Wednesday, 29 June 2022

SDP to Collect MP Signatures for Reinstating Abortion Right into Constitution

ZAGREB, 29 June 2022 - Social Democratic Party president Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday the SDP would start collecting MP signatures for a parliamentary debate on reinstating a woman's right to abortion into the Constitution, and that if that failed, it would collect signatures for a referendum.

Speaking at a press conference, he said a woman's right to choose was a fundamental human right which could be protected only by being written into the Constitution.

We will not allow the US scenario, or worse, the Polish scenario, to occur in Croatia, he added.

Grbin said a woman had the right to freely and independently decide about giving birth and that the state's task was to ensure that she can exercise that right.

He said this was not just one political party's issue but a civilisational issue.

According to SDP political secretary Mirela Ahmetović, "marginal fundamentalists are trying to contest women's constitutional right to choose."

"Everyone who sees women as equal members of society will stand with the SDP and women as well as with men who know that women are not secondary," she said.

Grbin would not say if the SDP would make his support for the ruling HDZ's constitutional changes regarding referenda conditional on the abortion initiative, saying he would first talk to the HDZ about that.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Debate on New Law on Settlements Marked by Ideological, Political Differences

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Even though the new law on settlements seems to be of a technical nature, a parliamentary debate on its amendment on Wednesday was marked by ideological and political differences, with SDP MP Arsen Bauk noting that this was the best proof the situation was back to normal. 

"There is no better proof that we are back to normal than the fact that Marshal Tito has been mentioned five times in replies," Bauk said during the debate on the new law that is expected to improve the process of determining the borders of settlements, naming settlements, streets and squares, and house numbering.

Ivan Kirin of the ruling HDZ warned about the Zagreb city administration's plans to restore the name of Marshal Tito Square, wondering why Zagreb needs a square dedicated to Tito and why a debate would not be held on whether Croatia needs so many squares and streets named after Tito.

"Local administration is responsible for street names", Construction Ministry State Secretary Željko Uhlir replied.

MP Davor Dretar boasted that the Homeland Movement had initiated the renaming of Marshal Tito Square in Velika Gorica, which was renamed City of Vukovar Square.

MP: Will someone come up with crazy idea of renaming Yuri Gagarin Walk? 

MP Vesna Nađ of the Social Democrats said that the purpose of renaming Marshal Tito Square in Zagreb had been to "erase from the collective memory a military commander, statesman and politician who in the World War II antifascist struggle made Croatia a member of the victorious side."

She wondered if someone "in a fit of anger at everything that comes from Russia" would come up with the idea to rename Yuri Gagarin Walk in Zagreb.

MP Bauk insisted that the naming of streets and squares should be the right of cities and municipalities and that the government commission for the standardisation of geographic names, envisaged by the new law, could not act as a censor.

"Standardisation can only be possible to determine if a square will be named Josip Broz Square or Marshal Tito Square," Bauk was resolute.

Not denying the right for municipalities and cities to name streets and squares, Anja Šimpraga of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) asked how one could prevent the naming of streets and squares after officials of the Nazi-styled WWII Independent State of Croatia, suggesting that a regulation be defined under which the names would have to be in line with the Historical Foundations of the Croatian Constitution.

Roma MP: No street or square named after a Roma 

Veljko Kajtazi, a Roma member of parliament, said it was sad that even though Roma had lived in Croatia for 700 years, there was almost no street or square bearing the name of a Roma person.

Uhlir said that under the new law, all business premises would be numbered and not just those where a business was headquartered.

"Who will pay for that, will farms also have to be numbered?" asked independent MP Marijana Petir, while Nikola Mažar of the HDZ wanted to know if the new law would bring new obligations for citizens, specifically regarding the change of house numbers.

Uhlir also added that the law did not contain a provision that would force a local government unit to change the existing street names.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Some MPs Say Euro Will Bring Multiple Benefits, Others Say Living Standards Will Fall

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - The government's proposal to introduce the euro as the official currency in Croatia on 1 January 2023 divided MPs on Wednesday, with some seeing multiple benefits and others claiming that it will further lower living standards.

