Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Security in Croatia Not Undermined, Says Interior Minister

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday security in Croatia was not undermined "in these extraordinary circumstances and special epidemiological conditions", also underlining the importance of combating corruption and illegal migration.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Police Day, Bozinovic said security was not undermined "even during the tourist season."

"With a set of new operative solutions and models of their implementation, the police have adjusted to changes in the commission of crimes caused by the epidemic, paying special attention to domestic violence and vulnerable groups."

Bozinovic said illegal migration and the smuggling networks connected to them became active again after the spring lockdown, adding that the police met the rising trend prepared both technically and in terms of staff.

Police are doing their job responsibly and professionally

"The Croatian police are doing their job responsibly and professionally, focusing on priority problems," he said, highlighting the fight against human trafficking, illegal migration, and corruption.

Bozinovic said emphasis would be put on digitalisation, efficiency, European funds, and streamlining civil protection. He added that 22 projects, worth HRK 117 million, had been launched to procure police equipment. 

Milina: Fight against organised crime and corruption high on list of priorities

Police Director Nikola Milina thanked all police officers for their efforts after the March earthquake in the Zagreb area and during the coronavirus epidemic, saying he was also pleased with the efforts made to protect the external EU border, the longest land border on the migration route.

He recalled that in October 2019 Croatia met one of its strategic goals, technical readiness to join the Schengen Area, saying the next strategic priority was to become guardians of the Schengen border.

Milina recalled that over the past year the Croatian police had successfully carried out several operations at national and international level in which a large number of criminals were arrested.

"High on our list of priorities remains the fight against all forms of organised crime as well as the prevention of white collar and corruption crimes in all spheres of society."

Milina said another priority was investigating all war crimes and that they would not stop until all were prosecuted.

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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Interior Minister Talks Coronavirus Measures, Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, Aug 25, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, reiterated on Monday that as long as it was possible, including in the autumn, measures would be adopted locally and regionally, whereas national measures were least desirable, yet he did not rule them out.

Speaking on public broadcaster HRT, Bozinovic commented on the fact that on Sunday, due to a new border crossing regime, people had to wait almost 14 hours to cross the Slovenian-Austrian border because they had to register with the health authorities.

Enter Croatia system very efficient

He recalled that the Enter Croatia system, set up to prevent congestion at border crossings, had proved to be very efficient and that practically no one had to wait to cross the Croatian border.

Bozinovic also commented on Croatia's being put on the red list by some countries due to spikes in coronavirus cases with the explanation that tourists were infected in Croatia.

He said every country was trying to improve its epidemiological situation as much as possible before the school year.

"In the past few months, Croatia was actually the only country which had a one-quarter larger population than it usually has, unlike other Mediterranean countries which recorded a drop in tourist arrivals of up to 80, 90%, whereas Croatia was a little over 50%, and in August at 67% in relation to last year."

Illegal migration - it would help if Bosnia controlled its eastern border

Bozinovic also commented on the migrant situation, saying there were about 10,000 migrants in Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the moment and that this was felt in Croatia too as the pressure on the Croatian border was 20% higher than this time last year.

He said there were no migrant movements during the spring lockdown and that "one can state that when there is the political will to hold back the migrants, and I also mean the authorities in BiH, that's possible."

"Croatian police, as always, is up to the task, preventing illegal migration, and it would help us a lot if BiH started controlling entry into its territory on (its) eastern border, which would then be better also for the people of Una-Sana Canton and other parts of BiH, and thereby in Croatia too."

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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Bozinovic Says Restriction On Work Of Nightclubs To Be Extended

ZAGREB, Aug 19, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Davor Bozinovic, said on Wednesday that the regulation banning the work of night clubs after midnight would definitely be extended considering that most new cases of infection are young people who have visited night clubs, notably in central Dalmatia. 

"The ban will definitely be extended, we'll see if there is room for some modifications because there have been attempts to bypass the ban through restaurants and bars, which are allowed to work after midnight," he said, noting that inspectors would continue checking up on those establishments.

Croatia is not an unsafe country

"Of course Croatia is not an unsafe country in any segment of security," he said in a comment on Slovenian government spokesman Jelko Kacin's claim that Croatia is an unsafe country due to a surge in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

He said that it was a fact that the number of new infections in Croatia was growing but that Croatia was also one of the few countries whose tourism did exist in the current pandemic, with figures for July and August equalling up to 70 and 80% of last year's results.

"There is greater movement of people, people tend to relax when on holidays so the increase in new infections is not unexpected," he said.

He said that most of some 100,000 visiting Slovenians were staying in Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, and Lika-Senj counties, which together had ten new infections in the last 24 hours.

