Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday described as unacceptable the lining up of the Slavonian Hawks Guard of the Croatian Democratic Party of Slavonia and Baranja (HDSSB), but added that he even less liked “the black shirts and T-shirts that we used to see in Zagreb.”
Milanovic made the statement in an interview with the regional TV station N1, when asked if the SDP found acceptable a post-election coalition with the HDSSB considering the lining up of its “party army”.
“They have made it clear that both the SDP and the HDZ are unacceptable to them… I have nothing to do with them, for a start… (HDSSB founder Branimir) Glavas was indicted and convicted, then the Constitutional Court made its ruling less than a year ago and he is no longer in custody, he is having a new trial. At the same time, a new generation of people has matured there and they have practical results. But the lining up (of the party army), it’s obviously his attempt to court voters of the HDZ which has become very militant in the past four years. Those people have threatened with uprisings, opening of gas bottles, smashing of state property with hammers. That is an attempt to foment fear, they have gone very much to the right, it is fascistization of Croatia. The black uniforms that we saw in Zagreb, those black T-shirts stank even more to me, even though I cannot approve of this either, it’s wrong.”
Asked again if a post-election coalition with the HDSSB was possible, he said “I am saying again, it is impossible for them.”
The PM said that he was confident that the SDP-led coalition would win the coming parliamentary elections but that nobody would have enough votes in parliament to form a government. “Talks will be held, none of us will have an absolute majority but I am confident that we will win and form the majority.”
He does not believe a big SDP-HDZ reform-oriented coalition is likely. “We can discuss it, but you have to have something in common. That is possible in Germany and Austria because both parties are civilised. In Croatia, it would be very difficult to imagine,” he said.
Asked about the insistence on patriotism at SDP rallies, Milanovic said that it was a demonstration of spite. “When former UDBA agents and members of the Communist Party start lecturing me about patriotism… it makes me, it makes all of us spiteful. Who are they to say that to me. Ultimately, when you wave somebody else’s flags, which is what they are doing, someone has to take the Croatian flag so that it doesn’t fall in the mud,” he said.
He remarked that the HDZ was led by a man who in 1994, 2000 and 2003 had actively worked against Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman. “That is one unbelievable travesty. That is a monumental lie and those people are dangerous,” he said.
He recalled that the HDZ had turned down an offer by Nova TV to have its election platform pitted against that of the SDP. “They refused what they had asked for, face-offs by ministry. I guess they got scared… They probably thought 20 of us would gather there and shout at each other while (HDZ leader Tomislav) Karamarko would sit silently by. That is not a face-off,” he said.
Milanovic also said that promises from his coalition’s Agenda 21 platform that had not been fulfilled did not mean that the SDP had let citizens down. “Which company have we destroyed? Our promises were not big but the situation was difficult and the Opposition was wild and destructive. It is a disgrace what they have been doing to us for the last two years. Those are bullies who used their destructive energy in presidential elections,” Milanovic said.
He also said that he had not given up on his plan to rid soccer in Croatia of crime. “We will save soccer from the hands of one man and one party. We will return the national team to their fans. You can see how FIFA and UEFA are being shaken. The same thing will happen in Croatia.”