Thursday, 10 March 2022

Military Service Not Abolished But Suspended, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 10 March 2022 - Military service in Croatia has not been abolished but suspended and all decisions on the security situation in view of the Ukraine war will be communicated as part of the forums, institutions, and organizations of which Croatia is a member, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Thursday.

 "Military service hasn't been abolished but suspended. We pay a high level of attention to security. The Defence Ministry's budget has risen from HRK 4.5 billion to 7.2 billion through the procurement of multipurpose fighters jets, the decision to integrate and buy Bradleys, and a score of projects in the homeland security system," he told the press.

There is voluntary military training through which future professional soldiers are recruited and reservists who are part of the Armed Forces are activated, Božinović added.

He said the security situation was being discussed and that all future decisions "will be communicated."

"Everyone is watching what is happening in Ukraine. Croatia is a member of NATO and the EU and everything that is done is coordinated within the forums, institutions, and organizations of which it is a member," Božinović said after a meeting of the government's task force for the reception of Ukrainian refugees.

He said radioactivity measuring had been stepped up and that there was no danger.

He added that the former Radiology and Nuclear Safety Institute had been integrated into the Interior Ministry and that local governments were responsible for shelters.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatia Near Top in EU Security-Wise, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday Croatia was near the top in the EU in terms of security, and announced the procurement of new police vehicles and equipment.

That would not have been possible had we not embarked on a comprehensive procurement of everything the police need," he said at a ceremony at the Police Academy at which 28 traffic police vans worth HRK 13 million were handed over.

Božinović announced the procurement of motorcycles and interceptor vehicles worth HRK 40 million, saying that it was an investment in comprehensive security so that Croatia could stay near the top in the EU in terms of security of its own citizens and foreign tourists.

"Besides all the equipment, we put the most trust in Croatian police officers who are on the street, in their offices, round the clock, and who at this moment, when temperatures are well below zero, are on Croatian roads and borders. All of that is a complex job coordinated by the General Police Directorate," he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Security Issues Shouldn't Be Discussed Publicly, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday that messages on security issues are not disseminated at news conferences, after he was asked by the press about speculations that President Zoran Milanović's security is at risk following his statements on the situation in Ukraine.

"The basic principle is that security issues should not be discussed publicly. As far as our services are concerned and that refers to security and intelligence services and the Interior Ministry, they do their job 24 hours a day and I am certain that they are monitoring everything that is relevant to the security of Croatian citizens, including protected persons," said Božinović.

Božinović added that security services cooperate with other services and underscored that a press conference is not the place to send messages of that kind.

"Not any serious person, not any service in any country, talks about that in public space," said Božinović.

After President Milanović's statement that Croatia would not interfere in the Ukraine crisis, that it would not deploy its troops there and that NATO has nothing to do in Ukraine, he was denounced as pro-Russian collaborator on Ukraine's online blacklist.

Responding to reporters, Božinović said that the motion for a no-confidence vote in Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Darko Horvat would end just like all of the opposition's previous initiatives.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Croatia's Interior Ministry Procures Earthquake Simulator

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - The Croatian ministry of the interior has commissioned an earthquake simulator that can simulate the ground motion of earthquakes up to intensity 9 on the Mercalli scale, the Večernji List daily reported on Monday.

The purpose of that container, worth HRK 3.3 million (€440,000) without Value Added Tax, is to enable participants in exercises that take place in such containers to experience various sorts of tremors.

The interior of the container is furnished with movable objects which can be found in an ordinary living room, and sound effects typical for earthquakes will also be simulated during exercises.

The objects in the container are non-breakable so that participants in earthquake simulation exercises cannot be injured.

The procurement of the earthquake simulation room is part of the ministry's project aimed at efforts to reduce the risks of natural disasters, the daily newspaper reported.

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

Friday, 5 November 2021

COVID Certificates Only for Those Vaccinated and/or Recovered Announced

November 5, 2021 - Among the new measures announced due to the rise in positive cases in the country, Davor Božinović announced that COVID certificates will be introduced as of January 4, and if the situation does not improve, they will only be valid for those who have recovered and/or vaccinated.

The National Civil Protection Headquarters announced when a new record of 6,932 new cases was broken in Croatia, that the use of covid certificates will be expanded from November 15, which will be mandatory for users and employees of public and state services, and gatherings will be further restricted from tomorrow, reports Index.hr.

From tomorrow new measures for gatherings

"To prevent the spread of the infection, it is necessary to act in three directions: to achieve as much vaccination as possible, to limit gatherings and to achieve as much security as possible when conducting business that will not be limited," said National Staff Chief Davor Bozinovic at a press conference.

He announced that new epidemiological measures would be introduced as a result, gatherings would be restricted from tomorrow, and the use of covid certificates would be expanded from 15 November.

