Sunday, 26 May 2019

Brand New Speed Cameras Installed on Croatia's Roads

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of May, 2019, the intense fight against speeding in Croatia continues. At a few locations across Croatia, new ''super cameras'' that you simply can't manage to escape from or cheat have been set up.

The new cameras look completely different from those set up a few years ago and are much more powerful, according to a report from 24sata.

The Cordon-M4 camera is manufactured by the Russian company Simicon, which incorporates a number of technologies developed for the needs of the Russian Army and is currently one of the most advanced traffic surveillance cameras in the world. The camera can control all cars in all four lanes regardless of the direction in which they're moving.

It uses advanced radar technology and individually measures the speed of all of the vehicles passing. With the help of a high-resolution camera, it can automatically detect and read the plates from all European Union countries. When a car exceeds the permitted speed, the camera quickly recognises it and extracts its photograph.

The details and information about the individual driving the car and breaking the speed limit in Croatia can be stored in the camera's memory and transmitted over wireless connections. For example, it can be connected to a PC with police sitting nearby, or, the data can be sent to a central police server.

The camera software is able to automatically generate a police misdemeanor warrant and attach a photo to it, which could significantly reduce the scope of the work of Croatia's traffic police officers.

In addition, Croatia's new cameras will recognise and record any car that has an expired registration. Even complete and utter darkness is no problem because it is equipped with an advanced infrared system so no light whatsoever is needed during the night.

These new cameras are more compact than previous ones and don't need special pillars, they can be installed on any of the lighting posts or on the signalling and surveillance structures already placed along the highway.

They are currently being placed at numerous locations across the Republic  of Croatia. For now, nine cameras have been set up down in Dalmatia, more specifically in Split, Šibenik, Trogir, Imotski, Omiš and Makarska.

Make sure to follow our dedicated news page for much more.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Split Police to Approve Placement of New Surveillance Cameras

Big Brother may well be watching you in and around the wider Split area as local police approve a significant number of brand new surveillance cameras in numerous locations within that aforementioned area of central Dalmatia in the name of heightened security.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of May, 2019, the Croatian police in Split-Dalmatia County will issue their approval if all of the necessary conditions for the placement of the new surveillance cameras are met, and if they deem that the setting of the new video surveillance system will positively affect the level of general security of people and property.

The Split Police Administration has stated that approvals have already been issued for the installation of new surveillance cameras in the nearby areas of Trogir and Solin.

As Slobodna Dalmacija reports, as of the beginning of 2019, the Split Police Inspectorate has issued two approvals for the placement of video surveillance systems in Trogir in 23 locations and in Solin in a further 10 locations. Before the new approvals came, Solin had received police approval for three cameras, and this year Solin requested a police review of locations where the administration could set up three times as many such devices.

Should local police give the green light to the new surveillance camera locations and agree that their placement would be beneficial to the area's overall safety and security levels for both people and for property, then all of the approvals will be given. In previous years, licenses were granted to Split for fifteen different locations, Solin received approval for three locations, Makarska got the green light for six locations, Hvar was okayed for twelve locations, Sinj was approved for one and the Lovreć Municipality received approval for four locations.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and Total Split pages for much more.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Ten Year Prison Sentence Awaiting Former Croatian PM Ivo Sanader?

Much like an unpleasant odour, former PM Ivo Sanader is back in the limelight, at least that of the court room, once again.

As VLM/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of April, 2019, two years after the Zagreb County Court announced their verdict in the Planinska affair, former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader is set to appear at the Supreme Court, in a hearing which will deal with his appeals against that previous judgement.

In the Planinska affair, former prime minister Ivo Sanader (HDZ) was handed down a verdict which saw him sentenced to four and half years in prison, while Mladen Mlinarević and Stjepan Fiolić were sentenced to one year in prison each, with that punishment being overturned for community service instead.

Hefty fines were imposed on the two accused companies, the Fiolić butchery was punished with a 50,000 kuna fine, and the the accused livestock reproduction centre was hit a fine of 70,000 kuna. The verdict saw it decided that Ivo Sanader, Stjepan Fiolić, the Fiolić butchery, and the aforementioned centre must jointly return fifteen million kuna, while Ivo Sanader faced more punishment on top of that.

