Yet Another High-Level Corruption Probe In Croatia 


I would love to be able to write about an installation of anti-corruption measures across all levels of government administration in Croatia – local, regional, and state government – but sadly I cannot because such measures do not appear to exist or, if they do, they are ignored, and life continues as was during the utterly corrupt communist former Yugoslavia. When stamped out at grassroot levels – local government – then much of the problem of corruption is eradicated. In May 1990, 94% of Croatian voters chose Yes at referendum seeking secession from Yugoslavia. Then the Homeland War for independence ensued to defend that people’s decision from Yugoslav Army and Serb aggression brutal aggression. 

33 years have passed since that fateful referendum! Corruption that defined communist Yugoslavia was surely one of the factors solidifying the Yes vote at that referendum in 1990. And yet, here we are – ordinary people are mainly suffocating in that corruption – from pressure to pay bribes to officials, professionals, work force and employment, service provision, business dealings, various licences processes… to corrupt deals at evidently high levels that secure privileges and monopoly for certain companies or corporations and severely undercut the obligatory free-trade environment.  

To illustrate corrupt wheeling and dealings Predrag Dragicevic, judge of the County Court in Slavonski Brod, and Darko Puljasic, former Croatian Democratic Union party/HDZ mayor of Požega and member of parliament, were arrested on Tuesday 11 July 2023 morning on suspicion of corrupt crimes. As it turns out, the arrested men are charged with accepting and giving bribes and favouring employment. Searches of homes and other premises used by suspects have been underway in Slavonia since the early hours of that morning. 

To add to the detrimental effects of corruption alarmingly high levels of emigration and corruption don’t just co-exist inside Croatia as politicians would like us to believe  — they correlate with one another, Tado Juric, a political scientist and historian at the Croatian Catholic University, revealed in his 2021 study “Research on Corruption in Croatia – Measuring Corruption.” His research showed that 75% of companies operating in Croatia claim to know companies that bribe the local or state administration in order to do ‘successful’ business. So, the more corruption, the more emigration. 

On 12 July 2023 Croatia’s anti-corruption prosecution office/USKOK, launched a probe into the resale of natural gas by state-owned power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP), local media reported citing unofficial information. USKOK investigators entered HEP’s offices and seized documents, following media reports last week that it practiced reselling of natural gas surpluses at very low prices. 

Since the HEP/Gas scandal broke out in the public arena in Croatia ten days ago the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, keeps saying that someone in the government knew about the resale of gas, but that he didn’t know! Well, during his Prime Ministership mandate Plenkovic has lost and replaced some 20 government ministers due to either proven corruption charges or suspected corruption and he remains “squeaky clean”! He does not stand down, his government is not suspended, his government is not sacked even though the parliamentary opposition has called for his resignation several times amidst his government ministers’ involvement in corruption as would be the case in a functioning democracy! How is this possible if not because of the lack of democracy and saturation with authoritarian rule as the people had to suffer under communist Yugoslavia. 

This is almost unbelievable. The Prime Minister carries no responsibility it appears; he does not resign nor is he forced to resign from office! The staged investigation into the HEP scandal will simply give Plenkovic more time to come up with excuses to save his own skin.  Not only do the published texts of emails and letters regarding the surplus storage of gas (later sold at obscenely cheap prices) now stand confirmed, which were signed the Head of HEP Frane Barbaric, but at the same time he also informed minister Davor Filipovic and, hence, the prime minister.  Plenkovic simply cannot advertently or inadvertently plead that he knew nothing. By default, if he did not know, read, the submissions of the president of the HEP management, on his cabinet’s desk, then his colleagues, those people who read it and were obliged to inform the prime minister, must have known. If he didn’t know, he had to know. Otherwise, he and his government ministers involved must suffer the consequences of gross negligence at work, in office. 

According to media reports quoting Zvonimir Troskot, opposition member of parliament, HEP was losing 500,000 euro per day by purchasing natural gas from INA at a regulated price of 47.60 euro per megawatt hour, only to resell it later through the Croatian Energy Market Operator HROTE at lower prices (for 1 cent per megawatt it seems!). 

