Wednesday, 3 March 2021

MPs Debate Candidates For Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - Parliament on Wednesday debated a draft list of candidates for Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council but opposition MPs, disgruntled that the HRT was not broadcasting the debate live, walked out of the chamber.

Parliament is expected to vote on the candidates who meet the requirements set by the parliamentary media committee on Friday.

During the debate before the walkout, Nino Raspudić of the opposition Bridge (Most) said the Programming Council "has no powers and serves nothing because no one listens to it, it has no role at all nor influence on the selection of anyone or anything."

"The HRT is in the service of the great leader and his clique on a caricature level," he said, adding that the reputation and relevance of the public broadcaster was being constantly degraded and that the HRT avoided covering serious topics.

Raspudić said the Programming Council was disempowered by amendments to the HRT Act adopted by the former SDP-led government, adding that the power was concentrated in the hands of the HRT director general and the HRT put under direct political control.

Željko Sačić of the opposition Croatian Sovereignists said the HRT did not have enough programmes for war veterans and criticised the Programming Council for failing to affirm the values in the Homeland War Declaration.

Marijana Puljak of opposition Centre suggested abolishing the licence fee and the Programming Council, saying that Croatia had high taxes which could be used to finance the HRT's work instead of additionally collecting HRK 1.3 billion annually from citizens. She added that there was no investigating journalism on the HRT.

Vesna Bedeković of the ruling HDZ denied that the Programming Council had no role or powers, saying it followed the implementation of programming principles and the HRT-government agreement.

She recalled that nine of the Council's 11 members were elected in parliament and two from the HRT staff, and dismissed complaints that there were no sufficient programmes for war veterans.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Bozo Petrov Re-elected Leader of Bridge

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The opposition Bridge party held an intra-party election on Sunday by electronic vote and re-elected Bozo Petrov as the leader of the party.

The party said on its Facebook profile that Petrov won 89.96% of the vote defeating the rival Bruno Petrusic.

Bridge elected 15 Main Committee members, four Presidency members, five Supervisory Board members, and a youth secretary.

The Presidency decided to hold the election on December 7.

Friday, 18 December 2020

MP Grmoja Stripped of Immunity

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - MP Nikola Grmoja of the opposition Bridge party on Friday lost immunity at his own insistence, an almost unique case in the Croatian parliament.

"I ask all my colleagues to strip me of immunity, after which I will ask the Credentials and Privileges Commission (MIP) to strip me of it completely," Grmoja said, to which Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic replied that there was no "general" stripping of immunity, rather it was done case by case.

The case in question is a private defamation suit filed against Grmoja by former interior minister Ranko Ostojic after Grmoja claimed that he had evidence that Bridge leader Bozo Petrov was processed by the police anti-corruption office (PNUSKOK) in 2016.

MIP took the usual position, denying the approval for continuing the criminal prosecution of an MP, in this case Grmoja, while he was in office.

However, Grmoja called on MPs to strip him of immunity, contrary to MIP's recommendation, which they did.

Jandrokovic concluded that 23 MPs voted for MIP's decision, two abstained and 89 were against, and that Grmoja was stripped of immunity based on that.

Pedja Grbin of the Social Democratic Party said parliament had now rejected MIP's motion but that in order for Grmoja to be stripped of immunity, MIP must submit a motion to that effect and parliament approve it.

Jandrokovic agreed, saying "this is a unique case" and that consultations would be held.

I think MIP must submit a motion, so we will do this next time, Jandrokovic said, telling Grmoja that he still had immunity.

"So, we have rejected MIP's decision that he has immunity. However, you have immunity until MIP's decision (to the contrary) and its confirmation at a plenary," Jandrokovic told him.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Bridge's Zvonimir Troskot to Run in Zagreb Mayoral Election

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - MP Zvonimir Troskot of the opposition Bridge party will be the party's candidate for Mayor of Zagreb in local elections in May next year, Bridge announced on its Facebook page on Sunday.

Troskot has been a financial manager and auditor for large foreign companies and has led one of the biggest referendum initiatives in Croatia. He is well respected in his party as a person full of empathy and understanding for others. He has demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities and seeks to restore the citizens' trust in politics and politicians, Bridge said.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Independent MP Says Croatian Society Not Radicalised

ZAGREB, October 23, 2020 - Independent MP Nino Raspudic, who is a member of the parliamentary group of the opposition Bridge party, on Friday dismissed assessments that the Croatian society was frustrated and that there was political extremism in the country.

"Conclusions are being made even before the end of the investigation into the tragic attack in St. Mark's Square and its outcome is being prejudged," Raspudic said in reference to the October 12 incident when a 22-year-old man shot and wounded a police officer guarding the government headquarters in Zagreb, killing himself afterwards.

Raspudic stressed that there was no organised political extremism in Croatia, either left or right.

He noted that the talk about "some horrible radicalisation" was a government spin designed to divert attention from crime and corruption.

Raspudic also believes that President Zoran Milanovic was right to ask that the National Security Council hold a meeting.

As for a campaign joined earlier in the day by numerous media outlets which disabled readers' comments on their web sites for two hours in order to draw attention to the problem of hate speech, Raspudic said that disabling comments was an act of censorship.

"What is being proposed in amendments to the Electronic Media Act is actually the setting of excessive norms and it is wrong," he said, adding that Bridge advocated freedom and responsibility and that it would submit its objections to the bill in first reading.

Raspudic also noted that media outlets that had joined today's campaign against hate speech had, by doing so, revealed themselves as "pro-regime media outlets", having the same goal as those wishing to restrict freedom of speech.

MP Marija Selak Raspudic, also of the Bridge parliamentary group, said that one should first deal with the issue of censorship, and then with "potential escalation of hate speech."

