Tuesday, 27 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: At The Moment I Don't See That Gabrijela Žalac is Guilty of Anything

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that at the moment he did not see that former minister Gabrijela Žalac, an official of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is guilty of anything after the USKOK anti-corruption office expanded its investigation in the windpark scandal.

"I read the press release for my information. Our judicial bodies are independent. You are aware of our position - we have zero tolerance to corruption. I don't what is behind that and I cannot deduct from the press release what exactly it has to do with," Plenković told reporters during a visit to Split-Dalmatia County.

I don't have any information about what USKOK and the State Prosecutor (DORH) are doing.

What he does know is that the loan in question was approved, as far as he is aware, in accordance with the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) rules.

"We have to see here what this is about exactly. At the moment I don't know nor do I have any detailed information of what USKOK or DORH are working on. She is a member of the HDZ. At the moment I don't see that she is guilty of anything," said Plenković.

He claimed that he saw Žalac about a month ago but they did not discuss the windpark case.

"She will deal with this situation on her own and as far as our relationship is concerned, it is as it was in any case," underscored Plenković.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Nikola Grmoja (Most Party): "PM Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia"

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - MOST Party Member of Parliament Nikola Grmoja on Tuesday commented on the latest developments in the wind park scandal, saying that even though he is trying to avoid it, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia.

He appointed ministers Gabrijela Žalac and Marija Vučković, he appointed Minister Tomislav Ćorić and all those who are directly or indirectly connected to the wind park scandal and now he is acting as if he didn't know anything, Grmoja told the press in Parliament House.

We saw that former minister Žalac lobbied for loans to be approved in that scandal, said Grmoja, recalling that while MOST Party was in government, that project did not get the green light because it lacked the necessary environmental impact study, and that as soon as MOST Party was ousted, Minister Ćorić approved the project.

Responding to a reporter's comment that even after the scandal was uncovered, many of its participants kept their positions, Grmoja said that the "mafia doesn't forget its members."

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Health Minister Beroš: "Problems Aren't Solved By Minister Stepping Down"

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Wednesday commented on an opposition motion for his resignation, saying he is not interested in keeping his ministerial position at any cost and that current problems in healthcare will not be solved with his departure but require a broad political consensus of all.

"It is the opposition's political position to question and criticise. I have never had any problems with constructive criticism, in fact, I consider it motivating. However, I have a problem with unfounded accusations and insinuations that have conveniently intensified ahead of the local election," Beroš said in a Facebook post.

The opposition, he added, has unusually focused on the health sector and him personally, who have been fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic for more than a year now.

"I cannot accept that because for more than a year now we have been intensively combatting the COVID-19 epidemic which cannot be compared to any other previous challenge. I am not looking for an excuse, I am just describing the current situation during which activities are simultaneously  being conducted towards restructuring the system to make it sustainable in the long run. The opposition's manoeuvres take us away from that aim and I wonder just how ready it is to support real changes in the healthcare system so that it can be better for all Croatian citizens," said Beroš.

He noted that the opposition had an opportunity to resolve the existing problems but that did not happen. "In fact, with its inactivity it contributed to deepening the existing problems. I'm not interested in keeping my minister's 'seat' at any cost, however, I do not have the habit of leaving an unfinished job. The problems in healthcare cannot be resolved with the health minister's resignation but through a national consensus of all political options," concluded Beroš.

Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for a vote of no confidence in the minister. The opposition said that the motion will be launched soon but that it will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has happened in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down.

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

 

Friday, 16 April 2021

MOST Party: Corruption Scandals Under Guise of Fight Against COVID

OSTZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Member of Parliament Zvonimir Troskot of the MOST party on Friday said that huge corruption risks and scandals are hiding under the guise of fight against COVID-19, warning of a new scandal regarding the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

Yet another scandal is about to break regarding the Cijepise application whose design was awarded in a non-transparent way to a good friend of Health Minister Vili Beroš's, with details of the deal having been hidden for months, Troskot told a press conference in Parliament House.

"Huge corruption risks and scandals are being hidden under the guise of fighting against COVID," he said, recalling that MOST had requested that the procurement procedure for medical equipment should not be confidential.

