Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Croatia U21s Record 4th Win in 2023 Euro Qualifiers, Top Azerbaijan 5:1

October 12, 2021 - The Croatia U21s have recorded their 4th win in four rounds of the 2023 Euro qualifiers, this time defeating Azerbaijan 5:1!

The Croatia U21s defeated Azerbaijan 5:1 in Sumgayit in the 2023 European Championship qualifiers on Tuesday. It was Croatia's 4th game in Group A.

Igor Bišćan's side thus recorded four victories in the first four rounds of qualifications, with a goal difference of 12:3, and leads the top of the group with 12 points.

Croatia did the job in the first 45 minutes when the excellent hat-trick was scored by the great Roko Šimić (9', 13', 44' penalty). Nikola Soldo (25') also scored in the first half, and the victory of Croatia was confirmed in the 81st minute by Josip Šutalo. The only goal scorer for Azerbaijan was Musa Gurbanli (55' penalty).

The son of former Croatia star Darijo Šimić scored in the ninth minute on Kačavenda's pass, and only three minutes later he scored the fourth goal in his fourth appearance for the U21 national team after a shot by Čolina and a bad intervention by goalkeeper Merbalijev.

In the 25th minute, Lokomotiva midfielder Soldo increased the lead to 3:0 after a free kick by Palaversa. Valizade played with his hand in the penalty area a minute before the end of the half, and Roko Šimić scored a hat-trick from the penalty spot in the first half. 

Azerbaijan reduced the score in the 55th minute when Šutalo committed a foul on Gurbanli, and the same player was accurate from the penalty spot. In the 69th minute, Azerbaijan had to play with a man down after the exclusion of Valizade, and in the 81st minute, Šutalo hit the net with his head for the final 5:1.

In other group matches, Norway defeated Estonia 3:0 in Drammen, while Finland defeated Austria 3:1 in Tampere.

Croatia leads the table with a maximum of 12 points and a goal difference of 12:3, and Norway is second with nine points, the same as Austria with a game more.

After the introductory win against Azerbaijan in Velika Gorica (2:0), the young Croatia side celebrated 2:0 away against Finland, and last Friday in Varaždin, they defeated Norway 3:2.

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

PM: Government Following Fuel Price Developments: Room to Intervene

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - The government is following developments with fuel price rises, the relevant ministers have been tasked with following the situation in detail, and there are also tools for an intervention if necessary, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday.

Oil prices vary on the global and Mediterranean markets, they are rising, and petrol and diesel prices are rising too, he said after a ruling coalition meeting, adding that besides oil, those prices include excises, margins and VAT.

Speaking to the press, Plenković said Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić were tasked with "following the developments in detail" and that the Economic and Social Council would meet tomorrow to discuss the matter.

"We'll talk with the social partners and see how the situation develops and if a certain intervention will be necessary. There are tools for that," the prime minister said.

He said the government "will not play (with) the psychological limits" of fuel prices because it did not know what the prices would be tomorrow and how high they could go.

Over the past year fuel prices were considerably lower "and nobody was asking then how we would finance roads and similar costs from excises," Plenković said.

He recalled last week's request to the European Commission to propose measures at the European level given the global rise of fuel prices.

As for the complaint by road hauliers that the government was passively watching the rise in fuel prices, the prime minister said the government was not passive and that "we live in a free market."

"When petrol cost eight kuna, no one was saying anything," he said.

As for gas and electricity prices, he reiterated that they would not go up until spring and that Croatia was in a better position than many other countries in that respect.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

IMF Raises Croatian Economy's Growth Projection for 2021, 2022

ZAGREB, 12 Oct (Hina) - The International Monetary Fund has revised upwards to 6.3% the projection of the Croatian economy's growth this year as well as the growth projection for 2022, according to the autumn world economic outlook released on Tuesday.

In April's outlook, the IMF projected that Croatia's economy would grow 4.7% this year and 5% in 2022, while last month, at the end of regular consultations with member states, its Mission projected a 5.4% growth for this year and 5.8% for 2022.

According to the latest report, the estimate of the Croatian economy's contraction in 2020 was lowered to 8%, one percentage points less than projected last spring.

Significantly lower deficit

The current account deficit is projected at 0.1% of GDP, down 2.2 pp than projected last spring. Next year the deficit is projected at 0.8%, half as much as the deficit projected last spring. The 2020 deficit is estimated at 0.4%, down from the 3.5% estimated last spring.

