Milan Kujundzic: Business v Politics, What Will It Take for Croatian Politician to Resign?

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

What would it actually take for a Croatian politician to actually politely resign from his or her position? Ever wondered what level must be stooped to before someone steps down of their own accord? You’re not alone.

It’s quite incredible just how much is continuously discovered about various people from across the Croatian political scene and yet honourable resignations are about as rare as an honest election campaign. The elusive thing that is often referred to as accountability is severely lacking when it comes to politicians, and of course this extends far beyond the borders of modern Croatia, but with the latest discovery of an incorrectly registered property belonging to Health Minister Milan Kujundzic (HDZ) and the assault of a Slobodna Dalmacija journalist by people allegedly related to the lovely Mr. Kujundzic himself, one must ask the question in the first sentence of this article. Several times.

As Telegram/Sanja Modric writes on the 23rd of January, 2020, remember when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) defended his minister, Gabriela Zalac, before the pressure finally got too much, leading to him having to settle things? Then comes the notorious Lovro Kuscevic (HDZ). Then Martina Dalic (HDZ) and her role in the Agrokor fiasco. We mustn’t forget Goran Maric (HDZ) from the Ministry of State Property. Oh, and Tolusic… In short, everyone who ended up getting booted out of their cushy government positions, but not because of the most minimal dose of respect for their fellow citizens and taxpayers, but because they were backed into a corner and there was simply no other way.

After Raiffeisen Bank Croatia’s rather embarrassing and wholly insulting search for a PR agency to engage who would be willing to “put pressure on the Constitutional Court and other courts in Croatia” regarding Swiss loans was uncovered and forced into an already tired and worryingly desensitised public eye – RBA Croatia’s CEO Michael Muller officially resigned. Index discovered and published a critical text about that RBA ad on Monday. Muller, the director of the major bank, resigned on Wednesday, citing the tarnished reputation of RBA after its unethical and not to mention entirely illegal attempt to pressure the Croatian judiciary.

Within 24 hours, he did it in a very decent and in no way defensive manner. “I’m aware of the strong negative impression that has arisen around Raiffeisen Bank and its management,” he wrote. “As a professional manager, I decided to step down from my position to prevent further reputational damage to the bank.”

Muller’s boss Andreas Gschwenter, chairman of the RBA Austria board of directors and board member of Raiffeisen Bank International, which serves as many as fourteen million clients, announced immediately that he was accepting his resignation “as a sign of Muller’s responsible attitude”. And – that’s it. Done and dusted. As tremendously disappointing the story surrounding RBA is, someone at the top did the honourable thing.

The instruction manual for such a level of good practice (at least in the end) should be written down in a little notebook and be kept in the inside pocket of the jackets of every Croatian politician and other individuals in influential public positions, and every now and then, each and every Croatian politician should be forced to take a look at a miniature handbook from RBA on how to behave appropriately when they’re inevitably discovered with sticky fingers.

Even Alojz Tomasevic (ex HDZ) didn’t even think of resigning after he was convicted as a domestic abuser with clearly zero respect for women – the mark of a truly odious individual. But let’s lighten the mood a bit and laugh about this otherwise most serious matter for the first time, we will quote, for example, what Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman decided to do today about the current story unfolding about Health Minister Milan Kujundzic and his magically appearing houses near Imotski, whose unexplained assets are rightly questioned and scrutinised in the media.

Instead of restraining Kujundzic, diplomatically of course, until all the facts about the health minister’s real estate have been verified, Radman, has, as is typical, turned it on the journalists and made it all their fault.

“They’re dealing with Milan Kujundzic instead of following our EU presidency,” he said in a strikingly ”North Korean” style tone on N1. Quite fascinating, isn’t it? That it doesn’t matter that a female journalist was cornered by several men claiming that the public road she was on ”belonged to our Milan”. She should have been covering Croatia’s EU presidency!

But let’s not pick on Radman too much, he is no exception, nor must we let him think he’s anything special. Similar reactions by those responsible for difficult affairs in Croatia seem to be the rule. They wouldn’t resign for love nor money (well, actually, maybe for money), and their loyal masters would protect them until their dying breaths with the most insane justifications that offend the power of reasoning even below the level of a very average mind.

I don’t want to bully Croatia too much, it is a country that I live in, pay my taxes in and adore in spite of its many faults. This type of thing happens elsewhere, too, of course, but the approaches are strikingly different. Sadly, when they happen here, things ripen, swell and rot, turning into a gangrenous mess that festers for weeks and months, and the ”amputation” only occurs when the odor becomes unbearable, not because it is anyone’s best interest.

That is why any kind-hearted Croatian citizen, blinded by the tremendous apathy towards and acceptance of gross misconduct in Croatia appears ignorant of the code of conduct applicable in other parts of the world. They could expect that, in the case with RBA, Muller would say that he had nothing to do with that really idiotic ad that reveals what is otherwise done under the table. That he didn’t even know about it. That someone was trying to frame him. He could force the blame on someone in a less powerful position than him. But he didn’t.

Instead, Muller stepped down immediately and issued a statement that was fair and fitting given the circumstances. This is behaviour so utterly foreign, alien even, to a Croatian politician – for whom power often seems to mean the chance deceive with permission.

Since starting this article it has been revealed that our dear health minister has two more apartments he has not declared on the island of Pag. Which do you think will come next, a resignation or another undeclared villa?

Follow our dedicated politics page for more.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment