Thursday, 23 June 2022

Milanović Seeks EU Membership Candidate Status For Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday again urged the European Union to grant membership candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to decide on the membership candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, for which there is widespread support.

Milanović on Thursday requested the same status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has Slovenian President Borut Pahor's strong support for this, and Austria has also joined the initiative.

"We have heard from all member states that Ukraine will get the candidate status, which is fine, but Ukraine, just like Moldova, has some huge problems," Milanović said.

"This is an opportunity to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status, as an act of confidence and hope," the Croatian president said, adding that he could not see how anyone could be against it.

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Friday, 6 August 2021

Parl. Speaker Hopeful "Best Candidate" for Supreme Court Head Will Be Elected

ZAGREB, 6 Aug 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday expressed a wish for the best candidate to be selected in a third attempt to appoint the Supreme Court president.

"It is my wish, and I believe most of us involved share it, that this time the best candidate is chosen," Jandroković said during a visit to Split, on the last day potential candidates were able to submit their applications for the post of Supreme Court president.

The State Judicial Council on 7 July published a third public call for the head of the Supreme Court, with 30 days as the application deadline, which expires at midnight.

After the President of the Republic proposes one of the candidates, they will be discussed by the parliament.

Earlier this week, President Zoran Milanović confirmed that he would propose Zagreb Commercial Court judge Radovan Dobronić who in 2013 ruled against eight banks in a case concerning loans denominated in Swiss francs.

Jandroković said today that the ruling majority had still not discussed the candidates.

"We need to see their biographies, programmes, and what the Judiciary Committee and the General Convention of the Supreme Court will say," Jandroković said when asked if there was a consensus on Milanović's candidate.

He noted that it was not impossible the parliament would meet in early September to discuss the topic.

Milanović said earlier that he would nominate his candidate on time after his first candidate Zlata Đurđević did not receive majority support in the parliament.

After the term of Supreme Court president Đuro Sessa expired on 20 July, his deputy Marin Mrčela took over.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Zlata Đurđević: If I Am Not Elected by Sabor, I Will Not Apply After New Public Call

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović's candidate for the Supreme Court president, Zlata Đurđević, said on Tuesday that she would not apply again for the post if she was not elected by the parliament because she did not feel the need to further participate in political processes.

"If the parliament does not elect me, I will not apply after a new public call by the State Judicial Council. I have put myself at the head of state and parliament's disposal with my competence, integrity and responsibility. If they do not support it, I will not apply for the position again. I have my vocation and job that I find entirely fulfilling and I have no need to further participate in political processes," Đurđević told reporters after a session of the parliamentary Judiciary Committee, which she attended as an external member.

"The Committee has made a very good decision and I think that all candidates should be interviewed because the Committee must decide on all candidates transparently and give its opinion," she said in a comment on the Judiciary Committee's decision to invite and interview all five candidates for the Supreme Court president so it could discuss their programmes.

"I expect the parliament to make a decision in line with the Constitution and laws," she said when asked to comment on the fact that she did not enjoy the support of the ruling HDZ party, stressing that she was not in a political battle and did not intend to comment on whether she stood a political chance of being elected.

"I was proposed to the post by the President of the Republic, I applied following a public call and I did not violate any law. I did not apply after the first public call just like many other qualified candidates did not. The prime minister, too, meets the conditions to be the president of the Supreme Court and he did not apply. He has his own reasons and I had my own. I did not believe that the head of state would nominate me. Also, at that time I was in the process of selection for a judge at the European Court of Human Rights and, simply put, I do not apply for more than one position at a time," she said when asked about disputes regarding her candidacy.

"When the President of the Republic offered me (the nomination), I accepted it, and that happened after he said that he would not back any of the candidates who applied for the position at the time, which means that at that moment the first public call ended because he (President) is the authorised proposer. After that, I told him that I was willing to apply after a second public call was published, and I did so," Đurđević said, dismissing once again the possibility that she had acted unlawfully and noting that the possibility of repeating the public call was created only following a subsequent decision to that effect by the Constitutional Court.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Judiciary Committee to Interview All Candidates For Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - Croatia's Supreme Court on Tuesday pointed to examples of arbitrary criticism made by some politicians and individuals against the judiciary "which leads to the general inclination to express tendentious extreme views".

This may be a consequence of a lack of experience and knowledge that is acquired through work in courts or the absence of a complete understanding of the work of judges, as well as of the wish of protagonists in the public life to gain popularity in their political community, counting on the fact that the professional status of judges requires from them to refrain from conflicts that happen in the public sphere, the Supreme Court says in its statement.

Expedient and rigid opinions on functioning of judiciary

"The media space is occupied by individuals with minimum or no experience who express expedient and rigid opinions on the functionality of the judicial authorities and the ethical deficit allegedly prevailing among judicial officials," the Supreme Court warns.

