PM says Vatican agreements won't be amended

Photo /Vijesti/2019/02 Veljača/6 veljače/HN20190130014196.jpg

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, said on Wednesday the government was against a revision of the Vatican agreements, stressing that the treaties would not be amendment.

"As far as our government is concerned, there will be no amendments to the Vatican agreements," Plenkovic told the press after a meeting of the HDZ parliamentary group when asked to comment on a motion by the GLAS and HSU opposition parties that a conclusion should be adopted to commit the government to initiate a review of the Vatican agreements given that circumstances in Croatia had changed since the treaties were signed in 1996.

The Opposition's claims that some countries which, just like Croatia are pre-dominantly Catholic, have different models of financing the Church, Plenkovic said: "Everyone chooses their own path."

The Croatian parliament on Wednesday discussed the proposal by the GLAS and HSU group that a conclusion should be adopted to commit the government to initiate a review of the Vatican agreements given that about HRK 900 million (EUR 121 million) was annually allocated from the state budget for the purposes of the Catholic Church in Croatia.

Croatia contests jurisdiction of arbitration tribunal in dispute with MOL

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday commented on Croatia's position regarding Arbitration proceedings which the Hungarian energy group MOL has launched against Croatia before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, saying that the proceedings were launched in 2013.

Plenkovic stressed the proceedings were still ongoing, recalling that Croatia had adopted the EU declaration on the legal consequences of the judgement of the Court of Justice in the Achmea case and on investment protection in the European Union, under which courts outside the EU cannot have jurisdiction over investment disputes between member states.

"Our legal representatives in this case have contested the jurisdiction of the arbitration tribunal and we did not get the answer yet," Plenkovic said.

MOL launched arbitration proceedings before the ICSID in late 2013, arguing that Croatia had failed to honour its commitments from the main agreement on gas business and its annexes. The Hungarian company is demanding about US$1 billion in damages.

Asked about interpellation about the work of his government, following the failed Croatia-Israel deal regarding F-16 fighter jets, submitted to parliament by the Opposition's Social Democratic Party, Plenkovic said the government would respond to the interpellation on Thursday.

Media freedom in Croatia

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday rejected claims that there was no freedom in Croatia, when asked to comment on claims by the Croatian Journalists' Association suggesting that there were over 1,000 court cases against journalists and the media in the country.

"To say today that there is no media freedom in Croatia means that the person making this claim is neither reading the papers, listening to the radio nor watching TV," Plenkovic said.

The prime minister stressed that according to Freedom House, Croatia was a free country with free media and free media ownership structure.

Stressing that Croatia's Penal Code envisages a possibility of defamation, slander and libel suits, Plenkovic said that according to information he received from the justice minister, 85% if such cases end with an acquittal.

Text and photo: Hina