Letter to GRECO: Plenkovic undermines the fight against corruption

Gong has warned Greco (The Group of States against in the Council of Europe) that Prime Minister Plenković is systematically undermining anti-corruption activities in Croatia. We informed of two recent cases: related to the (1) Commission Regulating Conflict of Interest and (2) Gong  as a civil society watchdog.

Dear Greco,

the rhetoric which Prime Minister Mr Plenković and the Speaker of the Parliament Mr Jandroković use when talking about the work of the Commission, and criticizing its leader Natasa Novakovic weaken the work of one of the few remaining independent institutions and harm the fight against corruption in Croatia. Instead of delivering the required documents around the travel of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the three ministers in Helsinki to the Commission, the Government has sent partial travel warrants to some media outlets. Still, the key information is hidden. The Prime Minister has publicly stated that the requests of the Commission are absurd, that the Government has already “drew” everything to the Commission and that it will not submit any documents. Additionally, the Spekaer of the Parliament has said that the rest of the travel expenses were covered by their political party HDZ that does not have to be accountable to the public (although they too are financed by public funds).

Natasa Novakovic was denounced by the Prime Minister after she began questioning his role in the Agrokor affair, in which a group of private consultants, who secretly wrote the Lex Agrokor law was later engaged in millions of kunas of jobs in Agrokor, thanks to the implementation of the same law. The Prime Minister has demanded Natasha Novakovic’s exemption, accusing her of a conflict of interest, though, before running into his case, Novakovic was elected in the Parliament with the support of the ruling party. In doing so, the Prime Minister caused a lengthy blockade in the resolution of his case, since the issue of exemption from the President of the Commission was not legally resolved. This is further fact-checked on Faktograf.hr, whose publisher is Gong: .

Even though Ms Dubravka Šuica is not officially a Croatian VIF, she is at this moment the candidate of Croatia to become a European Commissioner for democracy and demography. We have tried to check the media information on her assets and how they came to grow during her career as a public servant (member of the Croatian Parliament and Mayor of Dubrovnik), but were denied access to them based on the privacy argument. Additionally, we have publicly posed questions about her future mandate and sent all this to stakeholders on the EU level. This is the only article we have in English so far. Mr Plenković replied from Bruxelles with insults against Gong and witout answers to the posed questions .

Do have in mind that this is not the first incident of verbal abuse of NGOs by the Government, as we have previously informed on threats to the Centre for Peace Studies and the Green Action. All are followed by hate campaigning against us on social networks, and no investigation by the police on death threats that we have previously reported to the police.

The fight against corruption and clientelism is crucial for Croatia, the youngest member of the European Union, so we urge GRECO to support the work of the Commission and condemn the inappropriate attacks of the Prime Minister, as is possible in relation to the mandate of the Mission.