Saturday, 17 July 2021

Plenković: Italian Union Strengthens Identity of Ethnic Italians in Croatia and Slovenia

ZAGREB, 17 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday praised the role of the Italian Union in strengthening the identity of ethnic Italians in Croatia and Slovenia and congratulated the association on its 30th anniversary.

The Italian Union ("Unione Italiana"), headquartered in Rijeka, is an umbrella association of members of the Italian minority, that implements cultural programs with the aim of preserving and promoting the ethnic and cultural identity of local Italians. It is the union of more than 45 societies of local Italians and it has a branch office in Koper, Slovenia.

Addressing the ceremony, held in Rijeka on Friday evening to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its establishment, Prime Minister Plenković said that the participation of all ethnic minorities in the parliamentary majority made his cabinet happy.

He underscored the importance of the fact that representatives of ethnic minorities also participated in the executive branch of the government.

"I think that this is the best way to make headway and to make sure that all people living in Croatia feel well," Plenković said.

He promised that the Croatian authorities would continue providing strong support to the efforts of ethnic Italians to preserve their identity, culture, language, tradition, and customs.

This is particularly important in the relations between our two peoples, and in the past, there were periods in those relations that we feel happy to recollect and also some periods which we could remember with less pleasure, Plenković said, admitting that some parts of the history of those relations were not fortunate.

 It is important to put an emphasis on the things that connect us, on the future, on our cooperation rather than on the periods from the past that divided us, he added.

The prime minister again underscored an important role played by ethnic minorities in the political and social life of Croatia.

"We are a country with high representativeness of ethnic minorities in the parliament. As many as eight seats are designated for lawmakers representing ethnic minorities and we are proud of that,"  he said.

He promised further support of his cabinet in the implementation of operational programs for ethnic minorities, and Croatia's commitment to delivering on the goals of the 1996 bilateral agreement regulating the status of Italians in Croatia and Croats in Italy.

The Croatian parliament's Deputy Speaker Furio Radin said that Italian Union had always been committed to protecting the Italian community in this region even in the times which had been more difficult for local Italians.

Radin, who represents the Croatian Italians in the Sabor, said the Italian Union represented Italians living in Croatia and Slovenia in line with the international agreements and made a significant contribution to the relations between Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia and thus contributed to the cause of the European Union as a union connecting nations and people.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Plenković: I Believe in Social Agreement Between State and Citizens on Vaccination

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday he believed a social deal would be reached between the state and citizens on vaccination against COVID-19, calling on everyone who can get vaccinated to do so for the benefit of all and stressing that the "tool" for that has been ensured - the vaccine.

In an interview with the HRT public broadcaster, Plenković stressed the goal of vaccination was to gain collective immunity against COVID-19, recalled the government had provided enough vaccines, and congratulated everyone who had been vaccinated, with the percentage of vaccinated people in the adult population now standing at 46.3%.

The prime minister believes the agreement reached with employers would be implemented and that up to 70% of those employed in companies that will apply for business support due to the consequences of the pandemic would get vaccinated.

Earlier on Wednesday, cabinet ministers and social partners held the second round of negotiations at which it was proposed that businesses, where over 70% of workers have been vaccinated against COVID, would get payments for all workers, while those with lower percentages would get payments proportionate to the number of workers with COVID certificates.

PM Plenković appealed for common sense to prevail and solidarity so that all get vaccinated except those who cannot for medical reasons.

Railways - the largest investment

Talking about Croatia's National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the prime minister said no one, including Europe, was imposing reforms on us, but we knew ourselves that we had to carry them out.

He recalled that in addition to COVID, which hit the entire world, Croatia had four times more costs due to the 2020 earthquakes. Plenković explained that was why the entire National Recovery and Resilience Plan was based on the government's program and the national strategy, the key components of which were the economy, investments in all sectors guided by the logic of green and digital transformation and transition.

