A week is a long time in politics. Political reaction to Crnoja’s ministerial resignation, just six days into the job.
After Veterans Affairs Minister Mijo Crnoja resigned yesterday evening just few days after becoming the minister, which makes him a minister with the shortest term in office in Croatian history, ruling and opposition politicians were quick to react, reports Jutarnji List, Vecernji List and Index.hr on January 29, 2016.
“I would like to thank all Croatian citizens for their patience. Mr. Crnoja has fought for this country, he deserved a little attention, and that is what we have given him during the last two days. We have asked for expert advice, we discussed the documents. Today he submitted his resignation and I have accepted it”, said Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković. “I would like to thank Mr. Crnoja as a veteran who fought for our country and to thank all the veterans who have liberated us. I will give my best because this is a very important ministry and we will soon find a new minister”, said Orešković.
HDZ president and First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko also commented on Crnoja’s resignation. “In the last three days, we have been listening, watching and reading about serious allegations. We felt it was necessary to approach this issue very seriously. This was a classic character assassination attempt against Crnoja”, said Karamarko. “Based on documents, there is no fault. There were all sorts of interpretations and theories. I would remind you that we had the Homeland War and that some young people participated in it, including Mr. Crnoja. As an honourable man, he has decided to say – I am leaving”, he added. “There was no pressure from MOST. You will know very soon who is the new minister”, said Karamarko. “There was no drama or conflict. How could a Deputy Prime Minister make threats with an uprising by veterans, which was being mentioned in the media? Veterans are serious people.”
“We agree with and respect the decision by Mr. Crnoja. We understand that it was not easy for him. We understand that there is no criminal liability, but there is a political and moral responsibility. We honour all veterans. This lasted as long as it did because we were constantly receiving additional details”, said Miroslav Šimić from MOST.
Franko Vidović (SDP) said that it was worrying that the Prime Minister failed to act “on the very first day when doubts appeared about the Veterans Affairs Minister”. “Every official must behave responsibly. So it is good that Crnoja has left the government. However, it is troubling that Prime Minister Orešković did not react on the very first day when doubts appeared. The government has lost its credibility at the very beginning”, said Vidović.
Goran Beus Richembergh (HNS) believes that the Crnoja case proved the ineffectiveness of the decision-making model in the new government. “The question is, if they needed 20 hours of deliberations for such a relatively simple decision, what will happen once they start discussing something which is of strategic importance for Croatia. This case has caused a major political damage to the government and the Prime Minister, which will only partially be remedied if the proposed successor to Crnoja is a person of exceptional quality.”
“This decision was expected and the only possible one”, said Radimir Čačić (Reformists). “It was obvious that the position of a part of the ruling coalition was that he cannot stay. A man with more political experience would have probably resigned earlier. It can be expected that in this form of coalition government it will take a long time to adopt certain decisions”, said Čačić.
Peđa Grbin (SDP) is convinced that the Crnoja case revealed that Prime Minister Orešković has no control over who enters his government and who leaves it. “If the government spent almost one fifth of its term in office on the debate about whether Crnoja should go, even though it was clear from the beginning that he must leave, I wonder how they will function when they start discussing really difficult and important issues”, added Grbin.
Interestingly, since the new government has not yet named deputy ministers, Crnoja’s resignation means that the acting Veterans Minister in the new few days will be Vesna Nađ (SDP), who was the Deputy Minister in previous government and one of the people whose dismissal was demanded by veterans protesting in front of the Ministry.