Friday, 25 October 2019

Jandroković Calls on CoE Parliament Speakers to Preserve European Project

ZAGREB, October 25, 2019 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković called on his counterparts from Council of Europe member states on Thursday to act together in order to avoid new divisions and preserve the European project, announcing that Croatia would promote the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

Through continuous and constructive dialogue, mutual understanding and common action we can avoid divisions and preserve unity, he said in Strasbourg in a debate called "Our Common European Home: the next 70 years".

Earlier divisions brought us into the simplified trap of populism and criticism of everything that has been so carefully built for the past 70 years, Jandroković said.

One of the CoE's achievements is the single system of the European Convention on Human Rights and all the related instruments which focus on the protection of human dignity, he added.

Croatia's CoE membership benefited Croatian citizens. The CoE's role was especially invaluable in light of the efforts we invested on our path to membership of the EU, which we will chair in about two months, he said.

Jandroković also spoke in a debate on the UN's sustainable development goals. The Sustainable Development Goals Index ranks Croatia 22nd out of 162 countries, which gives us a good chance to become one of the leaders in the transition towards sustainability, he said.

He mentioned Croatia's first sustainable development documents, saying parliament adopted the Environmental Protection Declaration in 1992, only five months after Croatia was internationally recognised.

Currently in force is the 2009 Sustainable Development Strategy, while a national development strategy until 2030 is being drawn up.

The "Croatia as we want it" strategy will encompass priorities and contribute to the sustainable development and demographic revival of Croatia in the coming decade, Jandroković said.

Croatia will promote the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while chairing the Council of the EU next year, he said. The goals include ending poverty and hunger and promoting prosperity, peace, partnership and environmental protection.

Although the Agenda is not legally binding and the goals are being implemented slowly, he called on his counterparts to exchange opinions on how to step up the Agenda's progress. In that way, he said, we can revive the political momentum and initial enthusiasm.

More news about Council of Europe can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Jandroković: Government and HDZ Against Divisions

ZAGREB, September 15, 2019 - The current government and the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) are not pursuing a policy of divisions and exclusions, and their policy is that of inclusion and mutual tolerance, which is in the interest of the whole state, Parliament Speaker and HDZ Secretary-General Gordan Jandroković told the commercial broadcaster N1 on Sunday.

"All of us active on the political and public scenes should be guided, first of all, by our conscience and the interests of the Republic of Croatia. I think that we must be responsible," Jandroković said in his interview with the N1, which focused on the relations among members of the ruling coalition following recent statements by Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) which have stirred up many reactions including those from some other members of the coalition who have said that they are considering leaving it.

"Perhaps we would have scored more political points if we had had assumed a tough stance on Pupovac, and we would have received applause from a segment of the right-wing political scenes, however, the question is whether it would be useful for Croatia. I think that it wouldn't be," Jandroković said.

"Stability has priority over all kinds of polemical discussions that additional fuel the flames in Croatia."

He underscores that the incumbent government and the HDZ led by Andrej Plenković will not spread any divisions in the Croatian society.

We insist on the fact that there are different ways of thinking, different world views and concepts, and we live with that and should be able to deal with that and our prevailing course should be inclusion, mutual tolerance and respect, Jandroković added.

He dismissed criticism from some right-wing circles that the persons in the government were "weak Croats insufficiently dedicated to the Croatian national interests".

"We fight for (the national interests) in the manner we consider to be responsible, serious and in the interest of our state," he said, adding that he hopes that people will eventually recognise their efforts.

He went on to say that the policy of inclusion and respect was also the policy led by the HDZ founder and the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman who always tried to see to it that there were representatives of ethnic minorities, including the Serb minority, in the government and institutions and also in times which were much more difficult than the present-day circumstances.

I can't see anything bad in having representatives of ethnic minorities, including the Serb ethnic minority within the ruling majority. Of course, those representatives are also supposed to behave responsibly, and take care of what they say and what kind of reactions they provoke among Croatian citizens. All that is connected, Jandroković says.

