Opposition parties in the Croatian parliament on Friday accused the ruling majority of violating the Security-Intelligence Services Act by refusing to support the nomination of former interior minister Ranko Ostojic of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the chair of the Home Affairs and National Security Committee.
After a break in today's parliamentary session, requested by Opposition groups to discuss the matter, SDP MP Igor Dragovan said that this constituted a violation of the said law which stipulates that the Home Affairs and National Security Committee should be chaired by a member of the biggest Opposition party.
"The decision of the Elections and Appointments Committee is truly unprecedented," said Dragovan, noting that never before had the parliamentary majority decided on who would fill the quota belonging to the parliamentary minority and vice versa.
Dragovan recalled that the leading position on the Home Affairs and National Security Council belonged to the Opposition by law. "Is this the repealing of the law? If so, you must state publicly that you want to change the law to enable the supervision of the Opposition and to take over the entire system without any possibility of being controlled and supervised," said Dragovan.
He recalled the announced replacement of Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) chief Dragan Lozancic, claiming that SOA "is part of the spoils".
Dragovan said that a parliamentary committee could not be formed without its chair being elected, which he said was why the replacement procedure would be carried out without a debate by parliamentary bodies.
He asked that the parliament vote on the proposal for Ostojic's appointment rather than on the report by the Elections and Appointments Committee which earlier in the day turned down Ostojic's nomination.
"If you do not make that possible, it will constitute serious, unprecedented restriction of the Opposition's democratic rights in the parliament," said Dragovan.
Vesna Pusic of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), too, recalled that the position of the chair of the Home Affairs and National Security Committee was the only position in parliamentary working bodies defined by law.
"The law says that that committee is to be chaired by a representative of the largest Opposition party. That makes this situation different than any other situation - in this case the law has been violated," Pusic warned.
She said that this denied the Opposition the possibility to supervise affairs conducted secretly by state services. "The moment that possibility is denied, there is no longer any safeguard against a potential and ever-present tendency of everything that is done in secrecy to turn into terror. If there is no qualified legitimate supervision of secret operations, the parliament opens up the possibility of introducing terror over this country and citizens who voted for all of us. Please think seriously about your position and abide by the law," Pusic said.
Dragovan and Pusic's request was supported by Labour Party leader Nansi Tireli and Pensioners' Party leader Silvano Hrelja who said that the majority was sending "a message that it is prepared to violate laws for its own interests."
"I have no doubt that this is in the interest of the Patriotic Coalition, but I would like to know how colleagues from Bridge will vote, with whom we negotiated and who swore they would insist on transparency," said Hrelja.
Ivan Suker of the HDZ responded by accusing the Opposition of having a short memory and cited cases from the term of the previous parliament, when the ruling majority refused to accept the HDZ's nominations for committee members.
As for Ostojic as former interior minister, Suker resented the leaking of information on Serb minority member of Parliament Mirko Raskovic and the politicising of an incident in Split, when a swastika appeared on a football stadium during a match, which has not been solved yet.
"We are not violating any laws because we did not appoint someone from the ruling coalition or someone else instead. The post (of committee chair) is still waiting for the Opposition's nomination, even though we cannot accept Ostojic's appointment," said Suker.
After a break, the parliament started a debate on the report of the Elections and Appointments Committee.