President Milanović: Glavaš Asked for his Decorations To Be Returned, I’m not a Judge, but the President of the Republic

31. May 2021.

After the opening of the Conference for heads of associations of persons with disabilities the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović commented on his decision to return the military ranks and decorations to Branimir Glavaš. Reminding that the Decision is available to the public, President Milanović explained how he made the decision because Branimir Glavaš had asked that his decorations be returned to him.

In replying to a reporter’s question, President Milanović commented on the criticism addressed to him by Milorad Pupovac on account of his decision to return the decorations. “There are people who feel safe when they have money. That’s less important to me, I feel safe when I know a law exists. I invite Pupovac to deal with the Šoškočanin issue, because I see that he’s getting out of control on social media. That’s truly impolite and pretentious behaviour, not to say deceitful. When the Cyrillic signs that placed were on Croatian institutions in Vukovar in accordance with the Constitutional law and the Statute of the City of Vukovar were being smashed, I had to be a Serb, not him. And now very impolitely, as no Croatian leader – Serbian leader as he likes to call himself in Croatia– he wouldn’t dare in Belgrade, he is imputing this to me in a language that is actually meaningless, but first of all deceitful and insincere. He’s the one who was in a coalition with this same Glavaš until a year ago. Glavaš supported Plenković’s government. Why didn’t the brave heart say something then?”

Subsequently, President Milanović explained how the decision was made. “Glavaš requested it. Why did he request it? Because for five years now he’s been formally a non-convicted person, just like I am. What could I have done? I met him once in my life. In 2009 in Palmotić Street, we spoke for half a minute. I would also like to know where the missing persons are, those who were thrown into the Drava River. There were innocent people there, but there were also those who should have been tried. The father of my later friend was also there. A Serb from Osijek with whom I associated in Zagreb, whose father and mother were Serbian, who came to study in Zagreb, and not Belgrade. When I asked why he came to Zagreb, he said – well, I have no one in Serbia, it means nothing to me, I couldn’t stay in Osijek. Therefore, I’ve got a whole series of questions on this issue. But I’m not a judge, I’m the President of the Croatian state and in this sense I have to be the same to everyone. Had he not asked me, I wouldn’t have gotten involved. Therefore, a request was made. Totally reasonable. What will happen when and if he’ll be convicted again, I won’t have any choice in the matter, I’ll have to continue what Josipović started. I think it’s very clear to him. In 2010 Josipović took away Branimir Glavaš’s decorations when Glavaš’s conviction became final. It no longer is. Why not? Ask the Constitutional Court”, President Milanović stated.

The President of the Republic further explained that a legal basis exists for the decision on taking away decorations in the Law on Decorations, unlike removing military ranks, for which the legal basis is questionable. “I’d never dare go as far as to take away decorations on the basis of a frivolous judgement. But Josipović had the final judgement. He read the law, that was his stance and he did it with some right. Glavaš protested. He said that he didn’t recognize that right. Why? Because President Tuđman awarded the decorations to him. Did Josipović violate the law? No he didn’t. I’ve spoken to him a number of times about this entire process in order to see what to do. It’s a very delicate decision”, President Milanović added.

The President of the Republic repeated that he’s not interested in what Pupovac is writing  because “it’s well known who I am, what I stand for, what I’ve been committed to, where were Pupovac and others like him hiding ten years ago, when I was fighting for the, evidently fictive, rights of the Serbian people for whom probably only I cared about”. “Branimir Glavaš is a Croatian citizen, he turned to me, he didn’t automatically get this decision, it’s not an automatic decision, and I had no choice in the matter. That’s called security in the scope of the law. Someone likes money, someone likes the law. What’s not clear? Whoever will address me like Pupovac, I’ll reply to more rudely”, President Milanović said.

Reporters asked him to comment on his earlier remarks when Branimir Glavaš supported him in his election campaign, and told him that his voters are disappointed. “How do you know that the voters are disappointed? That’s a million people, who are my voters? I claim that’s not true and that 99 percent of my voters, practically always, understand what I mean. And those who are praising me and think there’s nothing controversial, I tell them: there’s a lot of controversy in this matter. But my decision isn’t controversial”.

The President said he’s not at odds with himself, namely with his earlier statement. “Therefore, what I said still stands. When I said he’s not a companion, I actually don’t know him. But I have to treat him as every other Croatian citizen with fundamental rights. It‘s interesting that every Serbian friend of mine from Zagreb understands this, yet some leftist loudmouth from Šibenik or Makarska, you know who I mean, doesn’t understand”, the President answered.

Asked how he will act if Glavaš will be convicted again, President Milanović replied: “If he will be convicted again, when the judgement becomes final I don’t have to completely deprive him of those decorations, according to the law I don’t have to. But since Josipović has already done it once, when he initiated the situation, when he took away the decorations that were bestowed upon him by Tuđman, I’m trying to be objective. He took them from him, I’m giving them back to him based on the fact that Glavaš hasn’t been convicted for five years. Why hasn’t this been resolved in five years? Well, it’s not a question for me, it’s a question for the HDZ, which is threatening not to vote for Zlata Đurđević and defeat her in the Parliament, just do it. He’ll be in the courts for another thirty years”, President Milanović said, and concluded: “Why didn’t Mrs. Kitarović react to this? Fear, just fear, man’s constant companion. I’m afraid too, but in one moment you have to decide”.