Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Number of War Veterans Reaches 508,605

ZAGREB, October 9, 2019 - There are 438,000 people in Croatia with war veterans' status, War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said at a round table debate on veterans' pensions, saying that defenders were a foundation of society and not a burden and that they did not pose a threat to the pension system.

Medved said the round table would focus on the existing legal framework regulating pensions granted under special regulations, including veterans' pensions.

"We will pay special attention to the structure of the war veteran population, the number of pension beneficiaries, their age and their years of service," he said.

Ministry data that were presented at the round table show that in September 2019, 508,605 people - living, killed, missing and deceased - had the status of war veteran.

Of that number, 438,262 were living.

The number of veterans - pensioners, with their pensions being divided in nine categories, stood at 151,892 and their average pension amounted to 4,200 kuna (approx. 570 euro).

The highest veterans' pension, in the amount of 7,000 kuna (946 euro), was received by families of fallen defenders, and the number of beneficiaries in that category was the highest.

Disabled war veterans received an average pension of 5,700 kuna (770 euro).

The number of employed war veterans stood at 190,408 and there were also 6,954 veterans who both worked and received a pension. The number of veterans who were not employed and did not receive a pension stood at 74,627.

The average number of years of service in the war veteran population was 28, while the average number of years of service of disabled veterans was 20.

The average number of years of service of other pension recipients in the country is 30 years, it was said at the round table.

"I expect this round table to send a strong, well-argued message to the public that Croatian defenders-pensioners do not pose any threat to the pension system," said the minister.

More news about veterans can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

War Veterans Dissatisfied with Slowness of State Prosecutor's Office

ZAGREB, September 28, 2019 - The HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans is dissatisfied with the slowness of the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) in prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the organisation's president and chairman of the parliamentary committee on war veterans, Josip Đakić, said on Saturday.

The matter was discussed at a HVIDRA meeting in the southern coastal town of Makarska on Friday evening.

"The meeting held yesterday evening voiced dissatisfaction with DORH's slowness in conducting an inquiry in connection with Article 349 of the Criminal Code, and speakers asked if DORH would soon make public the results of the inquiry," Đakić told Hina on the margins of a sports competition of disabled war veterans.

Article 349 says that whoever mocks or disparages the Republic of Croatia, its flag, coat of arms or national anthem shall be punished by a prison term of up to one year.

The article was recently mentioned in the context of statements by Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac, who in an interview with Bosnian media likened present-day Croatia to the WWII Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and said in an interview with the Slovenian newspaper Delo that the ideology of hatred was being generated in Croatian society.

Đakić said that the Makarska meeting involved about 40 officials of HVIDRA, including chairmen of regional committees and members of the presidency, national committee and court of honour, adding that they would meet again next week to discuss further steps.

In his opening remarks at the sports competition on Friday, Đakić said that "those who insult deserve prosecution."

More news about war veterans can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

ICMP to Enhance Cooperation with Families of Missing in Croatia

ZAGREB, September 18, 2019 - A meeting with 30 representatives of missing persons family associations from Croatia was organised in Zagreb on Tuesday by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with the participation of representatives of the Croatian Veterans Ministry's Directorate for Detained and Missing Defenders.

This was the second in a series of meetings with families of the missing, organised to share information about the missing persons process on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the ICMP said in a press release, adding that the first meeting was held with families from Bosnia and Herzegovina in January 2019.

The meetings are part of a two-year project supported by the UK government and being implemented by ICMP to renew the effort to account for 12,000 people who are still missing throughout the region, the press release said, adding that countries in the region have undertaken to work together as the regional Missing Persons Group, maintaining a process that has already made it possible to account for more than 70 percent of the missing.

Information on new initiatives and implemented activities to strengthen regional cooperation was presented at the meeting.

Families were informed about the Database of Active Missing Persons Cases from the Armed Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia, the enactment of the Law on Persons Missing from the Homeland War, efforts undertaken to identify unidentified remains, and other activities in accounting for missing persons.

