Wednesday, February 16, 2005

European Dream Downgraded

One of biggest problems for Ivo Sanader is in very limited personnel base from which he can recruit ministers. HDZ has many members willing to get posts in his cabinet, but very few are loyal enough for Sanader. Another problem is apparent unwillingness of HDZ cadre to get posts which could bring immediate public disdain. Health ministry under Andrija Hebrang was apparently in such bad shape that few people volunteered for the ministerial post after Hebrang’s resignation. Seven prospective candidates – four prominent physicians and three MSes – turned Sanader down before Neven Ljubičić (Neven Ljubicic) agreed and thus allowed Sanader to finish his first major cabinet reconstruction.

Another part of the reconstruction is appointment of Damir Polančec (Damir Polancec), former top executive of Podravka, one of Croatia’s major food production companies, for deputy prime minister in charge of economy.

The third and the most important part of today’s reconstruction is also the most controversial one. Sanader had to find a replacement for Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul), his loyal foreign minister forced to resign after corruption scandal that exploded before the presidential elections. Of course, that replacement had to be both competent – because Sanader’s survival depends on the success of EU accession negotiations – and loyal – because Sanader can’t allow any rival faction to claim that success for himself.

Brilliant solution was found in Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic), relatively young and relatively popular minister of European integrations. She is nice-looking, embodies everything “hip” and “European” in Sanader’s “kinder and gentler” HDZ, during her mandate she didn’t do anything to make anyone in Croatia particularly angry and, last but not least, isn’t associated with anyone or anything that could jeopardise Sanader’s position within HDZ.

So, Sanader chose to name her as Žužul’s successor. That left with another problem – whom to put in her place. Sanader came with another brilliant solution. He simply fused Foreign Ministry and Ministry of European Integrations which is, from today on, to function as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations.

Sanader had safe majority in Sabor to push all those changes through, but opposition couldn’t resist the temptation to interpret them as a sign of Sanader’s weakness and incompetence. They claim that the fusion of two ministry means that the whole idea of Croatia joining European integrations is downgraded from something in the domain of domestic policy and foreseeable future into something in the domain of foreign policy and not so foreseeable future.


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