Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Bozinovic: We Will Concentrate on Punishing Violations of Epidemiological Measures

ZAGREB, Oct 21,  2020 - The head of the national Covid response team, Davor Bozinovic, said on Wednesday that as long as the number of people infected with coronavirus continued to grow they would concentrate on punishing violations of epidemiological measures, in particular legal entities.

Bozinovic visited the National Civil Protection Authority's warehouse in Jastrebarsko and told reporters that new measures would not be needed to curb the spread of coronavirus if measures already adopted were adhered to.

"We are monitoring the situation. The numbers are growing. They are growing outside Croatia too," said Bozinovic and underlined that they will concentrate the most on the measures in place, in particular the obligations of legal entities that organize events or other commercial acclivities where people fluctuate.

In that regard, he said, "we will punish any behavior that is not in accordance with the epidemiological measures."

He claimed that they had invested a lot of effort, including the Croatian Institute for Public Health which adopted detailed recommendations for all commercial and social activities so that they would not have to shut down.

"That effort has been transformed into specific recommendations by the response team," said Bozinovic, calling on all citizens to adhere to all measures as the only way to slow down the spread of the virus in Croatia.

He underscored that as long as the epidemic lasts, citizens have to avoid any large gatherings, private parties, and meetings.

He noted that the measures in place were intended for public events and not for events in people's homes. He warned, however, that it is in those circumstances that citizens forget themselves the most which then results in the virus spreading when they go home or back to work.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Security in Croatia Not Undermined, Says Interior Minister

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday security in Croatia was not undermined "in these extraordinary circumstances and special epidemiological conditions", also underlining the importance of combating corruption and illegal migration.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Police Day, Bozinovic said security was not undermined "even during the tourist season."

"With a set of new operative solutions and models of their implementation, the police have adjusted to changes in the commission of crimes caused by the epidemic, paying special attention to domestic violence and vulnerable groups."

Bozinovic said illegal migration and the smuggling networks connected to them became active again after the spring lockdown, adding that the police met the rising trend prepared both technically and in terms of staff.

Police are doing their job responsibly and professionally

"The Croatian police are doing their job responsibly and professionally, focusing on priority problems," he said, highlighting the fight against human trafficking, illegal migration, and corruption.

Bozinovic said emphasis would be put on digitalisation, efficiency, European funds, and streamlining civil protection. He added that 22 projects, worth HRK 117 million, had been launched to procure police equipment. 

Milina: Fight against organised crime and corruption high on list of priorities

Police Director Nikola Milina thanked all police officers for their efforts after the March earthquake in the Zagreb area and during the coronavirus epidemic, saying he was also pleased with the efforts made to protect the external EU border, the longest land border on the migration route.

He recalled that in October 2019 Croatia met one of its strategic goals, technical readiness to join the Schengen Area, saying the next strategic priority was to become guardians of the Schengen border.

Milina recalled that over the past year the Croatian police had successfully carried out several operations at national and international level in which a large number of criminals were arrested.

"High on our list of priorities remains the fight against all forms of organised crime as well as the prevention of white collar and corruption crimes in all spheres of society."

Milina said another priority was investigating all war crimes and that they would not stop until all were prosecuted.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Interior Minister, Police Director Talk Information Leaks, Surveillance Breaches

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday that parliamentary Domestic Policy and National Security Committee chair Niksa Vukas would receive a report on information leaks and that he could always contact the ministry and the police.

Speaking to the press, Bozinovic said Vukas "can ask and will receive an answer, probably to the effect that DORH (State Prosecutor's Office) and the police are conducting preliminary investigations. They are doing that and they will inform the public about the results."

Vukas said this morning that he would request Bozinovic's comment on the situation in the system, surveillance breaches and information leaks, and that next week he would convene the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee over the JANAF corruption case.

Surveillance breaches are not good

Asked if he was concerned about surveillance breaches in big cases and if anything had been identified in that regard in the case of former state secretary Josipa Rimac, Bozinovic said that it was not good that those breaches were occurring.

"However, as far as I know, DORH is conducting preliminary investigations in coordination with the police which are aimed at uncovering the reasons and those who are illegally involved in surveillance breaches."

The most important part of the criminal investigation, which is conducted by the police in cooperation with DORH and USKOK (anti-corruption office), was finished and charges have been filed, which means that they collected enough evidence, Bozinovic said.

