Friday, 29 July 2022

PM Announces VAT Cut on Heating Energy

ZAGREB, 29 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the British American Tobacco (BAT) factory in the Istria County town of Kanfanar on Friday, welcoming the company's latest investment of over HRK 600 million.

"The government cares about job retention. The 1,500 or so people currently employed represent an added value both for Istria and for the other areas of Croatia in which this company operates," Plenković said.

He announced that the government, in light of the euro changeover and the energy crisis, had decided to take another step in easing the tax burden.

"The Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Ministry of Economy, will put a proposal to amend the VAT Act to public consultation, under which the VAT rate for fuel wood, pellets, woodchips and briquettes, as well as for heating energy, will be reduced from the present 13% to 5%. This will further ease the tax burden on our citizens to help them cope with the energy crisis and rising energy prices," the prime minister said.

He added that he hoped Parliament would adopt the proposed amendments soon after the summer recess.

Reporters were told that BAT continues increasing production and exports as well as hiring in Croatia. It is increasingly investing in achieving the carbon neutrality of its factories in Kanfanar and Virovitica.

After investing HRK 600 million in new production lines for heated tobacco products at Kanfanar and HRK 10 million in a logistics centre for new categories of products at Rijeka, BAT has opened a regional distribution centre at Pitomača, where it will receive tobacco from 26 countries. It will be the central supply point for BAT's factories in Augustow (Poland), Bayreuth (Germany) and Pecs (Hungary).

Thanks to the investment in the new production lines at Kanfanar, 70 new jobs have been opened, and because of the planned increase in production, BAT has announced new hiring.

"In Croatia, we have a single value chain which we have been strengthening continually, including agricultural production in Hrvatski Duhani, the Kanfanar factory and the iNovine national retail chain, while our Zagreb office administers the Adria region which comprises eight countries," BAT Director-General Zvonko Kolobara said.

"On the path to carbon neutrality and strengthening the role of our products with reduced harm potential, the support of all stakeholders is very important to us, especially of the government," he added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 29 July 2022

PM Satisfied with Pace of Construction of Učka Tunnel's Second Tube

ZAGREB, 29 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the construction site for the second tube of Učka Tunnel on Friday, voicing his satisfaction with the progress in the drilling of this segment of the 5.6-kilometer-long tunnel necessary to complete the dual carriageway of the Istrian Y motorway.

The construction of the second tube is worth €200 million.

Plenković highlighted the importance of this motorway for connectivity between Istria and Zagreb and for the local tourist industry.

The Bina Istra company's CEO Dario Silić said that to date 2.4 kilometres of the second tube had been drilled.

So far 1.3 kilometres of the tunnel have been drilled from the Istria side and an additional 1.1 kilometres from the Kvarner side.

The drilling of the tube is to be completed by September 2023, and the whole project is expected to be finalised in June 2024. 

Plenković was also pleased with the fact that a majority of the 500 workers on the construction site are from Croatian companies.

Plenković continued his day-long visit to Istria, accompanied by Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković, Economy Minister Davor Filipović, and Health Minister Vili Beroš.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Plenković: Schmidt's Electoral and Constitutional Reform Proposal Balanced

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday the electoral and constitutional reforms the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina planned to impose were balanced and constructive as they would preserve the constituency of Croats and their ability to elect their government representatives.

Speaking to the press in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said the international community's High Representative Christian Schmidt "has a very balanced proposal which will enable legitimate representation at the Federation level and government formation with minor changes."

It is expected that Schmidt will impose electoral law changes that would prevent outvoting the Croats and obstructing government formation after elections, as well as ensure the normal functioning of the Croat-Bosniak Federation entity.

Pro-Bosniak political parties and NGOs as well as the Islamic Community have strongly criticised Schmidt since details of the changes leaked last week, including calls for chaos and violence, and there has even been mention of war.

Plenković said the messages of the Bosniak parties were "revelatory". He said the reactions were "exaggerated" and that tensions should be defused so that general elections scheduled for October "can be implemented in the best way possible."

Plenković said he did hold talks on the initiative to change the election law and the Federation's constitution, but that the most important thing was for those reforms to lead to better relations.

"I believe that such a move would lead to a better functioning of representative bodies and later on the executive authority in BiH," he said, adding that a stable, democratic and inclusive BiH in which the Croats, "although the smallest people, will be equal," is in Croatia's interest.

Plenković said these moves were in line with the Dayton-Paris agreement which ended the war in BiH and with the Washington agreement on the establishment of the Federation entity.

For three times now, Željko Komšić has been elected as the Croat member of the BiH Presidency thanks to Bosniak voters. Komšić has announced that he will run again in October.

