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.

uskok_arrest_in_zg_lead_image_Marin_TironiPIXSELL.jpg

© 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.

modrić_facepalm_Goran_StanzlPIXSELL.jpg

© 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. 

cjepivo_po_cijeni_Dusko_JaramazPIXSELL.jpg

© 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.

dario_saric_Hrvoje_JelavicPIXSELL.jpg

© 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. 

car_bomb_split_Milan_SabicPIXSELL.jpg

© 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.  

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

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

Friday, 18 June 2021

Mozemo! And SDP Join Forces: 20 Main Zagreb Projects Presented

June the 18th, 2021 - Mozemo! and SDP have joined up at the Croatian capital city's helm and have presented 28 of the main Zagreb projects they intend to implement as a team.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, SDP and Mozemo! have signed a coalition agreement on cooperation in the City of Zagreb. The draft agreement contains 28 points on their programme cooperation, which will ensure a majority in the Zagreb City Assembly.

A list of 28 Zagreb projects that will be crucial during their first term has also been published, and we're bringing you a list of them below in full:

1. The reformation of the city administration, city institutions and city companies with the aim of the responsible, transparent and efficient management of the city administration, companies and property.

2. The establishment of a city treasury system that will be visible to all residents through an online platform to enable financial transparency

3. The acceleration of the post-earthquake reconstruction of public buildings and private homes damaged back in March 2020

4. The setting up of an online anti-corruption platform for reporting all irregularities and illegalities in the work of the city administration and city companies, especially in public procurement or tenders

5. The digitalisation of all administrative processes and the speeding up of procedures for residents, the use of digital technologies for communication with people and for the better regulation of traffic, public lighting, the water supply and waste collection

6. The management of Zagreb's city owned property in an efficient, transparent and sustainable way so that property income is used to maintain existing properties and ensure a more balanced development

7. The introduction of extracurricular activities within the scope of "Education for active citizenship" in primary and secondary schools, with the aim of preparing students to take a conscious, responsible and active role in society and care for the public good, a healthy lifestyle and responsible money management

8. The building of new nursing/care homes and the establishment of day care centres in city districts, as well as the provision of better care for the elderly in their own homes

9. The adoption of the traffic development plan of the City of Zagreb, the integration of the public transport system, the expansion of the tram network and the building of proper bicycle paths

10. The realisation of two brand new underpasses under the railway, one of which will be in the western part and the other in the eastern part of the city

11. The ensuring of a sustainable number of parking spaces per neighbourhood

12. The improvement of the availability of healthcare services through a better system of health centres more evenly distributed across the city's districts and the provision of preconditions for the construction of a hospital in Novi Zagreb

13. The increasing of palliative care capacities across the city

14. The development of new planning bases for the new General Urban Plan of Zagreb and Sesvete, in accordance with the principles of balanced polycentric development in which new housing units are accompanied by appropriate social and communal infrastructure

15. The construction of new public apartments for rent to make housing in the city more affordable

16. The increasing of the share of recycled and composted waste and the ensuring of all of the proper preconditions for closing the Prudinec - Jakusevec landfill

17. The proper development of a transparent system for financing cultural activities and appointing members of the governing bodies of cultural institutions, the introduction of the monitoring of the implementation of the programme and the ensuring of cultural facilities being more accessible in neighbourhoods

18. The expansion and improvisation of the water supply and drainage network

19. The modernisation of the city's kindergartens and schools in compliance with the pedagogical standard and the supply of all of them with locally produced food

20. The combatting of gender-based violence against women and LGBTIQ+ people

21. The improvisation of the city's sports infrastructure, especially for recreational and amateur sports

22. The improvement of people's social security through more adequate measures and services

23. The increasing of green and wooded public areas

24. The improvement the accessibility of the city to people with disabilities

25. The establishment of youth centres and support for young people, especially when it comes to education and employment

26. The provision of incentives for energy renewal, energy transition and the further development of green technologies

27. The encouraging of new technology companies in sectors such as that of the IT and the green economy to develop business in Zagreb

28. The enabling of continuous cooperation between the scientific research community, private companies and the City of Zagreb in order to develop communal innovations and create new work places

For more on Zagreb projects and Croatian politics in general, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

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.

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

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.

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Monday, 19 April 2021

SDP Plans No-Confidence Vote in Health Minister

ZAGREB, 19 April, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party plans to talk with other opposition parties this week about a no-confidence vote in Health Minister Vili Beroš due to the many problems and omissions in his department, with SDP leader Peđa Grbin saying on Monday it was his "obligation to react to such obscenities."

Speaking to Hina, he said that if for no other reason, Beroš should be given a vote of no confidence because recently hospitals remained without drugs.

