Saturday, 16 April 2022

PM Plenković Wishes Happy Easter

ZAGREB, 16 April 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday issued a message with the best wishes for Easter and calls for showing solidarity with those in need in the Croatian society as well as with all persons whose lives and freedoms are threatened by the war and military aggression in Ukraine.

In the light of the greatest Christian holiday, I wish a happy Easter and health, peace, love and family togetherness, Plenković said underscoring that our thoughts are with those in need in the Croatian society as well as with all persons whose lives and freedoms are threatened by the war and military aggression in Ukraine.

May the power of Christ's resurrection give us faith and hope about overcoming all the difficulties and challenges we are faced with and about building better mutual understanding and respect in the society, says the premier.

He also underscored that the Croatians are called on to care for the future and survival of the Croatian nation, with demographic revitalisation being an essential a prerequisite for that.


Monday, 11 April 2022

International Roma Day 2022 – Unbreakable Ties with India

April 11, 2022 – To celebrate International Roma Day (April 8), a two-day conference is being held in Zagreb with the main focus on the ties between India and the Roma. 

As Večernji List writes, the two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

Strengthening ties between the Roma community and India to improve the position of Roma in the world is the main topic of the conference titled "Roma as the Indian Diaspora - Unbreakable Ties", where Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that all its participants share the same values ​​– equality and respect for minorities. The two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

It aims to send a message and an invitation to India to recognize the Roma as its national minority.

Addressing the participants – representatives of the Roma population from 17 countries and representatives of Croatian political, scientific, and cultural life – Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that all share the same values ​​– equality, respect for national minorities, and joint efforts so that not only Roma but all other national minorities in Croatia feel good, equal, and free to exercise their rights. He pointed out that in the two mandates of his government, through the National Plan for Roma Inclusion and the accompanying action plan, budget funds have doubled since 2016 and amount to slightly less than 50 million kuna. The Roma Educational and Cultural Center in Zagreb was opened and the Roma Memorial Center Uštica was built as a reminder of the greatest crime against the Roma people, the genocide committed by the Nazi and Ustasha regimes (samudaripen) during World War II.

Plenković: History cannot be changed, but crimes should be reminded and condemned

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed in concentration camps in Europe during this "darkest period of world history". "Unfortunately, we cannot change history, but we sincerely regret these terrible events, and we should keep reminding of these acts and condemn them unconditionally", said the prime minister. The government, he added, gives great importance to the history of the Roma, their identity and culture, while also confronting the darker sides of our common history. It is thus important that today's conference reminds us of what remembrance means – that it does not mean living in the past, but rather "tearing past experiences away from oblivion and making them a pledge of a better future". "Remembrance that does not turn into malice is healing. Such remembrance includes the present and has a clear view of the future; it is purified and nurtured through upbringing, family, and the education system," he said.

The importance of education for better integration of Roma into society

The Prime Minister also pointed out the importance of education, i.e. keeping the youngest in the education system to better integrate Roma into Croatian society. "When we succeed in that goal, then we have solved many long-term problems faced by the Roma national minority," he said.

In the context of the topic of the conference, the Prime Minister reminded us that the connections between Croatia and India, and Roma and Croatia have lasted for centuries – from the first historical evidence of Roma in Croatia in Dubrovnik in the 14th century, over Dubrovnik and other Croatian sailors in India, Burgenland Croat Filip Vesdin and his Sanskrit grammar at the end of the 18th century, and Count Ljudevit Drašković, the first Croatian romologist.

He also mentioned the 150-year-long Sanskrit university course in Zagreb, the Indology course in Zagreb which has existed for 60 years, as well as the Romology course at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.

Kajtazi: Satisfactory cooperation with the government  -Member of Parliament for the Roma national minority Veljko Kajtazi expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the Croatian government, saying that no government has done so much for the position of Roma in society. In Croatia, Roma are no longer “special cases”, specific policies have been introduced to improve their position through regular activities of line ministries and work is being done to equalize their living conditions with other citizens because it is important to erase the still huge differences that cause all the ugly events”.

The participants were also greeted by the Indian Ambassador Raj Kumar Srivastava, the President of the International Roma Union Normunds Rudevičs, the Slovak Member of the European Parliament (EPP) Peter Pollak, the Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, the President of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Velimir Neidhardt, as well as the President of the Croatian Roma Association Kali Sara Suzana Krčmar.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Croatia to Commit an Additional €100 Million to Ukrainian Refugees

ZAGREB, 9 April 2022 - Croatia will increase its assistance to the friendly Ukrainian people and as part of the Global Citizen Impact initiative commit an additional €100 million to Ukrainian refugees, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday.

"As the brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine continues, we wish to express support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people," Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"Croatia pledges to commit an additional €100 million to Ukrainian refugees" to be taken in by Croatia, he said.