"This isn't good, of course. However, DORH and the police are working on it and I'm sure they will inform us when they have some results."

Asked if the police were powerless about surveillance breaches, the minister said all criminal investigations were long, painstaking, and uncertain.

"When several months pass and result in the collection of enough evidence, it means... that a good job was done and that it was done as the law stipulates, which means keeping preliminary investigations secret."

Emergency services are working

Bozinovic also commented on the HT telecom's technical difficulties today due to which it is not possible to get 112, the number for emergency services.

"I'm sure someone will say what happened. When it comes to key communications and the communications of all emergency services, that shouldn't be a problem as they all have their own line of communication, their own means of communication when it comes to civil protection services," he said, voicing confidence that the system was working.

That was financed with European money and the Interior Ministry has made sure that those communications, based on TETRA devices, work in all emergency services, he added.

Police intensively working on finding those responsible for information leaks

Police Director Nikola Milina told the press the police were intensively working on finding those responsible for leaking police information while simultaneously working on the prevention of information leaks.

He said they reported police officers for information leaks in 15 cases over the past two years.

Commenting on surveillance breaches in the cases of Rimac and the recently arrested director of the JANAF oil pipeline operator, Dragan Kovacevic, Milina said the police "are intensively working on those cases... We are the least interested in having surveillance breached. However, each case is different."

He said that in both cases the police pressed charges on suspicion that a number of persons had committed various white collar and corruption crimes.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

No Lockdown For Split-Dalmatia County

ZAGREB, Aug 26, 2020 - Head of the national COVID-19 management team and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Wednesday that the new measures for Split-Dalmatia County, announced by the county's team, would come into force at midnight.

"Split-Dalmatia County has decided to make wearing masks mandatory in bars and restaurants before consuming drinks and food, the number of people at weddings will be limited to 50, wakes are banned, and owners of restaurants are obliged to supervise their facilities more closely. Also, gyms will close, and sports competitions can take place but without spectators," Bozinovic said.

Broken down by counties, the number of new cases of the infection is the highest in Split-Dalmatia County - 136, followed by the City of Zagreb (58), Sibenik-Knin County (33), Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (20), Zagreb County (19), Zadar County (15), Varazdin County (11), Brod-Posavina County (11), while other counties have recorded fewer than 10 new cases.

Asked whether the national COVID-19 response team was considering a complete closure of Split-Dalmatia County, Bozinovic said that was not the case.

"We are not considering that this is the only way to avoid that, and I am convinced there will not be any lockdown. We are keeping the situation under control this way," he said.

Asked about the possibility of the spike in number due to the recent Feast of the Assumption, Bozinovic said that they had assigned local teams to conduct epidemiological surveillance, and they believe the prescribed measures had been implemented.

"Split-Dalmatia County is a hotspot and new measures are being taken there. We will have meetings with others on Thursday, so it is possible that some new measures may be introduced then in some counties," Bozinovic said.

Asked why gyms were closing in Split-Dalmatia County while bars remained open and Masses were allowed, Bozinovic said that the new measures would be in place for 14 days.

He underscored that measures could be dropped or extended. Fines for violating the measures are also possible, he added.

"There is always the possibility of penalizing. We hope there will be no need for that because our intention is that as many people as possible accept the recommendations by the Croatian Public Health Institute. The point is for people to follow the recommendations because then we will achieve the main goal, to reduce the number of new infections and control the situation," he said.

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Friday, 21 August 2020

Decisions Related To Coronavirus Epidemic Not Political, Says Bozinovic

ZAGREB, Aug 21, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Davor Bozinovic, said on Friday that decisions regarding the coronavirus epidemic were not political decisions.

"Tourism is an important economic sector in Croatia, however, we opened up based on scientific data about the virus not being so dangerous in the summertime, as evidenced by the latest clinical symptoms in patients. The assessment that it is possible to open up was an epidemiological one," Bozinovic told reporters when asked to comment on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's statement that the decision on the tourist season was a political one and to say which other decisions were political.

Asked why the situation was problematic in Split-Dalmatia County, where earlier in the day 103 new cases of the COVID-19 disease were reported, Bozinovic said that there were more than 800,000 people in the county at present, that its towns and communities have much fewer residents in the winter, and that a large number of people from neighboring countries were staying there.

