Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Left-liberal Parties Unwilling to Support Bridge Motion to Replace Three Ministers

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Even though the opposition Bridge party still lacks 31 signatures to file a motion for the replacement of three government members, being seven signatures short of the number of signatures required for such a move, Social Democrats are not likely to sign the petition either.

Bridge vice-president Nikola Grmoja last week commended Bridge MPs as well as deputies of the Homeland Movement and the Social Democrats as "true opposition groups," attacking the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and We Can! for not wishing to sign his party's motion for the replacement of Deputy PM Boris Milošević, Labour Minister Josip Aladrović and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić.

Bridge is not likely to collect the remaining seven signatures from the Social Democrats as their position is similar to that of the SDP and We Can!, which believe that the dissolution of the parliament and calling an early election is a priority rather than insistence on the replacement of individual ministers.

A month ago, seven left-liberal groups put forward a proposal to dissolve the parliament, noting that a government reshuffle was not the solution because the government was incorrigible.

Even though Grmoja said that his party motion had been supported by Social Democrats Davor Bernardić and Matko Kuzmanić, according to unofficial sources from that party group, it is not very likely that more members of the party group will sign the petition.

Grmoja said that his party would continue calling on the rest of the Opposition to support the Bridge motion because it believes it is the only right thing to do.

"In these unstable times, it is not normal for people who are under investigation to keep their ministerial positions. It is the Opposition's task to make the prime minister come to the parliament and at least defend his ministers," Grmoja said, recalling that a month and a half ago the Bridge parliamentary group gave all of its eight signatures for the motion of the left-liberal opposition parties.

Asked on Monday by reporters about the Opposition's motion for the parliament's dissolution, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that even when it was put on the agenda, it would not receive support.

Speaking of the ministers who were under investigation by the Office of State Attorney, he admitted that that made the situation more complicated but underlined the presumption of innocence and added that a decision on the matter was up to PM Andrej Plenković.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Pupovac Causes Uproar in Parliament When Defending His Party Colleague

ZAGREB, 23 Feb 2022 - Several MPs responded heatedly on Wednesday to SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac's accusations about their intention to incite hatred, while he was speaking in defence of Deputy Prime Minister and party colleague, Boris Milošević, who is under investigation for abuse of power.

"There are some people who allegedly advocate justice and legality yet they are doing that in such a way that they incite and instigate hatred and with that, they destroy the very notion of justice and legality while inciting hatred easily leads to inciting violence," said Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) and added, "those people are not called Boris Milošević."

He underscored however that there are people who will always build a society sensitive to feelings for others, whether that means trying to survive in Dvor, suffering in Okučani or being a casualty of Ovčara. "These people will be found where care is great, plight is difficult and suffering is gruesome. These people have feelings for others and they are called Milošević, Boris Milošević.

Nevertheless, he added, there are people and there always will be those unaware of sensitive society, who are not led by that same feeling for others, for their concerns for tomorrow, their sufferings of today and calamities of yesterday, "whether that be suffering in Donji Lapac, Voćin or in Varivode or Grubori."

Pupovac: Grmoja won't be where there is suffering

Pupovac named Bridge MP Nikola Grmoja, the chairman of the Anti-Corruption Council, as one of those people who would not be where there is suffering nor MP Mirlan Vrkljan who was accused of bribe-taking as a physician.

Pupovac said there are people of all faiths and nations, from all ideological and political groups who use their authority led by social and public morals and their own integrity, no matter what position they hold.

"They do not abuse their power, they serve people regardless of their faith or nation, ideological or political belief", Pupovac said once again referring to Boris Milošević as one of those office-holders.

Grmoja reacted by saying that he has feelings for every Croatian citizen regardless of their ethnicity or party preference. 

Grmoja: Subsidies granted to HDZ and SDSS members, friends and neighbours 

"You have feelings for MP Dragana Jeckov's (SDSS) neighbours who did not meet the eligibility criteria for subsidies but received them. Croatian veterans did not fight for that sort of Croatia where members of the HDZ and SDSS, close friends and neighbours, are granted subsidies", Grmoja retorted.

"There are people who would arrest Serbs just like they did in 1990 and 1991 and their fate was never learned," Jeckov then told Grmoja.

