Friday, 23 July 2021

HDZ, Labour and Solidarity Party and SDP Receive Largest Donations in H1 2021

ZAGREB, 23 July 2021 - In the first half of 2021, the three political parties with the largest donations are the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which received HRK 1.9 million, the Labour and Solidarity Party of the late Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić with 1.7 million, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with 1.1. million.

According to the data provided by the State Electoral Commission (DIP) on its website, there were 250 donors who financially supported the ruling HDZ in the first half of 2021.

In terms of the amount of donations, the Križevci-based construction company Radnik was the top donor for the HDZ with HRK 150,000 donated. The Šibenik-based Impol-TLM contributed HRK 128,500 and the Širjan company, specialised in growing cereals, provided HRK 70,000.

The top two donors of the Labour and Solidarity Party were the Ivanić Grad-based construction company RAUD and the Gornji Vugrovec-based Agrina PAD specialised in landscaping services.

The top donors of the SDP party were Crodux Plin and the Crodix Derivati dva, each contributing HRK 200,000 (the maximum amount allowable as a donation to a company).

The Zagreb Is Ours party received HRK 70,000 in donations, and its member Urša Raukar-Gamulin, who has recently attracted the media limelight after her declaration of assets showed her to be one of the richest MPs, and her husband donated HRK 5,000 each.

The We Can party received HRK 52,000 in donations and one of the donors, Rajko Bajakić, donated HRK 5,000 three times, or 15,000 in total. Bajakić has attracted the attention of the media after he was appointed by the new Mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, as a member of the supervisory  board of the Zagrebački Holding multi-utility conglomerate.

(€1 = HRK 7.522815)

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Saturday, 27 March 2021

Inspiring Croatian Diaspora Story: Dusica Hoban  – Making Individual Donations to Croatia from UK

March 27, 2021 – In an inspiring Croatian diaspora story, meet Dusica Hoban, a woman who has been helping Croatia with her selfless donations.

In the last 6 years, I was part of the team that organized — Meeting G2 — a business conference for Croatian Diaspora. It was an exciting project that allowed me to meet a lot of Croats from the diaspora and to discuss their ideas, wishes, but also problems and obstacles that they are facing when coming to Croatia and trying to do business here. Through the Crowdfunding campaign that I did for Visnjan Observatory, I also met Dusica Hoban, who dedicated a lot of her time and financial resources to helping people in Croatia. Since I found her motivation and results rare in Croatia and the Croatian diaspora, I proposed doing a short interview. Hopefully, her enthusiasm will inspire others to similar actions or to connect with her and maybe in the future to create some humanitarian trust.

1. For the beginning, share with us a bit about your background story? How long are you living in the UK, and what are you doing right now?

I was born in Pazin, and from 1966 I lived and studied in Sweden. From 1972 I lived studied and worked in the U.K. For many years I worked in the NHS in finance and business management. Following several personal tragedies in 2004/5, I had to leave that work and rethink how to survive financially to enable me to continue to support myself and my two children, to finish the private education system and universities. That is when I took steps to start investing and have continued to do so to this day.

2. How did you come to the idea to help Croatian people, institutions, or the state in general?

My charitable effort really started with a Moldovan boy Andre, around 2006/7. This boy had a hole in his skull when an electrical cable fell on him; at that point, he had not been outside for three years to prevent infections. The local doctors only managed to patch up his skull with some skin, but what he actually needed was a metal plate and many operations performed in the U.K. over a period of two years.

Andre successfully recovered and learned fluent English at a private school in Surrey, which was not far from the hospital where he was being treated and staying with a compassionate English family.

As I was being updated on Andres's progress, it made me realize how important it is what we individually do for others…in some cases literally saving their life.

The reason I have decided to focus primarily on helping in Croatia is following a talk at the Croatian Embassy in London. The talk was by EBRD Bank, about the integration of Eastern European countries into the EU. I was shocked to hear that Croatia was the country they were concerned about the most, even falling behind Bulgaria and Romania. At the end of the talk, I challenged the speaker to explain Croatia, and his short answer was - Croatia lacks quality people…This came as a huge shock to me!

