Friday, 22 November 2019

Škoro: I Won't Conduct Dirty Campaign

ZAGREB, November 22, 2019 - Presidential hopeful Miroslav Škoro said on Friday during a signature collection campaign to run in the presidential election that he would not lead a dirty campaign and that perhaps a winner may emerge in the first round already and there won't be a need for the second round.

"Who says that there will be a second round? Perhaps someone wins in the first round," said Škoro when asked whether he expected to make it to the second round of the election.

I won't be leading a dirty campaign, he underscored. "I didn't start it. I didn't engage in it and I won't lead it. That is beneath my dignity and I am sorry for people who behave like that," he added.

Asked whether he was bothered that people usually think of him as a singer only, he said that he was proud to be a Croatian singer. "I'm proud that I'm a Croatian singer, and belong to the artistic circle of musicians. Truly anyone can be a politician but not everyone can be a singer," he said.

Škoro reiterated his proposal that the chief state prosecutor be elected at an election and not appointed. "We are among those who are last in Europe for a lot of things. It would be good to be the first in something. I don't see why the chief state prosecutor can't be elected at an election just like the president is elected," he said.

He touched on the policy toward Bosnia and Herzegovina saying that if he is elected it would be very simply. "For a start, I would appoint a special adviser for Bosnia and Herzegovina because that is in Croatia's vital interest but also that is a country where the Croatian people should be a sovereign nation and currently it isn't because Komšić is not the legitimately elected representative in the presidency."

As far as Serbia's EU accession negotiations are concerned, Škoro said that Croatia had had to meet very high standards to join the European Union and that he expected the same of Serbia.

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

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Zagreb Mayor Bandić to Back Grabar-Kitarović in Presidential Election

ZAGREB, November 17, 2019 - The Work and Solidarity Party will support President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the presidential election, party president Milan Bandić said on Sunday.

The president has strengthened Croatia's international position, promoted unity and shown social awareness as well as openness towards citizens, he said.

"One should appreciate her ability and diplomatic skills to strengthen Croatia's position in the EU, while at the same time keeping exceptional relations both with Trump and Putin as well as being an eminent guest at the most important global forums and initiatives," Bandić said.

Grabar-Kitarović has connected Croatia with central Europe countries and the Three Seas Initiative is a step forward in the foreign policy, which was imprisoned in the "region" for years, he said, adding that the president had correct relations with the neighbouring countries and that she pushed for the establishment of new bridges of cooperation.

The president encourages understanding others and those who are different and has been the spokesperson of the common man and the weak, Bandić said.

Croatia needs to have unity and optimism restored, which is what Grabar-Kitarović has been doing over the past five years, he added.

Bandić said he was not running for president because of what he still had to do as the mayor of Zagreb.

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

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Peović: 21st Century Democratic Socialism Increasingly Popular

ZAGREB, November 16, 2019 - The presidential candidate of the non-parliamentary Workers Front party, Katarina Peović, on Saturday pushed for 21st century democratic socialism which, she said, warned that some tenets of socialism should be taken and that this idea was increasingly popular in the world.

Speaking to reporters in Šibenik, she said this city and the coastal region of Dalmatia had been witness to "deindustrialization and touristification" for 30 years. She said that in socialism Šibenik had a developed industry, people had permanent jobs "and now they are all reduced to tourism."

She said tourism had raised the region and the city but that one should ask what kind of jobs it offered because "salaries are lower, people have uncertain contracts, the jobs are all highly exploitative."

Peović recalled Šibenik's "history of revolution and fighting, and the modernist project that followed, when the country was industrialised in only a couple of decades." She said that "after 30 years of devastation... it's time we asked... why the entire industry has been shut down and in whose interest it is that our people can't be anything else but maids and waiters."

She said that in highly developed European countries tourism accounted for 4-5% of GDP, whereas in Croatia that was 20% and in Šibenik 50%, "which means that a bad tourism season reduces a whole city to poverty."

She said Croatia must protect its economy and industry and "pursue an autonomous policy towards Europe, because of the agreements we have signed with the European Commission and because the free market doesn't allow us on the periphery to develop."

