Thursday, 17 June 2021

Plenković Requests Turkish President's Support for Bosnia Election Legislation Reform

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, requesting Turkey's support for efforts to ensure respect for equality of all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for an election legislation reform in the country.

Plenković flew to the Turkish city of Antalya to attend a summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), being held under Turkish chairmanship. Turkey assumed the SEECP chairmanship on 1 July 2020. Plenković met Erdogan on the sidelines of the meeting.

"One of the topics was Bosnia and Herzegovina. I underscored that it is very important for Croatia that all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina are equal, notably the Croats who are the least numerous," the Croatian premier said after meeting with the Turkish head of state.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croats and the government in Zagreb claim that the Croats are currently not represented on the country's collective presidency and in other institutions because the current member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Željko Komšić, who sits as the Croat representative, is only the nominal representative because he was elected thanks to votes from the Bosniak electorate.

"For us, it is also important that consensus is reached on the election legislation reform during the process of negotiations between political parties and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in this regard, I asked for Turkey's support," said Plenković.

"Of course, in the political sense, Turkey has closer relations with the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and finally with the political leadership of the SDA party. Therefore it is essential that we, Turkey and Croatia, in dialogue with friendly institutions and political parties that are close to us, seek solutions that will ensure that all the peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina feel satisfied," Plenković said.

Croatia-Turkey relations very good and friendly

Plenković described the Croatian-Turkish bilateral relations as very good and friendly.

There are many Turkish companies doing business in Croatia, and Ankara would like to intensify the business cooperation, according to Plenković.

"Croatia is open and we think that will be very much to our benefit,"  he added.

 Plenković informed Erdogan that Zagreb appreciated Turkey's care for a huge number of refugees and efforts to prevent the reactivation of the western Balkan migrant route.

The Croatian PM believes that the agreement between the EU and Ankara on care for migrants will be honored

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

Thursday, 10 June 2021

PM: Get Vaccinated So We Can Lift Epidemiological Restrictions

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - PM Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that vaccination against COVID-19 with the first shot had slowed down due to a decline in citizens' interest and he called on them to get immunized so that a vaccination rate of 50% could be achieved by the end of June and the remaining anti-epidemic measures lifted. 

"I urge once again those who have not done it yet not to hesitate. That is the only way to completely get back to how we used to live because the first dose already provides effective protection against serious forms of the disease," he said at a government session.

He noted that positive epidemiological trends were continuing, with the seven-day incidence having been restored to the level of 10 months ago, which, he said, is owing to a growing number of people who have been vaccinated and those who have acquired immunity, as well as owing to warmer weather and responsible behavior.

He warned, however, that of the adult population, 40.8% had been vaccinated with at least one dose even though enough doses had been secured for the percentage to be much higher.

"We should not stand by and watch countries that were less successful than us in the fight against COVID-19 become more successful in vaccination. By getting vaccinated we are protecting not only our health and lives but also our economy, jobs, salaries, freedom, and the right to a normal life," he stressed.

It is important to vaccinate the planned 50% of adults by the end of June so that epidemiological restrictions could continue to be eased. If that is not done, the tourist season will be at risk, which means additional losses for our economy, he warned.

"We cannot afford that luxury. In addition to the pandemic, Croatia was hit by two earthquakes and that has cost us as much as four pandemics. That situation is specific and that is why the economy must return to the path of continual growth and recovery," Plenković said.

He particularly called on young people to set an example to others, be brave, trust science, and get vaccinated.

Plenković also recalled his meeting with representatives of associations for the protection of domestic violence victims, which was held on Wednesday to acquaint those associations with the planned changes to the Penal Code to be discussed by the government today.

The changes envisage the ex officio prosecution of sexual harassment as well as the prosecution of revenge porn, which is the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent, made by a partner in an intimate relationship. They also envisage stronger protection of children and vulnerable groups.

The government also plans to amend the Domestic Violence Act.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centers and vaccination points across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Milanović: Plenković is Promoter of Right to Lie

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday called Prime Minister Andrej Plenković a promoter of the right to lie who had now classified himself "under authentic interpreters of battles from the Homeland War" and declared himself "almost a war commander".

The president wrote this on Facebook, reacting to Plenković's comment on his proposal that the anniversary of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm be commemorated in other cities besides Knin.

