Friday, 27 May 2022

Plenković: Gov't Will Do Its Best to Protect Indicted Air Force Pilots

ZAGREB, 27 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that government officials had met with Croatian Air Force pilots who had taken part in the 1995 Operation Storm, stressing that all available mechanisms would be used to protect them from an indictment from Serbia.

"We discussed the latest developments following media reports that indictments are being prepared in Serbia, at the request of their prosecutor, against four pilots, Air Force commanders at the time of the military and police operation Storm," Plenković said at the start of a government session.

He said that they still did not have any concrete documents or requests for legal assistance but that they would do everything to protect the pilots.

"As before, the government will use all the available mechanisms to protect the Croatian pilots and the dignity of the Homeland War, thus sending a clear message about the fundamental values on which free Croatia is founded," said Plenković.

He said that during the Homeland War no orders had been issued, especially not in the Air Force, that would in any way be directed against civilian targets, repeating that the Homeland War, notably its operations Storm and Flash, had been part of efforts to liberate, protect and reintegrate Croatian territory.

Plenković repeated that with the indictment Serbia "is making a step backward in reconciliation", stressing that he had conveyed his dissatisfaction with the indictment to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić at a meeting in Davos.

The Serbian war crimes prosecutor has issued an indictment charging four Croatian officers with having ordered, on 7 and 8 August 1995, a missile attack on a refugee convoy, but the prosecutor's office has said that the indictment is not final and that the proceedings currently underway are not public.

According to unofficial reports, the indictment refers to Croatian Air Force pilots Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić, and Danijel Borović.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Croatian PM Receives President of EU Court of Justice

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 -  Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Koen Lenaerts, and a delegation of judges and advocates-general of the Court of the EU, the Croatian government stated in a press release.

Lenaerts informed Croatia's side of the organizational aspects of the court, its jurisdiction, and legal instruments.

The interlocutors pointed out the importance of case law as a source of the European Union's law and the even application of the acquis in all member-states.

Also highlighted was the importance of cooperation of national courts with the Court of the European Union, including through the use of the institute of a request for a preliminary ruling.

Plenković expressed support for the Court and its unique role in interpreting and applying European law.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 23 May 2022

PM: Croatian Regions to Reach Average EU Development Level by 2030

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday said that thanks to the EU's regional development and cohesion policy, Croatian regions would reach the EU's average development level by 2030.

Addressing a ceremonial session of the County Assembly on the occasion of Lika-Senj County Day, Plenković said that the process of decentralization has made the county stronger and has helped its fiscal capacities to rise by 78%. He added that strong cooperation on projects exists between the county and the government.

Plenković underscored that budget funds from the schemes adopted to alleviate the pandemic crisis saved 5,000 jobs in 1,144 employers in that county.

The Prime Minister listed this government's strategic successes such as drawing closer to the Schengen and Euro areas, and underscored that "today, Croatia has completely exited the macroeconomic imbalance mechanism," which he referred to as an "exceptional achievement."

Plenković expressed his empathy for the Ukrainian people and his respect for Ukraine. After the meeting, he met with Ukrainian refugees who have found shelter in Korenica.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych thanked Croatia and Lika-Senj County for taking in Ukrainian refugees who were forced to leave their homeland.

County Prefect Ernest Petry (HDZ) said that it was up to everyone in the county to raise this region to the level it deserves, to become recognizable and competitive and that requires optimism and togetherness between the government and the county, and with other counties.

"It is that new Croatian sovereignism that brings together all and that respects everyone'', said Petry, among other things.

 At the session, Plenković was declared an honorary citizen of this county.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Croatian PM Meets with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration

ZAGREB, 20 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn in Zagreb on Friday, a government press release said.

The European Commission announced earlier in the day that it had granted Croatia an extension of the deadline for using money from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for the repair of the earthquake damage until the end of June 2023, aligning the implementation deadlines for the earthquake that struck Zagreb in March 2020 and the earthquakes that hit Sisak-Moslavina County in late December 2020 and January 2021.

