Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Žarko Puhovski: "Is PM Plenković's Attack on Lalić More Significant Than President Milanović's On Me"?

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Professor and political analyst Žarko Puhovski said on Monday that he was shocked by the statement signed by the Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND), wondering if Plenković's attack on analyst Dražen Lalić was more significant than Milanović's on him.

"Is it really possible that (Prime Minister) Plenković's scandalous attack on Lalić is so much more significant than (President) Zoran Milanović's much dirtier continuous attacks on me in the past months, and in the former case you reacted in the blink of an eye, while in the latter not at all?" asked Puhovski in an open letter, adding that despite his years and experience, he is truly shocked by the statement the SNH co-signed today.

"I don't know if it's about likes/dislikes, ideology, stupidity or rudeness, but I didn't expect that from you at least," Puhovski told the SNH.

The HND and the SNH said earlier on Monday that they strongly condemned PM Andrej Plenković's attack on the media, interference in the editorial policy of commercial broadcasters RTL, Nova TV and N1 and criticism of the reporters and pundits covering campaigns in the run-up to the recent local election and the elections.

PM Andrej Plenković then said HND president Hrvoje Zovko's statement was "rude and inappropriate" and said he was "much quieter, slower and more evasive when it comes to criticising Milanović".

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenkovic Comments on Mozemo! Win in Croatian Capital

June the 1st, 2021 - Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic has claimed that despite the clear Tomasevic and Mozemo! (We Can!) win in the City of Zagreb, making him the new mayor and marking a significant political shift, that Mozemo! have something against ''this Croatia''.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, upon answering journalists' questions about the election results, PM Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) said that he hadn't yet called Tomislav Tomasevic in person and congratulated him on his win and new title as the Mayor of Zagreb, but that he does intend to and will.

When he was asked how it is that everyone says they are winning, he simply said: "Count!"

“The numbers are always the best indicators. HDZ has 45 percent of cities and municipalities, 75 percent of the counties. HDZ has never won 15 counties before. I see that people Mozemo! paraphrased my message from back in 2016 when I said: "We're changing the HDZ to change Croatia." They're changing Zagreb to change Croatia. Obviously, they have something against the Croatia in which we managed to prevent social fragmentation, preserve 700,000 jobs, save 120,000 employers, pay 2.9 billion kuna within Zagreb alone for the salaries of 215,000 workers in the capital… I guess that's a message for change that needs to be done at the level of Croatia. I still have to listen carefully to precisely what changes they're calling for,'' said PM Andrej Plenkovic.

When asked what kind of cooperation he expects with Zagreb's new mayor Tomislav Tomasevic, he said that he has good cooperation with all leaders of local government units.

In a recent speech, he emphasised that the HDZ failed to win in only three out of six big cities. When asked by journalists whether or not the four largest Croatian cities are always the measure, Plenkovic pointed out the example of Velika Gorica near Zagreb, which, as he says, is growing, is now very large and that there is no big difference in population when compared to the likes of Osijek and Zadar as well.

"I'm delighted with the HDZ victory in Bjelovar-Bilogora County in the form of a young man of 36 years of age, who is one of those people of the new generation of HDZ. There, HDZ has returned to power after 20 years. It's the same situation in Varazdin County. For the first time in 20 years, Komadina had to go to the second round with Cappelli, where he won, although itsn't the sort of victory like he had before.

Of the 15 prefects we have, eight of them are "old" and seven are new. Of those seven, two are women and that’s just as important. The only women prefects are from HDZ - Antonija Jozic and Martina Furek Hajdin. The third candidate for mayor, Irena Hrstic, achieved the best HDZ result ever in Istria County, above 18 percent,'' he pointed out, emphasising that they also returned to power in Lika-Senj County.

He also accused RTL and Nova TV of deliberately mispronouncing the name of HDZ's candidate for mayor of Zagreb, Davor Filipovic, saying: "You should make a poster about what ideological television is like," to an N1 television reporter.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated section on Croatian politics.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Plenković: HDZ Absolute Winner Of Local Elections

May 31st, 2021 - Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday evening that his party was the absolute winner of the local elections after the outcome of both rounds of voting showed that the HDZ won in 15 out of the 20 counties and in three out of the six biggest cities.

