ZRILIC: I absolutely stand by that statement. I think that that statement is absolutely appropriate and there is a lot of evidence for it as far as individuals and leaders of certain parties are concerned. I have the support of the County Council of the HSLS and members of the party for the statement I made at that press conference.
Slobodna Dalmacija: Talking about the rat-like parties in the ruling coalition of six, you said that you seek support of the coalition partners the SDP and the HSS for your statements. You did not mention the HNS, the LD and the IDS, so that it was implied that you referred to these three parties when you spoke about rat-like parties?
I did not mention parties to which I was referring. I would rather not be more specific on this occasion, but I can say that certain leaders and individuals from the circle you mentioned behave exactly in the manner I described at the press conference. The political public naturally recognized them as such.
As rats? Where did the allusion to rats come from?
I used the metaphor with rats because it in a way speaks about the syndrome of the destruction of everything around oneself. Rats eat everything around themselves, and when they run out of food, they first eat the weakest among themselves. If someone insults thousands of slain youngsters, that most beautiful Croatian youth sacrificed for the Homeland, the river of blood that was spilt, in the most just war ever led by the Croatian nation, if someone deliberately spits on the victims, butchered women and elderly, he behaves exactly like a rat. Individuals to whom I referred behave like that; they know why they do that, but the Croatian public also knows and feels that. They do that partly for ideological, political, but also for very concrete reasons having to do with money. This is a political problem, and that is why under the pressure of Budisa and Granic the Government of Croatia adopted the 13-point declaration about the cooperation with the Hague. I personally support that Declaration. Now certain individuals are raising their voices and trying to annul all those efforts made by the Government. They say that by opening new offices the Government is trying to fool the Hague Tribunal. One of those who say that is a member of the Government, of his own Government, and a day before the arrival of Carla del Ponte to Zagreb he made a statement about trying to fool the Hague. That is unbelievable!
Objectively, from the political point of view, three parties are responsible for the project of the creation of a Croatia different from the one we had before January 3, 2000. These parties are the HSLS, the SDP, and the HSS. These three parties must demonstrate their responsibility for that project, rather than the three small parties with appearances of their members.
You used to be and remain a big critic of the President of the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic?
I would rather not now discuss the President and his character. He is an expression of the will of the Croatian people and I respect that will. However, history will judge everyone's actions and deeds.
I would like to repeat the statement given by Dr. Goran Granic: Who forces them to stay in the coalition? Let them leave! We can do without them! We do not need them! The government can function without them, because they are not necessary for the coalition to rule. Regarding Mr. Damir Kajin, it is unprecedented in modern political practice that a president of one political party, the IDS, Mr. Ivan Jakovcic, is a member of the government criticized by the deputy president of that very same party, Mr. Damir Kajin.
In your opinion, is this a part of their plan? I mean, do they actually agree, but Jakovcic very hypocritically and against his will participates in the government?
That is possible.
You did not reply to my question about the fate of the coalition. Will it stay together until the end of its mandate?
That is the matter of the estimates of political factors in the coalition. In any case the coalition would not exist without the HSLS, and whether the coalition including the HSLS will survive, as I said, is a matter of opinion. However, it is the fact that there are still very unfair statements, appearances and behavior with respect to the HSLS as a party, with respect to certain HSLS's ministers, and especially with respect to its president Mr. Drazen Budisa. It is unprecedented in a democratic country that the president of one of the strongest victorious parties, without whose contribution that victory would not have taken place, is maligned and defamed in such a base and treacherous manner. It is especially interesting that the strongest attacks are coming from certain media deemed to be supportive of the coalition of six. When one reads those articles it is obvious that these are paid attacks and that actually they are utterly unfounded. Every political loser who wants to appear important gives himself the right to ponder whether Budisa should be in the Government or the coalition or not. And there is absolutely no reason for such speculation and Budisa and the HSLS never gave any reason for them.
I personally believe that the HSLS can achieve much more by staying in the coalition, especially on the protection of national and all other interests. Similarly, in the existing balance of power the HSLS is a balancing factor. By leaving the coalition the HSLS would allow the government to slide too much to the left, which would not be good for the stability of the political scene.
I have also heard from some well-informed circles that such discussions took place. But, even if someone were to try to implement something like that, the mood of the voters is such that they would not allow that. A stable government cannot exist without the HSLS. Everyone in Croatia understands that.
Do you really believe that the HSLS has that much support?
All the parties in the coalition have lost some voter support during the last year. Most of the promises have not been fulfilled. But those promises simply could not have been fulfilled. People have the right to be dissatisfied, but based on all the available information the HSLS is still the second strongest party in Croatia and I believe that it will win about 20 percent of votes in the next election. A poll conducted by a weekly published in Zadar indicated that we would win 21 percent of votes.
But, it seems that you have two policies with respect to coalitions? On the national level you are supposedly the linchpin of the coalition, while on the local level you are in coalition with the HDZ, for example in Nin?
Our basic attitude is that coalitions on the local level are to be decided on by the local organizations. Ideological differences should not be the reason for the lack of cooperation. Local coalitions should be formed exclusively in the interest of the citizens regarding certain projects. The worst authorities are single-party authorities. Time will show that we are right. Now it is not anymore a scandal that in Donji Lapac Djapic's HSP [extreme-right, neo-fascist Croatian party] enters a coalition with Djukic's SNS [Serb party]. There will be different coalitions and all those who today lecture us will enter coalitions with those who are today their biggest enemies. The problem is not in coalitions but in the results achieved by those coalitions. If there are results, every coalition is good.
The HSLS has always advocated that view. We are consistent in that policy, because otherwise we would bring into question the foundation of the Croatian state, the Homeland War. The HSLS will never accept views of some individuals who say that this state is based on crime and will end up in crime. The HSLS will never, and regardless of the costs, bring into question national interests. Therefore, we clearly state that the last ten years were not bad. We shall never accept that lie. In spite of all the stupidity and failures, that was the most glorious period in the history of Croatia.