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."

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.