Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic Announces Big Rijeka Road Investment

December the 21st, 2022 - An important Rijeka road investment has recently been announced by Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic, who stated his belief that properly positioning this Northern Adriatic city as strategically important port is paramount.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, said this week that it is very important to position the City of Rijeka as a port with an exceptional geostrategic position and provide it with as much cargo as possible, saying that "Croatia had indeed managed to catch that particular train" and that large investments are now underway. One Rijeka road investment in particular stands out.

Minister Oleg Butkovic participated in a conference called "The Transformation of Rijeka/Transformacija Rijeke", organised by the Rijeka-based publication Novi list, which discussed infrastructure projects taking place in the wider Rijeka area, the position of Rijeka as an important transport hub and as one of the key European transit ports important for the development of trade, transport and economy.

In 2023, the D403, one of the most expensive roads in the history of the Republic of Croatia as an independent nation, will be completed and the conditions will be met for the terminal on the Zagreb coast, which is crucial for increasing cargo and all economic activities, to be operational at the beginning of 2024. This Rijeka road investment will be key in the further and firmer placing of Rijeka on the cargo map of Europe and the world.

The construction of the ACI marina in Porto Baros should begin next year, which will have an impressive 500 berths, and the opening of a new hospital is also expected, Butkovic emphasised.

He also said that there are other big projects ahead for the Rijeka area, for example; the railway, and that investments will be made in the railway in the coming years. He also noted, among other things, that the project of the lowland railway and the project of construction of the second track, as well as the modernisation and renovation of the Skrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani railway.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Friday, 21 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Gas, Energy Drinks, Hospitals and Milanovic

October the 21st, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics saw everything from hopes of energy drink bans, the Russian media writing about Milanovic and former government ministers getting new jobs to gas prices, wage proposals and hospital construction plans.

MEP Biljana Borzan (SDP) thinks the Health Ministry and the Croatian Government should ban the sale of potentially dangerous energy drinks to minors

How many kids need to suffer the health consequences of consuming energy drinks before the government steps in and does something about it? Borzan asks, referencing the horrific case in which a twelve year old suffered a stroke.

"I've been warning people about this problem for years, I've submitted a proposal two times for a legal ban through Croatian parliament, but the Minister of Health and the government don't even care about it," said Borzan, recalling another energy-drink related death, this time of a thirteen year-old in Zagreb.

"I ask them, how many more children need to be harmed for you to do something about this? Whose interests are you defending with this carelessness and inaction?" asked Borzan. The MEP also pointed out that research shows that children and young people are increasingly drinking energy drinks, which are harmful to them in many ways, and a large number of children claim that they drink them because they need energy, which is of enormous concern.

On top of that, the very adult trend of mixing energy drinks with alcoholic beverages is also beginning to make an appearance among younger generations. Borzan believes the fact that energy drinks are even being consumed by kids should result in a ban on selling them to minors, but given the fact that kids are also mixing them with alcohol, nobody should be in two minds about the next move.

Koncar speaks out about employing controversial former government minister Darko Horvat, saying everything was strictly above board

Koncar rather surprisingly announced the employment of the former Minister of Spatial Planning, Construction and State Property, Darko Horvat, recently. Just keep in mind that Darko Horvat had to step down from his position as a minister within Plenkovic's government because of alleged corruption.

Koncar has stressed that despite the fact that they have employed a minister who had to step down, everything was done correctly and Horvat was selected for the position thanks to his qualifications as a graduate electrical engineer.

"Owing to the recent retirement of an engineer who strategically participated in technical and commercial work related to the field of electricity distribution, a job opening was announced as we were seeking an electrical engineer with significant operational experience in that area. Mr. Horvat was selected as a graduate electrical engineer with extensive experience in the field of electricity distribution, including experience in the field of business at both the Croatian and international level.

During the initial media announcements, incorrect information was circulating claiming that Darko Horvat was set to hold the position of adviser to Koncar's Management Board. In reality, his field of activity will be focused exclusively on the field of electrical distribution, Koncar stated.

After his resignation, Horvat activated what's known as the 6+6 option.

On February the 19th, when he was first arrested, Darko Horvat resigned from his position and activated the 6+6 option, which legally prevents him from being appointed to management positions within companies with which his former ministry or government cooperated. It isn't actually prohibited under the law for him to receive a fee for providing consulting services to or within a company in which the state has a three percent ownership. Koncar is 80 percent owned by Croatia's pension funds, the head of which is HDZ member Gordan Kolak.