He said that those guests felt safe in Croatia. "In order to convince them to return home, as soon as possible, one is possibly fomenting tension but we are confident that tourism trade will continue and that visitors will continue coming from all the countries that have now started to call on their nationals to come back home."

Bozinovic noted that the epidemiological situation was good in regions where tourists were staying, except for a few counties in central Dalmatia.

Germany could put us on the red list as well

Asked if he believed it was a matter of days when Germany, too, would put Croatia on a list of unsafe countries, he said that it was possible.

"That is possible but I would like to say that they all know very well the situation in our counties, in tourist destinations, and I'm confident every country will have to make effort to explain its decision to its nationals because less than 1% of tourists staying here have become infected," said Bozinovic.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Bozinovic: Decision On Mandatory Masks In The Open Still Not Made

ZAGREB, Aug 17, 2020 - National Civil Protection Authority head Davor Bozinovic said on Monday that the authority was considering possible measures against the coronavirus for the autumn, however, for now it had not adopted any conclusions about the obligation to wear masks in the open.

"We are thinking about measures for the autumn, however, there are no concrete conclusions, everything depends on the epidemiological situation," Bozinovic told reporters.

He underscored that the school year is a challenge in itself and that a Science and Education Ministry task force will have the main role in communicating and recommending measures regarding schools. He announced that the task force was set to meet tomorrow.

"It is ungrateful to forecast what will be today or tomorrow regarding the number of infections, however, trends are important. We will certainly make sure trends lead towards a decrease in the number of infections," he said.

"We have always adopted decisions that were an optimal solution at a particular moment," he added.

Situation for tourists from Austria favourable

As regards recommendations by the Austrian government for its citizens vacationing in Croatia to return home, Bozinovic said that he was in constant contact with Austria's authorities.

"We have been communicating intensively that the situation with the number of people infected is not the same in all parts of Croatia. It differs and in counties where the most tourists from Austria are staying it is particularly favourable. Austria's authorities are aware of that, but whether they will take that fact into account as far as their citizens are concerned, I cannot sa. That is a sovereign decision," added Bozinovic.

From the very start of the tourist season Croatia has been faced with opposed interests by countries from where tourists are coming. Those interests are not the same and everyone is trying to discourage their citizens with various measures from spending their money abroad, he said.

"Naturally, our interest is different and I think that this summer we have managed to achieve a balance, with Croatia having taken in a lot of tourists ... much more than anyone else, including us, had expected," said Bozinovic.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Minister Says Is Not Concerned Over Continuation Of Tourist Season

ZAGREB, Aug 17, 2020 - Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, who is at the helm of the national COVID response team, said on Sunday that he had no concerns over the continuation of the tourist season following travel warnings from some countries.

"I am not concerned over the remainder of the tourist season. There are currently 760,000 tourists in Croatia. In the course of the day, tens of thousands from EU member-states have entered Croatia," Bozinovic told the NOVA TV commercial broadcaster on Sunday evening.

A few days ago Italy and Austria decided to add Croatia to their lists of high-risk COVID countries.

The Croatian minister admitted that it would have been better, if such decisions had not been made, however, he added that Croatia would continue doing its best to make sure that the struggle against the coronavirus infection is efficient and that the tourist postseason is good.

Bozinovic says every country makes decisions it deems appropriate.

Since the start of the tourist season, there has existed some kind of contraposition of interests: on one hand, countries do not want their nationals to travel abroad and there spend their money, and on the other hand tourist destinations such as Croatia would like to attract as many guests as possible.

He said that there were some indications that tourists would continue visiting Croatia.

Asked whether Croatia would respond to Austria after it imposed the obligatory tests for arrivals from our country, Bozinovic said that "Croatia does not think that way."

"We are focused primarily on our interests."

We are trying to use our potentials and capacities to make sure that the favourable developments continue, the minister said.

As for Slovenia which is mulling some restrictions on arrivals from Croatia, he said that Zagreb is in permanent contact with Slovenia's authorities, and that it remained to be seen on Monday what would happen.

Slovenia to decide on possible restrictions on arrivals from Croatia on Thursday

In the meantime, the Slovenian government's spokesman said that they would decide on possible restrictions on Thursday. On Tuesday we will see the results of tests made on Monday and if there are no changes in the work on nightclubs (in Croatia), we will must respond in some way, Jelko Kacin said on Sunday evening.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Minister: Situation Is Not the Same in All Regions in Croatia

ZAGREB, Aug 14, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said about the warnings from abroad concerning a resurgence of COVID cases that efforts were being made to point out the particularity of epidemiological situations in different regions of Croatia.

The situation is not the same in counties where more than half of today's new cases were registered or in some others, he underscored.

In counties where there are mostly Austrian and Slovenian tourists, the epidemiological situation is good, Bozinovic told a press conference of the national COVID crisis management team.

