Friday, 21 January 2022

Plenković and Gotovina Pay Tribute to Defenders Killed in Operation Maslenica

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and retired General Ante Gotovina on Friday paid tribute to the Croatian soldiers killed in 1993 Operation Maslenica.

"This is an opportunity to remember all Croatian defenders, soldiers, and police, who gave their lives for the freedom of Croatia and the Croatian state, which had been desired by generations of Croats for centuries and which we now have," Plenković said during a ceremony at the monument near Maslenica Bridge in Zadar County.

"Croatia is now a free, democratic, and developed member of NATO and the European Union, and all this would not have been possible without the defenders. Once again, on behalf of the government, ahead of tomorrow's anniversary, I wish to thank them and their families for everything they did for Croatia," the prime minister said.

Gotovina said that the purpose of Operation Maslenica was to push the Serb forces as deeply as possible into the hinterland to ensure the free flow of traffic, put Zadar's Zemunik airport into operation, and put the Peruča dam under control.

"The operation was completed and its goals were achieved. We had 180 personnel killed several hundred wounded, and we paid our respects to those people. It is thanks to them that today we have a sovereign state, a safe country, and a free society," Gotovina said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Dario Hrebak: Croatian Covid Certificate System Should be Scrapped

January the 21st, 2022 - Should the Croatian covid certificate system be scrapped? With all eyes now on 2022's summer tourist season and the arrival of the much more mild but highly infectious Omicron variant, questions are hanging in the air.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at a recently held coalition meeting, the situation with the spread of coronavirus, the new Omicron variant, and all of the accompanying epidemiological measures, including the issue of the Croatian covid certificate were discussed.

"What is good is that the Prime Minister comes and listens to us every Tuesday, and new proposals are always on the table. I talked publicly recently at the coalition meeting about what Israel has done, I think Israel is doing a good job as far as the coronavirus pandemic is concerned, I think we're doing a good job too, but it's precisely because I think we're doing a good job that we need to rethink some things. We have 16 thousand infected people, and yet hospitalisations are drastically dropping, the number of positive results among those tested is still growing, I don't think there is any need to test people anymore. As soon as over 50 percent of those being tested return positive results, there is no longer any need for testing.

I'm going to be open now, I always speak responsibly, but I always try to speak with common sense as well. We also have to think about the upcoming summer tourist season. We now need to simply revoke the Croatian covid certificate. They should have been adopted when they were adopted, but now is the time to abolish them, I suggested that at the meeting of the ruling coalition,'' said Dario Hrebak, president of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) for HTV's Otvoreno (Open).

Asked whether or not the ruling party, HDZ, was ready to support this proposal, Josip Boric, vice president of the HDZ MPs' Club, said he had not been to the meeting and did not know what the discussions were, but has always listened to what the Civil Protection Directorate advised and said.

PM Andrej Plenkovic has since stated that the Croatian covid certificate system will remain in place for now, with Beros adding that the vaccination rate among the domicile population is still much too low to consider removing any epidemiological restrictions.

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.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Plenković: I Want No Involvement in Conflict Between Banožić and Milanović

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he wanted no involvement in the conflict between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, adding that President Zoran Milanović's letters to him were irrelevant but that the ministry and the president's office had to communicate.

"Sending me letters and then making them public via the media is absolutely unacceptable, I consider all of his letters totally irrelevant," Plenković told reporters after a government session.

Defence Minister Mario Banožić said earlier today that President Milanović should declassify documents on his travels and that he would then declassify the findings of an inspection in the office of the Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

The PM said that he had not read the report on the inspection in Hranj's office but would do so once he found the time.

"I do not consider it to be very important, the minister has stated his position on the matter," Plenković said.

As for Milanović's statement that he sees no possibility of cooperation with Banožić over the latter's campaign of strategic harassment, Plenković said that he could say the same about Milanović.

"I think the President of the Republic has been strategically harassing a huge portion of civil institutions, commentators, media, and political actors and we do not see any possibility of further cooperation, yet we are open to dialogue," the PM said.

Asked if he would demand that Banožić make the said report public, Plenković said that he would not because it was not Banožić who had classified the document.

Asked again why he would not, given that Banožić had been the one to request the inspection, the PM said that Banožić had not requested it for the public's sake but for his own sake.

