Saturday, 16 February 2019

Education and Culture Are Barriers against Populism and Radicalism

ZAGREB, February 16, 2019 - Croatia definitely stands a chance of defending itself from radicalism and populism and the main instrument for that is exerting influence on political parties and structures, researcher Boris Jokić said at the forum "Liberalism and culture as a barrier to populism and radicalism", held in Zagreb on Saturday.

The forum was organised in cooperation with the opposition Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) party and with the support of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

A researcher at the Zagreb Institute for Social Research, Jokić said that education and culture were important social sectors and that populist trends in them could have a bad ending.

It is possible to build a tolerant society that is not based on populism, he said, adding that the main mechanism for that was communication and cooperation among different people, with less talking and more listening.

Populism and radicalism are a European and global phenomenon and their main cause are politicians who lack integrity and do not assume responsibility for what they do, who lie and go back on their promises, he warned. Nonetheless, in the Croatian society there is room for decisions based on reason and for policy-making based on science and facts, he added. "I strongly believe that the avalanche of populism has not affected Croatia strongly and that there is room to fix things," he said.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jozo Radoš of the GLAS party, which is a member of ALDE, said he believed that radicalism and populism had already grown dangerous. "I think that standard, traditional political forces, which have not given answers to some issues - which is the reason why populism has emerged - should focus, start working better and give citizens what they expect policy-makers to do," he said.

He noted that education was a sore spot in Croatia and that over the past 15 years that sector had constantly been in a process of reform with no real changes or progress.

GLAS MP Vesna Pusić said that research done by the Institute for Social Sciences and the Faculty of Theology showed that the most authoritarian and conservative social group were people aged 18-30, "which is reason enough for concern" and reflected the quality of education.

Croatia, the region and the European Union are declining in terms of the quality of education, Pusić said, noting that Croatia was not among the first ten countries in EU rankings in terms of education.

"The young people in question are the leaders and voters of tomorrow, some of them are that already. Those people are the ones that will take over the leadership of their country and they are evidently, more than other age groups, prone to support authoritarian leaders and models that curtail democracy and participation, and that has its root. It is our duty to discuss these topics," Pusić said, adding that changes in the education system required time, sometimes a decade.

"That is a lot of time, the situation is not that bad, but we should start doing something about it already now."

More news on the GLAS party can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Croatian Labour Party Joins Amsterdam Coalition

ZAGREB, February 3, 2019 - The vice-president of the Labour Party, Darko Tetec, said on Sunday that this non-parliamentary party would join the Amsterdam Coalition that currently consists of the following five Opposition parties: GLAS, IDS, HSS, HSU and PGS.

The coalition is likely to welcome one more member, the Democrats party led by parliamentarian and a former minister, Mirando Mrsić.

The news about new members of the coalition was made public during an election convention of the Civil Liberal Alliance the acronym of which in Croatian is GLAS.

On 23 February, the coalition is going to present its 12-candidate slate for the European Parliament elections, scheduled for May.

During today's convention in Zagreb, the GLAS leader Anka-Mrak Taritaš said that three GLAS candidates on that slate will be she herself, the party's vice-president Diana Topčić Rosenberg and politician Jozo Radoš, one of the current 11 Croatian MEPs.

The current leader of the Civil Liberal Alliance, Anka Mrak Taritaš was on Sunday re-elected the president of that opposition parliamentary party, the acronym of which in Croatian is GLAS.

Mrak Taritaš was the sole candidate for the post and was supported unanimously by 61 deputies at the convention. Goran Beus Richembergh and Diana Topčić Rosenberg were appointed vice-presidents.

Addressing the convention, Mrak Taritaš spoke about the importance of forthcoming European Parliament elections. "Let us fight for Europe, otherwise ruffians will destroy it," she said, calling on party members to alert the general public against those who promote demagogue and lies.

She said that her party, a member of the Amsterdam Coalition, was committed to the fighting for the cause of Croatia as well as for the cause of the European Union, a political union that provides many people with freedom, peace and prosperity.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Amsterdam Coalition Protests against Chauvinism, Hatred, Violence

ZAGREB, January 22, 2019 - The leaders of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the GLAS party, Boris Miletić and Anka Mrak Taritaš said in Pula on Monday that violence, chauvinism and hatred have become the Croatian brand, with Miletić saying that he was proud of fact that the Amsterdam Coalition (GLAS, HSS, IDS, HSU, PGS) were introducing Istrian values whose trademark is openness, multiculturalism and tolerance.

