Vili Beros, Croatia's New Health Minister Bringing Calm, Order to COVID-19 Crisis

By 18 March 2020

March 18, 2020 - Vii Beros, Croatia's Minister of Health, only took up the position a few weeks ago and walked straight into the coronavirus storm. How a Croatian minister has won the hearts and confidence of many.

These are extraordinary times in so many ways, but away from the constant corona media attention, some rather unusual things are happening elsewhere. 

The Croatian media, for example, are united in their praise of a government minister. Imagine that!

Ministers - and politicians in general - do not have a great reputation in Croatia (even less than elsewhere, perhaps), and the news has been full of scandals, corruption and other bundles of joy, for as long as I can remember in my 18 years here. Sections of the Croatian media. most notably Index and Telegram, do a great job at making many of these scandals public, but in The Beautiful Croatia, often that has little effect, a topic Lauren Simmonds explored a few weeks ago

On January 27, 2020, however, the then Health Minister Milan Kujundzic was finally forced to go, the final straw being some undeclared property. As a time when the country's health minister should have been preparing Croatia for the imminent coronavirus threat, most of the attention was instead focused on his private dealings. When Kujundxic was finally gone, I was curious to see who would take his place - the job seemed to be something of a poisoned chalice. 

The answer was a man called Vili Beros, who I was surprised to learn was from Jelsa, the town on Hvar where I lived for 13 years. I don't recall meeting Vili Beros, but I was encouraged by the warm words I heard about him from local friends. Tales of his compassion and humanity treating victims of the war, for example. 

Beros got straight to work, and together with his team and the other members of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, they have put together their strategy to deal with the crisis. But also - and this is extremely rare in my experience - they have managed to communicate that message clearly, calmly and effectively. A daily press conference has become two daily press conferences, where measures are explained clearly and transparently. Vili Beros has a calming and reassuring manner, leading from the front. In this time of crisis, this is exactly what the Croatian population needs. 


And others are noticing. Leading Croatian portal, not noted for its love of Croatian politicians, has been among those with warm words for the new health minister. Additionally, Index does a weekly poll of the top 20 most positive and most negative people in Croatia, from different sections of Croatian society. Needless to say, it is not very often that a Croatian politician tops the popularity vote, but this week Vili Beros was number one for a time, before being eclipsed by another star of the crisis response, Alemka Markotic. Index said of Beros:

As soon as he took office, the health minister faced a crisis caused by coronavirus. So far, he has managed it in an unprecedentedly efficient and transparent manner in Croatia. He explains everything he is doing to the layman, understandably and reassuringly.

You can see who else made the top 20 - positive and negative - this week here.

Thank you both, and all those working hard to protect the people of Croatia. These are worrying times, but this calm and coordinated transparency reduces the stress levels considerably. 

The Croatian Government has launched an official website to coordinate all official information about coronavirus.

For the latest on the crisis, check out the dedicated TCN coronavirus section