Friday, 5 November 2021

Exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name" Opens in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday opened the exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name", staged by the National and University Library (NSK) in Zagreb to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar.

Plenković said that every time that emotions and events from 30 years ago are mentioned there is no better word that embodies the idea of Vukovar than the word 'freedom', which the authors of the exhibition pointed out well in its title.

The exhibition reminds us of the city that suffered the most unimaginable and cruel destruction after the Second World War in Europe, the prime minister said, adding that for every Croatian citizen, Vukovar is a place of identification with the suffering of all victims, with the courage and sacrifice of Croatian defenders and the process of gaining Croatian independence and sovereignty.

He said that the exhibition was a contribution to the numerous activities marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar.

We will try, he said, to pass, through support and patronage, the meaning, value, and symbolism of Vukovar on to young generations.

The exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name" pays tribute to the hero city of Vukovar on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar in the Homeland War, said NSK director Ivanka Stričević.

Stričević stressed that in addition to offering insight into the materials about the Homeland War in Vukovar, the exhibition also offers insight into the materials of all library collections.

The exhibition features photographs, books, manuscripts, newspaper articles, and other materials that the NSK and partner institutions keep in their collections -- materials that testify to the suffering of Vukovar, as well as to its rich culture.

The central part of the exhibition consists of texts by historian and curator of the exhibition, Vlatka Filipčić Maligec, which provide insight into the battle for Vukovar, especially the events at the Vukovar hospital, Ovčara, the barracks, Borovo Selo, and Borovo Naselje in 1991.

The texts are accompanied by photographs by Croatian photojournalists and covers of Večernji List daily, which are testimonies of the war in Vukovar and the fate of Vukovar citizens during the Homeland War, as well as by library materials on the war in Vukovar from the NSK collection on Homeland War.

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Thursday, 4 November 2021

PM: Government Firmly Opposed to Politicization of the Military

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government was firmly opposed to any politicization of the Croatian armed forces, stressing that the position of Defence Minister Mario Banožić in his cabinet was absolutely stable.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Plenković said that the matter would be discussed by the Defence Council on Tuesday and that the meeting would be preceded by a preparatory meeting on Monday with the college of military commanders so that he could "hear first-hand what problems are facing the military and see how the government can help resolve them."

The pace of the fourth wave of the pandemic determined by those not vaccinated

Commenting on the largest daily count of new coronavirus cases in the country since the start of the pandemic, Plenković said he would see what would happen with case numbers in the coming days, adding that colder weather had contributed to the considerable increase in the number of confirmed cases.

He said that the monthly report submitted by the Croatian Public Health Institute showed that the epidemiological situation and the pace of the fourth wave of the infection were mostly determined by people who have not been vaccinated.

Last month, 65,558 new coronavirus cases were registered, of which 77 percent were people who were not fully vaccinated. 554 infected persons were placed on ventilators and 427 or 77.1 percent of them were not vaccinated. 578 people died and 75 percent of them were not vaccinated, the prime minister said.

He added that the majority of the people who had died from COVID-19 in October had underlying health conditions and were elderly. All 22 people aged below 50 who died from coronavirus last month were not vaccinated, he noted.

Plenković once again appealed to elderly people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 to get vaccinated because nearly one in four people aged above 65 have not been immunized yet, which is more than 230,000 people.

He said that 1,922,763 people have been vaccinated to date, which is 56.7 percent of Croatia's adult population, expressing satisfaction that recent days have seen a rise in the number of newly-vaccinated people, albeit small.

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

Thursday, 4 November 2021

President Writes to PM About Defence Minister's Unlawful Conduct

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday sent a letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, warning him of "unacceptable and unlawful conduct by Defence Minister Mario Banožić" and calling on him to take action to enable the normal functioning and development of the Armed Forces.

In the letter, sent to Plenković on 28 October, the president claims that Banožić abused his powers by sending into early retirement the commander of the Honorary and Protection Battalion, Colonel Elvis Burčul.