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

Friday, 15 November 2019

Date for Presidential Elections Not to Everybody’s Liking

ZAGREB, November 15, 2019 - Presidential candidate Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the decision to hold the presidential elections on December 22 was "thievery and a disgrace," accusing the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of attempting to reduce the number of citizens going to the polls and to 'kill' the campaign for the second round of the election by timing it during the holiday season.

Milanović said in a Facebook post that he condemned the government's decision to hold the first round of the election on December 22, referring to the decision as "thievery and a disgrace" for three reasons.

"HDZ wants to reduce the number of people who will vote both on December 22 in the first round - when all those the HDZ has forced to emigrate to Ireland have not returned to Croatia yet - and on 5 January when more than 100,000 voters are on holiday with their families and children, who have saved for the entire year and will not be able to return to Croatia to vote in the second round," Milanović wrote.

He said that that was deliberately killing the campaign for a possible second round because it has been set for the holiday season "in an effort to hide all the emptiness of the HDZ candidate."

Milanović claimed that this deviates from the practice and rules that Jadranka Kosor too stuck to when in 2009 the first round of the election was called for the period between Christmas and New Year.

He concluded that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's aim was to prevent citizens from choosing a better Croatia.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday evening that the Social Democratic Party's presidential candidate Zoran Milanovic's statement that the decision to hold the presidential election on December 22 was "thievery and a disgrace" was actually "an interesting signal of his weakness" as a candidate.

"As far as I know, presidential elections in Croatia are regularly held ahead of the New Year. The calendar has been such since President Franjo Tuđman died in December 1999," Plenković recalled.

Since 1990, five presidential elections have been held. The third presidential elections were held on 24 January 2000 after Tuđman died on 10 December 1999.

The last elections for the head of state were held on 28 December 2014 (the first round) and 11 January 2015 (the second round) when the incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović defeated the then President Ivo Josipovic.

"This candidate has a lot of problems and is full of fear," Plenković said, predicting that the incumbent president would win the second term in office.

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

Thursday, 14 November 2019

First Round of Presidential Elections Set for 22 December

ZAGREB, November 14, 2019 - The government on Thursday decided to call the first round of the presidential elections for 22 December, and deadlines relevant for the procedure start running on 21 November.

The official campaign in the run-up to the first round of the elections will take a fortnight.

Presidential hopefuls can collect signatures of voters for their candidacies from 22 November until midnight of 3 December, and the minimum number required is 10,000 signatures. The State Electoral Commission has a 48-hour deadline as of 3 December to announce the official list of eligible candidates.

The official campaigning starts with the publication of that list and ends at the midnight 20 December. A ban on electioneering is imposed on the day before election day and until the closure of polling stations.

The second round of the elections is envisaged for 5 January.

In the event that not one of the presidential candidates wins more than 50% of the votes on 22 December, the two first candidates will compete in the run-off vote in two weeks' time.

The incumbent president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović won her first term on 11 January 2015. She has recently officially confirmed that she would run for a second term.

Her main contenders are Zoran Milanović, a former prime minister and former leader of the Social Democratic Party, as well as Miroslav Škoro, a singer-turned-politician who is perceived as a conservative candidate. Croatian member of European Parliament, Mislav Kolakušić, a judge-turned-politician, has also announced his candidacy, and he is perceived as the candidate of anti-establishment movements.

Also, a former diplomat Ante Simonić said he would compete in the elections.

An independent candidate Dejan Kovač has been supported by the HSLS party, and the unofficial list includes also lawyer Dalija Orešković, who was at the helm of the Conflict of Interest Commission, starlet Ava Karabatić, three members of parliament Ivan Pernar, Tomislav Panenić and Vlaho Orepić, and filmmaker Dario Juričan.

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

Monday, 11 November 2019

Presidential Candidate Dejan Kovač for Introducing Electronic Voting

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - Presidential candidate Dejan Kovač on Monday called for introducing electronic voting, saying it would increase the turnout both at home and abroad as well as enable the recently emigrated to vote who, he said, would not vote for the ruling HDZ or the opposition SDP.

Speaking at a press conference, Kovač called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to introduce electronic voting and give all Croatian citizens in Croatia and abroad equal voting rights.

The prerequisite already exists, the e-Citizens system, which has 750,000 users and all the necessary data security and encryption certificates, he said.

Other countries use electronic voting to make sure that all their citizens can vote, to prevent discrimination and to increase the number of people who vote, Kovac said.

