Friday, 5 March 2021

Opposition Turn Away From Parl. Majority for not Supporting Changes to Penal Code

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Opposition MPs on Friday protested by turning away from members of majority lawmakers after the parliament rejected a motion put forward by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to have sexual harassment prosecuted ex officio instead of after it is reported, the deadline for it being three months. 

After the parliament rejected the SDP's amendments to the Penal Code, with 74 votes against, 51 in favour and two abstentions, opposition MPs stood up and turned their backs on the section of the parliament chamber where members of the parliamentary majority sit.

Before the vote, opposition MPs Sabina Glasovac (SDP), Marijana Puljak (Centar), Sandra Benčić (We Can!), Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) and Ružica Vukovac (Homeland Movement) called once again on the parliamentary majority not to "turn their backs on the victims" and to endorse the amendments for the sake of protection of victims of sexual violence.

"The statute of limitations on sexual violence will expire if female students, workers, housewives, all women who suffer sexual violence, fail to report it within three months," said Glasovac.

Puljak said that the parliamentary debate had shown that all 151 deputies were agreed that the victims should be helped, asking what was the harm of amending the law now.

Benčić said that the parliamentary majority's argument that work was underway on a new, more comprehensive law did not hold water.

"The procedure will last for the most part of the year and meanwhile the statute of limitations will expire on all cases of sexual violence about which we have been hearing in recent months," she warned.

"As far as the victims are concerned, it would be better to adopt the amendments now than later," said Selak Raspudić.

This is about whether we will support the victims or the abusers, said Vukovac.

HDZ MP Marija Jelkovac said that the HDZ was not against the goal of the SDP's motion but rather did not want to change the Penal Code twice in a short period of time.

Work on amending the Penal Code is under way and the amendments will cover all demands set by the SDP as well as other changes related to improving the protection of women against sexual harassment, Jelkovac said.

The parliament unanimously adopted, with 114 votes for, a conclusion by party groups making up the parliamentary majority entrusting the government with submitting to the parliament, no later than May 31, amendments to the Penal Code that will be in line with EU regulations and ensure stronger protection of victims of sexual harassment, by introducing ex-officio prosecution of such crimes.

Bošnjaković reassures opposition MPs that SDP Proposal will be added to amendments

HDZ lawmaker and former justice minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Friday afternoon that the SDP-sponsored motion would be incorporated later, explaining that the relevant law is organic and it is not advisable to change it too frequently.

He also underscored the fact that the cabinet of Prime Minister Andrej had introduced harsher  penalties for sexual offences.

He also reassured the Opposition that he statute of limitations would not expire, as claimed by some opposition MPs.

The parliament did not support the Bridge party's proposal to abolish the mandatory membership fee in the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

MPs Debate Candidates For Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - Parliament on Wednesday debated a draft list of candidates for Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council but opposition MPs, disgruntled that the HRT was not broadcasting the debate live, walked out of the chamber.

Parliament is expected to vote on the candidates who meet the requirements set by the parliamentary media committee on Friday.

During the debate before the walkout, Nino Raspudić of the opposition Bridge (Most) said the Programming Council "has no powers and serves nothing because no one listens to it, it has no role at all nor influence on the selection of anyone or anything."

"The HRT is in the service of the great leader and his clique on a caricature level," he said, adding that the reputation and relevance of the public broadcaster was being constantly degraded and that the HRT avoided covering serious topics.

Raspudić said the Programming Council was disempowered by amendments to the HRT Act adopted by the former SDP-led government, adding that the power was concentrated in the hands of the HRT director general and the HRT put under direct political control.

Željko Sačić of the opposition Croatian Sovereignists said the HRT did not have enough programmes for war veterans and criticised the Programming Council for failing to affirm the values in the Homeland War Declaration.

Marijana Puljak of opposition Centre suggested abolishing the licence fee and the Programming Council, saying that Croatia had high taxes which could be used to finance the HRT's work instead of additionally collecting HRK 1.3 billion annually from citizens. She added that there was no investigating journalism on the HRT.

Vesna Bedeković of the ruling HDZ denied that the Programming Council had no role or powers, saying it followed the implementation of programming principles and the HRT-government agreement.

She recalled that nine of the Council's 11 members were elected in parliament and two from the HRT staff, and dismissed complaints that there were no sufficient programmes for war veterans.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Pametno and SIP Join to Form New Party Called Centre

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - The parliamentary opposition parties Pametno (Smart) and the Party with a First and Last Name (SIP) joined to form a single party, called Centre, at an online convention on Sunday, they announced in a statement on Monday.

