Saturday, 9 October 2021

Croatian Companies Seeking New Export Opportunities at Anuga Food Fair

ZAGREB, 9 Oct, 2021 - Eight Croatian companies are showcasing their products at the Anuga food fair which is taking place in the German city of Cologne from 9 to 13 October, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) announced on Saturday, describing the fair as the central gathering point for food companies from throughout the world.

Croatia is represented by food and drink producers Kraš, Dupin, Pekar, Hermes International, Uje, Arabesca, Varžak Med and Prodan Tartufi.

Dragan Kovačević, the HGK vice-president for agriculture and tourism, said that this was the first fair of global significance to be taking place in person since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are glad about our members' interest in fairs despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, as well as the fact that the exhibition space is sold out. The HGK covers half of the costs for its members and we believe that our help will make it easier for them to find opportunities to enter new export markets," Kovačević said.

This year's show has attracted nearly 5,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries. The previous fair, held in 2019, drew 165,000 professional visitors from 200 countries, which confirms its leading position in Europe, the HGK said.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: "Decision to Return Child to Biological Family Was Bad"

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - PM Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday, in a comment on the death of a 2.5-year-old girl caused by domestic violence, that the decision to return the child to its biological family was bad and that those who made it should bear the consequences, noting that social care did not require a separate ministry.

"I don't know why the proposal to separate social care from the 'mega-ministry' is being made," Plenković told reporters in the parliament.

He recalled that in 2013, during the term of the Zoran Milanović government, a case similar to the last one happened in Slavonski Brod, and at the time there was a separate ministry of social care.

When they lack arguments, people make banal, nonsensical statements, Plenković said, adding that Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović was capable of heading the ministry because the ministry had its services, directors, state secretaries and social welfare centres across Croatia.

"In this specific case with a fatal outcome, the assessment and decision to return the little girl to her biological family was a bad one and for that kind of professional mistake responsibility lies with those who make it," he said.

Plenković went on to say that since the case of an incident on Pag Island in 2019, when a father threw his four underage children from the first-storey balcony of his house, a lot had changed in the social care system.

"During the terms of ministers (Nada) Murganić, (Vesna) Bedeković and now Minister Aladrović, we have worked to strengthen the system of social care. We have worked to raise social workers' wages as well as standards of physical and technical security, so now welfare centres have guards," he said.

The government has increased outlays for social care and allowances and it expects the system to function better and to the benefit of children, he said.

Unfortunately, there are problems, there are dysfunctional families, horrible things are done by biological parents but they will all answer for their actions in a legal procedure, Plenković said, adding that he was appalled and extremely saddened by the latest case.

Speaking of illogical provisions in the foster care law, adopted by his government, Plenković said that every legal solution could be improved.

It is important to speed up foster care procedures and that all children who live in environments that are not appropriate and not safe find a safe place to live. We will improve the law. There is always something to improve, he said.

AstraZeneca vaccine

Plenković also talked about a decision the European Medicines Agency is expected to make on the age groups for which the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is acceptable.

He said he would meet today with Health Minister Vili Beroš and the directors of the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Croatian agency for medicinal products to discuss the information they had, and that later today Beroš would participate in a video conference of EU health ministers.

"The most important thing is that the member states' ministers of health have a consolidated position, whatever the EMA's recommendation, and that there are no different practices. Different practices undermine the reputation of a vaccine, whatever its quality, which has happened with AstraZeneca from the start, unfortunately."

Plenković said the confusion about that vaccine had resulted in some people refusing it, which was not pleasant either for the company or anyone involved in vaccination.

He also responded to criticism that he had promised that a majority of the Croatian population would be vaccinated by spring yet had now postponed this until July.

He said AstraZeneca had promised to deliver 120 million doses to the EU in the first quarter but delivered 30 million. Croatia was to have received 1.7 million doses by 31 March and vaccinated more than 800,000 people, he added.

Plenković said 600,000 doses had been delivered and that 2.6 million would be by 30 June, adding that the government was working on having other vaccines available in case of more problems with AstraZeneca.

"Had we ordered 100% from each company and paid for 25 million doses, then all questions would have been - whose money are we spending and why are we buying three or four times as many doses as we need?"