Economy Minister Davor Filipovic has stated that there will be no shortage of gas for the Croatian market this winter, despite talks of the opposite being the case

It seems like all we're talking about recently is the spiralling price of gas and energy, and while the Croatian Government recently came to the decision that INA would sell all the gas produced here in Croatia to HEP, it turned out that this was simply not possible. INA has seven contracts that cannot be terminated. Minister Davor Filipovic commented on the situation.

''There's going to be enough gas, and that Croatian gas is going to be provided to all hospitals, schools, kindergartens and all institutions at a price of 41 euros. The government made a decision recently that is heading in that direction,'' said the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Davor Filipovic, adding that the most important thing is that Croatian gas goes solely to Croatian institutions.

"It's known that we ordered INA to increase gas production by 10 percent. As for the change in the regulation, for seven customers there are fixed contracts that cannot be terminated unilaterally, to unilaterally terminate would be more harm than good and termination would mean those customers launching lawsuits against INA, and then INA would sue us. That's why we made that exception, and as soon as those contracts are finished, INA will be obliged to transfer all of the rest of that gas to HEP," explained Filipovic.

He noted that distributors who have experienced losses will be able to buy their gas from HEP, adding that both INA and MOL have taken a huge hit to their reputations owing to the recently exposed affair.

The Croatian Government offered teachers higher wages, but the Croatian Teachers' Union rejected their proposal for the second time

The Grand Council of the Croatian Teachers' Union unanimously rejected the Croatian Government's latest offer on wage increases which came to light on October the 18th. The new offer was deemed unacceptable because it wasn't even aimed at securing a greater increase in the base rate compared to their previous offer, but only at a different dynamic of the payment of the previously proposed increase in the base rate, the Croatian Teachers' Union announced when explaining the reasons behind their rejection.

"Increasing the amount we get for Christmas bonuses, holiday allowance and other such things can't compensate for the growth of the base rate or solve the issue of the salary lag either this year or next year. Therefore, the new offer was rejected,'' they stated.

The government initially offered the unions an increase in the salary base rate by four percent from October the 1st and two percent from April the 1st next year, but the unions refused to accept it. At the second meeting, they received a new offer, which was also binned.

Public service unions have been asking for an 8 percent increase in the base starting on October the 1st this year and another 5 percent starting on January the 1st, 2023.

Russian media discuss Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, claiming he has "admitted that NATO is partaking in the war in Ukraine" in his rejection of the idea of Croatia training Ukrainian soldiers

Recently, Milanovic stated that he isn't familiar with the idea of ​​European foreign ministers to train 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers here in Europe, but that upon hearing of it, he "doesn't support it".

"I don't support that idea because I don't support involving Croatia in this war more than it should be. It's bringing the war to Croatia. We stand in solidarity [with Ukraine] and that's as far as it should go," he said.

The Russian media were of course quick to twist Milanovic's statement and beliefs and have written extensively about how Croatian President Zoran Milanovic apparently ''opposes the training of militants". The Russian state news agency, TASS, reported his statements, and the RIA Novosti agency added that Milanovic had previously "emphasised that Russia and Croatia have become enemy states and had expressed concern about this fact." Russian Interfax writes that, according to the media, the Croatian Government had offered EU training for Ukrainian soldiers.

Regnum writes that Milanovic opposes the "training of Kyiv militants in Croatia" and that he doesn't support "any excessive interference in conflicts on the territory of the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine." Regnum also claimed that former Croatian football player and national team member Tomislav Dujmovic said around one week ago that Milanovic was ''on Russia's side'' and that he is ''observing the Russian-Ukrainian conflict more objectively than Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is''.

Milanovic opposed the training of Ukrainian soldiers, but also the sending of weapons to Ukraine because of the danger that the Croatian Army itself would run out of weapons, MKRU writes. Milanovic would agree to send weapons to Ukraine if Croatia is compensated, they added, before the Iz.ru made the strange statement that ''Milanovic has confirmed that NATO is participating in this conflict.''

Milanovic's statements were also reported by Kommersant, which focused instead on the statement that the training of Ukrainian soldiers would represent Croatia's interference in the war in Ukraine. Ruska Gazeta wrote that, in addition to Zoran Milanovic, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto also rejected the idea of Europe training Ukrainian fighters.

Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic claims that "Croatia is much more successful in comparison to some other EU member states''

On a recent episode of the radio show ''And now for the government/A sada Vlada", the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic said that the Croatian Government has successfully dealt with some major challenges over the last six years, adding that they expect the growth of the Croatian economy in 2023, as in the last year, to be higher than the EU average.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic submitted the annual report on his government's work to the Parliament, which outlined economic growth of around 6 percent and the continuation of aid measures towards both people and companies throughout these challenging and in some cases truly unprecedented times.

