Monday 4 January 2010

Presidential Program - Milan Bandic

Presidential Program

Duties of the President

The constitutional duties of the President of the Republic of Croatia are primarily related to cooperating in the formulation of foreign policy, commanding of the armed forced and directing the activities of secret service agencies. However, the President of the Republic of Croatia, according to the Constitution, represents the Republic of Croatia at home and abroad, and ensures the regular and coordinated efforts, that is, stability, of state authorities. 

In addition, the President may recommend to the Government to hold a meeting and to consider specific issues he considers important or that are suggested by citizens. Also, he may attend the regular meetings of the Government, make recommendations and participate in discussions. In order to perform his responsibilities at the highest possible level, the President may also form corresponding advisory teams that will deal with issues of importance to the stability and advancement of Croatia.

However, in additional to constitutional duties, the President of the Republic of Croatia, as the first among equals, thanks to his position and charisma, may have a significant impact on social and political changes, guiding its economic development and asserting new social values with his vision and energy. Nothing can hinder nor limit his vision, energy, knowledge, experience and love for his nation, society and country.

Starting Points and Key Issues

The key problem that I intend on dealing with during my term of office is the economic stability of Croatia, namely, to strengthen Croatia's economy, to reduce unemployment, as well as to increase exports and foreign investments.

The President of the Republic must, during this time of crisis, take on the role of a real partner in forming and implementing a strategy for the recovery and development of Croatia. In doing so, I will pay particular attention to social policy and to protecting those most vulnerable in Croatian society.

As for asserting Croatia on the international political scene, as a new member of the European Union and a true regional leader, I would like to turn a new page in creating Croatian unity, radically abandoning all ideological and other divisions.

Regarding the armed forces, I am guided by the fact that Croatia is a member of NATO, therefore, Croatia's armed forced are directed and defined by the alliance. This means continuing with modernization, high NATO standards and professionalization. In addition, it is crucial not to forget that the Croatian Army concluded the Patriotic Defense War as a winner and the ally of the USA and the EU. 

The secret services must function to the benefit of the internal and external safety of the country, under strict civil control and with professional ethics that will not allow the crossing of boundaries defined by the law and regulations.

The President of the country cooperates in the formulation of foreign policy. My position, in principle, is that there is no country small enough not to have its own foreign policy, regardless of the associations to which it belongs. This position implies the pro-West orientation of our country, which has been confirmed by our joining NATO, as well as impending EU membership, but also cooperation with other influential countries throughout the world, on the basis of mutual understanding and joint interests.

Equally as important is Croatian consensus on accession to the European Union. European values are indisputable, however, for historical and many other reasons, Croatia must know how to protect its vital interests on this road, which must not be marginalized within the European framework (our identity, culture, natural resources, priorities and interests in our region…).

Concerning cooperation with the Government, the President must encourage the Government to operate more efficiently, in the interest of the stability and economic prosperity of the country. In view of this, I see my role as a motivator, as an advocate of the culture of work and knowledge, as a man who believes that this country can achieve more and better and through my personal example I would like to prove that a better tomorrow for all of us lies in the culture of work, in working together and serving citizens.

Vision of a New Croatia

It is my desire, together with the citizens of Croatia, to create and to strengthen the democratic, lawful and socially sensitive Croatia, in which all of its citizens will be equally valuable and have equal opportunities for success.

This is a self-confident and progressive Croatia, which knows and has the ability to resolve its problems on its own. This is a Croatia that is a desirable political and economic partner of the developed world; a country that the world recognizes for its natural beauties, rich cultural heritage, economic and political successes, and excellence in all areas of human activity, with capable and hearty people.

My desire is to shape Croatia as a country that protects and nurtures its identity, while at the same time being open toward others and those who are different. I would like a Croatia that is a stable and safe country with a skilled and efficient diplomacy, whose representatives are gladly welcomed members of globally influential committees and institutions, led by pleasant, intelligent and honest politicians. I see the new Croatia as an environmentally aware country, whose progress is based on diligence, knowledge, and the intelligent use of natural potentials and modern technologies… 

Croatia has lived too long in an atmosphere of war and post-war traumas, conflicts, discord over fundamental national interests and without a clear vision for development. This is dramatically reflected in the constant drop in the quality of life of citizens who had awaited the creation of a modern and independent Croatia with high hopes. 

For this reason, in this presidential term in office, I would like to contribute to the forming of a clear vision of Croatia's future in the European Union, to the economic and social development of all parts of Croatia, as well as to a national consensus on important issues for Croatia's present and future. I would like to return dignity and national pride to each and every Croatian, creating a Croatia with satisfied citizens.

