18:38 / 13.07.2022.

Author: Branko Lozančić

Banožić: Amendments to the Defense Law do not fall within the constitutional powers of the President

Croatian Armed Forces /Archive Photo

Croatian Armed Forces /Archive Photo

Foto: Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Defense Minister Mario Banožić said on Wednesday that the announced changes to the Defense Law do not encroach on the constitutional powers or changes of the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic of Croatia.

“With the announced changes, we are clarifying the articles of the law that were left unfinished and are being used today in order to push the army on the front pages. I want to remove that, and also strengthen certain positions of the law so that investments in the army are even more generous,” said Mario Banožić in Otok, where he was at the City Day ceremony.

The minister added that many have tried to use the Croatian army for daily political purposes in the last year and that the army needs laws and modernization. 

“We are working on a law that is being prepared and refined by the Government, and I hope that it will be voted on,” he added.

Amendments to the Law on Defense specify vague provisions

In Okučani, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković briefly commented on the topic of possible changes to the Defense Law, which, as some media reports, would reduce the powers of the President of the Republic as the supreme commander.

“This is a topic that has been going on for a very long time, and as far as I know, the minister's idea is to specify some provisions that are obviously vague in the Defense Law and cause certain difficulties. This is not a new topic,” Plenković said.

“We need to look at things soberly and regulate them better, it is not a topic that should be particularly dramatic,” he added.

The media previously reported that the Ministry of Defense will soon send a proposal for changes to three key laws into public debate, and among other things, it will be explicitly stipulated that the army is commanded by the Minister of Defense in peacetime and that the president can no longer retire generals.

These are amendments to the Law on Defense, the Law on Service in the Armed Forces, and the Law on the Pension Insurance Rights of active military personnel, police officers and authorized officials.

Back in May, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Defense Minister Banožić announced changes to the Law on Defense that would resolve the "vagueness of certain articles".

According to information from the Jutarnji list newspaper, Article 70 of the Defense Act would define the command and control of the Armed Forces more precisely, and would expressly state that in peacetime the Chief of the General Staff receives orders and other decisions from the Minister of Defense and is responsible for their implementation.

Even though Article 58 of the current law states that "the Government or the Minister of Defense decides on the use of the Armed Forces in accordance with the provisions of this law", disputes between the President of the Republic and the Government regarding the use of the army in peace have been going on for years.

The media point out that this was the case during the time of President Ivo Josipović and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and it especially escalated during the mandate of Zoran Milanović.

All presidents refer to the Constitution, which states that the President of the Republic is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and from that constitutional definition all presidents conclude that they have the main say in commanding the army, both in war and in peace.

However, in the field of defense and armed forces, in accordance with the Constitutional Law for the Implementation of the Constitution, the Constitution is not directly applied, but it defines that "the defense organization, command, management and democratic supervision of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia are regulated by the Constitution and the law".

And the Law on Defense is very clear in this case - in peacetime, the President of the Republic issues orders only in the case of the departure of the army across the state border, based on parliamentary decisions made at the proposal of the Government.

Source: HRT

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