Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Pilot Project Introducing Roma Mentors Launched in Čakovec

ZAGREB, 5 Oct, 2021 - In an effort to increase employment of the Roma community in Međimurje, the Justice and Public Administration Ministry has launched a pilot project for Roma mentors, which was presented in Čakovec on Tuesday.

The pilot project is being implemented within a project to improve the protection of human rights and public security through strengthening capacities in probation services. The project is valued at €2.1 million and it is being financed from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

Part of the funds is earmarked for the employment of six Roma from Međimurje County for a period of 19 months as Roma mentors.

 After attending training, which will be conducted by Czech experts with experience in similar projects, the Roma mentors will provide support to probation offices, the police, employment service, public health institute, state inspectorate and other social welfare and educational institutions.

State-secretary in the Ministry, Josip Salapić, underscored that the project is aimed at totally including the Roma minority in society.

This is the first project of this kind in Croatia, the head of the prison system and probation administration, Jana Špero said.

An advisor in the Interior Ministry, Vladimir Faber, said that a lot is expected from this project.

"It will enable two-way communication between institutions and Roma communities and between institutions themselves," Faber said, adding that the biggest problem in Roma communities is poverty, social exclusion, poor education, crime among minors, which can be changed with mutual communication.

President of the Kali Sara Roma alliance in Croatia,  Suzana Krčmar, underscored that the Roma will always offer their hand and be open to everyone, especially those who are their friends.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Says Bosniak Minority Precious to Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The Bosniak minority is "a precious value" to Croatia, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Zagreb on Tuesday at an event marking the 28th Day of Bosniaks in Croatia and wished the community to successfully preserve its identity.

In a multiethnic nation, it is good when everyone feels comfortable and respects each other, the minister said. The Bosniak minority is well-integrated, it is a "precious value" to Croatia, he said.

Following statements by previous speakers that "loyalty" was not an expression that reflected the emotional attitude of Bosniaks because "they love Croatia", he recalled their contribution to the Homeland War.

About 25,000 Bosniaks took part in the Homeland War, and 1,187 laid down their lives for Croatia.

Grlić Radman also talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose territorial integrity Zagreb strongly supports.

"No one has it in their interest for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a stable and functioning state as much as the Republic of Croatia," he said.

He said that Croatia had achieved its goals of integration with NATO and the European Union and that it wanted the same path for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also commented on the dissatisfaction with the violation of equality and constituency of Bosnian Croats.

"Reforms from 2000 onwards and changes to the election law mainly through interventions by the High Representative have enabled Bosniaks to outvote Croats, who don't have a legitimate representative in the three-member presidency. We should strive for changes in the election law that will enable equality and constituency and eliminate any forms of discrimination," he said.

He expressed hope that leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina would find a solution, and the new High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt would first and foremost talk and listen, and not impose solutions.

Grlić Radman wished the Bosniaks in Croatia to be successful in preserving their cultural Bosniak identity.

The Day of Bosniaks is observed in memory of the first meeting of the Bosniak Assembly, held on 27 and 27 September 1993, at which Muslims changed their name to Bosniaks and the name Bosnian language was advocated.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Jandroković Offer Their Best Wishes to Jewish Community For Rosh Hashanah

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Tuesday issued separate messages offering their best wishes to the Jewish community on the occasion of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

"I wish all the best to the Jewish community in Croatia for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot with the traditional greeting 'May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year'," Milanović said, wishing the Jewish community happiness and peace throughout the new year.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković wished the Jewish community an abundance of health, happiness, peace and prosperity in the New Year 5782.

"May you spend this holiday period, which is a time of preparation for the great holiday of Yom Kippur, in joy and union with your fellow men. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year," Jandroković said in his message.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by a ten-day period of repentance which culminates with the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Sends Best Wishes to Jewish Community For Rosh Hashanah

ZAGREB, 6 Sept, 2021 (Hina) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Monday extended his best wishes to the Jewish community on the occasion of the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, with the traditional greeting "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year".

In the message he sent on his own behalf and on the behalf of his cabinet on the occasion of the 5782 Jewish year, Plenković wished an abundance of hope, health and prosperity to Jewish believers.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Croatia to Hold Additional Minority Elections on 3 Oct

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - The deadlines for the 3 October additional elections for representatives of ethnic minorities in councils in 16 cities and 55 municipalities and in 11 county assemblies started running on Wednesday, the State Election Commission (DIP) said today.

Slates with candidates running in those polls should be submitted to DIP until the midnight on 7 September, and can be proposed by political parties and by groups of citizens who want to be represented by independent candidates.

