Wednesday, 9 March 2022

COVID Restrictions Likely to be Relaxed Next Week, Božinović Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that early next week the national COVID-19 crisis management team would probably relax restrictions on gatherings and some economic activities.

Despite today's minimal increase in new coronavirus cases, there have been significant decreases in new cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the past few weeks, which allows for returning to a regular work dynamic, he said at a cabinet session.

The population's immunity, thanks to recovery from COVID and vaccination, also allows for considering a relaxation of the protocols, he added.

Although the most important restrictions, on gatherings, crossing the border, shops' business hours, public transport, and wearing masks, are in force until the end of this month, those on gatherings and economic activities will probably be relaxed early next week, Božinović said.

According to him, there is no information that the Ukraine refugee wave has considerably affected the epidemiological situation.

Refugees are tested in reception centres and if they are positive, adequate accommodation is provided, he said.

70.6% of adults vaccinated

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that today 2,588 new COVID-19 cases were detected by PCR testing and 662 by rapid antigen testing, which is up 0.21% on the week.

Hospitals are gradually reducing their COVID capacity, which allows for providing more comprehensive care to oncology, mental and post-COVID syndrome patients, he said.

Based on the results of 2021 population census, 70.6% of the adult population has been vaccinated, he said, adding that as of today inoculation begins with Novavax, a new protein vaccine.

Beroš went on to say that since 25 February 249 medical services and 14 emergency medical services had been provided to Ukrainian refugees, that three had been hospitalised, and that five had tested positive for coronavirus.

Ukrainian refugees can get vaccinated against COVID as well as measles, mumps, rubella and polio, he said, adding that there is a big measles and rubella epidemic in Ukraine due to poor vaccination.

For more news about Croatia and the COVID situation, click here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Europe Facing Refugee Influx Unseen Since WWII, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday Europe would be faced with a refugee influx unseen since WWII, and that no country could deal with that alone.

According to last night's numbers by Frontex, more than 600,000 people from Ukraine have entered the EU, he said on Croatian Radio.

The influx is not big yet because the UNHCR and other agencies estimate that five million people could leave Ukraine, Božinović added.

This is a humanitarian situation that is becoming dramatic, and can be dealt with only if everyone stands together, he said.

Speaking of meetings of EU interior ministers and what they had to agree on, Božinović said it was necessary to resolve the status of refugees first as more and more would be coming. "This is an exodus for which an adequate response will have to be found."

545 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia to date

Božinović said 545 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Croatia and that 39 were in reception centres, while the rest were in private accommodation.

He said Croatia must prepare for a major influx as almost 100,000 had entered Hungary. It is difficult to expect Russia to stop at the moment as it is preparing a bigger escalation with attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, he added.

Božinović said the entire Civil Protection system was getting ready, together with the health and education systems, so that the arrival of refugees passed with as little difficulty as possible.

Accommodation capacity will be expanded as needed, there are plans for using numerous state-owned facilities, and meetings are being held with the Croatian Tourist Board, hoteliers and the Tourism Ministry, he added.

Božinović went on to say that Croatia's first relief convoy left for Ukraine at 3 am today and that such things should be organised well by the institutions in charge.

Europe has no alternative but to defend its values

Commenting on Russia's threat that the countries donating military equipment to Ukraine, including Croatia, would be held accountable, he said not only NATO member states but neutral ones as well had decided to do that.

"Today we are seeing a change of the paradigm that has been in force in Europe since World War II and determination that everything that Europe has achieved must not be brought into question," Božinović said, adding that in that time the EU has become the most developed part of the world alongside the US, an area where human rights are protected and technology and living standards progress.

"If someone threatens that, and this is a threat, they will face a very clear and harsh European response because Europe has no alternative but to defend its values."

Speaking of fears that some might use the Ukraine crisis to destabilise Southeast Europe, Božinović said there were always some who were interested in destabilisation, those thinking their only trump card was force and armament, and that one could see in Ukraine that stability did not suit them.

As for Southeast Europe, he said the most important stakeholders had sent messages to every country in the region and that he was sure they would consider them well.

To be in Europe and not head for integration is not smart

Commenting on the stand of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who has not imposed sanctions on Russia and is accusing Croatian politicians, Božinović said "it's a rhetoric we are used to." 

"Now is the time for states which have doubts to make the best long-term decisions for the future of their citizens because to be in Europe and not head for integration is not the smartest thing to do", he added.

Božinović also said he expected the political unity of the opposition and those in power on Ukraine to continue in Croatia.

The government's position is clear and one of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's first visits was to Ukraine, which is just one sign of knowing the situation and Ukraine's importance for Europe and our bilateral relations, he added.

Speaking on coronavirus, he said there were about 2,500 new cases today, 33% fewer than a week ago, a sign the steep decrease was continuing.

"If such trends continue, we will consider further relaxing restrictions", said Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 crisis management team.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Davor Bozinovic: Several Ukrainian Refugees Have Arrived in Croatia

February the 27th, 2022 - Ukrainian refugees have begun to arrive in other countries following Russia's illegal and unjustified invasion of their country. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has stated that several Ukrainian nationals have already arrived in Croatia and that the groundwork to make them comfortable and provide for their needs is now underway.

The news comes just after Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic took to Twitter to tweet that he has spoken with the government and with the Red Cross and that things were now fully underway to accept fleeing Ukrainian refugees.

''I convened a meeting with members of @VladaRH, Civil Protection and @crvenikriz_hr in order to raise the level of preparedness regarding the reception of refugees from Ukraine due to Russian aggression. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people'' read Plenkovic's tweet.

As N1 Hrvatska writes, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has stated that things are moving forward and that those who usually deal with the question of refguees are all involved.

"Everyone who deals with refugee issues was there. We've decided to structure the coordination [of the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees in Croatia] through one government body that will engage with as much intensity as the situation requires of our institutions. We've reviewed the current situation on these issues,'' said Davor Bozinovic, before adding:

"A special council has been convened in Brussels, I will go there and we will consider these issues at the European Union (EU) level, given that the potential is such that more or less all EU member states are likely to be involved in dealing with the increased influx of displaced persons from Ukraine, and all countries have prepared for their reception.

A dozen people from Ukraine entered Croatia who came through private channels, through friendly contacts, and they have been properly accommodated in private accommodation,'' the minister said.

He said Croatia has accommodation facilities to accommodate an influx of Ukrainian refugees as the conflict there escalates even further.

"The point of today's meeting is to simply coordinate the matter," he added.

"We can manage, we're ready, if needed - and I must say that I would not like to rush into it - but yes, we can accommodate people from today onwards," concluded Davor Bozinovic.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

New Croatian Coronavirus Rules to Begin as of February 1st, 2022

January the 30th, 2022 - New Croatian coronavirus rules are set to come into force as of the 1st of February as things are altered to reflect what we know about the Omicron variant.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after the meeting of the National Civil Protection Directorate with the representatives of the Dr. Andrija Stampar Public Health Institute, statements were given by Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak on the new Croatian coronavirus rules.

“As of the 1st of February, we'll extend the decisions which are currently in force. The change that will happen as of that day concerns the regulation of border crossings. From February the 1st, covid certificates will be issued for those vaccinated with two doses for a period of 270 days, with nothing changing for those who need to take PCR tests - they are valid for 72 hours after testing. As far as rapid antigen tests are concerned, it will be possible to cross the Croatian border if it hasn't been more than 24 hours since the test was taken, and when it comes to recovery from the virus, covid certificates will be provided for a period of 180 days since recovery. As of February the 1st, Croatia, in cooperation with the Croatian Institute of Public Health, will issue EU digital covid certificates with these validity deadlines,'' explained Davor Bozinovic.

“There is also the national component of covid certification to think about, this refers to the need for the certificates to enter healthcare facilities, social welfare facilities, as well as state and public services. We aren't going to change anything there. Everyone who has previously been issued with certificates, when it comes to both recovering from the illness and vaccination against it, will be able to use until the date until which they were issued, which is a period of 365 days. We've asked for the recognition of rapid antigen test results for the EU digital covid-certificate, but this hasn't yet been decided at the EU level as we wanted it to be. However, an increasing number of countries are joining our initiative and we expect that decision to be made.

