By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
After the long anticipated cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has dismissed two ministers – of Health Rajko Ostojic and Science, Education and Sport Zeljko Jovanovic, and will propose as their replacements to Parliament Sinisa Varga and Vedran Mornar respectively. With these two replacements, it is a total of eight different ministers since the ruling Kukuriku coalition came to power.
“After talking with Ostojic and Jovanovic, we concluded that the best interests of the government and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are that they strengthen the parliamentary group of the SDP,” Milanovic said yesterday at a special press conference just before of the session of the government.
In an interview with “Slobodna Dalmacija” daily, Jovanovic said he is not disappointed and that all had been arranged with Prime Minister as early as last Thursday (June 5th), after a government session, which raises doubts about the sincerity of the prime minister’s earlier statements that there will be no changes in the government.
Mornar is a professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) and for some time was the dean of the faculty. Varga headed the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZZ) and the public sees him as a formidable opponent to Ostojic and because of this some find it to be a demeaning gesture for the ex-minister.
The prime minister denied that he had spoken with the Croatian National Bank (CNB) Governor and his close friend Boris Vujcic to assume the duties of Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy, although the current vice president Branko Grcic yesterday hinted that he would be “relieved”.
Columnist forseebiz.eu portal claims that Vujcic, by refusing the offered position, is the biggest winner of cabinet reshuffle. “In jest we could say that such a move (accepting the position) would have been as ‘wise’ as, say, join the Nazis somewhere just before the end of the war”, writes Malus in his column.
It is hard to escape the impression that these cosmetic shifts are solely a product of Saturday’s meeting of the Main Committee of the SDP, which has shown a deep intra-division, as well as Milanovic’s attempt to calm the heated party passions, but also to regain control of the SDP.
Political analysts Zarko Puhovski and Andjelko Milardovic agree that the government reshuffle will not lead to any change in its work.
“He removed one minister who is bad – Jovanovic – and one who is trying to do something – Ostojic, but it does not indicate a change in the direction of the government, but to the prime minister it was important to initiate an action before he went to the World Cup in Brazil”, Puhovski said for HINA.
Jovanovic, whose loyalty to the party president was unquestionable at all time, was replaced for achieving intraparty balance and not because of objectively poor results, as Milanovic would not be accused of revenge, as he was threatened by Rijeka fraction headed by Zlatko Komadina. He suffered the same fate as Ostojic, who is perceived as Milanovic’s opponent in the party.