Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Opposition MPs Criticise Gov't for Not Tackling Energy Supply

ZAGREB, 13 July 2022 - MP Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said on Wednesday the heating season was three months away, yet the government was not taking any action.

She said in parliament that while all of Europe was talking about energy supply in the coming autumn and winter, the Croatian government was avoiding the topic.

At the beginning of the year, the EU decided that all gas storage facilities must be 80% full by 1 November, while Croatia has only one storage which is barely 20% full now, less than at the same time last year, Kekin said, adding that the government has no clue where it will procure gas.

She also accused the government of pursuing a policy that favored Russian interests by awarding the job of leasing additional gas capacity to the PPD company.

MP Anka Mrak Taritaš (GLAS) criticized the prime minister for not giving recommendations on energy saving.

Our behavior will have to change for the sake of energy saving, not just because of Russia but also because of environmental protection and energy transition, she said, calling for taking action now.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Opposition Calls for Withdrawal of Road Traffic Safety Draft Bill

ZAGREB, 8 June 2022 - A few Opposition parliamentary clubs on Wednesday demanded that the draft bill on road traffic safety should be withdrawn from procedure due to the provision envisaging that family doctors should have a decisive say in whether a driver is able to drive or not.

The proposal that it should be general practitioners with an insight into the health state of their patients and the drugs they take, who should inform the police of those data which should be used for a decision to revoke somebody's driving licence, has been met with criticism from both doctors' and patients' associations.

Davor Dretar of the Homeland Movement party's club told the parliament today that the bill was poor and should be withdrawn for further elaboration.

He warns that a sizeable community of war veterans who use certain medicines could be found in a situation where their doctors propose the revokement of their driving licences to law enforcement authorities.

Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) club says that the sponsor of the draft bill ignored the opinions of medical professionals and patients' associations.

"The proposed bill will not help improve road safety, and it can do huge damage to public health", she said.

Marić said that this legislation can also undermine the trust between family doctors and their patients.

Dario Zurovec of the Fokus club said the bill would turn GPs into informers, which clashes with the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality, he said.

Marina Opačak Bilić of the Social Democrats' Club warns that this will only deter patients from going to their family doctors for check-ups.

Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) says that a mere 1% of road accidents are caused by health problems, while the main causes are speeding, driving under the influence, inexperience and disrespect for rules.

Hrvoje Zekanović, an independent MP, however, cites an example of a road accident in which a pedestrian died after being hit by a car driven by a driver who was experiencing an epileptic attack, while that condition had never been reported to the relevant authorities.

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

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Opposition Criticise Mayor for Ineptitude in Leading Zagreb in 1st Year of his Term

ZAGREB, 5 June 2022 - Commenting on the first year of Mayor Tomislav Tomašević's term, Opposition representatives in the city assembly agree that the new mayor and his administration have not showed aptitude in running the capital city and solving the crucial issues.

Gordana Rusak of the Labour and Solidarity Party says in a statement for Hina that she has nothing to assess as the new mayor and administration have not launched any of their projects.

"The city has never been so filthy and neglected. Grass is everywhere, holes are on roads, projects are left on the shelf," she said.

Rusak also criticises the new administration for keeping silent about its plans for the Zagreb waste management centre.

Mislav Herman of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) says that the residents of the city are "exposed to the biggest ever ideological divisions."

He criticises the administration for potentially illegal moves such as lay-offs in the Zagreb Holding utility company and the revocation of the scheme for the stay-at-home parents, while members of managements of city companies are given compensation for using their cars.

Herman says that the City of Zagreb is alive finance-wise only owing to the HDZ government and the grants of interest-free loans, and postponement of the loans' repayment.

He accuses the new city administration of increasing the city's debt by HRK 1.1 billion.

Trpimir Goluža of the Bridge party says that it is concerning how much inapt Tomašević is at his task of managing the city.

He criticises Tomašević over his lack of trust in employees who are not part of his We Can platform.

Goluža comments that the public transportation company provides fewer and fewer services and also it is make impossible for new users to get connected to the water supply network.

Igor Peternel of the Homeland Movement also agrees that the new administration has not showed good managerial skills over the last year. 

He bears a grudge against them over the proposal of the SDP party, a partner in the city's ruling coalition, for renaming the Trg Republike  square (Republic Square) after Josip Broz Tito.

He elaborates that the platform that claims that advocates human rights should not allow the renaming of a square after a dictator.

Peternel commended the new administration for being rather cooperative in addressing the issues concerning the local utility services. 

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Parl. Speaker Says it's not MPs' Job to Call for Somebody's Arrest

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Wednesday that it is not up to MPs to call for somebody's arrest, dismissing criticism from the opposition that the prime minister was pressurising chief state attorney to discourage her from prosecuting ministers suspected of criminal offences.