Thanking the Commission for accepting the arguments made by the Croatian government, the prime minister and competent ministers informed Commissioner Hahn of the steps being taken to accelerate the use of EUSF funding so that the allocation awarded to Croatia would be successfully used within the set deadline.

Also discussed were Croatia's plans to join the Schengen Area and the euro area. Commissioner Hahn and the European Commission strongly support Croatia's ambitions, assessing that the country meets all the membership criteria, according to the press release.

Plenković and Hahn also discussed further EU assistance to and solidarity with Ukraine, the energy crisis as well as the economic and financial situation in Croatia.

The prime minister said that after a strong recovery in 2021, Croatia continued down the path of growth, public debt reduction, and financial stability, as confirmed by international credit rating agencies.

Plenković also talked about the situation in southeastern Europe, notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He emphasized the need to change electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure equality and legitimate political representation of the Croats as a constituent people, saying that that was the basis for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a functioning and stable country.

Also attending were Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Ivan Paladina.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

PM: Constitutional Court's Ruling is as Expected

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, Andrej Plenković, said on Monday that the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Bridge party's referendum question was as expected.

Earlier today, the Constitutional Court ruled that the questions in the two referendum petitions launched by the opposition Bridge party - to abolish mandatory COVID passes and transfer the powers of the national COVID response team to Parliament - were not in line with the Constitution.

"We had no idea what the decision would be," said Plenković after a session of HDZ party's Presidency and National Council, dismissing claims that the Constitutional Court was "someone's puppet".

"To anyone who had read the request to assess the constitutionality, such a decision is not a surprise," added Plenković, pointing out that the Constitutional Court's decision was well-argued ed and reasoned.

He said that the entire thing was too politicized and that the initiative was led by anti-vaxxers.

As for the statement by President Zoran Milanović that the Constitutional Court should be abolished and that the decision was a coup d'etat, PM Plenković said that this was "yet another brilliant claim".

He also said that Milanović's statement in which he asked the Croatian State Attorney's Office (DORH) to "imprison" Defence Minister Mario Banožić was unacceptable and unheard-of He added that it was unimaginable that anyone could incite DORH against a minister.

Plenković on SDP initiative for new abortion bill

The prime minister also commented on the abortion bill, saying that the initiative of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was "a lightning-fast transformation of a personal tragedy and health situation into a political initiative".

He recalled that the issue of termination of pregnancy had not been on HDZ's agenda or coalition agreement and that it was back "on the table" following a decision by the Constitutional Court after 26 or 27 years.

"We have a coalition in which there is the HDZ, some other center-right parties, as well as liberal parties and ethnic minorities, and this is an issue on which it is extremely difficult, I would even say nearly impossible, to reach a consensus within our parliamentary majority," Plenković said, recalling that the Constitutional Court did not task the government but the parliament to adopt a new law.

Last week, members of the parliamentary majority could vote on this ideological question in line with their program and values, Plenković said, noting that the HDZ understood the message and that it was a signal of caution.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Plenković and Jandroković Meet With Visiting Bulgarian FM

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković met separately with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska during her visit to Zagreb on Thursday.

Genchovska, a historian, military academy graduate, and expert on security and defense issues, and Plenković discussed the situation in Ukraine, emphasizing that the two countries shared views on the war in Ukraine and the need to continue providing assistance to that country, according to a government press release.

Plenković informed Genchovska about Croatia's final preparations for accession to the Schengen area and euro area, as well as about its bid to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is the objective of both countries.

The two officials also exchanged views on EU enlargement and the situation in southeastern Europe.

The situation in the Western Balkans was also discussed during Genchovska's meeting with Parliament Speaker Jandroković. They agreed that it was of critical importance to prevent a spillover of the Ukraine crisis to the region.

According to a press release from Parliament, Jandroković emphasized the importance of the equality of all three constituent nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jandroković and Genchovska strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people. They also discussed humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine and the acceptance of refugees.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

€163m Scheme for Construction of Kindergartens for 22,500 Kids Presented

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - A HRK 1.22 billion (€163 million) scheme for the construction and equipment of kindergartens, the aim of which is to create 22,500 new kindergarten places was presented by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday.

