Thursday, 2 September 2021

Plenković: We Could Exceed 70% of 2019 Tourism Results

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commented on the latest ECDC map on which Croatia's coast has stayed orange, saying that foreign tourists had recognized Croatia as a safe destination and that this year's tourism results could exceed 70% of tourism results in the pre-crisis year 2019.

"According to the new ECDC map, the Croatian coast has stayed orange into September. Foreign tourists have recognized Croatia as a safe destination and we could exceed 70% of the tourism results from the pre-crisis year 2019," Plenković said on his Twitter account.

He concluded that with responsible conduct and vaccination public health and the national economy were being protected.

According to the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control map, released on Thursday, eastern and central Croatia have turned red while the coast and northern Croatia have stayed orange.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

PM Announces Possible Legislative Changes for Tacitly Agreed Overdrafts

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday at the beginning of his cabinet's meeting that amendments to the relevant legislation could be made regarding tacitly accepted overdrafts of consumers.

Earlier on Thursday, Plenković met with Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić, and he informed his cabinet that they had agreed that the HNB would provide the Ministry of Finance with a thorough analysis of this topic that has made headlines recently.

The government is seeking the best solutions, and if necessary, we will change the law, he added.

The premier mentioned a possibility of reducing the effective interest rate, which would also include the fee, in the way that it would not adversely affect clients who use the instrument of tacitly agreed overdraft.

The solution must enable better dissemination of information and a lower interest rate, according to Plenković.

On Monday, the HNB recommended that until regulations on tacitly accepted overdrafts were amended, commercial banks should apply the effective interest rate and make it possible for their clients to cover those overdrafts through installment payments or reduce overdrafts. The central bank also noted that reports about mass-scale cancellation of overdrafts by banks were not true.

This issue as well as the HNB's initiative to amend the relevant regulations in order to set the maximum interest charged on tacitly accepted overdrafts have stirred up a lot of discussion in the public.

Plenković said that the government was committed to the protection of consumers and added that he convened a meeting for the next week with representatives of the commercial banks that offer tacitly agreed overdrafts to their clients.

He went on to say that according to the information presented by Vujčić, the range of interest rates on overdrafts in Croatia were practically within the average in the EU and that the amount in overdrafts decreased by two billion kunas in the nominal terms in the last years.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

PM: We Will Do Everything to Accelerate Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government would do everything to accelerate the process of post-earthquake reconstruction, and recalled that new tenders for about 4,000 houses in Banovina would be advertised already today and tomorrow.

"We will make every effort to speed up that process... and the Ministry of Construction and State Assets will present a comprehensive proposal of measures and possible legal changes which should make the entire reconstruction process more efficient and faster," Plenković said at the beginning of a government session.

As for the beginning of the new school year, the prime minister expressed satisfaction with the increase in the number of vaccinated persons in the school system.

"They set a good example and motive to those that haven't done that yet," he said.

Currently, 57.5% of the teaching staff in primary and secondary schools have been given at least one shot against COVID-19 and in tertiary education, this percentage is higher, 64.5%,  Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Plenković Praises Relationship With Slovenia During Janša’s Term

ZAGREB, 1 Sept, 2021 - Croatia and Slovenia have improved their relationship during the term of the incumbent Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at the start of the 16th Bled Strategic Forum in the Slovenian lakeside town of Bled on Wednesday. 

"I think that during the term of Prime Minister Janez Janša we have established excellent dialogue, excellent communication and cooperation. Economic relations, tourism, outstanding issues - they are all being dealt with to the satisfaction of both countries," Plenković said.

He added that unresolved issues between the two countries, such as the border dispute, should be addressed in ways that would not harm their mutual relations, and that this was possible during the term of the present government.

Plenković is attending a panel on the future of Europe, the theme of this year's forum, which Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar has described as "the strongest yet".

On the margins of the gathering, the Croatian prime minister is due to meet with Prime Minister Janša, European Council President Charles Michel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Earlier in the day, Plenković talked with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti. He is also expected to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, but not bilaterally.

The Croatian prime minister was also due to meet with Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, but the Montenegrin delegation has cancelled its arrival.

The forum is also being attended by European Parliament President David Sassoli, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi, Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, North Macedonia, Poland and Albania, High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt and two members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić.

Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman will join the two-day forum on Thursday, when he will speak at a panel on cooperation in the Adriatic Sea.

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Sunday, 29 August 2021

French President to Visit Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Aug, 2021 - French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the most important European politicians, will pay a working visit to Croatia, the Jutarnji List daily reports in its Sunday issue.

Even though the exact date of the visit has still not been agreed, it is expected to happen sometime in October or November, a high source at the Foreign Ministry has told the daily.

The visit is seen by Zagreb as proof of increasingly strong ties between France and Croatia, which could be described as a strategic partnership, particularly since the Croatian Air Force decided to buy French-made Rafale combat jet, the daily says.

A close associate to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that Croatian-French relations have been increasingly good, even though that was not so at the beginning.