Jandroković underscores that Croatia is a stable democracy that has several representatives in the high-ranking positions in European positions.

He also cited the country's recent successes such as the improvement of its credit ranking, economic growth, a good tourist season and believes that the credit for it goes to those who lead the policy of inclusion.

He also believes that the incumbent president Kolinda Grabar Kitarović has performed her presidential duties in her first term in a good and fair manner, and that she stands excellent chances of winning the second term if she completes the electoral campaign in a good manner and if the HDZ firmly supports her candidacy.

More HDZ news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Vlaho Orepić Discusses Issue of Fake Residences and Voting System

Independent parliamentarian Vlaho Orepić discussed various issues surrounding the Croatian political and social structure, claiming that ''the failure to properly deal with fake (fictitious) residences by the authorities is politically motivated and purposely left unresolved with the aim of influencing the outcomes of the upcoming elections,''

The fact that there is no real intention of the current authorities to remove fake residences from the electoral register and bring some order [to that situation] and accordingly, Croatia conducts a policy of banalisation when it comes to the conditions for obtaining Croatian citizenship were grounds for a press conference held by independent MP Vlaho Orepić.

On Tuesday, February the 5th, 2019, on the premises of the Croatian Parliament, Vlaho Orepić held a press conference on which he once again pointed out to the media and the public the problem of fake residence registration.


The fact that this issue remains unresolved means people who have their permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia are denied the right to elect their own authorities, and Croatian citizens living outside the homeland (whose voting rights are indisputable and come directly from what is written in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Ustav Republike Hrvatske) are also deceived in this way.

The conclusion which has now been arrived to, given that a response from the relevant minister wasn't given even after the issue was brought up in parliament, is that there is simply no sincere and real intention of the current government to even try to tackle an extremely important issue so that honest elections can be carried out in the future. Orepić has therefore also called upon political and social structures to take a stance and engage with the aim of protecting legality of upcoming elections and democratic processes in the Republic of Croatia.

"What worries me, and what has inspired a series of both formal and informal reactions from me, even this press conference, is the fact that false (fictitious) residences are politically motivated and protected with the aim of influencing the outcomes of the electoral process(es) in the Republic of Croatia. My goal is to put an end to fake residence [registration] and the type of politics which permits that same cheating in the elections. My goal is fair elections,'' stated Orepić.

According to new statistics, Croatia has fewer than four million inhabitants (approximately 3.750 million), according to official data we can count almost 4,175,000 people with health insurance and as many as 3,746,286 voters. The fact that the number of voters isn't actually correct has been indicated by the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), published in July 2017, which states that just children under the age of fourteen alone which are registered amount to 600,000. It's totally clear that Croatia has no accurate and publicly available list of citizens and voters, nor does it have the political will to have this problem solved.

From the mentioned numerical indicators, as well as from the legal definition of residence, which reads as - residence is the place and address in the Republic of Croatia where the person permanently resides in order to exercise his/her rights and obligations related to living interests such as family, professional, economic, social, cultural and social other interests - it's clear that a lot of people who don't meet these conditions have been entered into the electoral register.

They are listed [on the electoral register] on the basis of their false registrations of residence in the Republic of Croatia and thus, in addition to voting and other rights, they enjoy economic ones which come with residing in the Republic of Croatia.


That this is politically motivated has also been indicated by the fact that the second day after Vlaho Orepić's dismissal as Minister of the Interior, the disclosure and deletion procedure of false residence registrations in the Republic of Croatia (mainly regarding citizens from neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) was suspended. Activities related to the abolition of fake residences are a legal obligation of the chief of police administrations, but in spite of that fact, all of those who were engaged in carrying out this work were prevented from continuing with it.