Someone has lined their pockets with cash in this disgraceful example of corruption, for sure. Will the investigation reveal that as promptly as possible or will it bury the case to linger for a decade or more, like similar cases before, is yet to be seen. The effective EU corruption watchdog in Croatia is not involved because there does not appear to be any connection with EU funds but local trade with gas and so not much faith is held in USKOK or any other statutory body in Croatia. They all appear and operate as heavily laced with corrupt individuals who learned their trade during communist Yugoslavia, or whose parents did.     

On 13 July 2023 the Parliamentary Committee for Economy held a special meeting regarding the HEP scandal and the sale of surplus gas by HEP, a government owned energy agency. The only Agenda item at this meeting was “has the government acted efficiently in the energy field, i.e. buying and selling gas. Minister for Economy and Sustainable Development, Davor Filipovic, was sought out to speak at the meeting ad he regurgitated the government’s lamentation about last year’s energy crisis in the wake of Russian invasion of Ukraine and EU’s orders for member states to fill their gas reserve storage capacities and that HEP was to fulfil that duty. Minister Filipovic claimed that the government handled the energy crisis well. He admitted that he received several letters from HEP regarding storage of gas including loan approvals to that end.  He received a letter from HEP about the gas surplus plan in the warehouse and that the surplus gas will be used for local electricity production or sold on the domestic market if the Minister doesn’t order them otherwise. Clearly defensively Minister Filipovic said that letters did not advise him that the surplus gas would be sold “in this way” (read: cheap as chips!). 

Minister Davor Filipovic

“Let’s face it,” said at the meeting HEP Chief Frane Barbaric, “this is not an uncommon occurrence in energy markets around the world. Losses do not occur only in Croatia or only on the gas market …HEP received the gas it had to take over, the demand was low. This was resolved in a prescribed and transparent process over which HEP has and had no influence, but it is a frequent event in the world. If we understood that, no one would make a problem out of this event, let alone an affair.” 

Oh dear! If gas sales are so transparent why was Minister Filipovic so surprised and stated that he did not know the gas would be sold (by HEP) “in that way”! Which by the way generated a loss to the state budget of over 10 million euro! Something stinks in all this, and the Croatian taxpayer is entitled to know to whom the gas was sold so cheaply and whether that buyer sold it on and made profit and split the profit with any person associated with the government. The Parliamentary Committee for Economy was told at the special meeting of 13 July that 63% of the cheap gas was sold to Prvo Plinarsko Društvo/PPD which is a private company that has been enjoying exclusive trade privileges, which in themselves attract a great deal of questions and suspicions of corrupt dealings.     

So, one must ask: since HEP is government owned and accountable to the government were there no government Policies and Procedures in place regarding sale of surplus gas to which HEP had the duty of care to abide by? Why did Minister Filipovic not mention that HEP acted in breach of standing policies and procedures but merely said he did not know the gas would be sold in “that way”!?One would expect that where there are policies and procedures tightly in place for such matters of national importance as energy is. Or is the case simply that HEP had a delegation to create gas sale prices as it liked without checking first the government or minister?  In any case, the government must carry the responsibility of damage done to taxpayers by suspect sale of goods and services purchased from the state budget or supported loans. 

Evidently, there is a rather wide web of guilty people in this surplus gas deal and that no one appears innocent, not even the Prime Minister. Ensuing weeks should reveal more of this corruption scandal and heads will roll from the corridor of power for sure.

Judges and employees of the judiciary in Croatia protest for better wages

Furthermore, the current lingering protest by all court judges as well as court employees for increases to their salaries has paralysed the judiciary and placed a halt to all court proceedings; and there are at least one million of those to yet be completed and processed. The government is stamping its feet, refusing to budge enough for the return to normal in the judiciary. Certainly not a good move in the pre-elections year. 

The European Commission recommended that Croatia increase the wages of judges, adopt laws on lobbying and increase the efficiency of investigations and prosecution of corruption offences, it said. On 6 July 2023 the European Commission had recommended that Croatia revise the criminal procedure code and the law on the office for the suppression of corruption and organised crime, as set out in the anti-corruption strategy, so as to increase the efficiency of investigations and prosecution of corruption offences, it said in its latest rule of law report on. Whether the court judges’ protest has anything to do with cover ups and delay of prosecuting the HEP scandal and other major cases of corruption, we may find out. 

