Monday, 4 November 2019

Milanović Against Presidential Participation in Appointment of Judges

ZAGREB, November 4, 2019 - Zoran Milanović, a contender in the forthcoming presidential race who is supported by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a few more Opposition parties, said on Wednesday that the president of the republic should not at all participate in the selection and appointment of Constitutional Court judges.

Milanović said that this would be a "gross conflict of interest."

Earlier in the day, the current president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that she believed that the topic of enabling the head of state to have some role in the appointment of Constitutional Court judges should be discussed in a bid to make the appointment fairer.

"The president has nothing to do with that (Constitutional Court judges' appointment). It is a gross conflict of interest. The president (Grabar-Kitarović) has heard from someone else (about that) and she has probably found it opportune to repeat now that idea," Milanović told reporters while he was on a walkabout in the Dalmatian town of Trogir.

He said that he was absolutely against any expanding the presidential powers.

Milanović believes that those who need more powers ask for that only to compensate "deficiency in the character or lack of knowledge".

"Expanded powers means greater influence and more money. This is what the government has, and this should be so just as in all European democracies," said the SDP presidential candidate.

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

Sunday, 3 November 2019

President Will Outline Agenda for Second Term on 11 November

ZAGREB, November 3, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović told the N1 commercial broadcaster on Sunday that she would present the agenda for her second term on 11 November.

Grabar-Kitarović won her first five-year term on 11 January 2015 and Croatia is to hold presidential elections in late December.

Considering the N1 reporter's remark that at the start of her first term she said that Croatia would become one of the most prosperous countries, Grabar-Kitarović explained that she had not said then that Croatia would become the most prosperous during her five year's term but that she believed that it could happen and that efforts should be directed towards that goal.

"Economic indicators are (now) better. However, that has not yet been transposed into the lives of people. I want people to live a better life and that they can feel (those economic results) in their wages. This is realistic and possible and this will be proposed in my next agenda," the president said.

As for her statement about former Communist Yugoslavia and having been born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain and the reporter's comment that she, nevertheless, attended the last year of her secondary education in the USA, Grabar-Kitarović said that she had managed to finish her secondary education in the USA thanks to the hard work of her father who was a butcher.

Considering Josip Broz Tito who was at the helm of the Socialist Yugoslav federation, until his death in 1980, Grabar-Kitarović described him as an intelligent man "and when he saw that Yugoslavia was going to ruin economically and that the people would start revolting, he began to give in gradually."

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

SDP Wants Presidential and Parliamentary Elections to Be Held on Same Day

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - It would be best for Croatia if presidential and parliamentary elections were held on the same day, the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) said at a press conference on Tuesday, calling on all progressive forces in the country to form an anti-corruption alliance.

The press conference was prompted by the discovery that Inspector-General Andrija Mikulić had failed to declare in his declaration of assets close to 700 square metres of his property on the northern Adriatic island of Krk. Earlier in the day Mikulić said this was an unintentional mistake and that he had launched a procedure to correct it.

SDP MP Gordan Maras called the situation unbelievable, advising all business people to do the same as Mikulić when visited by inspectors and apologise for any irregularities.

"It is precisely because of things like this that the SDP has moved to form a broad anti-corruption alliance of all progressive forces in society, which would involve as many political parties as possible as well as civil society and individuals," MP Željko Jovanović said.

Speaking of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Jovanović said that her image was disastrous, describing her election campaign "as a totally confused campaign of a lost woman whom people, and especially those in Rijeka and the surrounding area, are increasingly ashamed of."

"People are simply disgusted by all these things that are going on around the HDZ and their presidential candidate. People can't watch corruption any more eating away young people's future and robbing elderly people of their dignity," Jovanović said.

The SDP has prepared a string of bills that will be sent to Parliament and the first one will be the bill on the origin of property because people have the right to know how someone has come into possession of their property, the SDP lawmaker said.

"We want the Tax Administration to be proactive rather than passive. The Tax Administration, together with the Money Laundering Office, has the necessary tools to analyse all tax returns and find out if there are any discrepancies between the amount of property owned and the income of taxpayers, especially office holders, prominent political figures and everyone who took part in privatisation processes," Jovanović said.

Responding to questions from the press, Maras ruled out a possibility of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the SDP forming a grand coalition. "That's not an option," he said.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

President Explains Statement about Rijeka FC as a Reserve Serbian Club

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - The Croatian Premier League team Rijeka FC on Monday asked for and was given an official statement from President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović regarding her statement about the club's status in the 1980s in which she said that at the time Rijeka was more of a reserve club for the Serbian Partizan and Crvena Zvezda football clubs, which drew many negative comments.

"The purpose of the then political influence on our club's management was to constantly tie Rijeka with Belgrade. The Rijeka that I followed as a supporter in my school days is not the Rijeka we have today. The most talented Croatian players like Zoran Šestan at the time sat on the bench while some others, less talented but politically more suitable were given an opportunity. It was in that context that I described the then Rijeka football club as a reserve club. I know well what the status of Rijeka in the 1980s was and no one can convince me otherwise," the president said.