Now there is a danger that Bosniaks will elect six of the 17 delegates to the Croat group in the Federation parliament's House of Peoples, whereby  they could oust from government the Croat parties for which the largest number of Croats vote. Croatia and BiH Croat parties are against that.

Dragan Čović, the president of one of them, the HDZ BiH, said after today's talks with Plenković that Bosniak parties had managed to obstruct constitutional and electoral reforms in part, thereby highlighting the attempt to oust the Croat people from government. He called for strengthening Croat-Bosniak ties as the key to a stable BiH.

 "Our message is that we want to build good relations with the Bosniaks, that this is an opportunity for the Federation as well as for BiH. Without the Croat people, BiH won't be able to function as a normal state," Čović said.

Asked by the press about Croatian President Zoran Milanović's statement that his visit to BiH was a PR move, Plenković said Milanović was constantly doing harm to Croats in BiH, including his insults of Schmidt. "His every statement is causing damage to the Croats in BiH because they drive the parties further away from solving their problem."

In the afternoon, Plenković visited Čitluk, Čapljina, Stolac and Ravno, meeting the authorities and checking the projects supported by the Croatian government. He said Croatia would continue to support key BiH Croat institutions such as the university, the university hospital and the Croatian National Theatre in Mostar.

Monday, 25 July 2022

PM Says Pelješac Bridge to Strengthen Bonds Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Pelješac Bridge marked the achievement of Croatia's goal to connect its territory.

"We are very proud of it," Plenković said during a visit to Mostar, southern Bosnia, and Herzegovina, ahead of Tuesday's opening ceremony for this largest infrastructure facility built in Croatia since its accession to the European Union in mid-2013.

He said that this project would further strengthen the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The idea was to alleviate the flow of people and goods through Neum."

Pelješac Bridge will provide an uninterrupted link between southernmost Croatia and the rest of the country by bypassing a short stretch of the coastline at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Croatian PM Arrives in BiH Amid Rising Tensions Over Planned Electoral Law Reform

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković arrived in Mostar on Monday morning and at the beginning of his visit he was received by Mostar Bishop Petar Palić and local Catholic dignitaries for the talks.

During his day-long visit, the Croatian premier, accompanied by several cabinet ministers, is expected to hold talks with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Croat leader Dragan Čović, and also tour the southern towns of Čitluk, Čapljina, Stolac and Ravno.

The visit of the Croatian PM is taking place against a backdrop of rising tensions over reports that the international community's High Representative Christian Schmidt is going to impose the electoral law's changes so as to prevent the outvoting of the Croats, the smallest constituent people, by the Bosniaks, the largest ethnic group.

Leading Bosniak politicians and parties as well as NGOs and the Islamic Community have been disgruntled by those announcements and a protest rally has been set for Monday afternoon outside the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

PM Plenković and World Champion Carlsen Open Chess Tournament in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 19 July 2022 - The tournament called "SuperUnited Croatia Grand Chess Rapid&Blitz" within the Grand Chess Tour 2022 kicked off in Zagreb on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The tournament that will run through 24 July features the world champion, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen as well as Alireza Firouzja, an Iranian-French chess player, Ian Nepomniachtchi, a Russian chess Grandmaster, Wesley So, a Filipino American chess Grandmaster, then Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, an Azerbaijani chess Grandmaster who is a two-time World Junior Champion (2003 and 2005) and a three-time European Team Champion, French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is currently the No. 1 ranked player in France as well as a three-time French champion, Leinier Dominguez, a Cuban American chess Grandmaster, Dutch Jorden Van Foreest, and Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, who earned the title of Grandmaster at the age of 17.

At the ceremony in the Westin Hotel, PM Plenković said that this was the third tournament of this kind in the Croatian capital.

Chess is a fascinating sport bringing together millions. It is fortunate for Croatia that Garry Kasparov holds its citizenship. This fact also contributes to the promotion of chess in Croatia, he added.

Plenković thanked Kasparov and the organizers for bringing this tournament to Zagreb for the third time.

Recalling that the tournament is taking place in Zagreb against a backdrop of challenging times and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Plenković highlighted that as a wider global contest.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has changed the world in many ways. For years, an amazing intellectual Kasparov has spoken about the noxiousness of the policies pursued by Russia with Vladimir Putin at its helm, and this situation has made it clear, said Plenković adding that "one must be aware of the times and tell the truth at the right time and at the right place."

The sponsor of the tournament is Croatia's Tourism and Sports Ministry, with a prize fund of USD 175,000. The winner of the tournament will receive $40,000 and the tenth-ranked player can count on a prize of $7,000.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Plenković: Vučić Will Pay a Visit When the Time is Right

ZAGREB, 18 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Croatia cannot be private because of political implications and that it will come about when the time is right.

Vučić has expressed a wish to visit the Jasenovac memorial centre privately, but has been denied clearance from the Croatian authorities to visit the site of the WWII concentration camp.