The State Election Commission calls for respecting gender balance which means at least 40% of candidates on a slate should be from one gender. Otherwise, the slates can be fined between 20,000-40,000 kuna.

Additional elections for minority representatives have been called for the units of local authorities in which the required representatives of the ethnic minority concerned was not achieved during the local elections in May.

Thus, a total of 74 seats designated for ethnic Serbs, 11 for ethnic Roma representatives, four for ethnic Italians and three for ethnic Hungarians and Bosniaks each as well as a seat designated for ethnic Ukrainians' representative remained vacant after the local elections.

 Also, Croatians who a smaller ethnic group in the municipalities of Borovo, Trpinja and Jagodnjak will elect their representatives for those local municipal councils on 3 October.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Roma in the Homeland War: More Research on Defending Croatia Needed

August 5, 2021 - When talking about the fight for Croatian independence, the public often tends to forget about the contributions of minorities such as Roma in the Homeland War. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac reminds us of a 2019 book that researched Roma participation in defending Croatia, which is a great starting point for further research today.   

Croatia is marking the 26th Anniversary of Operation Storm, a military action that, on August 5, 1995, marked the liberation of occupied territory (apart from Eastern Slavonia, which was returned to Croatia later on during peaceful reintegration).

Victory Day is filled with pride, but for some, there is a shade of bitterness as a result of the questionable treatment of civilians and prisoners of war that to this day continues to divide the opinion of the Croatian public and remains a topic of numerous historical debates.

As noticed by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), things changed significantly in 2020. This came as a result of moves made by Croatian politicians, not only with words but also by their honouring of Serbian civilian victims in Varivode and Gruber.

''Last year's anniversary was marked by changes in the official policy towards Operation Storm (Oluja), known in Croatia as Victory Day (Dan Pobjede) and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan Domovinske Zahvalnosti). August 2020 saw the public space filled with messages about reconciliation, dialogue, the importance of facts, condolences for war crime victims, and appeals for a conversation about different views on Operation Storm in both Croatia and Serbia,'' said YIHR.

With 2020 evoking feelings of sympathy for all victims of the Homeland War, a significant step was also made back in 2019 to recognise that not only ethnic Croats fought for the freedom and independence of their country. 

We defended Croatia Too: Roma People in the Homeland War“, is a monography by Borna Marinić which was presented in 2019. It was the first publication to gather info on the contribution made in the war by the often discriminated against and socially isolated minority in Croatia. The presentation was held in the "Zvonimir Home" of the Croatian military in Zagreb. The publication was the first to really delve into the contribution of Roma in the Homeland War.

The promotion gathered many VIP attendees of political and military Croatian authorities at the time. Marinić, a historian and the editor of the website ''Dogodilo se na Današnji Dan'' (It Happened on This Day), pointed out that not a lot is known about the actions of the Roma in the Homeland War, and this lack of documentation was the biggest problem he had to tackle when it came to verbal storytelling from witnesses.

''I visited Roma veterans and their commanders as well as other relevant people across Croatia, recording their statements and testimonies about the Homeland War,'' said Marinić. His research saw more than 50 people interviewed, but the total count of Roma people who participated in the war still remains unknown.

Dr. Martin Previšić pointed out while reviewing the book that it doesn't provide readers with a linear story of the war's history, but rather an authentic view on the hell of wartime and the solidarity which trumped very many differences. 

''Vukovar, Baranja, Pakrac, Novska, and Karlovac were places in which Croatia was defended, but they were also places where Roma people gave their tribute to that same defense,'' said Previšić.

Veljko Kajtazi, a member of the Croatian Parliament, elected as a representative of the Roma community, attended the representation, delighted to see that this important but unexplored subject was finally being tackled by a researcher in the first-ever book published on the topic. He pointed out, however, that this book cannot be viewed as an encyclopedia as it didn't record the experiences of all Roma people, nor does it have all of the information from all fronts, but it is a terrific base for further research.

''I'm grateful to my fellow Roma people who shared their stories and whose faith is the cornerstone of this book. I felt the obligation for Roma people to come forward and present themselves in a different light. Roma people, in large numbers, defended Croatia and gave their contribution to the defense in key moments,'' concluded Kajtazi.

Kajtazi talked about the need for Roma people to begin presenting themselves in a different light and stated that there are definitely numerous issues caused by stereotypes that Roma people are involved in crime and as such can't be trusted. 

As TCN previously wrote, The Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview report by Human Rights House Zagreb noticed how Roma people in Croatia still face very many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the Croatian education system too.

Additionally, the global issue of COVID-19 brought new problems for Roma people in regard to vaccination against COVID-19, a topic both Kajtazi and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) spoke about for TCN.

