Plenkovic: Government to Continue with Food Aid to Earthquake Victims

By 12 October 2021

ZAGREB, 12 October - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Monday after a session of the party leadership that all people in the earthquake-hit Banovina region would continue receiving food aid, noting that reports to the contrary were a communication glitch.

Asked by reporters what was going on in Banovina at a time when the winter is approaching and why the number of people entitled to free meal has dropped drastically, Plenković said that a misunderstanding had evidently happened.

He added that he had discussed the matter with Deputy PM Tomo Medved and believed that Sisak-Moslavina County head Ivan Celjak had resolved the matter.

"The government has given HRK 12 million for that type of expenses to the (Sisak-Moslavina) county, and the funding has been further allocated to towns," he said, adding that he believed the local team dealing with the earthquake aftermath in Glina had issued a clumsy statement that was conveyed further.

"The team in charge of dealing with the earthquake aftermath and the government will secure sufficient funds; we will support towns and municipalities in Banovina, and anyone in need of free meals will get them," he said.

Croatia will use electricity from nuclear power plant 

Asked if turning to nuclear energy was the solution in conditions of growing energy prices and climate change, Plenković said that Croatia would use electricity from nuclear power plants.

Croatia has its own energy strategy and advocates renewable energy sources that emit as little greenhouse gases as possible, he said.

He recalled that Croatia was a 50% stakeholder in the Nuclear Power Plant Krško, which has been producing electricity for the past 40 years or so, its operating life lasting until 2043, and that Croatia would use it.

Nuclear energy is the least harmful for the environment if everything is safe, he said, adding that he did not see anything problematic in using energy from nuclear power plants.

He agreed with Finance Minister Zdravko Marić's assessment made earlier in the day in which he did not rule out changes in excise taxes.

"We are following the matter with great interest, should oil prices explode, there are mechanisms with which to intervene," he said.

On Dobronić

Asked if he expected a broader consensus regarding the appointment of Radovan Dobronić as Supreme Court president, Plenković said that it would probably happen considering the unanimous support for Dobronić of the parliament's Judiciary Committee.

"The parliamentary majority will support him, there are no changes in that regard, and as for what the Opposition will do, I cannot tell," he said.

Asked how the recent rift in the biggest opposition party group, the Social Democrats, would reflect on the parliament, he said that he did not expect any major changes.

"The issue of who will be deputy parliament speaker should be decided by the Opposition, whatever they decide, we will support... The Opposition has two deputy parliament speakers, it is up to them to agree on that," he said.

Parties more to the right than HDZ think they are better patriots

As for new Homeland Movement president Ivan Penava's statement that Plenković was not pursuing Franjo Tuđman's policy, Plenković said that there were as many as three parties more to the right than the HDZ - Bridge, the Homeland Movement and the Sovereignists, which enjoyed the support of 1%, 3.5% and 6.5% of the electorate respectively, while the HDZ enjoyed the support of 27% of the electorate.

"The parties that are more to the right than us are against cooperation with ethnic minorities because they think that they are better Croats, Catholics, better patriots than us. We do not think that, and evidently a vast majority of voters do not think so," he said.

Plenković went on to say that the sole mission of the Homeland Movement had been to topple Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and help Zoran Milanović get elected as President, as well as to topple him as HDZ leader. Unfortunately, they accomplished their first goal but as for the second goal, they have not and will not succeed, he said.

Good cooperation with Austria to continue

Commenting on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's stepping down amid suspicion of involvement in corruption, Plenković said that he would continue to cooperate well with Austria and the HDZ's sister party there.

He noted, however, that comparisons according to which unlike Croatian politicians, Austrian politicians step down immediately, were "incorrect and insulting" to the HDZ, notably given what he described as double standards, with the HDZ "being attacked for the smallest mistakes".