3. What types of projects are you aiming at?

I have been aiming and concentrating mainly on a humanitarian concept, although I have been known to dip into culture and education.

4. You participated in Visnjan Crowdfunding, did you had other successful ideas or projects that you backed up or initiated?

This is the list of projects that I supported in the last few years:

2017 — Pazin School (books, English club)

2017 — Maggie’s, Charring Cross Hospital (Cancer support)

2018 — Senoa House, Zagreb (Repairs)

2018 — Pazin Hospital (Palliative Care)

2019 — Podravsko Sunce (Montessori Materials)

2019 — Pazin Hospital (Ultrasound)

2020 — Adra, Zagreb (Earthquake first aid)

2020 — Nismo Same, Zagreb (Cancer support)

2020 — Zvjezdarnica, Visnjan (Education)

5. What is your favorite so far?

I think my favorite so far has to be the ultrasound equipment for Pazin hospital. When I was shown around by the hospital manager, and I realized that they only had some old broken X-ray mc. They were working very hard to obtain the palliative care status so that the chronically sick patients didn’t have to pay to stay and be cared for in their last few weeks in this world. To obtain that status and for the government to fund this service, they had to have a European standard; however, on my visit, they were still missing adequate beds, shower rooms, etc. I decided to buy them two beds and two televisions immediately. I had a subsequent meeting with the director of Istarski Domovi Zdravlja and promised to pay a substantial sum towards a new ultrasound, providing he could explore how to fund the rest. It all took about 20 months to materialize, which included a fantastic concert and a play to raise the money and not forget that some Croatian people sent money from Canada and Sweden. They decided to invest in superior ultrasound equipment to develop further clinics at the center, and the vulnerable didn’t have to travel to Pula/Rijeka.

6. You had a certain number of interactions with „locals" in Croatia, representatives of the different government or state bodies and institutions. What is your experience with them?

I am sorry to have to say that initially, I didn't find the people I was trying to obtain information from very helpful. In the beginning, I didn’t know where to start, so I wrote emails to the heads of towns, hoping that they would guide me to the right departments, however at times, I sent three messages and did not get a reply. This was very disappointing for me, considering I was looking to help, and they couldn’t even be bothered to reply to my messages. Also, one institution didn’t even acknowledge the receipt of the donation, I had to keep ringing them, and the head has not to this day personally contacted me to acknowledge anything, just got a member of her staff to write to me, at which point in quite a rude, arrogant manor.

Also, I tried to contact an ex-Ambassador, when I was planning to sponsor a top student to study in the U.K. He never replied to my message, following that I sent a message to his wife, just in case he didn’t receive my message, she also did not reply. All I needed was a contact at the university…

Also, I feel that people are not used to someone giving something with no expectation in return. Often they don’t want to get involved because that would mean more work for them, and they choose to do the minimum and choose not to be helpful, even if it means that someone else will lose out. I find that very sad.

7. How are you connected with other members of the Croatian diaspora, and do you have any plans?

With regret, I am not connected to the diaspora. I have tried but have not been very successful. The few I have met in London have not been in any way inspirational, not even vaguely interested in what I am trying to do. I was told that they are only interested in culture…

8. From whom did you get the most support in Croatia so far?

I would love to be able to say that it was a Croatian person who was the most helpful and supportive in my charitable endeavor. Still, it is with pride that I can tell that it is Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish, who has taken the trouble to meet up with me on several occasions and Andreja Maretic. Without them, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do. Sometimes it just needs a kind word from people I respect to give me strength and belief to continue, despite the negative people one meets on the route.

9. What are your plans for donations?

Hopefully, if good health serves me well, I intend to continue for the rest of my life.

Ideally, it would have been brilliant if I had met someone with my outlook and passion and form a trust, which would have enabled me to do even more. But as it is now, if I get involved with one or two projects per year, I am happy. Otherwise, it would take up all my time, and I feel having worked exceptionally hard in my youth, I intend to enjoy some of my free time before I get too old.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Bosnian Companies Donate Building Material To Banovina

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Bosnian Federation Chamber of Commerce, acting in cooperation with the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), has organised the delivery of eight trucks full of building material donated by Bosnian enterprises for earthquake victims in the Banovina region of central Croatia, the HGK said on Wednesday.

