Defence Minister Damir Krstičević Resigns

Total Croatia News

The Minister allegedly resigned after today’s criticism from President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović that the army should have reacted more quickly with regards to fires around Split.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević has unexpectedly resigned today, reports HRT on 18 July 2017.

Minister Krstičević allegedly resigned after President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, said that the army should have helped earlier to extinguish catastrophic fires around Split and that an investigation should be conducted how the fires started and spread.

“We came among the first. You know what kind of system we have. The system is such that we react when they call us. I cannot influence when that local commander will make that decision,” Krstičević said.

Earlier in the day, Krstičević said he was ready to resign. “I am ready to resign or Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović can immediately dismiss me if it turns out that the military forces did not react timely and well in response to the fires”, said Krstičević, responding to President’s criticism.

Just ten minutes later, Krstičević confirmed that he had resigned. “It is well known how the command system works. A request for the army units to be used is made by the chief firefighting commander, and I have still not received any official request. At this time, there are 200 soldiers in the field and another 500 on standby. Our troops have already invested enormous efforts in extinguishing the fires,” said Krstičević.

“Homeland security system has fallen apart on the first step,” said former Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović. “Of course, Croatia had problems with the fires while I was the minister as well. There were major fires, but we had a different chain of command. The State Protection and Rescue Service was in charge, and the Ministry of Defence was just providing required services. The new Law on Homeland Security has changed that,” said Kotromanović.

Asked about the chain of command, Kotromanović pointed out that the President was the commander in chief of the armed forces. “However, she is excluded under the Law on Defence when exceptional situations such as this occur. The Minister of Defence has the possibility of rapid action and sending army units. The State Protection and Rescue Service has instituted a coordinating body that should enable faster decision-making. But, there were obviously some problems with coordination,” he said.

Also, President Grabar Kitarović stated that she was not thoroughly informed about the situation. “I believe that the President has communicated with the people who are her closest associates and probably had some information,” said Kotromanović.

President Grabar-Kitarović reacted to Krstičević’s decision and said she did not accept his offer to resign. “I am very surprised that Minister Krstičević has resigned, that is absolutely unacceptable. He is an excellent minister and is doing his job very well. He is not responsible for what has happened. The army cannot act by itself, but its services must first be requested. In this situation, responsibility is with those who have misjudged the situation in the area and were late to seek the army’s help, although they knew it was at their disposal all the time. The army has done an excellent job in the end.”


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