"Should someone commit a criminal act and that is proven, they will be arrested," Jandroković told Urša Raukar Gamulin of the Green-Left Bloc after she said she hoped State Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek would withstand pressure and make arrests.

She was commenting on Defence Minister Mario Banožić, who she said had defrauded the state of millions of kuna and committed several offences, from abuse of office to influence-peddling.

"Government ministers are falling one after another under the charges of influence- peddling and abuse of office, while the prime minister is making threats and giving instructions to the state attorney general to not prosecute them," she said, stressing that in a civilised EU country this would make the prime minister and the entire government fall.

"The legislature is not the one to decide who will be arrested, you mentioned here people by name and spoke about arrests, that is not the way to do things. You do not have the right to call on state institutions to arrest people, that is not your job," Jandroković said.

Dalija Orešković (Centre/GLAS), too, commented on the Office of the State Attorney General, stressing that in a healthy state, the chief state prosecutor does not listen to political instructions over the phone.

"We do not have a state because we do not have independent institutions," she said.

Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) warned of a speech by an MP who after habitually spreading intolerance towards the Serb Orthodox Church and its members said, "We have reduced the Serbs to a tolerable number."

"The session chairman issued no warning and did not distance himself from that statement," Pupovac said, adding that "the 20th-century reductions of the historical minorities - Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, Italians, Jews, Roma and Serbs - to tolerable numbers has made Croatia neither freer nor safer," the Serb MP said.

Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) criticised Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević for refusing to sponsor the Walk for Life event and refusing to have the organisers' flag displayed on city flagpoles, saying the mayor had privatised the city and marginalised those whose worldviews he did not share.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

State Must Make Abortion Available, Centre-left Opposition Says

ZAGREB, 11 May 2022 - Seven centre-left opposition parliamentary groups on Wednesday supported the Social Democratic Party's medical pregnancy termination bill, saying it is a woman's right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy and that the state must make that service available.

"A woman has the right to reproductive health, quality and available healthcare, information and self-determination, and public healthcare must provide her with everything the law guarantees", Sabina Glasovac of the SDP said, presenting the bill.

"It is a woman's right to plan a family, choose if, when and with whom to start a family or give birth as well as whether she will terminate a pregnancy", she added.

The state must ensure legal, safe and quality medical pregnancy termination per request, and a woman should be provided with all the necessary, accurate and scientifically-based information, according to the bill.

It says that all authorised public hospitals must ensure, without delay, questioning or obstruction, pregnancy termination at a woman's request until the end of the 12th week of gestation, and in specific legal situations after that.

The costs of pregnancy termination should be covered by the state and hospitals must ensure a sufficient number of doctors who do not refuse to perform the procedure, or be fined up to HRK 500,000.

Ivana Posavec Krivec of the Social Democrats called on the government and the ruling majority to endorse the bill and prevent the further erosion of women's rights.

The 1978 abortion law which is in force is the minimum civilisational achievement which should be amended due to developments in science, medicine and WHO guidelines, she added.

Urša Raukar Gamulin of the Green-Left Bloc said it was necessary to respect the law, the Constitution and the Constitutional Court, which decided in 2017 that a new abortion law must be passed in two years' time.

"We will fight for abortion in Croatia to be safe, legal, available, free and painless. We acknowledge conscientious objection, but every hospital's management has the duty to ensure abortion regardless of conscientious objection", she added.

"We don't advocate abortion but a woman's right to decide about her body and respect the law", said Krešo Beljak of the Croatian Peasant Party, adding that doctors who invoke conscientious objection are hypocrites because they don't invoke it in private hospitals.

"We live in a secular state and will fight with every political means for Croatia not to fall into the hands of ultra-conservatives, quasi-believers and liars who, for personal gain, are trying to return Croatia to the Middle Ages", said Beljak.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of GLAS said this was a civilisational, not a world-view issue because deciding on abortion is the exclusive right of a woman and her family.

Dalija Orešković of the Centre party said it was unacceptable that any authorities would refuse to execute a Constitutional Court decision. It's a negation of the state and the rule of law, it's the (ruling) HDZ's violence against institutions, she added.

We know the HDZ won't support this bill, so our primary battle is not to allow the HDZ to negate the rights that exist in the law. No woman in Croatia must ever again feel humiliated and shamed when deciding on her legal rights, which don't exist in practice because Croatia is run by parallel interest groups, including the Church, said Orešković.

Katarina Nemet of the Istrian Democratic Party said they would support the bill as acquired human and civil rights, notably women's right to choose, should be viewed as a civilisational minimum.

For more, check out our politics and lifestyle sections.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Opposition Mps: Abortion Should Be Available In All Hospitals

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - Female lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Social Democrats, Green-Left Boc, Centre, GLAS, Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) and Workers' Front announced on Thursday they would once again send a motion to Parliament for abortion to be made available in all hospitals in Croatia.

