Tuesday, 30 August 2022

INA: Management and Supervisory Boards Did Not Approve Disputed Contracts

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - The INA oil company said on Monday that its management and supervisory boards did not decide on the contracts that are being investigated by the USKOK anti-corruption office and that Damir Škugor was authorised to sign contracts worth up to €20 million, co-signed by his deputy.

"The INA Management and Supervisory Boards did not decide on the disputed contracts that are being investigated by USKOK. Damir Škugor, who is a manager three levels below the Management Board, had the authority to sign contracts worth up to €20 million, with the co-signature of his deputy. In line with his powers, Škugor signed all the contracts that are being investigated," the company said in a press release.

It adds that INA will terminate Škugor's employment and revise all existing gas sales contracts and take all possible legal steps.

"In the coming days, extraordinary sessions of the Management Board and Supervisory Board will be held. A detailed investigation of this case is already underway at INA, and as a result, additional control mechanisms will be introduced. The supply of gas to the market is not jeopardised in any way," says INA.

USKOK anti-corruption investigators and the police on Saturday arrested Damir Škugor, an executive at INA, Josip Šurjak, president of the Croatian Bar Association, Šurjak's business partner Goran Husić, with whom Šurjak co-owns the OMS Upravljanje company, Škugor's father Dane, and Marija Ratkić, Management Board president at the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distribution company.

They are suspected of having defrauded INA of over HRK 1 billion. The illegal gain of Škugor and his father is estimated at nearly HRK 500 million, while Husić and Šurjak are believed to have illegally gained over HRK 90 million and HRK 68.9 million respectively.

There is over HRK 200 million in illegal gain still in the bank account of the OMS Upravljanje company.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Plenković: We will Never Ratify Arbitration Ruling But Issue will be Resolved

ZAGREB, 29 August 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told Slovenia's Prime Minister Robert Golob on Monday that the Croatian parliament would never ratify the arbitration ruling on the border between the two countries and that the two friendly countries would "resolve the border issue eventually."

On the eve of the Bled Strategic Forum, Plenković met bilaterally for the first time with the recently inaugurated Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon.

The officials discussed the improvement of mutual relations, the energy situation and cooperation, joint initiatives at the level of the EU, the strengthening of economic cooperation, Croatia's assistance to Slovenia during this year's devastating wildfires, and excellent tourism results, with more than a million Slovenians having vacationed in Croatia in the first seven months of this year.

Talks on the border issue between the two countries and the arbitration tribunal's ruling, which Croatia does not recognise, were also on the agenda.

After a unanimous decision by the Sabor, Croatia abandoned the arbitration procedure in 2015, after it was compromised by the Slovenian member of the arbitration tribunal, Jernej Sekolec, and Slovenia's representative before the tribunal, Simona Drenik, who influenced other members of the tribunal and manipulated the relevant documents.

Plenković said that as far as Croatia was concerned that judgment "does not exist" and that the two countries "can discuss various topics, but the Sabor will never ratify the ruling."

"I think it's up to us now to work in a good spirit on all the topics that connect us," Plenković underscored.

"Croatia and Slovenia are friendly countries and we need to focus on what brings us together, not what separates us, and in time, that topic will be resolved."

Plenković, who is participating in the 17th Bled Strategic Forum, said that the meeting will focus on the relationship between "that part of the international community that is based on multilateralism, international law and cooperation, and the authoritarian one, which is based on conflict and claims to other countries' territory."

The forum, taking place on Monday and Tuesday, is being attended by the entire Slovenian state leadership as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the forum via video link.

Attending are also Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Iceland's President Gudni Johannesson, Moldovan President Maia Sandu, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó, and others.

A panel on the European prospects of the Western Balkans will be held on Tuesday, and it will be attended by US special envoy Gabriel Escobar, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, the EU representative for dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, Miroslav Lajčak, BiH's Foreign Minister Bisera Turković, and the foreign affairs ministers of Montenegro and North Macedonia, among others.

