Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that the non-attendance of President Zoran Milanovic at ceremonies marking Croatia's Statehood Day was "unprecedented."
He called Milanovic’s insistence that this holiday is a holiday of the ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), “outrageous”.
“Media outlets should raise the question of what kind of President Milanovic is when he disregards the Statehood Day of his own country. I find this unprecedended,” Plenkovic told the press after wreath-laying ceremonies at the Monument to the Homeland in the centre of Zagreb.
Croatia today is observing Statehood Day in memory of 30 May 1990 when, after decades of communist rule, the first modern democratic Croatian parliament, the Sabor, was founded based on the results of the first multiparty elections held in April and May that year. The 1990 parliament was in office a little over two years. The first parliament adopted historic decisions on Croatia’s sovereignty and independence, on severing state and legal ties with the Yugoslav federation, as well as the 1990 Christmas Constitution. Its work was marked by the start of the war of independence.
The first Sabor had 351 members: the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) had 207 seats, the League of Communists of Croatia – Party of Democratic Changes, which later became the Social Democratic Party, won 107 seats, the Coalition of People’s Accord 21, and the Serb Democratic Party five, while 13 seats went to independent and ethnic minority MPs.
Plenkovic criticised the opposition also for not attending today’s ceremonies.
He said that the participation in the ceremonies was also an act of respect for Croatia’s laws and the decisions of the national legislature.
He said that it was not good to change one’s traditions, referring to a decision of the coalition government led by the Social Democratic Party in 2001.
Until 2001, 30 May was observed as Statehood Day and was a public holiday. That year the coalition government led by the SDP proclaimed 30 May Croatian Parliament Day, a memorial day.
In 2019, the HDZ majority in parliament reinstated 30 May as Statehood Day as it was in the 1990s.
The parliament speaker, Gordan Jandrokovic, who participated in today’s ceremonies, also called out Milanovic for his failure to participate in today’s ceremonies.
It would be natural that the president is here for observing Statehood Day, this is one of our greatest holidays, said Jandrokovic, adding that our choices also show the values which we nurture.
Milanovic has said that he does not recognise 30 May as Statehood Day and that reinstating this as a public bank holiday was “an act of muscle-flexing by the parliamentary majority”.