Friday, 20 December 2019

HND Again Slams Zagreb Mayor's Treatment of Female Reporter

ZAGREB, December 20, 2019 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Friday once again condemned Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić's behaviour towards N1 TV station's reporter Matea Dominiković.

The latest incident occurred when Dominiković asked Bandić about the sacking of Boro Nogalo as director of Srebrnjak Children's Hospital. Instead of answering civilly, which is his duty, Bandić again acted shamefully, verbally and physically belittling Dominiković, the HND said in a press release.

It recalled that a few days ago Bandić was also inappropriate towards Dominiković, and that in August, when she asked him about the Zagreb General Urban Development Plan, he said, "If you only knew how you turn me on, how you make me happy, how you entertain me."

The HND noted that Bandić also attacked reporters from Croatian Radio, Croatian Television, RTL and Nova TV, and that it was especially concerning that his targets were mainly female reporters.

Journalists have the right to ask questions and politicians have the duty to answer them, the HND said, adding that it would not consent to preventing journalists from doing their job.

It recalled that several months ago, because of the increasingly frequent insulting of journalists, the HND and the Croatian Journalists Trade Union launched the "Just answer the question" campaign.

More news about journalism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Activists to Protest Against Urban Development Plan for Zagreb

ZAGREB, December 5, 2019 - Three civil society associations said on Thursday that they would stage a protest rally against the proposed general urban development plan outside the City Hall on Monday, and they reiterated their criticism of the plan.

Bernard Ivčić of the Green Action NGO said that regardless of the fact that Mayor Milan Bandić had decided to remove this topic from the agenda of the city assembly meeting scheduled for Monday, the associations would hold the protest on Monday morning.

Ivčić and activist Iva Marčetić accused Bandić of catering for investors' interests which were contrary to the development of the city and its residents' interests.

"As ordinary citizens are drowning in waste and waste disposal costs are going up, the most valuable parts of the city are being reserved for special groups of investors to build skyscrapers and flats," said Ivčić.

Several associations, city planners and architects, as well as opposition members of the Zagreb City Council and most councils of the Zagreb city neighbourhoods are opposed to amendments to the Zagreb development plan which would pave the way for the so-called Manhattan project on the banks of the River Sava.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bandić said that by shifting the debate on the general urban development plan (GUP) to a special City Assembly meeting scheduled for February 6 he wanted to trump the aces of those accusing him of trying to hastily push the document through.

Although the GUP should have been debated under fast-track procedure on December 9, along with a revised budget for 2019 and a 2020 budget proposal, Bandić said that he and his associates had decided to dedicate one City Assembly meeting solely to the GUP.

"If we have waited for three or four years, then we can wait for another month and a half," the mayor told a press conference. Bandić said he believed the opposition, too, would be satisfied with his decision because they wanted the proposal removed from the agenda of the December session.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) members of the City Assembly on Thursday welcomed Bandić's decision to shift the debate on the general urban development plan to February 6.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Will President Bring Zagreb Mayor Cakes to Prison?

ZAGREB, December 3, 2019 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Monday that he believed President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was joking when she said that if Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who has been indicted for corruption in several cases, was convicted, she would visit him in prison and take him cakes.

"I believe she was joking," Plenković told reporters after a session of the HDZ Presidency and National Council when asked to comment on Grabar-Kitarović's statement to Media Servis.

Earlier in the day, responding to criticism over her singing at Bandić's birthday party, Grabar-Kitarović said that everyone was innocent until proven guilty and that if Bandić was convicted, she would take him cakes to prison.

Asked how many signatures of support for her presidential bid Grabar-Kitarović would hand in to the State Election Commission on Tuesday, Plenković said that the last signatures arriving from all over the country were being collected and that tomorrow "a large number of signatures of support for the president will be handed in."