"A very challenging year is now behind us, last year we achieved the third highest growth in the entire European Union and due to growth of 10.2 percent, we brought two packages into force with a total value of 26 billion kuna. In order get through this energy crisis as best as possible, the government also undertook a lot. Peljesac Bridge was finally completed and put into function, and on January the 1st, 2023, we'll finally enter the Eurozone and Schengen," Oleg Butkovic said during his time on the aforementioned radio programme.

He added that these are major developments, noting that they have at their disposal a package of 25 billion euros from the National Resilience Programme and a new financial envelope.

"We're ensuring not only reforms but the continuation of investments, and this opens up possibilities for this country's economic growth to be above the EU average in 2023 as well. The situation is good," stated the minister.

"Compared to other EU countries, Croatia has been much more successful," he believes.

The topic of the construction of the Blato hospital has reared its head once again, with the Health Ministry claiming that works will begin in two years

The construction of the National Children's Hospital in Blato (Zagreb) should begin in 2024, and in the coming weeks the call for tenders for the preparation of the conceptual design will begin, the Ministry of Health announced, emphasising that it will be the first hospital in the City of Zagreb to be located south of the Sava River.

This greenfield project worth around 300 million euros will be financed from the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience and other forms of European Union (EU) funding. The new children's hospital will span an area of ​​100,000 square metres in total, and construction is planned in two phases. About 50 thousand square metres of gross area will be built in each phase.

As far as land agreements with the City of Zagreb go, in the implementation of this strategic project, the Ministry of Health and the City of Zagreb are continuously holding working meetings in order to realise the transfer of city land in Blato through partnership cooperation, with the condition of the final and complete construction of the hospital. At the last working meeting in the Ministry of Health with the City of Zagreb, property and legal issues that need to be resolved were discussed.

Given that this will be the very first Zagreb hospital to be situated south of the Sava, he realisation of the Blato hospital project represents a significant contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as all of its energy would come from renewable sources. It will also represent a big step forward in the territorial availability of healthcare services not only for the residents of the Croatian capital but also for everyone coming to Zagreb for treatment, especially from the south of the country.

''Although it seems that the road to the new Blato hospital will be a very long one, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that the idea and desire to embark on this demanding project took even longer. Despite the two-year battle with the global coronavirus pandemic and all of the other challenges that have since come to pass, the government and the Ministry of Health are taking the proper steps in order to successfully realise this strategic project for the healthcare system, which will provide the highest quality healthcare for children in Zagreb and all of Croatia,'' the Ministry of Health stated.

 

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section and our Week in Croatian politics articles which will be published every Friday.

Friday, 15 July 2022

Butković Wins Vote of Confidence to Become Deputy PM

ZAGREB, 15 July 2022 - The Croatian Parliament voted confidence in the Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, to take up the office of Deputy Prime Minister, previously held by Finance Minister Zdravko Marić who had resigned at his own request.

The longest-serving minister in the present government received votes from 79 lawmakers, 49 voted against and one abstained from the vote.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković wished Butković success in his new office.

Butković thus become one of the four deputy prime ministers, alongside Tomo Medved, Davor Božinović and Anja Šimpraga. He will take charge of the government's coordinating body for the economy.

Butković announced earlier that the government would increase large-scale investment in infrastructure and continue to ease the tax burden.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Butković More Than Competent To Take On Deputy PM's Role, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 14 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković had been in the government the longest and that he was more than competent to assume the role of a deputy prime minister.

Presenting Butković at the parliamentary Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System Committee as a candidate for deputy prime minister, Plenković said he had extensive political experience, knew well how the government worked and would need no major adjustment.

Butković is a vice president of the HDZ party, the president of its Primorje-Gorski Kotar branch and runs a ministry in charge of big investment and infrastructure projects, with the upcoming inauguration of Pelješac Bridge as the crowning achievement, Plenković said.

He added that last night, after this week's decision on Croatia's accession to the euro area, Fitch increased Croatia's credit rating and that other agencies announced they would, too.

With his experience and the government's economic team, Butković will contribute to finding solutions, notably in the context of the energy and food crisis and inflationary pressures, Plenković said.

 

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Minister: Final Works Going On as Planned, Pelješac Bridge to Open on 26 July

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - All is going as planned concerning Pelješac Bridge and access roads, and the inauguration of the bridge is expected on 26 July, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Friday.

