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(E) Dr Miroslav Tudjman -HIP interview: "Aque & Terre"
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  04/1/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Dr Miroslav Tudjman -HIP interview: "Aque & Terre"


Aque & Terre 1/2002

Miroslav Tudjman's new Croatia

by Simone Marzaroli and Ezio Benedetti

With elections drawing near, Croatia is get­ting ready to face a new and difficult politi­cal season, especially given that there is an ongoing domestic crisis due to problems connected with the national identity This is­sue created many difficulties in the past, and the late President Tudjman managed to solve them in his own personal style during his years as president. Now the domestic scene has changed and the political players who won the previous elections must com­pete with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) which, however, seems to have found a new lease of life following the recent devel­opments concerning the International Criminal Tribunal.

The new political Party, presented in this in­terview, is the brainchild of the late presi­dent's son, Professor Miroslav Tudjman. As a former head of the secret services in Croatia he enjoyed excellent relations with Western countries, and set up a profitable exchange of intelligence with the United States.

- Professor Tudjman could you illustrate the reasons that led you to create a new political Party on the already very varied Croatian po­litical scene?

`The movement to develop the Croatian identity and prosperity (HIP) first came to public attention in December 2000, and then began its activities in the early 2001. The main reason we created a movement of this kind was to halt the progressive de­struction of national values underlying the modern Croatian State and guaran­teed by the Constitution. In our opinion the defence of the Croat national identity goes hand in hand with the creation of a modern Croat State. We stood as a move­ment for the first time in the administra­tive elections in May 2001. A few months after creating the movement, we won ten per cent of the votes in the municipal elec­tions for Zagreb, when we stood as an in­dependent civic list (given that Croatian electoral law only allows political move­ments in the form of Parties to stand at elections). We must point out, however, that only three other Parties (the SDP, HDZ and HSLS) together with ourselves man­aged to win seats in the city council.

In July 2001 there was a very heated po­litical debate in the Croat Parliament (Sa­bor) about handing over the Generals Go­tovina and Ademij to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia. On that occasion our movement forceful­ly pointed out for the first time that there is no kind of consensus concerning the pro­tection of national Croat interests among the political Parties. And this is despite the fact that the coalition government, the Prime Minister Racan and the opposition held very similar views on the subject. This suggests that neither the government, nor the Prime Minister, had the courage and political strength to explain these views to the Tribunal or the Procurator Carla Del Ponte.

This is why we felt the need to set up a process to transform the movement into a Party in order to create a new political force able to speak about the future of Croatia in a new and different way. This brings us up to October 2001, when we registered the Party, with the same em­blem, but changing the wording into `True Croat Rebirth' (Hrvatski Istinski Pre­porod). The official registration of the Par­ty, however, only took effect recently, on January 10 this year'.

- What are the main guidelines of your Party and especially as regards the HDZ, of which your father was a founder?

`When this government came to power eighteen months ago, it had to face a serious economic crisis to which it actually managed to add a crisis of national val­ues by calling into question the ideals un­derlying the modern Croat State. These ideals were deeply felt by the people and expressed politically by President Dr Franjo Tudjman and the Party he creat­ed, i. e. the HDZ. The basic problem for my Party was the new hegemony of the for­mer Communist Party, which rose to pow­er as a member of a much larger coali­tion with the intention of taking on the lead role. This involved a de facto structural dependence on the old Communist Party, and especially its ways of working and political debating within the coalition. In fact we witnessed a return not so much to ideological values, as to decision­making processes and operational modes typical of the old communist Yugoslavia. But here are the policy guidelines of our Party: protection of the national interests; development of a modern Croatia charac­terised by a healthy fair society, a strong economy and much higher living standards than at present. Our priorities in­clude: developing the motorway network and other main communications (trains and airports); developing telecommuni­cations and introducing information technology into the public administration; research and development; the creation of a new industrial structure with much closer integration between research, in­dustry, banks and SMES; university re­form, bearing in mind that technology is synonymous with development and knowledge coincides with development; and lastly, social policies designed for the weaker sections of the society and aid for economically underdeveloped areas.

We must point out, however, that the tra­ditional political elites are ageing. Over the last ten years very few new politicians have emerged. And if we look at the SDP (the majority Party), on average its mem­bers are even older. We, on the other hand, are a young Party which appeals not only to the young but all people who have not been involved in politics in the last ten years, but have contributed to creating an independent Croatia either as jurists, professionals, or leading players in Croat culture and sport in the world. That aver­age age of our card-holding members is very young (24). And it is especially the young who must see the factor of novelty and change. They are our main target. If I may be allowed a metaphor, I would say that the HDZ doesn't have problems so much with the body as with the head. It failed to successfully translate into prac­tice the objectives of development that we have proposed and also suffers from in­ternal strife. What I should stress is that people see us as individuals who have not only contributed to the creation of the new Croatia. They also view us as those who have not lived or live for politics and pow­er: In short, we are mainly people with ex­perience and professional backgrounds enabling us to discuss medium- and long-term programmes on the basis of our expertise. Moreover we don't aim to appeal principally to the traditional HDZ electorate, at present around thirty per cent and never more than forty per cent of votes, but to a much wider and repre­sentative electorate of the Croat people which on two occasions voted for the late President Franjo Tudjman with percent­ages ranging from seventy to eighty per cent. These votes were won on the basis of a national programme, and this is exactly what we are trying to create. In this sense we can safely claim there is a politi­cal continuity between my Party and the policy of President Tudjman rather than that of the HDZ. Ultimately, we aim to rec­oncile the forty per cent of the Croatian population which abstains with politics. We are thus an atypical Party. We shun rhetoric. We don't like making promises to the masses, but prefer to speak to the peo­ple in a simple direct way insisting on the importance of programmes, thus com­pletely eschewing demagogy.