There is an evident model where procurement is being segmented so it does not exceed the threshold of HRK 200,000 in order to avoid a public procurement procedure, said Troskot.

The Cijepise application is very important and should be helping citizens to get vaccinated yet instead people are being inoculated out of line, he said.

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

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Says Who Plans to be Supreme Court President Must Respect Law

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that someone who planned to be president of the Supreme Court was expected to respect the law, which "is the prerequisite of every reform."

He was responding during Question Time to MP Arsen Bauk of the opposition Social Democratic Party, who said Plenković was preventing changes in the judiciary, that Croatia was the least vaccinated EU member state, that COVID-19 measures were being applied selectively and that there was no reconstruction after last year's earthquakes.

Plenković accused the SDP "and the whole left" of trying to create an "awful" atmosphere as if tomorrow there would be no wages, electricity or gas.

He said Croatia ordered 8.7 million vaccine doses and that people would be vaccinated, but that the government could not be responsible if a big drugs company had problems with its vaccine, production and distribution. "Other countries are in this situation too."

Bauk said Plenković did not refute any of his claims and that citizens believed the president more in his row with the prime minister over the election of the new Supreme Court president.

Bauk concurred with other opposition MPs' criticisms of the ruling HDZ's policies and their rejection of the possibility that Plenković's party could transform itself.

He said the HDZ's "core won't change, it's always more or less the same" and that "the HDZ has always functioned on doctrines of (...) sustainable nationalism and clientelism."

SDP MP says minister tried to bribe her

SDP MP Mirela Ahmetović said that "one of your ministers (...) personally offered me a bribe to keep quiet about all the illegal and negative things" about the LNG project off Krk island, and that as a result of the project the gas price for households went up 80% on 1 April.

Plenković accused her of having boycotted the project "dreamed of for 40 years", saying it would reduce the price of gas and that this benefitted Ahmetović as head of Omišalj Municipality.

He also dismissed claims by Marijana Puljak (Centre) that he was protecting Vice Mihanović, the HDZ's candidate for mayor of Split who is under suspicion of having plagiarised a scientific paper.

He said Mihanović had a doctorate and that it was up to the relevant commissions to decide on his doctoral dissertation, adding that Ivica Puljak, Marijana Puljak's husband, would certainly lose to Mihanović in the Split mayoral race.

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

Friday, 26 March 2021

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković Expects Authorities to Look Into Mamić's Accusations

ZAGREB, 26 March (Hina) - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday he expected all the accusations levelled by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and other judges to be investigated by the competent authorities.

"As for the accusations, I have no knowledge of them, but I expect the competent authorities to get to the bottom of them," Jandroković told a press conference after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

If the allegations of violation of the law, preferential treatment and bribery are proved, the people in question should be punished, he added.

Jandroković admitted that he was concerned that some of the judges confirmed what Mamić said. "That raises concerns and citizens must certainly be concerned about that segment of the judiciary."

Speaking of the possibility of Sisak-Moslavina County prefect Ivo Žinić running in the forthcoming local elections, Jandroković said that the HDZ's candidate there was Ivan Celjak. "When an HDZ member goes against the HDZ, he can no longer be an HDZ member," he said.

The Croatian Parliament wrapped up its session on Friday. MPs will be on a recess until 7 April when they return to the parliamentary benches. Parliament will then be sitting until 15 July, with a break between 7 and 19 May for local elections.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Justice Minister Ivan Malenica: "Sorting Out Situation in Judiciary is in Everybody's Interest"

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Justice Minister Ivan Malenica said on Wednesday that it was in everybody's interest to have the situation in the judicial system sorted out as soon as possible.

Also, if the accusations made by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against some judges prove to be well-founded, necessary proceedings should be expedited, Malenica told the RTL broadcaster on Wednesday evening.

Considering this case, Malenica said that the depositions of the judges concerned had been submitted and would be forwarded to the relevant bodies, including the DORH and USKOK prosecutorial authorities.

Furthermore, the State Judicial Council is expected to decide on disciplinary measures against the judges from Osijek County Court next week, he added.

