The government-sponsored draft legislation to abolish the office of former President Stjepan Mesic did not receive the backing from the parliamentary committee on the Constitution on Tuesday given that four committee members voted for the proposal and four voted against it.

Those members who participated in today's discussion on the matter found it incorrect for the government to cite "current economic conditions" and a wish to cut state spending as the main reasons to abolish Stjepan Mesic's Office on 1 May.

Davorin Mlakar of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) recalled that his party had warned that the existing legislation was contrary to the Constitution. According to Mlakar, the HDZ has been warning about unfairness since the last amendment of the pertaining legislation in 2013 that provided for Mesic's lifelong entitlement to the office in his capacity as a former head of state, while other former presidents were given the right to use the office for five years upon the expiry of their presidential term.

Mlakar insists that all former heads of state should be given equal rights and that the legislation should be amended to that aim. The HDZ parliamentarian also fears that the latest proposed amendments cannot pass the test of constitutionality.

Croatian People's Party (HNS) MP Vesna Pusic is sure that Croatia should not have two categories of former presidents and she found the explanation of the government-sponsored changes insufficient.

Social Democrat (SDP) parliamentarian Josip Leko expressed doubts that austerity was the main reason for the proposal to strip Mesic of the lifelong entitlement to the use of the office.

Ethnic Serb deputy Milorad Pupovac said that Mesic had been a crucial stakeholder in the country's political life in the past 25 years and that therefore he deserved special status.

In mid-April the Croatian government forwarded to parliament amendments to the law governing the special rights of former presidents of the republic under which as of May 1 former president Mesic would no longer have a permanent right to his own office, personal driver and official car "due to the current economic situation", however, he would keep the right to physical protection, to be paid for from the state budget. 

Under the current law, Mesic is entitled to permanently exercise these rights as a former president, while other presidents after him may enjoy these rights for a maximum five years.

Public Administration Minister Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic said then that the proposed amendments were appropriate considering the current economic situation in the country, particularly taking into consideration the fact that Mesic's office had not published any report on its activities that would justify its financing.

The proposed measure is expected to save around HRK 600,000 annually (EUR 80,000).

Mesic was president for two terms, from 2000 to 2010.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.