As for the announcement about the creation of 100,000 new jobs, the prime minister stressed we would achieve that in the sectors where we wanted - in the ICT sector, which was achieving phenomenal results in Croatia, with or mostly without the state, but also in traditional, tertiary industries, such as hospitality and tourism, which were yet to experience real recovery and investments.

Plenković recalled a huge step forward had also been taken in the energy sector and transport infrastructure so now, he said, we only had to make investments in the railway.

On 1 July, the Plenković cabinet adopted a document on the modernization and restructuring of the railway sector, which contains the main reform elements and presents an action plan for the reform of the railway sector. Croatia plans to invest about HRK 33 billion in upgrading the rail sector until 2030.

Status of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats

Commenting on recent statements by President Zoran Milanović on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the prime minister said there was nothing new in them.

Because, he recalled, the position of the government and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has been for years that Croats, as one of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina, must be equal, and the Dayton-Paris peace agreement must be respected.

He recalled that issue had existed since 2006 when Bosniaks elected a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croats on the territory of the Federation entity, and that unfavorable "electoral engineering" had unfortunately been repeated several times since, the last time in 2018.

For more on Croatian politics, both local and national, make sure to bookmark our dedicated politics section and stay in the loop.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Women Work One Month For Free, Says MEP Glavak

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - Women work one month for free due to lower wages and their total income, and consequently their pension, is lower because they care for children and the elderly, Croatian MEP Sunčana Glavak (EPP) said on Wednesday.

She was speaking at an event at Plitvice Lakes which discussed how to strengthen the position of women in Croatia and Europe, held as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Glavak said a division into men's and women's departments was not felt in the EP because the persons there were competent, but added that a balance had not been achieved anywhere in Europe.

She called on citizens to engage in a debate on that and other European topics via the Commission's platform “futureu.europa.eu.”

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said four women ministers in Croatia's 18 government departments was not enough, but added that they "run important departments and make a big contribution to this government."

He boasted that Croatian women hold high positions in European institutions - Dubravka Šuica is a Commission vice president, Marija Pejčinović Burić the Council of Europe secretary-general, Ivana Maletić a judge at the European Court of Auditors, and Maja Markovčić Kostelac the head of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

"As a government, we will continue to make an effort towards empowering and protecting women, towards equality and women's participation at a higher level and a high representation percentage," he said.

Present at the Plitvice conference were Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac, Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak and Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, while Šuica and EPP Women President Doris Pack participated virtually.

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

 

 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Croatian PM: Srebrenica Atrocities Are Defeat of Humanity

ZAGREB, 11 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković says in his message on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica tragedy that the insane atrocities committed in Srebrenica amounted to the defeat of humanity and that Croatians are in their thoughts with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Sunday Plenković wrote on his Twitter account that today "the tribute is being paid to thousands of innocent Bosniak victims who will never be forgotten."

The killing of more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians, men and boys in Srebrenica 26 years ago when that eastern Bosnian enclave fell into the hands of the Serb force was described by the Croatian Prime Minister as "insane crime " which amounted to the defeat of humanity.

During this year's commemorative events, remains of 19 Srebrenica victims will be buried in the Potočari memorial centre. The youngest victims unearthed from mass graves are Azmir Osmanovć, who was a 16-year-old boy when he was killed, and 17-year-old Fikret Kiverić.  Also the remains of 24-year-old girl will be buried today.

So far, the funeral rites have been organised at the Potočari centre for 6,652 victims who were exhumed after the war from mass graves or from unmarked individual graves.

The families of another 237 victims buried their dearest ones in other cemeteries after the identification of the remains.

Also, the remains of 88 victims not yet identified are in the ossuary in Tuzla. In several cases, the agreement has not been obtained from families for burials as long as only parts of the bodies of their dearest ones are exhumed and identified. Those families wait for the discovery of the all the remains of those victims.

Since early Sunday morning, hundreds of mourners started flocking Srebrenica and Potočari.

