Friday, 5 April 2019

Amsterdam Coalition Submits Candidates List for European Elections

ZAGREB, April 5, 2019 - The Amsterdam Coalition on Friday submitted its slate for the European Parliament elections, with Anka Mrak Taritaš saying the vote was important as citizens could choose between a Europe of barbed wire fences and the Brexit chaos and the open and free Europe they advocate.

The slate was submitted by the presidents of the parties making up the coalition: Krešo Beljak (Peasant Party), Mrak Taritaš (GLAS), Boris Miletić (Istrian Democratic Party), Silvano Hrelja (Pensioners' Party) , Darijo Vasilić (PGS), David Bregovac (Labour Party), Mirando Mrsić (Democrats) and the head of the slate, Istria County prefect Valter Flego.

Beljak said Croatia had been yearning for more than 30 years to be part of Europe, albeit not the Eastern Europe as offered by Poland and Hungary, but the real Central Europe. A vote for our coalition is a vote for a European Croatia and all other parties and movements are offering something else, he added.

He wondered where Croatia should go and if its citizens wanted to go west and have as models Germany, Scandinavian countries and Ireland, which he said had transformed over the past 30 years from a conservative and backward country into one of the most progressive in Europe.

More news about Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Amsterdam Coalition Presents Candidates for European Parliament

ZAGREB, February 23, 2019 - The Amsterdam Coalition presented in Zagreb on Saturday a slate with 12 candidates for European Parliament elections, with the message that they are fighting for a progressive, free and prosperous Croatia and against intolerance, incompetence and primitivism.

The slate is headed by Istrian Democratic Party vice president Valter Flego, followed by Jozo Radoš of GLAS and ALDE in the EP, surgeon Zoran Bahtijarević, and Croatian Pensioners Party president and Croatian MP Silvano Hrelja.

These are elections between two Croatias and two Europes, GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said, adding that populists, manipulators and radicals wanted to destroy Europe.

Croatian Peasant Party president Krešo Beljak said Croatia deserved to be part of civilised, antifascist and secular Europe. He voiced confidence that the Amsterdam Coalition would win three seats in the EP.

Flego underlined the importance of the EP elections, saying more and more important decisions were made in the EU. He expects the Amsterdam Coalition to win two seats in the EP.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 18 February 2019

IDS's Flego to Head Amsterdam Coalition Slate in EP Elections

ZAGREB, February 18, 2019 - The head of Istria County and deputy leader of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) will be the top candidate on the Amsterdam Coalition slate in the European Parliament elections in May, the IDS decided at a convention in the northern coastal town of Poreč.

Flego will be the only candidate of the IDS on the liberal-left coalition's slate whose members believe could win one or two seats in the European Parliament.

"Our party today is characterised by the attributes of consistency and credibility, something that other political parties in this country definitely need," IDS leader Boris Miletić told reporters after the convention.

Noting that the Amsterdam Coalition was growing steadily not just in approval ratings but also because other liberal and left-leaning parties were joining it, Miletić said he was confident that the IDS would score yet another victory in the forthcoming elections.

Flego said: "In the last 15 years Istria has received about 1.3 billion kuna (175 million euro) from EU funds, and Istria's representative in Brussels has a very important part in this. In the next 100 days to the elections, we want to do all we can together that Istria has its representative in Brussels because it is in the European Parliament that nearly two-thirds of laws that directly affect the daily lives of each of us are made."

Asked to comment on the four years in office of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Miletić said that Grabar-Kitarović had inappropriately reduced her presidency to the level of showbusiness.

"After the European Parliament elections, we will definitely stand behind one candidate who will challenge the incumbent president. We will decide on this in June," Miletić said. He would not say whether that candidate would be former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanović.

The IDS also marked the 29th anniversary of its foundation.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Democrats Party Join Amsterdam Coalition

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - Democrats party president Mirando Mrsić signed in Čakovec on Sunday the accession of his party to the Amsterdam Coalition, which now comprises seven parties.

Mrsić said the Amsterdam Coalition offered better lives for all citizens and a Croatia they deserved in the 21st century. Croatia's biggest problems are poverty and emigration, he added.

