President Milanović Says State of Catastrophic Emergency Should be Declared, Command Chain Defined Due to Earthquake

03. January 2021.

The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović said on Sunday that a state of catastrophic emergency should be declared and that the command chain should be defined due to the devastating earthquakes that hit the Petrinja area.

“I talked to the Prime Minister today about some things I noticed. It was different after a day or two; it’s been five days now. I told him openly – I do not know why a state of catastrophic emergency has not been declared. Those are important matters legally, because it is not known who holds the check in their hand. The state (of emergency) must be declared in order for conclusions to be drawn. A catastrophic emergency must be declared in order to say who is in charge here, is it Božinović or Medved. People cannot be ordering containers via email. First of all, this costs, and secondly, it must be known who is responsible”, President Milanović said in an interview with the N1 commercial broadcaster.

The President said that a state of catastrophic emergency should be declared in order to establish who would be responsible for disbursing the money needed for addressing the aftermath of the earthquake. When asked who bears the greatest responsibility at the moment, President Milanović said that until the official declaration, that person is Prime Minister Plenković.

“In my opinion, it should be Deputy Prime Minister Medved. The command chain must be known; it must be known who is responsible. The army has given its maximum, but the system cannot rely on an army of 15,000 members. The army is there, it will give its all, but the barracks in Petrinja were refurbished in an instant and people are now accommodated there. That is pure luck”, emphasized President Milanović.

President Milanović believes that the National Civil Protection Authority could manage the quake aftermath, provided that it was given enough money and responsibilities. Commenting on the football fan groups that were among the first to help on the field, the President said that they should be organized, adding that he did not see a problem in people coming to offer help in the affected areas.

“There is no order of the kind that should exist, and that can be resolved by several decisions – by declaring a catastrophic emergency and setting up a command chain. That is why the army functions so well, because it is their job to work under great stress”, President Milanović said.

He also spoke about the demolished houses in the earthquake-hit areas, which were damaged during the Homeland War and subsequently refurbished.

“The houses that were damaged in the war and then renovated were now knocked down – houses for which some civil engineer graduate and member of the Chamber said were adequate for living and as good as new. And they were not as good as new; they were not built-up but rather refurbished”, the President underscored.

President Milanović also commented on the statement of Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbović, who said that he would not accept 30 million kunas of state aid, emphasizing that Dumbović eventually took the money, but that he wanted to draw attention to the problem. “It seems to me that Petrinja should have gotten a little more. The damage is incomparably greater”, said President Milanović.

Comparing the situation in Petrinja and in Zagreb after the March earthquake, President Milanović said that Petrinja was razed to the ground while Zagreb would always have the financial strength for the reconstruction. “As a Zagreb resident, I am not satisfied with the fact that the city is in a negligent state. Now is the time to make Zagreb a European beauty”, added President Milanović, concluding that from a financial perspective “Zagreb does not need the State, but Petrinja does”.