Thursday, 4 March 2021

MP Peđa Grbin: "Obviously Even in Death We Cannot Be Equal, Yesterday We Saw Charade"

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Thursday that the funeral of late Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić had shown that discrimination was present in Croatia and that all of us in Croatia obviously "cannot be equal even in death".

"I have heard today that an association was penalised for organising a protest rally, (...) why were they penalised when we heard yesterday that the virus is not a chapmion in long jump and that everything is fine and according to the rules. The prime minister discovered discrimination in the past ten or so days, but this yesterday showed that discrimination is here in Croatia, because obviously not even in death can all of us be equal," Grbin said.

The Opposition leader said that due to the anti-epidemic restrictions some families had had to say to their loved ones that they could not attend a funeral because there couldn't be more than 25 of them, and then yesterday all of us had seen the "charade".

"Everyone in Croatia, of course, must have the right to a civilised and dignified burial, but what took place yesterday wasn't that. If we have rules in the country, then those rules must apply to everyone, if the rules do not apply to everyone in the same way, then that is discrimination. And then it's something else, too, then it's making people idiots, and that must be said loud and clear," Grbin said.

"Yesterday, no one from the SDP was officially at the funeral because we thought it was not necessary. No one from the SDP was officially there because we think that it wasn't up to us to honour in that way a man we talked about until yesterday as bad, as problematic, as someone who destroyed the city of Zagreb. That would have been hypocritical, and I have no intention of being a hypocrite," Grbin said.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

MP Tomislav Tomašević: "Bandić Not Mayor Any More, But His Network Remains"

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - Tomislav Tomašević, the Green-Left Bloc's candidate for Mayor of Zagreb, said on Thursday he was prepared to deal with the legacy and network of the late mayor Milan Bandić, following comments that Bandić's death has shaken his position as an election favourite.

"Bandić is not the mayor any more, but his network, his legacy and problems are still present. We have been preparing for long to deal with these problems. We have entered politics not to be against, but in favour, to deal with the problems and raise the standards of living in Zagreb. Also, we want to change Zagreb in order to change Croatia," Tomašević said.

The present management model in Zagreb did not emerge with Bandić nor will it end with him. It will end only if true change occurs, and we are the sole guarantor of that, he added.

"The coalition between the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and Bandić has been stable for five years. Who ran Zagreb before Bandić? The HDZ. Who rules Croatia on the basis of clientelism and corruption? The HDZ. If we look at all the local 'sheriffs' in Croatia, the model of local 'sheriffs' must be dismantled. The best place to show this is the City of Zagreb, because it is a symbol," Tomašević said.

He said he did not think he was politically incorrect because he had not attended Bandić's funeral and signed the book of condolence in City Hall. He said he had extended his condolences to the family, cancelled all his campaign activities and refrained from making public statements until today.

Tomašević said that he and his associates had been working on the election programme for Zagreb for months. He said he believed that it would be the most comprehensive of all programmes in the forthcoming election, due in May, and that he would present it to the public soon.

Debt to be stabilised by public procurement monitoring

Tomašević said that the city's budget deficit had officially reached HRK 1.3 billion (€173.3m), but noted they had not yet received the report on budget execution for last year, which was very difficult because of the earthquake, the coronavirus pandemic and the socio-economic crisis.

One of the main ways to stabilise and reduce the debt is to reorganise and monitor public procurement, he said. "My message to the private sector is that there will be a level playing field for all, no more favourites," Tomašević said, expressing confidence that in this way the city would cut expenses by HRK 600 million (€80m) annually.

He announced a review of all detrimental contracts with private companies, and said he expected all heads of city departments and all management boards of city companies to offer their resignations, after which public calls for those positions would be issued.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

MP Arsen Bauk Takes off Mask in Parliament in Protest of Violation of Measures at Mirogoj Cemetery

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - Member of Parliament Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party protested on Thursday in the parliament against the "flagrant and rude" violation of epidemiological measures at the funeral of the late Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, which was attended by an estimate of one thousand people.

Bauk entered parliament without a mask, which is not permitted and which was remarked on by Deputy Speaker Ante Sanader (HDZ).

SDP's MP explained why he took his mask off.

"I violated Article 293b of the Rules of Procedure because I took off my mask. I did so in protest at the flagrant and rude violation of measures at Mirogoj on Wednesday, sponsored by the national and local COVID-19 crisis management teams," Bauk said.

He asked Sanader to issue him with a warning so that "at least someone would be penalised" for yesterday's violation of epidemiological measures.

"I won't issue you with a warning for yesterday, but I will for what you did today, you violated the Rules of Procedures," Sanader responded.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Funeral Held For Milan Bandić

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - A funeral was held on Wednesday for the long-serving Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, who passed away on Sunday from a heart attack, aged 65.

