Milanovic makes job pledge

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has identified creating jobs as his chief priority.

The head of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), who became prime minister of the former Yugoslavian country after the general election last December, said in Vienna yesterday (Thurs) his main goal was to consolidate the Croatian budget and improve its economic performance. Milanovic admitted that Croatia, which is expected to become the European Union’s (EU) 28th member next year, was going through difficult times.

The prime minister visited the Austrian capital to meet with the country’s Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann. The SPÖ chairman decided to make Milanovic and his wife his personal guest at last night’s Vienna State Opera Ball. The SDP chief said he considered Faymann’s decision as a “wonderful gesture”.

Faymann said ahead of the ball that the Austrian government was in support of all former Yugoslavian and Balkan region states’ attempts to join the EU. He underlined that the countries of the region were important economic partners of Austria. The chancellor announced he was optimistic about Serbia’s EU membership application.

Faymann added that the Austrian government of SPÖ and the People’s Party (ÖVP) was optimistic about a solution of Greece’s debt crisis. He warned that a bankruptcy of the economically challenged country would be the worst option for the whole continent due to the unpredictable costs and economic consequences.

Milanovic was just one of a considerable number of international politicians attending yesterday’s Opera Ball. German Christian Social Union (CSU) Infrastructure Minister Peter Ramsauer and the party’s minister for agriculture and consumer rights, Ilse Aigner, were also spotted at the 56th edition of the glamorous event.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the Opera Ball on invitation of Austrian President Heinz Fischer. The former ambassador of South Korea in Vienna followed the opening ceremony from Fischer’s central box.

Most members of the SPÖ-ÖVP government cabinet attended the event – which was sold out with more than 5,000 guests – as well. Heinz-Christian Strache, who heads the Freedom Party (FPÖ), was seen in the opera while the leaders of Austria’s other main opposition factions failed to show up. Neither Greens chairwoman Eva Glawischnig nor Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) boss Josef Bucher attended the ball.

ÖVP Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger was accompanied by his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt. Viennese SPÖ Mayor Michael Häupl, businessman Siegfried Wolf and Football World Cup 1990 champion Lothar Matthäus were among the guests of the event too.

Photographers engaged in a scuffle on the red carpet outside the opera and the building’s main hallway of the opera to get the best shots of movie legends Sir Roger Moore, violinist David Garrett and former tennis player Boris Becker. “Death Proof” star Rosario Dawson, model Helena Christensen and real life TV diva Brigitte Nielsen also enjoyed a night at the opera.