Monday, 21 December 2020

E-passes System Ready for Use

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - Assistant Interior Minister Damir Trut, who is at the helm of of Croatia's civil protection system, told the Croatian Radio (HR) on Monday morning that the system for issuing e-passes for travel between counties was ready.

The ban on travel between counties goes into force on 23 December, as one of the latest anti-COVID measures. However, e-passes can be requested for justified reasons such as  commuting to work.

Trut called on Croatians to adhere to the anti-epidemic rules, including the celebration of Christmas and New Year at home.

The new restrictions which are in place from 23 December to 8 January envisage that no more than 10 people from maximum two households are allowed at private gatherings during the holiday season.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Current Restrictions to Last Beyond Dec. 21, Minister Says

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic, on Friday called on citizens to refrain from visiting their friends and relatives during the coming holidays, noting that the current epidemiological restrictions would be extended beyond December 21.

Even though he announced the extension of the current regime, Bozinovic would not go into details or announce possible new measures, and when asked whether a ban on leaving one's place of residence was being considered, as had been the case in the spring, he said that the public would be informed about possible changes to the current regime on time.

He called on citizens to refrain from visiting people close to them during the coming holiday season.

"Our message for the coming holidays is that, basically, everyone should refrain from socialising and contacting people other than those who are members of their households, and that we should wish all who are dear to us the best for Christmas and the New Year by telephone or a text message," said Bozinovic, noting that there were 1.5 million households in Croatia and that socialising indoors would pose a very high epidemiological risk.

Asked why, for the sake of the nation's mental state, the COVID-19 response team was not announcing in advance when restrictions would be tightened  or relaxed, Bozinovic said that it was difficult to predict a favourable or bad course of the epidemic.

"It would not be good if we issued a message about relaxing restrictions and then had to give up on it if the epidemiological situation does not improve," he said.

Bozinovic said that the impact of all existing restrictions was carefully considered, announcing talks with church officials for this weekend.

He recalled that the new, tighter epidemiological measures for shops and shopping centres would go into force on Saturday.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Ministers Discuss Border Control, Illegal Migrants

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - The interior ministers, Davor Bozinovic of Croatia and Ales Hojs of Slovenia, on Thursday held a video meeting on illegal migrants and the protection of border as well as on the regime of cross-border travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Slovenian New Agency STA reported.

The minister agreed on seeking solutions for making it impossible for irregular migrants to cross borders illegally, the STA quoted the Slovenian interior ministry's statement as reading.

They assessed the cooperation between the two ministries and the countries' police forces as good, adding that the operationally and strategically the cooperation has been recently focused on anti-COVID restrictions and illegal border crossings.

The ministers agreed on the preparation of the system for registering information on the entries/departures and refusal of the entry for citizens from third countries, that is non-European Union members, at the Schengen border.

Hojs expressed dissatisfaction with a high number of illegal entries  at the Croatia-Slovenia border, which prompted the Croatian minister to point to a high number of illegal  migrants in Bosnia's areas near its border with Croatia, who are trying to reach destinations in western and northern Europe.

The two ministers pledged to seek a solution to this issue, Slovenia's media utlets reported.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Security in Croatia Not Undermined, Says Interior Minister

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday security in Croatia was not undermined "in these extraordinary circumstances and special epidemiological conditions", also underlining the importance of combating corruption and illegal migration.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Police Day, Bozinovic said security was not undermined "even during the tourist season."

"With a set of new operative solutions and models of their implementation, the police have adjusted to changes in the commission of crimes caused by the epidemic, paying special attention to domestic violence and vulnerable groups."

Bozinovic said illegal migration and the smuggling networks connected to them became active again after the spring lockdown, adding that the police met the rising trend prepared both technically and in terms of staff.

Police are doing their job responsibly and professionally

"The Croatian police are doing their job responsibly and professionally, focusing on priority problems," he said, highlighting the fight against human trafficking, illegal migration, and corruption.

Bozinovic said emphasis would be put on digitalisation, efficiency, European funds, and streamlining civil protection. He added that 22 projects, worth HRK 117 million, had been launched to procure police equipment. 

Milina: Fight against organised crime and corruption high on list of priorities

Police Director Nikola Milina thanked all police officers for their efforts after the March earthquake in the Zagreb area and during the coronavirus epidemic, saying he was also pleased with the efforts made to protect the external EU border, the longest land border on the migration route.

He recalled that in October 2019 Croatia met one of its strategic goals, technical readiness to join the Schengen Area, saying the next strategic priority was to become guardians of the Schengen border.

Milina recalled that over the past year the Croatian police had successfully carried out several operations at national and international level in which a large number of criminals were arrested.

"High on our list of priorities remains the fight against all forms of organised crime as well as the prevention of white collar and corruption crimes in all spheres of society."

Milina said another priority was investigating all war crimes and that they would not stop until all were prosecuted.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Interior Minister, Police Director Talk Information Leaks, Surveillance Breaches

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday that parliamentary Domestic Policy and National Security Committee chair Niksa Vukas would receive a report on information leaks and that he could always contact the ministry and the police.

Speaking to the press, Bozinovic said Vukas "can ask and will receive an answer, probably to the effect that DORH (State Prosecutor's Office) and the police are conducting preliminary investigations. They are doing that and they will inform the public about the results."

Vukas said this morning that he would request Bozinovic's comment on the situation in the system, surveillance breaches and information leaks, and that next week he would convene the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee over the JANAF corruption case.

Surveillance breaches are not good

Asked if he was concerned about surveillance breaches in big cases and if anything had been identified in that regard in the case of former state secretary Josipa Rimac, Bozinovic said that it was not good that those breaches were occurring.

