ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 – The GONG NGO said on Tuesday it had asked the Council of Europe anti-corruption body GRECO to support the work of Croatia’s independent Conflict of Interest Commission and condemn Prime Minister Andrej Plenković over his attacks on it.
GONG posted on its website a letter to GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) in which it says that Plenković is systematically undermining the Commission’s work and attacking GONG over its insistence on transparency in the case of Croatia’s European Commission candidate Dubravka Šuica.
GONG says the rhetoric which Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković use regarding the Conflict of Interest Commission has a negative impact on the fight against corruption in Croatia.
The NGO mentioned a case in which the Commission opened proceedings against Plenković, Deputy PM Davor Božinović and three former ministers because the government did not submit travel requests and bills regarding their trip to Helsinki.
Instead of delivering the required documents, the government sent partial travel requests to some media outlets, GONG says. “Still, the key information is hidden,” it warns, adding that Plenković has publicly stated that the Commission’s requests are absurd and that it will not submit any documents.
Commission chair Nataša Novaković “was denounced” by Plenković after she began questioning his role in the Agrokor affair, in which a group of private consultants, who secretly wrote the Lex Agrokor law, was later engaged in jobs in Agrokor worth millions, GONG says in the letter.
It claims that by requesting Novaković’s exemption and accusing her of a conflict of interest, Plenković has “caused a lengthy blockade in the resolution of his case, since the issue of exemption from the President of the Commission was not legally resolved.”
“The fight against corruption and clientelism is crucial for Croatia, the youngest member of the European Union, so we urge GRECO to support the work of the Commission and condemn the inappropriate attacks of the Prime Minister,” GONG says.
It adds “that this is not the first incident of verbal abuse of NGOs by the Government” and labels Plenković’s statements as “insults.”
More news about conflict of interest issues can be found in the Politics section.