NGOs say government's only reform is about turning Croatia into non-liberal democracy

Commenting on the government's first 100 days in office, nongovernmental organisations gathered in Platform 112 told a news conference on Friday that the only reform the government was systematically implementing was aimed at turning Croatia into a non-liberal democracy with no room for critical thinking, democratic pluralism, media freedom and respect for human rights and differences.

Gordan Bosanac of the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) told the conference that reform attempts often failed due to lack of coordination among government members and public arguments between key politicians in the ruling coalition who were expected to implement reforms.

He said that the number of bills and public policies submitted to parliament for consideration was minimal, which he said made it even less likely that changes would happen that would improve life for citizens.

Ana Brakus of the Centre for Education, Counselling and Research (CESI) wondered how many people would have voted for the current government's programme had its election posters announced plans for cutting funds for education and culture and certain social benefits, restricting media freedoms and human rights, introducing above-standard public health care services for those able to pay for them, raising the age for retirement, reducing the number of professions with an accelerated retirement scheme, etc.

Brakus said the only good government policy was the one related to environmental protection. However, there, too, conflicting statements can be heard between Environmental Protection Minister Slaven Dobrovic and SMEs Minister Darko Horvat as to the direction of that policy, she said.

Platform 112 representatives warned about examples of democratic regression and jeopardising of fundamental human rights in the first 100 days of the government's term, such as a protest against a decision by the Electronic Media Council at which calls were made for ethnic hatred and discrimination, the non-transparent replacements of leading people at the HRT public broadcaster, systematic pressures on the media, etc.

They also objected to what they called contradictory government decisions related to socio-economic policies, refugee crisis, foreign policy, prevention of corruption and other public policies.

Dragan Zelic of the GONG NGO said that there was an impression that Croatia did not have a government but rulers who were doing everything they could to stay in power, stressing that a large majority of citizens had not voted for the public policies that were now being implemented.

"Everyone in the government must be aware that they are responsible for the negative things that are happening in the country, and I'm referring here particularly to Bridge. Nobody can pretend that those things do not concern them or that they are interested in only a few topics. Everyone is responsible for such things and has to actively oppose the adoption of bad decisions," Zelic said, noting that the Croatian society and state would suffer the consequences "of what has happened to us" for a long time.

Last update: Fri, 29/04/2016 - 14:09
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