Croatia: Will The Door To New Government Be Kicked Open Or …


New Croatian Parliament inaugural meeting 14 October 2016 (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

New Croatian Parliament
inaugural meeting 14 October 2016
(AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

I’m bursting with anticipation and curiosity waiting to hear whether Dr Zlatko Hasanbegovic will continue as minister for culture in the new Andrej Plenkovic led government of Croatia. Smaller parties and independents had huddled around HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and its leader Andrej Plenkovic with relative ease and a rather miraculous speed to support HDZ minority government receive the needed parliamentary majority goodwill for forming a government. But that government, i.e. the make-up of the government Cabinet (Ministers) is still a big enigma. It has remained an enigma even though the new Croatian Parliament had been convened and officially constituted on Friday 14 October 2014, with Bozo Petrov (leader of MOST/Bridge of independent lists as Speaker and HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union’s Miljan Brkic, Gordan Jandrokovic and outgoing Speaker Zeljko Reiner as deputy Speakers of the new parliament). Not even an inkling, yet, as to which of the elected members will be filling the all-important roles of government ministers. We are reassured, however, that the persons to serve as ministers in the new government will be announced during the coming week.

“They” do say that good things come to those who wait. I shall hold destiny responsible to deliver on this.

Andrej Plenkovic Croatia's Prime Minister designate Announces restructure of new government in parliament Friday 14 October 2016 Photo: screenshot HRT news

Andrej Plenkovic Croatia’s Prime Minister designate
Announces restructure of new government
in parliament Friday 14 October 2016
Photo: screenshot HRT news


Prime Minister designate, Andrej Plenkovic, has – amidst copious amounts of media speculation regarding who will and who will not get to serve as minister in his government – made it publicly clear last week that “I am the PM designate and nobody will determine the appointment of ministers,” (but me). Of course, it’s a given that a PM must choose those people to serve as members of his/her government executive team he or she can best work with in order to achieve outcomes from the government’s set goals or program. The top goal for any government is to serve and promote national interests and Croatian national interests at this stage are significantly marked by the need to rid the country of the remnants of the unproductive and undemocratic practices still present due to habits instilled by the former communist regime of Yugoslavia.

Things appear to be looking up in this sense as we learn that the delay in naming future government ministers may well be associated with the restructure of public administration and government being decided upon and announced. I.e., as announced by Plenkovic last Friday night Croatia is to have 19 out of 20 current ministries but a new ministry for demographics, family, the youth and social politics to be created from existing set ups with view to thrust into the front lines the solving of the falling birth rate and increasing emigration. To achieve a lesser number of ministries functions of some previous ones have been merged into new ones (merger into one ministry of economic, business and trade portfolios; the return to ministry of Croatia Veterans as opposed to the current veterans affairs, etc.) There will also be six instead of four Central government offices. State Secretaries will replace the current deputy-minister positions and the role of Assistant to the minister will in time transition into Head of Administration and will be filled via public advertising and competition, which in essence represents a very significant positive step in securing incumbents of important public administration position on the basis of merit (not political affiliation); the Heads of Administration will have the status of Servants (public servants), which means that after ceasing to work in that position the incumbent would not enjoy extended remuneration as assistants to ministers receive now.

After Social Democrats’ representative suggested that the new structure will mean increased number of central bodies, thus suggesting increased government spending, Andrej Plenkovic replied: “There’s no intention to increase administration or expenses but the key intention is in increased rationalisation, increased outputs and de-politicisation and professionalisation of public administration,” reports HRT news.

During this time of delay in naming the ministers of the new government HDZ and its leaders would do well in heeding the words and warnings regarding Croatian priority national interests contained in the statement released Saturday 15 October 2015 by the Croatian Bishops’ Conference. Croatian Bishops have called for the Croatian people and society to unity and maturity so that it would have the strength to endure the newly staged attempts in creating myths and in the spreading of lies. That is not a call to “return to the past”, but a motivation and a wish to free ourselves from the burden and the weights from the past that place a burden upon our today and blur our vision for the future, emphasised the Bishops’ statement.

