President confident government will take brave, decisive steps

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has assessed the political situation in Croatia as stable, saying in an interview with Vecernji List daily of Saturday that after 100 days of consolidation, the government will make brave and resolute moves and that it is "important that we have the same goal, a better Croatia."

She called on citizens to have a little more patience and give the government time to make brave and resolute moves. She said the claims that the government was unstable were sensationalistic. "What's important is that we have the same goal, a better Croatia. Naturally, we don't have to think the same. Sometimes there will be different opinions on solutions to certain problems. But that's the value of democracy."

The daily's reporter remarked that many people were disappointed with the slow consolidation of the executive authority. The president said this was also "because for the first time we were faced with a new process of forming the ruling coalition and the government."

She said her impression was that the government members "have clear goals and ideas" and that when they "begin presenting them to the public more strongly and actively, we will be able to assess the direction the government is taking."

She said citizens had "quite a low tolerance threshold... given the years-long stagnation" because of the economic situation, the six years of crisis and recession, and the many problems in politics because of a low culture of dialogue. "Citizens waited for change too long and it's understandable that their patience is nearly exhausted."

The president said citizens were prepared for reforms, although "we don't need painful cuts but cuts which will ease the pain."

"Croatia is a politically stable state", she said, adding that the credit rating had not been downgraded because of political instability but a long-lasting poor economic policy and continued delay of reforms. "That's why this government has a historic opportunity to start creating frameworks for a predictable and sustainable system and a climate favouring investments and work."

She said the previous government did not have the "willingness and understanding" to cooperate with her. "Today the situation is different and we have the joint responsibility and obligation to use this cooperation for the goals we share."

Grabar-Kitarovic dismissed media speculation that her relationship with Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic was tense, saying they had a quality relationship and a will to align their activities from the start. She said they might have different views about problem solving but that they "must work for the same goal, improving life in Croatia."

The president said "there's no conflict" between her and First Deputy PM Tomislav Karamarko over her agreement with Oreskovic to appoint Daniel Markic as head of the Security and Intelligence Agency.

Grabar-Kitarovic said she was particularly interested in national security and that she would insist on a much more ambitious and more assertive foreign policy.

She said she fully trusted the defence minister and the military chief of staff and that they would work together to develop a homeland security concept.

As for the future of the Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea Initiative, she said the presidents and representatives of the states involved would meet in Zagreb in late August, alongside business people and angel investors. "We are especially interested in the startup industry, and the basic fields of cooperation are infrastructure building, from digitisation, transport infrastructure, intermodal transport to the energy infrastructure, the goal being energy independence."

She said that Oreskovic too advocated building a floating LNG terminal off Krk island. "It's important to get on Europe's energy map. It's a prerequisite for starting to talk about lower fuel prices in Croatia and energy independence and stronger connections in that segment."

The president said she intended to launch an initiative for the culture of dialogue, bringing together people from various fields for talks on mutual respect and on how to take responsibility for the spoken or written word.

She said the general fall in the tolerance threshold had led to a fall in tolerance among ethnic minorities which were dissatisfied just as the Croat majority was.

The president went on to say that Croats in Serbia should have the same rights as Serbs in Croatia, and that she did not like some Serbian politicians's claims "that Serbia has met all of its obligations" or their criticism of Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac "for insisting on the honouring of the Agreement on the Mutual Protection of National Minorities" and on the abolishment of Serbia's jurisdiction for war crimes committed throughout the former Yugoslavia.

She said it was not Croatia's intention to give Serbia any ultimatums in its EU accession negotiations but that she expected Serbia to meet the accession requirements. She said she would not call this Croatia's blockade of Serbia's EU negotiations. It is simply about meeting the requirements, which will eventually be good for Serbia too, she added.

As for the Hague war crimes tribunal's recent acquittal of Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, Grabar-Kitarovic said justice must be served and that Croatia would insist on that.

Last update: Sat, 09/04/2016 - 14:11
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