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ministry's "Green Light" for Zagreb's City Plan Outrages Opposition, NGOs

ZAGREB, November 21, 2019 - Opposition councillors in the City Assembly and NGOs condemned on Thursday the Construction Ministry's decision to okay the changes of Zagreb's city plan (GUP), accusing "the Croatian People's Party (HNS) ministry" of violating the law.

The Opposition also accuses the ministry of being included in "a shameful deal" between Mayor Milan Bandić and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"This is a shameless state," said the leader of the "Zagreb Is Ours" left bloc in the assembly, Tomislav Tomašević, commenting on the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning decision on the proposed amendments to the GUP.

"Minister Predrag Štromar has played a 'double pass' with Milan Bandić regarding the GUP and has made fools of citizens. Last Friday, Štromar pompously refused to allow the changes to the GUP and said that adjusting the amendments to the ministry's demands could take years yet four days later, he approved those changes," Tomašević said.

The chairwoman of the GLAS and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) group, Anka Mrak-Taritaš claimed that this was a "coalition of political bartering," involving the HDZ and Bandić with his "cronies" and HNS, and the ministry's approval was the result.

However, Mrak-Taritaš underscored, the problem of citizens and experts still existed, who considered that the new GUP was not developmental for Zagreb but "wishes and greetings by certain people close to Mayor Bandić."

The chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) branch in the city, Gordan Maras said that the scenario of the deal between HDZ, Bandić and HNS was obvious and that the opposition would do all what it could for the amendments to the city plan not to be adopted in the Assembly.

Councillor Matej Mišić (SDP) announced a referendum regarding the contentious amendments to the GUP which paved the way for the development project dubbed Zagreb Manhattan to be built.

The Green Action, Right to the City and Association of Siget Residents said that based on the Physical Planning Law the entire process of adopting Zagreb's GUP should be abandoned.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Zagreb Mayor Bandić to Back Grabar-Kitarović in Presidential Election

ZAGREB, November 17, 2019 - The Work and Solidarity Party will support President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the presidential election, party president Milan Bandić said on Sunday.

The president has strengthened Croatia's international position, promoted unity and shown social awareness as well as openness towards citizens, he said.

"One should appreciate her ability and diplomatic skills to strengthen Croatia's position in the EU, while at the same time keeping exceptional relations both with Trump and Putin as well as being an eminent guest at the most important global forums and initiatives," Bandić said.

Grabar-Kitarović has connected Croatia with central Europe countries and the Three Seas Initiative is a step forward in the foreign policy, which was imprisoned in the "region" for years, he said, adding that the president had correct relations with the neighbouring countries and that she pushed for the establishment of new bridges of cooperation.

The president encourages understanding others and those who are different and has been the spokesperson of the common man and the weak, Bandić said.

Croatia needs to have unity and optimism restored, which is what Grabar-Kitarović has been doing over the past five years, he added.

Bandić said he was not running for president because of what he still had to do as the mayor of Zagreb.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Bandić's Zagreb Manhattan Plans Rejected Again

ZAGREB, November 16, 2019 - Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić on Friday expressed confidence that the Zagreb city plan, which includes the so-called Zagreb Manhattan project, would be on the agenda of the City Assembly and would be adopted in December.

Amendments to the city plan, which envisage the launching of the so-called Zagreb Manhattan project, were today again rejected by the Construction and Physical Planning Ministry which believes that the documentation and project analysis required additional work and should be amended.

Asked if he had been tricked by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) regarding the project, Bandić would not answer.

"I don't know what you are talking about. The city plan will be adopted in line... with positive legal regulations," he said.

The city plan may be amended three more times if necessary, as long as it is adopted, he said.

He noted that the adoption of the city plan and the launching of investments was in the interest of the mayor, Construction Minister Predrag Štromar and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković alike.

The Construction and Physical Planning Ministry earlier in the day rejected for the second time the proposed changes to the Zagreb city plan, after it did so in July.

The ministry said at the time that an analysis of amendments to the city plan showed that the documentation and the city plan report needed to be amended.