Minister harassing, discriminating HV officer

Milanović says that Burčul's case is extremely important because it shows the minister's behavior pattern, notably in light of the fact that Burčul is a decorated officer, Homeland War volunteer, and commander of the unit in charge of the security of the President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief.

He recalls that the proposal to extend Burčul's term was sent to Banožić by the Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, based on an assessment that it is in line with operational reasons and is a common procedure, with none of the former defence ministers ever having withheld their consent.

This time, the minister "not only withheld his consent but told the Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff and my defence and national security advisor that he would never sign any decision (to that effect) for the officer in question and that he must leave the army, without giving any justified reason for his position," Milanović says.

Milanović recalls having asked Banožić directly why he was withholding his consent and telling him that he would withdraw his proposal if there was a serious reason for the minister's position, to which the minister, without going into detail, repeated several times that "the Colonel is a bad person."

"The minister has the right to give or withhold his consent but he does not have the right to abuse that power," Milanović says in the letter, noting that sending Burčul into retirement was just that and that Banožić also falsely claimed that he had acted in line with the retirement plan for 2021 while Burčul's name was not on that list.

Noting that Banožić's decision was motivated by personal reasons, Milanović expresses hope that those reasons are not political, adding that the minister's conduct is an act of abuse of powers and harassment and discrimination of a Croatian Army officer.

Burčul's retirement is an attempt to politicize the Armed Forces and divide officers into suitable and unsuitable ones, those whom the minister likes and those he does not like, says Milanović.

"Neither you, as Prime Minister, nor I, as President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief can tolerate that," the president says in the letter.

He also cites a number of cases in which the defence minister enabled a set of personnel decisions at the Defence Ministry that is entirely contrary to the law.

Milanović notes that the minister was warned about and informed of problems regarding army personnel matters and the material situation and level of equipment of the army on a number of occasions but failed to act on it.

"That is why I have requested a session of the Defence Council to focus on that topic... The situation is not good and it requires urgent action," the president says in his letter.

Banožić makes statements in NATO, EU without the president's consent

The president further notes that Banožić attends NATO and EU ministerial meetings without informing him, as President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, of it, and that he makes statements at those events on Croatia's behalf without his consent.

"The positions expressed that way, without prior agreement, can only be the positions of your government, naturally, if you give your consent for them, but they are not Croatia's positions because I, as President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, do not give my consent. Any obligation which your minister may undertake in that way and which concerns the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic and the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, is potentially unimplementable," Milanović warns, adding that such conduct on the minister's part can cause damage to the country's international reputation.

"Mr. Prime Minister, if your government continues with such conduct and your minister insists on the politicization of the Armed Forces, I will, if necessary, resort to Article 144(5) of the Croatian Constitution in the defence segment, for the purpose of protecting the interests of the Republic of Croatia," Milanović says in the letter.

Article 144(5) of the Constitution reads: The Republic of Croatia shall be represented in the Council and the European Council by the Government and the President of the Republic of Croatia in accordance with their respective constitutional powers.

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

Thursday, 4 November 2021

PM Says Motion to Vote No Confidence in FinMin Bizarre

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday evening defended Finance Minister Zdravko Marić from yet another attempt by the parliamentary Opposition to have the minister replaced, calling the opposition motion bizarre and the group of MPs who supported it as ridiculous.

"The parliamentary majority rejects the motion and Minister Marić will continue doing his job to the benefit of the Croatian economy," Plenković said in a debate on a motion by 34 opposition MPs for the parliament to give Marić a vote of no confidence.

He then described independent MP Karolina Vidović Krišto's presentation in which she explained the reasons for the motion as 'bizarre', likening the ideologically diverse group of MPs who supported it to "a circus troupe".

The PM said that the Opposition did not understand the concept of division of powers, judicial autonomy or unobstructed police work, dismissing their claims as conspiracy theories.

Speaking of the government's achievements, Plenković recalled the tax reform, reduction of public debt, restoration of the country's credit rating, and job preservation, wondering what Vidović Krišto had done. "What have you done for Croatia to join the EU? Nothing at all," he said.

