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.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

War Veterans Dissatisfied with Slowness of State Prosecutor's Office

ZAGREB, September 28, 2019 - The HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans is dissatisfied with the slowness of the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) in prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the organisation's president and chairman of the parliamentary committee on war veterans, Josip Đakić, said on Saturday.

The matter was discussed at a HVIDRA meeting in the southern coastal town of Makarska on Friday evening.

"The meeting held yesterday evening voiced dissatisfaction with DORH's slowness in conducting an inquiry in connection with Article 349 of the Criminal Code, and speakers asked if DORH would soon make public the results of the inquiry," Đakić told Hina on the margins of a sports competition of disabled war veterans.

Article 349 says that whoever mocks or disparages the Republic of Croatia, its flag, coat of arms or national anthem shall be punished by a prison term of up to one year.

The article was recently mentioned in the context of statements by Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac, who in an interview with Bosnian media likened present-day Croatia to the WWII Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and said in an interview with the Slovenian newspaper Delo that the ideology of hatred was being generated in Croatian society.

Đakić said that the Makarska meeting involved about 40 officials of HVIDRA, including chairmen of regional committees and members of the presidency, national committee and court of honour, adding that they would meet again next week to discuss further steps.

In his opening remarks at the sports competition on Friday, Đakić said that "those who insult deserve prosecution."

More news about war veterans can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Butković: Not Realistic SDSS Will Leave Ruling Coalition

ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 - Minister of the Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković said on Wednesday it was not realistic at the moment that the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) would leave the ruling coalition as the situation was calming down.

"I believe that at the moment it is not realistic that the SDSS will leave the coalition. Meetings are being held with veterans, talks are being held and I think that the situation is calming down," Butković told reporters ahead of an inner cabinet meeting when asked if the government would fall if the SDSS were to leave the coalition.

Asked what would happen if SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac continued with his rhetoric, Butković said that that sort of rhetoric did no good to him or Croatia.

"If we all want a civilised Croatia, if we want the rule of law to exist, for us all to be equal and tolerant toward each other, then statements should be like that too. I think Pupovac should take account of that and defuse tension in his future statements," Butković said.

With regards to speculation that veterans might organise protest rallies, Butković said he was convinced there would not be any protests.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Pupovac Understands Messages from President's Letter

ZAGREB, September 14, 2019 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac said on Saturday he understood the messages President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović sent him recently in an open letter which enclosed an open letter she sent him in 2016.

Speaking on national radio, Pupovac said: "I don't intend to reply to this kind of letter. I read it well and memorised it well and understood the messages. I understand what it means when the Armed Forces supreme commander sends you a letter, such messages, to me, a member of the Croatian parliament, a member of a national minority."

Earlier this week, the president sent an open letter to Pupovac, informing him that she is closely following his public statements "in which he is criticising the Republic of Croatia in an entirely inappropriate, unacceptable and malicious manner."

Asked if he considered that a threat, Pupovac said the letter was "in the function" of the upcoming presidential election and that Grabar-Kitarović "won't score political points by using me."

He went on to say that right wing extremists were becoming so strong that one no longer knew what was allowed. He said that earlier he voiced his fear that the ideology of hate and violence might spread to such an extent that present-day Croatia might start to resemble the Nazi-allied WWII Independent State of Croatia.

Pupovac said the battle in the current presidential race was waged on "who is closer to the criminal past, who will spit more on Serb representatives, who will add another voice to the anti-minority and anti-Serb atmosphere."

He also commented on the statement by the HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans that the SDSS is an undesirable party in Croatia. "In democratic societies one knows who can ban political parties... Croatia needs peace, Croatia needs all people so that it can pull itself together and start working on its future."

He also commented on Social Democratic Party president Davor Bernardić's statement that the love between Pupovac, whose SDSS is part of the ruling coalition, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was inexplicable.

Pupovac said that if Bernardić "expects me to topple Plenkovic or if someone else expects me to topple (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vučić," he must disappoint them because he did not have such political power.

He reiterated that SDSS bodies would decide whether the party will stay in the ruling coalition in the next few days. "For us, it's a serious question of democracy... of preserving the pro-European policy," he said, adding that the decision was not easy as fundamental democratic values were under threat in Croatia.

He said the ruling policy should be preserved and saved from extreme right-wing policies which were trying to come to power. "What we should all do together... is do our best to act politically so that the ideology of hate and violence does not prevail in this country."

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

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Plenković: Pupovac Has Distanced Himself from His Previous Statements

ZAGREB, September 12, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac said "in his own style" that contemporary Croatia had nothing to do with the 1941-1945 NDH regime, and that he actually retracted his claims about Croatia being a factor of instability.

"During his press conference yesterday, Mr. Pupovac stated in his own style things which were articulated differently than those of two weeks ago. He said in his own way that present-day Croatia has nothing to do with the NDH, and that Croatia is not a factor of instability."

