Zagreb, 02.08.2011.

Interview with Former President published on the 6th of August 2011. in edition "Obzor" - Vecernji list.


You have fiercely attacked the government and opposition, because they did not promptly respond to the issue of Dajla. Can the government do something about it, regarding the fact  that the mistake was committed in the nineties and that it is now virtually impossible to correct it? 

It may seem that I fiercely attacked them. No, I actually reacted - derogating from the principle which I otherwise strictly hold – not to comment moves of the current government- when I found that in this case no moves have been committed and that national interests of Croatia are potentially threatened. I reacted due to a sense of responsibility to the state which I headed  for ten years and towards its citizens. I said immediately that the Law in many of its provisions on the return of property confiscated during the communist rule is rash and inconsiderate. Its realization, during Croatia's fitful efforts at all costs to detach from all that was - and that former state should be declared if not criminal, at least a plunder state - often went even further than those already debatableprovisions allowed. So, mistakes are certainly committed, and whether if they can still be corrected today - I'm not sure. But in any case we shoudn't permitt such mistakes to occur in future. 

You are mentioning a similar issue with the Pauline Brothers to which, based on the same Law on the return of property that was confiscated during the communist rule, the property was returned. 

Yes, I cited an example of returning the property of the Pauline Brothers, which was confiscated during the time of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Well, now the one who carried this practice and declared Joseph II as communist should be responsible for the damage done to this country. At least -  should be politically responsible. 

Why did the government behave so ? Was it mere adulation to the Church or desire to politically trade with it? 

I have already said, at that time - and we are talking about the nineties of last century –there was a rule of stigmatizing euphoria of absolutely everything that could be in any way related to a former state. And, of course, it musn't be forgotten to mention that we are talking about, in this case, the church property, and the Church seized and firmly held the position in independent Croatia that goes far beyond its mission. It sets itself very often in the role of political arbiter, and that affiliation to the Church became a kind of identity card for anyone who wants to be recognized as a Croat, and attitudes to the Church have repercussions in society - even when they have nothing whatsoever to do with faith. Just remember the recommendations for elections, not only verbal but also in the form of flyers - who shouldn't be voted for, what kind of the President the Republic should have and similar.  

Did you write, as Kosor did, to the Pope or the Pope nunciature and tried to explain the situation about Dajla? 

While I was president, I have dealt with it in another way. I didn't solicit. I warned about the unauthorized practice of some bishops and lower clergy, I responded to some statements of the Bishops Commission Justitia et pax. Sometimes I worked in public, sometimes the public never even found out, but my point of view is coming to the Vatican. Finally, I took advantage during the encounter with the present Pope, at the end of my mandate, to draw his attention to such things. 


Do you think that Croatia lost that property? How do you evaluate the behavior of Kaptol and CBC in this situation? 

Kaptol and CBC for now, at least until this converstation, are keeping silent. The property we are talking about Croatia simply should't lose. For those who made all this mess, now must find a way to remedy it. But, there is no compromise, nor it can be. Compensation for the property, in accordance with the Osimo Agreements, was paid and that is the beginning and the end of everything, no further discussion is needed regarding this issue.

Do you agree with those who argue that it is an attack on the sovereignty of the Croatia? 

Well, I'm not far away from such an assessment when we find ourselves in a situation that the Vatican practically annulled the decision of the Supreme Court of Croatia. 


President Josipovic believes that the agreements with Vatican do not need revision. Part of the intellectual, as well as those of the Church, believe that they should use the opportunity that stands in the agreement, and that is - if circumstances change significantly, the agreement can be opened and reviewed. Thus impoverished Croatia would be invited to important changes of circumstances. 

Croatia could and should invoke to the de facto impossibility of fulfilling all the obligations assumed by the agreements with Vatican, but also to the fact that these "our" Contracts were something unprecedented. I heard once that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany is not so rich that could afford the contracts with Vatican, such as those concluded by the Croatia. It was published by a German broadcaster. But, from the first hand I can say that an ambassador of one of the European countries where Catholics play a very important role, openly told me, that he is scaring his colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying that, if they will not behave good, they will get same contracts with Vatican by model concluded by Croatia. Well, that probably says enough. As for the revision of the contract - very generally - each contract is subject to the possibility of change and should not in any way shy away from discussion of this possibility. Especially if it is clear that existing contracts are harmful for Croatia. And they are! 