He added that the incumbent government would continue in its present form for several years to come and work to improve citizens' living standards.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić dismissed allegations from the motion for a vote of no confidence, calling them unfounded.

He said that he categorically rejected any insinuation, starting with the one that he used his position to favour his friends' and acquaintances' interests, noting that he was doing his job conscientiously and responsibly.

Vidović Krišto launched the motion for a vote of no confidence in Marić over his spending a few days on a yacht owned by businessman Blaž Pavičić and over what she described as "his lie to the public that the businessman does not do business with the state."

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

Monday, 1 November 2021

Plenković: Climate Change Must Become Main Political Topic

ZAGREB, 1 Nov 2021 - Climate change must become the main political topic, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a UN conference on climate change in Glasgow on Monday.

The two-week COP26 conference brought together 120 state leaders expected to agree on new initiatives on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down the temperature increase.

"This must become one of our main political topics," Plenković said, adding that Croatia "is not a problem" because it has the fourth-lowest harmful gas emissions per capita in Europe.

"The problem is the big countries whose industry, traffic, and agriculture contribute a lot to carbon dioxide emissions," said Plenković, who will address the conference on Tuesday.

He said he saw the conference as a way to raise awareness of climate change, notably among the young population which "deserves a future" such as the one older generations had.

Plenković said the current political generation had the responsibility to take a step forward when it came to climate change and that the leaders who came to Glasgow were aware of the climate emergency. 

"It's something that's here, before us," he said, adding that politicians "didn't come to walk around Glasgow but to make a contribution."

He said it was "a pity" that representatives of China and Russia were not present, adding that "they have their policies" on attending international conferences in times of COVID-19.

On the fringes of the conference, Plenković met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

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

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Mayor Says PM Blocking Split’s Development, Ministry Refutes It

ZAGREB, 31 Oct, 2021 - Split Mayor Ivica Puljak called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday to "stop blocking the development" of Split, while the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure dismissed such a claim and reminded him of the projects that have been launched.

Speaking of the granting of a concession for the city's Žnjan beach, Puljak told N1 television that Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković had said on a number of occasions that, as far as the ministry was concerned, everything was ready and that it was forwarded to Plenković to put it on the government's agenda.

"I invite Prime Minister Plenković... to finally decide who will get the concession so that the project can really be realised. I hope the concession will go to the Žnjan d.o.o. company, which is a city company, and that we will start realising that project," Puljak said, adding that the realisation was almost six months late.

"I think Plenković should stop blocking the development of the City of Split and that he should move away from cheap politics. He should realise that they lost this election, he should get over it in a way and he really must not hold this city back any longer. I think the problem now is him," Puljak said, referring to Plenković's HDZ party and local elections this past May.

The Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure said Puljak's claims that Plenković was blocking Split's development by allegedly procrastinating with a decision on the Žnjan concession were "entirely unfounded and incorrect."

The granting of said concession passed regular government procedure and the opinions of the relevant state bodies are now being collected so that a decision on who will get the concession can be made, the ministry said.

It added that the Plenković cabinet was doing everything for Split to develop as much as possible, and mentioned the transport projects that have been launched as well as a HRK 42.6 million reconstruction project in the city port.

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Zmajlović, Ostojić and Goldstein President’s Ambassadorial Nominees - Večernji List

ZAGREB, 30 Oct, 2021 - Former Social Democrat minister of the interior Ranko Ostojić was to have been appointed Ambassador to Qatar, Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović was to have been appointed Ambassador to Montenegro and university professor and former ambassador to France Ivo Goldstein Ambassador to Greece.

Those were nominations that came from the office of President Zoran Milanović, who co-creates foreign policy with the government, but they were flatly rejected by the government, the Večernji List daily of Saturday says.

The Foreign Ministry said it considered the nominations to be partisan and an attempt to secure meal tickets for former party colleagues Ostojić and Zmajlović, who were not re-elected to the parliament while Zmajlović also lost the elections for Zagreb County head.

