Friday, 3 December 2021

Associations for the Disabled Call for Law on Social Housing

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - Associations for people with disabilities on Friday called for a law that will regulate social housing and ensure a sufficient number of flats for the disabled who cannot pay market rent prices.

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, several associations, supported by the disability ombudsman, forwarded an appeal to the government for a law to be adopted on social housing which is something they have been calling for, for years.

Croatia does not have any organised housing for disabled persons or any regulations in that regard. The associations said that over the past few years, several social measures were adopted but without any significant positive impact.

"Flat rent prices have increased and many beneficiaries of guaranteed minimum allowances have been on waiting lists for public housing for years," Marica Mirić said on behalf of the associations.

It is much harder for disabled persons to afford housing or rentals and often they are discriminated against.

State real-estate should be earmarked for social housing

Findings of a survey, conducted among people with disabilities about housing, were presented today.

They show that 97.5% of the respondents believe that the state should adopt an appropriate legal framework for social housing while 84.2% said that "their needs have partially, or not been satisfied in light of their earnings in households."

Too low an income as an obstacle regarding housing issues was cited by 51.1% of respondents while 61% said that up to HRK 1,000 a month would be an acceptable price for rent.

As much as 66.7% consider that Croatia needs to build more social housing units and 60.5% consider that state-owned real-estate should be earmarked for social housing.

European Commission and Parliament: Finance social housing

The European Commission's Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030 calls on member states to promote and ensure financing for appropriate social housing that takes account of disability issues including elderly disabled persons, and to deal with the problems faced by the homeless and disabled persons.

Last year saw a rapid increase in real-estate prices hence accessibility to affordable housing continues to be a challenge.

The European Parliament has called on member states to recognise appropriate housing to be a fundamental human right and that this should be incorporated in legislation.

An online international panel discussion was held to mark the international day of the disabled presenting a comparison of housing opportunities for the disabled in Croatia, the EU and the region.

It was said that housing in Croatia is implemented through existing laws and that it would be worthwhile to adopt a comprehensive law at the national level.

Croatia doesn't treat social housing as a fundamental human right

Gojko Bežovan from the Zagreb Faculty of Law underscored that Croatia has ignored the issue of social housing. We have strategies in all other fields except for social housing which is a fundamental human right, he said.

He underscored that the EU, like Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina all have laws on social housing and other regulations in that regard. 

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated politics page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

MPs to Fast-Track Fines for Flouting COVID Certificate Mandate

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021- The Croatian Parliament on Friday added 19 items to its agenda, including amendments that would impose fines of up to HRK 50,000 on responsible persons in public bodies who fail to comply with the COVID certificate mandate.

Parliament will fast-track the amendments to the law protecting the population from infectious diseases, despite objections from the opposition Green-Left Bloc, whose Sandra Benčić requested that a two-thirds majority be required to change the law.

However, 77 MPs voted for fast-tracking, while 45 were against.

MPs will also fast-track amendments to the Criminal Code and the Civil Protection System Act.

Parliament is due to wrap up its autumn session on 15 December and there are more than 130 items on the agenda left.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated politics page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Smart Villages Concept Presented in Vukovar

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - A project - Smart Villages - EU Concept for the Development of Rural Communities - was presented on Friday in Vukovar, with Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokols saying that the document represents a good basis for efforts to keep young people in rural areas and halt the scaling down of the local population.

"Investing in health and education infrastructure, developing business, good management, strengthening human resources and building additional capacities in communities are required for the concept of the smart village to come to life in the full sense," said Sokol and added that this is a new concept that is supported by the EU and has already opened new prospects for Croatian villages.

According to Sokol, the Smart Villages project "will enable the development of health, education, traffic and other infrastructure throughout rural areas to make them more attractive, particularly for young people."

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, who attended the presentation, supported the concept saying that the ministry would continue to finance social and utility infrastructure and that it has gone a step further and will request financing for agriculture infrastructure.

"There is no smart village without smart people, nor a future without young people. That is why we have increased planned support units through the 6.1.1 operational programme which is earmarked for young farmers," said Vučković.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Council of Europe's CPT Accuses Croatia of Severe Ill-Treatment of Migrants

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - The Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) issued a report on Friday accusing Croatia of the severe ill-treatment of migrants by the police and the obstruction of cooperation.

The CPT  published a report on its ad hoc visit to Croatia from 10 to 14 August 2020, in particular to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), "to examine treatment and safeguards afforded to migrants deprived of their liberty by the Croatian police."

The Ministry of the Interior said on Friday that the CPT report was published without its consent and that it was based on unverifiable information from Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that the CPR clearly overstepped its authority.

The CPT said that its delegation also "looked into procedures applied to migrants in the context of their removal from Croatia as well as the effectiveness of oversight and accountability mechanisms in cases of alleged police misconduct during such operations. A visit to the Ježevo Reception Centre for Foreigners was carried out as well."

The CPT interviewed migrants and "received numerous credible and concordant allegations of physical ill-treatment of migrants by Croatian police officers (notably members of the intervention police)."

