Thursday, March 18, 2004

Foreign Ministers and Foreign Views

Croatian foreign minister Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul) risks becoming the most unpopular of all high-ranking members of Sanader's government.

At least this is the conclusion you might get from the avalanche of condemnations following Žužul's visit to Israel and views expressed during the joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.

The statement about Israel apparently not having anyone to negotiate with on Palestinian side coincided with Croatian President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) touring Arab countries. It is all but certain that Mesić had to spend much time explaining the true meaning of Žužul's statement and his position within Croatian government.

Žužul has earned enmity of many within Croatian public with his relentless push for Croatian troops to go to Iraq and assist US-led coalition. This policy, was advocated by his predecessor Tonino Picula and former defence minister Željka Antunović (Zeljka Antunovic). Both of those loyal followers of SDP leader and former prime minister Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) who has lambasted Žužul statement.

Not long ago, sending Croatian troops in Iraq looked like a done deal. But following Madrid atrocity, Spain (and apparently Poland) prematurely ending their military presence in Iraq and with Croatian public overwhelmingly opposed to any policy related to Bush, those plans would have to be postponed if not totally discarded.

Not long ago, Tudjman dreamed of establishing close relations with Israel in order to gain US support and fend off all accusations of modern Croatia being associated with Nazism. Ironically, when this dream became close to reality, Tudjman's successors are going to find close relations between Croatia and Israel to be utterly counter-productive - they might harm Croatian ties with EU and Islamic world and they might make current Croatian government utterly unpopular.


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