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PM respects const. court ruling, still advocates health and sex education

BRUSSELS - Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday said that his government respected the Constitutional Court ruling to abolish the Health Education Curriculum in schools but that he would continue to advocate that Croatian children be taught health and sexual education at a level equal to the wealthiest and most organised countries in Western civilisation.

"I haven't seen the ruling. This is an Education Ministry document and our position is that everything was in line with the Constitution and law", Milanovic said on Wednesday in Brussels.

He commented that as far as he was aware the ruling referred only to procedure and that there had not been any consultations or public debate over the matter and that some documents had been released too late.

He added the Education Ministry had a different opinion but that rulings by the Constitutional Court had to be respected whoever the judges may be and whoever may have appointed them.

"That is not the point of the story, the point is that one very aggressive group of people is conducting a cultural war in Croatia and that is legitimate", Prime Minister Milanovic said in Brussels where he is attending a European Union summit.

"What I can promise for the umpteenth time is that my colleagues and I will do everything to have health and sexual education in Croatia at the level that most children have in Germany. I believe that is something Croatian children deserve. They who believe that this isn't necessary don't think like I do and I will not give up in that civilisational battle", Milanovic said.

He underscored that Croatian children have to have health and sex education at the level of the wealthiest and most organised countries of Western civilisation. "Who wants Byzant can go to Byzant", he added.

Asked whether he considered the court's ruling as a political decision, Milanovic answered in the negative. "No, but we have a problem anyhow. We have to agree about appointing several constitutional judges but there is some obstruction to this, and things aren't going as we expected. I do not want to go into the character and biographies of certain judges and that is not the question. They made their decision and that decision refers to procedure, as far as I am aware. We are a rule of law state and we respect that", Croatia's PM said.

Informed that the NGO "In the name of the family" had collected sufficient signatures to call for a referendum for a constitutional provision that marriage be defined as a bond between a man and a woman, Milanovic said that he didn't have anything special to say about that.

"People act according to their political beliefs, collect signatures and if they manage to collect sufficient, a referendum is called for and then we will see how many people will go to the polls and how people will decide according to new regulations", he said.

He added that this was an insignificant issue at the moment. "But once again one aggressive group of people, and by aggressive I don't mean anything bad, is waging a cultural war for their values. At the moment the Constitution is more in their favour, it is easier now to impose a political agenda and programme in spite and above the parliament. We'll see how good that is for Croatia and democracy", said Milanovic.

He added that in some countries like Switzerland, referendums functioned brilliantly, but only there, whereas in countries like Slovenia, they practically destroyed it while some countries like Great Britain which is a role model for many, virtually doesn't have any.