Monday, 5 July 2021

Zagreb Gay Pride 2021 Analysis: Issues Still Exist, Pride Celebrates History and Present Equality

July 5, 2021 - Gay rights in Croatia still have challenges ahead, but even if all problems are resolved, Pride should remain a commemorative event. A look at the history of gay culture in Croatia and the current climate in this Zagreb Gay Pride 2021 Analysis by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac.

Zagreb Pride is the oldest pride in Croatia. First held in 2002, it attracts more and more people every year, from LGBTQ members, straight people that support gay rights to NGOs, human rights activists, and even politicians from the left and liberal specter. Over the years, the event grew from a one-day pride to Pride month, full of educational and entertaining events regarding LGBTQ issues and a chance for people with the same preferences to meet and celebrate who they are.

Pride month is marked in June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.

„The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets, and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world“, reminds History.com.

When it comes to LGBTQ in Croatia, as you can expect with the ideological divide Croatians generally experience, there are mixed feelings on the issue.

From street violence to a family event  

Participating in the first Pride in 2002 required that if you are a man loving a man ready to openly admit it, you had to have balls.

The attacks by skinheads and other „morally concerned citizens were fierce and violent. Participants truly needed police protection which was provided but also needed to be careful to not get hit by the incoming rocks that were thrown among the participants.

skin_arrest.jpg

Police arresting violent skinhead at the first Zagreb Pride in 2002, screenshot / Zagreb pride

But, at least for Zagreb, the situation got better and more open. Today, pride is the forthcoming celebration of love and freedom, and entire families can be seen to join the picnic at Ribnjak park to teach their children tolerance and that people are not sick or different from others because of their sexual preference. Other larger cities in Croatia, such as Split, slowly but surely, do follow that path too, and Rijeka, the pinnacle of liberal Croatia, is also a very gay-friendly city.

Of course, a political counterstrike is expected and quite strong. The first most notable one was the 2013 referendum, where it was voted that the Croatian constitution declares marriage as a „community between a man and woman“. The goal was to deny LGBTQ couples the same rights as enjoyed by straight people.

However, the bill on life partnership outplayed that attempt.

In the meantime, LGBTQ couples can also adopt children in Croatia, as Constitutional Court concluded that gay couples fostering children is not against the Croatian Constitution.

That decision and along with the general openness of Croatia towards LGBTQ was followed by a controversial carnival in Imotski where an effigy of a gay couple was burned. President Zoran Milanović demanded an apology from the organizers, and SDP's MP Arsen Bauk filed charges against the organizers.

Counting pluses and minuses, the report on Croatia being the 39th best country for LGBTQ visitors still seems to uphold. No changes for the better, but at least Croatia is still in the top third for this category of tourists.

 Haters strike back

2020 and 2021 sadly saw the uprise of violence towards LGBTQ in the Croatian capital. Apart from the occasional tearing down or burning of the rainbow flag, Croatia was shocked with an attempt of burning a man in Maksimir Forest Park as well, with his sexual preference being the sole motive for the attack.

 On the other side, this year's pride felt to start stronger than ever. The newly elected mayor Tomislav Tomašević joined the parade, along with stating that Zagreb is a city that is open to everyone. This year arranged a bit differently to adhere to corona measures; around 2500 participated in the event.  

„Twenty of our prides made our city and our republic a better, more democratic, and joyous place for the life of all citizens“, was the main message of the 20th edition of Zagreb Pride.

As reported by Index.hr, the Zagreb Pride association representatives stated that the Croatian LGBTIQ community „became a powerful, responsible and self-aware part of the country, but that the fight isn't over“.

„Our constitution and our laws still do not include in a complete and fair way. Our streets and squares are still not free of hate. We didn't forget nor we will forget victims of homophobic and fascist rampage in this year and all previous years“, stated Zagreb Pride.  

