Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Mixed Signals

What kind of Sanader would rule Croatia? First 48 hours offer different clues and different answers to that question.

The biggest bombshell, although not entirely unexpected, came from Vojislav Stanimirović (Vojislav Stanimirovic), former leader of Serb rebels in Eastern Slavonia and current chairman of SDSS. He said that his party doesn't exclude possibility of supporting HDZ in eventual coalition government. Later in the day, Vladimir Šeks (Vladimir Seks) from HDZ said that his party doesn't exclude giving "ministerial post" to Serb representatives in future cabinet. If those speculations prove to be correct, it would be big step in right direction for Sanader. With it he could disarm all sceptics who still fear that his party had only superficial "post-Tudjman" makeover.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time for HDZ and Serb nationalists to co-operate. After 1990 Tudjman offered seat of Sabor vice-Speaker to Jovan Rašković (Jovan Raskovic), future spiritual leader of Serb rebellion in "Krajina". During the war Tudjman even had his very own satellite Serb party in form of SNS (Serb People's Party), led by Milan Djukić (Milan Djukic), exiled Serb leader who would later become deputy minister of interiors (after 2000 he would become born-again Serb nationalist). HDZ and Stanimirović's SDSS had even created coalitions before, albeit on local and county levels.

Other signals aren't so reassuring. One nasty rumour describes how Sanader, after receiving initial returns, phoned offices of one of Croatia's daily newspaper and gave precise instructions what words to use on the front page of Monday edition. This practice is similar to the things Tudjman used to do with Croatian media during his reign.

Andrija Hebrang, one of HDZ leaders and former minister of defence, publicly floated idea of re-hiring Croatian Army generals and senior officers sacked by President Mesić (Mesic) in early 2001. Officers in questions were removed by Presidential decree following open letter in which they criticised government for co-operating with Hague Tribunal. Some of those officers are rumoured to be under investigation or even being secretly indicted by ICTY for alleged war crimes during 1991-95 conflicts. If HDZ supports Hebrang, it would destroy all credibility to the claims of HDZ being "purged" of questionable elements – instead of being purged, they would re-gain their positions.


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