Sunday, 19 September 2021

Croatia's Participation in Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Confirmed

September 19, 2021 - HRT confirms Croatia's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. The selection of Croatia's entry for Italy will once again be crowned through the Dora competition.

Croatia is again getting ready for the 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and is undeniably in high spirits. As HRT recently posted, “The beautiful September weather only contributes to the preparations for Dora and Eurovision 2022, which are in full swing! The Croatian national final for the Eurovision Song Contest will begin soon, so stay with us for more information.”

Since the country's debut in 1993, Dora has been used to select Croatia's entry for Eurovision except between 2012 to 2018 when Croatia had undergone a series of internal selections and withdrawals. In 2019, Dora returned and has been used ever since. 

According to Eurovoix, Dora 2022 is expected to take place in Opatija. The city has hosted all editions of the show except in 2011. Opatija and HRT signed a three-year deal to host Glazbeni Dani Hrvatske Radiotelevizije, which Dora is a part of.

Last year, Albina was chosen to represent Croatia in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Tick-Tock". With the votes of the jury and public, the song made it in the top ten but landed 11th in the semi-final and did not qualify for the finals.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Italy on May 22 following their victory with Maneskin's "Zitti e buoni" at the 2021 Eurovision contest. 

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

HRT National Broadcaster to Air Series About NDH

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - "NDH", a series of the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) about the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia, will start on Monday, 20 September and its author, historian Hrvoje Klasić, says it should have been aired much sooner, while the HRT rejects claims about deliberately not broadcasting the series.

"I only know that this series should have been finished much sooner. But it hasn't been. And that was not because of us as the crew, and it should have aired sooner. Again, not because of us, but because of the HRT," Klasić told Hina.

On the other hand, the public broadcaster's acting Director-General, Renato Kunić, said that no show had been deliberately not aired during his term as the director of programming and during his colleagues' terms.

He added that the NDH series was put on hold for several reasons. More specifically, an adequate schedule had to be found for the 12 episodes because that is three months of airing, and the programme budget has its rules, Kunić said.

He also said that the series cost about HRK 1.5 million and that the difference between the six episodes initially proposed by Klasić and the 12 realised episodes was about half a million kuna, and he stressed that this was a matter of assessment when to air the programme and not a ban, adding that the series was finished in June 2020.

Both Klasić and the HRT agreed that this was a long-awaited project in which about 30 members of the academic community and historians would talk about the NDH, and it would be illustrated by over two hours of film material on the NDH, purchased from the Yugoslav Film Archive.

Klasić underlined the valuable contribution of HRT's director and co-writer Miljenko Bukovčan and editor Iva Blašković.

Klasić: Series is neither ideological nor tendentious

"I would like to warn the viewers -- there are 12 episodes and this was not done in an ideological or tendentious way," Klasić said, adding that the series was not chronological but organised thematically.

"Everything that is said is enough to understand that moment -- the temporal, socio-political context, to understand what that state was and what kind of life its citizens had," he said.

The goal was not, he pointed out, to create a lexicon in which everything would be listed, but to give a description and an analysis of a time, and top experts from the entire region and Europe helped with that.

Klasić also explained his statement in Jutarnji List daily that "there are no conflicting opinions, but only because right-wing historians did not want to participate".

"When we talk about the NDH, there are no conflicting opinions among historians and scientists who care about their scientific reputation. Not among scientists in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sweden or in Washington," Klasić said.

Some have merely focused more on a particular period. Of course, there may be different opinions on how to approach the number of victims in Jasenovac or after Bleiburg, he added.

"However, when we talk about the character of the Ustasha-ruled state, the NDH, about the character of the Jasenovac camp or about what happened in May 1945, there is in principle no disagreement," Klasić said.

The series was shot on numerous locations, from the Vatican and Sachsenhausen, to Bleiburg and Jasenovac, Janka Puszta (Jankovac), but also Florence, where there is still the villa which Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić, Klasić said, got for his services in the future annexation of parts of the Croatian Adriatic as Mussolini's "man for special assignments".

