Saturday, 20 March 2021

HSS and SDP to Run Together in May Local Election in Zagreb County

ZAGREB, 20 March 2021 - The Zagreb County branches of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) said on Saturday they would run together in local elections May this year. 

Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović will run for Zagreb County head, the HSS Zagreb County branch, and the current deputy county head, Hrvoje Frankić, will run for his deputy.

The two coalition candidates strongly criticized current county head Stjepan Kožić, who was elected as an HSS candidate four years ago. In the first year of his term, he left the HSS, formed his own party, and formed a coalition with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Zmajlović and Frankić promised they would not let such a scenario happen again.

Zmajlović said that voters would say in the May 16 election what they think about Kožić's post-election coalition and shady deals with HDZ members who had ended up as indictees of the USKOK anti-corruption office.

The two candidates said their vision of Zagreb County's development was based on a modern, efficient, and transparent administration guaranteeing development and high living standards, available health and education services, and transport connectivity.

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



Thursday, 4 March 2021

Opposition Says Agricultural Production in Ruin

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - During Thursday's debate on amendments to the Agriculture Act, the parliamentary opposition said Croatia's agriculture was collapsing due to poor policies, while Minister Marija Vučković dismissed such claims and said that agricultural production was growing.

Željko Lenart (HSS-HSU) said 33,000 hectares of valuable farmland from the former Agrokor conglomerate was now owned by the foreign Fortenova and that pig farming and milk production were collapsing.

He said the Farmland Act was not being honoured, that a stay on the sale of farmland to foreigners would soon end, and that the smallest farmers were being destroyed because only 6.5% of the biggest producers received the bulk of the aid.

Mišel Jakšić (Social Democrats) said the state of agriculture showed that the policies to date had not produced results because import was high and there was no self-sufficiency despite the potential.

Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) said 88 million tonnes a year was thrown away due to expiration dates and pushed for donating food to the needy and establishing a food bank.

Vučković said cereal production and cattle-framing were up and that food donations had gone up 13%, adding that it was necessary to reduce food waste.

Marijana Petir (ruling HDZ) pushed for regulating the aid system to facilitate the development of small and medium farmers. She announced a call for applications for HRK 120 million to help farmers in earthquake-hit areas.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Beljak Reelected HSS Leader

ZAGREB, July 31, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak was reelected president of this parliamentary party during Thursday's intra-party election convention.

Out of the 965 delegates who were eligible to vote in the election, 610 took part, and of the 508 voted for Beljak, while his rival, Zeljko Lenart, who is the HSS secretary-general, won 101 votes. One ballot was invalid.

Beljak and Lenart are the only two HSS parliamentary deputies in the new, 10th national legislature.

Upon the declaration of the results on Thursday evening, Beljak said that he was aware that the HSS had scored poor results in the 5 July parliamentary elections, and admitted that it was partly his fault.

"I will do my best to make sure that mistakes from the past will not be repeated."

He also promised the improvement of his public discourse and the defusion of tensions within the party.

As for those party members who contested the legality of the election convention, Beljak said that anybody who had doubts about the regularity can report that to competent bodies.

This is their right, however, it is sad that they express those doubts in statements to media. There has been enough quarreling in the HSS, he said and added that the HSS should adhere to its slogan "Faith in God and Peasant Unity".

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Restart Coalition Says It Is Team for Defending Croatia from HDZ

ZAGREB, May 9, 2020 - Leaders of five opposition parties on Saturday presented the Restart Coalition in which they will run in the coming parliamentary election, announcing a new start for Croatia and the defence of the country against the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The Restart Coalition comprises the Social Democratic Party (SDP) led by Davor Bernardić, the Croatian People's Party (HSS) of Krešo Beljak, the Croatian Pensioner's Party (HSU) of Silvano Hrelja, the Civil and Liberal Alliance (GLAS) headed by Anka Mrak Taritaš, and the Civil Activism Party (SNAGA) of Goran Aleksić.

"Croatia needs a restart more than ever, a new beginning on sound foundations, this time without corruption, justly, not with cronyism, with competent ones, not parasites. Our name is our programme, a complete restart of Croatia," Bernardić said at a press conference.

He said people were hopeless and that over a million lived on the brink of poverty.

"Due to numerous scandals and debts, healthcare is facing a total collapse, the education reform is non-existent, the security system is lagging, the state apparatus is overstaffed and doesn't fulfil its purpose. The situation in the judiciary has never been worse. Corruption has seeped into every pore of our society," said Bernardić.