"In this difficult time for the Ukrainian people, we will continue with our support, solidarity and assistance, standing with Ukraine and Ukrainians," he said.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, four million people have fled the country, according to UNHCR.

According to the latest data, there are more than 12,600 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia.  

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Plenković Appeals to Croat, Bosniak Parties to Agree on Bosnia Electoral Reform

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday called on Croat and Bosniak parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach an agreement on electoral reform so that all citizens and peoples in the country can be legitimately represented.

Croatia does not want the crisis due to changes to BiH's election law to be prolonged, he said at the opening of the 2022 International Economic Fair in Mostar, BiH.

"We appeal in particular to the leaders of the Bosniak and Croat parties to renew trust, to renew their alliance so that the election law can be changed."

We have shown willingness at the highest EU level to organise a continuation of the talks, Plenković said, adding that Croatia is doing that as a well-meaning friend which wants to help BiH to be functional.

"That's why it's important that BiH functions well, that a step forward is made with the support of the international community, and that the Croats are legitimately represented in state and Federation institutions."

Plenković said he initiated a debate on BiH at the European Council, which adopted conclusions to encourage an electoral reform agreement. That would be a way for BiH to continue its European journey, he added.

"That's the appeal of a friend, a country which wants BiH to get EU (membership candidate) status as soon as possible and step up its European journey."

Croatia is the second biggest investor in BiH and its main trade partner.

Plenković said the strengthening of infrastructure and economic ties was very important. He called for building a southern Croatia-BiH gas interconnection so that BiH can have diversified supply.

Hungarian FM criticises EU

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, speaking at the opening of the fair as the representative of the partner country, strongly criticised Brussels over the slow EU integration of Western Balkan countries.

He said Brussels was making a strategic mistake and that such conduct was damaging to regional security. He pushed for Serbia's EU accession and giving BiH candidate status.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said any regional instability affected every Western Balkan country. "Instability is bad for everyone. It's necessary to build bridges of cooperation and to build a more progressive region."

The International Economic Fair Mostar is taking place after a two-year break due to COVID. It brought together 750 exhibitors from some 20 countries.

In Mostar, Plenković met with the leadership of the HDZ BiH party and is to meet the leadership of the Croatian National Assembly, an organisation of Croat political parties in BiH.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

HDZ Whip Says PM Has Absolute Support For Possible Government Reshuffle

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - Ruling HDZ party whip Branko Bačić said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković enjoyed the absolute support of the party's parliamentary group and its partners in the ruling coalition for a possible government reshuffle.

After a meeting of the ruling coalition, Bačić told reporters that a government reshuffle was not discussed except for the coalition partners having given, at the end of the meeting, their full support to the PM for a possible reshuffle and "its scope".

"It was stressed that the Prime Minister enjoys the full support of all coalition partners for a reshuffle, when he opts for it, and the extent of it," said Bačić.

Asked about allegations in the Nacional weekly that eight HDZ MPs would vote against a reshuffle if Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak was to be replaced, Bačić said it was idle talk and that the HDZ party group "is absolutely unanimous."

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Jandroković: It's not time for political games but responsbile politics

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Tuesday that "it isn't time for political games," but resolute and responsible politics and that any possible government reshuffle would first be discussed within the ruling party's bodies.

"I expect that we will discuss the government's work, the Sabor's activities and topics that interest the public. We will see what the (party leader) will have to say," Jandroković said ahead of a meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) presidency and national council scheduled for this afternoon in Karlovac.

He was responding to questions from Croatian reporters about a possible government reshuffle while attending a conference of EU parliament speakers in Slovenia.

Asked whether the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak should be replaced, Jandroković said that the "prime minister picks his team" and, as this refers to his closest associates, he will most certainly enjoy the party's support.

Asked about the other ministers, Jandroković said "they are probably doing their job."

Asked whether there were some HDZ MPs or others in the ruling coalition who could vote against a government reshuffle if Minister Tramišak were to be replaced, Jandroković said "these are serious times, very demanding, and they require big responsibility of politicians, bigger than when we do not have such crisis situations."

"The primary objective at the moment is political stability, a quality response to a series of security, socioeconomic and health issues, and this isn't a time for political games. This a time for serious and responsible politics," said Jandroković.

When it comes to media speculation about some HDZ MPs perhaps being opposed to a reshuffle, Jandroković said HDZ MPs are responsible people and will certainly think well about what to do and how.

"Do not expect HDZ MPs to act in a way that would go against what is important for Croatia," he underscored.

Jandroković, who, in public opinion, is considered to be the herald of change in the party, did not wish to answer whether it was time for the government to be refreshed and instead said that he would first say what he thinks to his party colleagues and then make that public.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Croatia Open to Further Investment by German Companies, PM says

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - Germany is Croatia's key trade partner and Croatia is open to further investment by German companies, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday after meeting with a delegation of the German Eastern Business Association.