The Court says that such arbitrary attitudes, which are not based on serious and comprehensive analyses, could be heard from the President of the Republic (Zoran Milanović), some parliamentary deputies and some members of the academic community and lawyers.

Encouraging and promoting general intolerance towards judges, by branding them as "an isolated hedonistic community which exists per se and does not answer to anyone" is unacceptable, says the Supreme Court.

The work of judges is exposed to public scrutiny and is also liable to disciplinary and criminal proceedings as established by the law, the Court says.

It also dismisses claims made by law professor Zlata Đurđević, an applicant  for the position of the new Supreme Court president, about the judicial authorities having become "an autonomous and isolated professional organisation" that elects and dismisses judges on its own, according to criteria it defines on its own.

The Supreme Court says that ideas about the need to reduce the acquired independence and autonomy of the judicial authorities are contrary to the Croatian Constitution and the EU acquis.

CCEJ: Politicians should not use simplistic or demagogic arguments

The Croatian Supreme Court recalls that the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCEJ), a body of the Council of Europe, has stated in its opinion on safeguarding the independence of the judiciary that "politicians should not use simplistic or demagogic arguments to make criticisms of the judiciary during political campaigns just for the sake of argument or in order to divert attention from their own shortcomings."

"Neither should individual judges be personally attacked. Politicians must never encourage disobedience to judicial decisions let alone violence against judges, as this has occurred in some member states," the CCEJ said in its press release in 2019, as quoted by the Croatian Supreme Court in its statement issued after its meeting on 18 May.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

34 Candidates in Local Elections Haven't Submitted Financial Reports

ZAGREB, 23 May, 2021 - The legal obligation to submit financial reports seven days before the second round of local elections has been met by 283 out of 317 candidates, the State Electoral Commission said on Sunday.

The reports, including expenses, contributions and media advertising discounts, had to be submitted by midnight Saturday.

Reports were submitted by all 30 candidates for county prefects and the mayor of Zagreb as well as their deputies, 98 out of 110 mayoral candidates and 155 out of 177 candidates for municipal heads and their deputes.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Supreme Court Judges Do Not Support Any of Candidates For Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 18 May, 2021 - The Supreme Court, meeting in a general session on Tuesday, did not give a positive opinion on any of the five candidates who applied for the position of Supreme Court President following a new call issued by the State Judicial Council.

Zlata Đurđević, the candidate enjoying the support of President of the Republic Zoran Milanović, received one vote from all the judges attending the general session, while the other candidates received none, according to a statement issued by the Supreme Court.

The session was attended by 33 of the total of 35 judges from all departments of the Supreme Court. They discussed the candidates' programmes and CVs and then took a vote by secret ballot.

Earlier, it was announced that Parliament will discuss the President's nominee for Supreme Court chief  after the local elections. The law requires that a general session of the Supreme Court and the parliamentary Justice Committee also need to give their non-binding opinions on the President's proposal.

The State Judicial Council (DSV) issued a new public call for applications on 31 March after President Milanović told the DSV that he would not propose any of the candidates who had applied in the previous call. The new call was closed on 6 May.

Insisting that the nomination of candidates was his constitutional right, Milanović proposed Đurđević as his candidate for the post of Supreme Court President in March already, but Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković refused to include the proposal on Parliament's agenda saying that it was unlawful.

The Constitutional Court then ruled that the President of the Republic can only nominate a candidate who has responded to the DSV's public call, saying that this does not restrict the President's right to nominate and Parliament's right to choose a Supreme Court President.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković later said that, although she is a criminal law professor, Đurđević had agreed to be part of an unlawful procedure and therefore she was unfit to lead the highest judicial body in the country.

Right-wing opposition groups in Parliament have also announced that they will not support Đurđević.

The term of the incumbent Supreme Court President, Đuro Sessa, expires in July. If Parliament fails to appoint a new head of the highest court by then, the position will be temporarily held by the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Marin Mrčela.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković Says There Will Be Third Public Call For Supreme Court Head

ZAGREB, 13 May, 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday that the third public call for applications by aspirants for the position of Supreme Court President would be published and that there was enough time left to select the Supreme Court head.

As for today's press release of the government in which it warns that President Zoran Milanović's favourite for the chief justice, Zlata Đurđević, was not in favour of the model that exists in most EU countries, where judges are appointed by the executive authorities, but rather juxtaposes the election of judges by an independent body with the model in which judges are elected in the parliament, Jandroković said that the government had offered a well-argued discussion.

The government's press release indicates that the programme of Milanović's candidate shows that she is in favour of reinstatating political influence in the process of the election of judges, said Jandroković.

Asked by the press whether he had read Đurđević's programme, Jandroković said that he had read the segments important for politics, and that "it is more that evident that she is in favour of the political election of judges."

