Civil Aviation Agency Under Scrutiny Due to New Leadership

Total Croatia News

New president of the Civil Aviation Agency Council is in focus for possible conflict of interest.

At its recent session, the government dismissed president, deputy president and members of the Council of the Croatian Agency for Civil Aviation and appointed new leadership, reports on December 22, 2016.

Based on the procedure and after a public competition was completed, new members of the Council are Danijel Turkalj, Andrija Vidović, Josip Čuletić, Sanja Steiner and Mirko Božić. Among them, the government appointed Danijel Turkalj as president of the Council and Andrija Vidović as deputy president.

While other names are more or less acceptable to people from the aviation business in Croatia, they were quite surprised to hear that Turkalj became the new president of the Council. In addition to being known as a personal favourite of Assistant Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Jure Šarić, he is also in a conflict of interest.

Turkalj is the founder and director of the Aeropak company, which deals with protective packaging of luggage at airports, and now as president of the Council he will have immense powers. “This is a man who has been dealing with minor issues in aviation, and the highlight of his career is a company which rented pilot crews abroad and dealt with protecting suitcases. Is that strategic vision and management skills necessary for the development of civil aviation in Croatia? We are a small community and no one from the branch knows anything about this person”, said a source.

Council members are appointed for a four year term. The Council appoints and dismisses director of the Civil Aviation Agency, adopts Statute of the Agency and other general acts in accordance with the law and the Statute, adopts annual work programme of the Agency and supervises its execution, and adopts financial plans for the Agency.

Jure Šarić, the already mentioned Assistant Minister of Transport, who has been in charge of aviation in the Ministry for years, is known as the person who tacitly tolerated that attorney Šebetić was simultaneously member on the Governing Council of the Agency for Air Accident Investigations and advised the European Coastal Airlines company in its dispute with the Civil Aviation Agency. In that way, Šebetić as a lawyer advised the company which was under “his” Agency’s investigation for an accident in Resnik in June last year, when two pilots died and while one was severely injured.

At the end, the company (not because of this accident, but due to a number of security flaws), was forced a year later to ground its seaplanes, which is why a representative of the investor decided – due to alleged unrealized profits – to sue the Civil Aviation Agency. Although it sounds complicated, it is actually quite simple and comes down to the fact that all the strings in the Croatian civil aviation sector since Croatian independence until today have practically been pulled by the same group of people, mostly without any media coverage.

We have not been able to get a comment from the Commission for Conflict of Interest Prevention. However, well-known anti-corruption activist Zorislav Antun Petrović gave us his opinion. “All officials should declare all of their interests, whether business or private, before being appointed to any office. This is especially true if they are connected with a company from the sector which they can influence – that is, if someone has a company associated with aviation then they certainly should announce it before the appointment, while those who appoint them need to pay attention to that fact.”


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