Croatian Bishops' Conference 15 October 2016 Photo: Hrvatska biskupska konferencija

Croatian Bishops’ Conference
15 October 2016
Photo: Hrvatska biskupska konferencija

The Bishops consider the current regard towards the victims of the communist regime, especially when it comes to mass graves and the remains of those that perished, in Croatia and in other places, especially in Slovenia, expressed by the relevant Croatian organisations and by the Croatian state generally as unacceptable and damaging,” says the Bishops’ statement in which Croatian Bishops emphasise that the upgrading of Greater Serbia myths neglects the suffering of the Croatian population during the Homeland War, the destruction of property…and the inadequate acknowledgement of Croatian veterans in the creation of freedom and independence. The Bishops call upon the appropriate Croatian government bodies to engage the necessary effort in order to place a light upon the truth of Jasenovac camps as well as upon the post-WWII sufferings. With this, the victims would receive due respect and the truth will usher in more peace into the families whose members have suffered…Bishops say.


Bozo Patrov Speaker of Croatian Parliament Photo: N1

Bozo Patrov
Speaker of Croatian Parliament
Photo: N1

It is a fact that Yugoslav communists who call themselves “the liberators” had from 1945 destroyed the Croatian civil society and committed the crime of murdering the country’s intelligence (the part that was not pro-communist). Hence, hundreds of priests, writers, journalists, publicists, cultural and social and political elites, engineers, lawyers, teachers etc. were liquidated, while others fled the country in order to escape sure death. The communists knew well that their success in ruling the people  depended heavily on getting rid of the part of the country’s intelligentsia that was against communism. In modern Croatia, stripping Croatia of its most deserving son for its independence and democracy – Franjo Tudjman – had been a purposefully vilifying agenda for several years before Tudjmans death and after his death from 2000 when former communists’ win of government as well as Stjepan Mesic’s win of the country’s presidency followed. The official cultural pursuits or the ministry of culture under the left and centre-left leadership had played a large part in making sure that the condemnation of communist crimes does not pick up ground in any significant measure within the Croatian society. Ministry of culture has been and is a government body through which all publications, books, films, cultural associations etc must go in order to see the light of day. Thankfully, in his short role as culture minister of Croatia’s short-lived previous government Zlatko Hasanbegovic had commenced the process of bringing balance into the ministry’s (the society’s) pursuits of Croatian truth, which of course meant that communist crimes needed to become an agenda to be openly and without reservations dealt with on the basis of facts and truth. This move of course earned him terrible blows and branded him as ultra-nationalist, Ustashe, fascist, revisionist …


In other words, within six months of being Croatia’s minister for culture Hasanbegovic had declared his resistance to the cultural hegemony, or upon the dominant influence the communist Yugoslav left side of Croatia’s political playing field had wielded since late 1990’s when the so-called “detudjmanisation” commenced. Because of this, Hasanbegovic had been a target of terrible attacks within Croatia and beyond – staged and implemented by former communists and their mates, including the head of Istrael’s branch of Simon Wiesenthal Centre – filled with hateful lies.

From left: Miljan Brkic, Gordan Jandrokovic, Zeljko Reiner HDZ's deputies of Croatian Parliament Will these men manage to keep in check the small-town-mayor- turned-speaker-of-parliament Bozo Petrov if once again he goes rogue against government leadership? Photo: Patrik Macek/Pixsell

From left: Miljan Brkic, Gordan Jandrokovic, Zeljko Reiner
HDZ’s deputies of Croatian Parliament
Will these men manage to keep in check
the small-town-mayor-
Bozo Petrov if once again he goes rogue against government leadership?
Photo: Patrik Macek/Pixsell

Although Andrej Plenkovic as designated PM has made it abundantly clear that he will not be influenced by anyone’s pressure in naming the ministers of his government and that the ministers will be those persons he himself chooses one can only pray and hope that his choice for culture minister is Zlatko Hasanbegovic. Having demonstrated some good insight and analysis skills so far one can only trust that Plenkovic has come to a realisation that by not naming Hasanbegovic as minister also means that he is joining the posse of liars against Hasanbegovic and also means joining the posse of anti-Croatian propaganda. Plenkovic’s move in the next couple of days will be interesting to watch because all eyes in Croatia and beyond seem fixed upon this very issue of whether Hasanbegovic is to continue as culture minister. If he does appoint Hasanbegovic then Croatia has a new lease of life for positive moves towards ridding Croatian public administration and associated processes of communist regime’s progress-stifling remnants. If he does not appoint Hasanbegovic then Croatia’s reputation and daily reality are at a terrible loss and suffer a damaging setback in moving forward from the burdens of history that must be cleared – not swept under the carpet. Not naming Hasanbegovic as minister will also mean that Plenkovic either directly or vicariously agrees with the false allegations of neo-fascism/revisionism made against Hasanbegovic and Croatia. And so I wonder if the imminent announcement of new government ministers will feel like the door has just been kicked open (with unexpected and niggling surprises) or that it has just been opened – with the right mix of people eloquently showing through. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