Thus, a certificate of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test from mid-November will be mandatory for all employees of state and public services, as well as for citizens who will use their services and come to their premises. 

If the numbers continue to grow, from November 15, confirmations for cafes, shopping centers ...

The Headquarters announced on Thursday that covid certificates will be used even more widely from mid-November if the number of newly infected continues to grow, and then they will be introduced in catering facilities, such as cafes, restaurants, gyms, recreational and fitness centers indoors. 

Bozinovic announced that testing will be possible only in registered institutions and that, for a start, the cost of testing will be borne by the employer at the request of employees. 

As of January 4, certificates only for those vaccinated and those who have survived COVID-19

He pointed out that, if the situation does not improve, they will introduce covid-certificates from January 4, which will be available only to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, and those who have been tested will no longer receive them.

"That gap has been left because it is enough time for all those who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated by the beginning of next year," Bozinovic said. 

Details of new measures

With a new decision coming into force tomorrow, Saturday, November 6, the headquarters further restricted gatherings indoors and outdoors.

From tomorrow, all public gatherings indoors with more than 50 people are prohibited, except for those attended by people who have a covid-certificate, but from now on it will be mandatory to wear masks and maintain distance. 

Events above 100 participants can only be organized at open-air public gatherings if all participants have an EU digital covid-certificate. Exceptionally, events over 100 people will be able to be held outdoors only with the approval of the CNIPH, which will develop an epidemiological framework. 

All gatherings are limited to 24 hours, with the exception of cinema screenings that begin at 11 pm and wedding ceremonies where everyone has a covid confirmation. The weddings must end no later than 2 o'clock after midnight, and they will consider additional time limits, announced Božinović. 

Congresses and conferences will be able to be held provided everyone has a Covid certificate, wears a mask, and keeps a distance.

Sports competitions will be able to be held in the presence of spectators indoors only if everyone has a Covid certificate and is required to use face masks. Sports participants will also have to have certificates, but they will not have to wear masks, Bozinovic said.

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

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

Friday, 29 October 2021

Family Doctors Will Contact Persons over 65 about Getting Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 29 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Friday a decision was made under which family doctors would contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight about getting vaccinated because 31.3% of people in that age group have not been vaccinated against COVID.

The most vulnerable persons, those over 65, are the priority in protection from COVID, he said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, adding that 40% of those over 80 have not been vaccinated either.

If doctors fail to contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight, they should visit them at home, or have a district nurse do so, in the next 30 days, and then report to the ministry about what they have achieved. Those infirm should be vaccinated at home.

Beroš appealed to the elderly to get vaccinated. "Vaccination saves lives and it is our obligation to enable it."

He said 97 of the 177 persons over 65 who died of COVID this past week had not been vaccinated.

However, he said, interest in vaccination is growing and almost 6,000 of the 13,292 vaccinated yesterday received their first shot, the highest number since late July. Week on week it was an increase of 34.5%, and of 51.8% when compared with two weeks ago.

Croatian Institute of Public Health director Krunoslav Capak said there were 48.8% more new cases today than a week ago.

In the past 24 hours, 26 of the 32 COVID patients who ended up on ventilators and 20 of the 26 who died were not vaccinated.

The head of Zagreb's infectious diseases hospital, Alemka Markotić, told women who planned to get pregnant to get vaccinated or to do so after giving birth.

COVID certificates can't replace vaccination

Asked why COVID certificates were not required more widely, the head of the crisis management team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said the certificates offered a certain security but could not be a replacement for vaccination, adding that only vaccination could result in the pandemic abating.

"We are trying to do our best to have people vaccinated. We are thinking more and more about not limiting COVID certificates only to those vaccinated. We will also look at when they were vaccinated."

No one is considering another lockdown, but citizens must understand that this is a situation we will not get rid off anytime soon, Božinović said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Božinović: Checks of Existing Anti-epidemic Measures Should Be Stepped Up

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - The national coronavirus response team on Monday discussed the COVID-19 situation in Croatia and the possibility of stepping up checks of the anti-epidemic measures in force, such as wearing face masks inside public spaces, the team's head, Davor Božinović, told a press conference.

Božinović recalled that they had anticipated a rise in the number of new cases in the autumn and addressed the problem by combining recommendations on compliance with the basic anti-epidemic measures with calls for vaccination. "Apart from these measures, there are no special activities that can be used in this situation," he added.

Since nearly a quarter of new cases come from schools, Božinović said that they would look into the possibility of face-to-face classes being suspended for two days in the week around All Saints' Day, 1 November. He said they also discussed the promotion of a booster dose for people whose level of antibodies is decreasing.

"As for the existing measures, notably wearing face masks, checks should indeed be stepped up because this obligation is taken too lightly," Božinović said, adding that the possibility of bringing COVID certificates into wider use is not being considered for now.

