Plenković Continues to Argue with Conflict of Interest Commission

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 14, 2019 – The Conflict of Interest Commission chairwoman, Nataša Novaković, said on Friday that that she did not consider herself biased and that there was no need for her to exempt herself from deciding on a case involving Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Hotmail case.

“Had I thought myself biased, I would not have been at all included in the work on that case. I do not consider myself biased. That would be against me and against the professional rules. Our rule book clearly specifies when we exempt ourselves and this is not such situation,” Novaković said.

Members of the ruling coalition in the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System on Friday outvoted the opposition with regard to whether the matter of the exemption of the chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Commission should be put on the committee’s agenda.

Novaković today would not comment on some of the remarks claiming that this issue fell within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court.

As for her exemption, Novaković says that the body responsible for the supervision of the Commission’s work would have the jurisdiction of that matter too. They could actually be some of the parliamentary committees, according to her explanation. However, she admitted that the question could be raised whether that should be the Committee on Elections and Appointments or the Committee on the Constitution and the Standing Orders.

She also said that these were not good solutions as they involve “a political context”, however, an extended consideration shows that it is the Administrative Court that supervises the work of the Commission.

As for the latest imbroglio, Novaković proposes that the parliament can consider the possibility of proposing amendments to the Conflict of Interest Law in fast track procedure, specifying which body can decide on exemptions and which deadlines must be honoured.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that “there is a trend of disseminating misinformation” considering criticism that the request for the Conflict of Interest Commission chairwoman’s exemption from a case involving him is perceived as an attempt of his manoeuvre to avoid the accusations that he was in the conflict of interest.

Plenković made it clear that in that case involving him and the Agrokor law, the Conflict of Interest Commission was actually debating if he had breached the principle of the conduct of public office. “The Commission has already established that there was no conflict of interest,” Plenković said in his address to the press calling on journalists to be accurate when reporting on this case. This is about the element concerning the conduct of public office, he underscored.

He went on to say that it was up to the institutions to decide on whose jurisdiction it is to handle the request for chairwoman Nataša Novaković’s possible exemption.

More news about the conflict of interest issues can be found in the Politics section.


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