Special episodes are dedicated to the economy and culture during the NDH, as well as the relationship between the Ustasha regime and the church.

"A large part of the series focuses on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Ustasha movement. Many say that the Church used the Ustasha, but I believe that it was vice versa and many historians agree on that. Alojzije Stepinac was not a war criminal but he definitely was not an example of antifascist resistance," said Klasić.

As for possible negative reactions to the series, Klasić said he expected them from those who "have been reviving the NDH for the past 30 years."

"It is to be expected because we live in a country where abnormal things have become normal, including the Ustasha salute, where about 20 streets have been named after members of the Ustasha regime and where there are associations that deny Jasenovac," Klasić said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Saturday, 28 August 2021

30th Anniversary of HRT Cameraman Kaić’s Killing in Osijek Commemorated

ZAGREB, 28 Aug, 2021 - Wreath-laying ceremonies were held on Saturday in Osijek at the "Last Shot" monument erected in memory of HRT cameraman Žarko Kaić, killed by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) in that eastern Croatian city on 28 August 1991.

Kaic lost his life in the suburb of Brijest when fire was opened from a JNA armoured fighting vehicle at the HRT crew that was covering the passage of a JNA column of tanks through Osijek.

Participants in today's commemoration pointed out that Kaić had been covering the war developments in Slavonia at the start of the Great Serbian aggression.

His work conveyed the truth about the war and the beginning of the Great Serbia aggression, the war veterans ministry's state secretary, Špiro Janović, said at today''s commemorative events.

The truth cannot be interpreted differently, and Kaić's recordings of the events in Osijek, Aljmaš and Dalj show the suffering of the Croatian people and the resolve of Croatian soldiers, Janović said.

In that incident 30 years ago, Kaić was killed while an HRT sound operator, Dragan Krička, was seriously wounded and the third member of the TV crew, journalist Saša Kopljar, remained unwounded.

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Thursday, 15 July 2021

Parliament Relieves Bačić of His Duties as HRT Director-General

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - Kazimir Bačić, who was recently arrested on suspicion of graft, was on Thursday relieved of his duties as Director-General of the HRT public broadcasting service by 116 to two votes.

The parliament also appointed the current Director of Programming Renato Kunić acting Director-General, and this decision was supported by 77 lawmakers, two abstentions and 42 MPs voted against it.

In early July, the HRT Supervisory Board unanimously agreed at an extraordinary meeting to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Bačić after he was arrested.

USKOK corruption investigators suspect that Bačić, acting on behalf of businessman Milan Lončarić, took €50,000 in a bribe to the late Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić for the Gardens of Light project. As a reward for his role, Bačić is believed to have been given an apartment worth HRK 1 million (€133,300) in central Zagreb.

The parliament today dismissed a proposal made by Social Democrat Arsen Bauk that Kunić should be encouraged to withdraw HRT defamation lawsuits which the broadcaster had filed against some of its journalists. It was Bačić who had previously initiated those actions.

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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Strongly condemns violence after LGTBIQ Pride Parade

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence that had occurred after the LGTBIQ Pride Parade in Zagreb on Saturday. 

"That is unacceptable, Croatia is a free country and everyone should be what they are. Human rights and the rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities, should be respected," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

"Croatia is big enough for everyone to be free," he stressed.

Plenković recalled that Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights Boris Milošević had also condemned the physical assaults on members of the LGBTIQ community, noting that what Milošević wrote in his Facebook post was on behalf of the whole cabinet.

"I totally agree with him. I think that violence and inciting to violence is unacceptable. And now (Bridge MPs) Petrov and Grmoja are crying because they have received threats, they were obviously perceived as some kind of inciters. I receive such threats on a daily and weekly basis and I don't speak about it with anyone. One learns to cope with it, while they are now crying about it," the PM said.

