War Veterans’ Benefits Under Fire

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, May 24, 2018 – A decision on the hiring of school principals which gives an advantage to war veterans in the selection and hiring process and which was signed by Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak on Thursday elicited much criticism among opposition parties in the parliament, which said that a special, war-veteran caste had been established.

Unlike the opposition, ruling HDZ party member of parliament Josip Đakić, who also heads the HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans, believes that the criticism is coming from “those who have enjoyed management positions so far.”

“There has been no legal precondition so far to enable children of Croatian defenders killed in the war or defenders who have studied until now to apply and enjoy that benefit. The law is clear and I think that the minister is one of the few to warn all those in decision-making places that veterans and children of soldiers killed or gone missing in the war have an advantage, which is commendable,” said Đakić.

He believes that there would not be too many candidates interested in the positions concerned or meeting the necessary qualifications, but that a certain number will nonetheless apply. “There is no need for fear, competence comes first, but the status of a child of a soldier killed in the war must be respected, too,” said Đakić.

Social Democrat MP and former veterans’ minister Predrag Matić said that “a regulation giving veterans an advantage in the employment process, except for managerial positions, was in force earlier, too, meaning that veterans have always had an advantage (in the employment process) but could not be appointed to head the HRT public broadcaster or INA just because they are veterans.”

“That was one of the protesting veterans’ demands, incorporated in the new law adopted last November, and now the country is in big trouble. The science minister has given her approval for that law and is now doubting, even though she participated in its drafting,” said Matić.

“School principals are rightfully worried because there are around 20,000 unemployed veterans, they could take over all positions… The status of a veteran cannot give someone an advantage when a managerial position is concerned, the Partisans themselves did not function that way from the 1940s to the 1990s. We are very good at copying laws from them, we have outdone them in many regards. The latest move does veterans no credit, and most of them are not responsible for this,” said Matić.

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak said that the law was “disgraceful”, adding, “We live in a country where a caste has been formed that believes they have more rights than others.” “I think that in 1991 nobody fought for privileges but to defend ourselves from the Great Serbian aggression, and all those who seek to have more rights than other citizens are simply war profiteers,” said Beljak, himself a veteran.

He went on to say that a vast majority of veterans were not members of any veteran association and did not want to use any privileges and detested the thought of being members of groups claiming to represent veterans.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of the GLAS party said that the legal provision was “unacceptable because one group of citizens cannot be put above others.” “Maybe the veterans should be given an advantage also when ministers are appointed? This is not good for the veterans. We implored the ruling coalition to come to their senses during the debate on the Veterans Act because now we do not see the end of this, maybe the prime minister, too, should be a veteran? I have veterans in my immediate family but I do not see among them the aggression and the need to stress their status that I see in associations claiming to represent the veterans,” said Mrak Taritaš, adding that the ruling coalition passed the veterans law to ensure a stable electorate.


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