“In addition to recalling the commitments made under the national Recovery and Resilience Plan relating to certain aspects of the justice system and the anti-corruption framework, it is recommended to Croatia to continue structural efforts to address the remuneration of judges, state attorneys and judicial staff, taking into account European standards on resources and remuneration for the justice system,” the European Commission also said.  

Undoubtedly aware of corrupt practices in Croatia associated with public tenders, the European Commission also recommended that the government in Zagreb strengthen the framework for a fair and transparent allocation of state advertising by establishing clear criteria, good practices, and oversight measures to guarantee the effective functioning of the public tender procedure. Ina Vukic  

Croatia: Corruption – The Cradle Of Intolerable Filth!

Left: EPPO Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruţa Kövesi, Top Right: Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his government ministers among latest indictees for fraud and corruption

As I wrote last week, there was a motion by Croatia’s parliamentary opposition to recall the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic with claims, in particular, that he is, among other things, personally responsible for failing to act in curbing corruption which is relentlessly plaguing the country and failing to effectively address and deal with the devastation caused by the earthquakes in Croatia since March 2020. This attempt to depose the Prime Minister from office was not successful. Andrej Plenkovic survived the no confidence vote in the Croatian Parliament on Friday 3 March 2023.  

The 77 against and 56 for the confirmation of no confidence with one abstention and 17 opposition members of Parliament missing in action (did not turn up for voting) in the 151-seat assembly provided a rather clear picture that was expected at this time of political turmoil, economic crisis and living standards uncertainties due to price hikes for food and energy. The governing majority votes favoured Plenkovic as leader and Prime Minister. However, despite the colourful differences in both ideology and policy among the opposition political parties, the parliamentary opposition also rose united as well. Nobody is “crossing the floor” on the matter of Prime Minister’s performance in the above key areas from any side of politics just yet, it seems. But, should the Croatian judiciary act more appropriately and with due and deservingly urgent haste in processing indictments for corruption that occurred in the very heart of Plenkovic’s government, should the judiciary work faster in collecting needed evidence to be tested in court, then anything is possible. Even a catastrophic loss by HDZ in 2024 general elections. In the face of so much corruption, in the face of harsh living standards due to price increases of basic and essential food and other essentials for life, no amount of gloss Plenkovic is painting over the economy will stop the corrosive bitterness and disappointments the voters seem to be expressing every day. Pending the 2024 parliamentary elections in Croatia we are now on a most interesting ride which, God willing, will see increased attacks on the communist mindset polluting the democracy Croatia should be, but is not living.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has recently published its 2022 Annual Report. Since its launch in June 2021, EPPO opened offices in 22 EU countries, including a branch in Croatia. Its main purpose is to monitor, track and investigate the expenditure of EU funds given to a country and its successful funds applicant organisations.

On the face and perhaps the substance of EU funds given this has changed the [corruption] situation significantly. One may say that the corrupt habits acquired during the life of communist Yugoslavia that groomed people who wielded political power who perhaps could have exerted influence over local investigators are no longer that powerful for EU money and under EPPO’s rudder. And while Croatia itself has an anticorruption body USKOK (Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime) attached to the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) as a special operations unit dealing with all except fraud and corruption associated with EU funds attended to by the EPPO, it has been very much like a toothless tiger. Corruption scandals that do not involve EU funds also keep popping up like mushrooms after the rain. I.e., there are still many officials working for the public authorities who think and act as if they are free to do what they please with public funding. This is in part because they think they are untouchable, or because they can pull strings in these bodies, or because they expect membership in a political party will always help them get out of problems, forgive their theft and corruption. The communist mindset still reigns in Croatia, the power is still behind and not in front of the “counter” (with people, with clients, with taxpayers). The ruling political parties since the end of the Homeland War and Serb occupation of Croatian territories in 1998, whether they were HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) or SDP (Social Democratic Party, viz. former Croatian League of Communists), have all equated themselves as being The State. Communist mindset where the political party in government acts as and considers itself omnipotent, in control of people’s lives!

