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Croatian president says no need to declare state of emergency

President Zoran Milanovic (Photo: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ/)

ZAGREB, March 21 (Hina) – Croatian President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanovic on Saturday toured a medical camp outside Zagreb’s Dubrava Hospital, saying that at present there is no need for a lockdown or for declaring a state of emergency during which he and the prime minister would be making decisions together.

As for the possibility of transferring some of the parliament’s powers onto the government, which was discussed at a meeting of the ruling coalition and the parliamentary Opposition earlier this week, Milanovic said that he had not seen that proposal and did not perceive it as being to that effect and that he believed that under the Constitution it was not possible to transfer the parliament’s powers onto the government.

We are here to care for others, not vice versa

“Should there really be a need for harsh, extreme measures such as lockdown, I guess that will include the suspension of the parliament’s work, which is what I would like to avoid,” Milanovic said, stressing that he and parliament were there to care about others and not vice versa.

Responding to a reporter’s remark that some MPs had suggested declaring a state of emergency to pave the way for the president and the prime minister to start making decisions together if the situation escalates, Milanovic said that that was unnecessary as long as the parliament worked.

He repeated that he did not see a need for a lockdown, stressing the importance of behaving responsibly.

There is no need for extreme measures and cooperation with the government, which has been doing its job well for the most part, is good, Milanovic said.

Commenting on the medical camp set up outside the Dubrava Hospital by the Croatian Army, Milanovic said that he hoped a situation would be avoided in which its maximum capacity would have to be tested.

No need at present to call in army to help police

Answering reporters’ questions, Milanovic said that at present the army should not be called in to help police deal with breaches of self-isolation rules.

“I am not in favour of rushing into calling the army in… your question refers to a complication which I find hard even to imagine,” he said.

We have learned the lesson, and we know some things now, he said, underlining the importance of keeping interpersonal distance and socialising as little as possible.

Milanovic would not draw parallels to the situation in Italy, where the coronavirus epidemic has escalated suddenly, but noted that the situation could get complicated.

Commenting on photos of Zagreb city parks, showing people playing cards in the open with children jumping around, the president said that it was a job for the police, not the army, to warn them to move away from one another.

He said that he would probably not be the one to make a decision on a lockdown but that he could support it if it was adopted.

As for the dynamic at which the national civil protection authority was introducing restrictions on social contact, Milanovic said that he supported it.

Public sector wages should not be reduced

The president also said that public sector wages should not be cut.

“I am a politician, you can cut my salary as a symbolic example but reducing the minimum wage in the public sector means death to the system,” Milanovic said, adding that whoever had made that proposal was not very clever.

“You can reduce the president’s or the prime minister’s salary, but you cannot do it to the health minister because at this stage he works more than I do,” he said.

Commenting on donations of protective equipment from the Emirates, he said that any such donation was welcome even though Croatia was capable of producing masks, but added that respirators could not be manufactured by just anybody.

Milanovic visited the medical camp outside the Dubrava Hospital in the company of Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic.

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