Monday, 18 July 2022

Plenković: Vučić Will Pay a Visit When the Time is Right

ZAGREB, 18 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Croatia cannot be private because of political implications and that it will come about when the time is right.

Vučić has expressed a wish to visit the Jasenovac memorial centre privately, but has been denied clearance from the Croatian authorities to visit the site of the WWII concentration camp.

"We have learned unofficially that he wishes to pay a visit on Sunday, but without a formal announcement that should precede any visit, especially of this nature. No matter how discreet he may want it to be, it's not a private visit. It's a matter that has its political implications," Plenković told reporters after a meeting of the leadership of his HDZ party.

"We have said that it is not the right moment, nor is the methodology right. When the time comes and the conditions have been met, we can talk about it," he added.

He described the reaction from Belgrade, not just from the government but the media as well, as "hysterical," adding that Croatia is "inclusive and tolerant" and is not trying to score political points on this issue.

"The visit will come about when the time comes. A policy of fait accompli is unacceptable anywhere, including Croatia. At this point we concluded that this visit does not suit us," the Croatian prime minister said.

Earlier on Monday, Vučić said he had tried but failed to arrange with Zagreb a visit to Jasenovac three times, once in 2021 and twice in 2022. He said he was rejected because of the "internal political situation" in Croatia, with the explanation that his visit was not welcome.

"I know of his initiative from late February, March. We said that the time was not right for such a visit. After that there have been no contacts or discussions on this subject," Plenković said.

He added that at the end of February Construction Minister Darko Horvat was arrested on corruption charges, his father died, and the USKOK anti-corruption office were interested in Deputy PM Boris Milošević and Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović.

"We sent a message that it was not a good time for such a visit. As for September 2021, I tried to check it with my aides and we do not remember that. We will check it again," Plenković said.

He said that any visit that might have political consequences should be carefully arranged.

"It is important that we treat each other with respect and show that we are states. States communicate like people," Plenković said, adding that anyone wishing to visit someone should announce their visit.

He said that the matter would be discussed later on "when passions have cooled" and "constructive communication is established."

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Primorac Will Contribute To Maintaining Macroeconomic Stability, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 14 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he was confident that as the new minister of finance, Marko Primorac would contribute to the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and to maintaining macroeconomic stability, among other things.

Plenković was speaking at the start of a session of the parliamentary Finance and State Budget Committee on the government's nomination of Primorac for minister of finance.

Plenković said he was also confident that Primorac "will continue the good trajectories that are already visible, namely that we are again rapidly reducing the public debt after meeting all the criteria for euro area membership."

He is confident that Primorac will keep Croatia in the investment-level credit rating, that, in cooperation with other ministers, he will look for solutions for a new set of measures that will help citizens weather the energy and food crisis, and that he will propose measures to curb inflationary pressures.

Plenković said Primorac was an expert in his prime with the capacity to deal with crises and a very significant international and academic experience. "I expect him to contribute with his knowledge and creativity to the implementation of the government's programme and to finding solutions to the various crisis situations we are faced with."

Plenković recalled the government's tax and other reforms as a result of which, he said, Croatia would soon have the highest investment rating ever with the world's three biggest rating credit ratings.

He said it was necessary to continue to ease the tax burden on citizens and adopt other measures that would increase economic activity which, he added, have made the Croatian economy resilient to crises.

Plenković said Primorac had cooperated with the Finance Ministry in many tax reform working groups as well as on a financing model for local government units.

Parliament is expected to vote on Primorac's nomination tomorrow.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Butković More Than Competent To Take On Deputy PM's Role, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 14 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković had been in the government the longest and that he was more than competent to assume the role of a deputy prime minister.

Presenting Butković at the parliamentary Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System Committee as a candidate for deputy prime minister, Plenković said he had extensive political experience, knew well how the government worked and would need no major adjustment.

Butković is a vice president of the HDZ party, the president of its Primorje-Gorski Kotar branch and runs a ministry in charge of big investment and infrastructure projects, with the upcoming inauguration of Pelješac Bridge as the crowning achievement, Plenković said.

He added that last night, after this week's decision on Croatia's accession to the euro area, Fitch increased Croatia's credit rating and that other agencies announced they would, too.

With his experience and the government's economic team, Butković will contribute to finding solutions, notably in the context of the energy and food crisis and inflationary pressures, Plenković said.