Considering Zdravko Mamić's accusations against the Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, Malenica said that Sessa had stated that his last contact with Mamić was some 15 years ago.

He added that there were currently no indications hinting at the possibility of launching proceedings against Sessa.

Malenica announced that an inspection would be conducted at Osijek County Court following the latest developments.

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

 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

MOST Starts Collecting MPs' Signatures to Dismiss Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - The opposition Bridge party has announced that on Thursday it starts collecting MPs' signatures to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa after he was mentioned as being one of the judges allegedly bribed by convicted football mogul Zdravko Mamić.

Bridge said that the "recent events seriously undermined the reputation of and trust in the Croatian judiciary, both the reputation of individual judges and of the judiciary as a whole," and that therefore it was essential to launch the proceedings to relieve Đuro Sessa of his duties as Supreme Court President.

The party recalled that Sessa had been appointed Supreme Court President on 14 July 2017 with 84 votes in favour and 33 against and that under the Courts Act he is responsible for the work of the Supreme Court which ensures the unified application of the law and that everyone is equal before the law.

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

Friday, 23 October 2020

SDP MP Grgic, Suspect in JANAF Corruption Case, Resigns as Mayor

ZAGREB, October 23, 2020 - Social Democratic Party MP Vinko Grgic, who is in custody for involvement in the JANAF corruption case, resigned as Nova Gradiska mayor and is no longer in that office as of today, his deputy Borislav Vidosic said on Friday, Nova Gradiska radio reported.

Grgic has been in custody since September 18 due to his involvement in a case in which the chairman of the board of oil pipeline operator JANAF, Dragan Kovacevic, is under investigation for taking a HRK 1.96 million bribe in exchange for contracts in which JANAF is investing.

Vidosic will serve as mayor until local elections next May.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

European Commission Criticizes Croatia Over Corruption

ZAGREB, Sept 30, 2020 - The European Commission criticizes Croatia over corruption and says that its fight against corruption is insufficient, however, the Croatian justice system has made progress on reducing backlogs.

The first annual report on the rule of law in the European Union's member states, which the EC released on Wednesday, covers the following four pillars: Justice System, Anti-Corruption Framework, Media Pluralism, and Other Institutional Issues related to Checks and Balances.

The country chapter on Croatia includes serious objections to the Anti-Corruption Framework.

"Croatia has the legal and policy framework to promote integrity and prevent corruption in the public sector broadly in place. A network of authorities contribute to anti-corruption policymaking across all branches of government," reads the report.

"However, shortcomings remain both in the legislation and practices to combat corruption. Important initiatives to strengthen ethics and integrity amongst top executive functions and Members of Parliament and to regulate lobbying remain unimplemented. Corruption remains of particular concern at the local level due to structural weaknesses in the integrity framework for local office-holders and the management of local State-owned companies."

The report notes that on 18 September, the Croatian Justice and Public Administration Minister announced a new Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2030.

Justice system: Progress in reducing backlogs 

The Croatian justice system is praised for having made progress in reducing backlogs and improving electronic communication in courts.

The system, however, "is still experiencing serious efficiency and quality challenges."

"The State Judicial Council and the State Attorney’s Council, autonomous and independent bodies, are facing challenges to adequately fulfill their mandate due to a lack of sufficient resources as well as the fact that their role in selecting judges and state attorneys has been reduced."

The centralized postal delivery of court documents is a positive example of saving resources in courts.

Media pluralism

Croatia's legal and institutional framework guarantees media pluralism.

The regulator Agency for Electronic Media "functions transparently, but it is not entirely shielded from political influence in relation to the selection procedure of the members of its governing body."

"The rules on transparency of media ownership ensure a solid system of ownership notification to the authorities and the public, but the identification of the beneficial owner can be problematic.

"Recent years witnessed a high number of lawsuits against journalists, threats of physical attack and online harassment, which may have an impact on the editorial policy of media companies and on the work of investigative journalists," reads the Croatian country chapter.

System of checks and balances

The system of checks and balances is supported, among others, through online tools for consultation of the public and other stakeholders, and by a People's Ombudsperson and an Information Commissioner competent for protecting the right to access public information.

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