"The case where a child was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in the 26th week of pregnancy and could die, and if it doesn't, it will live like a vegetable has shaken us all but unfortunately, this is just the consequence of a problem that Croatia has been faced with for years," MP Sabina Glasovac (SDP) said at a joint press conference.

Glasovac said that the law treats Croatian women as "second-rate" recalling that the Constitutional Court had clearly said already in 2017 that the present law, dating from 1978, should be updated and made implementable. The government has done nothing in that regard "because of fear of losing part of its electorate and in that way, it is sacrificing the health and lives of women."

Glasovac said that the opposition did not just watch from the sidelines but reacted in 2020 by  submitting a bill. However, the government did not react to it.

She announced that the opposition would once again submit its bill into the procedure and collect signatures from MPs to 'push' it onto the Sabor's agenda prior to the summer recess.

"We will seek that every health institution regardless of conscientious objection ensures a sufficient number of doctors who will provide this medical service to terminate a pregnancy without seeking the reason for it, for it to be ensured and legally implementable," Glasovac announced.

Katica Glamuzina (Social Democrats) said that they are inviting Health Minister Beroš to come to the Sabor and explain why the law has not been adopted in the past three years, why the conscientious objection is not regulated by any act and why patients are referred to Slovenia to pay €1,000 for something they should have for free in their own country.

Raukar Gamulin (ZLB): System has left the desperate pregnant woman on her own

Urša Raukar Gamulin (Green-Left Bloc) said that the incomprehensible tragedy of a pregnant woman was not enough and that the system has left her to be completely on her own.

"The thing that happened to that pregnant woman is a tragedy of the system and has shown that there is no 'health system' to protect women. The system is obliged to ensure an abortion for every woman regardless of conscientious objection because what is happening now is inhumane and has no regard for that woman. We do not know how many women have been referred to Slovenia to solve their problem, but as she said, she is a citizen of Croatia and wants to solve her problem in Croatia," Raukar Gamulin said.

Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) warned  that the vested right, support from the science community, and support from the legislature for women ensuring their health and right to manage their own bodies "did not last long."

"We will fight with all our means to raise that issue to a higher level, to put it in the public sphere, because only the fight by both men and women can restore this right that was once won," she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Opposition MP Pushes For Ensuring Access To Abortion In All Hospitals

ZAGREB, 7 April 2022 - The head of the GLAS party and its sole parliamentary deputy, Anka Mrak Taritaš, said on Thursday that she would launch a parliamentary procedure to oblige the government to ensure access to termination of pregnancy services in all the hospitals in Croatia.

Mrak Taritaš told a news conference that the legal regulations enabling right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care were "rather fluid" and could be broadly interpreted, which was why the application of the right to conscientious objection became the main obstacle to the access to abortion in healthcare institutions.

Mrak-Taritaš presented data collected by the Platform for Reproductive Justice NGO showing that in 2020, out of 29 public healthcare institutions that had licences for abortion, eight did not provide services of termination of pregnancy due to the right to conscientious objection.

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Green-Left MP says Entire Government Should go, no to Reshuffle

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Green-Left Bloc parliamentary deputy Sandra Benčić said on Wednesday that her group was against a government reshuffle, and that the entire government should step down due to possible affairs that could compromise new government members, an allusion to Construction Minister Ivan Paladina.

"Construction Minister Ivan Paladina was appointed a month ago, and affairs regarding his ties with (the construction company) IGH have just begun to be discovered, his ties to Hidroelektra (construction company) are likely to be reported about as well," Benčić said in the parliament.

"We are yet to learn how he acquired the real estate he owns, and why someone with so many properties takes a loan to invest into who knows what", Benčić said, adding that she believed new discoveries were pending.

Benčić went on to say that there were allegations about criminal reports against Paladina.

"We do not know if they have been dismissed or not, but I find it unbelievable that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has appointed him minister despite the fact that there are certain problems of which we have all been aware," she said.

In his declaration of assets Paladina declared buildings, hectares of land, savings deposits, and monthly loan installment payments in the amount of more than HRK 51,000, with his wife working in his firm for a salary of HRK 4,000.

"That says everything about our tax system. In our tax reform proposal we insist that the state should actually not care about which part of a taxpayer's income comes from work, and which from property or capital but how much the taxpayer earns in total, with the total amount being the criterion for putting taxpayers into specific tax groups, according to which they pay their taxes and contributions," Benčić said.

The MP noted that workers constituted the backbone of the country's health and pension systems while others, whose income comes from property and capital, have the possibility of paying themselves the minimum wage, which enables them to pay minimum taxes and contributions to the state while earning millions from capital and property, for which they pay a 10% tax.

"This country has been refusing to build a fair system for 30 years", she said, adding that the way Finance Minister Zdravko Marić tried to rectify it was completely wrong.