Addressing the press in the HDZ campaign headquarters after the second round of the elections on Sunday evening, Plenković said that the unanimous opinion of the HDZ leadership was that "the HDZ is the absolute, colossal winner of these local elections."

"We won 15 out of the 20 Croatian counties," he said, congratulating all the candidates who won the confidence of the electorate for their four-year terms as mayors, county prefects, or city and municipal councilors, and he also thanked voters for having gone to the polls.

Plenković said that the policy of gradual strengthening of the party in the west of Croatia yielded results.

After 20 years, Varaždin County and Bjelovar-Bilogora County have prefects from the HDZ, and the HDZ again has its prefect in Lika-Senj County, he said.

He added that the party would analyze why the incumbent prefect of Šibenik-Knin County, a member of the HDZ, was unseated.

Of the six biggest cities, the HDZ won the local elections in three: Osijek, Zadar, and Velika Gorica. Unfortunately, we did not win in Split. However, we won in Osijek for the first time since establishing our democracy, Plenković said.

Concerning recent developments in Split, he said that the elections had been smeared because the elected deputy mayor had publicly shown his antisemitism.

"This is a disgrace for him and Split. I expect the new mayor (Ivica Puljak of the Centre party) to distance himself clearly from him and the deputy to resign. It is unacceptable that the second biggest city in Croatia has such a man as the deputy mayor," Plenković said.

HDZ wins elections in 45% of municipalities, 45% of cities, and 75% of counties

As far as other cities and municipalities are concerned, the HDZ's performance in the local elections in at a similar level as four years before, according to Plenković.

The HDZ is the winner in 45% of municipalities, 45% of cities, and 75% of counties, he explained.

"We have won excellent, majority support of the electorate in the fifth year of this government's term," he said, promising cooperation with all the elected heads and councilors in local authorities.

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Green-Left Mayoral Candidate Says He Doesn't Have Police Protection

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - The candidate of the Green-Left coalition for the new mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, said on Thursday that he had neither asked for the police protection nor did he have it.

Tomašević insists that the campaign in the run-up to the second round of the mayoral election in which he will face off Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Škoro is marked by hate and incendiary speech and fake news as never before.

Addressing the press in Zagreb today, Tomašević said that he had come to the venue of this news conference by tram and on foot just as he had done yesterday.

"I do not have the police protection, I have not requested it. Yesterday, you saw the stepped-up police presence as part of their regular activities at some of our gatherings," Tomašević said after on Wednesday police officers were spotted standing near the venue of Tomašević's news conference, which prompted media outlets and some politicians to speculate that Tomašević was given the police protection.

In response to reporters' questions on Wednesday, if he had been given police protection, Tomašević told reporters to ask police about that because security assessment was not what he and his colleagues did.

Concerning this topic, President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday afternoon that he would bet that Zagreb mayoral candidate Tomašević had been receiving threats given his opponent Miroslav Škoro's incendiary campaign.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the left parties in Zagreb kept quiet about the attacks on him and his HDZ party yet were now appalled by mayoral candidate Škoro's attacks. "Now you hear the aggrieved crying of all the people who otherwise keep quiet, and that's the phenomenon of the Zagreb election. You have the left which is now crying, yet is otherwise silent."

However, Tomašević said today that "nobody from the left is crying now".

"I do not have the police protection, I and my assistant have come together. There is no police here," Tomašević said adding that he feels safe and that he has not received any serious threat to date.

He reiterated that it was up to the police to assess security threats concerning the public gatherings of his political party and their sympathizers.

He said that when it came to fake news  "there is a direct connection between" his opponent Miroslav Škoro and the funding of the fake news publication on social networks.

Tomašević said that he would consider taking possible legal action after the completion of the mayoral runoff.

 "We are now focused on the second round of the elections," he added.

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Decision on Croatia's Entry to Schengen Area Possibly in Second Half of Year

ZAGREB, 24 May, 2021 - Croatia hopes its entry to the Schengen area of passport-free travel could be put on the agenda during Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of this year, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

"I believe it is possible. We have excellent overall relations with Slovenia and it would be great if that happened during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU," Plenković told reporters.

Plenković discussed Croatia's accession to the Schengen area and the euro area with European Council President Charles Michel and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

Both the previous and current European Commission have confirmed that Croatia has met all technical criteria to enter the Schengen area and it is now up to the member-states, that is, the Council of the EU, to make a political decision on the matter.