He said they were communicating this to authorities in Vienna and Ljubljana.

10 counties with the incidence of fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people in 14 days

Croatian Public Health Institute head Krunoslav Capak said that in 14 days 10 counties had an incidence of fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people, which is by Slovenian criteria a green zone. These are Bjelovar-Bilogora County, Istria County, Koprivnica-Krizevci County, Krapina-Zagorje County, Medjimurje County, Pozega-Slavonija County, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Sisak-Moslavina County, Varazdin County and Virovitica-Podravina County.

Vukovar and Split Counties with more than 40 cases  per 100,000 people in 14 days

Two counties are in the red zone, with more than 40 cases in 14 days, and they are Vukovar-Srijem and Split-Dalmatia County.

Other countries are in the so-called orange zone, between 10 and 40, which Capak underscored as a good and favourable situation.

As for comparisons with other EU countries, he said that of the 27 countries we were not at the top or at the bottom, but in the middle, as the 13th country by incidence. The Netherlands, which has introduced measures for us, is below us, as one of the countries with a worse situation.

Commenting on the fact that the number of infected foreigners does not match data from abroad, Capak said that they had data they received officially and that since June there had been 54 persons for whom we had received a notification through the EWRS system that they had become infected in Croatia.

"We communicate with everyone, whoever officially sends us a report, we respond to it and conduct an investigation," Capak said.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Bozinovic Announces Reform of Entire Ministry of Interior System

ZAGREB, Aug 8, 2020 - A reform of the Croatian police force is about to be launched and it will cover the entire system, with emphasis on digitalisation and faster work, Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic has said in an interview with Hina at the start of his second term in office.

"The reform will primarily put emphasis on the use of funds, digitalisation building on the potential shown by the Ministry of the Interior during the coronavirus crisis, and consequently faster work procedures and defining of operational procedures for police officers," said Bozinovic.

He added that the reform would connect the existing information systems with new European information systems, which, he said, would, among other things, increase internal border security.

The system of civil protection is also expected to be upgraded and a new law on civil protection is to be adopted, while staff will be rejuvenated and the issue of pensions and severance packages for police officers who meet retirement conditions will be regulated, said Bozinovic.

The purpose of the reform is to cut red tape as much as possible, enable the use of modern equipment and enabling police to focus on dealing with crime, making them more visible in the streets, in city neighbourhoods, said Bozinovic.

Asked if police would in the future film their work, Bozinovic said that that would be one of the reform moves, primarily for the sake of removing what are most often unsubstantiated accusations about police conduct towards citizens or foreigners on the state border.

Bozinovic went on to say that a reform of the Police Directorate was aimed at increasing the number of staff in police stations, with emphasis on operative staff.

The minister also announced a reform of the Ministry of the Interior's administrative affairs, to shift some of the administrative duties performed by the ministry onto local government bodies or legal entities with public authorities.

He said that he believed the Ministry of the Interior should only stay in charge of issuing citizenship certificates, weapon licences and regulating the stay of foreign nationals.

Asked if the reform would contirbute to border protection considering that entry into the Schengen area is one of the national priorities, Bozinovic said that considering migration trends, equipping border police would be one of the priorities of Croatian police as well as the entire EU in the years to come.

We will additionally enhance the technical protection of the border and in that process we count on considerable money to be absorbed from EU funds, he said.

Asked about the current situation with migrations, Bozinovic said that after a lull caused by the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, migrations had started again following the relaxation of epidemiological restrictions and restrictions on the movement of migrants outside camps in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The number of illegal entries into Croatia today is 14% higher than in the same period last year, the minister said, noting that Croatia did not expect the pressure on its borders to cease but that every day it was technically and personnel-wise better prepared to protect its borders and prevent illegal entries.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Bozinovic: Dalj Commemoration Shows Firmness of Those Who Defended Country

ZAGREB, Aug 1, 2020 - Deputy Prime Minister Davor Bozinovic on Saturday attended the 29th annual commemoration for the defenders of Dalj, saying their deaths were a tragic but proud moment of the Homeland War which showed the firmness of those who defended their country with the strength of heart and true patriotism.

He said that "in 1991, before the formation of the Croatian army, police forces played a very significant part in resisting the enemy."

"The police officers of this station were helped by members of the National Guard Corps, Civil Protection and the people of Dalj," Bozinovic said, adding that one tank shell fired today in 1991 killed 20 police, 15 guards and four Civil Protection members.

"But they didn't think that the atrocity they committed here would be one of the decisive events for raising the morale of the Croatian people in defending and liberating their country."

We should be proud of the Croatian courage, perseverance and strength of unity because this tragedy determined the further course of the Homeland War, Bozinovic said.

