Sunday, 4 July 2021

Grbin: Change in Varaždin Sets Course SDP Will Stand for in Croatia

ZAGREB, 4 July, 2021 - Social Democratic Party president Peđa Grbin said in Varaždin on Sunday the changes the SDP was effecting in the city after winning local elections would set the course which the party would stand for in Croatia.

The chair of the SDP's Varaždin County branch, Barbara Antolić Vupora, told the press that new Mayor Neven Bosilj and his deputy Miroslav Marković were fighting "a corrupt, clientelist octopus," offering a management model in the service of citizens.

"Very concrete things have been done," Grbin said, adding that the number of people on supervisory boards and their fees had been reduced, "thus ensuring savings that will raise the quality of running the city for all."

He said Varaždin would launch the most important project for citizens in September, budget transparency. "Then the clientelist-corruption octopus that ruled Varaždin for years will not be possible ever again."

Speaking of those ousted from the party, Grbin said that those who had worked against SDP interests and those who had not been involved in local elections campaigns could not come back.

This is no score-settling with anyone, including former president Davor Bernardić.

Asked about the national COVID-19 crisis management team's latest decisions on restrictions for unvaccinated people and job-keeping payments, Grbin called them "insufficiently conceived."

He said the government's project to have 55% of the population vaccinated by 1 July "failed because the vaccination campaign doesn't work adequately," and that people were not clear on the benefits of vaccination and the consequences of non-vaccination.

"Instead of mustering the political courage to say that vaccination will be mandatory, the government is imposing the obligation of vaccination in other ways. People will revolt."

Grbin wondered whether making job-keeping payments conditional on vaccination "is a call on employers to fire those who are not vaccinated."

"What the government is doing won't contribute to improving the economic situation and fighting poverty. On the contrary, it can expand inequality."

Grbin announced that this autumn Varaždin would launch a project to fight period poverty by providing elementary school girls with hygienic menstrual products "which they couldn't afford otherwise."

He said that one in three women in Croatia could not afford those products.

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Friday, 2 July 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from June 28-July 4

June 3, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from June 28 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac.

EURO 2020 elimination and Dario Šarić in the NBA finals. Zagreb witnessing a series of arrests related to corruption of Milan Bandić's reign and explosive device planted in Split. In the midst of it all, is COVID-19 vaccination on its way to becoming obligatory and not optional? You may prefer the good news or the bad news, but here is both, as another week in Croatia comes to an end.

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© Marin Tironi / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Uskok arresting Zagreb entrepreneurs and associates of former mayor Milan Bandić

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

As TCN wrote, several people were arrested on suspicion of corruption, including the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić, Andrea Šulentić, and Ana Stavljenić-Rukavina. Both Šulentić and Rukavina were directors in Zagreb administration offices and close associates of former mayor Milan bandić. At the same time, details Bandić's heavy corruption (suspected and known publicly earlier) came to light.

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© Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia eliminated from Euro 2020 after losing to Spain

Croatia and Spain met in Copenhagen on Monday for their EURO 2020 round of 16 match. It was a decent effort from Croatia, but not enough. Despite the Spain own goal in the 20th minute, the distraction as Rebić went to change his boots saw Spain even the score. The score towards the end of regular time went to 3:1 for Spain, but Croatia managed to lower to 3:2 and finally, in the added time, Pašalić scored for 3:3.

But, the euphoria was ruined for Croatia as in extra time, Morata earned Spain 4:3, and by 103rd minute, the total and final score was 5:3 for Spain. It was one of the more intense games on Euro so far as both teams show incredible spirit and persistence. 

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© Dusko Jaramaz / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Opposition parties against vaccination being required for job-keeping payments  

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday not to make vaccination a requirement for job-keeping payments, while the Most party said business owners were being blackmailed into vaccination.

As TCN reported, SDP leader Peđa Grbin elaborated his dissatisfaction via social networks.

"In Croatia, mandatory vaccination is possible, but the obligation is first established under the law on the protection of the population and then regulated and worked out under Immunisation Rules and the Mandatory Vaccination Programme. The obligation of vaccination can't be imposed in another way, notably not by linking support for entrepreneurs with vaccination," SDP president Grbin posted on Facebook.

