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A sweet secret

Apart from the Zagreb Stock Exchange exploding, the Croatian public was no less excited after the sudden offensive of Serbian businessman Nebojsa Saranovic, owner of “Kapa star limited”, to the confectionery giant “Kras”. For days, the Croatian media dealt with a mysterious buyer of “Kras” shares on the Zagreb Stock Exchange, and when Saranovic bought a five percent stake, his name had to be published.

Little is known about Saranovic in Serbia as well, except that he has close business ties with Miroslav Miskovic, and his photographs are a true rarity, and he can also be called a person without a face. And as his intrusion into “Karst” is fast, sudden and aggressive, because Saranovic does not regret money in order to get as many shares as possible, it eliminated the idea that a businessman just wants to eat “bajaders” or “kiki” candy, the trademarks of “Kars”.

Saranovic’s company owns the favorite Serbian and regional sweets, the “jafa” biscuit, which “Kraš” targeted nine years ago. But one of the richest Croats, Emil Tedeski, owner of “Atlantic Group”, on a business offensive in Serbia, bought “Stark”, and thus “chocolate bananas,” “grandma’s secret” and “smoki”.

Business games of Serbian and Croatian tycoons about taking each other’s favorite sweets, which are both eaten by Serbs and Croats, would be such a sweet example of free movement of capital between the two countries of the former Yugoslavia that unrelenting figures do not deny it. Croatian companies have invested 750m euros in Serbia, while local companies have faced significant investment difficulties. Only about forty million were invested in Croatia from Serbia, and any such attempt was usually presented in the media as economic hegemonism, and then the judiciary, police and bureaucracy, which exhausted potential investors, came into play.

The mantra was almost always the same. The origin of the money of Serbian businessmen is linked to the period of Slobodan Milosevic and the suspicion that this is money taken to Cyprus, which, after washing up on the island, is being invested in Croatia. Of course, the tycoons did not come into existence during the time of Milos Obrenovic, but it is surprising that after Slobodan Milosevic went into history, the Democratic authorities opened their doors to Croatian companies, ignoring the logic of reciprocity.

While in Zagreb the details of the capital were being checked, the very idea that it originated from Belgrade and presented as disgusting and undesirable, Ivica Todorić, as a symbol of the original accumulation of capital in the time of Franjo Tudjman, expanded his business empire across Serbia with fanfare, so that the collapse of his “Agrokor” threatened the stability of Serbian economy as well.

The bitter taste in the candy war is also reminiscent of the “Chocolinda” affair, when President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic apologized to the whole of Croatia for days, during the celebration of Dubrovnik Veterans’ Day, because she distributed, in addition to her picture, a Serbian chocolate bar.

However, the voice of reason arrived from Croatia a few days ago. It was Emil Tedeski who spoke critically about the events in Croatian society, saying that Croatia had a problem with itself first and foremost.

He said that Croatia is a “deeply closed country” and stressed that connecting with the world has nothing to do with rejecting tradition.

Pointing out that Croatia has two resources – humans and nature – Tedeski noted that people are leaving.

“That’s great, if only we had the idea that they should have a place to come back. Until joining the EU, the mobility of people in Croatia was poor. It is a blessing that young people today can study in Heidelberg, Amsterdam … Well, that’s brilliant. Likewise, Europeans come to us. But when we see a black man, we want to lynch him in Split. When we hear someone speak Serbian, we throw them into the sea. When we see an Asian in front of Mark’s church, we still laugh and point our finger. This is strange to us,” said one of the richest Croatian businessmen.

As Croatia is expected to have the elections soon, the question is whether these words from the owners of the “Atlantic Group” will be expensive mistake, given the huge influence of the veteran’s lobby in the electorate. And as the days go by, the question is whether Kolinda would dare to even distribute “bayaders” to the children, given that Saranovic had already reached a 10 percent stake in “Kras” and, according to estimates, does not intend to stop. The neighbor’s business thriller also mentions the following plot: it is possible that by inflating the prices of the Kraš shares, which are soaringly rising, behind the media and business war on the surface, a quiet business fraternity and unity of the two empires take place, since the Croatian owners don’t intend to relinquish the majority, which means controlling, shareholding. So why is Saranovic pumping so much money?

Another Belgrade-based business action may cause internal unrest in the extreme right of our neighbors. If speculation is true that Miroslav Miskovic intends to buy the famous hotel “Esplanade” in Zagreb, the eventual successful transaction will further arouse the demons within Croatian society, as discussed by Emil Tedeski. His father Svetozar Emil Tedeski was gathering his Korcula circle there, and there were others whom he naturally attracted – millionaires with cigars, gamblers, people with long memory, among whom was the recently deceased journalist Denis Kuljis.

When in an oasis of Zagreb’s cultural and social life, at the table by the bar, Kuljis interviewed billionaire George Soros, his entourage persuaded him to visit Zagreb, but Soros replied: “I will not miss much if I get satisfied with the view across the hotel terrace.” Miroslav Krleza thought about it. What will the view from the terrace look like if the Serbian tycoon becomes its owner?

It is absurd that the Slovenians, propagating the liberal market, when they played in Serbia with open arms, closed their markets with chains and padlocks, as Bogoljub Karic said, at the very hint of the entry of the Serbian capital. Even today, although more than 10 years ago, the blockade was broken by Vesa Jevrosimovic and then by Miodrag Kostic, the Ljubljana media are not shy about describing owners from Serbia with a touch of irony.

But when Mercator ceremonially opened its facilities in Serbia, since the first in Belgrade during the Democratic Party rule, the red ribbon was cut by high-ranking officials of the time, such as Goran Svilanovic. In Novi Sad, “Mercator” was inaugurated by Maja Gojkovic, then a radical mayor, with a song by Sergei Cetkovic. Slovenian businessmen found the code to gain support from local politicians, both reformist and patriotic, so one of the ironic comments was that “Mercator” succeeded in what many thought was impossible – reconciled “two Serbias”.