Grbin said "the debt in healthcare has reached unbelievable levels" and mentioned "the disorder" with the online platform for COVID-19 vaccination, adding also that Beroš "claims he has prepared the health reform and given it to (PM Andrej) Plenković, Plenković says that isn't true, which means that one of them is lying."

Grbin is not discouraged by the estimate that the ruling majority will most likely reject the no-confidence vote, saying that "our obligation to the people who gave us their trust is to react to such obscenities."

Minister responsible for lack of reforms

Homeland Movement whip Stephen Bartulica said his party had been critical of Beroš's performance for a long time.

"We'll see in consultations with other opposition parties if we'll ask for a no-confidence vote in Beroš, but I think we have a number of reasons for putting that item on the agenda."

We are for a debate on the situation in healthcare and the minister's responsibility, and we think parliament will respond well to that question, he said.

Rada Borić of the green-left bloc said the minister's responsibility should be discussed because of the complete failure to embark on a radical health reform.

Healthcare does not need surface but systematic reforms, as does social welfare, because all we have seen so far has been shifting the blame, she added.

"Problems in healthcare are not from yesterday, but in decent democratic countries, when one sees that the system has failed and that there have been suspect activities, it is the minister's responsibility to resign," Borić said.

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

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."

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

SDP Says Zagreb Should Not Only be Reconstructed But Also Revitalised

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin and the SDP candidate for Zagreb Mayor, Joško Klisović, warned on Monday, on the first anniversary of the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb, that reconstruction had still not begun and that the capital should not only be reconstructed but revitalised as well. 

"Over the past 12 months, a law on reconstruction was adopted and after the earthquake in Petrinja, it was expanded to include the Banija region, but, as we can hear from the Reconstruction Fund.... no decision on reconstruction has arrived at the Fund from the Construction Ministry. The Ministry claims it has sent three decisions for the reconstruction of buildings, but even though the Ministry and the Fund are located only a few metres from one another, those decisions have still not reached the Fund," Grbin warned at a news conference.

If reconstruction in Zagreb as well as in Banija continues at the current pace, the question is if it will ever end and if people whose houses and buildings were damaged will be able to ever return to their homes, he said.

Grbin called on the government to ensure that reconstruction work finally started, criticising the Reconstruction Act by saying that the structural reconstruction as envisaged by it would not be sufficient as people did not have money to finance non-structural reconstruction.

Those who will have to seek loans to co-finance 20% of structural reconstruction costs will not be able to co-finance the reconstruction of other parts of their property which are equally important for normal living, he said, calling for reexamining the Reconstruction Act.

He also called for reexamining the law to expand the scope of reconstruction work to enable the revitalisation of the earthquake-damaged parts of the capital city.

"We call for renovating all buildings, with red, yellow and green labels alike, because any next quake could destablise these buildings again and cause a disaster. Around 30% of the housing stock in downtown Zagreb is older than 100 years, which means that we need an integral, radical reconstruction of the city," SDP mayoral candidate Klisović said.

He noted that given the current favourable situation on the international financial market, funding for that purpose should be sought there, mentioning also the possibility of issuing long-term bonds.

Klisović said that as mayor, he would define a price catalogue for reconstruction work considering fast-growing prices and the fact that people who have to hire a company to do reconstruction work do not know how much a certain type of work costs.

He noted that the state should increase the rate for co-financing reconstruction costs for people who live in buildings categorised as cultural property, calling also for the introduction of a special credit line for those reconstructing their houses and on the state to cover interest on those loans.

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

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Grbin: We Demand Clear Criteria for Adopting Epidemiological Measures

ZAGREB, 25 February, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin on Thursday urged the government to define clear and quantifiable criteria when adopting epidemiological measures so that people and enterprises could know beforehand what they could expect.

"It is excellent that indoor sports training is allowed. It should have been allowed much sooner because all indicators show that it never was a source of infection. If we know how important doing sports is for the health of individuals and the nation in general, easing the measures in this regard is clearly good and I do not see any problem there," Grbin told a press conference.

As for the reopening of hospitality establishments, Grbin said that an injustice of two weeks ago, when casinos were allowed to reopen while restaurants were not, was being corrected.

"The problem is that Croatia still does not have clear criteria on the basis of which epidemiological measures are adopted. We had several weeks in which the infection numbers were decreasing, while (the government) was saying that the measures could not be eased. Today we are seeing a slight upward trend in the number of infections and the measures are being relaxed," he noted.

Commenting on the forthcoming election of a president of the Supreme Court, Grbin said that the President of the Republic was required by the Constitution to propose a candidate for the post. Under the Constitution, he must consult with a general assembly of the Supreme Court and the parliamentary Justice Committee, and Parliament has the final say, he added.

"I regret that because of the discussion of form, which was never broken, we have moved away from substance. We are not talking at all about what the previous Supreme Court presidents did or did not do to take that as a basis for the election of the future president," Grbin said.

Page 1 of 3

Search