This Week in Croatian Politics – Ivica Todorić is Back

Lauren Simmonds

croatian politics
Photo: Sanjin Strukic/PIXSELL

November the 3rd, 2023 – This week in Croatian politics, we’ve had a controversial UN vote, the president has openly criticised Israel, and Ivica Todorić is back – and it could end up costing us billions.

Controversial former MP Ivan Pernar has been causing issues in schools

Photo: Marko Lukunic/PIXSELL

Ivan Pernar has had parents, the Zagreb city administration and the police worried about his frankly odd behaviour of late. Pernar has been going around Zagreb’s schools, taking photos with minors and allegedly using them as a form of political promotion.

This man, among the most controversial characters in modern Croatian politics, begun engaging underage children on social media and even more bizarrely – he’s been getting them to send him videos and photos. In the meantime, for some reason, the ex MP has turned into some sort of hero to some of the more naive students. As a result, he has been going on tours of schools in Zagreb, filming and photographing underage children without permission.

I went outside when recess started at around 10:10 and there were already a bunch of students gathered around him and he’d already started taking pictures with them,” a student told Dnevnik Nova TV. “There was commotion outside and a lot of noise, the school doors were locked and we saw Ivan Pernar arrive and start taking pictures, there was a crowd of students around him,” added another student.

The police are now investigating Pernar’s actions, with many citing what he is doing as “disgusting” and that he is “threatening the safety of minors”.

Read more here.

The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) accepts ex Agrokor boss Ivica Todorić’s lawsuit against Croatia

Photo: Matija Habljak/PIXSELL

He’s been off the radar for a while now, at least in comparison to how much he was in the limelight a few years ago when the Agrokor scandal first hit the headlines. It seems, however, that none other than Ivica Todorić is now back – and he might end up costing Croatia several billion euros.

As Index/Ilko Cimic writes, the International Centre for the Resolution of Investment Disputes in Washington has accepted Ivica Todorić’s lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia, and as has since been learned, if Croatia loses that dispute, it might need to pay Todorić 7 to 8 billion euros. In that case, the money would be paid out of the state budget because Todorić has accused the state of robbing Agrokor from him with its decisions in his lawsuit.

In this same court, Croatia recently lost a case against the Hungarian giant – MOL. The decision of the US court will be binding and the losing party has zero right to appeal it. The Croatian Government has contested the jurisdiction of the US court, but its arguments were ultimately rejected. Ivica Todorić’s lawyers here in Croatia have not yet received a decision, but it’s quite likely that the court has fully accepted Todorić’s lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia regarding the takeover of Agrokor.

Lawyer: Yes, this is a success for Todorić

“Ivica Todorić believes that this is a step in the right direction for his case and proof that the Croatian Government’s argument that this court doesn’t have jurisdiction over his lawsuit was totally incorrect. Yes, this is a big success for my client,” lawyer Fran Olujić pointed out in an interview for Index.

Let’s go back to March 2020, Todorić was a constant menace to those in Croatian politics, and he filed a lawsuit across the pond in Washington and requested compensation from Croatia. Todorić did not file the lawsuit as a natural person, but his Dutch companies Adria Group B.V. did, as did Adria Group Holding B.V., through which the former Agrokor was held.

The lawsuit is based on the thesis that these two foreign companies were allegedly forced to transfer control over Agrokor to the state and thus their investment was illegally taken away. It is alleged that the Croatian state forced them to do so when the government of HDZ leader Andrej Plenković was trying to solve the crisis within Agrokor.

Any compensation will come out of the Croatian state budget

“The court must determine whether the damage was caused and in what amounts. In the event that the decision is positive for Todorić, that amount of compensation should be in billions of euros,” revealed lawyer Fran Olujić.

The amount of compensation is still being speculated upon because it is difficult to predict the verdict of the court in Washington, one thing is already certain – the sum will be charged to the Croatian state, that is, the budget.

“Yes, if such a decision were to be made, it would be paid for from the state budget. Todorić claims that it was precisely the decision of state bodies that caused him damage, so all taxpayers in Croatia would have to pay for the damages in the end,” the lawyer stated. With popularity contests and elections at stake, naturally, this has many in Croatian politics worried.

