Friday, 29 July 2022

Milanović Says Did Not Insult Roma

ZAGREB, 29 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday dismissed the statement by MP Veljko Kajtazi that in his criticism of the government's energy conservation plan he insulted the Roma community.

Milanović said he had no ill intentions and would not apologize because he did not offend anyone.

"Did I say that Roma were thieves? Did I spread prejudice and stereotypes? It is well known who steals in this country and who steals metal. Did I say that Roma were stealing. What was I supposed to say, that Roma have a PhD? I myself do not. Enough of this affectation and apologising. Where is the end to all this apologising for this and that, for Jasenovac, for Srebrenica. One must apologise all the time. Who should I apologise to and why?" Milanović said in response to questions from reporters during a visit to the southern town of Imotski.

Criticising the government's energy saving scheme on Thursday, Milanović said that if air conditioners would need to be set to 25 degrees Celsius, they had better be sold to Roma. "They will make a profit out of it. Roma are very skilled in these matters," he added.

Commenting on Kajtazi's reaction that he offended the entire Roma community, Milanović said that the question is "whether he is Roma at all".

He recalled saying several times that Kajtazi was the only member of Parliament with respectable voter support because out of some 10,000 Roma in Croatia, he received 3,000 votes in elections. "Given the large number of children among the Roma population, it turns out that almost everyone voted for him," Milanović said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Milanović: Pelješac Bridge Project of Entry to European Space for China

ZAGREB, 27 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that Pelješac Bridge was a project whereby China entered European space but he noted that that space would remained closed to China for some time again considering the current geopolitical relations. 

"This is not their project, this is European, our money. A Chinese company won the job in a transparent tender but I'm afraid this is the last time they have won a project considering the situation in global relations and geopolitics," Milanović said.

Pelješac Bridge was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which competed for the project against Austria's Strabag and an Italian-Turkish consortium of bidders.

"I assume the project was an opportunity for the Chinese to enter European space which has now been closed to them for some time, regardless of the fact that they have done a good job. They, too, will have to open up to European companies a little more," Milanović told reporters.

He added that he was surprised that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang addressed the Pelješac Bridge inauguration ceremony on Tuesday evening via video link, and that he could not say when the message was recorded.

"Had someone told me three weeks ago that we would be addressed by the prime minister of China, a country supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine (...), I would have said 'Let's see'. Now that I have seen it, thumbs up, but a little skewed," he said.

"What happened yesterday is interesting (...) China is not a problem to us the way it is to the USA and some other countries. The fact that we are in NATO does not mean that we blindly follow NATO members' policy. We won't rock the boat or bridge too much, but we do have our own interests," said Milanović.

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Friday, 22 July 2022

Milanović Comments on Russia's Decision to Declare Croatia Hostile Country

ZAGREB, 22 July 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Friday commented on the Russian government's decision to include Croatia on its list of hostile countries.

"We are not at war, but this has been going on for months. We are on hostile terms with Russia. We are not in it so actively like other countries that are in fact at war. This is a very dangerous situation that threatens to evolve into something enormous. I hope it does not," Milanović said.

The Russian government has added Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Slovakia, and Slovenia to its list of hostile countries, against which it is taking countermeasures, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Friday.

Croatia and Slovenia can no longer employ local staff in their diplomatic and consular posts. Greece is allowed to hire up to 34 people, Denmark 20 and Slovakia 16.

"The list approved by the government is not final and could be expanded given the continued hostile actions of foreign states against Russian missions abroad,” the Russian government said in a statement.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Milanović Meets Malta's Parliament and Government Officials in Valletta

ZAGREB, 12 July 2022 - Croatia's President Zoran Milanović held meetings with the Speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives, Anġlu Farrugia, Prime Minister Robert Abela and the Opposition's leader Bernard Grech, on Tuesday, the last day of his two-day state visit to Malta.

On Monday, he was received by his host, Malta's President George Vella, for the talks on Croatia's aspirations to join the Schengen Area, Malta's experience in the changeover to the euro and the status of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These topics were also on the agenda of the meetings with the Maltese officials on Tuesday.

Vella invited Croatia's head of state to attend the Arraiolos Group's meeting which will be held in Malta this October. Arraiolos Group is an informal meeting of presidents of parliamentary and semi-presidential European Union member states, held roughly once in a year.

Milanović, accompanied by his wife Sanja Musić Milanović, paid the return visit to Valletta after his host Vella had visited Croatia last October.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Milanović Responds to Criticism Over Stand at NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović asked on Friday "what should I have done" at the NATO summit following criticism by the right-wing opposition that he was not harsh enough and that he softened his rhetoric on the accession of Finland and Sweden, which earlier he made conditional on Bosnia's election law.

At the Madrid summit this week, NATO invited Finland and Sweden to join. Milanović has long considered that should be made conditional on changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law, although he says that in principle, he has nothing against the accession of those two countries.

Finland and Sweden will sign NATO accession protocols on Tuesday, which have to be ratified by all member states.

