Sunday, 31 October 2021

Mayor Says PM Blocking Split’s Development, Ministry Refutes It

ZAGREB, 31 Oct, 2021 - Split Mayor Ivica Puljak called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday to "stop blocking the development" of Split, while the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure dismissed such a claim and reminded him of the projects that have been launched.

Speaking of the granting of a concession for the city's Žnjan beach, Puljak told N1 television that Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković had said on a number of occasions that, as far as the ministry was concerned, everything was ready and that it was forwarded to Plenković to put it on the government's agenda.

"I invite Prime Minister Plenković... to finally decide who will get the concession so that the project can really be realised. I hope the concession will go to the Žnjan d.o.o. company, which is a city company, and that we will start realising that project," Puljak said, adding that the realisation was almost six months late.

"I think Plenković should stop blocking the development of the City of Split and that he should move away from cheap politics. He should realise that they lost this election, he should get over it in a way and he really must not hold this city back any longer. I think the problem now is him," Puljak said, referring to Plenković's HDZ party and local elections this past May.

The Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure said Puljak's claims that Plenković was blocking Split's development by allegedly procrastinating with a decision on the Žnjan concession were "entirely unfounded and incorrect."

The granting of said concession passed regular government procedure and the opinions of the relevant state bodies are now being collected so that a decision on who will get the concession can be made, the ministry said.

It added that the Plenković cabinet was doing everything for Split to develop as much as possible, and mentioned the transport projects that have been launched as well as a HRK 42.6 million reconstruction project in the city port.

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Zmajlović, Ostojić and Goldstein President’s Ambassadorial Nominees - Večernji List

ZAGREB, 30 Oct, 2021 - Former Social Democrat minister of the interior Ranko Ostojić was to have been appointed Ambassador to Qatar, Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović was to have been appointed Ambassador to Montenegro and university professor and former ambassador to France Ivo Goldstein Ambassador to Greece.

Those were nominations that came from the office of President Zoran Milanović, who co-creates foreign policy with the government, but they were flatly rejected by the government, the Večernji List daily of Saturday says.

The Foreign Ministry said it considered the nominations to be partisan and an attempt to secure meal tickets for former party colleagues Ostojić and Zmajlović, who were not re-elected to the parliament while Zmajlović also lost the elections for Zagreb County head.

The ministry also considers that all candidates, notably Goldstein, are politically very active on the left.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, too, has expressed disagreement with Milanović's nominations. Without specifying who he was referring to, he said on Friday that the president was nominating failed Social Democrat county heads who had nothing to do with embassies and diplomacy.

Milanović said on Friday that the issue of ambassadorial nominations was being dealt with by his chief of staff Orsat Miljenić.

The president's other nominations were Nacional weekly reporter Dragan Đurić for Consul-General to Tuzla and Maja Čavlović, but those nominations did not cause controversy in the government.

On the other hand, the ministry proposed appointing diplomat and PM Plenković's advisor Vladimir Drobnjak as Ambassador to the United States, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Davor Ivo Stier Ambassador to the Vatican, and HDZ member Miro Kovač, who served as foreign minister in the Tihomir Orešković government in 2016, Ambassador to France.

The appointment of new ambassadors, which under the constitution the government and the president have to agree on, reached a deadlock just after New Year, when President Milanović said he would block the regular rotation as he wanted to be a barrier and prevent the HDZ "from taking everything it can," the daily said.

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Thursday, 28 October 2021

Minimum Wage to Rise By 10.3% to €500 in 2022

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - Croatia's minimum wage for 2022 will be HRK 3,750 (€500), rising by 10.3%, and will thus be above 50% of the average net pay for the first time.

The government on Thursday adopted a regulation on the minimum wage after consultations with all social partners.

We have assessed that in the current circumstances, the minimum wage can be increased from HRK 3,400 to HRK 3,750, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.

He went on to say that the net minimum wage of €500 would concern 51,000 workers who now receive the minimum take-home pay.

This is for the first time that the net minimum wage will be above 50% of the average monthly wage, as it will reach 52.7% of that wage.

In August, the average monthly take-home pay was HRK 7,118 (€949), when the median wage was HRK 6,014. (€802).

The new minimum wage will be 60% of the median wage.

All of this is a great step forward, Plenković said, recalling that five years ago the minimum wage was 38% of the average wage.

Over the last five years, the minimum wage has risen by HRK 1,254, or four times more than during the terms of the previous three governments, Plenković underscored.

The gross minimum wage in 2022 will be HRK 4,687.50, Labour Ministry State Secretary Dragan Jelić said.

He informed the government that the average gross salary had risen during the first seven months of 2021 as against the corresponding period of 2020.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

PM Says 56% of Adult Population Vaccinated With First Dose

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that 56% of the adult population in Croatia had received the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and warned that in the past week 750 of 1,000 hospitalized patients were people who had not been vaccinated.

