Government Does Not See Statement by President as an Attack

By 30 November 2018

ZAGREB, November 30, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that he did not see the statement by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović as an attack on him, and announced that the National Security Council would be convened in December.

"No, why would I see it as an attack? The only thing I can see as an attack is what happened a few months ago, that text messages are fabricated and attempts are made to confuse the public in Croatia and to implicate me in something that is on the other side of the law. That is an attack," Plenković told the press after a meeting of the parliamentary group of his HDZ party.

Plenković said that "phenomena" such as the fake text messages scandal should be investigated and cleared up by relevant authorities. "I don't see anything new here because things like this happen in our political and media arena every week."

Asked to comment on the president's claim that he had not responded to her invitation to call a National Security Council meeting, Plenković said that these meetings needed to be well prepared, and the Council needs to adopt a document concerning the work of the security services next year.

He said that the National Security Council would convene some time in December, when the timing is deemed right.

Asked if Grabar-Kitarović should have temporarily suspended her national security adviser Vlado Galić until the scandal was discussed, Plenković said that this was for her to decide.

The President's Office said earlier that President Grabar-Kitarović most resolutely dismissed any insinuations of her alleged involvement in an alleged attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Plenković and that she considered this insinuation as a direct political attack on the state institutions, especially the institution of the President of the Republic.

Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday that a meeting of the National Security Council would be convened "when it becomes necessary."

Asked why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković hasn't replied to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's request to convene the National Security Council, Jandroković said that he didn't have any information about that.

"I believe that the Council will be convened when that becomes necessary," he said, and when pressed to say whether it was necessary now, he said, "It's hard for me to say. I would have to see the reasons for the President's stance. I saw that it was pretty dramatic. I am not quite sure which part of Mr Varga's deposition the president is referring to but it is certainly necessary to discuss and resolve the problem, if it exists," Jandroković said ahead of a meeting of the parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.

Asked to comment on the statement by president that the political institutions in the country were currently under the strongest attack and the prime minister was not reacting, Jandroković said he didn't think the president's calling out the government was that dramatic. "A warning of an ongoing attack on the institutions is indeed dramatic but mentioning the prime minister isn't as dramatic as is being made out."

Asked whether he agreed with the president's claim that the institutions were currently under attack, Jandroković said it was necessary to determine what had actually happened. "As soon as the fake text messages scandal emerged and when information leaked from the security system, it was something that needed investigating to see what happened. Who did that, what their intentions were and was there a wider group of people involved, should be determined. Perhaps that wasn't the first time. That act indicates that it's necessary to take action. I'm not sure though that that's a reason to convene the National Security Council and to escalate tensions," Jandroković said on the statement by president.

For more on Croatia’s president, click here.