Tuesday, 14 September 2021

HRT National Broadcaster to Air Series About NDH

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - "NDH", a series of the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) about the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia, will start on Monday, 20 September and its author, historian Hrvoje Klasić, says it should have been aired much sooner, while the HRT rejects claims about deliberately not broadcasting the series.

"I only know that this series should have been finished much sooner. But it hasn't been. And that was not because of us as the crew, and it should have aired sooner. Again, not because of us, but because of the HRT," Klasić told Hina.

On the other hand, the public broadcaster's acting Director-General, Renato Kunić, said that no show had been deliberately not aired during his term as the director of programming and during his colleagues' terms.

He added that the NDH series was put on hold for several reasons. More specifically, an adequate schedule had to be found for the 12 episodes because that is three months of airing, and the programme budget has its rules, Kunić said.

He also said that the series cost about HRK 1.5 million and that the difference between the six episodes initially proposed by Klasić and the 12 realised episodes was about half a million kuna, and he stressed that this was a matter of assessment when to air the programme and not a ban, adding that the series was finished in June 2020.

Both Klasić and the HRT agreed that this was a long-awaited project in which about 30 members of the academic community and historians would talk about the NDH, and it would be illustrated by over two hours of film material on the NDH, purchased from the Yugoslav Film Archive.

Klasić underlined the valuable contribution of HRT's director and co-writer Miljenko Bukovčan and editor Iva Blašković.

Klasić: Series is neither ideological nor tendentious

"I would like to warn the viewers -- there are 12 episodes and this was not done in an ideological or tendentious way," Klasić said, adding that the series was not chronological but organised thematically.

"Everything that is said is enough to understand that moment -- the temporal, socio-political context, to understand what that state was and what kind of life its citizens had," he said.

The goal was not, he pointed out, to create a lexicon in which everything would be listed, but to give a description and an analysis of a time, and top experts from the entire region and Europe helped with that.

Klasić also explained his statement in Jutarnji List daily that "there are no conflicting opinions, but only because right-wing historians did not want to participate".

"When we talk about the NDH, there are no conflicting opinions among historians and scientists who care about their scientific reputation. Not among scientists in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sweden or in Washington," Klasić said.

Some have merely focused more on a particular period. Of course, there may be different opinions on how to approach the number of victims in Jasenovac or after Bleiburg, he added.

"However, when we talk about the character of the Ustasha-ruled state, the NDH, about the character of the Jasenovac camp or about what happened in May 1945, there is in principle no disagreement," Klasić said.

The series was shot on numerous locations, from the Vatican and Sachsenhausen, to Bleiburg and Jasenovac, Janka Puszta (Jankovac), but also Florence, where there is still the villa which Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić, Klasić said, got for his services in the future annexation of parts of the Croatian Adriatic as Mussolini's "man for special assignments".

Special episodes are dedicated to the economy and culture during the NDH, as well as the relationship between the Ustasha regime and the church.

"A large part of the series focuses on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Ustasha movement. Many say that the Church used the Ustasha, but I believe that it was vice versa and many historians agree on that. Alojzije Stepinac was not a war criminal but he definitely was not an example of antifascist resistance," said Klasić.

As for possible negative reactions to the series, Klasić said he expected them from those who "have been reviving the NDH for the past 30 years."

"It is to be expected because we live in a country where abnormal things have become normal, including the Ustasha salute, where about 20 streets have been named after members of the Ustasha regime and where there are associations that deny Jasenovac," Klasić said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

USKOK Investigators Conducting Probe in Zagreb City Administration Offices

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

Tomašević said in a brief press release that the new city administration fully supported the independence of state institutions and would continue advocating the transparency of work of the city administration, all city departments, companies, institutions and the related businesses.

Media say HRT director arrested

Several people were arrested on Wednesday morning on the suspicion of corruption, including, according to media reports, the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić.

USKOK and police have not confirmed these reports, but media say that the suspicion of corruption refers mostly to transactions of the previous Zagreb city administration at the end of 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Bačić was allegedly arrested over a suspicious contract he signed on behalf of HRT with the Tvornica Žarulja light bulb factory.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Defence Minister Mario Banožić: Reintroducing Conscription Being Considered

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Wednesday the reintroduction of conscription was being considered and that, although he was sure it was the right move, he felt that Croatian society still had to deal with this subject a lot.

Speaking on Croatian Radio, Banožić said he tried to research the subject in recent months.

