Thursday, 17 February 2022

Split Deputy Mayor Vows Not To Be "Embarrassment" For City Authorities Anymore

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Split Deputy Mayor Bojan Ivošević, who threatened an editor of the Slobodna Dalmacija daily, Nikolina Lulić, saying he would "drink her blood" and was lambasted by the public, on Thursday promised that he would not be an "embarrassment" for the city authorities anymore.

"I am aware that I am no longer an activist but deputy mayor and something like that will never be repeated again and I will not embarrass our town," Ivošević said.

He apologized to Mayor Ivica Puljak (Centar), city councillors in the ruling majority for being connected to some of his wrong decisions.

This was his first public statement since the contentious episode with the reporter. He had promised not to address the public for "a month" but that today he considered it was only fair and necessary to make this statement, as he had been out of the country for a few days.

Apologies to Ms. Lulić and anyone who felt offended

"I apologize to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and anyone else who may have felt insulted by my words and my way of communication. I have learned my lesson and will change some things in my life," he said.

He told reporters that they have the right to do their job and that he will try and make information more accessible to them.

"I am still in my old 'mode' as an activist when communication was more informal but my current position as deputy mayor does not allow that anymore," he added.

I would ask someone who acted like me to step down

Asked if he would insist on resignation in the event that someone else had acted the way he did, Ivošević said that he would first ask for an apology and would probably call for their resignation if he were a part of the Opposition.

"I have already apologized to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and apologized again. I can apologize as many times as required," he added.

He did not wish to comment on a statement by the mayor's close associate Srđan Marinić that Slobodna Dalmacija tried to racketeer city authorities.

"I have learned that as deputy mayor I should not comment on the work of the media in any sense. If I wish to comment I cannot say anything in the capacity of deputy mayor. What I can say is that on two occasions we rejected to enter into business cooperation that was valued at HRK 460,000. I've learned my lesson I cannot comment on the work of media houses," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Deputy Mayor Says Solution to High Corporate Gas Bills to Be Sought with State

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec on Thursday evening commented on Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić's accusing the City of Zagreb and Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of being responsible for markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, noting that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Ćorić said earlier in the day that Tomašević and his team were responsible for the markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, and not HDZ personnel, because they failed to procure it at better prices.

Tomašević said the former director of the City Gasworks' Supply division, Igor Pirija, who ran the division until last October, was responsible and that he was HDZ personnel, claiming that he did not buy gas at cheaper prices on time and that Zagreb businesses were in trouble because of him.

"The former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division made a number of bad business decisions that resulted in losses for that company and higher bills for corporate users. In the spring (of 2021) it signed contracts under which already then it sold gas at prices that were below market prices while buying it at variable prices. It created a huge risk and we see the consequences now," the deputy mayor said.

She put this in the context of the global energy crisis, saying that not only Zagreb but other local government units as well were having problems with gas prices and that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Talks are underway and the public will be informed of the results, she said.

Dolenec also noted that one should establish if the unfavourable contracts on gas prices were only bad business moves by the former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division or were harmful contracts for which one should be held criminally liable.

She also said that the city would cover the difference in the gas bill of the soup kitchen in Zagreb's Sveti Duh neighbourhood, which from the earlier monthly amount of HRK 6,000 has risen to 25,000.

"The St Anthony of Padua soup kitchen... provides around 400 meals a day. The city has financed soup kitchens since 2004, and in the budget for this year HRK 700,000 has been earmarked for soup kitchens," Dolenec said, noting that the city would make sure the operation of the soup kitchen was not jeopardised.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

New Members of Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre Steering Board Appointed

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - Zagreb Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec told a news conference on Tuesday that the city had relieved of their duties former members of the Steering Board of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre, and appointed three new members, including new Board chair Gordana Keresteš.

Dolenec said that Keresteš was a full-time professor at the Department for Developmental Psychology of the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and that the other two new members of the Board were Andrea Jambrošić Sakoman, a psychiatrist from the Vrapče Psychiatric Hospital, and Lora Vidović, former Ombudswoman and head of the UNICEF Office Croatia.

"The new Steering Board, which will meet shortly, has the task to formally accept the resignation tendered by Centre head Gordana Buljan Flander, appoint the Centre's acting head and call applications for its new head," Dolenec said.