It is anticipated that session of the Supreme Court dealing with the Planinska affair will last three days, during which the defense should explain their appeals. The defendants complained of substantial violations of the criminal procedure and demanded that the verdict be terminated. The main request is for the Supreme Court to revise the previous verdict and subsequent sentence(s).

The maximum prescribed punishment is being sought for former PM Ivo Sanader, which currently stands at ten years behind bars, is because the belief is that this is truly a case of the "worst form of political corruption which he [Ivo Sanader] himself devised, and in its realisation he was insistent and persistent, just as he was persistent and diligent in hiding it". As for Mladen Mlinarević, they believe that he and Ivo Sanader have shown that this was not a case of misconduct but pure corruption as a form of lifestyle.

The Planinska affair gave way to one of Ivo Sanader's most controversial court proceedings to date, which was often interrupted due to his various health problems. Due to these postponements, the trial took place from April 2013 right up until April 2018.

Several years later, Ivo Sanader was placed on trial again in repeated trials for his involvement in the INA - MOL and Fimi Media affairs.

While waiting for the Supreme Court to pass its decision on the appeals to the previous sentence for the Planinska affair, Ivo Sanader was sentenced to two and a half years in prison back in October last year in the Hypo scandal, and his verdict was acquitted in yet another affair involving HEP. If the Supreme Court confirms the previous ruling for the Planinska affair, it means that Ivo Sanader will soon be back behind bars once again. If the judgement is terminated, it will mean that another repeated trial, which in true Croatian fashion, is likely to last for years, will occur.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by VLM/Poslovni Dnevnik

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Brexit Brits in Croatia - Simplified Jargon for Croatia's British Residents

A look at the possible Brexit scenarios and what they mean for Croatia's confused British residents.

Brexit has been delayed. If May can't get her deal through parliament, or if no other way forward is proposed, the UK could end up with a disorderly No Deal exit, despite parliament having voted overwhelmingly against it. If May passes her deal or parliament finds another route and that is passed then Brexit has been delayed until May the 22nd to allow for the necessary legislation to be passed. The UK cannot delay Brexit any further unless it agrees to partake in the European elections. Farcical, no? 

Anyway, La La Land, sorry... I mean Britain, aside, let's see how things currently stand for Croatia's resident Brits. I've tried to update you a lot, but as you know, the Brexit situation has changed more times than Boris Johnson has changed his political beliefs, so it doesn't always mean much. Still, let's give it a go.

May's deal/withdrawal agreement passes:

If, in the unlikely event May's deal passes during the third meaningful vote on it (third time lucky?), then the withdrawal agreement concluded back in 2018 will come into force on May the 22nd this year, giving way to a transition (implementation) period until what we currently believe to be the end of December, 2020. This however, could be extended and altered. 

What does this mean?

It means that you need to make sure you're correctly registered with the authorities (MUP/Ministry of the Interior) as a resident in Croatia. You need to be in possession of a valid residency permit or the white piece of paper proving you've been approved and you're just waiting for it to be made, before December 2020. If you're due to gain permanent residency (after five years of continuous, lawful residency in Croatia), you can apply for it as an EU citizen would during this time. In short, nothing will alter.

Here's a more detailed guide I wrote a few months ago.

May's deal fails again, parliament can find no way forward, No Deal occurs:

This remains unlikely as this is only the desire of a handful of people who seem hell bent on such an insane idea. Still, it could happen. You need to make sure you're correctly registered with MUP as stated above, and your registration, receipt of registration and/or residence permit will act as proof of your British citizenship and proof of you having been resident in Croatia before the UK's withdrawal from the EU. It's hugely important that you do this if you haven't already. 

Here's how you should prepare for all scenarios, this guide will help you make sure you're on the right side of the law should the UK crash out of the EU with no deal next month. 

Here are MUP's guidelines, with our explainers and points thrown in, in the case of a No Deal Brexit. Croatia has now finally confirmed it will protect British citizens living legally in Croatia and minimise any disruption as much as possible regardless of the Brexit outcome. Click the above link and read carefully. Here's MUP's original post on the subject.

Is there any new information?

