ZAGREB, March 21, 2018 – Partners making up Croatia’s ruling coalition support the planned ratification of the Istanbul Convention and the interpretive statement that will accompany the law on the ratification of the Convention is acceptable to them, reporters were told after a meeting of the coalition partners on Wednesday.
HDZ deputy president Milijan Brkić, who opposes the ratification, said that different opinions on the issue in the HDZ were not directed against Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the government, and that the HDZ would not topple its own government for a second time. The previous government was brought down by then ruling HDZ in 2016.
Ivan Vrdoljak, leader of the junior coalition partner HNS, told reporters after the meeting that his party was glad the process of ratification of the Istanbul Convention would continue. “We have stepped up the process in a decent way, we absolutely accept the interpretive statement and believe that it fits into the content and purpose of the Convention,” said Vrdoljak.
Communication with the public about the Convention shows that, owing to political breadth and compromise, Croatia has been achieving increasingly high democratic standards, Vrdoljak said. The interpretive statement consists of what is the purpose of the Convention – protection of women against violence and domestic violence, and the Convention does not impose any obligation to introduce any gender ideology, said Vrdoljak.
He added that the interpretive statement underlined constitutional provisions, notably those relating to human rights, minority rights and civil liberties. “As a member of the HNS and a liberal, I am particularly pleased that we have underlined what Croatia is and what Croatia must protect – the freedom of every individual as well as human and minority rights,” he said.
Asked why such a statement was being adopted in the first place, he answered: “Where’s the harm in that?” “Where’s the harm in any statement that contributes to a broader social consensus? I think it’s good. Croatian society is complex and if someone believes that by insisting on their views they would tailor Croatia to suit their own needs, that won’t happen,” said Vrdoljak.
Brkić, who is also a deputy speaker of parliament, further said that the parliamentary majority was stable and that differing opinions on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention were not directed against Prime Minister Plenković and the government. “There are different views and positions in the HDZ. I am not a better HDZ member than those whose opinions differ from mine nor are they less important HDZ members than I. This definitely won’t destabilise the HDZ. The party is united and there are different opinions in it. Everyone has their own views on certain social phenomena,” Brkić told reporters.
Only irresponsible people, notably in the HDZ, can think that the vote is directed against the government and Plenković, he said. “A year and a half ago we made a foolish thing and may that be the last time we toppled our own government,” said Brkić.
The head of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) Milorad Pupovac said that his party group would support the law on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention regardless of the differences between the SDSS and the HDZ on certain issues and formulations in the interpretive statement that would accompany the ratification law. He added that a compromise had been reached on the matter and that the SDSS would support the ratification law.
Pupovac would not give a straightforward answer when asked if his party would also support Economy Minister Martina Dalić against whom the opposition has filed a motion of no confidence. “I have been thinking about Agrokor and the way the government has followed the process of reaching a settlement… and the company’s restructuring. It is important to us that everything is proceeding as it should. When the topic proposed by the opposition is put on the agenda, we will definitely present our own opinion, not someone else’s.”
He also would not be specific when asked if he believed that Dalić was politically responsible for what was going on in Agrokor. Responding to a reporter’s remark that the case involving Minister Dalić was not a new thing and that his party had a month to think about it, he responded by saying, “You don’t really think we have been sitting with our arms and legs crossed, looking at our belly buttons, for the past month.”
Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS) president and Member of Parliament Darinko Kosor said that he was satisfied with the interpretive statement and that it was in line with the Croatian Constitution. “I reckon that all citizens as well as MPs will endorse the statement, if they recognise the Constitution.”
Asked if the statement had anything to do with gender ideology, Kosor said there was no gender ideology in the Convention and that this would be written in the statement. The statement puts emphasis very clearly on violence against women and domestic violence, said Kosor, recalling that one in three murders in Croatia was committed in domestic violence. “Anything else is a matter of politics, and we are clearly distancing ourselves from that in the statement.”
The leader of the HDSSB party and MP Branimir Glavaš said that he had already stated that he would vote for the ratification of the Convention, that the interpretive statement had three points and that he did not see anything contentious about it. He said that the ratification of the Convention was likely to be put on the parliament’s agenda after Easter.
Leaving the meeting in the government offices, independent MP Ivica Mišić only briefly confirmed that he would support the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.