Croatia’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday 22 February held its reporting conference under the slogan “Order, work and growth”, with party leader and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic saying in his introductory speech that the party did not have it easy in the past year and a half, having to deal with the economic crisis as well as defend itself from intolerance.
He said, with a bitter almost intolerant and threatening frown, that they had been exposed to frequent attacks during their time in government, that these attacks had at times been too harsh, i.e. uncivilised. To the question he asked himself: are we satisfied with what we have done during the past two years, he replied yes and no!
“It was difficult in the past year a half since the SDP’s last conference, we had to fight with consequences of the global and European crises and with what we had inherited, as well as actively defend ourselves from outbursts of intolerance in Croatia,” said Milanovic.
It’s evident that Milanovic and his government label criticism of government’s work and representations in public as “intolerance”!
It’s evident that normal, expected and acceptable democratic processes such as criticsing the government, calling its actions to account … are still things this pro-communist government would like to quash! It’s so often that we come across threatening and bitter reactions from this government when they are criticised. It’s a given that no government in the world likes to be criticised but in a normal democracy its reactions to criticism are more often calm and constructive; one doesn’t need to feel fear from reprisals.
In Croatia, I have it from reliable sources the streets are filled with people scared to say anything about the government in fear of reprisals and retaliation such as their job being in jeopardy etc. While accepting that fear of retaliation is a worldwide phenomenon they say that it is amplified in Croatia and that it’s now like it was during the days of communist oppression.
It’s easy to believe them when one sees how the government looks upon and reacts to criticisms!
An example of this government’s appalling, insolent, behaviour can also be seen in the fact that at this very conference the local member for Sisak-Moslavina county, Marina Lovric Merzel, recently reported to authorities for suspected misappropriation of public funds and fraud / which is under investigation by the crime squad – was seated among the Ministers and other most high officers of the state! On the other hand, the woman who publicly uncovered and reported the alleged misappropriation and fraud, Jasmina Jovev – lost her job in that local government office as a result of her blowing the whistle!
This is obscene behaviour by the government, efforts to demonstrate its power and by this gesture it undoubtedly ridicules those who report suspected fraud and misappropriation of public funds! While Lovric Merzel has the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty this move by the Social Democrats to flaunt her at major events like this one is beneath contempt and demonstrates no regard for how the person who lodged the complaint of suspected fraud might be feeling now that she is on the bread-line with a small child.
I hope the attacks on this government get even stronger because such behaviour is offensive to human nature, to human decency!
“The Croatian Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime attached to the State Attorney General’s Office (USKOK) has established a track record of proactive investigations and successful prosecutions including in notable cases concerning high level elected and appointed officials,” said the European Commission’s EU Anti-corruption Report of February 2014 and it’s to be noted that the former (Croatian Democratic Government (HDZ) was instrumental in this, while the current government continued with the trend, although evidently not with the same resolve.
One simply does not invite a suspected fraudster to sit among government officials as some guest with unchallenged honour!
The biggest problem with corruption in Croatia (and other states of former Yugoslavia) is not in the corruption of those at the top of the government or former government or large state firms, the biggest problem is the corruption at local government levels! Corruption on local scale is enormous and has been throughout former Yugoslavia. It is these individuals who have amassed enormous wealth throughout the years that must come to answer and account. And then, only then, will there be real positive results in stamping out most of the corruption because having a local personality behind bars and their property confiscated if corruption proven has a much bigger effect on developing honesty than if a former Prime Minister or some high-level state official are convicted of corruption.
Without tackling corruption at local level nothing of lasting note will be achieved. Indeed the EC Report on EU Anti-corruption sees this as well.
It’s only half way through the current government’s mandate and it’s already in the election campaign for another one! “Give us another four years and you will then see results, and if there are no results even then, then they’ll be there in eight years time after that, said on Saturday maritime affairs, transport and infrastructure minister Sinisa Hajdas-Doncic! “This government is paying the wages of the disorderly leadership of the state, but we did not take that as an excuse but pushed ahead with the job,” Hajdas-Doncic continued.
Sadly, this government still hasn’t caught up with the fact that they are there for the people and not vice-versa; they still live it seems in the communist power days of yesteryear.
No, minister Hajdas-Doncic, the people are paying the wages! The critical number of unemployed, the growing queues at community soup kitchens’ doors, the growing number of the homeless, the distressingly climbing numbers of the poor, the strong presence of corruption at local levels and nepotism, the growing numbers of the destitute … all this and more is what is paying the wages of the government’s (whether former or current) inability to tackle the despair found there where it counts: at the kitchen table! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)