HDZ Presidency Overwhelmingly Supports Istanbul Convention Ratification

By 21 March 2018

ZAGREB, March 21, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday evening that the Presidency of his HDZ party had supported the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by a majority of votes. "The vote was 19 to six. The government will continue the process of adopting the law to ratify the Council of Europe's Convention on preventing violence against women," Plenković told the press after a four-hour meeting of the HDZ Presidency.

He said that the document would be on the government agenda on Thursday before being sent to Parliament for ratification. The inner Cabinet will discuss it with the coalition partners on Wednesday.

Plenković said it was important to him that the majority of the Presidency members had voted in favour and that they had raised the standards of democratic discussion within the party. He added that he thought that a majority of the HDZ lawmakers would also vote in favour.

According to sources from the HDZ, the Presidency members who voted against are: deputy party president Milijan Brkic, vice president Ivana Maletić, international relations secretary Miro Kovač, political secretary Davor Ivo Stier, and Presidency members Darko Milinović and Anton Kliman.

Asked if this indicated that he should change people around him, Plenković said that "the fact that someone thinks differently does not have to mean that they should not be in the same party or aspire to the same values."

Asked if this meant that the HDZ was not on the same side as the Catholic Church, which is opposed to ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Plenković said: "We are absolutely on the same side. The purpose of this convention is to protect women against violence and domestic violence. I am deeply convinced that the ratification of this convention will not impose on the Croatian legal system any obligations that would be against the values of the HDZ."

Noting that the HDZ was implementing its election programme, Plenković said that they were dealing with an extremely negative social problem because a few years ago 47 percent of all people killed were women, mostly by their partners.

Asked if the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Parliament depended on the opposition, Plenković said that it is ratified by a simple majority. He added that the interpretive statement, which will form an integral part of the ratification act, would be made public on Thursday after the Cabinet meeting.

Responding to a question about a protest rally against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention planned for Saturday, Plenković said that it was not a protest against the HDZ but a free expression of opinion in a democratic society.

"In a democratic society everyone can express their views. We as the government and the strongest political party in Croatia, with a clearly defined value system, are proposing a document which has been ratified and is in force in 17 EU member states and 28 Council of Europe members, which has been signed by 45 countries and the drafting of which involved Croatian experts," Plenković said.