Today we have reached the vaccination rate of 56% of the adult population who have received the first dose, which is close to 1.9 million citizens, Plenković said at a government session, calling once again on citizens who are fully vaccinated to have themselves vaccinated with the third shot and on those who have not got vaccinated to do so.

Over the past week, of 1,000 hospitalized patients, as many as 75% were not vaccinated, he said.

Of the 15 people aged 40-59 who died over the last seven days, only one had been vaccinated, he said, appealing to all to protect themselves considering the increase in new infections in the past few days.

In the last 24 hours, Croatia has registered 4,154 new coronavirus cases, 26 patients have died and 11,320 vaccine doses have been administered, it was said on the government's website koronavirus.hr earlier today.

There are currently 22,382 active cases, including 1,231 hospitalized patients, of whom 160 are on ventilators.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Government to Extend Deadline for Population Census Until 14 November

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - The Croatian government will extend the deadline for the completion of the population census, which should have been finished by 29 October, until 14 November because of difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

"Considering the present circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, where our census-takers are encountering certain difficulties on the ground, and following consultations with the director of the National Bureau of Statistics, the government will today extend the deadline for the completion of the census until 14 November," the prime minister said.

Plenković said that the extension would give enough time for the census to be completed in the remaining small pockets of the country and to be done in the best possible way.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

PM Says Minimum Wage to Increase by HRK 350 as of January

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced on Wednesday in the parliament that the minimum net wage would increase by HRK 350 or 10.3% as of January, from HRK 3,400 to HRK 3,750, that is to €500.

The government would pass the decision on Thursday, the prime minister said, submitting to the parliament the annual report on the work of the government.

He underscored that the government was raising the minimum wage for the first time to more than 50% of the average net salary and to over 60% of the median net salary, which would impact 51,000 workers.

Five years ago, he recalled, the minimum salary was 38% of the average salary.

The prime minister also said that the number of employed persons was higher by 51,000 than last year and that it had reached 1.6 million employed persons, which was to date the highest number in August after the record 2008 and the second-highest since independence.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

The unemployment rate, which stood at 13.3% five years ago, declined in August to 7.3%, he said, adding that this was the result of active employment policy measures, in which about HRK 5.5 billion had been invested over five years, encompassing 165,000 persons.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 25 October 2021

PM Says Croatia Owes Rudolf Perešin Eternal Gratitude and Respect

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received Ljerka Perešin, the widow of the legendary Croatian pilot, Brigadier Rudolf Perešin, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his flight with a Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) MiG-21 fighter jet from Bihać to Austria.

On 25 October 1991, Perešin, a Croat, defected from the JNA from Bihać to Klagenfurt and joined the Croatian Army. His plane was returned from Austria to Croatia in 2019 owing to the efforts of former defense minister Damir Krstičević and Croatia's diplomacy.

Perešin is known for his statement in Klagenfurt: "I'm a Croat and I cannot shoot at Croats!" which reflected the feeling of unity and strength among the Croatian people who were doing their best to make the dream of a free and independent Croatia come true.

Eternal thanks to Perešin for his heroism and sacrifice for the homeland

Prime Minister Plenković thanked the Perešin family for their courage, strength, and patriotism and for Rudolf's sacrifice. Perešin lost his life during the 1995 Flash military and police operation when Croatia's forces liberated areas in Western Slavonia.

Plenković said that it is up to all of us to nurture the lasting memory of Homeland War heroes and to ensure dignity for Croatian veterans and their families. It is particularly important for younger generations to foster the memory of Homeland War heroes like Rudolf Perešin was.

"We owe our eternal gratitude and respect to Rudolf Perešin, who showed courage, love, and loyalty towards the homeland and made the greatest sacrifice for its freedom," said the Prime Minister.

For more, follow our politics section.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

PM on Visa Cancellation: Strategic Goal Achieved to the Benefit of Croatian Citizens

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović have welcomed the fact that Croatians can travel to the United States without visas as of Saturday, 23 October.

"As of today, Croatians can travel to the USA without visas!" Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"We have met the necessary criteria and achieved a strategic goal to the benefit of Croatian citizens," Plenković said.

"We are opening a new chapter in our relations, strengthening our partnership and creating preconditions for closer economic cooperation and investments," the PM said.

As of 23 October Croatians can travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

Croatia has entered the Visa Waiver Programme, a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and participating countries that enables travel to the USA for business or tourism purposes in the duration of up to 90 days, with national security being protected in the process.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

Application via ESTA is possible any time before travel but the US Homeland Security Department recommends that travellers apply as soon as possible, and 72 hours before travel at the latest, the US Embassy says.

Božinović: Visa cancellation major acknowledgement for Croatia

The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatians travelling to the USA is a major acknowledgement for Croatia, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday after talks with the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Mark Fleming.

Božinović thanked the US Embassy for playing an important role in "moments that were very important" for Croatia, such as its accession to the EU and NATO.

