Friday, 9 September 2022

PM Plenkovic Talks Anti-Inflation Measures: We'll Cap Price of Electricity

September the 9th, 2022 - Ongoing inflation is continuing to spiral, and with countries across Europe making various arrangements and creating measures to help citizens and companies through this extremely difficult period, Croatia's PM Plenkovic has now spoken out, confirming that the Croatian Government will cap electricity prices as energy bills are set to soar.

The Croatian Government was very quick in stepping in with a package of various measures when the global coronavirus pandemic reached the country and began disrupting life as we've never known it before. Many sectors across the economy are hoping for the same rapid response as inflation rises, taking the cost of energy with it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, PM Plenkovic stated that this recently held session was entirely dedicated to the autumn package of measures the government intends to put into place to protect households, companies and the domestic economy from continually rising prices.

''We've dedicated as many as the first twenty points of the government session solely to this," PM Plenkovic assured.

"We are going to be opting for a very strong intervention, as we've always done until now for the benefit of the Republic of Croatia and for our citizens," he said, adding that ''we are in a time of global disruption," before showing a presentation in which the graphs clearly show an extreme rise in oil, gas and electricity prices.

"The first part of the package we're going to introduce will be to mitigate the rise in energy prices, and we've primarily concentrated on electricity costs. When it comes to households, we're going to be capping electricity prices. This measure will be fixed for the period from October the 1st to March the 1st, and as such it will cover the autumn-winter period," he said.

"Whoever spends less will of course pay a lower price. Those who use more will be put into a higher price class," Plenkovic said.

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

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Croatian GDP Growth in Second Quarter Exceeds EU Average

August the 27th, 2022 - Croatian GDP growth has been considerably higher than it has been in the rest of the European Union, despite the ongoing troubles being faced by spiralling inflation and pressure on the government to step in with measures to protect some of the most vulnerable in society.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic recently visited Rijeka where he commented on the news about the 7.7 percent Croatian GDP growth in the second quarter of this year, saying that it represents the second highest growth in the European Union (EU) and is almost double the average at the level of the bloc.

Plenkovic said that for now, only neighbouring Slovenia has enjoyed a higher GDP growth in the second quarter in the entire 27 member bloc.

''The average growth in the second quarter at the European Union level stands at four percent. So, that means that Croatian GDP growth is almost a hundred percent higher, almost doubling that. We can be very satisfied with that indeed,'' he said, highlighting the extra burden the economic crisis we're all dealing with at this moment in time.

He added that considering the "fantastic" tourist season Croatia has enjoyed so far, with numbers matching those of the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019 in multiple sectors, everything indicates that the third quarter will also be very good for the country.

''This means that Croatian GDP growth this year will be higher not only as we predicted it, but also how others predicted it. This includes international institutions, agencies, organisations, and so on, so we can look forward to that and it will, of course, help us in solving the economic crisis that we're all facing,'' Plenkovic concluded, as reported by HRT.

For more on Croatian GDP growth and the Croatian Government, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 29 July 2022

PM Satisfied with Pace of Construction of Učka Tunnel's Second Tube

ZAGREB, 29 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the construction site for the second tube of Učka Tunnel on Friday, voicing his satisfaction with the progress in the drilling of this segment of the 5.6-kilometer-long tunnel necessary to complete the dual carriageway of the Istrian Y motorway.

The construction of the second tube is worth €200 million.

Plenković highlighted the importance of this motorway for connectivity between Istria and Zagreb and for the local tourist industry.

The Bina Istra company's CEO Dario Silić said that to date 2.4 kilometres of the second tube had been drilled.

So far 1.3 kilometres of the tunnel have been drilled from the Istria side and an additional 1.1 kilometres from the Kvarner side.

The drilling of the tube is to be completed by September 2023, and the whole project is expected to be finalised in June 2024. 

Plenković was also pleased with the fact that a majority of the 500 workers on the construction site are from Croatian companies.

Plenković continued his day-long visit to Istria, accompanied by Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković, Economy Minister Davor Filipović, and Health Minister Vili Beroš.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

As Peljesac Bridge Opens, Does HDZ or SDP Deserve the Most Praise?

July the 26th, 2022 - As Peljesac bridge opens after what seems like an endless wait, which government actually deserves the most praise? While SDP is responsible in the most part for pushing forward with the EU, HDZ was the one to sign the final agreement.

As Faktograf/Sanja Despot writes, with both HDZ and SDP having played their respective roles, Peljesac bridge opens not only itself, but many questions about precisely who the most praise should be directed at. Competitive discussions about whose government is most responsible for its construction have started up again.

