Prime Minister Doubts Motives Behind Planned Vukovar Protest

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 19, 2018 – Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković called on Tuesday for preventing politicisation and manipulation of Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava’s plan to organise a protest rally against inefficiency in war crimes investigations, stressing that Penava’s plan had taken on dimensions in the public sphere that did not necessarily concern only the identification of war criminals.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of his party’s parliamentary group, Plenković said that Penava’s plan “has assumed a purpose in the public sphere that does not necessarily concern finding those responsible for war crimes but is an evident attempt to destabilise the government, targeting the relationship with the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) as one of the coalition partners.”

The mayor of Vukovar has announced for October 13 a protest against “the silence of state institutions” on the lack of efficiency in solving war crimes committed in that eastern town in the early 1990s.

Plenković said that as far as he, the government and the HDZ were concerned, there was not a single topic concerning the dignity of the Homeland War, homeland security, Croatian Army, police or war veterans that had not been addressed in the best possible way in the past two years. “So all those who would want to profit from that, if they look at the facts, they will see that they have nothing to hold against this government or its ministers. The prosecution of war crimes has its own course and will continue,” he said.

He underlined that it was a joint position of the HDZ, its parliamentary group and its coalition partners that there was no statute of limitations for war crimes, notably those committed in Vukovar and at Ovčara. He added that additional effort should be invested to find the perpetrators, prosecute them and if their guilt is proven, sentence them. “There is a full consensus about that, including on the part of Mayor Penava,” Plenković said.

That job is done by agencies other than the government – the prosecutorial authorities and police – and those agencies “need to be strengthened,” said the prime minister.

Plenković also said that the national legislature would not hold a session dedicated to war crimes prosecution and the demand by some war veterans associations that the SDSS and its MP Milorad Pupovac take a position on the Homeland War, explaining that such a parliamentary meeting would be against the usual practice and principles.

In a comment on demands by some of the war veterans’ associations that the parliament hold a thematic session on the SDSS and that SDSS MP Pupovac state his position on the Homeland War, the HDZ’s political secretary and Public Administration Minister, Lovro Kuščević told the RTL commercial broadcaster on Tuesday evening that Pupovac had voted for the new law on war veterans, for the purchase of fighter jets for the Croatian Army, and for Croatia’s sovereignty. “Should he not be working in the interest of the Republic of Croatia, he will not be a part of the coalition,” Kuščević told RTL.

He recalled that earlier in the day war veterans met with War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and that they expressed clear support for the government. “We are the ones who have increased the budget for veterans, for the army…” said Kuščević.

After a reporter remarked that despite that, veterans were still protesting, Kuščević said, “We have not heard that they want a protest”. He added that he was not sure war veterans supported the Vukovar mayor’s protest plan. “I’m not sure. We’ll see.”

“If anyone wants all war crimes to be prosecuted, that’s the government. I cannot condone this kind of protests,” he said.


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