"However, as far as I know, DORH is conducting preliminary investigations in coordination with the police which are aimed at uncovering the reasons and those who are illegally involved in surveillance breaches."

The most important part of the criminal investigation, which is conducted by the police in cooperation with DORH and USKOK (anti-corruption office), was finished and charges have been filed, which means that they collected enough evidence, Bozinovic said.

"This isn't good, of course. However, DORH and the police are working on it and I'm sure they will inform us when they have some results."

Asked if the police were powerless about surveillance breaches, the minister said all criminal investigations were long, painstaking, and uncertain.

"When several months pass and result in the collection of enough evidence, it means... that a good job was done and that it was done as the law stipulates, which means keeping preliminary investigations secret."

Emergency services are working

Bozinovic also commented on the HT telecom's technical difficulties today due to which it is not possible to get 112, the number for emergency services.

"I'm sure someone will say what happened. When it comes to key communications and the communications of all emergency services, that shouldn't be a problem as they all have their own line of communication, their own means of communication when it comes to civil protection services," he said, voicing confidence that the system was working.

That was financed with European money and the Interior Ministry has made sure that those communications, based on TETRA devices, work in all emergency services, he added.

Police intensively working on finding those responsible for information leaks

Police Director Nikola Milina told the press the police were intensively working on finding those responsible for leaking police information while simultaneously working on the prevention of information leaks.

He said they reported police officers for information leaks in 15 cases over the past two years.

Commenting on surveillance breaches in the cases of Rimac and the recently arrested director of the JANAF oil pipeline operator, Dragan Kovacevic, Milina said the police "are intensively working on those cases... We are the least interested in having surveillance breached. However, each case is different."

He said that in both cases the police pressed charges on suspicion that a number of persons had committed various white collar and corruption crimes.

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

Ministry: State of Security During Tourist Season Stable and Favourable

ZAGREB, Sept 17, 2020 - The state of security in Croatia was stable and favourable during the summer season, despite extraordinary epidemiological circumstances, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry whose task force for implementing security measures during the summer season ceased operating on 15 September, issued a report on the activities taken by that body during the peak season.

During the season, the number of passengers crossing the Croatian border decreased by 60% to 25 million compared to the corresponding period in 2019 when about 62 million passengers were registered.

The number of vehicles registered to cross the Croatian borders from 15 June to 7 September fell by 46% to four million, while in the same period last year, there were 7.2 million vehicles.

The number of traffic accidents with fatalities was lower by 2.6%, and the number of accidents resulting in injuries fell by 15%.

Rescue operations at sea were conducted to save 20 persons.

This summer, the number of fires increases by 4.4% compared to the corresponding period in 2019, reads the ministry's report.

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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Interior Minister Talks Coronavirus Measures, Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, Aug 25, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, reiterated on Monday that as long as it was possible, including in the autumn, measures would be adopted locally and regionally, whereas national measures were least desirable, yet he did not rule them out.

Speaking on public broadcaster HRT, Bozinovic commented on the fact that on Sunday, due to a new border crossing regime, people had to wait almost 14 hours to cross the Slovenian-Austrian border because they had to register with the health authorities.

Enter Croatia system very efficient

He recalled that the Enter Croatia system, set up to prevent congestion at border crossings, had proved to be very efficient and that practically no one had to wait to cross the Croatian border.

Bozinovic also commented on Croatia's being put on the red list by some countries due to spikes in coronavirus cases with the explanation that tourists were infected in Croatia.

He said every country was trying to improve its epidemiological situation as much as possible before the school year.

"In the past few months, Croatia was actually the only country which had a one-quarter larger population than it usually has, unlike other Mediterranean countries which recorded a drop in tourist arrivals of up to 80, 90%, whereas Croatia was a little over 50%, and in August at 67% in relation to last year."

Illegal migration - it would help if Bosnia controlled its eastern border

Bozinovic also commented on the migrant situation, saying there were about 10,000 migrants in Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the moment and that this was felt in Croatia too as the pressure on the Croatian border was 20% higher than this time last year.

He said there were no migrant movements during the spring lockdown and that "one can state that when there is the political will to hold back the migrants, and I also mean the authorities in BiH, that's possible."

"Croatian police, as always, is up to the task, preventing illegal migration, and it would help us a lot if BiH started controlling entry into its territory on (its) eastern border, which would then be better also for the people of Una-Sana Canton and other parts of BiH, and thereby in Croatia too."

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Mere 41% of This Year's Work Permits for Foreigners Used - Daily

ZAGREB, Aug 13, 2020 - According to data provided by the Interior Ministry, only 41% of the quota for foreign workers was claimed until 31 July, the Vecernji List daily reported on Thursday.

In late 2019, the Croatian government decided that it would be possible to issue 78,470 work permits for foreigners in 2020. The quota includes new employment of foreigners, seasonal employment, transfer of workers within a company, and employment for strategical investment projects.

This quota was set before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. In the meantime, the COVID pandemic led to an economic downturn globally.

The tourist sector has been hit hard, and while Croatia's tourism and hospitality service could count on 18,370 permits for foreign workers, eventually, 30% of those permits were used.

According to the data provided by the ministry, a mere 24,539 work permits for foreigners were claimed in the construction and tourism sectors until 31 July. If the number of requests for permits that are currently being processed are added, the tally stands at 32,195 permits, which is 41% of the total quota.

In recent years, Croatia's authorities have raised quotas following the emigration of local employees as well as because of economic growth which has increased the demand for workers.

For instance, during the peak of the tourist season in 2019, 84% of work permits for foreigners were used, out of the quota of 53,600. All the permits allotted for the employment of foreigners in construction and tourist trade were claimed until the end of July that year.

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