Tuesday, 5 April 2022

My Resignation Is Not On the Table, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Tuesday, after the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of six-year-old Afghan migrant girl Madina Hussiny has become final, that his resignation was not on the table and that the purpose of such rulings was to improve the system.

"In cases like this the burden of responsibility is always on the system. We need to see what can and should be rectified," Božinović told the press on the sidelines of the second day of the US Croatia Forum in Zagreb when asked whether he considered himself responsible and whether he would step down.

He said that the point of such court rulings was to rectify the shortcomings of the system through rules or improvements of practice. "The purpose of courts is to draw attention to such shortcomings," he added.

Božinović said that the death of the little migrant girl was a tragedy that affected everyone. "It happened in the territory of another country. An investigation was conducted and the court reached its conclusion. Now we have to find solutions and adopt measures to improve the system," the minister said.

The judgment, which found that Croatia violated the girl's right to life, has become final after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights rejected the Croatian application for re-examination of the case.

The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) said today that the government and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković could no longer look away but must urgently replace those responsible, including the minister of the interior, national chief of police Nikola Milina, head of the Directorate for Borders Zoran Ničeno, and state secretary Terezija Gras.

Croatian authorities will now have to take concrete steps to ensure that something like this never happens again, the CMS said. It urged the government to adopt measures to stop illegal and violent expulsions of illegal migrants from Croatia, ensure efficient investigations, punish perpetrators, and ensure full independence and efficiency of the police oversight mechanism.

Madina Hussiny was hit by a train at the Croatia-Serbia border in November 2017 after the Croatian authorities allegedly denied her family the opportunity to seek asylum and ordered them to return to Serbia along the tracks.

The Strasbourg-based court found Croatia responsible for a number of violations of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to life, the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, the prohibition of collective expulsions of aliens, the right to security and liberty, and the right of individual petition. 

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Military Service Not Abolished But Suspended, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 10 March 2022 - Military service in Croatia has not been abolished but suspended and all decisions on the security situation in view of the Ukraine war will be communicated as part of the forums, institutions, and organizations of which Croatia is a member, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Thursday.

 "Military service hasn't been abolished but suspended. We pay a high level of attention to security. The Defence Ministry's budget has risen from HRK 4.5 billion to 7.2 billion through the procurement of multipurpose fighters jets, the decision to integrate and buy Bradleys, and a score of projects in the homeland security system," he told the press.

There is voluntary military training through which future professional soldiers are recruited and reservists who are part of the Armed Forces are activated, Božinović added.

He said the security situation was being discussed and that all future decisions "will be communicated."

"Everyone is watching what is happening in Ukraine. Croatia is a member of NATO and the EU and everything that is done is coordinated within the forums, institutions, and organizations of which it is a member," Božinović said after a meeting of the government's task force for the reception of Ukrainian refugees.

He said radioactivity measuring had been stepped up and that there was no danger.

He added that the former Radiology and Nuclear Safety Institute had been integrated into the Interior Ministry and that local governments were responsible for shelters.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Minister Says Key to Situation in Ukraine in Hands of Those Who Launched Aggression

ZAGREB, 5 March 2022 - Croatia's Deputy PM Davor Božinović said on Saturday that 1,570 Ukrainian refugees had so far arrived in Croatia, declining to speak about the total number of refugees expected to arrive and noting that the key to the situation in Ukraine was in the hands of those who had launched the aggression.

"There is a lot of work ahead, and as regards organisation, we are very much satisfied. I would not want to talk about any concrete figures because the key to the situation in Ukraine is only in the hands of those who have launched the aggression, they know whether and when it will be stopped," Božinović, who is also Minister of the Interior, told reporters after a meeting with members of the Civil Protection in Osijek-Baranja County and Osijek.

Božinović recalled that the government had set up an interdepartmental task force coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior.

He believes that a solid legal basis has been created to define the status and needs of Ukrainian refugees, and that it will depend on how the situation develops.

Care is being taken of the smallest details, including the issuing of EU COVID certificates to Ukrainian refugees because the coronavirus epidemic is still not over, Božinović said.

Intensive talks are underway at EU level to make Europe's response uniform, notably regarding humanitarian issues and care for those most in need, said Božinović.