The donation includes cement, bricks, concrete blocks and roof tiles, which will be distributed to Sisak, Petrinja, Glina and Hrvatska Kostajnica.

The Director of the Federation Chamber of Commerce, Marko Šantić, said that they had collaborated with the HGK on many projects.

"We look upon the HGK and Croatia as an EU member as our older brothers who are helping Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome its economic problems and join the European Union. This was an opportunity for us to reciprocate," Šantić said, thanking all Bosnian companies that took part in the donation. 

Speaking on behalf of the four towns, the Mayor of Petrinja, Darinko Dumbović, thanked the Bosnian companies for the donation.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Slovenia Donates Nine Trucks Full of Timber to Earthquake-Devastated Petrinja

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Slovenian association of wood processing companies, Sloles, has donated a large amount of timber for the reconstruction of roofs in the earthquake-devastated central Croatian town of Petrinja, and nine trucks set out for the Banovina region on Wednesday carrying 300 cubic metres of timber.

Croatia's Ambassador to Slovenia, Boris Grgić, Slovenian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jože Podgoršek and officials from Sloles attended the handover of this shipment at Novo Mesto.

Ambassador Grgić stressed the importance of the aid from Slovenia, which was among the first countries to respond after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Banovina on 29 December, leaving seven people killed and extensive property damage. He said that the aid showed the importance of cooperation between the two countries and good neighbourly relations.

Minister Podgoršek said that this time too it turned out that neighbours were the first to come to aid and that by doing so Slovenians proved to be good neighbours, always ready to help.

Immediately after the disaster, the government of Prime Minister Janez Janša showed solidarity and sent housing containers, power generators, heaters and heated tents, and the Slovenian Red Cross initially donated €10,000.

Several times over the last two months, with the assistance of the Slovenian army and private hauliers, a number of mobile homes and housing containers have been brought to the earthquake-affected region, as well as many private donations of humanitarian aid, including those raised by Croats living in Slovenia. 

Friday, 26 February 2021

Red Cross Pays 80% of Earthquake Relief Donations to Victims

ZAGREB, 26 February, 2021 - The Red Cross Croatia has so far paid 80% of the HRK 51 million raised as earthquake relief to 31,835 households whose properties were damaged.

HCK executive president Robert Markt told a news conference in Petrinja on Friday that the Red Cross had started distributing aid to the owners of damaged properties in Sisak-Moslavina, Karlovac and Zagreb counties.

Over the past three weeks, 34,580 claims for financial aid have been submitted and another 354 are being checked for compliance with the set requirements, he said.

Single-person households to receive HRK 900, others HRK 1,900

Markt went on to say that 10,039 claims for aid had been submitted by single-person households, which would each receive HRK 900 (€119), while 21,796 had been submitted by households with more than one member, and they would each be given HRK 1,900 (€251).

"We had expected that we would be able to help every household more significantly, but the unexpectedly large number of claims has determined the final value of grants," said Markt.

He added that 80% of the funds raised had already been paid into the earthquake victims' bank accounts and that Croatian Post would deliver the remaining ones to earthquake victims in the next few days.

"That way we have done everything we have announced and promised," he said.

He noted that the amount of grants was not conditional on the degree of property damage, announcing that the funds to be collected subsequently would be distributed in line with the same model or would be donated for the renovation of kindergartens, depending on the amount raised.

Markt thanked all citizens and companies in the country and abroad for helping the Red Cross raise more than HRK 51 million.

Of that amount, 1.7 million was donated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and national Red Cross organisations.

Markt stressed that the Red Cross toll-free phone line would be open until March 28 and that more donations were expected.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Government Says All of Earthquake Relief Donations to be Spent on Reconstruction, Housing

ZAGREB, 25 February, 2021 - All of the HRK 101.5 million collected in donations for earthquake relief will be spent on housing reconstruction - the demolition of damaged houses and construction of new ones - in the earthquake-struck areas, the government said on Thursday.