Kosor and Josipovic are increasingly in conflict. Do you expect further escalation of the conflict regarding to HDZ remarks that Josipović is acting as head of the opposition?


I see that you pulling me on thick ice. But, well, I'll tell you. In the present phase of conflict the head of state and prime minister will remain at the level of skirmishes around  mostly irrelevant or less important things, and often will have tones that are reminiscent of cheap bickering and warfare.Important,  life issue has not yet came to order. But it should - not in confrontation but in discussions that could lead to something. I have had disagreements with the prime ministers -  with Sanader and Racan. But first, I have never boiled down to personal arguments, and - secondly - I have often addressed to "behind the scenes." Or, simply pulled a move which I thought was necessary, not heeding the government's response.Let me remind you, for example, to the consultation of economic relations of Croatia with the world. Government certainly was not pleased, but it was held. I did what I felt was my duty. I will say once again: I have always acted, bearing in mind my responsibility towards the state and its citizens. 



Would it be okay, with you, for Josipović to give public support to certain political option in future elections? You have been elected president twice as a representative of anti-HDZ block and you did not, even in campaigns, run from it to show who is your choice or against whom you are. 

Now you really want too much. I will not judge in advance what the current president could do, much less what it would be good for him to do. I will only say that I, as I was to serve as president, always found a way to tell to the public would kind of a program I would support. I emphasize the program. I have never opted for any party - except, of course, when I went to the polling place. 


Would Josipovic, who was elected as the candidate of the SDP and the SDP's platform, policy, by direct or indirect support to the opposition actually violate the constitution as he criticized  HDZ?

President of the Republic is the President of all Croatian citizens. He, however, is the president of all political options. Is that clear enough? 

It is, after all, and you  was sometimes a guest in the HNS's campaigns. You have been criticized that you were not neutral. 

I was neutral. It sometimes happened that I encountered in a certain place at campaign rallies, and even at my former party, but I have never participated long, nor I have performed.

How the logic of the proposition work, that there should not be same political options on both key positions? What does ensure, in the same or different political options on Pantovčak and in the Cabinet, a better governance? 

Generally speaking, it is good that the head of state and government are not people who belong to the same political option, at least so long as the President has certain constitutional powers. Then he can act as a corrective factor. If you have a ceremonial President, then it does not matter. 

What kind of relations with HNS and Kukuriku coalition do you have now? Do you think that they will need you more than you can give? Do you think that they are really an alternative to HDZ's current government? 

The opposition, by its nature must be an alternative government. If it cannot profile itself in that way, then in this case it's no opposition and a voter is in confused, because he doesn't know who to choose. I, otherwise, occasionally see the party leaders. I let them to use my knowledge and experience, but I certainly stand by the fact that  I will not be included in the active political life.

Is so called third way at today's bipolar political scene realistic option at all? You've been supporter of another political bloc, are you still it's supporter? 

I am a supporter of profiled parties, parties with a clear and clearly identifiable programs. I think that the bipolar political scene would not be good. It is always advisable to have a third party who may in one way or another affect the political scene in the country and to its main actors. 

Are you willing to help some of the upcoming new platforms, Ljubo Jurcic's, for example? What would such options offer to the citizens in the elections to be successful? What are the chances to do something else in such a strong division of the electorate, but considering the large number of potential abstainers and non-aligned? 

I am talking about it. There will be a lot of abstainers and undecided, if the opposition fails to be recognized as an alternative government. And it will be if the citizens will be offered by a big empty promises, this is all pretty, but real applications, a realistic assessment of the prospects for a better life-but again, real. As for me, I'm ready to talk with everyone, but I will not actively involve myself in any party. 

Bandić announced the turnout. Can he capitalize on it's votes collected in the presidential race in parliamentary elections? 

Partially he certainly can. No, I would not get into anyone's forecasting results.Citizens will be assessed, they will be rewarded or punished. 

Rright wing parties see you, even after the term, as one and the greatest culprits for all that happened. If we except this time your thesis, that some blame you even for the October Revolution, and everything after it, how do you interpret that their hostility toward you is not slowing down even now when you're retired president? 

I will not comment the right-wingers who attacked me,. They do not deserve it. And they are attacking me because I speak the truth and insist on principles. However, with time it is to be reconciled. Neither one nor the other will give up. 

On the other hand your good friendship with someone from the right HDSSB is catching eyes and it served as an argument for your involvement in the Glavas case. 