Yes and no. Here's what we know so far: Croatia has committed to protect its British residents regardless of the outcome, which is good news. You can click here for an overview of each EU member state's guidelines for residence rights for Brits in the unwanted event of the UK leaving without a deal. It isn't in alphabetical order, so scroll down until you find Croatia, or don't, because I'll just write what you need to know here and explain each point as necessary anyway. Here goes:

''In order to provide for the regulation of residence status of UK nationals and their family members, who on the day of departure of the UK from the European Union have already registered their temporary or permanent stay or have been issued with a residence card pursuant to Title X of the existing Aliens Act, certain amendments to the draft proposal for the Act on EEA nationals and their family members have been proposed.  

Those provisions provide for keeping the existing residence status and lay down the right to work without obtaining additional authorisation (this provision will have no end date). 

The residence documents already issued under the existing Aliens Act will be recognised as temporary national residence permits for nationals of the United Kingdom and their family members after Brexit (option c). These temporary national residence permits will be valid maximum up to one year from the entry into force of the Act (or until their expiration date, if the said date is shorter).

An obligation has also been prescribed to replace residence documents within a year from the entry into force of the Act. New residence permits will be issued in the format laid down by Regulation 1030/2002. 

Pursuant to a special procedure, the draft Act will be sent before the Croatian Parliament for urgent legislative procedure.

b). On 19 March 2019 total of 655 UK nationals have regulated their residence in the Republic of Croatia (358 on temporary residence and 297 have permanent residence).

Having this in mind, we do not currently expect overburden of our administrative capacities.

We aim to implement a simple and straightforward procedure in order not to overburden UK nationals.

Therefore we are considering accepting applications for exchanging the recognised temporary national residence permits after 30 March 2019 (or no deal Brexit date) and issue first permits in accordance with Regulation 1030/2002 afterwards (in order to replace any temporary documents).

c). We have made a proposal for a recommendation addressed to all UK nationals and their family members residing in the Republic of Croatia who intend to continue residing in the Republic of Croatia, to register their residence in the Republic of Croatia in line with the provisions of the existing Aliens Act.

This recommendation was published on the website of the Ministry of the Interior https://mup.gov.hr/vijesti/information-concerning-the-future-relations-between-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union/283273

What does all that mean?

In short, legislation is being put forward to mean that the current residence document/permits you hold now, which were obtained via your EU treaty rights (the right to live and work in any EU member state) will remain valid for one year, or less if you're due to update them (renew or apply for permanent residence) in less than one year. 

This legislation will mean that essentially, British citizens already residing legally in Croatia will be treated like all other EU citizens and their unrestricted entitlement to access the Croatian labour market will remain as it is now - permanently.

There aren't many Brits living here, so there shouldn't be any particular extra burden felt by MUP or by individuals.

Eventually, residence cards obtained through EU law will cease to be valid for British nationals, but there's nothing to worry about, you simply exchange them for whatever the new ones will be. Croatia is considering beginning permit exchanges as of the 30th of March (however this might be worth bypassing considering the fact that the UK will almost certainly still be a member of the EU on that date).

Need an example?

1) Let's say you're due to get permanent residency this year. You'll apply for it as normal just like you were still an EU citizen, and you'll be granted under the same conditions as EU nationals. Ask the official if you'll need to alter it in a year's time. If you do, you won't be asked to make an application again, it will be a simple exhange for a new permit. It will still be permanent residence, just maybe a slightly different looking card.

2) You've still got a few years to go before you hit that magic five year mark. Your current temporary residence permit will remain valid for another year. Go and exchange it for whatever the new document will be as soon as MUP announce they're beginning exchanges to save you any extra burden. Ask at your local police station for information on this, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

3) Let's say you've somehow managed to live in Croatia without any sort of residence permit (yes, it happens), you need to go and register your residence now and get a five year temporary residence permit. You can then exchange it for whatever the new document is when MUP begins exchanging cards, and then eventually get permanent residence.

What about healthcare?

If no other way forward is found and no further extension to the Brexit process is agreed, the UK will crash out of the EU. In this case, the EU health insurance card will cease to be valid for British citizens. As things stand, we can reveal that the Croatian Government is preparing a Draft Law Proposal on a Temporary Measure in the area of Obligatory Health Insurance designed to provide transitional healthcare arrangements after the UK leaves the EU to those who are residents in Croatia.

We'll update you as soon as we know more about what that means.

