zoran milanović.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic on Friday commented on the parliamentary appointment of SDP MP Ranko Ostojic to head the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee despite opposition from the Patriotic Coalition, asking if this had really been necessary for the HDZ.

"Was this really necessary for the HDZ? I am not sure what they were aiming at a week ago when they rejected the appointment. Now he (Ostojic) has been appointed with the help of votes from their coalition partner and us. That's very unusual behaviour. The position of the chair is symbolic, he has no authority, but it's obvious that the HDZ is afraid that a person with such experience in his career, like Ranko Ostojic, will be some sort of threat because they live in some sort of spy world full of paranoia and fear of persecution," Milanovic told reporters in parliament.

He recalled that the the SDP did not object to HDZ's MP Miroslav Tudjman to head that committee four years ago even though he had headed the intelligence system "at a time of (its) greatest abuse in the '90s."

He criticised the HDZ because they didn't even bother to explain why they objected to Ostojic. "If that is such a huge problem, then they should change the law. The law doesn't have to specify that someone from the Opposition should chair that committee, even though in this case we don't know who the opposition is anymore, but while the law says so, then that's how it should be. We proposed Ranko Ostojic and nobody else. This has been a very bizarre episode which shows HDZ's totally unrealistic fears, or malice," said Milanovic.

Tudjman doesn't see this as a victory for the SDP nor that the HDZ made a mistake, saying that the HDZ simply had its opinion.

"The essence of the problem is that SDP put their party interests ahead of national interests. Ostojic has to chair the monitoring of something that he himself was involved in. You know that there is a complaint that Mr (Bozo) Petrov was followed and Mr Ostojic said in advance that everything was clean and there had been none of that (surveillance)," Tudjman said.

He believes that this situation is similar to the one four years ago when, as he said, HDZ did not propose Tomislav Karamarko to chair that committee for this very reason because as a former minister he would have been in the situation Ostojic is in today.

"There is no dispute that the Opposition should propose a chair for the committee but the problem is that the law is vague with regard to procedures that would ensure that national interests be put before party interests," he said.

In response to comments that Ostojic had been appointed with the support of HDZ's partner, Bridge, Tudjman said that Bridge need not be criticised for their decision except that perhaps they do "not have the parliamentary experience with all its machinations."

Asked whether Bridge was acting like the opposition in the majority government, Tudjman recalled that that party had insisted from the start that they were not in a coalition but a partnership within which they could retain their own views.

Bridge MP Ivan Kovacic underscored that he did not have a high opinion of Ostojic, however, he supports the Opposition's rights and added that his party "does not wish to partake in the farce that is being played out by the two major parties."

"This is the third week that we are debating reports for 2014 and haven't even gone through half of them yet. Ideological disputes are being dragged out, which unfortunately just incites the people and does not bring any good. As far as Mr Ostojic is concerned, Bridge members do not have a high opinion of him after statements he made these past two months that were not appropriate or polite and do not befit someone who prides himself with social democracy and tolerance. However, with regard to the democratic right for the Opposition to choose its representative to that committee, Bridge absolutely supports democratic procedure and will support whatever the Opposition chooses," Kovacic said.

One Bridge MP, Miro Bulj, voted against Ostojic's appointment and told reporters that that was his opinion. "I have my reasons for that and I would do the same again," Bulj said, adding that Ostojic was not the best option for Bridge.

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