Government okays five years of state-funded office for Grabar-Kitarovic

Government okays five years of state-funded office for Grabar-Kitarovic

Government okays five years of state-funded office for Grabar-Kitarovic Izvor: (ilustracija), Marko Prpic/PIXSELL

Croatia's government adopted a decision on Thursday formally re-establishing the office of the former president upon the end of their term, and it seems most likely that a state-owned villa in Zagreb's Visoka Street would be handed over to former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to be used as her office.

The office has been created per Grabar-Kitarovic's request. State agency Hina reported that it would perform "expert, analytical, administrative, and technical tasks required by the former president."

Apart from the office, Grabar-Kitarovic was also given the right to a car, a driver, and two staffers, with all the office expenses paid for by the government.

Minister for State-owned Property, Mario Banozic, said that the former president's office would most likely be housed at the building in Visoka Street.

"Most probably, it will be one section of the building, covering about one hundred square meters, which can be physically separated from the rest of the residence," Banozic said.

According to Croatian law, any former president can ask for a state-funded office. The only former head of state who used this right so far was Stjepan Mesic, who served in 2000-10. After stepping down, he moved into a state-owned house in Grskoviceva Street which was converted into his office.

In 2012 the right to a working office for former presidents was limited by the centre-left SDP government to five years after stepping down, although the provision did not apply to Mesic, who had acquired the office and all of the accompanying rights before the law was changed.

However, in 2016, during the term of the short-lived coalition government of the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the populist Most party, the law was changed again so that it would apply to Mesic as well, which effectively stripped Mesic of his office.

After he had moved out of Grskoviceva Street in 2016, the government sold the building in September 2018 for 5.5 million kuna (740,000).

The state-owned residence at Visoka Street had several uses over the past 30 years, including serving as the headquarters for Croatia's foreign ministry in the 1990, and is currently used for high-level meetings.

During her first election campaign in late 2015, Grabar-Kitarovic had promised that once in power she would serve her term based at the Visoka residence instead of the more lavish Pantovcak estate in northern Zagreb which traditionally acts as the President's Palace, citing lower running costs.

Although she never actually moved into Visoka during her term, due to problems with the logistics of setting up the required security detail at that location, it seems Grabar-Kitarovic will finally get to move into Visoka Street.

(1 = 7.45 kuna)

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