Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Croatia Receives Largest Ever Grant from European Commission

ZAGREB, 28 June 2022 - European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica on Tuesday presented Prime Minister Andrej Plenković with a decision on the payment of the first installment of €700 million as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the largest grant Croatia has received from the Commission.

These are funds for reforms from the national recovery plan undertaken by 31 December 2021, including active employment measures, a program to decarbonize the energy sector, activities in the field of physical planning, labor market, and social welfare reforms, Plenković explained after meeting with Šuica.

"We have been given clear criteria defined for undertaking reforms, all those benchmarks that were important for the Commission to evaluate our achievements every six months. We can say that we are fast and efficient in this regard," said Plenković, adding that this is the largest grant that Croatia has received from the European Commission ever.

Šuica pointed out that Croatia is the sixth EU member to receive the first payment from the Commission under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. 

"That is a program that should protect the EU and its members from future possible shocks, created as a consequence of COVID-19," Šuica said.

Asked by reporters whether inflation would affect the increase in funds within the program, Šuica said that the Commission is borrowing money on the capital market and is obliged to repay it by 2059.

"There probably will not be any change, but fewer projects are likely to be made than envisaged in the national programs," Šuica said.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Marin Piletić were also present during the meeting.

Addressing the press conference after the meeting, Piletić presented a social mentoring program that will be financed from the next payment within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The project envisions the training of at least 220 social workers who will be employed as social mentoring experts, and it is anticipated that the social mentoring service will be used by 30,000 beneficiaries, Piletić explained.

From 1 January 2023, that program should be up and running, and the Croatian Institute for Social Work will also be established, the goal being empowering individuals, self-activation, and motivating socially vulnerable groups, he added.

Beneficiaries will include the long-term unemployed, children from families with the guaranteed minimum allowance, people with disabilities, and victims of human trafficking.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Prime Minister Receives Representatives of Five National Sports Federations

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received representatives of five national sports federations in Government House on Monday, and among other things they discussed the importance of investing in the development of sports and sports facilities, the government said in a press release.

Attending the meeting along with Plenković were Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

"Prime Minister Plenković underscored the numerous top results of Croatian athletes, who have for years been one of the most important promoters of Croatia in the world, and their successes also contribute to strengthening national identity and pride," the press release said.

The sports representatives expressed their satisfaction with all that has been done so far in the field of sports and commended the government's initiative to draft a new Sports Act, which was last amended in 2006.

Plenković said that the government would continue to provide financial support to sports. He underscored that the popularisation of sports is important for Croatian society, especially among children and young people, because it has a positive effect on the adoption of values of a healthy lifestyle and encourages discipline and socialization.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Belonging to Euro Area Boosts Croatia's Resilience to Crises, says PM

ZAGREB, 24 June 2022 - Support for Croatia's eurozone membership bid is an excellent sign for its highly euroized economy and will also boost its resilience to crises, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday ahead of the start of the second day of the EU summit meeting.

One of the topics on the agenda of the two-day summit meeting is Croatia's entry into the euro area, and the leaders of the EU members states will support Croatia's accession, which is the penultimate step in the decision-making on receiving an aspirant in the euro area.

The last step is the adoption of three legislative proposals concerning Croatia's introduction of the euro, which will be made by the Council for Economy and Finance (EU Ecofin Council) on 12 July.

Thus, Croatia's changeover to the euro can start on 1 January 2023.

Today's summit meeting is very important for Croatia, which will become the 20th member of the euro area. This is a strategic goal of my cabinet, said Plenković while arriving at the summit meeting.

7 in 10 tourists in Croatia come from the euro area

Commenting on the highly euroized economy in Croatia, Plenković noted that 50-60% of loans and savings are tied to the euro, and 70% of travellers visiting Croatia are from the euro area, while two-thirds of the exchange is with the euro area.

The membership of the euro area will make Croatia better prepared to respond to crises such as energy and food crises or inflationary pressure, he said adding that the membership of the EU facilitated Croatia's efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

PM Phones Zelenskyy to Convey Croatia's Support to Ukraine's EU Membership Bid

ZAGREB, 22 June - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to express support to Ukraine ahead of the European Union's decision to grant the candidate status to Ukraine.

