ZAGREB, July 26, 2020 – President Zoran Milanovic said on Sunday he would like to see Boris Milosevic, the deputy prime minister from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), and its president Milorad Pupovac at the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm in Knin, which he said should be joy and not gloating over someone’s defeat.
“It would be good, I’d like to see him there,” the president said on N1 television when asked if it would be good for Milosevic to attend the military operation anniversary on August 5.
“I think that would be a gesture… Whether he will be capable of it, whether the colleagues from the SDSS have the stomach for it… They have a problem with it. In smaller portions of the Serb people that is seen as a disaster, as persecution and as genocide, yet the story is a little complicated and I think Croatia can be proud of how that was planned, how it was done. After that there were mistakes which we are aware of and for which a price was paid,” the president said.
If he is booed at the anniversary as he was when he was prime minister, Milanovic said he did not know how he would react. He said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had started doing something about that and that one could no longer see in his vicinity “merry guys who come to provoke and act out.”
Knin shouldn’t be given the mythical significance
The president said that Knin, which became a local centre of the Serb rebellion in the 1990s by a combination of coincidences, should not be given mythical significance. “It’s a small town with Zvonimir’s Fortress and there is symbolism in that, but it’s not a mythical place in the modern Croatian history,” he said, adding that Operation Storm should be celebrated in Zagreb.
Milanovic welcomed the fact that Milosevic was part of the new government, but said it would be better if members of ethnic minorities who were in the government had some executive powers.
Asked why he did not attend the inauguration of the new parliament, he said one could likewise ask why he did not attend the new cabinet’s first session given that it was a body he would cooperate with much more than with parliament.
“We don’t have a tradition, we are creating it. In these changes, I won’t be anyone’s epigone.”
EU money can’t be used to solve budget problems
The president also spoke of the €22 billion the EU has earmarked for Croatia to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and financing over the next seven years. He said this money could not be used to solve budget problems when it was certain that the deficit would be huge.
“We are getting the money for development, for projects, and that should then generate new value, returning the money into the budget through taxes. The next year and a half will be very difficult because we will lack money. It needs to be taken somewhere,” he said, adding that next year there would be no money to buy new fighter jets.
Speaking of the situation in the country caused by the coronavirus epidemic, the president reiterated that it had become a state of emergency but had not been aligned with the constitution.
“If that were done, I don’t see the president playing a part, but the government and parliament. I can’t say more or I’ll become violent.”
He reiterated that the national COVID-19 response team was not legally established and that it needed authority for the decisions it was making, and that parliament should play a key part in that.
“I warned the prime minister that people will sue the state because the decisions aren’t legally founded. That team is a para-body. The Constitutional Court will have to decide on that.”
If you don’t go to the dentist, caries can spread to the heart
The president also spoke of his comparison of COVID-19 with caries. “The disease is dangerous, it’s no joke, but I didn’t compare it with caries without reason. Caries seems harmless, but if you don’t take care of teeth hygiene every day, if you get caries and don’t go to the dentist, it can spread to the heart. But generally, everything will be fine.”
The coronavirus infection should be treated responsibly, daily, with concentration, by protecting seniors as nearly all who have died have been seniors, the president added.