This was followed, in the first half of August, by public consultation on the city plan which associations claim was not implemented appropriately because, of the 31,000 objections submitted to amendments to the city plan, only 17 were adopted and those were objections by the city authorities or city services while none of the objections submitted by members of the public, associations, initiatives and professional organisations was adopted.

Numerous associations, city planners and architects, opposition members of the Zagreb City Council and most councils of the Zagreb city neighbourhoods are opposed to the amendments to the Zagreb city plan, which would enable the launch of the Zagreb Manhattan development project.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Plenković, Bandić Satisfied with Joint Meeting

ZAGREB, November 4, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić said on Monday they were pleased with a meeting at which they had talked about the capital's zoning plan, but did not say if city councillors from Plenković's HDZ party would back the plan and MPs from Bandić's party the state budget.

"We agreed the process of adopting the zoning plan for the City of Zagreb. The mayor's associates briefed us on the procedure. It's an expert topic and they are considering every aspect of its compliance with the law and the plan in the Construction and Physical Planning Ministry," said Plenković.

Asked if the HDZ city councillors would back the plan if it was greenlit by the ministry, he said a decision would be adopted after an expert analysis was made.

He said the meeting discussed a score of projects important for the development of Zagreb, from those being implemented, worth more than 1.3 billion kuna, to future ones such as connecting the city and its airport, the Gredelj project, a children's hospital, the Institute of Immunology, and the Zagreb on the Sava River project.

Plenković said they also talked about the financing of the capital in the long term, calling the meeting useful and constructive.

Mayor Bandić said the government and the city were partners. "Responsibility and partnership are and will remain the cornerstone of our future work."

Asked by the press if there was a connection between the votes on Zagreb's zoning plan and the state budget, the mayor said: "Responsibility and partnership."

City Council president Drago Prgomet said big projects in Zagreb could not succeed if the government and the city were not partners.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 November 2019

City of Zagreb and Dinamo Reach Agreement on New Maksimir Stadium

November 1, 2019 - The representatives of the City of Zagreb and the football club Dinamo Zagreb agreed at a meeting on Thursday that a new Maksimir stadium would be built on the site of the existing stadium. reports that a meeting between representatives of the City of Zagreb and representatives of football club Dinamo Zagreb was held on Thursday, where they decided to build a new stadium on the site of the existing Maksimir Stadium. The new stadium would be built in partnership between the City and the Zagreb club. 

While there has been a lot of talk over the past year about building a new stadium in the Croatian capital, it seems that Thursday’s meeting has finally taken a step to move things forward. 

The press release from the city office reads in its entirety:

"The Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Milan Bandic, and his associates met at the City Administration today with representatives of GNK Dinamo, led by President Mirko Barisic and President of the Executive Board Vlatka Peras, and discussed plans to build a new Maksimir football stadium.

It was concluded that this space is viewed as a complex entity through an urban competition that will resolve the issue of a football stadium with auxiliary grounds and an athletic stadium with the appropriate infrastructure.

It was agreed that Dinamo would make a final decision at its Assembly with clear guidelines defined by FIFA and UEFA about the standards for the construction of a new stadium at the site.

It was also defined that the new stadium project would be built in partnership between the City and GNK Dinamo.

Following the decision of the Dinamo Assembly, further steps can be taken regarding the realization of this historical project that is extremely important for Dinamo - an icon of Zagreb sport, essential for the city of Zagreb, its sports memory, and for all Zagreb and sports fans," concludes the statement by the City of Zagreb.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Bandić Threatens to Bring Government Down if Teachers' Pay Is Not Raised

ZAGREB, October 14, 2019 - The leader of the Labour and Solidarity Party, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, said on Monday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, should raise wages for teachers by 6% or the current government would no longer exist.

During his visit to a primary school in Zagreb, Bandić said that lawmakers from his party would no longer vote for the government-sponsored proposals in the national parliament unless the monthly salaries for primary and secondary school teachers went up.