Despite our unique nature, however, the political situation in Croatia forces us to seek coalitions with other Parties; and not only with the extreme right, given that we are not a Party of the extreme right Coali­tions are made on the basis of pro­grammes and not with the sole goal of overturning the current government ­nothing is built by simply destroying.

We must not forget, however, that the pres­ent government has undermined funda­mental democratic rights by pursuing two proposals to change the Constitution, totally ignoring the opposition in the process'.

- In your opinion, what is the worst thing and the best thing done by the present govern­ment?

'As you know, Croatia is undergoing a deep economic crisis. This government has managed to increase foreign debt, unem­ployment and the public deficit, thus in­curring the wrath of the International Monetary Fund. Foreign and other in­vestments are at a standstill. My opinion on the government's economic policy can only be completely negative, since it has no integrated strategy for the country.

The government simply indulges in demagogic talk. We might say it's good at marketing, but is going nowhere! Moreover, one of the worst things is that the national crisis has been aggravated in the country and the government has success­fully spread the idea that the Croatian State grew out of crime. They have under­mined the State and accused its founders (including the army). They have man­aged to sow discord between the various social players (church; army; workers and trade unions) and solidarity has dis­appeared at a time when development based on solidarity is the only way for­ward. The nation must be mobilised to share a number of common objectives. But the links with Croats living abroad (more than 5.2 million) have been bro­ken, thus losing the assistance and aid the Latter could have given, and consequent­ly destroying the premises for a brighter future.

In political terms the best thing they have done is to achieve full status in the Inter­national community, changing the im­age of the country abroad and taking us into the WTO and CEFTA, as well as signing association agreements with the European Union, the Partnership For Peace and the Stability Pact'.

- What is your position on the separatist claims of some regional Parties?

'I believe it's right and normal that there should be regional Parties created to solve problems at local and regional level. The difficulty arises when these Parties begin to move and take sides at international level. For all countries in transition ­and Croatia is certainly one of them - this is dangerous. There is a risk of being per­ceived by the International community at two different levels. Regional co-operation is definitely important but the objectives and players must change. In short co-op­eration must be developed by the individ­ual municipalities and not by the re­gions'.

- What is your position on Croatia and the In­ternational Criminal Court and the Euro­pean Union?

'First of all, it must be said that no one in Croatia is against punishing the real cul­prits of war crimes. But as a Party, we are against the strategic political manipula­tion of events. Croatia had a toll of I5, 000 deaths of which two-thirds were civilians, and it has never been recognised as a State that was attacked Moreover, Gener­al Gotovina is not accused of having or­dered or cowering up war crimes. He is simply accused of not being able to fore­see events, and for me this is a juridical disgrace! We are not against the Court at the Hague as an institution, but rather against the political use made of it.

As far as the Milosevic trial is concerned, Croatia is interested in stressing that his crimes were committed while under at­tack from a third State. The Hague does not see this political position. It fails to seek the political responsibilities and only con­siders personal responsibilities. The Court is in a position of having to confirm the existing prejudices about Croatia. Before judgement is passed on events and their leading players, they must be analysed from a historical and political point of view.

As regards the European Union, I do not have a clear idea of its future, that is there is no clear concept-of the eastern enlarge­ment of the Union, and various solutions are being explored (for example, that of giving two votes to founder States). More­over, the European Union sets over-rigid political conditions that even its own members are not able to meet today. And I obviously don't mean economic criteria. As regards the association treaty with the European Union, I believe it should be signed but not according to the schedule and modalities pursued by the current government. In this sense, confusion reigns sovereign!'.

- What is your view of the new ongoing dia­logue between Yugoslavia and Croatia?

In January 1998, following the Erdut Agreements, Croatia was given back con­trol over its territory and so for us the sit­uation was politically and historically set­tled. There are still social, economic and psychological problems (and there is said to be still 1,400 people missing. Dialogue should serve the purpose of solving these problems, but you don't end a war by minimising or forgetting the problems. Our motto is forgive but don't forget!'.

- What contacts does your Party have at inter­national level?

As 1 said earlier, our movement was only officially registered as a political Party a few weeks ago, therefore we have no official contacts with other Parties and move­ments. We only have personal contacts and testimonies from various countries, However, I am the chief editor of a three­monthly review dealing with national se­curity and intelligence which collabo­rates with foreign experts and profession­als and regularly publishes articles by leading political figures, also from Italy'.

* Simone Marzaroli and Ezio Benedetti are consultants of South-East European Countries of the company lntman s.r.l., Gorizia


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