Commenting on scientist Ivan Djikic's statement that it had been wrong to allow night clubs to operate, Bozinovic said that the COVID-19 response team had adopted the necessary measures, carried out controls, and when cases of infection were detected, it banned night clubs from working after midnight.

The measures imposed by the team resulted in a drop in new infections, he said.

Bozinovic also said that they were not worried about reports that a Facebook initiative would file a class-action lawsuit against the COVID-19 response team and that its objective was to maintain a balance.

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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Davor Bozinovic: Cruisers Will Soon be Allowed in Dubrovnik

August 11, 2020 - The head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that the Headquarters would probably agree to the request of Dubrovnik Mayor, Mato Frankovic, allowing cruisers to enter Dubrovnik. reports that the head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and Interior Minister said that the Croatian curve was in a downward phase with a tendency to decline further.

Asked what the government is doing to control the damage, as more and more tourists claim to have been infected on holiday in Croatia, Bozinovic said: "There are such examples, but not all have been confirmed. There is a European system of early detection and action, and some of the cases that were in the media did not go through that system."

"We expect that the countries that put us on the yellow list will remove us from that list. We have 18 cases per 100,000 people, and now there are a million more people in Croatia," the minister said as a guest on Dnevnik NovaTV.

When asked what will happen to closed nightclubs in the fall, he replied:

"We are in contact with the representatives of that industry and our goal is for them to survive, but also to preserve people's health. They are also interested in people's health, and they have to live from something," he said, adding that all options are being considered. 

Asked by a journalist if he could imagine going out with a protective mask, he replied that he did not remember the last time he was at a nightclub in person, but that the measures should definitely be adhered to.

Bozinovic also said that the National Headquarters would probably agree to the request of the mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, to allow the entry of cruisers.

"We are in contact with the mayor and I think we will allow this very soon. Some more technical details need to be resolved, such as what to do if people are infected on board, but I think we are close to deciding to allow it."

Recall, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters to change the rule banning the entry of ships with more than two hundred passengers into Croatian ports.

This is because the global cruise line MSC did not include Dubrovnik in its cruise program.

Namely, representatives of the company have previously expressed interest in including Dubrovnik in the travel program, but the limiting factor for the arrival of larger ships on cruises to Dubrovnik is the rule, according to which ships with more than 200 passengers cannot enter Croatian ports at the moment.

Frankovic briefed Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters Davor Bozinovic and Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic on this very topic.

Following Bozinovic's instructions, Frankovic submitted to the County Institute of Public Health detailed procedures introduced by the MSC for its ships, as well as procedures to be carried out by the Dubrovnik Port Authority and the City of Dubrovnik.

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Thursday, 30 July 2020

Davor Bozinovic: Croatia is Champion of Tourism in Europe

July 30, 2020 - The head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Wednesday that they were considering adopting new measures daily and called on event organizers to adhere to existing measures because that was the only way to decrease the number of cases.

"Every day, the Headquarters considers and takes into account all relevant data. We call on the organizers of events to adhere to the measures prescribed by the CNIPH; we call for responsibility," said Bozinovic, as reported by Slobodna Dalmacija.

Commenting on President Milanovic's repeated accusations that the National Headquarters is unconstitutional, Bozinovic reminded that the Headquarters was established in 2015, during the government of Prime Minister Milanovic.

“The only changes that have taken place are given this situation with the pandemic, which no one could have foreseen, neither then nor in 2019 when the law underwent certain amendments, and thus the headquarters was given the authority to make decisions related to the implementation of measures determined in cooperation with the CNIPH and the Ministry of Health, all under the supervision of the Government," the Minister pointed out.

He added that they had spoken with Education Minister Radovan Fuchs about the start of the school year in the autumn.

"We have agreed that within the Ministry of Education, there will be a special working group that will propose, and in some way support, the epidemiological service, and which will itself have an expert epidemiologist, given the whole range of issues and situations that should be anticipated given the risk of spreading the virus in school institutions," announced Bozinovic.

He added that there was no repression or tendency in the activities of the headquarters to diminish anyone's rights.

"This is a body that deals, based on knowledge and epidemiological recommendations and science, with finding a balance to maintain these activities, so that the economy and tourism do not stop," Bozinovic said.