This Bled Forum was launched in 2006, and this year's edition is marked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its consequences.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

HDZ Launches Disciplinary Proceedings against Its Member Damir Škugor

ZAGREB, 29 August 2022 - The head of the ruling HDZ party's branch in Zagreb's Maksimir district, Stanko Gačić, said on Monday the party had launched disciplinary proceedings against its member Damir Škugor, arrested on suspicion of masterminding a scam in which the INA energy group was defrauded of more than HRK 1 billion.

In an operation launched on Saturday by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the police, five persons were arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing with INA's natural gas, which was sold below the market price.

Investigators believe the suspects bought gas from INA for €19.5 and sold it for €210 thus defrauding the company of over HRK 1 billion. 

The operation targeted INA executive Damir Škugor, Croatian Bar Association (HOK) president Josip Šurjak, Šurjak's business partner Goran Husić, Škugor's father Dane Škugor, and the management board chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distributor, Marija Ratkić.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Minister: Accounts of Suspects in Gas Trading Scam Blocked Thanks to State Bodies

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović has said that thanks to actions by state bodies, data were collected and bank accounts were blocked, preventing major damage to the INA company in a case of fraud exceeding one billion kuna, and that corporate procedures that failed to detect the fraud are a different matter.

"I am satisfied that the police, Tax Administration, the Uskok anti-corruption office, and other competent services collected enough evidence in a long-lasting investigation to file charges and identify the perpetrators," Božinović told reporters in Obrežje after meeting with Slovenian counterpart Tatjana Bobnar.

He underscored that thanks to the suspects' assets being frozen, even greater damage to the INA energy company was prevented and that further data collection would additionally strengthen the criminal complaint.

He warned, however, of the business procedures at INA that allowed such a thing to happen.

"These are business procedures that were signed by a company with a specific commitment. We all expect an answer as to how it was possible for no one to notice that such transactions were occurring that should have raised suspicion," said Božinović.

Police prevent clash between two sports fan groups

Commenting on yesterday's incident on a motorway when supporters of the Hajduk football club caused a traffic jam, he said that the police operation conducted was part of the protocol agreed with the Croatian Football Federation, under which the police coordinated all security aspects of high-risk matches.

"The prompt response by police officers prevented what I assume was an arranged clash between two fan groups. A car with a child who was on a ventilator managed eventually to pass through the blockade and questions about the incident should actually be put to those who do such things, who stop traffic on the motorway, and to anyone who has understanding for their dissatisfaction, as well as all those who participate in public political life and were not always clear enough in their condemnation."

Dissatisfaction should not be expressed through violence. The Croatian police will not leave anything to chance, Božinović said, adding that fans were an integral part of football, while the riot on Sunday was caused by individual fans. Nobody's life should depend on someone else's arrogance, he underscored.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Razor-Wire Fence Removal Symbol of Slovenia-Croatia Friendship, Ministers Say

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - Interior ministers Davor Božinović of Croatia and Tatjana Bobnar of Slovenia said on Monday the removal of razor-wire fences from the Croatian-Slovenian border was a symbol of the two countries' friendship and good cooperation.

Slovenia started erecting the fence on the Croatian border during the 2015 migrant crisis. Early in July this year, its government adopted a decision to start removing it.

At her first meeting with Božinović, Bobnar said the razor-wire fence was a disproportionate tool and that its removal was "a symbol of the friendship and good cooperation between the states."

"The symbolism of removing the razor wire benefits first and foremost the people along the border, who are closely connected," Božinović told the press after the meeting near the Bregana-Obrežje border crossing.

Bobnar said a "worrying" increase in attempts to illegally cross the border had been recorded this year.

The novelty are nationals of India, Burundi, and Cuba who arrive illegally in one of the Balkan states and then attempt to illegally enter the EU.

"That's something we'll deal with in the period ahead at the European Commission level," said Božinović. "Most, if not all, security challenges nowadays are cross-border ones. We can't deal with transnational and cross-border challenges each within our own borders."