Asked about the state of buffer stocks and if they had been checked since the start of the war in Ukraine, Božinović said that they had definitely been checked but that it was a question for  the Directorate for Commodity Stockpiles.

"The Directorate and the competent ministry are part of the interdepartmental task force. Arrangements will be made on a daily basis, depending on the needs, and procurement procedures will be conducted in such a way to enable a response at any time, meeting the high standards of the European Commission," said Božinović.

Asked to comment on a rally of support to Russia in Belgrade, Božinović said that everyone in the current crisis was relying on the values they advocated, and that as an EU and NATO member Croatia had clearly communicated its values and response to the war in Ukraine.

Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić recalled that a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees had been set up in the city, and that a local sports hall was also available for that purpose.

The city administration has ensured free public transport for refugees and their transport from the border to Osijek, and we are also ready for the integration of children in kindergartens and schools, said Mayor Radić.

The head of the Osijek County Civil Protection, Mato Lukić, said that 65 Ukrainian refugees were currently staying in the county, 18 in two boarding houses and the rest in private accommodation facilities in Osijek and other cities in Osijek County.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Minister Says Larger Waves of Refugees Expected

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Tuesday that due to the escalation of the war in Ukraine even larger waves of Ukrainian refugees were expected, with UNHCR estimating that around 4-5 million refugees could arrive in the EU.

"Most of the refugees who are arriving are being provided with accommodation by their relatives and friends. Judging by the situation on Ukraine's borders with its neighbours Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, the numbers are growing. We are also preparing for a meeting of the Council of Home Affairs Ministers, to be held on Thursday," Božinović said in Jastrebarsko near Zagreb, at an event marking World Civil Defence Day.

The minister said the ministerial meeting in Brussels would discuss the coordination of the EU in the Ukraine crisis.

"Larger refugee waves are expected. According to some UNHCR estimates, 4-5 million people could arrive in the EU. Around eight million internally displaced. The war is still going on. At the moment it is difficult to predict that the fighting and aggression on Ukraine will end soon," Božinović said.

He stressed that Croatia would organise itself so it can do its best in the interest of people in need.

Asked how many refugees Croatia could take in, the minister said it was difficult to speak about specific figures.

"Croatia will respond in the best way possible. I can see some countries are mentioning specific figures, not many are doing so, the situation is such that whatever we say today may become irrelevant tomorrow," he said, noting that Croatia has plans for thousands, tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Noting that Red Cross Croatia and the Civil Protection Directorate would be in charge of coordinating the process, Božinović said that many citizens were coming forward and offering help in providing accommodation for the refugees, while he advised them to contact the competent authorities.

Božinović said that a decision had already been made to send humanitarian aid but noted that the most important thing is how neighbouring countries where logistical centres would be set up, are organised.

"This primarily refers to Poland, and I guess also to Slovakia, from where the collected aid will be sent to people in Ukraine who need it. A European response is critical. How much aid will be necessary depends on the needs. Some neighbouring countries are also already in need of aid because they are faced with a major influx of refugees," he stressed.

He reported that Croatia had been contacted by Moldova and that certain decisions would be made soon in that regard.

"More than 50,000 refugees have arrived in that country so far, the country's economic situation is such that it can hardly cope with such a large influx of refugees on its own. In any case, this is a crisis in terms of armed conflict, aggression and war, but this is also a humanitarian crisis of a scope not seen since World War II," said Božinović.

Friday, 17 December 2021

Božinović: It Would Be Safer for All To Celebrate New Year Outdoors

ZAGREB, 17 Dec 2021 - It would be safer for everyone to attend outdoor New Year celebrations and for the faithful to follow Mass on TV, the head of the national COVID-19 response team, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said on Friday, warning that the new, Omicron variant was much more infectious than the Delta variant.

"The Delta variant spreads much faster than the previous variants while Omicron spreads much faster than Delta. We have a mix of those two variants and we must bear that in mind," said Božinović.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the coastal city of Zadar, he said that the number of new infections was growing in all four Dalmatian counties, calling on citizens to spend as much time as possible outdoors.

"We are entering the winter, people will tend to spend more time indoors and it is tremendously important that everyone takes care of themselves and not underestimate the situation," he said.

No relaxation of restrictions considering situation in Europe

Božinović noted that the latest epidemiological rules were introduced because of the situation in Europe and that there could be no relaxation of the rules.

