Presidential Candidate Miroslav Škoro Presents His Ideas

By 5 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 5, 2019 - Miroslav Škoro, one of the three candidates to whom polls give the greatest chances of winning the forthcoming presidential election, tells Hina in an interview that he is not gathering together right-wing parties and groups but citizens craving for change.

Speaking of his motives to run in the presidential race, he said that he is not anyone's project and that he wants to contribute to Croatia's development.

Responding to the interviewer's remark that he likes to portray himself as a man of the people and against the establishment, he said he was not "cultivated in party incubators". "I am a self-made man of the people and arguably I am part of the elite when it comes to contemporary pop music. On the other hand, I took up the duties I performed (of a consul to Hungary and a member of Parliament) because politicians asked me for help and not I them. When I saw that the system did not allow changes, I returned my mandate. I did not want to be a parasite living off taxpayers' money. I consider such practice shameful and that's why I want to the change the election system."

Asked if he was pushing for the restoration of a semi-presidential system, Škoro said: "Your statement that my proposal for constitutional changes would put too much power in the hands of one person is simply not true. Quite the contrary, in that way the President of the Republic would become a counter-balance to the head of the biggest party who largely decides on the composition of parliament and picks behind closed doors Constitutional Court judges, the Chief State Prosecutor, the director of the HRT (Croatian broadcasting corporation) and employees in motorway toll booths. In this country the division of powers exists only on paper, and the President, as a corrective, can guarantee the independence and stability of democratic institutions."

Asked how he planned to achieve unity in society if he surrounded himself with radical right-wing groups, Škoro said he was never "a man of division" and did not intend to become one. "If the MOST party and the Greens are a radical right, then your definition and my definition of radicalism and the right are not from the same book."

Asked if he believes in a civic society, given that his statements are dominated by national, patriotic and religious narratives, Škoro said: "Your question suggests that citizens must not be patriots and believers who love their nations, if I understood correctly. I don't see how that is mutually exclusive. We are all Croatian citizens and none of us must be discriminated against or privileged. Patriotism is a great driving force that leads us to a common goal which we as a nation must have, and let everyone express it in their own way. Religious freedoms are an important feature of a civic society and we must safeguard them."

Commenting on the formal announcement by the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović this week that she would run for a second term in office, Škoro said that in her announcement Grabar-Kitarović said virtually nothing about the results of her work because there are none. "On the one hand, she says she could not have done more with the existing powers, while on the other she is opposed to expanding the President's constitutional powers. How will she do anything in the future if, based on the existing model, she has done nothing so far? She seeks a new term so she can continue her inaction, while I want substantial changes. And I am certain that the people will opt for changes because they see that with the existing elites we are failing."

Citing opinion polls, Škoro said that 64 percent of citizens agree with his assessment that the President of the Republic should have greater powers. "This confirms that the current President, as well as the rest of the political elite, is completely separated from the people, their desires and interests."

Asked if he thought he could threaten Grabar-Kitarović's bid given that her election campaign team expected Social Democrat candidate Zoran Milanović in the second round of vote, Škoro said that the ruling HDZ party had also been convinced that it would win six seats in the European Parliament but it did not. "It's the people who decide," he underscored.

Asked what his advantages were in comparison with Grabar-Kitarović and Milanovic, Škoro said: "I am not doing this because I have to, but because I want to. Unlike them, I have a lot of things to do outside politics. I have not entered politics for my own sake but to make my contribution in creating a better future for Croatia."

Asked if he expected to split up the HDZ electorate and if he could compete with their infrastructure and finance, Škoro said: "I speak to all Croatian citizens and voters. I respect their party affiliation, but to me as an independent candidate that is of secondary importance. I am gathering together a broad movement of people and parties of different persuasions so that we can finally make Croatia a functioning state to the benefit of all its citizens."

Asked if he expected considerable support from the Catholic Church and faithful, Škoro said that according to the latest census 93 percent of citizens identified as believers, and among them over 90 percent were Catholics. "So, of course I count on the support of believers because without it I would not stand a chance. I was raised by Jesuits, I sang about Christian values in my songs long ago and I advocate them in public. I am sure the faithful have already recognised that."

Asked about his position on the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and whether he thought that the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready"! should be banned, Škoro said: "For me the NDH is history, and as for 'For the homeland ready!', this salute is displayed on the official insignia of the HOS as a legal military formation from the Homeland War which fought for democratic Croatia. My feeling is that the purpose of incriminating this salute, which did not much bother even the late (SDP leader) Ivica Račan, is to tarnish the HOS and hence the entire Croatian army and Homeland War. Something like that must not be allowed."

Responding to the interviewer's remark that he and his associates were "flirting" with the idea of banning the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Škoro said that there was no conspiracy in this regard and reiterated his earlier statements that "if conditions were met for banning the SDSS or any other political party, as the President of the Republic I would address such a request to the Constitutional Court because only it can decide on a ban. Besides, I don't think it's good if a person who participates in government goes to a Chetnik celebration to get instructions, to a country which we cannot call a friend and which is not a member of the EU and NATO, and then use these instructions to destabilise our country. That's a matter of national security and the President must demonstrate determination in such cases."

Commenting on his statement that as President he would attend memorial ceremonies both at Bleiburg, Austria and Jasenovac, Škoro said that his heart was sad for all the victims. "In these cases too, the President must show that he is a factor of stability who connects people rather than separates them. I think that we need to clearly condemn every crime and duly commemorate every victim equally."

Asked if he was in favour of religious or civil education in school or both, Škoro said: "I think that the spiritual dimension of people is very important and that's why religious education should stay in schools, because they are not just educational institutions but they also take care of children's upbringing. But civil education is also needed so that children are well informed about the rights and duties of every citizen, the work of democratic institutions and the functioning of the democratic society."

Asked if as President he would advocate the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, Škoro said that he would support solutions in the best interests of children. "The priority here is not the rights of adults but the interests of children, and I think it is in the interest of every child to grow up in a family with a mother and father."

Asked if abortion should be banned, Škoro said: "Under the Constitutional Court ruling of 2017, that would be unconstitutional. Only the Croatian Parliament can legally regulate this matter. I am against abortion and as President of the Republic I will advocate the right of every person to live."

Asked if he would continue assembling right-wing parties and groups for the next parliamentary election if his presidential bid failed, Škoro said: "I am not assembling right-wing parties but all citizens craving for change that is needed in order for Croatia to move forward and free itself from the grip of corrupt elites that are alienated from the people. I am fully concentrated on the presidential election and on what will follow my arrival in Pantovčak (the President's Office)."

More news about Miroslav Škoro can be found in the Politics section.