The meeting discussed the strengthening of Croatian-German economic cooperation and the main areas for the further investment by German companies in Croatia, the government said in a press release.

Germany remains Croatia's number-one foreign trade partner and trade in 2021 totalled €6.4 billion, it added.

The meeting at the government was also attended by Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić.

The German Eastern Business Association is a regional initiative of the German economy for 29 countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia,. It has around 350 member companies.

Plenković informed the delegation of Croatia's strong economic recovery in 2021 and the government's plans to further stimulate growth, the utilisation of European funds as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the new EU budget, and upcoming steps to join the Schengen and euro areas.

The prime minister also informed the delegation of tax relief measures as well as those to advance the investment and business climate in Croatia.

He also commented on the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Croatia's measures to help Ukraine, and the war's repercussions on energy and food supplies.

The German companies presented their existing and potential projects in Croatia, confirming their willingness to continue to cooperate and invest.

To date, German companies have invested €3.9 billion in Croatia, making Germany one of the biggest investors, the government said.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

EU Leaders Task EC to Propose Solution for Addressing Electricity Price Hikes

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - The heads of state or government of the European Union's member states, who on Friday concluded their two-day summit meeting in Brussels, tasked the European Commission to propose an efficient solution to electricity price hikes.

The European Council calls on the European Commission "to submit proposals that effectively address the problem of excessive electricity prices while preserving the integrity of the Single Market, maintaining incentives for the green transition, preserving the security of supply and avoiding disproportionate budgetary costs," according to the Council's conclusions.

The Council of the EU and the European Commission are called upon "to reach out to the energy stakeholders, and to discuss, if and how, the short-term options as presented by the Commission (direct support to consumers through vouchers, tax rebates or through an "aggregator model/single buyer", State aid, taxation (excises and VAT), price caps, regulatory measures such as contracts for differences) would contribute to reducing the gas price and addressing its contagion effect on electricity markets, taking into account national circumstances."

After the discussion on the excessive energy prices, which took several hours, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that it was difficult to find a single solution which would suit all the member-states, having in mind that some of them are highly dependent on Russian Russian gas, oil and coal imports.

The EU has three goals: to ensure new supply routes for gas, complete and improve the gas and electricity interconnections throughout the Union, and provide direct support to consumers, he added.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Croatia Mulling Increase in Capacity of Krk LNG Terminal

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatia is considering the possibility of increasing the capacity of its LNG terminal on the island of Krk from the current 2.6 billion cubic metres of gas to 2.9 billion cubic metres annually, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday.

He explained that the current infrastructure allows for this increase.

"We believe that we can achieve this increase with the current infrastructure of our LNG ship and all the existing plants there," Plenković said after the end of the two-day summit meeting of the European Union, which discussed Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, energy and energy price hikes.

Plenković reiterated the strategic importance of the Krk LNG terminal for the diversification of gas supply routes, particularly in the current crisis.

Considering the EU-US partnership expressed in the Joint Statement on the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports from the US, which expect to rise, Plenković said that investments in LNG terminals and the accompanying infrastructure would definitely grow, adding that it remains to be seen how many ships are available.

Ukrainian refugees

Plenković told the press that Croatia had already taken in 10,000 refugees from Ukraine, who fled the Russian invasion of their country.

It is certain that more and more refugees will arrive and that they will stay longer, he said.

Croatia can cover the costs of accommodation of Ukrainian refugees on its own until a joint model for financing is not found at the EU level, the premier said.

Saturday, 19 March 2022

PM: Affirmation of Croatia's Credit Rating is Message of Confidence

ZAGREB, 19 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that Standard and Poor's affirmation of Croatia's credit rating at 'BBB-/A-3' was a message of trust in and encouragement to the government to keep preserving the economic stability despite the inflation and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

PM Plenković tweeted that the decision of that credit rating agency to affirm Croatia's ratings with stable outlook "is a message of confidence in and encouragement" to the government to continue taking measures conducive to the economic stability and stable growth, thus weathering the inflationary pressures and the consequences of the war.

He writes on the Twitter account that the priorities are given to the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and to the further absorption of European funding for the faster growth and the energy and green transition of Croatia.

Our target to join the euro area in 2023 creates prerequisites to additionally boost the economy's competitiveness and raising our credit ratings, he added.

Standard & Poor's on Friday affirmed Croatia's credit rating at 'BBB-/A-3' with a stable outlook, however, it warns that repercussions of Russia's invasion of Ukraine can affect the Croatian economy.

"The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Croatia's economic growth will remain steady over the coming two years despite inflationary headwinds and the pan-European macroeconomic consequences from the conflict in Ukraine," it says.

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

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