Tuesday, 22 March 2022

This Year's World Water Day Dedicated to Groundwater

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - This year, World Water Day, which is observed on 22 March, is dedicated groundwater, which Croatia treats as its special asset.

Over 90% of water used for water supply systems in Croatia comes from groundwater, according to a press release issued by the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry on Tuesday when World Water Day was celebrated under the slogan "Making the Invisible Visible".

Croatia's renewable underground resources are estimated at some 22.43 billion cubic metres per year. Also, the quality of groundwater in the country is high.

The ministry also notes that under the 2014-2020 Competitiveness and Cohesion Programme, a greenlight has been given to a total of 60 projects concerning the improvement of wastewater and water management system in Croatia.

Their total value is HRK 25.8 billion, and admissible costs are put at HRK 20.5 billion, of which HRK 14.4 billion is covered by grants from the EU funds.

The completion of those 60 projects will enable 575,000 Croatians to get access to safe drinking water from the public water supply system, and approximately 2.5 million inhabitants will be provided with the improved wastewater and water purification systems.

As many as 1,700 kilometres of water supply networks and also 4,100 kilometres of public drainage systems will be constructed or upgraded.

Croatia has 25 billion cubic metres of surface water supply. Of that 23 percent refers to sources, streams and rivers springing and pouring into on Croatian territory.

All natural and artificial streams in Croatia are some 32,000 kilometres long on the aggregate.

(€1 = HRK 7.564472)

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Milanovic: Reducing Number of Ministries Good, that's PM's Right

ZAGREB, July 16, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic on Thursday said he believes that reducing the number of ministries from 20 to 16 is good because that will facilitate doing the job and that decision is the prime minister's discretionary right.

"If it will be easier for the prime minister to work, then that is good and that is his right. That is a reduction in the number of ministers and not the number of ministries, several plaques will be changed. That is the prime minister's discretionary right," Milanovic told reporters in the president's office after appointing Andrej Plenkovic prime minister-designate.

Milanovic said that the number of employees would remain the same as will the number of administrations, adding that it is difficult to talk of downsizing when are faced with difficult financial time.

I have supported most of the government's measures

"In my opinion, the government doesn't need to look at how much people are being paid but what they are doing for that salary, what their productivity is like. That is more difficult to measure than it is in the private sector. It is more difficult to gauge the productivity of diplomats, tax officers, police officers, and all those who constitute the state administration and public sector. If that will help the prime minister, and it will because 16 people are easier to work with than 20, all the better then," said Milanovic.

Asked about a "tough cohabitation" between him and the prime minister, Milanovic said that he has supported most of the government's measures and that he has supported the government.

"The things we didn't agree or perhaps didn't understand are some symbolic events. My stance about that is known. It will not change. It is hardly likely to change after all these years and hard to believe it will change in the next few years while I am the president. If I consider that something is not good, not right, that it is damaging, I will react. I have said some things," said Milanovic. 

He underscored that he is pleased that one deputy prime minister will be a member of ethnic minorities and that that is the continuation of a "practice of good spirit" which he always supported and implemented.

"That isn't just a symbolic thing. That is something that distinguishes Croatia as a society, as a community, as a political community from many its neighbours, unfortunately many," he added.

"For the homeland ready" should be penalised as hate speech

Asked about banning the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready," he said the question is whether we will continue to treat it as disturbing the peace or penalise it as hate speech.

"I am not one for bans, nor punishment, but there is no choice here. That needs to be penalised as a criminal offence but with a mild sentence that will leave a mark on whoever intends to entertain that idea, so that that is known, but it should be punishable. It hurts a lot of people but I will not put pressure on that topic. That is up to the will and conscience of those who can change that," he underscored.

Speaking about a law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb, Milanovic claimed that Zagreb has been the most neglected city, with a significant and serious historical urban centre, and that now is the opportunity to change that.

"It is our city. It is the capital of all Croats. It is Croatia's Jerusalem in a way. That city has been neglected. There was money for reconstruction. However, nothing was done. This is an opportunity for the City of Zagreb and the government to do a lot. That, above all, has been the responsibility of the City of Zagreb," he said.

Crossing the floor will require answering more than just one question

Milanovic believes that the support of 76 lawmakers in the 151-seat parliament is sufficient for a stable government and he wished the prime minister all the best, adding that he would have liked for those people who were ideologically and programme-wise close to him to have spontaneously supported Plenkovic as well.

"It's obvious that cooperation will not happen. I expect anyone who in the future decides to support the government to explain that very well, given the mild micro-traumas we experienced with people crossing the floor in the past four years. Anyone who decides to do something like that in the future has to answer more than one question," claimed Milanovic.

He said that he expects a clearer and more precise legal framework from the perspective of the Constitution related to the national COVID-19 response team, such as defining powers for adopting measures and their duration, adding that the current legislation does not define that.

"That can be resolved so that the government or parliamentary majority, pursuant to Article 17 of the Constitution, decides to suspend human rights to a certain degree for a certain period of time in cases like this. That way we would have a clearer legal situation. We are a law-based state. We know what can be done and for how long. Such a decision would make the legal regime we live in a lot clearer and make it easier for the government to do that. I call on all lawmakers to support such a motion if it is put forward," said Milanovic.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Ministry: Croatian Police Accused of Injuring Migrants Without Proof Again

ZAGREB, June 12, 2020 - The Interior Ministry on Thursday dismissed allegations which, it said in a press release, accuse Croatian police, by established practice and without evidence, of injuring migrants.

The ministry was responding to an Amnesty International press release which said that Croatian police "tortured" a group of asylum-seekers on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ministry said, "this time the alleged police action occurred in late May in the Plitvice Lakes area and on this occasion illegal Afghan and Pakistani migrants were tied to trees, mistreated with a knife, by shooting in the air and to the ground, beaten with pistol grips and eventually had ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar smeared on their hair."

"We reject the notion that a Croatian police officer would do something like that or have a motive for that," the ministry said.

It recalled that "in the previous version of the accusations" police allegedly sprayed crosses on migrants' heads. "The crosses allegedly had some symbolism that one wanted to use in the month of Ramadan, but now the symbolism of ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar eludes us."

"If the men wearing black, as has been insinuated, are supposed to be members of the Croatian Special Police, we recall that it is they who deserve credit for rescuing many illegal migrants, women, and children on inaccessible Croatian mountains in the most inhospitable terrain. Should this be a reason to directly attack and call them out?"

The ministry urged "all those who want facts" to pay attention to actual events, fights among migrants in camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as media reports on the injuring of migrants and the accidents and injuries that happen to them along the way.

"Since this latest theory mentions late May, we draw attention to the fact that on May 28, close to the Croatian border, in Cazin, migrants clashed among themselves near the village of Sturlic, and that the police were notified by a local," the ministry said referring to locations in Bosnia.

A representative of the Bosnian Interior Ministry confirmed that a police patrol found two dead men on the scene and that they had visible knife injuries, and Bosnian police established that a number of migrants were injured in that clash, the ministry added.

The people who meet migrants on a daily basis as part of their work know well the pattern of their fights, notably among Afghans and Pakistanis, the ministry said. "However, despite all of the above, all the public accusations need to be checked and they will be in this case too."