Monday, 23 May 2022

Croatian PM Receives President of EU Court of Justice

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 -  Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Koen Lenaerts, and a delegation of judges and advocates-general of the Court of the EU, the Croatian government stated in a press release.

Lenaerts informed Croatia's side of the organizational aspects of the court, its jurisdiction, and legal instruments.

The interlocutors pointed out the importance of case law as a source of the European Union's law and the even application of the acquis in all member-states.

Also highlighted was the importance of cooperation of national courts with the Court of the European Union, including through the use of the institute of a request for a preliminary ruling.

Plenković expressed support for the Court and its unique role in interpreting and applying European law.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 23 May 2022

PM: Croatian Regions to Reach Average EU Development Level by 2030

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday said that thanks to the EU's regional development and cohesion policy, Croatian regions would reach the EU's average development level by 2030.

Addressing a ceremonial session of the County Assembly on the occasion of Lika-Senj County Day, Plenković said that the process of decentralization has made the county stronger and has helped its fiscal capacities to rise by 78%. He added that strong cooperation on projects exists between the county and the government.

Plenković underscored that budget funds from the schemes adopted to alleviate the pandemic crisis saved 5,000 jobs in 1,144 employers in that county.

The Prime Minister listed this government's strategic successes such as drawing closer to the Schengen and Euro areas, and underscored that "today, Croatia has completely exited the macroeconomic imbalance mechanism," which he referred to as an "exceptional achievement."

Plenković expressed his empathy for the Ukrainian people and his respect for Ukraine. After the meeting, he met with Ukrainian refugees who have found shelter in Korenica.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych thanked Croatia and Lika-Senj County for taking in Ukrainian refugees who were forced to leave their homeland.

County Prefect Ernest Petry (HDZ) said that it was up to everyone in the county to raise this region to the level it deserves, to become recognizable and competitive and that requires optimism and togetherness between the government and the county, and with other counties.

"It is that new Croatian sovereignism that brings together all and that respects everyone'', said Petry, among other things.

 At the session, Plenković was declared an honorary citizen of this county.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Čović: It Would Be Wrong for HNS BiH to Choose Between Milanović or Plenković

ZAGREB, 20 May 2022 - Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatian National Council (HNS) leader Dragan Čović said on Friday it would be a "catastrophic mistake" for Croat politicians in BiH to choose between Prime Minister Andrej Plenković or President Zoran Milanović, as both advocates the better status of local Croats.

"It would be a catastrophic mistake for representatives of the Croat people in BiH to take that course in pursuing their policy," Čović said.

Being the leader of the HDZ BiH party I could also afford that luxury to connect with the interests of the president of the HDZ in Croatia, which is logical, he told a press conference in Mostar when asked with whom the HNS BiH would side, President Milanović or Prime Minister Plenković.

Earlier this week President Milanović called for Croat parties in BiH to state whether they support his stance to block Finland and Sweden's application to NATO until the election law in BiH is amended whereas Prime Minister Plenković considers that approach is mere exhibitionism and is damaging to Croatia and Croats in BiH.

The presidents of three minor Croat parties, and members of the HNS BiH, supported Milanović's stance.

Čović explained that it is necessary to preserve the unity within HNS BiH, adding that he appreciates Milanović.

"As the president of HNS BiH, it is necessary to take into account all the elements, valuing everything that Croatia's President is doing, whose advocacy corresponds to everything we are seeking here as the Croat people. There is no doubt that sounds good to our people in Croatia and BiH because it has mobilized public opinion to an enviable degree so they can feel this problem," he added.

According to Čović, Prime Minister Plenković has managed to promote the importance of amending the election law in the world and for the legitimate representation and equality of Croats in BiH.

He said that HNS BiH will not influence Croatia's foreign policy, referring to Croatia's position on Finland and Sweden's NATO application.

"It is our opinion that we cannot influence Croatia's foreign policy. According to the Constitution, its foreign policy is co-defined by the president and prime minister. We will agree to whatever they agree to on the foreign policy plan," he said.

Čović added that he would meet with European Council President Charles Michel in Sarajevo on Saturday, adding that the visit would not have occurred without Prime Minister Plenković's lobbying.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Croatian PM Meets with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration

ZAGREB, 20 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn in Zagreb on Friday, a government press release said.

The European Commission announced earlier in the day that it had granted Croatia an extension of the deadline for using money from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for the repair of the earthquake damage until the end of June 2023, aligning the implementation deadlines for the earthquake that struck Zagreb in March 2020 and the earthquakes that hit Sisak-Moslavina County in late December 2020 and January 2021.