"If we agree that something is good for all citizens, it's very easy to form a centre-left coalition which will oppose the creeping conservative revolution represented by the (ruling) HDZ," Mrsić said, adding that the Amsterdam Coalition could free Croatia from "the HDZ's iron clutch."

He said this coalition was the only opposition to the government, that it could take Croatia forward, and that it stood against crime, corruption and apathy.

GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said the parties of the Amsterdam Coalition shared, first and foremost, common sense, and that they would join the fight to prevent the destruction of Europe. "We want Europe and Croatia to be educated, successful economies, competitive, with a preserved environment with renewable energy sources."

Croatian Peasant Party president Krešimir Beljak said Croatia did not need to be the richest country in the world but must be normal, European and tolerant as the great majority of its citizens wanted. "In the Amsterdam Coalition we are all equal. With the arrival of the Democrats, we have become the strongest opposition bloc and the strongest opposition political force."

Istrian Democratic Party vice president Renato Kručić said the Amsterdam Coalition was pulling Croatia from "the jaws of nationalism", and that there was room for everyone in Croatia, including the minorities living in it.

The coalition will present its candidates for the European Parliament elections on February 23.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Croatian Labour Party Joins Amsterdam Coalition

ZAGREB, February 11, 2019 - The Croatian Labour Party signed an agreement with the Amsterdam Coalition on Sunday to run in May's European Parliament elections together.

The centre-left coalition now has six parties – the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS), the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS), the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) and the Labour Party.

Their leaders announced at a meeting in the central town of Sisak that they would soon be joined by the Democrats party and would also be supported by several regional parties.

Their slate with 12 joint candidates for the European Parliament will be presented on February 23.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Labour leader David Bregovac drew attention to the deteriorating economic and social situation in Croatia, saying that something needed to be done so that people could exercise their right to work and live a decent life from their work.

He said that since 1990 Croatia had employed about 500,000 people while the number of pensioners had increased by 600,000, so that now the worker-pensioner ratio was almost one to one.

"We all wanted an independent Croatia, but not a Croatia that has been destroyed more by privatisation-related wrongdoing, political corruption and organised fraud than by war," Bregovac said, adding that he was confident that members of the European Parliament could do something for Croatia.

HSU leader Silvano Hrelja said that the Labour Party would strengthen the coalition's leftist faction. which is fighting for the right to work and other work-related rights, while PGS head Damir Pilepić said that as one of the oldest regional parties in Croatia, the PGS would be fighting for regionalisation and decentralisation. He called on centrist parties to join them.

"With new members we are becoming the second strongest political group in the country, which means that we are doing a good job. Even more important is the feeling of Croatian citizens that our coalition is building the Croatia of the future," GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said.

"The HDZ is leading the country to ruin and does not deserve the citizens' trust. We need urgent change, and there are brave and responsible people who can deliver on that," she said, stressing the importance of voting in the European Parliament elections.

Boris Miletić of the IDS said he was proud that this coalition, being the most vocal in advocating civil rights, was growing steadily. He said he could not come to terms with the present situation in the country and was confident that they could change Croatia for the better.

"We are now the second strongest political force, and I am confident that we can become the strongest political group in the country," HSS leader Krešo Beljak said, adding that the Amsterdam Coalition was the only political group capable of getting the country out of the present crisis.

"We will ensure that the Western European sun shines over Croatia as well. After the European Parliament elections, which will be followed by the parliamentary and presidential elections, things in Croatia won't be the same any more," Beljak said.

Asked by the press if they expected the strongest opposition Social Democratic Party to join them, Mrak Taritaš said that the SDP would run in the EP elections on its own, but that talks were possible after that. "Everyone is welcome, we are ready for talks with small and new parties as well," she said.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Croatian Labour Party Joins Amsterdam Coalition

ZAGREB, February 3, 2019 - The vice-president of the Labour Party, Darko Tetec, said on Sunday that this non-parliamentary party would join the Amsterdam Coalition that currently consists of the following five Opposition parties: GLAS, IDS, HSS, HSU and PGS.

The coalition is likely to welcome one more member, the Democrats party led by parliamentarian and a former minister, Mirando Mrsić.