President Zoran Milanovic (SDP) stated that he started working on the bridge's implementation back in 2012, claiming that it is indeed true that he questioned whether or not it was a profitable investment, but that he asked those questions during the period from 2005 to 2011, and not back in 2012.

"My team and I participated in the realisation of this bridge, practically in a 95 percent way. Everything was over when I handed over the post of prime minister," he said and added that it all started with Ivan Sprlje, the former prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, who spoke about the idea way back during his 1997 campaign.

When asked to comment on the president's statement that SDP is responsible for this enormous project, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said: "They're one hundred percent responsible. They messed around to try to ensure that nothing came of it,''

It's fairly easy to find Milanovic's quote from back in July 2015 on the Croatian Government's website, on the eve of the parliamentary elections that took place that year. Milanovic then said that "Peljesac bridge will be built regardless of who wins the elections", and that, as he said, "no one can blow it anymore, and they blew it for five years straight".

It's worth noting that the European Union (EU) didn't simply decide out of nowhere to provide the funds for the construction of the bridge back in 2016 when HDZ returned to power.

Back in July 2015, then Prime Minister Milanovic, together with ministers Branko Grcic and Sinisa Hajdas Doncic, presented the project to connect the extreme south of Croatia with the Peljesac bridge, saying that the idea of a bridge was chosen as the best option by those who decided on it all in the European Union.

The then Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Hajdas Doncic, said that the Peljesac bridge construction project inherited from the previous government was oversized and too expensive, which is why Milanovic's government terminated the contracts with the contractors in 2012. He added that after that, through OP traffic in 2007-2013, they were provided money for the pre-feasibility study and said that in parallel, through OP Cohesion and Competitiveness, in the part concerning transport for the financial period 2014-2020, funds were provided for connecting the isolated part of the Republic of Croatia (southern Dalmatia) to the rest of the country. Through European Union funding, Croatian Roads (Hrvatske ceste), as the project holder, contracted the feasibility studies.

On that occasion, Hajdas Doncic recalled that several connection solutions were considered, stressing that as the best solution, the Peljesac bridge project with all of its connecting roads received the best marks and was identified as a project that would meet all the set goals.

"The bridge can apply for cash from European Union funds on the condition that we prepare the studies that show that this is the best solution", said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vesna Pusic back in 2012, before Croatia formally entered the European Union on July the 1st, 2013, which was also during the mandate of former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. Pusic had then hoped that it could be financed from the IPA pre-accession fund.

In 2013, a preliminary feasibility study was carried out, financed by the European Commission (EC), which concluded that the best solution of all options for connecting the extreme south of the country was indeed a bridge.

During 2014 and 2015, once again during the mandate of Milanovic's government, a feasibility study was carried out, which was financed by EU funds, and which also confirmed that the best solution was the construction of Peljesac bridge. Then, at the end of 2016, confirmation was received from the EU that the project was ready for application for co-financing in the maximum amount of 85 percent. Finally, on June the 7th, 2017, a formal decision was made by the European Commission to co-finance the construction of the huge structure with 357 million euros.

In the spring of 2018, the then HDZ Minister of Regional Funds, Gabrijela Zalac, signed the contract on the construction of the bridge, which was worth over 2 billion kuna, between Croatian Roads and the Chinese consortium led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Regarding the part of Milanovic's statement that Ivan Sprlje, the late SDP prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, was the initiator of the idea of ​​building the bridge, it should be noted that SDP and HDZ are persistently competing for the right of precedence, each with their own arguments. SDP claimed that Sprlje was the first to present the idea in his campaign, that is, they refer to the exact information that he was the first to draw up the bridge in the spatial plan, and from HDZ, they highlight the role of Luka Bebic, who was the first to speak about it in Parliament for HDZ in 1998.

It's a fact that in the years leading up to the moment when Peljesac bridge finally opens, SDP wasn't entirely sure whether or not it should dive in with that project, until the party took over the government, that is. It's also true that former HDZ Prime Minister Ivo Sanader "rather emptily" started his work on the bridge as part of his PR campaigns.

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

Monday, 25 July 2022

Plenković: Schmidt's Electoral and Constitutional Reform Proposal Balanced

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday the electoral and constitutional reforms the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina planned to impose were balanced and constructive as they would preserve the constituency of Croats and their ability to elect their government representatives.

Speaking to the press in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said the international community's High Representative Christian Schmidt "has a very balanced proposal which will enable legitimate representation at the Federation level and government formation with minor changes."

