Croatia: Prime Minister says he is ready for dialogue with the war veterans

Croatia: Prime Minister says he is ready for dialogue with the war veterans

Zagreb, May 29, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Hari Stefanatos

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic made it clear today, after the clashes between the police and war veterans in St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb, that Croatia can’t become a police state or a state of spies and accused the adviser of the country’s president, Kolinda-Grabar Kitarovic, that he participates in the war veterans’ protests.

“I feel for the war veterans, but I do not like manipulation, threats, blackmail and ultimatums This will never pass. The responsibility for all that takes place here does not weight neither me nor my ministers Fred Matic and Ante Kotromanovic”, the Croatian Prime Minister said,  stressing that political responsibility lies with the opposition, the “Croatian Democratic Union”.

“Behind this is Tomislav Karamarko and his people, whom Croatia fears. It is the first time that a group wants to come to power in a way that spreads terror among the people”, the Croatian prime minister continued.

“I have no fear. I know how to oppose them in a democratic way, I do it every day, for the benefit of Croatia”, he said.

Zoran Milanovic expressed his readiness for dialogue with the veterans of war on Monday at the headquarters of the government, but stressed that he does not accept ultimatums, noting that there must be respect for state institutions.

Croatian Prime Minister said that he can invite the representatives of the protesters for talks, without conditions, in a few days maybe Monday, but not today, adding that tensions must first diffuse.

Croatian veterans and war invalids, who for months now have been carrying protests outside the War Veterans Affairs Department in Zagreb, are requesting the resignation of the minister, Predrag Matic and his colleagues, since last night are in the church of St. Mark, where they fled, when the police banned a rally in St. Mark Square.

Their supporter’s came to the square, which is safeguarded by the police, and when they tried to approach conflicts erupted.

“Yesterday took place what took place, I have no influence on the Croatian police, who apply the law and those who have decided to consciously to break the laws should know that the law will be applied to them”, Milanovic said.

The Croatian Prime Minister also said that the advisor of the country’s president for war veterans issues, Ante Deur, is actively participating in the protests.

“This is not good. Are we afraid? No. Are we impressed? No. Did we observe it and say it? Yes” Milanovic emphasised.

He also said that the removal order for the tents that the protesters have set up for seven months now, outside the War Veterans Ministry is not his own decision, but a decision of the police.

The government cares about veterans. “I am in favour of dialogue, public debate, I am ready next week. This must stop. It will stop when the Croatian president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic says so, or when the leader of the HDZ, Tomislav Karamarko, says so”, Milanovic stressed, for the veteran protests that began yesterday in Zagreb and escalated today with clashes with the police.

“We took care of the war veterans and we still do. Their rights have not been touched nor removed, but were safeguarded in this challenging economic situation, and in some cases were increased”, Milanovic concluded.