Saturday, 16 January 2021

Former President Mesić Visits Petrinja

ZAGREB, 16 January, 2021 - Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić visited Petrinja, the city demolished in a 29 December earthquake, together with Croatian businessman Stjepan Kolenac, who brought a relief shipment from Vienna, both calling for all Croatian friends to join in helping the affected area.

Mayor Darinko Dumbović expressed gratitude for the relief and said the disastrous earthquake that struck Petrinja and Sisak-Moslavina County, following the suffering in the 1991-95 Homeland War and the loss of over 20,000 jobs, touched everyone who came to help.

Every person in the affected area seeks that their needs are met, Dumbović said, adding that the city and the county should be reconstructed through swift procedures, by relying on the EU.

Local people and entrepreneurs should be exempt from many taxes so that they have certain advantages to stay in the area, he said.

Dumbović said the city council would most probably adopt a decision under which people would not pay the water bill and local rates "for at least five, six months." The HRK 35 million Petrinja received from the government should be reallocated so that people have free water and no rates, he added.

"The city is destroyed, not one institution is working, we are starting from zero. First we must tear down, then build, but with reinforced concrete," the mayor said.

Mesić said Petrinja was a city with a history and meaning, and that it should not be reconstructed in a disorganised fashion, but restored to its original look with new materials and safely so that citizens could come back.

Kolenas called on all Croatian citizens living abroad to help Petrinja if they could.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Former President Mesić Becomes Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo

ZAGREB, April 18, 2019 - Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić on Thursday accepted the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo after he refused the title last year when the city government withdrew its decision to declare renowned Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk also an honorary citizen.

"There was a misunderstanding with Orhan Pamuk, one of the greatest living writers today. But I established contact with Mr Pamuk and he wrote to me congratulating me," Mesić said, explaining why he accepted the title one year on.

Mesić was presented with the award by Sarajevo Mayor Abdulah Skaka.

The former Croatian president said that he was pleased to once again be in Sarajevo where he was attending the Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) organised by the Bosna Bank International (BBI) in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Last year, the Sarajevo City Council Commission on Elections and Appointments initially supported a proposal by the Sarajevo book publisher Buybook and the non-governmental organisation Amadeus to name Pamuk an honorary citizen of Sarajevo. However, a few days later that decision was withdrawn and it was decided to award the title to Mesić.

The city authorities predominantly dominated by the Party of Democratic Actions (SDA) are believed to be behind the withdrawal of the title for Pamuk as they reportedly did not want to cause tension with the Turkish authorities. Pamuk is known for criticising the government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After the scandal erupted, Mesić sent a letter to the Sarajevo city authorities declining to accept the award and explaining that under the circumstances, he could not accept the award. "When I heard how the decision was made and that the title was withdrawn from Orhan Pamuk to be conferred on me, I thought that it was wrong and I refused the title," Mesić said then.

More news on Stjepan Mesić can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Former President Mesić Supports Allegations against Croatia

ZAGREB, December 8, 2018 - Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić said on Friday he supported the position of three former international high representatives to Bosnia and Herzegovina who had accused Zagreb of meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs and misinforming the Croatian and international public about the situation in that country. "I support the view which Messrs Christian Schwarz-Schilling, Carl Bildt and Paddy Ashdown presented" in a letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, former president Mesić said in a statement.

The three former top international officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina wrote that Croatia was interfering in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs and that its contesting the election of Željko Komšić as the Croat member of the country's tripartite presidency was unacceptable.

Mesić said he had received a copy of the letter and that the Croatian government "should take it very seriously."

"It is a fact that developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina are deliberately misrepresented to the Croatian and world public, that the laws of the neighbouring state are misinterpreted, and what worries me the most as the former president of Croatia, Croatia's care for the Croats who live in this neighbouring and friendly country is reduced to the interests of one party, namely the HDZ. That is unacceptable and harmful for the Croats who are a constituent people in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Mesić said.

Mesić, who had served two terms as president of Croatia from 2000 to 2010, noted that Željko Komšić, a pro-Bosniak politician of Croatian origins, had been elected in accordance with the law that was in force when HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović had twice been elected the Croat member of the state presidency.

Mesić did not say that Croatian officials in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina were not contesting the legality, but the legitimacy of Komšić's election. Komšić was predominantly elected by Bosniaks, although he is supposed to represent the Croats on the presidency. Komšić has said that he represents citizens and not an ethnic group, and Croat-majority municipalities and cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina have declared him persona non grata.

Mesić said that the Croatian government was calling into question "the credibility of Croatia as a factor of stability in southeast Europe" and was "directly harming the perception of Croatia as a serious and reliable member of the European Union."

He concluded by saying that Croatia must "clearly and unequivocally" support Komšić as a presidency member and "stop all activities aimed at contesting the legitimacy of his election."

For more on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, click here.

Monday, 26 November 2018

What is Proper Constitutional Role of the President?