No Holds Barred Attacks Against Croatian Government Majority HDZ Leader

Ana Saric-Karamarko and Tomislav Karamako Photo:

Ana Saric-Karamarko and Tomislav Karamako

“They” – opposition politicians of the communist breed largely embedded in the Social Democrat parliamentary opposition in Croatia, self-professed antifascists who know bugger all about being or practicing true antifascism as well as much of the twisted left oriented media in Croatia – are still intent on destroying the coalition government mainly by staging scandals and false crises. The political arena where political combatants get at each other armed with a vicious killer instinct is, of course, nothing new for a parliamentary system of governments where the number of votes gets to be “King”. However, when the path of destruction against a political party targets its leader using blatant denial of due process then any democratic society must take a pause and take a hard look at itself. Be concerned. Very concerned.


Latest ammunition used in Croatia to try and destroy HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union that holds majority seats in the coalition government) is that of denial of due process to its president, Tomislav Karamarko. That is, the matter of possible Karamarko’s conflict of interests in relation to his wife’s previous dealings with Hungarian MOL company I referred to in my last article, has escalated to ugly media and by the opposition pressures for HDZ and its coalition partner MOST to issue statements regarding the matter, ahead of findings by the appropriate independent official body dealing with the matter.


All in all: pressure that translates into denial of due process. Ruling on the matter must occur first and then comments and statements follow naturally and as a matter of due process also.


I was most disappointed in an article by a well-known, often respected, Croatian journalist for Vecernji List, Davor Ivankovic, a couple of days ago in which he appears as if he has joined the liberal/communist/social democrat opposition in mounting no holds barred attacks against Karamarko as the person who must go from his position of party leadership and government leadership team!


Suddenly Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ, the First Deputy Prime Minister, is to blamed for everything, even for an alleged dysfunctional government over which he does not even preside!


Ivankovic, in his article, talks of the planned vote of no confidence being tabled at the Parliament by the Social Democrats against Tomislav Karamarko on basis of alleged conflicts of interests to do with his wife’s private business. “…If MOST (HDZ’s coalition partner in government) holds the numbers for a quorum when the voting is on regarding Karamarko, it’s enough for them to abstain from voting, and, therefore, SDP (Social Democrats) would not collect enough votes. That would give the new HDZ leadership (HDZ general assembly coming up this coming week/before Parliament votes on no confidence) enough time to search for a new leader. Karamarko is, so to say, already in ‘free-fall’, and it’s clear that every new quake around him will start the motion of replacing him within the party. It’s thought that no one would even let a tear drop for him after 3 or 4 months…” writes Ivankovic.

There is not a mention, not a single mention of any unfairness against Karamarko in Ivankovic’s article; there’s no criticism of the Social Democrats for causing what he calls a “quake” around Karamarko when the official independent body has not even delivered its findings against allegations of conflict of interests! I have, therefore, started to wonder if Davor Ivankovic has crossed the lines of journalistic balance and joined the real destroyers: those who are purposefully and neglectfully straying away from foundations of democracy – entitlement to a due process. This surely cannot be a healthy occurrence for a society hungry for justice for victims of the Homeland War and of communist crimes to endure.