The European Council will convene for 23-24 June in Brussels to discuss the wider Europe, Ukraine, EU membership applications from Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, economic issues, the Conference on the Future of Europe and external relations.

"Ahead of the meeting of the European Council I spoke on the phone with President  Zelenskyy to convey our support to Ukraine in obtaining the status of EU candidate. We grieve the deaths of many innocent victims and we continue providing assistance to Ukraine that is defending its freedom and the values of the whole Europe," the Croatian PM wrote on his Twitter account.

The support to Ukraine's prospective status of candidate for EU membership has already been expressed by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy who together visited Kyiv last week.

While a majority of the EU member-states express the support to the future status of candidate for Ukraine, the Netherlands and Denmark and some other countries seem reserved about those prospects.

The decision on granting candidate status has to be adopted unanimously.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

PM: Unfair to Set Conditions for Finland's NATO Membership

ZAGREB, 21 June 2022 - It is unfair and incorrect to set conditions for Sweden and Finland's NATO membership, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday after a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin, expressing the government's support for Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bid.

"The position of the Croatian government and parliamentary majority has been continually clear and firm - we support Finland's ambition and believe that, if that is what our EU partner wants, its choice should be respected and supported," Plenković said at a news conference he held with the visiting Finnish PM.

"We believe that at this moment NATO membership is the security umbrella both Finland and Sweden want," he added.

The prime minister underscored that his government would advocate for the protection of the rights of BiH Croats and Bosnia and Herzegovina's European path, but without unfairly making Sweden and Finland's NATO membership conditional on those efforts.

Our task is to explain the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Finland's and Sweden's prime ministers and win their support for correcting the injustices, and not to call their choice into question, Plenković added.

Without naming President Zoran Milanović, the prime minister thus criticised his insistence to make Finland and Sweden's NATO entry conditional on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law. Finland and Sweden have applied for NATO membership in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started on 24 February.

Earlier on Tuesday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with President Milanović, who told her that in principle, he was not against Finland's NATO entry but at the same time pointed out the difficult status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the security problems Croatia is faced with due to lack of stability in BiH.

Marin said that she had a good meeting with Milanović, that his position was very clear and that he did not have any problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, adding that she appreciated Croatia's support for Finland's NATO membership.

There is no closer relationship than membership in the same defence alliance and readiness to defend one another unconditionally, Marin said.

Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bid has been met with opposition from Turkey, which says that Helsinki and Stockholm support Kurdish militants and have imposed an arms embargo on Turkey.

Marin expressed optimism at the press conference in Zagreb.

She said that she believed that NATO would send a strong message of unity at a summit in Madrid next week, stressing that Finland and Sweden would make NATO stronger.

The Finnish prime minister also said that Helsinki supported Croatia's membership in the Schengen Area and the euro area.

Finnish PM does not express position on BiH's candidate status

Croatia is not alone in warning about the unjust neglect of Western Balkan countries' EU accession, with Slovenia and Austria especially pointing it out.

Slovenian foreign minister Tanja Fajon said Slovenia would request at the next EU summit that Bosnia and Herzegovina be awarded candidate status, after the Commission last week proposed that Ukraine and Moldova be given EU candidate status.

Plenković said that regardless of the latest initiatives from Austria and Slovenia, if there was one country that supported Bosnia and Herzegovina's candidate status and European path, it was Croatia.

He recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership when HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović was BiH Presidency Chairman.

Plenković underscored the importance of amendment of the country's election law for democracy and for the equality of its constituent peoples.

Asked about Finland's attitude towards conferring candidate status on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marin said Finland had not adopted a position yet but that it had a long history of supporting EU enlargement.

It is important to seriously consider all issues that are important to member states, she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Conflict of Interest Commission Fines Croatian PM Plenkovic 3000 Kuna

June the 19th, 2022 - At a recently held session, the Commission for Deciding on Conflict of Interest passed a unanimous decision according to which Croatian PM Plenkovic was fined 3,000 kuna for incompatibilities when listing his assets and income, which he can pay in three equal installments.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this was confirmed by the President of the Commission, Natasa Novakovic, as reported by Dnevnik.hr, and the aforementioned commission launched proceedings against Croatian PM Plenkovic back in early October last year.