"More than half the government had to go due to suspicion of corruption and it is still in power thanks to political corruption, to the buying of members of parliament, which has destroyed people's faith in the system and institutions," he added.

Bernardić said that when they came to power they would reduce the number of ministries, towns and municipalities as well as the inefficient state administration, and digitise the country and all public services and processes so that the state administration was as close to citizens as possible, but without corruption.

"We will fight corruption by all means, changing laws, making punishment stricter as well as reforming the judiciary, education and healthcare," he said, adding that they would release Croatia's huge potential, boosting industry and exports, relaxing the tax burden on labour and stimulating investment.

"We believe in a new policy, a policy of honesty, courage and trust, a policy and a government which works for citizens, not for itself. We don't want to just turn over a new leaf in our history but write a completely new book, building a strong country," Bernardić said, announcing a new start for Croatia with no more lies, corruption, betrayal and deceit.

He said that in the Restart Coalition they were not distributing positions but concentrating on the platform and a fundamental agreement on jointly running in the election and restarting Croatia "so that Croatia can have a shot at success and the children being born today a shot at a better life."

Bernardić said slates would be discussed when coronavirus restrictions were lifted and election rallies possible. The candidate for prime minister will be the president of the biggest coalition party and the party which wins the most votes, he added.

Beljak said Croatia had needed a new start long before the current crisis and that this crisis had brought to light all of Croatia's problems. "Our coalition has enough know-how, experience, quality and political battles behind it to be able to finally get Croatia started."

Beljak said the HDZ had brought Croatia to the brink of destruction and that it should be opposed. We are the new start, he added.

Mrak Taritaš said the coalition represented a team for the defence of Croatia from the HDZ. "When Croatia had to be pulled out of the biggest crises and abysses the HDZ threw Croatia into, we were the ones who brought our country back to the right path, the path of development, recovery and a functioning state."

She said it was no coincidence that the coalition was formed on Victory Day and Europe Day because this symbolised the Croatia they wanted. Croatia can and deserves to be a country which is not chained by the corruption and incompetence with which the incumbent government is keeping it at the bottom, she added.

Hrelja said Croatia was barely surviving today and that this did not bode for a good and bright future. His party's focus as part of the Restart Coalition will remain on the pension and healthcare systems as well as labour, he added.

Aleksić said he was confident the coalition would take responsibility for Croatia in the coming parliamentary election because it deserved to given its track record in parliament.

The coalition is talking with many county and municipal heads as well as mayors and regional parties such as the PGS and the IDS. Next week it will sign an agreement with Bjelovar-Bilogora County head Damir Bajs.

More elections news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Orepić Joins HSS; Party Might Run in Election on Its Own

ZAGREB, April 30, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak confirmed on Thursday that MP Vlaho Orepić had joined the HSS, stressing that the party was not ruling out the idea of running in the parliamentary election on its own.

The HSS is seriously preparing for the election, whenever it may be, and it is ready to compete in any configuration, Beljak said, confirming that he was in talks with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and other opposition parties on running together in the election but was not ruling out the possibility of the HSS running on its own.

He recalled that he had been pushing for opposition parties with similar platforms to come together but that the outcome of talks was not just up to him.

"We are ready for an agreement, not just with the SDP but with other opposition parties as well, but that does not mean that the HSS will wait around or beg anyone," he said.

He recalled that for two years the party had been advocating its New Republic platform, which, he said, defined what Croatia needed, and he believed the current crisis provided an opportunity to implement that platform.

Beljak described Orepić's joining the HSS as a great addition, announcing that his New Politics party would join the HSS.

Orepić, who is a former member and founder of the MOST party and now leads the New Politics party, said that the HSS is a "progressive, republican and green" party and that its platform covers the broad policy of the centre that was promoted by his party.

The New Politics' main aim is to protect Croatia as an environment and that ideological contribution would be built into the HSS, said Orepić, adding that the Opposition should unite in the fight against policies that had robbed and divided Croatians, forcing them to emigrate.

Orepić said he was not afraid that voters would think he was a turncoat because, as he said, his political positions were the same as on the first day of his political career.

MOST has turned into a far-right party and that is why I left it, he said.