The government adopted a decision on the distribution of donations to the state budget for earthquake relief, allocating that money to a special account of the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković denied media reports that only 40% of the donations would be used to rebuild quake-damaged houses and that the rest would be allocated to four ministries.

"I wish to deny media reports that appeared today. The distribution of the funds will be completely different from what has been reported," said Plenković, adding that the donations collected would be "spent on reconstruction in the earthquake-struck areas."

"There must be no unclarities about that," said Plenković.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said that by 24 February a total of HRK 101.5 million had been collected in donations and that the money would be allocated to the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing. It will be used to remove damaged houses and build new ones as well as perform other work within the remit of that office, he said.

Any donations that are received subsequently will also be allocated on a monthly basis to the central reconstruction office, he said, adding that the office is obliged to report to the government each month as to what the money has been spent on as well as publish this information on its web site.

"We have been informing the public in the most transparent way of donations received and will continue to do so," said Marić.

He said that an assessment of the damage caused by the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County is being made and that it was likely to exceed by far that for the Zagreb earthquake.

The main source of financing for the reconstruction process will be the state budget, that is, taxpayers' money, and there is also money from the EU Solidarity Fund and international financial institutions, he said.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Red Cross: HRK 48.6 Million Raised for Earthquake Victims So Far

ZAGREB, 20 February, 2021 - Red Cross Croatia executive president Robert Markt said on Friday that the Red Cross had so far raised HRK 48.6 million (close to €6.4 million) for victims of the 29 December earthquake and that one-off allowances would be paid to all citizens whose properties were damaged. 

The citizens whose damaged properties are located in Sisak-Moslavina, Zagreb and Karlovac counties were able to submit their applications for aid by February 19. So far, 19,000 applications have been received.

In an interview with Nova TV, Markt said the Red Cross would wait for applications that had been sent by post to process them as well.

He explained that the two main criteria for aid were that the applicant had permanent or temporary residence in the earthquake-hit area on 29 December and that they had proof of the damage caused to their property.

Markt could not say how much the one-off allowance would amount to, noting that it would depend on the number of applicants. He added, however, that it would be different for single-person households and families.

Markt also said that the campaign to raise money for the earthquake victims would last until the end of March.

He stressed that donations continued arriving to the earthquake-hit area.

"We are glad that Croatian and international companies keep contacting us with offers and donations," he said.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Survey: Post-Quake Assistance in Banija Fair, Some Projects With Ethnic Undertones

ZAGREB, 20 February, 2021 - Humanitarian assistance to the area hit by the 29 December earthquake has been provided equitably but some aspects of public policies for the area have had ethnic undertones, shows a short survey conducted by Hina.

Over the past 30 years the region of Banija has experienced a number of waves of destruction and suffering, with some families now having to rebuild their homes for the third time. One of the accompanying phenomena have been strong ethnic divisions in the area.

Five stakeholders spoke to Hina about the fairness of humanitarian assistance in such circumstances, while the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, the Croatian Catholic University and Caritas Croatia did not send their answers.

Red Cross Croatia spokeswoman Kristina Zorić said that the Red Cross had at no moment felt any divisions in the region.

We never made any distinctions when distributing humanitarian aid and we were never approached in that sense, she said.

The Red Cross distributed and continues to distribute aid to citizens in need, regardless of the degree of damage to their properties, Zorić said.

No ethnic bias in distribution of aid

Aneta Vladimirov of the Serb National Council (SNV) pointed to the decades-long state of neglect of Banija and its status of transition loser.

Also visible in this region, where the beauty of nature is in strong contrast to poverty, is the legacy of the 1991-95 war, difficult for all residents regardless of their ethnic background, she said.

Vladimirov noted that apart from isolated incidents, no ethnic bias could be noticed in efforts to remove the consequences of the earthquake and help the victims.

A sociologist from the Zagreb Faculty of Law, Siniša Zrinščak, said that there were no studies on possible ethnic bias in the provision of assistance and there was too little information on that in the public sphere.

"We have seen people saying that they have received aid. We have also heard Caritas say that aid has been distributed evenly to everyone, and there is too little information in the media to make a different conclusion."