Make sure to follow British Embassy Zagreb on Facebook, and sign up for email alerts from gov.uk's Living in Croatia page, which is updated as soon as any new information comes out. Give our dedicated politics page a follow for much more on Brexit and beyond.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

New Parking Cameras Coming to Rijeka, One Already in Operation

One of the City of Rijeka's biggest problems is the parking situation. Just like many other cities across Croatia, sometimes drivers are left with little choice other than to get a bit creative with how and where they leave their car, but that harmless couple of minutes in which you think you'll get away with leaving it parked where it shouldn't be could cost you thanks to Rijeka's new cameras.

Just when you thought Big Brother couldn't possibly think of anything else, he does. New parking cameras have found their way to Rijeka, and some of them even send photos of your crime directly to the police while you remain clueless. One trial camera is already in operation in the city.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of March, 2019, failure to comply with traffic regulations when it comes to improper parking is still being listed as one of the biggest problems in Rijeka according to the traffic directorate's data for the year 2018, Novi list writes.

Given the fact that no new job positions will be opened and therefore no new employees will take up work, there will still be twenty employees in Rijeka's city administration. Therefore, the City of Rijeka plans to quickly set up five quality high-resolution cameras in numerous places across Rijeka's city centre to keep a watchful eye on any unsuspecting drivers who are illegally parked at bus stops or at delivery places and drop-off points.

One test camera is already in operation at Fiumara and the system is allegedly working very well, despite the fact (in reality, especially because) drivers who have parked illegally are still blissfully unaware that their vehicle's license plates are being photographed and that the system then sends the images any any additional data directly to the traffic police in order to have the appropriate punishment written out.

Make sure to follow our dedicated news and lifestyle pages for much more.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Brexit Brits in Croatia - MUP's Guidelines in Event of Any Scenario

MUP has finally spoken!

Where do things stand for you as British citizens lawfully resident in the Republic of Croatia? 

* When this article was first written, it was a draft law. This law was fully adopted in July 2019 and will come into force in the case of a no deal Brexit*

If you see a little * and italic font at the end of or underneath a sentence written by MUP, that's our little comment to give you our advice on the matter, too.

RESIDENCE:

Residence registration is very important in the case of any scenario for future relations between the European Union and the UK.
 
Therefore, all UK citizens and their family members residing in the Republic of Croatia are strongly recommended to register their residence as a British/EU citizen/apply for a residence card as a family member of a British/EU citizen.

Please click here and click on the following links: Form 1b, (for EU citizens, this needs to be clicked on for British nationals too) Form 2b (for family members of EU/British citizens who are third country nationals), of Form 3b for both EU/British citizens and his/her family members who want to apply for permanent residence.

* Please note that permanent residence can be applied for only after five years of lawful, uninterrupted temporary stay in the Republic of Croatia, you can have changed your address as many times as you like, but you must have been registered as legally living on Croatian territory for five years on an uninterrupted basis. Lawful, uninterrupted residency can be shown when applying for permanent residence with every ID card you've held, as the dates on them will attest to the five year time period. Some MUP officials claim you cannot apply for permanent residence until your temporary residence expires, others say you must be in possession of a temporary residence card which is still valid at the time of application. We advise you go to MUP and ask about your case individually, as they seem to alter this rule depending on who you talk to.

* According to EU law, the right to permanent residence ''after five years'' actually means five years + one day, but once again, MUP can misinterpret this and assume you need to come and start the process before the temporary residence expires. Don't leave it up to fate. At least go and ask in person before your temporary residence card expires.

* If you were not given an automatic five year residence permit when you first applied for some reason or another, and when you've renewed your temporary residence the official has taken your old ID card from you, there is no need to worry. Present the ID card you have and your legal residence will show up when a case worker checks you out to approve your permanent residence application.
 
Once the applicants have completed the registration of a temporary residence in accordance with the provisions of the Aliens Act (OG 130/11, 74/13, 69/17 and 46/18), they will be immediately issued with a Registration Certificate registration of a temporary residence in paper form, free of charge. If they wish, they can apply for a residence card (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the amount of HRK 79.50).

* We strongly recommend you pay for the residence card, the white sheet of paper is merely confirmation of your residence/address, the residence card has your photo and details on it and acts as ID in Croatia. It is also weatherproof and easier to carry around on your person, which, just like nationals, you must and can be fined for not being able to present a form of ID if asked to by the police.
 