The new party will not have a leader, but will be headed by four co-leaders - Dalija Oreskovic, Marijana Puljak, Marin Racic and Dario Carev.

The first unification of two political parties in Croatia on an equal footing is aimed at bringing together as many respectable individuals as possible to push for more civil liberties, less state influence on the economy and strong anti-corruption policies, the statement said.

The new party said it would prepare for local elections in May by offering a programme and candidates who can effect true change.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Reforestation of Mountains Overlooking Split Continues

ZAGREB, Nov 14, 2020 - Boranka, the biggest volunteer fire site reforestation drive in Croatia, resumed in the Split hinterland on Saturday, with president Zoran Milanovic participating in it by planting a few plants.

Milanovic praised the drive as a brilliant action and said that during his youth he used to tend gardens of wealthy residents of Zagreb.

The drive is organized by Scouts Croatia in cooperation with the Hrvatske Sume forest management company and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service.

So far over 7,000 volunteers have taken part in the three-year Boranka reforestation drive, with more than 70,000 trees planted across Dalmatia.

During today's action apart from President Milanovic, also local officials as well as parliamentary deputies Ante Bacic (HDZ) and Marijana Puljak (Pametno) took part in the planting of trees. However, Puljak had to leave the slopes of Mount Mosor before the end of today's action as she injured her leg.

The creator of the project, Scouts Croatia business manager Dan Spicer, today thanked the president and the government for support to the drive.

Monday, 28 September 2020

International Safe Abortion Day Marked by Public Action in Split

September 28, 2020 - As a part of the International Safe Abortion Day, a public action 'I don’t want others to decide about my body' was held today in Split on Marmontova Street for the right of women to a safe and accessible medical procedure for abortion.

Domine is a feminist NGO, a non-profit and non-partisan association aimed at promoting women's rights, which has so far organized numerous protests and public actions to point out the problems that the female population is struggling with daily.

"In the 21st century, after the rights our grandmothers have exercised, we must take to the streets and say - I will not let others decide about my body. This is intended for the Ministry of Health and the irresponsible Government, which is unable to pass a law on the right to abortion, ie freedom to decide on the female body, which they owe us in a more modern way", said Mirjana Kučer, executive coordinator of the Domine Association.

"We want the new law to be passed by the decisions of the Constitutional Court, to be more modern and to improve opportunities for women's reproductive health, and not to be a step backward. It is inadmissible that a woman who has decided to have an abortion is brought in front of a commission and that she starts to reconsider that decision", she added.

The action, among others, was supported by the president of the Smart party, MP Marijana Puljak.

At the meeting, everyone adhered to the prescribed epidemiological measures, such as social distance and wearing a mask, following what was written in the invitation of the Domine association to public action.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Friday, 15 March 2019

New Smart Politics for Croatia: Meet Marijana Puljak of 'Pametno'

March 15, 2019 - It started as a local community campaign for an elementary school and quickly became a national political party. Meet Marijana Puljak, leader of political party Pametno (Smart). 

Although TCN is an apolitical website, covering Croatian politics is an important part of the job, and I find myself increasingly in contact with various politicians from different parties. Last summer, for example, Croatia's Prime Minister motioned me over for a chat and informed me he had no intention to sue me (not words you will hear from every politician in Croatia these days). 

marijana-puljak-pametno (1).jpg

(TCN meets Pametno in Jelsa last summer - photo credit Ivo Spigel)

Plenković was not the only national political party leader I met that week in August. A mutual friend introduced me - ironically in the same cafe I had met the PM - to the husband and wife team behind a relatively new political party called Pametno (Smart). It was a very friendly first meeting with Marijana and Ivica Puljak, and I was struck with their enthusiasm and determination to bring change in Croatia. Marijana, the party leader, kindly agreed to my request for an email interview recently.

1. Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your party for our international readers who may not be so familiar with Pametno? How did you get started, where are you now, and what do you stand for?

The political party Smart (Pametno) was founded on June 13, 2015. We started a group of neighbors fighting to get an elementary school in our neighborhood, one city district in Split. During that fight we connected with other people who were socially active in their communities, or those who had not been politically engaged and were dissatisfied with the situation in our city. We formed the civic initiative "For Smart People and a Smart City" and took part in local elections in Split in 2013. The initiative promoted the Smart City concept as its city policy program. It is about the concept of sustainable cities that are widely accepted in Europe and the world, which model cities of the future as modern, open, sustainable and ecologically and socially conscious. At the 2013 elections, we achieved 10% of the votes and entered the city council with 4 city councilors. We were very successful at the local level and recognized as something new in politics. People started to recognize and join us also at national level. 