The two ministers said they had agreed on the signing of a police cooperation agreement that would lead to the removal of administrative procedures to facilitate police cooperation.

Bobnar reiterated that she supports Croatia's Schengen Area entry and that it is in Slovenia's interest.

Božinović said that upon Croatia's Schengen entry, expected at the start of next year, the two countries would be able to act jointly before the Schengen Council. "Our challenges in that sense are similar."

He recalled that when Croatia joined Schengen, 1,000 police officers would be deployed at spots used by illegal migrants, either deeper inland or at the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Josip Perkusic, 1st Croatian UN Youth Delegate: Not all Dark for Cro Youth

August 30, 2022 - The election of a youth delegate to the United Nations is foreseen by the act by which Croatia, as a member state of the UN, adopted the content accepted by the World Program of Action for Youth from 1995.

As Poslovni writes, for the first time in 2020, the procedure for selecting youth representatives took place at that largest international organisation. Josip Perkušić, a 24-year-old law student from Split at the time, was chosen for this role from a number of applicants for the previous two years.

It's worth the effort
These days, it will be exactly two years since his election to the position of the youth delegate of the Republic of Croatia at the UN, and the mandate, as Perkušić says, was quite intense. At that moment, he was in the process of writing his graduation thesis on the topic of the UN, and he was also active as a student representative and the Split-Dalmatia County Youth Council, where he was the president until last year.

It was these references that were sought in the public invitation, and they even led him to attend the 76th session of the General Assembly in New York.

"The event that I especially remember is the opportunity to participate in the session of the General Assembly in the main hall of the United Nations in New York. I remember that constructed feeling that young people are an equally important and equal part of 21st century society and that it is worth fighting for a place at the table, so that the voice of young people is heard and accepted, if it is supported by quality arguments", Perkušić pointed out.

His work with young people, before the election as a youth delegate, was an opportunity for him to connect with them and understand how the system works and the representation of young people at the regional level, the representation of their rights at county bodies in areas that are close to young people, but also the organization of events with frequent topics with the aim of public speaking and canvassing for the purpose of solving problems.

Not everything is so dark
It is precisely these experiences that enable him to speak today without hesitation about the position of young people in Croatia, and one of the most pressing problems, we learn in a conversation with a youth delegate, is the problem of emigration, which is especially relevant during crises.

Problems that intersect with emigration are also problems of housing and the lack of qualified jobs. However, not everything is so dark, and as Perkušić adds, many young people who went abroad for education tend to return, and this is exactly where our opportunity lies.

"This is precisely our greatest opportunity as a country, to succeed in bringing together all these young, educated people, to provide them with quality conditions for work, so that they can work on strategic and key issues of national interest," Perkušić said.

However, in his mandate, he mostly advocated for the promotion of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by the United Nations, all with the desire that international decision-makers will soon make decisions with strong effects.

"Apart from the SDGs, during my mandate I tried to spread rational optimism in every public or direct performance, because that is exactly what we all need as young individuals, but also for society as a whole, and at the same time influencing young people to develop individually as well as to be as competitive as possible and ready for personal career challenges, but also to help our community with their expertise", continued the UN youth delegate Josip Perkušić.

From the first day of the youth delegate's duties, the cooperation with the competent State Office for Demography and Youth and State Secretary Željka Josić, Perkušić points out, was highly commendable.

"They supported me all the time in the realisation of the ideas I had, but also in daily cooperation in order to prepare as well as possible for conferences that were held at the national level or in the distribution of information for events at the international level.

At a time when it is not popular to speak positively about state employees, I would like to single out one more sentence and thank and praise all the employees of the state office with whom I cooperated and at the same time express my desire for future quality cooperation, regardless of what form it takes", pointed out the youth delegate Perkušić.

Continue being active
Perkušić would like to continue working in the field of youth in the coming years, but not speculating in what position that would be. He believes that it will be easier for his successor or successors in the future, and this is because a formal channel of communication has already been established, as well as a defined program and goals of his work.

