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Andrej Plenković (Croatian pronunciation: [ˌǎndreːj ˈplěːnkoʋit͜ɕ]; born 8 April 1970) is a Croatian politician and diplomat serving as the Prime Minister of Croatia since 19 October 2016. He has been the Chairman of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) since 2016. Previously he was one of eleven Croatian members of the European Parliament, serving from Croatia's accession to the European Union in 2013 until his resignation as MEP when he took office as Prime Minister.[1]

Andrej Plenković
PM Andrej Plenković (cropped).jpg
Coat of arms of Croatia.svg
Prime Minister of Croatia
Assumed office
19 October 2016
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Deputy Martina Dalić
Predrag Štromar
Marija Pejčinović Burić
Damir Krstičević
Preceded by Tihomir Orešković
President of the Croatian Democratic Union
Assumed office
17 July 2016
Preceded by Tomislav Karamarko
Member of the European Parliament
Election(s): 2013, 2014
In office
1 July 2013 – 12 October 2016
Constituency Croatia
Personal details
Born (1970-04-08) April 8, 1970 (age 47)
Zagreb, Croatia, Yugoslavia
Political party Croatian Democratic Union (2011–present)
Spouse(s) Ana Maslać (2014–present)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Awards Order of Merit, 3rd class
Website Official website

Following his graduation from the Zagreb Faculty of Law in 1993, Plenković held various bureaucratic positions in the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. After completing a postgraduate degree in 2002 (research master in International law), he served as deputy chief of Croatia's mission to the EU. Between 2005 and 2010, he was Croatia's deputy ambassador to France, before leaving the post to become State Secretary for European Integration. He was subsequently elected to the Croatian Parliament in 2011.[2]

Plenković led his party, the HDZ, to a plurality of seats in the 2016 parliamentary election. He was designated as the 12th Prime Minister of Croatia by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on 10 October 2016 after presenting 91 signatures of support by Members of Parliament to her. His cabinet was confirmed by a vote of Parliament on 19 October with a majority of 91 of 151 MPs. His cabinet has 20 ministers, including the newly created portfolio of Minister of State Property.

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Andrej Plenković was born on 8 April 1970 in Zagreb to a university professor Mario Plenković and cardiologist Vjekoslava Raos-Plenković. After finishing elementary and high school, he enrolled in Zagreb Faculty of Law in 1988. He graduated in 1993 with dissertation "Institution of European Community and the decision making process" at the Department of International Public Law under Professor Nina Vajic, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Early careerEdit

During university, Plenković worked as a volunteer translator in the observing mission of the European Community in Croatia from 1991 to 1992. At the beginning of the 1990s, he became interested in Europe and actively participated in European Law Students Association (ELSA) of which he was President of ELSA Zagreb in 1991, the first President of ELSA Croatia in 1992 and President of the International ELSA committee, situated in Brussels. During that time Plenković participated in numerous conferences throughout Europe and the USA as well as organising numerous symposiums in Croatia. As a student, he interned in the London law firm Stephenson Harwood in 1992 and following this, an internship in the European People's Party in the European Parliament (as a part of Robert Schuman Foundation program). He also worked in the Croatian mission for the European Community in 1993 and 1994 which was then chaired by Ambassdor Ante Čičin-Šain.

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Plenković completed a programme to become a diplomat and in 1992, passed the consultation exam at the diplomatic academy. Plenković passed the Bar in 2002. At the Law Faculty in the University of Zagreb, he finished his Masters in International Public and Private Law and got the title of Master of Science in 2002 by defending his Masters thesis by the title of "Subjectivity of EU and development of the common foreign and security policy" under the tutorage of professor Budislav Vukas, judge of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg.

Plenković speaks Croatian, English, French and Italian fluently and is conversant in German.[3]

Diplomatic careerEdit

From 1994 to 2002 Plenković worked at different positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Inter alia, as a Chief of the Department of European integration, Adviser of Minister for European Affairs, Member of the negotiation team on the Treaty on Stabilisation and Accession.

From 2002 to 2005, Plenković was a deputy chief of Croatian Mission for the EU in Brussels. He was in charge of the coordination of political activities of the Mission and he worked on networking with the officials of the European Commission, Council, European Parliament and other permanent representations of various Member States. He was working on Croatian application for membership in the European Union in 2002 and in 2003, making pressure for the status of candidate country in 2004 and for the opening of the accession negotiations in 2005.

