default_eblnews.jpg

The disorder and chaos caused by political populism and a bitter struggle to stay in power is doing long-term damage to the Croatian people, regardless of the outcome of that struggle, Josip Juratovic, an SPD member of the Bundestag, told Hina in an interview during his visit to Belgrade.

"Too much energy and time is being spent on mutual recriminations between the coalition partners while the reforms and money from EU funds are at a standstill, the credit rating is falling, and investors are not even thinking of investing in a country where the government cannot even agree among themselves," said Juratovic, who is also a member of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee responsible for the Balkans.

He suggested that extremists from marginal political parties "with slightly over a thousand votes who decide about the future of the entire nation" should be replaced by competent people irrespective of their party or ethnic affiliation to "lead the country according to EU standards into a secure future."

Commenting on criticisms from certain intellectual and political circles in Europe about Croatia's attitude towards the ideology of the Nazi-style Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia in World War II, Juratovic said that throughout Europe currently there was a trend of "shifting to the right" and that in the Balkans too Croatia was not an isolated case in that regard.

"The right wing feeds on fear and prejudices about others and people who are different. In Germany, it is fear of refugees, in France it is fear of Muslims, and in Croatia it is fear of people nostalgic for Yugoslavia and fear of Serbs," Juratovic said, noting that that is the result of populism in the power struggle among the political elites.

"In Croatia, an evil spirit was released when the political elites were fighting for power and in that political competition, for the sake of populism, they condoned fascistoid incidents," he said. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's address to the nation, in which she distanced herself from all fascist ideas and the legacy of the Ustasha-run Independent State of Croatia (NDH), "came a bit too late because Croatia's reputation in all world media had already been tarnished."

Juratovic warned of steadfast right-wing movements and ideas in all countries in the region, citing a recent gathering of Serb Chetnik paramilitary units in Bosnia and Herzegovina, rehabilitation of the ideology of WWII Serbian Chetnik leader Draza Mihailovic, and Islamic radicals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In the Balkans, history has repeated itself too often and that's why all the Western Balkans countries need to confront their own past so mistakes from the past would not be repeated again," he said.

Juratovic said that the Western Balkans countries needed support on their EU path and that the region should be included in as many areas of European politics and economy as possible, noting that the Bundestag had adopted his proposal to open the German labour market to the Western Balkans.

"Peace and stability in the Western Balkans is key to its further economic progress and requires the joint effort of both the EU and all the Western Balkan states," Juratovic said.

Commenting on current relations between Serbia and Croatia, Juratovic said that it was important to maintain dialogue, exchange views and look forward. He added that it was necessary "to overcome trade barriers and ensure trade privileges because any renewed tensions and lack of economic cooperation would harm everyone in the region."

"That is why the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans depend on relations between Belgrade and Zagreb," Juratovic said.

Juratovic visited Belgrade earlier this week and met with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. He said after the meeting that Serbia and Croatia should deal with their issues bilaterally because that was also in the interest of the EU.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.