Thursday, 8 April 2021

Parliament Speaker Issues Message For 50th International Romani Day

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Thursday congratulated the Roma national minority in Croatia on the 50th anniversary of International Romani Day.

"The Republic of Croatia has from its beginning been committed to the full protection of members of national minorities, which has also been strengthened by the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities. Since then we have been working intensively with members of the Roma community on social integration and affirmation of Roma in the Croatian society," Jandroković said in the message.

He underscored that the Roma are today active participants in political life and have their representative in the Croatian parliament.

Also, the Croatian parliament was part of the initiative to establish the World Day of Romani Language on 5 November, which further contributes to preserving Romani culture, the parliament speaker recalled.

"Our common task is to continue helping, in a systematic and concrete way, members of the Roma minority in Croatia to become more strongly involved in society, and children and young people in the education system," the message said.

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

 

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Parliament:The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures Pays Into State Budget More Than It Is Allocated

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM) received 1,194 appeals in 2019 and paid HRK 17 million into the state budget in respect of fees for launching appellate proceedings, which is 6.8 million more than the funds allocated for the Commission's work, the Croatian Parliament was told on Thursday.

The figures were presented by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Nataša Mikuš Žigman, while introducing amendments to the DKOM Act governing the rights and obligations of the Commission members.

The DKOM deals with appeals in public procurement procedures, grants concessions and selects private partners in public-private partnership projects. It has nine members, including a president and two vice-presidents, and they are appointed by parliament at the government's proposal for a term of five years.

The statutory deadline for processing cases is 30 days, and the Commission's average is 27 days, Mikuš Žigman said, adding that cases concerning the absorption of EU funding are dealt with in a shorter time because they are given priority.

The total value of public procurement is about HRK 43 billion annually, and between 47 and 53 percent of appeals are granted, MPs were told.

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

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Says Who Plans to be Supreme Court President Must Respect Law

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that someone who planned to be president of the Supreme Court was expected to respect the law, which "is the prerequisite of every reform."

He was responding during Question Time to MP Arsen Bauk of the opposition Social Democratic Party, who said Plenković was preventing changes in the judiciary, that Croatia was the least vaccinated EU member state, that COVID-19 measures were being applied selectively and that there was no reconstruction after last year's earthquakes.

Plenković accused the SDP "and the whole left" of trying to create an "awful" atmosphere as if tomorrow there would be no wages, electricity or gas.

He said Croatia ordered 8.7 million vaccine doses and that people would be vaccinated, but that the government could not be responsible if a big drugs company had problems with its vaccine, production and distribution. "Other countries are in this situation too."

Bauk said Plenković did not refute any of his claims and that citizens believed the president more in his row with the prime minister over the election of the new Supreme Court president.

Bauk concurred with other opposition MPs' criticisms of the ruling HDZ's policies and their rejection of the possibility that Plenković's party could transform itself.

He said the HDZ's "core won't change, it's always more or less the same" and that "the HDZ has always functioned on doctrines of (...) sustainable nationalism and clientelism."

SDP MP says minister tried to bribe her

SDP MP Mirela Ahmetović said that "one of your ministers (...) personally offered me a bribe to keep quiet about all the illegal and negative things" about the LNG project off Krk island, and that as a result of the project the gas price for households went up 80% on 1 April.

Plenković accused her of having boycotted the project "dreamed of for 40 years", saying it would reduce the price of gas and that this benefitted Ahmetović as head of Omišalj Municipality.

He also dismissed claims by Marijana Puljak (Centre) that he was protecting Vice Mihanović, the HDZ's candidate for mayor of Split who is under suspicion of having plagiarised a scientific paper.

He said Mihanović had a doctorate and that it was up to the relevant commissions to decide on his doctoral dissertation, adding that Ivica Puljak, Marijana Puljak's husband, would certainly lose to Mihanović in the Split mayoral race.

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Milorad Pupovac Accuses President Zoran Milanović of Racism, Milanović Him of Denouncing Croatia

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - MP Milorad Pupovac has accused President Zoran Milanović of dangerously spreading cultural racism, to which Milanović responded on Monday by saying that Pupovac was denouncing Croatia to Sarajevo and Belgrade media but kept quiet when it came to denouncing corruption in Croatia.

"President Milanović is belittling almost everyone who disagrees with him, from women, minority representatives, representatives of the gay population, representatives of the academic community, to neighbouring peoples and states," Pupovac told the radiosarajevo.ba web portal.

He said he was especially concerned about Milanović's "cultural racism speech which can be felt in communication towards Bosnia and Herzegovina (...) and Serbia."

"That's very, very dangerous," said the Serb minority MP and president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party, which is part of the ruling coalition. "We are peoples and states that still haven't healed the horrors of war we went through."

"The rhetoric of cultural racism towards peoples who are east of Croatia, and in that sense religiously, culturally or partly culturally different from the Croatian people or the Croatian state, is an act of verbal insulting and verbal humiliation."

That is not good for Croatia and its democracy, which is fragile, but it can't ben good for the Croats living in BiH or Serbia either, Pupovac said.

"And I'm quite sure it can't be good for the president either. Because if this continues, it won't reverberate only in Croatia and across the borders of the neighbouring states which are mentioned in his speeches with derogatory and frequently racist language, it will certainly spread wider."

Milanović urges Pupovac to do something for Croatia

Milanović responded in a Facebook post, writing that Pupovac "is raising his price on the international market again."

