Thursday, 13 January 2022

Pupovac: Peaceful Reintegration Helped Restore Inter-Ethnic Trust

ZAGREB, 13 Jan 2022 - Serb National Council (SNV) president Milorad Pupovac said on Thursday that the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region on 15 January 1998 marked "the peaceful end of the war in Croatia" and helped restore inter-ethnic trust.

The peaceful reintegration was based on two peace agreements - the Erdut Agreement, adopted as part of a wider package with the Dayton Agreement, and a document adopted on this date in which the UN Security Council approved the mandate of the UN transitional administration for the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia and defined the status and rights of Serbs in Croatia and their institutions, Pupovac said in Vukovar.

He said that the peaceful reintegration had not only brought peace but had also helped restore inter-ethnic trust.

"The restoration of trust between the majority Croats and the minority Serbs was a prerequisite, then as it is now, for the democratization of the country, emergence from the war and ethnic conflict, and the return of displaced Croats and Serb refugees," Pupovac said, noting that these achievements were sometimes valued too little.

He said that the peaceful reintegration, the Erdut Agreement, and the Letter of Intent had also laid the ground for mutual recognition of and cooperation between Croatia and Serbia. "That is very important for Croatia and the Serb community and for the relationship between Croatia and Serbia."

Those who have in the past years been hoping for "a peacetime Storm", trying to deprive the Serbs of their right to use Cyrillic alphabet and expel them based on criminal prosecution for war crimes, are actually working against the peaceful reintegration and the commitments arising from that process, Pupovac said.

He noted that Croatia, unlike some other countries of the former Yugoslavia, had emerged from the war as a reintegrated country thanks in part to people who led the peaceful reintegration process on behalf of the Serb community, such as the former Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Vojislav Stanimirović, for which he said he never received due recognition from some political circles, except President Tuđman.

Speaking of the anniversary of Croatia's international recognition, which is also marked on 15 January, Pupovac said that it was firmly connected with the issue of minority rights, especially the rights of the Serb minority.

He recalled that international recognition was preceded by the adoption of the constitutional act governing the rights of ethnic minorities, adding that all countries that had been advocating the international recognition of Croatia had demanded the adoption of an appropriate mechanism for the protection of minority rights.

The head of the Joint Council of Serb-majority municipalities (ZVO), Dejan Drakulić, said that the peaceful reintegration process was still ongoing because some issues of importance to the Serb community remained unresolved, citing autonomy in education and certain status issues. 

"Our task is to emphasize the importance of peaceful reintegration and the need to develop a more democratic and more tolerant society," Drakulić said.

The SNV and ZVO held a meeting in Vukovar to mark the anniversary of the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region and the international recognition of Croatia.

The peaceful reintegration process began on 15 January 1996 when the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1037, establishing a transitional administration for Eastern Slavonia. Retired US general Jacques Paul Klein was appointed transitional administrator. The process formally ended on 15 January 1998 with the UN handing over the administration of the region to Croatia.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Milorad Pupovac: Ban on Ustasha Insignia is Civilisational Issue For All Political Actors

ZAGREB, 22 June, 2021 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) president Milorad Pupovac said on Tuesday that adopting amendments to the Criminal Code to ban Ustasha insignia and the salute "For the homeland ready" was a civilisational issue for all political actors in Croatia.

Adopting amendments to the Criminal Code is a civilisational issue for all political actors in Croatia do that it can get rid of the legacy of World War II, especially the consequences of the Ustasha rule from 1941 to 1945," Pupovac said ahead of Antifascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica.

Asked whether adopting the amendments to the Criminal Code would be a condition for the SDSS to support the government, Pupovac said that no one should set any conditions about that.

"We can only discuss how to do it," he said.

He said that the president of the Zagreb Jewish Community Ognjen Kraus convened a new meeting for Friday to discuss further steps towards resolving the issue of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready", adding that the final version of the bill of amendments to the Criminal Code was being prepared.

Pupovac welcomed the fact that the government was the organiser of this year's central Antifascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica, stressing that this was very significant.

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović Says Will Hang Tough On His Nomination of Zlata Đurđević as Supreme Court Head

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that law professor Zlata Đurđević was his candidate for the Supreme Court president and asked members of parliament to think carefully before they reject her because he would not give up.

"I am taking this opportunity to ask members of parliament to think carefully about whether they want to turn down such a competent and good candidate for the Supreme Court president, because we have never had a better candidate," Milanović told reporters during a visit to Ogulin.