Asked if he expected problems from some member-states, Plenković said that Croatia had succeeded in showing its partners through dialogue that it had met all criteria.

"I believe that we are heading towards a positive decision by the Council," he said.

The EC has said that on 2 June it will announce a new strategy for the Schengen area and two bills on changes to the Schengen evaluation mechanism and the Schengen Information System.

As for Croatia's other strategic goal, entry to the euro area, Plenković said that talks were underway with Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and that Croatia could soon achieve that goal as well.

"I believe that we will manage to join the euro area in the next two years," said Plenković.

The Croatian PM and European Council President Michel discussed also the situation in Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Croatia supported its neighbours' European ambitions, underlining the need to amend Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law so that it could enable parliamentary elections in 2022 and be fair for all constituent peoples and other citizens.

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

Monday, 24 May 2021

Plenković and Michel: Forced Landing of Plane Unacceptable

May 24, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday after a meeting with the President of the European Council Charles Michel that the two condemned the forced landing of a Ryanair civil plane in Belarus and demanded an international investigation.

Plenković met with Michel in Brussels ahead of an EU summit.

Croatia's Prime Minister wrote on Twitter that he had spoken with Michel about "the fight against COVID-19, the vaccination process, Croatia's entry into the Schengen Area and the euro area and the continuation of enlargement."

"We condemn the unacceptable move by the Belarusian authorities and demand an international investigation," Plenković said.

Plenković then spoke with the Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson at the Commission's headquarters.

The two-day summit of the leaders of 27 EU member states starts on Monday evening, and the agenda includes meeting the set goals for climate protection, foreign policy issues, and the COVID-19 situation.

EU leaders will also address the unprecedented move by the Belarusian authorities, who on Sunday forced a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk and then arrested Roman Protasevich, one of the main opposition activists who were on board. It is expected that there will be a debate on measures the EU could introduce against the Belarusian regime.

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

PM Suggests that Defence Council Can Convene on Thursday or Friday

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that he had responded to President Zoran Milanović's request for convening a session of the Defence Council and offered that the session could be held on Thursday or Friday morning.

We offered him two appointments: tomorrow or on Friday morning, so that this advisory body could be convened and that council has no role in decision making, Plenković said after the inner cabinet's meeting in Zagreb.

Commenting on the planned purchase of military jets on Tuesday President Milanović said that he had invited Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to call a session of the Defence Council on this topic together with him.

Plenković said today that his cabinet had been working on the analysis of all the bids for the combat aircraft procurement, and on Tuesday, a few ministers were informed of the process.

This process is  extremely complex and demanding, Plenković said adding that the decision would be made public as soon as the government made it.

Plenković said that Milanović "is trying now jump on the bandwagon" concerning the combat jets decision ahead of NATO's summit meeting, whereas he had refused to appoint his envoy to the interdepartmental commission authorised to decide on the matter.

Asked by the press whether the Defence Council's meeting could be an opportunity for the heads of state and government to meet and overcome their conflicts, Plenković answered that this would not be a topic on the meeting's agenda.

"You have a deceitful man who is insulting the whole political scene, while many pundits are trying to reduce it to political one-upmanship. This is not political one-upmanship between us. This is unprecedented behaviour (of the president) towards a series of stakeholders and interlocutors on the political scene," the premier said.

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

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Monday, 17 May 2021

Andrej Plenković: HDZ Will Have Most County Prefects, Mayors, Municipal Heads

17 May 2021 - Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković said that the party's result in local elections was very good and victorious on Sunday night. In the next four years, the HDZ would have the most county prefects, mayors, and municipal heads.

"Our result is very good, victorious. Looking at the overall results, the HDZ will again be the party which will have the most county prefects, mayors, and municipal heads in the next four years," he said in the HDZ's campaign headquarters in Zagreb.

He congratulated everyone who took part in the elections and especially citizens who voted for the candidates of the HDZ and its partners.

Plenković said he was pleased that four HDZ candidates for prefects had won in the first round and that its candidates would be in runoffs with convincing leads in eight counties.

He singled out the results of Gari Cappelli and Anđelko Stričak in Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Varaždin counties. He congratulated Ivan Radić and Vice Mihanović for their results in Osijek and Split.

