Thursday, 28 July 2022

Diplomat: Croatia Has Nothing Against Vučić's Visit To Jasenovac

ZAGREB, 28 July 2022 - Croatia's Ambassador to Belgrade, Hidajet Biščević, has said that the recent plans for Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Jasenovac, the site of a WW2 concentration camp, disrespected diplomatic procedure but that the visit was not banned, contrary to the prevailing perception in Serbia.

"Concerning the reportedly planned private visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Jasenovac, it is important to understand that standard diplomatic procedure were not respected," Biščević explained in an interview with the Belgrade-based NIN weekly newspaper.

"Croatia has nothing against (Vučić's) visit to Jasenovac. Croatia defined its attitude towards Jasenovac a long time ago and reiterated it many times by paying tribute to the victims and condemning the atrocities committed there," Biščević said, adding that the visit would be possible when the conditions were met so that it did not cause new polarisation but rather contributed to strengthening mutual understanding while taking into account reciprocity.

The ambassador warned that former Croatian inmates of prison camps in Vojvodina, where they had been taken by Serb forces from Croatia during the Homeland War in the early 1990s, had been denied the opportunity to visit the sites of those camps for years.

Biščević noted that Croatia and Serbia live and will probably continue to live in parallel histories for a long time to come, stressing at the same time that the politicisation of victims perpetuates the vicious circle of bilateral relations and that both countries should make an effort to end it, recalling the way France and Germany did it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Finding Relevant Information As Protection Against Misinformation, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 9 May 2022 - Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek on Monday said it is exceptionally important to find relevant information and in that way protect oneself against misinformation, adding that the development of independent fact-checkersis the basis to resist misinformation.

The minister presented the results of a project held under the motto "Think with your head in the media labyrinth" as part of the 5th Media Literacy Days, held from 2 to 8 May and comprising more than 500 events in 155 cities around Croatia.

She underscored that technological development has brought positive changes to life but they have also created a labyrinth in some areas of life and "due to the quantity of available information, we sometimes feel like we are living in a parallel world."

Hence, it is exceptionally important to know how to find relevant information and be protected against misinformation, she said, adding that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan has ensured the funds to set up fact-checkers and a published data system.

Developing independent fact-checkers for information in the public sphere, in the media and on social networks and building a system are the foundation of strengthening a society's resilience to misinformation, underscored Obuljen Koržinek.

Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs underlined that media literacy is now being developed through a series of school subjects in elementary and secondary schools.

He stressed that media literacy includes a lot of know-how, skills and competencies and that the greatest value of media literacy is the ability to analyse, evaluate and put information into context.

Vice president of the Electronic Media Council Robert Tomljenović said the results of recent research indicate that it is necessary to create conditions for children and young people as well as all citizens to learn how the media function and create content and news so they can develop critical thinking.

The head of the UNICEF office for Croatia, Regina M. Castillo, said that research has shown that young people recognise the challenges of using the media, particularly digital media.

"Every third student has felt stress, loneliness, envy or lack of seld-confidence due to content on social networks. These are challenges that parents, teachers and other experts are faced with every day," she warned.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Croatia Ranks 48th on World Press Freedom Index

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Croatia ranks 48th on the 2022 World Press Freedom Index published on Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), with 70.42 points, an improvement compared to 2021, when it ranked 56th with 72.05 points. The annual RSF survey of media freedoms covers 180 countries.

Croatia ranks best on the legislative indicator (38th) and worst on the social indicator (64th).

While the media scene has become diverse and dynamic, the government is failing to protect journalists against legal attempts to muzzle them, and against organised crime, the RSF says in the section of the global report dealing with Croatia, noting that the government itself represents a threat to press freedom.

Croatia, with a population of less than four million, enjoys a modestly sized but diverse media sector, the RSF says.

A half-dozen national newspapers appear each day, but their ownership is concentrated. Two media companies, Styria and Hanza Media, control three-quarters of the market.

The two major private television networks, Nova TVZ and RTL, provide national coverage, competing with the publicly owned HTV, while most radio stations have only local presence.

