Croatia's new government under fire

First corruption accusations against the minister for veterans' affairs, now an anti-Semitic tirade at the party conference of right-wing coalition partner HSP-AS. Croatia's government is increasingly coming under fire.

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Novi list (HR) /

HDZ must distance itself from coalition partner

A member of the right-wing HSP-AS, Croatia's ruling HDZ party's coalition partner, made an anti-Semitic speech at the party conference on Saturday. The centre-left daily Novi list criticises the conservative HDZ for remaining silent regarding its coalition partner's transgressions:

“The re-election of Ivan Tepeš as party leader was not celebrated with flowers but with anti-Semitic slogans according to which the Jews could destroy the world. One of the opposition leaders was told that all she was good for was to go to bed with and that she should throw herself off a bridge together with the social democratic opposition leader and the representative of the Serb minority. These fascist statements will go around the world faster than the Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovać, who enhanced the importance of the party conference by conveying a message of greeting from Prime Minister Orešković. It is alarming that he remained silent in the face of this blatant show of anti-Semitism - even when the participants chanted the Ustaše movement's salute 'za dom spremni' [For homeland - ready!].”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Far right out of control

The ruling party's coalition partner HSP-AS has made right-wing extremism socially acceptable in Croatia, the liberal daily Jutarnji list observes:

“Today the HSP members are part of the ruling coalition and one of their leading members is vice parliamentary speaker. It has become an acceptable partner for the conservative [and senior] ruling party HDZ even though it flirts with the 'Ustaše salute'. It was basically always the HDZ's responsibility to keep the far right under control. But ever since Tomislav Karamarko became the party's leader the HDZ has stopped doing this. Worse still - it has allowed itself to be pulled along by the unrestrained shift to the right.”

Novi list (HR) /

Row over minister puts coalition to the test

After just five days in office the leaders of the Croatian government will vote today on whether to remove the new Minister of Veteran Affairs Mijo Crnoja from office. Crnoja is facing allegations of credit abuse, tax evasion and violent behaviour. The dispute between coalition partners HDZ and Most could bring down the new government, the centre-left daily Novi list warns:

“Crnoja is already facing charges of five violations of the law. Not only the oppositional Social Democrats but also the coalition partner Most are demanding that he resign. But above all the future of the entire government is being called into question. This minister doesn't know what it means to obey the law and moral principles. … If this government can't agree on such a logical step as getting rid of this minister it's clear that it won't be able to achieve anything at all.”

Delo (SI) /

Croatia's new government like Tom and Jerry

Croatia's government will come under attack not just from the opposition, the centre-left daily Delo predicts:

“The government faces attacks also from within its own ranks. The coalition and the ministers are on shaky ground and there is no lack of quarrelling within the coalition. On top of that every day a new conflict emerges. Those who were overlooked or excluded from the debate about the distribution of positions are much aggrieved. The offended are never lacking in vanity, especially not in Croatia. The situation increasingly resembles the story of Tom and Jerry, who can never agree on anything. And who always make things difficult for each other because after all they're cat and mouse.”

Novi list (HR) /

Chauvinists head the ministries

The new government comprised of the national-conservative HDZ and the junior party Most will open a new, unpleasant chapter in Croatia's history, the centre-left daily Novi list fears:

“The new government's expertise is irrelevant in view of the fact that it includes people like Mijo Crnoja as minister for war veterans. With his appointment he will get the chance to implement his revenge plan - for identifying and locating traitors. He's not alone, because with Zlatko Hasanbegović a historian who was once a member of the fascist HOP and who openly gainsays the anti-fascist movement has been appointed minister of culture. In his eyes Croatia was liberated in 1991. All that goes to show that the anti-liberal 'clash of cultures' of Tomislav Karamarko and his [national conservative] HDZ is being continued.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

A team lacking entrepreneurial spirit

The new prime minister's team does not fulfil people's expectations, the liberal daily Jutarnji list writes in disappointment:

“Oreškovićs education, business experience and financial abilities raised hopes that we would finally have a leader who put together a winning team that would wage war on our bloated and dilettantish state administration. Now however only four ministers come from the private sector, while 19 hail from the public sector. These are people from the 'spending side' who must be paid by the private sector. Can a government in which most of the ministers have never tried their hand at earning money themselves be successful? No: this government carries the latent risk of the public sector only serving its own interests.”