Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Bandić Calls for Dismissal of Education Minister Divjak

ZAGREB, June 4, 2019 - Labour and Solidarity Party leader and Zagreb mayor, Milan Bandić, on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to replace Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak, and to "make a statesmanlike move" due to her unlawful conduct" noting just one example of 7.5 million kuna of taxpayers' money thrown down the drain for methodical handbooks.

Addressing a press conference, Bandić said that Divjak "has to bear the consequences of conscious breach of the law."

He called on the relevant state institutions to inspect the details of the minister's actions regarding methodical handbooks which cost more than 7.3 million kuna last year. Despite the money spent, those handbooks will only be used this school year and will not apply to the "School for life" due to numerous objections presented during public debates.

Can someone who makes such irresponsible and damaging decisions be a minister in government, Bandić questioned. He added that the "School for Life" programme supplied 8,000 tablets in the 208/2019 school year at price of 1,000 kuna each yet parents can buy new tablets for 500 kuna.

Bandić added that he isn't interested in "feathering his own nest," and that his party would continue to support the government in those decisions that are beneficial for the citizens of Zagreb and Croatia.

Bandić's party colleague, MP Kažimir Varda addressed reporters ahead of a meeting of the ruling coalition partners and said that if Plenković did not replace Minister Divjak, he would table the impeachment motion in parliament on Wednesday. "If Plenković doesn't agree, we will launch proceedings according to the law," Varda said.

He added that the minister had breached the law with regard to school textbooks. Textbooks are free in elementary school except for specialised subjects which the government can finance if it has the necessary funds for that purpose.

Minister Divjak on Saturday said that she had been given a guarantee by Prime Minister Plenković that elementary school students would next year be given free textbooks for all compulsory and elective subjects, including Religious Education, a second foreign language and IT studies.

The government has said that it will "ensure that all elementary school students throughout Croatia are given free textbooks," recalling that the law specifies that the education standard comprises compulsory and elective subjects, which then means that compulsory and elective subjects are a constitutive part of the national standard for students, which is something the state supports and guarantees.

Education and Science Minister Blazenka Divjak's special advisor Maro Alavanja said on Tuesday that he was sorry that Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić's focus on education "is not manifested in equipment or maintenance of schools in the city".

"We are glad to see that Mayor Bandić is focused on education, however, we are sorry that this is not at all reflected in equipment or maintenance of the schools founded by the city," said Alavanja.

Alavanja went on to say that the mayor should be more concerned about his court proceedings "while we are continuing to bring about results and concrete changes in education such as the introduction of IT studies as a compulsory subject and implementation of the curriculum reform".

Alavanja called on Mayor Bandić to invest the city's money in the renovation of sanitation in schools and removal of asbestos roofs.

More education news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Activists: Zagreb City Development Project Detrimental to Architectural Monuments

ZAGREB, June 3, 2019 - The Green Action (ZA) civil society organisation on Monday once again warned that the "Zagreb City" project is contrary to the city's physical and urban plans and that its implementation requires destroying the Hippodrome horse racing venue, building in green zones and destroying at least three pavilions of the Zagreb Trade Fair Centre that have the status of architectural monuments.

In response to the announcement that the hippodrome would be closed down, ZA has called out Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, demanding that he stop ignoring legal procedures.

"Regardless of Bandić's standard behaviour in which procedures are a mere formality, this project requires the issuance of an entire set of permits as well as the adoption of amendments to physical plans. ZA will participate in the process and will contest each step that could lead to devastation and disregard for public interest in physical planning," ZA said in a press release.

Bandić intends to amend the relevant physical plans in order to adapt them to the "Zagreb City" project without taking note of public or expert opinion, ZA said.

People using the services of the hippodrome have already been given notice to vacate the premises to make way for developers even though "this is evidently one of Bandić's megalomaniac ideas involving his friends form Dubai who have already caused mass protests against a similar project in Belgrade," ZA underscored.

The president of the Croatian Equestrian Association, Mladen Brezić, said that they had been advised that any lease contracts regarding the use of the hippodrome had to be terminated by 1 December.

"The Sports Act says that if a particular sports venue ceases to exist, a replacement facility has to be secured. The only exception to that would be if the land where the hippodrome is located is proclaimed to be in the public interest," he underscored.

