Friday, 20 December 2019

HDZ Staff Members at 3 Polling Stations in Bosnia Disqualified

ZAGREB, December 20, 2019 - The Croatian Election Commission (DIP) said on Friday that members of two polling stations in Banja Luka and one in Sarajevo had been relieved of their duties after they were found to be members of a political party, which disqualifies them for this duty.

Following a report by the Zagreb-based GONG nongovernmental association that some of the staff at the polling stations set up in Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croatia's presidential vote on 22 December are members of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH), DIP made the necessary checks and found that some of the staff at polling stations nos. 26 and 17 in Banja Luka and polling station no.4 in Sarajevo did not meet requirements for this duty as they were members of the said political party.

DIP said that in the selection of people for polling committees, applicants signed statements under pain of criminal responsibility declaring they were not members of any political party, adding that it had no knowledge of the party membership of the people in question.

Croats with dual nationality are entitled to vote in the 22 December presidential election at 44 polling stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Voting will also be held in 46 other countries.

The staff at polling stations includes persons who are not members of any political party. Each polling station is staffed with six people, that is the chairperson, two members and their substitutes.

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

Friday, 20 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Holds Main Election Rally in Zagreb

ZAGREB, December 20, 2019 - The incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović held her main election rally in Zagreb on Thursday evening ahead of the presidential election on Sunday, saying that she was seeking a second term in office in good conscience because over the last five years Croatia had emerged from apathy and gloom and strengthened its international standing.

"We have pulled Croatia out of apathy and gloom. Croatia is no longer on its knees, it's upright! Croatia is again known in the world for its successes. I'm proud to have had a chance to help Croatia come out of the recession, I'm proud that I have strengthened Croatia's standing in the word," Grabar-Kitarović told a packed Cibona sports hall.

She thanked everyone for supporting her during the last five years, saying that her term had marked a start of change for the better and "now it should continue with even greater strides".

She said that the national economy has recovered, wages are rising, general government debt is decreasing, the country's credit rating and GDP are improving, the military and police are getting stronger, war veterans have been ensured the dignity they deserve, decentralisation is being conducted as the basis for balanced regional development, the issues of missing persons from the war and people with blocked bank accounts are being addressed, the absorption of EU funding is improving and the demographic issue must be a social priority.

She also stressed the importance of national unity. "The unity of the Croatian people and all our citizens has no alternative and I will never give it up."

She said she had pulled Croatia out of the Western Balkans and anchored it in Central Europe and the Mediterranean through the Three Seas Initiative. "That's where we belong."

She concluded by offering the voters "optimism instead of lamentations, unity instead of divisions, association instead of separation, and action instead of inaction."

The rally was also addressed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and other senior officials of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.

Plenković called on voters to cast their ballots for Grabar-Kitarović, saying there was no better president than her. He said he was confident that "the Croatian people will show their wisdom and maturity on Sunday" and vote for her.

Jandroković told those gathered that they all needed to support the HDZ candidate together because of the attacks she was being subjected to during the campaign "which was never so dirty before."

He said that there were no divisions within the HDZ. "We all stand as one, we are all together and we will show it on Sunday."

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

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Presidential Candidate Katarina Peović Calls for Termination of Vatican Agreements

ZAGREB, December 18, 2019 - The presidential candidate of the Workers' Front and Socialist Workers' Party, Katarina Peović, on Wednesday called for termination of the Vatican agreements saying that they are in gross violation of Croatia's secularity.

She said that over 1 billion kuna (135 million euro) was allocated from the budget to the Catholic Church annually, while the government was claiming there was no money to increase nurses' wages.

"That amount is much higher than 1 billion kuna because there are also non-transparent allocations by local government. For example, Mayor Milan Bandić has set aside 500,000 kuna (67,500 euro) from the City of Zagreb budget to move a cross a few metres away at the Hipodrom (horse racing venue)," Peović told a press conference outside the Croatian Bishops' Conference building.