He said almost two in three citizens supported mandatory military service, but added that the motive for introducing it was important, and that was security and stability.

Parents are for introducing conscription first and foremost as an educational measure, which is not the right motive, he said.

Croatia needs security, stability and serving one's country as the motive, ideals which are the foundations of the Croatian army, courage and the desire to feel secure and whole, Banožić said.

Croatian society still has to deal with this subject a lot, but reintroducing mandatory military service is the right step, he added.

Asked if there was a road map and when that could be expected, he said that for now the ministry was researching public opinion and how to manage the process because of the sensitive subject.

Especially considering that once you abandon such a model, bringing conscription back is a much tougher challenge, he added.

For more about the army in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek: Concept of HRT Management Inaugurated During Zoran Milanović's Premiership

ZAGREB, 7 May (Hina) - Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Friday that she was shocked by President Zoran Milanović's attack on the HRT public broadcaster, adding that she had always stood up for press freedom.

"The government has no ambition whatsoever to influence any media outlet in Croatia. Quite the contrary, I believe that we strengthen democracy and all the values in society if we try to ensure conditions for reporters to do their job professionally and without any pressure," Obuljen Koržinek said after a ceremony of opening a library in the town of Delnice.

She condemned Milanović's statements in which he attacked an HRT correspondent in Split, refusing to answer her questions and saying that the HRT was not a public broadcaster but was serving the interests of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"I think that Milanović is the last person who can call out anybody," Obuljen Koržinek said, stressing that the concept and legislative framework for the HRT management had been inaugurated during his term as prime minister.

She went on to say that in her capacity as the minister of culture and media, she had always stood up for the autonomy of the media, notably reporters.

Union leader: Milanović attacks journalists who are not responsible for HRT's policy

Croatian Journalists' Union leader and HRT reporter Maja Sever said on Thursday that the reporters whom Milanović verbally attacked earlier in the day were not responsible for the public broadcaster's editorial policy and that he was among those who had failed to ensure HRT's autonomy. 

Also on Thursday, the Journalists' Union and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) branch at the HRT condemned Milanović's statements, but also noted that the HRT under current director Kazimir Bačić was not an independent public service and that the government led by PM Andrej Plenković was responsible for that.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Proposal That Judges Elect Supreme Court Head is Absurd And Dangerous

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Wednesday described as absurd and dangerous the proposal by Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela that it was judges who should elect the president of the highest court in the country.

Mrčela told the public television service HTV on Tuesday evening that disputes over the appointment of the Supreme Court President could be avoided if the system of selection was changed so that judges themselves elected the chief justice.

In order to change the process of selection of the Supreme Court President, it is necessary to amend the Constitution, which, however, requires a political consensus, Mrčela said on HTV's prime-time news programme.

President Milanović today criticised the appearance of a judge in the national broadcaster's prime time news programme.

"I consider it very dangerous that judges should appear in prime time news programmes to say what the Croatian Constitution should look like, after they themselves have destroyed it many times," Milanović said. "I don't dare come out with ideas that can change the world, while a judge, who obviously serves a life term, does," he added.

Milanović said that as the head of state he did not see himself in the role of someone who amends the Constitution but someone who guards it.

He  went on to say that Mrčela's proposal was "absolutely absurd" and such a model did not exist anywhere in Europe.

Milanović said that Mrčela, as a judge, was promoting political ideas. "That was a political statement. I urge judges not to comment on the political system in Croatia," the president said.

Mrčela also said that the current disputes about the future Supreme Court President were purely political, and pushed for removing politics from the process of appointment of the Supreme Court President.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela Pushes For Changing Model of Selecting Chief Justice

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela told the national broadcaster (HTV) on Tuesday evening that the disputes in the election of that court's president could be avoided if the system of the selection is changed so that it is the judges themselves who elect their top-ranking colleague.

In this context he mentioned the model of the selection of the president of the Constitutional Court who is appointed by his/her colleagues.

Mrčela said that the current disputes about the future Supreme Court president are purely political.

He pushed for removing politics from the process of the appointment of the Supreme Court President and added that it would also be conducive to reducing the perception of the political influence on the judiciary.

In order to change the process of the selection of the Supreme Court President, it is necessary to amend the Constitution which, however, requires a political consensus, he admitted.

 A total of five candidacies have been submitted for the new head of the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Zoran Milanović said that law professor Zlata Đurđević was his candidate for the Supreme Court president and asked members of parliament to think carefully before they reject her because he would hang tough on this matter.

