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President of Croatia formally requests extraordinary session of Croatian Parliament

Christian Fernsby |
The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović yesterday formally requested an extraordinary session of the Croatian Parliament in accordance with Article 79, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.

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The Request for an Extraordinary Session of the Croatian Parliament, which was submitted to the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković, has the following two-point agenda:

A Conclusion under which the Government is obliged, immediately and within no longer than 15 days, to take all the necessary measures to ensure the proper functioning of the judiciary in the Republic of Croatia;

A Conclusion under which the Government is obliged, within 15 days, to establish which institutions and individuals are responsible for the financial damage done to the Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) power company in implementing the Government Decree to eliminate disruptions to the domestic energy market.

President Milanović explained that the basis for his request for an extraordinary session of the Croatian Parliament lies in the fact that he has a constitutional duty to ensure the regular and balanced functioning and stability of Government.

“Given that the legal strike of judicial staff is in its seventh week and that the courts and state attorney’s offices stopped nearly all work this week, I believe that the normal functioning of the judicial branch of Government is seriously endangered, which in turn endangers the overall stability of Government,” said President Milanović.

“The strike of judicial staff revealed their very poor financial status as well as other problems of the judicial system of a financial, technical and organisational nature that require an urgent reaction from the competent authorities.

"In a situation when the judiciary cannot function normally, when citizens cannot exercise their legal and constitutional rights and when there is no will on the Government’s part to resolve this situation, I think an urgent reaction is needed from the legislative branch of Government, the Croatian Parliament, to find a solution to the problems in the judiciary, stabilise the situation and restore the normal functioning of the judiciary and Government as a whole,” President Milanović explained.

The President gave the following rationale for the second point on the agenda: “Since the Government is showing no intention of urgently establishing the circumstances surrounding the resale of gas and the suspicious business of HEP, and bearing in mind the fact that part of the responsibility rests with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, I consider the Croatian Parliament to be a relevant institution that should discuss the matter and oblige the Government to urgently establish the responsibility and sanction those responsible for the omissions.”

President Milanović expects all members of Parliament to carry out their duty and take an active part in the extraordinary session, because “Article 81 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia provides that Parliament oversees the work of the Government and other public office holders responsible to the Croatian Parliament.”

"Given that the legal strike of judicial staff is in its seventh week and that the courts and state attorney’s offices stopped nearly all work this week, I believe that the normal functioning of the judicial branch of Government is seriously endangered, which in turn endangers the overall stability of Government.

"The judiciary does not ensure the citizens accessible, timely and quality protection of rights and interests, threatening their equality before the law, and their rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.

"Of additional concern is the fact that the work on criminal cases is being slowed down or even stopped, which directly favours persons who have committed criminal acts, including acts related to corruption at the highest level of executive power.

"The strike of judicial staff revealed their very poor financial status as well as other problems of the judicial system of a financial, technical and organisational nature that require an urgent reaction from the competent authorities.

"Despite this, the Government of the Republic of Croatia has not yet offered solutions that would change the current extraordinary and unprecedented situation in the judiciary. I am further concerned by the fact that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković is not even showing a willingness to talk with the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, thereby avoiding dialogue between the executive and judicial branches, which is why the dysfunctionality of the judicial system could only escalate in the coming days and weeks, to the detriment of our citizens.

"In a situation when the judiciary cannot function normally, when citizens cannot exercise their legal and constitutional rights and when there is no will on the Government’s part to resolve this situation, I think an urgent reaction is needed from the legislative branch of Government, the Croatian Parliament, to find a solution to the problems in the judiciary, stabilise the situation and restore the normal functioning of the judiciary and Government as a whole.

"Bearing in mind that the regular session of the Croatian Parliament ended on 15 July 2023 and that Parliament will not convene until 15 September 2023 – two months in which, if the situation continues, irrevocable damage will be done to our citizens and the Republic of Croatia – and taking into account that it follows from the statements of the Croatian Prime Minister and the competent minister that the Government of the Republic of Croatia has no intention of undertaking any activity to ensure the proper functioning of the judiciary, I consider it justified for the Croatian Parliament to discuss the current situation at an extraordinary session and to oblige the Government of the Republic of Croatia to take appropriate measures to avoid further damage.

"Moreover, last week’s meeting of the Croatian Parliament’s Economy Committee has confirmed a number of irregularities related to gas sales by HEP, the largest state-owned energy company.

"Furthermore, serious suspicions were confirmed that this important national resource – gas – was being resold in a way that caused great financial damage to HEP and thus to the Republic of Croatia and all its citizens.

"The Government of the Republic of Croatia had itself confirmed that damage was done, when it urgently changed the controversial decree that enabled the suspicious sale of gas. It follows from the statements of the affair’s participants that the relevant ministry did not take the necessary actions in a timely manner to reduce or avoid damage.

Unfortunately, contrary to statements from the Government of the Republic of Croatia, it has not yet been established who is responsible for this, nor have there been any sanctions for the financial damage that was clearly committed.

"Although the sale of gas to the detriment of the state has been stopped, it is necessary to determine both who is responsible for this and to prevent possible fresh damage.

"This is especially important in a situation when the security of energy supply is guaranteed by funds from the state budget, i.e. when all citizens are paying for the stability of HEP.

"Since the Government is showing no intention of urgently establishing the circumstances surrounding the resale of gas and the suspicious business of HEP, and bearing in mind the fact that part of the responsibility rests with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, I consider the Croatian Parliament to be a relevant institution that should discuss the matter and oblige the Government to urgently establish responsibility and sanction those responsible for the omissions.

"Article 81 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia provides that Parliament oversees the work of the Government and other public office holders responsible to the Croatian Parliament.

"Only that can ensure the functioning and stability of all branches of Government. Therefore, without going into what positions they will take, I expect all members of Parliament to carry out their duty and take an active part in the extraordinary session,” said President Milanović.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called the request of the President of the Republic, Zoran Milanović, to hold an extraordinary session of the Parliament due to the strike and the sale of surplus gas at HEP, "a political, biased and practically completely oppositional initiative".

In April, gas was traded for only one cent per megawatt hour causing the seven-figure loss of euros for HEP.


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