To date, 48 sentenced for Srebrenica genocide to a total of over 700 years

International courts and local courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia have to date sentenced 48 wartime officials and military and police officers of Bosnia Serb to a total of more than 700 years

Five high-profile convicts have been given life sentences for genocide and crimes against humanity committed in July 1995 in Srebrenica. The wartime political and military leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were tried for charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Srebrenica, Prijedor, Ključ, and other districts of Bosnia, and these two masterminds of the Srebrenica tragedy have been sentenced to life in prison by the UN tribunal ICTY.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Plenković Meets with Bulgarian, Estonian Presidents, Amazon Reps

ZAGREB, 9 July 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković held several bilateral meetings in Sofia on Friday, on the fringes of a Three Seas Initiative summit.

Plenković tweeted that he held talks with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on economic cooperation and cooperation within the Initiative, migration, the fight against COVID-19, and the two countries' ambition to join the Schengen and euro areas.

Plenković also held talks with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who supported Croatia's Schengen bid.

"We appreciate Estonia's support in Croatia's ambition to become a member of the Schengen and euro areas," he tweeted.

Plenković and Kaljulaid also talked about economic cooperation, notably in energy and digitalisation, EU efforts in fighting COVID-19, and climate challenges.

He also met with representatives of the Amazon Web Service, tweeting that they talked about digitalisation in Croatia, plans for the company to open a regional centre in Zagreb, and cooperation in digital transformation, which he said would also create jobs.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Prime Minister Says Rise in First-dose COVID Vaccinations Encouraging

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday there was a certain increase in the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 with the first dose, including 8,000 yesterday, which he said was encouraging.

"It's evident that our topics from the last government session have encouraged a certain number of our fellow citizens to be vaccinated," he said at a cabinet meeting, a week after he said that the government would make job-keeping payments conditional on worker vaccination.

Any minority should feel safe and free

Plenković also said that "members of minorities, any minority, sexual, ethnic, should feel safe and free."

He added that some politicians in Croatia still did not realize that minority rights were not a privilege but a guarantee of equality.

"In Croatia, minority rights are a constitutional and legal category, and I insist that they are not to be tolerated but honored," Plenković said, adding that he considered attacks on the LGBT community a hate crime. "We don't want that, we don't agree with that."

He also condemned the hate leveled at MPs of the Bridge party, saying it was unacceptable.

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

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Strongly condemns violence after LGTBIQ Pride Parade

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence that had occurred after the LGTBIQ Pride Parade in Zagreb on Saturday. 

"That is unacceptable, Croatia is a free country and everyone should be what they are. Human rights and the rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities, should be respected," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

"Croatia is big enough for everyone to be free," he stressed.

Plenković recalled that Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights Boris Milošević had also condemned the physical assaults on members of the LGBTIQ community, noting that what Milošević wrote in his Facebook post was on behalf of the whole cabinet.

"I totally agree with him. I think that violence and inciting to violence is unacceptable. And now (Bridge MPs) Petrov and Grmoja are crying because they have received threats, they were obviously perceived as some kind of inciters. I receive such threats on a daily and weekly basis and I don't speak about it with anyone. One learns to cope with it, while they are now crying about it," the PM said.

"The worst actors on the scene are those who are exclusive, and I want us to build an inclusive society in which everyone will advocate and stand behind their values and in which everyone will be able to ensure an education for their children based on the values that they have and share. Things should not be imposed on anyone. If someone is different, respect them, they also have their freedom and their choices. We must build a society that is inclusive, that's the most important thing, and I don't see why it should be any different," he added. 

He said that people in Croatia needed a little encouragement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while certain actors in society needed encouragement to be more tolerant. "That will come about, I am optimistic."

Milanović's double standards

Plenković also talked about the environmental devastation of Vruja Cove on the southern Dalmatian coast and Sunday's protest rally ironically called the Illegal Construction and Nature Devastation Festival, where protesters called out Stipe Latković, a businessman from Split and a friend and donor of President Milanović.

