Central Europe Review: politics,
society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 11
20 March 2000

Croatia news review C E N T R A L   E U R O P E A N    N E W S:
News Round-up for Croatia
News from Croatia since 13 March 2000

Saša Cvijetić

The upper house of the Parliament, the House of Counties (which has an Croatian Democratic Union [HDZ] majority) rejected, by a majority of votes, the draft state budget for the year 2000, which was proposed by the Račan Government, on the basis that it represented a breach of the ruling coalition's promises from their electoral campaign. The lower house, the House of Representatives, may nevertheless pass the law on the budget, but then the House of Counties may veto it and thus postpone its implementation. The Speaker of the House of Counties, Katica Ivanišević (HDZ), announced that the House would not veto the budget after all.

Mirko Galić was appointed new Director General of Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) by Parliament. Galić was one of directors of the HRT in two occasions since 1995, but he resigned after some time in both cases. After his appointment, he announced that his precondition to accept this it was that he "receives a mandate for significant personnel changes in the house".

Also in the news was the exorbitant sum, more than USD 9 million, paid to American lawyer David Rivkin, the Croatian government's legal representative before the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY).Rivkin has been at the centre of a media storm ever since Minister of Justice Stjepan Ivanišević made his fee a matter of public record. A series of accusations between several former ministers and high state officials then started on who signed the contracts with Rivkin. Finally, Rivkin arrived to Zagreb and stated that it was former Foreign Minister Mate Granić who singed four contracts with him. Granić denied that. Rivkin's activities will be put on ice until the Government decides on the new strategy of co-operation with the ICTY.

A queue of high Western European officials who visited Croatia was very long this week again. Among them were: UK Foreign Minister Robin Cook, on Monday, Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen on Wednesday, NATO Secretary General George Robertson on Thursday, MEP and Head of the European Parliament's delegation for South-Eastern Europe Doris Pack on Friday and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata also on Friday. All of them welcomed the political changes in Croatia and promised the support of their countries or institutions. Lord Robertson said that "so far, the democratic changes in Croatia were the best thing that happened in the 21st century." High Commissioner Ogata and Foreign Minister Tonino Picula signed the agreement on co-operation between UNHCR and Croatia on return of refugees.

A number of Croatian politicians went abroad as well: President Stipe Mesić decided to visit Slovenia as his first official visit abroad, Prime Minister Račan attended the meeting of countries neighbouring to Yugoslavia in Budapest, and Defence Minister Jozo Radoš went on a three-day visit to UK to discuss the improvement in military co-operation between the two countries.

Davorin Tepeš, former Deputy Mayor of Zagreb, was appointed as the new president of the Zagreb branch of the HDZ. He replaced Zlatko Canjuga, who was dismissed from that duty last week, after the Zagreb City Assembly had been dismissed by the Government.

Zlatko Canjuga stated that he would organise the signing of petition for dismissal of Vladimir Šeks (Acting President of the HDZ) and Ivić Pašalić (HDZ's Vice President) from the party. He believes that he was dismissed from his duties in the HDZ because he was "a serious candidate for the HDZ's chairmanship at the congress in April". Some other prominent members of the HDZ (Drago Krpina for example) who opposed the way Canjuga was dismissed.

The parties of the so-called "Zagreb Alternative" (the parties of the ruling coalition) proposed 7 May as the day for elections in Zagreb. They announced that they would discussed the modalities for running together at the elections.

A series of arrests of former high state officials was continued this week. Former Assistant Minister of Transport and Communication Zvonimir Vedriš and high-ranking official of that Ministry Davor Žuvić were accused of fraud of more than 5 million DEM. After an initial investigation, they were kept in prison.

The return of refugees is an "entirely economic, and not a political question," stated Ivan Jakovčić, Minister of European Integration at a session of the one of parliamentary committees. Radimir Čačić, Minister of Reconstruction, Building and Public Works, added that there would be "no ethnic discrimination in the process of return".

Saša Cvijetić, 18 March 2000

Links to further news and information resources in/on Croatia:

HINA - Croatian Information and News Agency

HRT - Croatian Radio and Television News

News compiled by the HIC - Croatian Information Centre

Croatia Weekly, published by the HIKZ - Croatian Institute for Culture and Information

HIDRA - Croatian Information and Documentation Referral Agency

Croatian Government Bulletin

News released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Vlast.net - E-zine on Croatian politics

Vjesnik daily

Večernji list daily

Slobodna Dalmacija daily

Feral Tribune weekly

Nacional weekly

Arkzin monthly

Voice of America in Croatian

Real Audio recording of the radio programme Weekreport



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