Addressing the funeral ceremony at Mirogoj Cemetery, Acting Mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević described Bandić as a "person with so much vital energy and love for all, a person who did so much for this city, becoming part of its identity and dreaming big dreams about its future. He was unique and inimitable."

She said that Bandić had left an indelible mark on the present and future of Zagreb. "We are saying goodbye to a great man, a true patriot and a political visionary, one of the greatest mayors of Zagreb who dedicated his life to public service, most of all to ordinary people. We are saying goodbye to a humanist and a fighter for policies devoid of hypocrisy and ideology, for equal rights and opportunity for all. We are saying goodbye to a political leader and the longest-serving mayor of Zagreb who changed the cityscape by turning it into a true European metropolis."

Pavičić Vukičević will run the city until local elections in May. She has said she will not run for Mayor.

Along with the family, friends and close associates, the funeral was attended by senior state officials - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman. 

Also present were public and political figures, representatives of various cultural and sports associations. Almost all people present wore face masks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayors of Skopje, Ljubljana, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Split also arrived to bid farewell to the late mayor. They signed a book of condolence in City Hall.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Croatian Parliament Pays Tribute To Late Milan Bandić

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Wednesday observed a minute's silence in tribute to the deceased Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić, who was elected to parliament five times in his long political career.

Bandić was elected as a member of the Croatian parliament in 2000, 2003, 2008, 2015 and 2016, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković recalled, extending his sincere condolences to Bandić's family, friends and associates.

"Bandić leaves behind a rich political career, he will be remembered for his great work energy, political passion and the love he had for Zagreb, because of which citizens elected him mayor six times," Jandroković said, inviting members of parliament to observe a minute of silence in tribute to the late mayor.

Monday, 1 March 2021

PM Plenkovic says Bandic Worked Hard to Make Zagreb a Better City

ZAGREB, 1 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday signed a condolence book which was opened in City Hall after the death of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić on Sunday, and on that occasion he said that Bandić had worked hard to make Zagreb a better city.

Asked by the press outside City Hall if Bandić, who ran the city for 20 years, would be remembered as a negative or positive politician, Plenković said it was evident how much he had tried to do good things for Zagreb.

There are good and less good things about anyone involved in politics, Plenković said, adding, "Time will tell."

During his 20-year-long mayoral term, Bandić contributed to the development of the city and to the implementation of many projects, he demonstrated huge energy and enthusiasm, and what is crucial - he worked for Zagreb every day, the premier said.

Plenković thanked the late mayor for the positive things he did for residents of Zagreb and their city as well as for other parts of Croatia.

Plenković wrote in the condolence book that the residents of Zagreb had elected Bandić six times to the post of mayor.

In the last five years, as Prime Minister, I cooperated with the mayor and we supported the development of the Croatian capital. "As a politician and man, Mayor Bandić was distinctive for his inexhaustible working energy and enthusiasm," Plenković wrote.

For more on the death of Milan Bandic, click here.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Porfirije: Bandić was Friend of Orthodox Serbs, All People in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - Patriarch Porfirije celebrated his first service in Zagreb after being installed as head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, regretting at the end of his sermon the death of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić who, he said, had been a friend of Orthodox Serbs and all people in Zagreb.

"Without getting into politics... we have the duty to say that he was a friend of Orthodox Serbs and all people in the City of Zagreb and wider, but also my friend. I pray God for his soul to rest," the patriarch said.

In his sermon, he said that when he arrived in Zagreb as the metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana in 2014, he felt fear as he had arrived in an unknown country and space "at a time preceded by insanity."

"May the Lord forgive us for such delusions... I deeply know, and I have learned it also from you, that the Church of Christ doesn't exist to divide, to create confrontation, but to unite in Christ," Porfirije said.

"Coming here then, I was burdened by various information coming from outside, perhaps even by my own prejudices, but I said honestly then: I am a Serb and I love my people, but above and before that I wish even more to be Christ's, to be a Christian, and that means to hear His word, that all should be one. I said then that I would try every day to love all peoples more and more," he said.

The patriarch said he "felt love at every step, first and foremost, naturally, from Serb Orthodox believers, but no less also from others who constantly disarmed and freed me both from what I was hearing outside and from what was coming, perhaps as prejudice, from inside," adding that he "was disarmed by meeting common people in bars, workers in the street, as well as people in high positions."

Porfirije thanked "the wonderful people, both Orthodox Serbs and Catholic and non-Catholic Croats," saying that he was also grateful for meeting with Jews, Muslims, Bosniaks, Roma and Russians.

He said that because of all that he felt the need to ask God every day to have mercy "for Orthodox Serbs in Croatia and for all people in Croatia with the wish that Christ's peace and Christ's love be in the lives of all people."

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Bandić's Mayoral Terms Marked by Many Projects and Suspected Wrongdoings

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The six mayoral terms of Milan Bandić, who died of a massive heart attack early Sunday morning, were marked by many projects implemented in the capital city as well as by a series of corruption scandals and a few court proceedings.

