Sunday, 22 August 2021

Croatian PM Travels to Ukraine for Two-Day Visit

ZAGREB, 22 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will travel to Ukraine on Sunday to take part in the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform in Kiev.

During his two-day visit, Plenković will hold talks with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky is expected to present the Crimean Platform, an initiative of Ukraine aimed at raising the issue of Crimea in international cooperation and strengthening international coordination on the situation in Crimea.

The Platform is to operate at several levels: heads of state and government, foreign ministers, inter-parliamentary cooperation, expert networks.

The participants in the summit are expected to adopt a joint declaration confirming commitment to Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity and defining the framework for the international policy toward Crimea.

The summit takes place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence. Approximately 40 foreign delegations are expected to attend.

The Croatian prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Raman and Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

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Sunday, 15 August 2021

Plenković: Repatriation of Croatians From Afghanistan Organised

ZAGREB, 15 Aug, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday there were 20 to 30 Croatian nationals in Afghanistan and that their employers had organised their repatriation.

Speaking to the press after attending a Feast of the Assumption of Mary Mass in Rijeka, he said all services were involved with regard to the Croatian nationals in Afghanistan and that Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman was in daily contact with them.

Plenković said most of those people were working as part of various international engagements and arrangements.

He said that after so many years, the Afghan authorities did not make it independently for long and that there was a sort of disorganisation now, but that it was good that there did not seem to be many casualties. "In any case, it's not good that the Afghan authorities have been so fragile after the withdrawal of international forces."

Asked about "the U.S. president's withdrawal from Afghanistan," Plenković said it was not only him. "He entered a process that... had begun before," he said, adding that "the Croatian army withdrew almost a year ago... and some other states decided to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan."

"That attempt to build a state in such a society, so divided, often tribally organised, evidently failed and it's a lesson we will have to consider well on the international level," Plenković said.

"In relation to what was attempted, I think the intention was good, but after 19 years it was evidently time to see if the Afghan authorities, after so much investment, training, attempting to build a state, could keep that state functioning, but that didn't happen, unfortunately."

Consultations on new Supreme Court president candidate next week

Asked if he had reached an agreement with President Zoran Milanović on a new candidate for Supreme Court president, Plenković said that first the Court's General Convention had to take a position on the candidates, after which it was the turn of the parliamentary judiciary committee.

He said neither the ruling HDZ party nor the parliamentary majority had held consultations on the matter due to the summer holidays and that this topic would be on the agenda next week.

We won't pay someone to get vaccinated

Speaking of the COVID situation, Plenković said the most important thing was for Croatia to remain in the orange zone and that he was confident it would.

He said infection was spreading because of the many tourists in the country but that compared with other countries, Croatia was doing quite well.

He again called on everyone to get vaccinated, saying that over 50% of the population were still unvaccinated and that they were a reservoir from which the virus spread.

As for the coming school year, Plenković said it was necessary to be as disciplined as possible for the safety of students and their families.

He said the government did not have a new plan to speed up vaccination because there were enough doses and he talked about it in every public address. "We certainly won't pay someone to get vaccinated," he said.

The vaccination rate will not exceed 60% "for I don't know how many more months," he said. "The autumn will be as we make it."

Asked about Slovenia's requirement that people in transit be tested for COVID, Plenković said every country would somehow filter people returning from abroad ahead of the school year.

Asked about Croatia's restrictions for the autumn, he said that if they were lifted, so would the job-retention payments, reiterating that Croatia's restrictions had been "normal, reasonable... without a curfew."

He also said the Safe Stay in Croatia scheme had been received well and that plenty of tourists were expected in the next six weeks.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Plenković Extends Condolences to Haiti PM on Catastrophic Quake

ZAGREB, 14 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday extended his condolences to his Haitian counterpart Ariel Henry on a catastrophic magnitude 7.2 earthquake which struck Haiti today, extending Croatia's assistance.

It is with sadness that we hear the news of the catastrophic earthquake which has struck Haiti and caused human casualties and extensive damage. Our thoughts are with the victims' families, the people and Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Plenković tweeted.

I extend the sincerest condolences and sympathies, he said, adding that Croatia was willing to extend immediate assistance..

