Friday, 18 February 2022

Prime Minister: Measures Will Protect Citizens and Economy From Energy Price Rises

ZAGREB, 18 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that the package of measures for cushioning the electricity and gas price rises, worth HRK 4.8 billion, was a wise state intervention that would, as of 1 April, protect citizens and a large part of the economy from rising energy prices.

"This way, we are showing the government's readiness to make a wise intervention that benefits citizens in key moments," Plenković said, talking about the package of measures at a government session.

The measures apply to all citizens, a large part of the economy, especially micro and macro businesses, and special measures have been introduced for socially vulnerable groups, as well as for pensioners, farmers, and fishermen, the prime minister said.

"In addition to the caps on the prices of petroleum products, we have made a good, clear framework which also involves tax relief, social transfers, and subsidies, and which will cushion the price rise as of 1 April," he said.

The prime minister also said that over the past two days, based on well-prepared documentation for the European Commission, it had been decided that the deadline for using the money from the European Solidarity Fund for earthquake relief in Zagreb would be extended for another year, from June 2022 to June 2023, to overlap with the deadline for the use of money allocated for the earthquake in Banovina.

He said that he now expected "intensive work and dynamics of the reconstruction process" in order to use that money and engage other sources and ensure as soon as possible that the reconstruction process would accelerate.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

PM Plenkovic Reveals Inflation Measures: Lower VAT on Food, Fuel...

February the 17th, 2022 - PM Plenkovic has revealed the Croatian Government's highly anticipated inflation measures to try to curb the negative effects globally rising prices are having on the domestic economy and as such on the country's residents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, PM Plenkovic has stated that Croatia's inflation measures will be put into force as of April the 1st this year.

"The current global rise in energy prices has caused a wave of rising prices across Europe. Fuel prices in Europe are rising due to higher demand after the coronavirus crisis, the second reason is the situation with Russia, which is the largest supplier and has reduced production, Norway can't increase its production, in Europe there is higher demand due to recovery and colder winters. 43% of European gas comes from Russia, 23% comes from Norway, 11% from Algeria. Europe imports 61% of its total energy needs and 90% of its gas needs, which accounts for 21% of energy consumption,'' said PM Plenkovic, adding that the package of measures will be in force from the aforementioned date.

“The average price is 120 mW / h, 2.7 times higher than in Croatia. In Croatia, we had a system in which the prices were regulated for a year. If it weren't for this intervention, the prices for electricity would increase by 23 percent from April the 1st, and for gas, by 79 percent ", he emphasised.

"The package we're presenting today is worth 4.8 billion kuna. It was done systematically, in coordination with all ministries and bodies. It applies to households, companies and farmers. It's universal, meaning it's aimed at all users. It refers to the reduction of household bills, tax relief, one-off benefits for pensioners, a special programme for fishermen Gas prices will grow to a maximum of 29 percent with these measures in place. As far as gas is concerned, if we did nothing, 0.326 kW / h would jump to 0.574 kuna. When we reduce VAT, we arrive to 0.482, and with an additional subsidy we come to 0.382 kuna per kW / h,'' said PM Plenkovic.

''These benefits will apply to all households that use gas. The amount of support directly on the bill is 10 lipa per kilowatt-hour. The amount of the discount is shown on the invoice with a separate item. The cost of this measure is 600 million kuna, and we'll provide it by selling greenhouse gas emissions at auction. By changing the law, we'll permanently reduce the VAT on gas and heating from 25 percent to 13 percent. This equalises the VAT on electricity and gas and thermal energy,'' he added.

Gas will be reduced from 25 percent to 5 percent from April the 1st, 2022 to March the 31st, 2023.

VAT on food is also being reduced from 13 percent down to 5 percent on fresh meat and fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, edible oils and fats, baby food, agricultural costs, seedlings, fertilisers and pesticides, and from 25 percent to 5 percent. percent on butter and margarine. VAT on products such as sanitary pads and tampons is also being reduced from 25 percent down to 13 percent. VAT on tickets for sports, cultural and other events is also being reduced from 25 and 13 to 5 percent.

The amount of vouchers for the most vulnerable in society is also being doubled, increasing from 200 to 400 kuna.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Državne Nekretnine: Basement Renovated in Line With Law

ZAGREB, 16 Feb 2022 - The Državne Nekretnine state property management company on Tuesday said that the renovation of the state-owned basement used by Prime Minister's chief-of-staff Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, had been conducted in line with law and regulations.

