Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Home Mustn't Become Place of Fear Again, Says CoE Secretary General

ZAGREB, November 25, 2020 - Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said on Tuesday, on the occasion of UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, that "we cannot allow the home to become a place of fear again" in current lockdowns due to COVID-19.

The first COVID-19 lockdowns this past spring led to many CoE member states to report record increases in domestic abuse, she said in a statement, adding that a recent UN Women study revealed increased sexual harassment, stalking, sexting and other forms of online violence.

"One of our most significant international treaties, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) calls for specific measures against such violence, such as 24-hour hotlines and counselling services, access to shelters for victims, restraining and protection orders and swift police interventions," said Pejcinovic Buric.

"As we mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in the midst of an enduring pandemic, lockdowns have proven to be a unique challenge for all of the above. We need to ensure that renewed restrictions on movement do not cause more harm to women and children. But steps can be taken to ensure that the home does not become a place of fear again," she added.

"Effective measures to prevent violence against women must be a key part of renewed lockdowns. Continued and safe access to support services such as shelters must be ensured as essential," she said.

Creative solutions that worked in some countries earlier this year, from free travel for victims to support services, or information provided to victims of domestic violence by local pharmacies, should be encouraged and adapted, Pejcinovic Buric said.

"If not already carried out, police officers and health professionals should be given guidelines to both identify and help victims of domestic abuse, for example by pro-actively reaching out to women who have sought help before."

"Even before the pandemic struck, women and girls with disabilities, of migrant origin, without a permanent home or from ethnic, religious or language minorities, often had difficulties accessing information on available support and protection," she said.

She called on those states that have not yet done so to ratify the Istanbul Convention, and recalled that the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women (GREVIO) monitors "that states party to the Convention follow its guidelines."

Croatia ratified the Convention in 2018.

"Restrictions of movement, financial constraints and uncertainty cannot be allowed to embolden perpetrators - whether at home or online. For all such forms of violence, we must maintain zero tolerance," said Pejcinovic Buric.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Centre Party Says Undeclared Lockdown in Force in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 21, 2020 - One of the Centre party leaders, Dalija Oreskovic, said on Saturday that there was a state of undeclared lockdown in Croatia.

That way, she said, the government is avoiding its responsibility to give financial support to businesses that cannot operate due to the coronavirus crisis.

"Examples of arrogance, which show that there are double standards for epidemiological measures, just as for anything else in Croatia, started already during the summer. There is one set of rules for the HDZ and their privileged categories of people and events, and another one for us, less important mortals," Oreskovic told a news conference.

Coronavirus under control yesterday, today it's a plague we are to blame for

"Coronavirus was under control by the national COVID-19 response team yesterday, while today it is a plague we ourselves are to blame for. Tomorrow, when the HDZ holds intraparty elections, the virus will be laughed at, but the day after we will be admonished for being responsible for its explosion," said Oreskovic.

She noted that her party was not a proponent of conspiracy theories or disregard for science, calling on citizens to be twice as responsible as asked of them by the national COVID-19 response team, which she described as politicised.

"One should remember, when any next election is held, who are those who treat citizens as fools with whose lives they dare play on the verge of an undeclared lockdown in which all rights and credit will be theirs and all responsibility and damage ours," said Oreskovic.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Capak: Lockdown and Curfew in Neighbouring Countries without Effect

ZAGREB, Nov 4, 2020 - Head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health Krunoslav Capak on Wednesday said that more stringent epidemiological measures, like a lockdown or a curfew that have been introduced in neighbouring countries, have proved to be ineffective and that the current measures in Croatia are good.

"We think that our measures are good. We appeal to citizens to adhere to them and if they do, we are certain that we will curb these numbers," Capak told reporters.

Despite doctors calling for more stringent measures, Capak claimed that the curfews and lockdowns that have been introduced in other EU countries are not bringing any results one week after they were introduced as the numbers in those countries are continuing to grow.

"We think that those measures are not effective," he underlined.

Six doctors' associations today called on the government to urgently introduce more stringent epidemiological measures, otherwise the health system could collapse, seeing that hospitals are already at the "breaking point."

Capak claimed that the problem of a possible lack of equipment or shortage of staff can be resolved with redistribution to those areas where they are more needed.

"We have a sufficient number of ventilators, there are more than 70,000 people working in the health system. I am certain that we will protect the health of our citizens," said Capak.