More HSS news can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Čazma Mayor and About 300 Local Members of HSS Leave Party

ZAGREB, March 4, 2020 - The mayor of Čazma, Dinko Pirak, who sits on the main committee of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), and about 300 local members of this parliamentary party announced on Wednesday they were leaving the party in protest at the way its current leader, Krešo Beljak, was running the HSS.

Pirak said in a press release that he had been a member of the HSS for almost 25 years, but that he and some 300 members of the local branch had decided to leave one of the oldest parties in Croatia because its leader Beljak had done huge damage to the HSS with his public statements and his behaviour.

He said that the local organisation of the HSS in this town 60 kilometres east of Zagreb would continue to be active through an independent local political group.

Several weeks ago, the HSS branch in the eastern town of Vladislavci stated that local members would leave the party in protest against how Beljak was running the HSS and his statements which they considered unacceptable.

More HSS news can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

War Veterans Hold Protest Against HSS Leader Beljak

ZAGREB, February 9, 2020 - An association of war veterans with PTSD staged a protest in Samobor on Sunday called "Stop hate speech and intolerance" at which they called on mayor and Croatian Peasant Party president Krešo Beljak to resign over "belittling the veterans' sacrifice."

Participants strongly condemned Beljak's statement that the veterans who protested in Zagreb for months a few years ago were "a few drunks," saying that constituted incitement to civil intolerance.

According to organisers' estimates, the Samobor rally drew about 1,000 protesters. They displayed a banner saying "Croatia is a state of war veterans, not thieves."

"Beljak should immediately step down from all political posts," said psychiatrist Herman Vukušić.

He warned about the high number of suicides and said two veterans died daily at the age of 53 on average.

"The goal is to stop the civil war that has been going on in Croatia for some time, but without bullets," he said, calling for stronger punishment for those who spread hate speech.

Tihomir Trešćec, president of the association, said the "hate rhetoric" was unacceptable. "Calling Croatian veterans a few drunks mustn't be acceptable rhetoric in the public sphere. Among those few drunks were the parents, wives and children of killed defenders who are right to be outraged by such a statement."

Trešćec said there should be more tolerance in public statements, notably by politicians, who he said were public figures and should watch what they said.

"They don't realise that some statements affect people deeply, notably veterans with PTSD," he said, adding that veterans from all over Croatia had come to today's protest.

Josip Mahović, a former Samobor Brigade commander, said the political elite was a criminal organisation which did not care for the public but their own interest. He recalled that Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said he would move a law on the protection of the Homeland War that would envisage punishment for inappropriate statements.

Željko Kekić, a former agent of the Yugoslav secret service UDBA, said many went into the Homeland War under the salute "For the homeland ready", an Ustasha salute that was shouted at today's rally.

"Who has the strength to ban you from saying it? We live in a grotesque state that we didn't want," Kekić said.

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) president Krešo Beljak said on Sunday he was not impressed by today's veterans' protest in Samobor, calling it an introduction into the election campaign that involved activists from the ruling party and saying he was not intimidated by that.

"They are panicking over what the HSS is advocating, to check the origin of assets and to review pensions, not necessarily veterans' pensions. Someone feels threatened. Why should you or I fear a law whereby how someone acquired their assets would be checked," Beljak said on a Croatian Television talk show.

"Those protesting today are self-proclaimed representatives of all veterans and I ask them, Where were you and why didn't you protest when this state was being plundered during privatisation and today when there are scandals?" Beljak said.

He said he never said anything inappropriate against the Homeland War and that he "never called veterans a few drunks," but "the people... who were harassing all of Zagreb and were toppling the then government (and) harassing former (Veterans) Minister Predrag Matić."

Beljak said he was confident the coalition of the HSS, the Social Democratic Party and some other parties "will assume responsibility for Croatia's future after the (parliamentary) election."

Speaking of upcoming intra-party elections in the ruling HDZ, he said he wanted Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to be re-elected president "because he represents reason in that party and a dam against the most conservative part of Croatia which is gaining strength."

He added, however, that he hoped Plenković would not remain prime minister after the parliamentary election.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Beljak Responds to Critics of His Controversial Tweet

ZAGREB, January 15, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) chief Krešo Beljak on Wednesday reiterated his apology over a tweet in which he justified political assassinations in ex-Yugoslavia, however, he found it hypocritical of those "who support war criminals and terrorists that disgraced Croatia" to criticise him.

"I have apologised and I am sincerely sorry. Of course, I do not support killings. I let myself be provoked and this is my big mistake," Beljak said, adding that in the future he obviously would have "to control it".

