Croatia: Smearing Will Not Stick To Kolinda – She Is A Leader

Croatian presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on "Sunday at 2" TV program 21 September 2014 Photo: Screen shot

Croatian presidential candidate
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
on “Sunday at 2” TV program 21 September 2014
Photo: Screen shot

Rushed, half-baked backroom deals that are doomed to wither away into economic impact nothingness, slow chipping away at corruption by processing “top dogs” instead of building anti-corruption monitoring in all places of public office, or measures of nationalistic pride will not save Croatia from economic bankruptcy and social disintegration. Leadership will!

Presidential Candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is a leader; she has proven that and she commands respect as such. What’s more important is that she is a champion of democratic thought and action – something Croatian society needs.

The fact that she is widely perceived as a leader is reflected in the campaign of smears against her, evidently waged, either directly or indirectly through the control of the media by the current president Ivo Josipovic’s camp. A campaign of smears is usually associated with the distribution of negative labels intended to slander a prominent political figure or categorise him/her into a less valuable or unwelcome ‘category’ of people.

Some months ago when the possibility of Kolida Grabar-Kitarovic becoming a candidate at the coming presidential elections the smear campaign against her focused on sexist remarks such as “she is a good looking woman but”, “she is a pretty, blonde woman who knows what she wants”, “she has advanced in her career with the ease of ‘knife sliding through soft butter’”. As her candidacy became more and more likely she was labeled ‘Barbie’! She stood her ground as her attackers realised that sexist smears, which had the goal of portraying the idea that a blonde, good looking woman could not have what it takes to be a president, suddenly stopped with such innuendos and introduced the ‘Masonic boogeyman’ into the smear campaign, painting her maliciously as a personally devoted member of Masonic associations that have nothing good to bring to Croatia, or the world for that matter.

The sexist and Masonic smears seemed not to work, palpably withered into ridiculous portrayals, Kolinda’s leadership qualities prevailed as the qualities she most ardently and ably represents.

And so the smear campaign against Grabar-Kitarovic moved up a notch or two: she is to be portrayed by the opposition as a candidate who has no opinion of her own on any issues currently perceived as important for the Croatian public!

She was interviewed on the widely watched “Sunday at 2” TV program on Sunday 21 September 2014 and wouldn’t you know it, the majority of mainstream media outlets in Croatia published commentaries that are either lies or half-truths regarding her answers to some of these ‘important’ questions, evidently intentionally omitting to point out that Grabar-Kitarovic has strong personal views on issues but that she puts her duty as politician in a democracy above her personal views. This of course would be a positive characteristic in any strong democracy but it seems not to be the case in Croatia where democracy is defined by the socially isolated and personal career driven political elites who are, as opposed to Grabar-Kitarovic, not inclusive politicians – to whom the variety of opinions in society and how to achieve a sustainable consensus do not matter and public debates or submissions have no merit.

At the beginning of her interview in “Sunday at 2” Grabar-Kitarovic stated: “…I have travelled the whole world and nobody can tell me that, with all the potentials it has, Croatia has to be in the state it is. We need strong leadership, we need people who have the knowledge, who have courage and I believe that I am that.”

When it comes to her answers to the ‘important’ questions put to her (from about the 40 minute mark of the televised interview) most the mainstream media acted atrociously, failing to relay the actual punch lines of her answers and thus portraying a person who does not have a personal opinion but wants to consult with the public/people on everything – as if that is a bad characteristic. When in fact, that is what true democracy is made of!

Serbian Cyrillic in Vukovar

To the question: “(Serbian) Cyrillic signs on public buildings in Vukovar, yes or no, what do you think (?), she replied: “I am not against those signs … but I am against raising them in places where they cause unrest.”

Communist crimes

To the questions regarding public divisions stemming from WWII and post WWII communist and Ustashe crimes that are constantly being regurgitated in Croatia she replied: “…that is the past, a new generation is coming in Croatia, many people have suffered during communism, I had neighbours who went to jail for singing a Croatian song, my uncle ended up on Goli Otok because he was dating a young girl in whom a certain man was interested … we need to move away from this chapter, I was born much after WWII … we need to unite, reconcile … It’s a fact that there has been no satisfaction reached in Croatia for those who had in any way suffered during communist regime … a victim is a victim … we must ensure that, at least, those who had offended during the former regime, who are suspected of having committed criminal acts and in other ways breached the penal code, are not occupying high government positions…”.

Zagreb City Square named after Josip Broz Tito

To the question as to whether Croatia’s capital needs a square named after Marshall Tito her reply was: “…that is a good question but I would leave the matter to the local community, as the president I would not on my own change the names of city squares and streets, I would leave that to public debate, but given that we are talking about that, time has come for Zagreb to have a city square or a main street named after the first president of Croatia, dr Franjo Tudjman, which we still do not have.” After the interviewer said that Zagreb does have a square named after Franjo Tudjman she said: “Yes but something representative and big in the city’s centre!”. Asked about her opinion on Marshal Tito and naming city squares she affirmed: “Personally I would not name city squares after him but I respect that there are people who value him.”

I do not divide people into left and right, I am entering these elections with clarity, with modern conservatism, which is inclusive, tolerant and respectful of other people’s opinions. I’m counting on the voters in Croatia and I count on our programs being evaluated and that which can move Croatia forward, that which can enhance life in Croatia, that which can take us out of poverty.”

The commentary or articles that appeared in most Croatian mainstream media in relation to this interview given by Grabar-Kitarovic make it clear that many journalists in Croatia were more involved in moderating, rather than leading in factual reporting of the event; indeed their reporting can be considered as attempting to shape public opinion against Grabar-Kitarovic rather than reporting ‘verbatim’ of who said what. To understand the specific role journalism plays is to create an information environment that builds upon democracy. In democracies, people need to be properly informed and it breaks my heart to see how the many of mainstream journalists in Croatia reporting on this TV interview failed so miserably at informing the public fully about such an important matter as the opinions of a presidential candidate are; failed miserably to state that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic excels in democratic considerations and evidently counts on the Croatian public to help with the wealth of its knowledge and opinion shape Croatia under her leadership. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


This post has been translated into the Croatian language (click to link to the article)

Ovaj članak na hrvatskom jeziku (OVDJE)


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