"Banožić has said that he is satisfied with the report, if he is satisfied, it's fine with me," he added.

Asked if the Armed Forces could function if there was no communication between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, Plenković said that they had to communicate and that he recommended they do so.

He confirmed that he would soon forward agreements on the purchase of the Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets to the Office of the President.

"He has every right to it, he is the head of state. Whether there is room for cooperation is irrelevant, he has the right to see the agreements and he will obtain them, of course, they, too, are confidential."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Some Can't Appreciate Croatia's Success, PM Says

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - Croatia's EU entry was difficult because it was necessary to make up for the lost war years, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday, adding that some could not appreciate that today.

Speaking at the Zagreb Faculty of Law on the topic "Croatia's international position: from independence to new challenges and opportunities," he recalled Croatia's difficult path to the recognition of its independence during the Greater Serbia military aggression and later on to EU membership.

"Entering the Union was a process that was anything but simple... In the 90s, unlike other Central and Eastern European countries, we were left completely on the margin."

As we were dealing with occupied territories, refugees, and the war damage, he said, Central and Eastern European countries were becoming financial investment centers.

That fact, Plenković added, created a distance between those countries, which were making fast progress towards the Union, and Croatia, which was trying to catch up.

Trust between old and new Europe

He said the key element for EU enlargement was trust between "old" and "new" Europe. "The key element is trust between Europe's East and West. It isn't written anywhere, yet it's the key to everything."

Plenković recounted an exchange with a British diplomat who said, "You leaders of Eastern and Central Europe pretend you are ready, we in the West pretend we want you."

Croatia's EU accession in 2013 "was very demanding, very difficult. When I look at some political actors today, even the public, I almost have the impression that some people don't appreciate that," he said.

Plenković went on to say that the Schengen and euro areas were the only "deeper" structures Croatia should join and that decisions on that would be made soon.

"We are entering Schengen at a time when Schengen is not what we would like it to be, to freely cross borders... Today, because of three elements - the migration crisis, terrorism, and COVID - it's the opposite. Internal controls are everywhere and the goal is to protect the EU's external border, prevent terrorism, and put the pandemic under control so that we can go back to free movement as it used to be."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Plenković: No One Can Be Happy with Decrease in Population

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that no one can be pleased with the population decrease but it was not unexpected, stressing that the government will do everything to mitigate the negative trends and improve the positive ones and noting that demographic issues go beyond the framework of one government.

After presenting the bill to adopt the euro as legal tender in Croatia, the prime minister was asked by the press to comment on the 2021 population census, which shows that Croatia has 396,000 fewer residents than ten years ago.

"Naturally, these results are not good, no one can be pleased with them, but at the same time when observing broader trends, they were not unexpected and can be explained quite easily," said Plenković.

He first warned of the structure of the 396,000 fewer people, saying that the difference between births and deaths is 165,000 while the remaining 230,000 refers to 110,000 registered and 120,000 unregistered emigrants.

Referring to the negative natural increase, Plenković noted that this process has been ongoing for 70 years, recalling that in 1948, 95,000 children were born annually, while their number declined by 60,000 to 35,000 in 2021.

In reference to the number of emigrants, he recalled the fact that this has resulted from Croatia's accession to the EU as one of the fundamental freedoms in the EU is the free movement of workers.

"Prior to 2013 you could emigrate to an EU country only if you met one of two criteria - obtaining a work permit or being part of some sort of quota," Plenković recalled.

"Now in 2022, in the ninth year of EU membership and ahead of entering the Schengen area and euro area, we are lifting our economy in terms of the average level of development within the EU and in terms of economic growth. We have the best credit rating ever, wages are increasing and by investing and using EU membership we are taking Croatia forward," he added.

The prime minister recalled that, unlike Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, which started ten years earlier, it was only in 2000 that Croatia started using EU funds and "catching up" will still take this entire decade, in which Croatia has €25 billion at its disposal.

He noted several government measures directed at improving the framework to help young families have more children but warned that is not "just an economic, financial or political issue," but also a matter of culture.

"That relates to the way of life we have today and it is not the same as in the 1950s or in the third decade of this century. Simply, the culture of life is different," he claimed.

The government will do all it can to relieve the negative trends and improve the positive ones. "However, that is an issue that is much broader than the framework of one government or one policy," he assessed.