He added that it was unacceptable to have to relocate to private facilities without adequate infrastructure and warned that if the hippodrome was closed down that could mean the end of equestrian sports in Croatia.

A protest rally has been announced for Saturday, 8 June against closing down the hippodrome. Brezić said that the protest was not being organised by equestrian clubs but by citizens.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Zagreb Mayor Bandić Marks 19 Years in Office

ZAGREB, June 1, 2019 - Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić on Saturday toured the construction site of a new cableway at the foot of Mt Medvednica overlooking Zagreb.

Bandić said the project amounted to close to 600 million kuna and that efforts would be made to complete it by the end of May 2020, when, he said, the reconstruction of the roundabout in Zagreb's Remetinec neighbourhood could be completed as well.

He recalled that work on the new cableway, which will replace the previous, 35-year-old cable railway, started in March and that it would be one of the most modern cableways in Europe.

Asked if the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate would obtain a loan for the cableway project, Bandić said the project would be financed with a loan and with EU funds. I believe that at least 50% of the necessary funding will be grants, he said.

Asked about recordings of his and his associates' conversations that could be heard in a trial for unlawful hiring in the city government, Bandić said that he was proud of those recordings because he had acted in line with his powers. "The mayor has the right to promote those who work well, unfortunately I can't sanction those who do not work, and the mayor has the right to hire his associates." He added that he was certain that his work style would secure him another term in office.

Bandić, who today marked the 19th anniversary of his stepping into office as mayor, was also asked to comment on the result of his Work and Solidarity Party in the May 26 election for the European Parliament, in which it secured 1.97% of the vote. "If I worked less in Zagreb, I would have fared better in the EU election," he said.

The mayor would not say if the result was discouraging, adding that the party would discuss it on Monday and that he would be able to say more then.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Bandić Promises Big Things for Zagreb's Grad Mladih Park

Zagreb has many beautiful parks, with the most heavily frequented being the likes of Maksimir and Bundek to name just a couple of them, but there is one other park which is much lesser known than either of the previously mentioned; Grad mladih, located in the eastern zone of Dubrava which longtime Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić has his eye on.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VLM writes on the 28th of May, 2019, despite being far less known than let's say, Zrinjevac, Grad mladih is still considered by many to be (or at least have been) a pearl of the City of Zagreb, and after the completion of the announced works, the claims are that it will be more beautiful than the likes of Maksimir, Bundek and Tuškanac put together.

A bold claim indeed, but confidently asserted by Zagreb's Milan Bandić during a visit to the aforementioned Zagreb park, where the first machines set to undetake the work arrived yesterday. They began working on the setting up of a 2.5 kilometre long, 2.2 million kuna fence. Works on the complete revival of the former park, affectionately referred to as ''Pioneer'' will take place in four different phases.

After the fence is in place, a video monitor will be set up, followed by all of the necessary communal infrastructure. The water supply network and hydrant network as well as a proper drainage system will be reconstructed.

Out of a total of 43 facilities located in this Zagreb park, seventeen are empty. This year, at least according to the announcements, twelve of them, for which all of the necessary project documentation is still being prepared, will be repaired and thus restored.

As far as the building there is concerned, more than five thousand square metres will be renovated, which includes the renovation of accommodation facilities, as well as the reception, the halls, the galleries, and the restaurants. In about four years, when these works worth a massive 40 million euros should be completed, this Zagreb park will also receive a hall, new playgrounds and a swimming pool, the construction was initially planned back in 1948 when ''Pioneer Town'' was built.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow or check out Zagreb in a Page for everything you need to know about the increasingly popular Croatian capital.


Click here for the original article by VLM on Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 5 May 2019

20 Million Kuna School Uniforms Project Fails as Expected

School uniforms are my original idea – said Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić two years ago, explaining that students in Zagreb's primary schools would all get the same clothing and footwear in order to "reduce social differences," reports Večernji List on May 5, 2019.

Thirty-one out of 108 schools decided to adopt the uniforms, with an additional 22 schools saying that some classes would use them. The uniforms were eventually bought for about 12 million kuna paid from the city budget.

A total of 18,631 students joined the project, but the results have been disappointing for the mayor, as evidenced by the fact that this year, according to the city authorities, the number of students will fall by about 10,000. The new clothing is being purchased for 8,688 students in 36 schools, with an additional 5.5 million kuna being spent.

