Parliament Speaker Jandroković Worried about Incidents

By 19 January 2019

ZAGREB, January 19, 2019 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday commented on this week's incident involving Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and MOST MP Nikola Grmoja, saying the prime minister's reaction, no matter how inappropriate, was a reaction to unacceptable accusations of high treason.

"We're not all the same. There's a reaction, there's a trigger, i.e. what the MOST MP said," Jandroković told reporters in Rugvica near Zagreb, inviting them to find out the roots of the commotion in parliament on Wednesday, i.e. who caused the incident by using inappropriate language.

He said Grmoja's accusations of high treason were serious and that he made them because Croatia was not blocking Serbia's European Union accession negotiations. "When you accuse someone of high treason, you have accused them of a serious crime," he said, adding that everyone must be accountable for their actions.

"Political dilettantism, populism and demagoguery in which one is calling for bringing Croatia into an international situation which would harm it, only someone who is politically rather stupid can do that or someone who understands nothing or is very ill-meaning and malicious," Jandroković said.

After a reporter noted that HDZ MPs had also accused the opposition of high treason in the past, he said those were isolated cases, whereas Grmoja did so intentionally. "They are deliberately causing tensions between the Croatian people and the Serb minority. It's planned. They are doing it to score cheap political points," he said, calling it a dirty political game.

Jandroković said Plenković did not try to assault Grmoja but wanted to explain to him that what he had said was unacceptable.

As for five demands which the Zagreb mayor forwarded to the government, he said he had not seen them. "We won't agree to any blackmail. Those who blackmail can't be part of the ruling coalition. If there is any blackmail, we will go to an early election."

Reporters asked Jandroković if there was a connection between a recent assault on a high school student in Vukovar who attends classes in the Serbian language and a press conference by mayor Ivan Penava and the publication of a video of Serb students who did not stand up as the Croatian national anthem was played. He said he could not talk about a connection before the investigation was over.

"I can't tell you what could have produced a certain effect, but I'd also like to ask whether it's OK that someone doesn't stand up during the Croatian anthem. We are talking about children here. They should be protected and children's right to privacy should be respected, but it would also be good to tell everyone in Croatia that they should stand up when the Croatian anthem is played because it's a sign of respect for the Croatian state and the Croatian people."

Jandroković pushed for a balanced approach to serious matters. "This is crossing the line of simple politics. This is encroaching upon fundamental freedoms, fundamental rights. Those freedoms and rights are being threatened and we must be very careful about what we say and how we say it."

More news on the Croatian Parliament can be found in the Politics section.