He believes that the Parliament could not make a good decision, primarily due to lengthy debates, and change the same decision in less than 24 hours.

When asked by a journalist that the Association of Music Managers complained that they were unable to work and that they received a decision from only one county headquarters to allow gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the Minister said that there were already recommendations that cultural events and concerts could be organized in these circumstances, but with strict adherence to epidemiological measures.

"Some things are not possible in such epidemic conditions; concerts are not possible where a large number of people would gather as it used to be, and which would not maintain a physical distance between them. Concerts for 2020 and 2021 were practically canceled more or less throughout Europe, and in the USA until 2022. We must all find ways to organize ourselves in order for this activity to survive, and we can only do that through conversation, a rational approach," Bozinovic emphasized.

Minister of Health Vili Beros said that he had signed a pre-agreement for a million and a half doses of vaccine and that we had not paid anything yet because the signed contracts and agreements only regulate the procurement of vaccines in the future, emphasizing that Croatia is part of the European Commission initiative.

He added that the EU Commission is considering the modality of financing and the possibility for funding from EU structural and investment funds.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, emphasized that the numbers in Croatia these days vary due to hotspots in Split-Dalmatia County and are related to new patients from weddings in Hrvace, and funerals in Imotski. In Vukovar-Srijem County, new patients are associated with a bachelor party in Cerna and a wedding that moved to Nasice.

He added that large numbers are associated with large gatherings and that this is the main source of infection at the moment. He confirmed that several people were infected at the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs.

"In one organizational unit of the ministry, it is true that there are four sick people, none of the officials or close associates of Minister Grlic Radman is in self-isolation. Four sick people and several people from one organizational unit are in self-isolation," Capak said.

Asked if the opposition was once again calling for his removal because of the case of HSLS president Dari Hrebak, Capak stressed that he did not think a mistake had been made in the case.

"Hrebak, before receiving the prescribed measure of self-isolation, requested a test at his own expense, and after that when he received a negative test, he asked for an interpretation. The epidemiological opinion I wrote states that he is non-infectious in the next 36-48 hours because of the negative swab. In medicine, situations are not black or white, and it would be very good to let epidemiologists decide whether someone needs self-isolation or not," Capak concluded.

Ministers Beros and Bozinovic and Director Capak confirmed to reporters that they had installed a new application for monitoring infected "Stop COVID-19" on their mobile phones.

The Interior Minister and head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters also wrote several posts on Twitter after the press conference:

"From 0 to 24, the Headquarters monitors the situation and the epidemiological picture every day. This means quick decision-making and involvement of all departments that need to say something about it. 

We are constantly trying to find a balance between economic activities and recommendations for curbing the epidemic and we are communicating all this with Croatian citizens. That is why Croatia is the champion of tourism in Europe."

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Friday, 17 July 2020

Minister Bozinovic Reveals How Long We'll Need to Wear Masks For

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on July the 16th, 2020 - Decisions, as they state from the National Civil Protection Headquarters, must be respected. A recent guest of RTL Danas (Today) was Minister Bozinovic, who further clarified the latest anti-epidemic measures.

''You know that our approach is oriented towards raising people's awareness. At this time when science is confirming something to us, and science knows about the issue of masks, given that we know that this is a virus we're up against, initially, the World Health Organisation gave two interpretations, but now it's consensually accepted that masks do protect us, especially if they're worn indoors

Our goal is for people to accept this fact as something that can protect them and others from them when it comes to coronavirus transmission. We'll do everything so that we don't have to come to a situation where people are being punished. However, if someone consciously doesn't want to wear a mask, which is obligatory and not wearing one endangers people's health indoors, then it's likely that the competent authorities will need to take some additional actions,'' said Minister Bozinovic.

He also described what it would look like if someone didn’t have a mask on, yet wanted to obtain some sort of service, such as going shopping or needing to visit various administrative institutions.

"In that case, they mustn't receive that service, it's now the responsibility of the institution to which the person came and the counter officer to help someone who could endanger their own health. There are legal solutions for those situations as well,'' Minister Bozinovic said.

He also explained the laws under which offenders will be punished.

"There's also the Law on the Civil Protection System, the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases, so, what you're saying goes towards a violation against public order and peace. But let's leave it to life, and I hope that life will teach us in this new normal that masks will need to be worn by everyone because it's actually good for everyone,'' Minister Bozinovic explained.