"Like every other responsible alumnus of an association, I will always be available for whatever is needed in the work, so that they can continue to represent our country in the United Nations as well as possible", concluded Josip Perkušić.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Politics section.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Croatia Heading to EuroBasket After Convincing 84-53 Victory over Switzerland

August 29, 2022 (HKS).

The Croatian national basketball team achieved its second victory as part of the pre-qualifications for the EuroBasket 2025. In Opatija, Damir Mulaomerović 's team defeated Switzerland with a score of 84-53 (50-26) .

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Croatia has shown authority and seriousness from the beginning. A 6-0 start grew to 22-10 by the end of the first quarter. Bojan Bogdanović (7), Dario Šarić (5) and Karlo Matković (4) got off to a particularly inspired start .

 

In the second quarter, Croatia increased the speed, and the advantage constantly grew. After a great assist by Dominik Mavra for Matković, Croatia led 27-13. Bogdanović's three-pointer for 32-17 followed, and the first escape to a 20-point advantage via Matković (37-17), and by half-time the advantage grew to +24 (50-26).

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By then, Matković had already shown a great performance with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Bogdanović scored 10 points, and Dario Šarić scored 9 with 6 rebounds and two assists. Krunoslav Simon, although without a point, collected four assists and two steals by halftime.

 

The second half was an ideal opportunity for coach Mulaomerović to deploy his forces before going to EuroBasket, which starts on September 1, and give an opportunity to players who participated less in the previous part of the preparations and pre-qualifications for Eurobasket 2025. This did not affect the result. Matković was replaced under the basket by Ivica Zubac and with his dunk, Croatia went ahead for the first time by more than 30 points (59-28). The Croatian side entered the final quarter with +29 (70-41) and the game ended peacefully.

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Karlo Matković finished the match with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks, Dario Šarić scored 13 (7 rebounds), Ivica Zubac (7 rebounds) and Bojan Bogdanović 12 each, Toni Perković and Jaleen Smith 7 each, and Roko Prkačin 6 points.

 

The first game at EuroBasket in Milan will be played on Friday, September 2nd, 2022 at 17:00 against Greece.

Result by Quarters: 22-10, 28-16, 20-15, 14-12

Find the Boxscore here

 

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Global Sales Director Kreso Coric Leaving Rimac's Company

August the 30th, 2022 - Kreso Coric, the sales director for Mate Rimac's company Rimac Automobili and the man responsible for naming the stunning Nevera, has stepped down from his position.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Kreso Coric came up with the name for Rimac's remarkable electric hypercar after developing a set of colours for the exterior and interior. Everything, according to Coric, started with ''Nevera Blue''.

Kreso Coric has held one of the most important positions within Rimac Automobili since the beginning of 2016, where he arrived after working as a business development manager at a company called Double A. Prior to that, he was regional marketing manager at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. Since July 2021, he has been the chief commercial director of the Milanese company Zagato, and since November of the same year he has been the chief executive officer of the Croatian company Quantum Solace Consulting, Lider reports.

''What a jouney this has been. I've been here almost seven years, but it feels like I joined just a few weeks ago. I remember when Monika Mikac invited me for the first informal conversation (which honestly was more like a chat) back in 2015 about the sales position at Rimac Automobili. Without any expectations, I was given the opportunity to manage sales and everything related to it. I had zero contacts and zero knowledge about the world of cars.

Many people in the office looked down on me with derision and continuously undermined my activities. However, I overcame all that and succeeded with the support of many good people in the company, as well as my partners - I cannot thank them enough,'' Kreso Coric explained in his announcement.

''It's sad. But sometimes moving on with life starts with saying goodbye. The time has come for me to say goodbye to the Bugatti Rimac team, to all the wonderful people there, after almost seven years as Global Head of Sales. I think goodbyes are sad, so I would like to say hello and open my arms to a new adventure, so buckle up,'' Kreso Coric concluded his post.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Kids of Ukrainian Soldiers Holidaying in Novi Vinodolski

August the 30th, 2022 - The children of Ukrainian soldiers, police officers and firefighters have been holidaying in Novi Vinodolski this summer thanks to the praiseworthy and selfless efforts of the ''Croatia helps/Hrvatska pomaze'' Association.