Darko Klasić of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) said entry to the euro area would give Croatia and its economy a huge geostrategic umbrella in turbulent times.

Krešo Beljak of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) said Croatia was "finally" introducing the euro.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of GLAS said entering the euro area was a success for every country and that she hoped the benefit of its introduction would surpass possible setbacks.

Speaking of the benefits, she mentioned the removal of the currency risk, a reduction of borrowing costs, lower transaction costs, export and foreign investment incentive.

"This is the best thing that could have happened to Croatia," said Boris Lalovac of the Social Democratic Party.

Grozdana Perić of the ruling HDZ said Croatia had met all the conditions for introducing the euro, such as stability of prices, the exchange rate and public finances.

Marijan Pavliček of the Sovereignists said living standards "will additionally fall."

He said the prices of goods and services increased considerably during the first year in the countries which introduced the euro, while salaries and pensions did not, and that Croatia would be no exception.

The average pension will be €300 and a pensioner will give 10% of their pension for bread, he added.

Zvonimir Troskot of Bridge said the Croatian economy was not ready for the euro area, that not one serious structural reform was carried out, that Croatia was not absorbing EU funds in a timely fashion, and that it did not protect farmland nor have a flexible economy.

He said entry to the euro area would accelerate emigration.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said the euro served strong economies like Germany and the Netherlands, and warned about the irresponsible conduct of some banks and funds in the euro area.

When Greece was being bailed out, the calculation was that it must not leave the euro area because the owners of the Greek debt were German and French banks, which would not have survived the shock, he added.

For more information on Croatia's adoption of the euro, check out our dedicated business and politics sections.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Lawmakers Discuss Introduction of Euro

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Before the start of a formal debate in the parliament on the government's proposal for the introduction of the euro as the official currency in Croatia, two parliamentary groups expressed their opposition to the proposal.

"Croatia is not ready to enter the euro area. Do not wander into the fog", Marijan Pavliečk of the Croatian Sovereignists  (HS) told Finance Minister Zdravko Marić.

"Conduct structural reforms. Bring some order to public finances and then when we stand on our own feet, let the people decide in a referendum", Pavliček added.

Miroslav Škoro (ZPH) claimed that the Croatian economy is not ready to enter the euro area.

On the other hand, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) Krešo Beljak undoubtedly supports the changeover to the euro.

"That is the last stop on the Euro-Atlantic integration journey and that is something we wanted back in 1990 already and something we will all benefit from regardless", he said.

Beljak added that he hopes that in the meantime the euro exchange rate won't go crazy when the kuna is exchanged for the euro.

Dario Zurovec (Fokus) too appealed to his colleagues to consider the benefits of the euro. "These are times of an unstable market when the price of raw materials and energy are jumping. We need a stable currency and the euro is the second-most stable currency in the world", he underscored and recalled that the Croatians are saving in euro and that the price of real estate and cars are shown in euro.

"This is a natural course," said Zurovec ahead of a first reading of the bill on introducing the euro as legal tender in Croatia.

For more information on Croatia's adoption of the euro, check out our dedicated business and politics sections.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

National Security Committee: Different Opinions on Attack on Government Headquarters

ZAGREB, 2 Feb 2022 - Members of the Croatian Parliament's Home Affairs and National Security Committee on Wednesday failed to agree on whether the attack committed by Danijel Bezuk on government offices in Zagreb in October 2020 was an act of an individual or if certain social and political groups were behind it. 

"Conclusions have been adopted but there will be dissenting opinions, by me and Mišel Jakšić, because we partly did not agree with the position of the ruling party," Committee chair Siniša Hajdaš Dončić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said after the session.

"My impression is that it was an act of an individual," he added when pressed by reporters to state his position.

23-year-old Danijel Bezuk of Kutina opened fire from a machine gun at the government offices in St. Mark's Square on 12 October 2020, wounding a security officer. Prosecutors investigated the case as an act of terrorism and the criminal report was dismissed in July 2021 as shortly after the shooting, the young man committed suicide.