The most prominent scandal investigated by EPPO over the past year and a half in Croatia included a 1.3 million euros case which led to the indictment of the former government minister for EU funds and high-ranking officials of the ruling conservative HDZ party, Gabrijela Zalac, and three of her associates, in December 2021. Zalac, with the director of the Central Finance and Contracting Agency, Tomislav Petric, and two business owners, was apprehended as part of operation “Software” conducted by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Croatia. EPPO’s suspected offences against them included an attempt to award a public procurement operation for a software system to one of the indictees without a public tender, and then rigging the price of a subsequent tender. As the saga of Zalac’s criminal/corruption proceedings advance in Croatia, revealing details that may implicate even the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in shady deals or omissions that may have aided success of fraudulent entries, the ruling party HDZ is shrugging the issues off while the parliamentary opposition unleashed a public outcry saying the affair is a sign of a crisis in government.  

Another high-ranking official recently investigated by EPPO is former agriculture minister Tomislav Tolusic, who was detained in July 2022 in an investigation over suspected irregularities over around 600,000 euros in EU funding he spent to equip his privately owned winemaking business.  This led to State Attorney’s Office/DORH also filing an indictment against three other former ministers in the government of Andrej Plenkovic/HDZ – Darko Horvat, Boris Milosevic, and Josip Aladrovic, as well as four other suspects in two branches of the investigation launched due to alleged illegalities with dishing out incentives. In addition to the four ministers, USKOK/anti-corruption office also filed indictments against Horvat’s assistant Ana Mandac, former state secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development Velimir Zunac, director of the administration for assisted areas Katica Miskovic and the mayor of Zupanja Damir Juzbasic. Eight defendants are charged with abuse of position and authority, inciting, and aiding in abuse of position and authority, trading in influence and assisting in trading in influence.

If we label corruption as filth, then the governing political parties in the past two decades or so in Croatia have been its cradle! Despite their political ideology and operational differences they all share common ground on not doing much to punish and stop corruption that is prevalent across all public administration sectors.

A large portion of the public in Croatia is currently standing on tenterhooks, waiting to see if Croatian judiciary will drag its feet in processing these indictments until the 2024 general elections are over! That way HDZ Party and Prime Minister can keep playing the innocence cards and keep denying that there is a real problem of corrupt culture in the entire public administration system. Any decent and non-corrupt government, faced with serious indictments with serious crimes of several of its ministers, would have already triggered an independent review of all practices and procedures, instigated checks and balances at all spots and levels of public money receipts and expenditure. Not Croatia, though. As reflex reaction it forms Commissions and on them may sit compromised individuals with shady past and encounter with corruption, at least the political kind!

In 2022 alone, EPPO’s investigations in Croatia led to eight indictments and six court verdicts and to the freezing of some €400,000 in assets. They also received 51 reports and complaints, with more than half (29) coming from local authorities and another 17 filed by individuals. In terms of the type of funding involved, most cases were related to regional and urban development (7), followed by agriculture and rural development (6).

It is both interesting and encouraging that Croatian citizens submitted as many as 162 reports to the EPPO of suspicions of criminal offences that are not actually within the jurisdiction of the European prosecutor’s office. This is the largest number of reports or allegations of fraud the EPPO likely received from any member country. This among other things points to a concerning fact that Croatian p[eople are increasingly frustrated and irritated by the inaction or alarming inattentiveness of the domestic courts and judiciary. Furthermore, this has led to an alarming increase in public expressions of distrust in the Croatian judiciary coupled with consensus that courts are nowhere near being independent of the government as they should be. The fact that Croatian citizens are choosing to report suspicious corrupt activities to the EPPO, even though the subjects of such reports are not within the EPPO’s jurisdiction, does demonstrate a concerning level of desperation within the population in trying to achieve justice and root out corruption.

According to its 2022 Annual Report the European Prosecutor’s/EPPO Office in Croatia is currently investigating fraud associated with 313 million euros tied to its lodging of 23 court proceedings in Croatia last year. That is, last year, EPPO commenced 23 cases of suspected embezzlement of 313.6 million euros if European money in Croatia. As stated in the Annual Report, these are mainly investigations into misuse of funds from EU funds and the state budget, manipulation during public procurement, and corruption.

