Thursday, 24 February 2022

Plenković: We Strongly Condemn Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, calling on Moscow to stop the military attack immediately.

"We strongly condemn Russia's aggression and invasion of Ukraine. This unprovoked attack is a gross violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law," Plenković wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday morning.

"This is exclusively the responsibility of Russia, which we call upon to immediately stop this military attack."

"We express our solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," the Croatian prime minister said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Croatia Condemns Russia's Recognition of Ukrainian Separatist Regions

ZAGREB, 22 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday evening condemned Russia's decision to recognise the self-proclaimed regions in eastern Ukraine.

"We condemn the recognition the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which constitutes the violation of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine," PM Plenković tweeted on Monday evening.

We, together with European partners, express solidarity with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people, the PM added.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs also condemned the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognise the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities.

The decision violates Ukraine's territorial integrity, international law, the Minsk agreements and undermines diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis, says the Croatian ministry.

Many western countries and international organisations on Monday strongly slammed Russia's move to recognise the separatist regions and accused Putin of violating international law and Ukraine's sovereignty.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

PM Calls on Prosecutors to Explain Case Implicating Minister Horvat

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday held an impromptu news conference following the arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat and called on the Office of State Attorney-General (DORH) to explain the case in greater detail.

Construction Minister Darko Horvat was driven in a police car from his hometown in Međimurje to the Zagreb headquarters of the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) for further questioning on Saturday afternoon after his house in Donja Dubrava was searched by the police.

Horvat's lawyer, Vladimir Terešak, told the national HTV broadcaster that the minister had been arrested and that he would be interrogated in the USKOK main offices in Zagreb.

On Saturday morning, media outlets reported that the police were searching the flat of Minister Darko Horvat in connection with his former aide Ana Mandac implicated in the scandal dubbed wind parks where the main suspect is a former state secretary Josipa Rimac.

According to the unofficial information, the ongoing probe relates to the allocation of grants under an aid scheme for crafts and SMEs in the areas populated by ethnic minorities while Horvat served as Economy Minister.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Croatian PM Could Run For Presidency of European People's Party, Says VL

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković could run for the leader of the European People's Party (EPP) this spring when this political group is supposed to elect new presidency, the Zagreb-based Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The daily newspaper recalls that last week, PM Andrej Plenković received his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and that their meeting in Zagreb was actually a meeting of the only two current premiers from the EPP group. After the departure of Angela Merkel from the position of German Chancellor and the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz following accusations about his involvement into alleged corruption cases, Plenković is the only EPP official who is currently serving the second term of his premiership.

The current EPP president Donald Tusk seems not willing to vie for his reelection and the EPP's election convention is likely to be held this spring, according to the daily newspaper.

The daily says that three possible candidates are German MEP Manfred Weber, and the Croatian and the Greek premiers.

However, a source from the government has told the newspaper that Plenković is not thinking at all of competing in that race.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Plenković: It Would Be Better if BiH Polls Were Postponed Than Held Under Present Law

ZAGREB, 18 Feb 2022 - It would be better if elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina were postponed than held under the present election law because nothing good will come of it and the country will continue to function poorly, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday. 

"Parliamentary elections should not be held in October this year as scheduled without changing the election law," Plenković said.

Croatia's position on the matter is contrary to the document prepared by the European External Action Service for a discussion on Bosnia and Herzegovina due to be held at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.

The document says that negotiations should continue in order to reach an agreement on the constitutional and electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that elections should be held as scheduled regardless of the outcome of the talks.

"The Croatian position is very clear - it's better to give more time for negotiations and postpone the elections if necessary than carry on under the present system because that would be bad for Bosnia and Herzegovina and disastrous for the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the prime minister said.

"If the present system remains in place, we know in advance what will happen. We do not want electoral engineering to happen again," he added.

Plenković called on the Bosnian Croat and Bosniak parties to focus constructively on the electoral reform so that the Croats would get guarantees that they would be able to choose their representatives in the state presidency and upper house of parliament. He said that Croatia, as a friend and ally, would do all in its power to improve mutual relations and help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its EU path.

Plenković said that an agreement on the electoral and constitutional reform would be beneficial for the functioning of the country, its territorial integrity, mutual respect, and for everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina to feel good.

Explaining why some of the representatives of the international community, including the EU, had different views about Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia's, he cited the lack of understanding of the complexity of the internal structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the need to simplify it, which he said would not lead to anything good.

