Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has finally announced her candidacy for upcoming presidential elections in Croatia in an interview – given surprisingly to the same right-wing weekly that denounced her not long ago as as ‘shameless’ supporter of ‘Serbian lies’.
After a dozen other politicians either directly or indirectly confirmed their candidacy in the next presidential election in Croatia, which is due at the end of the year, current President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has revealed her own intention to run in an interview with a right-wing paper.
In the interview, published on Friday in Hrvatski tjednik, the conservative President says she will run for a second term as she “can’t turn her back on Croatia”.
On Monday, attending official ceremonies in Knin marking the anniversary of Operation Storm, the 1995 operation that crushed a Serbian rebellion, she hinted that she would run again, saying: “I am here in my capacity as the President of the republic; we will see each other in the next five years.”
Her decision to clarify her political intentions in this particular right-wing weekly came a surprise to many.
Only a year ago, the same weekly called her “shameless” for supporting what it called Serbian and Israeli lies about World War II and the role of the then Fascist-run Croatian state in it.
Having dedicated the whole cover to her, it said that she “plays the patriot, and then in Jasenovac demonizes her people and the state … praising Rivlin’s and Serbia’s lies”.
The weekly wrote this accusation after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Grabar-Kitarovic in July last year visited the site of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac, run by the Fascist Ustasa movement.
During the visit, Rivlin had urged Croatia to “deal with its past” and Grabar-Kitarovic had declared her sympathy for victims of the Ustasa regime.
Political analyst Zarko Puhovski said he suspected that, despite last year’s hostile article, she had agreed to speak to Hrvatski tjednik because some of the other right-wing media now clearly favoured another right-wing candidate, the popular singer Miroslav Skoro, who announced his candidacy in June.
“Now she does not have much choice – as she is trying to get the support from the right which already went to Skoro,” Puhovski said.
Puhovski said that one problem for Grabar-Kitarovic was that she appeared to want to run without the support of the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, perhaps because she felt the HDZ was not right-wing enough.
“But, on the other hand, realistically speaking, without the HDZ’s logistical support, she has a very slim chance of winning,” Puhovski said.
Asked if the interview in Hrvatski tjednik was designed to give more legitimacy to radical right-wing media, Puhovski said this was also possible. Parts of the interview were immediately transmitted by the Croatian media agency HINA, he noted, “so it become a general piece of information, and that certainly helps Hrvatski tjednik a lot,” he said.