After 50 days, Security Intelligence Agency to get a new director.
Exactly 50 days after President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović signed the dismissal of the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA) director Dragan Lozančić and Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković decided to postpone countersigning the dismissal, the two of them finally reached an agreement, reports Jutarnji List on March 26, 2016.
The President and the Prime Minister yesterday decided that Lozančić will be dismissed and that the new SOA director will be Daniel Markić. They also agreed to replace Ivica Panenić as the head of the Office of the National Security Council with Pjer Šimunović, who is currently Croatia’s Ambassador to Israel. The news was officially confirmed by the Office of the President. Before Markić takes over his duties, he still has to meet with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs and National Security.
Pjer Šimunović was reportedly the choice of the President, while Daniel Markić was proposed by Prime Minister Orešković. However, although the President and the Prime Minister have finally come to an agreement, the appointment of Daniel Markić could still cause conflicts, since sources from HDZ claim that the decision has already caused a lot of dissatisfaction within the party. “HDZ leadership is furious about Markić”, says one source, adding that the party is angry with the President because she decided to accept Markić.
Daniel Markić is currently the head of the International Cooperation Department at the SOA, and his name has recently been mentioned as a potential new director. According to media reports, Lozančić lobbied for Markić as one his closest associates. Markić was born in France where he finished elementary and high school, and has French citizenship. In the early 1990s, Markić came to Croatia to take part in the Homeland War. “I know him from 1991, when he volunteered to become a member of the 1st Brigade of the National Guard”, said recently General Ante Gotovina, adding that Markić was a “disciplined, courageous and promising officer”. Markić worked at the SOA while the agency directors were current Defence Minister Josip Buljević and current HDZ president and First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko, who from the very beginning opposed his appointment to be the new director.
Pjer Šimunović was born in Split and graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. He has a master’s degree from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. He is a long-time employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was the deputy head of the Analytics Department, and he also worked at the Croatia’s Embassy in Paris. He was an assistant minister for a while, and he also worked at the Defence Ministry, first as director of the defence policy and then as state secretary. He also has experience as a journalist, because he worked as a foreign affairs reporter for Večernji List and he cooperated with BBC World Service Radio.