He welcomed the government's intention to take over the Information System and Information Technologies Support Agency (APIS), which is owned by the City of Zagreb.

He added, however, that Plenković should introduce electronic voting already for this year's presidential election so that the APIS takeover "doesn't turn out to be a pure political trade, i.e. the bailout of Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić."

Kovač said electronic voting could make Croatia a more developed country, both technologically and democratically.

"If it's true that 300,000 citizens have emigrated, they certainly wouldn't vote for the HDZ or the SDP but for a third option, as they are bitter about the state because of their bad governments and bad policies," he said, adding that the HDZ won one vote among Croatians in Ireland in May's European elections.

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

Monday, 11 November 2019

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović Presents Her Election Platform

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - Presenting her election platform for a second term in office on Monday, incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that she wants to be a factor of gathering and joining, a booster of new Croatian unity.

"Without you, my dear people, and without the support of Croatian citizens I would not be the president today. I am grateful to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for nominating me and I firmly believe that all HDZ members want me to be a factor of gathering and joining, a boost to new Croatian unity," the president said.

She recalled that five years ago to the day she presented her election platform for a better Croatia, saying at the time that she would not be the president of any political party but of all citizens and that she would not shun from taking responsibility. "I said: I will be your president and I deeply believe that I have achieved that," she said.

She underscored that today, like then, she believes in Croatia and in every single one of its people, their values and potential and everything that distinguishes the homeland. She particularly underlined that she is proud of war veterans and everybody who gave their lives and health in defending Croatia.

"I was convinced then, like today, that together we can achieve a better future for us all," she highlighted.

"I believe that you have recognised that I am one of you and that I have proved that I am working and fighting for you," said Grabar-Kitarović, convinced that a better Croatia is possible.

Grabar-Kitarović's slogans for a new five-year term in the president's office reads, "The president, because Croatia knows," and "Optimism for Croatia."

Her election platform, "Croatia knows and must do better," consists of seven areas on which Grabar-Kitarović will work in her next term: Croatian development, Croatian identity, Croatian resoluteness, Croatian justice, Croatian democracy, Croatian security and Croatian optimism.

The president launched her election platform at the Zagreb Trade Fair Centre. Attending the launch were Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, incumbent ministers and people from all walks of public and political life.

HDZ president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday called for strong support to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović for her re-election, saying she was the best choice for Croatia, embodying optimism, excellence and industriousness.

With Grabar-Kitarović's victory, we will continue to pursue that policy in the interest of the Croatian state and people as well as all Croatian citizens, Plenković said at the presentation of the president's re-election platform.

He said Grabar-Kitarović had proved in all key challenges that she stood for and protected national interests in the best way.

"In the new programme, you recognise the challenges that are ahead of us and propose initiatives that are in the interest of the Croatian people and Croatia's all-round prosperity," Plenković told her.

The upcoming presidential election is important as it will determine Croatia's course and winning it is crucial for continuing to achieve our political goals and the excellent cooperation and synergy of all government components, from towns, municipalities and counties to parliament, the government and the president, Plenković said.

That is the strength of the HDZ and, with your support and trust, we will transform it into one more victory for our president, he added.

By winning the election, we will ensure the continuity of a policy which is based on our values - nation-building, patriotism, and Christian democracy, he said.

That is the true policy of the centre-right which is based on the political legacy of Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman, who achieved a sovereign, free and independent Croatia with the support of the Croatian people and defenders, he said, adding that a huge majority of the Croatian people and citizens supported that policy.

A better, rather than a normal Croatia, Plenković said, alluding to the slogan of the SDP's presidential candidate Zoran Milanović.

"For them, it's normal to leave Croatian citizens 70 billion kuna in debt, which is more than all the motorways built in Croatia, to lose 40,000 jobs, freeze salaries and pensions, not use European funds for Croatia's development. The president and the government, working together, have changed that."

Today the economy is growing on sound foundations, without borrowing at the expense of future generations, we are cutting taxes and the public debt, we are generating a budget surplus, increasing investments, we have restored the investment credit rating, employment has never been higher and unemployment lower, Plenković said.

Grabar-Kitarović has made an outstanding contribution to every aspect of the protection of national interests as well as to initiatives for the demographic revival of the country, he said, adding that he especially appreciated her work on and contribution to the promotion of Croatia's economic interests and recognisability.