Milanović accused Plenković of "denigrating the proposal to commemorate Operation Storm in other cities in which heroic battles were fought in the Homeland War, and not only in Knin, declaring himself - with the words 'many of us look at Knin differently' - almost a war commander," Milanović wrote.

The president added that the initiative to commemorate Operation Storm "also where hundreds of Croatian defenders were killed, near Petrinja and Glina, for instance, was proposed to him by war generals and commanders who fought liberation battles".

Asked by the RTL commercial broadcaster to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to commemorate anniversaries of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm in Knin every five years and to commemorate the anniversary in Glina this year, Plenković said on Wednesday he didn't know about it, but he found "the repeated use of double criteria particularly indicative".

"He constantly talks about Knin as some kind of train station, a barracks. Many of us look at Knin differently, at its role, at Zvonimir's City, at the Knin Fortress, at the symbolism of the flag at the Knin Fortress. Those are different views," Plenković said, referring to the turbulent history of that Dalmatian region.

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

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Plenković: Those Were Not Accusations Against Media, But My Comment On Campaign

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - Prime Minister Plenković commented in an interview with RTL on the media campaign for the local elections, in which, he said, the HDZ won a colossal victory, and regarding his criticism of the media due to their treatment of some HDZ candidates, he stressed he hadn't accused anyone but stated his opinion.

"Those weren't accusations, it was my comment on the campaign behind us, in which the HDZ once again received by far the greatest support of Croatian voters and these results are for us even better in some areas than the results in 2017," PM Andrej Plenković said.

Plenković said that his comment on the campaign had been - as a comment by someone who is both president of the party and prime minister, is involved in politics and tries to follow the activities - that some HDZ candidates in the areas where the campaign had received the most media coverage, "were under a lot of fire in the media, especially HDZ's candidates in Zagreb and Split, and that reflected on the results".

You won't change your policy because of what I'm saying. I'm simply stating my position - which is the truth, with arguments and examples, he told the commercial broadcaster.

He added that he had congratulated all newly elected mayors and county prefects in writing, and he was planning a meeting with new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević.

"We called him yesterday or the day before yesterday and he didn't answer. Today, an associate told me he had returned the call, (...) so we will talk, but I was in other meetings. I congratulated him and all other newly elected county prefects and all mayors in county seats in writing. They are my partners," he said.

Asked to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to commemorate anniversaries of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm in Knin every five years and to commemorate the anniversary in Glina this year, Plenković said he didn't know about it, but he found "the repeated use of double criteria particularly indicative".

"He constantly talks about Knin as some kind of train station, a barracks. Many of us look at Knin differently, at its role, at Zvonimir's City, at the Knin Fortress, at the symbolism of the flag at the Knin Fortress. Those are different views," Plenković said, referring to the turbulent history of that Dalmatian region.

"You have a president who allowed himself to ignore Statehood Day passed by the Croatian parliament. He refused to attend a gala concert on Saturday. Everyone was there, including former president (Ivo) Josipović. The current president refused to come and didn't send anyone," he said.

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

Friday, 28 May 2021

Croatia Buying 12 Rafale F3R Fighter Jets for €999m

ZAGREB, 28 May 2021 - The Croatian government will procure 12 used French multipurpose fighter jets Dassault Rafale F3R for €999 million, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"The government assessed that the French offer was the best," he said at a cabinet meeting, adding that ten single-seat and two twin-seat jets would be procured.

Plenković said the Dassault Rafale F3R was a latest generation aircraft and that it was considered among the best in the world.

"The French offer turned out to be the best because Croatia is getting the best-assessed and equipped aircraft for the least money," he said, adding that the offer was the most favourable one with the best payment in instalments that would not slow down Croatia's accession to the euro area.

Besides the Rafale, bids were submitted by the US, the latest F-16 Block 70, Sweden, the new JAS 39 Gripen C/D, and Israel, the used F-16 Barak.

For more on politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated section.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Andrej Plenković: HDZ Will Have Most County Prefects, Mayors, Municipal Heads

17 May 2021 - Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković said that the party's result in local elections was very good and victorious on Sunday night. In the next four years, the HDZ would have the most county prefects, mayors, and municipal heads.