"He clearly stated that this government and this (parliamentary) majority are not the ones who create a climate of intolerance," Plenković said at the beginning of his cabinet's meeting.

Commenting on his recent interview that caused public outrage, Pupovac said yesterday that no one needs to ask him not to compare present-day Croatia to the WWII-era Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH). "I know the difference very well and that's why I've been living in Croatia for these three decades," the Croatian Serb leader told the news conference.

As for intolerance, Plenković today explained that from Pupovac's point of view, there were people to be blamed for intolerance.

The policy we are pursuing is the policy of (the first Croatian president and HDZ founder) Franjo Tuđman and that policy is one of inclusiveness and reconciliation, Plenković said.

In this context he made it clear that a recent incident in Ceranje Donje, Pupovac's birth place, where insulting graffiti against Serbs and Pupovac appeared, had nothing to do with the policy pursued by his government and the HDZ party.

Plenković said that he could respect different opinions, calling on the public to keep their eyes open to see "who plays which role in this chess game".

The premier underscored that law enforcement and judicial authorities were fast and efficient in dealing with all the incidents that happened in recent months against members of the Serb minority.

The police have identified all the perpetrators under circumstances that were not simple, he said.

All this proves that we function as a state, and this government and the parliamentary majority are working on developing an inclusive society, the premier said.

He also criticised attempts by some political protagonists and parties to polarise the Croatian society and cause divisions.

"This is not my cup of tea," he said.

It is unnecessary and Croatia, which has accomplished all its strategic goals, does not need that, Plenkovicć said, adding that his cabinet is dedicated to improving economic and social standards of citizens.

"That is our duty, and that is also a duty of all our coalition partners," he added.

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

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Pupovac: SDSS Has Not Yet Decided Whether to Leave Ruling Coalition

ZAGREB, September 11, 2019 - The head of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, said on Wednesday that the party had not yet decided whether to leave or stay in the ruling coalition. He also explained his statement in which he likened present-day Croatia to the WWII-era Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which was condemned by the government and coalition partners, the president and large sections of the public.

"The SDSS Presidency is meeting today to discuss what we have discussed with our coalition partners, including the prime minister. It is up to the Presidency to decide what to do," Pupovac told a press conference in the Parliament building.

He announced further talks with the coalition partners to identify and remove "all obstacles to the political stability of the country and the coalition and to the normality of the Croatian society". The answer to the question of whether the SDSS will stay in the ruling coalition will be known after that, he added.

Commenting on demands for him to apologise for his NDH statement, Pupovac said he has been called different names in the past 30 years and has never asked for an apology.

"I am not a Chetnik, but I will never ask for an apology from those who think or say that I am, from those who classify me as a criminal and murderer. I can only say that I am not and will never be that and will never ask them for an apology," Pupovac said.

He added that he would neither ask for an apology those who classified him as a collaborator of the government in Belgrade.

Asked why he never condemned statements about the Croatian government coming from Belgrade and Serbia, Pupovac said he could not be held responsible for those messages. "I am not a whipping boy for the poor relations between Croatia and Serbia and for the messages that are sent," he said, adding that he was trying to ensure on both sides that there were no such messages any more.

The SDSS leader also commented on his statement that Croatia is a factor of instability in the region. "I gave that statement to Radio Sarajevo and it contained an addition. Croatia is not generally a factor of instability because every country has its own elements of instability. Unfortunately, at the time I made the statement, Croatia had a serious problem with the state of inter-ethnic relations, hate and violence against members of different groups, primarily ethnic Serbs. Other countries have deeper and more serious foundations of instability than Croatia but it has a situation in which it happened and that, together with historical revisionism, affects the situation in the region. The situation in which I made that statement was dramatic," said Pupovac.

Asked about hate messages sprayed on a road sign at the entrance to his place of birth, Pupovac said that he did not intend to comment on them.

At the start of the news conference, Pupovac read out a statement in which he commented on his statement regarding a comparison between Croatia and the NDH.

"Anyone can ask me to distance myself from the condemnation of the NDH and from evident attempts to restore or downplay the Ustasha ideology in today's Croatia, but no one should expect me to do that. I am willing, and have been, to cooperate with the broadest circle of political and non-political actors in an effort to make Croatia a country of peace for everyone living or wishing to live in, a country of tolerance for everyone and a country striving towards prosperity and a better future, instead of a bad past," Pupovac said.

He said that there was potential in the government and the ruling coalition, in the parliament and a significant part of parliamentary groups, and that he believed in the readiness for cooperation and strong action against intolerance, violence and extreme revisionism.

"No one needs to ask me not to compare present-day Croatia to the undemocratic NDH and its criminal Ustasha ideology because I know the difference very well, that's why I've been politically active for three decades," Pupovac said after not addressing the public for two weeks.

"A lot of people were particularly disturbed by my concern about the growing hate towards Serbs. They were particularly disturbed by my fear that if it continues to grow and turns into physical violence it could restore in current-day Croatia the state of hate characteristic only of the period of the quisling NDH," he said and added that even two weeks after that statement, reactions to it had not calmed down, which encouraged him.