As Morski writes, the children of brave Ukrainian soldiers, police officers and firefighters have been enjoying some very well deserved summer holidays in Novi Vinodolski. In this way, the "Croatia helps" Association has been providing the most innocent victims of the Russian invasion of all, children, some play and fun and time to be children. The City of Bjelovar and the host town of Novi Vinodolski helped the most. Thirty-six Ukrainian children between the ages of 9 and 14 were also visited and given gifts by the Croatian ambassador to Ukraine, Anica Djamic, on Sunday.

Ten beautiful days of summer were made better for the children of Ukrainian soldiers, firefighters and police officers, who have gone through what absolutely no child should ever have to.

''The children came from different regions of Ukraine, more precisely from the occupied territories. There are children of Ukrainian soldiers and other veterans, and also children whose parents have been killed. We're very grateful to Croatia and the "Croatia helps" Association for organising this, it's very important for the children that this was done. They got to relax and enjoy the sunshine and sea in Novi Vinodolski,'' said Olesja Cuboha, Head of the Department for Youth and Prevention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

All of this was done in order to help them forget, if just for a single moment, about the horrors which are still tragically unfolding over in their homeland.

''The children really had a great time and had an active holiday. They were accompanied by social workers, animators and volunteers. They really felt good there and say that they returned feeling better,'' said Djurdja Adlesic Association "Croatia helps".

This is the second group of a total of 86 children from Ukraine who stayed on the Crikvenica-Vinodol riviera, and a visit was organised for them to several locations in the City of Zagreb as well, writes HRT.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Fifteen Years Pass Since Devastating Kornati Tragedy

August the 30th, 2022 - Fifteen whole years have passed since the devastating Kornati tragedy took the lives of twelve out of the 23 firefighters sent to the island of Kornat to battle the wildfires that had broken out there on the 30th of August, 2007.

A series of horrendous wildfires broke out between June the 1st and August the 8th, 2007, and the period is even referred to as the 2007 Croatian coast fires. The fire which broke out on the island of Kornat, part of the heavily visited Kornati National Park, became the horrific scene of the worst Croatian firefighting accident in the history of firefighting in this country.

As Morski writes, twelve tremendously brave and selfless firefighters lost their lives either at the scene on the island of Kornat, or died later on when in hospital. The only survivor at that time was 23-year-old Frane Lucic from Tisno.

In Vodice, the commemoration of another sad anniversary of the Kornati tragedy began with a parade of local fire brigades. The pilots of the 855th firefighting squadron of the HRZ also paid their respects to the firefighters with a canadair flight over the town, writes HRT.

At the monument to the victims, a model of the helicopter that flew over the Kornati National Park on the fateful day, as well as the black box from that aircraft, which was subsequently lost, were placed.

''Our message that we wanted to showcase with this is that the black box was removed from the helicopter and was lost on the day of the accident and it has still not be found, fifteen years have now passed and the question arises as to why it even disappeared in the first place,'' said Matija-Karlo Valincic, president of the Vodice Fire Brigade.

Some of the families of the fallen firefighters who lost their lives to the fire that day still think that they were doused with kerosene from a helicopter. Officially, according to experts, the Kornati tragedy was caused by different versions of a "rare natural phenomenon" - an eruptive fire, the combustion of an inhomogeneous gas mixture and a fire with an eruptive effect. In the case against former fire chief Drazen Slavica, the court rejected the possibility that the firefighters died due to the effects of kerosene. In the meantime, Slavica has been legally acquitted and will now sue the state.

Despite the passage of time and the chances of getting answers seeming to get further and further away as the clock ticks, the families whose lives have been stuck in summer 2007 ever since the Kornati tragedy aren't giving up on their search for the truth and for justice. They have jointly submitted a constitutional complaint and requests to the European Court of Human Rights.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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