Working as a journalist in Croatia can be hazardous. Reporters investigating corruption, organised crime, and war crimes, especially at the local level, are often hit by harassment campaigns, while physical assaults, threats, and cyber-violence represent a major problem. Authorities remain silent. Government interference in the management of HTV persists, the RSF says.

Defamation is a criminal offence in Croatia, and regularly invoked by politicians and business people to discourage journalists’ questions about their activities. In addition, insulting "the Republic, its emblem, its national anthem or its flag" is punishable by up to three years in prison. Even more serious, comments deemed "humiliating" are criminalised. Gag-order lawsuits (SLAPPs) remain a scourge, with nearly one thousand legal actions against journalists or media organisations underway, the RSF report reads.

The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened the financial crisis that was already impacting Croatian media, leading to further lowering of editorial salaries. As the result of a 2016 government action, non-profit media have lost some of their financing. In an attempt to deal with financial problems, big newspapers have increasingly agreed to partner with the government in holding events, which raises questions about media independence. 

Crimes committed by Croat forces during the 1991-1995 war of independence remain an off-limit subject. Journalists who deal with the issue may be targeted in harassment campaigns. Nationalist movements, and those close to the Catholic Church, are often the source of these attacks. Reporters who probe corruption cases, especially at the local level, endure attacks from organised-crime gangs.

No journalists have been killed since 2008, but physical assaults and intimidation of journalists occur every year, especially in the course of demonstrations, the RSF says in the report on Croatia.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Journalists' Association Asks President to Stop Insulting Their Profession

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Saturday asked President Zoran Milanović to stop insulting the journalistic profession, saying that his statements about journalists and the media are inappropriate and to be condemned.

The HND commented on Milanović's statement that he did not follow the media. "They follow me, like scabies, like a skin infection... It's awfully bad. The education criterion has declined enormously. It's a totally neglected profession," the president said.

The HND said in a press release that such assessments did not befit the head of state in a democratic society and that they were insulting to all journalists as well as an unacceptable generalisation of a public interest profession.

The HND said numerous governments were responsible for the "devastated" journalistic scene, including Milanović's when he was prime minister, during which the current law on the public broadcaster was adopted, which, the HND said, was having disastrous consequences.

The HND said that over the past 30 years journalists played an important role in uncovering numerous irregularities in society, and criticised the behaviour of the president and the prime minister "in these moments of crisis."

The HND urged Milanović to just answer questions from the press, without belittling and vilifying, reminding him that in his inauguration speech he underlined the importance of protecting and promoting the independence of the media.

The HND reiterated its call on all office holders to just answer questions from the press.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ambassador: BiH Media Invent Allegations on Croatia Pushing for Polls' Postponement

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolić on Friday denied allegations by some local media outlets about Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković having lobbied during the European Council's meeting for the deferment of Bosnia's general elections.

The allegations that Plenković advocated the postponement of the elections, which are expected to be held in October, and that the European Council dismissed that possibility were first presented by the Klix news portal, and after that some other local media outlets disseminated them.

Bosnian presidency member Željko Komšić immediately joined the comments that this failed attempt by Croatia's officials to defer the polls is an important and clear message to Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities.

This prompted Ambassador Sabolić to issue a statement in which he denied the invented allegations.

The story about the refusal of the alleged Croatian proposal is made up with the obvious aim of downplaying the recognised and well-accepted constructive efforts of PM Plenković and the Croatian government to speed up a political agreement on the limited constitutional reform and the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the diplomat.

Sabolić recalled the Strategic Compass, adopted by the EU, fully recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional architecture and that at Croatia's initiative, the EU reiterated its readiness to make additional engagement in a bid to help local politician to reach agreement on Bosnia's new electoral law.

The European Council, which held a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, also discussed "the prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina," read the Council's conclusions.

The European Union, which "reiterates its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans," calls on leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina "to demonstrate a strong commitment to finalise swiftly the constitutional and electoral reform, vital for stability and full functionality of the country, as well as to support all other priority reforms set out in the Commission’s Opinion to obtain a candidate status."

