Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, a most decent man of honor.

Exclusive interview with Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, a most decent man of honor...?

In an exclusive interview on December 10, 2008, the President of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic revealed the passionate humanitarian concerns which inevitably draw comparison with Yugoslavia's late President, Josip Broz Tito, the great World War II anti-Nazi partisan leader, and the Croatian president of a united Yugoslavia, who steered a course of humanistic socialism throughout the Cold War, when Yugoslavia was a model often emulated by the developing world, which, for a period, Yugoslavia led in its capacity as the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

President Mesic spoke of the urgent necessity for resolving conflicts such as the protracted struggle between Palestine and Israel, and he described his own efforts, as an honest broker, meeting with leaders of both Palestine and Israel, to whom he proposed a viable and realistic settlement. President Mesic's efforts, however, like so many other attempts to resolve that conflict, were unavailing.

The Croatian president emphasized that the exacerbation of economic injustice, globally, as a result of the current financial crisis, is further destabilizing a conflict-plagued world, and the increasing gulf separating the tiny minority, who control most of the world's wealth, from the desperately impoverished majority of the world's population is an explosive situation. President Mesic stressed that the consequences of this appalling economic injustice, if not redressed immediately, will spin dangerously out of control.

In this, President Mesic is among the rare Heads of State with both an ethical and a practical recognition of the imperative need to eliminate extreme poverty and the resultant hopelessness, spawned by such poverty, which cripples the lives of a huge number of people on every continent, and makes these destitute majorities a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist leaders and organizations, which exploit the prevalent anger and despair suffered by too many innocent victims in the developing world, and, indeed, in some parts of the "developed world."

Presciently, President Mesic observed that the military approach to crushing terrorists and terrorism is, in the long run, doomed, not only to fail in eliminating terrorism, but will actually exacerbate the problem. The Croatian President reiterated the imperative need to address the root cause of terrorism, which he identified as economic injustice, by alleviating poverty, providing access to health care and education globally, and establishing equitable economic relations between states throughout the world. He agreed that, despite the more than half-century United States economic embargo against Cuba, the success of the Cuban government in attaining the highest rate of literacy, and the lowest rate of infant mortality in Latin America have been admirable accomplishments, and contributed the relative stability of that country. In validation of the Croatian President's ideas, indeed, Cuba's stability has been extremely attractive to U.S. investors for decades, and in a New York Times article dated December 14, 2008, Jonathan Benjamin Alvarado, an expert on Cuba's energy industry at the University of Nebraska-Omaha affirmed: "We already have extensive oil dealings with a monarchy in Saudi Arabia, a failed state in Nigeria, and Venezuela, which is Cuba's top patron. Why should Cuba, which is relatively stable, and close to our major ports and refineries, be an exception?"

In discussing problems specific to Croatia, President Mesic deplored the fact that there had been conflicts with Serbia while Milosevic was President of that country, but expressed hope that these tensions would abate, and a harmonious ‘modus vivendi' established between the two nations.

Stepjan Mesic, having almost completed his second term as President of Croatia, is leaving a legacy of great vision and a model of ethical humanism which the Balkan region - and indeed the world - can only hope that his successor will share and perpetuate. The Croatian President's speech to the United Nations Security Council on December 11 was uniquely realistic and courageous in addressing the global crisis of terrorism. One can only hope that his urgent message will be heeded.