Current Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and opponent former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović have officially accepted RTL’s invitation to participate in a presidential debate, which will be held at 20h on Monday, December 30, 2019 – according to the television network.
This will be the first debate between the two remaining presidential candidates who entered the runoff after the December 22 elections. The runoff will take place on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
Debate Will Last 60 to 90 Minutes
The debate will be moderated by Damira Gregoret and Ivan Vrdoljak and edited by Ana Bulić on RTL. It will last between 60 to 90 minutes, which is considerably shorter than the first two-and-half-hour debate, which included all eleven first round presidential candidates. As announced, the two remaining candidates will answer questions regarding political, economic, social and other topics of public concern. Each candidate will be given equal time to respond.
During his appearance in Split on Saturday, Presidential candidate Zoran Milanović said that he expects RTL to agree that ideological issues will be kept at a minimum during the upcoming debate with his contender Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and that this debate will focus on “development and growth topics”.
Debate Won’t Focus on Ideological Issues
“I expect questions that will deal with ideology of Tito and team and Pavelic to be kept to a minimum. I will insist on that, because these are the rules of the debate that have been agreed upon. “I want to know the general framework, not the individual issues – this is not HRT (Croatian Radio Television). Of course, I love HRT, but this is a more professional television network and I expect an agreement,” Milanović told reporters while campaigning on the Split Riva.
He said he expects to discuss developmental and statehood topics, and presidential powers. He is not interested in having anyone “describe Croatia’s policy toward Bosnia in one minute. We got that question at HRT,” Milanović pointed out.
Milanović Notes His Successes and HDZ Failures
Asked why he thought he would be a better president than prime minister, Milanović replied that they were two “substantially different jobs.” He claimed that, as prime minister, he pulled the country out of a severe crisis, and that HDZ has increased Croatia’s public debt twice as much as his government had. “Even with the Plenković government, the public debt has grown by almost 20 billion HRK,” Milanović said, adding that “within a half year it had paradoxically decreased by three billion during the time of Orešković.”
Milanović also asserted that his government was “therapeutic for Croatia, relatively fair, free of affairs, imprisonment and indictments.” He said that Croatia had entered a period of “economic expansion” during his government.
“Then comes Kitarović, and we get someone who cannot not read, write or speak Croatian (Tihomir Orešković). Then Plenković shows up and things really haven’t changed much – if at all. We currently live in a time of minimal economic growth,” Milanović emphasized. He added that “we rank last in European countries to completely utilize available EU funds.”
Croatia World Superpower in Tourism Only
According to Milanović, under HDZ’s rule, we have failed to integrate into the European and world markets except in tourism where we are a world superpower.
“We live off of peace, stability, warm seas and perhaps too much from selling these resources, and the current president does not understand this,” Milanović concluded. “Geopolitics is very important because you need to know whom you associate with and choose respectable partners. However, HDZ and the president have chosen to associate with bad partners.”
Croatia President Appeared Alone on N1 Sunday
Despite sending the same invitation to the headquarters of both candidates, N1 did not have official confirmation from either headquarters that the candidates would participate today’s debate on N1. However, the current president and candidate for second term, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, showed up.
Her opponent Zoran Milanović did not appear, and Nataša Božić, editor of “Tocka na tjedan” (Topic of the Week) had a conversation with the president, while a chair for her opponent sat empty.
President Clarifies Message to Voters
“I called on the citizens to vote for Croatia for everyone, not for a divided Croatia,” the president said, explaining her message to voters to “choose the right Croatia.”
“I do not want to divide our country into either us or them, but to vote for Croatia, and unite around common values,” said Grabar Kitarovic, who initially told Nataša Božić that she did not tell the voters at the recent Karlovac rally that they were choosing “the right Croatia “.
“I am sending my messages and expect that the Croatian voters will vote based on what I represent and based on my program,” she said.
Successes of First Presidential Term
“I have not fulfilled some of my promises, because during my term you could see that some objectives were impossible to achieve or there were other priorities, but this is what I have done,” Grabar-Kitarović said of her achievements in the first term.
“I have saved taxpayers 25 million HRK in five years, which may not seem like much to some people, but if you have a budget that is just over 30 million, then 25 million is a respectable figure,” the president added.
President Tells Voters to Circle Wrong Ballot Number
“Dear Voters, I urge you to go to the polls on January 5, 2019 and cast your vote for Croatia and continue the process of growth and development. Vote for a Croatia that knows and can do better, a Croatia that is proud of its values, a Croatia that does have an inferiority complex on the world stage but is an equal participant. I urge you to circle number 1 on the ballot for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović,” the president told voters.
Zoran Milanović, her opponent, is number 1 on the ballot for the upcoming runoff presidential election. The current president is number 2 on the ballot. This is the latest in a series of campaign gaffes by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović which have led to questions regarding her ability to continue managing the demands of the office.
Follow our Politics page for developments during the final days of the Croatia presidential campaigns. We will be providing by-the-minute exit poll updates and election results after the polls close at 19h on January 5, 2020.