Sunday, 16 December 2018

Rumours about Croatian Government Reshuffle Denied

ZAGREB, December 16, 2018 - The speaker of the Croatian parliament and secretary general of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Gordan Jandroković, dismissed on Sunday speculation about a possible government reshuffle given that the parliamentary group of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić's party was increasing in number.

Speaking outside the Zagreb cathedral, reporters asked Jandroković to comment on media reports about a possible government reshuffle now that Bandić's party is short of only one MP to be able to form a parliamentary majority with the HDZ without its present junior partner, the Croatian People's Party (HNS). "This information is completely untrue, in fact it's nonsense," Jandroković said.

The speculation was prompted by the defection of Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Ana Komparić Devčić to Bandić's Work and Solidarity Party this week. She is just one in a series of MPs who have recently crossed over to Bandić's party.

More news on the Zagreb mayor and other political events can be found in our Politics section.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Prosecution Amends Indictment Against Zagreb Mayor Bandić

ZAGREB, December 14, 2018 - The national anti-corruption prosecutorial agency USKOK has amended an indictment against Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić on suspicion that he and his associates favoured a company owned by businessman Petar Pripuz when awarding a waste disposal job, whereby Bandić allegedly defrauded the city budget of over 3 million kuna.

The amendments which USKOK submitted to Zagreb County Court on Friday also refer to suspicion that by evading to pay taxes on donations for his presidential campaign, Mayor Bandić defrauded the state budget of 542,000 kuna.

Apart from Bandić, the amended indictment implicates businessman Pripuz, former senior executive in the Zagrebački Holding company Slobodan Ljubičić, Bandić's advisor Željko Horvat, and four more suspects of being involved in a number of corruption-related crimes causing financial harm to the city budget.

USKOK requested merging this case with a trial on a scandal dubbed "Agram" which started before Zagreb County Court in mid-October.

More news on Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić can be found in our Politics section.

Friday, 14 December 2018

HSS, HSLS Expel Members Who Supported Zagreb City Budget

ZAGREB, December 14, 2018 - After they facilitated the adoption of the Zagreb City budget for 2019 by voting for it in the Zagreb City Assembly on Thursday, Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) secretary-general Ilija Ćorić and Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) City Assembly member Miroslav Polovanec were expelled from their respective parties.

Informing reporters of Ćorić's expulsion from the party, HSS leader Krešo Beljak told a news conference that Ćorić's decision had taken him by surprise, the more so as earlier in the day Ćorić had made it clear that he would vote against the budget proposal, as agreed within the City Assembly group of which he was a member. "But evidently we mustn't let anything take us by surprise in politics considering that we know who our opponents are - Mr Bandić and Mr Plenković. This is clearly their doing," Beljak said.

Beljak said he was confident that this was a case of corruption and called on state institutions to investigate it. He added that when asked why he voted the way he did, Ćorić told him that his circumstances made him do it.

Beljak also dismissed accusations by Zlatko Hasanbegović of the Independents for Croatia that the outcome of the vote on the city budget was a result of an agreement between Beljak, HSLS leader Darinko Kosor and Plenković.

Beljak also commented on GLAS MP Anka Mrak Taritaš' statement that there was no room in the Amsterdam Coalition (made up of GLAS, the HSS and the HSU) for people forging alliances with Bandić and the HDZ and that she expected Beljak to act accordingly.

"I did not have the impression that Mrak Taritaš would blame me or anyone in the HSS for that, I'm confident that the Amsterdam Coalition will continue to exist and not only that - we will consolidate it with true politicians and be an alternative to the decay that dominates the political scene in Croatia," said Beljak.

HSLS leader Darinko Kosor, who is also a member of parliament and of the Zagreb City Assembly announced today that Polovanec would no longer be a member of the HSLS or its group in the city assembly. "The HSLS voted in line with the party's decision - against the budget proposal, but members' terms are their own. All those who voted for the budget are no longer members of our group," he said.