"All is going on well," said Butković after a meeting of the coordinating team in charge of the "the Road Connectivity of South Dalmatia" project.

He admitted that the current spell of the heatwave is making work more difficult.

Nevertheless, the operating permit is due to be issued on 18 July, he said, without revealing the details of the programme for the inauguration ceremony on 26 July.

or more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Croatia's Part of Vc Corridor to be Completed in 2024, Minister Says

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - The Pan-European transport corridor Vc's section to Beli Manastir will be opened in late October and Croatia's 88-kilometer-long part of the corridor will be completed in 2024, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said in Osijek on Monday.

After visiting the construction site, he said works were proceeding very well and that after the inauguration of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section, the HAC motorway operator would invite bids for the remaining five kilometers to the Hungarian border, a section estimated at HRK 300 million.

The total investment, including the bypass near Beli Manastir, is HRK 570 million, the minister said.

This transport corridor has big prospects as it will connect Budapest and the southernmost Croatian seaport of Ploče, he said, adding that works on the corridor in Bosnia and Herzegovina are expected to intensify.

HAC director Boris Huzjan said more than 90% of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section had been completed.

The 17.5-kilometer section is worth HRK 495 million, he said, adding that 59 kilometers of the Croatian part of Vc are currently in use and that 83 will be in use after the completion of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section.

Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić said Vc had a big impact on the City of Osijek and the county as well as on other Slavonia counties. This international route will facilitate the flow of people and goods between Budapest and Ploče, he added.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic: 2 Million More Cars on Roads Than 2019

June the 26th, 2022 - Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic has announced that there are two million more cars on Croatia's roads than there were back in the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019.

Two years spent being dominated by the global coronavirus pandemic saw Croatia's roads not entirely emptied of foreign cars but the number of them was greatly slashed. It seems that 2022's summer tourist season is set to be even better than 2019's record season, with the pandemic now firmly in the rear view mirror of the vast majority and people up, about and travelling once again.

The cost of fuel may well have shot up to realms unknown as a result of ongoing inflation primarily caused by the war in Ukraine following Russian invasion back in February this year, but that doesn't appear to be making that much of a dint in the pockets of foreigners entering the country by car and using the excellently constructed Croatian motorways to travel down to various Adriatic destinations. 

Cars with caravans, jet skis, boats and all sorts of other vehicles attached to them from countries all over Europe can be seen hitting the road, providing a very refreshing sight to the eyes of all tourism workers across the country following two very anxiety inducing, stagnant years in which an invisible enemy made all of the decisions. 

As Morski writes, Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic reported on Friday that by last Sunday, two million more vehicles had passed through and driven along Croatian motorways than the record tourist year of 2019.

Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic told reporters in Baska on the island of Krk that compared to the same period back in 2019, this year, as much as eight percent more revenue was generated on the country's motorways, estimating that this season could be better than that of the amazing summer of 2019.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Omiš Bypass Project One of Croatia's Highest Priorities

April 8, 2022 - Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butković spoke for HRT about major transport infrastructure projects in Croatia that are underway and plans for the future. He especially commented on the Pelješac Bridge and the Omiš bypass.

"We do not have the exact date of the Pelješac Bridge opening yet, but everything is going well. The bridge is finished, and we are now concentrating on the access roads. As for the bridge itself, the procedure is more about documentation, and access roads are being worked on in a hurry. We expect the opening of the Pelješac Bridge and part of the access roads in mid-July. This year we will witness a massive event. It is a large infrastructure project, the most important because it is about merging the state territory," said Butković.

"I must be satisfied because despite COVID-19 and all the recent events, major infrastructure projects, including the Pelješac Bridge, were built at a good pace, so there were no delays," he said.

The opening of part of the access roads will cover a little more than 12 km, but the completion includes the Ston bypass and the Ston bridge, which should be completed by the end of this year. However, Butković added that there were some delays in that part due to unforeseen circumstances.

"By the end of the year, we will connect southern Dalmatia, which includes the Pelješac Bridge, 30 km of access roads with the Ston Bridge, and a large project, which is impressive with a 500 m across Ston Bay."

A specific opening date for the bridge with part of the access roads will be known in May, and the opening will be sometime in July.

"The Omiš bypass project is also being done. Last year we broke through the Komorjak tunnel; now, the bridge over the Cetina is slowly springing up. I toured it about ten days ago, the view from the bridge is really impressive. It is one of the most impressive projects, and it is complex because there are big bridges and tunnels. The Omiš Bypass project will be completed in a year and a half at this stage, but we must solve the entire multimodal platform," said the Minister of Transport.