From 2005 to 2010, Plenković was serving as the deputy ambassador in France where he was in charge of political and organizational issues. During his diplomatic career, Plenković participated in numerous symposiums, seminars and programs on international and European law, international, foreign relations and foreign policy and management.

State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2010–2011Edit

Appointed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Jandrokovic, Plenković worked as a State Secretary for European Integration during the Government of Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. He had a prominent role in the campaign for a referendum on EU membership. Together With numerous media appearances, Plenković held dozens of lectures on joining the European Union in all Croatian counties.

As a State Secretary, Plenković also performed the duties of the political director for EU Affairs, co-chair of the Stabilisation and Association Croatia-EU, national coordinator for the Danube Strategy of the European Union and co-chairman of the duties of the international commissions (Bavaria-Croatia, Croatia-Baden-Württemberg, Croatia-Flanders). He was on a board member of the Foundation for Civil Society Development, President of the Organizing Committee of the Croatia Summit in 2010 and 2011 and Secretary of the Organizing Committee of the pastoral visit of the Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.[3]

Political engagementEdit

Member of the Croatian Parliament, 2011–2013Edit

In 2011, after seventeen years of professional work in diplomacy, Plenković joined the Croatian Democratic Union. From December 2011 to July 2013 he was a Croatian Democratic Union member in the Croatian Parliament. He was elected in the VII. electoral district. Plenković was also a deputy member of delegation of the Croatian Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), and a member of a group of friendship with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, France, Malta and Morocco.[4] Prior to the referendum, Plenković held series of lectures on the European union at the party rallies across Croatia and participated in numerous public debates, TV and radio shows. He is a member of the HDZ Central committee, City committee Zagreb, Regional committee Črnomerec, basic branch Jelenovac and the Committee for Foreign and European affairs.

Member of the European Parliament, 2013–2016Edit

By decision of the Croatian Parliament from April 2012 until July 2013 Plenković was one of the 12 Croatian observers in the European Parliament. In his capacity as an observer member in the European Parliament, he supported the completion of the ratification process of the Treaty on Croatian accession to the European Union, the positive reports and resolutions on Croatia and the appropriate allocation of EU funds to Croatia in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020.

As a HDZ candidate on the joint list for the first Croatian elections to the European Parliament, which were held on 14 April 2013, he actively participated in the election campaign. He participated in the drafting of the HDZ programme for the European elections, “a Croatian voice in Europe”, adopted by the presidency of the party led by President Tomislav Karamarko. The program was based on the main principles of the Platform of the European People's Party and its program documents, as well as the priorities of Croatia in the European Union from the perspective of the HDZ.[3] He was elected to the winning coalition list, where he received the highest number of preferential votes among the HDZ candidates.[5]

Between 2013 and 2014, Plenković was a member of the Committee on Budgets. From 2014, he served as vice-chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the parliament's delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. He led the parliament’s monitoring mission during the Ukrainian parliamentary elections in 2014.[6]

In addition to his committee assignments, Plenković was a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on SMEs;[7] the European Parliament Intergroup on Wine, Spirits and Quality Foodstuffs;[8] the European Parliament Intergroup on Youth Issues;[9] and the European Parliament Intergroup on Disability.[10]

President of the Croatian Democratic UnionEdit

Plenković was elected as leader of the HDZ in July 2016, in a sign it was distancing itself from ultra-conservative elements. In the 2016 parliamentary elections, he led his party to an unexpected victory.[11] The opposition SDP-led People's Coalition conceded defeat after winning only 54 seats in Parliament. Its leader, former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, ruled out running for reelection to his party's chairmanship, effectively also ruling out any possible attempts to form a governing majority, thus allowing the HDZ to begin talks with the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most), its junior partner in the outgoing government led by the non-partisan Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković. Most set out seven conditions for entering into a government with any party and Plenković began discussions lasting several weeks with Most representatives. Plenković also held talks with the 8 representatives of national minorities, as HDZ and Most would not have a majority without their support. Over the next few weeks several other parties, including the HSS proceeded to give their support to a government led by Plenković. However, it is widely viewed that HSS chairman Krešo Beljak agreed to give Plenković the support of his 5 party's MPs and "100 days of peace before turning into the sharpest opposition" in order to calm tensions resulting from a dispute between him and HSS MEP Marijana Petir, who had called for HSS to enter the center-right government to be formed by HDZ and Most instead of remaining a part of the People's Coalition as an opposition party. The dispute escalated and Beljak proceeded to suspend over 100 members of the party, including Petir. Plenković further received the support of the Milan Bandić 365 party, one out of two HSU MPs and one former member of Human Blockade. He formally received 91 signatures of support from MPs on 10 October 2016, far more than the necessary 76, and presented them to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who named him Prime Minister-designate and gave him 30 days time until 9 November to form a government.