Grabar-Kitarović also responded to Primorje-Gorski Kotar Deputy County Prefect Marko Boras Mandić who strongly criticised her statement about Rijeka being a reserve Serbian club.

"Armada (Rijeka supporters' club) has always been a symbol of the Croatian Rijeka, of the spite and resistance to hegemonistic policies. I have always supported and will support my Rijeka, my football club... the Rijeka Football Club believes that our club has always belonged to its supporters, its city, region, Croatia and all those who have it in its heart," she said, among other things.

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

Monday, 28 October 2019

President's Statement Angers Rijeka Mayor, Local Officials

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Deputy Prefect Marko Baras Mandić said on Monday that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's statement about the Rijeka Football Club was deeply insulting for the county's residents and that her statement about Goli Otok was dangerous.

"I am really shocked as a citizen and deputy prefect because (the president) described the county's residents as proponents of a policy that caused a lot of harm to Croatia in the 1990s while forgetting that at its first official match in Zagreb on October 17 and later at Rijeka's Kantrida stadium on December 22, the Croatian national football team included as many as four players of the Rijeka Football Club, a 'reserve Serbian club" as she described it," said Mandić.

"(She) has insulted all of us who in the 1980s wore the red-white-and-blue scarves and got beaten by the regime's batons across Yugoslavia by saying that we had rooted for 'a Serbian club', said Mandić.

He stressed that he was shocked the most by Grabar-Kitarović's statement about Goli Otok. "She said that she would benefit the most if a week of Yugoslavia was introduced because she would send all those speaking against her to Goli Otok. That is a very dangerous statement, resembling statements by comrade Stalin rather than by a Croatian president," Boras Mandić said, adding that he had to make the statement as a citizen and someone who had to protect Croatian citizens, including those in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obsernel, too, commented on Grabar-Kitarović's statements on Twitter. "After she left the country from behind the Iron Curtain with a red passport to go to school in the United States, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović today insulted the Rijeka Football Club by saying that it was a reserve Serbian club. How deep can that reservoir of stupidity be? Where does it end?" Obersnel wrote on Twitter.

Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro, too, commented on Grabar-Kitarović's statement about the Rijeka club, posting on his Facebook wall of photo of himself standing at Rijeka's stadium, with the message "Rijeka is great", and describing the debate about the Iron Curtain as tragicomic.

In a comment on her speech in Washington on Sunday, in which she mentioned among other things that she had lived behind the Iron Curtain, Grabar-Kitarović said on Sunday:

"Churchill said that an iron curtain had descended from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic and that all capitals of Central European culture, including Belgrade, were left behind it. Regardless of how things changed, whether they were non-aligned or not, they were not neutral," the president told the press during a visit to Split when asked to explain her speech during her acceptance of the Fulbright Life Achievement Award at a ceremony in Washington on Saturday.

"Please, let no one try to convince me about a life that never was. We all experienced it in the former Yugoslavia. We all know how it was to travel with a red passport, the humiliation we had to go through, what it meant to pay a deposit. If anyone is nostalgic about the former Yugoslavia, let's introduce one week of the former Yugoslavia. Do you know who will benefit the most? I will, because if you say anything against me, you will end up on Goli Otok," she said, referring to an island prison where political prisoners were held during communist rule.

More Rijeka news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Bosnia’s HDZ to Back Grabar-Kitarović for Croatia’s President

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - The leader of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BH), Dragan Čović, has confirmed that his party will support Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in her bid for a second term as President of Croatia.

Speaking in an interview with the Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz of Monday, Čović said that the HDZ BH would support Grabar-Kitarović in the presidential race. "The HDZ BH will join in the election campaign when it formally begins," he said.

Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who have dual Bosnian and Croatian citizenship are entitled to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections in Croatia.

Čović said he hoped the forthcoming Croatian presidency of the European Union would help Bosnia and Herzegovina catch up with other countries in the region in their efforts to join the bloc.

"The Croatian presidency of the Union in the first half of next year gives Bosnia and Herzegovina a chance to catch up with Albania and North Macedonia because we have met all the conditions except forming a government," Čović said.

Čović said that in negotiations with the predominantly Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) he would continue to insist on amending electoral legislation, suggesting as the best solution the election model used by Belgium.

Čović said that his party supported the country's NATO membership bid, but added that one should not insist on it the way the SDA did because this was a process that would not be completed in 20 years' time if it continued at the present pace.

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

Monday, 28 October 2019

Presidential Hopeful Kolakušić Says Campaign Will Cost Him Nothing

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - Mislav Kolakušić, a Croatian member of the European Parliament who plans to stand in Croatia's presidential election in December, has said that his presidential campaign "will cost nothing".

Kolakušić, who was a guest in a talk show of the national television (HTV) on Sunday afternoon, said that the providing political parties and political options with funds from the state budget "creates an army of incompetent sinecurists".

He said that parties that could not fund themselves on their own or by membership are "incapable of anything".