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Plenković Says Tourism Results Good

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was attending the 306th Sinjska Alka tournament in Sinj on Sunday, saying it was "a beautiful event" for the area and Croatia because it was "our tradition, our heritage and everything that embodies Croatia's identity."

Speaking ahead of the lancing competition, he congratulated the people of Sinj and the Alka Knights Society on the 306th Sinjska Alka.

The tournament commemorates a victory over 60,000 Ottoman soldiers on 14 August 1715 by 700 Croatian defenders of Sinj, about 30 kilometres inland from the southern coastal city of Split.

The event features period-clad horsemen riding at full gallop and aiming their lances at an iron ring, called the alka, which is suspended from a rope above the race track.

It was inscribed on UNESCO's world intangible cultural heritage list in 2010.

Members of the press asked Plenković to comment on the COVID situation in Sinj, whose Mayor Miro Bulj asked that hospitality establishments be allowed to stay open longer for the tournament, a request rejected by the national COVID crisis management team due to COVID rules.

The prime minister said the rules were the same for all and that they were adopted for, not against, citizens and tourists.

He said he saw no problem, as more spectators would be allowed than last year, and that after 18 months it should be clear to everyone why bars were not allowed to stay open after midnight, not just in Sinj.

Plenković went on to say that the tourist season was above all expectations, and that the state and all other segments of society had done everything for it to be better both in terms of the COVID situation and efforts to promote Croatia.

He announced a tourism sector meeting in Opatija on Tuesday to be attended by six ministers aimed at reviewing what has been done in this year's tourism season which, according to current estimates, will be at 65-70% of the results achieved in the record year 2019.

"Considering our neighbours and the situation we were in, that is brilliant," Plenković said

He added that people should be more disciplined, wiser and more responsible to each other in order for the season to last as long as possible, so that Croatia's coastline was an orange COVID zone for at least two to three more weeks which, he added, would indicate strong economic recovery.

He said the growth announcements for the second quarter were "brilliant" and that if the season continued like this, they would be "very good" for Q3 as well. "That's what is most important at the moment to me as prime minister."

Asked to comment on the Hague war crimes tribunal's confirmation that Slobodan Milošević took part in a criminal enterprise against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said Croatians knew that very well and did not need proof.

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Thursday, 5 August 2021

Prime Minister: We Will Not Allow Anyone to Question Legitimacy of Operation Storm

Zagreb, 5 Aug 2021 - Magnanimity in victory does not mean that Croatia will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm or the defensive nature of the Homeland War, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told a ceremony in Knin on Thursday marking the 26th anniversary of the operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in 1995.

"It is always a special feeling to come to Knin on this day because it is an opportunity for us to remember the days of pride and victory which are deeply impressed on the hearts of all Croats, but which are also an expression of lasting gratitude to all those who gave their lives so that Croatia could live and be free," Plenković said in his speech, extending his best wishes for Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day.

Today we pay tribute to the victorious Croatian army and police who, under the leadership of President Franjo Tuđman, defeated in battle the criminal policy of the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević, which secured Croatia's survival, ended the war, and established lasting peace.

"That victory and our legitimate right to live as free people in our own country were, unfortunately, paid in the lives of the bravest of Croatian sons to whom we are forever grateful, as we are to many members of the ethnic minorities who also defended Croatia," Plenković said. 

"Today we are in thoughts with the families of the defenders who were killed, Croatian disabled war veterans and many civilian casualties," he said, stressing that the Homeland War and the victories won in Operation Storm, as well as in Operation Flash and other military operations that preceded it, were the foundations of the present Croatian state.

"That's why shedding light on the truth about missing persons, the prosecution of war crimes, and the attainment of justice for everyone who was caused pain remains our lasting duty," the prime minister said, adding that "we will always celebrate Operation Storm indignity so that future generations would also foster the values of the Homeland War."

He said that after symbolic gestures made at last year's anniversary, his government would continue to pursue the policy of reconciliation, co-existence, and understanding, respecting the historical truth and paying respects to all innocent victims.

"But magnanimity in victory does not mean that we will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm and the defensive nature of the Homeland War. This is also a message to our neighbor, Serbia, which in my opinion should abandon the futile rhetoric of the past, face up to its own responsibility, pursue a policy of reconciliation and look to the future", Plenković said.