Đurđević morally, intellectually up to the task, competent

"They should disregard all the lies, fabrications, Lex Perković... That was all a lie, she is completely clean, morally and intellectually up to the task, as well as competent. If they choose to vote against her, I will not hang tough on this nomination."

Milanović repeated that Đurđević was his candidate, that under the Constitution he proposed the candidate for Supreme Court president and that no parliamentary committee or the Supreme Court Council would be able to change his mind.

"I am the President, I propose the candidate and explain my choice and the parliament has the right to turn them down," he said.

"I believe that the parliamentary majority will opt for the candidate whom I consider excellent. I will ask each MP individually to state the reasons they are against her," Milanović said, dismissing speculation that the judicial authorities were in a state of crisis.

Asked if he would meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Milanović said that he was always ready for talks with the prime minister.

"I invited him to lay wreaths with me in Okučani, he chickened out," he said.

As for Sunday's incident in Borovo Selo, where a group of young men marched through the town chanting anti-Serb messages, Milanović repeated that police were under the influence of politics, that is, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović and PM Plenković, and that he considered them responsible for the incident.

Asked about Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac's comment that Milanović, too, was responsible for incidents, Milanović said ironically "Yes, I'm to blame for the Kennedy assassination as well. He was killed in 1963, I was born in 1966 but I had my hand in it."

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

 

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

No Joint Ceremony to Pay Tribute to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, 20 April, 2021 - There will be no joint commemoration for victims of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac on Thursday, representatives of the victims will lay wreaths separately from the state leadership while President Zoran Milanović will do so separately from the prime minister and parliament speaker.

President Milanović's spokesman Nikola Jelić confirmed to Hina that Milanović and his delegation will lay wreaths at the Stone Flower monument at Jasenovac at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Office of the President did not receive reply from gov't, parliament

"President Zoran Milanović and his delegation will pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims on 22 April, at 11 a.m., as agreed with the organiser, the Public Institution Jasenovac Memorial Area," Jelić said.

He added that the Office of the President had not received a reply from the government or the parliament to its invitation to pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together.

"As early as last Friday the President of the Republic proposed to the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker that they all pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together, but we have not received any reply," Jelić said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today that a government delegation would lay a wreath at Jasenovac at 9 a.m., again dismissing the possibility of paying tribute together with Milanović, noting that "there is no reason for us to put on an act."

"As regards any joint laying of wreaths or flowers, I said yesterday.... there will be no putting on an act," he told reporters during a visit to Rijeka.

Plenković: We were not the ones to start with insults

"The President of the Republic or his staff are now launching an initiative for the Parliament Speaker and myself to lay a wreath with him in Jasenovac. We were not the ones to start with the 'animal farm', we were not the ones to start with insults or a number of other things that are most inappropriate, so there is no reason to put on an act, let that be clear to everyone," said Plenković.

He added that the organiser of the commemoration was the Jasenovac Memorial Area, not the government or anyone else, and that this year's commemoration would be held in line with epidemiological restrictions.

The government's delegation will arrive at 9 a.m. and the parliament's delegation at 10 a.m., he said.

"This has nothing to do with representatives of the victim ethnic groups. We met with them last week, we hold meetings regularly, we respect the victims and went to Jasenovac in the past four years as well. We will go this year again, next year, in 2023, 2024. This has to do with the protocol, but putting on an act is out of the question," he said.

Reporters asked Plenković if he should ignore his relationship with Milanović, regardless of how bad it may be, in situations such as commemorations, to which he said: "No, there's no need for that. In this case it is not envisaged and is out of the question."

Representatives of Serbs, Jews, Roma and antifascists to form separate delegation

The Serb National Council (SNV) said earlier in the day that representatives of ethnic groups that were victims of the Ustasha terror would have a separate, four-member delegation in Jasenovac.

SNV president Milorad Pupovac, the leader of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, Roma association "Kali Sara" representative Veljko Kajtazi, and the leader of the SABA association of antifascist fighters and antifascists, Franjo Habulin, will lay a joint wreath at the Stone Flower monument at noon on Thursday.

Kraus confirmed to Hina that this decision was made yesterday, after it became evident that there would be no joint delegation comprising top state officials.

"After we realised that there would be separate delegations, we decided on a separate delegation as well. As you can see, a single delegation does not depend on us. We cannot support the use of commemorations for political one-upmanship," said Kraus.

