Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Fortress ReInvented is an Example of Good Practice in New EC's Guide

January 12, 2022 - The project Fortress ReInvented is carried out by the Šibenik City Museum and has been recognized by the European Commission and used as an example of good practice and use of European funds.

The project Fortress ReInvented- An innovative approach and digital content on the historical forts, whose head is the Šibenik City Museum, has been highlighted as an example of good practice to successfully use European funds to implement innovative techniques and content in the presentation of cultural heritage to the general public in the interactive guide The Cultural Funding Guide, which is published by the European Commission at the end of the year, reports HrTurizam.hr.

The guide presents all funding opportunities available at the EU level for the cultural and creative sectors in the coming period. In one place, here is the information for a total of 75 funding opportunities from 21 EU programs, from the Creative Europe and Horizon Europe programs to the Structural Funds and the InvestEU Fund. In this interactive tool, all European stakeholders in the cultural and creative sectors will be targeted in just a few "clicks" to the most appropriate EU financial support available to them. Presenting these opportunities is complemented by inspiring experiences and best practice examples.

Thus, the Šibenik project was found in this guide, noting that the Fortress of St. Mihovila transformed two underground water cisterns, dating from the 15th century, into time capsules and revived the legend of the city's origins and the turbulent history of the fortress through 3D video mapping projection techniques.

The guide published by the European Commission aims to help you navigate the many EU financial instruments, understand the opportunities available to applicants and, ultimately, facilitate access to these funds. Interested stakeholders in the cultural sector, as well as other interested parties, can adjust the search for funding opportunities based on their needs, the individual sector, or the type of organization they represent, which can be helped by completing the survey. The full guide can be found HERE.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Highlights of Major Events in Croatia's Foreign Affairs in 2021

ZAGREB, 1 January 2021 - Entry into the U.S visa waiver program, French President Emmanuel Macron's visit, and the Rafale jets purchase deal, the fulfillment of the criteria for the Schengen Area, and diplomatic efforts to help solve the Bosnia and Herzegovina crisis are major features of Croatia's diplomacy in 2021.

In the year which will be remembered for global travel restrictions due to the COVID pandemic, Croatia entered the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which makes it possible for Croatians to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.

Croatia formally entered the VWP on 23 October, after meeting strict conditions.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security, and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

EU says Croatia fulfills conditions for the application of Schengen acquis

On 9 December, EU member states agreed on the text of draft conclusions confirming that Croatia has fulfilled the necessary conditions for the application of the Schengen acquis, which paves the way for a final decision on accession to the area without internal border controls.

The final decision could be adopted in about six months during the French EU Presidency. It requires the consent of all Schengen member states.

Also, as of 1 January 2022, Croatian nationals will have the same status as citizens of other European Union member states on the Swiss labor market, which will provide fresh impetus to Croatian-Swiss relations, it was said at a meeting of the two countries foreign ministers in Bern on 23 November 2021.

Macron's visit, Rafale purchase

In 2021, Emmanuel Macron visited Croatia as the first French president to pay an official visit to Zagreb since the country gained independence.

During his stay in Zagreb on 25 November, a deal was signed on the purchase of 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets - ten single-seats and two two-seaters - for €999 million, to be paid in five installments from 2022 to 2026.

Macron said in Zagreb that he supported Croatia's entry into the passport-free Schengen Area and added that Croatia had implemented all the necessary reforms for its entry into the euro area.

The French head of state and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković signed a strategic partnership declaration.

In October, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited Zagreb as the first Spanish head of government to visit Croatia.

On 8 July, European Commission President Ursula von der Layen arrived in Zagreb to convey the Commission's approval for Croatia's recovery and resilience plan (NPOO), worth €6.3 billion, which could significantly boost the country's Gross Domestic Product and create 21,000 new jobs by 2026.

Under the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, Croatia has €6.3 billion in grants and 3.6 billion in favorable loans at its disposal.

On 6 July, Seychellois Foreign Minister Sylvester Radegonde arrived in Zagreb and opened an honorary consulate.

In September, Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović was in Zagreb for an official visit and after his talks with his Croatian host, Zoran Milanović, Đukanović warned that "Serbian world" is a euphemism for Great Serbia policy.

Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina

During their bilateral meetings with their counterparts in 2021, Croatia's diplomats raised the issue of the situation in the southeast of Europe, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia's diplomatic offensive was launched in 2021 ahead of the election year in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In October 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina are due to hold general elections. Election reform is needed before that and negotiations on it are currently underway.