He stressed that there are enough vaccines against COVID-19 and that vaccination can prevent more serious forms of the disease. "A combination of the anti-epidemic measures and vaccination can get us out of the crisis," Božinović said.

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

Monday, 11 October 2021

Božinović Says Waiting for Results of Investigation Into Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, 11 Oct 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Monday said that he did not have any new information related to videos of police violence against migrants and that it is necessary to wait for the results of the investigation.

"We'll wait and see what the results of the investigation show. Everything that will happen as part of the relevant procedures will be in line with what the police chief said on Friday," Božinović told reporters.

Protecting the borders in line with the law

Asked about responsibility in the chain of command, Božinović underscored that the orders are to protect the state borders in line with the law.

"There cannot be any order that is not in line with the law. As soon as I receive the report from the police directorate, I will forward it to the prime minister, even though we have already discussed all this," said Božinović.

He said that police officers, particularly those assigned to border control, doing one of the most difficult jobs.

He added that there were cases when the police themselves identified cases of police officers overstepping their powers or unlawful conduct.

He said that disciplinary procedures had been underway from before against eight police officers and that 22 cases had been documented and submitted to the State Attorney's Office (DORH).

"When someone individually breaches or oversteps their authority anywhere, there are services in the police directorate and internal controls to conduct investigations and decide on the penalties," he said.

Commenting on an anonymous letter by a police officer who claimed two years ago that an order existed for violent pushbacks, Božinović reiterated that anything that was reported was always investigated. DORH rejected 13 of the 22 cases for lack of evidence, he said.

The anonymous police officer's letter refers to a specific case, with a specific location and date, which previously was not the case, said Božinović and added that a prompt reaction followed the anonymous letter and that the matter was still being investigated.

Božinović also commented on a recent drug incident in the Croatian Army, underscoring that police offices were exceptionally active regarding the fight against drug smuggling.

"The cocaine market is expanding into the general population, which is concerning. We will meet with the anti-drug commission in the next few days. In 2020, 60 kilograms of cocaine were confiscated whereas in the first eight months of this year more than 667 kilograms were seized," he said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović Praises Police For Their Irreplaceable Role in Many Segments

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - Addressing the central ceremony of Croatian Police Day, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that the police were "engaged in all areas of national security" and that their role in many other segments was irreplaceable.

During the ceremony held in Zagreb, when the police observed their day on 29 September, the feast of their patron saint, St. Michael, Minister Božinović said that until the end of the term of the current government, all the working processes of the law enforcement authorities would be digitalised.

Police Director Nikola Milina said that police work had focused on detecting tax frauds and evasion, money laundering, and crimes affecting the state budget.

In the first eight months of 2021, the law enforcement authorities had detected 85% more corruption crimes, the number of reports concerning suspected white collar crimes increased by 20%, and the number of detected conspiracies to perpetrate crimes went up by 43%.

All that is not by chance, it is a result of well thought-out strategic planning and our commitment to conducting investigations into economic crimes and corruption, Milina said at the central ceremony.

As for organised crime, so far this year Croatian police officers have arrested 661 people smugglers.

When it comes to the protection of the Croatian and the EU border, it has been established that we have met all the technical and legal requirements which has made our border the best protected external border, he added.

Milina said that significant results had been achieved in raising cyber security, and that the police were ready to respond to all the challenges and threats stemming from the use of new technologies.

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

Friday, 25 June 2021

Ending Segregated Education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava Announced an Idea

June 25, 2021 - Is there any possibility of ending segregated education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava announced Serbian and Croatian education could merge in school and kindergarten levels, but more details are yet to be revealed.

The start of the week saw interesting news that surprised many. As reported by N1, Ivan Penava, the mayor of Vukovar, announced Croatian and Serbian classes and kindergartens could merge together.

Vukovar, often referred to in Croatia as the „Hero City“ for the heavy blow it suffered in the 90s war Croatians refer to as Homeland War, still has a lot of ruins as memories of that ugly past. In the light of national tensions among Serbs and Croats, the segregation of kindergartens and different shifts in schools for Serbian and Croatian classes seem to be a solution to keep the peace.

ivan_penava_n1_screen.jpg

screenshot/ N1

Good idea but more talks needed?

„In Vukovar, parents do not choose the model of education that is imposed by politics, it is nowhere written in public“, said mayor Penava, as reported by N1.

Penava, a former member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), despite earning a new term in the recent local elections as an independent candidate, enjoyed support from Miroslav Škoro, runner-up candidate for Zagreb mayor elections, and the leader of the Homeland Movement (DP) supports Penava's idea.

„I lived in America for a number of years, in Hungary, I traveled the world... what is the difference between Serbian and Croatian mathematics? Is Argentina in Serbian in the northern hemisphere, and southern in Croatian? I don't get it“, said Škoro adding that segregation was done in malice with a tendency to divide children from the start.

