Friday, February 21, 2003

Iraq and Croatian Politics

Globus and Nacional – two most popular weekly newspapers in Croatia – have taken diametrically opposed views on the war against Iraq.

Nacional has taken clear pro-war position and the latest issue has three major articles in that vein. First one, written by Mladen Pleše (Mladen Plese) attacks Croatian government for not being even more explicit in its support for USA and reminds the readers of the role USA had in Operation Storm and other military actions that led to (partial) liberation of occupied territories in 1995. Second article describes the future US administration of Iraq, comparing it with MacArthur's turning of Japan into industrial superpower. The third one is written by Janusz Bugajski and in it France and Germany are attacked for their anti-Americanism.

Globus, on the other hand, writes about widespread opposition to war among Croatian population, cultural elite and even political establishment. The articles even suggest the widening rift between pro-war Prime Minister Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and (moderately) anti-war President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic). To make its anti-war stance even more clear, Globus even publishes big interview with Thierry Maysen.

Globus and Nacional having diametrically opposed views is nothing new (although both papers are pro-government in a sense). The new phenomenon is the fact that their positions on Iraq reflect the change of their favourite government factions. Until Iraq crisis Nacional was seen as somewhat more leftish, more populist and definitely more pro-Mesić; Globus was seen as somewhat more right-wing, more elitist and definitely pro-Račan.

It is too early to tell whether this shift is permanent or not, but Iraq crisis might provoke similar re-alignments all over Europe.


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