Roma people helped Croatia during the darkest of its days as a new and young country. Respecting and working on actively including Roma people in our society as equals is the very least Croatia can do in return.

Learn more about Croatian politics and history from the 1990s on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Jankovics Re-Elected Head of Democratic Union of Hungarians of Croatia

ZAGREB, 26 June 2021 - The representative of the Hungarian minority in the Croatian Parliament, Robert Jankovics, was re-elected president of the Democratic Union of Hungarians of Croatia (DZMH), the umbrella organisation of the Hungarian minority in Croatia, at an election convention in the eastern town of Kopačevo on Saturday.

"To earn the confidence of the delegates of about 50 associations of the Hungarian minority in Croatia for a new four-year term as the head of the DZMH is an extraordinary responsibility for me and I hope that, together with my closes associates, I will be able to respond to the challenges in the years ahead," Jankovics said.

Jankovics pointed out that the leadership and members of the DZMH are the most responsible for the prosperity of the Hungarian community in the past years.

Oliver Matijević was elected executive president, and members of the national presidency and all committees were also chosen, the DZMH said in a statement.

 For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview: Serbs, Roma People, and LGBTQ Hate Speech Targets

April 16, 2021-  The Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview report by Human rights house Zagreb shows hate speech and poor living conditions of Serb returnees and Roma people still being problematic. The judicial system and the lack of a legal frame for civil society development remain problematic too.

In a battle against the Coronavirus, many agree and fear that human rights were put in second place, triggering the debate of security vs. liberty and justification of limiting movement, work, etc.

But human rights and their respect in Croatia was an issue, long before Covid-19. As Jutarnji List warns, the situation is not good. 

Croatia doesn't have a defined politics of making a supportive environment for the civic society development. Citizen participation in decision making is still relatively weak and the judicial system is a special problem," says Jutarnji List referring to the new report by Human Rights House in Zagreb titled „Human Rights in Croatia: 2020 Overview“.

Regarding the judicial issue, a specific example can be found in the ever-controversial  "Za Dom Spremni!"(For the Homeland Ready) salute which is recognised as a fascist salute and punishable by law but it's tolerated as part of the song „Čavoglave“ by Marko Perković Thompson and can frequently be heard during his concerts both by the singer and the audience.

„Circumstance that the salute is part of the song doesn't change the fact that it's an ustasha (Croatian fascist) salute that symbolizes criminal Naci-fascist ideology and is the violation of article 39 of Croatian constitution that prohibits any call or encouragement on national, racial or religious hatred or any form of intolerance“, continues Jutarnji List.

Still present in public space, hate speech in Croatia is also very alive on the Internet, with the Serb LGBTQ community and Roma people being the prime targets. As Jutarnji reports, last year's research show this as well as the lack of appropriate response. 

„Children and adolescences do not learn enough about human rights, equality, and solidarity, given that civil education is conducted as one of six intercourse themes in elementary and high-schools. Such approach to civil education does not secure enough time in the curriculum for quality development of civil competence of pupils“, concluded for Jutarnji List Human Rights House in Zagreb.

Educational segregation for Roma people, isolated Serb returnees migrant treatment controversies, C+ grade for LGBTQ travelers

The article also adds that Roma people in Croatia are still facing many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the education system too.

Furthermore, many Serb returnees live in undeveloped rural areas, which are isolated and offer poor living conditions. Additionally, they still struggle to achieve their asset rights, and their possession is still tangible to devastation.

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Pixabay

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, as TCN previously reported, Croatia „has an index of 188 points and a grade C+ from most safe to highest dangerous places (A to F), placing it among the first third of the best countries in the world in terms of LGBTQ+ safety“. There are controversies regarding the migrants' treatment on which we recently reported on too.

Learn more about Croatia's global rankings and many more fun facts about the country on our TC page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

HRK 20 Million For Areas Populated By National Minorities

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - The government on Thursday made decisions on the implementation of programmes for financing local infrastructure and rural development projects in areas populated by national minorities, for which HRK 20 million was earmarked in this year's budget.

The programmes pertain to areas that are markedly below the national development average in which national minorities make up at least 5% of the population according to the 2011 census.

Regional Development Minister Nataša Tramišak said the programmes would ensure the minimum standards of municipal and social infrastructure as well as financial instruments for family farms.

The government also adopted a regulation on the financing of national minorities' public needs to enhance their rights and protect as well as promote their cultural, national, linguistic and religious identity.

Waters Act amendments

Also today, the government sent to parliament amendments aligning the Waters Act with EU legislation.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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