zoran milanović, tihomir orešković.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that his party would give Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic 24 hours to replace Veterans' Affairs Minister Mijo Crnoja and if he failed to do so, the SDP would launch proceedings in parliament to replace the minister.

"I hope that colleagues from Bridge now realise who they have brought to power and this is not incidental. This is a pattern that will recur. That man, if he was involved in what is being alleged, has to be replaced immediately by Mr Oreskovic and we are giving him 24 hours to do so, otherwise we will launch a procedure in parliament to replace him (Crnoja) and give him a vote of no confidence, which probably won't pass," Milanovic told a press conference.

Commenting on the statement by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader and First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko that his party had been robbed of votes at the parliamentary election, Milanovic presented the official election results that were signed by the president of the State Electoral Commission and Supreme Court President, Judge Branko Hrvatin.

"I don't know against whom Mr Hrvatin has filed charges, perhaps against himself or against a criminal phenomenon, but certainly not against a criminal act," Milanovic said and reiterated that fraud at parliamentary elections was impossible because there were 20,000 representatives of political parties on electoral committees monitoring the elections.

"There cannot be any fraud at parliamentary elections, perhaps at presidential elections or in small communities, in the Dalmatian hinterland, where for some cultural reasons people shut their eyes to some things, but these are not tectonic phenomena," Milanovic said.

He said that it was not clear to him why two months after the official election results were released, Hrvatin "is filing charges on the basis of an insinuation by a man who is struggling for his position in his party." 

Milanovic also condemned Tuesday's protest organised by a disabled veterans' association against the Electronic Media Council because of a three-day ban on the Z1 TV channel, referring to the protest as a "philo-Fascist march." 

"That is what the HDZ is bringing and we will fight against it, it will not pass in Zagreb. If need be, we will take to the streets as the opposition," Milanovic said. The most terrifying thing is that the mass was led by "two philo-Nazis, one of whom is a deputy speaker in parliament," he said referring to the leader of the Croatian Party of Rights - Ante Starcevic (HSP-AS), Ivan Tepes.

"This is the first time in Croatia's history that a parliamentary official, who is a member of the ruling coalition, comes to an institution, an independent council and bursts into the office of a citizen, a Zagreb resident, a reputable reporter, who together with her colleagues is only doing her job, and threatens her, presents her with a Chetnik cap, insinuating perhaps that she is not a Croat, and the government has said nothing about all this, Mr Oreskovic is silent," Milanovic said.

He is convinced that Oreskovic "must not be silent if he wants me to call him prime minister," referring to Tepes as a "street hate-monger" who should be replaced. Milanovic believes that European Christian Democrat parties should distance themselves from some parties that have come to power in Croatia. 

"Gentlemen, do not challenge us to call decent, peaceful citizens of Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and other towns to take to the streets and show what they think about you. We don't want that, we have never done that," he said.

Asked by reporters about the announced replacement of the head of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA), Dragan Lozancic, Milanovic said that he could not comment on that but that only he, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Lozancic knew the real truth.

"If you associate with the demi-monde, if they organise your birthday parties and pay for your (election) campaign, then neither the CIA nor the FSB (Russian security service) can help you and no-one can protect you, not even SOA," he said referring to relations between Grabar-Kitarovic and Dinamo soccer club director Zdravko Mamic.

Milanovic asked if this meant that the head of the major tax fraud department at the Finance Ministry would be replaced too because she had cooperated "with the state prosecution (DORH) in tax fraud investigations into some of the people just mentioned" and if she, too, should "have told the president that she was associating with the demi-monde." 

He claimed that the case went back to the time of the presidential campaign when Grabar-Kitarovic was not the president yet and so no-one could have officially disclosed to her information about people with whom she associated and who were under surveillance.

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