ZAGREB, Sept 25, 2020 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that he was not pleased that three of his ministers had visited the club of former JANAF CEO Dragan Kovacevic during the lockdown when all bars were closed and citizens were advised to avoid large gatherings.
“I think the same as you do. You think I am thrilled? You should ask around a bit more about who was there and when. I don’t know, but you look into it,” Plenkovic said in response to questions from the press after a meeting of the parliamentary group of his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.
Asked if he considered it a problem that his ministers had gone to the club during the lockdown, he said that there were also some more senior officials who frequented the place.
“I asked all my ministers at the cabinet meeting and three of them said they had been there. They had also said this in public, which was the first time I heard about it. Why do you think that I as the prime minister should know where any of them has their lunch or dinner, who they socialise with. That’s not realistic, it’s beside the point,” Plenkovic said.
He referred the press to the ministers Tomislav Coric, Oleg Butkovic and Josip Aladrovic to ask them to explain why they had gone there, noting that he did not know and that this was not something he should know.
He added that they should also ask the State Inspectorate why they had not checked the club. “As far as I could see in the media, they said they did not go there because that place is not registered as a catering establishment.”
“What is very important in this whole story is the astonishment of the President and some of the former presidents who were quoted by some dailies yesterday as experts. That is a novelty to me and a much bigger thing than those who are astonished that the government, the State Attorney’s Office, USKOK and police act in accordance with the law,” the prime minister said, adding that at issue here was the separation of powers into three branches of government and compliance with the law. “That is crucial, of course, along with suspicions of corruption.”
Asked to comment on the opposition’s initiative to set up a parliamentary inquiry commission to look into the influence of the executive branch on the work of independent judicial institutions, Plenkovic said that he did not need an inquiry commission to understand “who is astonished by what.” He said that as soon as the opposition decides on the exact scope of that commission, the HDZ and their coalition partners would consider the proposal.