Yesterday, MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) said Milanović had played with the feelings and rights of Croats in BiH in a way and that "someone could ask him, where are you now, tough guy?"

Speaking to the press today, Milanović referred to her question at least a dozen times.

"What should I have done?... What should I have said? Which stand would have been the right one to satisfy Selak Raspudić?" he said when asked if he should have been more vehement.

"What do you mean, more vehement? To sully Finland and Sweden? I never do that."

Milanović reiterated that now all the responsibility on their NATO accession "is up to Croatian members of parliament."

Asked if he would, as he had said, "persecute as sinful souls" those MPs who vote for the accession, he said his message was first and foremost to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković because he missed the chance in Brussels in 23 June to help BiH win EU candidate status like Ukraine and Moldova did.

"Ukraine can't get candidate status overnight and BiH be left on the side," he said, adding that many in eastern Europe thought so too, but were using the excuse "well, you know what the situation is."

Milanović said a number of European leaders thought that Plenković failed to do that for BiH because "he got scared." "Sometimes you have to stand firmly behind some things. And then the paradox happens that Slovenian and Hungarian Prime Ministers Robert Golob and Viktor Orban do that instead."

Milanović reiterated that he "would do everything for the election law on BiH to be changed. But my possibilities and powers stop at one point and I can't prevent someone from signing that accession agreement on Croatia's behalf."

"That's active and topical until October, until election day in BiH, because the election law can be changed today, tomorrow, but if it's changed in November, it means nothing to us."

He went on to say that the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden was not a done deal and that the decision made in Madrid to invite them to join "is a general political stand" adopted after Turkey scrapped its blockade.

"You think the story was over with the signing of a memorandum by the three sides? The very next day they requested the extradition of 33 persons," he said about the memorandum Turkey signed with Finland and Sweden and its demand that they extradite 33 members of the PKK and FETO movement it considers terrorists.

Milanović went on to say that Europe and not the United States would deal with the issue of changes to BiH's election law. He said Croats in BiH "can be saved only by a miracle" and accused the Croatian government of "sadistic obstruction."

"That's the responsibility of Plenković and several of his vassals," he added and again criticised Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman for not attending the NATO summit.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

President Talks PM, Food Prices, Abortion

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Friday he was sorry he did not meet Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at today's conference on the occasion of Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts Day, saying Plenković decided against attending when he found out that Milanović would.

Milanović said he was not competing with Plenković. "For me personally, he is zero, but he is the president of the HDZ (party), the prime minister, he won the election, he is responsible for the rampant corruption, deserving for less political radicalism in life, which he succeeded in suppressing in the HDZ because he is a communist."

Food prices, abortion

Speaking of high food prices, Milanović said they were a consequence of the war in Ukraine and that the government could do nothing about it. As for the vouchers announced by the government, he said it was copying Austria.

The president said it was not realistic for abortion rights to be entered into the Constitution, as demanded by the Social Democratic Party and the Green-Left Bloc.

When it comes to abortion, he said "we've had this issue solved in an appropriate way almost 50 years now," better than the Americans who, he said, have been waging a cultural war since 1973.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Milanović Expected to Meet Finnish Counterpart, Swedish PM During NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović will attend the NATO summit in Madrid from 28 to 30 June and is expected to meet bilaterally with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, his office said on Monday.

The summit is being held in the midst of a major security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic area caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and therefore a discussion on strengthening aid to Ukraine is also expected.

A topic of the NATO summit will also be Finland's and Sweden's accession to the military alliance.

Earlier, the Croatian president said that the entry of the Nordic countries into NATO should be made conditional on amendments to the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid an official visit to Croatia last week, and Milanović told her that in principle he was not opposed to Finland's accession to NATO, but at the same time, he underscored the difficult position of Croats in BiH and the security problems facing Croatia due to the unstable situation in that country.

Also, in a recent telephone conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Milanović said that he was not opposed to Finland's entry into NATO, but that he expected to understand from that country for the protection of the rights of BiH Croats.

Invited non-member heads of state and government - Australia, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Finland, and Sweden - and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the summit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the summit via a video call.

On the first day of the NATO summit on Tuesday, Milanović and his wife Sanja Musić Milanović will attend a gala dinner along with other heads of state, hosted by King Philip VI of Spain and Queen Letizia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

81st Anniversary of Foundation of 1st Partisan Unit Marked in Brezovica Forest

ZAGREB, 22 June - Wreath-laying ceremonies were held at the Brezovica Memorial Centre on Wednesday on the occasion of Croatia's Anti-Fascist Struggle Day, observed on 22 June in memory of 22 June 1941 when the first Partisan detachment and the first anti-Fascist unit in this part of Europe were founded near Sisak.

President Zoran Milanović, who laid down carnations in front of the "Debeli Brijest" monument, said in his speech that anti-Fascism had deep roots in Croatia.