"The alleged ill-treatment consisted of slaps, kicks, blows with truncheons and other hard objects (for example, butts/barrels of firearms, wooden sticks or tree branches) to various parts of the body. The alleged ill-treatment had been purportedly inflicted either at the time of the migrants’ 'interception' and de facto deprivation of liberty inside Croatian territory (ranging from several to fifty kilometres or more from the border), and/or at the moment of their push-back across the border with BiH," the report said.

The persons interviewed "displayed recent injuries on their bodies, which were assessed by the delegation’s forensic medical doctors as being compatible with their allegations of having been ill-treated by Croatian police officers (by way of example, reference is made to the characteristic “tram-line” haematomas to the back of the body, highly consistent with infliction of blows from a truncheon or stick)."

The report also documents several accounts of migrants being subjected to other forms of severe ill-treatment by Croatian police officers, such as "migrants being forced to march through the forest to the border barefoot and being thrown with their hands still zip-locked into the Korana river, which separates Croatia from BiH."

"Some migrants alleged being pushed back into BiH wearing only their underwear and, in some cases, naked. A number of persons stated that when they had been apprehended and were lying face down on the ground, certain Croatian police officers had discharged their weapons into the ground close to them."

The CPT urged the Croatian authorities "to take determined action to stop migrants from being ill-treated by police officers and to ensure that cases of alleged ill-treatment are investigated effectively."

The report noted that for the first time since the CPT started visiting Croatia in 1998, "there were manifest difficulties of cooperation."

"The CPT’s delegation was provided with incomplete information about places where migrants may be deprived of their liberty, and it was obstructed by police officers in accessing documentation necessary for the delegation to carry out the Committee’s mandate," the report said.

"In acknowledging the significant challenges faced by the Croatian authorities to deal with large numbers of migrants entering the country, the CPT stresses the need for a concerted European approach. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, Croatia must meet its human rights obligations and treat migrants who enter the country through the border in a humane and dignified manner," it added.

The CPT claims that there are no effective accountability mechanisms in place to identify the perpetrators of alleged acts of ill-treatment. 

As regards the establishment of an "independent border monitoring mechanism" by the Croatian authorities, the CPT sets out its minimum criteria for such a mechanism to be effective and independent.

In conclusion, the CPT said that it "wishes to pursue a constructive dialogue and meaningful cooperation with the Croatian authorities, grounded on a mature acknowledgment, including at the highest political levels, of the gravity of the practice of ill-treatment of migrants by Croatian police officers and a commitment for such ill-treatment to cease."

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

EIZ: Labour Demand in Nov. 2021 about 23% Higher than in Nov. 2019

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - The EIZ Online Vacancy Index has shown for the seventh consecutive month that labour demand has exceeded its pre-pandemic level, the Institute of Economics, Zagreb (EIZ) said on Friday. 

The worsened epidemiological situation did not halt activities on the labour market as labour demand exceeded the 2020 and 2019 levels, it said.

"The OVI index for November 2021 shows that labour demand is some 23 percent higher compared to the pre-pandemic November 2019. This is the seventh consecutive month in which labour demand is higher than in pre-pandemic months," EIZ said.

It said that the most sought after occupations in November this year were sales person, warehouse worker, waiter, cook and driver.

"The trend of working from home also continues – the share of advertisements mentioning the option of work from home in November 2021 was around 1.8 percent and these are mostly advertisements for occupations in programming and information technology. Moreover, some 2.7 percent of advertisements were those looking for pensioners, which is in line with an increased demand for pensioners in the past year," EIZ said.

OVI is a monthly index of online job advertisements developed by EIZ in cooperation with the MojPosao job search website. The index aims to provide timely information on current labour demand. 

For more on business, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Croatian PM Arrives in Montenegro for CEI Summit

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković arrived in Montenegro on Friday for a one-day visit during which he will attend a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit and meet with representatives of the Croatian community.

The CEI was launched in Budapest in 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the aim of assisting central and eastern European countries in joining the European Union.

The initial four members were Austria, Hungary, Italy and Yugoslavia. Austria has in the meantime withdrawn from this organisation, which now has 17 members. Apart from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the members are: Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Nine CEI countries are now members of the European Union.

Today's meeting in the coastal town of Budva will mark the end of Montenegro's chairmanship of the CEI. Croatia held the chairmanship in 2018 and handed it over to Italy in 2019, when the organisation marked its 30th anniversary in Rome.

The Montenegrin government has announced the attendance of the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. The Croatian delegation includes Interior Minister Davor Božinović and the Secretary of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, Zvonko Milas.

The summit is expected to adopt a joint statement on further cooperation, with emphasis on development and European integration, and a road map for health and well-being in the Western Balkans until 2025.

The countries in the region are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the world. According to the website, which gathers official information on COVID-19, the country with the highest death toll in relation to its population size is Peru, which is followed by Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Romania ranks ninth and Croatia 13th. The World Health Organisation's Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, will also attend today's summit.

Meeting with the Croatian community

After the CEI summit, the Croatian delegation is scheduled to meet with Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Kirvokapić and visit the Croatian Consulate-General in Kotor, where Prime Minister Plenković will meet with Bishop Ivan Štironja and visit the 12th century Cathedral of St. Tryphon.