Grmoja said he would never arrest anyone but would leave that to the competent institutions to arrest corrupt Serbs and even more corrupt Croatians, Croatians in the HDZ and three corrupt Serbs from the ranks of SDSS."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

It's Important to Respect Presumption of Innocence, Minister Obuljen Koržinek

ZAGREB, 23 Feb 2022 - Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Wednesday she condemned any suspicion of a dishonourable act, wherever it came from, but that it was important to respect the presumption of innocence, notably regarding Deputy PM Boris Milošević and the allocation of incentives.

The USKOK anti-corruption office is accusing Milošević of abuse of office in the allocation of incentives to businesses alongside five other persons, including Darko Horvat, who was arrested on Saturday and relieved of duty as construction minister.

Speaking on Croatian Radio, Obuljen Koržinek said the matter was under investigation.

"It's important not to create hysteria, not to convict people before proceedings have been carried out because many people in high positions in Croatia have been accused and labelled, which lasted for years, only to be acquitted."

She said it was very important to respect judicial institutions and not to convict people before a verdict was delivered.

Opposition's only agenda is to topple the HDZ without arguments

Asked to comment on some opposition parties' demand for dissolving parliament and an early election, she said "the opposition's only agenda is the delusional and unfounded toppling of the (ruling) HDZ."

"How has it happened that all of a sudden the SDP, We Can! and Bridge agree on everything?" she said, adding that it is their only narrative.

"They should form a party together, act together and pretend they are on different political positions", she said, telling all three to consider their actions in the election they are demanding.

"They are praying to God that there is no election and that in two years they can try to work some more on their image and rating."

Obuljen Koržinek called the opposition's statements on the judiciary as mud-slinging and an unfounded stating of untruths. "A week ago they said the HDZ had its hooks in and controlled the judiciary and now, a week later, all of a sudden the whole judiciary is excellent, independent  and should be protected."

She said such inconsistency and spitting on everything was very bad for democracy in Croatia.

"Don't hit at institutions because tomorrow you will have to build them," she told the opposition, adding that the common goal of those in power and the opposition is to affirm politics as an activity in which one works for the common good.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Attorney Confirms Hiring by Deputy Prime Minister Milošević

ZAGREB, 23 Feb 2022 - Attorney Anto Nobilo said on Tuesday that Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević hired him after the USKOK anti-corruption office accused him of incitement to abuse of office in the allocation of incentives to businesses.

Speaking to Hina, Nobilo said he was now waiting to see the case file so that he could start preparing a defence.

He said Milošević had not been questioned at USKOK nor summoned, and that he would not state his defence before seeing the case file.

Nobilo said Milošević was accused of incitement to abuse of office.

Speaking for RTL television earlier in the evening, he said that, judging by the decision to conduct an investigation, incitement was suspected but there was room for a defence.

"Milošević believes that he is not guilty," Nobilo said. "He advocated for the constituents who elected him and did not ask someone else to commit a crime."

Nobilo said Milošević should not appeal against the investigation, which is also looking into Darko Horvat, who was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of abuse of office, after which he was relieved of duty as construction minister at his own request.

"I suggested against it because there is reasonable doubt. USKOK embarked on a criminal procedure absolutely correctly upon getting a witness deposition. It believed the deposition and that, as a basis of reasonable doubt, is enough to launch an investigation," Nobilo said.

USKOK is investigating six persons. Horvat, who is in one month's custody, and his former aide Ana Mandac are accused of abuse of office.

Besides Milošević, USKOK is accusing of incitement to abuse of office, according to unconfirmed information, Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry state secretary Velimir Žunac, the head of the Administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković, and former minister Tomislav Tolušić.

As the main suspect, Horvat was arrested after Mandac told USKOK that incentives were allocated to businesses that did not meet the criteria when Horvat served as economy minister. Horvat claims he was only signing documents brought to him by Mandac.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

PM Says Gov't Won't Step Down, No Early Election

ZAGREB, 14 Nov, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday that protesting against vaccination was allowed and that everyone was entitled to their opinion, but added that the government would not step down and there would be no early election.

"We must respect each other. I haven't noticed that some of the protesters have asked us to meet with them. I heard they call us Mengele and want resignations. We are not like Mengele," he told the press, adding, "all we are doing is in the interest of citizens."

