Friday, 6 December 2019

SNV Launches Campaign with Cyrillic Messages of Presidential Candidates

ZAGREB, December 6, 2019 - Croatian War Veterans Affairs' Minister Tomo Medved said on Friday that a campaign with posters displaying the names of three presidential candidates and their slogans written in Cyrillic, launched by the Serb National Council (SNV), was unnecessary and did not contribute to a better understanding between Croats and Serbs.

"In my mind, this is unnecessary. I cannot see any concrete form of contribution (to a better understanding)," Medved said adding that he would refrain from any further comment given that this was launched in the build-up to the presidential election.

Several jumbo posters with the names of the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Miroslav Škoro and their campaign slogans written in Cyrillic, were set up by the SNV on Thursday.

This umbrella association of ethnic Serbs in Croatia thus resumed its campaign "Let's better understand each other", launched two months ago with the aim of removing a stigma from the Cyrillic script during the 1991-1995 Homeland War when Serb rebel forces used this script and sprayed Cyrillic letters on buildings and houses in the occupied areas.

The SNV embarked on the campaign following the Constitutional Court's recommendation in mid-2019 that the Vukovar city council adopt changes to the city statute under which Serb councillors should be allowed to ask orally for documents and papers to be delivered in their mother tongue and Cyrillic script. Currently, such requests have to be submitted in writing.

The Council was given until October to make such changes and adopt other necessary decisions that would enhance the Serb minority's right to use its language and script.

On 18 October, the City Council adopted a conclusion saying that understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue between ethnic Croats and Serbs are at a level that enables cooperation and co-existence; however, conditions have not been met to expand the scope of vested individual rights and prescribe collective rights for the Serb minority in Vukovar.

More news about the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Launches Campaign for Second Term

ZAGREB, December 5, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is running for her second term in office, at midnight on Wednesday formally launched her campaign in Dražice, in the hinterland of Rijeka, which is her birthplace.

Addressing a crowd in the local cultural centre, the incumbent president recalled that she also launched the campaign for her first term in her birthplace five years ago.

She said during her campaign trail tour this time, she would travel through Croatia from its southernmost peninsula of Prevlaka to the eastern town of Vukovar.

"I believe that Croatia can become one of the most prosperous countries, but that cannot be achieved overnight," she said presenting her seven-point agenda for her re-election.

Commenting on the past five years, the president said that Croatia was no longer in a recession.

"The economic indicators are not the worst in Europe, wages grow higher, although still insufficiently, emigration is abating, and some of those who have left the country are returning home and we have also restored the dignity of war veterans," she said.

She also said that her campaign would be free of arrogance and despondency as well as of divisions.

Croatia's presidential election is set for 22 December.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

12 Presidential Candidate Petitions Submitted

ZAGREB, December 4, 2019 - The Croatian State Election Commission received 12 candidate petitions for the December 22 presidential election by the deadline of midnight on Tuesday, but one of them has been found not to be backed up by the required 10,000 signatures.

"One petition does not have signatures, but was filed anyway because it was submitted on a proper form," the deputy head of the State Election Commission, Vesna Fabijančić Križanić, told a press conference after the expiry of the deadline for submission of candidacies at midnight.

The names of the candidates will be announced on the Commission's website on Thursday, when the election campaign will formally start. Campaigning will be allowed until midnight on December 20.

The candidates will be required to submit their initial financial reports seven days before election day, accounting for all the donations, costs and media advertising discounts.

Among the potential candidates are three women: the incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who backed up her candidacy with 232,000 signatures, Workers' Front candidate Katarina Peović and START leader Dalija Orešković, who was last to hand in her petition, doing so shortly before midnight.

Also running are former Social Democratic Party prime minister Zoran Milanović, singer Miroslav Škoro, former judge and current member of the European Parliament Mislav Kolakušić, economist Dejan Kovač, leader of the right-wing Desno party Anto Đapić, film director Dario Juričan who goes by the name of Milan Bandić, member of the Croatian Parliament Ivan Pernar, leader of the all-Croatian party of speakers of Chakavian, Kajkavian and Shtokavian dialects Nedjeljko Babić, and independent candidate Slobodan Midžić, who presented his petition supported by his own signature only.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Hands in Lists with 231,652 Signatures

ZAGREB, December 3, 2019 - Incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Tuesday handed in to the State Election Commission lists with 231,652 signatures of support for her presidential bid.