Butković pointed out that the biggest traffic problems are in that part of Croatia. The 50,000 vehicles a day on the existing old D8 highway from Split to Omiš in the summer and through Omiš is simply unsustainable, he says. 

"I would say that the construction of the Omiš bypass is one of the highest priorities in Croatia today. The completion of its construction will be financed in the next financial perspective. We have confirmed from the European Commission that the entire multimodal platform from Solin, Split to Omiš will be financed with European funds. Croatian Roads is also preparing the project's next phases," he said.

He added that the Ministry would announce a tender for the section from Omiš to Dugi Rat by the end of this year.

"We recently visited the Omiš port, one of the largest port infrastructure projects in Croatia today. It is about 90 million kuna; the road is being relocated, the new port will improve and make life easier for people in that part," he said.

"According to all the announcements, the season should be good for our Jadrolinija liner, but recent events are likely to have consequences for tourism. According to Jadrolinija, we had certain interventions at the end of 2021 since they did not have any help from the state during the entire period of the pandemic.

Jadrolinija is stable; they should start purchasing new ships this year. The plan is to build three new "Postira" because the famous "Postira" is over 50 years old, but it sails. I can't talk about procedures and tenders, but modernizing is crucial for Jadrolinija," said Butković when asked about plans for Jadrolinija.

He pointed out that procuring new ships is also a priority of Jadrolinija.

"Without new ships, we will have a problem in a few years when tenders are announced because there is always a danger that someone who has more modern ships will take over the line. Therefore, the process to modernize and buy new ships must go faster," the Minister of Transport concluded. 

For more, check out our lifestyle section

Thursday, 24 March 2022

€24m Omiš Bypass To Be Finished By End Of 2025

ZAGREB, 24 March 2022 - Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković visited construction sites in Omiš on Thursday including the Omiš bypass and connection to Cetina Bridge as well as works to the town's port, announcing that the bypass Omiš-Split road should be completed by the end of 2025.

Butković underscored that the Omiš bypass is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Split-Dalmatia County and is valued at HRK 180 million.

The access road to the bridge should be completed by the end of this year and next spring a section of 3.5 kilometres should be completed, he added.

A multimodal platform that is in that section is being financed from the next EU perspective. Butković announced that a call for tenders would be advertised by the end of this year for the road to Dugi Rat.

The Omiš bypass included two tunnels and a bridge across the Cetina River, the minister explained and added that the Komorjak tunnel is more than 600 metres long and the Omiš tunnel is just over 500 metres while the bridge is 216 metres long.

 

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Croatian Maritime Affairs Ministry Presents INTESA Project

March the 4th, 2022 - The Croatian Maritime Affairs Ministry (Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure) has presented its INTESA project, an innovative system which will work to improve maritime transport efficiency and overall safety in the Adriatic Sea.

As Morski writes, organised by the Croatian Maritime Affairs Ministry, an online meeting was held on March the 2nd, 2022, at which the activities of the aforementioned ministry within the INTESA project - Improving Maritime Transport Efficiency and Safety in the Adriatic were presented to stakeholders, who were primarily from the wider Split area.

Among other things, the pilot activities of upgrading the Croatian unified interface for maritime formalities was emphasised, which enabled two-way exchange of information with port IT systems, with special focus on the national port information system - nPCS.

A description of future actions was also presented within the scope of this praiseworthy project, with a view to facilitating the exchange and distribution of MSI maritime security information, while the activities of other Croatian and Italian project partners were briefly presented.

The INTESA project, with a total value of 2,896,480.00 euros, of which 85 percent is being co-financed by the European Union (EU), will establish a network between the national maritime administrations of the Republic of Croatia and neighbouring Italy and the most important port authorities in the Adriatic Sea as a whole. The aim of the project is to harmonise and optimise the procedures of the entire maritime transport process, for the purpose of a much more efficient and safer port and maritime transport system.

The project itself began on January the 1st, 2019, and will end on June the 30th, 2022, and in that period, the Croatian Maritime Affairs Ministry has had 265,020.00 euros at its disposal, of which 39,753.00 euros are from the Croatian state budget.

In addition to the employees of the Croatian Maritime Affairs Ministry, the meeting was attended by representatives of the State Hydrometeorological Institute, the Croatian Hydrographic Institute, the Maritime Faculty in Split, the Plovput company and the Port Authorities of both Split and Ploce in central and southern Dalmatia.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

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