The ministry also considers that all candidates, notably Goldstein, are politically very active on the left.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, too, has expressed disagreement with Milanović's nominations. Without specifying who he was referring to, he said on Friday that the president was nominating failed Social Democrat county heads who had nothing to do with embassies and diplomacy.

Milanović said on Friday that the issue of ambassadorial nominations was being dealt with by his chief of staff Orsat Miljenić.

The president's other nominations were Nacional weekly reporter Dragan Đurić for Consul-General to Tuzla and Maja Čavlović, but those nominations did not cause controversy in the government.

On the other hand, the ministry proposed appointing diplomat and PM Plenković's advisor Vladimir Drobnjak as Ambassador to the United States, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Davor Ivo Stier Ambassador to the Vatican, and HDZ member Miro Kovač, who served as foreign minister in the Tihomir Orešković government in 2016, Ambassador to France.

The appointment of new ambassadors, which under the constitution the government and the president have to agree on, reached a deadlock just after New Year, when President Milanović said he would block the regular rotation as he wanted to be a barrier and prevent the HDZ "from taking everything it can," the daily said.

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Thursday, 28 October 2021

Minimum Wage to Rise By 10.3% to €500 in 2022

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - Croatia's minimum wage for 2022 will be HRK 3,750 (€500), rising by 10.3%, and will thus be above 50% of the average net pay for the first time.

The government on Thursday adopted a regulation on the minimum wage after consultations with all social partners.

We have assessed that in the current circumstances, the minimum wage can be increased from HRK 3,400 to HRK 3,750, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.

He went on to say that the net minimum wage of €500 would concern 51,000 workers who now receive the minimum take-home pay.

This is for the first time that the net minimum wage will be above 50% of the average monthly wage, as it will reach 52.7% of that wage.

In August, the average monthly take-home pay was HRK 7,118 (€949), when the median wage was HRK 6,014. (€802).

The new minimum wage will be 60% of the median wage.

All of this is a great step forward, Plenković said, recalling that five years ago the minimum wage was 38% of the average wage.

Over the last five years, the minimum wage has risen by HRK 1,254, or four times more than during the terms of the previous three governments, Plenković underscored.

The gross minimum wage in 2022 will be HRK 4,687.50, Labour Ministry State Secretary Dragan Jelić said.

He informed the government that the average gross salary had risen during the first seven months of 2021 as against the corresponding period of 2020.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

PM Says 56% of Adult Population Vaccinated With First Dose

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that 56% of the adult population in Croatia had received the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and warned that in the past week 750 of 1,000 hospitalized patients were people who had not been vaccinated.

Today we have reached the vaccination rate of 56% of the adult population who have received the first dose, which is close to 1.9 million citizens, Plenković said at a government session, calling once again on citizens who are fully vaccinated to have themselves vaccinated with the third shot and on those who have not got vaccinated to do so.

Over the past week, of 1,000 hospitalized patients, as many as 75% were not vaccinated, he said.

Of the 15 people aged 40-59 who died over the last seven days, only one had been vaccinated, he said, appealing to all to protect themselves considering the increase in new infections in the past few days.

In the last 24 hours, Croatia has registered 4,154 new coronavirus cases, 26 patients have died and 11,320 vaccine doses have been administered, it was said on the government's website koronavirus.hr earlier today.

There are currently 22,382 active cases, including 1,231 hospitalized patients, of whom 160 are on ventilators.

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Thursday, 28 October 2021

Government to Extend Deadline for Population Census Until 14 November

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - The Croatian government will extend the deadline for the completion of the population census, which should have been finished by 29 October, until 14 November because of difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

"Considering the present circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, where our census-takers are encountering certain difficulties on the ground, and following consultations with the director of the National Bureau of Statistics, the government will today extend the deadline for the completion of the census until 14 November," the prime minister said.

Plenković said that the extension would give enough time for the census to be completed in the remaining small pockets of the country and to be done in the best possible way.

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