President Milanović Will Not Support Any of the Three Candidates for President of the Supreme Court

18. February 2021.

The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović will not support any of the three candidates running for President of the Supreme Court who applied following a call of the State Judicial Council. The President confirmed this in an interview with the Nova TV commercial broadcaster on Thursday and announced that he would soon reveal the name of his candidate. “I will not accept any of those persons. It’s nothing personal. This is a serious deviation in constitutional practice and custom in Croatia”, said President Milanović, speaking about the candidates who applied for the position of Supreme Court President in an interview that was broadcast on the first anniversary of his oath of office of President of the Republic.

“I have been thinking about this for a while, talking about it and trying to keep it discreet. I want to come out in public with my proposal in good time, proposing a person who meets my criteria and who is acceptable to both the ruling majority and the opposition”, the President of the Republic explained. He said that he would discuss the matter with the Prime Minister (who is also head of the Croatian Democratic Union) and the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, “and possibly with someone else so that I do not go with a candidate who is a thorn in someone’s side, but that we try and find a compromise”.

President Milanović deems the “law by which the State Judicial Council entered the procedure” for the election of Supreme Court President to be irrelevant. “I think and I know – and the former Presidents agree with me – that this is a legal provision that was adopted out of God-knows-what motives. What if no one had applied to the public call”, asked the President.

Questioned when the public would learn the name of his candidate, President Milanović said that it would be “in due course”. He said he certainly did not want it to be “like four years ago, when the current Supreme Court President was chosen at the last minute because the President (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović) had her own candidate who was unacceptable to (Prime Minister) Plenković”. He added that he wants the person he opts for to be present in public for a while and that it would be good if that person was not a Supreme Court judge. “That person doesn’t have to be from judicial practice and I think it’s good that that person is not from the Supreme Court judicial practice”.

Responding to a question about the problem concerning the lack of vaccines against COVID-19, President Milanović said that “everyone was tricked”, but he expressed confidence that there would be enough vaccines and that they would soon start arriving in greater quantities. Regarding the possible procurement of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, President Milanović said that Russia does not have enough of this vaccine for its own use, but that Croatia should look after its own interests. He said that he would buy the vaccine, “if available – figuratively speaking – also from the Chechen mafia”. “That is a basic, fundamental duty and loyalty of state leaders towards their own people and citizens”, said President Milanović.

Commenting on the election of the Metropolitan of Zagreb-Ljubljana Porfirije as the new patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, President Milanović stated that he is a high dignitary of the Serbian Orthodox Church, a man who is “above the standard of those before him”. “However, he will be under a great deal of pressure because the SOC is part of the Serbian state, whereas the Catholic Church in Croatia is not a part of the Croatian state”, he said, and noted that the church has a lot of influence on politics especially in Montenegro.  “That’s the church. It currently has major influence on politics in Montenegro and it’s not good. We’ll see. There’s a lot of challenges”, the President said.

He doesn’t see how the new head of the SPC could be a bridge in his contact with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić. “We are world leaders, I am the President of a democratic European state, and Vučić is the President of a state with a different kind of political structure and approach to democracy”, he added.

In a half-hour interview on the occasion of the first anniversary of his oath of office of President of the Republic, President Milanović also affirmed that to be President “isn’t a job, but a calling, a way of life”. Asked how he will be remembered, he replied: “you’ll remember the year, not me – by something bad”, and admitted that there were “certainly good things, fewer bad things, perhaps even some too impulsive things”, and when the reporter asked him if he is sorry for his impulsivity, he said: “only if I was too aggressive at times”. He asserted that his style is unique, something his voters knew beforehand. “That’s me. People knew very well who they voted for and I think that they weren’t surprised at all. What you see is what you get”, he noted.

Assessing his relationship with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, President Milanović said that the relationship is “such that he had his understanding and support in all delicate and difficult situations. There were such situations and some still last. “I didn’t analyse too much, I didn’t reproach either, I didn’t follow each and every step of the Government or comment each tactical measure because in my opinion, this is dishonest”. He repeated that he doesn’t support this way of declaring an extraordinary situation in the country, it’s unconventional, in which “some group of unknown individuals that have not been elected has formally been making decisions for a year concerning our fundamental human rights and freedoms”.

PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Dario Andrišek