Peović said that the Vatican agreements had been signed without public consultation, which is against basic democratic standards. She said that terminating these agreements would not be easy, but that Croatia should start running a sovereign and autonomous policy for the benefit of the state, the national economy and the people.

"The actual amounts being allocated to the Church can only be speculated about because the Church does not submit any financial reports," Peović said.

More news about Katarina Peović can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Presidential Candidates Face Off in TV Debate

ZAGREB, December 18. 2019 - The incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and the 10 contenders running in the presidential race participated in a two-hour head-to head debate on the national broadcaster's channel HTV 1 on Tuesday evening with just five days to go before the election.

Grabar-Kitarović said that during the five years of her first term she had been "the voice of citizens" and that she delivered on the promises she had made to voters. In this context she underscored that she managed to disentangle the country from "the Region" and imposed the issue of demography as one of the top priorities.

Zoran Mialnović a former Social Democrat (SDP) prime minister who is supported by several left Opposition parties, said that he would reinstate the dignity of the presidency.

Independent candidate Miroslav Škoro, who is supported by the Bridge party and is perceived as the favourite candidate of some anti-establishment right-wing movements, said that he was offering radical changes and that he would seek the enlargement of the powers of the head of state.

Dario Juričan, who goes by the name of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and who is giving performances in the campaign, said in his ironical remark that if elected, he would introduce the eighth (grammatical) case in the Croatian language which has seven grammatical cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative).

As for the issue of people who have not been accounted-for since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, Grabar-Kitarović reiterated that she would insist on the search for the missing and concerning Serbia's aspirations to come closer to the European Union, she said that Serbia should meet all the membership requirements and also must come to terms with its past for its own sake.

Milanović said he was not for the blockade of Serbia's journey towards the EU, however he called for making a distinction between the Serbian people and "Belgrade's boors" and Aleksandar Vučić on the other side.

Mislav Kolakušić, an independent candidate supported by anti-establishment movements, said that Serbia's journey towards the EU did not depend on Croatia, however, Zagreb could have a say in the process.

Anto Đapić of the right-wing DESNO party said that Serbia would never give full information about the missing people.

Considering the topic of migrations, Grabar-Kitarović called for making a distinction between asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, and praised the police for doing a great job while protecting the Croatian border.

Škoro said that the border "is a sacred thing", and Milanović praised his cabinet for how it had tackled the flows of migrants in 2015.

Concerning NATO, Kolakušić said that the alliance was dead and proposed establishing an EU army involving service-people from all the member-states.

Katarina Peović, supported by a few non-parliamentary left-wing parties, said that by its admission to NATO, Croatia actually became a target for terrorist attacks.

Independent candidate Ivan Pernar, a former official of the anti-establishment Human Shield party, described NATO as a criminal organisation.

During the debate, Milanović criticised Grabar-Kitarović's Three Seas Initiative, adding that in this way she pushed Croatia in the company with "most regressive countries". Now I know that the president has led Croatia in Central Europe. Three Seas ends at the Black Sea, so in the Balkans and this is not even Central Europe, he said.

The initiative that was launched in 2015 by Croatia's President Grabar-Kitarović and her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda. The initiative comprises a dozen European states located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Its objective is to bolster regional dialogue and connect the countries between the north and the south.

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

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Presidential Candidate Peović Supported by Slovenian, European Left Parties

ZAGREB, December 17, 2019 - The presidential candidate of the Workers' Front, Katarina Peović, has received support from the Slovenian parliamentary party the Left and a vice-president of the Party of the European Left, Parolo Ferrero, the Workers' Front said on Tuesday.

Deputies of the Slovenian Left, which has nine seats in the national parliament and advocates democratic eco-Socialism, expressed their support via a video in which they stressed that "time has come for a new system in which everyone will profit, not just a chosen few."

"Parolo Ferrero, vice-president of the Party of the European Left, which has 24 member-parties, has also expressed support for the only candidate of the Left in (Croatia's) coming elections," the Workers' Front says in a statement.

In his letter of support, Ferrero expressed confidence that Peović could strengthen the status of all workers in Croatia as well as help build an alternative system that was not based on exploitation and corruption.