"In the early 1990s, the then French President Francois Mitterrand supported the Serb side in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia but Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Alain Juppé  pursued a more balanced policy. We now have very good bilateral relations, partly also owing to the close relationship between PM Plenković and President Macron," the associate said.

"The visit is expected to help deepen the economic cooperation between France and Croatia and the talks will also definitely focus on the EU's strategic policy. France is not very much in favour of EU enlargement but it has slightly modified its position, thanks to PM Plenković's engagement, and now it supports in principle the accession of Western Balkan countries, naturally, within a reasonable time," the official said.

PM Plenković said earlier this week that "security-wise, the purchase of (French) military aircraft strategically changes the way Croatia is perceived as it is about to significantly change its status in military terms." France is leading the process of strengthening European defence, in which, judging by Plenković's statements, Croatia will be given an important role, Jutarnji List says.

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Saturday, 28 August 2021

Croatian Sovereignists Launching Campaign for Referendum Against Euro Introduction

ZAGREB, 28 Aug, 2021 - A member of parliament from the Croatian Sovereignists party, Marko Milanović Litre, said on Saturday that his party was launching a campaign for a referendum on the introduction of the euro, criticising the government for ignoring citizens' opinion on the matter.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić and a whole set of Brussels bureaucrats have decided on their own that Croatia should join the euro area, Milanović Litre said in a Facebook post, noting that his party had launched a campaign to protect the national currency, the kuna.

"Referendum is the only way to accomplish that," he said.

Criticising Plenković and his government's attitude to referendum initiatives and what he called disregard for citizens' role in them, Milanović Litre said that that attitude was evidenced by Plenković's recent statement that "from a formal and legal point of view, a referendum on the introduction of the euro was already held in 2012 and a new one is not necessary."

The MP said that ballots for the 2012 referendum on Croatia's accession to the EU, to which Plenković was referring, featured only one question: "Are you in favour of Croatia's accession to the European Union?" and that the referendum campaign made no mention of accession to the euro area.

The Croatian people have the right to state their opinion on all important topics that affect their lives, notably decisions whereby a part of their hard-won sovereignty is ceded to Brussels, said Milanović Litre, adding that Croatia was poorly prepared for EU membership.

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Thursday, 26 August 2021

Prime Minister Rules Out Tight Lockdown

ZAGREB, 26 August 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that there would be no tight lockdown and called on citizens to show personal responsibility and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is crystal clear that Croatia will not opt for a tight lockdown, the PM said after a government meeting.

He said that the government had secured sufficient amounts of vaccines against coronavirus.

"The threat (of the spread of the disease) will be considerably lower, provided that people get vaccinated, comply with basic measures: wearing masks, keeping a social distance, and airing rooms," Plenković said when asked by the press to comment on President Zoran Milanović's statement that the current anti-epidemic rules no longer made sense and that Croatia should follow the example of Sweden in managing the epidemic.

Urging citizens to behave responsibly, Plenković said that no rewards would be given to those who decided to get a jab.

"I firmly believe in common sense, prudence, and benevolence of our people and in them being well informed," Plenković said when asked about the possible imposition of more stringent rules.

"We do not have the luxury of being populists, demagogues, speculators, or provocateurs. We must be responsible and make decisions to the benefit of all," the premier said.

He added that the lifting of restrictions would mean that there would be no more COVID grants to businesses.

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

Thursday, 26 August 2021

PM Says Croatia's Status in Foreign Affairs Strongest Ever

ZAGREB, 26 Aug 2021 - Croatia now has the strongest position in foreign affairs since it gained independence, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters on the sidelines of a conference of Croatian diplomats in Zagreb on Thursday.

Pointing out the country's strongest status on the foreign policy front since its international recognition, the premier recalled that Zagreb's main foreign policy priorities were now admission to the Schengen area and to the euro area.

As for the current challenges, Plenković cited economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis and the developments in Afghanistan and potential migrant waves, while Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković cited the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, the developments in the Middle East, the crisis in Afghanistan and a possible migrant wave.

"Our main goal is to enter the Schengen area as soon as possible considering the developments in Afghanistan. Regarding finance and economy, it is essential to enter the euro area," Jandroković said.

The parliament speaker warned of the strengthening positions of China, India, and Brazil, and said that only concerted action by the European Union member states could render the EU a power player, notably on the global market.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman told the press that the global order would be tested in Kabul.

"The world has become vulnerable, international law is being violated," the minister said.

Former British PM Blair special guest of the conference

During the first day of the conference, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, addressed the event, and on Wednesday he was received by Prime Minister Plenković.

Blair told the press today that his talks with the Croatian PM revolved around the importance of the success of the vaccination rollout globally.

That is the only way for us to overcome the crisis, the former British PM said.

The Plenković-Blair talks also focused on the global situation and challenges lying ahead of Croatia and the future cooperation.