Plenković said that those who did not know the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina well enough were focusing on three points, the first being a cease-fire agreement that later became the Dayton peace agreement, which became the country's constitution. The second point is the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdić-Finci case and other cases which called for an end to discrimination against three percent of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are not members of any of the three constituent peoples, as 97 percent of citizens identify themselves as Bosniaks, Serbs or Croats. The third point is present efforts to simplify the whole situation.

"When someone who is not from Bosnia and Herzegovina or neighboring countries comes and wants to see how the country is functioning, they see a structure they have not seen anywhere else. They realize that there is one state, two entities, 10 cantons in one of the entities, houses of peoples, and so on. And then the logic of simplification comes in, but in that simplification, you cannot sideline the rights of one of the constituent peoples who voted for Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence in 1992," Plenković said.

He said that the Venice Commission had favorably assessed the Croat proposal to amend the constitution, under which in elections for the state presidency one representative of the Croats and other ethnic groups and one representative of the Bosniaks and other ethnic groups would be elected from the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity and one representative of the Serbs and other ethnic groups from the Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

"That would resolve everything. The constituent peoples would be retained, the others would be included and no one would be discriminated against, and everyone would be allowed to stand as a candidate," Plenković said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Plenković Calls On Croat And Bosniak Leaders To Agree On A Fair Election Law

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022- Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called on Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croat and Bosniak leaders on Thursday to make the extra effort to agree on a fair election law in that country.

"I once again call on the leaders of the Bosniak and Croat political parties, especially before a meeting of the Croat National Assembly in Mostar on Saturday, to try and resolve this problem in a fair and constructive way, and Croatia, as a friendly country, will help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path," Plenković said in Brussels.

Ahead of an informal EU summit on the Ukraine crisis and an EU-Africa summit, Plenković met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, discussing the extension of the deadline for the use of EU funding for the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia's journey towards membership of the Schengen area and the euro zone.

"Our position is clear: it is vital for the next election (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) to be held under a new, fair election law that will ensure legitimate representation, rather than hold the election at any cost, as a result of which the Croats might again be left feeling bad and the state would not be functioning well," Plenković said.

As for Croatia's Schengen bid, he said that the process was now "in the final stage of decision making." 

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

EU Fund For Zagreb Quake Relief Can Be Tapped One More Year

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Croatia will be able to use money from the European Solidarity Fund for earthquake relief until June 2023, which is one year longer than the initial 18 months, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said after they met in Brussels on Thursday.

The commission will approve the use of EUSF for earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb until June 2023, which has been adjusted to the period for the use of the allocation because of the earthquake in Banovina and progressive damage caused, Plenković tweeted on Thursday.

Von der Leyen tweeted a similar message

“Glad to meet Andrej Plenkovic today. We discussed reconstruction work supported by the EU after the Zagreb and Petrinja earthquakes. Given the exceptional circumstances, the Commission will look favorably at the request to align deadlines for absorption of EUSF funds to June 2023," tweeted von der Leyen.

Croatia was granted €68.37 million for earthquake relief which according to the provisions of the European Union Solidarity Fund can be absorbed until June this year but that has now been extended for another year after Plenković met with von der Leyen.

We appreciate that the Commission has taken into account the specific situation Croatia was faced with after the two devastating earthquakes that struck this area while we were simultaneously dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a force majeure, Plenković added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Croatian PM Meets With British Defence Secretary

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday met with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the government said in a press release.

Their talks focused on the continuation of Croatia's strategic cooperation with the UK in defence and security as well as on strengthening the political dialogue.

They exchanged views on the situation on the Ukraine-Russia border as well as in Southeast Europe, with emphasis on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The two officials reaffirmed the wish to deepen Croatian-British relations and the joint commitment to strengthening European security.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Frka Petešić Says Milanović Using Him to Discredit Plenković, Cabinet

ZAGREB, 30 Jan 2022 - The prime minister's chief of staff, Zvonimir Frka Petešić, said on Saturday that President Zoran Milanović was using a low level of incitement and a tabloid rhetoric against him and using him to discredit PM Andrej Plenković and his cabinet.

"President Milanović promised normality in his campaign, but no one expected this low level of incitement, this tabloid rhetoric," he told Jutarnji List daily, adding that the president's attempt to use him to discredit the prime minister and his cabinet is a "pathetic and futile attack. It won't work. We are not the same nor can we be."

