Croatia: The most serious conflict so far - resignations demanded, crisis threatened
If no agreement is reached at the session of the National Security Council for Defense scheduled for November 9, there will be a crisis in the state functioningSource: Jutarnji list
This was said by the interlocutor from the ruling party, commenting on the conflict that escalated between the President of the State Zoran Milanović and the Minister of Defense Mario Banožić, i.e. the Government and Andrej Plenković, reports "Jutarnji list".
The fierce conflict has been going on for ten days now, and resignations are currently being demanded. Thus, the Minister of Defense, Mario Banožić, demanded the resignation of the Chief of the General Staff, Robert Hranj.
It's beyond his authority, because the minister cannot replace the head of the General Staff. According to the Law on Defense, the Chief of the General Staff is appointed by the Supreme Commander on the proposal of the Government, and his dismissal is also within the competence of the Supreme Commander.
He's looking for a reaction
The President of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, on the other hand, is asking for the reaction of the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković - "to talk to his protégé and bring him to his senses".
"Or I should ask for the resignation of the minister and everything will stand still as long as that ignoramus is a minister," said President Milanović. It is the epilogue of the conflict that began with Banožić's decision to retire Brigadier Elvis Burčul, the commander of the Honorary Protection Unit. Mutual accusations, name-calling continued, harsh words and insults fell - from Pokemon, through violations of the law and authorizations, revenge decisions, ban on speech, to accusations by Andrej Plenković that it was a creeping coup d'etat.
How will this, so far the most serious conflict at the top of the government, unfold?
"This is a conflict that directly affects the functioning of the army. On the one hand, the president is behaving irresponsibly. I think that Milanovic should have invited Banozic for a conversation and given him his proposal. If he had done that, and Banozic did not accept the proposal, the president would have been right. In this way, he gave Minister Banožić the opportunity to say everything. I think this is a situation in which Minister Banožić should have shown more intelligence and not exposed the Prime Minister. I really don't know what happened to Banožić and what the problem is with those two and a half months lacking for Burcul's retirement. He should have acted better in that situation and not involve Plenković in it, who now has to protect his minister," said a ruling interlocutor, well acquainted with the situation.
He says that the key meeting will be on November 9. For that time, a session of the Council for Defense and National Security was convened. The president proposed convening that session, the government proposed three dates, and Milanovic agreed on November 9.
"We will see if an agreement will be reached then. If they do not agree, there will be a crisis in the functioning of the state," says our interlocutor.
And an agreement, it seems, will not be easily reached. Judging by his statements so far, President Milanović will obviously stick to his request to annul the decision on the retirement of Elvis Burčul, after which things could return to normal. Until then, there will probably be no cooperation with the minister.
On the other hand, Banožić stated that he would not withdraw that decision. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is obviously on the move. A few days ago, when asked by journalists whether he could continue to cooperate with the minister, Milanović replied: "He is irrelevant. Plenković is expected to solve that. This is a reflection of the relations in the HDZ, these are messages that are sent through the backs of soldiers and within the HDZ," said President Milanović.
What is certain is that there will be no dismissal of Defense Minister Mario Banozic. Prime Minister Plenković has already said that he strengthened his position after this. Retired General Ljubo Cesic Rojs also commented on the conflict yesterday.
"I am sorry that this is happening, everyone should sit down and solve the problem, because what is happening harms the army the most," said Rojs, who especially referred to the situation in which the Chief of the General Staff, Robert Hranj, found himself.
"I know him well, he is an angel from a man. And he found himself in an awkward position because the commander-in-chief is looking for one thing and the minister for another. It is a sin to drag him into those political games. The army is professional and the hierarchy is known," Rojs pointed out.