"In the past several weeks, alone we have witnessed a number of incidents, starting with Đakić's hideous Facebook post for which he was only slapped on the wrist, to Vukovar where children were being used in a cowardly fashion for political and national dispute along the ethnic line, all the way to incidents, insults and foul language in Parliament. This is the mirror of Croatia today. To call the national parliament a hen house is an insult to the hen house," Miletić told the press.

He accused the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of arrogance and the opposition MOST party of rudeness, adding that "this makes any decent person uncomfortable."

Anka Mrak Taritaš said that Istria was the last oasis of coexistence and tolerance in Croatia.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the politics section.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

PGS Joins Amsterdam Coalition for European Elections

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - The presidents of GLAS, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS) signed an agreement in Rijeka on Thursday on the PGS joining the Amsterdam Coalition.

PGS president Darijo Vasilić said what he and the others had in common was the fight for regional values, an open, modern and civil society and a civilised Croatia as well as against the growing radical right and increasingly strong populism in politics.

IDS president Boris Miletić said opinion polls showed that Amsterdam Coalition had become the strongest opposition force in Croatia. "We want an open and progressive Croatia, where people aren't afraid and emigrating, where work and enterprise are encouraged, not blocked."

GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said the Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) would join the coalition by the end of the month.

The Amsterdam Coalition firmly believes that it is necessary to oppose content- and idea-free radicalism and populism, and pushes for a new Europe and Croatia in it. We stand for liberal democracy and man's right to choose, work and live in a functioning country, she said.

She said the coalition would run for the European Parliament and that its candidates would be capable of representing Croatia's interests.

HSS president Krešo Beljak said the coalition's approval ratings would be even better once the HSU joined them.

More news on the Amsterdam Coalition can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Opposition Demands Resignation of Defence Minister Krstičević

ZAGREB, January 15, 2019 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Tuesday that Defence Minister Damir Krstičević should promptly resign due to "the lies and delusions disseminated in the public about the failed acquisition of fighter jets".

Bernardić thinks that an email that leaked in the media about U.S. embassy having warned the Croatian Defence Ministry in December 2017 that Israel had not obtained approval for the transfer of technology to the third party shows the minister's responsibility for the failed deal. "Resignation due to lies and delusions disseminated by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Krstičević should be done for moral reasons," said Bernardić.

It is true that morality and responsibility cannot go together in the same sentence with the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union). However, we expect common sense to prevail and the prime minister to take a responsible move, said the leader of the strongest opposition party

In the event that Krstičević does not offer his resignation, the SDP is going to launch the parliamentary procedure for his dismissal, and Bernardić hopes that the opposition parties will join his party in this effort.

He accused the government of trying to reduce the damage and the disgrace in this scandal in a ridiculous way.

The SDP chief referred to the government's decision on Monday to annul its previous tender for the delivery of multipurpose combat aircraft and to define a new model for the procurement of fighter jets for the Armed Forces.

SDP parliamentarian Franko Vidović said that nine months before he already raised the question why the government had opted for acquiring 12 used fighter jets instead of buying 6 new ones.

Leaders of the GLAS party also called for the responsibility of Defence Minister Damir Krstičević over a failed procurement of fighter jets from Israel. GLAS MP Nada Turina Đurić commented on the failed procurement of F-16 Barak fighter jets from Israel, calling for the responsibility of Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, but also claiming that the entire government is responsible.

More news on the defence minister can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

PM Andrej Plenković: Finance Minister Zdravko Marić Won't Leave Government

Amid rumours that the finance minister, Zdravko Marić, is set to step down from his position within the Croatian Government as soon as next month, PM Andrej Plenković has been having his refusal to outright deny the claims scrutinised, with some believing that this means Marić's departure was imminent and due to take place in early 2019. It seems however, that Marić isn't going anywhere.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of December, 2018, HDZ President and PM Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric isn't going to leave the government.

"There will be no departure," Plenković told journalists after the he was questioned about whether or not he'd talked to Marić himself about his alleged departure from the cabinet before the end of his mandate, as was being circulated by some media outlets.

