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CROATIA

PM & President clash over economy

A spat between Croatia’s President and Prime Minister has deepened over the country’s economic woes.

President Stjepan Mesic has been urging Prime Minister Ivo Sanader’s cabinet to discuss what Mesic describes as a looming economic crisis but ministers have accused the President of exaggerating the problem. “The whole world is facing an economy crisis, and he (Mesic) is insisting that in Croatia situation is different, worse than elsewhere. And if the government can’t do anything about it, here he comes to solve it with the economists,” Zagreb daily Jutarnji List quoted an unnamed Croatian minister as saying.

Last month, Sanader’s government failed to show up at a meeting called by Mesic to discuss economic policy. Ministers said their reason for the no-show was because they had other pre-arranged meetings to attend even though invitations were sent four weeks earlier. The dispute has deepened the rivalry between Mesic, who hails from the opposition Croatian People’s Party and Sanader’s ruling Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ. Jutarnji List reports Sanader’s government has been at odds with Mesic over a number of issues.

For example, when Mesic suggested the local currency kuna exchange rate should be revised because it was unrealistically high, Sanader argued that the National Bank’s policy of keeping the kuna strong was quite right. Mesic’s claims that he may continue to work in politics even after he steps down from the Presidency in 2010 has also seen a campaign by Sanader’s party to discredit Mesic, reports Jutarnji List. The paper adds that it is no secret that Sanader might run for the presidency in two years time.

(BBJ 6.v.08)