Rijeka Theatre Signs Contract with New Director, Despite Opposition from Culture Minister

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Culture Minister Hasanbegović rejected the appointment of Marin Blažević as the new director of the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Rijeka.

A contract between the Council of the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Rijeka and Marin Blažević on his appointment as the theatre’s director was signed on Wednesday, despite the fact that Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović has rejected to support the decision made by the Rijeka City Council to appoint Blažević. The contract will come into effect on 1 December, reports Novi List on August 31, 2016.

Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel said that he proposed to the Council to appoint Blažević as the theatre’s director and expressed his confidence that the period until 1 December was long enough for “people to understand the mistake of the current Culture Minister and for the new government to correct that mistake”.

Obersnel said that Zlatko Hasanbegović is being incorrectly called caretaker Culture Minister. “In this case, this is a government that has lost the confidence of Parliament and the government has been dissolved, and therefore Hasanbegović is a dissolved minister”, he said. “As such, Hasanbegović still used his ‘imperial right’ to decide whether to accept or reject a decision made by Rijeka City Council, which is the only owner of the theatre”, said the Mayor.

Mayor Obersnel added that he had expected Hasanbegović “to be wise enough not to use this ‘imperial right’. For us, his decision is unacceptable since the government is not allowed to make decisions on appointments after the elections have been officially called and we therefore consider it invalid and non-existent.” The Mayor added that the decision was also unacceptable because the Ministry was not the owner of the theatre and participates with just minimal funding in the theatre’s budget.

Obersnel also said that Hasanbegović, during their last meeting in Zagreb, said that, if they wanted Rijeka to have the Ministry as a partner in the implementation of the European Capital of Culture programme, they should “be careful whom they choose as theatre director”.

Marin Blažević said that Hasanbegović’s refusal to support the City Council decision was political and ideological blackmail.

Speaking on Wednesday, Minister Hasanbegović said that his decision was made in accordance with the law. “Given the fact that I have not confirmed his appointment, Blažević will remain as acting director until a new public competition for the post is published and the new procedure completed”, said Hasanbegović.

Since becoming Culture Minister in January, Hasanbegović has made many controversial decisions and has been accused of using his post to conduct an ideological war against all those who do not agree with his worldview, which some describe as representing an extremist right-wing ideology. He is currently one of the most popular politicians on the rightwing part of the political spectrum and is HDZ’s candidate for Parliament. He has provoked controversy not just with his decisions as Culture Minister, but also with his statements on historical issues, particularly those connected with the Second World War.


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