Saturday, 5 October 2019

Presidential Candidate Miroslav Škoro Presents His Ideas

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.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Škoro Comments on Possible New Protest in Vukovar

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro, who visited Vukovar on Monday, was asked by reporters to say if he supported a possible new protest in Vukovar over the failure of state institutions to prosecute war crimes, to which he said that he supported everything Vukovar residents supported.

Škoro was in Vukovar for a screening of a documentary by Jakov Sedlar on suicide among Croatian war veterans.

He noted that high suicide rates among war veterans were to a great extent due to failed policies over the past 20 years.

Reporters also wanted to know what he thought of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's statement that presidential candidates should speak about the future rather than about the past, given after Škoro's statement about Serbia's role in the 1991-95 Homeland War in Croatia, to which Škoro said that people whose conscience was not clear often called for the future and hurried into it.

"There is no future without a clear past regardless of what Mr Vučić says. When he is ready for such a future, I will be there waiting for him with the same request," Škoro said.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Monday, when asked if a protest would be held in Vukovar, that it was difficult for him to say what would be happening in the coming period, but he noted that "there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law."

"It is difficult for me to say what will happen in the coming period. It is evident that a certain number of people are deeply unhappy because they have not found the justice they deserve, because some of the people who were involved in war activities and possibly committed crimes have not been prosecuted. Those injustices remain," Jandroković said in an interview with Croatian Radio, noting that Vukovar was a particularly sensitive area.

He noted, however, that there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law.

"We must ask the relevant institutions to be just, to find the perpetrators of criminal acts and to punish them, but there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law. Street justice would lead to a different kind of chaos and is not good," he stressed.

Jandroković said that the Ministry of the Interior did achieve certain results in locating people who had committed crimes and that they should now be prosecuted, which would be the best remedy for the still present war wounds.

"I would not put this in a narrow political context, this is about a trauma that has remained for 20 or more years," he said when asked how much a protest rally in Vukovar over the failure to prosecute war crimes could harm the ruling Croatian Democratic Union party now that the campaign for presidential elections was about to begin.

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

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Presidential Hopeful Škoro Says He Wouldn't Raise Issue of Ban on SDSS Now

ZAGREB, September 15, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro has told the HTV broadcaster that if he were now the head of state, he would not have launch the procedure for possible ban on the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS).

Škoro said in a political show of the national television on Sunday that he felt disturbed by claims made by the SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac that "all of us are living in a state that resembles or will end up like a Fascist statelet in 1945".

"This makes me concerned. If this is really true, I do not want to live in such country. On the other hand, if it is not true, what is the purpose of it (those claims). Can you find this to be destabilisation or an attempt of destablisation," Škoro said in response to the show host's question about his earlier statement that after becoming the president he would launch procedures for ban on certain political parties if conditions were met for that move.

Škoro today criticised Pupovac's political activities, however, he made it clear that under the present circumstances he would not raise the issue of the ban of that political party, if he were now the president.

He criticised Pupovac for going to Serbia to hear their advice how to shape his opinions while Croatia "celebrates the anniversaries of Operation Storm and Victory Day."

In this context, Škoro also dismissed the attempts by Pupovac and Belgrade to depict "the planned exodus" and "that unfortunate departure of Serbs from Croatia" in the wake of Operation Storm as something to be blamed on Croatia and the Croats in their attempt "to brand all of us as some kind of Fascists".

This is awful for me, said Škoro adding that he considers Pupovac's policy also bad for the Serb community in Croatia.

Škoro said that he was now focused on the campaigning for the presidential elections and did not rule out his political activities also after the presidential election in the event that he did not win the polls.

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

Friday, 13 September 2019

MOST Party to Support Miroslav Škoro's Presidency Bid

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - The main committee of the opposition MOST party decided on Friday to support conservative independent candidate Miroslav Škoro at the forthcoming presidential election.

"We want the next President of Croatia to be a person who will protect the interests of all citizens, and not just the interests of a party or his own interests. We think that this cannot happen under the wings of the existing large political parties, but that it can happen with a person who at this moment has a realistic chance of changing things and the rules of the game. That's why the main committee has decided to support Miroslav Škoro's candidacy at the forthcoming election," the party's leader Božo Petrov told the press after the committee's meeting.

Petrov said that moves announced by Škoro corresponded to MOST's demands, such as calls for a fairer election system, the free expression of popular will at referendums, environmental protection, the fight for Croatian interests and resources, combating corruption and clientelism, and declaration of an exclusive economic zone. He added that they had agreed with Škoro joint activities on individual programme points.