In June 2015, we decided to form a national political party, with the name that was already recognizable – Smart (Pametno). We are a moderate party of common sense, a party for the promotion of work, knowledge and responsibility, a party for smart solutions facing the future.

Our vision is to build a modern, open, tolerant, civic and economically developed Croatia, based on education and work. 

We stand for the constitutional values of market and entrepreneurial freedom, as well as for stable public finances and fiscal responsibility. At the same time, we have a social approach to education and health. We are committed to the civil liberties and the achieved civilization values of the developed world.

Since the founding of the party, we have participated twice in parliamentary elections, In the 2016 elections we were 300 votes short of getting a seat in parliament. In local elections in 2017, we achieved 20% and 7 seats in Split city council. For the County council we achieved 7% and 4 seats.

2. There are so many parties out there in Croatia. What makes Pametno different? Where do you see the party in 5 years from now?  

Pametno today brings together a large number of individuals with rich knowledge, professional experience and quality ideas, all aiming to create a smart, modern and open Croatia. Members of our party are mostly people who were not in politics before but cannot stand by anymore, and they want to change things. We are showing by example that we are people with personal integrity that you can trust. For many years we have been fighting against the corruption and clientelism of the ruling parties that brought Croatia to the bottom of all the charts in Europe. 

You can see that all our activities in the city and county council are always exclusively in the interests of all citizens. We want to completely reverse Croatia in the direction of an organized and modern society from which citizens will not run away as they do today.
In five years, we see ourselves in a government that leads Croatia towards a modern and developed society of personal and economic freedoms.

3. Will you be taking part in the European Parliament elections? What kind of results do you expect?

These are the most important EU elections since the founding of the European Union because of the rising populism and nationalism, both in Croatia and also in the rest of Europe. We will be taking part in these elections because we want to show to our voters that we are a pro-European party, we want to bring Croatia up to the standards of modern European countries, and we also want Croatia to be a factor of stability in this area. We expect to get one seat in Parliament.

4. Why did you break up the negotiations to join Amsterdam Coalition? Are you ready to reconsider your decision in the future?

We do not regret leaving negotiations to form the coalition. During negotiations, the Uljanik case showed up and we saw that these are also old type politicians who do not object to corruption or conflict of interest. That's not why we joined politics. We want to show to the people that politics is work for the general good, not for personal interest.

5. Do you see yourself cooperating with Dalija Orešković and her new party?

Start is a new political party that now talks exactly about topics that we are fighting with for a long time. According to their appearances in the media, we see that we are thinking the same about the key problems of Croatia and the solutions to these problems. Even more, the research we have done has shown the synergy of our two options, voters recognize that we are dealing with the same topics and want to see us together as a coalition. Together we are much stronger than separate and there is a chance to endanger the domination of HDZ in EU elections. I hope we will work together at some point.

6. Will you have your own candidate for president later this year? If not, who would you support?

We are fully committed to EU elections right now and will decide about that after elections in May.

7. Let's take a look at some of your positions on current hot topics in Croatia? How would you solve the Uljanik shipyard crisis, for example?

The shipbuilding industry itself has always been grateful for pumping numbers such as export and employment, but pumping and state subsidies, sanctions, and the purchase of social peace. Of course, it goes from our pockets, so nobody seems to be hurt. And in the former state, that had the most benefit of the great rise of shipbuilding in the seventies, it was not possible and profitable without state subsidies.

There is no easy exit for Uljanik now, it is likely to follow a bankruptcy with or without restructuring. The main question, that nobody asks today, is the question of responsibility. Who is responsible for company going so wrong for such a long time? 

The spectacular irresponsibility of the management, which for years has accumulated a lot of losses and has driven the ship directly to the wall, without thinking of how catastrophic this is. The irresponsible government that, in the old Croatian way, closed their eyes to the problems and guaranteed for jobs that you could see from far away that could not be successful.

The industry is not developing by putting dut the fires here and there, it requires a long-term vision and development. Uljanik is, unfortunately, one of the companies that will pay the price because of omission.

8. Do you support the introduction of the euro? What do you think about how Croatia used the advantages of EU membership?