President Grabar-Kitarović has become a Croatian brand on the global scale, Plenković said.

We will continue to work together for young people, who are the country's future, their education and inclusion on the labour market, we will strengthen social solidarity with all vulnerable groups, pensioners, the disabled, and victims of any violence, he added.

Together we will reinforce the homeland security system, the army, the police, we will step up the security of our borders and provide for war veterans and their families, constantly protecting the dignity of the Homeland War, Plenković said.

Together we will always defend the interests of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and strengthen the ties between Croatia and its expatriates, on which President Grabar-Kitarović has been working tirelessly, he added.

Thanks to the joint work of the government and the president, Croatia's standing in the world in stronger and more respectable than ever, Plenković said.

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

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Kolakušić: Croatians are Apolitical and Politically Illiterate

ZAGREB, November 10, 2019 - Presidential candidate Mislav Kolakušić said on Sunday that Croatians are apolitical and politically illiterate, and if he fails in the forthcoming presidential election, he will return to his duties as a member of the European Parliament.

"Unfortunately, most Croatian citizens have chosen to be apolitical and consider it a very good move. Well, my dear citizens, whether your family lives as they do in Norway or in the poorest African country is decided by politics and you decide who runs politics," Kolakušić, a former judge at the Zagreb Commercial Court, said in an interview with the N1 television channel.

"Croatians are absolutely politically illiterate," he said, but added that he continued to believe that important issues should be decided in referendums. He is confident, for example, that if there were a referendum on abolishing all taxes, citizens would be against.

He said he was in favour of a system that would allow holding several offices at once, adding that this would make it possible for the people to know who was responsible. He said that if the citizens voted for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) or the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the next parliamentary election, it would mean they did not want change.

"You can't change anything, because regardless of your will you lack these 76 votes in Parliament that decide. I didn't enter into politics to do something that makes no sense but to try to change things, and you can do that only if you have power. What business do I have in politics if the citizens choose one of the direct candidates of the HDZ or SDP in these elections? In that way they say they don't want change and why would I spoil their pleasure?" Kolakušić said.

"The people are always like their leader. Every nation decides on turning points in its development and is guided by its leader. The key is in Parliament, everything changes in Parliament," he added.

Kolakušić said that the Croatian parliamentary system is irreparable because political parties are financed from the state budget, which he would abolish and introduce financing through contributions by members. "If there are not enough interested members to join a club, then the club should not exist."

Commenting on other presidential candidates, he described Miroslav Škoro as a reserve candidate of the HDZ, while accusing the SDP's Zoran Milanović of being responsible for 300,000 citizens with blocked bank accounts during his premiership.

During the interview, Kolakušić criticised the media several times for poor-quality content and for turning into party mouthpieces rather than reporting facts.

"The media never asked me questions of vital importance to Croatia," he said, adding that he would attend presidential debates only if they were serious and focused on important issues.

Kolakušić said he had no intention of spending a penny on his election campaign, stressing that voters could find everything on the internet. "Our videos have got 55 million views via Facebook alone. If you want to inform yourself, there are places, and if you don't, then do as you please."

Kolakušić said he would sort out the lack of money for pensions by removing false pensioners, false war veterans and false disabled persons from the system. He believes that at least half of the veterans in the system are fake.

He also believes that counties should be abolished or reduced to only symbolic functions, that the government should have only ten ministries and not more than five agencies, and that the number of judges should be halved.

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

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Zoran Milanović Holds Rally in Zagreb

ZAGREB, November 9, 2019 - The candidate for the president of Croatia of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) and 12 other liberal-left parties, Zoran Milanović, said at a motivational rally in Zagreb on Saturday that if elected president, he would be a supreme defender of the rights of Croatia and its citizens.

"My strongest weapon will be my speech. That is what the president has, and if he does not - nothing can help him, particularly not greater powers. I will be a sort of supreme defender of the rights of Croatia, its people and citizens, even though the current ombudswoman does her job well."

"The president can do the most by tirelessly warning about the problems of ordinary people who live off their work," Milanović told those gathered for his first big election rally, held under the slogan "An entirely normal rally."

Along with the slogan "A president with attitude", another key slogan of Milanović's campaign focuses on the term normality.