Asked if MOST agreed with Škoro's view on outlawing the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Petrov said that Škoro had explained his position on the matter by saying that such a decision would rest with the Constitutional Court. Asked if he supported the restoration of the semi-presidential system, Petrov said that the President of the Republic cannot be "a mere wallflower" and should be given appropriate powers.

The presidential election is expected to be held in late December.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Presidential Candidate Škoro on Serb Minority Leader's Statement

ZAGREB, September 8, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro said on Saturday that the President of the Republic should have the right to launch a procedure to have a political party outlawed and that in such cases a final decision should be rendered by the Constitutional Court.

Škoro made the statement while speaking to the press during a visit to the agricultural fair in Gudovac near Bjelovar, about 90 kilometres northeast of Zagreb. He was commenting on the statement by the leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, in which he compared Croatia to a fascist creation.

"If a member of the ruling coalition says that, then I as a concerned citizen have two options. If he is right, then I am living in a fascist state, which I don't want to and nor do the Croatian citizens. And if this gentleman was not telling the truth, then certain steps should be taken to see why he was not telling the truth and why he is undermining Croatia's constitutional and legal order," Škoro said.

He added that anyone who undermines the country's constitutional and legal order should be aware that "words must have consequences."

Škoro pointed out that he had never said he would ban the party representing the Serb minority.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Croatian MEP, Presidential Candidate Accuse Pupovac of Raising Tensions

ZAGREB, August 25, 2019 - A Croatian member of the European Parliament, Ruža Tomašić, as well as a presidential candidate, Miroslav Škoro, on Saturday criticised the Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac of "adding fuel to the flames" following the incidents in two cafes near Knin.

Following Pupovac's statements that the situation in Croatia's society resembled the times in the aftermath of Croatia's war of independence and that he would inform international institutions of the violations of minority rights, MEP Ruža Tomašić says on her Facebook profile that every violence should be condemned and perpetrators should be brought to justice, however, the politicisation "is counterproductive".

Tomašić says that Pupovac's rhetoric more and more resembles that of by Croatian Serb rebel leaders -- Jovan Rašković, Milan Babić and Mile Martić -- "who intimidated members of the Serb minority in Croatia and incited them to turn against their homeland".

Škoro says on his Facebook account that Pupovac's rhetoric looks like statements and views of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

"Instead of defusing the tensions created in the incident, Pupovac adds fuel to the flames, and wants to score political points from the attacks against Croatian citizens, which deserves absolute condemnation."

Both Škoro and Tomašić criticise the ruling majority of keeping silent to Pupovac's claims.

The 21 August assault against guests in a cafe in the village of Uzdolje near Knin is qualified by the Sibenik county law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities as an act of causing riot.

The police are searching for masked thugs who inflicted injuries to several people, including a 9-year-old boy, and damaged the interior of that cafe on Wednesday evening while in its guests were watching a TV broadcast of a football match between the Belgrade-based Crvena Zvezda and the Swiss club Young Boys. A few guests sustained light injuries and a 17-year-old injured boy was hospitalised in the Knin hospital for some time for his injuries.

In the Đevrske cafe thee guests were exposed to verbal attacks that night.

More news about the Knin incidents can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Presidential Candidate Škoro against Divisions in Society along Lines of Victims

ZAGREB, August 23, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro said on Friday that the Croatian society was already deeply divided and therefore it would not be good for it to be divided when it came to the topic of victims.

On the occasion of European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, which is in Croatia observed in memory of the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, Škoro attended the Requiem mass and funeral of 294 people killed in the aftermath of WWII, whose remains were unearthed in the recent years in Zagreb's suburb of Gračani.

Škoro said that he hoped that people would realise that each victim has the right to a dignified funeral and grave.

During the observance of today's Memorial Day, Škoro extended condolences to the families of all victims in the Nazi, Fascist and Communist regimes.

Asked by the press about the Knin incidents, Škoro said that he condemned all attacks and violence.

I think that in Knin, it was actually the attack against Croatian citizens, this is the priority thing. The assailants were reportedly masked. We should wait for the police report and all other conclusions are premature, including comments on the ethnicity, which we do not need at all, said Škoro.

In the 21 August incidents, bar-goers, including a 9-year-old child, were injured and exposed to insults in the two cafes in Knin while they were watching a TV broadcast of the football match of the Belgrade-based Crvena Zvezda club.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Škoro: Court Rulings Should Be Respected, But We're a Little Late with Decisions

ZAGREB, August 16, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro on Thursday commented for the N1 broadcaster a ruling of the High Magistrates' Court upholding a sentencing verdict of a lower court for the chanting of the 'For the homeland ready' salute as part of the song 'Bojna Čavoglave', saying that court rulings should be complied with and implemented but that Croatia had erred with regard to some issues and was a little late with some decisions.

