President Milanović on JANAF Case: The investigation failed to establish bribe money as evidence

23. September 2020.

After taking part in the 12th edition of the conference Dan velikih planova (Big Plans Day) organized by the “Lider” weekly, the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović commented on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s statement, in which he said the President was “nervous.”

“I am not nervous, I am concerned. This is a terribly serious scandal and someone put (PM Plenković) in an awkward position because they did not inform him. Had they done so, there is no way that he would have appointed Kovačević for another term. There’s no way he’d do that. The man wasn’t informed. There are some things he must know; otherwise there is no responsible person in this country. Who should be responsible, the police?”

President Milanović added: “The Prime Minister should not pretend to be naive. What, then, is his responsibility? He was not told about that, there was someone who had to tell him and warn him about that, which was their obligation, especially by February when Kovačević was reappointed. We waited and paid for another 10 months (of the investigation) and in the end the mayors of HDZ and SDP were caught for 100,000 kunas, while there you had 2 million kunas. The Prime Minister is the keeper of state secrets. There is no person in the country who is better informed than the Prime Minister.”

“He must be informed and not influence the course of the investigation, that’s clear. If something was happening very quickly, the Prime Minister may not have been informed. There are those who had to inform him, if not during the process, then afterwards. The Prime Minister must know, he was not briefed and that is a scandal,” the President continued, emphasizing that a certain level of citizens’ trust in the Prime Minister is needed because “he must be informed, someone must lead the country.”

President Milanović explained that he is angry – not nervous – but not at the Prime Minister. “This must not happen in a democracy. He was put in this situation by the ignorance or stupidity of his associates,” he said. When asked by reporters why the SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) did not have the relevant information, the President reiterated that “it’s not their job.”

He warned that now it is not known whether bribe money was received, because the investigation failed to establish that as evidence and that now it constitutes a mere clue. “And we could have had the evidence. The raid was called off in real time. That evidence is nowhere near as strong now, as it could have been had the operation been terminated earlier,” the President said, recalling that the investigation had continued for another ten months.

He pointed out that the appointment of Kovačević to another term in JANAF, assuming the Government knew what was happening, opened the possibility of claims by companies that worked with the national oil pipeline operator. “Yes, (form) the parliamentary committee immediately because this is a serious scandal. In situations like this, society can take a completely different direction. We have a country and we have to learn how to run it and be careful about things,” the President said.

President Milanović said that he did not see anything contentious in the fact that some ministers visited Kovačević’s “club.” However, the President believes what is contentious is that some judges visited the club, too. “Judges, as well as state attorneys, must lead solitary lives, especially judges who preside over county courts, who have reached these posts through political avenues and who have an insight into secret surveillance measures,” the President concluded.