Croatia commonly scores high on the annual Corruption Perception Index compiled by Transparency International. In their 2022 report, it ranked 57th out of 180 countries surveyed globally and 24th in the EU, ahead only of Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

It has come to light last year that Croatia (or rather its citizens) is also among other countries implicated in the 2022 biggest investigation of theft and corruption of public moneys embodied in the so-called Operation Admiral in relation to a complex VAT/GST tax fraud scheme based on the sale of popular electronic goods. All the data collected is being analysed, and the investigation into the organised crime groups behind this scheme is continuing. The estimated damages investigated under Operation Admiral currently amount to 2.2 billion euro. It amounts to the biggest VAT carousel fraud, or Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud, ever investigated in the EU. The criminal activities are spread throughout the 22 EPPO participating Member States, as well as Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, and Poland, along with third countries including Albania, China, Mauritius, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Whether about corruption, about nepotism, about fraud, about theft, about improper government minister behaviour, new scandals persistently pollute the life of Croatian people. I remember a comment I once read on communist mindset and habits as Croatia was in the throws of seceding from communist Yugoslavia: leaving Yugoslavia will not mean we have also left the thieves behind, and that is why strict anti-corruption laws, and their implementation will be essential for democracy to thrive. Today, in 2023 the implementation of such laws is pathetic or largely non-existent in Croatia. Audits and spot checks are not fully independent, checks and balances to do with government grants and funding practically do not exist as the concept in functioning democracies intends, leaving ample space for embezzlement and theft and other corrupt means. Corruption runs in the blood of former communist operatives and their descendants. Croatia badly needs a political blood transfusion! Ina Vukic

Croatia: HDZ vs SDP – Pot Calling The Kettle Black

It is becoming tiring that new corruption scandals, involving the government or highly positioned officials or politicians of any creed, are unravelling just about every month before our eyes and there seems to be no end to this agony for the Croatian nation.

Almost as soon as the Croatian media published various mobile phone SMS messages exchanged between numerous public servants and the former director of the public company Croatian Forests, now a suspect with Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption (USKOK), the content of those messages became the main focus of discussions and demands made in parliament, February 1, 2023. The opposition, particularly SDP/Social Democratic Party accuses HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union officials, including ministers in the government, of influence peddling, fixing jobs and employment. A procedure has reportedly been initiated in which the impeachment of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is requested. While the ruling HDZ denies any wrongdoing that points to nepotism and corruption, the opposition comes out with the opposite assessment and calls Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Croatian parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic, who were also mentioned in those phone messages, to account, putting the Prime Minster forth for impeachment. The SDP complaint clearly states that the HDZ brought the country to a deplorable state where without the influence of the Prime Minister and high-ranking HDZ party officials and dignitaries it is impossible to secure a job in Croatia and that it is HDZ that brought Croatia to this sorry state (HRT News Dnevnik 2, 01/02/2023).

Job-fixing, nepotism, is the root of much evil that has diseased Croatia, resulting in hundreds of thousands people leaving the country in the past decade looking for work and a decent life elsewhere. Addressing this new corruption scandal and plucking out the guilty officials and persons would be a strong start to ridding Croatia of nepotism.  

While it is certain that nepotism is one of the main problems of corruption in the labour market in Croatia under HDZ government, SDP’s opposition also did nothing to eradicate or at least significantly reduce this corrupt practice while it, itself, was in government and other power such as the Office of the President.

Pot calling the kettle black, as it is now done in the Croatian Parliament, and even in the last couple of decades, may be what people call a normal political practice between “warring” political parties vying for power, however, when it comes to eradicating corruption and nepotism this strategy should not be tolerated. It keeps suffocating Croatia from true progress in all fields of life; it is not a solution for the betterment of Croatia. It just keeps corruption alive.

The best thing that could happen for Croatian people and Croatia is to wipe the slate clean from both HDZ and SDP governments and vote in new blood at coming general elections in 2024. Both have proven that they are either incapable of making changes forward away from overwhelming corruption or that they do not want changes.

If one said that, currently and perpetually, Croatia is in a big mess, politically, economically, or otherwise, one would sadly be justified. The current Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has maintained a stand of aggression and intolerance towards the Office of the President of Croatia regardless of who was/is in that office during his time as Prime Minister.  Of course, again, one blames the other for the intolerance; again, the pot calling the kettle black!