Asked about the future of Jozo Miličević of the Zagreb Independent Slate, who is the deputy chair of the City Assembly and who also supported the 2019 Zagreb city budget, Kosor said that Milicevic was a member of another party.

Speaking to reporters after the City Assembly adopted the Zagreb city budget proposal for 2019 with the help of members of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), City Assembly chair and HDZ member Andrija Mikulić said that the HDZ had definitely not been involved in any political trade-offs and called on the opposition in the City Assembly to report their suspicions to the relevant state institutions.

"I was saying the whole time that I was an optimist, that I believe in the proposed projects and I thank God and all members of the City Assembly that reason has prevailed," Mikulić told reporters. "The vote was about supporting Zagreb's further development and not about relations between City Assembly members," said Mikulić.

The Zagreb City Assembly on Thursday adopted next year's budget of 8.19 billion kuna, up 185 million kuna from this year, with 26 votes in favour, 24 against and no abstentions.

More news on the Zagreb politics can be found in our special Zagreb section.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Zagreb City Budget Passed with Support of Three "Opposition" Assemblymen

ZAGREB, December 13, 2018 - The Zagreb City Assembly on Thursday adopted next year's Zagreb city budget of 8.19 billion kuna, up 185 million kuna from this year, with 26 votes in favour, 24 against and no abstentions.

Mayor Milan Bandić accepted all amendments proposed by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The opposition did not put forward any amendments, describing the budget as "megalomanic" and not benefiting the citizens.

Speaking on behalf of the SDP, HSS and Advance Croatia group in the Assembly, Rajko Ostojić said that the Zagreb city budget was social but not developmental and that it was just the continuation of things that have already been seen and would not improve the quality of life for citizens. He noted that for 18 years there had not been any developmental projects in the city.

The Independents for Croatia, who until now were the junior coalition partner with Bandić's party, would not support the budget because Bandić had received the Chairman of the Assembly of the Serbian town of Jagodina, Dragan Markovic Palma, who has been described as a self-confessed Chetnik.

Tomislav Tomašević spoke on behalf of the Left Bloc also criticised the budget. "21 million kuna is being allocated to monuments, yet only 12 million kuna for the reconstruction or construction of new kindergartens. And that is demographic policy," he quipped ironically.

Daniela Juroš Pečnik, head of the City Office for Finance, said that the budget was 185 million kuna higher than last year, adding that four times more money had been absorbed from EU funds and somewhat higher loans were expected for capital investment.

She added that if the budget was not adopted, that could threaten further absorption of 500 million kuna in EU funds.

After losing the support of the Independents for Croatia, Bandić's party lacked the support of three councillors for the budget to be passed. The three votes were secured from Ilija Ćorić (HSS), Miroslav Polovanec (HSLS) and Jozo Miličević (independent).

More news about Zagreb can be found in our special section.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Deputies to Perform Mayoral Duties While Zagreb Mayor Bandić Recovers

ZAGREB, December 9, 2018 - Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who was admitted to hospital in the night between Friday and Saturday for pulmonary embolism, will be temporarily replaced in office by his two deputies – Jelena Pavičić Vukičević and Olivera Majić – in line with the statute of the City of Zagreb and the relevant legislation, the press office of the Zagreb mayor stated on Sunday afternoon.

Bandić is currently in a stable condition and is being treated in the Jordanovac Lung Disease Clinic at the University Hospital Centre Zagreb. The mayor is in the intensive care unit, and, according to statements from the hospital, he is likely to be discharged from Jordanovac after a seven-day hospital treatment.

In the coming week, the Zagreb city assembly is expected to discuss and adopt a budget for the capital city in the year 2019.