"The renovation of the pertaining basement space in Zagreb was planned within the company's regular business activities and the project was also made public within the company's public procurement operations' plan for 2021", Državne Nekretnine stated in a press release in response to media reports that that the 83-square-metre large basement was renovated and refurbished at a price of 417,000 kuna.

"During the advertised public procurement tender for this project, a total of six bids were submitted, and an independent task force selected the most favourable bid", Državne Nekretnine said, adding that the most favourable bid was HRK 333,707.

The renovation was conducted to keep the state-owned property in a good state of repair, it emphasized.

Asked about the renovation of the basement where his chief-of-staff Frka-Petešić keeps his books, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that the Državne Nekretnine state property management company would explain everything.

"That has nothing to do with him. This... shameful, orchestrated lynching campaign that has been going on against Frka-Petešić for a month is one of the more stupid, irritating and mean things in the media and internet sphere," said Plenković.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Prime Minister Says Government Measures to be Comprehensive, Good for All

ZAGREB, 15 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that the government's set of measures designed to cushion the impact of rising energy prices was comprehensive and would be good both for households and the business sector, and that they would be presented at 10 am on Wednesday.

"The measures... will alleviate, as much as possible, the impact of price growth expected as of 1 April," Plenković told reporters after a session of the HDZ Presidency and National Council but he would not reveal any details.

He would not say if it was true, as reported by some media outlets, that VAT on gas would be lowered while VAT on electricity would not.

Asked if Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić still enjoyed his trust following accusations by Ćorić's former assistant, a suspect in an investigation by the USKOK anti-corruption agency, Plenković said that Ćorić had already given a statement on that topic.

"The fragments of investigations that are being leaked are so small that they do not deserve any comment. Especially not mine," Plenković said, adding that the investigation was under way and that he did not want to comment on statements given in investigations.

Ćorić said earlier today that in 2019, as minister of environmental protection and energy, he had in no way favoured investors in the Krš-Pađene wind park who are under investigation by the USKOK anti-corruption office, of which he has been accused by his former assistant Domagoj Validžić.

Plenković said that he had never been contacted with regard to that topic, and that the questions one should ask are which term of government this incident occured under, and how the company in question arrived in Croatia.

"I hope the State Attorney General's Office is interested in that as well," he said. 

Asked about the renovation of the basement where his chief-of-staff Zvonimir Frka-Petešić keeps his books, Plenković said that the Državne Nekretnine state property management company would explain everything.

"That has nothing to do with him. This... shameful, orchestrated lynching campaign that has been going on against Frka-Petešić for a month is one of the more stupid, irritating and mean things in the media and internet sphere," said Plenković.

With regard to the Constitutional Court's decision to reject a motion by 35 opposition MPs and 28 other applicants who claimed that the introduction of the COVID-19 certificate mandate in the public sector had been neither constitutional nor lawful, Plenković recalled that Croatia probably had had the least strict COVID-19 rules.

"And yet you have petty politicians who even want to organise a referendum, even though we have enabled social activities, work, transport and education, a great tourist season, saved jobs, paid wages to 700,000 people in the private sector, saved 120,000 businesses, while GDP is expected to grow by more than 10% this year," Plenković said, noting that there was nothing surprising about the Constitutional Court's decision.

Answering a reporter's question, Plenković said that at today's meeting of the ruling coalition, the leader of the People's Party - Reformists, Radimir Čačić, had apologised for his statement about Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

"I told him that a partner should act like a partner. You act like the Opposition if you are the Opposition," said the PM.

Speaking in an interview with N1, Čačić said that as far as he was concerned, Banožić could leave tomorrow. "He causes harm to himself with the way he communicates, not to mention others. As far as I'm concerned, Banožić can leave tomorrow," the junior partner in the ruling coalition said.

Plenković said that Banožić was in charge of a HRK 7.2 billion budget and that he signed contracts for the procurement of the Rafale fighter jets and the Bradley fighting vehicles.

"Not many ministers have something like that in their careers. Only I decide about (whether a minister leaves), nobody else," he said.

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

Friday, 11 February 2022

Protecting Oceans One of Biggest Global Challenges, Croatian PM Says

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - Protecting oceans is one of the most important global challenges and Croatia wants to make additional efforts in combating sea pollution and preserving biodiversity, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brest, France on Friday.

