Sunday, 6 June 2021

CNN Quest Interview with Croatian PM to be Shown in Emission From Dubrovnik

June the 6th, 2021 - CNN's Quest Means Business has interviewed Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic and it is set to be shown in an emission lasting more than two hours from Croatia's southernmost city of Dubrovnik, the country's tourism Mecca.

As Jutarnji list/Ivanka Toma writes, the well-known CNN show Quest Means Business will be broadcast from Dubrovnik this Thursday, June the 10th, and one of the guests of the well-known journalist, Richard Quest, who is otherwise an expert on global economic trends, will be Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic.

The show will last for about two and a half hours, and the focus will be primarily on opening up the country's borders and tourism after the pandemic. The main topics that Quest discussed with the Croatian PM are the topics of the show - the opening up of Croatian borders to tourists once again and the preparations and expectations from the tourist season, then the economic recovery, and plans for the country to finally join the Schengen zone as well as the Eurozone.

This conversation with Plenkovic was recorded earlier on in the Kvarner coastal town of Opatija.

The Croatian PM also gave an interview to Quest back at the beginning of September last year, when the topic was also tourism as one of the important Croatian economic branches that was affected tremendously by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In another interview given last year, Plenkovic commented on tourism figures, which had fallen less than they had a year earlier, and the nation's numerous measures to try to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Other guests of the Quest show were world leaders such as David Cameron (the former British PM) and Petr Necas from the Czech Republic, big names from the world of banking such as Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan Chase and Robert Zoellick, former World Bank President, then IMF Chief Christina Lagarde, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and influential people of several large American corporations.

The broadcasting of this typically very popular show in which economic topics are covered in a simple and accessible way from the beautiful city of Dubrovnik will certainly be a kind of promotion of Croatian tourism in its own way as things begin to gradually return to some sort of normality globally.

For more, make sure to follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Milanović: Plenković is Promoter of Right to Lie

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday called Prime Minister Andrej Plenković a promoter of the right to lie who had now classified himself "under authentic interpreters of battles from the Homeland War" and declared himself "almost a war commander".

The president wrote this on Facebook, reacting to Plenković's comment on his proposal that the anniversary of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm be commemorated in other cities besides Knin.

Milanović accused Plenković of "denigrating the proposal to commemorate Operation Storm in other cities in which heroic battles were fought in the Homeland War, and not only in Knin, declaring himself - with the words 'many of us look at Knin differently' - almost a war commander," Milanović wrote.

The president added that the initiative to commemorate Operation Storm "also where hundreds of Croatian defenders were killed, near Petrinja and Glina, for instance, was proposed to him by war generals and commanders who fought liberation battles".

Asked by the RTL commercial broadcaster to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to commemorate anniversaries of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm in Knin every five years and to commemorate the anniversary in Glina this year, Plenković said on Wednesday he didn't know about it, but he found "the repeated use of double criteria particularly indicative".

"He constantly talks about Knin as some kind of train station, a barracks. Many of us look at Knin differently, at its role, at Zvonimir's City, at the Knin Fortress, at the symbolism of the flag at the Knin Fortress. Those are different views," Plenković said, referring to the turbulent history of that Dalmatian region.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Plenković: Those Were Not Accusations Against Media, But My Comment On Campaign

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - Prime Minister Plenković commented in an interview with RTL on the media campaign for the local elections, in which, he said, the HDZ won a colossal victory, and regarding his criticism of the media due to their treatment of some HDZ candidates, he stressed he hadn't accused anyone but stated his opinion.

"Those weren't accusations, it was my comment on the campaign behind us, in which the HDZ once again received by far the greatest support of Croatian voters and these results are for us even better in some areas than the results in 2017," PM Andrej Plenković said.

Plenković said that his comment on the campaign had been - as a comment by someone who is both president of the party and prime minister, is involved in politics and tries to follow the activities - that some HDZ candidates in the areas where the campaign had received the most media coverage, "were under a lot of fire in the media, especially HDZ's candidates in Zagreb and Split, and that reflected on the results".

