A Week in Croatian Politics – EU, OECD, USKOK, HDZ and Other Abbreviations

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

April the 21st, 2023 – This week in Croatian politics, we’ve seen HDZ still being chosen as the favourite on the political scene, Croatia’s WWII past has been revisited once again, and two big names from the OECD and the EU have paid visits to Zagreb.

A new survey has revealed that HDZ is still the favourite among voters, for some reason

As Index reports, just how much the constant turbulence within the weird world of Croatian politics really affects the popularity of the main actors on the ”stage” was checked in HRT’s recently carried out HRating. This monthly survey included 1,100 respondents, with the largest possible error being +/- 3.54%, and the reliability standing at 95%. This data was collected from April the 14th to the 18th, 2023.

No event or situation has yet appeared within Croatian politics that would quicken the pulse of the Croatian voter and change their long standing political sympathies. Remarkable, I know. The survey proves that – the months go by, the surveys are taken, but everything remains the same. This “same” means that HDZ is still somehow the favourite of the Croatian voter. Followed by… you guessed it! SDP.

Along with HDZ and SDP, only three other parties managed to cross the electoral threshold

The strongest among them – Mozemo! (We Can!), is close to 10%. It is followed by Most (Bridge) with the support of 9% of the country’s voters. Domovinski pokret (Homeland Movement) concludes this group of five safe parliamentary parties. This month it is at 6%. From the “powerless” crowd for whom the parliamentary mandate should be just a fiction, the party headed by the mayor of Split jumps out – and Centar (Centre) is currently at 3.4% and its rating is currently stable.

All the others, and there are still 13 of them in the survey, may as well not even really exist. They stand little to zero chances of making it into any sort of powerful political position in Croatia as a single constituency unless some big changes occur. These are: HSS and Radnicka fronta (Workers’ front) which tie in terms of their voter support, followed by Fokus (Focus) and Hrvatski suverinisti (Croatian sovereignists).

At a recently held government session, Plenkovic spoke about Jasenovac and claims that the behaviour of some MPs isn’t acceptable

At the most recently held session of the Croatian Government, the decision on granting prior consent and the decision on granting a state guarantee for long term credit to the company Hrvatske ceste/Croatian roads were on the agenda. That consent and credit would be given in order order to finance ongoing projects and the company’s business plan this year. The opening speech at the session was delivered by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

“The Ston ring road is very well made, it’s an extremely valuable strategic project for Croatia,” he began, before also referring to the latest assessment by the Fitch agency, which confirmed Croatia’s BBB+ rating. “They recognise the direction we’re going in, as well as the reform efforts and resistance to the crisis we’ve shown. We can also see that our trend is going better than planned, and that inflation is decreasing,” Plenkovic said, adding that OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann had paid a recent visit to the country.

“This is an organisation that has very, very high standards, both in combating corruption and in numerous sectors, so we’ll further stimulate our reform process with activities related to the OECD. For us, it’s the last step for Croatia’s international positioning,” Plenkovic added.

The Prime Minister condemned some opposition MPs and their apparently “unacceptable” behaviour

He referred to the recent chaos in parliament which unfolded during the debate on amendments to the law on offenses against public order and peace. To quickly remind you, it was especially stormy when the discussion started about the greeting “Za dom spremni” (Ready for the homeland), which is generally deemed an “Ustasa” phrase with Nazi connotations and for which an individual could be fined up to 4000 euros for using. Of course, the history behind that phrase is deeper than just “It was used during the brief period of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and so it must be banned” but we won’t get into the ins and outs of that (or any connotations with the Homeland War) in this article.

“We consider the performances and statements of individual members of parliament yesterday to be inappropriate, and we believe that this is unacceptable, especially the aggressive approach that was directed towards the president of the parliament (Goran Jandrokovic),” said Plenkovic.

This Sunday, a joint commemoration will be held at the location where the Jasenovac concentration camp stood, where representatives of Jewish municipalities will also be present, who in previous years refused to come because they were dissatisfied with the government’s attitude towards Croatia’s position during WWII and the Ustasa regime in general.

“We’re glad that this year, the Council of the Jewish Municipality of Zagreb and the Coordination of Jewish Municipalities in Croatia will also respond to the invitation of the Director of the Public Institution of the Jasenovac Memorial Area to participate in the commemoration,” concluded Plenkovic.

Is the new Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime’s new boss going to be the woman put ex PM Ivo Sanader behind bars?