UK citizens who apply for permanent residence will be issued with residence cards (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the amount of HRK 79.50).
 
Family members of UK nationals, who are not nationals of an EU Member State, are required to apply for a residence card/permanent residence card as a family member (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the same amount of HRK 79.50).
 
UK citizens and their family members can register their residence at a police administration/police station according to their place of residence (The list of police administrations/police stations is available here).
 
The registration of residence and the relevant documents are a clear proof that their holder is a citizen of the United Kingdom or a family member [of said British national] who has already resided in the Republic of Croatia before the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.
 
DRIVING LICENSES:
 
Starting from the day on which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union, UK driving licenses will be subject to regulations concerning foreign driving licenses.
 
UK driving licenses will be valid in the Republic of Croatia for up to one year from the day that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union. After that, they will have to be replaced with Croatian driving licenses and the applicant will have to submit a certificate of medical fitness to drive.
 
UK nationals and nationals of other countries who are holders of UK driving licenses are advised to apply for the replacement of their driving licenses with a Croatian driving license as soon as possible.

Applicants who submit their application before the date on which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union will be able to replace their UK driving licenses under the conditions set for the replacement of EEA driving licenses in which case it is not necessary to submit a certificate of medical fitness to drive.
 
Both the EU driving licenses and the former paper driving licenses are equally recognised.
 
UK driving licenses are replaced with Croatian driving licenses without any obligation to take a driving exam/test, regardless of the category of vehicle listed on the UK driving license.

Border checks on persons at the EU external border (This section does not apply for travel in the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland):

EU law on border checks at the EU external borders on persons distinguishes between the control of EU citizens and of third country nationals. As of the withdrawal date, the control of UK nationals on entry and exit from the Schengen area as well as to and from Member States for which the decision on lifting internal controls has not yet been taken, but which apply Schengen rules at their external borders, will follow the rules for third country nationals.

(Please note that UK nationals who are members of the family of an EU citizen exercising their right to free movement are subject to the rules set out in Article 5 of Directive 2004/38 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.) On 29 April 2004, the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.)

This means that they will no longer enjoy facilitations at the borders provided for EU citizens, nationals of the contracting states of the European Economic Area, and Swiss nationals ("EU / EEA / CH citizens") related to the free movement rights. In particular, UK citizens will not be entitled to use the separate lanes provided for EU / EEA / CH citizens to carry out checks at border crossings and will be subject to thorough checks of all entry conditions for third country nationals upon entry.

The entry checks for UK citizens will include verification of:
 
The possession of a valid travel document for crossing the border; the document must have a validity of no more than ten years, and shall remain valid for three months after the intended departure from the Member States; (Please note that UK national passports issued before the withdrawal date remain valid travel documents).
 
The duration of the stay:

For short stays in the Schengen area, UK citizens will be subject to restrictions on the authorised duration of stay within the Schengen area (with a maximum of 90 days in 180 days); for long stays, they will in principle require a residence permit or a long-stay visa issued by national authorities, under the national rules; The identity and the nationality of the third country national and of the authenticity and validity of the travel document for crossing the border, and in particular, if an alert has been issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purpose of refusing entry and checking potential threats to public policy, internal security, public health and international relations; the purpose (eg tourism or work) and the conditions of the intended stay (eg accommodation, internal travels); the existence of sufficient means of subsistence (i.e. having sufficient means to pay for the intended stay and return travel). ("Schengen-visa"), when the transitional period for the stay in the United Kingdom is reduced by the amount of the short-stay visa ("Schengen-visa"), on 13 November 2018 the Schengen area is 90 days within a 180-day period and it is now up to the European Parliament and the Council to adopt this proposal. - visa requirements, following the visa reciprocity principle.)

Travelers are advised to confirm, prior to travel, the validity of travel documents and to ensure that they fulfill all the above conditions before they travel to the EU. The non-fulfillment of any of the entry conditions may result in refusal of entry issued in accordance with the procedure laid down in Union law with respect to third country nationals.

Checks on exit include verification of:

The possession of a valid travel document for crossing the external border; verification that the person did not exceed the maximum duration of stay in the territory of the Member States; relevant databases similarly as upon entry checks.

WHAT DOES THIS JARGON ACTUALLY MEAN?

In short, this is nothing we haven't advised before and we applaud MUP for confirming things.