 

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Fitch Upgrades Croatia's Rating Due To Eurozone Accession

ZAGREB, 14 July 2022 - Fitch Ratings on Wednesday upgraded Croatia's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating to 'BBB+ from 'BBB', with a stable outlook, after the European Council's Economic and Financial Affairs Council approved on 12 July Croatia's application to join the euro on 1 January 2023.

The next scheduled review date for Fitch's sovereign rating on Croatia will be 28 October "but Fitch believes that developments in the country warrant such a deviation from the calendar."

"Fitch believes that euro adoption is positive for the rating, as it would provide the sovereign with reserve-currency status, reduce transaction costs and limit exchange-rate risk to corporate and household balance sheets," the agency said.

Croatia joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERMII) in July 2020 and "has fulfilled all convergence and reform criteria within the shortest possible timeframe."

According to Fitch, seven EU member states have a lower rating than Croatia - Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

PM: New upgrade direct consequence of eurozone membership

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter the credit rating upgrade "is a direct consequence of membership of the eurozone, which brings Croatia greater security in the crisis."

 

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Visible Steps Forward Made for Slavonia, PM Says

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Osijek on Friday that visible steps forward had been made for the Slavonia region in the past six years by implementing Project Slavonia thanks to the synergy between the national and local levels.

The project is aimed at helping the region's revitalization, demographic recovery, and economic growth by investing in infrastructure, agriculture and education, he told the press after meeting with Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić and Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić.

Plenković said he was pleased that HRK 1 billion worth of projects were being carried out in Osijek in the last year.

During our term, investments worth HRK 3 billion have been contracted in the city and over HRK 7 billion in the county, he added.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said the results were visible in the economic, social, municipal and road infrastructure after six years of investments co-funded by the EU.

She said plans for regions in industrial transition had been approved in operational programmes until 2027. We are looking forward to the new opportunities, notably in the economic sense, she added.

Mayor Radić thanked the government for investing in Osijek and said the bulk of the current investments in the city, over HRK 1 billion, was financed by the EU. For the first time in ten years, we have more people moving in than out, which interests us the most, he added.

Prefect Anušić said this region was making progress in demography, the return of emigrants and tourism development thanks to the cooperation and the promotion of positive trends.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

President Talks PM, Food Prices, Abortion

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Friday he was sorry he did not meet Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at today's conference on the occasion of Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts Day, saying Plenković decided against attending when he found out that Milanović would.

Milanović said he was not competing with Plenković. "For me personally, he is zero, but he is the president of the HDZ (party), the prime minister, he won the election, he is responsible for the rampant corruption, deserving for less political radicalism in life, which he succeeded in suppressing in the HDZ because he is a communist."

Food prices, abortion

Speaking of high food prices, Milanović said they were a consequence of the war in Ukraine and that the government could do nothing about it. As for the vouchers announced by the government, he said it was copying Austria.

The president said it was not realistic for abortion rights to be entered into the Constitution, as demanded by the Social Democratic Party and the Green-Left Bloc.

When it comes to abortion, he said "we've had this issue solved in an appropriate way almost 50 years now," better than the Americans who, he said, have been waging a cultural war since 1973.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

PM Says Government Systematically Making Strategic Headway For Prosperity Of Citizens

ZAGREB, 30 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government was "very systematically making strategic headway" to improve the lives of citizens and the economy, referring to Croatia's admission to the euro area and the Schengen Area, as well as to the upgrade of the country's credit ratings.

At its last summit, the European Council confirmed Croatia's entry into the euro area on 1 January 2023, and the government expects that Croatia will also join the Schengen area then too.

"We are very systematically making these strategic steps forward for the prosperity of our citizens and economy. They (that headway) are here, they will last, they will remain, and they will be a kind of legacy of the two terms of our government," Plenković said at a cabinet meeting.

"These are really great strategic achievements. They do not just come with some routine schedule. They come on the basis of the implementation of reforms, the fulfillment of benchmarks, the adoption of laws, and our political and diplomatic engagement," he added.

The Moody's agency has recently announced that it could raise Croatia's credit rating to the investment category following the EU's recommendation for Zagreb's entry into the euro area.

Croatia's current rating of 'Ba1' signals investors that the agency considers the purchase of Croatian government bonds a speculative investment.

Last Friday Moody's announced that it will raise Croatia's rating by two levels, to 'Baa2', investment category.

