Will Milijan Brkić be confirmed as veterans’ affairs minister?
After HDZ general secretary Milijan Brkić was presented on Monday as a candidate for veterans’ affairs minister by HDZ president and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko, the Interior Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that the Police Academy will restart the process of annulment of his university diploma due to plagiarism. Due to procedural issues, the High Administrative Court repealed the decision of the Academy which had annulled Brkić’s diploma, and now the process will be restarted, reports Večernji List on February 24, 2016.
This could complicate his selection for veterans’ affairs minister, and the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković and MOST, which have already announced that they would withhold their support if his diploma is again annulled. MOST has not replied to questions whether they still supported Brkić’s ministerial nomination, and the government unofficially stated that “nothing has changed”.
“The timing is interesting, but MOST has not officially said anything about a possible veto on Brkić. After all, the information about Brkić is well-known to everybody”, said an unofficial government source. Considering everything that happened, it is not surprising that Brkić has publicly discussed his nomination only as a possibility, not wanting to appear too sure before being officially confirmed as minister.
Another key element is that Brkić does not want to resign as HDZ secretary general. Yesterday, after his return from London, Prime Minister Orešković said that he had met Brkić several times and that he had to “sit down with him and open a discussion”, as he did with all the other candidates for ministers.
The selection of Brkić as veterans’ affairs minister was quite unexpected. About a month ago, when he suspended his mandate as an MP, Brkić said that he was not able to be both an MP and HDZ general secretary. There was speculation that Brkić had to prepare for intra-party elections in HDZ which will start on 1 March. However, something has changed and it was decided that Brkić would be nominated as the minister.
There are several reasons for this decision. After the dismissal and scandal with former minister Mijo Crnoja, there are not too many candidates willing to go through another media storm. Secondly, some HDZ sources say that it was determined that only Brkić could solve the problem of veterans’ protests, since he is held by them in high regard. Furthermore, with the nomination for Brkić, Karamarko has strengthened Brkić’s position in the party, especially since some of his opponents hoped he would lose some of his influence.
If Brkić is ultimately confirmed as minister, there are three possible options. It is least likely that he would devote himself only to the Ministry. Second option is that he would keep both posts, while the third and most interesting option is that Brkić would be a minister for a short time and that he would solve the problem of veterans’ protests and then return to his party duties.