The vice-president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, on Friday held a news conference on media reports according to which the SDSS is seeking, in exchange for support to the new government to be led by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), employment in public companies in line with principles of ethnic representation, accusing them of fomenting an anti-minority atmosphere.
The media deduced such a position of the SDSS from the statement Pupovac had made after recent consultations at the Office of the President, when he complained about inadequate representation of members of the Serb minority in the state-owned power company HEP, the state-owned forest management company Hrvatske Sume and the state-owned water management company Hrvatske Vode.
"Some media, acting in line with nationalist and rightist stereotypes, have placed special emphasis on Hrvatske Sume, and many have interpreted this as the SDSS, namely Serbs, seeking posts. Contrary to what was said, what was meant by that statement and contrary to facts, they have started fomenting anti-minority sentiment," Pupovac said.
He stressed that in negotiations with the HDZ the SDSS was not communicating by using codes, namely saying one thing in public and another at negotiations.
"If we communicated in such a way, we would not have said what we said after consultations with the President. We are not hiding anything," he said, stressing that the SDSS was not negotiating with the HDZ any posts, based either on ethnic criteria or criteria of political affiliation.
Pupovac stressed that his party negotiated and wanted to negotiate with the HDZ about significant problems that existed in areas populated by Serbs.
"Those problems concern water supply, power supply, road infrastructure, employment, and development for all - regardless of whether they are Croats or Serbs. It is only natural, when we discuss such problems, that we discuss the way they should be solved," he said.
Pupovac said he agreed with the position that those problems should be dealt with by relevant state institutions, but noted that it was those state institutions that should stop with the employment policy conducted so far, which he said was discriminatory.
As for those who oppose employment based on ethnicity criteria, Pupovac said that employment based on criteria of ethnicity and political affiliation was already present.
"Is it normal that in an area where Serbs are a majority there are either no employed members of that community at all or their number is minimal. Is it possible that in an area where that group is domiciled there is no one with adequate qualifications to perform even the simplest of jobs," he wondered.
The SDSS wants to put an end to the Serb community's being excluded from decision-making processes "because the price is high and long-lasting," he said.
In that context, Pupovac noted that there are 80 Serb-majority villages and hamlets that have been waiting for re-electrification for years.
"Since 2012 there have been zero connections to the power grid, and when it is said that state institutions are in charge of that, I say: Yes, but not the way this has been done so far, we will rightfully ask to be included in those institutions, instead of waiting again for four or ten years for someone in HEP to have mercy on people living in villages without electricity."
Commenting on the Croatian Employers Associations' (HUP) criticisms directed at him, he said that HUP failed to comment when the national economy was being destroyed. "Shame on them," he said in reference to HUP.
He noted that forests had been illegally exploited for years and that the state had not protected those resources.
"As for those who claim that they are not interested in posts, what else are they doing but negotiating posts, keeping silent about it and preaching about reforms," he said.