The same can be said for the President Zoran Milanovic and for the former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. They could not find a common language with Plenkovic and Plenkovic could not find it with them. The result is an abysmal image of Croatia as a nation. There is no excuse for such destructive behaviour and ways of collaborating can always be found, unless, of course, neither the Prime Minister or the President of Croatia care much about its independence and the blood spilled for that! So it may well be in their personal political interests and leanings (towards the failed former communist Yugoslav state) that they make no effort in bringing harmony to that country that has as a nation suffered so very much through the ages. 

Each will say the other one is to blame for the scandalous discord at the top echelons in the two “towers” of power in Croatia, when harmony and collaboration is required to achieve the best possible transition out of communism.

Then, last Monday Croatia’s president Zoran Milanovic criticised Western nations for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons in its campaign against invading Russian forces, saying those arms deliveries will only prolong the war. He said that it’s “mad” to believe that Russia can be defeated in a conventional war.

“I am against sending any lethal arms there,” Milanovic said. “It prolongs the war.”

“What is the goal? Disintegration of Russia, change of the government? There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. This is mad,” he added.

Prior to winning presidential election in 2019 Milanovic had Prime Minister between 2011 and 2016, then been disgraced as the leader of the Social Democratic Party to make a comeback as President as a left-leaning liberal candidate, a stark contrast to the middle of the road conservative government currently in power. But he has since made a turn to populist nationalism signs of which he started displaying as Prime Minister.

The fact that the Croatian government headed by Andrej Plenkovic supports Ukraine and its defence against the Russian invasion and aggression and the President does not is yet another marker for the hopeless situation Croatia is in on the road to achieving a semblance of harmony and unity.

Then, also last week, President Milanovic went on to make a grandiose statement in which he claimed that Kosovo was stolen from Serbia! The Croatian government headed by Andrej Plenkovic recognises Kosovo as an independent state and has established diplomatic relations and other cooperative processes! Milanovivc’s statement regarding Kosovo has provoked many reactions of anger and repulsion. Given that Kosovo was created as part of dissolution of former communist Yugoslavia one is thoroughly justified in being abhorred at such a statement by Milanovic. But then again, at the time, being a prominent member of the League of Communists, he was against the dissolution of communist Yugoslavia and never fought for independent Croatia. The latter part could also be said for Prime Minister Plenkovic.

Croatia is led by two politicians of communist Yugoslavia background and leanings, who never wanted its independence, its freedom, in the first place nor fought for it. A terrible paradox is being lived in Croatia. The concerning issue is that this situation and the outward discord between the Office of President and Cabinet of Prime Minister could well be a reeling out of planned action to keep Croatia unstable and keep former communist Yugoslavia looking “attractive”?

It is certainly an ugly discord, and one finds it incredulous that it is permitted to continue for so long.  

On Monday, the Croatian president expanded his narrative by saying he believes that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, will never again be part of Ukraine.

After months of hesitation, the U.S. said it will send 31 of its 70-ton Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, and Germany announced it will dispatch 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries to do the same.

Milanovic said that “from 2014 to 2022, we are watching how someone provokes Russia with the intention of starting this war.”

Although the presidential post is mostly ceremonial in Croatia, Milanovic is formally the supreme commander of the armed forces. One finds in Western media comments such as: Milanovic’s latest anti-Western outbursts have embarrassed and irritated Croatia’s government which has fully supported Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s aggression. Well, the aggression, the discord, the ugly fights between the two have been going on for years but the West hardly noticed. Perhaps because this discord between the Croatia’s powerful did not brush against the policies the West was implementing internationally such as that for Ukraine?  On Monday, Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reacted to the president’s positions on the West and Ukraine by saying they “directly harm Croatia’s foreign policy position.” Well that’s a lukewarm reaction given the depth and intensity of the discord between the two! One would have expected Plenkovic to use much stronger words in response to Milanovic’s rants against the Western politics on Russia and its aggression against Ukraine. The coming year may indeed reveal what lies under the surface of the perpetual, tiring animosity between Croatia’s President and Prime Minister. Whatever the case, voters should not tolerate this destructive and disruptive state of discord, corruption and nepotism amidst the pretence that all is fine. True democracy should have its day! Ina Vukic   

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