Mrčela said that the Supreme Court would also give its opinion on the candidates, however, this opinion was not binding, despite GRECO's recommendations that it should be treated as binding.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Ministry of Culture and Media: "We Condemn All Violence, Clearer Procedures Needed"

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The Ministry of Culture and Media said, commenting of the dismissal of HRT reporter Hrvoje Zovko, that it condemned all forms of violence and abuse and advocated clearer procedures and equal treatment in all cases of suspected violence, adding that everyone must have the right to present a defence.

"The Ministry of Culture and Media condems all forms of violence and abuse. We think that every accusation must be investigated and sanctioned should it be substantiated in accordance with legal regulations. We advocate clearer procedures and equal treatment in all cases of suspected violence in the case at the HRT and in all other institutions," the Ministry said on Tuesday in response to HINA's query about the dismissal of Hrvoje Zovko, an employee of the HRT national broadcaster and the president of the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND).

At the same time, respecting the presumption of innocence, we stress that everyone must have an equal right to express and present their defence, the Ministry added.

They noted that they had been informed about the details of the procedure in the case of Hrvoje Zovko's dismissal from the media and once again underscore "the importance of equal treatment of all employees".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Parliament Elects 7 Members of Public Broadcaster's Programming Council

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Parliament on Friday elected by secret ballot seven members of the Croatian Radio-Television (HRT) Programming Council.

They are Nikola Baketa (99 votes), Vlaho Bogišić (101), Đemal Bratić (89), Ivica Lučić (89), Zorislav Lukić (83), Robert Markt (85) and Ozana Ramljak (92).

They were on a list of ten candidates recommended by the parliamentary information and media committee.

Which two will have a shortened term will be decided by the Programming Council, the committee decided. The committee's public call for applications stated that five Progamming Council members would be appointed to a term of four years and two until 12 July 2023.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

HUP Appeals to HRT to Expand Decision on Suspension of Subscription Fee

ZAGREB, April 9, 2020 - The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) on Thursday welcomed the decision by the public broadcaster HRT to temporarily suspend subscription fees for all businesses ordered by the national civil protection authority to cease operating, calling for the decision to apply to all other entities affected by the present crisis.

"We welcome the decision by the HRT director-general on the temporary suspension of the monthly subscription fee for all entities that ceased operating by order of the national civil protection authority. However, we have to point out that this decision does not apply to activities and businesses whose operation has not been officially suspended, but which have no work or revenue," the HUP said in a statement.

The decision, made on April 7, will be in force from April 1 until the cessation of the coronavirus emergency, as decided by the national civil protection authority.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Croatia Presidential Debate: Hopefuls on Corruption, Taxes, Foreign Policy

On Thursday evening January 2, 2020; HRT (Croatia Radio Television) moderated the second of three debates between presidential candidates Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.

During the two-hour debate, the candidates answered 40 questions – which were divided into several groups including the economy and demographics, foreign policy and presidential powers, national security and the fight against corruption. Of course, there was a set of questions pertaining to worldviews and personal questions, as reported by Index on January 2, 2020. Here are a few highlights from last night’s debate:

Candidates’ Opening Statements:

Milanović: I am aware that I need to reach out to people who don’t intend to vote for me in the second round. I will defend the constitution and fight for the rights of all citizens. I will fight corruption, the monster which has consumed Croatia. The present government and president do not understand the difference between the public and private. Nor do they understand what it means to fight corruption. Those who break the law will not get any preferential treatment from me.

Kolinda: As a woman, I broke through the glass ceilings in the world. I was the first woman foreign minister, have important world connections and was one of the first presidents to meet Trump. I will move away from ideological issues.

croatia_presidential_debate_03.jpg

Entrepreneurs are complaining about high taxes. Are they too high?

Kolinda: The tax burden is too great. I do not want to please everyone, otherwise I would say what everyone wants to hear, and I am already too controversial. Zoran Milanović's government raised the VAT from 23 to 25 percent, which was a big blow. I am in favor of reducing taxes because that is the only way to secure higher salaries, create new jobs, investments and encourage people to stay. I will advocate for higher take-home wages and higher wages for employees.

Milanović: You are saying this to please everyone. Life is not like that, and it’s easy for someone who has never earned anything on their own. It is expensive to finance state obligations; including education and care for the elderly. Increasing the VAT rate during the recession was not a blow. Prices did not rise, so that thesis that does not hold water.

