January the 19th, 2024 – This week in Croatian politics, the PM has warned judges against white strikes, Serbia has been pressured to change their pro-Russian stance, and comparisons to Hitler have been made.
Plenković issues a warning to judges as elections loom: “you won’t get what you want”
As Index vijesti/news reports, PM Andrej Plenković commented on current political events in Koprivnica this week, including the announced white strike of judges, as N1 revealed.
When asked about the white strike of judges and state attorneys, who also decided to join the strike, the prime minister stated that his government has increased the salaries of both judges and state attorneys twice already.
“SDP reduced judges’ salaries, it’s interesting that there was no white strike when that happened”
“Those in power in Croatian politics before us, SDP, cut their salaries twice. I didn’t see any white strike coming from them back then,” he said, adding that the judges also put material rights on the table that they currently don’t even have, such as Christmas bonuses, holiday pay or financial gifts for children.
“The government was ready to offer them all of that. Malenica calculated that each of them would get about 110 euros extra a year. That’s an increase, within a year, of almost 700 euros, that’s quite a serious increase. I’m not sure that there are people in any system who end up with salary increases of 700 euros per month from year to year. I don’t know who else has actually experienced this – ever. I’d like to appeal to them to be a little more reasonable,” said Plenković, adding that he will not give in to blackmail from anyone.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to think that they’ll get something because there are elections on the horizon”
When asked about salary indexation, the Prime Minister stated that he does understand the interest of both judges and judicial officials. “Now is just not the moment for that. I’m telling them to abandon any hope that they’ll end up getting what they want with blackmail now because there are changes in Croatian politics and elections looming, again, this just isn’t the right moment,” he said.
“We simply aren’t going to sit back and agree to blackmail, they submitted some violation of rights to the EC before they sat down with us and that simply will not be allowed to pass unnoticed. No blackmail from the government will pass, neither from them nor from any other sector,” said the Prime Minister, who also asked why the judges are seeming to work against themselves.
“I think that people must put pressure on the courts to work normally. Did the efficiency of the judiciary increase when we raised their salaries by 583 euros? Again, I’m not saying I don’t understand the desire for indexation, but at the moment, when that concept doesn’t even exist, we can solve it later,” claimed Plenković.
“They’d like to seize the moment and come to some sort of agreement with this government to raise their wages as the cost of living rises and never speak to the executive branch again. Alright, I understand that, but for the last time -it’s not going to happen right now,” stated the prime minister.
“This white strike can last for a decade as far as we’re concerned…”
“To enter into some sort of white strikes to result in indexation turning into a topic all over… That won’t be possible,” the PM assured.
Plenković also announced that he will urgently change the law on EP elections in such a way that other lawyers, not just judges, can be in the electoral committees. “This was put in place so that the judges would also receive compensation, they don’t necessarily have to be judges, they’ll be people of credibility and trust. Instead of accepting the reasonable offer of those in Croatian politics such as Minister Malenica, we’re now getting media messages about a white strike from the Association of Judges.
Whoever makes these decisions, on the basis of I don’t know whose wrong assessments… Elections aren’t a moment for us, there’s no chance that anything will change. This white strike can go on for a decade as far as we are concerned,” he said.
Grlić Radman says Serbia must condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine and invoke sanctions now
As all other European countries turned their backs on Russia and quickly introduced sanctions against Putin’s regime and its actions against Ukraine, Serbia flew the Russian flag on the streets of Belgrade. As countries across the continent and beyond it lit up their governmental buildings in yellow and blue in support of the Ukrainian struggle, Russians poured into Serbia. As protests against Russian invasion began Europe-wide, Serbia ramped up its pro-Russian views. If there was ever an opportunity for Serbia to show that it has evolved from what it was 30 years ago when it made itself an enemy of most of the world for its heinous actions against Croatia, it was February 2022. Instead, it chose to show that a leopard never changes its spots, and that say what it may – it will never be part of the west.