The news about new members of the coalition was made public during an election convention of the Civil Liberal Alliance the acronym of which in Croatian is GLAS.

On 23 February, the coalition is going to present its 12-candidate slate for the European Parliament elections, scheduled for May.

During today's convention in Zagreb, the GLAS leader Anka-Mrak Taritaš said that three GLAS candidates on that slate will be she herself, the party's vice-president Diana Topčić Rosenberg and politician Jozo Radoš, one of the current 11 Croatian MEPs.

The current leader of the Civil Liberal Alliance, Anka Mrak Taritaš was on Sunday re-elected the president of that opposition parliamentary party, the acronym of which in Croatian is GLAS.

Mrak Taritaš was the sole candidate for the post and was supported unanimously by 61 deputies at the convention. Goran Beus Richembergh and Diana Topčić Rosenberg were appointed vice-presidents.

Addressing the convention, Mrak Taritaš spoke about the importance of forthcoming European Parliament elections. "Let us fight for Europe, otherwise ruffians will destroy it," she said, calling on party members to alert the general public against those who promote demagogue and lies.

She said that her party, a member of the Amsterdam Coalition, was committed to the fighting for the cause of Croatia as well as for the cause of the European Union, a political union that provides many people with freedom, peace and prosperity.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Amsterdam Coalition Protests against Chauvinism, Hatred, Violence

ZAGREB, January 22, 2019 - The leaders of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the GLAS party, Boris Miletić and Anka Mrak Taritaš said in Pula on Monday that violence, chauvinism and hatred have become the Croatian brand, with Miletić saying that he was proud of fact that the Amsterdam Coalition (GLAS, HSS, IDS, HSU, PGS) were introducing Istrian values whose trademark is openness, multiculturalism and tolerance.

"In the past several weeks, alone we have witnessed a number of incidents, starting with Đakić's hideous Facebook post for which he was only slapped on the wrist, to Vukovar where children were being used in a cowardly fashion for political and national dispute along the ethnic line, all the way to incidents, insults and foul language in Parliament. This is the mirror of Croatia today. To call the national parliament a hen house is an insult to the hen house," Miletić told the press.

He accused the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of arrogance and the opposition MOST party of rudeness, adding that "this makes any decent person uncomfortable."

Anka Mrak Taritaš said that Istria was the last oasis of coexistence and tolerance in Croatia.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the politics section.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

PGS Joins Amsterdam Coalition for European Elections

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - The presidents of GLAS, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS) signed an agreement in Rijeka on Thursday on the PGS joining the Amsterdam Coalition.

PGS president Darijo Vasilić said what he and the others had in common was the fight for regional values, an open, modern and civil society and a civilised Croatia as well as against the growing radical right and increasingly strong populism in politics.

IDS president Boris Miletić said opinion polls showed that Amsterdam Coalition had become the strongest opposition force in Croatia. "We want an open and progressive Croatia, where people aren't afraid and emigrating, where work and enterprise are encouraged, not blocked."

GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said the Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) would join the coalition by the end of the month.

The Amsterdam Coalition firmly believes that it is necessary to oppose content- and idea-free radicalism and populism, and pushes for a new Europe and Croatia in it. We stand for liberal democracy and man's right to choose, work and live in a functioning country, she said.

She said the coalition would run for the European Parliament and that its candidates would be capable of representing Croatia's interests.

HSS president Krešo Beljak said the coalition's approval ratings would be even better once the HSU joined them.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Pensioners’ Party Officially Joins Amsterdam Coalition

ZAGREB, December 12, 2018 - The Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) has decided to join the recently-formed Amsterdam Coalition and run together with other coalition partners in the European Parliament election, scheduled for May 2019.

The Amsterdam coalition, formed by three Opposition parties – the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) – formally exists as of December 8 after the leaders of the HSS, the IDS and GLAS, Krešo Beljak, Boris Miletić and Anka Mrak Taritaš respectively, signed a coalition agreement for next year's European Parliament elections.

HSU president Silvano Hrelja told Hina on Wednesday that the party leadership was confident it could help the three opposition parties win at least one seat in the European Parliament.