Every day we listen about poor statistics of how Croatia didn't benefit enough from EU funds. It is really disgraceful how little money did we collect. Advantages that our people recognize and use are freedom of travel, freedom to choose education or employment in the whole EU, no more customs, no more roaming. Introducing the euro is the next step and that introduction must be prepared well.

9. The population of Croatia is now less than 4 million inhabitants, as the emigration continues. What would you do to reverse this?

Croatia needs new hope. People are leaving because they are sick of listening over and over again only about the past and not about the future. They are leaving because they are sick of the corruption and clientelism at all levels, a State that is not well organized, judges that are not sentencing crimes properly. They do not see opportunities for themselves to achieve their ambitions in Croatia. A small number of them is actually leaving because of low paychecks or no opportunities to get a job. This poor atmosphere has to change, and only new people and new policies can change that, bring a new spirit and hope to Croatia. That’s what we are fighting for, to replace the people that brought Croatia to this state. 

10. What do you think about the position of the Catholic Church in society? Should the Vatican treaties be revised?   Should religious studies be part of the public education system?

We are strongly promoting a secular state, clear separation of church and government. All modern societies are based on such separation. Currently, the Catholic Church is strongly influencing all levels of government and public administration in Croatia. Even public TV is under strong influence. Religion must be studied within the church and not in public schools. Vatican treaties should also be revised. 

11. What do you think about the government’s actions regarding Agrokor? Was the government right to intervene in order to save the jobs, or do you think that such situations should be solved by markets?

I’m afraid that public still does not know all causes and consequences of the Agrokor case. Politics has built a monster for years, it has favored interest groups at all levels. 

Agrokor is a symbol of the collapse of the country that was devastated by corruption, the beginning of the avalanche that will soon catch up. For more than 20 years, the last five governments, Croatian politics has unimaginably benefited from the Agrokor phenomenon. Lex Agrokor is again a key example of corruption in Croatia because this law was written by a special group of people, that is falsely referred to as a working and expert group, and that on the basis of that law explicitly and exclusively they earn the most. 

12. How do you comment on the government’s failure to purchase military jets from Israel? Should Croatia buy fighter jets at all or should the money be invested somewhere else?

Another case of scandal and another minister who had to resign. The fiasco of buying airplanes is proof of the government’s business ignorance and that they are not able to govern the state in terms of protecting and maintaining national security. With their rebelliousness they brought into question all future affairs, no one will take us seriously anymore. Also, do we know the financial damage after this broken deal?

From the very beginning, the government was not transparent on this issue, hiding the details that were to be made available to the public.

Although we might have some obligations to NATO, it was unclear why Croatia was buying airplanes at all, why we did not invest in education or healthcare, they were working behind closed doors. 

Today they lie to our faces and question the basic values of trust and security of our fellow citizens. These are the values with which no one can play. Their hypocrisy and irrationality are endless, once it has to stop because of the future of our children and the whole country.

13. What assessment would you give to Prime Minister Plenković and his policies? Did you expect more from him?

The assessment is: Dissatisfied. This Government leads Croatia to the Middle Ages. We are at the bottom of all the charts in Europe, hundreds of thousands of Croats have fled the country and the emigration continues, young people do not see the future in Croatia, corruption and clientelism are eating us, scandals run in the government one by one minister, comprehensive education reform is abandoned, knowledge is not valued, no judicial reform, no local self-government reform, no reform of health system, public administration is constantly growing, number of retirees is equal to the number of employees, entrepreneurs are still under great pressure, they cannot create new values and open new jobs…

People have lost faith in all institutions of this country. That is the legacy of this government, and Prime Minister Plenković showed the level of his arrogance and ardor when he did not want to accept the resignation of Minister Žalac. He does not know what political responsibility means. Also, he has admitted that laws do not apply equally to everyone.

14. Which is the Croatian politician, past or present in the modern Croatia, that you admire the most, and why?

Actually, I admire all the people who want to change the current state of society. I admire people who are willing to abandon their comfort and be socially active to work for the benefit of the community and not personal interest. This is tough and hard work and each such person should be praised and encouraged.

To learn more about Marijana Puljak and the Pametno party, visit the official website.

For more news about Croatian politics, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Pametno Party Hopes to Attract Disillusioned Left-Wing Voters

Party leader Puljak claims they are the fastest growing party.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Pametno Party Presents Electoral Manifesto

Pametno is trying to present itself as a more liberal version of MOST.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Croatian Parliamentary Elections 2015 - Current Activities

23 more days to go