Kolinda: I’ve been working for a living since my third year of college. You addressed the deficit by increasing the VAT. I won’t allow you to downplay this failure because it was the VAT that impoverished our citizens. You had a budget deficit with a higher VAT. You can’t rely only on taxes to finance the state budget.

Milanović: How else would the budget be financed? From exports? This shows complete ignorance of fiscal policy.

How do we bring young people back to Croatia?

Milanović: The exodus began in 2016. Poland, Romania, Lithuania had the same problems after joining the EU. Did it destroy those states? As far as I know it did not. We are having moral panics in the Republic of Croatia. We are here, we will fight, we will survive, and they will return. I cannot blame either Milanović or Kolinda for the exodus.

Kolinda: The exodus began during the Milanović government due to pre-bankruptcy settlements and enforcement law. I'm not having a moral panic.

Milanović: Thousands of jobs were saved by pre-bankruptcy settlements, it's ridiculous to say that this is the reason for the exodus. Please don't embarrass yourself.

Kolinda: The fact is that pre-bankruptcy settlements benefitted your friends.

Who is Croatia's biggest ally?

Kolinda: It's the US and we are currently working on concrete proposals.

Milanović: Ms. Kitarović accomplished nothing when she was Croatian ambassador to the United States. You must be totally lost if you are claiming that the United States is our greatest ally. If the US is our closest ally; we are certainly not theirs. The current administration is what it is, and I don't want to fault them, but the EU is our biggest ally and the largest agent of peace in the world.

Kolinda: Of course, we are working with all EU countries. Let’s allow Milanović to highlight some of his achievements with Germany. Croatia is thinking about Croatia today, but is acting globally.

Milanović: I’m not out camping, I’ve worked, traveled, and hung out with the Scandinavian elite. Kolinda was an ambassador to the US and fled to NATO.

Kolinda: I've never turned my back on Croatia. Seventy percent of our foreign trade is with the EU. It is very important for us to work with Serbia and Bosnia and I want them to join the EU. But Milanović quarreled with all our neighbors. Where I build, you destroy.

Milanović: I'm glad to hear these phrases. Relations with neighbors have been the most corrupted by Kolinda. Now we only have a good relationship with Orban (Hungary). As for migrants (backed up at the border with Serbia in 2015); if we hadn't arranged for them to be transferred to Germany, those people would still be here with us now.

Kolinda: You caused that incident, you closed them off in Serbia. 

croatia_presidential_debate_04.jpg

Do Jihadists in Bosnia pose a threat to Croatia?

Milanović: I believe SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) is doing its job. Jihadists in Bosnia are a reality. Standard law enforcement measures will not help the situation there. Kolinda has damaged relations with a country with a Muslim majority due to her reckless stories.

Kolinda: I have don’t have any problems with Muslims. I didn't ruin the SOA; I don't interfere with their work. 

Milanović: Kolinda hangs out with people who steal. I'm not saying she's stealing, but she's a serious problem for the system of national security.

How would you detect and prevent corruption?

Milanović: Saucha (former assistant to Milanović) has been indicted, and he now supports Kolinda and the HDZ. Kolinda arrived (to the debate) today from a celebration held by (Milan) Bandić - these messages are dangerous and toxic.

Kolinda: I did not come from a celebration. I was at an event held by a party which supports me comprised of individuals who support me.

Bandić has been indicted in several court cases. Why would offer to bring him cookies?

Kolinda: Bandić is innocent until proven guilty and I will fight for that. Let's not put people on a pillar of shame. Let's not forget Lovrić-Merzel (SDP), and you defended Bandić when he was your friend. Would you pardon Perković and Mustač (Yugoslav Secret Police)?

Milanović: I would not pardon anyone. You are talking to me about corruption. I have a letter here that you sent to the Washington Times praising Sanader before he fled justice. 

Kolinda: I had no idea about Ivo Sanader's corruption. After all, he had dismissed me from the government.

Should the Croatian army withdraw from Afghanistan?

Milanović: Yes, immediately. It's been 16 years and it’s obvious that the Americans are not even clear on what to do there.

Kolinda: There has been one (Croatian) death since 2003. We will act as a responsible ally with NATO. My guess is that this process will begin sooner rather than later, and we will discuss it with our allies. Then, we will shift most of our forces to Eastern Europe.

