Mysterious HDZ Trip to Helsinki Again in Spotlight

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 10, 2019 – Parliament Speaker and secretary-general of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Gordan Jandroković on Tuesday hinted that there might be a solution to the “tension” between the Conflict of Interest Commission and the government or the HDZ regarding travel allowance documents for a trip to the European People’s Party conference in Helsinki.

“We will discuss that and I think that that would be rational,” Jandroković told reporters when asked wouldn’t the simplest thing be to just present the requested documents.

He underscored that it would be worthwhile if the commission did not in cases like this “pull the trigger straight away but to examine the entire situation.” It isn’t good to be under suspicion. You are guided by the principle of being fair toward the state, its finances and then in return someone accuses you of abusing your office. That causes a certain revolt and anger and I think that we can come out of this peacefully and one of the ways would be like you said,” Jandroković said after a meeting of the parliamentary presidency.

The Conflict of Interest Commission has opened a case against Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and several ministers because they have not submitted the necessary travel allowance documents to the relevant bodies regarding their attendance at the EPP conference in Helsinki in November last year.

It is obvious that certain tension has arisen in relations between the commission and politics, Jandroković said insisting that the government and HDZ had acted properly with regard to the trip to Helsinki.

“Regarding the trip to Helsinki we acted on the principle of frugality, rationality and all the costs of overnight stays, daily allowances were covered by the HDZ. The only cost the state had was for airfares,” he said, underlining that the Prime Minister and he were on an official visit to Helsinki and met with their counterparts, Finland’s prime minister and parliament speaker.

“We could have gone twice. I had been invited to Finland. I would have taken an entire delegation and the government’s plane would have flown again. We estimated that in that situation we could combine a state and party visit and that the fairest way would be to divide the costs,” he said and added that the state had the least expense and that HDZ paid more than 80,000 kuna.

He recalled that a similar situation occurred recently with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yet there was absolutely no debate about that in Germany. Merkel conducted an official visit to Zagreb and that same day she attended an HDZ rally. She arrived on an official plane and no one in Germany questioned that, he said.

Jandroković announced that the autumn session of parliament would commence on September 18 and lawmakers have 102 items on the agenda to resolve by the end of October.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday said that he would not submit any more documents to the Conflict of Interest Commission regarding a visit to Helsinki because the government had sent everything it had been requested.

“I won’t submit anything else. We spelled everything out for them. That is why we gave it to you to point out the absurdity of the commission’s request,” Plenković told a press conference in Government House when asked about travel allowance documents for the trip to Helsinki that are being requested by the commission.

He added that there is no suspicion of conflict of interest in that situation because he went to Finland in his capacity as prime minister to meet with Finland’s prime minister who was not connected with the European People’s Party (EPP).

Plenković denied allegations that that meeting was held in a “small room on the margins of the EPP” convention and said that the meeting was held in Finland’s government house.

“After that the EPP convention was held with one part that afternoon and the next part the following morning and I addressed the convention in my capacity as the prime minister of Croatia and not as a delegate and in that part where people like Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk speak, in that part that the heads of state address,” Plenković underlined.

He explained that the government had “literally spelled it all out and explained it,” to the Conflict of Interest Commission.

“However, if the people in the commission, most of whom are jurists, do not understand, do not realise, do not have experience or are acting under media pressure to keep something current in the news, is there anything odd there? No there isn’t anything. We said that the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) would pay for the hotel and daily allowances and that’s how it is ” he added, explaining that the problem would have arisen, if double daily allowances had been charged, but it was not the case.

“The commission is not a court, it is not a judicial institution, it is not the police and it is not the State Prosecutor,” and the commission should be dealing with conflict of interest and within the remit of the law and not “what it thinks the media expects and what they think they should be doing,” said Plenković.

More HDZ news can be found in the Politics section.


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