"Protecting oceans, the biggest ecosystem on Earth, is equal to protecting our planet, preserving our biodiversity, our lives," he said at the One Ocean summit, which he attended at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Plenković said protecting oceans and seas was necessary and that, as a maritime country, Croatia wanted to set an example in the fight against the ocean and sea pollution.

Oceans absorb one-third of global carbon emissions and play an important role in lowering the global temperature, but they are not immune to climate change and human impact, so it's necessary to protect them.

Croatia has banned plastic bags and single-use plastic products and intends to contribute to the global goal of protecting oceans, Plenković said. "By 2030, we will protect 30% of the sea under our jurisdiction."

Croatia wants to designate more restricted fishing areas so that excessively exploited marine ecosystems can replenish on the model of Jabučka Kotlina, an example of how to replenish the fish stock and preserve biodiversity to the satisfaction of fishermen, scientists, and all people.

"That shows that protecting a small area can significantly advance biodiversity and food safety," Plenković said.

After his address, he wrote on Twitter that "protecting oceans is one of the most important global challenges" and that "on the 40th anniversary of the Convention on the Law of the Sea we must invest the maximum effort to conclude an agreement on the preservation of biodiversity above national legislative frameworks."

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Croatian PM Participating in One Ocean Summit in France

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will on Friday hold a speech on sea protection and efforts to deal with plastic pollution during  "The One Planet Summit for the Ocean" in Brest, which is being hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

France, the current chair of the European Union, is organizing this 9-11 February summit on ecology.

"The goal of the One Ocean Summit is to raise the collective level of ambition of the international community on marine issues and to translate our shared responsibility to the ocean into tangible commitments," it is stated on the summit meeting's website.

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Image: @AndrejPlenkovic/Twitter

"Several important initiatives will be launched on this occasion in favor of marine ecosystem protection and sustainable fisheries, intended to fight pollution, in particular from plastics, respond to the impacts of climate change, as well as advocate for improved governance of the oceans."

In attendance at the summit are European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

Plenković, who flew to France on Thursday evening, met Michel ahead of the summit meeting last night.

Plenković tweeted on his account that he and Charles Michel discussed Croatia's aspirations to join the Schengen Area and the euro area, and efforts to address energy price rises as well as the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the importance of the reform of that country's election legislation.

Croatian Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić is also expected to participate in the Brest event.

Due to strict health protection measures, physical access to attend the One Ocean Summit in person will be limited to the main professionals and officials from the international community, namely over 500 personalities representing more than 65 countries, while other speakers will join via video conference.

In Brest, apart from Plenković, another two premiers from EU member-states, Michael Martin of Ireland and Robert Abela of Malta have arrived. Furthermore, heads of state or government from Morocco, Tunisia, Tanzania, Ghana, and so on are also among the guests.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau are expected to address the event via video link.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

PM Plenković Meets European Council President in France

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who flew on Thursday evening to France for "The One Planet Summit for the Ocean", met European Council President Charles Michel ahead of the summit meeting, which is taking place in Brest on 9-11 February.

Plenković tweeted on his account that he and Charles Michel discussed Croatia's aspirations to join the Schengen Area and the euro area, and efforts to address energy price rises as well as the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the importance of the reform of that country's election legislation.

On Friday, PM Plenković and Croatian Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić will participate in the summit, which is being held to mobilize the international community to take concrete action to reduce these adverse effects on the ocean.

French President Emmanuel Macron is the host of this summit.

Plenkovć is due to hold a speech on the protection of oceans and seas and the struggle against plastic pollution.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Prime Minister Announces Package of Measures to Mitigate Impact on Living Standards

ZAGREB, 9 Feb (Hina) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday announced on Twitter that the government would mitigate the impact on the citizens' standard of living with a strong package of measures given the increase in energy prices, adding that talks on support were also under way with businesses.

"We are talking with the leaders of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) about Croatia's economic recovery, the price increase and support for business people in the challenges we are facing. The Croatian government will mitigate the impact on the citizens' standard of living with a strong package of measures due to the increase in energy prices," the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

Due to an imminent increase in the prices of gas and electricity as of 1 April, Prime Minister Plenković had earlier announced that in order to alleviate the effect of the increase of energy prices on citizens, the government would act in three segments -- social transfers, gas and electricity pricing and VAT rates.

Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić earlier announced that the government would present its measures to mitigate the increase in energy prices in February.

In the meantime, the government on Monday issued a decree capping the prices of petroleum products, limiting the price of Eurosuper 95 to HRK 11.37 per litre, Eurodiesel to HRK 11.29 and Eurodiesel BS blue to HRK 6.5 per litre, VAT included. The prices will be valid for a maximum of 30 days.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković Received Booster Dose

February 9, 2022 - The vaccination campaign across the country continues during omicron, as Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received booster dose today. Croatia is currently leading in terms of mortality per million inhabitants, and at the same time, is at the bottom of the EU in terms of vaccination.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received booster dose of the vaccine, reports Telegram. With the publication of a photo of the moment when he received the dose, Plenković again called on the citizens to respond to the vaccination, especially in the middle of the wave of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“In addition to my previous recovery from COVID-19 and two doses of vaccine, I also received a booster dose today, in consultation with doctors. The additional dose is particularly important during omicron circumstances. Get vaccinated and use a booster to protect against more severe forms of COVID'', Plenković announced on Twitter. The Prime Minister received the second dose five months ago, on September 10, 2021.

Plenković calls for vaccination in the midst of the collapse of the vaccination campaign. It was announced today that the CNIPH is developing a new strategy because sufficient quantities of vaccines, mobile teams, and counseling centers have not yielded the desired results. Yesterday, only 613 people were vaccinated with the first dose in Croatia.

Croatia is currently leading in terms of mortality per million inhabitants, and at the same time, is at the bottom of the EU in terms of vaccination. The number of deaths in Croatia during the pandemic is 14,244, and in the first week of February alone, 367 people died. In January, 267 people died in the same period, which means that in the first seven days of this month, as many as 100 people died more than in the same period last month - and this can be attributed to poor vaccination.

In Croatia, only 56.5 percent of citizens were vaccinated with the first dose which, when it comes to COVID, is too little to reduce mortality. 54.3 percent of citizens were vaccinated with two doses, and 19.6 percent with the booster. Citizens' interest in vaccination is declining from month to month - yesterday only 613 people were vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine, and the day before, on Sunday, just 11 of them.

For more, check out our politics section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Croatian Euro Coin Design Winners Officially Announced

February 4, 2022 - Through their official social media accounts, both the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Government shared the winning motifs for the 2 and 1 Croatian euro coin, and the 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent coins, all of which will enter in circulation next year.

In recent years, the conversation around Croatia's accession to the eurozone has been increasing significantly. Since joining the European Union in mid-2013, the idea of carrying out a transition from the kuna to the euro has gone from being a distant scenario to near reality. It is no secret that the Croatian government's position on such change was favorable and that, eventually, it was simply a matter of defining how and when.

Precisely, as of today, the answers to both questions are already known, as the Croatian Government, its Ministry of Finance, and the Croatian National Bank (HNB) are working on the final details. The Croatian Kuna will cease to be the official currency, and the Euro will replace it in 2023. From September 5th, prices will be displayed in both Kuna and Euros, so that both locals and foreigners get used to the idea and become familiar with the new currency. Likewise, the first two months of 2023 will serve to withdraw the Kuna from circulation. As the Governor of the HNB Boris Vujčić reported shortly ago, citizens will have the possibility of paying with kunas, but only as a way to collect those coins for their subsequent storage.

Now that the idea of the euro as the official currency in Croatia is getting closer and closer to reality, many questions have arisen from both financial authorities, companies, and even Croatian citizens themselves. The positions are diverse: from rejecting the Euro in order to defend a Croatian symbol such as the Kuna, to wondering what the economic consequences will really be. The rejection of a large sector of the population was expressed through a referendum that was recently held throughout the country. The objective of the referendum was to postpone Croatia's access to the eurozone because, it should be remembered, by being a member of the European Union, Croatia cannot bail out of using the Euro as currency, but it could keep an indefinite period of transition.

The government responded by guaranteeing that not only will the transition from one currency to another take place smoothly, but that the long-term benefits will allow Croatia to reach economic standards that allow it to equalize its status with other European Union countries. Minister Zdravko Marić revealed that the Ministry of Finance will make sure to monitor that prices are set correctly, and does not rule out the existence of sanctions for those who increase them unsustainably. For its part, the Croatian National Bank promised to effectively control the inflation rates that may be generated as a result of this currency change.