"We have learned unofficially that he wishes to pay a visit on Sunday, but without a formal announcement that should precede any visit, especially of this nature. No matter how discreet he may want it to be, it's not a private visit. It's a matter that has its political implications," Plenković told reporters after a meeting of the leadership of his HDZ party.

"We have said that it is not the right moment, nor is the methodology right. When the time comes and the conditions have been met, we can talk about it," he added.

He described the reaction from Belgrade, not just from the government but the media as well, as "hysterical," adding that Croatia is "inclusive and tolerant" and is not trying to score political points on this issue.

"The visit will come about when the time comes. A policy of fait accompli is unacceptable anywhere, including Croatia. At this point we concluded that this visit does not suit us," the Croatian prime minister said.

Earlier on Monday, Vučić said he had tried but failed to arrange with Zagreb a visit to Jasenovac three times, once in 2021 and twice in 2022. He said he was rejected because of the "internal political situation" in Croatia, with the explanation that his visit was not welcome.

"I know of his initiative from late February, March. We said that the time was not right for such a visit. After that there have been no contacts or discussions on this subject," Plenković said.

He added that at the end of February Construction Minister Darko Horvat was arrested on corruption charges, his father died, and the USKOK anti-corruption office were interested in Deputy PM Boris Milošević and Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović.

"We sent a message that it was not a good time for such a visit. As for September 2021, I tried to check it with my aides and we do not remember that. We will check it again," Plenković said.

He said that any visit that might have political consequences should be carefully arranged.

"It is important that we treat each other with respect and show that we are states. States communicate like people," Plenković said, adding that anyone wishing to visit someone should announce their visit.

He said that the matter would be discussed later on "when passions have cooled" and "constructive communication is established."

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Visible Steps Forward Made for Slavonia, PM Says

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Osijek on Friday that visible steps forward had been made for the Slavonia region in the past six years by implementing Project Slavonia thanks to the synergy between the national and local levels.

The project is aimed at helping the region's revitalization, demographic recovery, and economic growth by investing in infrastructure, agriculture and education, he told the press after meeting with Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić and Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić.

Plenković said he was pleased that HRK 1 billion worth of projects were being carried out in Osijek in the last year.

During our term, investments worth HRK 3 billion have been contracted in the city and over HRK 7 billion in the county, he added.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said the results were visible in the economic, social, municipal and road infrastructure after six years of investments co-funded by the EU.

She said plans for regions in industrial transition had been approved in operational programmes until 2027. We are looking forward to the new opportunities, notably in the economic sense, she added.

Mayor Radić thanked the government for investing in Osijek and said the bulk of the current investments in the city, over HRK 1 billion, was financed by the EU. For the first time in ten years, we have more people moving in than out, which interests us the most, he added.

Prefect Anušić said this region was making progress in demography, the return of emigrants and tourism development thanks to the cooperation and the promotion of positive trends.

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Croatia Receives Largest Ever Grant from European Commission

ZAGREB, 28 June 2022 - European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica on Tuesday presented Prime Minister Andrej Plenković with a decision on the payment of the first installment of €700 million as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the largest grant Croatia has received from the Commission.

These are funds for reforms from the national recovery plan undertaken by 31 December 2021, including active employment measures, a program to decarbonize the energy sector, activities in the field of physical planning, labor market, and social welfare reforms, Plenković explained after meeting with Šuica.

"We have been given clear criteria defined for undertaking reforms, all those benchmarks that were important for the Commission to evaluate our achievements every six months. We can say that we are fast and efficient in this regard," said Plenković, adding that this is the largest grant that Croatia has received from the European Commission ever.

Šuica pointed out that Croatia is the sixth EU member to receive the first payment from the Commission under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. 

"That is a program that should protect the EU and its members from future possible shocks, created as a consequence of COVID-19," Šuica said.

Asked by reporters whether inflation would affect the increase in funds within the program, Šuica said that the Commission is borrowing money on the capital market and is obliged to repay it by 2059.

"There probably will not be any change, but fewer projects are likely to be made than envisaged in the national programs," Šuica said.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Marin Piletić were also present during the meeting.

Addressing the press conference after the meeting, Piletić presented a social mentoring program that will be financed from the next payment within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The project envisions the training of at least 220 social workers who will be employed as social mentoring experts, and it is anticipated that the social mentoring service will be used by 30,000 beneficiaries, Piletić explained.

From 1 January 2023, that program should be up and running, and the Croatian Institute for Social Work will also be established, the goal being empowering individuals, self-activation, and motivating socially vulnerable groups, he added.

Beneficiaries will include the long-term unemployed, children from families with the guaranteed minimum allowance, people with disabilities, and victims of human trafficking.

For more, check out our politics section.

Page 1 of 12