More news about the Zagreb mayor can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

PM Andrej Plenković: Finance Minister Zdravko Marić Won't Leave Government

Amid rumours that the finance minister, Zdravko Marić, is set to step down from his position within the Croatian Government as soon as next month, PM Andrej Plenković has been having his refusal to outright deny the claims scrutinised, with some believing that this means Marić's departure was imminent and due to take place in early 2019. It seems however, that Marić isn't going anywhere.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of December, 2018, HDZ President and PM Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric isn't going to leave the government.

"There will be no departure," Plenković told journalists after the he was questioned about whether or not he'd talked to Marić himself about his alleged departure from the cabinet before the end of his mandate, as was being circulated by some media outlets.

The Prime Minister, upon being questioned about the criticisms of controversial SDSS President Milorad Pupovac regarding recent arrests in Vukovar, said that he didn't listen to that press conference, adding that the current government is not interfering with the work of the police or with the work of DORH in any manner whatsoever.

He pointed out, in order to quell people's natural suspicions that "there are no invisible political hands" holding any influence over this process.

When asked about the elections for the European Parliament, PM Andrej Plenković stated that the party would be "almost sure" on their own and that at least five mandates can be expected. "We'll win convincingly in those elections," he said briefly.

Concerning the controversy around the procurement of Israeli F-16 aircraft, Plenković reiterated that everything that the Republic of Croatia did in this process was done systematically, thoroughly, and in fine detail, and that open issues, if there are any, exist solely between Israel and the United States of America, and are nothing to do with Croatia or the part Croatia played in the process.

He confirmed that he visited Zagreb's mayor Milan Bandić was taken to hospital yesterday morning, adding that Bandić claims to be feeling good and that he believes that he will recover and be back on his feet quickly.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more on PM Andrej Plenković, the Croatian Government, and updates from both domestic and European politics in Croatia.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Prosecution Appeals against Zagreb Mayor Acquittal

ZAGREB, December 7, 2018 - The anti-corruption agency USKOK has appealed against Zagreb County Court's acquittal of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and his associates Ivan Lovrić and Zdenka Palac of the charges that they favoured the civil society group In the Name of the Family by allowing that NGO to use city stalls, free of charge, to collect signatures for a referendum on changes to the election law, thus defrauding the city budget of 308,000 kuna.

USKOK has appealed against the non-final ruling of October 19 citing significant breaches of the Penal Code and saying that the reasons stated in the ruling are unclear and, to a considerable degree, contradictory.

USKOK also believes that the county court had erroneously determined facts in the case and that it wrongly concluded that there was no evidence that the accused had committed the crimes they were charged with.

USKOK has suggested that the Supreme Court find the accused guilty or annul the county court ruling and order a retrial.

Before the end of the trial, USKOK amended its indictment to charge Bandić with not only abuse of office but also with influence peddling involving Palac, director of the city company operating farmers markets.

At the same time, the charges against Lovrić were changed and he was eventually not charged with abuse of office but with abetting and aiding abuse of office, while the charges against Palac remained the same.

Aside from this case, Bandić has been indicted in one more case, dubbed Agram, which involves charges of defrauding the city and state budgets. Bandić pleaded not guilty at the start of that trial, too.

For more on the Zagreb mayor, click here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Advent in Zagreb: Free Public Transport at Weekends

December the 5th, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb is well and truly bringing the Croatian capital into the joyous atmosphere of the festive season, and the three time winner of the best advent destination in Europe is offering what it usually does at this time of year, once again - free public transport use at weekends.

As writes, the City of Zagreb has provided Zagreb's residents and tourists alike with the free use of the city's public transport every weekend for the duration of Advent in Zagreb, which will last until January the 6th, 2019.

Zagreb's long standing mayor Milan Bandić confirmed for a previous HRT radio show that the capital's trams and buses operating in zone 1 will not charge for their services on weekends during the period of the current advent festivities in the Croatian capital. The move comes as no surprise and has been the norm during advent.

Nevertheless, a small change is that one of Zagreb's most popular attractions, the Zagreb funicular (Uspinjača), which will be transporting passengers to midnight, has to be paid for as normal for the entire duration of Advent in Zagreb, which has otherwise not been the case over the past few years.