I call on the prime minister and on statesman (Andrej) Plenković to make Education Minister Blaženka Divjak see reason and redistribute 400 million kuna for higher salaries from an allocation of one billion kuna which she has already set aside for IT equipment, Bandić said.

He added that the redistribution of the funds for higher monthly salaries in the education system would "put an end to the current agony and travelling circus."

Bandić said he still trusted Plenković and was confident that he would make "a statesmanlike decision."

The leader of the Labour and Solidarity Party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, has thus taken sides with the striking school unions.

The Croatian People's Party (HNS), also a junior partner in the coalition, has already supported the demands of the striking unions.

Minister Divjak entered the government from HNS ranks.

More education news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Milan Bandic for Croatian President Interview: Corruption for All!

October 8, 2019 - While there is some speculation that Zagreb's mayor will enter the race for Croatia's presidency, one Milan Bandic has already joined the race. 

Full disclosure - my record of interviewing winners in Croatian presidential campaigns is poor, as Ivo Josipovic will testify to when I interviewed him for a Canadian news portal back in 2014

But have I backed a winner this time? 

Milan Bandic has run for President before, coming second to Josipovic in 2010. And while the Zagreb Mayor mulls another run, lo and behold, but ANOTHER Milan Bandic has entered the race. 

Known until recently as Dario Jurican, presidential hopeful Milan Bandic, who you can see interviewed on primetime national news below. His core message seems to be very egalitarian - corruption for all!

1. You have decided to run for President and even changed your name to Milan Bandic, coincidentally the same name as Zagreb's mayor. Firstly, what made you decide to run, and why the name change? 1. You have decided to run for President and even changed your name to Milan Bandic, coincidentally the same name as Zagreb's mayor. Firstly, what made you decide to run, and why the name change?  

I changed my name a long time before the campaign, and I changed the name because God came in my dreams and told me — you gonna be Milan Bandić, the saviour of Croatia! You, Milan, are the future. So I changed the name and here I am — running for President of this holy land.

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2. There has been talk that there is a possibility that we will have two Milan Bandićes running against each other if the Zagreb Mayor also decided to run. That could be fun.

I am here now fully focused on this campaign for President and concentrating on this challenge, and I still hope the other Milan Bandić will announce his campaign for President.

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3. We will come to the campaign in a moment, but we are a little obsessed with bureaucracy at TCN. How easy is it to change your name in Croatia regarding paperwork?

It was a normal process — I made the application, and they delivered the decision in regular time.

The hell only came later when Mayor Milan Bandić unleashed his bureaucratic dogs on me. They cancelled the decision made by their own local body. I was forced to appeal the decision and won.

Just yesterday came a new decision from the Mayor's office. It seems to me that Mayor Bandić is going personally against my name change. To be continued...

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4. Let's talk policy. What do you offer that others do not, and what are the core campaign pledges and areas of focus?

In Croatia structures cherish the custom of hiding corruption. There is so much hypocrisy and false shame around it.

I have put corruption at the centre of my campaign — my main motto is: corruption for everyone, not just to them. I will give corruption back to the little corrupt people and I will counter every offer to voters by giving double!
5. How do you assess the state of politics in Croatia today, and what is the best route to a better Croatia and effective change? We seem to be stuck in the same place without ever moving forward.

Croatia is a small, unimportant country with underdeveloped corruption. We need to make it legal, and we need to make it big.
6. You are currently just under 2% in the polls. How do you plan to improve on that?

I'm not worried. Stjepan Mesić had 2% support in the polls in 2000. and he became a two-term President.

The win is just around the corner!

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7. What will happen to your name after the election if you don't win? Will you remain Milan Bandic?  

Milan Bandić is my destiny, my muse, my future...
8. And finally, why should people vote for Milan Bandic for President in a sentence.

I will make Croatia corrupt again!

You can follow the Milan Bandic presidential campaign on Facebook

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