The Croats, one of the three constituent peoples in the country, want to avoid a repeat of the scenario in which Bosniaks actually elect senior officeholders who are supposed to represent the Croats, the least numerous constituent people.

The crisis is further deepened by the Serb representative in Bosnia's three-member presidency, Milorad Dodik, who is implementing "a creeping" secession of the country's Serb entity.

In March 2021, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Gordan Grlić Radman, outlined Croatia's non-paper for its southeastern neighbor. The paper, which was also supported by EU member-states Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus, highlights the importance of adhering to the principle of the three constituent peoples.

Throughout 2021, some of the political actors in Sarajevo accused Zagreb of trying to violate the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Željko Komšić, who sits on the BiH Presidency as the Croat representative although he won the post thanks to the votes of Bosniak voters, accused Zagreb of the construction of a gas pipeline under the River Sava to connect Slavonski Brod and Bosanski Brod in the Serb entity. Some politicians in Sarajevo also disapproved of Zagreb's decision to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic.

In July, Zagreb Mufti Aziz Hasanović said that current bilateral relations between Croatia and Bosnia were worse than during the Croat-Bosniak conflict in the 1992-1995 war.

However, visiting Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Sarajevo on 13 December that the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are unbreakable and that Croatia remains Bosnia and Herzegovina's greatest friend and advocate in the European Union.

At the end of the year, on 19 December, President Zoran Milanović's visit to central Bosnia was canceled for security reasons against a background of discussions provoked by Milanović's comments on the application of the term genocide for the atrocities committed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in July 1995. Bosniak politicians bear a grudge against Milanović who in return calls them unitarianists.

The issue of protection of the status of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina has become another bone of contention between Milanović and Plenković, with Milanović resenting the government's failure to make sure the Council of the EU conclusions on enlargement incorporate the term "constituent peoples" in the Bosnia and Herzegovina section of the document.

Relations with Serbia

Tensions in relations between Zagreb and Belgrade traditionally become heightened in August when Croatia celebrates Victory Day in memory of the 1995 Operation Storm when Croatia's military and police forces liberated a majority of areas held by Serb rebels since 1992.

This year, things got worse in September when Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić called on all Serbs to display the Serbian flag on Serbian Unity, Freedom, and National Flag Day, observed for the first time this year, on 15 September.

However, Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac called on ethnic Serbs to respect the laws in Croatia which ban the display of foreign countries' flags by individuals.

For us it was important to make it clear in which circumstances individuals in Croatia and individuals in Serbia could display flags of other countries. It is important for us that the Serbs in Croatia can be sure that they can display their ethnic flag on holidays concerning their institutions or on important holidays on official events, Pupovac said at the time.

Also, relations between the two countries were adversely affected by the decision of the city council in Subotica, where Vučić's Serb Progressive Party holds a majority, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that northern Serbian city despite opposition from the Croat community in Vojvodina and from Croatia.

The demand for declaring its speech an official language in Subotica was made by the Bunjevci community, which denies its Croat ethnic background.

The initiative was strongly opposed by the DSHV party of local Croats, the Croatian National Council in Serbia, the Croatian Language Institute, and other Croatian science institutions, and it prompted the Croatian Foreign Ministry to send two protest notes to Serbia.

They all say there is no legal basis for the initiative and that the Bunjevci speech is a dialect of the Croatian community in Vojvodina's northern region of Bačka and not a standard language.

Furthermore, in October Plenković asked Vučić to address the issue of Serbian grammar books that negate the existence of the Croatian language.

No progress has been made in the provision of information by Serbia about sites of mass graves from the 1991-95 war.

Relations with Slovenia at the highest level ever

Croatia's political leaders have underscored that the Zagreb-Ljubljana relations are at the highest level ever. Plenković and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša seem willing to settle all the bilateral issues.

The friendship between the two neighbors was evidenced by ceremonies held on 18 October when the two presidents, Milanović and Borut Pahor, unveiled a monument to a leader of the Croatian National Revival, Ljudevit Gaj, in Ljubljana and to a Slovenian poet, France Prešeren, in Zagreb's Bundek Park.

Croatia and Italy declared exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic, and they included Slovenia in the process.

