Presidential Candidates Face Off in TV Debate

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, December 18. 2019 – The incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and the 10 contenders running in the presidential race participated in a two-hour head-to head debate on the national broadcaster’s channel HTV 1 on Tuesday evening with just five days to go before the election.

Grabar-Kitarović said that during the five years of her first term she had been “the voice of citizens” and that she delivered on the promises she had made to voters. In this context she underscored that she managed to disentangle the country from “the Region” and imposed the issue of demography as one of the top priorities.

Zoran Mialnović a former Social Democrat (SDP) prime minister who is supported by several left Opposition parties, said that he would reinstate the dignity of the presidency.

Independent candidate Miroslav Škoro, who is supported by the Bridge party and is perceived as the favourite candidate of some anti-establishment right-wing movements, said that he was offering radical changes and that he would seek the enlargement of the powers of the head of state.

Dario Juričan, who goes by the name of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and who is giving performances in the campaign, said in his ironical remark that if elected, he would introduce the eighth (grammatical) case in the Croatian language which has seven grammatical cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative).

As for the issue of people who have not been accounted-for since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, Grabar-Kitarović reiterated that she would insist on the search for the missing and concerning Serbia’s aspirations to come closer to the European Union, she said that Serbia should meet all the membership requirements and also must come to terms with its past for its own sake.

Milanović said he was not for the blockade of Serbia’s journey towards the EU, however he called for making a distinction between the Serbian people and “Belgrade’s boors” and Aleksandar Vučić on the other side.

Mislav Kolakušić, an independent candidate supported by anti-establishment movements, said that Serbia’s journey towards the EU did not depend on Croatia, however, Zagreb could have a say in the process.

Anto Đapić of the right-wing DESNO party said that Serbia would never give full information about the missing people.

Considering the topic of migrations, Grabar-Kitarović called for making a distinction between asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, and praised the police for doing a great job while protecting the Croatian border.

Škoro said that the border “is a sacred thing”, and Milanović praised his cabinet for how it had tackled the flows of migrants in 2015.

Concerning NATO, Kolakušić said that the alliance was dead and proposed establishing an EU army involving service-people from all the member-states.

Katarina Peović, supported by a few non-parliamentary left-wing parties, said that by its admission to NATO, Croatia actually became a target for terrorist attacks.

Independent candidate Ivan Pernar, a former official of the anti-establishment Human Shield party, described NATO as a criminal organisation.

During the debate, Milanović criticised Grabar-Kitarović’s Three Seas Initiative, adding that in this way she pushed Croatia in the company with “most regressive countries”. Now I know that the president has led Croatia in Central Europe. Three Seas ends at the Black Sea, so in the Balkans and this is not even Central Europe, he said.

The initiative that was launched in 2015 by Croatia’s President Grabar-Kitarović and her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda. The initiative comprises a dozen European states located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Its objective is to bolster regional dialogue and connect the countries between the north and the south.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.


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