Regardless of how one feels about Tomislav Karamarko, his absence from the leadership of HDZ would signal major changes within the party that most likely would not spell political survival as Ivankovic suggests it would. It needs to be remembered that the public faith in HDZ has since May 2012 been praise-worthily and significantly restored under Karamarko’s leadership. Karamarko’s leadership gave a new lease of life to conservative or centre-right politics in Croatia; the politics that were responsible for the Homeland War victory and Croatian independence but also the politics suffering almost insurmountable unproven allegations of theft, fraud, corruption…



There is a number of people in HDZ who have arrayed themselves in opposition to Karamarko, even if they may or do not show it. A keen eye could see for a while now that appetites have been running whet for the leadership chair as well as on skinning HDZ of its popularity among the people. There has been little if any efforts from those currently eyeing a chair at the HDZ leadership table in asserting to the public that HDZ is not as “sick” as the opposition and media are making it look. The limp, lukewarm comments on major scandals by those running close to Karamarko in HDZ may not in fact be what Ivankovic calls “mentality in HDZ where no one dares to go against the chief for if you do, you lose your head,” but in fact responses that go with ambitions to be that leader once the latter falls; to be a new Karamarko to HDZ (?). In any case, there’s much to be said for loyalty to the leader in a political party – it is the superglue of political survival and unity and is a desirable quality everywhere.


Davor Ivankovic’s article suggests that HDZ is dying, but Karamarko doesn’t know it (and he should! He should step away! – he suggests). That HDZ is sick. And then Ivankovic would like us to think anything that speeds up Karamarko’s demise is to the good, because then it (HDZ) can reinvent itself and return as something healthy. No way Karamarko has caused all that alleged sickness in HDZ – the political party that only a few months ago won 59 seats in Parliament under his leadership, enough to form a coalition government!


I have problems with the approach of attacking HDZ’s leader, Karamarko, which in turn dictate the results of opinion polls and nation’s mood for dealing with real issues such as economic reform. Real issues and electoral promises always get left behind when the society is bombarded daily with scandals around personal issues of politicians or unproven allegations. This approach presumes the events of the coming years can be perfectly predicted because one can mount scandals that shape a government or party leadership and it undermines the legitimacy of the Parliament and executive.


The approach suggests opinion polls are more important than the Parliament, than the actual good Karamarko (or any member of parliament) does as a parliamentary representative.


Some principles are more important than the contest for who gets to ride in the shiniest car with the flag on the bonnet. Croatian society (any democratic society) can only properly function while its members accept the laws enacted by the parliament bind them. If Karamarko has a case to answer in the conflict of interest allegations then the ruling will be brought under the relevant law enacted by the parliament. A due process that also means innocent until proven guilty is a mandatory moral fiber all politicians and media must uphold; otherwise we’re all “going to pot”. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Staged Political Crisis Undercutting Needed Rhythm For Reforms

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia Centre: Tihomir Oreskovic, Croatia's Prime Minister Right: Bozo Petrov, Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia
Centre: Tihomir Oreskovic, Croatia’s Prime Minister
Right: Bozo Petrov, Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister

Instead of seeing a gradual settling of politically antagonistic spirits, left over from public spaces of pre-election and elections moods, which usually makes the job of new government’s ushering in the desperately needed reforms that would bolster and aid positive economic change and reduction of the crippling foreign debt easier, the end of May 2016 marks a full four months of a staged seemingly crippling political crisis that makes the work of the government extremely difficult and often impossible. The staged political crisis aided by a great deal of bias and fueling of scandals in the media is visibly keeping the coalition government on its toes and vigilant; ready to pounce back with replies to malicious accusations and innuendoes that cannot and should not wait a reply. It seems like every day is a new scandal directed at the government and the media readily picks up on these regardless of where facts or truth stand.


For three weeks in May the Parliament sittings had been unable to vote on new legislation due to lack of quorum. From day one of this new coalition government (conservative centre right HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union and independent political force MOST) Croatia has constantly been bombarded with ever new scandals originating from the centre left that was previously in government, former communists but today’s Zoran Milanovic led Social Democrats, who hold that they should be the ones heading the government even if they won less seats than HDZ in the last elections.

The first staged scandals had to do with the proliferation of lies and half-truths regarding minister of culture Zlatko Hasanbegovic who was labeled a fascist and a Nazi, and Croatia under the new government labeled as a country that is seeing a renewal of (WWII) fascism.  Vicious pressure for the government to rid itself of Hasanbegovic never ceases to this day even if the man himself has done nothing wrong, but – hey – he is strong on wielding justice for victims of communist crimes and that is – evidently – a “No, No” for ex-communists and their contemporary “compadres”. Then soon came the resignation of the new veterans’ affairs minister under the pressure of having registered a shed, in which he does not live, as his residence.
Then came an attack against education minister Predrag Suster regarding his expressed stands on evolution Vs creation.