It is expected that Schmidt will impose electoral law changes that would prevent outvoting the Croats and obstructing government formation after elections, as well as ensure the normal functioning of the Croat-Bosniak Federation entity.

Pro-Bosniak political parties and NGOs as well as the Islamic Community have strongly criticised Schmidt since details of the changes leaked last week, including calls for chaos and violence, and there has even been mention of war.

Plenković said the messages of the Bosniak parties were "revelatory". He said the reactions were "exaggerated" and that tensions should be defused so that general elections scheduled for October "can be implemented in the best way possible."

Plenković said he did hold talks on the initiative to change the election law and the Federation's constitution, but that the most important thing was for those reforms to lead to better relations.

"I believe that such a move would lead to a better functioning of representative bodies and later on the executive authority in BiH," he said, adding that a stable, democratic and inclusive BiH in which the Croats, "although the smallest people, will be equal," is in Croatia's interest.

Plenković said these moves were in line with the Dayton-Paris agreement which ended the war in BiH and with the Washington agreement on the establishment of the Federation entity.

For three times now, Željko Komšić has been elected as the Croat member of the BiH Presidency thanks to Bosniak voters. Komšić has announced that he will run again in October.

Now there is a danger that Bosniaks will elect six of the 17 delegates to the Croat group in the Federation parliament's House of Peoples, whereby  they could oust from government the Croat parties for which the largest number of Croats vote. Croatia and BiH Croat parties are against that.

Dragan Čović, the president of one of them, the HDZ BiH, said after today's talks with Plenković that Bosniak parties had managed to obstruct constitutional and electoral reforms in part, thereby highlighting the attempt to oust the Croat people from government. He called for strengthening Croat-Bosniak ties as the key to a stable BiH.

 "Our message is that we want to build good relations with the Bosniaks, that this is an opportunity for the Federation as well as for BiH. Without the Croat people, BiH won't be able to function as a normal state," Čović said.

Asked by the press about Croatian President Zoran Milanović's statement that his visit to BiH was a PR move, Plenković said Milanović was constantly doing harm to Croats in BiH, including his insults of Schmidt. "His every statement is causing damage to the Croats in BiH because they drive the parties further away from solving their problem."

In the afternoon, Plenković visited Čitluk, Čapljina, Stolac and Ravno, meeting the authorities and checking the projects supported by the Croatian government. He said Croatia would continue to support key BiH Croat institutions such as the university, the university hospital and the Croatian National Theatre in Mostar.

Monday, 25 July 2022

PM Says Pelješac Bridge to Strengthen Bonds Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Pelješac Bridge marked the achievement of Croatia's goal to connect its territory.

"We are very proud of it," Plenković said during a visit to Mostar, southern Bosnia, and Herzegovina, ahead of Tuesday's opening ceremony for this largest infrastructure facility built in Croatia since its accession to the European Union in mid-2013.

He said that this project would further strengthen the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The idea was to alleviate the flow of people and goods through Neum."

Pelješac Bridge will provide an uninterrupted link between southernmost Croatia and the rest of the country by bypassing a short stretch of the coastline at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Croatian PM Arrives in BiH Amid Rising Tensions Over Planned Electoral Law Reform

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković arrived in Mostar on Monday morning and at the beginning of his visit he was received by Mostar Bishop Petar Palić and local Catholic dignitaries for the talks.

During his day-long visit, the Croatian premier, accompanied by several cabinet ministers, is expected to hold talks with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Croat leader Dragan Čović, and also tour the southern towns of Čitluk, Čapljina, Stolac and Ravno.

The visit of the Croatian PM is taking place against a backdrop of rising tensions over reports that the international community's High Representative Christian Schmidt is going to impose the electoral law's changes so as to prevent the outvoting of the Croats, the smallest constituent people, by the Bosniaks, the largest ethnic group.

Leading Bosniak politicians and parties as well as NGOs and the Islamic Community have been disgruntled by those announcements and a protest rally has been set for Monday afternoon outside the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 22 July 2022

PM: Fuel Prices Expected To Drop Further

ZAGREB, 22 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that fuel prices should drop further and announced that the government would intervene again if such a possibility arises following the calculation of fuel prices, which is released tomorrow.

The government intervenes every two weeks and, according to what I've just discussed with (Economy) Minister Filipović, it seems that fuel prices might be even lower, Plenković told the press on the island of Hvar.

If that is the case, and the calculation is tomorrow, we will intervene again and make decisions at the government conference call on Monday, Plenković said.