Unfortunately, the data are as they are but many countries in Western Europe have negative natural increases and are compensating them with immigration, he added.

"We still are not in a situation where Croatia would need to compensate these trends with immigration. When you look at the largest number of people being born in many Western countries, when you observe children's origin, then you will see that many of them are the children of immigrants. These are all the facts that need to be put on the cards before any justification is made," the prime minister said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Andrej Plenkovic Visits Novska Gaming Campus, New Student Dorms

January the 14th, 2022 - Novska is having a complete and utter turnaround, becoming the Novska gaming campus which has just recently been put into function, as have new student dorms.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, it has been less than two years since Novska's former INA building was transferred to the portfolio of that city, which is rapidly positioning itself as the centre of the gaming industry in Croatia. The new building has been put into a new function by being transformed into new student dorms.

This has been a joint project of the City of Novska, Sisak-Moslavina County and the Croatian Government, which was officially opened this week by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who made sure to emphasise that this is just one project which is transforming Novska into the country's gaming centre as the industry of the future.

Two business incubators are playing host to more than 60 companies specialising in video games, while over 50 percent of the companies engaged in the gaming industry are registered in Novska where young people just keep on coming, which is the nucleus of development and new positioning of the city and the wider county.

In the specific case of the second student dormitory in this county, the education department has a prominent role, which verified a new subject for Novska's students - training to become technicians for video game development, resulting in the need to open the aforementioned student dormitory.

More than half of the students enrolled in this subject of study come from outside of the area, and 21 students will be the new tenants of the new building. According to Prefect Ivan Celjan, there is a recognition of the education and needs of today's students, but also the efforts of parents who are trying to achieve better conditions for their children. Owing to the deep understanding of the above, the student dorms will be fully funded, which means they'll be free of charge for end users.

The new dorms will house students from all over Croatia from Zagreb, Dugo Selo, Bjelovar, Kutinska Lipa, Stari Petrovo Selo, Kumrovec, Bektez, Koprivnica, Vodnjan and beyond, while the interest in the new field of study is unsurprisingly huge given the popularity of video games and the Novska gaming campus.

The Croatian Government has raised subsidies for entrepreneurs to the maximum (within the programme of the reconstruction and revitalisation of the local economy after a series of catastrophic earthquakes at the end of 2020) and this concept is being carried out in cooperation with the CES, being considered a magnet for young people who will come to Novska and hopefully decide to stay following their studies.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Works on Pelješac Bridge to Be Completed this Month, PM Says

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - The works on Pelješac Bridge will wrap up by the end of the month and the access roads are coming along too, so this tourist season it will be possible to drive across the bridge, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday while visiting the site in southern Croatia.

There is ten more days' work on the bridge and a peak traffic test is planned for the end of the month, to be followed by technical checks, he added.

"As announced, the construction of Pelješac Bridge will be near completion by the end of January 2022."

He said the construction of access roads by Austria's Strabag and Greece's Avax was "coming along" and that they were expected to "be near completion in May and June," while the completion of a road near Ston "should follow in early autumn."

"That's what's good at the moment, but this means that it will be possible to drive across Pelješac Bridge this tourist season, which means without crossing borders and the congestion in Neum," Plenković said, adding that thereby Croatia was becoming "a propulsive auto destination, which is extremely important in 2022."

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

Monday, 10 January 2022

Plenković: Construction of Access Road to Kozjak Tunnel to Start Soon

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - During his visit to Split on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that construction would soon begin of the access road to the €133 million Kozjak tunnel and that project should relieve traffic jams at the entrance to this biggest Croatian Adriatic city.

"We spoke about the Vučevica-Kozjak-Kaštela project which is important for the construction of a tunnel valued at HRK 1 billion  (€133 million), and soon construction works will begin for the road from Vučevica," the premier said after meeting with Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban.

According to Plenković, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković and the Hrvatske Ceste (HC) road management company's director, Josip Škorić, met with Boban today to discuss the road infrastructure projects and access routes to Split aimed at lessening traffic jams during the tourist season.

Plenković added that other infrastructure projects in the county were also discussed, including a bypass road around Omiš, an overpass at Širine in Solin, and the Mravinci-Stobreč road.

PM said that investments in Adriatic ports had also been discussed, referring to them as the renaissance of the Croatian coast with investments that had not occurred in that county for decades.