He said it was good that more than two million people in Croatia had been vaccinated and that foreigners were coming to Croatia to get vaccinated. "If people from Russia and Azerbaijan can invest in coming to Croatia to get vaccinated, then that shouldn't be a problem for our people."

Plenković thanked doctors and other health workers for their efforts in the treatment of COVID patients.

Croatia soon to have 10,000 COVID deaths

He said it was absurd that citizens were not using the opportunity to get vaccinated, bringing themselves into danger. He added that Croatia would soon have 10,000 COVID deaths.

"COVID certificates are no coercion to vaccination, just a filtre, a guarantee to be responsible towards those who have been vaccinated. Whether you will be alive and healthier or pretend that there is no coronavirus and perhaps die, that's a choice."

Plenković said he disagreed with claims that the media equated those speaking responsibly and those "talking nonsense," adding that he was not blaming the media and that in this crisis one should not eliminate all the good things that had been done and focus on omissions.

"The media are very important, common responsibility is important. You can write whatever you want, but we will say what we think is important for Croatian citizens," he said.

Croatia's COVID measures extremely balanced

Asked if Croatia would introduce restrictions like Austria, Plenković said every country was adjusting to the situation and respected those vaccinated, adding that it was understandable if someone could not get vaccinated for medical reasons.

"But to deny coronavirus, to say that there are some bad governments which have nothing better to do than limit citizens' freedoms, that's nonsense. Besides, our epidemiological measures have been extremely balanced."

Plenković said that despite the pandemic, people were receiving salaries, Croatia's credit rating was upgraded and growth was 9%. He added that people who refused to get vaccinated were affecting "healthcare, expenses and general social problems."

Deputy PM Boris Milošević to take part in Vukovar remembrance procession

The prime minister went on to say that he would take part in the Vukovar remembrance procession next week, as would Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević.

Asked to comment on President Zoran Milanović's claims yesterday that Defence Minister Mario Banožić was a "corrupt loony" and a case for the European Anti-Fraud Office, Plenković said he failed to see that. "Sometimes when people talk about people, they mostly talk about themselves."

He said he did not know when the conflict with Milanović over Banožić would end, adding that the government was dealing with important things. "Those with a lot of time and few powers deal with unimportant things so that the public could realise that they exist."

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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Deputy PM Boris Milošević: It is Important That Hate Ends

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - It is important that hate stops and is not passed on to new generations because only that way, can we build a better Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević said at a commemoration for the civilian victims of the 1995 Operation Storm in Plavno and Grubori near Knin.

"Unfortunately, those who know what happened in Grubori 26 years ago have chosen silence, they have chosen to protect those who committed the crime. Those who have chosen to keep silent and those who committed the crime, just as all of us here, need to be aware of the importance of human life, including in war, when people get killed. There is no higher goal that can justify the killing of elderly and infirm civilians," Milošević said at the commemoration, organised by the Serb National Council (SNV) and the Šibenik-Knin County Serb Minority Council.

One should not differentiate between victims, justify crimes

Noting that one should not differentiate between victims or justify the crimes committed by one side with crimes committed by others, Milošević said that forgiveness did not give legitimacy to crimes nor did it mean oblivion but rather "that we opt for the future and hope."

"Those who committed this horrible crime with impunity did not expect that the survivors who were expelled from here would return," SNV vice-president and Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) MP Anja Šimpraga said.

She noted that the state had finally launched reconstruction in Grubori and that the first steps had been made in that regard.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's envoy Veran Matić said that so far "Croatia has failed in every possible respect when it comes to Grubori."

"By rebuilding Grubori, a process that was launched last year when a new policy of reconciliation was introduced here, Croatia would show that indeed it has not failed in every respect when it comes to this area," Matić said, adding that the return of pre-war villagers could not threaten anyone.

Pupovac: Awareness of need for reconciliation built in Grubori

SNV president Milorad Pupovac said that Grubori was one of the places where an awareness of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation was fostered.

"We are doing our best for the number of such places in Croatia to grow. Much stronger reconstruction efforts are needed in this area, in terms of public lighting, public transportation and social care," he said.

On Ustasha salute

He also commented on current debates about a ban on the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready".

