Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Culture Minister Refuses to Censor “Communist” Sculpture

ZAGREB, January 15, 2020 - Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Wednesday she would not be the one to decide what an artist would think or do, thus responding to a query about a five-pointed star sculpture to be displayed as part of the Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture project.

"In 1990, we decided to live in a state which would be democratic and which would not censor artists," she told MP Zlatko Hasanbegović during Question Time in parliament, adding that "artists will decide what an artist in Croatia will think, do, how they will act, not a minister or a commissary."

Hasanbegović complained about plans to place a concrete five-pointed star sculpture by Nemanja Cvijanovic on a high-rise in Rijeka.

The minister said that under the rules of the European Capital of Culture project, the city chose its artistic director and project team and they conceived the programme.

"As to whether something will or won't be done to a protected culture monument, if we receive a request, we will consider it, of course, taking into account whether it endangers the monument, and make a decision," she said.

Hasanbegović said he was sure the minister would eventually exert her authority and prevent the five-pointed star installation, firstly because of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who he said would not disregard numerous European resolutions on dealing with the consequences of communist totalitarianism, and secondly because of Italian minority MP Furio Radin.

More culture news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Deadline Extended for Payment for Ex-Communist Political School in Kumrovec

ZAGREB, November 14, 2019 - The government on Thursday extended a deadline for the payment of the necessary amount by the Zhongya Nekretnine company for the Kumrovec-based Hotel Zagorje until 31 December.

In mid-June, the government decided to sell the Kumrovec-based Hotel Zagorje, which used to be a political Communist school in the former Yugoslavia, to Zhongya Nekretnine company that has been the sole bidder, at the price of 14.09 million kuna (1.9 million euro).

Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang is a co-owner of the Zhongya Nekretnine company and during her visit to the compounds in that northwestern Croatian region she said that according to an initial estimate, around EUR 20 million would be invested in the entire project.

The premises of state-owned Hotel Zagorje, which is in a dilapidated condition, covers 27,000 square metres.

The new owner was expected to pay the purchase price within 30 days upon the conclusion of the sales contract. Upon the company's failure to do this within the initial deadlines, the government enabled the bidder to pay the necessary amount until the end of this year.

In the event that the bidder missed the new deadline, the advance payment of 598,000 kuna will be retained by the government.

More Kumrovec news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Dubrovnik's Red History Museum Becomes a Must-See

ZAGREB, July 7, 2019 - The Red History Museum, the newest museum in Dubrovnik, has in a short time become an unavoidable cultural place to visit in that southern city, which itself is a museum.

One of Dubrovnik's 19 museums, the Red History Museum was opened in April this year and it features an exhibition that describes everyday life in communist Yugoslavia.

Visitors to the popular international travel website TripAdvisor recommend it as one of the three museums and one of the first ten places in Dubrovnik to visit.

Located in the city's Gruž industrial district, in the inconspicuous basement of the Factory of Carbon Graphite Products, once the city's most successful socialist factory, the museum was established by five young enthusiasts, who financed the project with their own money.

One of them, Krešo Glavinić, said he was happy that in only one month the museum had received as many comments as some museums received in a year.

Two of some 300 items on display are a red Yugo 45 car and a K67 kiosk, which was designed by Slovenian Saša Maechtig and until 1990 was exported to many countries, ending up in the depot of New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

The museum holds about 1,000 Yugoslav-era items that were bought at flea markets or on the internet.

The choice of exhibits, the museum's founders say, was determined in line with work done by prominent researchers of political and cultural history and the history of tourism and everyday life.

"We bought a basketball with Dražen Petrović's signature from a collector in Slovenia and a portable Iskra TV set from a Roma in Pančevo," Glavinić said.

The permanent exhibition has been designed in such a way to show an average socialist apartment.

The exhibits, interactive solutions and extended reality serve to acquaint visitors with socialist urban planning and housing construction, self-government and associated work, economic reforms, women's rights, the 1971 movement calling for greater emancipation of Croatia as a federal republic, as well as with film, media, education, sports etc.

The exhibition also includes items testifying to the politicisation of the youth, youth labour drives, the cult of Tito and the 1980s crisis, which serve as an introduction to the last section of the exhibition, entitled Dealing With Enemies and showing artefacts of secret services and stories about the red era totalitarianism, dissidents and the authorities' attitude to religion.

"While working on the museum's concept, we had in mind people without any experience related to socialism - young people, tourists and students. The purpose of the exhibition is to intrigue them without making any final value judgements," Glavinić said, adding that talks were underway with schools and universities, not only from Dubrovnik or Croatia, on organised visits.