"As his currency loses value at home, he is spreading his constitutional concern for Croatia in the region via Sarajevo media. It's not news that, if necessary, he bargains for himself internationally as well."

Milanović said Pupovac was denouncing Croatia for Sarajevo media today and would probably do so for Belgrade media tomorrow.

He asked Pupovac when he intended "to denounce the corrupt work of the government you sit in" and urged him to "do something for your country" on that front.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

MOST Starts Collecting MPs' Signatures to Dismiss Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - The opposition Bridge party has announced that on Thursday it starts collecting MPs' signatures to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa after he was mentioned as being one of the judges allegedly bribed by convicted football mogul Zdravko Mamić.

Bridge said that the "recent events seriously undermined the reputation of and trust in the Croatian judiciary, both the reputation of individual judges and of the judiciary as a whole," and that therefore it was essential to launch the proceedings to relieve Đuro Sessa of his duties as Supreme Court President.

The party recalled that Sessa had been appointed Supreme Court President on 14 July 2017 with 84 votes in favour and 33 against and that under the Courts Act he is responsible for the work of the Supreme Court which ensures the unified application of the law and that everyone is equal before the law.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović: MPs will Have to Vote Because it is Their Constitutional Obligation

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that Parliament would have to vote on his candidate for Supreme Court President, Zlata Đurđević, because that was its obligation under the Constitution.

"They will have to take a vote not because I want them to, but because that is their obligation under the Constitution," Milanović told the press during a visit to the northern Adriatic island of Cres.

Milanović has sent a letter to Parliament calling on MPs to fulfil their constitutional obligation and vote on his proposal to appoint Zlata Đurđević the Supreme Court President.

He accused Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković of concealing the document he had sent to Parliament, adding that Jandroković would not be punished for this theft. "What he did is unprecedented. The HDZ is trying to set up a dictatorship."

Milanović said that the Constitutional Court, which did not support Milanović's position, was a political body consisting of "mainly washed-up HDZ members.

Commenting on the statements by former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić, who accused some of the judges of corruption, Milanović said: "Always the same story, the same people. Mamić provided some evidence, but those people are no-goods. People who administer justice in such cases and who behave like that cannot be called anything else but no-goods."

Milanović said he did not believe that Mamić had financially supported former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. "One should be careful when making such direct accusations. She was accused of serious corruption and I think she will seek satisfaction in court," he added.

Milanović said he believed that judges such as those who had accepted bribes from Mamić were in a minority and that the majority of judges were honourable.

He said that the HDZ-controlled justice system was designed by senior HDZ official Vladimir Šeks. "They are destroying this country and I will fight against that," the President said.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Two Opposition MPs Accuse Gov't of Vaccination Delays

ZAGREB, 24 March (Hina) - Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Rada Borić of the New Left party on Wednesday critcised the Croatian government as well as the European Commission over procrastination in administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Addressing the national parliament, Andreja Marić said that the Croatian government failed this test.

Until three days ago, a mere 470,000 doses of all vaccine producers were delivered to Croatia, which is only 14 doses per 100 inhabitants, Marić said.

To date, 358,000 doses have been administered, and 8.9% of citizens have received one shot so far of the two-dose vaccine and 2.2% have been inoculated with both doses. Only Bulgaria and Latvia have fared worse than Croatia in the European Union, she said.

Marić insists that delays in coronavirus vaccine deliveries are not the result of the unjust distribution inside the European Union but a consequence of Croatia's wrong decision to rely on AstraZeneca vaccines at the beginning.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Andrej Plenković (PM), Gordan Jandroković (MP) and Vili Beroš (Health Minister) Get Vaccinated with AstraZeneca

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Health Minister Vili Beroš were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine at Government House on Tuesday, and Beroš said that they had sent a message of confidence in medical science and the medical profession.

"Today we have sent a strong message of confidence in medical science, the medical profession, primarily because we were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. We will continue to work diligently on vaccinating Croatian citizens so that they could continue living and working with as little risk of infection as possible. Every vaccinated individual contributes to the protection of the population and is definitely a step towards our old normal, and a step closer to a successful tourist season," Beroš told reporters after the vaccination.

He added that there were still many challenges ahead and that it was important to think about future challenges such as new variants of the virus.

"I believe that with this message we have encouraged citizens to follow us on that path, to curb the epidemic and return to our normal life," Beroš said.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Croatian Competition Agency Praised by Both Ruling and Opposition MPs

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - The performance of the Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN) in 2019 was praised on Friday by lawmakers from both the ruling majority and the Opposition.

The report about the agency's activities in 2019 shows that the regulator settled 772 cases that year. The AZTN Council vice-president Vesna Patrlj today informed the parliament that while the agency was receiving more and more cases, it was faced with a decrease in the headcount.

In late 2019, it employed 52 workers and now it has two fewer employees.

"Wages are very low, while the work is very complex, and the training of employees takes some time," Patrlj said in her response to SDP lawmaker Andrea Marić who asked how highly educated people could be motivated to work in this regulator.

In 2019, the regulator issued HRK 4 million in fines and established the existence of two cartels, that is unlawful alliances of rivals, which is considered to be anti-competitive behaviour. The cartels were detrimental to consumers, Patrljsaid without specifying.

In one of the two cases, a user reported this unlawful association and in the other case, the regulator detected it after the participants in the cartel boasted of it in media statements.

Patrlj also called for promotion of the culture of market competition.

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

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.

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