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Zoran Milanović Has Stepped Out of the Framework of a President's Normal Conduct

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that with his posts on social networks, President Zoran Milanović "has stepped out of the framework of normal conduct for a president," adding that his hate speech has "practically drawn a target on MP Milorad Pupovac."

Milanović wrote on his Facebook profile on Monday that "before he runs away to Brussels," Plenković would have to render his accounts, with Plenković saying that the President was continuing his ranting and insults.

"These are threats in fact, accusations of political corruption, robbery, criminal conspiracy. I will say once again, he has entirely stepped out of the framework of normal conduct for a president," Plenković told a press conference during a visit to Osijek-Baranja County.

That is not just his style or his being rude, as the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Peđa Grbin tried to downplay, said Plenković who considers that Milanović has resorted to that because he was legally and politically badly defeated in the incorrect procedure which he, without any cause, began with the recommendation of the president of the Supreme Court.

Plenković said that the President's spokesman Nikola Jelić was flustered and warned that he was attacking Hina reporters. Jelić publicly called out Hina reporter Sandra Bartolović on his Twitter account because of her sharp private comments regarding Milanović's behaviour and said that Plenković had referred to anyone who did not think like him as being the "dregs of social networks."

Milanović's posts are the "dregs of social networks"

"That is frightening and striking. I will now explain that to his flustered spokesman who attacks Hina reporters when I said "dregs of social networks," because I see that he and his partners in Bridge do not understand what that means. For me that is hate that is developing and damaging, poisoning society," said Plenković.

"Milanović's statements are the dregs of social networks. What he is writing is hate speech and I will be absolutely explicit - he has practically drawn a  target on MP Pupovac, and Pupovac confirmed that this morning on the radio," underscored Plenković.

He once again called out SDP's candidate for Zagreb mayor Joško Klisović and Milanović's chief-of-staff Orsat Miljenić to stop hiding and say if  they agree with Milanović's "drawing a target on the leader of the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party)."

"Do we all think that we need to wake up from what he is doing or will we just say 'he's like that.' That cannot be. He can rant on as he likes but he will come across sharp responses from us all who have sound reason," said Plenković.

Asked whether he was referring to hate speech in the legal sense, Plenković answered affirmatively. "What is this, what does this look like? We need to wake up. We have become a little too tolerant," he said and called on reporters and editors to "watch and see who is saying what and make it clear who is who."

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Milorad Pupovac Accuses President Zoran Milanović of Racism, Milanović Him of Denouncing Croatia

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - MP Milorad Pupovac has accused President Zoran Milanović of dangerously spreading cultural racism, to which Milanović responded on Monday by saying that Pupovac was denouncing Croatia to Sarajevo and Belgrade media but kept quiet when it came to denouncing corruption in Croatia.

"President Milanović is belittling almost everyone who disagrees with him, from women, minority representatives, representatives of the gay population, representatives of the academic community, to neighbouring peoples and states," Pupovac told the radiosarajevo.ba web portal.

He said he was especially concerned about Milanović's "cultural racism speech which can be felt in communication towards Bosnia and Herzegovina (...) and Serbia."

"That's very, very dangerous," said the Serb minority MP and president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party, which is part of the ruling coalition. "We are peoples and states that still haven't healed the horrors of war we went through."

"The rhetoric of cultural racism towards peoples who are east of Croatia, and in that sense religiously, culturally or partly culturally different from the Croatian people or the Croatian state, is an act of verbal insulting and verbal humiliation."

That is not good for Croatia and its democracy, which is fragile, but it can't ben good for the Croats living in BiH or Serbia either, Pupovac said.

"And I'm quite sure it can't be good for the president either. Because if this continues, it won't reverberate only in Croatia and across the borders of the neighbouring states which are mentioned in his speeches with derogatory and frequently racist language, it will certainly spread wider."

Milanović urges Pupovac to do something for Croatia

Milanović responded in a Facebook post, writing that Pupovac "is raising his price on the international market again."

"As his currency loses value at home, he is spreading his constitutional concern for Croatia in the region via Sarajevo media. It's not news that, if necessary, he bargains for himself internationally as well."

Milanović said Pupovac was denouncing Croatia for Sarajevo media today and would probably do so for Belgrade media tomorrow.

He asked Pupovac when he intended "to denounce the corrupt work of the government you sit in" and urged him to "do something for your country" on that front.

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

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Pupovac: Milanović Destabilising Constitutional Order

ZAGREB, 28 March 2021 - The Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader and member of Parliament, Milorad Pupovac, said on Saturday that President Zoran Milanović was destabilizing the country's constitutional order by violating his constitutional obligations and using threats in an attempt to influence lawmakers.

