Sunday, March 21, 2004

Talk Is Cheap

Croatian might have different opinions on many things, but in one thing they stand united. According to opinion polls, around 80-90 % of them rejected American invasion of Iraq and equally the same number is opposed to sending Croatian troops to peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

Those views are shared by people who vote SDP and those who HDZ, by people whose ancestors in WW2 wore red star and those whose ancestor in WW2 wore letter "U" on their caps, by people who would smash any car with Hajduk Split symbols or and people who would torch cars with Dinamo Zagreb insignia.

Interestingly enough, when time comes for Croatians to express their vox dei by some concrete action, all this popular discontent is never to be seen.

Good example is yesterday's anti-war demonstration in Zagreb. Just like in any other country, local peace and leftist activists have organised public gathering, including a petition demanding that Croatian Army doesn't go to Iraq. The site of the demonstration was perfect – Jelačić (Jelacic) Square in the middle of Zagreb, site of many similar gathering in past, including famous November 1996 demonstrations when citizens of Zagreb for the first (and last) time publicly and successfully defied Tudjman's will. The weather was also wonderful, a warm March day perfect for public demonstrations.

However, just like one year ago, ridiculously small number of people has shown up – 112, according to Djermano Ćićo Senjanović (Djermano Cico Senjanovic) in today's Slobodna Dalmacija. Petition gathered some 10,000 signatures.

This might be disappointing, but, on the other hand, it also can be expression of Croatians' common sense. Why should they demonstrate, risk riots destroying their cities, have their names in secret police files or have their kidneys rearranged by police batons and water canons when the cause they are supposed to be demonstrate for is already winning?

Following flood of criticism after his controversial statement in Israel, foreign minister Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul) is fighting for his political survival. Jutarnji list reporters were emboldened enough to investigate minister's finances and lucky enough to find some irregularities with his tax returns. Žužul, widely seen as one of the most pro-American voices in Sanader's governments, had to answer to those and other accusations in today's Nedjeljom u 2 show. There he used opportunity to announce complete U-turn in some of his policies.

He said that Croatia won't sign treaty with USA that forbids extradition of American citizens to International Criminal Court. Just like his predecessors in Račan's (Racan's) government, he defends this obviously pragmatic decision (signing of the treaty would be political suicide in times when Croatian generals get shipped to Hague) with the desire to coordinate foreign policy with EU whose diplomats are violently opposed to treaty.

More interesting is Žužul's flip-flop on Croatian military deployment to Iraq. He admitted that the sending of Croatian troops would be "impossible" at this particular moment.


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