Thanking the Commission for accepting the arguments made by the Croatian government, the prime minister and competent ministers informed Commissioner Hahn of the steps being taken to accelerate the use of EUSF funding so that the allocation awarded to Croatia would be successfully used within the set deadline.

Also discussed were Croatia's plans to join the Schengen Area and the euro area. Commissioner Hahn and the European Commission strongly support Croatia's ambitions, assessing that the country meets all the membership criteria, according to the press release.

Plenković and Hahn also discussed further EU assistance to and solidarity with Ukraine, the energy crisis as well as the economic and financial situation in Croatia.

The prime minister said that after a strong recovery in 2021, Croatia continued down the path of growth, public debt reduction, and financial stability, as confirmed by international credit rating agencies.

Plenković also talked about the situation in southeastern Europe, notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He emphasized the need to change electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure equality and legitimate political representation of the Croats as a constituent people, saying that that was the basis for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a functioning and stable country.

Also attending were Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Ivan Paladina.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

PM Says Croatia Can Play Crucial Role In Providing Energy In Europe

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatia can be a crucial country for future energy supply to the countries in its neighbourhood that now fully depend on Russian energy sources, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday commenting on the "REPowerEU" plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels in Europe.

Plenković told a news conference that the REPowerEU Plan, which the European Commission presented on Wednesday as its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, highlights the need to invest in gas and oil pipelines networks.

This is an opportunity for the Croatian companies Plinacro and Janaf, and talks are being conducted with them to see what can be done, said the PM.

Plinacro, a leading Croatian gas transport system operator, and Janaf, which manages the oil transport network, have initial projections of necessary investments, according to Plenković.

The EU has a high degree of understanding for Croatia's crucial role, and the Croatian energy companies "have important roles in the changed energy structure of Europe," he added.

The PM highlighted three aspects of the EC plan: saving energy, diversifying supplies and accelerating the rollout of renewables.

The €300 billion plan consists of schemes for the disbursement of €225 billion in loans and €75 billion through grants.

The investment in gas and oil infrastructure is important to us because they create possibilities for additional investment, enhance our capacity and help Croatia become a strategic country in the diversification of supply routes, said Plenković.

He said that the government was taking necessary steps to fill gas storage capacities, as required by the EU.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Klovićevi Dvori Gallery Marks 40th Anniversary With "Ukrainian Rhapsody" Exhibition

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Zagreb's Klovićevi Dvori Gallery on Wednesday marked its 40th anniversary with an exhibition of graphics entitled "Ukrainian Rhapsody" and the screening of a film about the gallery.

The exhibition, initiated by former culture minister Božo Biškupić, was opened by Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, who said that Klovićevi Dvori was one of the most important world galleries, having hosted more than 1,500 exhibitions.

The exhibition, featuring works by 14 Croatian artists, is a token of solidarity with the suffering of the Ukrainian people, Obuljen Koržinek said.

Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych, who attended the event, thanked Croatia and its prime minister for their strong support to Ukraine.

Attending the opening of the exhibition were also Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, government ministers, members of parliament and other prominent public figures.

The exhibition "Ukrainian Rhapsody" lasts until 19 June.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

PM: Croatia Looks Forward to Deepening Political and Economic Ties with China

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with the Xinhua news agency released on Wednesday that he looked forward to deepening political and economic relations with China.

 "I very much look forward to deepening our political relationship, our consultations, our economic cooperation," Plenković said on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Croatia and China.

The Croatian prime minister pointed out that the relations between Zagreb and Beijing over the past 30 years had been excellent.

He said that bilateral cooperation within the Chinese initiative "One Belt One Road" had intensified and that the 17+1 initiative, within which Beijing cooperates with Central and Eastern European countries, was an excellent tool for all of us in Central and Eastern Europe.

Plenković also noted that Chinese companies had built the Pelješac Bridge and the Senj Wind Farm, and he also called for more cooperation and dialogue between China and the European Union on global issues, including global security and peace and climate change, especially in the energy sector, Xinhua reported.

"We should cooperate more. I think we have a very solid basis. We have 30 years of cooperation and a very intensive period over the past couple of years," the Croatian PM said.

He said he particularly appreciated that Croatia had been able to acquire sufficient amounts of protective equipment and masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Ex-commission Chair: Decision on Karamarko Served to Prevent Probes into Plenković

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - After the High Administrative Court quashed the Conflict of Interest Commission's decision that former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko had been in a conflict of interest, former Commission chair Dalija Orešković said the case was a political pretext serving to prevent the Commission from investigating PM Andrej Plenković.