He said that the sacrifices made oblige us to strengthen the Croatian state in political, economic, defense and security aspects and to respond to the challenges facing us, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery after the economic crisis, the imperative of demographic survival, post-earthquake reconstruction, climate change, and natural disasters.

He said that Croatia would continue to act in its national interests by pursuing the policy of modern sovereignty based on its membership of NATO and the European Union. Here he cited the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, which will provide a direct road link between southern Croatia and the rest of the country, the completion of the motorway in Istria County, forthcoming membership of the Schengen Area and the euro area, and the purchase of fighter jets.

"We are doing all this while strengthening our international position and using the benefits of EU membership and at the same time taking care of Croatian war veterans and their families," the prime minister said.

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Sunday, 1 August 2021

Kosovo's Kurti Thanks Plenković for Helping Bus Crash Victims

ZAGREB, 1 Aug, 2021 - Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti has sent a letter to his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković to thank the Croatian authorities and people for helping the Kosovo citizens injured in a traffic accident in eastern Croatia last Sunday. 

Ten people were killed and 45 injured after a Kosovo-registered bus, travelling en route from Frankfurt to Kosovo, veered off the A3 motorway at Slavonski Brod on the morning of 25 July and overturned.

"Your rapid response after the tragic accident at Slavonski Brod, where 10 of our compatriots were killed, the treatment of those injured and care for other passengers show your own great personal qualities and the generosity of the Croatian people," Kurti wrote in the letter carried by Kosovo media.

"Your selfless effort and the effort of the institutions of your country in providing all the necessary assistance to our compatriots has deeply touched our hearts. The people and government of the Republic of Kosovo will never forget this act of humanity and solidarity with our tragedy," he said.

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Saturday, 31 July 2021

Plenković: Croatia and Kosovo Act Together in Accidents

ZAGREB, 31 July, 2021 - Croatia and Kosovo act together in accidents, such as one that occurred on the motorway in eastern Croatia last week when 10 Kosovo citizens were killed, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with the Kosovo Albanian website Albanian Post.

"In accidents we stand and act together. We showed this not just in this accident, but also in earlier crisis situations and emergencies in the last 30 years," Plenković said.

"Croatia and Kosovo have good bilateral relations and understand each other well because we know how challenging the road to independence and state-building is," he added, recalling that Croatia had been among the first countries to recognise Kosovo's independence and was actively advocating its European path.

A Kosovo-registered bus, travelling en route from Frankfurt to Kosovo, ran off the A3 motorway at Slavonski Brod last Sunday. Ten Kosovo citizens were killed and another 10 seriously injured. All Croatian emergency services responded promptly, providing medical and other assistance to those injured and arranging accommodation for those uninjured. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti visited the injured passengers.

"Prime Minister Kurti wanted to visit the Kosovo citizens. He showed great commitment to his people and to those involved in this great tragedy that occurred," Plenković said.

The representative of the Albanian minority in the Croatian parliament, Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj, also provided a great contribution, he added.

"All relevant Croatian services and institutions responded promptly and made maximum effort to help the people involved in the accident, both those who were injured and those who were not," Plenković said. "The Croatian authorities did for the Kosovo citizens what they would do for Croatian citizens" and the rapid response prevented "the number of casualties from increasing."

An image of the Croatian flag, with an inscription saying "Thank you, Croatia", was projected on the Kosovo government building in Priština on Friday as a sign of gratitude to Croatia for helping the bus crash victims.

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Monday, 26 July 2021

Kosovo PM Flies in to Visit Injured Bus Passengers in Slavonski Brod Hospital

ZAGREB, 26 July 2021 - The prime ministers of Croatia and Kosovo, Andrej Plenković and Albin Kurti respectively, have visited the passengers injured in the bus accident that occurred on the A3 motorway at Slavonski Brod early Sunday morning. 

The Kosovo-registered bus with 67 passengers and two drivers on board, en route from Frankfurt, Germany to Kosovo, ran off the motorway at Slavonski Brod, eastern Croatia, at 6.20 am on Sunday, as a result of which nine passengers and the driver who was resting were killed. Forty-four passengers were injured.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Kurti flew into Slavonski Brod on Sunday evening aboard a Croatian army helicopter deployed in Kosovo as part of the KFOR peacekeeping mission. He was welcomed by Croatian Prime Minister Plenković, who had visited the injured passengers earlier in the day.