"My concern and fear are less intense now than they were more than two weeks ago because never before have so many influential voices condemned bringing today's Croatia in any connection with the Ustasha-led NDH. Regardless of the differences caused by the echoes of those voices, I would like to think that they are all an expression of a deep moral sense that today's Croatia should not and must not have any connections with the ideology of hate and violence, and that if they do exist, they need to be severed," he underscored.

Pupovac called on everyone who reacted based on that moral feeling to jointly remove the Ustasha letter 'U' from the facades of our buildings, adding that uniforms and insignia with the Ustasha salute 'For the Homeland Ready' should be put away and that penalties should be imposed if it is chanted or written and accompanied by death threats.

He called on everyone to "stop being blind and deaf" to messages such as 'Kill Serbs!' and to condemn any incitement to violence.

"I call for an end to historical revisionism that goes to such an extent that members of the quisling or occupying forces killed at the end of World War II are given state and religious honours while the victims of the Ustasha concentration camp in Jasenovac, the death camp in Jadovno or the Glina church, are denied and memory of them is insulted. If we do that, we will sever any connection with that dishonourable period and even more dishonourable regime and no one will be able to, either out of sincere or manipulative motives, insult the moral feelings of us as members of the political community that we belong to," Pupovac concluded.

More SDSS news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Abusive Graffiti Sprayed at Entrance of Village Where Pupovac Was Born

ZAGREB, September 10, 2019 - The Zadar police administration was informed on Monday morning about the appearance of insulting graffiti at the entrance to the village of Cerane Donje, the village were Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac was born.

The police stated that an investigation was under way. The graffiti sprayed on the posts were removed in the meantime.

According to the Novosti newspaper, the abusive messages of the graffiti were directed against the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Pupovac as well as Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

One of the messages was "Kill the Serbs!", and the other read that the terror of the Great Serbia lunatic against the whole of Croatia is the consequence of the "Plenković's sick policy" of making Croatia and the HDZ party free of extremism, clerical fascism and nationalism. The Novosti newspaper also claimed that this was actually a headline in one of the recent issues of the "Hrvatski Tjednik" weekly.

More news about Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Veterans Demand Pupovac to Apologise

ZAGREB, August 30, 2019 - The HVIDR-a association of Homeland War veterans on Friday stated that it demanded a public apology from Milorad Pupovac over his "reprehensible statements", or Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković should sever the coalition with Pupovac's SDSS party.

HVIDR-a, an association of disabled war veterans, is accusing Pupovac of crossing the line with his recent interview with the web portal in which this Croatian Serb leader accused Croatia of turning into a factor of instability and claimed that some Catholic dignitaries and war veterans played an important role in promoting intolerance toward other ethnic groups and in reviving Ustasha ideology.

The association says that Pupovac's statements comparing present-day Croatia to the Ustasha regime were reprehensible and inappropriate.

The association also calls on relevant agencies to investigate whether Pupovac's statements have harmed Croatia's reputation.

We insist that Milorad Pupovac should promptly extend his apology to all citizens in Croatia. If he fails to do so, we call on PM Andrej Plenković to decide on discontinuing the coalition with the SDSS party, reads a press release issued by HVIDR-a, which is led by Josip Đakić, a HDZ member of the national parliament.

On Thursday evening PM Plenković said he had met with the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader and that he understood his concern about recent attacks on Serbs and that he expected the perpetrators to be punished. Plenković added that no climate of intolerance towards ethnic minorities exists in Croatia.

"We met and we talked," Plenković told reporters in Varaždin, adding that Pupovac "expressed his concern about these incidents, and I understand him as he is a representative of the Serb minority."

Plenković reiterated that it was his choice that ethnic minorities should be part of the parliamentary majority and that he stood by.

More political news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Plenković Says Has Met with Pupovac, Understands His Concern

ZAGREB, August 30, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he met with Independent Democratic Serb Party president Milorad Pupovac, that he understood his concern about recent attacks on Serbs, that he expected the perpetrators to be punished, and that there was no climate of intolerance towards ethnic minorities in Croatia.

"We met and we talked," Plenković told reporters in Varazdin, adding that Pupovac "expressed his concern about these incidents, and I understand him as he is a representative of the Serb minority."

Plenković reiterated that it was his choice that ethnic minorities should be part of the parliamentary majority and that he stood by it.

He also commended on the State Prosecutor's Office's request that former minister and incumbent MP Lovro Kuščević be stripped of immunity from prosecution, saying the police and the State Prosecutor's Office were in charge of that and that the request was usual procedure.

A routine response from the parliamentary committee is ahead of us and then we'll see what happens, he said.

Plenković said he had not spoken with Kuščević, a member of his HDZ party, but "I will if it's necessary." He added that he saw no problem in Kuščević's comment on the request that he be stripped of immunity and that it was too early to draw any conclusions.

More political news can be found in the dedicated section.

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