"Milanović is making rude insults, fabrications and false accusations with the intention to hide his own scandals, doing particular damage to Croatia on the international level," Frka Petešić said, adding that Milanović is acting like that "probably because he thinks it improves his approval rating."

This raises the issue of the president's accountability and morality, he said, adding that Milanović has deeply hurt him and is repeatedly calling him a criminal by using the fact that during his term in office, he cannot be held to account and is hiding behind the security of his position.

"I repeat, I am not a permanent resident of Zagreb nor did I falsely register my permanent residence. I acted as instructed by the competent services at the Interior Ministry," Frka Petešić said in the interview ih which he explained why he had applied for an official flat in Zagreb.

Asked if he was considering resigning as a liability to the government and the prime minister, he said that if anyone found a property in his or his wife's name in Croatia or anywhere else, they should report it and he would immediately resign.

Asked why he had asked for an official flat in Zagreb if he has one in Zagreb's Dubrava District, Frka Petešić said he and his family have been living in Zagreb since 2011 as tenants.

"I'm not the owner of any property nor will I be the owner of the flat I was given to use and for which I pay HRK 5 per square metre, at the same price and rules as other officials, in line with a decision from 2001. Also, as a tenant, I have been paying Zagreb's local tax of 18%, the highest in the state, as all Zagreb residents."

He added that he has not "evaded paying even one lipa, as some who have been writing about me these days have done", and that he has not defrauded the state budget. "Everything else is a fabrication and a political campaign against me, in which the president has now joined, too."

Asked why he registered his permanent residence in Sali on Dugi Otok island just a day before taking office, Frka Petešić said that was incorrect and that he did so "a month after taking office, while I was applying for an official flat. Among the documents required was the certificate of permanent residence, although a place of permanent residence is not a requirement for being allocated a flat."

He said it had been a mistake not to register permanent residence for the whole family in Sali. "We were busy moving and packing, and my wife planned to regulate that after the move, but she forgot. Now that's been corrected and she registered her permanent residence in Sali, as did my older daughter, while their temporary residence is registered in Jurišićeva Street in Zagreb.

He added that a day after moving into the official flat in Jurišićeva in mid-October, he registered his temporary residence there.

Asked why his family is still registered as living at a friends' flat in Zagreb, Frka Petešić said it was an administrative error that was corrected after he reported it to the police.

"My family has been living with me the whole time," he said, except the younger daughter who is studying in France. "As I explained, we all have permanent residence in Sali and temporary residence in Zagreb, in Jurišićeva, in the official flat where we live while I hold this temporary office. According to the relevant services at the Interior Ministry, that was the only logical option in our atypical situation."

Frka Petešić said he was told at the ministry that he would have committed a misdemeanor only if he had registered permanent residence in Sali and been living in Zagreb without having registered temporary residence in Zagreb. He added that all his ancestors were from Dugi Otok and that is his only connection to the island.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Plenković Says Milanović's Statements Scandalous, Undermine Croatia's Reputation

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called out President Zoran Milanović on Thursday for undermining Croatia's reputation and credibility, and said the government distanced itself from his views on the Ukraine situation.

Milanović's statements "are damaging for Croatia's reputation and shameful," he said at a cabinet meeting. "They lead to big disappointment, I'd say indignation, among our partners, from the Unites States to NATO member states, European Union member states, our neighbours."

Plenković said it seemed that every important ambassador would be summoned due to Milanović's statements. "That's bad, it's scandalous, it undermines Croatia's reputation and credibility. It's in total opposition to the Croatian government's principled foreign policy positions, not just on Ukraine but many other countries."

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić to protest against Milanović's recent statements, which were applauded in Russia.

Milanović said earlier this week that Croatia would not get involved in the crisis in any way in the event of its escalation and that it would not deploy its troops there. He also said Ukraine did not belong in NATO and that the EU instigated the 2014 "coup d'etat" in Ukraine at which pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown.

Plenković reiterated today that the Croatian government's stand was "to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, to respect international law principles, to advocate peace, conflict de-escalation, defusing tensions, and to contribute to international community efforts, whether through the various existing formats or through our activities in NATO, the EU or other organisations."

He denied that sending troops to Ukraine was being considered, saying that it was not on the agenda of any international organisation.

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