Crimea Platform Summit Sticks A Flimsy Band-Aid On Croatian Government Corruption Woes

Often like two ships passing in the night! Front: Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic, Back: Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Photo: HINA

That Croatia appears to have irretrievably lost its plot as a whole country standing united without a major shift in governing political parties has shockingly been proven last week, yet again. This is not the Croatia thousands lost their lives for in the 1990’s Homeland War, fighting off the Serb aggression despite UN arms embargo being imposed against it. Croatia was so very fortunate to have had its strong diaspora standing by and participating significantly in the efforts to secede from communist Yugoslavia and develop a true, fully functional democracy. Overwhelming corruption inherited from that communist totalitarian regime still plunders and fleeces national wealth and standard of living for the people.

Four former and recent government ministers have been arrested for fraud and corruption and yet Andrej Plenkovic’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government in coalition with the Serbian ethnic minority SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party) still stands! The opposition insists the government should be ousted, snap elections held, and the government representatives keep on ignoring such civilised and democratic rules of engagement in leading a nation – and so does the EU authority, creating thus huge mistrust in the Union among the populous.

The four former government ministers indicted last week are: Darko Horvat, Josip Aladrovic and Tomislav Tolusic from the Croatian Democrtatic Union Party and Boris Milosevic, former deputy Prime Minister to Plenkovic from the Independent Democratic Serb Party.

Indicted Recent Croatian Government Ministers from Left: Darko Horvat, Boris Milosevic, Tomislav Tolusic and Josip Aladrovic. Photo: Cropix

Darko Horvat, as the first indicted, is accused of having, when he was Minister of Economy, allocated grants to entrepreneurs and companies out of personal interest and at the instigation of the co-suspects Boris Milosevc and Tomislav Tolusic, and that he thus illegally allocated 2 million and 600 thousand kunas state budget funds. Josip Aladrovic, on the other hand, is accused of favouring the employment of two people while he was at the head of the pension insurance institute. In addition to the former ministers, the indictment includes four other suspects.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption and nepotism that goes on in Croatia. It all begs the question: who is in whose pocket to permit such horrible governance and governing of the country with no end of this nightmare in sight.

“The indictments (against four of his recent government ministers and a deputy Prime Minister) are not a burden for the Government,” said haughtily Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The self-importance this man appears to nurture is staggering and repulsive.

The president of the HDZ Members of Parliament Club, Branko Bacic, said last Wednesday, after the announcement that four former members of Plenkovic’s Government were indicted, that his party does not accept the thesis of HDZ’s collective responsibility for the eventual criminal responsibility of an individual.

What a dangerous politician, what a dangerous government. The Party is not the issue here, but the government and governance are. HDZ had several mandates in government during the past three decades and just like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governments has done nothing to root out corruption, or most of it anyway, starting with the grassroots of government, the local government all the way up to the state level. In any decent democracy the government would fall overnight.

When talking of the opposition I venture to say that all left-leaning political parties in parliament, and there are a few, are splinters off the former communist regime and all appear to have members at the help who were in Social Democratic Party government. Hence, no qualification to lead Croatia were new general elections to come before mid-2024. There are a few solid opposition parties and individuals who lean towards the centre-right that could emerge, finally, as winners and the coming twenty or so months may well weed out the hopeless ones from the promising ones. What Croatia needs most is a political party at the helm that will weed out corruption and nepotism via installing mechanisms of control and audits at all levels. That can only be done, in my view, by those who are squeaky clean of corruption and nepotism, otherwise the gut-wrenching circus will continue until more and more young people abandon Croatia.

And then, as if this was not enough to demonstrate the political disarray and governance shambles Croatia is portraying, the First International Parliamentary Platform on Crimea Summit was held during the week in Zagreb and Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic snubbed it, avoided it like the plague so to speak – while Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic played the host to it. The Summit provided a perfect mask and coverup for the deplorable latest cases of corruption Plenkovic’s government should be held accountable for.

First International Parliamentary Summit on the Crimea Platform held in Zagreb, Croatia, October 25, 2022 Photo: HINA

While the purpose of the Ukraine-initiated consultation and coordination Summit has its eye on taking Crimea from Russia and return it to the Ukrainian fold Croatian President Milanovic commented: “I see a lot of cynicism and dishonesty toward the Ukrainian people and the war, and I do not want to contribute to that. In the end, Americans and Russians will have to sit at the table because they are waging a proxy war over Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are paying a terrible price for it. I don’t know why no one dares to say this openly, but that’s the truth.”

Speakers and members of parliament from around 40 countries gathered in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Tuesday 25 October to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine. Serbia failed to respond to the invitation to the Summit and some media ascribe this to instructions received from Russia for Serbia to avoid the Summit. The speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, attended the Summit.

Co-hosted by speakers of the Ukrainian and Croatian Parliaments, the summit was addressed via video link by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Russia has continued to refrain from any dialogue on the subject ever since its conception in August/September 2021 in Kiev, while elsewhere firmly stating that Russia’s “sovereignty” over Crimea is undeniable, and now also over the territories of Eastern Ukraine it occupied via brutal aggression and organised sham referendums recently on seceding from Ukraine in favour of Russia. Vladimir Putin constant firm stand is that Crimea will not be a matter of discussion and that the occupied parts of Eastern Ukraine are now Russian territory. There is a very little doubt that Ukraine`s president seriously counted on a different response from Moscow, but nevertheless, Zelenskyy was not put off by this lack of success and pursues the issues, hence having ended up with a Summit attended by an impressive number of nations, mainly NATO members.

While it seems very dubious that Crimea is to return to Ukraine any time soon (or ever) given Russia`s military onslaught in Ukraine and determination to strengthen its sway over Crimea and Ukrainian occupied territories, the best-case scenario is that the platform could transform into a major irritant for Russia that spells no peace and stability for a long time. This said, if this scenario indeed materialises further, and the Second Summit is planned for 2023, the Crimea Platform most likely will be used by more powerful parties/countries for their own purposes as a tool to apply pressure on Russia, if and when necessary, and to excuse and blame their own inadequacies in governing their own countries on the Russia-Ukraine War. This will leave Ukraine as a bystander, at best, and, at worst, as a loser. The Western politicians have already started covering up their incompetencies and blaming everything that is going wrong on Russia, such as energy crises, living costs increases, economic downturns … No wonder Andrej Plenkovic’s incompetent government has hopped onto this bandwagon and the abyss of ridding Croatia of corruption and nepotism seems to be plummeting deeper than before Russia started “copping” the blame for everything. Something must give in Croatia. The sheer weight of corruption, theft and nepotism scandals erupting almost weekly is becoming too heavy.

October 28, 2022 by