Make sure you're registered and in possession of a residence card which acts as proof of your lawful residence in the Republic of Croatia before the United Kingdom's withdrawal (if it ever happens) from the EU. In other words, these act as your acquired rights that you were entitled to before a law change, ie, your EU treaty rights.

Apply for permanent residence when you hit the magic five year mark.

Switch your driving license over to a Croatian one now, even though you don't need to right away, why bother with the headache?

You won't be able to use the EU lanes when arriving in an EU country using a British passport anymore.

Croatia is not in Schengen, but when travelling to and from Schengen, you might be subjected to more questions than you're used to.

If your passport is nearing its end, apply for a new one now to save you the bother.

We'd like to thank MUP, all sarcasm aside, for setting out some guidelines. This means that all Brits who have legally resided in Croatia, still live here, and have proof of that, will be fine even in the event of a No Deal Brexit. If May's Withdrawal Agreement manages to pass, then that will come into force. Click here to read that. If Brexit is delayed (likely), or Article 50 is revoked (unlikely, but possible), keep up with us for info.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more on Brexit. Sign up to email alerts from the British Embassy in Zagreb for any alterations. Click here for MUP's post.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Dubrovnik Police Handed 43.8 Kilograms of Marijuana

A suspicious discovery as Dubrovnik police discover sodden packets of marijuana washed up in and around the city.

During the winter along the southern Dalmatian coast, numerous rather odd objects and suspicious packages end up being washed up. From waste dragged up by the strong currents from the south ending up caught in Dubrovnik's harbour, to packets of marijuana lying around on the beach, Dubrovnik plays host to some unusual debris at this time of year.

Marijuana has been discovered by people just going about their business on several occasions along the southern Dalmatian coast, where it appears to have been dropped typically by passing vessels travelling between Albania and Montenegro and Italy.

It appears that the mysterious marijuana packages have returned, as Dubrovnik police end up receiving yet more discoveries from the shoreline.

As Morski writes on the 4th of February, 2019, last weekend, Dubrovnik police found two sea soaked packages of marijuana with a total weight of 43.8 kg in two different locations, more specifically the seafront in Dubrovnik itself and considerably further away on the island of Šipan, which is part of the picturesque Elaphite islands that lie just north of Dubrovnik.

The discovered packets of marijuana are now being stored at the official premises of the Dubrovnik Police Administration, after which their destruction will follow.

The Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Administration, with the help of international police cooperation, is currently conducting a proper criminal investigation into the discovered packages in order to attempt to determine the origin of the packages, according to a statement made by the Dubrovnik Police Administration.

Discoveries such as this one give the term sea weed an an entirely new meaning.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know going on up and down the country by following our dedicated news page. If it's just Dubrovnik and southern Dalmatia you're interested in, give Total Dubrovnik a follow to keep up with what's going on in the Pearl of the Adriatic.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Vlaho Orepić Talks Police, MOST and New Political Party - Nova Politika

Vlaho Orepić has seen his fair share of political alterations in Croatia, from becoming minister of the interior during Tihomir Orešković's government, to being shockingly dismissed by Andrej Plenković, to stepping down as an MP for MOST, one of the partners of the former ruling coalition, eventually breaking away entirely and forming a new party of his own - Nova Politika.

Known for not only his position as the minister of the interior, but for his achievements in the sporting world and his political activities in his beloved town of Ploče, Konavle-born Orepić sat down with us to discuss the past, the present, and the future, including his new party.

Why did you decide to set up a brand new political party? What values ​​does it, and you, represent?

Through the experiences I gained through my civic activism, and then through my direct participation in the work of the Government and the Parliament of Croatia I realised that politics in Croatia is not what should be expected of it. It doesn't do the work of the people. On the contrary, all the policies of the past have disrupted the [lives of the] Croatian people, and has impoverished the Croatian economy.

So, we need something new, that is Nova Politika, which will be what people expect it to be, and that means working for the people. This need, this message, and these values ​​are contained in the idea and the very name Nova Politika.

How will your party differ from the countless others who are already operating in Croatia?

We simply need order in the country, as well as in political and social relations because we as a country aren't in a crisis, but we are in disorder. The basic two goals of Nova Politika are the protection of democratic principles and procedures in political relations and the institutional arrangement, as well as the optimisation of the state. Nova Politika as a party is, unlike others, a project. A project of getting together with the aim of institutional convergence from the current disorder putting the country in order.