"Our result is very good, victorious. Looking at the overall results, the HDZ will again be the party which will have the most county prefects, mayors, and municipal heads in the next four years," he said in the HDZ's campaign headquarters in Zagreb.

He congratulated everyone who took part in the elections and especially citizens who voted for the candidates of the HDZ and its partners.

Plenković said he was pleased that four HDZ candidates for prefects had won in the first round and that its candidates would be in runoffs with convincing leads in eight counties.

He singled out the results of Gari Cappelli and Anđelko Stričak in Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Varaždin counties. He congratulated Ivan Radić and Vice Mihanović for their results in Osijek and Split.

As for Davor Filipović, the party's mayoral candidate in Zagreb, Plenković said he was a new asset for the party. He did a fantastic job during the campaign, and that he was a first-class politician for big elections.

"The HDZ is the second slate in Zagreb, which is extremely good. It's a new generation of HDZ politicians in Zagreb, and I'm confident that in the years ahead, they will gain more experience and offer even better solutions for Zagreb."

Filipović, who ranked fourth in the Zagreb mayoral race with less than 10% of the vote, congratulated Tomislav Tomašević on receiving the largest number of votes in the first round and apologized; to the other candidates if, during the campaign, he said "one word too many."

He said his own result was almost twice as good as the HDZ mayoral candidate's four years ago and twice as good as in 2013. "Therefore, we have reason to be optimistic, and that's a pledge for the future to work for the good of Zagreb."

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

Sunday, 9 May 2021

PM Calls on Croatians to Build Europe of Peace, Social Justice and Prosperity

ZAGREB, 9 May 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday forwarded a message on the occasion of Europe Day, calling on his citizens to continue their commitment to the Europe of peace, social justice, and economic development.

"Europe Day is being marked this year in such circumstances when we are faced with the biggest global challenges since the Second World War" Plenković underscores.

Therefore this is an occasion for us to recall that the visionary idea of a united and democratic Europe, as a safeguard for permanent peace and solidarity and prosperity of European peoples, was born in the aftermath of that war when one of the gloomiest and most tragic periods of the European history was over and also against the background of the threat of the Communist totalitarianism, he said.

The idea could seem as a utopia then, however, today it is a reality shared by the 27 member states, including Croatia as the youngest member, Plenković said underscoring some of the achievements of the present-day EU bloc.

Although EU citizens make up only 6% of the global population, the EU is the top agricultural power and the second strongest economy. It is also the top-ranking donor of international aid, the most sought-after tourist destination, and a global leader in the fight against climate change, he said highlighting the fact that in the last 70 years, the European Union has been developed as a project of peace, reconciliation, democracy, development, cooperation and mutual solidarity.

Being aware that cooperation between member-states is key to a more successful struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are investing joint efforts to ramp up the vaccination of our citizens, as this is the safest and fastest way to returning to the life we had before the pandemic, he added.

Plenković says in his message that Croatia has donated vaccine doses to its neighbors that are non-EU member states as a sign of solidarity because the pandemic can be halted only if the sufficient rate of immunization of the population in Europe and the world is achieved.

This year, Europe Day is also the day when the Conference on the Future of Europe kicks off.

In the coming months, we will have opportunities to be included in discussions on the future course of the development of the European Union. In all member-states, individuals, civil society associations, the academic community, business people, unionists, and all other stakeholders, together with representatives of European institutions, are encouraged to be engaged in those discussions and give their ideas and proposals conducive to the improvement of the functioning of the Union and making it more prepared to deal with global challenges, the Croatian premier said among other things.

Croatia can make a marked contribution to this conference in which a lead role will be played by European Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Croatian Dubravka Šuica, according to Plenković's message.

Šuica is leading the Commission’s work on deliberative democracy and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Plenković Says Porto Social Summit Important Event

May 8, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who participated in the EU Social Summit in Porto on Friday, said that this summit meeting after such gathering in Gothenburg was an important event as it was held when all the heads of state or government were focused on the protection of workers.

"This Social Summit, which is being held after such summit in Gothenburg four years ago, is important as it is being held when all the heads of state or government (of EU member-states) are focused on the protection of workers," he said.

"I have intended to underscore the importance of the state's role in the last 15 months. It is only the state that could deal with the issues in that period, he added."