"Our tax system is utterly unfair because it favours the rich while the entire system of public services, also used by the rich, depends on those who earn the least", she said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Opposition Says Croatian Problems Mustn't be Ignored Due to War in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - Party groups in parliament on Wednesday unanimously condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine, but part of them warned that Croatia's internal affairs must not be neglected because of the war in Ukraine.

Russia's attack on Ukraine is not an argument against the government's fall but an argument in favour of the government's fall, the war cannot be used as a fig leaf to cover up crime, said Nino Raspudić (Bridge), recalling the problems the government has with former minister Darko Horvat and incumbent minister Josip Aladrović.

PM called on to replace ministers the public no longer has confidence in

"In such a dangerous geopolitical situation, having the top of government riddled with crime and corruption is a security threat for Croatia, such people can be blackmailed, and that's why this government has to leave," said Raspudić.

Dalija Orešković (Centre) thinks similarly and she pointed out this was an opportunity to realise how much internal mechanisms of control are important for democracy and peace.

"While the world wonders if there's anyone in the Kremlin who can stop Putin, we must ask ourselves if Croatia today is what we wanted it to be if the HDZ's rule is unquestionable regardless of the amount of corruption," she said, calling on the prime minister to replace the ministers the public no longer had confidence in.

"We don't know what awaits us and it's important that we have a stable government, and many things don't point to such a conclusion," said Stephen Nikola Bartulica of the Homeland Movement.

He said Croatia couldn't afford a government in the shadow of corruption scandals, stressing that the prime minister had a great responsibility to make decisive moves.

Krešo Beljak (HSS) underscored that Croatia had to protect its own interests in the crisis, suggesting that leaders of Western Balkan countries sit down and talk about defusing tensions so that the conflict doesn't expand.

Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) said Croatia had to be ready to receive Ukrainian refugees, work hard to increase the capacities of strategic commodity stocks and raise military readiness.

"The Croatian army must be on the eastern borders of the country," said Pavliček, adding that after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić did not join the EU in condemning Russia, the Danube would be the border between the east and the west, and stability and instability.

Groups of the parliamentary majority gave their full support to the government measures to help Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

The government reacted quickly, a few hours after the aggression, noted Branko Bačić (HDZ), pleased that the Croatian Postal Bank (HPB) was taking over Sberbank.

Bačić: Passivity in current situation would be immoral

In response to warnings that the sanctions against Russia, in which Croatia is also involved, would affect the Croatian economy, Bačić asked -- what's the alternative?

"Passivity is a situation like this would be immoral, it is important that Croatia sided with justice and freedom", he said, calling on Putin and Russia to stop the aggression and start peace talks.

In a debate on the prime minister's report on the situation in Ukraine, MPs also warned about the possible repercussions of the war for Croatia's neighbourhood.

Our interest, as an EU member, is to engage intensively with the neighbourhood, said Milorad Pupovac (SDSS), noting that the area of former Yugoslavia that is not integrated into the EU, as well as Albania, should be of special interest.

Veljko Kajtazi (Roma minority) hopes that everything happening with Ukraine will be an incentive to the EU to grant it the status of a membership candidate.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Government's Agriculture Strategy Inapplicable To Croatia, Opposition Claims

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - The government's agriculture strategy up to 2030 resulted in a heated polemic in the Sabor on Thursday even prior to the official debate, with the opposition saying that it did not contain anything specific to Croatia and as such was inapplicable, yet the ruling HDZ commended the document.

The opposition called out the government for the agriculture policy, accusing it of not fulfilling the promises it made.

There was a list of your promises and what you would change, but what have you done? Božo Petrov (Bridge) asked, wanting to know what made the strategy specific to Croatia and adding that the government could well have given it to Zimbabwe.

The strategy is inapplicable to Croatian circumstances, Martina Vlašić Iljkić (Social Democratic Party) said.

Independent MP Marijana Petir in the HDZ group said that the strategy is an umbrella document that has been in waiting for 20 years.

The plan is to increase agricultural production to HRK 30 billion a year by 2030, productivity by 60%, and to provide stronger support to young farmers, to increase the number of pigs and cattle domestically bred, build 20 fruit and vegetable distribution centres, Petir went on to say.

Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) was interested to know how agricultural production could be increased from HRK 19 to 30 billion, adding that during Socialism, Croatia produced twice as much food as now.

Marijan Pavliček (Sovereiignists) noted that in the past 20 years Croatia's agriculture sector has been completely devastated and that the strategy is just another dead letter.

Ružica Vukovac (PZH) criticised the document, saying that it does not specify how to renew the cattle fund, nor is there any mention of how to limit subsidies or to regulate the market.

The document doesn't take into account Croatia's variety, from Istria via Dalmatia to Slavonia, MP Emil Daus (Istrian Democratic Party) said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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