"Below the society's surface, a battle is being waged between what constitutes today's democratic Croatia and what constitutes a pro-Ustasha Croatia and its integration in today's Croatia as a legacy. That is a battle we should wage and for that, we need media, schools, public authorities, as well as the government, parliament and the president of the republic, and not only courts and criminal laws," said Pupovac.

Today's commemoration in Plavno and Grubori was held for 32 people killed in Plavno and for six Serb civilians killed in its hamlet of Grubori.

Former members of the Anti-Terrorist Unit Lučko Frano Drlje and Božo Krajina were tried on two occasions for the murder of the six Serb civilians in Grubori on 25 August 1995, but the Zagreb County Court acquitted them both times for lack of evidence.

The Supreme Court upheld the verdict in October 2019 and explaining its ruling, it stated explicitly that there had been attempts to cover up the atrocity.

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

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Deputy PM: Post-Quake Reconstruction Bill to be Put to Vote on Thursday

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević said on Sunday that according to the information available to him, the bill on the post-earthquake reconstruction would be put to the vote on Thursday, and he expects all political parties to show consensus rather than one-upmanship considering this topic.

"The information I have is that the bill will be put to the vote on Thursday, the parliamentary majority is stable," Miloševic, who is a vice chairman of the task force for dealing with the 29 December earthquake, told the national radio on Sunday morning.

"I hold that the law on the post-earthquake reconstruction would be supported not only by the parliamentary majority but also all political parties, as I see this law as an above-party matter. This is not the time for political one-upmanship," Milošević said.

After the Opposition broke the quorum in the parliament on Friday, the relevant amendments to the law on post-earthquake reconstruction were not voted in.

Considering the the demolition and removal of the buildings that were so damaged in the earthquake that they presented danger to human lives and health as well as to adjacent buildings, the Deputy PM told the national radio that the job was complex and that it required some procedure, including the consent from the owners and other permits.

The delay in the adoption of the post-quake reconstruction rendered this task more complicated, he said, adding that the new law would make all that easier.

Now, the authorities have started demolishing the state- and the city-owned buildings and structures, according to Milošević.

The removal of private properties, seriously damaged in the quake, will require the permission from the owners.

Milošević noted that more than 8,500 buildings and properties had been seriously damaged in the quake-affected areas, including in the cities of Petrinja, Glina and Sisak, as well as in scattered rural settlements.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Milošević Tells Quake Victims Not to Worry About Heating Bills

ZAGREB, 16 January, 2021 - The deputy head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, said on Saturday the people affected should not worry about heating bills but use heaters and not stay in the cold.

Speaking to the press in Petrinja, he said "it was never in question to relieve people as much as possible so they don't think about heating bills. We are aware that people here primarily use wood for heating, which they can't do in mobile homes and containers."

Milošević said the Red Cross had distributed more than 2,200 heaters. "That's the only way they can be warm and that's why we are working towards relieving them of that kind of cost."

He said everyone who needed a heater should contact the Red Cross or the other humanitarian organisations active in the area.

Asked about a decision to write off energy bills foe the people in earthquake-hit areas, Milošević said the government was expected to adopt a conclusion to that end on Monday. "It certainly applies to heating costs. As for water, local utilities are in charge. We'll talk about it."

The government's spokesman Marko Milić told Hina last night that on Monday the government would adopt a conclusion regarding the write-off of electricity bills in the earthquake-hit areas. 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković informed Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivo Žinić about it, he said, recalling that Žinić advocated such a decision to help the citizens affected by the devastating earthquake.

Housing container situation better and better

Regarding housing containers in the quake-hit parts of Sisak-Moslavina County, he said it was better by the day, with more than 500 provided so far. "Our goal is to ensure 1,500 containers by the end of the month, which we believe will be enough."

Milošević said attempts would be made to provide housing containers for people currently staying in caravans "which, in conditions of snow, ice and low temperatures, are inadequate for a longer period of time."

He said 45,000 buildings had been reported as damaged in the magnitude 6.2 tremor and that structural engineers had inspected about 20,000.

He announced that on Wednesday parliament would debate a bill on the reconstruction of buildings damaged in the quake, saying he was confident amendments would help to improve the text.

"The government will endorse all constructive and good proposals because the situation in Banija is above politics. We must all look at it that way," said Milošević.