Deputy PM sees no reason for SOA head’s dismissal


The Bridge party leader and a Deputy Prime Minister, Bozo Petrov, said on Saturday that at this moment he could see no reason for the replacement of Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) chief Dragan Lozancic, with whom he had talked and added that “clear arguments for such a move must exist, if that happens”.

“I think that the dismissal of the SOA head can happen, only if there are two signatures (by the head of state and by the head of government), and at this moment, Mr. Lozanicic has not yet been relieved of his duty, although the president has made that move on her behalf,” said Petrov in an interview with the Croatian Radio.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has relieved Dragan Lozancic as Director of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) for violating the Security and Intelligence System Act, the President’s Office announced in a press release on Friday. The President told the SOA Director that he no longer enjoyed her trust.

On the other hand, asked by the press if he would replace the (SOA) chief Lozancic, Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Friday afternoon that he would decide about the right time for that together with the president. And later on Friday, the government told Hina that Oreskovic would decide on the president’s initiative to replace Lozancic next week.

During his interview with the radio, Petrov said that he had held talks with Lozancic as he had wanted to get acquainted with all the developments.

“At this moment I cannot say that I have noticed anything that would, in my opinion, hint at reasons why he could not any longer perform the duty of the SOA Director.”

The Prime Minister should now decide about that and I believe that the PM has more information than I might have had, and therefore I believe that the PM will make a good decision next week, Petrov said describing Oreskovic as a person who respects arguments and facts and does not hasten in making decisions.

As for calls for the dismissal of Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic, including the request from the Wiesenthal Center due to his comments on Croatia’s history, Petrov said that “today it is clear to everyone that there is a clear distinction between the Anti-Fascist Resistance, anti-Fascism and totalitarianism that ensued. The state system during the (Ustasha-led) Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was totalitarian, the Anti-Fascist movement was necessary as response, however, the period after that produced certain repercussions, unfortunately some of which have been lasting even after Croatia gained independence,” Petrov said.

Asked about claims from some of those who oppose Hasanbegovic’s appointment that he is incompetent for the culture minister, Petrov said that he would not say that Hasanbegovic lacks competence for that post.

As for the funding of non-profit media, Petrov said he was not in favour of total cessation of funding, but he pointed to Croatia’s high public debt and budget deficit, which was why “some rigorous criteria must be applied in certain matters.”

Regarding latest frequent proposals in the public about lustration, Petrov said there was no need for that, expressing fear that such a move would deepen divisions in the society.

(Hina) ms