The Workers' Front a non-parliamentary party, also says that the support Peović has received is a significant contribution in the strengthening of the Croatian and European anti-capitalist left.

More news about Katarina Peović can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 16 December 2019

950,000 Euro Spent on Election Campaigning So Far

ZAGREB, December 16, 2019 - Less than seven million kuna was spent on election campaigning of the 11 presidential candidates until this weekend, the State Election Commission (DIP) reported on Monday, six days before the presidential vote on 22 December.

The incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is running for her second term, reported that the outlays for her campaign came to 2.75 million kuna so far.

Independent candidate, Miroslav Škoro, perceived as a candidate of right-wing anti-establishment movements, has spent 2.24 million kuna, while Zoran Milanović, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a few more left opposition parties has spent 1.32 million kuna.

The costs of the remaining eight candidates is 370,000 kuna in aggregate.

Dario Juričan, a film-maker who is using the name of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić during the campaign, tops this list with 209,000 kuna spent so far on his campaign.

He is followed by Katarina Peović, a candidate of two non-parliamentary left-wing parties, with HRK 88,500.

Economist Dean Kovač, supported by the Croatian Social and Liberal Party (HSLS), has reported the current costs of 37,500 kuna.

Independent candidate Ivan Pernar, a former prominent member of the Živi Zid anti-establishment party, has reported the outlays for the campaigning in the amount of 21,000 kuna.

Dalija Orešković, a lawyer and a former head of the Conflict of Interest Commission, has spent 12,700 kuna and Anto Đapić of the DESNO party a mere 2,500 kuna.

Two candidates – Mislav Kolakušić and Nedjeljko Babić – have informed the DIP that they spent no kuna on campaigning.

Kolakušić, a Croatian member of the European Parliament and a former judge, said last week that he had no donations and that he spent a mere 12 kuna (1.6 euro) for the costs of the banking and payment transfer services.


The highest amount of donations was collected by the team of Grabar-Kitarović (1.5 million kuna).

Milanović's campaign team has collected to date 700,000 from donors.

Škoro's donations have stood at 338,000 kuna.

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

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović to Focus on Demography, Return of Young People

ZAGREB, December 15, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said at an election rally in Slavonski Brod that during her current term she had helped solve the problem of air pollution in Slavonski Brod and that she was helping the government deal with the situation in the ailing Đuro Đaković mechanical engineering group.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the problem of air pollution in Slavonski Brod, caused by a Russian-owned oil refinery in the northern Bosnia and Herzegovina town of Bosanski Brod, across the Sava River, was solved in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Đuro Đaković is of special importance for Croatia. The payment of late wages started on Friday, 60 more workers will receive their wages on Monday... the government is about to launch the restructuring of the company. Its debts will be settled so that a new partner can enter the ownership structure. After that, new production will be launched," she told reporters after the rally, adding that a US company was interested in establishing an overhaul centre for combat vehicles.

She also said that in her next term, she would focus on the issue of demography and the return of young people to the region of Slavonia, hit by large-scale emigration.

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

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Škoro: Milanović, Grabar-Kitarović Two Faces of the Same System

ZAGREB, December 15, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro on Saturday held an election rally in Split, at which he called on voters not to cast their ballots for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Zoran Milanović because "they are two faces of the same system".

"A vote for Miroslav Škoro is a vote for the people, and if you vote for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović or Zoran Milanović, it does not make a difference - you vote for Andrej Plenković," Škoro said.

In a comment on Grabar-Kitarović, he said that she was boasting about her platform and that, if he had been the president for five years, he would be boasting about his results.

"That is what we expect of her, we don't expect a wish list for Santa Claus," he said.

As regards Milanovic, Škoro said that he was a bad prime minister and that he did not see how he could be a good president.

"The man was willing to sacrifice Croatia to protect two (former) members of UDBA (Yugoslav secret service)," he said, accusing Milanović of sowing division among Croatians.