Kolakušić, a judge-turned-politician who was perceived by media as the biggest surprise of the 26 May European elections in Croatia by winning a seat in the European Parliament, told the HTV that the team for his presidential campaign was the same as in the campaign for the Euro elections, and some of those activists used to be members of the anti-establishment party "Human Shield".

Kolakušić recalled that as soon as he had won a seat in the EP, he announced that he would run also for the president of Croatia.

Commenting on strikes, he said that industrial actions and protests were always welcome, however he did not think that the ongoing strike of teachers had any strength.

"If I were the prime minister now, I would immediately downsize the state administration and local authorities by 30%, which means the cutting of 100,000 jobs," he said in response to the question how he would ensure enough money for salaries and pensions.

He said that the state must be first put in order and that trade unions must be now patient.

Kolakušić added that he was for the reintroduction of a presidential system in Croatia, which used to be in place during the term of the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman.

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

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Presidential Elections to Be Held on December 22?

ZAGREB, October 23, 2019 - The first round of presidential elections in Croatia will almost certainly be held on December 22, three days before Christmas, which means that the second round would be held on January 5, the Večernji List daily learned from sources at the ruling HDZ party, who said that other dates were possible only in the event of extraordinary situations.

The formal decision on elections is made by the government, which must call elections 60 days at the earliest and 30 days at the latest before the expiry of the term of incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Večernji List issue of Wednesday says.

These legal and constitutional provisions make it possible for the government to call elections on five possible dates between December 19 and January 19. Since elections are always held on a Sunday, possible election dates are December 22 and 29 and January 5,12 and 19.

The HDZ has opted for the earliest possible date, but the daily's sources claim that they did not give any special consideration to which of the possible dates would be more favourable for their candidate.

Previous presidential elections were held at the end of December and considering constitutional deadlines, there was no reason to choose a date in January and call elections at the last moment, a senior HDZ member, involved in Grabar-Kitarović's campaign, said.

Considerations regarding the most favourable date for elections could be linked with the fact that their first round falls ahead of Christmas, when most voters are in Croatia, while the second round falls in January, at the time of school holidays, when many are away for skiing.

Political analyst Žarko Puhovski believes that that fact is not without influence on the possible election outcome and is confident that the absence of a part of the electorate during winter school holidays in the 2015 presidential election had a negative impact on the result of former president Ivo Josipović and that he might have won the election if its timing had been different.

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Milanović in Favour of Higher Wages for Nurses and Teachers, But Not Police

ZAGREB, October 13, 2019 - The Social Democratic Party's candidate for President of the Republic, former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, said on Saturday that the government should raise wages for nurses and teachers, but not for the police, military and diplomats.

Answering questions from the press during a visit to the northern city of Čakovec, Milanović said that at this moment people caring for the elderly, infirm and sick and those teaching children English and mathematics were more important.

Asked to comment on the ongoing strike by primary and secondary school teachers, given that in 2015 he had called similar union demands comical, Milanovic said that the sum in question now was 400 million kuna (54 million euro) and that this government could afford it.

"I had to displease people because there was no money then. Interest on loans was seven percent and now it's one percent. A month before the parliamentary election we were dealing with loans in Swiss francs," he said.

Milanović said that the priority for him was to raise wages for nurses and teachers, but not for the police. "We are a democratic state, we have the police, but we are not a police state," he said, adding that diplomats and the military were not a priority either.

The SDP presidential candidate believes that the Croatian troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan to avoid political and security problems. "Croatia needs a small, efficient and well-paid army," he said.

However, he said he was not against maintaining the fighter jet squadron, and that Croatia should buy fighter jets directly from the United States. "The US is our only true great ally, while Israel is not," he said.

"Americans or nothing, that's not granting preferential treatment to the US producer. Israel is a Middle East country which is our friend and which tried to flog US aircraft to us. If you are buying military equipment, buy American," Milanović concluded.

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

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Milanović: MPs to Soon Lose Right to Privileged Pensions

ZAGREB, October 6, 2019 - Presidential candidate Zoran Milanović visited the coastal city of Zadar on Saturday and said that MPs could soon no longer receive privileged pensions.

The former prime minister said that unlike other presidential candidates, he would not make promises he could not keep.

He recalled that the first two measures parliament adopted in 2012 at his government's proposal was to cancel private bailiffs and privileged pensions. "That's to protect the little man."

He said the Constitutional Court quashed those measures three years later so that all those entitled to privileged pensions still received them, including all the judges in that court. "But I have happy news. According to the latest information, MPs will lose those pensions. These are the simple promises one can keep."

Asked to comment on frequent criticisms from the ruling HDZ party that under his government all projects in Zadar had stopped, Milanović said there was no proof of that.

"Some people live off work, some off lack of evidence. The motorway, for example, was built under the SDP (Social Democratic Party) government. I'm glad that Zadar is doing well and has been for the past 20 years, but Croatia is also outside Zadar, in Slavonia and places where people not only emigrate, but have no livelihood."

Milanović congratulated the people of Zadar on City Defence Day, saying it was something very serious and difficult. "One should always remember how thin the line is between freedom and slavery, life and death. Eternal gratitude to those who actively defended this area then, and they were few."

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

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