Croatian new Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic cannot be criticised for defending his right to choose his own ministers, the team he believes he can work with in order to achieve advancements in Croatia particularly for the sinking economy, which despite rosy harvests from the tourist industry in summers threatens to bankrupt the country. He cannot be criticized for taking even the moral high ground on that issue, let alone the skills/merit based one. But he can be criticised for taking a political moral high ground in making those decisions and choosing those ministers who are persons that practice and encourage double standards in “doing business” with that government. Corruption more often than not has roots in political high ground and corruption in government destroys both civil society and economic growth.
Practicing and condoning double standards regardless of which facet of citizens’ lives they affect is a face of corruption that must be rooted out. This particularly because Croatia came out from the former communist Yugoslavia where double standards enjoyed the status of government officialdom – those in power could freely do anything, even that which they punish in others who were not in their political mindsets and acts of double standards included mass murder, denial of jobs/promotion despite good merit at work… Croatia, therefore, belongs to one of the most vulnerable countries in the democratic world, economies, when it comes to the penetration and sustenance of corrupt processes and mindsets; corrupt processes were the norm in communist Yugoslavia as were bribes and “yellow envelopes” filled with otherwise indispensable cash to get ahead.
Reacting to the rather large public outcry and rejection of Croatia’s new Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s appointment of the controverisial Nina Obuljen (whose work and actions have been characterised as working against Croatian national interests enshrined in the patriotic and self-preservation values of the Homeland War) as culture minister instead of Zlatko Hasanbegovic continuing, Obuljen has last week insolently asked the public that she be judged by the work she will do as minister rather than by her past actions. “I would like for people to respect me by the work I will do as minister, by the moves I will make, and all this is a part of the current political moment,” she said.
In that same breath she bothered not to even mention that her predecessor Zlatko Hasanbegovic, despite good work as minister, had surely lost his deserved ministerial position in Andrej Plenkovic’s new government because of the false allegations and interpretations pinned by her former communist mob to the T-Shirt Hasanbegovic wore decades ago as a university student and allegations of neofascist meanings pinned to statements he’d made in publications. The fact that she was not even a candidate on HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union’s list for the September 2016 parliament elections and that Hasanbegovic got more than any of Plenkovic’s new or old ministers, which in itself is a voter thumbs-up for work done as a minister, which should count the most in assessing merit in a democracy, is furthermore proof that this woman has no merit for a minister’s portfolio in the eyes of the people. The fact that she asks publicly for the advantage she herself denied to Hasanbegovic, for she had never said “stop spreading lies about the man”, is further proof of her corrupt mindset as politician.
Furthermore, the other people who had done visibly excellent work as ministers in the former short-lived government toppled in June 2016 include Miro Kovac, former foreign minister, Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic, former head of public administration, Anton Kliman, former minister for tourism, and others. So, why does Obuljen think that work or merit relating to performance on the job should be applied to her when it wasn’t applied to others? The answer is obvious I think: she acts without scruples when it comes to furthering the protection of the abominable communist regime.
Then we have the curious and rather cheap situation where the HDZ renegade and staunch criticiser of HDZ as THE party that had destroyed Croatia, Dr Milan Kujundzic, who left HDZ in 2013 and formed his own party only to fail miserably at elections and head into political oblivion, just like the other renegade Drago Prgomet who left HDZ in 2015 with spectacular allegations that HDZ is not a democratic party and now in 2016 it took HDZ’s so-called High Tribunal of Honour a whole 15 minutes to decide that these two men should be allowed to join the party once again. Kujundzic has secured minister for health portfolio; suddenly HDZ, according to him, becomes the best thing that has ever happened to Croatia!
The point is that in Croatia no person in a responsible public position seems to be judged by what they do and how they do it, but what political benefit their actions will have on their “superior’s” political career, on the retention of a cushy job for many in the immediate circle around that person in position. This kind of political indecency occurs almost everywhere, one could say – but that does not mean it must be tolerated. And so, HDZ becomes the political domain to be measured who and how will stand by the leader – just as it was the case for standing by the Marshal (Tito) in communist Yugoslavia. I could go on and on naming those that were good ministers in the short-lived previous HDZ-led government, who deserved an extension of their jobs if professional merit were the real measure of merit – but it’s not. Several of them had also deserved the curtesy and protection by their party (HDZ) from false and vilifying allegations against them, but they didn’t receive any of that human and political decency.
And so, Croatia has a new government that resembles more a hotchpotch stew of HDZ loyals, HDZ renegades, HDZ prodigal sons, HDZ renegades, HDZ left faction, HDZ conceited young and old politicians whose use-by-date expired for justice to all Croatian suffering well before their entry in government hallways and, of course, of politically well-seasoned communist minds in the hotchpotch coalition of minor parties and minorities supports for Plenkovic’s minority government, as well as the oddest ingredient to the hotchpotch stew yet that comes from HSS (Croatian Peasant Party) that is in real life officially affiliated with the biggest opposition party, Social Democrats. Just as one can taste the stew-flavour in a hotchpotch of ingredients one can clearly taste the main flavor and direction of Plenkovic’s new government and its parliamentary supports, which evidently lie in stopping justice for victims of communist crimes committed under former Yugoslavia and under the Serb aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War. It’s a hotchpotch brewed also to rub the right way against the rickety and moulting leaders of the seriously crumbling EU “empire”.
Plenkovic’s new government will most likely have a packed agenda in the next six months especially – it wants to prove to the people that it means business when it comes to reforms announced by HDZ and its largest coalition partner MOST/Bridge. They want to hit the ground running and count on the hotchpotch support from minor parties, minorities etc to let it run and not stumble. And indeed, its already announced that the government has hit the ground running with preparations for next year’s budget – the delivery of which carries a lot of hope to see some incentives that will lift the gloomy economic and living standards mood Croatia is suffering from. The problem with eating hotchpotch, though, is that you never know what the next spoonful will scoop out – which ingredient of the declared support for Plenkovic’s government will be the first to sour the whole pot of stew. But then again, the hotchpotch government and its supports in parliament may prove tough and durable and be the very element that will ensure Plenkovic’s government endures a full term. This has an even higher chance if Plenkovic were to rethink his “Cabinet” make-up within the first 100 days of government and eat humble pie with dignity if the obvious errors he made in the first place when he chose his ministers were corrected. In the meantime, the outcry for justice for victims of communist crimes and for justice to Croatia’s history and for today is likely to see a swell of like-minds that could well culminate in a new political party or camp that will present itself to the Croatian voters and be very successful in winning government or significant seats in the next general election. The swell could well embrace both the homeland and diaspora patriots, reminiscent of the drive for a democratic and prosperous Croatia we saw in late 1980’s and early 1990’s. No doubt about it, Croatia must have its major political force that will see through the real and effective transition into democracy – and this requires absolutely the shedding and the condemnation of communist past and of the acts of Serb aggression in the 1990’s. Anything else in essence accepts the double standards of communist regime in Croatia and that is unacceptable to all whose standards dwell on truth and justice and human decency. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)