The High Magistrates' Court on Wednesday published its ruling upholding a decision by a lower court that Mario Roso, a singer from Makarska, had committed a misdemeanour at a celebration of Homeland Thanksgiving Day in 2015 by chanting the salute 'For the homeland ready' while performing the song 'Bojna Čavoglave', authored and sung by Marko Perković Thompson.

The High Magistrates' Court thus upheld the lower court's opinion that by chanting 'For the homeland ready' as part of the song 'Bojna Čavoglave', Roso had breached the law on offences against public order.

"A court is a court, it should be respected. I believe that... former authorities were wrong regarding certain issues and that it is too late now. Since 1991 the song has been performed millions of times on Croatian Radio and Television. I believe one should have reacted then. I don't think reacting after the fact is good. If you need 28 years to realise something, then you have a problem with reasoning," said Škoro, who visited the Marian shrine of Aljmaš on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption.

Answering a reporter's question, Škoro said that he did not have any problem with the 'For the homeland ready' salute in Thompson's song because it was an integral part of that song and the song was protected by copyright as such.

"That is an integral part of the song, it was written that way, that sign was on HOS (Croatian Defence Force) uniforms and that unit was a regular Croatian army unit," he said.

He also said that the court's decision should be respected and implemented.

"If someone thinks differently and wants to do a different thing, they should run in elections, come to power and annul all that. Until then, one should not be hypocritical. It's not good and does not lead anywhere. Also, people are tired of the lynching campaign and of obsessing about history," he said.

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

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Miroslav Škoro Takes Aim at Croatia's Politicians and Relics of Socialism

In Croatia, one forgotten parasitic socialist relic has remained, and that is politicians holidaying in state residences, at least according to one of Croatia's singers-turned-presidential candidates, Miroslav Škoro.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of August, 2019, the presidential candidate pointed out that Croatia's leading people within the government enjoy a handsome income and that they can pay for holidays anywhere, and that they don't need to be doing so in state residences.

Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro made the post on Facebook, aiming for the summer holidays of some of country's leading people, who often take such breaks in state residences.

''Over recent days, we've heard that the leaders of the state, the president and the prime minister, are on holiday. Where? She's at the Peneda military facility in Brijuni, and he's at the Costabella state villa in Opatija. They're both paying for their holidays at a privileged price,'' wrote Škoro, in a post which began with his aim to put an end to the practice of politicians spending their holidays in state residences should he be elected.

''Everyone in Croatia wishes they could afford to spend their holidays in Brijuni and Opatija for themselves and their families at the prices and in the conditions under which our politicians get to, but that's just their privilege. I will put an end to this practice,'' wrote Škoro.

He noted that the leading people of the state have handsome enough incomes for them to be able to pay normally for holidays anywhere at all, and most importantly of all - at the regular rates that everyone else has to pay.

''State residences should be placed on the market and this relic of socialism of holidaying in state facilities should be abolished,'' concluded Škoro, in a Facebook post that will surely earn him respect from the public.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Presidential Candidate Škoro Advocates More Powers for President

ZAGREB, August 5, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro said on Sunday that he did not intend "to play a pot plant or a pin-up model" if elected president.

"I advocate a slightly more serious status when the post of president is concerned," Škoro told reporters during a visit to Sinj, where he arrived for the Sinjska Alka tournament, explaining that he called for more presidential powers because the current model was not good.

He noted that over the past 20 years it had become evident that there was no parliamentary democracy in Croatia because political activity was reduced to arrangements between the leader of the winning party and the coalition partners, which, he said, should be changed.

Škoro believes that voters, who elect the president in direct elections, should have the right to act as a corrective in that sense and that the president should also be able to launch certain initiatives and not just perform ceremonial duties.

Škoro said that claims that he was avoiding the media were not true because he had been in the media for a long time and had practically grown up before the public eye.

He said that in the next five months he would answer all the questions and would try to conduct an affirmative campaign focusing on his platform.

As for incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's not having confirmed her candidacy yet, he said that it was a beautiful and sunny day and that she might do it today.

Škoro sad that he was a better candidate than Grabar-Kitarović because he had competence, results and vision, and that the role of the president so far had been ceremonial.

Speaking about bilingual signs in Vukovar, Škoro said that legal regulations should be complied with but that Vukovar was a wounded city and that additional politicisation should be avoided.

He added that nobody was against the Cyrillic script or minority rights but that sometimes the opinion of the majority should be taken into account because Croatia was the state of the Croat people.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

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