"I thank everyone who gave their signatures, whether HDZ members, supporters or other Croatian citizens. I also thank the party for supporting my candidacy and other parties that have supported me as well as volunteers who collected signatures," Grabar-Kitarović said after handing in lists with supporters' signatures.

Commenting on her statement that she would take Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić cakes to prison if he was convicted, she said that "in every democratic society a person is innocent until proven guilty by a final court ruling."

She would not answer any other questions from the press and neither would HDZ party leader and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who accompanied her at the helm of a delegation of officials of the HDZ and other parties supporting her candidacy.

Apart from the HDZ, the other parties that support Grabar-Kitarović's presidential bid are Bandić's Labour and Solidarity Party, the Croatian Christian Democratic Party (HDS) and the Croatian Party of Rights - Ante Starčević (HSP AS).

More news about the presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Škoro Says His Victory Will Dispel Fear in the Country

ZAGREB, December 3, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro on Tuesday handed over to the State Election Commission (DIP) lists with close to 80,000 signatures supporting his presidential bid, saying that his election victory will help dispel the fear that reigns in the country.

In a statement to reporters, Škoro thanked everyone for supporting his candidacy with their signatures, including "those who wanted to support me but didn't dare", as well as MOST and other political parties.

"We live in a country where fear reigns. I call on everyone to go to the polls on December 22 to help dispel that fear and make the change already in the first round. Croatia needs that change and we do not have time for a second round or for experiments. After that, since Mrs Grabar-Kitarović will lose the elections, I will call on the government to step down and dissolve the parliament so that we can turn a new page in Croatia's democracy," he said.

"We lived for a long time in single-party fear, and now we live in bipartisan fear to the extent that we do not have democracy or pluralism, or the possibility to think differently. People are expelled from parties because they think differently," Škoro said.

Commenting on President Grabar-Kitarović's statement that she would take Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić cakes to prison if he was convicted in some of a number of cases in which he is indicted for corruption, Škoro said that by saying so, she presumed Bandić's guilt and that her statement was an act of pressure on the judiciary.

Commenting on the agreement between education-sector unions and the government on an increase in the job complexity index, Škoro said that education-sector workers were not satisfied with yet another in a number of bad compromises and that he expected problems in relations between unions and education-sector workers.

"I don't know why the strike was held in the first place because everything education-sector workers can boast of after striking for several weeks is a hundred kuna increase in their wage. Customs officers and police are waiting in line already, and that is not the way to run the state. It is evident that people who run the country do not have a single day of experience in the real sector and do not understand how things function," said Škoro.

More news about Miroslav Škoro can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Will President Bring Zagreb Mayor Cakes to Prison?

ZAGREB, December 3, 2019 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Monday that he believed President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was joking when she said that if Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who has been indicted for corruption in several cases, was convicted, she would visit him in prison and take him cakes.

"I believe she was joking," Plenković told reporters after a session of the HDZ Presidency and National Council when asked to comment on Grabar-Kitarović's statement to Media Servis.

Earlier in the day, responding to criticism over her singing at Bandić's birthday party, Grabar-Kitarović said that everyone was innocent until proven guilty and that if Bandić was convicted, she would take him cakes to prison.

Asked how many signatures of support for her presidential bid Grabar-Kitarović would hand in to the State Election Commission on Tuesday, Plenković said that the last signatures arriving from all over the country were being collected and that tomorrow "a large number of signatures of support for the president will be handed in."

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Miroslav Škoro for Banning Work on Sundays

ZAGREB, December 2, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro said in Zaprešić on Sunday he was for banning work on Sundays, that the ruling HDZ party was betrayed by those running it, and that he would return Croatia to the people and political parties to their members.

Škoro said irresponsible conduct had led to the ongoing teachers' strike and that the strike was the result of inaction. On the other hand, when this strike ends, customs officials have announced another and police officers are waiting in line, he added.

We are governed by people who see it differently than those in the private sector. That's difficult to understand for a man whose first job is as a member of parliament or a minister because he has learned to manage the money of others, yet has never created anything himself, Škoro said.

He dismissed accusations that he had betrayed the HDZ, saying he left the party because he did not agree with such an HDZ. "The people running the HDZ have betrayed the HDZ and the HDZ members. And just as I will return Croatia to the people, so will I see to it that I return parties to their members."

Škoro went on to say that his initiative to increase the president's powers envisaged calling a referendum to ban work on Sunday.