The Prime Minister, upon being questioned about the criticisms of controversial SDSS President Milorad Pupovac regarding recent arrests in Vukovar, said that he didn't listen to that press conference, adding that the current government is not interfering with the work of the police or with the work of DORH in any manner whatsoever.

He pointed out, in order to quell people's natural suspicions that "there are no invisible political hands" holding any influence over this process.

When asked about the elections for the European Parliament, PM Andrej Plenković stated that the party would be "almost sure" on their own and that at least five mandates can be expected. "We'll win convincingly in those elections," he said briefly.

Concerning the controversy around the procurement of Israeli F-16 aircraft, Plenković reiterated that everything that the Republic of Croatia did in this process was done systematically, thoroughly, and in fine detail, and that open issues, if there are any, exist solely between Israel and the United States of America, and are nothing to do with Croatia or the part Croatia played in the process.

He confirmed that he visited Zagreb's mayor Milan Bandić was taken to hospital yesterday morning, adding that Bandić claims to be feeling good and that he believes that he will recover and be back on his feet quickly.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more on PM Andrej Plenković, the Croatian Government, and updates from both domestic and European politics in Croatia.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

GLAS, HSS and IDS to Run Together at European Parliament Elections

ZAGREB, December 8, 2018 - The Amsterdam coalition, comprising the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS), formally exists as of Saturday after their leaders Krešo Beljak, Boris Miletić and Anka Mrak Taritaš signed a coalition agreement for next year's European Parliament elections

The leaders of the three parties said they were "very clearly standing against the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and those even further down on the right-wing scale."

The party slate has not yet been defined but the three party leaders believe that any of the 12 people on their slate would be able to represent Croatia's interests in the European Parliament.

The Amsterdam coalition said they were open to cooperation with other parties, stressing however that cooperation with the HDZ or Milan Bandić was out of the question.

For more on the European Parliament and Croatia, including the upcoming electrions, click here.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Liberal Parties to Run Together for European Parliament

ZAGREB, October 28, 2018 - Leaders of GLAS, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the Primorje‑Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS) said on Sunday they were preparing for next spring's European Union elections, working on a programme for the European Parliament, and that they expected to have two MEPs again.

Speaking at a press conference in Opatija, GLAS president Anka Mrak Taritaš said the three parties making up the Amsterdam Coalition would present their platform and 12 candidates for the European Parliament in a month's time. She said they wanted to remind citizens of the importance of the EU elections and European values.

This is a watershed moment for the EU as the next elections will decide the direction it will take and we want Croatia to be represented by people advocating liberal democracy, Mrak Taritaš said, adding that they did not want populism.

IDS president Boris Miletić said European elections were important because the bulk of Croatian legislation depended on EU legislation. He asked if Hungary and Poland were indicative of Europe or if Europe was a project of peace and open borders.

PGS vice president Tea Mičić Badurina said Croatia was highly centralised, economically devastated and ideologically divided and that this was fertile ground for neoconservative and populist movements which could cause even greater damage. She said Croatian citizens needed someone who would guarantee a stable environment, security and their rights.

Asked if the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) would join the Amsterdam Coalition, Mrak-Taritaš said the HSS had decided to start negotiations to that end. Asked if this meant a coalition with the HSS for Croatia's next parliamentary election, she said they were now focused solely on the European elections.

As for other parties, Mrak Taritaš said they did not want a coalition with someone who was in a coalition with the ruling HDZ or with Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić. As for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), she said it seemed it would run in the European elections independently. She would not say if a coalition with the SDP was possible for Croatia's parliamentary election.

Asked if the Amsterdam Coalition would back former SDP leader Zoran Milanović if he decided to run for president, Mrak Taritaš said that, in case he did, he would reach out to them and that they would then decide by consensus.

HDZ has announced it would probably run for the European Parliament without its coalition partners.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Opposition Warns about “Orbanisation" of Croatia

ZAGREB, September 18, 2018 - The Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the Civic-Liberal Alliance (GLAS) on Tuesday criticised the government and deputies of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in the European Parliament for voting against a resolution on Hungary.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Liberal “Amsterdam Coalition” Falls Apart

ZAGREB, August 31, 2018 - The presidency of the Pametno party has decided to call off any further cooperation with potential partners in creating what has been dubbed the Amsterdam Coalition due to their dissent regarding the problem in the ailing Uljanik shipyard and particularly because of the role and responsibility of some prominent individuals.

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