ZAGREB, April 6, 2018 – Right-wing politicians and NGOs close to the Catholic Church on Thursday said that an interview with the president of the Croatian Bishops Conference (HBK) Želimir Puljić on Croatian Catholic Radio did not bring any “great turnabout” in the Church’s stance on the Istanbul Convention and that this was just media interpretation.
“Archbishop Puljić hasn’t made any great turnabout in the Church’s stance about the Istanbul Convention but has rather given Prime Minister Andrej Plenković the opportunity to stop the ratification and get back to dialogue with all social stakeholders,” Željka Markić of the “In the Name of the Family” association told Hina.
“As far as I understood, Puljić welcomed the interpretive statement accompanying the convention and the prime minister’s readiness to take account of numerous objections by citizens, civil groups, HAZU (The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), the Matica Hrvatska and the HBK” about the harmfulness of ratifying the Istanbul Convention, she said.
HRAST party leader Ladislav Ilčić believes that Puljić is obviously seeking an answer about the legal effect of the interpretive statement, which still hasn’t been given.
“That the Church now welcomes the Istanbul Convention with the interpretive statement is the media’s interpretation. At its plenary session, the HBK explicitly said that it does not support the Istanbul Convention. The statements by Archbishop Puljić are actually questions to Prime Minister Plenković about the legal effect of the interpretive statement. Statements in the form of questions are by no means at the level of explicitness of the HBK plenary session, which opposed the ratification,” Ilčić underscored.
It is ridiculous to claim that the interpretive statement has any legal weight. “It was prepared with the aim of confusing the public and obviously some prominent people in the Church. I am not aware of what was said exactly at the meeting between the archbishop and the prime minister, nor what was said before or after that meeting, however, I can commend the prime minister’s PR experts for this excellent media operation,” HRAST MP Hrvoje Zekanović said. He is a member of the ruling coalition.
The coordinator of a civil initiative that organised a protest rally against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Zagreb on March 24 Kristina Pavlović said that the interview with Puljić was in fact a question to lawyers as to whether the interpretive statement had the legal weight to prevent the introduction of gender ideology.
Zadar Archbishop and HBK President Puljić on Thursday denied media reports about a “turnabout” in the Church’s position with regard to the Istanbul Convention, underscoring that there is no turnabout but rather that such an important matter should be approached with a cool head, scientifically and critically.
In a statement for the press, Puljić explained his statement in the interview with Croatian Catholic Radio which was seen by certain media as a turnabout in the Church’s position on the ratification of the convention, underscoring that, with regard to the government’s interpretive statement, he welcomed in good faith Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s intention to take account of the numerous objections by citizens, associations, HAZU, the HBK and others to the ratification of the convention.
He noted, however, that at the same time he clearly raised the issue of the legal effect of the government’s interpretive statement, the press release said.
“The Istanbul Convention says that a country that ratifies it cannot change or limit the obligations that it contains. As such, the interpretive statement doesn’t change the legal effect of the ratification and cannot protect Croatia, Croatia’s legal order, education system and society in general from the introduction of gender ideology through the Istanbul Convention,” the press release said.