The “We won’t give our motorways” civil society group at midnight on Saturday ends collecting signatures for a referendum against the leasing of motorways to monetise their debts and its representatives voiced confidence that enough citizens would support the petition.
“We will certainly make it. Citizens have listened to our call and there are lines at the stands just as on the first day,” one of the group’s leaders, unionist Mijat Stanic, said in Zagreb’s central square. He said it was difficult to estimate the number of signatures collected so far but that the group collected about 30,000-40,000 a day on average, which he said must result in a referendum so that the motorways remained in Croatian citizens’ hands.
Stanic said the government must come up with different ways of servicing the debts resulting from loans taken out to build the motorways which the HAC and ARZ motorway operators could not repay. The civil group will ask the government that the referendum be held on the same day as the forthcoming presidential election so as to avoid unnecessary costs, Stanic said, adding that the group had two weeks to collect signatures, so it would give the government two weeks to count them.
He said the petition was a platform for the protection of the common good and public interest. “If tomorrow it’s the turn of waters, forests or anything else, this civil society group and unions will oppose it.” Teodor Celakoski of the “Right to the city” association said the government once again decided to manipulate with the public. “Once again they are talking only about the interest that has to be paid and not that there is a profit from which that interest can be paid,” he said, adding that the government wanted to give up a strategic resource for short term interest.
Unionist Ozren Matijasevic said the number of signatures collected would not be known before the middle of next week, voicing confidence that over 450,000 would be collected, enough for the referendum. He said the group encountered all sorts of actions over the past two weeks aimed at preventing the exercise of the right to direct democracy.Stanic said the group still did not have the costs of the petition, that all the funds came from associations and unions, and that there were no secret donors. The “We won’t give our motorways” civil society group comprises five union federations, two road workers’ unions and seven civil society organisations