More Dubrovnik news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

More than 10,000 Gather in Kumrovec for Tito's Birthday

ZAGREB, May 25, 2019 - More than 10,000 fans of former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito arrived in his birthplace of Kumrovec on Saturday to mark the Day of Youth and Joy, his official birthday, wearing Titovka caps, scarves, uniforms and T-shirts with his image, although this year there were far fewer flags with insignia of the former federation.

Although Josip Broz Tito Alliance president Jovan Vejnović said several buses were stopped at the Slovenian-Croatian border because some of those going to Kumrovec carried those insignia, the president of the SABA antifascist alliance, Franjo Habulin, said he had no information about the confiscation of flags or other items.

Vejnović said this year there were far more police monitoring the gathering than in recent years, and that "for the first time in 15, 16 years of this gathering," they called the participants to order.

Vejnović said he would like the message sent out from Kumrovec to be that people of good will gathered there for the Day of Youth and Joy celebration.

He said those who gathered there were concerned about developments on the territory of the former Yugoslavia and the creation of national tensions instead of a space for communication, agreement and cooperation.

Municipal head Robert Šplajt said the gathering in Kumrovec was something positive and that the town had the chance to revive its 1980s heyday.

Habulin said the gathering was focused on those with youthful and creative energy whom this country needed, adding that "it's necessary to create long term and stable economic conditions, a fiscal policy, a monetary-credit policy, to subordinate everything to the opening of new plants and to job creation so children will have somewhere to work."

Deputy county head Jasna Petek said the message from the gathering should be that Croatia was created on anti-fascism, as stated in the constitution, adding that Tito, by putting the Partisan movement on the side of anti-fascism in 1941, had built its foundations "into all the achievements we have today."

Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić said he expected to see today "many flags under which the biggest victories in the history of our people were won, under which people were killed but also triumphed."

He said history could not be revised. "We have met here first and foremost because of the man who organised the National Liberation Struggle (NOB) and brought Yugoslavia and all its republics and provinces to the victors' table."

He added that there would have been no present-day Croatia without the NOB. "We welcomed victory at the victors' table and revisionists should understand that," he said, adding that Yugoslavia had been an authoritarian but not a totalitarian state.

Hundreds of people from the former Yugoslavia gathered at the House of Flowers, Tito's resting place in Belgrade, to honour him on May 25, his official birthday, bringing wreaths, flowers, and flags and insignia of the former Yugoslavia and the former League of Communists of Yugoslavia.

Despite controversies and disputes between historians and those who lived in Tito's time over his role in the post-WWII executions of members of the defeated armies and political opponents, modern history ranks him among the most prominent leaders and statesmen of his era.

Thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia visit the House of Flowers every year on May 4, his death anniversary, and on May 25, a public holiday in the former federation.

Tito is linked to the communist and Partisan movements and the antifascist struggle which, in WWII, was crucial for the establishment of the Yugoslav federation, and to the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement.

More than 200 heads of state or government and senior delegations from 127 countries attended his funeral in Belgrade on 8 May 1980. Since then, more than 17 million people have visited the House of Flowers. Annually, the most numerous are tourists from Western Europe and the US, and increasingly from China, Japan and South Korea.

More news about Tito can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Chinese Want to Invest in Former Communist Political School in Kumrovec

ZAGREB, May 24, 2019 - Chinese investors will invest EUR 20 million in Hotel Zagorje in Kumrovec, which used to be a political school in the former Yugoslavia, Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang, co-owner of the Zhongya Nekretnine company, the only company that submitted a bid for that property in a recent tender, said on Friday.

Yu attended a ceremony in Kumrovec, some 60 kilometres northwest of Zagreb, at which State Assets Minister Goran Marić presented municipal head Robert Šplajt with a decision whereby the recreational area in the municipality's Razvor settlement would be transferred to the ownership of Kumrovec municipality.

The Chinese businesswoman answered questions from the press about her plans for investments in the former political school. She said that according to an initial estimate, around 20 million euro would be invested in the project.

We are interested in developing some types of tourism and I believe that this area is suitable for congress and health tourism, Yu said, adding that cooperation with the tourism sector on the coast was possible but that the plan was to develop year-round tourism in Kumrovec.

Asked how much the fact that former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito was born in Kumrovec would be used for tourism purposes, Yu briefly said that they respected history and that Tito was a very important part of the region's history. We hope to introduce a new style in tourism, increase gross domestic product and help the local community in its development, the Chinese entrepreneur said.

