Milanović: Plenković has to Resolve "the Banožić Problem"

By 2 November 2021
Milanović: Plenković has to Resolve "the Banožić Problem"

ZAGREB, 2 November, 2021 - The President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Zoran Milanović, said on Tuesday said he cannot work with Defence Minister Mario Banožić and expects Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to "resolve this problem" and remove the person who has become "a problem for the state."

"I can discuss these matters only with the leader of the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and not with Banožić any more. This has become serious and has repercussions for national security and relations with neighbours. Because people who don't know the difference between the truth and lies, and are doing such a delicate job, are dangerous for Croatia," Milanović told the press in Vukovar.

Milanović and Banožić have been locked in a public row since a decision to retire the commander of the Honorary-Guard Battalion, Elvis Burčul. This weekend details were revealed showing that several members of the battalion had attended a funeral for four members of the HVO (Croatian Defence Force) in Bugojno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the Defence Ministry and President having different opinions on the matter.

What has been happening over the past two days is dangerous and irresponsible, said Milanović.

"It is impossible to work with him," said Milanović referring to Banožić and warning that this is the first time a defence minister has accused the president and commander in chief of the armed forces of breaching the Constitution.

"OK. I took note. You will feel the consequences," Milanović sent a message to Banožić.

He said he can speak only to the prime minister and expects him to "resolve the problem that we have and that is Banožić."

"He arrived totally unprepared, ignorant and terribly aggressive. A local party honcho who leads one of the most delicate systems in the country and who is supposed to work with the commander in chief and be at his service, and he is doing just the opposite," said Milanović.

Milanović reiterated that Banožić had "criminally" retired Burčul and that he insists on Burčul being reinstated into the system.

He once again warned of the coming meeting of the Defence Council (scheduled for 9 November) and pointed out that the Croatian military is facing a serious material crisis because its needs have been totally ignored, in particular the ground forces.

"And these are things that I cannot resolve because I do not manage the budget," he added.

Milanović described Plenković's comment on a "creeping coup" as being absolutely irresponsible and alarming.