There are many challenges which require ambitious structural reforms, so new, life-motivated policies are needed.

First and foremost, what we're going to invest a huge amount of energy into is the struggle for the legitimacy of elections. The outcomes of the entire series of electoral processes in Croatia are crucially influenced by the voices of those who have filed a false residence in the Republic of Croatia, and as such gain a whole range of substantive rights, as well as voting rights. In its electoral register, Croatia has at least 150,000 such fictional voters. Parliament has a minimum of 4-6 parliamentarians who base their mandate on those fictional voters. That's been going on for far too long and it needs to stop.

Why did not you take advantage of this opportunity and as the minister of the interior, solve this problem?

I didn't manage to. They dismissed me. I believe that you're familiar with the fact that I uncompromisingly tried to solve this problem. In just two and a half months, the police, to whom the law prescribed that obligation, prompted the deletion of 45,000 fictional residences. Very rapidly this figure has grown to 75,000. This issue, because of political incitement and abuse, is an exceptional problem in our society.

What is especially disturbing is that this is intractable abuse and a kind of blackmail of people in need. People who, because of realistic, existential problems, engage in illegal behavior such as the fictitious reporting of residence in the Republic of Croatia. The Republic of Croatia should systematically and legally care about its emigrants and not just keep tolerating this crime.

You've endured huge political resistance to this engagement of yours and even personal discreditation. Judging from your findings, which parties have encouraged fictitious voters to participate in the elections in the Republic of Croatia?

Fictitious voters' transport from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was organised by the HDZ, SDSS and even MOST, which was concealing it from me as its minister. Even the activists engaged in the recent referendum initiatives have also collected signatures in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the pre-election campaign for local elections in Vrgorac, HDZ had a poster with a cross marked over my face which they stuck in neighbouring places and cities in western Herzegovina. With which they called "their" fictional voters to come to the elections.

But that doesn't matter anymore. It's important to realise the magnitude of this problem and to get credible electoral registers as soon as possible in order to guarantee the legality of elections in the Republic of Croatia. We need to get that in order. To move forward, we need to be able to count the results of the elections to match the real will of the citizens. That's Nova Politika.

Will someone who is already active in political or public life enter your party? Maybe one of the members of MOST? 

I hope we'll all be able get together around the goal as Nova Politika is focused on its political goal, and all those who see Croatia as a decent and well-regulated state are welcome. Let's say that proper order in the area of [registering] ​​residence should be the target of everyone who wishes our homeland well.  This is what I expect especially from those who ran their election campaigns based on fictional voters and who claim they're sovereign.

Will you participate in the forthcoming European Parliament elections, and will you have your candidate for the president of the Republic of Croatia?

The focus is on parliamentary elections. But Nova Politika partaking either alone or in cooperation with someone else in all the upcoming elections hasn't been ruled out.

What's your opinion on the work of current President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Will you back her for a second term?

She failed to portray herself as the president of all citizens. We definitely need a new president.

At the moment, the most current issue is the collapse of an Israeli jet plane purchase. Do you think Croatia needs war planes? If so, how much money would you be willing to invest in their purchase?

We don't need to call the need for war planes into question. But what we need to take into account is our financial situation. At this point, we have no money for that. We have a whole series of challenges that are related to our bare existence. We must take into account the life priorities that hav arisen from the situation in which we're in and live within our means. Aircraft, at this time, aren't something we can afford and aren't a priority.

MOST has been looking like a conservative party recently, more and more. Do you share such a vision? If not, why were you in that party at all?

I don't share the current worldview of MOST, which is significantly different from the one they were trying to show, and which dominated while I was in MOST. The leaders of MOST have repositioned MOST within the frameworks of their own personal worldviews. It isn't mature, and it is a type of conflict politics, this is a political environment which I can't identify with.

Why did you leave MOST?

MOST as a party abandoned the very idea of ​​MOST, so I left MOST.

In two HDZ-MOST coalition governments, you were the interior minister. Would you enter into a coalition with HDZ again? Will you remain in the Parliament as an opposition representative until the end of your mandate or does a possibility for you to support the current government exist?

I'm going to remain an opposition MP.

Which parties would you potentially enter into a coalition with?