Milanović: We are open to discussion, but we’ll make the decision. The soldier who died had his picture taken with me and asked me not to post the photo because he was still a specialist. A few days later, Kolinda posted a photo with that soldier. I would never manipulate people like that. 

Kolinda: That’s false. The soldier waited for an hour at Ovčara to have his picture taken with me. He never asked me not to post that photo.

What do you think about the adoption of children by same-sex partners?

Kolinda: The adoption and foster care application process is very difficult in general, and we need to make it easier. Children need both a mother and father; I do not know if we are ready for the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Milanović: That is a process which is unstoppable. We need to talk about it, accept it and understand that these trends are unstoppable. And there is a human element to this topic.

How much have your personal assets grown during your five-year term?

Kolinda: I don't know exactly. I’ve put everything in my asset statement. This year, I received a severance from NATO of around one hundred thousand euros. My husband and I live off our wages.

Milanović: That's nice when you get such a large severance pay. At the beginning of your term you had a loan of more than one million HRK. And that was paid off with what money?

Kolinda: I obtained a loan in 1995 with a 4.5 percent interest rate. I had to take out another loan in at a full (interest rate), but that loan was paid off in two years by selling some smaller apartments. How did you get the 180,000 EUR loan at a preferential interest rate?

Milanović: You are making things up again and everything you say is wrong again. This is public information. I was not the prime minister at the time. And, it was a loan for 300,000 EUR with a 6 percent interest rate. I paid back the first portion by selling our first apartment. Not only is this defamation, it is nonsense. At the time of Operation Storm, you got a loan with a 4 percent interest rate when everyone else’s loans were at 14 percent.

Kolinda: Yes, I got that loan as a Foreign Office employee. It was the minimal amount of credit, because I could not afford to borrow more. I paid it off. I’ve worked for all the money I have.

Milanović: That was credit available HDZ guys. You worked for that? It's unfair, dishonest and immoral…

croatia_presidential_debate_05.jpg

What did Kolinda mean when she talked about the coup?

Milanović: In 2015, Kitarović formed her government, after only 40 days of consultations with (Tomislav) Karamarko which went on behind my back. She was doing her best to undermine the center-left government.

Kolinda: In the first two years of my term, two rounds of parliamentary elections were held. I absolutely stand behind my claim that I maintained the stability of the state and did everything according to the constitution. There was a possibility of having a transitional government if one did not form within a reasonable time period. 

The constitution provides for a 60-day window, so I consulted with constitutional lawyers and the Constitutional Court. I was told that this lengthy procedure would have to be completed because the Parliament would find themselves in constitutional crisis if their mandate expired. I never appointed any government and please don’t slander me. Find the evidence!

Milanović: Of course, you didn't leave any tracks, but people are talking. Sue them if they slander you. Personally, I will respect the constitution. And, (Vladimir) Šeks is a constitutional expert?

Kolinda: Šeks had nothing to do with it, and there weren’t any secret negotiations. You wanted a coup, so you barricaded yourself. Furthermore, you sent me a text message which read: “today you can be a stateswoman and appoint a government or you can give Karamarko control and be his puppet.”

Milanović: That’s defamation, I would never send that kind of message.

Closing Statements:

Milanović: In a few days you will elect a Croatian president. I am here to serve you, not to divide you, to fight against what antagonizes our people, for which they are losing the will to live and stay (in Croatia). Demographics are most successful if a country has fair leadership. For years, we have been led by people who are not fair leaders, but who have networked by formal and informal means. We have a president who hangs out with unworthy people, and a government which has fallen apart because of corruption. This is sending a terrible message. Nothing revolutionary will happen (if I become president), but we believe in making small shifts.

Grabar-Kitarović: When I took office five years ago, Croatia was on its knees because of the disastrous policies of Zoran Milanović, the worst Croatian Prime Minister in history. We have achieved growth which is not yet adequate. I want the GDP to be above five percent, and that positive factors impact your lives and financial obligations. We must stop young people from leaving and complete the process of education reform. We need to encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, increase wages and pensions, and raise the standard of living. I am interested in our country, not party politics. I unite, rather than divide. My Croatia is a Croatia for everyone.

The presidential candidates will meet for one more debate before the election. Tonight (Friday January 3, 2020) at 20:20h, they will face off on Nova TV.

Follow our Politics page for news on the upcoming presidential election in Croatia, which will take place on Sunday January 5, 2020. We will be providing by-the-minute exit poll results and final election results after the polls close at 19h Central European Time (CET).

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