He also said how long the masks will have to be worn in Croatia for.

"Until a solution is found for this virus is found, and if the scientific community doesn't change its mind [on the issue of masks], then it will last until the end of the epidemic is declared," Bozinovic concluded.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Minister Bozinovic Talks Possible Penalties for Not Adhering to Measures

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of July, 2020, Minister Bozinovic, the head of the National Civil Protection Directorate, explained how whether people are wearing protective masks indoors, which is mandatory in stores from today onward, will be monitored and controlled.

Minister Bozinovic said that we are facing a new dynamic of the spread of the new coronavirus on a global level. Here in Croatia, as he said, local measures will be applied and local hotspots will be extinguished, but there will also be measures that will be applied at the national level, such as the introduction of wearing masks in restaurants, shops and when using public transport.

"In autumn, we could face more proliferation and more severe symptoms, so now we need to acquire the habits we will need for when autumn comes," he said, noting that this is why they have resumed press conferences, which also serve as a means of educating the general public.

"Our basic approach is to inform the public. There's not much point in issuing penalties, but we'll also have certain sanctions if a measure is not accepted. Hopefully that won’t happen. Large centres have security guards where it is not a problem to just refuse entry to a person who isn't wearing a mask, in small shops, the staff aren't allowed to serve someone if they aren't wearing a mask. There aren't so many police or inspections that they can control everything… We'd like to appeal to everyone to call 112 or the police if there needs to be an intervention,'' he said.

He stated again clearly that if faced with issues, shop employees and those working for hospitality facilities are free to call the police (112) to come and deal with difficult people.

Minister Bozinovic also stated that everyone's goal is to accept the ''new normal'' for what it is at the moment and that wearing masks indoors should simply become a practice. "They've been shown to be effective," he added. From day to day, he said, they will repeat everything they consider important to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. He added that they're continuing to make sure that the tourist season is as good and safe as possible under these unprecedented circumstances.

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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Minister Bozinovic Comments on Stricter Measures, Headquarter's Plans

Minister Bozinovic has gone from 'just' being the Minister of the Interior to a true household name ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke out earlier this year and the staff members of the National Civil Protection Headquarters began with their daily briefings to the press.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of July, 2020, HDZ is close to forming a new government, but they don't have an easy path ahead of them. This summer's economic forecasts, the first after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, have seen the European Commission additionally increase its estimate of the decline of the Croatian economy to 10.8 percent this year, predicting a partial recovery and growth of 7.5 percent next year.

Let us not forget, just because we seem to have a better handle on the situation now, the coronavirus epidemic is still going on. Minister Bozinovic spoke on RTL Danas (Today) about everything that awaits Croatia, but also about HDZ's agreements behind closed doors.

"All minority representatives said they'd support Andrej Plenkovic as the prime minister-designate of the new government. Of course, our partners from the previous government, HNS and Mr. Cacic, have 76 'hands', and signatures are being collected, I think it's all a technical matter," said Minister Bozinovic, adding that he will visit the President of the Republic as soon as the conditions for that are created: ''Very soon, I think it's realistic for it to happen next week. Maybe this one too,''

Two questions now arise:

Is there a possibility for making sure there are a smaller number of participants at weddings given the current 'boom' in newly infected people having attended them and coronavirus' apparent love of spreading indoors and in close quarters? On top of that, the elections are now over, will there be stricter anti-epidemic measures introduced?

"They [measures] have nothing to do with the elections, we can see that there are hotspots that are local and we're extinguishing them locally. On the one hand, the battle with the virus can be won easily if we adhere to the measures, especially during the summer,'' Minister Bozinovic replied.

The Minister of Health, Vili Beros, mentioned that the possibility of banning weddings is also an option which remains "on the table".

''It's possible that we'll need to reduce the number of participants in wedding ceremonies in some phases. It isn't easy to achieve a balance of joy on the one hand and prevent the spread of the virus on the other. All we're doing now is trying to influence people to avoid situations where the virus is spreading.

It would be too radical to start again with the measures that were in place back in March and April. There will be some intermediate measures like the ones we introduced at nightclubs. There are constant inspections and we see that there are no new appearances [of the new coronavirus] coming from nightclubs. As for weddings, we may be forced to make sure there are a smaller number of participants,'' the pair concluded.

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