Plenković said that Croatia will have the best credit rating so far in the investment level, according to the assessments of all the three largest global credit rating agencies.

"We are sending a message of confidence to financial markets, investors, partners (...) There will be many more such positive messages. Only now will we appear on the radar of some serious stakeholders on the market since we have been given a sort of tick from all three agencies," he underscored.

Council's conclusions on BiH call for limited constitutional and electoral law reforms

Commenting on the conclusions of the last European Council on the possible candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said that the Croatian initiative included the wording that the European Council is ready to give BiH candidate status if it meets reforms in 14 areas, including limited constitutional and electoral law reforms. They "should address the issue of the inequality of Croats as the least numerous constituent people in the country among other things, said the PM underscoring that Zagreb has been systematically advocating the BiH Croats' rights for years.

Plenković also commented on a decision at the NATO summit in Madrid to give the green light for Swedish and Finnish membership in NATO.

He said he was "glad" that President Zoran Milanović agreed with the government's position, who had previously said that it was necessary to block the Swedish and Finnish request for NATO membership until the election law in BiH was changed.

A proposal on initiating the procedure for concluding a protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO was adopted during Thursday's cabinet meeting.

 

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Banning Abortion Would Be Against Constitutional Court Decision, PM Says

ZAGREB, 30 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday the US Supreme Court ruling, which leaves the legality of abortion to the federal states and has led to big divisions, would not impact Croatia as banning pregnancy termination would be contrary to a Constitutional Court ruling.

Speaking at a cabinet session, he said pregnancy termination was an extremely complex legal, ethical and medical issue on which it was often impossible to reach a consensus, but that it was necessary to consider the matter.

"This ruling won't impact Croatia. In Croatia, the right to pregnancy termination is regulated by law and the Constitutional Court has found that the law is in line with the Constitution."

As the Court's president Miroslav Šeparović said recently, banning pregnancy termination would be contrary to the Court's ruling, as would a referendum to restrict or ban pregnancy termination rights, Plenković said.

"In the political sense, there's no need to misinform people with the goal of scoring political points and there's no need to include in the Constitution regulations on an already existing right. We won't agree to such changes."

He called on the opposition to be constructive about this issue and to support changes to the constitutional law on the Constitutional Court, which he said were aimed at additionally protecting constitutional rights, those that cannot be decided in referenda.

Plenković said the ruling HDZ was a Christian Democrat centre-right party advocating the protection of life from conception, while also respecting a woman' right to choose and health.

"Our wish is that there are as few pregnancy terminations in our society as possible, that they are the exception, but statistics and other countries' experience show that this is not achieved by bans. Bans don't lead to fewer abortions, but can make them unsafe and dangerous for a woman's life and health."

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

PM Dismisses Media Speculation About Early Parliamentary Election

ZAGREB, 29 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday dismissed the media speculation about an early parliamentary election.

"I don't understand how some people still haven't figured out my way of thinking. If political stability is my main anchor, if we have a stable parliamentary majority, if we have achieved everything we have set out to do, if we are facing so many challenges, why would I go to elections?  (...) We have been given trust to run this country responsibly," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

He noted that his government has secured growth, accession to the euro and Schengen areas, an investment grade rating from three leading international rating agencies, an excellent tourist season, the opening of Pelješac Bridge on 26 July, the delivery of military aircraft in slightly more than a year, the use of EU funding, more balanced regional development of the country, and aid to vulnerable social groups, pensioners, farmers, fishermen, businesses and households.

Plenković also said that the government is not considering reimposing COVID-19 restrictions given that there has been no considerable increase in the number of hospitalised cases, but is most likely to recommend further vaccination so that people can be protected in the autumn.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

PM, Reps of Aquaculture and Fisheries Businesses Discuss Developments on Market

ZAGREB, 28 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković on Tuesday met with representatives of aquaculture and fisheries businesses for talks on developments on the market and difficulties caused by rising costs as well as the government schemes to help this sector.

Plenković spoke about the importance of the aquaculture and fisheries sector and its positive performance despite the challenging circumstances.

In 2021, the value of Croatian exports of fisheries and aquaculture products rose by more than 30%. Over the period from 2016 to 2021, the value of aquaculture production increased by 45%.

The sector's representatives thanked the government for the prompt reaction in addressing the recent crises, according to a government press release.

For more, check out our business section.

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