ZAGREB, March 14, 2018 – Members of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) parliamentary group and government ministers from the HDZ, led by party president Andrej Plenković, met in Breznica, in Varaždin County, on Tuesday evening to discuss, as the central topic, plans to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Plenković answered reporters’ questions before the meeting, and when asked if he had received the support of his political partners for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, he said that they had discussed their initial views on the convention and that several political parties or MPs seemed to have certain reservations in that regard.
“Those reservations… concern purported harmful effects of gender ideology, while most other (political partners) are in favour. I think that numerous MPs, as well as the government, have been under the pressure of activists, but what Croatian society needs – and that is what we have made clear to our partners – is a discussion on the merit of the thing,” said Plenković.
He went on to say that, with regard to the Istanbul Convention, one should talk about the phenomenon of violence against women and the phenomenon of domestic violence and that provisions of the convention should be read precisely.
Plenković said that the convention was an international legal document that had been agreed on, that was open for signature and that 28 countries had backed. “I think that in its essence… the document does not contain any problematic provisions about which we have been listening. I will insist that we read the document exactly the way it should be read. We are a responsible country, with responsible policies and institutions, we know where we should go and where we belong,” he said, adding that this could be explained to those who had certain reservations using arguments.
He noted that there was the institution of interpretive statement, which, he said, could help those who had reservations or were mistrustful about the convention, to dispel doubts.
Plenković believes that the broadest possible compromise is necessary with regard to the convention and that those who see anything problematic in the document should be persuaded otherwise. As for the HDZ, he said that he was prepared for a discussion based on arguments.
He also does not expect that HRAST, a highly conservative party that makes up the parliamentary majority, will turn its back on the HDZ over the Istanbul Convention. “This is the first situation in which they have taken a different position. I wish they could calm down the game… They are using this topic to make their party more visible,” he said.
Asked if other HDZ members could follow the example of the head of the HDZ branch in Kistanje municipality to leave the party over dissatisfaction with plans to ratify the Istanbul Convention, Plenković said that he did not fear such a scenario. “The HDZ is a big party that has demonstrated its strength in different political situations and there is no danger that something like that could happen,” he said.
Plenković’s deputy Milijan Brkić did not arrive for the HDZ meeting in Breznica tonight. Asked by reporters about this, Plenković said that some HDZ officials could not come because of other obligations and that he did not have time to check who had turned up for the meeting as he arrived directly from Hrvatska Kostajnica, an area hit by floods and landslides. Brkić is believed to be opposed to the ratification.