In the period from 2016 to 2018, he reported higher income for his wife than what was really the case. It was stated that her annual salary stood at 121,385 kuna, and during 2016, 2017 and 2018, she actually received significantly less than that because she was on maternity and then parental leave until the third year of their child's life.

In addition to that, Croatian PM Plenkovic failed to state that back in 1997, his wife inherited a third of a plot in the cadastral municipality of Makose near Dubrovnik, which spans a total of 759 square metres, with a house of 61 square metres also skipped.

Namely, the Prime Minister's wife is the co-owner of a third of the plot she inherited as a minor after her father's death and, as she claims, she didn't even know about the co-ownership share because she doesn't use the property whatsoever.

Officials are required to provide accurate information

Croatian PM Plenkovic did appealed against the decision of the Commission for Deciding on Conflict of Interest due to the proceedings initiated against him. In addition to his salary, his wife earned other income during that period, and she didn't consider it appropriate to report a smaller amount, it is stated in his statement, which was read on Friday at the session of the Commission.

As for not registering the property she acquired way back in 1997 in the municipality of Makose near Dubrovnik, it is stated that Ana Maslac Plenkovic didn't know that she had even become the co-owner of that property, so, as was stated in Plenkovic's statement, the Prime Minister himself couldn't have possibly known about it either.

It was explained at the session that this was only a very minor disparity, but it was also pointed out that officials are obliged to provide absolutely precise data.

Having in mind these two omissions, the Commission determined that there was indeed an issue, and that Croatian PM Plenkovic would have to pay a fine in the amount of three thousand kuna, which can be paid in three equal installments.

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

Friday, 10 June 2022

Fire Protection System, 22,000 Firefighters Ready For Fire Season

ZAGREB, 10 June 2022 - Croatia's fire protection system is ready for the coming fire season, and more than 22,000 firefighters across the country are equipped and ready to respond at any time, it was said at the Firefighter Operations Command in Divulje outside Split on Friday.

A firefighting exercise, testing the abilities of firefighters for the coming wildfire season, was held at Divulje, and the event was also attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

He said that Croatia has fire forces also for operations in extreme weather conditions and is helping other countries as well, mentioning in that context assistance provided last year to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey and Greece as well as a few months ago to Slovenia.

"Those are examples of our homeland security system and of a wish to contribute to fire prevention, not only at home but elsewhere as well," he said.

Chief Fire Commander Slavko Tucaković said that the Firefighter Operations Command in Divulje would start operating on 13 June while on 23 June firefighters would move from the mainland to the coastal area and islands to help local residents and tourists feel safe in the event of fires.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

Friday, 10 June 2022

PM: Allowances For Parents With Children With Special Needs To Be Increased

ZAGREB, 10 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that the government would try and secure budget funds to increase allowances for parents with children with special needs, with whose representatives he would meet next week.

"We... will meet with the parents' representatives on Monday and find a solution to meet their demands. We are yet to see what the effect on the budget will be," the PM said, adding that there were around 5,100 children with special needs.

He recalled that his government had already made major changes by increasing maternity allowances.

Sjena association vice-president Suzana Rešetar said the prime minister's invitation to talks came after the association said it would stage a protest outside the Social Policy Ministry in early September.

Topics other than the allowance, which currently amounts to less than HRK 2,400, could be opened at the talks as well, she said.

"We do not want to be charity cases that depend on the allowance. We want adequate social services for our children, such as lessons with speech specialists or psychologists paid for by the state as well as medicines and medical devices," Rešetar told Hina, noting that currently those services are paid for fully or up to 50% by parents, which many have problem coping with financially.

In addition to quality health services, parents of children with special needs also want the state to secure adequate education for all such children, which would make them more competitive on the labour market and reduce their dependence on the state allowance.

"We even have problems when enrolling children in primary schools," Rešetar said, adding that parents were frequently told that schools did not have the conditions or capacity to organise classes for children with special needs.

She noted that an additional problem was that the state treated all parents of children with special needs the same, without taking into account the total number of children they have, the number of children with special needs or disabilities, their housing conditions, working conditions, etc.

"If you have a sick child, the state removes you from the labour market and pushes you into extreme poverty, it does not support motherhood at all," said Rešetar.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Family Pension Model, Worth €133m, Unveiled

ZAGREB, 9 June 2022 - A government-sponsored model of family pensions, which will take effect on 1 January, brings three crucial changes: an increase in the factor for family pensions, eligibility to use a family pension alongside one's own pension, and a 3% increase in the lowest pension allowances.