In this context, he recalled that 10 billion kunas had been set aside for the job retention measures, including grants for workers, support to shortening working hours, and the coverage of the fixed costs in Croatia.

He went on to say that his cabinet aims to raise the employment rate from the current 67% to 78% until 2030.

Since 2016 when the first term of his cabinet started, 110,000 more jobs have been created, according to Plenković.

All the heads of state or government from EU member states, but Germany, the Netherlands, and Malta, attended the Porto meeting.

EU leaders, European institutions, social partners, and civil society representatives met in Porto to reinforce their commitment to implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights.

At the high-level conference organized by the Portuguese presidency in the context of the Porto Social Summit, they discussed how to set the European social policy agenda for the next decade and ensure that we face the present and future challenges, leaving no one behind.

The discussions revolved around three main areas: work and employment, skills and innovation, the welfare state, and social protection.

At the end of the conference, EU institutions, European social partners, and civil society representatives co-signed the Porto Social Commitment.

For more, follow our politics section.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Prime Minister Announces Possible Ban on Working Sundays in Retail Sector Revisiting a Hot Button Topic

May 7, 2021 – PM Plenkovic has stated the ruling coalition is planning to propose changes to the Trade Law that would limit retail companies from working Sundays.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced yesterday the ruling coalition is working on changes to the Trade Law. Among other things, the law regulates allowed working hours. Plenkovic stated they are considering limiting work on Sundays for the retail sector. Apparently, the idea is to allow the retail sector to work a maximum of 16 Sundays a year. This is taking into account the tourism season months. Retail stores would close for the other Sundays of the year.

Working on Sundays is a long-time hot button issue for Croatian politics and business. The idea behind the regulation is simple. If you ban stores from being open, retail companies will give their workers time off to enjoy Sundays with their families. The Catholic Church is a big proponent of this regulation. In fact, reports the initiative for the change in the law might have been a part of the promise made to the Croatian Bishops' Conference (HBK) by the ruling coalition. Church has been vocal in asking for public support in this initiative for the past several years. The same article by reveals the justification for the law proposal stems from supposed research by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. After several inquiries into the matter, the ministry finally admitted they don't have any such research documented.

Does the Croatian Economy Need more Restrictions?

It seems like a far-fetched concept in today's world, banning companies from working. While some might argue retail sector sometimes overworks and underpays its employees, it seems like the solution to that problem should be better controlled over the worker's rights and fair business practices. Many Croatians are in favour of the proposed change in the law. This is a fact that no one should dismiss. Still, regulation disabling companies from working for a part of the year seems like a relic of times long past. The mere fact the PM has stated they would allow 16 working Sundays to accommodate for the tourism season is worrying. It screams of a concept of tourism Croatia is supposedly trying to get away from. 16 weeks of tourism per year sounds like a counterproductive move in a country struggling to shed the image of a seasonal destination.

We will know soon enough is this new concept of Trade Law will be proposed and accepted. For now, it remains as a controversial concept for an economy yet to feel the full effects of the lockdown-related drop in business figures.

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

Saturday, 1 May 2021

PM Plenković Issues Message For International Workers' Day

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković issued a message for International Workers' Day on Saturday, noting that this year it is being celebrated in the challenging circumstances of the fight against the coronavirus epidemic and in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes that struck Croatia last year.

"It is therefore important that we mark International Workers' Day responsibly, by complying with all the epidemiological measures in place, and that in the coming weeks when we expect more vaccines to come, we all make our contribution to the success of the vaccination campaign and thus end this health threat that we are facing," the prime minister said.

Plenković recalled that in this global crisis his government firmly stood by the workers and their families. The government has paid over HRK 100 million as part of the job retention scheme benefiting about 680,000 workers, and continues the tax reform thanks to which the income of Croatian workers and their families has increased, he said.

"Aware of the fact that the future of our economy and our country is in the hands of young generations, we have been making continued efforts to improve the status of families and promote demographic revitalization to stop the emigration, particularly of young people," he wrote.

The prime minister recalled that the government had prepared the national recovery and resilience plan providing for investments and reforms aimed at strengthening the national economy and society to ensure a speedy recovery after the crisis.

He announced that the government would continue cooperation and dialogue with employers and trade unions on issues of importance to the future of Croatia to improve the living standards of its citizens.

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

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