"It is a feeling, emotion, it is an integral part of Croatia's journey and one of the segments that make up our roots," said the president who underscored "No to fascism, freedom to the people!", alluding to the "Death to fascism, freedom to the people!" salute used by Tito-led Communist Partisan units in the Second World War.

Milanović said that Croatia's path in WW2 and after that was "just and successful".

Justice Minister Ivan Malenica, who laid a wreath on behalf of the government, said that anti-Fascism is part of the identity and past of the Croatian people, it is deeply intertwined in Croatia's statehood, and accepting both one's own good and bad things in the past is a sign of the maturity of a nation, the minister added.

It is a historical fact that Croatia's nation was among the victors at the end of the Second World War, the Croatian people were among the members of the anti-Fascist coalition, he said.

Sisak Count Prefect Ivan Celjak said that soldiers in the Homeland War made it possible for Croatia to see its dream of independence come true, and the borders of the country were defined by anti-Fascists and the anti-Fascist Struggle in the Second World War 

The head of the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia (SABA RH), Franjo Habulin, said being anti-Fascist is not a political orientation but a human one.

"Anti-Fascism is alive and never surrenders," he said.

In attendance at the ceremonies were also two former presidents, Stjepan Mesić and Ivo Josipović, Deputy Sabor Speaker Davorko Vidović, Labour Minister Marin Piletić, Supreme Court President Radovan Dobronić, Sisak Mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček, and Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Bakšić Mitić Communicator of the Year, Milanović-Plenković Anti-Communicators

ZAGREB, 9 June 2022 - The Croatian Public Relations Association (HUOJ) has named Glina Deputy Mayor Branka Bakšić Mitić as the communicator of the year, while the public discourse of the country's leaders, President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, has earned them the title of anti-communicators of the year.

Bakšić Mitić warned of the too slow process of post-earthquake reconstruction in the region of Banovina, expressing her gratitude for the award and saying she was happy that HUOJ had recognized her simple communication strategy - to tell the truth always and without fear.

"It is a great responsibility to be the voice of all my fellow citizens who are struggling on a daily basis with the consequences of the earthquake. Many good people are helping us to not give up," said Bakšić Mitić and expressed hope that in the future there would be more talk about new houses, jobs, happy families, and less about metal housing containers, non-existing reconstruction, and inactivity of the state.

This year's runner-ups were the Dean of the Electrical Engineering and Computing Faculty (FER), Gordan Gledec, and Rijeka Archbishop Coadjutor Mato Uzinić.

As a direct opposite, the "hard cohabitation" of the country's most senior officials, President Milanović and Prime Minister Plenković, was named anti-communication of the year.

HUOJ labeled it as unacceptable and irresponsible, involving the highest state institutions to the detriment of all citizens and the culture of public dialogue.

The runner-up was President Milanović himself, whose non-constructive style of communication, HUOJ says, undermines the culture of political and public dialogue.

Also rated poorly was communication by the competent institutions regarding the process of post-earthquake reconstruction in Banovina, and communication by the national COVID-19 response team.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

PM Says President Milanović is Acting to Advantage of Russia

ZAGREB, 31 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković rejected in Brussels on Tuesday President Zoran Milanović claim's that sanctions against Russia were ineffective and only did harm to European citizens, accusing him of acting to the advantage of the Russian aggressor.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Croatian president said that the European sanctions against Russia were not working since Moscow could sell oil to others. He made the statement after the EU decided to impose a partial embargo on the import of oil from Russia.

"It is incorrect that the sanctions are not helping, thanks to its energy sources, Russia is financing war operations in which a large number of soldiers and civilians die every day," Plenković said after a EU summit in Brussels, at which the sixth package of sanctions against Russia was hammered out.

Plenković added that sanctions were a moral matter and that one should be on the right side of history and law.

"The government is, I am, and the Croatian public should ask themselves whether mister Milanović is," Plenković said.

"We are pursuing a policy in the interest of Croatia and in the interest of the EU, in the interest of justice and solidarity, and if he's pursuing a policy... to the advantage of the Russian aggressor, he should explain that to citizens, because we aren't. Unfortunately, that has been happening for months and is no longer a coincidence, it's a great pity and shame for Croatia," he added.

Plenković also rejected Milanović's claims that Croatia was no energy hub.

Denying Croatia's strategic role in our neighborhood, all the activities we do, the fact that the LNG terminal was realized during our term of office, and the fact that investments in critical infrastructure would give Croatia a completely different position can be called either ignorance or jealousy. All of that is human and I'm sorry he gives such statements, said Plenković.

During its summit meeting in Brussels on Monday, the European Union agreed on a new set of sanctions whereby seaborne oil imports from Russia would be immediately banned. Two-thirds of the Russian oil imported by the EU comes via tanker and one-third by the Druzhba pipeline. The embargo on seaborne oil imports would therefore apply to two-thirds of all oil imported from Russia. Since Germany and Poland announced that they would completely give up Russian oil by year's end, the import of Russian oil will drop by 90%.

For more, check out our politics section.

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