"An attempt by any branch of government to influence the opinions and decisions of members of Parliament is against the constitutional provisions on separation of powers and the independence of members of Parliament. Milanović violated these provisions in my case and in the case of Veljko Kajtazi (who represents the Roma minority) by trying to influence our opinions, our views, and our decisions, using threats," Pupovac told a press conference.

Pupovac said that Milanović had called Kajtazi and tried to influence him, while later saying that Kajtazi was blackmailed. He added that the President accused him of making decisions for his own benefit and that the USKOK anti-corruption agency should act against him.

"This kind of presumption constitutes absolute destabilization of the legal order and the autonomy of the work of members of the Croatian Parliament. If anyone thinks that my discussions on the Committee on the Constitution and Rules of Procedure or within the SDSS group were subject to anyone's influence or any bargaining, they should prove it," the SDSS leader said.

"And if they do not prove it, while at the same time threatening the state institutions as the representative of the highest state institution in the country, then this constitutes a serious violation of the Constitution," he added.

Pupovac said that Milanović told him by telephone that the other parliamentary representatives of the ethnic minorities should also vote for his candidate for Supreme Court President, Zlata Đurđević, which Pupovac said was an attempt at exerting influence.

Milanović took advantage of Đurđević.

Pupovac rejected the accusations that they had dragged Đurđević through the mud, saying that Milanović was creating "an alternative reality." He said that he thought highly of Đurđević and that he had defended her from right-wing circles who criticized her over her background.

"If anyone dragged through the mud this respectable member of the academic community who agreed to participate in the judicial reform, it was Milanović, with his interpretation of the Constitution and his attitude towards other stakeholders," Pupovac said, adding that Milanović had taken advantage of Đurđević for his own benefit.

Commenting on the statements and text messages he had received from President Milanović, Pupovac said that Milanović used foul, insulting, and belittling language.

Shortly before this press conference, which lasted 50 minutes, Pupovac published on his Facebook account the text messages he had received from Milanović at the time of discussion on the new Supreme Court President's appointment. He said he had decided to make them public after seeing such discourse being used in the public sphere.

In one of the messages that Pupovac published. Milanović wrote: "Shame on you, you wretch! The Serb people in Croatia will thrive once they get rid of you and your thieves." Pupovac said he would not seek an apology.

Pupovac also commented on his cooperation with Milanović during his term as prime minister, saying that, despite promises, they had not managed to have a single Serb-owned house in rural areas connected to the public electricity grid. "So much for his and his government's care about the Serbs." 

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

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Pupovac: Adults Responsible for Stopping Hate Produced by War

ZAGREB, Aug 26, 2020 - Adults are responsible for stopping the spreading of hate produced by war which policies have continued to spread and it's a big deal that Croatia's state leadership and Serb community representatives have decided to change that trend, SDSS president Milorad Pupovac said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the public broadcaster HRT about a commemoration for Serb civilian war victims held in Grubori earlier in the day, he said "it's a big deal that the Andrej Plenkovic cabinet and President Zoran Milanovic, together with us from the Serb community, have decided to change the trend and stop the spreading of hate produced by war."

Pupovac confirmed the anchor's statement that Croatia was still waiting for the acknowledgement of all victims and suffering from the 1990s war.

"We are doing everything for that communication to begin on as many fronts as possible and for this process to be accepted also in Serbia, as well as in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, as something that will be done together, with all the differences which will remain, while simultaneously building respect for the victims and creating a culture of peace and normal relations," said Pupovac.

 

Strong messages with uniform stance

He said the Grubori commemoration had great significance as very strong messages were sent from there, different in tone and content but uniform in stance - the condemnation of crimes, sympathy and respect for the victims, sympathy for those who remembered them, and turning to the future.

The messages also refer to leaving the war and its atrocities to the best commemorative practices possible, which we saw today and will see increasingly in the future with joint gestures, so that no one is excluded or forgotten, and so that the war stops dividing people in our country as much as it did until a few weeks ago, Pupovac said.

The anchor noted that Croatia was making steps forward yet Serbia was not, and asked if it was time for Serbia's delegation to pay its respects to the victims of Vukovar.

Pupovac said two things happened which showed that Serbia was starting to make steps or gestures.