"The European Union stands ready to continue its high-level engagement in this regard," the European Council says in its conclusions.

As for the Strategic Compass, the document reads that it is "of particular interest to support the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all citizens and constituent peoples as enshrined in the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution."

For more, check out our politics section.


Saturday, 5 March 2022

Women Appear in Only 36% of TV Features, Conference Hears

ZAGREB, 5 March 2022 - RTL accounts for the largest share of TV features in which women appear (39%), followed by Croatian Television (37%) and Nova TV (33%), and the three stations' combined average is 36%, according to an analysis whose findings were presented on Saturday at a conference on women in the media sphere.

The analysis was done last October by the Electronic Media Agency, which examined 93 news programmes with 2,439 features. Women appeared in 889.

Women mainly appeared in features on science, health and welfare, followed by social and legal topics, while politics and the government accounted for only 15%.

Culture minister: Stereotypes exist, but we have become more aware

Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said expert speakers on political topics were mainly men, resulting in their dominance in the media sphere.

Stereotypes exist, but it is encouraging that we are more aware of the need to affirm gender equality in the media sphere and the position of women in society, she said, adding that it is also encouraging that the data on Croatia are better than on some other states.

The goal is to promote equality and women's contribution to society through all public policies, including the media policy, she said, underlining the need to encourage media literacy in order to reduce hate speech, primarily on social media.

MEP: Women work one month in the year for free

We can be satisfied with the progress in the visibility of women in the media sphere, said Croatian MEP Sunčana Glavak, who organised the conference in cooperation with the Electronic Media Agency as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

We have better data than other EU countries, but the pay gap shows that women work one month in the year for free, she said, adding that irregularities and inequalities must be changed. "We are doing that at European Parliament level."

Glavak said that by increasing women's representation in the media, it was necessary to encourage young women to fight for better power positions.

It is important that women in the media don't talk only about women's topics, she said, adding that there are still not enough women in decision making and heading management boards. "Data tell us that we need 67 years to achieve women's equality."

Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said an analysis of 140 management companies showed that women were still far from being equal to men.

Equality can be achieved only through education, she said, adding that training courses with employers are necessary as well as transparency in choosing people.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Croatian PM Could Run For Presidency of European People's Party, Says VL

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković could run for the leader of the European People's Party (EPP) this spring when this political group is supposed to elect new presidency, the Zagreb-based Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The daily newspaper recalls that last week, PM Andrej Plenković received his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and that their meeting in Zagreb was actually a meeting of the only two current premiers from the EPP group. After the departure of Angela Merkel from the position of German Chancellor and the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz following accusations about his involvement into alleged corruption cases, Plenković is the only EPP official who is currently serving the second term of his premiership.

The current EPP president Donald Tusk seems not willing to vie for his reelection and the EPP's election convention is likely to be held this spring, according to the daily newspaper.

The daily says that three possible candidates are German MEP Manfred Weber, and the Croatian and the Greek premiers.

However, a source from the government has told the newspaper that Plenković is not thinking at all of competing in that race.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Split Deputy Mayor Vows Not To Be "Embarrassment" For City Authorities Anymore

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Split Deputy Mayor Bojan Ivošević, who threatened an editor of the Slobodna Dalmacija daily, Nikolina Lulić, saying he would "drink her blood" and was lambasted by the public, on Thursday promised that he would not be an "embarrassment" for the city authorities anymore.

"I am aware that I am no longer an activist but deputy mayor and something like that will never be repeated again and I will not embarrass our town," Ivošević said.

He apologized to Mayor Ivica Puljak (Centar), city councillors in the ruling majority for being connected to some of his wrong decisions.

This was his first public statement since the contentious episode with the reporter. He had promised not to address the public for "a month" but that today he considered it was only fair and necessary to make this statement, as he had been out of the country for a few days.