While Vlaho Orepić was the Minister of the Interior, in just two and a half months, about 45,000 fake residence registrations were removed, and over the next four months that number rose to 75,000. The estimates are that at the present moment, there are at least 150,000 fictitious residence registrations in the Republic of Croatia, which brings a whole range of election process outcomes as well as the legality of the authorities at all levels into question.

"I hope all political, judicial and other social structures will realise the importance of this issue. From the government, the security services and the justice system, I expect an urgent reaction, just as was done with the recent attempt to try to discredit the Minister of Agriculture (Tomislav Tolušić). I expect from the umbrella of war veteran associations to stand up for the legality of the election process in the Republic of Croatia, especially with the engagement of Mr. Josip Đakić as a parliamentary representative and as a war veteran.

I expect the support of the President of the Croatian Parliament, Mr. Gordan Jandroković, and especially the two vice-presidents Mr. Milijan Brkić and Mr. Božo Petrov because they know very well what I'm talking about and what I'm fighting for. I also expect the support of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to whom this issue must be in focus because it's in the interest of citizens, and all the citizens of the Republic of Croatia, and without whom we cannot even begin to talk about the rule of law as the basis for the survival of every single legal state,'' concluded Vlaho Orepić, MP.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Three Days After Elections, Indictment Against HDZ Official

ZAGREB, March 14, 2019 - Parliament Speaker and HDZ party secretary-general Gordan Jandroković said on Wednesday, in a comment on an indictment against member of parliament Marijan Kustić, who headed the HDZ slate and won a recent election in Lika-Senj County, and who has been charged with causing a traffic accident, that it was not customary for officials to resign after legal proceedings were launched against them.

The prosecutorial authorities in Osijek earlier in the day indicted Kustić for causing a traffic accident in which two persons were seriously injured while the parliamentary Conflict of Interest Commission said that it would consider Kustić's failure to report a valuable watch in his declaration of assets.

"The proceedings have just been launched and it is not customary for officials to resign when proceedings are launched," Jandroković told reporters in Zagreb, adding that his comment was the same with regard to the indictment against Kustić. "... I think it would be best... to wait for a non-final and then a final verdict in order to be able to pass judgement," said Jandroković.

Commenting on the timing of the indictment, three days after the early election in Lika-Senj County, Jandroković said that he was confident that there had been no pressure and that all institutions that had to be autonomous operated autonomously. "I'm also confident that the ruling majority and the government do not exert any pressure," he said.

Asked if the HDZ would support the new budget of Lika-Senj County or if a new election would have to be held, Jandroković said that Kustić had made it clear several times that the first step would be to form the majority in the Lika-Senj County Assembly, after which decisions would be made.

Asked if the majority in the county assembly could be formed with former HDZ official and Lika-Senj County head Darko Milinović, considering that HDZ political secretary Lovro Kuščević had said that it was not an option, Jandroković answered: "If the political secretary has said so, why would the secretary-general's opinion be different?"

More news about HDZ can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Parliament Speaker Supports Croatian Bishops' Statement on Bleiburg Ban

ZAGREB, March 9, 2019 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković has told reporters he fully supported a statement by the Croatian Bishops Conference (HBK) which expressed its deep disagreement with the decision by the Roman Catholic Church in the Austrian federal state of Carinthia to withhold permission for this year's memorial mass at Loibach, a field near Bleiburg.

The Croatian Bishops Conference believes that "not allowing the possibility to pray for the victims of that great tragedy of the Croat people means disrespect for the victims and lack of sensitivity for the suffering of the innocent," dismissing the reasons for the decision in their entirety.

I fully support the HBK statement, Jandroković told reporters on Friday evening in the central Croatian town of Gospić where the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) held an election rally for the Lika-Senj County Assembly.

Vladimir Šeks of the HDZ also addressed reporters in Gospić on Friday evening, saying that the Organisation Committee of the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, the Croatian parliament under whose auspices the event is held, and the Austrian regional government had already taken all steps to prevent any display of Ustasha insignia at the commemoration in Bleiburg.

