Split mayor in media swipe at Serbs

ZAGREB -- Split Mayor Željko Kerum says that Serbs and Montenegrins have brought a lot of misery to Croats in the past and he would not let one “enter his family.”

“There has never been, nor will there ever be a Serb in my family,” Kerum told Croatian TV, writes daily Jutarnji List.

Asked what he thought of the possibility of Serbian capital coming to Croatia, Kerum, renowned for his public outbursts, replied: “Serbs have never brought us anything good, nor will they now,” adding that “I wouldn’t like [Delta owner Miroslav] Mišković or a Serbian company to come to Croatia, be it for a big or small job.”

In response, Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac has called for a reaction from the prosecution.

Pupovac said that in this case an apology would not suffice.

“Whether indirectly or directly, this statement propagates intolerance, calls for discrimination in employment, during marriage, and, in that respect, Mr. Kerum’s statement is something that should be taken up by the relevant authorities. We expect more than an apology. We expect adequate measures. The ones who should be apologizing are the television director and the editors-in-chief, who allowed this kind of speech to enter the public domain,” the SDSS explained.

Vladimir Matijanić, editor-in-chief of Slobodna Dalmacija, does not think the Split mayor will face any consequences.

“Comments have begun and the public prosecutor and president of the Croatian journalist association are condemning it, even officials of the two largest Croatian political parties—the SDP and HDZ—are condemning the statements,” Matijanić said.

“The fact alone that someone is condemning it is a sign of great progress in Croatia, and they might even be criminally prosecuted in 20 years. I am almost certain that Željko Kerum will not receive any kind of significant sanctions,” he said.

Some of Kerum’s views that have reportedly caused a stir in Croatia have to do with his relations with journalists. Kerum regularly uses swear words when addressing the media.

The Split mayor told one journalist that he was “corrupt scum” and that he would not answer his question because he was "not the boss," and that “Željko Kerum is the boss.”

The reason for his attacks on journalists is because of reports that Kerum gave the job of equipping preschools, worth EUR 1mn, to one of his friends without calling a tender.

He once said on television that 70 percent of journalists in Croatia were Yugoslavs who did not have a homeland, adding that he could see this by looking at their surnames.