In a concluding statement after last month's consultations, the IMF Mission said the balance of payments indicators were relatively good, despite a strong decrease in tourism revenue.

Higher inflation, lower unemployment

Annual inflation projections for this year and the next have been raised to 2%, up 1.3 and 0.8 pp respectively than those projected last spring.

The 2020 inflation is estimated at 0.1%, down 0.2 pp from last spring's estimate.

Commenting on inflation in September's concluding statement, the IMF Mission said that despite a recent acceleration, it remained low, projecting that it would stabilise in 2023 at 2%.

In the latest projections, the unemployment rates for this year and the next have been lowered by 1 pp to 8.4% in 2021 and 8% in 2022.

For 2020, it is estimated at 9%, down 0.2 pp than in last spring's projections.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Tourist Board Launches Autumn Campaign "#FALLinLoveWithCroatia"

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has launched a new mini autumn promotional campaign, "#FALLinLoveWithCroatia", on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tik Tok,  HTZ said on Tuesday.

The campaign will be conducted throughout October and November and is aimed at retaining visibility and promoting Croatia as a tourist destination with an interesting offer in the autumn season by highlighting the rich autumn beauty and attractions of the destinations.

The campaign is being conducted on social media in cooperation with tourist boards throughout the country in an effort to highlight the best each destination has to offer visitors: interesting places, attractive locations, local parks, promenades and traditional activities such as the picking season for grapes, olives, mandarines, mushrooms and chestnuts to the production of oil from pumpkin seeds and olives, and preparing autochthonous delicacies from autumn fruits.

"We want to colour social media with all the colours of autumn and to emphasise the beauty of Croatia's national and nature parks during this time of the year but also to motivate everyone to vacation and explore Croatia in the autumn," HTZ said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Prosecutors Suspect Police of Inhumane Treatment of Migrants: Jutarnji List

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - Prosecutorial authorities have ordered an investigation of police officers recorded participating in violent pushback of migrants because they suspect them of inhumane and cruel treatment, which, if proved, could mean a 10-year prison sentence for the officers, Jutarnji List reported on Tuesday.

Karlovac County public attorney Vera Magdić-Bižanović told the daily that following a video broadcast by RTL television last week she requested an investigation on the suspicion of torture and other cruel, inhumane or humiliating conduct or punishment.

The said offence carries a sentence of one to ten years in prison.

Last Wednesday, a number of European media outlets showed disturbing footage of a migrant pushback on Croatian territory. The footage showed men, wearing balaclavas and clothes similar to those of Croatian police, pushing migrants across a backwater of the Korana river towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović last Friday confirmed that Croatian police officers were involved in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border.

In a statement to the press on Monday, Božinović said that the police who were recorded beating migrants did not do so under any orders.

What could be crucial for the investigation is determining whether the police, given that they undoubtedly used force, had compiled a report, which they were obliged to do under the law and professional rules.

Even if they use force against unidentified persons, police are obliged to write it down in a report at the end of their shift. Unofficial sources have told the daily that in terms of disciplinary responsibility, this could be treated as unconscientious conduct, excessive or unreasonable use of force, and humiliation of the person involved.

Given the circumstances and the media as well as political attention the case has drawn, if the police are found responsible, they could be suspended for a year or transferred to a less exposed position in disciplinary proceedings, Jutarnji List writes.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Zagreb Mayor: No Appointments Based on Political Criteria

ZAGREB, 12 Oct (Hina) - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! party said on Tuesday that cooperation with former members of the management board of the city's Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate was bad and that appointments in city-owned institutions were not based on political criteria.

"It was not communication that was bad, but cooperation. The new members of the Zagreb Holding Management Board were appointed in a public procedure. We did not know them from before. When we realised that things were not functioning, that the old members of the Board were not involving them in decision-making, we simply could not tolerate the situation any longer," Tomašević told a news conference.

He added that the city wanted a strong Supervisory Board for Zagreb Holding as well as strong supervision in all city-owned companies, and that as the Assembly, they wanted to be informed of all key decisions.

"We do not interfere in personnel issues," he said.

Recalling that during the term of former mayor Milan Bandić there was a decision under which the mayor's consent was required for every new hiring in Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that one of the first moves of the new city administration was to annul that decision.

Asked about claims by former Zagreb Holding Management Board chair Nikola Vuković and former Board member Ante Samodol that meetings were attended also by Dario Juričan and (We Can! MP) Sandra Benčić, Tomašević said that that question should be put to them.