"I am glad that the prime minister of Kosovo promptly arrived in Croatia," Plenković said. Kurti said that this was a hard day for the people of Kosovo, extending his condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.

Kurti thanked Plenković for the assistance provided by the Croatian government as well as the doctors at the Slavonski Brod hospital where the majority of the injured passengers are being treated.

"I visited all the patients and I want to thank the hospital's directors and all staff who are looking after the patients," Kurti said. He was accompanied by Kosovo's foreign minister, interior minister, health minister, and presidential chief of staff.

The two prime ministers also visited the passengers who were not injured, who are accommodated in a boarding house in Slavonski Brod.

Plenković reiterated that Croatia would provide all the necessary assistance.

Kurti said that Monday would be a day of mourning in Kosovo.

The Croatian police and prosecutors have opened an investigation, confirming that the driver has been arrested after admitting that he fell asleep for a moment.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

PM: Marked Rise in New COVID Cases, Restrictions to Be Introduced in Adriatic Region

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that after a period of decrease and stagnation, the past week saw a marked increase in the number of new cases of the coronavirus infection, and he called for caution, adding that additional restrictions are being introduced in the Adriatic region.

The largest number of cases were registered in four Dalmatian counties which are all tourist destinations, so the national COVID-19 crisis management team will introduce additional epidemiological measures in that area to limit the possibility of the infection spreading, to control events with a greater number of participants, to avoid risks and to make tourist season possible, Plenković announced at his cabinet's session.

He added that the government took into account the health aspect, but also the tourist, economic, financial, and social aspects.

As for vaccination, he said that as of yesterday Croatia passed the number of 1.6 million people vaccinated with the first dose against coronavirus.

"That's very good, we're getting closer to the number of 48% of the vaccinated adult population. I still call on everyone, especially those in two minds or in fear, to get informed, to have confidence in the profession, medicine, all those who want to protect as many citizens as possible, and to decide to get vaccinated themselves," the prime minister said.

94% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients not vaccinated against this infection

He said that there was "an abundance" of vaccines and recalled last week's decision to enable all Croatian citizens without mandatory health insurance and Croatia from all over the world, as well as all other foreign nationals, to get vaccinated, so, for instance, someone from Mostar going on holiday to Makarska can get vaccinated for free there.

"I would like us to contribute to the protection against COVID beyond our borders also in that way because this is a global game, and with our action, we want to make that contribution," Plenković said, inviting people to use this opportunity.

He also underlined that 94% of hospitalized COVID patients had not been fully inoculated against that infection.

Ministers: Numbers growing, a new package of measures to be introduced

Health Minister Vili Beroš said at the government session that the number of COVID cases was unfortunately rising and that the epidemiological situation in some counties called for caution, while Interior Minister Davor Božinović announced the introduction of a new set of measures.

In the two-week period from 5 to 18 July, Zadar, Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties and the City of Zagreb registered the largest number of new cases, Beroš said.

"The numbers are unfortunately still growing, the increase in positive cases over the past seven days is 46.1%, the situation in some counties calls for caution, so it requires increased monitoring and caution," said Beroš, warning of the easy spread of the new variant of the virus and of several smaller hotspots.

He said the situation in hospitals was generally favorable, with the exception of some hospitals in Dalmatia, which are recording a slight increase in the number of hospitalized patients. There are currently 122 patients in hospitals, 13 of whom are on ventilators, he said, reiterating that 94% of hospitalized patients have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

A total of 2.9 million doses have been administered, and the minister announced pharmacies would join the vaccination process and issue COVID certificates.

On the 514th day since the outbreak of coronavirus in Croatia, 179 new cases have been registered, the percentage of positive tests over the past 24 hours is 4.56%, and Croatia's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants is 35.9, the health minister said.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Extends Kurban Bayram Greetings

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday congratulated the head of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Mufti Aziz Hasanović, and all Islamic believers on Kurban Bayram, wishing that the Bayram days be filled with peace, health and joy.

Plenković also wished that "this time of sacrifice give you inspiration and strength to overcome the challenges and tests ahead."

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