The US court’s decision is final and Croatia cannot appeal it

For now, it is not known exactly how long this procedure could last, but it will certainly go on for several years. In any case, the decision of the arbitration court will be binding and final both for the plaintiff Todorić and for the defendant Croatia, and the losing party has no right to appeal the verdict.

Fortenova, which was created as a result of the government’s Lex Agrokor, i.e. the settlement of the majority of Agrokor’s creditors, is separate from Agrokor and it cannot be affected by any compensation that would be awarded to Todorić in the event of a successful lawsuit. It has been clearly defined that Fortenova is not the legal successor of Agrokor.

neither neutral nor non-alignedthe PM talks about Croatia’s position regarding the war in Israel

The Prime Minister referred to the UN resolution during a recent government session, saying: “This is a resolution of the UN General Assembly that isn’t binding, the Republic of Croatia was against it because we believe that it is inappropriate to adopt a resolution that doesn’t condemn Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel. This reminded us of the statements from about 30 years ago years when it was said that it was known who the aggressor was [during the Croatian War of Independence, when Serbia was the clear aggressor], so they shouldn’t be named.”

“Croatia is neither neutral nor non-aligned, but should take principled positions and is not threatened by anything,” said Plenković. Speaking about the situation with Croatian citizens in the Gaza Strip, Plenković stated that 15 of them had now successfully crossed into Egypt.

He also referred to the new data from the Central Bureau of Statistics

“Inflation has now slowed down to 5.8 percent on an annual basis. Energy prices on a monthly and annual basis have also recorded a decline, and a decline in the prices of food, beverages and tobacco has also been recorded. All of this was certainly influenced by the fifth government package.”

A series of bilateral meetings at Eurosummit

He also referred to the recently held Eurosummit, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine and illegal migration were discussed. He revealed that he he had been present at a number of bilateral meetings. “One of the key topics of the European Council was the situation in the Middle East where we adopted conclusions, strongly condemned the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and adopted a series of conclusions respecting humanitarian law and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

When it comes to topics that are close to the hearts of many in Croatian politics and indeed the wider public, he stated that the current tense relations between Serbia and Kosovo were also discussed.

President Zoran Milanović is openly critical of Israeli actions

Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

As Index vijesti/news writes, Zoran Milanović participated in the promotion of new officers of the Armed Forces recently. Known as one of the most outspoken individuals in Croatian politics, he naturally took the opportunity to make a statement to the media regarding the unfolding dire situation in the Middle East. He stated that Croats “aren’t descendants of Nazis, but of anti-fascists” and that he is still waiting for an explanation from the Prime Minister about why Croatia voted against the previously mentioned UN resolution.

“We’re waiting for that great dramatist to explain to us what they actually did. Plenković took a picture with Novak Đoković. That’s that Russophile, by the way. He’s a brilliant athlete, whom I support in principle, but he is a Russophile. At the same time, he is dealing with the members of parliament who voted against dragging Croatia into the war and training soldiers for the war in Ukraine – because they’re the ones trying to look after Croatian interests – but he has no problem with photos of himself taken with people who are openly on Moscow’s side.”

President Milanović emphasised that regardless of the actions of others in Croatian politics, he will not remain silent about the situation in Gaza. “In this situation, I will not remain silent. We don’t have any complexes, nor did we persecute the Jews in World War II, so that now we have to suffer all kinds of actions taken by the Israeli Government, without them needing to take any responsibility. I say this from the perspective of the Croatian state and the Croatian people, who were mistreated regarding everything. We aren’t descendants of Nazis, we are descendants of mainly anti-fascists, a large group of people who fought for justice, and yes, they sometimes did that violently and incorrectly.

We have enough sense and self-respect to know where we stand and to distinguish between good and bad. Bad things are happening there right now and there are no innocents in all of this. After the Irish prime minister, I was the first in Europe to come out and warn people about that,” he said, adding that he “isn’t going to make a fuss every day like the Israeli ambassador in Zagreb has been, for whom it is totally normal to be a militant agitator, calling out the Croatian president in the middle of Zagreb, and our shame of a government doesn’t even react”.


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