Jandroković recalled that it was not correct to claim that the problems in the judiciary had started in the 1990s, adding that the problem had deeper roots dating back to the period of the former Yugoslavia and the Communist system.

It is not easy to elevate the judiciary to a level at which it is absolutely unbiased and all judges behave professionally, however, efforts have been made for years in this regard, he added.

Jandroković said that when it came to President Milanović and his invective, he had endured them calmly for months.

All that time I have endured defamation, Jandroković said, adding that the tit for tat response ensued after "the bully" (Milanović) kept insulting him.

On Wednesday, Jandroković called Milanović  "a clown with an inferiority complex." 

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian Government: Zlata Đurđević Not in Favour of Model For Election of Judges As Exists in Most of EU

ZAGREB, 13 May, 2021 - The Croatian government said on Thursday that the candidate for the Supreme Court president Zlata Đurđević is not in favour of the model for the election of judges as exists in most EU countries.

Quoting parts of Đurđević's programme, the government says that Đurđević is not in favour of the model that exists in most EU countries, where judges are appointed by the executive authorities, but rather juxtaposes the election of judges by an independent body with the model in which judges are elected in the parliament.

The government stresses that unlike the model currently in force in Croatia, which was part of obligations assumed with the country's EU membership, that model is the least represented and exists in only two member-states - Slovenia and Latvia.

To elect judges in the parliament would be "a major step backward, notably with regard to judicial autonomy and the perception of judicial autonomy," says the government.

It recalls that until the amendment of the Constitution in 2010, the Sabor elected only members of the State Judicial Council, while the concept under which all judges would be elected by the parliament never existed in Croatia's legal order.

"To have all judges elected by political parties, regardless of which party is in power, would pose a major risk in terms of the politicisation of the system and would not guarantee the election of the best and most qualified candidates," the government says after analysing parts of Đurđević's programme entitled "Judiciary as a branch of government without democratic legitimacy."

The government adds that the system of that kind would constitute a departure from the existing standards "which have shortcomings and leave room for improvement but which are still a far better solution than the appointment of judges by politicians."

Also, the introduction of such a system would be harmful for Croatia's reputation, bearing in mind the content and importance of the mechanism of rule of law oversight in the EU as well as the National Recovery and Resilience Programme, the government says.

It also notes that Đurđević did not always consider the current modal as bad or questioned the autonomy of the Croatian judiciary.

Quoting her opinion published in a law journal in 2018, the government recalls that Đurđević, while criticising court autonomy in Hungary and Poland, said that "one should not doubt the existence of an appropriate normative and institutional framework for the autonomy of Croatian courts."

That normative and institutional framework has not changed since 2018, says the government.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 13 May 2021

The State Election Commission (DIP) Calls For Observing Electoral Silence As of Midnight, Saturday

ZAGREB, 13 May, 2021 - The State Election Commission (DIP) on Thursday called on all participants in the 16 May local election, physical and legal persons as well as media outlets, to observe electoral silence that starts at midnight on Saturday and ends on Sunday at 7 pm, when polling stations will be closed.

Violations of the electioneering ban are reported to municipal, town and county electoral commissions and the City of Zagreb Election Commission and they are subject to fines ranging from HRK 3,000 for physical persons to HRK 500,000 for legal persons, including political parties.

Candidates who violate the electioneering ban may be fined HRK 10,000 to 30,000.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Budapest, Innsbruck, Grenoble Mayors Support Tomislav Tomašević For Zagreb Mayor

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - The mayors of Budapest, Innsbruck and Grenoble have sent video messages of support to Tomislav Tomašević, the green-left coalition's candidate for the mayor of Zagreb, the We Can! political platform said on Wednesday.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony says in his message that Zagreb and Budapest are not only geographically close but also friendly cities with many links, underlining how important it is for the progressive green agenda to strengthen its position in the region and to act together to achieve a viable, democratic future.

Karácsony says the policies Tomašević advocates, such as green public transport and recycling, are the key issues on which he is working as mayor too, and calls on the people of Zagreb to vote for Tomašević

Innsbruck Mayor Georg Willi says the challenge today is to find the right response to climate change and that green changes will primarily occur in European cities. That's why Zagreb needs strong advocates of those changes under Tomašević's leadership as mayor, Willi adds.

Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle says he is looking forward to cooperating with Tomašević in the network of ecological cities flourishing across Europe, from Innsbruck and Amsterdam to Bonn and Hannover as well as many cities in France.

Piolle says Tomašević has been fighting for the environment for years, working on transparent policies and including citizens in shaping their city.

By electing Tomašević as mayor, Zagreb has a chance to join the increasing number of European cities governed by progressive green-left political forces which are making important steps forward in improving quality of life by taking account of climate change and other challenges of the 21st century, Piolle says in his video message.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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