Asked why the government was not acting, given that the property in case is state-owned, Plenković said that the relevant inspectorate had issued a number of decisions, "which obviously were not complied with", and imposed fines,

"Those decisions were made not just this year but for many years, and now these campaigners for (an independent) judiciary, who are accusing the judiciary, as Milanović is, of being under the control of the (ruling) HDZ, are protecting these illegal builders. This is a fantastic example of double standards," Plenković said.

He said that this was not the only "brilliant" example of double standards, citing the cases of Constitutional Court judge Andrej Abramović, who used a garden hose to pour water on his neighbours, SDP MP Marina Opačak Bilić, who is suspected of economic crime, and Sisak mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček who failed to provide requested documents to USKOK anti-corruption investigators.

"All these are double standards of campaigners for an independent judiciary, and here I mean Milanović," the prime minister said.

 Bačić's arrest not pleasant for either HRT or Parliament

Commenting on the arrest of the director-general of the HRT public broadcasting service, Kazimir Bačić, on suspicion of corruption, Plenković said that the judicial authorities were acting completely independently and impartially.

"I don't want to speculate about anyone's responsibility, but the situation is not pleasant either for the HRT or for the Croatian parliament which appointed Bačić," he said.

The parliamentary Media Committee is meeting today to discuss the proposal to relieve Bačić of his duties and appoint an acting director-general. 

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

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Bill Regulating Family Pension Beneficiaries' Status on Parl. Agenda

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - The Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) said on Tuesday that the number of pension insurance contributions had been on the rise for five months in a row, and the number of insurees was higher by 3.54% at the end of this June compared to June 2020.

The government-sponsored amendments were forwarded to the parliament at the session of the Andrej Plenković cabinet on 1 July.

In May, there were 216,000 family pension beneficiaries, and most of them were surviving spouses whose average monthly pension allowance was HRK 2,096, which was below the average pension. For instance, in May, pension associations reported that the average pension paid out  for February stood at HRK 2,567.

The budget allocation for this purpose has been ensured for 2022 and 2023.

According to the government's estimates, this year, an estimated 1,100 recipients of family pensions can exercise this right to work part-time and continue receiving family pensions. In 2022, the numbers can rise to 3,200 and in 2023 to 4,100 beneficiaries.

(€1 = HRK 7.484635)

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

 

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Vaccination Prerequisite for Croatian Economic Aid to Companies?

July the 3rd, 2021 - Vaccination against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, although not mandatory, might well be required before companies can receive Croatian economic aid if it can be implemented constitutionally.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated that he thinks it would be fair that in a time of crisis, when the state provides vaccines and salaries for the normal functioning of the entire system, for everyone to make some form of small contribution to the effort.

"If someone is going to be a beneficiary of the Croatian economic aid, let's say job preservation support, then it would be good for them to be vaccinated,'' said the Prime Minister, but without adding further details on just how government economic support will be linked to vaccination.

The ministers of labour and health, Josip Aladrovic and Vili Beros, have now been tasked with specifying measures to be taken by the Croatian Employment Service to link the two processes.

For the moment, this is just an idea announced by the Croatian Government, it's possible that it will be legally and constitutionally difficult to implement, and for now it looks like pressure to workers in those sectors which had to be closed during lockdown, to get vaccinated. However, the Prime Minister said recently that a solution would be sought that would be legal and constitutional, Jutarnji list writes.

"We can't have unlimited government economic measures because the whole of Europe is moving in the direction of job creation, but there are still sectors, such as the catering and hospitality sector, which has partial restrictions, and those that have no restrictions, but are affected because they're objectively disabled, such as transport, tourism, the event industry. Our task now is to engage in dialogue with employers and move on to tailored sectoral measures. So, it isn't just going to be towards everyone as it was before,'' the Prime Minister explained after a recently held Government session.

Until the end of the year, the measure of reduced working hours is set to remain in force. Plenkovic noted that in agreement with the representatives of employers, trends will be monitored and responded to in time if necessary, which will keep pace with active employment policy measures, and in which more than a billion kuna will be invested this year.