He added that he would hand over the signatures collected to back his presidency bid to the State Election Commission on Tuesday.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Dejan Kovač Submits 16,000 Signatures Supporting Presidential Candidacy

ZAGREB, December 1, 2019 - Economist Dejan Kovač, who is running for president as an independent candidate with the support of the HSLS party, on Sunday delivered to the State Election Commission over 16,000 signatures backing his candidacy and said that, unlike most of the other candidates, he did not advocate policies of division but of unity.

Speaking to Hina, Kovač said the emphasis in his campaign was on civil liberties.

"History teaches us that the price of freedom is high and that we have to fight for it, whether civil, political or economic freedom... It's high time all Croatian citizens united under one flag, the Croatian flag. We have no other homeland."

Kovač urged all citizens to vote in the presidential election "because on December 22 begins the struggle for Croatian democracy in which the only weapon is their vote."

HSLS president Dario Hrebak said, "We want to fight for a Croatia of knowledge and education, not of clientelism and corruption. We will strongly advocate a productive Croatia, not a bureaucratic Croatia."

He said they first and foremost advocated transparency in the management of public resources.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Milanović: Citizens Feel Undervalued, As Do Education-Sector Workers

ZAGREB, December 1, 2019 The Social Democratic Party's (SDP) candidate for president of the republic, Zoran Milanović, said in Virovitica on Saturday that citizens were complaining to him about feeling undervalued and noted that that was how education-sector workers were feeling as well, but that he did not want to manipulate the ongoing teachers' strike the way the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) had manipulated a war veterans' protest five years ago.

"I don't want to side with them like a hyena, which is what the HDZ did with the protesting war veterans five years ago. It is unfair and inhumane. Maybe they resent some things about me, but the current work stoppage in schools, the kind of which has not happened since World War II, has nothing to do with my government. When I hear today the HDZ accusing me of the situation in the education system, then, no matter how much I feel sorry about children not going to school, I also feel a certain amount of satisfaction because people can see what kind of manipulators and disseminators of untruth they have to deal with," said Milanović.

He said that incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was shunning presidential debates and that she would continue to do so until the end of the campaign.

"It's no wonder she is persistently accusing me of the teachers' strike because she has sided with the Andrej Plenković government. The two of them are from the same camp... they were mentored by Ivo Sanader who left scorched earth behind as well as financial chaos which we (the SDP) had to deal with," said Milanović.

Speaking of his platform, Milanović said that his emphasising the term normalcy was about the need to eradicate mental and fiscal violence.

"Croatia has been a victim of ruthless plundering, the best example of it here in Virovitica is the fact that 17 million kuna has disappeared from the town budget and nobody knows how. Police should have investigated the matter long ago, but they did not. I don't know what they have been doing for the past six months, they are evidently protecting someone," he said.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Grabar-Kitarović: Women Have Still Not Achieved Full Equality

ZAGREB, November 30, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Saturday that women had still not achieved full equality in relation to men either in Croatia or globally, and she underlined the importance of the fight against domestic violence and violence in general.

"We have excellent legislation but we must continue to fight prejudices and stereotypes," she said at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the HDZ Women's Association "Katarina Zrinski".

Grabar-Kitarović warned that laws were still not respected with regard to equal pay for equal work, and that women, notably young ones, were discriminated against when looking for a job because they were asked if they had children and if they planned pregnancy.

She said that she had grown used to being insulted publicly but that current trends in schools, families and society in general were not good.

"If you can insult the President of the Republic, why wouldn't you be able to insult or beat up your daughter or girlfriend. The fight against any violence - physical, verbal, psychological and other - is one of the main goals of this society. The fight against domestic violence as well as violence in society in general," she said.

Stressing that women still encountered double criteria and prejudices, Grabar-Kitarović said that success was difficult to forgive, notably in the case of women who promote Christian Democratic and traditional values.

She also said that she was in favour of an expert debate on more flexible working hours, to make Sunday a family day, and that she would propose forming a team to analyse how much Sunday work was justified.

Underlining the importance of equality, Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković said the equality had to reflect on political institutions, the business sector and all other areas of human activity.

"It is particularly important that women have a big, recognised, visible and leading role in political parties as well," he said, expressing satisfaction that the first woman president in Croatia's history was HDZ member Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Warning about the problem of violence against women, he recalled that Croatia had ratified the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul convention) and that several laws that increase penalties for those who commit violence would receive a second reading in the parliament.

More news about the status of women can be found in the Politics section.

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