Commenting on the arrest of Index news website reporter Gordan Duhacek, Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday dismissed claims that the government was exerting pressure on journalists but stressed that regardless of whether a law or a regulation had been breached, media representatives should always be treated with special consideration.
"... The government... is being accused with an amazing ease of orchestrating the conduct of the police to make them arrest or discipline reporters. That's complete nonsense... I most resolutely dismiss such claims," Plenkovic told reporters before a session of his HDZ party's parliamentary group when asked about reactions to Duhacek's arrest and accusations that the government was exerting pressure on reporters.
Plenkovic said that when he realised what was happening on Monday night, he told Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic to submit a report on the case given that there was a large amount of information on it and that it was in the interest of all to see what it was about.
"My position is very clear, regardless of whether a law or a regulation have been violated, media representatives and journalists should always be treated with special consideration, in connection with everything they say or write," he said.
Duhacek was arrested on Monday at Zagreb Airport after he failed to respond to a police summons for questioning regarding an alleged breach of the peace, Zagreb police said earlier in the day.
Minister Bozinovic said today that he had asked the chief police director to submit a report on the case, dismissing claims that the government was restricting media freedoms or intimidating reporters.
Asked about the announcement by the Conflict of Interest Commission that it would consult with international institutions regarding travel allowance documents it requested from HDZ officials regarding a visit to Helsinki, Plenkovic repeated that there was no such case.
He added that the case was invented for the sake of keeping in the public eye something that he considered the most normal activity of a prime minister.
"The case exists only for those who want to treat the matter that way. For me, it does not exist," Plenkovic said, adding that the commission had received all the information anyone who understood what the government and prime minister did when paying a visit should have received.
Plenkovic also said that the commission should not have opened the case at all.
The Conflict of Interest Commission reported today that it would consult international institutions regarding unfounded claims in the media that it acted unlawfully when it requested travel allowance documents from HDZ party officials.
The commission has on several occasions requested travel allowance documents from the government, ministries and the HDZ regarding a trip by an HDZ delegation with Prime Minister Plenkovic and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic to Helsinki in the government's plane to attend an EPP convention, the commission said.
The commission did not receive the requested documents and then opened a case against Plenkovic and several ministers over a breach of office and because they repeatedly refused to deliver the requested documents, it said.
Plenkovic said earlier that he would not submit any more documents related to the trip to Helsinki because the government had delivered everything that had been requested, and accused the commission of abusing the law and that it wanted to cause political damage.