President's Statement Angers Rijeka Mayor, Local Officials

By 28 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Deputy Prefect Marko Baras Mandić said on Monday that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's statement about the Rijeka Football Club was deeply insulting for the county's residents and that her statement about Goli Otok was dangerous.

"I am really shocked as a citizen and deputy prefect because (the president) described the county's residents as proponents of a policy that caused a lot of harm to Croatia in the 1990s while forgetting that at its first official match in Zagreb on October 17 and later at Rijeka's Kantrida stadium on December 22, the Croatian national football team included as many as four players of the Rijeka Football Club, a 'reserve Serbian club" as she described it," said Mandić.

"(She) has insulted all of us who in the 1980s wore the red-white-and-blue scarves and got beaten by the regime's batons across Yugoslavia by saying that we had rooted for 'a Serbian club', said Mandić.

He stressed that he was shocked the most by Grabar-Kitarović's statement about Goli Otok. "She said that she would benefit the most if a week of Yugoslavia was introduced because she would send all those speaking against her to Goli Otok. That is a very dangerous statement, resembling statements by comrade Stalin rather than by a Croatian president," Boras Mandić said, adding that he had to make the statement as a citizen and someone who had to protect Croatian citizens, including those in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obsernel, too, commented on Grabar-Kitarović's statements on Twitter. "After she left the country from behind the Iron Curtain with a red passport to go to school in the United States, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović today insulted the Rijeka Football Club by saying that it was a reserve Serbian club. How deep can that reservoir of stupidity be? Where does it end?" Obersnel wrote on Twitter.

Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro, too, commented on Grabar-Kitarović's statement about the Rijeka club, posting on his Facebook wall of photo of himself standing at Rijeka's stadium, with the message "Rijeka is great", and describing the debate about the Iron Curtain as tragicomic.

In a comment on her speech in Washington on Sunday, in which she mentioned among other things that she had lived behind the Iron Curtain, Grabar-Kitarović said on Sunday:

"Churchill said that an iron curtain had descended from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic and that all capitals of Central European culture, including Belgrade, were left behind it. Regardless of how things changed, whether they were non-aligned or not, they were not neutral," the president told the press during a visit to Split when asked to explain her speech during her acceptance of the Fulbright Life Achievement Award at a ceremony in Washington on Saturday.

"Please, let no one try to convince me about a life that never was. We all experienced it in the former Yugoslavia. We all know how it was to travel with a red passport, the humiliation we had to go through, what it meant to pay a deposit. If anyone is nostalgic about the former Yugoslavia, let's introduce one week of the former Yugoslavia. Do you know who will benefit the most? I will, because if you say anything against me, you will end up on Goli Otok," she said, referring to an island prison where political prisoners were held during communist rule.

More Rijeka news can be found in the Lifestyle section.