Prime Minister (2016-)Edit

Andrej Plenković was confirmed as the 12th Prime Minister of Croatia along with his cabinet of 20 ministers by a vote of 91 in favor, 45 against and 3 abstentions among 151 Members of Parliament on 19 October 2016. His government received the support of MPs belonging to the HDZ-HSLS-HDS coalition, Bridge of Independent Lists, Milan Bandić 365, HSS, HDSSB, SDSS and 5 representatives of other national minorities.

 
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković (top row second from right) with (top row from left to right): Prime Minister Miro Cerar (Slovenia), Prime Minister Charles Michel (Belgium), Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Denmark), Prime Minister Beata Szydło (Poland), Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis (Latvia), Rome mayor Virginia Raggi, (bottom row left to right): Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Malta), President François Hollande (France), President Klaus Iohannis (Romania), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Netherlands) and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (Spain) during a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome in Rome on 25 March 2017.

Upon taking office members of his government announced several elements of its policy: Zdravko Marić, the Finance minister who retained his position from the previous cabinet, announced a wide-ranging tax reform, which would for certain members of the labor force of Croatia result in changes in their salaries. After complaints from labor unions that raising tax levels on basic goods, such as bread and milk, would negatively affect the poorest members of society, the government agreed to keep the tax level at 5% until 2018 on a number of goods, including bread, milk, books and prescription drugs. Discontent over raising tax levels was also voiced in the tourism sector, as many who run hospitality units (such as restaurants, cafes and hotels) argued that raising the price of their services would negatively affect their business and would cause a drop in the number of customers they receive, possibly even forcing some providers of such services to close their hospitality units. The tax reform proposal has also caused minor disagreements between the two member-parties of the ruling coalition (the HDZ and Most), as Most proposes a higher tax rate for those earning more than 20 000 kuna a year, as it is precisely the salaries of that income class that are due to undergo the highest rise due to the proposed tax reform. Within days of being sworn in Plenković embarked on an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina and laid out several conditions which must be met for the country to continue to enjoy the support of Croatia in continuing its path toward membership in the European Union. These included the better administrative reorganization of Bosnia and Herzegovina to make it more efficient, as well as the furthering of the rights of Bosnian Croats, mostly in terms of bringing their political rights to the level enjoyed by Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs, as Bosnian Croats are numerically the smallest of the three constituent nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Plenković has also emphasized the importance of improving relations with Serbia, which had been strained for a number of years and his wish to see the western Balkans be included in the European Union, something also pointed out by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier.

Government crisis (27 April 2017-)Edit

On 27 April 2017 Plenković dismissed three of his government ministers representing the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most), the junior partner in the governing coalition, over their reluctance to support a vote of confidence in Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, whom Most accuses of withholding certain information relating to an ongoing crisis involving one of Croatia's largest firms, Agrokor, where Marić had worked a few years back. Namely, Most considers that Marić had knowledge of irregularities occurring in the way Agrokor payed its suppliers and had chosen to not reveal that information to protect the firm he formerly worked for. On 28 April 2017 the last remaining government minister from Most, Public Administration minister Ivan Kovačić, resigned his post and Most announced it's withdrawal from the ruling coalition. HDZ started to gather signatures from Members of Parliament to push through a vote of no confidence in the Speaker of Parliament Božo Petrov, who is also the chairman of Most. At the same time HDZ announced that it would seek to form a new governing majority in Parliament, bypassing Most.

Private lifeEdit

Andrej Plenković is married to lawyer Ana Maslać Plenković with whom he has son Mario.[12] In early November 2016 it was reported that the couple are expecting their second child.[13]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Tihomir Orešković
Prime Minister of Croatia
2016–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tomislav Karamarko
President of the Croatian Democratic Union
2016–present
Incumbent