European Commission VP Šuica Excoriates Journalist After Call-in Criticism of Her Wealth

Total Croatia News

April 29, 2020 — European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica was in the kitchen on Saturday when she heard her name on local a television call-in show. The caller echoed long-standing questions about her wealth. Šuica then picked up the phone and called the program herself. Not to lambaste the accusations so much as berate the journalist hosting the program.

“It’s really amazing how people are dealing misinformation, and you haven’t reprimanded it!” she chastised the host, Pasko Tomaš.

“My wish would be to prevent any Croat, male, female, or citizen of this country from speaking in this way,” Šuica continued. “I’m the godmother of your Dubrovnik television! And I’m really happy that I was at the time. But I’m really sorry that you’re letting citizens dump mud, garbage, mud on my name!” She also suggested Tomaš allowed such criticism to increase viewership.

Šuica is the European Commission’s Vice President overseeing Democracy and Demography.

The bizarre spectacle unfolded on “Glas Naroda”, or “The Voice of the People”, a Dubrovnik-based call-in show common for local television stations across Croatia. The shows ostensibly serve as an open forum yet often devolve into an hours-long political demolition derby. Ordinary citizens phone in and deliver soliloquies chastising local politicians, lobbing conspiracy theories, or just lament the state of the nation in a one-way conversation.

Šuica found herself in the crosshairs of such a tirade this weekend.

“We have individuals, these politicians, they stay for four to eight years in power,” the angry caller said. “They rob everyone wherever they can and in eight years they have to 10-15 million [kunas],” the caller said, while Tomaš sat with a furrowed brow and diligently scribbled notes. 

“Here, for example, Šuica. She was said to be worth seven million euros. Imagine that!” 

Tomaš continued to listen, diligently scribbling notes, peering at his laptop or back at the camera. 

The caller was referencing questions about how Šuica’s wealth — namely, how the former mayor and school teacher accrued assets worth about €5 million. The European VP owns multiple houses, two apartments, a cottage in Bosnia, as well as a yacht and three cars. The figure was first reported by

Šuica attributed the wealth to her husband’s earnings as a boat captain and inheritance. Yet she refused to release documents that could back up her claims, even after local reports refuted them.

She survived a European Commission vote in October, by the scantest of margins after a three-hour-long hearing.

The European Commission through a spokesman said its Vice President respected the freedoms of press and speech.

“Vice President Šuica reiterates her unwavering support for media independence, freedom of expression and information,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer wrote in a statement for Večernji List. “She also wants to point out that this TV station in Dubrovnik was opened during her mayoral term. So she obviously supports their work.”

Hosts for call-in shows mostly act as conversational traffic cops, stopping rants that run long or intervening if a caller breaks rules regarding good taste. Sometimes, they’ll ask a question to keep the monologue going. 

Tomaš let the caller run through a three-minute screed that decried the state of the nation from several angles before finally reaching Šuica.

“She has a yacht worth 500,000 euros,” he said. “She would need HRK 250,000 a month just to maintain the yacht, to pay for anchoring. Where did her money come from? She can say this, that, but it’s all the same in our country.”

Here, about four minutes in, Tomaš gently cut the call short.

Šuica was among the next on the line.

“I’m surprised you didn’t react,” she told Tomaš. “I know that you are an excellent journalist, that your show is watched. I heard it from the kitchen!”

The Croatian Journalism Society recently warned reporters in the country are targets of attacks and threats despite climbing in the press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders.

“Reporters investigating corruption, dealing with organized crime and war crimes, are often exposed to harassment, pressure, and attacks,” the society’s president Hrvoje Zovko said in a statement. “What we especially consider important to mention is that in Croatia, an atmosphere has been created in which journalists are blamed for everything.”

Tomaš offered the European VP a chance to respond to the accusations. Šuica laughed.

“In this country there are institutions, and they’re the ones who know,” she said. “It’s very interesting that you even bother with this at all.”

She turned down two more chances to refute the accusations before dangling Tomaš the chance at an interview.

Tomaš saved his thoughts for the end.

“Tonight, unrelated to all the participants in this show, I will never, or ever, allow, as long as I am in the business, that anyone, and most of all politicians, influence my work or teach me this business,” he said. “This is [The Voice of the People], and I’m Pasko Tomaš and I’m responsible for what I do.”


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