In February, the Croatian parliament proclaimed an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic, giving Croatia additional rights in relation to the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone declared in 2003 to build artificial islands and exploit the sea, wind, and currents in that zone in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Concerning Croatia-Hungary relations, the most important event was the ruling of Croatia's Supreme Court upholding the guilty verdict against Hungarian executive Zsolt Hernadi in a graft scandal implicating former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and business relations between MOL and INA. Croatia's Justice Minister Ivan Malenica expects Budapest to extradite Hernadi who was given two years for white-collar crimes.

Frictions in relations with Bulgaria and Austria

Milanović's criticism of how Bulgaria treats North Macedonia on its journey towards the European Union prompted the Bulgarian government to summon Croatia's ambassador in Sofia in mid-May.

Ambassador Jasna Ognjanovac was summoned at the request of Minister Svetlan Stoev, and was received by the Director-General for European Affairs, Rumen Alexandrov.

The reason for the meeting was Milanović's statement after a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process at Brdo Pri Kranju, in which he sharply criticized Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia. Milanović warned that North Macedonia "is in an impossible position" and that one EU member state demanded that North Macedonia "define its national genesis in the way requested by the neighboring state" in history textbooks. He said that he would "openly oppose" that within his powers.

His statement was an allusion to Bulgaria, which is rejecting a negotiating framework for North Macedonia because, as Sofia claims, North Macedonian textbooks "revise and negate their common ethnic and linguistic history."

Milanović's comments on Austria's decision to lock down unvaccinated persons prompted Vienna to summon Croatian Ambassador Danijel Glunčić.

Glunčić declined to reveal details of the discussion but according to a statement from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Glunčić was called over "highly unusual statements by the Croatian president," which were "sharply rejected".

"Comparing the measures against the coronavirus pandemic to fascism is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to protect the citizens of Austria and we are acting accordingly," the Austrian ministry said, as quoted by APA news agency.

Austrian media quoted the Croatian president as saying after an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican that the Austrian decision to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people was "reminiscent of the 1930s" and called it foolish. On 22 November, the Croatian President's foreign affairs advisor, Neven Pelicarić, held talks with Austrian Ambassador Josef Markus Wuketich. Earlier that day, President Milanović said in the town of Našice that he had apologized for his statement.

"I said that what was happening in Austria reminded me of fascism. I apologize," Milanović said in a statement to the press.

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

Thursday, 16 December 2021

MEPs Call for Reforms, Opening Archives in Fight With Organized Crime in W. Balkans

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Organised crime is a structural problem in Western Balkan countries but it also affects EU countries, which is why members of the European Parliament are agreed that it is necessary to encourage reforms and open former Yugoslav archives.

Michael Gahler, deputy rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a debate on a committee report on Tuesday that the document calls on Western Balkan governments to step up efforts to implement the necessary reforms, noting that ties between organized crime, politics, and business had existed before the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and continue to exist.

Therefore in the report, we call for opening former Yugoslav archives, notably, those of the former Yugoslav secret service (UDBA) and the military intelligence agency (KOS), said Gahler.

Croatian MEP Željana Zovko (EPP/HDZ) agreed with Gahler's request, noting that "this could help shed light on many deep-rooted criminal organizations that have been operating under the radar for decades."

Andreas Schieder (S&D) stressed that crime was a result of social conditions, poor state, and bad structures. The EU can have an influence on reducing organized crime in the Western Balkans through the process of integration, he said.

The accession process itself is the necessary support for reforms required to fight organized crime in the Balkans. There is no excuse for delaying the accession of North Macedonia and Montenegro which have been in the EU's waiting room for decades even though they courageously implement reforms, he said.

Nicolae Ştefănuță (Renew Europe) underlined the geopolitical importance of the Balkans, noting that it was necessary to fight organized crime there and unblock the process of Western Balkan countries' integration in order to prevent influence from third countries.

Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/European Free Alliance) underlined the importance of supporting independent organizations and reporters in W. Balkan countries.

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula (S&D) stressed the importance of the European Parliament sending "strong messages of support to civil society organizations, investigative reporters and all hard-working and brave people who take risks to make their countries better."

MEP Sunčana Glavak (EPP/HDZ) said organized crime was also a matter of security.

"Organised crime is dangerous for the democratic progress of Western Balkan countries and it is a first-class security issue," she warned, noting that the EU estimates that revenue from criminal activities in the main markets in 2019 accounted for 1% of the EU's GDP or €139 billion.

Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (EPP/HDZ) called for better security and intelligence cooperation and for "taking more account of the countries' results in that regard in the context of enlargement policy priorities."

French MEP Thierry Mariani (Identity and Democracy) said he disagreed with the report. "The report is not about the fight against corruption but about the promotion of an ideological agenda," he said, noting that the report failed to mention the Balkan migration route.

Croatian MEP Ladislav Ilčić (Conservatives/Reformists), too, said illegal migrations "are fuel for organized crime", adding that uncontrolled migration was largely "due to irresponsible statements by European politicians welcoming illegal migrants."

Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić, too, criticized European leaders for welcoming refugees, adding that that had helped create migration routes that were still active, affecting primarily Western Balkan citizens as well as all EU citizens who do not want illegal migrations.

The report was supported with 531 votes for, 48 against, and 117 abstentions.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 29 November 2021

EC: Expectations for Croatian Economy Improve in November

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - Expectations for the Croatian economy improved in November on the back of optimism in the construction sector, which outweighed a marked decline in consumer confidence, according to a report by the European Commission released on Monday. 

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for Croatia grew by 1.9 points from October to 111.3 points in November.

Construction confidence increased the most, with the relevant indicator going up by 6.3 points.

Industry confidence grew as well, by 2.8 points.

Expectations in the retail and services sectors also improved, albeit much more slightly, with the indicators going up by 1.2 and 0.8 points respectively.

Consumers, on the other hand, were pessimistic, with consumer confidence going down by 2.7 points.

Managers had signaled increased hiring in the coming period, which resulted in the Employment Expectations Indicator (EEI) going up strongly, by 3.5 points compared to October.

The coronavirus pandemic and problems in the supply chain continue to cause uncertainty so the new indicator, the Economic Uncertainty Indicator (EUI) in November rose by as much as 4.2 points compared to the month before, to 8.6 points.

Consumers pessimistic

The economic climate in the EU in November deteriorated compared to October, as evidenced by a drop in the indicator of one point to 116.6 points.

Pessimism also affected expectations in the euro area, whose indicator dropped by 1.1 points from October to 117.5 points.

The sentiment in both the EU and the euro area was marked by that of consumers, who expect worse times, with consumer confidence dropping by 2.1 points in the EU and by 2 points in the euro area.

Managers in the retail sector, on the other hand, are optimistic ahead of the Christmas shopping season, which has driven up the indicator by 1.6 points in the EU and by 1.8 points in the euro area.

Expectations of managers in the construction and services sectors have improved slightly as well, with the indicators in the EU going up by 0.5 and 0.2 points respectively. In the euro area, they grew 0.4 points each, shows the EC report.

Industry confidence was more or less unchanged.

Business managers plan to continue hiring, which is why the Employment Expectations Indicator increased further to 115.6 points in both regions (+1.4 and +1.7 points in the EU and euro area, respectively), despite marked uncertainty caused by persisting production bottlenecks due to the shortage of certain input components and raw materials, as well as a steep rise in COVID-infections.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Friday, 26 November 2021

EC Proposes Ban on Unvaccinated Travelers Entering the European Union

November 26, 2021 - In addition to the extension of the validity time of digital COVID certificates, the European Commission is proposing to EU member countries a ban on unvaccinated travelers in case they wish to enter the European Union, in addition to other possible measures to guarantee safe freedom of movement in the territory.

Yesterday, the European Commission announced a proposal according to which all members of the European Union would allow only vaccinated, recovered, or necessary travelers to enter, reports HrTurizam. In light of the expected progress in vaccination campaigns around the world, the Commission, from 1 March 2022, proposes a simplified approach, which depends entirely on the status of the passenger and not on the country of departure.

In addition, visitors entering one of the EU countries will have to prove that they were vaccinated no more than nine months ago. Namely, the Commission proposes a standard acceptance period of nine months for vaccination certificates issued after the end of the primary vaccination series. The nine-month period takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the use of six-month doses and provides for an additional period of three months.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days before the trip and have either an EU digital COVID certificate or a certificate considered equivalent, should also be able to travel to the European Union from 10 January 2022.

The revised rules clarify that children between the ages of 6 and 17 should be able to travel to the EU with a negative PCR test done before departure even if they have not been vaccinated. Member States could require additional post-arrival testing, quarantine, or self-isolation. Test and vaccination are not required for children under 6 years of age.