"As regards statements coming from the government, we want to point out that the prime minister is unwarrantably specific when criticising individual political stakeholders... calling them out even over potential future terrorism," she said.

She also criticised PM Andrej Plenkovic for being against criticism against specific media outlets while calling at the same time the entire media scene immature.

"That means that media outlets need a big daddy to teach them how to work or adopt rules that will restrict their work because they are not mature enough to assume responsibility for their actions," she said.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Working From Home Erases Line Between Working Hours and Private Time - Round Table

ZAGREB, October 5, 2020 - The Bridge party organised a round table on Monday on the topic "Working from Home: Do we have the right of disconnect", which discussed amendments to the Labour Act due to the coronavirus, where a lot of people work from home and the line between working hours and private time disappears.

The discussion was organised following announcements that changes would be made to the Labour Act. A lot of workers work from home due to the coronaviurs situation and in many cases have to work more and need to be available all the time.

"It has been seen in practice that work from home often leads to an overlap between working hours and private time and that the fine line is being moved or erased completely," president of the Independent Croatian Unions, Kresimir Sever, said.

He explained that an employee's working hours with an employer are clearly defined, but if that employee starts working from home, a good portion of employers abuse that and expect employees to work a lot more, leaving less time for leisure activities.

"Until such time that that system is put in order, we cannot talk about real remote work," said Sever.

He added that times of crises are not a good time to amend laws.

"Laws should not be adapted to crisis situations, but should be regulated during normal times, emphasising that a  crisis may occur," he said.

He warned that the crisis situation is being exploited to introduce a more flexible labour system in Croatia which is unacceptable for the unions, and all under the guise that remote work has to be regulated.

"The Labour Act is extremely flexible in Croatia. It allows employers a wide spectrum to arrange labour relations. The thing that would provide real flexibility is collective bargaining and there is very little of that in Croatia," Sever believes.

Viktor Gotovac from the Labour and Social Law Department at the Faculty of Law does not agree that the law is good as it does not regulate remote working.

"That means that the law is not good. We have student contracts, employing pensioners, author's contracts, everything just not to change the law... I worked form home after the earthquake and my employer immediately cut off my travel allowance, but I was not paid for using my own premises, resources," Gotovac underlined.

He did not agree that the coronavirus caused the problem but rather pointed out what needs to be changed for a better legislative framework which would regulate wages, working hours and leave.


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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

PM Refutes Bridge's Claim on Connection Between Fighter Jets, EU Grants

ZAGREB, Sept 16, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday dismissed the Bridge party's claim that he had promised President Emmanuel Macron that Zagreb would buy French fighter jets in return for the European Council's decision that €22.5 billion would be set aside for Croatia.

"This is an absurdity," Plenkovic said during Question Time in parliament after Bridge deputy Zvonimir Troskot asked if the premier had promised that Croatia would purchase French multipurpose military aircraft in exchange for EU grants.

Plenkovic said he was "fascinated by debutant lawmakers", calling on Troskot not to disseminate false and incorrect claims which, he added, made him "less credible" as a parliamentary deputy.

The premier also criticised the opposition Bridge party for pursuing "coffee-house politics" and for being ignorant.

He recalled that Croatia received four bids for the procurement of fighter jets.

Earlier this month the government stated that four bids for the procurement of fighter jets were received from Sweden, the USA, France, and Israel. Now the process of evaluation commences, and the interdepartmental commission on the purchase of military aircraft will recommend the best bid by December 12.

Sweden has offered its new Gripen C/D model, while the United States has offered its new F-16 block 70, France has offered its used Rafal model, and Israel its used F-16 block 30 fighter jets.

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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Bridge MP Announces Parliamentary Debate On Right To Disconnect

ZAGREB, Sept 5, 2020 - Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudic said on Saturday this opposition party would open debate in parliament on a law on the right to disconnect, which would separate work from private life so that it could be implemented in Croatia work environment.

"Given that amendments to the Labour Act have been announced and more and more citizens work from home, while on the other hand new technologies have made our work flexible and raised the question of how it should be regulated by law, it's necessary to talk about how to separate the public and the private when workers work from home," Selak Raspudic said at a press conference.

She announced that Bridge would be the first in Croatia to open a debate on a law on the right to disconnect.

Croatian laws should not only follow global trends, in which, she said, Croatia is lagging, but also dictate them by being the first to recognize how new technologies are changing working conditions.

Asked about Bridge's position on a protest announced for today under the name Freedom Festival, Selak Raspudic said she would not attend but that she supported any form of civic activism.

Another Bridge MP, Marin Miletic, said he would come to the rally in Zagreb to hear what people had to say.

He said it was absolutely unacceptable to bring into question the right of citizens to gather in public under all legitimate measures and express their dissatisfaction with the national COVID response team.

The team has put itself above parliament and given itself the right to adopt decisions which, according to many constitutional law experts, are very questionable, Miletic said.

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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Bridge Party Presents Lead Candidates For Parliamentary Election

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 - The leader of the conservative Bridge party, Bozo Petrov, on Saturday presented lead candidates for the July 5 parliamentary election, saying that these were the people fighting for a different Croatia than the one offered by those who have been running the country for the past 30 years.

"We will fight for a Croatia in which everyone is entitled to a decent life and has equal rights because no one should be more equal than the others," said Petrov, who will head the party's slate in Constituency 10 which covers a southern part of Split-Dalmatia County and the whole of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

Petrov said that the number of seats won was not as important as the quality and integrity of people entering Parliament, adding that MPs should always have in mind the people they were elected to represent. "Quite a few of them, as we have seen in the last 30 years, forget this and lose their bearings," he noted.

Petrov said that the lists of candidates would be submitted to the Electoral Commission on Tuesday.

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