The second part of our meeting on new Croatian coronavirus rules was dedicated to the possibility of shortening the self-isolation period given the speed of spread of the new Omicron variant. The healthcare system, public activities, and other necessary functions are being burdened, but more about that will be explained to you by Krunoslav Capak,'' said Davor Bozinovic, adding that all decisions on new Croatian coronavirus rules will be officially announced on Monday.

Krunoslav Capak then said: ''Omicron causes a milder clinical picture, especially in vaccinated people, but it has also learned to bypass the system and it spreads more quickly than others variants. It's important to reduce isolation and quarantine periods, as its incubation period lasts slightly shorter than those of previous variants, the disease itself is shorter and the person is less contagious. That's why we're considering shortening the quarantine period. An ECDC document was released yesterday recommending that this possibility be considered.

This will be regulated by Croatian Institute of Public Health recommendations which will be adopted soon, but we're considering reducing the quarantine period for all those who are vaccinated down to seven days, as well as shortening the isolation period for patients with only mild or moderate clinical pictures down to five days, provided that they don't show any symptoms for 24 hours following their exit from self-isolation and as long as they return a negative result on a rapid antigen test. For other people, the rule remains the same as it was before.

"As for the booster vaccine, things still haven't yet been properly defined. We provide 365 day covid certificates to people after they receive their third dose because there's still no scientific evidence to suggest how long this booster remains effective. Entry into Croatia, but also into other EU member states using EU digital covid certificates will be possible only on the basis of these new rules, which will be made valid from the 1st of February. We aren't just changing the part for their use within Croatia. If you travel to or from Croatia, then these new rules apply to you,'' added Bozinovic.

Asked whether complete abolition of covid certificates is being considered at all, Bozinovic said: "Their main purpose of them is to slow down the spread of the disease. It is almost impossible to stop this variant from spreading, but with these Croatian covid rules, wearing masks, which we're now emphasising, we can slow it down, and that is the most important thing. The abolition of covid certificates in the EU is not something on the table,'' he said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatia Near Top in EU Security-Wise, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday Croatia was near the top in the EU in terms of security, and announced the procurement of new police vehicles and equipment.

That would not have been possible had we not embarked on a comprehensive procurement of everything the police need," he said at a ceremony at the Police Academy at which 28 traffic police vans worth HRK 13 million were handed over.

Božinović announced the procurement of motorcycles and interceptor vehicles worth HRK 40 million, saying that it was an investment in comprehensive security so that Croatia could stay near the top in the EU in terms of security of its own citizens and foreign tourists.

"Besides all the equipment, we put the most trust in Croatian police officers who are on the street, in their offices, round the clock, and who at this moment, when temperatures are well below zero, are on Croatian roads and borders. All of that is a complex job coordinated by the General Police Directorate," he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Security Issues Shouldn't Be Discussed Publicly, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday that messages on security issues are not disseminated at news conferences, after he was asked by the press about speculations that President Zoran Milanović's security is at risk following his statements on the situation in Ukraine.

"The basic principle is that security issues should not be discussed publicly. As far as our services are concerned and that refers to security and intelligence services and the Interior Ministry, they do their job 24 hours a day and I am certain that they are monitoring everything that is relevant to the security of Croatian citizens, including protected persons," said Božinović.

Božinović added that security services cooperate with other services and underscored that a press conference is not the place to send messages of that kind.

"Not any serious person, not any service in any country, talks about that in public space," said Božinović.

After President Milanović's statement that Croatia would not interfere in the Ukraine crisis, that it would not deploy its troops there and that NATO has nothing to do in Ukraine, he was denounced as pro-Russian collaborator on Ukraine's online blacklist.