"If the figures do not grow and if their mild decline is maintained, we will talk. It would be irresponsible of me to say anything else now because nobody knows what will happen in the next few days. It is a fact that we have a certain number of cases of infection with the Omicron variant and it is realistic to expect more rather than fewer cases. We should wait and see if the large figures in Europe result in more hospitalisations," he said.

For more news, follow TCN's dedicated news page.

Friday, 29 October 2021

Family Doctors Will Contact Persons over 65 about Getting Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 29 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Friday a decision was made under which family doctors would contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight about getting vaccinated because 31.3% of people in that age group have not been vaccinated against COVID.

The most vulnerable persons, those over 65, are the priority in protection from COVID, he said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, adding that 40% of those over 80 have not been vaccinated either.

If doctors fail to contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight, they should visit them at home, or have a district nurse do so, in the next 30 days, and then report to the ministry about what they have achieved. Those infirm should be vaccinated at home.

Beroš appealed to the elderly to get vaccinated. "Vaccination saves lives and it is our obligation to enable it."

He said 97 of the 177 persons over 65 who died of COVID this past week had not been vaccinated.

However, he said, interest in vaccination is growing and almost 6,000 of the 13,292 vaccinated yesterday received their first shot, the highest number since late July. Week on week it was an increase of 34.5%, and of 51.8% when compared with two weeks ago.

Croatian Institute of Public Health director Krunoslav Capak said there were 48.8% more new cases today than a week ago.

In the past 24 hours, 26 of the 32 COVID patients who ended up on ventilators and 20 of the 26 who died were not vaccinated.

The head of Zagreb's infectious diseases hospital, Alemka Markotić, told women who planned to get pregnant to get vaccinated or to do so after giving birth.

COVID certificates can't replace vaccination

Asked why COVID certificates were not required more widely, the head of the crisis management team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said the certificates offered a certain security but could not be a replacement for vaccination, adding that only vaccination could result in the pandemic abating.

"We are trying to do our best to have people vaccinated. We are thinking more and more about not limiting COVID certificates only to those vaccinated. We will also look at when they were vaccinated."

No one is considering another lockdown, but citizens must understand that this is a situation we will not get rid off anytime soon, Božinović said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Božinović Says Police Officers Were Involved in Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, 8 Oct 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday that police officers were involved in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border, which was reported by Croatian and European media earlier this week.

"The police director, as soon as he saw the footage, sent an expert team which worked very intensively and as far as I know at the moment, they established that those were police officers," he told Croatian reporters in Luxembourg, where he is attending a meeting of EU interior ministers.

Božinović said he assumed it was "some individual offence by several police officers," adding that the police director was expected to provide more details today.

On Wednesday evening, a number of European media outlets showed disturbing footage of a migrant pushback on Croatian territory. The footage shows men, wearing balaclavas and clothes similar to those of Croatian police, pushing migrants across a backwater of the Korana river towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In doing so, the men were hitting the migrants with batons such as those used by Croatian riot police and some wore vests like those worn by that unit.

According to the media, the footage was taken in June as part of an investigation by a number of European media outlets.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Bozinovic: 41,100 Applications for Passes Received, 36,000 Rejected

ZAGREB, Dec 23, 2020 - Interior Minister and head of the National Civil Protection Authority, Davor Bozinovic, said on Wednesday that nearly 97,000 applications for e-passes for travel between counties had been received by 10 a.m. and that 41,500 had been approved while slightly fewer than 36,000 had been rejected.

About 20,000 more are waiting to be processed, Bozinovic added at a government session.

Since the last government session,Civil Protection Directorate, State Inspectorate and police inspectors have conducted 19,476 inspections of businesses and public gatherings and issued 318 verbal warnings, with 210 irregularities being removed on the spot, while further action will be taken based on 61 reports concerning violations of measures, Bozinovic said.

Police established, he added, 13 such violations of measures and one criminal offence for violation of measures.

Based on reports from citizens and through regular police work, 204 violations against self-isolation measures have been established, which will result in misdemeanour warrants, and five criminal offences for spreading an infectious disease have been recorded.