You won't change your policy because of what I'm saying. I'm simply stating my position - which is the truth, with arguments and examples, he told the commercial broadcaster.

He added that he had congratulated all newly elected mayors and county prefects in writing, and he was planning a meeting with new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević.

"We called him yesterday or the day before yesterday and he didn't answer. Today, an associate told me he had returned the call, (...) so we will talk, but I was in other meetings. I congratulated him and all other newly elected county prefects and all mayors in county seats in writing. They are my partners," he said.

Asked to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to commemorate anniversaries of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm in Knin every five years and to commemorate the anniversary in Glina this year, Plenković said he didn't know about it, but he found "the repeated use of double criteria particularly indicative".

"He constantly talks about Knin as some kind of train station, a barracks. Many of us look at Knin differently, at its role, at Zvonimir's City, at the Knin Fortress, at the symbolism of the flag at the Knin Fortress. Those are different views," Plenković said, referring to the turbulent history of that Dalmatian region.

"You have a president who allowed himself to ignore Statehood Day passed by the Croatian parliament. He refused to attend a gala concert on Saturday. Everyone was there, including former president (Ivo) Josipović. The current president refused to come and didn't send anyone," he said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Opposition: It's Not Good That PM Plenković is Trying to Intimidate Media

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - Recent frequent attacks on media, reporters and political analysts by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković were met on Wednesday with condemnation by opposition MPs, who called on him to accept criticism and on media not to allow to be intimidated.

Social Democrat Arsen Bauk said the prime minister had opted for the "attack is the best form of defence" approach.

"Some defeats at local elections are painful for the HDZ, notably the prime minister, because he chose or imposed some of the candidates. It is not good for the prime minister, who has both objective and real power, to try to square accounts with or intimidate reporters, media and their editors and owners. I hope you will not let yourself be intimidated by him," Bauk told reporters in the parliament.

Judging by their response, I can see that they are not intimidated, he said, adding that he was fascinated by Plenković's claim that rival broadcasters had colluded to devalue the HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said that media were possibly responsible for the latest developments because they had been very mild towards Plenković from the start.

"I definitely support media freedoms and it is not unusual that media in Croatia and the rest of the world are leaning to the left, but I think that what is more important here are the so-called independent analysts who often have material interests and certain relations with political camps and NGOs and who act in public as if they were unbiased," said Bartulica.

The sole MP of the Reformists party, Natalija Martinčević, who chairs the parliamentary Media Committee, said that the prime minister was very nervous, which she considers inappropriate.

"Communication with the media must be civilised. We are all expected to behave that way and so is the prime minister. There is no justification for his behaviour," she said.

Most MP Marija Selak Raspudić said that media had been the PM's fetish for a long time.

"Let me remind you of his high school graduation thesis 'Means of Mass Communication' in which, apart from extensively quoting (Yugoslav Communist politician Edvard) Kardelj and Marx, he also says that the Party is the one to control all information in society. He then advocates some democratic trends and says that media should be democratised, but it seems that as an experienced politician he has accepted the principle that the Party should control all information and is surprised when he does not manage to do it," said Selak Raspudić.

HSLS MP Dario Hrebak said that every politician had their own style of communication, noting that the prime minister was evidently irritated by something.

"I, too, am sometimes unhappy with the media but everyone has the right to say what they think, I would not be a liberal if I thought differently," he said, adding that he believed the prime minister would mend his relationship with the media and some reporters.

aFor more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Associations Request Urgent Meeting With PM Andrej Plenković on Regular Public Transport

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) and the SSSH trade union federation have asked Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for an urgent meeting on the regulation of regular public transport, stressing that if the meeting is not held, they "will be forced to take certain joint activities".

The answer and the date of the urgent meeting are expected by Friday, 4 June, at the latest, the associations said in a letter to the prime minister.

