Plenković Rejects Minister Žalac Resignation

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 11, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday he had rejected the resignation of Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac after she hit a 10-year-old girl while driving without a valid driving licence.

Speaking to reporters in Zagreb, Plenković said that the minister’s failure to renew her driving licence was not the kind of infringement that would require her resignation.

Žalac has offered her resignation after she hit a 10-year-old girl who was jaywalking in the eastern town of Vinkovci on Saturday. The girl was hospitalised and the minister visited her in the evening.

Plenković said he had talked to Žalac several times since the accident, adding that her offer of resignation was “a fair and moral move”. “This could have happened to anyone. Her failure to renew her driving licence is not the kind of infringement for which I would ask her to resign from the government,” the prime minister said.

He said that this was an omission and negligence on the minister’s part, but not a criminal office. “It was a minor offence, the minister has paid the fine and will have her licence renewed,” he added.

Plenković said that the most important thing was that the girl was recovering well and would suffer no permanent consequences of the accident.

Commending Žalac for her performance as minister, Plenković said that during her term in office Croatia had increased its EU funding absorption rate from 9 percent to 65 percent and that her ambition was to increase the rate to 85 percent by the end of the year.

Speaking earlier, Žalac said that she was shaken up by Saturday’s traffic accident in which a ten-year girl was injured after being hit by the car driven by her. “I am truly shaken. I wouldn’t want what happened to me on Saturday happen to anyone else. I was driving to a store when a little girl ran in front of my car. I hit her, I assisted her on the scene as much as I could, we called an ambulance and the police and the girl was taken to the hospital in Vinkovci and from there to the Clinical Hospital in Osijek,” said the minister in her highly emotional address to the press in her ministry.

Commenting on her expired licence, the minister said she was not even aware that the licence had expired, admitting however that this is no excuse. “This isn’t an excuse at all. My licence has expired on 9 June 2016,” Žalac said. Her driving licence was issued in 2006 and the minister was confident that it was valid until she was scheduled for a regular medical examination.

“I only care that this little girl is fine, that she is recovering well and that everything will be all right. That is what is most important to me right now,” Žalac reiterated several times.

She apologised to the Croatian public, saying that she was driving without a valid licence out of ignorance, reiterating however that this is no excuse.

More news about the incident can be found in the Politics section.


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