The Council's recommendation covers all Member States (except Ireland), as well as the four non-EU countries that have acceded to the Schengen area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Coordinated approach for safer travel

“Based on our common tool, the EU digital COVID certification, which has become a true standard, we are moving to a person-based approach. Our main goal is to avoid different measures throughout the EU. This also applies to the issue of boosters, which will be essential to fight the virus. Among other measures, we propose that the Council harmonize the standard validity period of vaccination certificates issued after the primary batch,” said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

“EU digital COVID certification and our coordinated approach to travel measures have greatly contributed to safe free movement, with the protection of public health as our priority. We have vaccinated over 65% of the total EU population, but that is not enough. There are still too many people who are not protected. In order for everyone to travel and live as safely as possible, we urgently need to achieve significantly higher vaccination rates,” added Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

What the European Commission proposes:

  • Focus on the “person-based approach”: a person holding a valid EU digital COVID certificate should in principle not be subject to additional restrictions, such as tests or quarantine, regardless of where you leave the EU. Persons without an EU digital COVID certificate could be required to undergo testing before or after arrival.
  • Standard validity of vaccination certificates: to avoid different approaches. The Commission proposes a standard acceptance period of nine months for vaccination certificates issued after the end of the primary vaccination series.
  • Additional (booster) vaccination: for now there are no studies that specifically dealt with the efficiency boosters to transfer COVID-19 and is therefore not possible to determine the period of acceptance for them. However, given the new data, it can be expected that protection against supplementary vaccination may last longer than that resulting from the primary vaccination series.
  • The EU traffic-light map has been adapted: combining new cases with the use of vaccines in the region. The map would mainly serve for information purposes, but would also serve to coordinate measures for areas with particularly low, green, or particularly high, dark red levels of virus circulation. Special rules would apply to these areas, derogating from the "person-based approach". No restrictions should apply to travelers from "green" areas.
  • Exemptions from certain travel measures should apply to cross-border travelers, children under the age of 12, and emergency travelers. The list of necessary passengers should be reduced as many who were included in the current list have meanwhile had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
  • Simplified “emergency braking” procedurean urgent procedure designed to delay the spread of possible new variants of COVID-19 or to address particularly serious situations should be simplified and more operational.

In order to allow sufficient time for the implementation of the coordinated approach, the Commission proposes that the innovations be applied from 10 January 2022.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

EC Proposes Digital Covid Certificates Be Valid for 9 Months

November 25, 2021 - After a first year where the European Commission introduced them to control travel within the continent during the pandemic, the EC proposes Digital COVID Certificates to be valid for 9 months.

The European Commission proposed on Thursday that digital COVID certificates be valid for nine months after receiving the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The Commission on Thursday presented a proposal for recommendations for safe travel within the EU, which should apply from 10 January next year.

The Commission calls on the Member States to take the necessary steps immediately to ensure access to the vaccine for those who will soon be nine months away from the last recommended dose they received.

As for additional, booster doses, the Commission says that there are currently no studies on the effectiveness of booster doses in terms of virus transmission and that it is therefore not possible to determine the period of validity of certificates after vaccination.

"However, given the data that emerge, protection from booster doses can be expected to last longer than protection from the first batch of vaccinations," the Commission said, adding that it would closely monitor new scientific evidence and, if necessary, propose appropriate the period in which the digital certificates would be valid after receiving the booster dose.

Persons holding a valid digital covid certificate should not, in principle, be subject to additional restrictions and requirements, such as testing and quarantine, regardless of where in the EU they travel within the Union. Persons without such certificates may be required to be tested before departure and after returning from the trip.

The Commission is also proposing changes to the color-coding of the Europe map, which is mainly for information purposes but can also be used to coordinate measures. The combination of new cases of infection and vaccination rates would be taken into account when marking individual areas with colors.

There should be no restrictions on travel from areas marked in green, while travel from dark red zones should be discouraged, and people traveling from these areas who have not been vaccinated or have survived covid-19 should be tested before traveling and go to quarantine upon arrival.

Exceptions to the proposed measures should apply to people living along the border they cross daily, to children under 12, and to people traveling for important reasons.

For more news related to travel updates to and from Croatia in times of pandemic, be sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

MP Reports Croatia to European Commissioner Over Violation of Citizens' Rights

ZAGREB, 28 Oct 2021 - Independent MP Karolina Vidović Krišto has sent a letter to European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová, warning her about "systematic disregard for laws to which Croatian citizens have been exposed", which, she says, causes poverty and injustice in society.

