a second, civic career. This brought along new uncertainties for them. They were entitled to a monthly compensation until they find a new job by using the existing state mechanisms. There is no data as yet on how many people actually found new jobs, and how effective requalification programs were.
This research is driven by the following question: "How does the state restructuring process interact with the experience of being a citizen in post-socialist, post-war context?" The answer to the research question will be sought in a two-level analysis. First level is about the early retired military personnel narratives on their life history obtained through semi-structured interviews. The emphasis is placed on the period immediately before and following their retirement. Second level deals with an analysis of the legislation regulating their formal entitlements and consequent social policy solutions. Early retired military servicemen seem to be particularly suited for this research because they played a vital role in establishing the Croatian state, while the state consequently rendered them as superfluous and applied a set of questionable policy solutions.