Monday, 2 November 2020

President Says Would Support Possible Lockdown but Not Curfew

ZAGREB, November 2, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic said on Monday that he would support a possible lockdown to help in efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, but he would oppose a curfew, explaining that Croatia is not in a state of war but in an emergency situation.

"I will be the first one to back a lockdown but not a curfew," Milanovic said, adding that he was against a curfew and against situations where people, who, for instance, walk their dogs after 8 p.m., have to explain why they are outside.

Addressing reporters after a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the Social Democratic Party at whose helm he was from mid-2007 to late 2016, the president said that any decision on imposing a lockdown could not be made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic or the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak, but that it was the responsibility of the national parliament.

Damage to be caused by a lockdown is huge, people are at the end of their tether, notably those who do not work in the civil service, Milanovic said, adding that society should care for the elderly and the ill, while others should behave responsibly and prudently.

He went on to say that the current situation requires more engagement from some professionals, for instance, physicians, adding that "there are enough doctors, but they should be paid well," and that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric should take care of that.

In a message to the government and the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Milanovic said they should not be "hiding behind clerks" and leaving decisions they are afraid to make to HZJZ head Krunoslav Capak.

"It is unfair," he added.


Milanovic says willing to attend Vukovar commemorative march but...

In connection with the 29th anniversary of the fall of the eastern town of Vukovar and the southern town of Skabrnja into the hands of the Yugoslav People's Army and rebel Serbs, to be marked on 18 November, Milanovic said that he was willing to attend the commemoration in Vukovar.

"A lot will depend on an agreement between Plenkovic, (war veterans' minister Tomo) Medved and (Vukovar Mayor Ivan) Penava and the local bunch," Milanovic said, adding that attending the ceremonies was definitely an honour and a duty.

He noted, however, that before his departure to Vukovar he would consult the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA), because "I do not have to take part in any shows."

In that context, he said that he did not want a recurrence of the situation of 18 November 2013, when he and some other state officials were prevented from joining the commemorative march through the city.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

PM: New Lockdown only if Situation Escalates

ZAGREB, Oct 21, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday that a new lockdown could only be expected as the last resort if the situation escalated so much so that there was no other option.

Croatia today registered 1,424 new cases of the coronavirus infection. Asked whether more restrictive measures, such as a curfew, are being considered, he said that there were two methods.

One method is to view the problem rationally, take measures and raise public awareness of the seriousness of a problem, which is what we are doing, Plenkovic said.

Restrictive measures inevitably lead to negative economic effects, but at the same time state and public institutions receive their salaries, pensioners receive their pensions, and the private sector will get €1 billion. We are taking care of the general interest, he said.

A curfew, restrictive measures, a new lockdown, they are the last resort if the situation escalates so much so that there is no other option, Plenkovic said.

I believe in the strength, vigilance, and responsibility of the Croatian people, he added.

He reiterated that the problem of the pandemic should not be underestimated.

If this were nothing, there would not be 40 million infections in the world, there would not be restrictive measures in Slovenia. We have to get serious, the question is whether we will approach the problem seriously or in a way that will lead to confusion, Plenkovic said.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

Lockdown Brings Increase in Rail Freight Transport, Drop in Passenger Transport

ZAGREB, September 18, 2020 - About 67% fewer passengers travelled by rail in the second quarter due to the corona crisis compared to the same period last year while freight transport rose by 2.5% by taking over freight from other transport modes, the HAKOM regulatory agency informed on Friday.

Noting that a decrease in the number of passengers travelling by rail in Q2 was to have been expected because of the lockodown, the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries - HAKOM on Friday confirmed previous claims by Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic that as far as the cargo segment was concerned, the railway did not generate any loss.

A total of 3.66 million tonnes of goods were transported in Q2 according to HAKOM, which is 2.5% more year on year however it recorded a 'small' decrease (11,000 tonnes) compared to Q1 2020.

Similarly until now, the biggest freight transporter in Q2 was the national HZ Cargo with a share of 56.3% in train kilometres while the remainder of cargo was transported by eight other providers on the market.


Passenger travel reduced due to epidemic

Unlike freight transport, which continued to operate without any major disruptions during the entire time of the lockdown, passenger transport was significantly reduced in Q2 year on year, by almost 67%.