Responding to reporters, Božinović said that the motion for a no-confidence vote in Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Darko Horvat would end just like all of the opposition's previous initiatives.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

COVID-19 Response Team Head Says Cannot Rule Out Greater Presence of Omicron

ZAGREB, 30 Dec 2021 - Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 response team, said on Thursday that considering a rising number of new infections in the last two days, one could not rule out that there were more cases of the Omicron variant than the 24 cases confirmed by sequencing so far.

Speaking to reporters after a government session, Božinović said that some link the sudden rise in new infections to the Christmas holidays while some rule that connection out.

"We cannot prove it. If the rising numbers are not related to Christmas, they are related to Omicron," he said.

Speaking of New Year Eve's celebrations, the minister said that in force was a decision on longer working hours for hospitality establishments, allowing them to work until 2 am in the night between 31 December and 1 January.

Inspectors will be visiting cafes but considering their insufficient number, not all such establishments will be covered, Božinović said, noting that he believed people would not go to places where they believe their health would be at risk.

Sinj mayor's invitation irresponsible, risky

Considering that the coastal region of Dalmatia has the highest number of infections in the country, Božinović said that local public health institutes were monitoring the situation and would decide on a possible tightening of restrictions.

As for the invitation by Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj of the Bridge party to all to attend "a free" New Year's party in Sinj in the Dalmatian hinterland, Božinović said the invitation was irresponsible and risky.

"We cannot support such calls, in Istria, all public gatherings have been canceled, and some counties have organized New Year's Eve parties but with strict checks. That is a responsible approach," he said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Croatia's Interior Ministry Procures Earthquake Simulator

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - The Croatian ministry of the interior has commissioned an earthquake simulator that can simulate the ground motion of earthquakes up to intensity 9 on the Mercalli scale, the Večernji List daily reported on Monday.

The purpose of that container, worth HRK 3.3 million (€440,000) without Value Added Tax, is to enable participants in exercises that take place in such containers to experience various sorts of tremors.

The interior of the container is furnished with movable objects which can be found in an ordinary living room, and sound effects typical for earthquakes will also be simulated during exercises.

The objects in the container are non-breakable so that participants in earthquake simulation exercises cannot be injured.

The procurement of the earthquake simulation room is part of the ministry's project aimed at efforts to reduce the risks of natural disasters, the daily newspaper reported.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Davor Bozinovic Talks Coronavirus Numbers, Omicron, Mass, NYE

December the 19th, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has spoken out about plans regarding the unfolding epidemiological situation which is being heavily influenced across Europe by the new Omicron variant of concern (VOC), touching on NYE celebrations, masses at Christmas and so on.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the ceremony marking the final completion of the demining of Zadar County, a certificate of complete exclusion from the mine suspected area of ​​the county was formally handed over, writes

The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic, Zadar County Prefect Bozidar Longin and Director of the Civil Protection Directorate Damir Trut, who held a presentation entitled: "Solving the mine problem of Zadar County."

"Strength, will, skill and courage," Longin said, adding that eight deminers had tragically died during the demining process.

“We'll remember all those who worked on demining, on a huge task and a job that was done successfully. "Today, it was a pleasure to submit a certificate on the mine-cleared area,'' Davor Bozinovic said. "This is the moment when we remember all the victims," ​​said Bozinovic, adding that the last person killed was in 2016, and a child also died in 2014.

"We hope to clean everything up by 2026," the minister said, concluding that seven to eight counties remain with mine issues which need to be resolved. "There are a few mines left in Split-Dalmatia, Sibenik-Knin, mostly in forest and mountainous areas, as well as where battles were fought," he said, recalling a situation where police rescued migrants from mine danger not so long ago.

Davor Bozinovic handed over the symbolic "last mine" to the mayor of Pakostane, Milivoje Kurtov, because the last demining work was carried out in that area.

Turning to coronavirus and anti-epidemic measures... 

As for the New Year, Davor Bozinovic said that at this moment in time they are primarily focused on monitoring the unfolding situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"There's been exponential growth, which is attributed to the new Omicron variant. The Delta variant also spread much more rapidly than the previous strain, and Omicron is now spreading much more quickly than Delta did. We have a mix of these two variants of the virus and we have to take the appropriate precations as a result of it,'' Davor Bozinovic stated, citing the issues other European countries such as the United Kingdom are currently facing.