"The development of traffic and port infrastructure is boosting the economy and tourism," he said.

Plenković expects efforts to be made in Split-Dalmatia County "to step up the rate of immunization and adherence to epidemiological measures in an effort to put the spread of COVID under control in this fifth wave of the pandemic."

"We have also mulled over preparations for the following tourism season," he said.

Plenković recalled that during the COVID pandemic the government had so far set aside HRK 1.5 billion (€200 million) and saved 75,000 jobs in the county, with aid for 15,000 enterprises.

"The government's policy obviously contributed to last year's tourism season and GDP growth which will certainly be in the double-digits this year," he said.

He added that the government had concluded agreements for more than HRK 7 billion from European funds for projects in Split-Dalmatia County.

Prefect Boban underscored that preparations for large infrastructure projects in the county have been completed and in particular, he referred to a new road from Solin to Omiš which is one of the most congested thoroughfares in Croatia during the tourist season.

Split Mayor and Plenković discuss projects worth €400 million

PM Plenković also held talks with the mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak, on infrastructure projects, worth three billion kuna, such as the reconstruction of the Poljud stadium, and reconstruction and construction of road infrastructure. 

Puljak said that he had requested that the second biggest city in Croatia should be awarded the equal status which the capital city of Zagreb has. This will be beneficial for better management of the city, Puljak told the press.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

PM Condemns Banja Luka Authorities' Decision to Put Up Plaque in Tribute to JNA Major

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday he was "appalled" by a decision by the Banja Luka city authorities to put up a plaque in tribute to JNA Major Milan Tepić, who blew up an ammunition depot in Bjelovar, Croatia in 1991, killing 11 members of Croatian defense forces.

"We are all appalled considering (the incident) and the number of people killed at the time. Therefore we consider any memorial plaque inappropriate and condemn it," Plenković said during a visit to Split.

When Croatian forces liberated the JNA barracks in Bjelovar on 29 September 1991, most JNA soldiers there surrendered, while Tepić refused. Instead, he destroyed the ammunition depot, killing himself, 11 Croatian defenders, and dozens of JNA conscripts.

Tepic, who was in charge of the ammunition depot in the village of Bedenik, had planned to blow up all four warehouses at that location but was prevented from doing so by four Croatian soldiers, whose intervention prevented an even bigger disaster.

Banja Luka Mayor Draško Stanivuković on Sunday unveiled a plaque commemorating Tepić, describing him as "the last Yugoslav national hero." The plaque was unveiled on the occasion of the day of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska, January 9, a holiday that was declared unconstitutional by the BiH Constitutional Court in 2016.

On Sunday, a parade was held in Banja Luka for that day, which is a public holiday in the Serb entity, with the Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, saying that "Republika Srpska is our state, regardless of those who deny it to us."

In a comment on the event as well as the Serb entity's aspirations for secession, Plenković reiterated Croatia's strong support to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, "which we respect and are helping on its European journey and which we want to be a functioning country."

"We are against any messages that have secessionist and separatist connotations," Plenković stressed.

President of the Serb National Council (SNV), and a Croatian Member of Parliament Milorad Pupovac, also attended the events in Banja Luka on Sunday.

"As for Mr. Pupovac's attendance, he was there only for the official ceremony in his capacity as president of the SNV," Plenković said, adding that "there has been significant support there to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Banovina", a reference to post-earthquake aid to Croatia's Sisak-Moslavina County provided by the Serb entity authorities.

"He neither made any speeches nor did he have any special role there," Plenković said in conclusion, in reference to Pupovac.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Croatian Police En Route to Belgrade to Help in Search for Missing Youth, PM Says

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - Croatian police representatives are en route to Belgrade to help in the search for Matej Periš of Split, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

"I asked the interior minister to send a team of Croatian police representatives to Belgrade. They are en route today," he told the press.

Periš, 27, went missing in the early hours of 31 December after coming out of a nightclub in Serbia's capital, where he came with a group of friends to spend New Year's Eve. He was last seen on surveillance camera footage running around the city.

Plenković thanked the Serbian police for their efforts to date and everyone participating in the search. He said, "it's key that Mr. Periš's family, as well as the entire Croatian public, get the full story" of what happened to the young man.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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