Sunday, November 07, 2004

Žužul (Zuzul) On The Ropes

Croatian foreign minister Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul) is currently fighting for his political survival. Despite his attempts to scare with the lawsuit announcement, the media have found its mark. Every day brings new revelations that contradict the initial statements and denials of Žužul and his wife Tatjana.

This avalanche was recognised as an opportunity by otherwise inept Croatian opposition. SDP, HSS and HNS have officially demanded Žužul's resignation. There is also an on-line petition with the same demand.

At first Sanader rejected all calls to fire his foreign minister, but lately media recognised some cracks in his stance. Sanader did say that he stood by Žužul, but also gave impression that he didn't have anything against independent investigation.

In the meantime, Mladen Bajić, chief state attorney of Croatia, announced that his office is going to investigate the case, apparently at Žužul's demand.

There was some speculations about Žužul having to cancel his visit to Austria, which had been scheduled for Monday, but those reports were denied.

According to Slobodna Dalmacija, the affair was brought to public thanks to someone within the ruling party. It is speculated that the whistblowers came from HDZ chapter in Imotski. Local organisation of ruling party is predominantly hard-line and has little understanding for Sanader and his pro-European "gentler and kinder" policies. Žužul, once a devout Communist who came to HDZ relatively light, isn't well-liked by HDZ veterans and hard-core Croatian nationalists. Bringing down Žužul would serve HDZ hard-liners quite nicely – foreign minister and presidential candidate Jadranka Kosor are the only major figures absolutely loyal to Sanader; resignation of the former and election defeat of the latter would isolate Sanader. If HDZ fares badly on local elections in spring, that would be enough for hard-liners to stage leadership challenge.


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