Operational services continued setting up containers and tents and they issued 893,600 items of protective equipment (about 100 tonnes) to medical facilities, social welfare institutions and Red Cross Croatia societies. The equipment, Bozinovic said, is being promptly renewed, so there are 710 tonnes of protective equipment in the logistics centre and regional warehouses.

Since the last government session, the national COVID-19 crisis management team has made five decisions, three at the national and two at the county level.

Measures restricting gathering have been extended, and additional necessary measures have been introduced that will be in place until 10 January, so public gatherings are limited to 25 people, while private gatherings are limited to 10 people from two households.

It is also recommended that Masses be broadcast on radio and television, while and on 24 and 25 December they can place in accordance with special recommendations by the Croatian Public Health Institute, Bozinovic recalled.

The restriction on movement between counties will be in force until 8 January 2021.

About 800 police officers will be monitoring the implementation of the measures at about 200 checkpoints, Bozinovic said.

The national COVID-19 crisis management team has also made a decision whereby public transport service providers are required to organise transport until 10 January allowing a maximum of 40% of their capacities to be occupied, and passengers without a protective mask must not be allowed to enter any public vehicle.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Bozinovic: Illegal Parties will be Severely Punished

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - The introduction of new measures against coronavirus will depend on the number of new infections during the week, and illegal parties will be severely punished, Interior Minister and head of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, Davor Bozinovic, said on Monday.

He called on citizens to report any illegal parties they know about. That is important so that owners of cafes and restaurants that are implementing epidemiological measures are not fined.

"The growth rate is lower than a few weeks ago. If we do not see a decline this week, then we will consider new measures that could refer to limiting gatherings, reducing working hours of some businesses, working from home and working in shifts," Bozinovic said.

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 1,313 new cases of the coronavirus infection and 33 related deaths, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Monday.

Talking about public gatherings that were approved by the COVID response team (Feast of the Assumption, Remembrance Day in Vukovar), Bozinovic stressed that they were traditional events and it was difficult to expect that they would just disappear, hence it was responsible to create an epidemiological framework for them to be held.

Health Minister Vili Beros said that six or seven weeks ago the number of infections doubled, and when new measures were introduced on October 26, the number dropped in the first week. Croatia is among the seven best countries in Europe in terms of the number of active cases per one million inhabitants.

"If you compare our measures with European measures, we are achieving the same if not better results with milder measures. If everyone adhered to the measures, the results would be much better," Beros said.

The increase in the number of hospitalised patients is the result of an increase in the number of new infections that occurred two weeks ago, he said.

The Health Ministry's call centre for oncology patients received over 720 calls by this morning, and more than 90% were about Zagreb's KB Dubrava hospital, which confirmed that a new process needs to be established to provide healthcare for those patients in other hospitals in Zagreb.

Deputy head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), Marija Bubas, said that talks were underway with some counties to conduct targeted testing with antigen tests due to a large number of new infections, which would help to quickly isolate those infected.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Bozinovic: Future Measures Can Only Be More Restrictive

ZAGREB, October 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Thursday that any new epidemic measures would only be more restrictive that those currently in place, but did not specify whether and when they would be imposed, saying that this would depend on further developments.

"Any new measures that may be adopted in the coming days or longer may only be more restrictive considering the present epidemiological situation, but I will not be more specific because you more or less know the direction in which new measures would go," Bozinovic told the press ahead of a regular cabinet meeting.

He was asked whether and when restrictions such as those imposed in France and Germany could be expected in Croatia.

Bozinovic recalled that the national coronavirus response team had adopted a set of measures earlier this week to contain the coronavirus epidemic. Possible new measures would depend on the numbers of new infections, the infection growth rate and the burden this puts on the healthcare system, he added.

The minister also commented on the gathering of hundreds of Hajduk Football Club fans in Split on Wednesday evening to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Torcida fan club. Asked who was responsible that the gathering took place despite the restrictions in force, Bozinovic said that the responsibility lay with those who assembled there.

"We know that any gathering of more than 50 people has to be reported in advance. I believe that, if the gathering wasn't reported to it, and I presume it wasn't, the local coronavirus response team will take the measures provided for under the law," the minister said.

Bozinovic noted that "we will have a problem as long as there are people who think it is all right to gather together in large numbers and have close contacts without maintaining a distance."

He concluded by saying that other measures could be used to prevent such behaviour, but "repression should be a last resort."

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