Blair said that it was important for Europe to stay strong and for NATO to redefine its purpose in the present-day world.

He agrees that one of the challenges is the situation in the Middle East.

I believe that peace and stability will eventually come when good governance is established there, and when societies become open-minded and develop religious tolerance, and when people make use of the possibilities of the digital economy, he added.

Plenković said that the purpose of Blair's visit to Zagreb was establishing "potential cooperation" between Croatia and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: "For the Homeland Ready" Salute is Already Now Illicit

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that the Ustasha salute "For the Homeland Ready" was already now illicit and that police filed reports with courts when such things happened, while it was up to the courts to decide on the matter.

"The salute is already now illicit. This is something that no one questions," Plenković told reporters in Zagreb after a meeting of the HDZ leadership.

He went on to say that on Monday, when  Black Ribbon Day, the Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes was observed, some protagonists from left parties had tried to politicise that issue.

In this context he recalled a recent "semi-incident" in Knin when that salute was shouted and said that the police had reported the case to the court which should now have a say.

Asked by the press whether the penal code should outlaw that salute, Plenković said that initially, this had been suggested by a Croatian Jewish leader, Ognjen Kraus, while representatives of other ethnic minorities in the parliamentary majority did not insist on that to such extent.

"We will discuss the issue, however, such things are already treated as illicit," Plenković told reporters.

He condemned hate speech on social networks aimed at a reporter of the commercial RTL broadcaster, Danka Derifaj, and announced that draft amendments to the Electronic Media Act would soon receive a second reading. He admitted that hate speech on social networks could be successfully halted only when a global solution was found for that problem.

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

Monday, 23 August 2021

Science Faculty (PMF) Earthquake Reconstruction: Croatian Faculties Receive Aid

August 23, 2021 - The Science Faculty (PMF) Earthquake reconstruction money was received in July by the Croatian government and Education Ministry. The aid was given to other high-education and scientific institutes that suffered from the earthquake too.

With August concluding, the academic community is waking up after a summer break. Students are preparing for exams, and professors are grading those exams as both groups boldly look towards new wins and losses in October and another season of active higher education in Croatia. However, with faculties being low-key in the summer, one might have missed an important action in early July when prime minister Andrej Plenković and education minister Radovan Fuchs came to Zagreb's National and University Library. They delivered 42 contracts of assigning non-returnable financial aids to reconstruct infrastructure of higher education and scientific institutions hit by the earthquake. The total amount is 2,140,837,980 kuna, and Zagreb's University Faculty of Science (PMF) received a total of 160.988.403 kuna for its own reconstruction after the natural disaster first hit Zagreb on March 23, 2020, and later Petrinja on December 29, which was also felt heavily in the Croatian capital.

With the University of Zagreb being founded in the middle of the 17th century, teaching and research of natural sciences and mathematics, which led to today's PMF, can be found almost two years after the university was founded, on April 21, 1876. The faculty, in its current form of working, was established on June 8, 1946. Since then, PMF has worked on its educational and research contributions, whose excellence is recognized domestically and internationally.

„The Faculty designs and conducts relevant university studies and scientific research programs which are an integral part of the higher education process in the fields of biology, physics, geophysics, geography, geology, chemistry, and mathematics," says the PMF website.

Today, PMF has seven departments (Biology, Physics, Geophysics, Geography, Geology, Chemistry, and Mathematics), organized into 28 divisions. It has around 4000 students enrolled in undergraduate, integrated undergraduate and graduate, and graduate university studies within 35 study programs and about 1000 students at seven postgraduate studies and one postgraduate specialist study.

„It is less known that the PMF also comprises the Seismological Service and its seismological stations all over Croatia, the mareographic station in Bakar, the geomagnetic observatory in Lonjsko polje, and the green jewel located in the very heart of Zagreb – the Botanical Garden. And in the background of it all are nearly 500 scientists and teachers for whom you will not only be just another name on a sheet of paper but a truly personal and (hopefully) successful story about your future and ours“, explained PMF.

The earthquakes damaged PMF, particularly the buildings of biology and geography departments. Still, it is admirable that amidst its own trouble, PMF found a way to help students of the Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak, which also took a heavy hit from the earthquake, by donating five new laptops for educational purposes.

As TCN previously reported, citizens of Zagreb had mixed feelings regarding how the city and the government handled the situation in Zagreb. However, Croatian Parliament MP Sandra Benčić from the Možemo Green-left coalition, while commenting on the victory of his party colleague Tomislav Tomašević on Zagreb elections, stated that the citizens he helped filling out paperwork for damaged homes needed to receive European funds for the reconstruction, for which Zagreb needs to apply by June 2022 to receive the aid.

With these moves by the new administration and the aforementioned aids for the high scientific institutions, the steps to recover Zagreb, the center of science, culture, politics, economy, and more in the Republic of Croatia are underway. But, it will still take time for citizens to recover fully from 2020's tragedies.

The results of education and science curiosity pay off. Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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

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