Zeljka Mostecak, the deputy chief state attorney, has been mentioned as a potential new director of the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) after the departure of Vanja Marusic, reports Dnevnik.hr.

To be clear, we’re talking about a female prosecutor who has many years of experience under her belt and who was the main prosecutor in some of the most famous cases related to corruption in independent Croatia. Mostecak was, it should be mentioned, the main prosecutor in the very well known Fimi Media affair, a multi-year proceeding that led to the final conviction of former PM Ivo Sanader (HDZ) and seeing him banged up.

It should also be noted that HDZ itself was actually convicted in that case, but as a legal entity. For that case, Mostecak received the prestigious state attorney’s award. Mostecak was also a prosecutor in a series of cases arising from the Fima Media affair, including the HAC affair. Before Mostecak worked at DORH, she was the main prosecutor in the HAC-Remorker affair. Former HDZ Minister of Transport and Mayor of Zadar Bozidar Kalmeta was also accused of wrongdoing in that affair.

Kalmeta was acquitted of sharing over 15 million kuna and 850,000 euros from road maintenance and construction companies with his associates. Three of Kalmeta’s co-accused were found guilty.

The former minister was also acquitted of part of the indictment according to which he damaged the Ministry of Transport for 600,000 kuna by ordering the promotional film “The Transport Renaissance of Croatia” from the marketing agency Fimi Media. The company was tried for filling HDZ’s ”black fund” with money from various state companies and institutions.

The Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union, Thierry Breton, visits Zagreb

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic received the Commissioner for the EU’s Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in Zagreb this week. The pair discussed the state and ongoing development of the Croatian economy, the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine on the supply of energy sources across Europe, and the strengthening of the European defense industry as a whole.

Plenkovic explained to Breton that the Croatian economy is fully expected to grow more rapidly in 2023 than the initial expectations of the government, the European Commission and other international organisations initially predicted. They both also emphasised the need for continued military aid to Ukraine. The Prime Minister made sure to bring it up to the commissioner that Croatia offers the potential of energy support to its neighbouring countries by expanding the LNG terminal on Krk from 2.9 to 6.1 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

Plenkovic and Breton both expressed their ongoing sympathy and firm support for Ukraine as Russian attacks continue, both believing in the very pressing need for continued military aid being sent over to Ukraine. It was precisely in this context that they also discussed the production of ammunition for Ukraine, the overall security of the European Union and taking measures to increase the production capacity of the European defense industry, as touched on above.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Secretary General, Mathias Cormann, visits Zagreb as Croatia edges closer to membership

As Novi list writes, the OECD’s Secretary General paid a visit to Zagreb recently, and he had nothing but praise for Plenkovic’s government in its swift and fruitful responses to all sorts of issues we’re currently facing in this economically unfavourable climate.

”For now, the Croatian Government is reacting very quickly and efficiently, and I have no reason to doubt that this will continue,” said Mathias Cormann.

The HRT team spoke with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, and he talked about the areas will he focus on when it comes to implementing reforms and whether or not Croatia’s accession process can be completed in two years.

”We cover the entire spectrum of economic, social, environmental, and public order. So, from competition, public management, the fight against corruption to environmental protection standards, agricultural policy, and trade. We review the entire spectrum of public order in order to assess Croatian practices, legislation and policies and assess how far they are already aligned with the OECD standards or to what extent further reforms are needed to improve either policies or practices,” said Mathias Cormann.

When it comes to what sort of key reforms Croatia needs to implement to improve, Cormann said that this is an ongoing process, and that this isn’t really a political procedure but a technical review. What we do know is that there are 25 OECD policy committees with experts from 38 member states that will review all Croatian legislative policies and practices in the economy and society and assess their alignment with the proper standards.

 ”At the end of that process, they will recommend what improvements should be made. I can get back to you at that point so we can talk about it,” Cormann stated, adding: ”I will say that Croatia is obviously very committed. It’s progressing as fast as it can to meet all the conditions it needs to,”

 The Croatian Government ambitiously mentions a deadline of two years for OECD membership, but can these goals be achieved in two years? Cormann says there’s no time frame.

”I say we’re making progress as fast as we can, but it will take whatever amount of time it takes. This is a thorough and very serious procedure. Ultimately, it depends on how quickly the government provides the requested information and how quickly the government and parliament introduces the necessary reforms to implement all of the recommendations. For now, the Croatian Government is reacting very quickly and efficiently, and I have no reason to doubt that this will continue. But it is very difficult to determine the time frame,” he concluded.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.


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