Friday, 1 October 2021

European Youth and IT Industry Panel: Digital Osijek on Horizon

October 1, 2021 - The European Youth and IT Industry Panel, part of the European Future Conference, talked about the importance of the IT sector and AI technology. The host city of Osijek is already displaying fantastic results in the field as a digital Osijek becomes more and more of a reality.

The last day of September, which is the unofficial start of new victories and losses for the Croatian youth (due to the beginning of the school year and final deadline exams for students), has been completed with a suitable discussion on the future of new generations.

Osijek, the biggest city in the Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, was the host of the ''Youth and the IT Industry Future'' panel, one of the thematics panels from the European Future Conference.

Along with the Croatian Parliament and Croatian counties, the European Parliament Office in Zagreb hosts thematic discussions in ten cities which are home to universities.

''The European Future Conference is a series of public debates that allows citizens to express their ideas and come up with suggestions for the reforms and future policies of the EU,'' explains the European Parliament Office in their press release.

They added that the centerpiece of the conference is a multilingual platform where citizens can exchange ideas, connect with each other, and have their say on burning issues outside of these organised events.

The panel in Osijek delighted the mayor, Ivan Radić, one of the opening speakers. Radić stated that Osijek has a lot to say and show when it comes to the IT sector as the city aims to rebrand as a place of excellence for this field, aiming for a more digital Osijek.

There is no better proof of that than the Osijek Software City Association, established in 2021 with the goal of promoting the IT sector towards the local community.

''Several leading IT companies in Osijek realised that the youth needs to be introduced to the IT industry in an approachable way,'' said Osijek Software City representative Ivan Ostheimer.

Thanks to their hard work, many local companies in Osijek now hire experts and produce quality software that can then be exported to the global market, in spite of the still challenging economic situation.

The background goal of the European Future Conference is to show people that European Parliament representatives aren't simply being hermits and hiding themselves in the EU Parliament in Brussels or Strassbourg. In that spirit, the Croatian MEPs Karlo Ressler (European's People Party) and Sunčana Glavak (Croatian Democratic Union) participated in the event (Ressler in person and Glavak via video link).

Ressler is the Vice President of the special EU Parliamentary Committee for artificial intelligence (AI). He stated at the panel the European Union currently has ongoing discussions on regulating this new technology. The goal is to find a balance that would use the potential of AI without stopping the industry, while also avoiding negative scenarios such as manipulation attempts that would damage people's lives.

Glavak pointed out how digitalisation now has a key role in every EU policy.

''The goal is for that at least 80% of the EU population to have digital skills by 2030“, said Glavak.

With the panel in Osijek demonstrating the current successes of the IT industry, the aim for a digital Osijek, and seeing the attendance of both political elites and professionals, it seems that this Eastern Croatian city is on a very good track.

Learn more about Osijek in our TC page.

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

 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

European Parliament For Recognising Same-Sex Marriage Across EU

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - A majority of members of the European Parliament on Tuesday endorsed a draft resolution seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships in all member states.

The draft was endorsed by 387 MEPs, 161 voted against and 123 abstained.

The resolution says same-sex spouses and partners should be treated equally as heterosexual ones, and that marriages and partnerships concluded in one EU member state should be recognised in all.

Of the Croatian MEPs, the draft was endorsed by Biljana Borzan, Predrag Matić and Tonino Picula of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Valter Flego of the Istrian Democratic Party.

Independent Mislav Kolakušić and conservative Ladislav Ilčić were against, while Sunčana Glavak, Karlo Ressler, Tomislav Sokol and Željana Zovko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) abstained.

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić (Human Shield) did not vote as he was in Rome, and Romana Jerković (SDP) could not because of technical difficulties, but her office told Hina that she "supports this resolution."

Speaking to Hina, Matić said the adoption of the resolution was a "civilisational achievement", while Flego said it was unacceptable that LGBTIQ rights were being reduced instead of advanced in many countries, and that it was time to "finally give everyone equal rights."

Ilčić told Hina the resolution "is consciously trying to equate the legal status of same-sex couples in all member states, thus negating the right of the states to independently decide which unions they will recognise and which they won't."

"That would mean that the whole EU must follow the most liberal states to avoid alleged discrimination, which is absurd, contrary to the treaties and the subsidiarity principle," he said, adding that the LGBT lobby was exerting enormous pressure on the European institutions.

The resolution also calls on the European Commission to take action against Romania, Hungary and Poland for violating LGBTIQ rights and fundamental EU values.

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

Friday, 2 July 2021

Ressler: We Mustn't Give in to Pressure Regarding Illegal Migrants

ZAGREB, 2 July 2021 - Croatia must not give in to political pressure aimed at changing the policy of preventing illegal migration, Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler said on Friday, adding that Social Democratic Party (SDP) MEPs had been known to be "fall" for "campaigns lambasting" Croatia.

"From the very start of this European Parliament, we have been exposed to political pressure because of our protection of the external border and because of our ambition to become a member of the Schengen Area," Ressler told a virtual press conference called "Asylum, migration and the Schengen Area's functioning" that was organised by the EP's office in Croatia.

Several NGO's and some MEPs claim that Croatia is illegally pushing back migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As we draw closer to joining the Schengen Area, the pressure in the EP has increased, said Ressler, adding that it is necessary to underline that there cannot be any double standards and that it is a duty to protect the EU's external border.