By the end of 2026, we intend to create conditions so that 90% of children aged three or more can participate in early and preschool education before going to school, which will enable a better educational outcome for children, and Croatia will catch up with the world and Europe, Plenković told a press conference.

In Croatia, the participation rate in preschool education is still among the lowest in the European Union.

In the 2004-2016 period, the number of children attending regular kindergarten or nursery programs in Croatia rose by 37.2%, while the number of kindergartens increased by 34.7%.

Since 2017, the government has invested HRK 2 billion in 498 kindergartens in Croatia, and with these investments, the total amount will reach HRK 3.43 billion, said Plenković.

The achieved level is still significantly below the "Barcelona objectives" of having 33% of children under three years of age and 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age covered by education programs, that is, the goal of the European Education Area to have 96% of children between three years of age and primary school to be covered by preschool programs.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Condemns Kramatorsk Train Station Shelling

AGREB, 8 April (2022) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday condemned the shelling of the railway station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, earlier in the day when dozens of civilians were killed and over 100 were wounded.

Thousands of people - most of them women and children and the elderly - were at the railway station in Kramatorsk when it was hit by rockets, the city's mayor Oleksander Honcharenko was quoted by foreign media as saying.

The station, located in eastern Ukraine, was being used to evacuate civilians from the eastern Donbas region.

PM Plenković said the shelling of the train station was one more piece of evidence of Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine.

Things getting back to normal, but caution is still advised

With almost all the COVID restrictions being lifted, life is getting back to normal, but caution is still required, said the premier at the start of his cabinet's meeting.

The Croatian COVID-19 crisis management team has established that conditions have been met for the relaxation of COVID protocols, Plenković said referring to the team's decision to lift all anti-epidemic rules as of Saturday, while the mask mandate will stay in place for hospitals and nursing homes.

 For more, check out our politics section.

 

 

Monday, 28 March 2022

Croatian PM Sends Message of Support During Concert Marathon for Ukraine

28 March 2022 - The whole of Europe, including Croatia, shows solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its fight for freedom and the values we share, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in his message issued on the occasion of a concert marathon for Ukraine that was held on Sunday evening.

Dozens of internationally renowned musicians were included in that concert marathon that started  5:30 p.m. CET. Also other artists, athletes and politicians from around the world sent messages of support during the concert "Save Ukraine - Stop the War".

The venue of the charity campaign was in Warsaw. Under the auspices of the Polish TV broadcaster TVP, the two-hour concert marathon was broadcast by other TV broadcasters from 20 European countries as well as streaming platforms.

PM Plenković recalls on Twitter that Ukraine is a victim of the Russian military aggression and that the entire Europe, including Croatia expressed strong solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its fight for freedom. 

He reiterated Croatia's readiness to continue expressing solidarity and offering support and assistance in the political, humanitarian, technical and and other sense for the Ukrainian cause, and ended his message with "#StandWithUkraine!".

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Croatian Government Reshuffle by May 30? As Many as 7 Names Are Mentioned

March 27, 2022 - Several sources from the ruling coalition claim that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has broken through and that a wider Croatian Government reshuffle will take place around May 30.

This began to be seriously considered after the arrest of Minister of Construction Darko Horvat, and especially after Uskok opened investigations against two other members of the Government: Minister of Labor and Pensions Josip Aladrović, who is suspected of favoring the employment of two people in 2018 and 2019 while being director of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, who is suspected of mediating in "arranging" incentives for selected companies, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The idea of ​​a broader government reshuffle, according to sources, was terribly pushed by the latest affair that erupted after the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak publicly announced that she had received terrible threats but did not report them to the police until her public appearance, nor to her boss - the Prime Minister. They are convinced that Tramišak has already been de facto written off, especially after Prime Minister Andrej Plenković publicly said that "the whole situation with Minister Tramišak is extremely bizarre" and that "it is not yet completely clear to him".

''I will not make statements. The whole case was taken over by the police.'', was all that Minister Tramišak told Slobodna Dalmacija yesterday.