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has come out and stated that now is the time that Serbia admit that what Russia is doing is unacceptable, unsupportable and wrong. Will it do so? It’s not likely.
“Serbia has a lot to do, Serbia has to finally face up to its past, it has to start certain reforms, it needs to harmonise its policy with the EU’s foreign and security policy. It absolutely needs to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine and impose its own sanctions, and above all, Serbia must form a government.”
Croatia and Serbia have issues on the table that need solving – now
As Index vijesti/news reports, Minister Gordan Grlić Radman made a statement this past week after a cabinet session and commented on the meeting between Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Davos, Croatian-Serbian relations, and the letter from the American head of diplomacy Antony Blinken to him and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s foreign minister, Elmedin Konaković.
Antony Blinken asked them, among other things, to put pressure on the leader of the HDZ BiH, Dragan Čović, “so that he stops obstructing” the gas connection between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Our point of view is that we work to encourage all actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to find the optimal solution for the implementation of the southern gas interconnection project. We’re talking about everything, but this project really is extremely important,” Grlić Radman said.
He also said that the goal of the departure of Plenković and Ursula von der Leyen to Sarajevo next week is to support efforts to bring Bosnia and Herzegovina even closer to the European Union, and that he expects a positive response in March of this year.
“It’s very much in the interest of both Serbia and Croatia to have good relations with their neighbours”
He also touched on the meeting between Plenković and Vučić in Davos and Croatian-Serbian relations:
“Last year, we agreed on a timetable for solving our open bilateral issues. Unfortunately, it went very poorly. This was a conversation at the economic forum, the elections in Serbia were discussed, and it’s in the interest of Serbia and Croatia to have good relations with their neighbours and to solve their bilateral issues, as well as to tackle some open issues in the Western Balkans.
Serbia has opted for the EU path and must fulfill the conditions and criteria expected of it. It must develop and promote regional stability, I hope that after the formation of this government, the meeting that we announced last year will take place.”
“It’s important for us to ensure, regardless of the outcome of the election, that the Croats have their representative there, just as the Serbs have their representatives here. The agreements bind both us and them”, he answered the question about whether the Croatian representative Tomislav Žigmanov will continue to be a minister in to the new Serbian government.
The Prime Minister is accused of “hiding behind beaten and abused women” to pass a certain law
As Index vijesti/news reports, in more drama in Croatian politics, the ruling party called the government out last week for allegedly using women as a living wall behind which they can mock the restriction of journalistic freedoms. This was due to the simultaneous vote on the introduction of criminal offences of aggravated murder of women (femicide), and the law on the unauthorised disclosure of the content of investigative actions.
“You introduce changes in the law that serve to cover up political corruption, and we know who the bearer of political corruption in this country is. Now Andrej Plenković is hiding behind beaten and abused women and children. Shame on you, you cowards,” said Ivana Kekin, a very vocal individual in Croatian politics.
This was followed by accusations from other opposition clubs that those in power in Croatian politics (HDZ) use the protection of women from violence as something to hide behind when really the focus was on passing an act to attempt to prevent journalists from obtaining information about corruption and similar scandals.
The Prime Minister is compared to Adolf Hitler
“The Croatian judiciary is devastated, for years the profession has been warning us what to do, for years women have been asking for greater protection against domestic violence. And what does Andrej Plenković do? He hides like a coward,” said Dalija Orešković, before likening the PM with no less than Adolf Hitler.
Parliament President Gordan Jandroković condemned this kind of comparison and said that he will not tolerate hate speech, which he will severely sanction in the future. “Everything connected with the glorification of fascism and Nazism has been condemned and sanctioned every time. I’d like us all to calm our passions and be careful what we say,” he said.
SDP representative Peđa Grbin, well known in Croatian politics for his bluntness, called the decision to simultaneously vote on both criminal offences proposed by the government “disgusting and below any level”.