Asked if he would promptly replace the Centre's Steering Board if the editor in chief of the H-alter web portal, which was banned by a court injunction from reporting about the Centre, were not a member of the We Can! platform, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! platform said that he would.

"Of course I would, this is about the event itself, the court decision and the very act of seeking a court injunction to ban media from reporting about the Centre's work and its director in the future. It has been condemned by all political actors in this country, from those in power to those in the opposition," Tomašević said.

He added that it was an act of common sense to condemn the court injunction by replacing the Centre's Steering Board, thus sending the message to all city-run institutions and companies and offices that they were liable to public criticism and had to answer to it with arguments.

The former head of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre, Gordana Buljan Flander, resigned last Thursday following negative reactions to her demand for a court injunction to stop the H-alter website writing about her and the Centre.

The injunction by Zagreb Municipal Court judge Andrija Krivak came after the nonprofit website in the past few weeks ran a series of articles by reporter Jelena Jindra problematising the work of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre and its head.

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

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Zagreb Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec: Applications For Stay-at-Home Parent Grants to be Suspended in September

ZAGREB, 17 Aug, 2021 - Zagreb Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec said on Tuesday that after a public consultation, the city would not change the proposed decision to suspend applications for grants for stay-at-home parents from 6 September until an evaluation of the scheme.

"We are aware that it is difficult to set a deadline, there isn't necessarily a happy solution. It's important to stop applications from new beneficiaries until the scheme undergoes a comprehensive evaluation," Dolenec told a press conference.

She said that 48 proposals had been submitted in the public consultation and some of them propose that the deadline be extended.

"An extension of up to a year, until 2024, has even been requested," said Dolenec, adding that the City of Zagreb would propose to the Assembly that a temporary moratorium be introduced as of 6 September.

The association 3Plus Families, which brings together families with three or more children recently called for extending the deadline for applying for monthly grants for stay-at-home parents until 31 May 2022, urging the City of Zagreb not to give up on that demographic measure until it is introduced nationwide.

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

Friday, 19 March 2021

Jelena Pavičić Vukičević Announces Running for Zagreb Mayor

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - Jelena Pavičić Vukičević on Thursday accepted the nomination by the Bandić Milan 365 - Labour and Solidarity party to run for Zagreb mayor at the local election in May.

After a meeting of the party's presidency, Pavičić Vukičević said that she would lead the party to victory.

After Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić's death, his deputy and long time associate Pavičić Vukičević stepped in as acting mayor until the election.

Jelena Pavičić Vukičević was Bandić's associate from the very start of his career and she herself has had many years of experience in the city's administration.

When Banidć was elected for his first term as mayor in 2000, she was the secretary of the Zagreb branch of the Social Democratic Party and a councillor in the city assembly. Three years later she was elected to parliament and in 2008 she was appointed as the head of the City office for education, culture and sports. From 2009 to 2013 she was appointed as Bandic's deputy mayor. In the 2017 local election, she was directly elected as deputy mayor of Zagreb.

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

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Serb Minority Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković: "Serbs in Vukovar Under-Represented in Town Administration"

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - The Serbs in Vukovar are under-represented in town administration, the deputy mayor from the Serb minority, Srđan Milaković, told a press conference in Town Hall on Thursday.

The number of Serbs working in town administration should reflect their number in the town, but that is not the case, Milaković said, citing the last census showing that 34.87 percent of the town's residents identified themselves as Serbs.

In 2014, 19 of 60 town administration employees were Serbs, while in 2017, at the end of the first term of mayor Ivan Penava, 16 of 70 employees were Serbs, Milaković said.

At the end of January this year, 80 people were employed in town administration, including 16 Serbs, which is slightly over 12 percent, the deputy mayor said.

He added that it is particularly concerning that none of the heads of town departments are Serbs. They are not in executive positions in the companies majority owned by the town or in the positions of school principals, he noted.

"The law is clear. It guarantees the Serb residents proportionate representation, but we can see that it is just a dead letter in practice," Milaković said. He added that his role as deputy mayor from the Serb minority was reduced to a pro-forma position.

"Like any other position guaranteed to Serbs, mine too is devoid of any substantive responsibility. This position only gives me room to speak in public, nothing more. I am totally invisible and am not included in any of the events covered by the protocol, except when a wreath needs to be laid somewhere," Milaković said.