Bandić was born in Grude in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1955, where he finished primary and elementary school. He graduated from the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science and after that he worked in the Ledo factory of frozen food.

He began his political career as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Bandić was erased from the SDP membership in 2009 before a presidential election when he defied the then party leadership's suggestion that he should not run for head of state. When he and the SDP parted their ways, Bandić ran for president as an independent candidate. In the presidential runoff in January 2010, he was defeated by the SDP candidate Ivo Josipović. Later he formed his own political party called "The Party of Labour and Solidarity 365".

His first mayoral term started in 2000, however, two years later he stepped down due to a traffic accident which he caused driving under the influence. However, in 2005 he resumed his mayoral duties.

Many projects implemented

During Bandić's 20-year-long term in the office of Zagreb mayor, many projects were implemented to raise the living standards of about 800,000 inhabitants.

The city has 433 pre-school and educational institutions and a third of them have been built, reconstructed, or upgraded in the last 20 years.

In the said period the city got a new emergency health building, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Music Academy, and swimming pools in the neighborhoods of Sesvetski Kraljevec, Svetice and Utrine.

As a result of the upgrade of the public transportation system, there are now 270 trams in the city and 430 buses as well as vehicles for persons with disabilities.

Bundek Park, built around a lake of the same name, has become a well-known outdoor venue for public gatherings.

The former complex of a pig farm in Jelkovec on the eastern outskirts of  Zagreb was turned into a residential area.

The crossroads of the Jadranska Avenija and Avenija Dubrovnik streets, which is also known as the Rotor roundabout in southwest Zagreb, was reconstructed and some other projects were implemented to improve the road infrastructure in the city.

Mayoral terms plagued by corruption scandals

Bandić's mayoral terms were plagued by many scandals, only two of which ended with non-final court verdicts, although more than 250 criminal complaints were filed against him.

In October 2014, Bandić and several of his closest associates were arrested on suspicion of crimes at the expense of the City of Zagreb, including illegal favouring and hiring, waste management, the use of official cars for private purposes and forging documents in a case later dubbed Agram.

After one month in custody, Bandić was released on HRK 15 million kuna bail. He was not allowed to return to work, sign acts nor communicate with city employees. He ended back in custody due to witness tampering and was released following a Constitutional Court decision.

Earlier this month, the High Administrative Court quashed a Conflict of Interest Commission decision under which Bandić failed to perform his duty honourably and independently because he received HRK 15 million from the Hanžeković and Partners law firm as bail to be released from custody as well as contributions from citizens after the 2009 presidential election in which he had run.

In April 2018, the Zagreb County Court upheld seven counts of the indictment in the Agram case for illegal activities at the expense of the city, while three counts relating to waste management were returned to the prosecution for elaboration and were upheld in October 2019.

The trial in the Agram case is under way. At a hearing this past Wednesday, an expert on waste management testified that the terms in a non-public tender were adjusted to the possibilities and permits of companies from the CIOS group, owned by Petar Pripuz, Bandić's co-defendant.

The Zagreb County Court also tried Bandić for favouring the In the Name of the Family NGO. He was acquitted pending appeal in October 2018. The Supreme Court has still not ruled on the appeals.

Bandić had many health problems in recent years, and his health started deteriorating in 2003 when he suffered a stroke. In recent years he was treated for health and lung problems as well as for ruptures.

Bandić's funeral is set for noon Wednesday at Mirogoj cemetery, and the city administration will hold a commemoration in tribute to this long-standing mayor at 11 am on Tuesday in the Croatian National Theatre (HNK).

A book of condolence was opened in the Zagreb City Assembly.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Bandić's Hometown Mourns His Death, Condolences Sent from BiH

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - Dozens of local residents in Grude, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Sunday gathered in front of the birth house of Milan Bandić, the mayor of Zagreb who died of a heart attack earlier in the day, and they lit candles in his memory.

An image of Bandić was displayed on a video wall on a building in the southern city of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also, letters of condolence have been sent from several local office-holders and religious dignitaries.

Some of those who sent condolences to the Bandić family and the Zagreb city administration are the mayors of Sarajevo and Banja Luka, Abdulah Skaka and Draško Stanivuković, former Mostar mayor Ljubo Bešlić, and the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljić.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Klisović: Bandić Left Mark on Zagreb for 20 Years in His Way

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The Social Democratic Party candidate for the mayor of Zagreb, Joško Klisović, on Sunday extended his condolences to Mayor Milan Bandić's family, saying that Bandić had left a mark on Zagreb for 20 years in his way and that he would not discuss his political activity until after the funeral.

"I didn't know him personally, but I can say that he really left a mark on Zagreb for 20 years in his own way," Klisović said on Croatian Television.

He said Bandić's family, friends and everyone who loved him had the right to say goodbye in a dignified manner and that he would not discuss Bandić's political life and legacy until after the funeral.

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