Release of Documentation and Correspondence with Conflict of Interest Commission
The Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia has made public the complete correspondence, as well as the documentation which it had submitted to the Conflict of Interest Commission, regarding the President’s visit to the Republic of Albania.
The following is the full content of today’s memo to the Chair of the Commission for the Resolution of Conflicts of Interest:
Dear Ms. Novaković,
Following your media appearance yesterday, on 20 October 2020, in which you accused the Office of the President for not providing the requested information on your case related to the visit of the President of the Republic to Albania, we would like to remind you that the Office of the President has submitted to the Conflict of Interest Commission all the requested information and pertaining documentation on 25 August, 2 September and 9 October 2020, and that it has clearly stated which bodies you can contact for other requested documentation. In addition, we would like to point out the following:
1. We deem your decision to communicate with the parties concerned via media to be absolutely inappropriate. Such conduct violates the basic principles of the state bodies’ treatment of the parties involved in proceedings. Can you imagine, Ms. Novaković, if a state body in proceedings involving you as a party, started communicating its positions and opinions via media instead of giving its opinions in the way prescribed by the law?
You will surely agree that this would be a completely inappropriate practice. Moreover, in the documents governing the work of the Conflict of Interest Commission we have not found any provision authorising the Commission’s Chair to present her opinion publicly on ongoing cases before the Commission decides on them. If you do have such authority, please let us know.
2. By publicly commenting on the case in which you are among those deciding, you are bringing into question your impartiality. Namely, before making a decision (the President of the Republic, as a party, was not informed that any decision was made) you are making public assessments about the actions of a party in an ongoing case, about the quality of “evidence” submitted to the Commission, etc., from which it can be deduced that you have already taken a position in this case, prior to its conclusion.
3. The Office of the President will continue to submit to the Commission all available documentation and information, but only in relation to a specific case that the Commission may be working on. We will not respond to requests for providing information on “all travel”, etc., as we do not consider that the Commission is authorized to make general requests that are not related to a specific case. If the Commission thinks that the President may be in violation of the Act on the Prevention of Conflict of Interest as a result of the choice on the means of transport for a particular trip, or if there is a complaint against the President of the Republic in regard to other travel, we ask the Commission to explain to the Office the connection between such travel and the President’s official trip to Albania. If there is no connection there, we ask the Commission, if there are grounds, to open a separate case, and the Office will submit all the documentation at its disposal, as it has done earlier. Likewise, if the Commission decides in which circumstances and by which means of transport the President may or may not travel, we kindly ask that you inform both us and the relevant departments of the Ministry of the Interior.
4. In relation to the trip to Albania specifically, let us repeat the following:
– The President of the Republic is a protected person of the first category. To all protected persons in this category, state bodies provide transport for security reasons, regardless of the nature of their travel, i.e. regardless of whether it is a private or official trip;
– The constitutional provision according to which the President of the Republic represents the Republic of Croatia at home and abroad clearly indicates that a meeting of the President of the Republic with a foreign statesman, such as the Prime Minister of Albania, represents the execution of his constitutional duty;
– In exercising his constitutional powers, the President of the Republic visited Albania on 12 and 13 August 2020, where he met with the Prime Minister of Albania. We do not see how the mode of transport of the President, a protected person of the first category, to such a meeting constitutes a conflict of public and private interest. Nor do we see where lies the authority of the Commission to question the mode of transport of a protected person to a meeting with a foreign statesman. Of course, the Commission could decide otherwise and conclude that the President was in a conflict of interest.
Dear Ms. Novaković,
In our opinion, the Commission should refrain from not making a decision. Therefore, we ask you to make a decision on the official visit of the President of the Republic to the Republic of Albania and to announce to the Croatian public whether the President of the Republic was, or was not, in a conflict of interest.
HEAD OF THE CABINET
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
Letter of the Commission for the Resolution of Conflicts of Interest dated 17 August 2020 and a reply of the Office of the President dated 25 August 2020 (in Croatian)
Letter of the Commission for the Resolution of Conflicts of Interest dated 28 August 2020 and a reply of the Office of the President dated 2 September 2020, pertinent documentation included (in Croatian)
Letter of the Commission for the Resolution of Conflicts of Interest dated 28 September 2020 and a reply of the Office of the President dated 9 October 2020 (in Croatian)