He added that that entails "respecting all human rights, all high Croatian, European and international standards."

Earlier this year four Italian MEPs (S&D) tried to get to the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and they were prevented from doing so by Croatian police. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković then said that it was an attempt to mar Croatia's reputation. SDP leader Peđa Grbin and his deputy Biljana Borzan, who is also an MEP, then condemned the fact that the Italian MEPs were prevented from getting to the border.

Ressler said that strong awareness exists among European leaders and institutions that "there is no room in Europe for illegally crossing borders."

State-secretary in the Interior Ministry Terezija Gras said that due to the accusations against Croatia that it was violating the rights of migrants, Croatia would allow an "informal visit" to the Croatian border so that the Commission and member states could be convinced of what Croatia has done with regard to improving its technical equipment on the border with BiH and to strengthen its police capacities.

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

Croatian MEPs Fight for Epidemiologically Favourable Counties as Season Approaches

April the 26th, 2021 - Croatian MEPs are acting as the voice of those Croatian counties which have fared better in the epidemiological sense throughout the coronavirus crisis, warning that they mustn't be made victims of worse off counties during the upcoming tourist season this summer.

As Novac/Ljubica Vuko writes, on Friday, the Office of the European Parliament in Croatia organised an online conference on the digital future of Europe and current events from the work of the European Parliament, which were discussed by Croatian MEPs Karlo Ressler (HDZ, EPP) and Valter Flego (IDS, Renew Europe).

Speaking about current events in the work of the European Parliament, the aforementioned Croatian MEPs pointed out the initiatives they've launched in order to better prepare for the 2021 Croatian tourist season in the current circumstances which are still very heavily dominated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Valter Flego stated that he had sent a letter with 24 signatures to the European Commission and the Council to mark Croatia differently on the European map by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). This same initiative was signed by 9 of the 12 Croatian MEPs.

''The travel measures/rules to a country are determined in relation to the epidemiological situation in that country at any given time. At the Committee on Transport and Tourism, I started with the initiative stating how dissatisfied we are with how Croatia is being marked on the European map. We don't think it's fair that it's been divided into statistical regions because in that way, the entire Adriatic coast is one area, one colour, and that map fails to show the real epidemiological situation all over our coast. This is an injustice that I set out to explain to the Committee when we discussed tourist season preparations and during the Renew Group preparatory meeting. We came up with the idea to collect signatures and I offered it first to my colleagues from my group, then to members of the Croatian delegation, besides me, nine others signed it, I want to thank everyone, first of all Mr. Ressler who got involved with this,'' said Flego.

He emphasised that the aim of the initiative launched towards the European Commission and the Council was to have this issue rectified as a matter of urgency.

''It's important that the epidemiological situation is viewed in relation to Croatian counties, and not in relation to statistical regions,'' warned Valter Flego.

Members of the HDZ Delegation to the European Parliament also sent a parliamentary question to the European Commission on Wednesday on the topic of a regional approach to labeling epidemiological travel risks.

''Some counties are better off than others, some are worse. It's important that those counties that are more favourable epidemiologically aren't deprived of anything and aren't viewed together as part of Adriatic Croatia, ie through the NUTS2 division. The Ministry of Tourism also has a role to play in explaining the situation as it actually is and the differences between the counties, and to show that there are large parts of Croatia where it's more than safe to come on holiday,'' said Karlo Ressler.

Walter Flego said that he had also launched another initiative, concerning digital green certificates, the introduction of which was initiated by the European Commission in order to facilitate free and safe movement at the European Union level.

''The topic about green certificates or as some would say covid passports is very hot at the minute, and it's wrong to refer to them as the latter because they aren't passports. All initiatives around green certificates are welcome as they will speed up travel, but it's very important to determine just will pay the cost of testing for those people who haven't yet been vaccinated and those who have recovered from coronavirus. That's why I've taken the initiative to the European Commission because I believe that testing should be free, as is vaccination. If we don't want discrimination in these certificates, and we truly do not want that, then the testing procedure should also be free,'' Flego pointed out.

Karlo Ressler said the crux of the problem is that we're facing another uncertain tourist season, much like that of 2020.

''Last year, unlike some other countries which rely heavily on tourism, Croatia achieved relatively good results, but not when compared to the best tourist years. I have no fear of these digital certificates restricting freedoms, they'll actually work to increase mobility. My fear is that this mechanism won't be effective enough to make a big difference, which is why I think it is important, once the European Parliament adopts its opinion next week, for us to negotiate with the Council and make that document really make a difference and facilitate mobility for people ahead of the tourist season in summer,'' Ressler said.

For more, make sure to follow our politics section.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Ressler Elected EP Budget Rapporteur for 2022

ZAGREB, 29 January, 2021 - Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (HDZ/EPP) has been appointed the European Parliament's rapporteur and negotiator on the EU budget for 2022, his office said on Friday.

Ressler is the youngest budget rapporteur in the history of the EP, assuming one of the most important roles ever held by a Croatian MEP, his office said.

He said the next two years would be crucial for economic and social recovery and that special emphasis would be put on those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis as well as on digital and green transformation, investment in quality jobs, science and research.

The budget must make sure that no generation, sector or region is left behind, he said, calling for investment in innovative sectors with high added value.

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