He said an unforeseen thing had happened, not with a no-name company but one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Central bank governor, fighter jets, former JANAF CEO's arrest

Asked if he had known about central bank governor Boris Vujčić's correspondence with representatives of the Knighthead fund concerning the Agrokor conglomerate, Plenković said the question should be put to Vujčić.

Speaking of the procurement of fighter jets, he said consultations were under way and that a decision would be made in time. All offers are valid and we'll take some more time to decide, he added.

Asked to comment on the new arrest of Dragan Kovačević, former CEO of the JANAF oil pipeline operator, Plenković said everything about it should be said by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the State Attorney's Office.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Skoro Announces Interpellation Regarding Club in Slovenska Street in Zagreb

ZAGREB, Nov 11, 2020- Leader of the Homeland Movement, Miroslav Skoro, announced on Wednesday in a video message a new interpellation, this time regarding the club in Slovenska Street in Zagreb.

Skoro posted a video message on Facebook since he has been in isolation since the end of October when he said he was positive for coronavirus.

He commented on the parliament's rejection of the Homeland Movement's interpellation on the government's work regarding the Krs-Padjene wind park, saying that the response was silly.

The Homeland Movement leader also announced a new interpellation regarding events that took place in the club in Slovenska Street, owned by former JANAF oil pipeline operator CEO Dragan Kovacevic, who is a suspect in the JANAF case.

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

President Milanovic Says will Discuss JANAF Case with PM

ZAGREB, Sept 26, 2020  - President Zoran Milanovic said on Saturday in Pregrada that the solution to the JANAF case should be control, responsibility and cooperation in line with the Constitution and that he would meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to discuss the case.

The Prime Minister and his associates have spoken about the new scandal merely at the level of slogans from communist political schools, he said.

"That is not enough. He and I can consider the issue together, we can convene the National Security Council. I have also thought about that, but I am not sure that would bear fruit given the legal composition of the council and the role of some of its members," he added.

Milanovic said that a topic he and PM Andrej Plenkovic could discuss was how investigative bodies were acting. He also said that the leaking of information related to the investigation in the JANAF case constituted not only a violation of the rules under which an investigation was not a public matter but also a violation of basic moral principles.

One must be able to trust the government, Plenkovic cannot run away from responsibility

"One has to be able to trust someone at the top of the chain of command, first of all in the Croatian government. That is the prime minister and he cannot run away from responsibility," Milanovic said.

Asked whether he considered it strange that a man who had been a director for about 15 years, but whose salary had not been that large, owned a private club, Milanovic said that he did not because it was a small space of 30 square meters, and Dragan Kovacevic was not the only owner.

I was there several times, accompanied by a small number of people, he added.

As for his visits to the club during the lockdown, Milanovic said he had met there with the head of the national COVID-19 response team for practical reasons.

"Because that was during the lockdown and because a friend from Dalmatia called me who had a lot of food he would have otherwise thrown away because he had no one to give it to, we met there because it was more practical," he said, adding that this was "such a silly topic."

Asked whether he should have been informed that he was socialising with a man who was under investigation, the President responded with a counterquestion -- who would have informed him about it.

"SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) does not have that kind of information because it does not take part in stealing money from public companies and it cannot have such information. It is one thing to be cordial to someone and that is a question of my responsibility and my judgement, but if I am in a situation to evaluate someone, to appoint them, then I have a different kind of information, but SOA is not connected to that," he added.

Asked how the case should end, Milanovic said that the solution to it was in control, responsibility, and cooperation in line with the Constitution, as well as in the separation of powers because, he added, everything was prescribed in a clear way.

Office: President to meet with PM

President Milanovic's office said in a statement later in the day that Milanovic would discuss the JANAF case and the functioning of state institutions with PM Plenkovic.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Pregrada, Milanovic said that the topic of ambassadors which Plenkovic wanted to discuss with him would be "a topic of secondary importance (at the meeting), while the real topic will be the way this country functions."

"... It is important to discuss how this state functions, to finally see what the prime minister knows," Milanovic said.

"For months his ministers had put themselves in a situation to compromise themselves, quite unnecessarily. Someone should have known about and prevented that. Not to mention damage to JANAF. That is a topic for discussion between the prime minister and myself because we represent the state authorities, he has greater powers than I do and that is why I will adapt to his schedule. Speaking of the principle of separation of powers, there is also the principle of cooperation between state institutions. One has to be able to trust someone... at the top of the chain of command, primarily in the government. That person is the prime minister and he cannot run away from responsibility," said Milanovic.