He said that it was hypocritical of those who support war criminals and terrorists that disgraced Croatia to call him out. He, however, stopped short of specifying who they are.

All that does not justify my conduct, said Beljak, who recently wrote that if UDBA, the Yugoslav intelligence agency, killed over 100 people in the Croatian emigrant community in the USA, Germany, Canada and Australia, "then it was not enough. We could see who did all sorts of shit and caused the wars from 1991 to 1999. Fascists in the former Yugoslavia and other countries who, unfortunately, managed to escape UDBA."

His tweet has been seen as an act of his condoning politically motivated assassinations of emigrants by UDBA during the time of communist-ruled Yugoslavia. Beljak has come under attack of politicians from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) as well as from the opposition Bridge party.

In relation to HDZ vice president Milijan Brkić's statement that the "lukewarm distancing" of Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić from Beljak's tweet disqualified him from any plan to be the country's prime minister, Beljak said today that it was clear that the HDZ, which lost the last two elections, would stick to criticising his controversial tweet.

Beljak, whose HSS is a coalition partner of the SDP, believes that Bernardić can be premier "as such are the trends".

Beljak said that the HDZ led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković "has made too many omissions in the last four years to again win the confidence of the people ".

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Beljak Apologises for Justifying Political Assassinations in Ex-Yugoslavia

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak on Monday apologised for his tweet in which he said that the number of killings carried out by the Yugoslav intelligence agency UDBA was insufficient.

Two days after the controversial tweet, which has been interpreted as his condoning of politically motivated assassinations of emigrants by UDBA during the time of communist-ruled Yugoslavia, this parliamentary deputy and mayor of Samobor on Monday tweeted that he was sorry about his "clumsy and unfortunate tweet", justifying his reaction as being part of a broader discussion that was full of insults and lies.

"I am sorry if my tweet was construed as my support for political assassinations. That, of course, is not true. I am sorry If I insulted anybody. I made a mistake," Beljak wrote today.

Two days ago, he wrote that if UDBA killed over 100 people in the Croatian emigrant community in the USA, Germany, Canada and Australia, "then it was not enough. We could see who did all sorts of shit and caused the wars from 1991 to 1999. Fascists in the former Yugoslavia and other countries who, unfortunately, managed to escape UDBA."

Beljak's comment was prompted by a tweet written by a person named Renato who said that "Yugo-nostalgics fail to realize that there were over 100 political assassinations outside of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1990. The UDBA was active in every Croatian immigrant community in the USA, Germany, Canada and Australia."

More politics news can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Four Opposition Parties Form SDP-Led Anti-Corruption Alliance

ZAGREB, November 4, 2019 - The opposition SDP, HSS, HSU and SNAGA parties on Monday signed an anti-corruption declaration whereby they express the political will and determination to fight corruption, which they consider a danger to Croatia's survival and security and the prosperity of its citizens.

SDP (Social Democratic Party) president Davor Bernardić said a research showed alarming data that only 4% of citizens would report corruption and that corruption in the public sector was perceived as widespread.

Corruption is a sign and a consequence of bad government, as proved by the fact that this summer half the government had to go and the fact that the government remains in power thanks to political corruption, i.e. the buying of MPs, he said.

The priority of these four parties' joint action is to strengthen and protect independent oversight institutions, notably the Conflict of Interest Commission, Bernardić said.

The parties would introduce stricter and independent oversight of public procurement, the spending of public money and declarations of assets, civic education already in elementary school, respect for and guarantee of freedom of the press, and the strengthening of investigative journalism, non-profit media and civil society organisations.

HSS (Croatian Peasant Party) president Krešo Beljak said every country had corruption but that only in Croatia did corruption have a state and a homeland.

"The father of that corruption was called Franjo Tuđman (the first Croatian president). The godfather of that corruption is called Vladimir Šeks, the author of the first constitution. The children of that corruption are called Ivo Sanader and Andrej Plenković, and what is going on today is the culmination of a 30-year devastation of Croatia," he said, referring to the former and current officials of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

HSU (Croatian Pensioners Party) leader Silvano Hrelja said Croatia's problem was not current corruption but the culture of corruption.

SNAGA Main Committee chair Goran Aleksić said corruption, clientelism and nepotism were a cancer of this society and that he was "coming out to clearly say that I'm the right opposition and that there is no more cooperation with the (ruling) HDZ."

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

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