After that, the Croatian delegation is due to meet with representatives of the Croatian community in the nearby small town of Donja Lastva.

Local Croats have been complaining about the unresolved legal status of the Croatian Hall in Donja Lastva, the centre of activity of the Croatian National Council in the area.

The 2011 census shows that 6,021 ethnic Croats live in Montenegro, while church records put their number at about 10,000. They are recognised as an ethnic minority, and under the Montenegrin constitution the Croatian language is in official use, according to the Central State Office for Croats Abroad.c

Friday, 3 December 2021

Reiner Issues Message on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 -  Deputy Parliament Speaker Željko Reiner sent a message on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Friday, recalling that more than half a million disabled persons live in Croatia.

The disabled account for 12% of the total population, which is almost three times the population of Split, Reiner said in his message.

"It is up to us to ensure that disabled persons have access to all civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights," Reiner said at the start of Friday's sitting of the Sabor.

"May marking this day fulfil its objective and contribute to improving the quality of life for disabled persons, alleviate the consequences of their social exclusion and raise public awareness of their presence in the community and of the problems they encounter," Reiner said, recalling some of the steps Parliament has taken to assist disabled persons.

Following a motion by MP Ljubica Lukačić (HDZ), since October 2017 plenary sessions of the Sabor that are aired on the public television HRT have been interpreted in sign language, and the rostrum has been adapted for disabled MPs.

Reiner recalled that Croatia was the third country in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. "That shows the ability and need of Croatian society to ensure equal opportunities for this special vulnerable section of the population."

For more news, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Croatia Logs 4,521 New COVID Cases, 53 Deaths

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - In the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 4,521 new cases of coronavirus and 53 related deaths, the national COVID response team reported on  Friday.

There are currently 31,649 active cases, including 2,400 hospitalised patients, 313 of whom are on ventilators, while 26,494 people are self-isolating.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, a total of 623,776 cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered and the death toll has climbed to 11,096 while 581,031 people have recovered from the contagion, including 5,422 in the past 24 hours.

To date, a total of 3,489,551 tests have been conducted, including 12,073 in the past 24 hours.

As of 2 December, a total of 4,201,709 vaccine doses have been administered, with 54.18% of the total population or 64.63% of the adult population having been vaccinated.

A total of 2,198,680 people have received at least one dose while 1,960,066 people have been fully vaccinated, which is 57.87% of the adult population.

For more news, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Zagreb Is Hosting Two International Cat Shows at Weekend

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - After a two-year hiatus, Zagreb is hosting two international cat shows this weekend, organised by the Croatian Federation of Feline Societies (SFDH).

The shows will take place at the King Cross Jankomir shopping centre in west Zagreb on 4 and 5 December, and visitors will be able to see over 120 cats and 16 breeds.

On display will be the Exotic cat, Persian cat, Ragdoll, Birman, American Curl, Maine Coon, Neva Masquerade, Siberian cat, Selkirk Rex, Bengal cat, British Longhair and British Shorthair, Sphynx, Burmese cat, Russian Blue and the Domestic Longhair.

"This is an excellent response from breeders given the present (COVID-19) situation, because a few weeks ago the Vienna show had only 102 cats," SFDH secretary Amelija Leopoldović said.

The shows will be open from 10 am to 6 pm, and admission is free. The most attractive programme starts at 4.30 pm on both days, when the winners will be announced.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Croatia Tops Serbia for Davis Cup Final!

December 3, 2021 - Croatia advanced to the Davis Cup final after topping Serbia in the doubles match in Madrid on Friday! 

After Borna Gojo took the lead against Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals, the world's first tennis player Novak Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic 6:4, 6:2 and tied the score at 1:1, leaving the doubles match to decide the Davis Cup final team. 

Several dozen Croatian fans arrived in Madrid on Friday from various parts of Europe, including Sweden and Ireland.

In the first duel of the day, Borna Gojo defeated Dušan Lajović. 

"I had control of the match in the first set, but then I stumbled to 4:2, but the coach and the fans managed to bring me back and lift me to play better in the second and third sets," said 23-year-old Gojo immediately after the match.

"The Davis Cup is a special competition, the pressure is higher than usual, I played well here, but the most important thing is that I brought a point to the team," he concluded.

In the second singles match, Novak Djoković was better than Marin Čilić.

In the first set, Djokovic reached a break in the ninth game in which Čilić was 40-0. When he served to win the first set, the world's best tennis player saved four break points at 15-40 and gained an even better psychological advantage.

Djokovic won four games with two breaks in the second set and created an unattainable advantage. He reached a 6:4, 6:2 victory after one hour and 39 minutes of play. 

Čilić was judged by the poor realization of break points (0/8), while Djokovic used three of the eight break chances. 

It was the 20th match between Čilić and Djokovic in which Djokovic reached his 18th victory.

The national team that would secure their spot in the Davis Cup final was then left to the doubles, in which Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic met Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic.

The first doubles team in the world beat Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic 7:5, 6:1, bringing Croatia the Davis Cup final! 

Croatia will play against the winner of Germany and Russia. The final is scheduled for Sunday, December 5, 2021. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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