"We must create a normal state where we will wake up in a month and a half from now and say - this was worth it," Milanović said.

In his 30-minute motivational speech he also said that he would point to thievery.

"In Croatia there is no trust in the judiciary, people are exposed to power-wielders and we have been witnessing that for 30 years. As president of the republic I will warn about problems and injustices and help build trust in the system because our state has a deep meaning despite the efforts of many to devalue it. Corruption is a nice term for what people call thievery - it's greed for the property of others, for what is in the common treasury. I will work to change that. With attitude and loud warnings if necessary but not by banging my fist on the table or by forming unlawful shadow cabinets," he said, adding that he would cooperate with the government but would not exceed his powers.

In an ironic reference to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Milanovic said that he was not one of "those who say that they still believe in Croatia, I have always believed in it, and I also believe in the EU."

Commenting on current disputes in society, he said that antifascism "is not an ideology but resistance" and that his ideology was one aimed at protecting the weak.

Commenting on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Milanović said that it was time for Croatians to ask themselves if they were better, happier and smarter and in what kind of country they lived.

"Our past was difficult, more difficult than the past of any other country in Europe but the wars are over. We won those wars. We owe eternal gratitude to those who fought in them, but we must move on, we must build a normal country. The state is there for us to be satisfied living in it but is that the case today? Who is responsible for that? It does not even matter. I will not point the finger at anyone, but I will not keep silent either. My most powerful weapon will be my speech," he said.

Describing his vision of the president's role in foreign policy, he said that he would do his best to protect Croatia's interests in cooperation with the government, adding that there was no need to play the role of commander in chief of the armed forces 24 hours a day.

"We now have members of the Croatian army deployed around the world, where I deeply believe they do not belong," he said.

He also noted that life should be protected with all means available but that women's rights should be protected as well.

"I see memoricide trends, trends of restriction of women's rights and I will be a staunch advocate of the worldviews and rights of the weaker ones," he said.

Milanović's presidential candidacy is for now supported by 13 political parties - the SDP, the HSS, GLAS, the IDS, the HSU, the Democrats, SNAGA, the PGS, the Reformists, the SU, the Croatian Labour Party (HL), the Medjimurje Democratic Alliance, and the Green Pula.

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

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Škoro: Army Should Be Included in Protecting Border

ZAGREB, November 5, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro said on Tuesday that the primary task of the Croatian police was to protect the territory and citizens of Croatia, but that it would be good if the military also joined in because the border police were stretched to their limit.

"We want to be part of the Schengen area and we have our own law on the movement of foreigners. We need to know who comes into the country, who moves around and passes through, and of course, protect the territorial integrity of Croatia and all its citizens. We have enough competent people who know how to treat migrants and which of them should be accorded protection," Škoro told a press conference in Dubrovnik.

He said that the problem of illegal migration should be tackled at its source rather than put up fences along the border. He also said that this problem should not be dealt with by using force but by improving border control.

"We need to control the border, and ours is one of the longest in the European Union, but the police obviously have neither enough personnel nor resources for that job. That's why it is logical for other services to join in to help ensure better border control," Škoro said.

He said that there was not much talk of illegal migration in Croatia and that he himself had become convinced of the importance of this issue while on the campaign trail. He said that on his way to the south of the country he had been stopped by the police once and had been even searched once for illegal migrants. He said that in conversations with people living in border areas he had seen for himself that they lived in fear, fearing for their property and for their children.

Asked if Croatia was becoming a border state, Škoro said that Croatia had been a border state through history, adding that it should negotiate with Schengen countries. "This right, obligation and responsibility should be equally felt in Brussels, Madrid and Velika Kopanica," he said.

Škoro said that since 2000, the office of President had been held by persons who did not have great ambitions to participate in political life, as result of which this office was reduced to a sinecure.

"I don't want to be a figurehead and I don't need a sinecure. I want to listen to the people and participate in their initiatives. Currently all that is ignored and the people are good only when they vote, while this small clique is preoccupied with their CVs and continuing their careers in the EU. I would like for the President to have greater powers and to truly participate in the creation of better living and working conditions in this country. It is not enough if someone gets five million votes in elections and is reduced to the role of a notary-public who signs a piece of paper from time to time. That will change with this election," Škoro said.

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

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