To be more specific, Zagreb's public transport will be free during the period from Friday at 12:00 (midday) to Sunday at midnight. It should be noted that during this period, traffic will be prohibited in certain otherwise busy areas, those areas are Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square (Zrinjevac), Strossmayer Square, and King Tomislav Square, where only public transport vehicles may be used during the aforementioned periods.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for further information like this, and much more. If it's just the capital you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow.


Click here for the original article by Anton Smrekar for

Source: HRT

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Zagreb Mayor Wants Free School Textbooks for All Children in Croatia

 ZAGREB, November 21, 2018 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Wednesday that a proposal to ensure free school textbooks for primary school pupils would be further discussed to see its potential effect on the budget.

The proposal has been made by the parliamentary group of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić's Work and Solidarity Party, the Reformists and Independents, and was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday.

Asked by the press if the proposal was in fact an ultimatum, Marić said he did not see it that way. "We had a constructive discussion on several points concerning tax laws and the budget," Marić said after a parliamentary debate on amendments to tax laws.

A source close to this parliamentary group said on Tuesday they had notified Marić that they would not support next year's budget, which will be put to a vote in parliament on December 3, unless sufficient funding was secured for free school textbooks for all primary school pupils in the country.

The group cited a constitutional provision saying that compulsory education is free, and said that this would ease the financial burden on parents. Estimating the cost of free textbooks at 200 million kuna, they said it was possible to find this amount in next year's budget, which is planned at 140 billion kuna.

Marić said that Croatia had experience with free school textbooks for primary school students both at local and central government levels, adding that central government funding for this purpose had been suspended at one point, after which local government units allocated funds for free textbooks within the limits of their resources. "This measure needs to be further discussed to see its total potential financial effect and how it fits with the bill on textbooks, which is now in procedure," Marić said.

Asked how much this measure would cost the budget, Marić said that the last figure for free textbooks for primary school and the first grade of secondary school was about 400 million kuna. "In any case, we need an update on this calculation," he added.

Asked to comment on the latest HUP Score, which shows that Croatia was economically lagging behind other EU member states, Marić said he had not had time to see details of this index, compiled by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), and would do so soon.

He said that in a third round of tax cuts the tax burden had been reduced by 7 billion kuna and that room should be created for further tax breaks. "We control the expenditure side of the budget and all surplus revenues go towards reducing the public debt and the tax burden."

For more on Croatia’s education system, click here.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Green Action Warns of Rubbish on Zagreb Streets

ZAGREB, November 7, 2018 - Activists of the Green Action non-governmental organisation staged a protest performance outside the city administration in Zagreb on Wednesday to draw attention to "an alarming situation" with rubbish piling up in the streets of the capital.

The organisation blamed the situation on Mayor Milan Bandić and the Čistoća municipal sanitation utility, and demanded a controlled system of waste separation, reorganisation of refuse collection and a fair charge for municipal services.

The collection of plastic waste has been suspended after the expiry of the agreement between the municipal multi-utility conglomerate Zagrebački Holding and the CIOS company, as a result of which containers have been left overflowing with rubbish. An annex to the agreement was signed on Monday, and Mario Košak of Green Action said it was regrettable that the utility resumed its work only after pressure from the media and the public.

Green Action activists protesting outside the city administration were covered in plastic waste, wore gas masks and carried banners saying "This is the result of your (in)action" and "Zagreb, European capital of rubbish". They urged the city authorities to change the decision on municipal waste collection and the waste management plan.

Košak said that by allowing plastic waste to pile up, the City of Zagreb generated a loss for the benefit of the CIOS company. He warned that the USKOK anti-corruption body has charged Bandić over the favourable treatment of CIOS, "which is persistently engaged in the waste management business in Zagreb."

The problem of rubbish on the streets of the Croatian capital has been in the media focus lately.

To read more stories about Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, click here.

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