"The worst actors on the scene are those who are exclusive, and I want us to build an inclusive society in which everyone will advocate and stand behind their values and in which everyone will be able to ensure an education for their children based on the values that they have and share. Things should not be imposed on anyone. If someone is different, respect them, they also have their freedom and their choices. We must build a society that is inclusive, that's the most important thing, and I don't see why it should be any different," he added. 

He said that people in Croatia needed a little encouragement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while certain actors in society needed encouragement to be more tolerant. "That will come about, I am optimistic."

Milanović's double standards

Plenković also talked about the environmental devastation of Vruja Cove on the southern Dalmatian coast and Sunday's protest rally ironically called the Illegal Construction and Nature Devastation Festival, where protesters called out Stipe Latković, a businessman from Split and a friend and donor of President Milanović.

Asked why the government was not acting, given that the property in case is state-owned, Plenković said that the relevant inspectorate had issued a number of decisions, "which obviously were not complied with", and imposed fines,

"Those decisions were made not just this year but for many years, and now these campaigners for (an independent) judiciary, who are accusing the judiciary, as Milanović is, of being under the control of the (ruling) HDZ, are protecting these illegal builders. This is a fantastic example of double standards," Plenković said.

He said that this was not the only "brilliant" example of double standards, citing the cases of Constitutional Court judge Andrej Abramović, who used a garden hose to pour water on his neighbours, SDP MP Marina Opačak Bilić, who is suspected of economic crime, and Sisak mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček who failed to provide requested documents to USKOK anti-corruption investigators.

"All these are double standards of campaigners for an independent judiciary, and here I mean Milanović," the prime minister said.

 Bačić's arrest not pleasant for either HRT or Parliament

Commenting on the arrest of the director-general of the HRT public broadcasting service, Kazimir Bačić, on suspicion of corruption, Plenković said that the judicial authorities were acting completely independently and impartially.

"I don't want to speculate about anyone's responsibility, but the situation is not pleasant either for the HRT or for the Croatian parliament which appointed Bačić," he said.

The parliamentary Media Committee is meeting today to discuss the proposal to relieve Bačić of his duties and appoint an acting director-general. 

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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

USKOK Investigators Conducting Probe in Zagreb City Administration Offices

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

Tomašević said in a brief press release that the new city administration fully supported the independence of state institutions and would continue advocating the transparency of work of the city administration, all city departments, companies, institutions and the related businesses.

Media say HRT director arrested

Several people were arrested on Wednesday morning on the suspicion of corruption, including, according to media reports, the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić.

USKOK and police have not confirmed these reports, but media say that the suspicion of corruption refers mostly to transactions of the previous Zagreb city administration at the end of 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Bačić was allegedly arrested over a suspicious contract he signed on behalf of HRT with the Tvornica Žarulja light bulb factory.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Defence Minister Mario Banožić: Reintroducing Conscription Being Considered

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Wednesday the reintroduction of conscription was being considered and that, although he was sure it was the right move, he felt that Croatian society still had to deal with this subject a lot.

Speaking on Croatian Radio, Banožić said he tried to research the subject in recent months.

He said almost two in three citizens supported mandatory military service, but added that the motive for introducing it was important, and that was security and stability.

Parents are for introducing conscription first and foremost as an educational measure, which is not the right motive, he said.

Croatia needs security, stability and serving one's country as the motive, ideals which are the foundations of the Croatian army, courage and the desire to feel secure and whole, Banožić said.

Croatian society still has to deal with this subject a lot, but reintroducing mandatory military service is the right step, he added.

Asked if there was a road map and when that could be expected, he said that for now the ministry was researching public opinion and how to manage the process because of the sensitive subject.

Especially considering that once you abandon such a model, bringing conscription back is a much tougher challenge, he added.