Sadly, while Pride itself went without issues, participants of the pride who walked the streets of Zagreb after pride with rainbow flags faced a series of physical attacks on several locations in Zagreb.  

A week ahead of Pride, conservative MOST Party parliament member Nikola Grmoja complained that commercials displayed during EURO 2020 commercials were LGBTQ propaganda and that kids need to be protected from it and announced that he might include it in his anti-pedophile package. Grmoja's statement caused strong disagreements among the Croatian public, with several people (including celebrities) teasing him that if he wants to start battling pedophilia, he should start from church (as Grmoja is quite clerical). Božo Petrov, president of the MOST party, added more fuel to the fire when he supported Grmoja, stating that „minorities can't dictate what my children can learn in school“. He added that minorities need to be aware that they are minorities and that „we tolerate that," sparking more enrage from the public, with many comparing MOST to the controversial Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Zagreb Pride linked the post-Pride physical attacks with Petrov and Grmoja's public statements, and Petrov and Grmoja announced they would sue Zagreb Pride for slender.

 Nikola_Grmoja_lgbt_article.jpg

Nikola Grmoja, screenshot N1

The Law: "Gay is OK". Popular opinion: "Do it in your homes, not on the streets".

In this political escalation, what does the average Croatian think? Looking at the comments on social networks, it seems the majority of Croatians don't mind gays being gays and living how they like (even if they are not always happy with legal rights the LGBTQ community received). But, one sentiment in that „tolerance“ is particularly worrying.

„Live in your house however you want it. You don't have to wave around, like its a best thing ever“, said one of the online comments on Index.hr beneath the news on Petrov and Grmoja.

So it seems the public does not understand why Pride is important. First of all, as evident, the political climate is such that the battle for equality truly isn't over in Croatia, and Pride is the best way for the community to express what issues LGBTQ still face in Croatia. Additionally, pride month is also educational and supportive, and public presence show to other people who feel the same that they are not alone, as they might feel lonely and unable to find people who feel the same in everyday life.

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© Zagreb Pride

But, even if the law and constitution give the same rights and solves the problem of intolerance of LGBTQ people completely, does that mean that Pride should then be canceled? Well, Croatia won its independence and the war in the nineties. Does that mean we should stop commemorating the Homeland War? Or is it nice to honor and celebrate the victory and triumph over all obstacles Croatia had to face in its independence? Pride is a cultural, commemorative event honoring those who were or still are victims and oppressed for their sexual preference, either in Croatia or in the world. Croatia is a democratic country. Every group, national, ethnical, racial, religious, etc. should have the right to gather and honor its heroes. The right to gather and honor its tragedies and their dates and connect with other people who feel the same. If political elites are so concerned with keeping Croatians in Croatia, then they can't afford to discriminate or attack part of Croatian society solely based on their sexual preference. A preference that, unlike being violent or intolerable, can't be chosen.

Learn more about LGBT rights in Croatia and what LGBT tourists should know on our TC page.

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

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 17-23, 2021

May 23, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from May 17 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

From Local elections to released details of the Euro 2020 championship strategy to the release of Zoran Mamić. Add Besana company attempting to boost its position in Croatia, and you have a truly exciting week. Here are the highlights.

screenshot_Jutarnji_list.jpg

 screenshot / Jutarnji list

Highlights of the Week: Zagreb mayor candidates Tomašević and Škoro had a debate ahead of the second round of elections

Jutarnji List invited on Friday mayoral candidates Miroslav Škoro (Homeland Movement), and Tomislav Tomašević of the green-left party We Can! to debate ahead of new elections.

In the first round of the elections, We Can! earned 147.631 votes (45.15%), while Homeland Movement had 39.789 votes (12.16%). Before officially entering the second round, Škoro declared Tomašević and We Can! party extreme left and pushed the narrative of elections as an ideological referendum among right-wing and conservative circles. Škoro also accused We Can! of being foreign mercenaries working for a philanthropist George Soros or wanting to revitalize Yugoslavia and Škoro's associate Zlatko Hasanbegović earlier in the week called We Can! a lesbian syndicate. Additionally, Nikola Grmoja (Most Party) stated for N1 that We Can! are Soroshians and accusations of their weird name-calling saw a random generator on the internet designed to mock these terms by random options of name-calling. Meanwhile, Tomašević continued the campaign talking about solutions to the problems Zagreb is currently facing but occasionally makes remark accusations while keeping it clean. The debate on Jutarnji List saw similar rhetoric from both candidates in their public performances, and overall, at least for the people of Zagreb, May 30 can't come soon enough.Hrvatski_nogometni_savez.jpg

screenshot / Hrvatski nogometni savez

Highlights of the Week: Zlatko Dalić announces preliminary EURO 2020 Croatia player list

Coach Zlatko Dalic has announced the preliminary EURO 2020 Croatia player list on Monday. Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea) are some of the names that made it on the list.

The Croatia national team has entered the last month of preparations for the European Championship, which opens on June 13 at Wembley against England at 3 pm.

RTL.jpg

screenshot / RTL

Highlights of the Week: Zoran Mamić released from custody

Former Dinamo football coach Zoran Mamić will remain free while in Bosnia and Herzegovina; however, he will have to report to the police once a week, and his personal documents have been temporarily confiscated, the court in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided on Wednesday.

Zoran Mamić was arrested early Wednesday morning by officers from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) based on an arrest warrant issued against him in Croatia.

After that, Mamić was handed over to the court in Sarajevo. Judge Branko Perić determined his status, including his citizenship of BiH. The judge ruled that Mamić would remain free with precautionary measures and was ordered to give in his personal identification documents.

The court did not discuss the matter of Mamić's extradition, considering that Croatia has not sent a formal request yet.

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screenshot / Radio Labin

Highlights of the Week: Former football player Vedran Ćorluka new Croatian assistant coach

The new Croatia national team assistant coach Vedran Ćorluka was officially presented by coach Zlatko Dalić at a press conference in Zagreb ahead of EURO 2020.

Although there was a lot of speculation, Croatian football player Vedran Ćorluka officially announced the end of his playing career and was confirmed as the new Croatia assistant coach on Monday.

"I did not plan it, but the moment has come," said Ćorluka at the press conference at which coach Zlatko Dalić presented the list of players for the upcoming European Championship.

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Pixabay

Highlights of the Week: Italian company Besana strengthening position in Croatia

The Italian company Besana, which is otherwise one of the strongest European companies in the production and processing of nuts and dried fruit, is working to further strengthen its position here in Croatia.

As TCN reported on Monday, the Italian company Besana currently has 50 subcontractors located in Croatia, from whom it buys about 100 tonnes of hazelnuts per year. But, much more can be expected if their plans go well.

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our newly launched TC website.

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Opposition Parties File Motion of No Confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - Parliamentary opposition parties have filed a joint motion for a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš over the accumulated problems in the healthcare sector and scandals related to the minister, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Tuesday.

"The reasons for this move are clear to all citizens - the accumulated debts in the healthcare system resulted in the suspension of deliveries of medicines to hospitals at the height of the pandemic. There are also huge problems with the vaccination system, and we have learned of favourable treatment in the development of the cijepise.hr vaccination registration system," Grbin said.

"The development of this non-functioning system was awarded to people connected with Minister Beroš. There are also suspicious public procurement procedures at the Health Ministry such as one where IT services were awarded to a florist and tenders were fixed for former HDZ health ministers Andrija Hebrang and Neven Ljubičić, which have been cancelled but only after media started writing about them," he added.

"The Health Ministry is simply not functioning. There are no reforms, and the extent to which this affects people's lives could best be seen in a recent case at the Clinic for Tumors where citizens suffering from malignant diseases could not receive adequate care," Grbin said, naming Beroš as the person most responsible for this.

"We want Beroš to go because right now he has done nothing positive for the healthcare system, and all the negative things he has done pose a direct threat to people's health and lives," the SDP leader said. "His departure, however, will not be enough and we will all have to come to grips with the accumulated problems together."

Grbin said that a discussion on Beroš must be held within 30 days, and whether it will be held before or after the 16 May local elections "depends on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković."

The initiative was signed by all opposition groups in parliament except the Croatian Sovereignists, but they have announced that they will vote in favour Beroš's resignation, Grbin said.

MOST's Nikola Grmoja said that his party had been warning for a long time about the problems faced by the healthcare system, including huge debts to drug wholesalers and long waiting lists.

"Beroš, of course, is not the only one to blame, the whole government is responsible. With our signatures we also want to encourage a reform of the healthcare system. All of us in the opposition agree that changes are necessary and should be launched urgently," Grmoja noted.

Sandra Benčić of the green-left We Can! platform said that they supported all the reasons for a no-confidence vote in Beroš, but stressed that the responsibility for the crisis in the healthcare system and the poor management of the coronavirus pandemic mostly lay with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

"None of the ministers, and certainly not Minister Beroš, makes decisions on their own. They were not chosen as competent persons in their departments but were chosen based on their loyalty to the prime minister who ultimately makes all decisions. The prime minister cannot be exonerated by his purported unawareness of the scandals for which we seek Beroš's resignation. That's why we ask whether the country can be run by a prime minister who does not know or who does not get key information," Benčić said.

Homeland Movement MP Stjepo Bartulica said that the Croatian healthcare system was too politicised. "There are countless problems and the possible resignation of Minister Beroš will not change things much. We have insisted from the start that the healthcare system should be governed by market principles because now we don't see any mechanisms that will bring about change to the system as this government resists structural reforms," he said.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Nikola Grmoja (Most Party): "PM Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia"

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - MOST Party Member of Parliament Nikola Grmoja on Tuesday commented on the latest developments in the wind park scandal, saying that even though he is trying to avoid it, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia.

He appointed ministers Gabrijela Žalac and Marija Vučković, he appointed Minister Tomislav Ćorić and all those who are directly or indirectly connected to the wind park scandal and now he is acting as if he didn't know anything, Grmoja told the press in Parliament House.

We saw that former minister Žalac lobbied for loans to be approved in that scandal, said Grmoja, recalling that while MOST Party was in government, that project did not get the green light because it lacked the necessary environmental impact study, and that as soon as MOST Party was ousted, Minister Ćorić approved the project.

Responding to a reporter's comment that even after the scandal was uncovered, many of its participants kept their positions, Grmoja said that the "mafia doesn't forget its members."

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

Friday, 18 December 2020

MP Grmoja Stripped of Immunity

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - MP Nikola Grmoja of the opposition Bridge party on Friday lost immunity at his own insistence, an almost unique case in the Croatian parliament.

"I ask all my colleagues to strip me of immunity, after which I will ask the Credentials and Privileges Commission (MIP) to strip me of it completely," Grmoja said, to which Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic replied that there was no "general" stripping of immunity, rather it was done case by case.

The case in question is a private defamation suit filed against Grmoja by former interior minister Ranko Ostojic after Grmoja claimed that he had evidence that Bridge leader Bozo Petrov was processed by the police anti-corruption office (PNUSKOK) in 2016.

MIP took the usual position, denying the approval for continuing the criminal prosecution of an MP, in this case Grmoja, while he was in office.

However, Grmoja called on MPs to strip him of immunity, contrary to MIP's recommendation, which they did.

Jandrokovic concluded that 23 MPs voted for MIP's decision, two abstained and 89 were against, and that Grmoja was stripped of immunity based on that.

Pedja Grbin of the Social Democratic Party said parliament had now rejected MIP's motion but that in order for Grmoja to be stripped of immunity, MIP must submit a motion to that effect and parliament approve it.

Jandrokovic agreed, saying "this is a unique case" and that consultations would be held.

I think MIP must submit a motion, so we will do this next time, Jandrokovic said, telling Grmoja that he still had immunity.

"So, we have rejected MIP's decision that he has immunity. However, you have immunity until MIP's decision (to the contrary) and its confirmation at a plenary," Jandrokovic told him.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Grmoja: HDZ Has Adapted Everything to Suit Its Own Needs

ZAGREB, May 15, 2020 - MP Nikola Grmoja (Bridge) said on Friday that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) had made everything it had done, including the timing of the parliamentary election, to suit its own needs, adding that Bridge had not yet decided whether it would run in the election with Miroslav Skoro's Homeland Movement.

"They have adapted the election and everything else they have done to suit themselves. Croatian citizens are not important here... nor what the opposition thinks. This election is for them. I call on citizens to respond to this attack by going to the polls and to listen to those who will call on them to go to the polls yet until yesterday were telling them to stay home. Listen to them this time but don't vote for them," said Grmoja.

He rejected the interpretation that previously he had called for a snap election and was now objecting to the election being held in July.

In response to reporters' remark that according to news coming from the Homeland Movement, election slates were a bone of contention, Grmoja said that "slates and candidates' ranking on them are not the problem," and that he could be in the last, 14th place personally, but that the issue at hand was what sort of people would enter parliament through that alliance.

"I do not want obedient people to enter the parliament and secure  Plenkovic another term in government," he said.

He admitted that Bridge had not been the best in selecting personnel and that it had made some mistakes but nevertheless he believes that the party did not entirely go wrong with its people.

Monday, 2 December 2019

MOST: Plenković Responsible for Current Chaos in Country

ZAGREB, December 2, 2019 - Member of parliament Nikola Grmoja of the opposition MOST party said on Monday that the current chaos in the country, caused by the strike of primary and secondary school teachers, was due to the conduct of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who started negotiating with the striking teachers' unions only on Sunday, the 35th day of the strike.

"This is the longest strike ever, it has lasted for 36 days and the chaos in the country is due to Prime Minister Plenković who has removed the education minister from the negotiations, assuming responsibility. The minister is not taking part in the efforts to solve the problem. She is practically not there and she is responsible for the non-implementation of the reform," Grmoja told a news conference.

Grmoja stressed that talks on the job complexity index, which had been crucial for the striking teachers from the beginning, started only on Sunday evening and that the strike could have been ended long ago had the negotiations started earlier.

"That did not happen because of the prime minister's irresponsibility and arrogance and that's why we have a state of emergency which is affecting children, parents and the entire education system," said Grmoja.

Describing the wage system as utterly unfair, Grmoja said the government had consistently delayed regulating that issue because it lacked the courage to do so, recalling that his party has been insisting for three years on changing the current wage system, introducing rewards for competent workers and penalties for those not doing their job, and reducing state administration and abolishing counties.

More MOST news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Parliament Speaker Jandroković Worried about Incidents

ZAGREB, January 19, 2019 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday commented on this week's incident involving Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and MOST MP Nikola Grmoja, saying the prime minister's reaction, no matter how inappropriate, was a reaction to unacceptable accusations of high treason.

"We're not all the same. There's a reaction, there's a trigger, i.e. what the MOST MP said," Jandroković told reporters in Rugvica near Zagreb, inviting them to find out the roots of the commotion in parliament on Wednesday, i.e. who caused the incident by using inappropriate language.

He said Grmoja's accusations of high treason were serious and that he made them because Croatia was not blocking Serbia's European Union accession negotiations. "When you accuse someone of high treason, you have accused them of a serious crime," he said, adding that everyone must be accountable for their actions.

"Political dilettantism, populism and demagoguery in which one is calling for bringing Croatia into an international situation which would harm it, only someone who is politically rather stupid can do that or someone who understands nothing or is very ill-meaning and malicious," Jandroković said.

After a reporter noted that HDZ MPs had also accused the opposition of high treason in the past, he said those were isolated cases, whereas Grmoja did so intentionally. "They are deliberately causing tensions between the Croatian people and the Serb minority. It's planned. They are doing it to score cheap political points," he said, calling it a dirty political game.

Jandroković said Plenković did not try to assault Grmoja but wanted to explain to him that what he had said was unacceptable.

As for five demands which the Zagreb mayor forwarded to the government, he said he had not seen them. "We won't agree to any blackmail. Those who blackmail can't be part of the ruling coalition. If there is any blackmail, we will go to an early election."

Reporters asked Jandroković if there was a connection between a recent assault on a high school student in Vukovar who attends classes in the Serbian language and a press conference by mayor Ivan Penava and the publication of a video of Serb students who did not stand up as the Croatian national anthem was played. He said he could not talk about a connection before the investigation was over.

"I can't tell you what could have produced a certain effect, but I'd also like to ask whether it's OK that someone doesn't stand up during the Croatian anthem. We are talking about children here. They should be protected and children's right to privacy should be respected, but it would also be good to tell everyone in Croatia that they should stand up when the Croatian anthem is played because it's a sign of respect for the Croatian state and the Croatian people."

Jandroković pushed for a balanced approach to serious matters. "This is crossing the line of simple politics. This is encroaching upon fundamental freedoms, fundamental rights. Those freedoms and rights are being threatened and we must be very careful about what we say and how we say it."

More news on the Croatian Parliament can be found in the Politics section.

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.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

(VIDEO) Did Prime Minister Try to Assault Opposition MP?

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - 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.

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.

In his response, Plenković said: "Don't say that. Your look pathetic when you say that the foreign minister is working in the interests of Serbia. You can be creative, but don't be pathetic." The PM said that he would not allow the situation to turn into a spiral of recriminations that could end up in incidents.

After Plenković's response, Grmoja kept on saying that the prime minister was nervous, which caused clamour among lawmakers.

At that point, the parliament speaker said that a 10-minute break would ensue, urging MPs to stop trading insults. "You are making serious accusations against the prime minister, claiming that he works in the interests of another state. That is slander," Jandroković said addressing Grmoja.

During the break Grmoja told the commercial broadcaster N1 that Plenković had attempted to lunge at him, but was prevented by other MPs.

After the break, several MPs again proposed a new break, while Grmoja kept claiming that Plenković had tried to lunge at him during the previous break. "I do not know if he would have hit me but he wanted to come at me in his nervous state," Grmoja said.

Lawmakers Milorad Pupovac and Anka Mrak Taritaš called for an end to emotionally-charged debates in parliament.

The government press office on Wednesday dismissed Grmoja's claims about Plenković and FM Pejčinović Burić working in the interests of Serbia as unacceptable allegations. The government also denied the MOST MP's claim that Plenković wanted to lunge at him but was stopped by other MPs during a break in the parliament session.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković commented on his conflict with Nikola Grmoja. Plenković said that Grmoja's tirade against Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić and him, virtually accusing them of high treason, constituted hate speech and slander.

"If a person tells you in parliament that you have systematically been working in the interests of another country, in this specific case Serbia, then that is unacceptable. This crossed the line of what is normal in the Croatian parliament," the prime minister said.

He said he was going to ask Grmoja to explain who he meant was a traitor, but the MOST MP had left the chamber.

"We have witnessed a lot of insults, defamatory and slanderous statements, especially by several MOST MPs. But when a member of the Croatian parliament accuses the government of working in the interests of another country, of high treason, then we can say that the line of what can be called a political view or opinion has been crossed. That's too much and that's why I told him that his comments were pathetic," the prime minister said.

More news on the MOST party can be found in the Politics section.

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