„In Vukovar, the symbol of defense had priorities. Reconstruction of the water tower, and certain moves Penava did well in his last term (he wouldn't win elections if he hasn't), thinks that city needs to move on. I support him 100%“, concluded Škoro.

On the other hand, criticism is erected on national-level politics.

„I don't think that local officials are the ones who need to determine a way in which minority education will be conducted. Political trade is clear here, and I'm glad there is no longer just Serbian-Croatian trading coalition, but also another one“, said Dragana Jecov, a Croatian parliament member from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) referring to the accusations of the right-wing that current coalition of HDZ and SDSS and is vile political trade.

Interior Minister Davo Božinović also said that while we need to work on erasing national, social, and political tensions, but this is a question that needs to be discussed more seriously.

Additionally, as N1 reported, the Ministry of Education pointed out that different models of education for Vukovar schools exist, and parents can choose which they find most suitable.

Accepting national differences or nationalistic uniformity?

Some improvements have indeed been seen in the city infrastructure, but Vukovar still remains a challenging place to live. Partly due to the tough economic situation, but also because of discrepancies among Serbian and Croatian residents. Earlier in June, there was even a violent incident when a 30-year-old Serbian member of the Grobari football fan group physically attacked a Croatian 13-year-old boy in front of a bakery for having a medicine mask with Croatian symbols.

„Sadly, this kind of thing happened too long in Vukovar, where people attack each other because of national disputes. Media aren't even introduced to some of these events. It is spread a lot, as evident by the constant police patrols around Vukovar high-schools where there are always police cars around“, said Vukovar police to Večernji List daily newspaper.

Such incidents, a misfortunate loose ends of the war, also come from the Croatian side. Earlier in May, a group of young men chanted anti-Serb slogans in Borovo Selo (close to Vukovar), a scene of heinous war crimes in the '90s), sparking condemnation from both president Milanović and the Croatian Government.

In that light, integrated schools might finally bring positive changes in regards to tolerance and peaceful life for Vukovar citizens. But again, not everyone sees the glass as half full.
Index.hr columnist Gordan Duhaček agreed in his column that Serbs and Croats don't need to go to separate shifts but warns how Penava isn't the guy that should unite them.

„Penava doesn't want to integrate Vukovar schools and end the troubling segregation in a way to ensure a better future for the whole city, but instead to impose his nationalistic, often anti-Serbian narrative as the official one. Penava wants that Vukovar Serbs bow down to his view of the Croatian state“, wrote Duhaček.

Duhaček also reminded the readership of the attempt and fail of the Danube International school that supposed to integrate pupils of both nations, an idea that spawned 16 years ago. But, the project failed, and Duhaček sees both Penava and SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac not feeling too sad about it.

vukovar_watr_tower.jpg

Iconic Vukovar water tower, pixabay

Questions on details

At the end of the week, the situation seems more confusing than clear. Is class integration a good idea? Could it save money for the city financially? What are some actual details of merging Croats and Serbians into one class? Obviously, Škoro is right that 2+2=4 in any math class around the world. But, troubling questions appear in subjects such as language and history. Croats and Serbs sadly have their own, different interpretations of historical facts, particularly when it comes to the last war, and while the speakers of two languages perfectly understand each other, some words do differ, and there is a different accent and spelling in the two formal languages. So, how can these issues be resolved? Would those two subjects remain in different shifts while universal subjects such as biology, math, or physics will listen in one merged classroom? Or will there be a different curriculum that would present both Serbian and Croatian history, Serbian and Croatian literature in that way, making Vukovar pupils more knowledgable in those areas than other pupils in the country?

Or some curriculum consensus on history could be reached, one that would satisfy both the Croatian and Serbian sides and thus truly open a doorway to the better understandings of the two nations in the future in perhaps the most nationally torn city in Croatia?

Obviously, Vukovar city authorities have some tensions with SDSS, but the city also has an expert associate for the development of civil society and national minorities, Siniša Mitrović in one of the City's departments. Did Mitrović manage to gain input from the Serbian minority in Vukovar about this merge? And how fast could the whole thing be realized? This autumn or maybe a bit later?
These are important and interesting questions that can only be answered either by mayor Penava himself or perhaps Josip Paloš, the director of the Vukovar City Education Department.

„Mayor Penava is in a lot of meetings and on fields, and his schedule is full. We will sadly not be able to answer you by your Friday deadline, but we will contact you at the earliest convenience“, said the lady at the Vukovar City PR service when I called them (and E-mailed) with a wish to arrange and conduct a brief phone interview.

While this article may present the current issues surrounding segregated education in Vukovar, this TCN reporter hopes mayor Penava will share more details about his plan on ending segregation in Vukovar schools and kindergarten with joint classes. If done right, this move can indeed be the way to a better, more peaceful future for Vukovar citizens.

Learn more about Vukovar on our TC page.

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

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