Then came the viciously recriminating divisions and scandals regarding the Holocaust victims’ memorials at Jasenovac and the memorials for the victims of communist crimes at Bleiburg.


Then came the inability of the Parliament to vote on legislation due to lack of quorum that lingered on for three weeks or longer. Then the latest is Social Democrat opposition pressure to slot in a vote of no confidence in the parliament against First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko (HDZ) – citing conflict of interest because reportedly his wife’s private business previously had dealings with PR consultant for Hungary’s oil company MOL that holds control over Croatia’s INA company and over which control Croatia’s former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is currently in court answering to corruption charges and bribery. Even though Karamarko has instigated that a formal investigation be held into whether he acted with conflict of interests, and this is said to happen inside coming two or three weeks, the Social Democrat opposition still wants the parliament to vote on no-confidence motions on the basis of conflict of interests (which has not been proven so far and which Karamarko denies); well, communists never bothered with due process such as court hearings or other official testing of evidence, so why would they (Social Democrats) start now! Innuendos and bullying an intimidation served well their political agenda under communist Yugoslavia!


Tension in the government coalition is portrayed in the media as growing every day despite the admirable calm and composure with which members of the government try to address the scandals. But, the detailed announcements of expected reforms did take a seemingly long time to surface. There is talk of changes in government and the majority in Parliament – even early elections. Conflicts are on several levels and the needed reforms remain the same. Ironically – ONE MAY BE TEMPTED TO SAY – this coalition came to power with strong promise of reforms, but, instead what we are seeing now is that the coalition led by HDZ is demonstrating exactly what, during election campaign, the Social Democrats said HDZ was: that HDZ was a corrupt political party and that (given SDP started labeling HDZ as fascist prior to election campaigns) under Social Democrats there would be no going back to the old ways – meaning WWII Ustashi ways/fascist ways.


HDZ is neither corrupt nor fascist but SDP is certainly working overtime domestically and internationally to make it appear so. Well, if SDP is counting to turn the voter tides towards it as it prepares to wave the “I told you so” finger at the public, hoping to achieve a mass amnesia in the public regarding its own destructive and corrupt government, and win a comfortable majority at next elections, it has not got much prospect.



Make no mistake – former communists, Social Democrats, have gone out of their way to create images of the HDZ led government to fit exactly the picture it painted of it during election campaign. No naturally occurring irony, therefore – it’s all a thoroughly planned stage with view to disabling the government in efforts to prove it incompetent! Furthermore, it’s all making Croatia appear as an intolerant society under the conservative government, when in fact the intolerant ones are the left-siders especially when it comes to not tolerating any attempt to bring about justice for victims of communist crimes.


The government is offering some 60 reforms, which encompass a wide spectrum of areas and matters – all are most relevant to the betterment of Croatia’s future: public administration, job growth, privatization of state owned companies, reduction of foreign debt… The main measures are aimed at macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability. Lowering of public debt is the main priority announced by Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and Finance Minister Zdravko Maric. A reform in public procurement, higher visibility of public sector with government offices restructuring, Internet-based business dealings and technological upgrade are due. With the European Commission’s most recent lowering of Croatia’s 2016 GDP growth forecast to 1.8% and announced Croatian government’s reforms last week, Croatia has a good chance of coming out of this slippery slide served  upon its government by the nasty “Reds”.



If the government stays firm on its path of reform and positive results start showing, then all the political scandals of the world cannot shake its foundations or threaten its endurance. The way things may appear now, though, is that the government will not survive because of the constant barrage of political scandals that create an impression of a political crisis looming due to some incapacity (and moral fallacy) of the government. Whether new elections or re-stacking of the parliamentary majority/coalition actually occur in the relatively new future continues to depend on the government’s resolve not to be distracted from the job it said it would do if elected. That is easier said than done, but be that as it may – staying focused on reform results is most important. Everything else, even the hardest or the most painful of attacks, fall by the wayside when good reform results end up in citizens’ pockets. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: