Sunday, 5 May 2019

MOST Leader Says Eurobureaucrats Attempting to Create Super-State

ZAGREB, May 5, 2019 - The MOST party leader Božo Petrov has said in an interview with Hina that the bureaucrats in Brussels are trying to transform the European Union into a super-state to the detriment of national identities.

Petrov, who is the top candidate of the MOST slate for the European Parliament elections which will be held in Croatia on 26 May, says that the candidates of his party will not be loyal to the European political families but to the Croatian cause, as defined in MOST's plank.

"I believe that the politicians who have so far led the European Union have tried to blot out the identities of the member-states while creating a uniform identity that would pave the way for a sort of super-state," Petrov says in the interview which Hina published on Sunday.

He also considers the growing popularity of Eurosceptic parties to be the response to this tendency.

"Creating a super-state is not the direction which should be taken, and therefore they are receiving the response they have received. I sincerely believe that the European political landscape will considerably change after these elections."

According to opinion polls, the MOST slate can count on one seat in the EP after the voting and Petrov, who is the top candidate, says he will not go to the EP but those MOST candidates who win the highest number of preferential votes.

The MOST has not joined any of European political groups and still does not want to reveal which of the parties may be its political partner in the EP.

Petrov says that Croatian members of the EP are supposed that fight for the interests of Croatia and its citizens rather than for the interests of "some European political family such as the European People's Party (EPP)."

He says that the 12 MOST candidates are homogeneous in interpreting what Croatian interests in accordance how they are defined in the party's programme. "We are not limited by the European ideological framework which some European families are trying to impose." He also says that "we can see a slow creeping federalisation of the EU and creation of a sort of super-state."

We believe that the European Commission president should be elected according to the nominations proposed by the representatives of member-states and subsequently endorsed by the EP, says Petrov, expressing his criticism of the model of the nomination of spitzenkandidaten (that is pan-European lead candidates) nominated by European political parties' groups.

Petrov is for the introduction of the euro as the national currency in Croatia after the country shows readiness for that move and provided that it is approved by citizens in a referendum.

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

Monday, 29 April 2019

MOST Seeks Compensation from EU for Emigration

ZAGREB, April 29, 2019 - Candidates of the opposition MOST party running in the May 26 election for the European Parliament said on Monday that if elected, they would ask that the mass-scale emigration from Croatia be taken into account in the allocation of money from EU funds and that they would seek compensation.

"MOST wants mass-scale emigration from some EU countries to be taken as a criterion in fund allocation so that the EU can develop evenly," MOST leader Božo Petrov told a news conference.

He stressed that Croatia would never be able to achieve the same level of development as the more developed EU countries and that the gap would grow if the mass-scale emigration of educated people was not taken into account.

"We cannot accept to be the periphery of Europe that produces highly qualified personnel for other, more developed countries," he said.

MOST proposes several solutions to the problem, including allocating more money for new EU members from Horizon Europe programme, totalling 96 billion euro, or setting aside more funding for less developed members through the European Research Council.

There can be no economic growth and development without highly qualified personnel, and so far close to 500,000 people have left Croatia, Petrov said, calling on citizens to vote in the coming European elections and punish "the incompetence, negligence and lack of professionalism of those who have managed money from EU funds so far and give a chance to those who fight for Croatia's interests."

More news about European election can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Not Proclaiming Exclusive Economic Zone Costing 28 Billion Kuna

ZAGREB, April 25, 2019 – MOST MPs Nikola Grmoja and Tomislav Panenić said on Thursday that Croatia is losing between 170 and 270 million euro each year for not declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Adriatic and that for that reason, it has lost around 3.7 billion euro since 2000.

Grmoja told a press conference that during Wednesday's parliamentary debate on a MOST-sponsored motion for Croatia to declare an EEZ, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) whip Branko Bačić admitted that "it was our and the SDP's (Social Democratic Party) mistake not to declare the Exclusive Economic Zone prior to joining the European Union."

"Because of that every year we lost funds equalling the value of one Pelješac bridge," Grmoja said and added that the ruling majority rejected MOST's motion because they did not want to protect Croatia's sea and fishermen.

He recalled that during negotiations to form a coalition with MOST, the HDZ claimed that it was in Croatia's interest to declare an EEZ yet today it does not want to do just that for reasons unknown.

Grmoja further said that during the debate members of the ruling majority presented no arguments as to why the EEZ should not be declared except that Croatia's rights are already protected with the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) even though they themselves had previously explained the difference between the two. ZERP encompasses the sea that the zone covers while the EEZ also includes the sea bed as well as the air space above the zone, he said.

Panenić recalled that the government was reluctant even when it came to declaring the ZERP and wondered why it did not want to take what belonged to Croatia, thus ensuring equality and protecting national natural resources.

More Adriatic Sea news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 15 April 2019

MOST Proposes Introduction of Exclusive Economic Zone

ZAGREB, April 15, 2019 - The Croatian parliament will probably soon discuss a MOST-sponsored motion for Croatia to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Adriatic Sea, the MOST party's secretary-general Nikola Grmoja said in Zagreb on Monday.

An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.

Grmoja said that his party had managed to collect 31 signatures for the motion to be put on the parliament's agenda, adding that other opposition parties have joined this initiative.

He went on to say that the MOST had proposed this topic in mid-February last year, however, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković had refused to add it to the agenda so far.

MOST proposes that Croatia should declare an exclusive economic zone over 24,000 square kilometres.

Grmoja said that his party insisted that Croatia should follow examples set by some other Mediterranean countries, including France, as well Great Britain.

He criticised the government for not sharing the MOST's opinion on the need to more strongly protect the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea.

More news about MOST party’s activities can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

MOST Hopeful of Winning Two Seats in European Parliament

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 - The MOST party on Wednesday presented its slate for the coming European Parliament election, and the party's leader, Bozo Petrov who heads the slate, said that they were aiming for two seats.

Petrov explained that he would not go to the European Parliament but would pass on the seats won to MOST members with the most preferential votes.

The slate consists of Petrov followed by Sonja Čikotić, Ivan Prskalo, Ines Strenja, Ružica Vukovac, Robert Podolnjak, Ljubica Ambrušec, Nizar Shoukri, Ivan Bekavac, Mato Tomljanović, Ivan Matić and Miro Bulj.

"Candidates with the most preferential votes will go to the European Parliament regardless of whether they passed the preferential threshold. I consider that to be fair toward citizens and the candidates on the slate," Petrov said.

He explained that his name was on the slate regardless of the fact that he would not take a seat in the EP, because MOST wants to send a message that the European election is important for Croatia. "My name will be the first on the slate but I won't take a seat in the European Parliament because I believe that we are faced with certain important battles. I want to send a message that this election is essential for Croatia's political future and that is why my name is at the top of the slate," he said.

He called on Croatian citizens to go to the polls because "with going to the polls or not, they are showing what kind of Croatia they belong to and what kind of Croatia they want."

This opposition parliamentary party plans to spend 1.2 million kuna (162,000 euro) in the election campaign.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Tuesday called the election of 12 Croatian deputies to the European Parliament for 26 May and the State Election Commission said on its website that the deadline for the nomination of candidates was midnight, April 9.

Elections for the European Parliament will be held in all member states of the European Union between 23 and 26 May 2019, as decided by the Council of the European Union. Every five years EU citizens choose who represents them in the EP.

More news on the European elections can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Parliament Passes Controversial Law on Financing of Political Activities

ZAGREB, March 23, 2019 - After the longest discussion on amendments in the history of the modern Croatian parliament, the national legislature on Friday evening adopted a law on the financing of political activities, election campaigns and referendums.

The law was passed with 81 votes in favour.

Independent MP Siniša Varga, a former member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who recently left that party, was among those who voted for the law.

Members of parliament from the opposition MOST party walked out of the parliament before the vote and did not take part in it.

A record 911 amendments had been submitted to the bill, including 888 by the MOST party.

Its deputies defended each of their amendments, which lasted, with only one, hour-long break, a total of 33 hours, the longest discussion on a single item on the agenda in the history of the parliament.

Even though not one of their amendments was adopted, MOST MPs said that they were satisfied, describing the law as bad and serving the sole purpose of filling the ruling HDZ party's coffers ahead of the coming elections for the European Parliament.

The party found evidence for its claim in the provision which raises the allowed amount for campaigning in elections for the European Parliament from 1.5 million kuna to a maximum 4 million per slate.

The government insisted that the law regulated more comprehensively the financing of political activities and election campaigns as well as referendum activities, which were not regulated by law until now.

It also said that the new law created conditions for a more efficient supervision of financing and greater transparency by introducing an information system to supervise the financing of political activities and election and referendum campaigns.

Under the new law, financial reports, ordinary and election, will be published on the website of the State Election Commission, which will make it easier for experts and members of the general public to inspect party finances.

Budget funds for normal annual financing will be allocated in line with the final election results on the number of seats won and not depending on the number of seats at the time when a representative body is established, as was the case until now.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who late on Friday evening arrived in the parliament while it was discussing the bill on the financing of political parties, election campaigns and referendums, said that he had come to express solidarity with MPs who would vote for the bill.

Speaking of the MOST party's two-day action during which it presented 888 amendments to the bill, he said that it was unnecessary, nonsensical and contrary to citizens' interests and described it as filibustering. "I can see that attempts are being made to undermine something that is rational and necessary for the entire campaign for European elections to gain appropriate visibility and for more funds to be secured for it," he said.

He added that there was no other European country that so far had envisaged so little funding for campaigns for European elections. "The law so far envisaged only 1.5 million kuna per slate for a nation-wide campaign, which is the amount envisaged for one constituency in Croatian parliamentary elections. I have been in such a campaign twice, each time for 45 days. Those campaigns are very long, the longest we have, and the funding for them is absolutely below any minimum of what is necessary to raise awareness of European elections and European topics," said Plenković.

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

Sunday, 17 February 2019

MOST Party Wants Just, Green, Entrepreneurial, Sovereign Croatia

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - The MOST opposition party on Sunday presented its platform pillars which push for stronger sovereignty, the development of enterprise, an improved justice system, enhanced social rights, better education and healthcare, and the preservation of the environment.

Every one of us is important for Croatia's better future and for future generations. First and foremost, believe in yourselves, MOST leader Božo Petrov said at the party's national conference in Zagreb.

"The day is coming when each of us can decide what will happen to our families and our Croatia. You can choose whether to fight or die quietly, because this false stability and perfect thieves' balance to which Croatian citizens are exposed on a daily basis is a quiet death," said Petrov.

Speaking of upcoming European Parliament elections, he said MOST would base its activity in the EP on a sovereign Croatia.

The party's political secretary, Nikola Grmoja, said a responsible ruling system was key for eradicating corruption, which he said was practically public and legalised in today's society. "Only the fight against corruption can restore morality, ethics and honour to politics."

MOST MP Robert Podolnjak said every citizen must actively and equally participate in public and political life. He added that it was necessary to change the electoral system and reduce the number of MPs.

MP Ivana Ninčević Lesandrić said the party's enterprise platform pillar was based on cutting employers' costs and reducing the tax burden. MP Ante Pranić said the biggest problem was the overstaffed state administration.

Slaven Dobrović and Ružica Vuković said the key to a green Croatia was sustainable development based on innovative and ecological solutions in the municipal sector, energy and transport.

MP Sonja Čikotić said MOST wanted an education system in which an industrious and skilled

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

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Vlaho Orepić Talks Police, MOST and New Political Party - Nova Politika

Vlaho Orepić has seen his fair share of political alterations in Croatia, from becoming minister of the interior during Tihomir Orešković's government, to being shockingly dismissed by Andrej Plenković, to stepping down as an MP for MOST, one of the partners of the former ruling coalition, eventually breaking away entirely and forming a new party of his own - Nova Politika.

Known for not only his position as the minister of the interior, but for his achievements in the sporting world and his political activities in his beloved town of Ploče, Konavle-born Orepić sat down with us to discuss the past, the present, and the future, including his new party.

Why did you decide to set up a brand new political party? What values ​​does it, and you, represent?

Through the experiences I gained through my civic activism, and then through my direct participation in the work of the Government and the Parliament of Croatia I realised that politics in Croatia is not what should be expected of it. It doesn't do the work of the people. On the contrary, all the policies of the past have disrupted the [lives of the] Croatian people, and has impoverished the Croatian economy.

So, we need something new, that is Nova Politika, which will be what people expect it to be, and that means working for the people. This need, this message, and these values ​​are contained in the idea and the very name Nova Politika.

How will your party differ from the countless others who are already operating in Croatia?

We simply need order in the country, as well as in political and social relations because we as a country aren't in a crisis, but we are in disorder. The basic two goals of Nova Politika are the protection of democratic principles and procedures in political relations and the institutional arrangement, as well as the optimisation of the state. Nova Politika as a party is, unlike others, a project. A project of getting together with the aim of institutional convergence from the current disorder putting the country in order.

There are many challenges which require ambitious structural reforms, so new, life-motivated policies are needed.

First and foremost, what we're going to invest a huge amount of energy into is the struggle for the legitimacy of elections. The outcomes of the entire series of electoral processes in Croatia are crucially influenced by the voices of those who have filed a false residence in the Republic of Croatia, and as such gain a whole range of substantive rights, as well as voting rights. In its electoral register, Croatia has at least 150,000 such fictional voters. Parliament has a minimum of 4-6 parliamentarians who base their mandate on those fictional voters. That's been going on for far too long and it needs to stop.

Why did not you take advantage of this opportunity and as the minister of the interior, solve this problem?

I didn't manage to. They dismissed me. I believe that you're familiar with the fact that I uncompromisingly tried to solve this problem. In just two and a half months, the police, to whom the law prescribed that obligation, prompted the deletion of 45,000 fictional residences. Very rapidly this figure has grown to 75,000. This issue, because of political incitement and abuse, is an exceptional problem in our society.

What is especially disturbing is that this is intractable abuse and a kind of blackmail of people in need. People who, because of realistic, existential problems, engage in illegal behavior such as the fictitious reporting of residence in the Republic of Croatia. The Republic of Croatia should systematically and legally care about its emigrants and not just keep tolerating this crime.

You've endured huge political resistance to this engagement of yours and even personal discreditation. Judging from your findings, which parties have encouraged fictitious voters to participate in the elections in the Republic of Croatia?

Fictitious voters' transport from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was organised by the HDZ, SDSS and even MOST, which was concealing it from me as its minister. Even the activists engaged in the recent referendum initiatives have also collected signatures in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the pre-election campaign for local elections in Vrgorac, HDZ had a poster with a cross marked over my face which they stuck in neighbouring places and cities in western Herzegovina. With which they called "their" fictional voters to come to the elections.

But that doesn't matter anymore. It's important to realise the magnitude of this problem and to get credible electoral registers as soon as possible in order to guarantee the legality of elections in the Republic of Croatia. We need to get that in order. To move forward, we need to be able to count the results of the elections to match the real will of the citizens. That's Nova Politika.

Will someone who is already active in political or public life enter your party? Maybe one of the members of MOST? 

I hope we'll all be able get together around the goal as Nova Politika is focused on its political goal, and all those who see Croatia as a decent and well-regulated state are welcome. Let's say that proper order in the area of [registering] ​​residence should be the target of everyone who wishes our homeland well.  This is what I expect especially from those who ran their election campaigns based on fictional voters and who claim they're sovereign.

Will you participate in the forthcoming European Parliament elections, and will you have your candidate for the president of the Republic of Croatia?

The focus is on parliamentary elections. But Nova Politika partaking either alone or in cooperation with someone else in all the upcoming elections hasn't been ruled out.

What's your opinion on the work of current President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Will you back her for a second term?

She failed to portray herself as the president of all citizens. We definitely need a new president.

At the moment, the most current issue is the collapse of an Israeli jet plane purchase. Do you think Croatia needs war planes? If so, how much money would you be willing to invest in their purchase?

We don't need to call the need for war planes into question. But what we need to take into account is our financial situation. At this point, we have no money for that. We have a whole series of challenges that are related to our bare existence. We must take into account the life priorities that hav arisen from the situation in which we're in and live within our means. Aircraft, at this time, aren't something we can afford and aren't a priority.

MOST has been looking like a conservative party recently, more and more. Do you share such a vision? If not, why were you in that party at all?

I don't share the current worldview of MOST, which is significantly different from the one they were trying to show, and which dominated while I was in MOST. The leaders of MOST have repositioned MOST within the frameworks of their own personal worldviews. It isn't mature, and it is a type of conflict politics, this is a political environment which I can't identify with.

Why did you leave MOST?

MOST as a party abandoned the very idea of ​​MOST, so I left MOST.

In two HDZ-MOST coalition governments, you were the interior minister. Would you enter into a coalition with HDZ again? Will you remain in the Parliament as an opposition representative until the end of your mandate or does a possibility for you to support the current government exist?

I'm going to remain an opposition MP.

Which parties would you potentially enter into a coalition with?

With this very question you've addressed a big problem in the functioning of politics in the Republic of Croatia. Nobody asks you what your suggestions are. What are your political goals, etc. People are already accepting or rejecting you on the basis of your ideological orientation. This approach to politics is wrong and that's why we need Nova Politika. A policy that highlights clear goals and their implementation brings together the necessary majority. We need to evolve current politics into realistic politics. Politics that can and should be measurable. Politics which will be conditioned by the mutual interaction of the principles of trust and responsibility.

Davor Božinović succeeded you as the minister of the interior. How do you evaluate his work?

He's completely unambiguous in his approach in these circumstances we're in and his root changes make him look superficial. Manipulation with fictitious residences and some staffing solutions paralysed the operational work of the police and indicated a lack of workability. He acts unambiguously because he has no ambition and therefore no actual results.

What do you think about the Croatian police's treatment in relation to migrants on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina? Does the behavior of the police differ now than from when you were minister?

The migrant policy of Croatia, of which a lot is dealt with by the police I consider to be good. The work on the frontier is on the line of the one that was designed and established during my mandate. There is no leg room when it comes to illegal border crossings but there's also a very human approach when it comes to caring for people in need. Some isolated failures in treatment can't diminish the significance of the police work done.

When talking about migration policy, every day Croatia that it is a responsible member of the EU, because don't forget that the Croatian police, in protecting the borders of the Republic of Croatia, are also working to protect the EU's external borders.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

After Tensions in Parliament, Government and MOST Trade Accusations

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he would not tolerate accusations about high treason, saying that deputies of the MOST party were continuously contributing to growing hate speech and that there was no scenario in which he would cooperate with them.

"Yesterday's debate in parliament resulted in a salvo of insults, lies, defamation and this time even slander, even accusations against the deputy prime minister and myself about high treason. This is a new formulation coined by a MOST MP. I believe this is absolutely unacceptable, this is the line that defines that we as politicians involved in a political struggle, in dialogue, can tolerate insults, lies and slander, but we cannot tolerate accusations of high treason," Plenković said at his cabinet meeting.

During a parliamentary debate on a report submitted by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković about his attendance at European Council meetings in 2018, Nikola Grmoja of the opposition MOST party said that Plenković and Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić were working in the interests of Serbia, which caused an uproar in the parliament chamber, prompting Speaker Gordan Jandroković to order a 10-minute break in a bid to defuse the situation.

During the break Grmoja told the press that Plenković had attempted to lunge at him, but was prevented by other MPs.

Plenković said at the cabinet meeting on Thursday that this was MOST's constant contribution to the spreading of hate speech, "a spiral of hatred that keeps spinning." "In my response I have clearly said that neither I as prime minister, nor this government or the ruling Croatian democratic Union (HDZ) party will tolerate the spreading of the kind of hatred that this party is spreading. We draw a line here. Under no circumstances will we cooperate with such political actors," Plenković said.

The political secretary of the MOST party, Nikola Grmoja, on Thursday commented on Wednesday's incident, saying that he would not take back a single word, on the contrary, he would further emphasise certain things.

MOST leader Božo Petrov said the prime minster had shown that he had a glass chin, while MP Miro Bulj said the prime minister acted like a bully. "Yesterday's incident in parliament during which the prime minister attempted to lunge at Grmoja and things almost became physical between the prime minister and an MP, tells us that all masks are off. The person who claims that it is his objective to 'de-dramatise' the events has made a drama like we haven't seen since 1990," Petrov told a news conference.

Petrov said he could understand if the prime minister was angry or nervous because "it is very difficult to explain why he and his government have enabled the opening of new negotiating chapters for Serbia, despite the fact that Serbia has not met benchmarks from Chapter 23."

"From all of this we can conclude that this government is working in the interests of Serbia and not in the interests of Croatia. Working in Croatia's interests would mean that former prison camp detainees would receive legal protection in Croatia and a possibility would be created for Serbia to pay out damages to Croatian detainees. This hasn't happened to this day," Petrov said, adding that yesterday's incident showed that the prime minister had a glass chin.

Grmoja said that, although Serbia had failed to meet benchmarks from Chapter 23 in its accession talks with the European Union, it had nevertheless opened new chapters. He accused Pejčinović Burić and Plenković of doing nothing to prevent such developments. He then reiterated several times that the Croatian prime minister and foreign minister were working in Serbia's interests.

"The truth is that the entire debate and questions were appropriate and I didn't get the answers to my questions," Grmoja told the press, adding he was standing by all his claims. "I will not back down an inch because this is high treason!" Grmoja said.

MP Bulj said that it was not true that Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), who was present during Wednesday's incident in parliament, had tried to calm the situation down. On the contrary, the entire time he was saying 'You are provocateurs and you are spreading hatred,' Bulj said.

More news on the incident in the parliament can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

State Bureaucracy Hiring More Civil Servants

ZAGREB, January 5, 2019 - The opposition MOST party called out Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević on Saturday, saying that by announcing the hiring of more civil servants, he is actually announcing a "new party-based personnel policy in public administration" at a time when 180 people are moving out of Croatia every day.

"At a time when 180 people are moving out of Croatia daily, when young and educated people are running away from a public administration system which doesn't encourage excellence but suitability, Minister Kuščević is increasing the number of civil servants and avoiding the implementation of essential reforms," MOST said in a press release.

The statement was prompted by an article in today's Jutarnji List daily which says that state services advertised 39 vacancies on the last day of 2018.

MOST said the European Commission adopted an action plan for the development of public administration in February 2017 and that since then only 0.45% of the 880 million kuna available had been absorbed.

"This government does not have a vision of public administration as a service for citizens," MOST MP Sonja Čikotić said in the press release, wondering how Kuščević can boast of time saving thanks to the digitisation of some services when the number of civil servants has not been cut down.

She said Kuščević did not have a solution for a better public administration, but was using every opportunity for new hiring instead of having immediately embarked on downsizing and computerisation.

"Now we are even more convinced that it is first necessary to cancel 10,000 employment contracts and then hire based on competencies necessary for a modern Croatia," said MOST MP Ante Pranić.

 More news on MOST can be found in our Politics section.

Page 4 of 24