"Croatian citizens' rights are constantly violated by the ruling structures, and politicians and the judiciary openly and publicly demonstrate arrogance and them being untouchable. Such conduct is not possible in stable democracies because it causes social chaos, which, in turn, causes poverty and injustice," Vidović Krišto said at a news conference.

In her letter to the European Commissioner, Vidović Krišto "cited a number of examples that bear witness to overt violations of laws by political structures, judiciary, and media."

The MP pointed to the main media outlets such as Hanza Media and Styria Media Group, saying they organize thematic conferences that are always held under the auspices of the ruling structures, the prime minister or the president, ministries or state agencies, and are sponsored by state monopolists such as JANAF, Plinacro, HC, HAC, HZ or HŠ, which, she said, is undoubtedly harmful to taxpayers.

DORH acting contrary to law, common sense

Vidović Krišto said that the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) knowingly acts contrary to law and common sense, thus creating insecurity among citizens, tolerating corruption, and violating human rights on a large scale, and she cited a number of cases in that context. She said that those cases were downplayed by the government, DORH, the judiciary, and the media.

"The ruling structures in Croatia do not violate laws in a sophisticated manner, they do it arrogantly and openly, showing contempt for all citizens," she said among other things.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 22 October 2021

European Commissioner Urges Croatians to Get Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 22 Oct 2021 - European Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides visited a COVID-19 vaccination point in Zagreb on Friday with Health Minister Vili Beroš, telling Croatian citizens to get vaccinated and listen to scientists' messages, not messages on social media.

Get vaccinated to protect yourselves, your fellow citizens and so that hospitals are not full of patients again. That's a very clear message, based on science and the reality we know. Listen to scientists, not experts on social media, Kyriakides said.

We are not in the same situation as in 2020. Today we have a safe and effective vaccine which was approved for use in the EU. We have enough vaccines, but we must go forward. We don't want to have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, she added.

Croatia has vaccinated about 55% of its adult population against coronavirus. It must accelerate it because in the EU we have more than 75% of the population fully vaccinated. That's why it's necessary to accelerate vaccination as much as possible so that we don't have areas in the EU that are still unprotected, she said.

Minister Beroš commented on a letter by five members of the government's Scientific Council who distanced themselves from statements made by Council member Gordan Lauc.

He said that when members of a scientific forum individually commented on "expertly established facts" on social media, contrary to the forum's clearly stated views, such commenting "is damaging."

Beroš added that he said yesterday all he had to say about Lauc and the Council and that, as far as he knew, most Council members wanted to continue to be part in it.

They don't intend to leave the Council as that would send a bad message of inconsistency, he added.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Kyriakides Visits Zagreb Children's Hospital's Oncology Institute

ZAGREB, 22 Oct 2021 - European Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Croatian Health Minister Vili Beroš on Friday visited the Zagreb Children's Hospital's hematology and oncology institute.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Kyriakides, who recovered from it, wore a ribbon-shaped silver brooch.

According to the European Cancer Organisation, almost a million cancer cases have not been diagnosed because of the pandemic. Last year 2.7 million patients were diagnosed in the EU and 1.3 million have died, including more than 2,000 young ones.

Kyriakides said Europe's Beating Cancer Plan envisaged €4 billion for fighting cancer, including €1.25 billion from the EU4Health programme for prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and improving the quality of life of people who have recovered from cancer.

Late last year Croatia adopted a national strategic framework against cancer. Oncology was included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Will Croatia Euro Coins Be Able to Feature Tesla?

July 27, 2021 - Last week, the Croatian National Bank announced five motifs to be featured on Croatia euro coins, with the image of Nikola Tesla being the most popular one according to the vox populi. However, these are just the first steps of the process of creating Croatian euro coins. Who has the ultimate say on whether Tesla is to be kept or to be scrapped off? A look into the procedure of approving the designs of euro coins.

The announcement of five motifs chosen to grace the national side of Croatian euro coins that came last Wednesday was soon greeted by a statement on the official website of the National Bank of Serbia. In it, NBS objects to the Croatian idea of using the image of Nikola Tesla. It's described as ''an appropriation of the cultural and scientific heritage of the Serbian people.'' Serbia also stated it would file a complaint if Croatia put his image on one of the coins.

