There seems to be a little confusion by some members of the Croatian government lately surrounding the question of a referendum on Oil drilling in the Adriatic sea.
As the debate on this issue has progressed, a number of individuals and organizations have vowed that they will organize a petition to collect the required number of signatures to open a referendum.
On March 3rd, 2015, possible to avoid embarassment, or perhaps allowing his true personal views to the surface, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović declared that yes, we should have a referendum on adriatic oil drilling. He was quickly corrected by the economic minister Ivan Vrdolok, who declared that there simply wasn’t time to organize one.
More recently, Prime Minister Milanović asserted that we should have a referendum only after the exploration phase (seismic survey and explortatory drilling) and then decide. Of course that logic does little to protect the environment. Remember, the Macando well in the Gulf of Mexico? That was an exploration well too.
The last PR events by Prime Minister Milanović and Barbara Dorić head of AZU the Croatian Hydrocarbon agency continue to take the offensize route. Citizens, scientists and activists who oppose drilling are ‘ignorant’. Oil investors are given assurances that there will be no referendum. But can they honestly make those promises?
Who can call a referendum?
According to Article 86 of the Croatian Constitution a referendum can be initiated in a number of ways.
The Croatian Parliament may call a referendum on a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution, on a bill, or any other issue within its competence.
The President of the Republic may, at the proposal of the Government and with the counter-signature of the Prime Minster, call a referendum on a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution or any other issue which he considers to be important for the independence, unity and existence of the Republic of Croatia.
The Croatian Parliament shall call a referendum upon the issues from sections 1 and 2 of this Article when so demanded by ten percent of all voters in the Republic of Croatia.
To summarize, The President of Croatia working with the Prime Minister can call a referendum. The Croatian Parliament can call a referendum. The Croatian people can call for a referendum.
What about the Ministor of Economy?
The Minister of Economy can neither call for nor block a referendum. He can insult those who disagree with him, refer to the Croatian people as ignorant and play PR games to attempt to console investors. However he can NOT stop a referendum.
The coalition SOS ZA JADRAN has posted an open letter to Prime Minister Ivan Vrdoljak declaring their intention to start the citizen-driven referendum process. We at Eko Jadran are on-board to help, visit our site and sign up if you are too.