The idea has been ''cooked'' before

A source from the HDZ says that the story about the government's reshuffle was "cooking" even before the Tramišak case, that it will cover much wider than her, Aladrović and Milošević, and that it will take place between Easter (April 17) and Statehood Day (May 30).

''As for Minister Tramišak, it is clear that she no longer has any confidence. A more serious reconstruction is being considered, which would not only affect her and the members of the Government burdened with investigations (Aladrović and Milošević). There are executed people in the Government, such as the Minister of Agriculture Marija Vučković, and the stay of the Minister of Health Vili Beroš is still uncertain.'', says the source. He claims that the case of the Minister of Defense, Mario Banožić, is particularly interesting. He says that he is terribly untalented and that almost no one in the party supports him (anymore).

''But it would be too bold to claim that he lost Plenković's trust because Banožić is completely loyal to him.'', he says.

In addition to the mentioned names, in the context of the Government reshuffle, sources from HDZ and the ruling coalition parties note that the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić could also leave the Government".

One of the sources claims that he received information that Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Veterans' Affairs) could replace Mario Banožić as Minister of Defense.

''I think that would be a phenomenal move because the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, respects him terribly, especially because of Medved's role in the country's defense. Therefore, Milanović could no longer score easy goals, as he does now with Banožić. However, I think that Plenković will not give up Banožić, not (only) because of their good relationship, but because of Milanović who would declare such a move his victory (in a clash with the Government and Prime Minister Plenković).

Ministers are silent

Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved was not in the mood yesterday to discuss the government reshuffle.

We did not receive any comment on the information on the government reshuffle from the others mentioned in that context: Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic, Ministers Banožić, Aladrović, and Beroš, as well as from the Minister of Agriculture Marija Vučković.

Some of Plenković's coalition partners are also strongly advocating a broader government reshuffle.

- I am sure that there will be a reconstruction. Without going into, of course, whether they (Aladrović and Milošević, n. A.) Are guilty or not, it is objective that the burden of these investigations puts the Prime Minister in a position to go into government reshuffle. This is not in dispute or questionable at all. In addition, there are still some open topics in the public and it can be assumed that some other ministerial positions may be the subject of government reshuffle - says the head of the Reformists  Radimir Cacic. 

HSLS President Dario Hrebak is also a supporter of the (wider) government reshuffle.

''HSLS will continue to support the ruling majority, but we should not run away from the problems we have. As a serious party, we believe that Croatia does not need new elections because of everything that is happening in the world, as well as in the domestic economy. But that does not mean that we will not advocate certain refreshments in the Government within the ruling majority. I think it would be good to do that. But the final decision on the reconstruction is made by the prime minister. He is the prime minister, he is forming the Government, and he will best assess whether he needs reconstruction. HSLS sees its role as a party that will not blackmail or condition anything, but propose. We will certainly suggest that we need to refresh the Government because we have two more years of mandate and we are simply coming to a political position that requires us to make certain changes. I would like to mention once again that Prime Minister Plenković has a much broader picture. He should suggest when, in what way, and whether a government reshuffle is needed. HSLS will continue to support the ruling majority.'', says Hrebak.

Consultations have not yet begun

A source from the HDZ, who is also convinced of the government's spring reshuffle, says "serious consultations on the subject in the party have not yet begun".

"We haven't come that far yet," he says.

Clearly, there are those in the HDZ who believe that the government reshuffle should not go much further than those burdened with investigations such as Aladrovic and Milosevic.

''Why would Minister Tramišak, for example, leave the Government as part of a package that includes persons who are the subject of Uskok investigations? Unlike them, she is "pure", she received threats because she did not want to please anyone. After all, we will discuss her position in the Government on Tuesday at a meeting of the HDZ leadership. While the Prime Minister finds it bizarre that Tramišak did not report the threats to the police before she spoke about them publicly, it is bizarre to me that he has a Minister of Defense who has not been able to evict the Nazi for more than two weeks, and it is bizarre to me that in Zagreb, more than two years after the earthquake, reconstruction has not yet begun'', says the interlocutor from the ruling party.

For more, check out our politics section.

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