Croatian President and the first female in country’s modern political history starts her term in divided country and with a numerous regional problems. Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic took oath of the office on Sunday four days before official start of her five-year term. Grbar Kitarovic is fourth Croatian president since 1991. and follows Tudjman, Mesic and Josipovic. Former Croatian Foreign Minister and a assistant to the Secretary General of NATO woke up hopes of Croatian right for political comeback next year. Inauguration was attended by more than 80 different delegations, but major political names from EU or the rest of the world stayed away from Zagreb on this day. Key attendees were leaders of neighboring countries, with Serbian PM Vučić as star of the day.
In her inaugural speech Grabar Kitarović flanked by Justices of the Constitutional Court called upon Croatians in country and in diaspora to unite and work together on behalf of homeland. This call would probably remain just a dead word on paper because Croatia is split in half between left-wing political spectrum lead by Socialdemocratic Party and right-wing Croatian Democratic Party which President Grabar Kitarovic was member until few days ago.
“Our economy and our citizens, but also their standard are for the sixth year affected by the crisis. Tens of thousands of young people are leaving Croatia. Among them are a large number of university graduates, which should be the carriers of development. We have extremely negative demographic trends. Grow older as a nation. Many companies go bankrupt, others, however, lose the race competitiveness in the market, people are losing their jobs, families without income. We are witnessing a serious disorder, which require urgent and concerted action by all components of state power, as well as trade unions and employers. We are located at the time of seeking a broad national consensus on key issues. There is no space or time for division”, said Grabar Kitarović.
When it comes to regional politics and relations between ex-Yugoslavian countries Grabar Kitarović paid special attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina has substantial Croatian population. Bosnian Croats and Croatia as their ethnic motherland claims that their equality with other two ethnic groups is endangered and calling for more rights and higher share of political power. Bosnian tripartite Presidency attended inaugural festivities in Zagreb and use it as occasion for the first official bilateral meeting with Croatian leader expressing wish and hope to continue working on better relations. Croatian president as head of EU member expressed her willingness to help Bosnian reforms and to assist government in Sarajevo on the road to full EU membership in the future.
Croatia has more open problems and unsolved issues with Serbia than with Bosnia. Arrival of Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić to inaugural ceremonies surprised political observers with his decision to attend on the day when Serbia celebrates its National Day.
“We came to talk about life issues and to move Serbia as a country of the future who wants to regional cooperation. We want clean bills and not run away from clean sheet”, said PM Vučić.
Vučić used this visit to Zagreb to held meetings with his counterpart Zoran Milanović, Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić and the President herself. Several contagious issues were discussed in Zagreb on Sunday but two most important were status of missing persons and refugees from Croatia now settled in Serbia.
“Milanovic, Mrs. Pusic and Mrs. Kitarovic have to insist on the story of the missing in the war, and I tried to be a good and decent guest. Today we have more than one list with Croatian Serbs who disappeared than the other way around, we have our work, but they have a higher. We talked about the problem refugee Serbs and campaigns conducted against some Serbs. We talked about topics of importance for the future, what can we do together and I am so pleased”, said PM Vučić in an interview.
With her accession to the highest office in Croatian political hierarchy Grbar Kitarović joined exclusive club of female world leaders in which strongest and the most important leader is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It remains to be seen how Grbar Kitarovićwill use her knowledge of diplomacy, NATO structure and political maneuvering in complex current political situation.