Hajdaš Dončić confirmed that the session discussed right-wing extremism, but also stressed that the case had nothing to do with right-wing political parties.

"I have not seen any political party, not even right-wing political parties active in the parliament, call for an armed rebellion or extremism," he said.

Hajdaš Dončić said that he had called the session of the committee due to the different interpretations by PM Andrej Plenković, the State Attorney's Office, the Ministry of the Interior and the Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) of the terrorist attack on the government offices.

"I wanted it to be cleared up if the institutions generally enjoy PM Plenković's trust since he earlier expressed partial suspicion regarding certain reports," Hajdaš Dončić said.

He added that the key question was if the attacker had acted on his own, or as a member of a social or political network.

Hajdaš Dončić said that the committee also discussed if there was "something more" than posts on social networks over which some people were arrested.

Committee member Željko Sačić (Croatian Sovereignists) said that he had walked out of the session as the first item on the agenda was discussed; the attack on the government offices, because he disagreed with the conclusion proposed by Hajdaš Dončić.

"I was surprised because the discussion went in a different direction and then Hajdaš Dončić proposed a conclusion under which a crazy terrorist act was to be described as an act of right-wing radicalism," said Sačić.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Opposition Agrees Đerek's Allegations are Reason Enough for Government to Fall

ZAGREB, 2 Feb 2022 - Parliamentary opposition parties on Wednesday mostly agreed with President Zoran Milanović's statement that if only half of what whistleblower Maja Đerek had said about the Državne Nekretnine state property management company was true, it was reason enough for the government to fall.

Social Democrat Ivana Posavec Krivec said there was no reason to doubt Đerek's statement and that Parliament should investigate further. 

Bridge's Marija Selak Raspudić said that the government should fall first and foremost because of its failure to rebuild Zagreb and the Banovina region after the earthquakes, and because of its incompetence and irresponsibility which put citizens in a highly unfavourable position.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc said that it was the government's duty to allow for Đerek's allegations to be investigated, rather than allow its minister to argue with the former Državne Nekretnine employee through the media. 

"We want to see if the allegations are true, and if they are, someone should take responsibility, and that for sure is Minister Mario Banožić at least," Benčić said, adding that there were many other reasons for the government to fall.

"To begin with, there is no post-earthquake reconstruction. Then there is the pandemic, in which we have become the worst in the world in terms of the number of deaths per million people. There are corruption scandals cropping up one after another. The only thing worse than economic inflation is inflation of their corruption scandals," Benčić said.

Vesna Vučemilović of the Croatian Sovereignists said, "what is worrying is the fact that not just state officials, but civil servants such as heads of directorates, also use state-owned apartments."

"Calling for the fall of the government is rhetoric appropriate to opposition politicians, but President Milanović is part of the government. His rhetoric is a bit strange and I would prefer him to pay more attention to demographics and other vital issues," Vučemilović added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

MPs Talk Online Classes, Euro Referendum, Serb Rights in Vukovar

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Social Democratic Party MP Sabina Glasovac said on Wednesday the measures against the spread of COVID-19 were inconsistent and illogical, calling out Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for deciding to close schools without explanation.

"We still don't know on what basis the measures are being adopted. Is it based on the number of new infections or those hospitalised? Or those who end up on ventilators? Or based on the number of deaths?" Glasovac said in parliament.

Euro referendum

Hrvoje Zekanović of the Croatian Sovereignists called on MPs to sign today a petition for a referendum on the introduction of the euro.

"It's time we say that we stand by the people, that we are not politicians but activists," he said, adding that the will of the people was more important than protecting the national currency and that "the people must decide on key matters."

Jeckov: Fight against Serbs is the basis of politics in Vukovar

Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party criticized a conclusion of the Vukovar City Council on the need to expand the rights of ethnic Serbs.

She said that every year the conclusion stated that the degree of tolerance between Croats and Serbs "has not progressed and that conditions have not been created for expanding the rights."

"This year, that justification sounds bad, which is that we must wait for the data of the population census to see exactly how many Serbs live in Vukovar," Jeckov added.