Employers and unionists say they have been "more than active" in proposing solutions and "more than patient" over the last three years, waiting for the final implementation of European and national regulations.

The HUP and the SSSH warn that the already ready legal solutions that were a prerequisite for signing contracts for regular public passenger transport on county and inter-county lines up to 100 kilometres are not implemented due to the inactivity of state administration bodies.

They also said that the decision had not yet been made on the distribution of funds from the state budget to counties, even though the funds, according to the SSSH and the HUP, had already been secured, and that public service contracts between counties and private transport companies involved in regular public passenger transport had not been signed yet.

"Private bus carriers from the HUP transport association account for 80% of the public transport on county and inter-county lines up to 100 kilometres and employ over 7,000 workers who are directly affected by such irresponsible behaviour of the relevant ministries," the HUP said.

Without a public service contract, the process of collective bargaining to improve working conditions in the transport sector is at a standstill and existing jobs are in jeopardy, they noted.

The operation of most public bus lines is at risk, especially in rural areas, and workers and private public transport providers haven't been able to plan their business and their companies' prospects for three years now, the HUP and the SSSH warned.

The HUP and the SSSH think that the government should make a decision on the distribution of funds from the state budget to counties (signatories of contracts with transport companies) at its next session.

They added that it was also necessary to stop discrimination against private bus carriers and their workers in relation to carriers owned by the public sector since private companies still didn't have public service contracts, while public companies did, for the same service.

They also think that it is necessary to continue with the job-retention subsidies for all companies that continue to register a decline in business and meet the prescribed criteria.

That is especially important, they said, for passenger transport on lines in rural areas, where the number of passengers is declining sharply, also because of the end of the school year and the holidays, and cannot be sustained without state support.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Joins in Condemning PM Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists Union (SNH) in condemning Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's verbal attacks on media and reporters after the local runoff election on 30 May.

The HND said on its website that EFJ Secretary-General Ricardo Gutiérrez described as "totally unacceptable that journalists are being attacked by both the Prime Minister and, just recently, the President of Croatia."

"Blaming journalists in this way is an attempt to undermine their credibility in order to limit their role as a counterweight. To insult or threaten journalists is to insult and threaten citizens, and to undermine the right of citizens to access free, independent information," the HND quoted Gutiérrez as saying.

The EFJ said on its website that shortly after the second round of local elections in Croatia, Plenković once again attacked the media, accusing them of "being paid to vilify a political camp" and accusing Dražen Lalić, an analyst and professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, of being paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates, targeting also HND president Hrvoje Zovko, who strongly condemned his attack on the media.

The EFJ carried a statement issued on Monday by the HND and SNH in which the two organisations deplored "the open threats PM Plenkovic has made against all our colleagues and media which do not follow his and the HDZ's ideology.

"To name all those who critically speak about candidates ahead of elections and to mark as targets 'those who calumniate people for money' is not the kind of discourse that should be used by politicians, let alone prime ministers of civilised and democratic EU countries," the two organisations said in the statement carried by the EFJ.

The EFJ also quoted the HND and SNH as saying that such attacks only show Plenković and his HDZ party's ambition "to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedoms in Croatia".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

System of Digital COVID-19 Certificates Operational, Says PM Andrej Plenković

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 (Hina) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in the parliament on Tuesday that the system of digital COVID-19 certificates was operational and that certificates could be obtained via the e-citizen system.

"Digital COVID certificates are here, they exist and can already be used," he said, showing MPs a paper copy of his certificate.

"The EU digital certificates goes into force in a month, the government has made a decision on the national mechanism for the issuing of certificates and I have obtained a certificate about having been vaccinated through the e-citizen system," he said, calling on MPs to do the same.

Plenković said that there was more than enough vaccine for all citizens as well as for countries with lower supplies, and that vaccination was now faster than before.

Responding to MPs' remarks, he said that the national coronavirus management team would make a decision that would make it possible also for people who had received one vaccine shot to enter Croatia 22 days after vaccination.