The answer is simple. I am talking to anyone who asks for an interview with me. Which does not mean that I support him. Branimir Glavas, surely, was the last person on earth whom I would in any way support.

To whom a former president can be a threat? 

Former President, as such - to anyone. But the former president who tells the truth, even when it is unpleasant, that seeks the truth about what they would like to forget, this can be dangerous to many - especially in our circumstances. 

How do you comment  the new engagement of your bitter rivals Andrija Hebrang, who became president of the Governing Council Office which will deal only with research communist evils? 

Andrija Hebrang has remained consistent. He first said that he will withdrew from politics, and then took the position – on the period of full seven years - which will be directed eminently politically by him. The man has some fixations, and he can not get rid of them, that's it. 

The world was shaken by what happened in Norway. Is there a danger in Croatia from the extreme right? 

There is, if you are keep closing your eyes and ears in front of the manifestations of ultra-Right, and if you are not responding on time and appropriately to the things that are far more peripheral. The potential for such danger exists. 

What about the claims that are announced against you, for example, ones of Vice Vukojevic? 

Let them sue whoever they want. I am not afraid, I only regret the time that I will eventually spend unnecessarily on the court. 

What will happen with the ex-president, if Ivo Josipovic loses the next presidential elections? Will you share the office, or any former president can get it? 

You have to ask the legislator who brought the Law on the Office of the Former President. 

Are you afraid of change of the law and the seizure of the Bureau, which some request?

So I saw this in politics, lived and survived, that there is nothing to be afraid of. I will always find ways to publicly say what I think and I will always find a place where I will meet with friends. What will, however, in that case, do all those who daily come knocking on my door, asking for help, because the rule of law still end up not working, I do not know. 

Will Sanader from Remetinec harm or use HDZ at the elections? Can the current prime minister save herself when it is known that she was on the top of  HDZ and the government? 

I never comment the talk about the process that take time, and such procedures, as well as their possible consequences.

Why weren't you a stronger opposition to Sanader? Surely you had the information on the extent of corruption and government bonds and crime? Were the information services inforiming you, or were you asking for pieces of information, or were you afraid that you would  experience the attacks as well-if you asked too many questions-because of your friendships? 

I have never been blackmailed nor I ever felt blackmailed for any reason. You forget that the wheel of corruption in the highest positions of government began unwinding thanks to me, and with fierce opposition from the prime minister and his party. I refer to the "affair trucks." I was the oposition to Prime Minister as much as I really could and when I judged if it was necessary. My archive is not open. And there  was nothing I was afraid of - not then, nor I fear today. 

Can  the criminalization of  HDZ really occur and whether it could be the end of the party? 

HDZ is undoubtedly burdened with "weights". Will it be drawn from it - I do not know. 

Would you be sorry if HDZ disappears because you have founded it? 

Yes, I was among those who founded this party, but it turned into something that did not suit our – founders ideas based upon it's foundation. However, when it was created it was necessary, because no one else had the strength and willingness to confront Milosevic and lead the country toward independence. I do not regret that I participated in this, and when I could not accept it's policy which began to run, I went into opposition. 

The Prime Minister is trying to reform HDZ, and fill it with new faces. Can this face-lift be filled with content without removing the old staff? 

Without radical staff moves - it's hard. 

If HDZ looses election will it be threatened to collapse? 

To collapse - probably not, but disintegration into two parties, that I would not rule out. 

If  SDP and HNS will lose the elections, how will this affect the future of these parties? 

It will take them quite a lot of time and effort to regain the trust of their voters. They will need to renew their staff.

Have you contacted Kruljac? Despite your explanations, there are still doubts that you are protecting him because his behaviour outside the army was notorious? You are refering to what  General Lucic told you, and he claims that he was marginalized and that generals Agotić and Stipetić were actually in charge.

Generals Agotić and Stipetić were my advisors in the first term. And at the time I rarely contacted with Kruljac, so the story of the marginalization of the recent Chief of Staff is pure stupidity. He suggested Kruljac and I, as I was confronted with it's presentation, accepted the  proposal. Everything else is hearsay. 

What about the announce of a new scandal in the army? You are probably familiar with this matter. How can such a scandal ruin the image of the Croatian army?

As the former President I was not informed about current developments in the Armed Forces, except from the media, and how reliably is that - you know yourself. 

Does the president have enough power to control the situation in the army?Is Josipovic, regarding your opinion, well in that? 

He has the authority, and I do not comment the activity of the current president.