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Today's session of the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro as the Official Currency in Croatia. (Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Most likely, doubts will be resolved along the way, since it seems that the decision has already been made and there is no going back. Following an official Croatian government meeting earlier today, the Government of the Republic of Croatia shared the official winner designs of the Croatian Euro coin, and all the details about each design, on their social media accounts. You can watch the complete session here. Each coin was accompanied by a video and information about its designers. The Government shared the following on their Instagram account:

''At today's session of the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro as the Official Currency in Croatia, the design solutions of the Croatian side of the euro and cent coins were presented. A total of 1,299 proposals were submitted to the open competition, and the commission in charge of selecting the most successful solutions did not know who the authors were, but evaluated and ranked each proposal only on the basis of the proposed design.

The first-ranked proposals were officially approved by European Council on January 28 this year. We also thank and congratulate the authors of the selected motifs! These are:

  • Ivan Šivak - author of the conceptual design "Geographic Map of Croatia" for a 2 euro coin

The author of the 2 euro coin motif, "Geographical Map of Croatia", is Ivan Šivak, born in 1985 in Zagreb. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2011 at the Department of Animated Film and New Media. Since 2011 he has been a member of the Croatian Society of Fine Artists. He lives and works in Samobor.

  • Stjepan Pranjković - author of the conceptual design "Kuna" for a 1 euro coin

The author of the 1 euro coin motif, ''Kuna'', is Stjepan Pranjković, born in 1995 in Ostfildern, Germany. At the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, majoring in Applied Arts, module painting, he obtained the title of Master of Applied Arts in 2020. He lives in Rijeka.

  • Ivan Domagoj Račić - author of the conceptual design "Nikola Tesla" for 50, 20 and 10 cent coins

The author of the 50, 20, and 10 cent coin motif, ''Nikola Tesla, is Ivan Domagoj Račić, born in 1999 in Zagreb. Today he is a full-time third-year aeronautics student at the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in Zagreb. His interest in graphic design began in high school, when he began to study independently.

  • Maja Škripelj - author of the conceptual design "Glagolitic" for coins of 5, 2 and 1 cent

The author of the 5, 2 and 1 cent coin motif, ''Glagolitic'', is Maja Škripelj, born in 1988 in Zagreb. She graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb with a master's degree in engineering and architecture in February 2014. From graduation until July 2020, she worked in the architectural office, and now has her own business.

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The designers behind the winning motifs for the Croatian euro coin: Ivan Šivak, Ivan Domagoj Račić, Stjepan Pranjković, and Maja Škripelj. (Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

After presenting the winners and their designs, the Croatian Government continued: 

''In addition to the mentioned motifs, the Council of the European Union also approved another, additional motif, ie the text, which is an inscription that each country can choose and engrave on the 2 euro coin, which is the largest.

On the Croatian 2 euro coin, in addition to the Croatian chessboard, as an element of the Croatian coat of arms, and a map of the Republic of Croatia, Gundulić's verse "O LIJEPA O DRAGA O SLATKA SLOBODO" will be engraved on the rim.

As is well known, this is one of the most famous and beautiful verses from the Anthem of Freedom, which is an integral part of the pastoral "Dubravka" from the 17th century by Ivan Gundulić. The Republic of Croatia, as a symbol of Croatian statehood and independence, should also have a verse from the Anthem of Freedom, which best symbolizes the millennial aspiration for freedom of the Croatian people''.

Below we show you each Croatian euro coin in detail:

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The Croatian Euro coin designed by Ivan Šivak features the geographical map of Croatia and due to its size also features the verse: ''O LIJEPA O DRAGA O SLATKA SLOBODO'' engraved on the edge.

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The Croatian Euro coin designed by Stjepan Pranjković features the Kuna, Croatia's symbolic animal.

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The Croatian Euro coin designed by Ivan Domagoj Račić features Nikola Tesla, the world-famous inventor and engineer born in Smiljan.

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The Croatian Euro coin designed by Maja Škripelj features the Glagolitic alphabet, the oldest Slavic alphabet, from Croatia. The two Glagolitic letters chosen will form the Croatian ISO: HR.

 For more, check out our politics section.

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