He recalled "the hard work on the cancellation of visa requirements over the past few years", including the connecting of data bases, cooperation with the Homeland Security Department and with agencies in charge of fighting terrorism and organised crime, etc.

This is a very good day for US-Croatian relations, Fleming said.

We want more Croatians in the United States, he added.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Electricity and Gas Prices Won't Go Up Until Heating Season Ends, Says Prime Minister

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - Electricity and gas prices for Croatian households and "a huge share" of businesses will not increase until the end of the heating season early in April, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

The only ones that could feel the increase are businesses that did not have long- but short-term gas supply contracts, he added.

He was speaking to the press in Brussels as he arrived at an EU summit that will discuss the surge in fuel prices, among other things.

Plenković said the government had various tools at its disposal that it would use depending on developments with energy prices.

For now, the government has limited the maximum prices of petrol and diesel. "Thereby we stabilized expectations over the next month to see how the situation with oil prices will develop and in that way cushion any blow to households."

He said that after the government's abundant help to businesses during the pandemic and now that conditions had been created for the economy to rebound strongly, he did not wish living standards to be in jeopardy.

Rule of law

The EU summit will also address the rule of law after the Polish Constitutional Court found that in some elements national law is above European law, which was roundly criticized in the EU.

Plenković said it was necessary to first hear out Polish Prime Minister Mazeusz Morawiecki, who sent a memo to all member states' leaders, explaining what the court really decided.

"It's important that the EU does not divide because in times of crisis it's good for it to be as homogeneous as possible. But, on the other hand, when we were entering the EU, we too had to change our constitution quite a lot in order to align with the European legal order. Therefore our position is that we should honor all that we agreed to when we entered the EU."

The summit will also address the COVID situation, foreign relations, migration, trade, and the digital society.

Plenković said the situation in Croatia's neighborhood would be discussed tonight as a continuation of the EU-Western Balkans summit held earlier this month.

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

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Milanović Says Plenković Should Rein Defence Minister In

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should "rein his pal in", a reference to Defence Minister Mario Banožić and his decision to send into retirement the commander of the Honor Guard Battalion, Brigadier Elvis Burčul.

Speaking to reporters in Baćin, where he attended the 30th anniversary of the plight of local residents in the 1991-95 war, Milanović said that PM Plenković was the minister's "political guardian" and that he was not in conflict with Banožić over Burčul's retirement but that he would guarantee the army protection against "bullying and harassment."

"The minister is not relevant here. This is an immoral, serious abuse of legal authority to which I can respond with much bigger power. But where does that lead? The guardian should rein in his pal, who is a man without political autonomy. This has to do with the Prime Minister... and that can be proven easily," Milanović said.

In that context, he mentioned a state secretary in the government who was an active general, noting that he should have already sent him into retirement but did not do it because he felt sorry for him and waited for Plenković's decision.

"I want it done right away, otherwise I will have to do it. I warned Plenković of that because Banožić does not make any decisions anyway."

Milanović noted that an active serviceman cannot be a member of a political government.

Asked about the motive for Burčul's retirement, Milanović said: "A personal vendetta."

I want Burčul back and for him to retire in a dignified way

He noted that the Honor Guard Battalion was in charge of his security.

"And the minister dares harass such a person (Burčul). I want him back at work and I want him to retire in a dignified way," he said.

He noted that the extension of Burčul's term had been requested due to the requirements of the post, for the sake of transfer of duties and appointment of a new, younger commander as well as to enable Burčul to retire in a year and a half in a dignified way, instead of "being harassed by a person who until yesterday was a political nobody."

"That cannot pass, otherwise I will start acting the same way, but not towards the army," he said.

Milanović noted that the legal regulation under which the minister made the decision about Burčul's retirement was unconstitutional.

"The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief, the minister is not, there is no mention about the minister in the Constitution. The minister has very extensive powers which in my opinion by far exceed the spirit and message of the Constitution - they decide about people's destinies during their term... If you rub them the wrong way, you can end up paying for it dearly," he said.

Milanović said that given that the budget was being adopted, he would on Friday request a meeting of the Defence Council due to the worrying financial situation in the army, noting that he believed Plenković would "delay the meeting, too, just as he makes an ordeal of everything, including the appointment of the Supreme Court president."

Asked if Burčul's retirement could be Plenković's revenge for the Supreme Court president, he said that it was possible.

"But that's futile, I can always respond in kind or worse in some cases," he said, mentioning in that context the appointment of new diplomats.

If you have not got vaccinated, you only have yourselves to blame

Commenting on the vaccination campaign and the potential expansion of the use of COVID-19 certificates, Milanović said that people in charge of making those decisions did not have a way to motivate people to get vaccinated "apart from using repression and nagging them."

"This is October 2021, those who have not got vaccinated have only themselves to blame," he said.

Milanović noted that it was possible he would receive a third shot but would have to check the level of antibodies first.

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