Stjepan Mesić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR/ ds

Croatia's former president in two terms, Stjepan Mesic, said on Thursday that the government's proposal for closing down his office was a "sad play" and that the current government wanted to square accounts with him and silence him but that it would not succeed.

"This has to do with my positions and with what I am valued for abroad, and what the current government particularly resents. This has to do with my commitment to fighting corruption and my firm anti-fascist views, with my absolute lack of tolerance for fascism, namely for the Ustasha ideology in a country that is supposed to be democratic," Mesic told a news conference he held following the government's proposal to parliament that his office be dissolved.

In today's Croatia it is out of fashion to call things by their real name, Mesic said, adding that he was doing exactly that.

"And if I see something that is evidently Ustasha-like conduct, if I see someone behave and speak like an Ustasha, I will describe them as such."

He added that he would not be deceived by "platitudes about Yugoslavhood and Bolshevism reigning in Croatia" or accept "historical revisionism, including the selective treatment of war crimes committed in the Homeland War."

Mesic said that he would continue to act as a former president and help Croatian companies and business people, "committed to a policy of coming to terms with the truth about the past, a policy of regional cooperation.... and Croatia's openness to the whole world rather than just to Washington and Brussels."

He said the government's explanation that his office was being closed as part of austerity measures was a blatant attempt to "silence him" that would not succeed.

"I will find a way to continue to be active, to continue helping our economy and speaking the language of reason and reality at international meetings. Even though I can only speak on my own behalf, my statements undoubtedly contribute to Croatia's international reputation."

He confirmed that among others, the Association of Anti-Fascist Fighters of Croatia, whose honorary president he was, had offered him its offices to continue working there.

Mesic dismissed objections that he had not submitted reports about the "effect of his work", noting that "such a report is impossible to compile", but warned that in line with its legal obligations, the office had submitted reports on how it had spent money allocated to it from the budget, in the amount of HRK 800,000 annually (approx. EUR 106,600).

He noted, among other things, that two major contracts had been signed with his help, each totalling around US$100 million, adding that the explanation that his office was being closed down due to saving "is really a tall tale."

Attending the news conference at Mesic's side were also his long-time advisor Tomislav Jakic and former diplomats Jovan Vejnovic and Bogoljub Lacmanovic.

Reporters were handed out copies of a document Mesic had sent to Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner and members of Parliament, entitled "The purpose of the Office of the Former President; Scope and type of activities of the Former President."

The document cites Mesic's activities as a former president, notably regarding business diplomacy and his visits and talks in China, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, India, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and other countries, as well as his activities regarding last year's Russian-Croatian business forum "thanks to which individual Croatian business people managed to overcome serious restrictions they had encountered on the Russian market."

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