"As far as I understand, they went to the meeting in question at the request of former Management Board Chairman Vuković. You should ask them why they are going public with all these things now. The meeting in question happened after our decision as the Zagreb Holding Assembly to relieve the two Management Board members (Vuković and  Samodol) of duties," Tomašević said.

Asked if bank accounts for Zagreb Holding had been opened and if meetings had been held without the knowledge of the two former Management Board members, Tomašević said that he did not know how the Holding's Supervisory Board could open an account for Holding without the Management Board.

"There were no appointments whatsoever based on political criteria. We have removed the mayor's consent for any appointments, from the lowest to the highest position. It is fairly clear from the episode with the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital how we 'appoint personnel in line with political criteria'. When have we told anyone to appoint a specific person, threatening with dismissal?" Tomašević said in reference to Darko Richter, who was recently selected by the Governing Council of the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital as the new director, but backed out of the selection and appointment procedure after his selection was met with heated reactions in public due to his views, including his claim that artificial insemination is a "form of rape in a test-tube."

On debt enforcement

Speaking of debt enforcement procedures that were, according to media reports, being launched against Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that the new city administration had inherited a very difficult situation regarding the company's liquidity and a debt of some five billion kuna.

There is still no official information on debt enforcement, he said, noting that the financial situation is under control but that it is not good.

"Zagreb Holding's debt is huge and liquidity is not good, not just of Zagreb Holding but of the City of Zagreb as well. A large part of Holding's revenue does not come from consumers of municipal services but directly from the City of Zagreb. Still, the situation is not alarming, financial liabilities are being met regularly and communication with all suppliers is regular," the mayor said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik This Year's Leaders in Digital Readiness

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021- Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik are the leaders this year with regard to digital readiness in Croatia, shows an analysis conducted by the Apsolon consulting company and released on Tuesday.

This is the third year the consultancy has analysed digital readiness in the 20 largest cities in Croatia and their progress compared to the preceding years.

Rijeka is the absolute leader this year according to the composite index for digital readiness, which is based on the quality of e-services, service information and a single payment system, access to city data, citizens' participation in decision-making and communication channels between city administration and citizens.

Based on the quality of e-services, Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik faired the best.

Rijeka was also the best for service information and unified payment system, followed by Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Šibenik.

Rijeka, Zagreb, Pula and Karlovac had the largest scope of open data offered through open-data portals or geographic information systems (GIS) regarding physical planning.

Rijeka and Zagreb recorded the biggest increase in accessibility of city data, followed by Split, Pula, Šibenik, Bjelovar and Dubrovnik.

The index of citizens' participation, including access to city budget information, transparency and the like showed major improvements compared to last year.

The best results in this regard were achieved by Dubrovnik and Rijeka, followed by Split and Slavonski Brod.

The analysis also shows that communication with citizens was the most efficient in Rijeka, Zagreb and Varaždin.

Progress is visible but it is important to absorb EU funds 

The composite index shows that cities are working on developing new solutions and that progress is visible compared to last year. Twelve out of the 20 cities analysed have improved their digital readiness by more than 10% while the greatest progress has been made by Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka.

A member of the management board at Apsolon, Mirjana Samardžić Novoselec, underscored that city administrations are adapting to new ways of doing business, enabling public services to be accessed from home, and that they are introducing systematic online communication with citizens.

Although this is developing slowly, during the COVID-19 crisis significant progress was recorded and 2020 showed a growing trend in developing digital channels and other forms of communication between city administration and citizens, she said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Croatia Logs 1,007 New COVID-19 Cases, 24 Deaths

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - Croatia has registered 1,007 new coronavirus infections and 24 related deaths over the past 24 hours, and the number of active cases stands at 8,068, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Tuesday.

There are 870 COVID patients in hospitals, including 140 on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when Croatia recorded its first coronavirus infection, a total of 419,035 people have been registered as having contracted the virus, 8,802 of them have died, and 402,165 have recovered, including 1,200 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 16,185 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 2,924,958 people have been tested, 8,928 of whom over the past 24 hours.

As at Monday, 3,491,225 vaccine doses against the novel virus were administered, and 45.72% of the total population or 54.82% of the adult population was vaccinated.

The share of the adult population fully vaccinated stood at 51.43% on Monday.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Plenkovic: Government to Continue with Food Aid to Earthquake Victims

ZAGREB, 12 October - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Monday after a session of the party leadership that all people in the earthquake-hit Banovina region would continue receiving food aid, noting that reports to the contrary were a communication glitch.