Asked about reports that a thousand doctors in Croatia had handed in their resignations, he said that he did not know about it, adding that doctors were among the better-paid public employees in Croatia.

"The only ones that perhaps have a higher salary are air traffic controllers, who are complaining about HRK 50,000. A stressful job. Come on," he said.

He underscored that the government had increased salaries in health care in general and that he didn't know when someone would be satisfied.

I think everyone needs to realise what kind of global crisis we are in and understand that this is the moment when we have to return to our joint contribution to solidarity, Plenković said.

With regard to President Zoran Milanović's statement that the Social Democratic Party was responsible for the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, he said that Milanović then thought that the SDP was also responsible for Croatia's accession to the euro area, membership in the European Union, and accession to the Schengen Area...

He said everything was ready for the Pelješac Bridge opening ceremony on Tuesday, to which all state officials were invited, including Milanović.

Everyone is invited, all state officials, all members of parliament, this is a state event, once in history, said Plenković, who today attended the opening of an external berth at the Sućuraj port on the island of Hvar.

The project is worth over HRK 35 million, and it is partly financed by EU funds, partly from the state budget, and partly from the budget of Split-Dalmatia County.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Pelješac Bridge To Be Formally Inaugurated On 26 July

ZAGREB, 21 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Pelješac Bridge would be opened next Tuesday, 26 July, and invited everyone to attend the ceremony.

"The construction of the bridge is a sovereignist move to connect the Croatian territory," the premier said at the cabinet meeting.

The entire project, including access roads, cost €525 million, of which €357 million was secured as a grant from the European Union.

The official name of the bridge is Pelješki Most in Croatian or Pelješac Bridge in English.

The 2,140-metre-long bridge spans the strait between the village of Komarna on the mainland and the village of Brijesta on the Pelješac peninsula.

The bridge will provide a direct road link between the southernmost part of Croatia and the rest of the country, which is currently cut off at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea. 

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said today that the bridge marked significant headway in Croatian infrastructure development and an important step in ensuring road connectivity while providing a fresh impetus to the development of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The bridge has been built by the China Bridge and Road Corporation.

The contract was signed on 23 April 2018 between the HC road operator and the China Road and Bridge Corporation. Work on the bridge officially started on 31 July 2018.

A 74-metre long test pile was hammered in the seabed on 10 January 2019, and the bridge was fully joined together at a ceremony on 29 July last year.

The 2,440-metre bridge has 13 spans, of which five central spans are each 285 metres long, six 33-metre-high centrally installed pylons made of reinforced concrete, and two lanes, plus a hard shoulder for bridge maintenance.

The navigation profile under the bridge is 200 by 55 metres.

The bridge was designed by Marjan Pipenbaher.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

PM Plenković and World Champion Carlsen Open Chess Tournament in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 19 July 2022 - The tournament called "SuperUnited Croatia Grand Chess Rapid&Blitz" within the Grand Chess Tour 2022 kicked off in Zagreb on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The tournament that will run through 24 July features the world champion, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen as well as Alireza Firouzja, an Iranian-French chess player, Ian Nepomniachtchi, a Russian chess Grandmaster, Wesley So, a Filipino American chess Grandmaster, then Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, an Azerbaijani chess Grandmaster who is a two-time World Junior Champion (2003 and 2005) and a three-time European Team Champion, French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is currently the No. 1 ranked player in France as well as a three-time French champion, Leinier Dominguez, a Cuban American chess Grandmaster, Dutch Jorden Van Foreest, and Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, who earned the title of Grandmaster at the age of 17.

At the ceremony in the Westin Hotel, PM Plenković said that this was the third tournament of this kind in the Croatian capital.

Chess is a fascinating sport bringing together millions. It is fortunate for Croatia that Garry Kasparov holds its citizenship. This fact also contributes to the promotion of chess in Croatia, he added.

Plenković thanked Kasparov and the organizers for bringing this tournament to Zagreb for the third time.

Recalling that the tournament is taking place in Zagreb against a backdrop of challenging times and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Plenković highlighted that as a wider global contest.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has changed the world in many ways. For years, an amazing intellectual Kasparov has spoken about the noxiousness of the policies pursued by Russia with Vladimir Putin at its helm, and this situation has made it clear, said Plenković adding that "one must be aware of the times and tell the truth at the right time and at the right place."

The sponsor of the tournament is Croatia's Tourism and Sports Ministry, with a prize fund of USD 175,000. The winner of the tournament will receive $40,000 and the tenth-ranked player can count on a prize of $7,000.

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

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