The Bleiburg commemorations are held in tribute to tens of thousands of Croatian civilians and soldiers of the defeated Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia who surrendered to allied forces there in May 1945, but were handed over by British troops to Yugoslav forces. Many were executed on the spot, while many perished during so-called death marches back to Yugoslavia.

The secretary of the Klagenfurt Diocese, Msgr. Guggenberger, said that the mass held in the field near Bleiburg "has become part of an event that is used for political purposes and is part of a political and national ritual that serves for the selective perception and interpretation of history."

In a statement that explains the decision not to grant permission for the religious service, planned for May 18 this year, the Catholic Church in Carinthia says that the decision was made after a thorough analysis of the 2018 gathering at Bleiburg as well as numerous conversations between representatives of the Austrian and Croatian bishops conferences, which also included believers of the Croat community in Carinthia and representatives of Austrian security authorities.

Even though the Bleiburg gathering is held on a private property, holding a religious service there requires permission from the local church.

Since last year Austria has been treating the Bleiburg commemoration more critically, at the initiative of several Austrian members of the European Parliament. Recently, a law went into force banning the display of Ustasha symbols, dating back to the time of the NDH.

More news on the Bleiburg commemorations can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Parliament Speaker Jandroković Worried about Incidents

ZAGREB, January 19, 2019 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday commented on this week's incident involving Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and MOST MP Nikola Grmoja, saying the prime minister's reaction, no matter how inappropriate, was a reaction to unacceptable accusations of high treason.

"We're not all the same. There's a reaction, there's a trigger, i.e. what the MOST MP said," Jandroković told reporters in Rugvica near Zagreb, inviting them to find out the roots of the commotion in parliament on Wednesday, i.e. who caused the incident by using inappropriate language.

He said Grmoja's accusations of high treason were serious and that he made them because Croatia was not blocking Serbia's European Union accession negotiations. "When you accuse someone of high treason, you have accused them of a serious crime," he said, adding that everyone must be accountable for their actions.

"Political dilettantism, populism and demagoguery in which one is calling for bringing Croatia into an international situation which would harm it, only someone who is politically rather stupid can do that or someone who understands nothing or is very ill-meaning and malicious," Jandroković said.

After a reporter noted that HDZ MPs had also accused the opposition of high treason in the past, he said those were isolated cases, whereas Grmoja did so intentionally. "They are deliberately causing tensions between the Croatian people and the Serb minority. It's planned. They are doing it to score cheap political points," he said, calling it a dirty political game.

Jandroković said Plenković did not try to assault Grmoja but wanted to explain to him that what he had said was unacceptable.

As for five demands which the Zagreb mayor forwarded to the government, he said he had not seen them. "We won't agree to any blackmail. Those who blackmail can't be part of the ruling coalition. If there is any blackmail, we will go to an early election."

Reporters asked Jandroković if there was a connection between a recent assault on a high school student in Vukovar who attends classes in the Serbian language and a press conference by mayor Ivan Penava and the publication of a video of Serb students who did not stand up as the Croatian national anthem was played. He said he could not talk about a connection before the investigation was over.

"I can't tell you what could have produced a certain effect, but I'd also like to ask whether it's OK that someone doesn't stand up during the Croatian anthem. We are talking about children here. They should be protected and children's right to privacy should be respected, but it would also be good to tell everyone in Croatia that they should stand up when the Croatian anthem is played because it's a sign of respect for the Croatian state and the Croatian people."

Jandroković pushed for a balanced approach to serious matters. "This is crossing the line of simple politics. This is encroaching upon fundamental freedoms, fundamental rights. Those freedoms and rights are being threatened and we must be very careful about what we say and how we say it."

More news on the Croatian Parliament can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 31 December 2018

No Government Reshuffle Expected in New Year, Says Speaker

ZAGREB, December 31, 2018 - Parliament Speaker and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) secretary-general Gordan Jandroković said on Monday that currently nothing hinted at a possible government reshuffle and underscored that the scandal dubbed text messages had nothing to do with the ruling HDZ party.