In a debate about an opposition motion for a vote of no-confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš, Plenković dismissed the Opposition's claims that at one point patients could not obtain medicines and that the health system did not function.

"That's a lie, at no time were people left without medicines, the health system was never at breaking point, there was never a shortage of beds or ventilators and no medical service was ever unavailable," he said.

Health Minister Beroš told MPs that he was working on the problem of the health system's debts to drug wholesalers and that a projection of payment in the period until the end of the year had been made.

He also announced the relaunching of the Institute of Immunology, including for the production of viral vaccines.

For more about Covid-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Political Science Association Slams PM Andrej Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The Croatian Political Science Association (HPD) on Tuesday strongly condemned the criticism PM Andrej Plenković levelled against political scientist Dražen Lalić and the RTL broadcaster, noting that it was an attack not only on an individual but on all political scientists as well as media.  

The HPD recalled Plenković's statement that "RTL hired Lalić to vilify (HDZ candidate for Zagreb mayor Davor) Filipović in the worst way possible" and his remark that "those are not unbiased media" but "hirelings paid to demonise a political camp."

"Such an unsubstantiated verbal attack by the Prime Minister against our member and prominent Croatian researcher was not only an ad hominem attack - which  as such makes his criticism invalid - but also an attack on the right to express one's opinion and on intellectual freedom. With his inappropriate act, Andrej Plenković has threatened the freedom to express one's professional views and additionally weakened the already weak position of the media," the association said.

It also notes that, considering the disproportion of powers, this type of attack by the PM on a member of the academic community and public intellectual has the potential to instil fear and insecurity in members of the academic community and media alike.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

New Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević: Sandra Benčić (Mozemo!) On First Moves

June 1, 2021 - With the new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević soon coming to the office, Sandra Benčić of the green-left platform Mozemo! (We Can!) spoke to Index.hr about the first moves of the new administration.

Following intense post-first round campaigns in Zagreb for the second round of local elections, Tomislav Tomašević is the new mayor of Zagreb. Additionally, Tomašević's green-left coalition Mozemo! earned 23 seats in the City's assembly, and if the previously announced support of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that has five, Mozemo! will have the majority in the assembly. 

The new mayor is expected to take his seat by the end of this week, and as Index.hr reports, Sandra Benčić, the Mozemo! MP says that ZG Holding chief and directors can be removed from their position immediately.

However, first and foremost, the earthquake damages seem to be taking the lead.

„The most urgent thing is to prepare documentation for the reconstructions of kindergartens, schools, and institutions in the city ownership that were damaged in the earthquake. We have to do that as fast as possible because the deadline to pull money from the EU Solidarity Fund is June 2022. I'm afraid there will be a fiasco regarding how much will the State pull from the fund, but we can only take the money for estates in the city property, and the damaged kindergartens and schools are our priority“, told Benčić for Index.hr

She added that they plan to start an Office for Zagreb Reconstruction and establish mobile teams which will help citizens to fill in documentation and requests for the reconstruction of damaged homes.

Regarding the statement about the fiasco with the State pulling money from Solidarity Fund, the conflict with the government was sparked yesterday when PM Andrej Plenković talked to the press regarding Tomašević's victory. He said he didn't congratulate Tomašević yet, but he will and that he expects good cooperation.

„I see that Mozemo! is paraphrasing my message from 2016 when I said that we are changing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) so we can change Croatia. They say they are changing Zagreb to change Croatia. Clearly, they have something against this Croatia“, said Plenković, sparking controversy.

And Benčić is not the one to remain silent on such statements.

„Yes, we do have something against this kind of HDZ and evening HDZ with the State. They are not the State but an interest group that trapped our country. We want to see the country returns to all its citizens and that, of course, hurts them to the level that the prime minister allows himself these kinds of statements which, if they weren't malice, would be at minimal, unsmart“, said Benčić.

With the biggest number of votes in the history of mayoral elections in Zagreb, Benčić continues they are ready to justify this trust, and they start with work immediately.

