5 Questions with... Tonino Picula

Tonino Picula (HR, S&D) is a member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee
Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

1 How would you describe your political/leadership style in three words?

Open minded, analytical, consistent. I respect the motto that says, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

2 Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?

Foreign policy is an area of my expertise. I was the international secretary of my party during the Yugoslav wars and the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Croatian government that directed Croatia towards EU membership.

Nonetheless, I confounded the public opinion when I opted for local government as well. I was elected mayor of the city where I lived and thus gained valuable new experiences.

Local politics is the politics that has always been closest to the people. American politician Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill once said that “all politics is local”.

3 What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar. It is said that the Emperor Hadrian himself wrote memoirs, but they were lost in antiquity. Even if he didn’t, I doubt they would have surpassed this masterpiece.

“Since there were no more gods, and no Christ yet, there is a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man was left alone.”

In Memoirs, Hadrian is a top statesman, a lucid analyst of situations in a vast and diverse empire, but also a man painfully aware of his mortality and the fragility of human institutions.

4 What is the smallest change you have made in your career that has had the biggest positive result?

I started taking notes regularly twenty years ago in a small pocket notebook, given to me by a colleague.

I always have one with me, helping me to preserve memories and plan more efficiently. Those little pieces of paper I’ve written so far, stacked on top of each other, are probably already a metre high.

5 What one item would you save from your house or apartment/house if it was on fire? (apart from your photo album)

My guitar, which I bought as a high school student, using the money I earned working over the summer. I used to play a lot. But at some point, I discovered politics was an instrument by which I could influence reality more quickly.

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