As for Davor Filipović, the party's mayoral candidate in Zagreb, Plenković said he was a new asset for the party. He did a fantastic job during the campaign, and that he was a first-class politician for big elections.

"The HDZ is the second slate in Zagreb, which is extremely good. It's a new generation of HDZ politicians in Zagreb, and I'm confident that in the years ahead, they will gain more experience and offer even better solutions for Zagreb."

Filipović, who ranked fourth in the Zagreb mayoral race with less than 10% of the vote, congratulated Tomislav Tomašević on receiving the largest number of votes in the first round and apologized; to the other candidates if, during the campaign, he said "one word too many."

He said his own result was almost twice as good as the HDZ mayoral candidate's four years ago and twice as good as in 2013. "Therefore, we have reason to be optimistic, and that's a pledge for the future to work for the good of Zagreb."

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

Thursday, 13 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović, PM Andrej Plenković Issue Separate Messages on Occasion of Ramadan Bayram

ZAGREB, 13 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday issued separate messages offering their best wishes to Muslims on the occasion of the holiday of Ramadan Bayram.

Wishing all the best to the head of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Mufti Aziz Hasanović and the Muslim community, PM Plenković wished them an abundance of peace, hope and family unity.

Stressing the traditionally good relations between the government and the Islamic Community, Plenković expressed confidence that "our continual dialogue, mutual respect and understanding will contribute to an even better cooperation to the benefit of our society and community."

In his message to Muslims, President Milanović said that he wished the great holiday of sacrifice and self-restraint to serve as an encouragement in the promotion of mutual understanding, dialogue and tolerance to the benefit of Croatia.

"My sincere congratulations to fellow citizens of Muslim faith on the occasion of Ramadan Bayram. May this great holiday of sacrifice and self-restraint bring you peaceful and joyous moments of piety and family unity and serve as encouragement in the promotion of mutual understanding, dialogue and tolerance to the benefit of our homeland," Milanović said in his message.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, too, today offered his best wishes to Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan Bayram.

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



Wednesday, 12 May 2021

British American Tobacco (BAT) Announces HRK 200 Million Investment in Kanfanar Factory

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - During a visit on Wednesday by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to the British American Tobacco (BAT) factory in Kanfanar, BAT revealed an investment of HRK 200 million in the production of a new category of heated tobacco products (HTP), underlining the importance of the new logistics centre in Rijeka.

"By expanding production in Kanfanar and opening a hub in Rijeka, we are continuing with BAT's significant investments in Croatia. With the introduction of production lines for new product categories, Croatia is additionally strengthening its position on the global map of production sites in the tobacco industry. We are continuing to expand our selection for consumers in Croatia," BAT Adria director Zvonko Kolobara said in a statement to the press.

He added that the increased capacity in Kanfanar would help BAT meet growing demands for HTP in Europe and northern Africa.

Kolobara thanked the government and Prime Minister Plenković for their efforts in creating an investment climate that stimulates further investments.

Plenković expressed satisfaction that BAT is continuing with its investments in Kanfanar and ensuring jobs. BAT's announcement of the investment comes after its announcement that it could leave Croatia due to unfavourable business conditions.

Plenković underlined that the new investment was an example of a good business climate and that BAT did not exert any pressure on the government to meet its demands to continue doing business in Croatia.

"The new, HRK 200 million investment in new products means a new impetus, enthusiasm and a new generator of business and with that, a contribution to Croatia's economy. The company employs 1,600 people and another 800 cooperate closely with BAT and make a living that way. The investment plans have been coordinated with their headquarters in London and all the employees at the factory will be satisfied while the entire economy of Istria County will benefit from BAT's operations," said Plenković.

He noted that the government was open to large global investors.

"It is excellent that BAT has established a hub in Rijeka for products from China that are distributed throughout Europe. That is additional confirmation of Rijeka's attractiveness as an exceptionally important transport and commercial port in the country. As far as BAT's staying is concerned, the government took account of the Croatian economy and creating conditions for all foreign companies doing business in Croatia and investors to have the same treatment. It is obvious that BAT has decided that the Kanfanar factory is important and that it wants to invest and that Croatia is important to it. There was never any pressure," said Plenković.

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

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