“The parents decided so, and we simply gave up. There were no special benefits, students sometimes wore the prescribed T-shirts, and sometimes they didn’t,” said the principals of those schools which have decided to abandon the project. The first wave of rejections occurred last year when the first eight schools and about five thousand students dropped out, and the trend continues ahead of the 2019/2020 school year.

“The purpose of introducing the uniforms was not to force anyone to wear them. That is why schools are being asked whether they want them at all. In some schools, there have been no changes, while certain schools have decided they do not want them anymore, while some new school have applied,” said the city authorities.

This year, the city will purchase 18,000 polo shirts with short sleeves, 9,000 with long sleeves, the same number of hoodies, and 5,500 plain shirts. The shirts will again include the logos of individual schools, and colours can be chosen from among the nine offered.

“These are good quality shirts, but students rarely wore them. The most common excuse was that they are washing the shirt, others say they do not want to always be in the same clothing, while others said they did not like the colour. We cannot force them to wear the uniforms, nor do we want to force them,” said the principal of one school which has dropped out of the project. She added that the money spent on the clothing, some 20 million kuna in total, could have better been used to buy computers for schools.

“The principals knew from the beginning that this was not going to work. It was perhaps initially a good idea for some of the students, but they like to express themselves with their clothing, and they do not like for everybody to look the same,” the principal said.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

City of Zagreb to Take Over Europa Cinema on June 1

ZAGREB, April 23, 2019 - The Zagreb city authorities have decided to close down the city's most successful independent cinema, Europa Cinema, despite the lack of a renovation plan and a strong legal basis for the extension of the lease contract held by the Zagreb Film Festival organisation, the cinema's press service said on Tuesday, noting that the cinema would be returned to the city's possession and further management on June 1, but that the leaseholder would continue its legal battle for the cinema.

Recalling that they had asked the city authorities to allow the cinema to continue operating until the start of renovation work and that their request was turned down, as well as that they had proposed their own renovation plans for a number of years, the Zagreb Film Festival and the Propeler Film d.o.o. company said that on June 1 the management of the cinema building would have to be transferred to the city.

The Kino Europa press service also noted that over the past ten years the Zagreb Film Festival and the Propeler Film d.o.o. company had raised the cinema's status to one of the European cinemas with the best programme and that the 120,000 people who had seen its programmes in 2018 testified to its status of an unavoidable place on Zagreb's cultural map.

"The case of Kino Europa is only one in a number of disturbingly similar cases where the city authorities, by ignoring the will of citizens and professionals' demands, are systematically destroying the city's cultural scene. That is why until June 1 we will launch a number of activities to draw the public's attention to the ongoing destruction of culture in Zagreb," the Kino Europa press service said.

The cinema, which turns 94 years old this month has been extremely successful over the last ten years, holding over 14,000 projections with over one million visitors. In 2016, it won the European Best Cinema Award.

The Zagreb city authorities recently decided not to renew the Zagreb Film Festival's lease contract for the cinema, citing plans to renovate the cinema building, located in downtown Zagreb.

More than 2,000 people gathered outside the cinema on April 6 to show support for the cinema’s management.

The management has said that the City is using the guise of renovation to get rid of the cinema’s current management and bring a new tenant in.

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has said the cinema will remain an art cinema after the necessary renovation.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Thousands Sign Letter against Honorary Doctorate for Zagreb Mayor Bandić

ZAGREB, April 15, 2019 - Over 3,100 professors, students and alumni of the University of Zagreb have signed an open letter against a proposal by the Zagreb Academy of Music to award Mayor Milan Bandić an honorary doctorate of Zagreb University, and three initiators of the campaign against Bandić's honorary doctorate on Monday informed a news conference about their future steps.

The open letter will be handed to the Academic Senate which is expected to hold a meeting on Tuesday.

We want to make them aware that a considerable part of the academic community disagrees with the decision to award an honorary doctorate and hope that this will serve as an incentive for the Senate to thoroughly analyse decisions of this kind, said Kosta Bovan of Zagreb's Faculty of Political Sciences.

"We believe that Milan Bandić does not fulfil any criterion for an honorary doctorate. He has made neither scientific nor artistic contributions," Bovan said, adding that the Academy of Music's new building, which the academy's dean cited as the reason for the honorary doctorate, had been paid for with money from the city budget, and was not a personal contribution by Mayor Bandić.