"Most is against entrepreneurs, who are being forced into vaccination through blackmail, saving the government's mindless epidemic policy", stated the Most party on its official Twitter account. They added that Croatia was stuck with over 300,000 surplus vaccines because of poor government moves and communication omissions.

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© Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Dario Šarić becomes 5th Croatian basketballer in the NBA finals

Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! As TCN wrote, Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals, joining the company of Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak, and Ante Žižić. Šarić plays for Phoenix Suns. They topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Apart from basketball, Šarić also likes to enjoy sipping coffee on Šibenik cafe terraces, as portrayed in the photo. 

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© Milan Sabic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Bomb planted in Split. One person injured
In the night from Thursday to Friday, an unknown person placed an explosive device underneath a vehicle. The explosion damaged six cars, and one person required medical attention. The investigation is ongoing since Friday morning.  

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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Možemo!, SDP Sign Agreement For Zagreb City Assembly

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević and Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday that Tomašević's Možemo! platform and the SDP had signed a coalition agreement for the City Assembly and that its chair would be from the SDP.

The agreement contains 28 programme goals, including social and housing policies, environmental protection, waste management, water supply and drainage, and sustainable transport. culture, education,

Speaking to the press, Tomašević highlighted stepping the post-earthquake reconstruction of public and private buildings, reducing the number of city offices, a more transparent budget, and digitalising the city's administration and companies.

He said the majority in the City Assembly would have 28 deputies, that Možemo! and its partners would chair 14 of the 18 committees, and that Možemo! and the SDP had agreed to annually evaluate the realisation of the programme goals.

Tomašević said the Možemo! and SDP programmes were highly compatible and that he expected good cooperation as Zagreb needed a stable majority given all the challenges, adding that the City Assembly would be inaugurated tomorrow.

Grbin: The agreement is a pledge for the future

Grbin said the SDP Presidency's candidate for the assembly chairman was Joško Klisović, who had been the party's mayoral candidate.

He said that Zagreb's many problems had to be dealt with right away, adding that they could not be solved if the mayor's proposals did not have firm support in the City Assembly.

Grbin said the recent talks between the SDP and Možemo! had been "unbelievably constructive" and that their programmes were "very complementary and that's why we found a common ground on what our priorities will be."

As for goals of special importance to the SDP, he mentioned the introduction of a city treasury and an Internet platform to enable anyone noticing corruption in the work of the City Assembly to report it.

Grbin said today's agreement was a pledge for the functioning of Zagreb that would ensure the city's transformation as the SDP and Možemo! had announced during their mayoral election campaigns.

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Sunday, 13 June 2021

SDP Main Committee Dissolves Party Branches in Zagreb and Slavonski Brod

ZAGREB, 13 June, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP) Main Committee on Saturday confirmed the SDP Presidency decision to dissolve the party branches in Zagreb and Slavonski Brod as well as the SDP Međimurje County branch, with party leader Peđa Grbin saying the SDP had to change first if it wanted to change Croatia.

The SDP branches were dissolved due to poor results in the recent local elections and worsened intra-party relations.

"I want the SDP to be a party that will dedicate itself to changing Croatia for the better," said Grbin.

"If we want to change Croatia, and we do; and if we want to change Zagreb, and we do - then we have to change first," he stressed.

He noted that the party had to start talking about issues that were important to voters - from precarious work and Sunday work to different types of relations in society - if it wanted to win voters' trust.

Grbin said that so far the SDP had been preoccupied with itself.

The dissolution of the Zagreb party branch was supported by 57 members of the Main Committee, 21 were against and one abstained while the dissolution of the Slavonski Brod SDP branch was supported by 61 members while 18 voted against.

The dissolution of the Međimurje County SDP branch was supported by 62 members of the Main Committee, 19 voted against and two abstained.

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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

SDP Leader Peđa Grbin: Majority in Zagreb City Assembly to be Formed, Zagreb Branch Dissolved

ZAGREB, 9 June, 2021 - SDP leader Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday that the majority in the Zagreb City Assembly would definitely be formed while the SDP branch in Zagreb would be dissolved to prevent the SDP from turning into "an employment office". 

Addressing a news conference on decisions adopted at a session of the party leadership on Tuesday, Grbin said that the session focused on two topics - dissolution of the party's Zagreb branch and the course of negotiations on the formation of the majority in the Zagreb City Assembly.