In numbers, that means that 1.7 million passengers travelled by train in Q2 this year compared to 5.1 million in 2019 Q2.

There were fewer passengers compared to Q1 too, when 4.7 million passengers travelled by train in that period.


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Friday, 28 August 2020

Employers' Association Says Economy Cannot Withstand Another Lockdown

ZAGREB, August 28, 2020 - A drop in GDP of 15.1 percent has shown that the economy could not withstand another lockdown, the Croatia Employers' Association (HUP) has said, underscoring the importance of preserving jobs, but also providing funds and ensuring liquidity for those hit hardest by the crisis.

The national statistical office (DZS) on Friday released its initial estimates, according to which gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2020 fell by 15.1% on the year, its first decline since mid-2014.

The data on the dramatic decline in GDP, released today, have shown how deep the crisis is, and it is important to keep in mind that without the government's subsidies for preserving jobs and other measures to support the economy, the decline would have been even steeper, HUP said on Friday in a press release.

It is encouraging, it was added, that certain segments of the economy, such the construction industry and the ICT sector saw an increase in activities even in this turbulent period. However, the trade and hospitality sectors, as well as the manufacturing industry and other industries significant for Croatia's GDP have recorded a decline in activity.

It is not encouraging either, they underscored, that the trade sector continued to register a drop even in July, after retail trade turnover in the first sixth months saw a real decline of over 6%.

HUP underscored that it was positive that the results of the tourism sector in July and August were better than had been expected earlier.

It is difficult to expect a more visible economic growth this year or in the first half of 2021, HUP noted.

"It is necessary that the government continue with the measures to help the economy, in order to preserve jobs, ensure liquidity in the economy and encourage spending and investment. We think that measures should be adopted as soon as possible so that employers can make new decisions on time and know what they can count on. We expect the new measures to be presented in a clear way and preserving jobs to remain a priority. Today's data have shown that the economy cannot withstand another lockdown," said HUP's director general Damir Zoric.

"It is more acceptable for employers to adapt to stricter epidemiological measures than to face complete business closure. With no work or with a constant reduction in work activity we lose more than we can currently withstand. Since a good part of economic activity was either completely suspended or largely limited two-thirds of the time in the second quarter, a dramatic decline in GDP is expected, and we can no longer afford that," HUP's press release said.


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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

No Lockdown For Split-Dalmatia County

ZAGREB, Aug 26, 2020 - Head of the national COVID-19 management team and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Wednesday that the new measures for Split-Dalmatia County, announced by the county's team, would come into force at midnight.

"Split-Dalmatia County has decided to make wearing masks mandatory in bars and restaurants before consuming drinks and food, the number of people at weddings will be limited to 50, wakes are banned, and owners of restaurants are obliged to supervise their facilities more closely. Also, gyms will close, and sports competitions can take place but without spectators," Bozinovic said.

Broken down by counties, the number of new cases of the infection is the highest in Split-Dalmatia County - 136, followed by the City of Zagreb (58), Sibenik-Knin County (33), Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (20), Zagreb County (19), Zadar County (15), Varazdin County (11), Brod-Posavina County (11), while other counties have recorded fewer than 10 new cases.

Asked whether the national COVID-19 response team was considering a complete closure of Split-Dalmatia County, Bozinovic said that was not the case.

"We are not considering that this is the only way to avoid that, and I am convinced there will not be any lockdown. We are keeping the situation under control this way," he said.

Asked about the possibility of the spike in number due to the recent Feast of the Assumption, Bozinovic said that they had assigned local teams to conduct epidemiological surveillance, and they believe the prescribed measures had been implemented.

"Split-Dalmatia County is a hotspot and new measures are being taken there. We will have meetings with others on Thursday, so it is possible that some new measures may be introduced then in some counties," Bozinovic said.

Asked why gyms were closing in Split-Dalmatia County while bars remained open and Masses were allowed, Bozinovic said that the new measures would be in place for 14 days.

He underscored that measures could be dropped or extended. Fines for violating the measures are also possible, he added.

"There is always the possibility of penalizing. We hope there will be no need for that because our intention is that as many people as possible accept the recommendations by the Croatian Public Health Institute. The point is for people to follow the recommendations because then we will achieve the main goal, to reduce the number of new infections and control the situation," he said.

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