ZAGREB, November 26, 2018 - A round table on the constitutional role of the President of the Republic in public and political life in Croatia was held in Zagreb on Monday, featuring former presidents Stjepan Mesić and Ivo Josipović, as well as the leader of the opposition Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS), Anka Mrak Taritaš.

Mrak Taritaš said that the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović had turned out to be "fake news". "At the time of the election, she appeared quite democratic, while today she is completely different. We have to draw a lesson from this," the GLAS leader said, adding that the current president had only seen her own role through approval ratings and had been campaigning since the start of her term in office.

Mrak Taritaš said that whenever Grabar-Kitarović went on a trip somewhere, she was "ashamed for her", because, unlike her predecessors Josipović and Mesić, the decisions she made were "leading Croatia backwards."

The GLAS leader said it was vitally important that the opposition field a joint candidate for the next presidential election a year from now "to stand up to this madness of populism." For her, the best candidate would be someone from the political centre, "neither from the far left nor from the far right, with political eros and a clear personality to stop the presidential role being reduced to the level of show-business, which has been introduced by Grabar-Kitarović."

Mrak-Taritaš said that the opposition candidate should be a man to avoid the campaign turning into a "who has a better dress or longer eyelashes" contest. "There are important, crucial moments, and I think this is one such moment, when one should put one's ego aside and concentrate on the goal of winning the presidential election," she said.

Mesić and Josipović spoke of their experience during their presidential terms, with Mesić saying that the most difficult decision he had made was when he sent 12 generals into retirement after they presented "a political pamphlet" in the media. "The gist of that pamphlet was: 'We have successfully defended Croatia, we will decide what will happen in it.' That's why I had to react by ordering their retirement and I think I did the right thing," Mesić said.

Josipović said that his most difficult task was to mend relations with neighbours, because when he took office relations with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were very bad. He recalled that his first official trip abroad was to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he managed to take representatives of the country's main ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, to war crimes sites to pay respects to the victims.

When Josipović returned to Zagreb, he encountered the dissatisfaction of the government and generals, but an opinion poll showed that 75 percent of the public supported his speech in Sarajevo. Soon, he also managed to establish good relations with Serbian president Boris Tadić, even though Tadić had refused to attend Josipović's inauguration over Croatia's recognition of Kosovo.

"Unfortunately, it has turned out that something done in one term in office is not forever. I think that Croatia's present policy towards neighbours is wrong," Josipović said, noting that he was not considering running for president again.

Josipović said he was strongly opposed to the idea of the President of the Republic being elected in parliament. "It's very important not to keep all eggs in the same basket, especially in our cryptopresidential system. We have an almighty prime minister who decides about everything. The President should not be given new powers, but should operationalise the existing ones. In times of crisis, it is important for the President to be independent, and that is possible only if he or she is elected directly," he said.

Josipović said that if he were the President, he would go to the Marrakesh conference next month, adding that he could not see why Croatia was afraid of taking in refugees. He said that those were "the fears of the narrow-minded nationalist right."

Mesić said that he, too, thought that the President should not be elected directly for some time, because if he or she were elected by parliament, the ruling parties would be able to dictate how the President should use his or her powers.

"We need a President, but not one in a checkerboard jersey. Imagine if I had barged into a women's locker room, everyone would have said they I have gone mad," Mesić said. He criticised the current president's policy of dislocating her office to different towns as nonsense.

Mesić called for putting a stop to the glorification of fascism and WWII-era Ustasha ideology in the country. "Antifascist monuments are being knocked down, while government ministers are attending funerals for Ustashas with honours. They are currying favour with Ustasha sympathisers to win elections. We are the only nation in the world that wants to join the losers' camp."

For more on the Croatian politics, click here.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Former President Mesić Worried About Croatia’s Policy towards Bosnia

ZAGREB, August 30, 2018 - Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić said in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, that the ruling structures in Zagreb and Belgrade were insufficiently clear about Bosnia and Herzegovina's territorial integrity and that he expected the country's current structure, based on two entities, to eventually be changed and the country to become whole again.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Former President Mesić Declines Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo Title

ZAGREB, April 3, 2018 - Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić has declined to accept the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo and will not visit the Bosnian capital on April 6 when the city authorities still plan to confer the honour on him despite his refusal, the Dnevni Avaz newspaper said on its website on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Former President Mesić Refuses Nomination for Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo

ZAGREB, February 27, 2018 - Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić has refused the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo after the city government withdrew its earlier decision to give the award to world-renowned Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, local media in Bosnia and Herzegovina reported on Tuesday, which was later confirmed by Mesić.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Former President Mesić to Become Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo instead of Orhan Pamuk

ZAGREB, February 17, 2018 - World-renowned Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk will be left without the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo after a municipal commission reviewed its decision and decided to confer the award on former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Former President Mesić Defends Bashar al-Assad and Russia

His position on the United States, NATO, the EU and capitalism is somewhat different.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Former President Mesić Filmed Downplaying World War II Crimes

In old footage filmed in 1992, Mesić makes controversial comments about Jasenovac concentration camp.

Page 1 of 3