"I can say with certainty that on 17 June, when the Zagreb City Assembly is to be inaugurated, the majority will be formed. The SDP considers it an obligation towards the residents of Zagreb because we know that after years of poor governance, Zagreb deserves better," he said.

He noted that talks with the winner of the local election in Zagreb, the We Can! platform, including on the post of Zagreb City Assembly president, were under way.

As for the functioning of party branches, Grbin said that the most important decision made by the party leadership yesterday was the one on the dissolution of the Zagreb branch.

He recalled that a few months ago the party leadership decided to dissolve bodies of that party branch, adding that that decision had not proven sufficient to stop some bad processes that had been happening and make sure the branch operated as it should, focusing on citizens' problems.

"... This decision concerns those who have started treating the SDP as an employment service, who want to use it exclusively for their personal benefit," Grbin said, adding that the party's purpose was to work for the wellbeing of citizens and that radical decisions such as the latest one were sometimes necessary.

He said that concrete names would be discussed within the party and at a meeting of its Main Committee on Saturday.

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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.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Opposition: Health Minister Beroš Has To Go

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for no confidence in the health minister.

"There is a consensus among the opposition that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go," SDP leader Peđa Grbin said after a meeting of opposition parties.

Grbin: We are giving Beroš an opportunity to step down

The motion will be launched soon but we will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has occurred in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down, said Grbin.

He denied that the motion was being launched as part of SDP's electioneering ahead of the 16 May elections, saying that this had to do with the health of Croatian citizens.

"The man who allowed hospitals to not be delivered medicines, for the debt in healthcare to escalate and who is being connected to numerous wrongdoings in public procurement in the hospital system, simply cannot be the health minister," underscored Grbin.

Grbin said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should think carefully in future about his criteria when selecting cabinet ministers.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left bloc said that she supports the no-confidence motion against Beroš but that Plenković too should be held responsible, who in the end is responsible for the entire situation in healthcare.

"It's clear that the prime minister will fervently defend his minister and then a month or two later when it is more politically opportune, he will call for his resignation. That is the prime minister's modus operandi. He expends people and then throws them out like an old rag and covers up his bad decisions with them," said Benčić.

Benčić: Opposition will prepare an expert analysis

She announced that in preparing the no-confidence motion, the opposition will prepare an expert analysis regarding access to therapy, medicines, the way the system is managed and of the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

"Spending money in healthcare that way during the greatest ever crisis is equal to war profiteering," she claimed.

She too denied that this is all part of electioneering ahead of the local election.

Stephen Nikola Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said (DP) said that: "we are opening important topics and it is up to the prime minister to make serious moves. Instead of being a statesman and making courageous decisions he is a 'spin doctor' in Government House and releases cheap spins to the public every day."

The healthcare system is not being managed well and that practice has to change and reforms need to be urgently implemented, he added.

Hrelja: HSU supports motion to oust Beroš

Silvano Hrelja of the Pensioners' Party (HSU) said that the party supports the motion to oust Beroš, denying speculation that HSU would join the ruling majority.

"Cooperation on projects exists but there is no coalition there," said Hrelja.

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Friday, 16 April 2021

Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Peđa Grbin Describes Plenković as Obstacle to All Reforms and Change

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin on Friday claimed that the Prime Minister and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenković was the "obstacle to all reforms and changes in Croatia."

"Dear Andrej, instead of getting riled up and complaining that the opposition doesn't understand anything, tell us why are you keeping the healthcare reform on the shelf," Grbin sent Plenković a message on his Facebook profile in reaction to the prime minister's claims that while the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was being presented in parliament the opposition showed "its "emptiness, hollowness, a lack of creativity, a lack of information and knowledge," and that Grbin's rating was poor and he was not the leader of the Opposition.

"Your minister, Beroš, yesterday while he wasn't aware that the cameras were recording, admitted what we all know: Andrej Plenković is the obstacle to all reforms and changes in Croatia and the main reason why this country can't move forward," added Grbin.

Grbin posted that  "Andrej Plenković, known as a procrastinator, is a man who is keeping the health reform on the shelf because of the local election while the system is losing dozens of millions of kuna each week and people cannot get medication."

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