Škoro said that since the start of his campaign he had been a target of defamation but that that would not last long.

He said that he was a proud Catholic Croat and could therefore not be accused of insulting his church.

Voters should not fall for provocations by those who kept silent when the people wanted a referendum on the Istanbul Convention and on changes to the election law, he said, adding that voters also should not trust those who received Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić for talks.

He said that if elected president, he would insist on normalisation of relations with Serbia, which, he said, meant that the border would not go along the middle of the Danube River as the thousands of hectares of land located on the left side of the river were owned by Croatians.

Škoro said that he would insist on dealing with the issue of persons gone missing in the 1991-95 war, as well as that Croatian archives and cultural property stolen during the Great Serbian fascist aggression be returned to Croatia and compensation be paid to all former inmates of Serb concentration camps.

Speaking of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the presidential candidate said that he would see to it that "the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not only a constituent but also a sovereign people that controls its own territory and has its own political representatives."

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

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Presidential Candidate Peović Advocates Democratic Socialism Against Free Market

ZAGREB, December 14, 2019 - The presidential candidate of the Workers' Front and the Socialist Workers' Party (SRP), Katarina Peović, said during a walkabout in the northern Adriatic city of Pula on Saturday that the needs of all people could be satisfied only by the 21st century democratic Socialism.

"During the ongoing election campaign, all the other presidential candidates have given a more or less similar statement that it only takes to stamp out and eradicate corruption and let the free market operate," Peović said, stressing that unlike other candidates, she believed that the free market was a big problem.

The Workers' Front and Peović believe that after 30 years the concept of free market should be re-examined and that solutions should be offered that would improve the status of Croatians as workers and human beings.

"Ask residents of Pula what they think about the free market in the context of developments with the (ailing) Uljanik shipyard," she said.

Commenting on a decision by the High Misdemeanour Court that singer Marko Perković Thompson's salute "For the homeland ready" at the start of his song "Bojna Čavoglave" (The Čavoglave Battalion) does not constitute unlawful conduct, Peović said that the salute, used by the authorities of the World War II Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia, should definitely be outlawed because "it was used for criminal purposes."

"Interpretations that the salute comes from an opera or the like are fabrications. 'For the homeland ready' should be banned very clearly and explicitly," she said.

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

Saturday, 14 December 2019

"Croatia Should Think Twice Before Introducing Euro"

ZAGREB, December 14, 2019 - The Social Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Zoran Milanović, said in Ogulin on Friday that Croatia should think carefully before introducing the euro because if it does it, it will lose its national currency for good "and the kuna is what it is, but it is ours."

"Several countries that have been members of the EU for quite some time have not joined the euro area - the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. A housing loan in Greece, which has introduced the euro, is more expensive than at Zagrebačka Banka, where housing loans are more expensive than in Italy. So there are no right and unquestionable arguments about the introduction of the euro being the right thing to do," he said.

Milanović also commented on insulting posters against him that he saw pinned to trees in Ogulin.

"I know what the message behind them is because there are people of Serb ethnicity here who have the same surname as I do ... those are messages of intimidation. People (responsible for that) have been trading in fear for more than 20 years. They idolise a Communist general, Tito's general, who was their leader, and they keep saying those senseless things," Milanović said, accusing the ruling HDZ party of being behind the posters.

"That is not a normal Croatia," he said, adding that the government was dealing with unimportant things and that other countries were outperforming Croatia in all areas.

He also spoke critically about the judicial system, saying that "thieves are not sentenced because of the expiry of the statute of limitations and lack of evidence, which is insulting."

He also noted that health care could not be free but that it had to be available.

Calling on citizens to go to the polls on December 22, he said that since the start of his political career he had never enjoyed any preferential treatment and that he did not want anything for Croatia but to be a normal country "while the philosophy of the right, particularly the HDZ's right, is a philosophy of proscription and social domination."

Such an attitude "leads to rebellion and dissatisfaction, wars start when you treat people as second-class citizens, when you vilify entire nations or groups, which is what the HDZ does," said Milanović.

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

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