In order to achieve this, it is necessary, at the outset, to initiate a debate and to reach a consensus about our future, our identity and our vision of the long-term development of Croatia.

At the same time, the appropriate preconditions in the institutional, legal, material and value sense must be established, and to quickly and efficiently conduct a kind of revival program of Croatia, with a better life for all at the center, along with preserving national identity and social values.

During this time of crisis, and especially due to the feeling of hopelessness of young people and an ever greater number of those unemployed, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Croatia, I will work on this aspect, using my constitutional rights and surrounding myself with intelligent, diligent and capable associates, regardless of their world view and political leanings.

The necessary institutional and social changes, as preconditions for the economic and social development of Croatia, are institutionally unprepared for development. The number of individuals in government administration conceals this truth. In addition to many other issues, we are witness to immense disappointment of individuals due to injustices, and the failure to resolve global and specific problems. In brief, the feeling of helplessness and injustice, intensified with pictures of arrogance of those who have become rich without working, transforms Croatian society into a society without hope and without a clear vision of the future.

Unfortunately, the solutions that have allowed and allow the unlawful privatization and misuse of national riches are, in this regard, better arranged than those necessary for more rapid development. There are too many solutions "on paper only" in the laws that have not been confirmed in real life, too many procedural traps for people, too much bureaucracy and too many people with bureaucratic mentalities.

On the contrary, in an organized system of laws that are just, clear and understandable to all, public administration must protect public and national interests, as well as facilitate the transparent investment of private capital with the purpose of developing Croatia, its regions and local communities. With particular sensitivity and attention, public administration must solve the requests of citizens, ensure their rights and solve their problems.

To urgently ensure effective instruments for foreign investments, increased employment for a continuation of construction activities and a new push in the tourist offer are priorities. Large Croatian industrial brands, which have for decades borne witness to their own success, must not be extinguished since decades more would be necessary to renew them and for new ones to take shape.

The privatization of Croatia's assets during the 1990s, with its poor execution during the war, has left deep scars of injustice and criminal in Croatian society, the outcomes of which can be felt even to this day. An audit of privatization should have been made at the proper time for such a measure. I am afraid that it is too late for this today and discussions are held on this subject only to cover up the lack of an economic strategy. For a good economic climate and uplift, moral satisfaction is certainly necessary, which means that the most drastic cases of privatization plundering must be punished. Where the law-governed state has arguments, it must act.

However, it is much more important at this moment for Croatian society to reform the economy, which means that the short-term, mid-term and long-term targets must be set in the context of Croatia's accession to the EU. In this regard, also important are fiscal measures: provide tax relief for investments and reduce non-budgetary contributions.

Many problems in Croatia, including the ever greater and unbearable public debt, are the result of an overly expensive and inefficient state. The state must "lose some weight" in order to allow the economy to breathe, for jobs to become stable and for citizens to have more money in their pockets. 

The influence of politicians and politics on the distribution of new values in Croatia is excessively high. The foundation for this is the particularism of the budget. Removing such a mentality, the application of new and efficient legislative solutions, as well as introducing order in public procurements are preconditions for eliminating corruption in Croatia.

In addition to all of this, for various historical and other reasons, we have inherited a kind of "non-work culture" and "easy money culture". This is, in my opinion, the root for the spread of corruption and criminal. Along with the legal framework that is required for suppressing this evil and the obligatory reforms to the justice system to make it more effective and up to date, crucial as well is a change in this "bread without work" mentality. I see my role in this segment as providing incentives that will assert work and the dignity of those who work, so that tomorrow we can have a society in which personal and social status depend primarily on work and knowledge, and not – as is often the case – on luck, chance, or even shady business.


In order to enable and to conduct the economic and social development of Croatia, I will decisively take a stand for reforming the justice system, changing the bureaucratic mentality and reforming government administration, reforming systems of public procurement, prosecuting all forms of criminal, battling corruption and nepotism, more stringent control of the operations of state-owned companies, eliminating politics from managerial positions in those companies, as well as forming non-political, competent and responsible supervisory boards…

This is the key to our progress. This is what I will insist on, work on and conduct. There will be no compromises or bargaining.


