As Index/Goran Vojkovic writes, the State Attorney’s Office Act states that ”any form of influence is prohibited, especially any form of coercion against state attorneys and deputy state attorneys, the abuse of public authority and personal influence, and the use of media and public appearances in criminal cases prosecuted ex officio and in cases where the state attorney or deputy the State Attorney performs his powers and duties in the protection of the property of the Republic of Croatia.”
It was a very difficult, rainy Saturday for the Prime Minister, it was a bit like the sky was crying for the HDZ (again). Things should have been completely different during that day. Over in Brussels, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic managed to get an extension of the deadline in which Croatia has to spend European Union money for reconstruction, because Croatia didn’t manage to spend any of that money on time. The newly arrested Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, Darko Horvat, is in charge of this reconstruction process. It seems now that the Horvat scandal is only just beginning.
In addition to the above, Croatia was visited by an American carrier, which is, in fact, a matter of global relations and is nothing new for the country, the two nations from each side of the Atlantic Ocean have been allies in this regard since back in 1952, when Tito, dressed up in his white uniform, walked along the bridge of the American carrier Coral Sea. But in a country full of scandals, while energy prices are rampant, any extra time will come in handy for the post-earthquake reconstruction that we didn’t bother to do and of course, for a walk on this American carrier.
The Prime Minister’s easy Saturday morning coffee was interrupted by the Horvat scandal, and that’s never a good way in which to start the day.
The prime minister was probably planning a quiet family morning donning a comfortable dressing gown, sipping a coffee, surfing the internet on his tablet which would have been packed with praise and good news and enjoying the view of the calming Zagreb rain through the window of his warm apartment. And then came some very awkward news – a search of the house of the Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property. The Horvat scandal had broken.
This would never be good news, but it was a very awkward story indeed for Saturday, especially because Andrej Plenkovic himself had said a few days ago: “I will not be removing anyone until the end of my term.” The kiss of death? Maybe. Moreover, as the slow recovery process after the earthquakes of 2020 was the reason for the opposition in parliament to demand the removal of Minister Horvat, just two weeks ago Plenkovic signed a sixteen-page document defending the newly arrested minister.
Plenkovic responded to Saturday’s events and the Darko Horvat scandal with a direct verbal attack on the State Attorney’s Office, asking for explanations, and his entire appearance in front of the camera can be described as: “Do you even know who I am?!”
According to the State Attorney’s Office Act, the State Attorney’s Office doesn’t have to justify what it does to the PM. It is an autonomous and independent judicial body, not a government body, and it isn’t under an executive branch. Just asking them for additional talks and some special explanations to the Prime Minister can be interpreted as an attempt to influence them, which is strictly forbidden. Andrej Plenkovic, very well versed in law himself, knows that all too well.
But why is Plenkovic so nervous about the unfolding Horvat scandal? Because he is personally responsible for the selection of Minister Horvat, as well as every member of the government. Let us remember – the person who collects 76 signatures in the parliament receives the mandate to form the government from the President of the Republic and becomes the Prime Minister when the Parliament confirms the election of the Prime Minister. Ministers don’t come to their positions by way of interviews and tenders, they’re people trusted by the future prime minister himself, who he himself proposes for the position.
If any of these people nominated by Plenkovic personally for the highest office in the country have been arrested on suspicion of very serious corruption, then this is not only the problem of that minister, but also the problem of Plenkovic on a very personal level. Why would we trust him any more if he can’t put his team in order? Nobody imposed these people on him, he guaranteed both the deputies and the people of Croatia that they were the best choices for their respective positions.
Does Plenkovic still guarantee the knowledge, ability and honesty of his ministers?
Plenkovic repeatedly vouched for all these people, for their ability, honour and honesty. Therefore, we completely agree that he shouldn’t remove anyone by the end of his term, but should resign, himself, as Prime Minister of Croatia.
The Prime Minister can’t keep repeating until the end of the century that he didn’t know about the problematic behaviours of the people he himself elected or at a lower level signed for their appointment. He, by proposing these people to these positions, vouched for them personally. As far as the legal responsibility of Minister Horvat is concerned, it is, of course, a matter for the courts, but political responsibility for this affair, this crisis and this shame (because of the brazen inaction of Minister Horvat, Plenkovic was forced to ask the EU for a new deadline for the spending of the funds from the Solidarity Fund) is on Andrej Plenkovic.
The news that Plenkovic fired Minister Horvat at his request doesn’t change anything. It is only a small legal maneuver. Horvat knows that he cannot remain in office, and in this way he makes things easier for the party chief.
If anyone knows how to embarrass this country – HDZ definitely knows
But, realistically, it’s highly unlikely that Plenkovic will decide to resign on the back of the Horvat scandal. He has enough dogs in his fight, and most of the opposition is not going to want new elections, they wouldn’t be re-elected to the parliament. In addition, his resignation would mean the end of Plenkovic’s political career instead of its continuation somewhere else a bit more flashy, let’s say in the European Commission. Even now, it will be difficult for Plenkovic to explain that billions intended for the reconstruction should have been managed by the minister who has now been arrested. If anyone knows how to embarrass this country, then HDZ definitely knows.
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