It is official: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is officially in the race for President of Croatia, elections for which are now likely to occur at the end of this year.
She will run as Croatian Democratic Union’s (HDZ’s) candidate.
The two major presidential candidates come from political centre: Ivo Josipovic (current incumbent/ Social Democrat prior to becoming the president; stems out of former Yugoslavia communist party echelons and Social Democrats membership) on the centre-left and Grabar-Kitarovic (Stems out of HDZ membership/ no communist or any other totalitarian regime ties) on the centre-right.
A leading Croatian newspaper Vecernji List article in its address of Nova TV survey regarding the two candidates writes: “When voters are offered characteristics they mark the president (Ivo Josipovic) as a skillful politician. Then, as decisive and sincere. They also consider him a fighter against corruption, educated and a person who understands the ordinary person. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is a candidate who understands foreign politics and defence. Voters also assess her as a person who is decisive and who is not corrupted. They consider her as a fighter against corruption and sincere.”
As her candidacy was announced Friday, the mentioned survey places Grabar-Kitarovic with almost 38% of voter preference. This figure of approval, while exceedingly rare throughout the world for a first-time candidate, is of monumental significance given that it also serves as a certain proof that Croatian voters are looking for a fresh start, for the future rather than the past.
It’s of note that while the surveyed Croats saw Ivo Josipovic as a fighter against corruption the reality has been that his fight against corruption has employed the tactics of action-evasion as well as lukewarm reactions to cases of corruption before Croatian courts during his presidential mandate. He has failed miserably even at leading a badly needed culture change against corruption in Croatia. He has demonstrated no initiative of note in this area whatsoever. The latest example of Josipovic’s inclination to place a political rather than a purely criminal-act-of-individual label on corruption is seen in his latest moral as well as apparent statutes interpretation transgression. That is, after Croatia’s Supreme court confirmed a guilty verdict against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for taking a bribe from Hungarian oil group MOL in exchange for allowing it a dominant position in Croatian oil firm INA, Ivo Josipovic had Saturday 14 June labeled Sanader’s corruption as “high treason”! Suggesting that corrupt actions of individuals (Ivo Sanader) within a nationally important but largely privatised company, such as INA is (which, in the process of privatisation, handed over to the Hungarian MOL the power of decisive majority vote on the company’s affairs), constitutes high treason!
When we look into the relevant legislation in Croatia on criminal acts against the Republic of Croatia, “Penal code” (Kazneni zakon) for “high treason” we find Articles 135 – 155. These Articles are associated with high treason in varying degrees. While a proven treasonous intent in an act of large scale or even violently coloured corruption could perhaps be plucked out of this legislation and remotely possibly launched or engineered into some indictment for the crime of high treason, none of these Articles refer directly to the “usual” corruption within individual company dealings regardless of how large or significant for the nation a company may be.
Ivo Sanader has been found corrupt and there are no excuses or justifications for these crimes. He deserves all the punishment coming to him. However, by labeling Ivo Sanader’s corruption as high treason, president of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, has, to my view, demonstrated a complete disregard of Croatia’s relevant legislation and purposefully used “high treason” label in order to score political points, confuse the masses and provoke the masses into further and biased condemnation of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), to which Sanader belonged and whose candidate Grabar-Kitarovic is.
I am yet to see a journalist, or anyone else for that matter, from Croatia, analysing this latest Josipovic’s terrible transgression. Perhaps Josipovic and his advisory camp relish the fact that the concept of high treason mobilises high emotions against the person labelled so and against those who were around him? But it is wrong, horribly wrong! This lends nothing to a real fight against corruption, or positive results of any such fight. This also points to a conclusion that Josipovic was not, is not, a true fighter against corruption. He was not and is not a fighter against high treason, either – for if he were he would have dealt with the issue of State secrets/documents that were evidently leaked out of Stjepan Mesic’s presidential office between 2000 and 2010!
If the “usual” corruption were grounds for high treason, Croatia (and most countries of the world) would have to impugn nearly every government administration.
If Josipovic considers that corruption in Sanader’s case is high treason, then why did he not say that such is his opinion only but that the country’s laws should be reviewed to bring that opinion into legislation, instead of wrongfully making it sound as a fact under the law? Why did he not initiate such legislative review, as a president should? The answer to this is, as far as I have seen, that Josipovic most often pays aloof lip-services (to gain political points and impress as a person who is doing something about the corruption) to the anti-corruption fighting but in fact fails miserably at initiating or sparking-off the badly needed widespread and culture changes in the fight against corruption in Croatia.
The above Ivo Josipovic transgressions make Grabar-Kitarovic’s presidential candidacy all the more a breath of fresh air in Croatia’s future. Her win would, I believe, for starters seriously dampen the political public agenda of those politicians, NGO’s and organisations in Croatia who form the public left-oriented (communist sympathisers and activists) lynch mob that’s pushing for HDZ’s collective guilt for corruption on the back of Sanader’s guilt. Undoubtedly, sadly, the Croatian public will be seeing more of such injustice and witch hunting in the coming months, as the presidential campaign accelerates. It is, therefore, gladdening to see such significant support for Grabar-Kitarovic in this early stage of the campaign especially when one considers the fact that such support will surely find a way of showing-up this lynch mob’s deceit as deceit, and facts as facts. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)