Foreign Policy and Diplomacy

As a small country, Croatia must have influential friends in the world. We are going to become a member of the European Union and we are already a part of NATO. In large part, this defines our foreign policy. However, Croatia must build its connections, contacts and cooperation with other countries of the world as well. There is no one preventing us from doing so, because even within the framework of the EU, we can carry out our own initiatives related to foreign policy and diplomacy. I will personally place significant efforts into strengthening relations with neighboring and other Central European countries (Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland…), countries with which we have shared historical experiences. I will also take a stand on redefining Croatia's presence in countries of the region, in other words, neighboring countries, with which we have shared a common history in our former country – Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia. Among my foreign policy priorities are strengthening partnerships with all members of the EU, as well as the US and all other member countries of NATO. A special place in Croatia's foreign policy will be held by countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, Russia and former Soviet countries, China, Japan, and countries of the Nonaligned Movement…

The obligations of Croatia's diplomacy are not only political, but also the complete presentation and representation of Croatia, its economy, tourism, culture, history… As a result, I will insist on the professionalization of our diplomatic service and on concrete results.

Activities within the framework of the UN are also my priority. Despite all of the problems the UN is faced with today, this is the only organization in the world that provides hope that mankind will one day speak a common language in the interest of peace and prosperity. Croatia celebrated the day when it was accepted into the UN, because it was evidence of its international and legal existence. In this context, the selection of Croatia into the Security Council carries special meaning. The UN is a stage even for small countries, and especially for countries such as Croatia given the number of UN peace missions in which we are involved.

Relations with Slovenia

Good and friendly relations with Slovenia and Croatia's ultimate accession to the European Union must be placed as priorities of our foreign policy, because it is beneficial to Croatian society and to all of our citizens. In addition, negotiations and agreements are the only acceptable approach in a democratic and civilized world. The arbitration agreement is, in principle, on this road. Given that I do not have available of all the background details and all aspects of this agreement, I can only support it in principle. But with the explicit remark: the outcome of resolving the border issue must not take place to the detriment of the territorial integrity of our country. Today's Europe, even peace in Europe, rests on the refusal to change borders, even though border crossing regimes have been completely liberalized. 

Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina

The stability and cooperation of the three constitutional nations for ensuring the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the active participation of Croatia, are in the interest of Croatia. This is why I will support the active role of Croatia, as a signatory of the Dayton Agreement, in creating a better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country of rich diversity, which has also taught me tolerance and collectiveness.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with three constitutional nations. Unfortunately, the political and constitutional crisis, as well as ethnic to a certain degree, shows that it is much more so on paper than in reality. It is in Croatia's best interest for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be stable, included in Euro-Atlantic integrations and for the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be equal and constitutional. It is Croatia's moral and constitutional obligation to involve itself in this direction and to support the constitutional decisions agreed to by all three of its nations. Therefore, equality and constitutionality of the Croatian nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stability and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as neighborly and friendly relations, including intense economic, cultural and other forms of cooperation with that country.

Given the shared traffic, infrastructure, economic and many other interests, Croatia must offer Bosnia and Herzegovina mutual preferential status in all areas of mutual interest.


Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal

Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal is a constitutional and international obligation. There are no alternatives, because Croatia's position, our credibility and our genuineness as a country must not be brought into question. What is important in this case is that this cooperation takes place not only in accordance with the Constitutional Act on Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal, but also in compliance with the Statute and Regulations of The Hague Tribunal, which has not always been the case. The Statute of The Hague Tribunal and Tribunal Regulations allow the protection of national interests to a greater extent than what has been and is being done, without bringing into question cooperation with the Tribunal.

Other Priorities of My Activities

Croatian Patriotic Defense War Veterans

Croatian veterans are the most deserving that we are today living in a democratic and independent Croatia, a recognized member of the international community and a partner of the democratic and civilized world. Their sacrifice and contribution are not only a thing of the past, but also a living reality. For this reason, we must pay respect to what they have accomplished, as well as to their suffering, including that of their families, especially the deceased and missing Croatian veterans. The pride and dignity that they have attained must not be forgotten or violated with questionable "assessments" that lessen their contribution. This is our permanent moral and human obligation. In Croatia, there must not be any dissatisfied and disappointed veterans who honorably defended Croatia in the Patriotic Defense War. 

Returning to the Roots for Croatian Immigrants

Croatia is a country with a high level of emigration. Croatians and their descendants live in all corners of the world and are permanently connected with their homeland. They actively participated in its forming, defending and building, and are today actively included in the economic development, lobbying, promotion and all kinds of other support of the Republic of Croatia. Along with strengthening Croatian unity, I will work on once again strengthening ties between Croatians at home and immigrants, and will encourage and ease their investments, a greater number of visits, as well as help those returning permanently. Special care will be given to endorsing the Croatian language and culture in Croatian communities abroad and permanently connecting second and third generation young people with their roots.