Recently, the government also adopted a support programme for vulnerable activities in the sectors of transport, tourism, culture and the event industry. It is actually a reimbursement of fixed costs that these activities didn't have before because they weren't formally closed by the decision of the National Civil Protection Directorate, but suffered heavy losses regardless.

The grants are worth a total of 150 million kuna, and the amount is provided by the budget revision. Those who have recorded a drop in revenue of at least 75 percent compared to 2019 will be able to apply for this form government economic support. In the transport sector, fixed costs will be reimbursed to companies for land and sea passenger transport, as well as to travel agencies and tour operators related to nautical transport. In the tourism sector, the support refers to travel agencies, up to a maximum of 10,000 kuna per worker.

In the event industry sector, companies that organise festivals, concerts and similar cultural and artistic events, as well as events intended for professionals in the field of cultural and creative industries, are eligible, Jutarnji list has learned.

For more, follow our business section.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from June 28-July 4

June 3, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from June 28 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac.

EURO 2020 elimination and Dario Šarić in the NBA finals. Zagreb witnessing a series of arrests related to corruption of Milan Bandić's reign and explosive device planted in Split. In the midst of it all, is COVID-19 vaccination on its way to becoming obligatory and not optional? You may prefer the good news or the bad news, but here is both, as another week in Croatia comes to an end.

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© Marin Tironi / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Uskok arresting Zagreb entrepreneurs and associates of former mayor Milan Bandić

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

As TCN wrote, several people were arrested on suspicion of corruption, including the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić, Andrea Šulentić, and Ana Stavljenić-Rukavina. Both Šulentić and Rukavina were directors in Zagreb administration offices and close associates of former mayor Milan bandić. At the same time, details Bandić's heavy corruption (suspected and known publicly earlier) came to light.

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© Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia eliminated from Euro 2020 after losing to Spain

Croatia and Spain met in Copenhagen on Monday for their EURO 2020 round of 16 match. It was a decent effort from Croatia, but not enough. Despite the Spain own goal in the 20th minute, the distraction as Rebić went to change his boots saw Spain even the score. The score towards the end of regular time went to 3:1 for Spain, but Croatia managed to lower to 3:2 and finally, in the added time, Pašalić scored for 3:3.

But, the euphoria was ruined for Croatia as in extra time, Morata earned Spain 4:3, and by 103rd minute, the total and final score was 5:3 for Spain. It was one of the more intense games on Euro so far as both teams show incredible spirit and persistence. 

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© Dusko Jaramaz / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Opposition parties against vaccination being required for job-keeping payments  

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday not to make vaccination a requirement for job-keeping payments, while the Most party said business owners were being blackmailed into vaccination.

As TCN reported, SDP leader Peđa Grbin elaborated his dissatisfaction via social networks.

"In Croatia, mandatory vaccination is possible, but the obligation is first established under the law on the protection of the population and then regulated and worked out under Immunisation Rules and the Mandatory Vaccination Programme. The obligation of vaccination can't be imposed in another way, notably not by linking support for entrepreneurs with vaccination," SDP president Grbin posted on Facebook.

"Most is against entrepreneurs, who are being forced into vaccination through blackmail, saving the government's mindless epidemic policy", stated the Most party on its official Twitter account. They added that Croatia was stuck with over 300,000 surplus vaccines because of poor government moves and communication omissions.

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© Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Dario Šarić becomes 5th Croatian basketballer in the NBA finals

Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! As TCN wrote, Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals, joining the company of Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak, and Ante Žižić. Šarić plays for Phoenix Suns. They topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Apart from basketball, Šarić also likes to enjoy sipping coffee on Šibenik cafe terraces, as portrayed in the photo. 

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© Milan Sabic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Bomb planted in Split. One person injured
In the night from Thursday to Friday, an unknown person placed an explosive device underneath a vehicle. The explosion damaged six cars, and one person required medical attention. The investigation is ongoing since Friday morning.  

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our TC website.

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

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