Yu has visited Kumrovec a number of times and said she wants to convert Hotel Zagorje into a real hotel as well as create a memorial park honouring Tito.

Bids for the devastated state-owned Hotel Zagorje, which covers 27,000 square metres, were opened on May 7. The only bid submitted was that of the Zhongya Nekretnine company, worth 14.09 million kuna.

Marić said that the ministry had accepted the bid and forwarded a proposal to the government to sign an agreement with the bidder. Currently, the opinions of the relevant ministries are being awaited, Marić said.

More Kumrovec news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Chinese Investors Give Offer for Communist Party School in Kumrovec

ZAGREB, May 7, 2019 - The Zhongya Nekretnine real estate company has submitted a bid to the State Assets Ministry of almost 14.1 million kuna for the Hotel Zagorje in Kumrovec, northern Croatia, instead of the almost 12 million kuna asked, and the government is expected to decide on the bids soon, the ministry said on Tuesday.

Bids for the property were to be submitted from March 23 until today and Zhongya Nekretnine's is the only complete and valid bid.

The devastated state-owned Hotel Zagorje is a former Communist Party political school which covers 27,000 square metres. Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang has visited Kumrovec a number of times and said she wants to convert it into a real hotel as well as create a memorial park honouring former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito, who was born there.

Yu is behind the Zhongya Nekretnine company. If the government okays the bid, a contract will be signed with her.

More Kumrovec news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

HDZ Is Not Communist Party, Brkić Claims

ZAGREB, April 23, 2019 - Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) deputy president Milijan Brkić said on Tuesday, ahead of the party's presidency meeting in Zagreb, that in a democracy state institutions rather than political parties prosecute crimes.

"Today the inner presidency is holding a regular meeting. The party president proposes topics for the agenda. As far as I know, this is the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and not the Communist Party, thank God. In a democracy there are state institutions in charge of prosecution and those are definitely not political parties," Brkić said in his comment on media speculations that the HDZ leadership is expected to discuss Brkić's political fate after he, his brother Jozo Brkić and two more men – Franjo Varga and Blaž Curić – were put under investigation for hacking computer systems.

Brkić today said, while coming to the meeting, that he had never criticised the state institutions. Several days ago, Brkić said that it was disgraceful into what some individuals had turned state institutions.

A police statement released on 15 April read that members of the National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (PNUSKOK) in Osijek had completed "a criminal investigation into four Croatian nationals, aged 37, 49, 50 and 50, and on 15 April 2019 filed with the Osijek Municipal Prosecutor's Office a criminal report due to the suspicion that they had committed offences against computer systems, programmes and data to the detriment of several persons."

"There is reasonable suspicion that over a longer period of time one of the suspects, acting at the instigation and with the assistance of the other suspects, committed a number of offences involving the unlawful interception of computer data and computer abuse, thus unlawfully accessing the content of the injured parties' user accounts and making it available to the other suspects," the police statement said.

The prosecutorial authorities in Osijek have recently stated they have launched a confidential investigation into the four suspects, and that the probe is confidential for the sake of protection of private life of the women whose computer systems were hacked.

According to media reports, Brkić was recently questioned for intercepting his former wife's emails by using the services of Varga, a former Interior Ministry IT specialist accused in the fake texts case. The media said Brkić's brother Jozo was also accused in the interception case and that the police allegedly found out about it by examining the computers and documents seized in the case against Varga and Curić, former chauffeur of Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić and a close friend of Brkic.

The USKOK anti-corruption office suspects Varga and Curić in the fake texts case of obstructing the collection of evidence and of aiding and abetting in the commission of said crime.

HDZ leader and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said before the start of a meeting of the party's leadership that the HDZ inner presidency would discuss a budget surplus, the country's credit rating and the party's victory in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament.

Asked by the press whether the party leadership would discuss the political fate of the HDZ deputy president Milijan Brkić, who was put under investigation for hacking his former wife's emails, Plenković said that they would discuss "the surplus, credit investment rating, the victory in the European elections and other topics".

Responding to reporters' questions about Brkić's fate, the HDZ political secretary and Public Administration Minister, Lovro Kuščević, said that everyone involved in the case must be heard out.

"We have heard that Brkić has something to say about this situation, and when we hear what both sides have to say, we will discuss it," Kuščević said.

More HDZ news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Red History Museum Opens in Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, April 20, 2019 - After months of preparations, the Red History Museum in the southern Adriatic town of Dubrovnik opened its doors on Saturday.

Located in the Carbon Graphite Products Factory - TUP premises in Gruž, the museum brings some new content about the origins of the socialist idea and how it spread around the globe and to the area of today’s Croatia.