Asked by reporters what was going on in Banovina at a time when the winter is approaching and why the number of people entitled to free meal has dropped drastically, Plenković said that a misunderstanding had evidently happened.

He added that he had discussed the matter with Deputy PM Tomo Medved and believed that Sisak-Moslavina County head Ivan Celjak had resolved the matter.

"The government has given HRK 12 million for that type of expenses to the (Sisak-Moslavina) county, and the funding has been further allocated to towns," he said, adding that he believed the local team dealing with the earthquake aftermath in Glina had issued a clumsy statement that was conveyed further.

"The team in charge of dealing with the earthquake aftermath and the government will secure sufficient funds; we will support towns and municipalities in Banovina, and anyone in need of free meals will get them," he said.

Croatia will use electricity from nuclear power plant 

Asked if turning to nuclear energy was the solution in conditions of growing energy prices and climate change, Plenković said that Croatia would use electricity from nuclear power plants.

Croatia has its own energy strategy and advocates renewable energy sources that emit as little greenhouse gases as possible, he said.

He recalled that Croatia was a 50% stakeholder in the Nuclear Power Plant Krško, which has been producing electricity for the past 40 years or so, its operating life lasting until 2043, and that Croatia would use it.

Nuclear energy is the least harmful for the environment if everything is safe, he said, adding that he did not see anything problematic in using energy from nuclear power plants.

He agreed with Finance Minister Zdravko Marić's assessment made earlier in the day in which he did not rule out changes in excise taxes.

"We are following the matter with great interest, should oil prices explode, there are mechanisms with which to intervene," he said.

On Dobronić

Asked if he expected a broader consensus regarding the appointment of Radovan Dobronić as Supreme Court president, Plenković said that it would probably happen considering the unanimous support for Dobronić of the parliament's Judiciary Committee.

"The parliamentary majority will support him, there are no changes in that regard, and as for what the Opposition will do, I cannot tell," he said.

Asked how the recent rift in the biggest opposition party group, the Social Democrats, would reflect on the parliament, he said that he did not expect any major changes.

"The issue of who will be deputy parliament speaker should be decided by the Opposition, whatever they decide, we will support... The Opposition has two deputy parliament speakers, it is up to them to agree on that," he said.

Parties more to the right than HDZ think they are better patriots

As for new Homeland Movement president Ivan Penava's statement that Plenković was not pursuing Franjo Tuđman's policy, Plenković said that there were as many as three parties more to the right than the HDZ - Bridge, the Homeland Movement and the Sovereignists, which enjoyed the support of 1%, 3.5% and 6.5% of the electorate respectively, while the HDZ enjoyed the support of 27% of the electorate.

"The parties that are more to the right than us are against cooperation with ethnic minorities because they think that they are better Croats, Catholics, better patriots than us. We do not think that, and evidently a vast majority of voters do not think so," he said.

Plenković went on to say that the sole mission of the Homeland Movement had been to topple Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and help Zoran Milanović get elected as President, as well as to topple him as HDZ leader. Unfortunately, they accomplished their first goal but as for the second goal, they have not and will not succeed, he said.

Good cooperation with Austria to continue

Commenting on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's stepping down amid suspicion of involvement in corruption, Plenković said that he would continue to cooperate well with Austria and the HDZ's sister party there.

He noted, however, that comparisons according to which unlike Croatian politicians, Austrian politicians step down immediately, were "incorrect and insulting" to the HDZ, notably given what he described as double standards, with the HDZ "being attacked for the smallest mistakes".

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Latest Decision by COVID-19 Response Team to be Tested for Constitutionality

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - Constitutional Court President Miroslav Šeparović, re-elected to the post on Monday, has confirmed that the latest decision by the national coronavirus management team would be tested for compliance with the Constitution.

In late September, the national COVID-19 response team decided to introduce, as of 4 October, obligatory COVID-19 certificates or testing for coronavirus for employees in the healthcare and welfare system who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from COVID-19. The obligation also applies to some of the patients. 

"An attorney from Koprivnica has filed a motion to test the constitutionality of the latest decision of the national COVID-19 response team," Šeparović told RTL television, adding that he must not comment on ongoing cases and especially must not prejudge their outcome.

"The government is now expected to state its position on the matter, and it will be given some 15 days to do so, after which we will examine other circumstances, possibly also opinions, and that will take two to three months," Šeparović said, adding that it was difficult to expect a decision sooner.

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