"We are sending a clear message that in the circumstances of overlapping energy and food crises and inflation pressure, the government's key priority is to provide social security to all citizens, notably senior citizens," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said while presenting the new, combined model on Thursday.

Draft amendments to pension insurance legislation put an emphasis on family pension beneficiaries who will be entitled to a more equitable pension calculation and be able to use a part of the family pension while receiving their own pension in the event of their spouse's death, said the premier.

The changes will cover nearly 300,000 pension recipients, and in 2023, more than 1.1 billion kuna will be earmarked for that purpose.

An increase in the pension factor for over 136,000 pension recipients will mean a 10% increase in the family pension, or an average HRK 250 per user, and HRK 365 million will be set aside for that in 2023, Plenković said.

Making it possible for pensioners to receive a part of the family pension alongside their personal pension will lead to an average increase of HRK 500 per month for over 155,000 family pension beneficiaries, and this measure will cost HRK 750 million in 2023.

Croatia has thus joined those EU countries where it is possible for pension beneficiaries to receive both family and personal pensions, said the premier.

As of 1 January 2023, the lowest pension allowances will increase by 1.5%, and as of 1 January 2025, they will rise by an additional 1.5%.

Thus in 2023, this increase will cover 287,000 beneficiaries of the lowest pensions, and HRK 100 million has been secured for that purpose, the PM said.

Plenković recalled that since the start of the first term of his government in October 2016, the average pension allowance has risen by 20.15%, and currently the average pension amounts to HRK 3,047.

The lowest pension has increased by 26.41% to HRK 2,008, said Plenković.

The increase is not only due to pension indexation but also due to a set of measures undertaken as part of the pension reform, he said.

Labour Minister Marin Piletić said that for a person to be entitled to the family pension, they must be above 65 and meet other necessary criteria.

It is proposed that the personal and the family pension combined cannot exceed HRK 5,850.

Upon indexation after the adoption of the necessary legislation, this threshold may rise slightly, to exceed HRK 6,000, Piletić said.

The minister said that beneficiaries who may be users of the combined family and personal pension will have to request the relevant authorities to make calculations and inform them which of the pension models is the best for them.

The parliamentary deputy of the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU), Silvano Hrelja, said that this combined model was the result of a lot of analysis and calculation, to take into account the state of family pensions.

I am not euphoric but I am satisfied, he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.520038) 

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Bakšić Mitić Communicator of the Year, Milanović-Plenković Anti-Communicators

ZAGREB, 9 June 2022 - The Croatian Public Relations Association (HUOJ) has named Glina Deputy Mayor Branka Bakšić Mitić as the communicator of the year, while the public discourse of the country's leaders, President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, has earned them the title of anti-communicators of the year.

Bakšić Mitić warned of the too slow process of post-earthquake reconstruction in the region of Banovina, expressing her gratitude for the award and saying she was happy that HUOJ had recognized her simple communication strategy - to tell the truth always and without fear.

"It is a great responsibility to be the voice of all my fellow citizens who are struggling on a daily basis with the consequences of the earthquake. Many good people are helping us to not give up," said Bakšić Mitić and expressed hope that in the future there would be more talk about new houses, jobs, happy families, and less about metal housing containers, non-existing reconstruction, and inactivity of the state.

This year's runner-ups were the Dean of the Electrical Engineering and Computing Faculty (FER), Gordan Gledec, and Rijeka Archbishop Coadjutor Mato Uzinić.

As a direct opposite, the "hard cohabitation" of the country's most senior officials, President Milanović and Prime Minister Plenković, was named anti-communication of the year.

HUOJ labeled it as unacceptable and irresponsible, involving the highest state institutions to the detriment of all citizens and the culture of public dialogue.

The runner-up was President Milanović himself, whose non-constructive style of communication, HUOJ says, undermines the culture of political and public dialogue.

Also rated poorly was communication by the competent institutions regarding the process of post-earthquake reconstruction in Banovina, and communication by the national COVID-19 response team.

For more, check out our politics section.

Page 3 of 101

Search