Plenković Accuses GONG of Campaigning Against Croatian Candidate for EC Vice-President

By 27 September 2019

ZAGREB, September 27, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday accused the GONG non-governmental organisation of campaigning against the Croatian candidate for European Commission Vice-President, Dubravka Šuica.

"Dubravka Šuica got through the hearing before the Croatian Parliament's Committee on European Affairs where members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) raised these topics which are now, ostensibly accidentally, being recycled by GONG, which always steps in on the SDP's side," Plenković told reporters in Brussels after a working lunch with European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen.

Plenković was responding to questions about Croatian media reports on Šuica's personal assets and whether those could do her damage during a European Parliament committee hearing next week.

"GONG is a left-wing non-governmental organisation which has launched a major campaign by sending letters to all MEPs in an effort to sway their view on the Croatian candidate for European Commission Vice-President. The public should know this. The seemingly independent GONG is conducting a fierce campaign against the future European Commission Vice-President from Croatia. They are the long arm of the SDP, asking the same questions as MP Grbin. ... This is orchestrated and intentional and I am saying this with full responsibility so that the Croatian public should know," Plenković said.

Asked if this campaign managed to shake the confidence of Ursula von der Leyen, Plenković said: "Not at all."

The GONG NGO said on Thursday it still wanted answers to its six questions about the declaration of assets of Dubravka Šuica, the Croatian candidate for European Commission Vice-President, and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's "attack" on GONG was an attempt "to divert attention from what is important."

GONG explained in a press release why it had sent the questions to the European Parliament. "We requested the declaration of assets... from the Croatian Parliament, but it referred us to the Conflict of Interest Commission, which turned us down, citing the confidentiality of... Šuica's personal data."

"Since we didn't get the answers in Croatia, in the hope that we would finally get them, we sent the questions to European Parliament committees and the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, who will hear Dubravka Šuica."

GONG said Šuica should put an end to years of speculation on the origin of her assets, which GONG said were also investigated by the tax authorities. It would be enough if she published her declarations of assets from the start of her political career and the findings of the tax authorities, the NGO added.

GONG went on to say that the prime minister, instead of attacking those asking questions, should have made sure that the Croatian and the European public were given answers in time. "We have the right to know."

GONG reiterated its questions to Šuica: How will she care for the future of democracy in the EU when the Croatian government is rife with corruption scandals? How will she defend the rule of law if she was against sanctions against Hungary for breaching the rule of law? How will she fight for equality if she was against two resolutions on gender equality? How did she manage, having worked only in the public and government sectors, to gain assets estimated at 5 million euro? Why hasn't she made public all tax audit findings from 2001 to 2009, when she was an MP and the mayor of Dubrovnik?

More news about Dubravka Šuica can be found in the Politics section.