Press conference of the PM Plenkovic

Photo /Vijesti/2017/09 rujan/7 rujna/DSC_1220_resized.JPG

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that the action plan for the implementation of the education reform had been adopted by consensus and would be used for the launch of pilot projects in the next school year.

The document, which he received today from an expert commission, contains specific measures that should be taken in different areas, Plenkovic told a press conference.

The idea is that education should be a topic on which we will build the broadest possible consensus, and competent and qualified people of different political affiliations and world views should be involved in this process, the PM said.

He said that the aim was to launch pilot projects in the next school year to test the curricula, and in order to that, it was necessary to implement the measures contained in the action plan.

The long-term goals of the curricula are to make young people competitive, ensure that the education system meets labour market requirements and that issues concerning identity, the value system, Croatian history, Croatian language and Croatian culture are clear to everyone, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that the salute "For the homeland ready" (ZDS) for him had connotations related to the WWII Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and the Ustasha regime and that the relocation of the plaque commemorating fallen HOS fighters from Jasenovac to Novska was the first step in resolving the issue of totalitarian symbols.

"We resolved the issue of the plaque in Jasenovac in such a way that we would like to generally resolve topics that cause great ideological disputes in Croatian society and we conducted a dialogue with the association that erected the plaque, with special respect toward the 11 Croatian defenders and their families," Plenkovic told a press conference.

Second phase - clearly regulate the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes

In that way, we agreed to relocate the plaque from Jasenovac to Novska in the memorial centre for defenders killed on the Novska battlefield, which has resolved the first phase of that topic, he added.

"The second phase, which is essential and more important in the long term, is the systematic and clear legislative regulation of the use of symbols and insignia of totalitarian regimes," he said. That question is not regulated and those coat of arms in the statutes of associations were allowed by various government bodies during various political circumstances and were legally registered.

Asked by reporters whether he was personally offended by that salute, Plenkovic said that for him it "predominantly has connotations relating to NDH and the Ustasha regime," and as such was not acceptable.

He appealed to the Council for Facing the Consequences of Totalitarian Systems to intensify its work and to make its recommendations for a comprehensive legislative solution that the government will propose to the parliament.

"Then we will endeavour to resolve the issue of the ZDS salute and other symbols of totalitarian systems in a comprehensive way to remove dilemmas in court and administrative proceedings and ensure that this issue is no longer misused and 21st century Croatia is not constantly taken back to the past. That's an issue of values and now it's time to resolve them," he said.

Court practice in the past has varied and Plenkovic considers that it's time to reach a social consensus which will clearly articulate what is acceptable in the sense of values and what the connotations are of totalitarian symbols and insignia with regard to being legally permitted so that in the future we have a clear situation.

"For the homeland ready" hasn't been legalised

Plenkovic refuted claims by representatives of the HOS associations that a letter by the Administration Ministry allegedly legalised the HOS coat of arms with the salute "For the homeland ready."

"That is absolutely untrue, there could have been no legalisation of something that was registered long ago," Plenkovic said.

He denied that Deputy Prime Minister Predrag Stromar and the junior coalition partner, the Croatian People's Party (HNS), had not been informed of the government's intentions. "We discussed it with our partners and the HNS is aware of the two-step resolution of this issue," the PM said.

Asked whether the use of "ZDS" at a press conference by HOS should be punished, Plenkovic said that "if that salute was used to offend someone in that context, the police took action on several occasions. There have been examples of that over the past few months and years," he said.

Asked about a letter by the Mothers of Srebrenica association accusing President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of deteriorating relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenkovic referred to his recent visit to that country, saying that he had sent a clear message of cooperation and friendship and care for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a constituent people.

"The level of cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is such that together we are making efforts to ensure the security of our fellow citizens and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

Text: Hina