Croatian War Veterans Ministry representatives said lack of information on concealed mass and individual graves was the key obstacle to greater efficiency in the process.

Participants highlighted the need to involve families more widely in discussions on the issue of missing persons at the international level.

Families also appealed to institutions and individuals in the region to provide information on the location of mass and individual graves in order to help address this painful issue, the ICMP said.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 10 May 2019

24 Years After War, Croatia Gets 1,687 New War Veterans

Almost 24 years after the Homeland war ended, Croatia has 1,687 new war veterans. New veterans have been able to prove they should be recognised as such nearly a quarter of a century after the end of the war due to the new War Veterans Act, which has reopened the possibility of acquiring the status, even though the earlier deadline was 2009. The number of new veterans is expected to grow further because the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior have received a total of 10,600 requests for recognition of this status, reports Novi List on May 10, 2019.

The Ministry of Defense has announced that it has received a total of 9,529 requests by May 3. Out of this, 2,579 applications have been processed, and 1,367 have been accepted. This means that the remaining 1,382 claims have been declined, i.e. in these cases, citizens have failed to prove that they should get the war veteran status. The Interior Ministry announced it had received 1,071 requests. “The status has been confirmed for 320 people, while 391 requests have been denied. Other claims are still being processed,” said the ministry.

The two ministries have processed 3,470 of the 10,600 requests so far, which is slightly more than one-third. So far, 47.3 per cent of the claims has been accepted, while slightly more than half have been rejected, which means that, if the ratio is maintained, Croatia could eventually have about five thousand new war veterans. Given that claims can still be filed, this will not be the final number.

When the government passed the new law in December 2017, and Veterans Affairs Minister Tomo Medved reclassified the War Veterans Register, it included 505,694 veterans, but that number has now grown by 1,687.

The new law foresees that the war veteran status, in addition to members of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard, the Croatian Army, officials of the Defence Ministry, police officers, officials of the Interior Ministry, and the Croatian Defense Forces, “can be recognised for members of the People Protection units, If they were engaged for at least 100 days in the period from July 30 1991, to December 31 1991.”

Citizens who have taken advantage of this opportunity and ensured the war veteran status in the latest wave may expect certain benefits when it comes to their everyday life, i.e. the right to health care and to a privileged position in getting a job in state services. If they become unemployed, they have the right to special compensation. The law which entered into force in 2018 has also reduced the retirement age for veterans. They also have a minimum guaranteed pension which is higher than the one for other retired citizens.

Translated from Novi List (reported by Jagoda Marić).

More Homeland War news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Assistant Minister Relieved of Duties After Advising a Break-In

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - The government on Thursday relieved Assistant Minister of Veterans' Affairs Nenad Križić of duty at his request, and Minister Tomo Medved told reporters Križić had committed an oversight with the best intentions.

Križić was relieved of duty after the Telegram web portal published text messages in which he suggested to veteran Mario Vrbanić, who asked him for help in finding a permanent home, to "break into a flat, and we will look the other way."

Telegram published an article in which Vrbanić, who lives in Vukovar in a rented flat and has no fixed income, says he spoke with Križić countless times, and on several occasions with Medved too, asking them to help him find a permanent home.

Vrbanić claimed he received countless promises and that Križić told him he would talk to the state secretary at the central office for reconstruction and housing, Nikola Mažar, tell him "to look the other way a little" and let Vrbanić break into an empty flat.

The minister said Križić committed an oversight in corresponding with Vrbanić "with the best intentions" and that he tendered his resignation, which the government accepted.

A few days, when the scandal broke out, the ministry stated, among other things, that data provided from the registry of war veterans shows that Vrbanić was not granted war veteran status.

More news on the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Assistant Veterans Minister: “Break into Apartment, We Will Turn a Blind Eye”

Homeland War veteran Mario Vrbanić has revealed a new scandal in the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs led by Minister Tomo Medved. Ha has shown text messages which he received from Assistant Veterans Minister Nenad Križić, reports Telegram on January 14, 2019.