Furthermore, Bandić is still an active politician, his party has several lawmakers in the national parliament, and he is implicated in a series of scandals, with over 200 criminal complaints having been filed against him, Bovan said.

"He is arrogant and unprofessional towards everybody, including reporters who question his decisions, and we do not believe that he is held in high esteem, which is necessary for a recipient of an honorary doctorate," Bovan said.

In late March, hundreds of members of the academic community rallied outside the Zagreb University building for a protest against the proposal by the Academy of Music to award Mayor Bandić an honorary doctorate of Zagreb University.

Noting that the commission in charge of awarding honorary doctorates would probably cite in its decision regarding Bandić projects such as the new building of the Academy of Music, they said that it was not Bandić who had financially helped Zagreb University but rather residents of Zagreb, by paying local taxes.

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

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Architects Slam "Zagreb Manhattan" Project as Unacceptable

ZAGREB, April 3, 2019 - Croatian associations of architects, urban planners, landscape architects and art historians sent an open letter to Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić on Tuesday, saying that the recently published plans for the implementation of the Zagreb Manhattan (or "City within the City") project were unacceptable from several points of view.

The plans ignore the legal procedure and are completely disputable from a professional point of view, the organisations said in the letter, noting that the project had not been put to public consultation.

The project is not in line with the Urban Development Plan or with the Master Plan, they warned, stressing that procedural and professional conditions should be met for the implementation of the project.

The purpose of the "City within the City" project is to transform the area of 1.1 million square metres covering the Zagreb Trade Fair complex and the Hippodrome horse racing venue into "a new innovative mixed-use urban zone for various complementary purposes," according to a call for expression of interest.

The call for expression of interest said that Novi Zagreb, the part of Zagreb south of the River Sava, does not have sufficient public, social, cultural, entertainment, commercial, sports and recreational facilities to meet the needs of its 120,000 residents, and that the planned project would improve the overall quality of life in the city.

Eagle Hills, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, has been selected as a possible partner for the "City within the City" development project, the Zagreb mayor's office said in a press release early in March.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Zagreb Mayor Bandić Presents His Party's Candidates for EP Elections

ZAGREB, March 31, 2019 - The Work and Solidarity Party of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić on Saturday marked the fourth anniversary of its establishment and presented its slate for the coming elections for the European Parliament, set for May 26.

Bandić said that the slate consisted of 11 reputable individuals from various walks of life, none of whom were members of his party, and that only Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, vice-president of the Solidarity and Work Party, was a party member.

He said that the final order of the candidates on the slate would be determined in the coming days.

"Of the 12 candidates on the Work and Solidarity Party slate, 11 are people who are very successful in their field of work, from tourism to economy and from architecture to biochemistry," said Bandić.

He said that he was confident Croatian voters would notice this and called on them to take part in elections for the European Parliament.

"I believe that Croatia needs a change and that national interests should be represented in the European Parliament, that economic growth should be strengthened and that Croatia should be a partner to the EU to a greater extent."

Asked how many seats he expected his slate to win, he said that voters would be the ones to decide.

More news about Milan Bandić can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

ERDF to Co-Fund Reconstruction of Biggest Roundabout in Zagreb

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 - An agreement on allocating 320 million kuna as non-repayable funds for the reconstruction of the crossroads of the Jadranska Avenija and Avenija Dubrovnik streets, which is also known as the Rotor roundabout in southwest Zagreb, was signed in the Croatian capital on Wednesday.

The document signed by Mayor Milan Bandić, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković, and SAFU agency head Tomislav Petrić envisages that 272 million kuna will be set aside for this project from the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) and 48 million kuna from the Croatian state budget.

Attending the agreement-signing ceremony, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the co-funding of this project was an important message about the benefits of Croatia's European Union membership for the Croatia capital.

An additional 47 contracts of this kind, worth 2.3 billion kuna, have been signed for the City of Zagreb so far, according to Plenković.

He underlined that the revamping of the biggest roundabout was the continuation of major infrastructure projects in the capital city such as the modernisation of Zagreb Airport.

Plenković expects the reconstruction of this roundabout to be completed by the beginning of next year, when Croatia assumes the six-month rotating chairmanship of the EU.

Mayor Bandić recalled that over 100,000 people passed daily through that circular intersection and the reconstruction would make traffic flow smoother.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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