"It was clear what epilogue the situation would have from the moment the Constitutional Court ruled on that case in July 2019. All subsequent decisions by administrative courts, including in Karamarko's case, as well as in all the cases in which the Commission decided about the violation of principles of conduct, followed the basic decision and instruction of the Constitutional Court," Orešković told reporters in the parliament.

She was commenting on the High Administrative Court's final ruling quashing the 2016 decision by the Conflict of Interest Commission which found that former HDZ leader and Deputy PM Tomislav Karamarko had been in a conflict of interest, which was why he withdrew from politics.

Orešković, a member of parliament from the Centre party, said the Constitutional Court's decision contested the Conflict of Interest Commission's authority to decide and make declaratory decisions on breaches of principles of conduct.

"That decision was not primarily motivated by justice-seeking or defence of constitutionality in the case of Tomislav Karamarko but was a political front for aborting the Conflict of Interest Commission as an anti-corruption body with the aim of preventing it from looking into cases involving Andrej Plenković," she said.

Orešković recalled that at the time when the Constitutional Court decided on the Karamarko case, the Conflict of Interest Commission was expecting to deal with reports filed against PM Plenković (concerning the appointment of his close friend Igor Pokaz as ambassador to the UK, the HDZ party's trip to Helsinki aboard a government plane, and the Agrokor and Borg affairs), which involved Plenković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and former Economy Minister Martina Dalić.

"The degree of conflict of interest in Karamarko's case is insignificant compared to the gravity of violations of law in Plenković's case, and if such practice had been supported by the system, the government of Andrej Plenković would have fallen long ago," she said.

The Constitutional Court's decision not only protected Plenković from facing political responsibility but was used by the HDZ to fully erase from the new Conflict of Interest Act the provision on the violation of principles of conduct, she said.

Orešković said that instead of the Conflict of Interest Commission "we now have a scandalous novelty that has enabled the government to adopt a code of ethics for office-holders, with the relevant decisions being made by a body directly under government control."

"The standards are being eroded and today we have a completely paralysed anti-corruption system," said Orešković warned.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

PM: Constitutional Court's Ruling is as Expected

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, Andrej Plenković, said on Monday that the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Bridge party's referendum question was as expected.

Earlier today, the Constitutional Court ruled that the questions in the two referendum petitions launched by the opposition Bridge party - to abolish mandatory COVID passes and transfer the powers of the national COVID response team to Parliament - were not in line with the Constitution.

"We had no idea what the decision would be," said Plenković after a session of HDZ party's Presidency and National Council, dismissing claims that the Constitutional Court was "someone's puppet".

"To anyone who had read the request to assess the constitutionality, such a decision is not a surprise," added Plenković, pointing out that the Constitutional Court's decision was well-argued ed and reasoned.

He said that the entire thing was too politicized and that the initiative was led by anti-vaxxers.

As for the statement by President Zoran Milanović that the Constitutional Court should be abolished and that the decision was a coup d'etat, PM Plenković said that this was "yet another brilliant claim".

He also said that Milanović's statement in which he asked the Croatian State Attorney's Office (DORH) to "imprison" Defence Minister Mario Banožić was unacceptable and unheard-of He added that it was unimaginable that anyone could incite DORH against a minister.

Plenković on SDP initiative for new abortion bill

The prime minister also commented on the abortion bill, saying that the initiative of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was "a lightning-fast transformation of a personal tragedy and health situation into a political initiative".

He recalled that the issue of termination of pregnancy had not been on HDZ's agenda or coalition agreement and that it was back "on the table" following a decision by the Constitutional Court after 26 or 27 years.

"We have a coalition in which there is the HDZ, some other center-right parties, as well as liberal parties and ethnic minorities, and this is an issue on which it is extremely difficult, I would even say nearly impossible, to reach a consensus within our parliamentary majority," Plenković said, recalling that the Constitutional Court did not task the government but the parliament to adopt a new law.

Last week, members of the parliamentary majority could vote on this ideological question in line with their program and values, Plenković said, noting that the HDZ understood the message and that it was a signal of caution.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Sends Letter of Condolence Over Death of UAE President

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday sent a letter of condolence following the death of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who died on Friday, the government said.

"The United Arab Emirates has lost a great man and serious statesman, who worked for the benefit of his people and country with foresight and commitment," Plenković said.

"Our thoughts are with the royal family and the friendly people of the United Arab Emirates, whom I offer sincere condolences and deep sympathy," Plenković added.

Sheikh Khalifa, born in 1948, came to power in the richest emirate, Abu Dhabi, in 2004 and became UAE President. He was succeeded on Saturday by his half-brother, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has been widely seen as the de-facto leader of the rich Gulf monarchy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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