Considering the text messages affair, individuals worked outside the system and used the methods of work which can be considered inappropriate and perhaps contrary to law, Jandroković told the reporters who covered his New Year Eve walk through the centre of Zagreb. Jandroković said that the current leadership had nothing to do with that scandal.

Asked by the press what was about HDZ deputy president Milijan Brkić and his alleged connections with the suspects in the scandal, Jandroković said that he "is speaking about the people who now run the HDZ. All who are possibly implicated will have to be held to account." Jandroković declined to specify the names of those possibly implicated in the scandal.

As for the HDZ, he said that the party would prepare for the European Parliament elections, set for mid-May 2019.

Regarding the HDZ's position on the support to the incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović for her second term, Jandroković reiterated that he expected Grabar-Kitarović to first say whether she decided to rerun for the presidency. "If she decides so, the HDZ will support her."

He also admitted that there was no hurry for Grabar-Kitarović to outline her plans given that "no serious counter-candidate" has yet appeared.

Jandroković rejected media interpretations that the president replaced her advisers after caving in under the pressure from the HDZ leadership.

Commenting on the reporters' observations on fence-mending between President Grabar-Kitarović and Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković, Jandoković said that "the time has shown who were those people who stood behind occasional straining of the relations along the lines of the president and the government or the HDZ."

I expect cooperation and exchange of information as well as fixing of what ought to be fixed in the coming period, Jandroković said.

More news on the HDZ can be found in our Politics section.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Government Does Not See Statement by President as an Attack

ZAGREB, November 30, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that he did not see the statement by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović as an attack on him, and announced that the National Security Council would be convened in December.

"No, why would I see it as an attack? The only thing I can see as an attack is what happened a few months ago, that text messages are fabricated and attempts are made to confuse the public in Croatia and to implicate me in something that is on the other side of the law. That is an attack," Plenković told the press after a meeting of the parliamentary group of his HDZ party.

Plenković said that "phenomena" such as the fake text messages scandal should be investigated and cleared up by relevant authorities. "I don't see anything new here because things like this happen in our political and media arena every week."

Asked to comment on the president's claim that he had not responded to her invitation to call a National Security Council meeting, Plenković said that these meetings needed to be well prepared, and the Council needs to adopt a document concerning the work of the security services next year.

He said that the National Security Council would convene some time in December, when the timing is deemed right.

Asked if Grabar-Kitarović should have temporarily suspended her national security adviser Vlado Galić until the scandal was discussed, Plenković said that this was for her to decide.

The President's Office said earlier that President Grabar-Kitarović most resolutely dismissed any insinuations of her alleged involvement in an alleged attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Plenković and that she considered this insinuation as a direct political attack on the state institutions, especially the institution of the President of the Republic.

Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday that a meeting of the National Security Council would be convened "when it becomes necessary."

Asked why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković hasn't replied to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's request to convene the National Security Council, Jandroković said that he didn't have any information about that.

"I believe that the Council will be convened when that becomes necessary," he said, and when pressed to say whether it was necessary now, he said, "It's hard for me to say. I would have to see the reasons for the President's stance. I saw that it was pretty dramatic. I am not quite sure which part of Mr Varga's deposition the president is referring to but it is certainly necessary to discuss and resolve the problem, if it exists," Jandroković said ahead of a meeting of the parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.

Asked to comment on the statement by president that the political institutions in the country were currently under the strongest attack and the prime minister was not reacting, Jandroković said he didn't think the president's calling out the government was that dramatic. "A warning of an ongoing attack on the institutions is indeed dramatic but mentioning the prime minister isn't as dramatic as is being made out."