For more about the army in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek: Concept of HRT Management Inaugurated During Zoran Milanović's Premiership

ZAGREB, 7 May (Hina) - Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Friday that she was shocked by President Zoran Milanović's attack on the HRT public broadcaster, adding that she had always stood up for press freedom.

"The government has no ambition whatsoever to influence any media outlet in Croatia. Quite the contrary, I believe that we strengthen democracy and all the values in society if we try to ensure conditions for reporters to do their job professionally and without any pressure," Obuljen Koržinek said after a ceremony of opening a library in the town of Delnice.

She condemned Milanović's statements in which he attacked an HRT correspondent in Split, refusing to answer her questions and saying that the HRT was not a public broadcaster but was serving the interests of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"I think that Milanović is the last person who can call out anybody," Obuljen Koržinek said, stressing that the concept and legislative framework for the HRT management had been inaugurated during his term as prime minister.

She went on to say that in her capacity as the minister of culture and media, she had always stood up for the autonomy of the media, notably reporters.

Union leader: Milanović attacks journalists who are not responsible for HRT's policy

Croatian Journalists' Union leader and HRT reporter Maja Sever said on Thursday that the reporters whom Milanović verbally attacked earlier in the day were not responsible for the public broadcaster's editorial policy and that he was among those who had failed to ensure HRT's autonomy. 

Also on Thursday, the Journalists' Union and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) branch at the HRT condemned Milanović's statements, but also noted that the HRT under current director Kazimir Bačić was not an independent public service and that the government led by PM Andrej Plenković was responsible for that.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Proposal That Judges Elect Supreme Court Head is Absurd And Dangerous

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Wednesday described as absurd and dangerous the proposal by Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela that it was judges who should elect the president of the highest court in the country.

Mrčela told the public television service HTV on Tuesday evening that disputes over the appointment of the Supreme Court President could be avoided if the system of selection was changed so that judges themselves elected the chief justice.

In order to change the process of selection of the Supreme Court President, it is necessary to amend the Constitution, which, however, requires a political consensus, Mrčela said on HTV's prime-time news programme.

President Milanović today criticised the appearance of a judge in the national broadcaster's prime time news programme.

"I consider it very dangerous that judges should appear in prime time news programmes to say what the Croatian Constitution should look like, after they themselves have destroyed it many times," Milanović said. "I don't dare come out with ideas that can change the world, while a judge, who obviously serves a life term, does," he added.

Milanović said that as the head of state he did not see himself in the role of someone who amends the Constitution but someone who guards it.

He  went on to say that Mrčela's proposal was "absolutely absurd" and such a model did not exist anywhere in Europe.

Milanović said that Mrčela, as a judge, was promoting political ideas. "That was a political statement. I urge judges not to comment on the political system in Croatia," the president said.

Mrčela also said that the current disputes about the future Supreme Court President were purely political, and pushed for removing politics from the process of appointment of the Supreme Court President.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela Pushes For Changing Model of Selecting Chief Justice

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela told the national broadcaster (HTV) on Tuesday evening that the disputes in the election of that court's president could be avoided if the system of the selection is changed so that it is the judges themselves who elect their top-ranking colleague.

In this context he mentioned the model of the selection of the president of the Constitutional Court who is appointed by his/her colleagues.

Mrčela said that the current disputes about the future Supreme Court president are purely political.

He pushed for removing politics from the process of the appointment of the Supreme Court President and added that it would also be conducive to reducing the perception of the political influence on the judiciary.

In order to change the process of the selection of the Supreme Court President, it is necessary to amend the Constitution which, however, requires a political consensus, he admitted.

 A total of five candidacies have been submitted for the new head of the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Zoran Milanović said that law professor Zlata Đurđević was his candidate for the Supreme Court president and asked members of parliament to think carefully before they reject her because he would hang tough on this matter.

Mrčela said that the Supreme Court would also give its opinion on the candidates, however, this opinion was not binding, despite GRECO's recommendations that it should be treated as binding.

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