Earthquake brought people together

Hrvoje Sekulić, who coordinated a volunteer unit in Petrinja, said that up to 300 people, mostly volunteers, had provided help to earthquake victims through that unit.

The earthquake did not reflect any divisions, it elicited unity. Volunteers and war veterans were glad to provide help to everyone, he said, adding that local residents were grateful for the help.

"Maybe initially it was difficult to reach all hamlets in the area, but (Red Cross executive president Robert) Markt told me they had done their best to reach everyone. I cannot speak about state services. Being part of a large system, it took some time for them to start functioning but I believe they, too, have done a good job," Sekulić said.

Serb villages in state of neglect

Vladimirov pointed to the success of the SNV's campaign "Banija is our house" and its having underlined the importance of coordination between state agencies and nongovernmental organisations.

She commended as impressive the solidarity of Croatian citizens, as well as people from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other non-EU countries.

Glina Deputy Mayor Branka Bakšić Mitić said earthquake assistance was provided evenly, and she estimated that post-war reconstruction, too, was evenly accessible to everyone who applied for it.

However, of the 72 families who still do not have housing containers, 50 are Serb families, and there are also Roma and a few Croat families, she said, warning that housing containers were not an adequate type of accommodation, especially in the current winter conditions.

Asked to comment on the assessment that the state the region was in was due to both social and ethnic factors, Bakšić Mitić said: "You can go through Croat and Serb villages and see for yourself. Serb villages lack public lighting, roads are in a poor state, waste is not being collected, not to mention water supply and sewage infrastructure. Serbs were the only ones in the area of Glina without electricity. Those who returned to their villages (after the war) have left in the meantime."

Vladimirov agrees that the origin of problems in Banija is definitely to some extent attributable to the fact that the implementation of basic infrastructure projects in villages inhabited by ethnic Serbs has been slow.

Development instead of empty words

Sociologist Zrinščak was critical about some of public references to the region's suffering in the war.

"What is the purpose of those references if you do not see how it contributes to help that area, if there are no changes in development policies? I have not seen any changes in the region's level of development in the past 30 years," he concluded.

Vladimirov believes that the success of the SNV's humanitarian campaign is also owing to the cooperation between the two deputy prime ministers heading the task force dealing with the earthquake aftermath (Boris Milošević and Tomo Medved) even though, she says, the state must learn from the example of Banija with regard to solidarity as a policy and investment in the system of civil protection.

"We did not have that until now," she says, hopeful that changes will happen in that regard.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

New Zealand Croats Collecting Donations for Quake Victims in Croatia

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - The Croatian community in New Zealand has joined in aid raising campaigns for the Croatian areas affected by the 29 December devastating earthquake.

Thus, the Croatian Cultural Society in Auckland has opened a bank account for pecuniary donations for families in Petrinja, Glina and Sisak.

The Croatian Catholic Mission in Auckland already paid 5,000 dollars to a family in the village of Sibić.

The Croatian Cultural Society president Goran Katich said that the society would collect the donations throughout this year and would also organise humanitarian concerts and other events to raise relief for the quake victims.

According to the data provided by the the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Ministry and Trade, there are more than 100,000 Croats and their descendants in that country.

"Croatian immigrants began arriving in New Zealand from the 1850s and today there are more than 100,000 New Zealanders of Croatian heritage. There are also more than 2,500 Croatian nationals living here," the ministry said on its website.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Croats in Vojvodina Raise Over €50,000 in Aid for Earthquake Victims in Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 January, 2021 - The Catholic churches in the Subotica diocese in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina have raised about €40,000 in aid for earthquake-devastated areas of central Croatia, and another €11,000 has been raised through the Croatian National Council.

The Bishop of Subotica, Slavko Večerin, said in his message to the faithful that a sum of €40,108 would be presented to the Sisak Diocesan Caritas. The fund-raising campaign began on 10 January.

The Croatian National Council in Serbia, acting in cooperation with the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), has raised about  €11,000 since 30 December and will continue the fund-raising campaign.

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the Banovina region of central Croatia on 29 December 2020, killing seven people and causing extensive damage to property.

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