ZAGREB, September 6, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commented on the decision by the Conflict of Interest Commission to launch proceedings against him over his failure to submit documents on his trip to Helsinki last year, saying that the Commission’s action was unnecessary.
“This whole story is a fabrication with one purpose and goal – to cause political damage to me and the officials in question,” the prime minister told the press outside the government headquarters.
He said that the Commission had no reason to take this action considering the documents which the government and his HDZ party had submitted to it, adding that initiating proceedings for a breach of office was unwarranted.
Plenković said that he as prime minister decides on the use of the government aircraft based on decisions taken by his chief of staff and that he decides on which people use the aircraft. He said that the government aircraft was used for travel to Finland on official business – to meet the Finnish prime minister and attend a conference of the European People’s Party. Hotel accommodation costs and per diems for all the people involved were paid by the HDZ, he explained.
“What I’m saying was thoroughly and clearly explained in correspondence with the Commission. It’s true and it’s a fact, all else is an unnecessary fabrication,” the prime minister said.
The press were shown a government report on the official trip indicating that the prime minister had forgone his per diems, that the accommodation costs had not been paid by the government and that there was no cost for the government.
The Commission launched the proceedings against Plenković, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić, former Minister of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Nada Murganić and former Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević because they have not submitted the necessary travel allowance documents to the relevant bodies regarding their attendance at the EPP conference in Helsinki in November last year.
Conflict of Interest Commission president Nataša Novaković on Thursday responded to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s claims that proceedings against him and several ministers was based on fabrications, saying he had not treated this independent authority fairly.
“It’s not fair to treat an independent body like that. Under the law, they have to submit documents. We have the right to request them, others have the duty to submit them without delay,” Novakovic said on RTL TV.
Novakovic, however, said partial documentation was submitted “which is even contradictory… Not one travel request was submitted. We still don’t know who was in the plane, who was in the government’s official delegation.”
She added that if everything was in order, there was not one reason not to submit all the documents requested by the Commission.
Asked if Plenković’s statement about fabrications was an attack on the Commission, Novakovic said it was and that this was not the first case in which the Commission had requested travel requests.
Asked what could be expected of a new conflict of interest law, she said it seemed the government did not need the Commission. She added that the Commission had a constructive meeting with Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica two weeks ago and that they agreed to examine together why the bill was “stuck” and what would happen with it.
“Every day there’s a new allusion to our actions,” she said, adding that the Commission was not fabricating or damaging anyone and that she did not know what repercussions this would have on the bill.
More news on the conflict of interest issues can be found in the Politics section.