„We are going with the financial revision of City's administration, restructuring City offices. We will do it step by step and connect offices while ensuring that functions and services need to deliver to the citizens. It should be noted that Zagreb used to have fewer offices, 17 until 2000 and then offices start to grow exponentially, only to put politically suited people to positions and raise their payments“, explained Benčić.

 And the new Mayor Tomislav Tomašević also gave an interview on Monday. As Jutarnji List reported, Tomašević also talked about his plans to improve Zagreb and fulfill his promises, particularly with so many earned votes.

„This big trust is also a big responsibility. Citizens can expect that we will lead by example from the start. The city administration and authority will be based on three things: decency, modesty, and being at the citizen's service.

He also added that Mozemo! is considering filing a lawsuit against Miroslav Škoro for the filthy instigating campaign, as Tomašević and many other public figures described it.

„I wouldn't like this to happen to anyone anymore on any other elections in Croatia, regardless are we talking about a candidate from the right, left or center," commented Tomašević.

Although no direct link can be proved at the moment, Škoro's rhetoric could've been the fuel for the attacker that set fire to the Mozemo! election headquarters at Zagreb Contemporary Museum on the election night saying to the gathered that „they are communists“ and how he will „kill them all“, on which T-portal reported

The elections are over, but will Zagreb continue to celebrate in such a majority as it did on election night? This is something only Tomašević on his new function can answer in the following months and years.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Media Are Not Sacrosanct

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters on Monday evening that earlier in the day, when he was commenting on the elections, he was telling the truth and that amounted to no attack on the media because the media, he said, were not sacrosanct that couldn't be talked about.

"I was just telling the truth," Plenković said when asked by reporters whether he had gone too far  when commenting on the elections and criticisng several commercial broadcasters.

All those I talked about, including your broadcaster (RTL), used the wrong name of HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor in their shows, he said, adding that it had happened several times, even on another TV station and in some print media.

He said "these weren't slips of the tongue" and added that these things had clearly happened "on purpose". "This isn't criticism, I was telling the truth, it isn't an attack on the media. The media aren't sacrosanct so that we cannot talk about it," Plenković said.

Commenting on the statement that the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) called on him not do it and that it was not his first time, Plenković said that that was "a rude and inappropriate statement by the HND president, who is much more slower and evasive when it comes to criticising (President Zoran) Milanović".

Milanović, he stressed, calls out on the media in a much harsher way. He calls the HRT Yutel, HRT reporters mercenaries of a political party, he calls daily newspapers usurers, he calls on your leadership to remove commentator (Žarko) Puhovski and after that I no longer see him in your (RTL) programme, Plenković said.

He said that HND president Hrvoje Zovko was "much more considerate" when it came to reacting to Milanović. Here he dares to talk about me as Lukashenko, Plenković noted, adding that this was going beyond all bounds, which could be classified as being biased.

It is one thing when those running in the election face off in a political match, and another when someone who presents himself as an independent analyst to the viewers, and they don't know whether you are paying him for it, describes a candidate before the elections in the worst possible way, Plenković said, referring to Dražen Lalić's comments for the RTL.

He recalled that it was not unusual for the media in the world to follow one political option.

There are no newspapers in the world for which one doesn't know whether they're left-wing or conservative, he said.

We cannot, he said, live in the belief that everyone is neutral, impartial, objective and in reality they support some option. "One shouldn't be ashamed of that, but it must be clearly stated," Plenković added.

There are double standards

Plenković also thinks that the media had been generating aggression toward the HDZ and the two key candidates in two big cities.

He said that the public had to realise there were double standards.

Asked to comment on Ivica Puljak's victory in Split, he countered with a question -- how can he have an anti-Semite for deputy mayor.

"The man practically wrote a justification for the Holocaust, and if you don't realise that, then you have a dangerous problem," Plenković said, adding that if it was happening elsewhere, "all associations would attack Puljak".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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