With this very question you've addressed a big problem in the functioning of politics in the Republic of Croatia. Nobody asks you what your suggestions are. What are your political goals, etc. People are already accepting or rejecting you on the basis of your ideological orientation. This approach to politics is wrong and that's why we need Nova Politika. A policy that highlights clear goals and their implementation brings together the necessary majority. We need to evolve current politics into realistic politics. Politics that can and should be measurable. Politics which will be conditioned by the mutual interaction of the principles of trust and responsibility.

Davor Božinović succeeded you as the minister of the interior. How do you evaluate his work?

He's completely unambiguous in his approach in these circumstances we're in and his root changes make him look superficial. Manipulation with fictitious residences and some staffing solutions paralysed the operational work of the police and indicated a lack of workability. He acts unambiguously because he has no ambition and therefore no actual results.

What do you think about the Croatian police's treatment in relation to migrants on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina? Does the behavior of the police differ now than from when you were minister?

The migrant policy of Croatia, of which a lot is dealt with by the police I consider to be good. The work on the frontier is on the line of the one that was designed and established during my mandate. There is no leg room when it comes to illegal border crossings but there's also a very human approach when it comes to caring for people in need. Some isolated failures in treatment can't diminish the significance of the police work done.

When talking about migration policy, every day Croatia that it is a responsible member of the EU, because don't forget that the Croatian police, in protecting the borders of the Republic of Croatia, are also working to protect the EU's external borders.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Driving in Croatia: Zagreb Police Announce Another Action

Driving in Croatia is always a pleasure. From the famously smooth roads, even in the most rugged and mountainous areas, to taking in the truly diverse scenery the country has to offer from coast to continent, a road trip through Croatia is undoubtedly a must do when spending any length of time here.

Despite the joy of driving on such perfect roads and enjoying the incredible bio-diversity of the land, winter is well and truly on its way and along with freezing temperatures and snow, it intends to bring some hefty fines and a stronger police presence across the country.

The police have already announced a few new sets of high fines and multiple actions in which the ''hunt'' will be on for those not wearing seat belts or using their phones while driving, and the Zagreb police are upping their game once again as the cold begins to bite in continental Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of December, 2018, in the area governed by the Zagreb police administration, a preventative action is set to take place. The Zagreb police announced that the action will be implemented this weekend.

From the 7th to the 10th of December, Zagreb police officers will carry out a preventive action directed at enhanced vehicle and driver supervision, the general aim of which is to prevent and sanction the most serious violations, known commonly all over the world as the four major killers on the road.

These offenses are alcohol consumption while driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and the improper use of mobile phones and similar devices, as well as an array of other offenses which frequently contribute to the occurrence and the often tragic consequences of most traffic accidents.

Make sure to stay up to date with our news page for more. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, make sure to follow Total Zagreb for everything going on in the Croatian capital city.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Croatian Police to Fine Those Driving Without Removing Snow from Car

The Croatian police have been upping their game recently when it comes to fining drivers, from offenses like using your phone while driving to not having your seatbelt buckled, we've now entered the colder months and drivers having left snow on their car roofs and car bonnets (hoods), are next in line for a hefty fine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of November, 2018, drivers who haven't cleaned bothered to clean the snow from their vehicle's roof or engine cover pose not only a major danger to themselves on the roads, as well as to others.

Avoiding the unwanted task of having to clean snow off your car in the morning can however be avoided entirely with the use of a simple piece of cardboard and two socks, according to 24sata.

If you put the piece of cardboard on the windshield in the morning, it won't freeze over, and a sock on each windscreen wiper blade will prevent them from freezing and sticking themselves to the glass. If you haven't or don't intend to do this, make sure to take other proper measures or be prepared to wake up that bit earlier as properly removing snow and ice is, as you'll likely be aware of, quite time consuming.

The Croatian police have warned that hefty fines will be given to those who drive their cars without having removed the snow and ice from the vehicle beforehand. Snow that flies off your car when in motion can cause a danger to other drivers, and you may be completely blinded when braking, which is one of many reasons why uncleaned snow and ice can easily cause an otherwise completely avoidable traffic accident.

If the Croatian police stop you on the road with snow and ice left on your car, you will receive a 1,000 kuna penalty.

Make sure to follow our news page for more info on the Croatian police and driving in Croatia.

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