As long as the current city administration remains in power, the conditions to expand Serbs' rights will not be met because collective guilt is ascribed also to those born in 1997, 2007, and 2017, she said.

"The fight against Serbs and presenting Serbs as scapegoats are the basis of politics in Vukovar," Jeckov said, adding that Serbs only wanted what they were entitled to under the law and the constitution.

She said the city leaders continue to stigmatize Serbs. "They make the treatment of Serbs a measure of their own patriotism in order to be recognized as the only true patriots because they are always and strictly against anything Serb. Serbs are a threat to all in Vukovar, except during local elections when good and suitable Serbs are put on slates and then those same Serbs vote that there are no conditions to expand Serb rights in Vukovar."

Jeckov said it was not only about Cyrillic signs on public buildings but also proportionate representation and the rights to education and housing. "I am much more worried that the climate was better in 1997," she added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Opposition MP Doesn't Believe There'll Be Anything of Zagreb Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - Member of Parliament Anka Mrak-Taritaš on Tuesday said that it seems there won't be anything of Zagreb's reconstruction following the earthquake that hit the city 17 months ago and that the lack of goodwill for reconstruction is "the greatest shame of Andrej Plenković's government." 

Seventeen months after the earthquake, there is still nothing regarding Zagreb's reconstruction. There is no longer even any meetings between the government and City authorities. Damir Vanđelić, the director of the Fund for Reconstruction and Economy Minister Darko Horvat have even stopped debating in the media about who is more at fault for that," Mrak-Taritaš told a press conference on Tuesday.

As an example of what could have been done in that time, she recalled that the Empire State Building with its 102 floors was built in sixteen months' time, "and without disrupting traffic."

MP Mrak-Tartiaš warned that eight months had passed since money from the EU Solidarity Fund was paid into the government's account and "that Croatia is at risk of being the first member state to not spend that money within the set deadline and that the country might be compelled to repay it to the EU budget, while at the same time the government is using alibis why things are not being done, from the law to the programme of measures and the fund." 

The sole GLAS lawmaker believes that "it is absolutely certain now" that there won't be anything of Zagreb's reconstruction as that "requires the know-how, good management and will, yet there is none of that." She concluded that the fact that there is no will is the Plenković's government's greatest shame and sin of not doing anything."

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


Tuesday, 27 July 2021

GLAS Slams Gov't Proposal to Restrict Sunday Trading

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - The parliamentary opposition GLAS party said on Tuesday that a government proposal to restrict Sunday trading was "harmful populism and hypocrisy" by the ruling HDZ party, noting that the government had not thought about fair remuneration for Sunday work.

"(Economy) Minister (Tomislav) Ćorić of the HDZ and Prime Minister Plenković himself have been insisting lately on banning Sunday trading so strongly that uninformed onlookers might conclude that their government has nothing better to do. And they have been doing so amidst a pandemic and crisis and after two disastrous earthquakes," the party said in a statement.

It noted that the government was not thinking about how to ensure fair remuneration for people who work on Sundays in the retail sector.

"If the government were really interested in solving the problem, it would accept GLAS's proposal for fair pay for Sunday work, instead of turning it down several times," the party said, adding that its MP Anka Mrak Taritaš would again submit a proposal to that effect to the parliament.

"It is also interesting how the HDZ sees the development of Croatia's tourism - shops would be allowed to work 16 Sundays a year, which means that the government restricts in advance the tourist season to that many weeks," GLAS said.

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

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Government Gives Green Light for Adoption of Hrelja Amendment

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - The government said on Wednesday it had authorised its representative in Parliament to give the green light for the adoption of an amendment to the bill amending the Pension Insurance Act, put forward by Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) MP Silvano Hrelja.

In Parliament on Wednesday, the government representative accepted the Hrelja amendment, under which recipients of the lowest pension allowance will be allowed to work up to four hours a day without having their pension reduced.

The aim of the amendment is to encourage people entitled to old-age, early old-age, disability or family pension to return to the labour market after retirement and to improve their financial situation.

The bill will be put to a vote on Thursday, Parliament's last sitting day before the summer recess.

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

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