Party representing Serbian national minority wants to have several assistant minister positions.
HDZ and SDSS have intensified negotiations about which ministries will have representatives of the Serbian national minority at the positions of state secretaries or assistant ministers. According to unofficial reports, SDSS wants to have, among other positions, one such post at the Ministry of Culture, reports Večernji List on October 29, 2016.
In addition to the Ministry of Culture, SDSS wants to have state secretaries or assistant ministers in Ministries of Education, Regional Development and EU Funds, and Agriculture, plus a high-level position at the State Office for Reconstruction and Housing.
It is not clear what is HDZ’s position, but SDSS has based its request on the letter of intent signed with the government after the Erdut Agreement in the 1990s, in which Ministries of Culture, Interior, Justice and Education were explicitly mentioned as four departments in which representatives of the Serbian ethnic community from Eastern Slavonia are eligible for appointments to duties not lower than assistant minister.
Some HDZ members believe that the Erdut Agreement and the accompanying letter of intent have been implemented and that any such rights are not eternal. “All of this is still a subject of discussions”, said one HDZ insider who wished to remain anonymous. Other high-ranking HDZ official said that all such negotiations start with maximalist demands, which are later reduced.
Former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović commented on unofficial information that SDSS was demanding a high-level position at the Ministry of Culture. “I think it does not make any sense, but it is not up to me to decide. This is similar to a model as it existed at the time of governments led by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and, I think, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. I do not know the details of these negotiations, but everybody has a legitimate right to issue such demands, and the other side has the legitimate right to accept or reject them”, said Hasanbegović.
The high-ranking position guarantees included in the letter of intent were respected during the time of the government led by Ivica Račan (2000-2003), as well as the governments of Ivo Sanader (2003-2009) and Jadranka Kosor (2009-2011), but this practice was stopped during the term of Prime Minister Zoran Milanović (2011-2016). Former Assistant Minister of Culture Čedomir Višnjić was appointed by then Culture Minister Andrea Zlatar (HNS) as a special advisor and member of the Governing Council of the Croatian Memorial Documentation Centre of the Homeland War. Minister Hasanbegović dismissed him from both positions and moved him to a lower-ranking position within the Ministry.