Apologies to Ms. Lulić and anyone who felt offended

"I apologize to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and anyone else who may have felt insulted by my words and my way of communication. I have learned my lesson and will change some things in my life," he said.

He told reporters that they have the right to do their job and that he will try and make information more accessible to them.

"I am still in my old 'mode' as an activist when communication was more informal but my current position as deputy mayor does not allow that anymore," he added.

I would ask someone who acted like me to step down

Asked if he would insist on resignation in the event that someone else had acted the way he did, Ivošević said that he would first ask for an apology and would probably call for their resignation if he were a part of the Opposition.

"I have already apologized to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and apologized again. I can apologize as many times as required," he added.

He did not wish to comment on a statement by the mayor's close associate Srđan Marinić that Slobodna Dalmacija tried to racketeer city authorities.

"I have learned that as deputy mayor I should not comment on the work of the media in any sense. If I wish to comment I cannot say anything in the capacity of deputy mayor. What I can say is that on two occasions we rejected to enter into business cooperation that was valued at HRK 460,000. I've learned my lesson I cannot comment on the work of media houses," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 13 August 2021

HND, SNH Slam Sacking of Two Reporters and Cameraman at Local TV Station

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists' Trade Union (SNH) on Friday condemned the decision of the owner of the Televizija Šibenik on the extraordinary dismissal without prior notice of two journalists and a television camera operator.

Addressing a news conference the HND leader Hrvoje Zovko said that journalists were "fed up with local power-mongers who tailor local media coverage" and compared the case of TV Šibenik with the recent developments in the Pula-based Glas Istre newspaper in which some reporters were fired.

Zovko strongly condemned the move of the TV Šibenik owner Stipe Grcić to bar one of the dismissed reporters -- Lucija Cvitan -- from entering the broadcaster's premises, and pointed out a label put on the door of the editorial room reading that Cvitan is "a persona non grata".

Zovko and Cvitan told today's news conference that this label was particularly disparaging and the European Federation of Journalists would be informed of this action of the media outlet's owner, if he failed to remove it immediately.

The HND chief said that the actions of Grcić and the TV Šibenik were scandalous, particularly having in mind the fact that the media outlet was partly funded from the state budget.

Zovko added that they had sent a request to Grcić last night to give his comment on the case but he had not sent any response until the start of the news conference.

Cvitan said that before being sacked she had not received any notice. I sent an e-mail asking or amending my employment contract for June. The reply sent after that was that I was no longer an employee of the TV Šibenik, she said adding that after that the disparaging label appeared on the editorial room.

"I want the stain to be removed from my name. I have have worked conscientiously," said Cvitan.

The other sacked reporter, Ivana Bulat, was fired during her sick leave.

The SNH leader Maja Sever said that the key to such problems appearing in local media outlets would be the conclusion of collective agreements regulating all the rights and entitlements of journalists.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Users to Be Fined for Hate Speech in Their Comments, Not Media – Jutarnji Lis

ZAGREB, 24 July, 2021 - The final electronic media bill has acknowledged the criticisms that were made, so users will be punished for hate speech in their comments, not the media where the comments are generated, Jutarnji List daily said on Saturday.

Compared with the first draft, which was widely criticised last winter both by media professionals and the general public, the final bill brings several significant changes, and the attempt to crack down on hate speech on web portals is likely to draw the most attention.

The Culture and Media Ministry has accepted the criticisms made by journalists, editors and media owners, so exorbitant fines will not be paid by the media but users whose comments break the law.

The first draft of the bill said the electronic publication provider was accountable for all content, including content generated by users. That meant that the media would have been held fully accountable and could have been brutally fined, including for racist comments and those inciting to violence, comments that are mostly anonymous. The envisaged fines ranged from HRK 100,000 to one million.

The ministry changed the article in question, so that in future the real writers of those comments will be held to account. In return, media owners, if they wish to avoid fines, will have to completely change the rules of the game for their readers. They will have to register users and warn them in a clear and easily noticeable way about commenting rules and breaches of regulations.

Jutarnji List said the government could endorse the final bill at next week's meeting.

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