Constitution Clear on President Being Commander in Chief, Milanović Says

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Photo: Robert Anic/PIXSELL
Photo: Robert Anic/PIXSELL

Commenting on a Jutarnji List article that by amending the Defence Act, the government plans to strip the president of his power to command the army in peacetime, Milanović told the press in Zaton these announcements were coming because Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his HDZ party “want to take over the Croatian Army as well,” calling it “a constitutional coup.”

The commander in chief can be only one, command is vertical, there is no minister, he said, adding that the military chief of staff could not answer both to him and to Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

Milanović said the Defence Act was an organic law and “probably the most delicate one because it regulates a very important constitutional obligation and responsibility of the president of the republic, who is the only commander in chief.”

If the president and the defence minister disagree on something, the chief of staff and the army obey the president, he added.

Milanović said that under the Constitution, he, as the president, answers for the territorial integrity and survival of the state. “In order to do that, I must have powers,” he said, adding that Banožić could not strip him of his powers.

He reiterated that Banožić had exerted pressure on State Assets staff and that, as a result, the state was defrauded of millions of kuna, calling on the state attorney general again to investigate that.

Milanović also said that many appointments in the Defence Ministry proposed by Chief of Staff Admiral Robert Hranj were “on hold because the minister doesn’t want to give his consent.”

He added that this was “ruining the Croatian state, the Croatian Army” and that the more Plenković “encourages (Banožić), the ruder he is.”

Citing media reports, he said that with Plenković’s support, Banožić was indicating “that he plans to retire Hranj.” He said they could not do that as Hranj had been appointed for a four-year term and that Plenković should take a position on this.

Earlier today, Milanović watched a joint military exercise between Croatian and US special forces in Udbina.

For more, check out our politics section.


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