The defence of the Dalj police station was one in a series of confirmations of the dedication of the Croatian police to the enforcement of the law and the preservation of the constitutional and legal order, democratic values and the integrity of our country, he added.

Wreaths were laid outside the police station and Mass was celebrated for the victims at the Dalj church.

Reporters asked Bozinovic, who also serves as interior minister, about war crimes investigations and the war missing.

He said the investigations and the search for the missing was a priority of the government, the relevant ministries and other institutions. "There is intensive inter-departmental cooperation which has already delivered results and I'm sure it will do so in the future as well. When it comes to Dalj, criminal complaints have been filed and they are being processed."

Honouring all innocent war victims is a civilisational achievement

Bozinovic was asked to comment on Homeland Movement MP Ivan Penava's statement that this year's Grubori commemoration was a political trade-off and equating the 1995 Operation Storm and individual crimes.

He  said the government had been continuously working on building political relations in Croatia.

"A responsible policy should create conditions so that we can turn to future challenges as successfully and with as little baggage from the past as possible. Talking about equating is groundless. The Storm anniversary is one of the most important dates in Croatia and will remain so, so one can't talk about any equating, nor is it appropriate to talk about that in that way. Honouring all war victims is a civilisational achievement."

Monday, 27 July 2020

Croatia Presents Its Stop COVID-19 App

ZAGREB, July 27, 2020 - Croatia's health and IT sectors have developed and on Monday presented the Croatian version of the Stop COVID-19 app which uses temporary and anonymous data to inform users about exposure to coronavirus.

The app is available for Android and Apple mobile phones and uses Bluetooth technology.

The success of the app is based on the conscientious and solidary participation of citizens, said Health Minister Vili Beros.

After the pandemic is over, it will no longer be possible to use the app, which is secure and uses temporary and anonymous data.

The app's cross-border interoperability has also been ensured.

The app was designed under a government decision by the APIS IT agency for support to information systems and technologies.

"All data exchanged between two devices, i.e. two persons, is recorded only on mobile devices," said Sasa Bilic, chairman of APIS IT's management board.

Every user is informed anonymously that they have been in contact with infected persons sometime over the past 14 days. Users will be notified by text if the contact has been high, medium or low risk based on precisely defined parameters.

"We took distance into account. A text about a high risk is when a person has been two meters away for more than 15 minutes over the past 48 hours," said epidemiologist Tomislav Benjak.

The user will receive a text saying they have been in high-risk contact, to stay home and contact their family doctor. Texts about medium and low-risk contacts are created similarly.

A dozen EU member states (Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Ireland, France, and Hungary) have designed mobile apps to track contacts and inform users about exposure to COVID-19.

Bozinovic: App is secure, has all the necessary certificates

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, who heads the national COVID-19 response team, said the Stop COVID-19 app had all the necessary certificates.

"The European Commission said the health authorities in each member state should manage the app. Simply put, it's communication between two mobile phones. The person who possibly receives a text that they have been near an infected person doesn't know who this person is, and the infected person can activate the app only if they want to," he told press.

No third party can know anything about that communication, he said. "It couldn't be more secure. After all, the app has all the necessary certificates."

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Bozinovic: 6.6 Million Passengers Entered Croatia in June

ZAGREB, July 2, 2020 - Six million passengers entered Croatia in June, which is 40% less than for the same month last year, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic informed on Thursday.

In May, 2.13 million entries into Croatia were recorded and in June that number as 6.6 million, which is an increase of 210%, Bozinovic specified during the cabinet meeting adding that the trend was on the rise and that it can be attributed to the relaxation of lockdown measures.

Enter Croatia app - 90% of tourist announcements

Bozinovic underscored that in May entry into Croatia was made possible for citizens of 10 EU member states while citizens of third countries are still obliged to prove the purpose of their visit.

"In an effort to reduce waiting time at border crossings due to the collection of epidemiological information and to be in a position to connect every foreign citizen who enters Croatia, the Enter Croatia app-enabled completing the necessary information online prior to arrival and since May 28, almost 1.1 million foreign passengers used this app. About 90% of these applications are of a tourist nature," said Bozinovic. 

Passengers who complete the necessary form prior to arrival will use the special lane

The ministries of interior and tourism and the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) branch in the Czech Republic have agreed to submit passenger lists ahead of their arrival by bus in order to allow for better traffic flow. Similar agreements will be arranged with HTZ's branches in other EU member states, he said.

He added that special lanes were being opened at border crossings for people who complete the necessary forms ahead of their arrival.

Bozinovic informed that a ship arrived from China on June 26 carrying 194 tonnes of medical and protective equipment valued at $10.2 million.

''Equipment is currently being distributed to polling committees in cooperation with the State Electoral Commission but also to all care facilities following a request by the Ministry for Demography, Youth and Social Policy," said Bozinovic. 

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