The idea was to create a time capsule for visitors, however, the museum is not only an exhibition space. There will also be movie screenings and lectures to help visitors learn about different versions of Communism.

More news about Croatia during the times of Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Communist Party Political School in Kumrovec Up for Sale

At a recent session of the Croatian government, a decision was made on the sale of the former Communist Party political school in Kumrovec, now known as the Zagorje Hotel. The complex was built in 1981 and has a hotel, a cinema, a swimming pool and a library, but was completely devastated after 1990, reports Poslovni List on March 9, 2019.

The state has been trying to sell it for 15 years, but the asking price does not make it likely that this attempt will be any more successful, even though it is less than half of the 26 million kuna which the state demanded for the facility in 2003. The facility is mostly devastated, and significant investments are required for any restoration project.

The property currently includes the Hotel Zagorje building (the former political school in Kumrovec), with a floor area of 5,901 square metres, with a total gross building area of 11,310.00 square metres, divided into four floors and with a gross volume of 34,464.20 cubic metres.

The public call will be published on the website of the Ministry of State Property, on the website of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and in one of the high-circulation daily newspapers.

The starting price is 11,960,000 kuna. It was determined on the basis of the assessment report prepared by the certified assessor Zrinoslav Ceranec, a permanent court expert for construction and real estate assessment, confirmed by the Technical Services Department at the Ministry of State Property.

The buyer of the real estate, besides the purchase price, will also incur the cost of real estate market valuation by the authorised expert witness in the amount of 32,905 kuna and the cost of producing an energy certificate in the amount of 16,000 kuna.

The Ministry of State Property is responsible for the implementation of this decision.

The former Josip Broz Tito Political School was opened in 1975, as the central educational institution for the staff of the Communist Union of Yugoslavia. It was initially located in a memorial house, located on an adjacent hill. When that space became too small, the new building was opened in 1981 and was used for political education until 1990, when the League of Communists of Yugoslavia collapsed. The last president of the Political School was Ivica Račan, who in 2000 became Croatian prime minister. After 1990, the school was first taken over by the Ministry of the Interior and then by the Ministry of Defence for the training of members of the Croatian Army. In late 1991, displaced persons from Vukovar were accommodated in the building for a while.

More news about the Communist Party can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Tito’s Former House’s Site Turned into Retiree Gym

They used to come here under cover of night. In the house in what is today the Kerestinec Victims Street, the young couple lived in hiding for two years under false names. She was Marija Šarić and he was engineer Slavko Babić. In that short period of time, a child was also conceived. But, after the arrival of the Ustasha in Zagreb in May 1941, he went to Belgrade and left his pregnant partner behind. This is a story still often told by the old inhabitants on the Gajnice neighbourhood in western Zagreb. The main protagonists are actually Josip Broz Tito, the future president of Yugoslavia, and his third wife, Herta Haas. Hertha left the house to her son Mišo, whom she had with Tito, reports Večernji List on February 7, 2019.

Mayor Milan Bandić has decided that the very same house will now be the site of local self-government premises. That will be the result of an initiative launched ten years ago. At that time, according to Dejan Kljajić, the president of the City Neighbourhood of Podsused-Vrapče, the City of Zagreb allowed them to use the so-called Tito's House. In November 2016, the neighbourhood decided to open on its location the premises of the Gajnice Local Committee.

“Over the years, we have allocated 3.4 million kuna from the funds for small communal actions, and now the premises will be used by various associations, organisations, and we will also organise free fitness training for citizens of all ages, from children to retirees,” says Kljajić.

But the demolition of Tito’s house did not pass unnoticed. When the old house was almost completely demolished, members of the Anti-Fascist Association of Susedgrad complained, demanding that a memorial plaque with historical information should be placed on the new building. They sent an official request to the city neighbourhood, but the councillors unsurprisingly say they do not intend to set up the plaque. “The only plaque on the house will be the one with the address number and the name of the local committee,” says Kljajić.

The house was demolished after the neighbours had been complaining for years that nobody was taking care of it, so snakes appeared among the grass and the weed. The Susedgrad scouts’ organisation used the premises for a while, and the building and its surroundings were kept in good order during their period. A war veteran from Petrinja lived in the house for a while, but after he left, the maintenance problems began.

Mišo Broz gave up the house in 1979, provided that a memorial museum was built there about his father and the antifascist movement. After the project was not realised, he sued the City of Zagreb and sought to have the house returned to his possession, but the court rejected his request.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

More news about Tito can be found in the Politics section.

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