He also said the Amsterdam Coalition was currently the only opposition to the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Asked about the issues it would advocate while campaigning for the European Parliament, Hrelja said his party wold advocate a project aimed at adding elevators to buildings with several floors, 85% of which would be co-financed by the European Commission.

After it was officially formed, the Amsterdam Coalition said they were open to cooperation with other parties, but stressed that cooperation with the HDZ or the Work and Solidarity Party led by Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić was out of the question.

More news on the upcoming European elections can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

HSS Likely to Join Amsterdam Coalition for European Elections

ZAGREB, November 25, 2018 - The Croatian Peasant's Party (HSS) will be ready to sign a coalition agreement with the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS), the so-called Amsterdam Coalition, for next year's European Parliament elections once its leadership bodies make the final decision, HSS leader Krešo Beljak said in an interview with Hina.

"The atmosphere is very good and there is no opposition, as was the case two years ago when we were negotiating a deal with the Social Democratic Party. That's why I can say with certainty that the agreement will be concluded," Beljak said.

Asked if he saw himself on the election slate, he said: "Absolutely! We have agreed to go with the strongest candidates, but this too will be decided by the party's bodies. If the party and the coalition think that my name can help the slate, I will certainly be on it."

The Pametno party has withdrawn from the coalition because of the IDS's role in the case of the troubled Uljanik shipyard. Asked if he found anything disputable in that, Beljak said: "There are no parties that have operated for 28 or 114 years without making mistakes in their work. That's politics. I wish all the best to non-parliamentary parties that are eager to enter parliament. Only after they run in elections on their own will they see what sort of business politics is and how much effort is needed to win voters' trust."

Pressed further to say whether he was forgiving the IDS for its role in the Uljanik case, Beljak said: "The powers of local and regional government are too small that they could commit such crimes as are being ascribed to the IDS by some. The ruling HDZ is trying to shift the blame onto the local government as a political tactic. Financial and management powers over such companies have almost nothing to do with local or regional government."

On the economic front, the HSS has said it has the best programme. Asked when it would be made public, Beljak said that guidelines had been adopted and details of the programme were being worked on, and as soon as they were finalised the programme would be presented to the public. He said that the HSS had changed its political and ideological course becoming a modern, progressive, green party.

Human rights ombudsman Lora Vidović recently strongly criticised attempts at downplaying Ustasha ideology. Austria has decided that anyone using "For the homeland ready", the salute used by the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia in World War II, will be fined 10,000 euros. Asked about his position on the matter, Beljak said: "Punishing the promotion of fascism is a matter of civilisation and the ombudsman's report is a justified slap on the face of the whole leadership who ignores and tolerates hatred and behaviour that is punishable across Europe. The position of the HSS, the first antifascist party in Croatia's history, is clear. Back in 1922, long before WWII, HSS founder Stjepan Radić declared himself as antifascist. That's why I would like to hear what the president and the prime minister think of this report. Let them declare themselves. The fact that a state institution, in this case the human rights ombudsman, has taken such a clear stand on this matter gives us some hope."

Following serious criticisms levelled by the HDZ at the parliamentary Conflict of Interest Commission and its head Nataša Novaković that they put themselves in the service of politics, even though Novaković had been seen as the HDZ's candidate to this post, Beljak was asked what he thought of the Commission.

"The problem of the present political system is that institutions which should be independent, such as the Conflict of Interest Commission, or the Chief State Prosecutor, are elected by parliament. We cannot speak of someone's independence if they have been chosen by politics. The Conflict of Interest Commission is subjected to those who elected it. I'm not a jurist, I won't criticise them, but the fact remains that they were elected by politics as a compromise. This institution should not exist because it's ridiculous. ... A positive selection can be ensured only by changing the electoral law. Elections must be absolutely democratic. The present way of electing the President of the Republic should be abolished and the Prime Minister should be elected that way, and then he can behave as he pleases because he has the legitimacy, and now he doesn't. The President of the Republic should be elected in parliament by a two-thirds majority, and since their powers are ceremonial anyway, it should be considered whether Croatia needs a President at all, because all the President does is spends money on campaigning to win another five years in office so they don't have to do anything."

For more on the Amsterdam coalition, click here.

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