The 49-year-old veteran said that he lives in a rented apartment in Vukovar and has no permanent income. He first received countless promises that the problem would be solved, and then Assistant Minister Križić told him that he would talk to the State Secretary at the Central Office for Reconstruction and Housing Nikola Mažar "to turn a blind eye" and allow Vrbanić to break into one of the empty apartments in the town.

In support of his claims, Vrbanić has shown text messages which he exchanged with the assistant minister. In the messages, they discuss whether a 45-square-metre apartment is large enough.

Križić has initially refused to provide answers to journalists who asked him about the scandal. When they finally met, Križić spent half of the conversation explaining how much effort he was investing in providing welfare to war veterans. He also claimed that Vrbanić would get all that he was entitled to as soon as certain status questions were resolved. Asked how it was possible that Vrbanić's war veteran status was still unresolved, given that he has had a Homeland War Memorial Plaque since 1995, Križić replied, "Who does not have that?"

Križić admitted that he did send the text messages to Vrbanić, but claimed that these were actually Vrbanić's messages to him, which he then just forwarded back to him. However, the correspondence shows that the messages came to Vrbanić from Križić's mobile phone.

Križić was also asked whether it was true that he had urged Vrbanić to thank Veterans’ Affairs Minister Medved for helping him resolve the housing issue. “Vrbanić called me after a meeting in Zagreb where we discussed his housing issue and said that everything had been solved. Then I advised him to call Minister Medved and thank him,” explained Križić.

More news on war veterans can be found in our Politics section.

Translated from Telegram (reported by Drago Hedl).

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Pentagon Searching for 200 Missing US Soldiers in Croatia

Croatian Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Tomo Medved and Director of the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Kelly McKeague will sign today in Zagreb a memorandum of understanding on conducting procedures for searching, locating and transferring remains of missing US soldiers who went missing in Croatia during the Second World War, reports Večernji List on November 13, 2018.

The memorandum of understanding, as explained by Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved, define the relations of the stakeholders and ways of cooperation in locating and transferring the remains of US staff believed to have gone missing in the territory of Croatia during the Second World War.

“The memorandum is a continuation of the regulation of relations between our two countries in the area of search for the missing persons. Last year, we searched for missing US pilots on the island of Vis,” said Medved, adding that similar agreements were signed recently with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

More than 87,000 US soldiers from the two world wars are still missing, of which 29,000 in Europe and about 200 in the territory of the Republic of Croatia. In July 2017, Croatia provided assistance to the United States in locating the remains of missing US soldiers, members of the B-24 Tulsamerican aircraft crew, who crashed near the island of Vis on December 17, 1944, while returning from a combat task. Next to the wreckage, which was accidentally discovered 1.2 miles south of the island of Vis in 2009, the remains of bones were found.

“This is the first in a series of initiatives which we want to use to find as many as 203 missing American soldiers. They have carried out their mission, and now it is up to us to do our best to demonstrate they have not been forgotten,” said the then US ambassador to Croatia, Julieta Valls Noyes.

The Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs is working on developing the Croatian model of searching for missing persons, which includes positive experiences of international organizations dealing with this issue.

For more on Croatia-USA relations, click here.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Tea Romić).

Sunday, 30 September 2018

HDZ War Veterans Meet, Comment on Incidents and Scandals

ZAGREB, September 30, 2018 - War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved condemned on Saturday an attack on MPs Milorad Pupovac and Boris Milošević of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), saying veterans knew best what suffering was.

Monday, 25 June 2018

23 Years After War Ended, 8,490 New Applications for War Disability Benefits

If only the Croatian economy could achieve similar rates of growth.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Journalists Association Worried about Minister’s Alleged Threats to Reporter

ZAGREB, June 5, 2018 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Monday condemned in the strongest terms threats which War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved made against Index news portal reporter Vojislav Mazzocco, saying that they represented a dangerous attack on journalists' rights and media freedoms that were guaranteed by the Constitution and the Media Act.

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