Tomislav Karamarko i Mijo Crnoja.jpg
Photograph: HINA / HDZ / ik

The new Veterans' Affairs Minister Mijo Crnoja on Monday took office, saying that he wanted to be the minister of all veterans of the 1991-95 Homeland War and that his first move would be to stop the separation of veterans' pensions into the part acquired in line with special regulations and the part acquired based on years of pensionable service.

"I want to and will be the minister of all Croatian defenders, regardless of their religion or ethnic background," said Crnoja after taking over from Predrag Matic, whom he thanked for the work so far.

Noting that volunteers of ethnic background other than Croatian had not been given adequate attention so far, Crnoja said that among Croatian veterans there were 10,500 Serbs as well as a large number of Bosniaks, Albanians and people of other ethnic background.

Crnoja said one of the first measures he would propose to the government would be stopping the separation of veterans' pensions into the part acquired in line with special regulations and the part acquired based on years of pensionable service.

Wishing the new minister a lot of success and fewer problems than he himself had had, Matic thanked his associates for the work done to the benefit of veterans and their families.

He said that the new minister would not find any "skeletons in the closet" just as he had not found any after taking office, adding that the State Audit Office's reports on the Veterans' Affairs Ministry had been positive for years.

Matic added that he would request discontinuing police protection for him because those in charge of his security had now been put in an absurd situation.

"These great guys who have been with me every day for the last 15 months can no longer protect me from those from whom they have protected me because now they have become their commanders. It's a slightly absurd situation," he said.

The former minister said goodbye three times, noting: "My first 'goodbye' is to the silent majority of Croatian defenders who work, of whom some do not receive pay for their work, and who still dream of the Croatia they fought for."

He said his second goodbye  was to the part of the protesters who have been protesting against him for the last 15 months and who, he said, had been manipulated a number of times by the same people and would be manipulated again.

"My third goodbye is to those protesting defenders who could not help but insult me for 15 months and who tried to humiliate me, sending threats to me and my family. I will never forget that," said Matic.

The protesting veterans left for Matic a chair outside the ministry with the message reading "The chair is so dear to you, take it along", booing at him as he was leaving the ministry building.

Asked about the publication of a register of traitors of national interests, Crnoja said that the register would not be made by his ministry but by legislative and judicial institutions. He said that considering that the register of Homeland War veterans had been published, there was no reason why other registers should not be published, such as a register of privatisation, a register of aggressors, etc.

Matic said he supported his successor in his plans, adding that in the next elections voters would decide if his moves were good or not.

He underlined that all planned ministry projects had been completed over the past four years and that HRK 900 million more was envisaged in this year's budget for the veterans' affairs ministry than in the 2015 budget. 

After the takeover ceremony, the offices of the ministry were consecrated by Sisak Bishop Vlado Kosic.

Latest news

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" appear in Vukovar

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" with the image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), appeared at bus stations along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar on Friday.

Turkish ruling party launches campaign for constitutional changes

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Saturday formally launched its campaign for the upcoming referendum on core constitutional changes set to empower the presidency, with a mass rally at a sports arena in Ankara.

Top US general visits Syrian Kurds with focus on al-Raqqa campaign

A top US general visited Syrian Kurdish forces and their allies in northern Syria this week, amid signs the US military was increasing its support for anti-Islamic State forces, despite risks that such a move could anger neighbouring Turkey. 

Germany expects long-term migration growth after revising estimates

Net migration to Germany is expected to be 200,000 annually in the coming years, according to a news report to be published Sunday.

Malaysian police seek to reassure public over VX nerve agent

Malaysian police said on Saturday they would do everything possible to ensure there was no risk to the public from the lethal VX nerve agent used to kill Kim Jong Nam in the country's main international airport.

Cretu says Croatia must accelerate apsorbtion of European funds

The Commissioner also said that for the 2014-2020 period, Croatia would have twice the amount from the previous period at its disposal -- a total of EUR 10.67 billion.

Germany's Schulz accepts only 'small' role in party's poll boost

The main rival to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in this year's elections has said the boost in opinion polls for his Social Democrats (SPD) is not mainly down to him personally.

Coordinated suicide attacks kill over 40 in Syria’s Homs

Forty-two security personnel were killed Saturday in synchronized attacks targeting government security facilities in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group said, with up to six suicide bombers reported to be involved.

Bangladesh PM calls for 'huge fund' to renovate factories

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged international clothing brands to help factory owners overhaul their facilities.

EC adopts delegated act on Teran, despite Slovenia's opposition

The European Commission has, despite Slovenia's opposition, adopted a delegated act whereby Croatian winemakers in Istria would be enabled to continue selling their wine made from the Teran grape variety under the name "Croatian Istria - Teran", and the act could be published early next week, the Slovenian news agency STA reported on Friday.

Filipinos mark 1986 mass uprising amid fears of new 'dictatorship'

Thousands of protesters on Saturday marked a 1986 mass uprising that ousted late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, amid fears of a crackdown against political opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Rocket attack leave 2 students dead in eastern Afghanistan

At least two students were killed when a rocket fired by Taliban militants hit a school in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province on Saturday morning, local authorities said.