Plenković Rejects Proposals to Ban Serb Minority Political Party

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ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 – Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Croatia was not a country where freedom of speech or political parties were banned, stressing that anything that raised tensions between Croats and the Serb minority was not good.

“It is my duty as Prime Minister and president of the HDZ to see to it that such situations are avoided, to nip them in the bud and work on promoting coexistence between all people who live in Croatia. I will insist on that, regardless of any local initiatives,” Plenković told the press after a session of the HDZ’s Presidency, National Council and Main Committee.

The HDZ deputies in the Vukovar Town Council on Tuesday strongly reacted to statements by Serb Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković of the Democratic Alliance of Serbs (DSS) and DSS councillor Borislav Nikolić, saying that they would take the necessary legal steps to have the DSS banned because Milaković and Nikolić had tried to equate the victim and the Great Serbian aggressor, humiliated Homeland War victims and manipulated historical facts about the war.

Plenković reiterated that war crimes prosecution and work on determining the truth was what had to be done. Those in charge of that job, the police and the prosecutorial authorities, are working more intensively than before, he said. “That task should be dealt with by them and the courts.”

Stressing that the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Danube region was the key legacy of Croatia’s first president Franjo Tuđman, Plenković said that it was a unique endeavour that should be promoted and that reconciliation and coexistence should be built on the truth, while victims should be respected and war criminals punished.

Asked if he would call on HDZ deputy leader Milijan Brikić to explain to the public details of the fake text messages affair, Plenković reiterated that their goal was to have this affair fully clarified, which he said was the task of the law enforcement authorities and not a political party.

“We as a political party can discuss this matter only if we know for sure that something unlawful was done. I think it would be irresponsible of us to act otherwise before we have a clear situation,” the prime minister said, recalling that he had discussed the matter with Brkić after the scandal broke out and now the relevant authorities were investigating.

Commenting on the case of Darko Kovačević, who had brutally beaten up a young girl in Zadar and was released from investigative detention a few days ago, Plenković said that some of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention could help in cases like this and could provide guidance in aligning Croatia’s procedural law with the Convention.

Plenković said that the HDZ’s approval rating was at about 29 percent. “After two years in office, we can be more than pleased, compared with some others. We feel good, we are consolidated and on the right track.”

Speaking of today’s meeting of the HDZ’s leadership, Plenković said that a report on the party’s activities, a financial report and key documents for next year’s work plan had been submitted at the meeting. He said that the HDZ was financially consolidated and had no credit obligations or obligations towards suppliers.

More news on the tensions in Vukovar can be found in our Politics section.


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