He pointed out that in Dalmatia there is a growth of newly infected across all four counties. "We're asking people to please stay outdoors as much as possible. Enclosed spaces are a big danger. We've had several cases across Europe where Omicron has easily infected people indoors,'' the minister warned.

“South Africa has a much younger population and it’s summer there. We know that then the virus spreads less. We're now entering the winter period, more and more people will be spending a lot of time indoors and it's extremely important that everyone takes care of themselves and doesn't underestimate the situation at hand,'' he warned.

He said that new anti-epidemic measures have now been adopted and given the situation across Europe, and at the minute they cannot make concessions. "If the numbers don't keep on increasing and if the trend of a slight decline continues - then we can talk. All I can say now is please be irresponsible because nobody knows what will happen in the next few days,'' he said, pointing out that no one, not even experts, can say for sure what will happen.

"The fact is that we have a certain number of cases and judging by everything we've learned so far, it's more realistic to expect that there are more cases than less," Davor Bozinovic said about the new Omicron variant. "We need to wait and see if these big European numbers lead to more hospitalisations," the minister said.

He said that the best suggestion is for the New Year to be celebrated outdoors in as much as is possible and that those who are religious watch the mass when it is broadcast on television.

"It's safer for everyone," Davor Bozinovic concluded.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Stricter Holiday Measures in Croatia? Interior Minister Davor Božinović Weighs In

December 10, 2021 - Will there be stricter holiday measures in Croatia? Interior Minister Davor Božinović weighs in on what we can expect this winter. 

Interior Minister Davor Božinović revealed on Thursday that Croatia was not considering new Christmas and New Year measures, saying that the goal was to keep Croatia open.

"We are not considering new measures for Christmas and New Year; the fact is that our numbers have been falling for a couple of weeks now," Božinović told RTL as reported by Slobodna Dalmacija.

"With the anti-epidemic measures that have been adopted and are being implemented, our goal is to keep Croatia open, unlike the vast majority of EU members," the minister added.

Referring to the position of President Zoran Milanovic when it comes to Headquarters' measures and Covid-certificates checks in his Pantovcak office, Božinović said that the fact was that everyone in the presidential office was vaccinated and that President Milanović himself showed his position on vaccination by being vaccinated with three doses. 

"He sent a message that he understands that this is a serious health threat and that people need to be protected, and there is no better protection than vaccines. Moreover, because it is completely clear from all analyzes and statistics, in countries where more people are vaccinated, fewer people die," said Božinović.

He pointed out that he thought it would be suitable for all those who were vaccinated "who can and have an impact on at least part of the Croatian public space, to explain the reasons why they were vaccinated and to recommend it to others."

Referring to MOST's collection of signatures for a referendum that would regulate the work of the National Headquarters and abolish Covid-certificates, Božinović said he thought the issue was already legally communicated and that the government was doing what was best for Croatian citizens to protect health and slow the spread of the epidemic.

Asked by reporters whether and when the third vaccine dose would mean an unlimited duration of Covid certificates, Božinović warned that the question remained open as long as there was no relevant evidence of the booster dose protection.

“There is a difference between 'unlimited' and, at the moment, 'no limit’, which is logical, because at the moment there are no analyzes that could relevantly prove how long booster dose protection lasts,” he said.

"It is known that it increases the body's immunity 25 times, but no one knows how fast it will decrease at the moment, and no one can determine a date or time when a booster dose certificate will be valid, so it's an open story," Božinović added.

Minister Božinović is in Brussels, where he participated in meeting the interior ministers of the member states. Asked by reporters how he commented on the actions of police officers filmed beating migrants, he said he could not comment on ongoing disciplinary proceedings. When asked whether Croatia would pay compensation or appeal the decision in the case of the dead Medina girl, the minister said that lawyers are already working on it. External legal experts will be hired to see all the circumstances of the tragedy.

For more on COVID-19, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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