Anonymous on Fri Apr 20 23:42:57 2001

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 Mate Granic, Croatia's former foreign minister, founded a new
 party after he lost the presidential election at the
 beginning of this year. The party, in which the more moderate
 elements of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) united in
 March, is called the Democratic Center (DC). Its platform is
 in many ways close to that of the current government, which
 may open interesting possibilities for its future.
       Even before the death of President Franjo Tudjman in
 December 1999, it became clear that the HDZ had lost its once
 all-encompassing authority (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 16
 November 1999). Granic and the HDZ had no chance to win
 either the elections for parliament or the presidential
 election. The patriotic movement of 1989, which mobilized
 Croats against Slobodan Milosevic's centralism, had itself
 became an autocratic--and some would say corrupt--force (see
 "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 April 2000). Croatia's allies
 regarded the HDZ as nationalistic and not democratic. So long
 as it was in power, the path to Europe and NATO was closed.
 And so it remained until Ivica Racan became prime minister
 and Stipe Mesic was elected president in early 2000.
       On 2 July, Granic came to Munich to discuss his ideas
 and his new party before a large audience. In his efforts to
 launch the DC and revive his own career, he sought to win
 followers among the Croats working and living in Germany.
 (The Croatian diaspora is generally interested in politics
 and generous with its contributions. Tudjman started the HDZ
 in the late 1980s by lining up support from the diaspora.)
       Granic distanced himself from his former party and
 talked frankly about cases of corruption in the ranks of the
 HDZ. (It nonetheless seemed strange to this writer that the
 former foreign minister criticized the system he had been a
 part of.) By way of explanation, Granic said that the HDZ was
 not a party but rather a mass movement combining very
 different interests. Because of isolationist elements in it,
 he was not able to create a policy that was more orientated
 toward Europe. Granic argued that he had not left the HDZ
 because of the electoral debacle but because the HDZ was
 unable to implement reforms from within.
       But he was not altogether negative toward his former
 party. He stressed that it is unfair to say that all members
 of that party were criminals. This notion--which in Granic's
 words is very popular in the Croatian media at the moment--
 has nothing to do with reality. The HDZ helped build the new,
 independent state, as Granic pointed out. The party was in
 power when the Croatian army drove the Serbian forces out of
 the country in 1995. Those and subsequent Croatian military
 operations against the Serbs in 1995 prepared the way for the
 Dayton peace agreement. The Croatian victory, in fact,
 changed the military landscape of the whole region. The HDZ,
 Granic stressed, was also responsible for the peaceful
 reintegration of eastern Slavonia starting in 1998.
       Although in opposition to the current government, Granic
 talked about what he called the remarkable moves Mesic and
 Racan have made toward European integration. There is no
 doubt that becoming a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace
 program in May was the greatest success for the six ruling
 political parties in the governing coalition.
       Turning to domestic politics, Granic pointed out that
 Racan has not been able to cut the unemployment rate yet.
 Granic also said that he can not agree with the kind of
 investigation the new government is conducting against some
 Croatian officers who hold the status of war invalids. In too
 many cases, the new government has accused officers of being
 criminals seeking access to pensions and privileges to which
 they are not legally entitled, Granic argued. In his view, a
 lot of the officers deserve the privileges once given to
       The issue of war crimes proved more delicate, and some
 of the people in the Munich diaspora audience could not agree
 with Granic when he talked about that subject. He stressed
 that Croats should not engage in "irresponsible populism" (as
 the former regime did), and that Croatian soldiers guilty of
 war crimes must be sent to the Hague. Croatia has an
 obligation towards the UN and its tribunal, and there is no
 way around it, he added.
       In this respect, the DC has the same position as the
 government. In the weekly "Nacional" of 31 May, Granic
 mentioned another interesting reason for the punishment of
 war crimes: Croatia has to show that it able to capture all
 war criminals who fought under the Croatian flag. Then, as
 part of a general catharsis, it would be morally in a
 position to demand a search for individuals who killed
 Croatian civilians, especially on the territory of the
 Muslim-Croat federation. Granic wrote in "Nacional" about 14
 well-documented cases of mass killings of Croatian civilians
 on federation territory.
       Concerning the issue of the intelligence services, the
 DC wants transparency and professional, civilian control.
 This remains an important topic in Croatia because of the
 misuse of the secret services for political purposes during
 the reign of President Tudjman. After Mesic and Racan decided
 to "transform" the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS) in
 May, policemen occupied the HIS offices to prevent the old
 staff from tampering with important documents (see "RFE/RL
 Newsline," 25 May 2000). Granic commented on these events in
 "Nacional." He wrote that the reorganization of the whole
 intelligence system is very important and that
 professionalism should be the key. Appointments should not be
 made because of political or personal connections, he
       Granic's DC thus does not differ very much from the
 views of the government on a number of key points. This may
 be the reason why the DC will be a "constructive opposition,"
 as Granic put it in Munich. It is significant that even
 President Mesic described DC as a factor that can help
 strengthen the ruling coalition (see "Globus," 23 June 2000).
       In fact, some analysts already see the DC as part of a
 future government without Racan's former communists. If
 Racan's government collapses because of Croatia's economic
 problems and tensions mount between the parties of the
 coalition, President Mesic and his People's Party (HNS) will
 likely decide the makeup of a new governing coalition (see
 "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 July 2000). Granic's party could
 then become an interesting possibility for them. The DC has
 meanwhile won the local election in the town of Samobor. This
 was a big success for the party, keeping in mind that it was
 founded only a few months ago.
       The bickering within the governing coalition has
 meanwhile been growing by the week. If a new center-right
 coalition emerges from a reconfiguration of power, the DC
 might not stay in the opposition for too long. (Christian

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