The question is, to whom would these complaints be filed, and to what effect? Is there a set legal way to get Croatia to remove Tesla from the coins not yet minted? (Un)surprisingly, there are a few precedents guarding the question, as this is not the first time that one country objected to the design of another country's euro coins, claiming it belonged to its own national heritage.

In 2005, Slovenia's use of the Prince's Stone on the 2 cents coins launched a protest from the Austrian state of Carinthia. Prince's Stone is an ancient Roman column that was used during the early Middle Ages in the ceremony of installing the rulers of the Slavic principality of Carantania. The ceremony was conducted in the Slovene language, and Caranthania was located, in part, on the territory of present-day north-eastern Slovenia. The stone itself used to be kept in a museum in Klagenfurt, the capital of Carinthia, where it was considered a historical icon of the state. The Carinthian state government (headed by the then-governor Jorg Haider) issued a resolution of protest on October 25, 2005, which was rejected as "not to be taken seriously" by the Slovene foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel.

Ten years later, in 2015, Belgium issued a €2 commemorative coin (individual Member States are allowed to issue commemorative coins to celebrate subjects of major national or European relevance). To mark the Battle of Waterloo, and the 200th year anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon,  the coin featured an image of the monument at the site. France objected, saying that the image carried a negative connotation. 

According to the COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) No 729/2014 on denominations and technical specifications of euro coins intended for circulation, when a eurozone country wants to issue a new €2 commemorative coin, it is required to send a draft design of the coin to the Council, the European Commission and to other eurozone countries. In the end, as RFI wrote in 2015, ''Brussels has been forced to scrap 180,000 coins worth 1.5-million-euros that it had already minted before Paris got wind of the affair.''

And in 2013, Slovakia re-thought its idea of issuing commemorative coins with the images of Christian saints and missionaries Cyril and Methodius with crosses and halos above their heads, as some Member States pointed out that the designs went against the ''principle of respect for religious diversity in Europe''. 

However, all of these disputes were started and resolved between the EU Member States, not a Member State and a third country, as is the case with Serbia. As European Commission Deputy Chief Spokesperson Dana Spinant said on Friday, ''the design of the national side of euro coins is decided by the country adopting the euro.''

The designs have to be passed from the Croatia National Bank to the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro for approval and then have to be confirmed by the government of Croatia.

That doesn't mean that the design lays solely in Croatia's hands.

The abovementioned Council Regulation also states that ''each Member State (....) should take into account the fact that euro coins circulate in the whole euro area and not only in the issuing Member State'', and should ''avoid the use of inappropriate designs''.

Recognizing the potential problem when it comes to defining the term ''inappropriate'' the Regulation states that ''uniform conditions'' for the approval of the designs should be laid down and also that ''in view of the fact that the competence for an issue as sensitive as the design of the national sides of the euro coins belongs to the issuing Member States, implementing powers should be conferred on the Council.'' 

Therefore, Croatia has to submit draft designs to the Council, to the Commission, and to the other Member States whose currency is the euro at least three months before the planned issue date. Since Croatia is set to enter the eurozone in 2023, that criterion shouldn't be difficult to meet. 

Within seven days following the submission, any Member State whose currency is the euro may, in a reasoned opinion addressed to the Council and to the Commission, raise an objection to the draft design proposed by the issuing Member State if that draft design is likely to create adverse reactions among its citizens.

If the Commission considers that the draft design does not respect the technical requirements set out by the Regulation, it shall, within seven days following the submission, submit a negative assessment to the Council.

If no reasoned opinion or negative assessment has been submitted to the Council, the decision approving the design shall be deemed to be adopted by the Council.

In all other cases, the Council shall decide without delay on the approval of the draft design, unless, within seven days following the submission of a reasoned opinion or of a negative assessment, the issuing Member State withdraws its submission and informs the Council of its intention to submit a new draft design.

Since there are essentially two criteria to meet - the suitability of the design requirement and the technical requirement, both assessed by other Member States (the EU), the only tool any country outside of the EU can use is its political influence on a Member State to try and come up with a reasoned opinion as to why a draft design is ''likely to create adverse reactions'' - but only among its (a Member State's) citizens.

There is nothing in the Regulation on the influence the design may have on the non-EU countries. In fact, the Regulation even makes sure to point out that the other Member States whose currency is not the euro are excluded from deciding. Will Croatia be able to keep Tesla on its coins?  If these provisions are anything to go by, then yes. 

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