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Q and A with Vesna Skare-Ozbolt on the Sanader Affair

vrijeme Petak 08. Siječanj 2010.  izvor Izvor: Croatia Buisness Report  kategorija Kategorija: Intervjui  Bookmark and Share
Q and A with Vesna Skare-Ozbolt on the Sanader Affair

“Now Sanader's attempt to return failed because of two main reasons: the nation simply could not handle yet another sudden and unexpected move made by him and secondly, because the nation felt he betrayed it and they do not trust him anymore”

Former Presidential Candidate Vesna Skare-Ozbolt was also a government minister in Ivo Sanader’s cabinet. As someone who worked with Sanader, she is in an excellent position to comment on the Ivo Sanader affair of the past week, in which he announced his return to politics and was
then thrown out of the ruling party by Prime Minster Jadranka
Kosor.

In our special question and answer feature, Ms Skare-Ozbolt gives us her opinion as to why Sanader has behaved as he has done, her view on Kosor’s response to it and what Sanader may do next. She also tells us who she thinks will win the Presidential Elections…

Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader announced his return to politics, apparently due to his unhappiness at the HDZ’s performance. This ‘putsch’ seems to have failed. You‘ve worked with Sanader in government. What do you think Sanader was trying to achieve? And what light do you think it sheds on his original resignation?

The ex-Prime Minister Sanader left suddenly leaving the Croatian nation in a state of shock. His unannounced departure also shocked the opposition party, however, they survived. The situation has not caused any significant turbulence in the opposition party.

Now Sanader's try to return failed because of two main reasons: the nation simply could not handle yet another sudden and unexpected move made by him and secondly, because the nation felt he betrayed it and they do not trust him anymore. Had he succeeded that would have caused a total political destabilization of the Government and would probably lead to early elections.

In my opinion after his departure Sanader planned to rule from behind the scene but this did not work. The first signs of his discontent due to his failed plan and his disagreement with the ruling of the new Prime Minister Ms Jadranka Kosor were shown by the current Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and a close friend of Sanader, Mr. Luka Bebic. Numerous affairs discovered show a significant trend that there are less and less “untouchables” persons in the Croatian politics.

It is also significant that while Sanader was at the helm of the Croatian Government the combat against corruption was at the standstill and after he left a number of processes have been opened. People appointed by him to important positions are now under serious charges for criminal activities and corruption. I assume this makes Sanader nervous and worried.

I think that Sanader wanted to regain power within the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) as honourary president, and his intention was to get position of the President of the Parliament and in that position he could be ‘untouchable’ from the possible judicial investigation The other option is still possible and if five or six of the Parliament representatives and his close friends stand by him the majority necessary for the functioning of the Parliament would no more exist. I also think that by this move he clearly sent a message that he was upset by bringing charges against his friends which he tried to stop by coming back.

Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and the HDZ moved swiftly to expel Sanader from the party. What are your thoughts on this? Did she have any other choice?

I think that Ms. Jadranka Kosor did the only possible thing and by doing so she prevented the further deterioration of HDZ which has been already significantly shaken and weakened by all the affairs. She has opened the way to process of reforms within the party and this is good.

Have we heard the last of Ivo Sanader?

I think no. Knowing Mr. Sanader more than well, he will not stay still. It is only the question how he will play his next move; for example, he might opt for dirty game against the former collaborators. For this, he has enough imagination and information since he was leading HDZ as a real autocrat and all information was available to him.

Do you think the HDZ government will survive this latest event?

I wish that this crisis stops and that we all concentrate our efforts to overcome recession and economic crisis. A lot depends on the opposition and its capacity to make advantage of this situation and provoke early elections. This is the moment when the opposition could climb to power without any serious effort although it currently suffers from inner
fractioning.

However, their attitude of non-doing is a double edged sword: if they wait too long HDZ could consolidate its ranks which will then allow them to start reforms and if they achieve solid results in overcoming economic crisis they are likely to stay in power even after regular elections.

Turning to the Presidential Elections, what do you attribute to the HDZ coming third?

This whole situation, the way ex Prime Minister left, the amount of affairs shaking the country resulted in the 3rd position of the HDZ candidate Dr. Andrija Hebrang. We had seen the same result in 2000 presidential elections when the official HDZ candidate Dr. Mate Granić did not make it to the second round.

Who do you endorse – if anyone - for the second round and why?

I believe that Mr. Ivo Josipovic will become the next president of the Republic of Croatia only for the following reasons: he is the member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which is currently rising in popularity and because a number of affairs are directly linked with the leading party, i.e. HDZ. These two factors are definitely the reason of a higher rating of Mr. Josipovic i.e. it can not be said that his good rating is due to his own merit since until recently Josipovic was almost unknown to a wider public.

You were a candidate yourself, but did not get through to the second round. Why do you think this was?

Some candidates in this presidential election have invested large sums of money of, by the way, unknown origin. We are here talking of amounts ranging from 25 to 50 million HRK, i.e. 5-7 million Euro per candidate. I simply could not have competed with them, moneywise.

At the very beginning of the campaign the money has created two groups of candidates: those with the money and those without. The media has made the first selection, creating the so-called League A and B. During the entire campaign I have hardly been present in the TV information programs and in the daily press. Consequently, the Croatian citizens could not have been informed about my programme.

What are your own plans for your future in politics?

I am not the quitter and I will continue fighting for the reforms and for creating a better life in this country for us all. Saying this, I will continue with political activities and, in which form, that I will let you know in a short while.

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