Asked whether he agreed with the president's claim that the institutions were currently under attack, Jandroković said it was necessary to determine what had actually happened. "As soon as the fake text messages scandal emerged and when information leaked from the security system, it was something that needed investigating to see what happened. Who did that, what their intentions were and was there a wider group of people involved, should be determined. Perhaps that wasn't the first time. That act indicates that it's necessary to take action. I'm not sure though that that's a reason to convene the National Security Council and to escalate tensions," Jandroković said on the statement by president.

For more on Croatia’s president, click here.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Qatar and Croatia to Develop Closer Economic Cooperation

ZAGREB, November 20, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met on Monday with the visiting Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalif Al Thani, and the two officials said that their countries were interested in closer economic cooperation and more investments, the government said in a statement.

Prime Minister Plenković and Sheikh Al Thani confirmed the excellent and friendly political relations between Croatia and Qatar.

The Croatian prime minister pointed to the importance of further advancing bilateral relations and stepping up investments and trade with Qatar.

In the same vein, eight bilateral agreements were signed between Croatia and Qatar earlier in the day, regulating cooperation in culture and sports, agriculture, education and research, and in the defence and other sectors.

With regard to the two countries' cooperation in the field of energy and diversification of energy sources, Plenković and Al Thani discussed the importance of further developing the LNG terminal project on the island of Krk.

The Qatari emir assessed as positive a significant increase in the number of Qataris visiting Croatia, noting that there was great potential for cooperation in many areas.

He extended an invitation for Prime Minister Plenković to officially visit Qatar, which Plenković accepted, the statement said.

Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković also received the visiting Qatari emir, and on that occasion the Croatian official expressed confidence that this reciprocal official visit would be conducive to efforts to boost bilateral relations, the press office of the Croatian parliament stated.

The two officials agreed that good political relations between the two countries and exchange of visits of office holders paved the way for broadening cooperation in many fields.

Bilateral relations will be further boosted by the conclusion of bilateral agreements, notably on the economic front. In this context, Jandroković and Al Thani welcomed the growing statistics about Qataris visiting Croatia.

They exchanged opinions on regional security.

The Croatian parliament speaker accepted with pleasure the invitation of the Qatari emir to visit that Gulf country.

For more on Croatia’s politics, click here.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Speaker of Parliament Jandroković Meets with Vatican Officials

ZAGREB, November 18, 2018 - The best response to the current global challenges are multilateralism and strengthening of democracy, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said after his meeting with Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State Paul Gallagher in the Vatican on Saturday. The two officials discussed the situation in the region and the world.

Jandroković said that excellent bilateral relations were confirmed at the meeting. "I once again thanked the Holy See for everything it has done for Croatia since we gained independence. The Vatican was one of the first countries to recognise Croatia and it supported Croatia during the Homeland War and on its journey to the European Union," Jandroković said after the talks.

He told the press the talks also focused on Croatia's neighbours. "I expressed my concern about the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also said that Croatia was interested in EU enlargement and we are prepared to assist our neighbours who aspire to join the bloc," Jandroković said.

He reiterated that the Croatian people wanted to see Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac canonized as soon as possible and once again extended an invitation to the Holy Father to visit Croatia.

Talks were also focused on the global state of affairs, international issues and challenges. "We agreed that the best response to all global threats is strengthening multilateralism, strengthening of democracy as a response to growing populism and, of course, dialogue between countries, between nations who are the only ones that can resolve problems. Violence and wars must be avoided at all costs," Jandroković said.

There were no concrete talks about possible signing of implementation agreement for the Vatican Treaties. "This was not addressed today. We agreed that our relations are excellent, that we want to further develop them and that we have a high level of understanding and agreement on many topics, but we did not start concrete talks. This is the job for the executive government," Jandroković said.

During his two-day official visit to Italy, Jandroković met Senate President Elisabeta Alberti Casellati and visited the Pontifical Croatia College of St Jerome on Thursday.

On Friday, he held talks with Vice President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Maria Edera Spadoni and President of the Foreign and European affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies Marta Grande.

For more on Croatia’s relations with the Vatican, click here,

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