Firstly, President Aleksandar Vucic has received representatives of Croatian institutions in Serbia for talks on vital topics for the Croatian community there, including their integration and participation in the executive authority, he said. Secondly, he added, Vucic's special envoy for the war missing Veran Matic was in Grubori today.

Those are messages which say, let's deal with unresolved minority issues and let's deal with the war missing, one of the most painful topics in Croatia-Serbia relations, Pupovac said.

He noted that Matic said he was confident Vucic would also make a gesture to show respect for the Croatian war victims, saying that he shared Matic's confidence and that it was not unrealistic to expect that to occur in the not so distant future.

 

SDSS has been working on the issue of the war missing for two years

Asked if the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) and he would push for resolving the issue of the war missing more quickly, Pupovac said the SDSS had been working on that for two years thanks to contacts with Croatian Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and now Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic as well as thanks to everything that happened since August 5 and would happen in the months ahead.

"The SDSS cares very much about establishing the fate of the missing, both Croats and Serbs, and it's very important to us that families find out as soon as possible what happened to their dearest ones."

 

It's time for big reforms

Asked if children were growing up with prejudices and if they bothered with who was a Serb and who a Croat, Pupovac said that, unfortunately, young people bothered about that much more than adults both in Croatia and in Serbia.

"Young people don't know what coexistence was, they only know war experiences and war stories, messages and war divisions," he said, adding that it was finally time to start changing that and for young people to learn how to have respect for their own and the suffering of their compatriots.

"That's a huge demand for every society, including Croatia's, and tomorrow for the society in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, so what we are doing and expect to be done with young people in stadiums, at concerts, in schools are huge reform steps which will happen in the near future, in which adults have a big responsibility."

Friday, 22 May 2020

Conflict Of Interest Commission Launches Proceedings Against MP Pupovac

ZAGREB, May 22, 2020 - The Conflict of Interest Commission on Friday decided to launch proceedings against Member of Parliament Milorad Pupovac because he had received two allowances for performing two different public duties.

During a regular inspection the commission determined that Pupovac, a Member of Parliament on behalf of the Serb ethnic minority, was also a member of the Council of the Serb National Minority in the City of Zagreb.

Holding these two positions is not contentious, however, Pupovac violated the law on the prevention of conflict on interest because he also received an allowance for the second position, which he should not have done.

The commission also determined that the president of the management board of the national electricity provider - HEP, Frane Barbaric, at the same time also conducted the duty of a councillor in the Novi Zagreb district and received an allowance for that position.

Proceedings will be launched against Barbaric because he continued to receive a salary and allowance for both positions even after he was advised by the commission that he was in violation of the law.

The commission ruled that it would not launch proceedings against Education Minister Blazenka Divjak, Regional Development Minister Marko Pavic and Chief State Inspector Andrija Mikulic.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Prosecution Dismisses Reports Against Pupovac Alleging He Defamed Croatia's Reputation

ZAGREB, November 12, 2019 - The Zagreb County Office of the Prosecutor has dismissed reports filed against Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac, accusing him of inciting hate and defaming the country's reputation with comments he made following attacks on members of the Serb minority this past summer.

Without revealing Pupovac's identity, the county prosecutor's office said it had dismissed all 13 reports alleging that Pupovac had incited violence and hate and defamed Croatia's reputation.

The reports, filed by two associations and 11 individuals, referred to Pupovac's comments on attacks on members of the Serb minority that occurred in Uzdolje and Đevrske on 21 August, 2019, the office of the prosecutor said on its website.

It went on to say that the reports were dismissed "because... the said actions do not constitute the criminal act of incitement to violence and hate or the criminal act of defaming the reputation of the Republic of Croatia or any other criminal act that is prosecuted ex officio."

The prosecutor's office believes that the content of Pupovac's statements "was not intended to ridicule, disparage or grossly belittle the Republic of Croatia nor did it constitute a call for public violence and hate, but rather essentially constitutes sharp but permissible criticism of the said events in Croatia."

"This is especially so as the case at hand concerns a member of the Croatian parliament who represents his electorate, and members of parliament enjoy the highest level of protection of the freedom of expression and presentation of their political views, ideas and assessments, guaranteed by the Constitution and relevant conventions," the prosecutor's office said.

Leaders of war veterans' associations, notably the HVIDRA disabled war veterans' association, have lately been calling on the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor to investigate Pupovac's statements, stressing that he constantly breaches laws, the Constitution and the Homeland War Declaration. They have also accused him of grossly belittling Croatia and comparing it to the World War II Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

More news about Milorad Pupovac can be found in the Politics section.

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