President Milanović: I Don’t Support Anti-vaxxers, and the Government Is Responsible for Signatures Being Gathered for a Referendum

06. December 2021.

The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović will not sign the referendum petition initiated by the Most (Bridge) party, and claims that the Government and the HDZ have brought in on themselves because Croatia has been ruled by a national crisis management team in the past year and a half.

Asked whether he would sign the petition for a referendum, the President replied – “no, I won’t”. “But unfortunately the Government and the HDZ are the ones responsible for signatures being gathered for amending the Constitution so that what is clear to everyone, except to the HDZ and Plenković, could become clear to them as well. They have brought it on themselves. I’m not here to take sides, my position has been clear from the start. What is happening now is on the track of what I have been talking about for a year and a half”, President MIlanović said in Komiža. Furthermore, he has made it perfectly clear that he is not an anti-vaxxer. “I don’t support anti-vaxxers, I have been one of the first to give the example that everyone should be vaccinated”, he reminded.

He commented on the referendum campaign. “A referendum consists of two parts. The first is a matter of constitutionality with regard to Art. 17 when it is decided about the temporary suspension of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. The Constitution has been very clear so far to everyone except to the HDZ and a few Constitutional Court judges. And it is an initiative for the Constitution to be even further crystalized – as in a situation when Parliament requires a two-thirds majority to give a mandate to a body, to the National Protection Directorate for example – to include besides natural disasters, the pandemic. For those who are behaving as if it’s not clear to them, to make it clearer to them. That is the first part of the referendum, which will depend on whether the initiators will gather sufficient signatures. And if they do, that referendum will probably succeed”, the President stated.

According to him, the second part of the referendum, which deals with legislative changes, is not very well thought-out. “I think it interferes in the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive branches, and the Constitutional Court may not allow those referendum questions.” If a referendum changes or amends the Constitution, that is something that neither the Constitutional Court nor anyone else, namely the Government, Parliament or I, has the right to comment on. It is either adopted or not in a referendum, and automatically becomes part of the Constitution,” he said.

A referendum for an amendment to the law is always a delicate issue, because in his view “the initiators go one step too far and then they’re curtailed”. He thinks that the first part of the referendum is more important. “For the past year and a half we have been ruled by the Civil Protection Directorate. I am confident and I see that the majority of people consider that such issues must be decided in the Croatian Parliament. So if it wasn’t clear until now, and it wasn’t due to partisan politics, then maybe it will be clear if the referendum succeeds”, President Milanović noted among other things.