He noted that the prime minister had told him that they had to meet.

"I do not have the last say here, he does, but I will not stop talking. This is simply a test which has shown that Croatia has a problem," Milanovic said as cited by his office.

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Saturday, 19 September 2020

10 Suspects in Public Tender Rigging Probe Remanded in 30-day Custody

ZAGREB, Sept 19, 2020 - An investigating judge of Zagreb County Court on Friday evening imposed 30-day pre-trial detention on 10 suspects in the influence-peddling probe which also implicates the Janaf oil pipeline operator's CEO, Dragan Kovacevic, the Elektrocentar company's founder Kreso Petek and two mayors.

There are 13 suspects covered by the investigation so far.

The decision on remanding in the mayors, Drazen Barisic of Velika Gorica, and Vinko Grgic of Nova Gradiska are expected to be made on Saturday.

The 10 suspects have been taken into investigative custody for fear of tampering with witnesses.

The Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) on Thursday evening launched an investigation into the CEO of oil pipeline operator Janaf and another twelve people on suspicion of influence peddling, bribery, illicit preferential treatment, and aiding and abetting in these crimes.

The main suspect Petek allegedly gave Kovacevic HRK 1.96 million in reward for business deals awarded to his company by JANAF since September 2019.

He is also suspected of giving HRK 100,000 to the mayor of Nova Gradiska, in reward for helping award a deal in a public tender to a consortium that included Petek's company.

The mayor of Velika Gorica allegedly ensured the award of an HRK 97.3 million public procurement deal to Petek's company. Using his mayoral position, he asked the chairman of the board of the local water management company to modify public tender documentation to suit the demands of Petek and his consultant.

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

USKOK Confirms Arrest of Janaf CEO

ZAGREB, Sept 17, 2020 - The national anti-corruption body USKOK on Thursday confirmed the arrest of Dragan Kovacevic, the CEO of oil pipeline operator Janaf, saying that several people were being arrested on suspicion of influence peddling, bribery and illicit preferential treatment.

In a statement in which the suspects were not identified, USKOK said it had asked Parliament to strip two MPs of immunity from prosecution.

The MPs in question are Velika Gorica mayor Drazen Barisic (HDZ) and Nova Gradiska mayor Vinko Grgic (SDP), and both have told the media they have nothing to do with corruption. The motion to lift immunity will be discussed by the Credentials and Privileges Commission in the afternoon.

USKOK said it would decide on further steps after the suspects were questioned.

According to media reports, Kovacevic is suspected of receiving HRK 1.9 million in bribes from the CEO of a company which landed an HRK 40 million deal from Janaf.

According to unofficial information, ten people have been arrested.

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

JANAF Director Suspected of Influence Peddling

ZAGREB, Sept 17, 2020 - The attorney of JANAF oil pipeline director Dragan Kovacevic, Ivo Farcic, confirmed on Thursday that his client was arrested on suspicion of influence peddling.

"I can't say how many deals we are talking about," he told the press outside JANAF, where a search of the premises was completed in the early afternoon, adding that the state prosecutor would probably issue a press release soon.

Farcic said many other premises were expected to be searched, most likely today, and that his client must be present at all searches. He added that Kovacevic did not comment on the suspicions and that at this stage of the proceedings he was not obliged to do so.

Farcic said Kovacevic was likely to be interviewed at the USKOK anti-corruption office on Friday.

The media have reported that he is suspected of taking an HRK 1.9 million bribes from the head of a company which landed an HRK 40 million deal from JANAF.

Searches are underway in several citizens and ten persons have apparently been arrested, while another two are expected to be if stripped of parliamentary immunity from prosecution, on which the parliamentary Credentials and Privileges Commission is deciding at 5 p.m.

The two are Velika Gorica Mayor Drazen Barisic of the ruling HDZ and Nova Gradiska Mayor Vinko Grgic of the opposition SDP. Both are MPs and told the press today they had nothing to do with corruption.

USKOK and the police are expected to issue press releases on today's arrests later today.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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