Corruption at All Levels – German Media Says Croatia is Europe’s Problem Child

Lauren Simmonds

As Index writes on the 15th of August, 2020, the European Commission (EC) proposes that only member states which actually respect European Union law receive money from the EU. The German media publication Die Welt writes that several countries could be left without hundreds of millions of euros in that case, including Croatia.

“Violations of the law and corruption are much more common in the EU than is generally known. And this phenomenon is spreading, regardless of whether the heads of the government belong to conservative, social democratic or liberal parties,” writes the conservative newspaper Die Welt, as reported by DW.

“Alarm bells are ringing in Brussels: The European Commission has proposed that future payments from EU funds be linked to compliance with its regulations. This issue will return to the agenda in the autumn. Many countries could run out of hundreds of millions of euros and therefore the chance for something like that to pass aren’t big,” writes the aforementioned German media publication. It cites Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia as problematic countries.

The Republic of Croatia – a problem with corruption

The popular tourist destination, led by Andrej Plenkovic, has a smart head of its government who is well networked in the conservative European People’s Party (EPP). But behind that facade there is a dark side, writes Die Welt.

“Corruption is a huge problem in Croatia and it exists at all political levels,” said Robin-Ivan Capar, an expert on Croatia at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) research centre.

Capar doesn’t exclude Croatian courts here either. In the so-called Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Croatia has now dropped down to an unimpressive 63rd place. A new EU report on media diversity makes an utterly disastrous assessment of Croatia: “Journalists are the subject of dirty campaigns, hate messages, death threats, intimidation, police harassment and defamation charges.”

The German media publication also states that, according to reports from human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Croatia partially refuses to receive asylum seekers at its borders without any checks, thus violating European Union law. In addition, it is alleged that the border police are abusing migrants. The Croatian Government has rejected and continues to vehemently reject these ongoing allegations.

Slovenia: Jansa is problematic

Significant policy changes are currently taking place in neighbouring Slovenia, which the European Union’s public barely notices, writes the German media. Janez Jansa of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), who was elected prime minister back in March this year and is a friend of Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, is considered to be a fiery nationalist.

“There the are first signs that the independence of the Slovenian judiciary is being called into question. Corruption is also a problem in the judiciary. The courts are partly politicised and don’t work in line with the standards we can expect in the EU,” said Marko Lovec, a political scientist at the University of Ljubljana.

The EU also complains about the lack of media diversity in Slovenia. According to Lovec, “Hungarian businessmen are currently buying up media in Slovenia.”

Jansa’s attitude towards freedom of expression is also considered to be disturbed. When he was the leader of the opposition, he slandered two journalists, referring to them prostitutes who had served their time – and the Supreme Court approved that, according to Die Welt.

The European Commission is currently following the case of investigative journalist Blaz Zgaga with concern, who reported (in great detail) on the chaos and corruption during the procurement of respirators and medical masks, and Jansa publicly accused him of lying, the German newspaper states about Slovenia.

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