Care for Minority Communities

Society demonstrates its maturity and level of democracy through its approach to minorities, regardless of whether they are national, religious, sexual or other communities. Croatia as a country has passed the first test on the road ahead of it and the world. However, it is necessary to further intensify the development of tolerance, understanding, mutual acceptance and respect, in order for every member of a minority community to feel accepted as a member of an open and tolerant Croatian society.

Development and Social Sensitivity

The central issue and mission of the President of the Republic of Croatia is care for the stability of development, as well as the everyday lives of people, especially individuals who (not of their own fault) cannot meet their fundamental needs. I see social sensitivity, social welfare, but also employment as the best form of social welfare, as a crucial joint task in this five-year term.

Our youth is especially valuable, for whom we must ensure a fair and equal availability of education and employment. The right to work must be one of the fundamental human rights.

For the young Croatian democracy, this implies the obligation of maintaining human dignity, social equality and social mission of the state in the inconsistent atmosphere of global capitalism.

In Croatia, we must eliminate the picture of famished individuals and people without roofs over their heads. The most attention, however, must be provided to individuals in the social welfare system and our citizens with special needs. This especially involves the elderly and the youngest, youngsters, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick… 

Initiating a Trend of New Employment 

For Croatia, it is important to eliminate all forms of parasitism of other people's work. This can be achieved when living from work, production and services is safer and better rewarded, as well as valued in state bodies.

Every inherited possession in any form of privatization must be an incentive to maintain employment and for new employment.

Government administration must acquire the quality of serving, with the goal of efficiently supporting economic ideas and projects. At all levels, Croatia must nurture the principle of excellence, including the economy, the arts, innovation…

Stopping De-Industrialization

We must put a stop to the disastrous de-industrialization of Croatia, which has as its goal the persecution of workers and gaining control of valuable real estate. The degradation of work and workers has reached a new level. All reputable Croatian companies must be saved with employee stock ownership plans.

Balanced Development of All Croatian Regions

The diversity of Croatia's regions is one of its riches. Zagreb, as the national center, has an obligation toward all regions, and especially to those least developed as an outcome of the war. This obligation is primarily directed toward the more balanced development of Croatia concerning employment and the complete infrastructure. Decentralization and uniform development will contribute to reduce emigration from currently less developed areas of the country. I endorsed such a policy as mayor of the city of Zagreb.

Protecting and Developing Croatian Cities

Our cities bear witness to our culture and history. Their renewal and development cannot be based only on the budget, but on private investments as well. This implies creating a clear procedure framework for partnerships that will ensure public interests, but also protect private ones. The development of cities and the safeguarding of Croatia's spaces in general are unthinkable without the engagement of the creative, professional, scientific and artistic elite.

Environmental Protection

For Croatia, as a natural oasis of diversity, the rehabilitation and care for the environment is of utmost importance for development, especially considering our ambitions in tourism. In addition, Croatia must meet European environmental standards because we are fast approaching the point when we will all have to work together to save this world in which we have grown up and with which we have carelessly played for too long.

Development of Croatia's Rural Areas

Raising the total infrastructure standard of Croatia's rural areas is important not only for the functioning of rural areas, but also to maintain a balanced population density of Croatia and to protect its heritage and traditions.

Protection and Development of Croatian Islands

The islands are the most beautiful part of Croatia's Adriatic, which will be reduced to wonderful areas only if there are no people living there. Islands and islanders form a special world that must be saved by encouraging appropriate economies, infrastructure, social contents and connections to centers on the mainland.

Energy Stability

Energy stability is one of the preconditions for the stability and development of Croatia. Croatia must control its energy resources. An energy strategy must be produced that will be accepted by consensus. Regarding activating and using energy resources, the controlled introduction of concessions is acceptable, both for fundamental and alternative sources. Croatia must show a great deal of interest in the routes of gas coming from the East and from the Mediterranean.

Tourism as a Driver of Development

For the development of tourism as an important economic branch, all activities and all Croatian regions must be integrated, along with extending our offer and achieving tourism all year round. This especially applies to potential national and local heritage, cultural activities, as well as agriculture and other forms of production and services. Croatia needs to live for tourism all year round in all activities and in all areas.

Culture as Soft Power

Culture, as the soft power of modern countries, is strategically important for Croatia, both for its identity and economy. It bears witness with its heritage to our endurance in this part of the globe. In today's world, with the criterion of excellence as its foundation, it testifies to our ability to participate equally in selected circles. Cultural and artistic creations may, with modest support, open the doors of the world to Croatia.
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