Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Miroslav Škoro Resigns as Homeland Movement Leader

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - Miroslav Škoro on Tuesday tendered his irrevocable resignation as leader of the opposition Homeland Movement.

"I hereby irrevocably resign from the position of president of the Homeland Movement and from all other duties in the party, effective from 20 July 2021," Škoro announced in a Facebook post.

"I resign because I think that the time has come for the Homeland Movement to continue its successful political activity under new leadership. I am proud that we managed to form a political party that the Croatian people have recognised as being one that can preserve the Croatian national interests and values that are enshrined in the foundations of our state and our people," Škoro said.

He noted that in slightly over a year since its formation, the Homeland Movement had managed to achieve great successes in national and local elections, emerging as the third strongest political group in the country.

Škoro said that he would remain a faithful member of the party and would help it in achieving its interests.

The Homeland Movement said they were surprised by Škoro's resignation, but accepted it "with understanding", thanking him for his contribution.

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

Friday, 16 July 2021

Davor Nađi Interview: "Fokus Party Not for American-style Economy, Dutch or Scandinavian Preferred"

July 16, 2021 - One month after the local elections in Croatia, the liberal/center Fokus party president shares with TCN reflections of his Zagreb mayor candidacy, details on political views, plans, and hope for the future of Croatia. Learn more about the Fokus party in an exclusive Davor Nađi interview conducted by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac.

2021 local elections for Croatia concluded back in June, and as with every local election, the majority of political parties whose candidates earned some new positions in the local governments managed to taste both victories and losses are overall happy. Some parties from both left and right political wings celebrated as scientists whose work won the Nobel prize. Even election losses were interpreted as victories, drawing attention to the number of votes, that although they may not score political roles, show growing support. If there is a once in four years occasion when political parties have as much optimism as the Croatian Adriatic has drops of water, it’s the local elections. 

Currently in parliamentary opposition, Davor Nađi, president of the Fokus political party, politically declared as center-oriented, also doesn't hide his optimism following the result, but it seems he is a bit more toned down in that excitement than some of his political competitors. Satisfied to see his colleagues from the party keeping their previous positions, and some even selected for new ones, he is expecting the Fokus party to grow in the future while remaining aware of Fokus being new and young on the scene - is careful to say more than he can bargain for. Nađi ran for Zagreb mayor, but in the end, didn't manage to win neither the "main prize" nor a seat in the Zagreb Assembly. He noted, however, that his candidacy helped to attract new Fokus members in Zagreb, but again stating it without grandiose announcements, rather with mild optimism, careful not to step out of the line of realism. 

In an e-mail interview, Nađi commented what happened in the Zagreb elections, did NGOs stepped out of line in supporting current mayor Tomislav Tomašević, and what do Fokus voters find attractive in the political party best known for reforming the town of Sveta Nedelja. Are they American-styles libertarians as described by some, and what European politicians are in line with Fokus’s ideas, are just some of the things Nađi revealed in the interview.  

davor_nađi_n1_cut.jpg

screenshot / N1

You are the president of the Fokus party, and candidates from your party had won in Sv. Nedelja, Samobor, Sv. Ivan Zelina and Dugo Selo. So, your party currently has four mayors. Can you list for our readers where your party had candidates for mayors, assemblies, and counties? How do you comment on „your mayor's" first-month post-election, and what moves would you point out as excellent in that time?

Except for these four cities, we also won in the municipalities of Križ and Pirovac. We ran for mayors and local and regional assemblies mostly in central Croatia (Zagreb and Zagreb county) but also in Čakovec, Slatina, Petrinja, Pirovac. We won 50 members of local and regional assemblies, including the president of assembly in Čakovec.

Most of our mayors were reelected, so they just continued working on projects. However, I would like to point out our new mayor of the city of Samobor, Petra Škrobot, who already contracted procurement of software for transparency of city budget and public procurement, which is one of the flagship policies of the Fokus party.

How would you briefly explain to our readers what your party represents and advocates politically? What politicians, foreign or Croatians are your role models, and why?

We represent the fight for lower taxes and fewer regulations for citizens and the private sector and for a more efficient public sector. That means that we want that people and companies can keep more of the money they earn for themselves and decide on what they want to spend it. For example, that is the only correct way to solve the housing problem – to make sure that people earn and keep more money. Further on, that means that the private sector gets better value for money through better service of the public sector where, in our vision, worst or/and unnecessary public servants would be let go, and the best workers would get a financial reward. We also talk and act on investments in infrastructure, which is important for preparing for future climate change challenges.

I can’t say I have some role models in politics, but I like the politics of Dutch PM regarding the economy because they have a small and efficient public sector that provides good service to their citizens. That allows them to keep their economy very competitive, which results in a better life for their people.

You express deep care for private investments, lowering taxes, and overall creating a better environment for private business and entrepreneurship. But, when talking about entrepreneurs in Croatia, people roll their eyes as many of our famous „entrepreneurs“ are associated with crime, corruption ties to politics, and unfair privatization that ended up in many people losing their job. What is your opinion on these entrepreneurs, such as Todorić or Horvatinčić? How to fix that negative perception of entrepreneurs?

Yes, the private sector is very important to us. We care about entrepreneurs but also about their employees. We also care about the best public servants too. 

I think that public opinion on entrepreneurs is changing in a good way because of a new generation of successful entrepreneurs that succeeded in the global market with no connections to the government. Todorić and Horvatinčić are the exact opposite of them and represent everything that is wrong with this country. It’s wrong to call them entrepreneurs because they are a product of crony capitalism. The only cure to fight people like them is an independent and efficient judiciary.    

New option for liberals in Croatia 

You ran for mayor in Zagreb. The polls didn't give you too much of a chance, but libertarian (classical liberal) oriented site Liberal.hr said that you could be „the biggest surprise of the Zagreb elections“. To tell you the truth, it didn't seem likely you will become a mayor, but I was very surprised you didn't win a seat in the assembly. What went wrong in Zagreb, and how is it possible that the city with the most developed business climate and entrepreneurship (and with a lot of entrepreneurs) didn't reward your entrepreneurship-oriented ideas, at least with the seat in the assembly?

Well, Fokus is a new party, and I’m relatively new in politics, so a lot of people weren’t informed about our program and achievements. Fokus party didn’t exist in Zagreb until this year, while other parties were building their organization for many years, so it was hard to catch up in just a few months period during a partial lockdown. However, even though we didn’t win a seat in the assembly, we achieved some other goals. Now we have a lot of new members, and a strong organization in Zagreb and a lot of people have heard about FOKUS for the first time. Further on, we are the strongest liberal party in Zagreb, and we had better results than a lot of old traditional parties. So I believe that in the future, our support will only grow in Zagreb.

Davor_during_his_campaing_in_Zagreb_23.jpg

Davor Nađi during his campaign in Zagreb © Davor Nađi

You said on your Facebook site that you didn't receive enough media attention, and indeed you weren't invited to the debates (with the explanation being that only those who earned 5% in polls will be invited). However, you had banners and posters across Zagreb where you talked about how you are experienced to be a mayor because of Sveta Nedelja, where you were a deputy mayor, and the town did receive media attention few years back for amazing changes introduced there. What was your contribution to the transparency of public servants, lowering taxes, and canceling the subtax in Sveta Nedelja as deputy mayor? 

I was the designer of those policies with the strong support of mayor Zurovec and the city council, and I was working on these policies from the beginning until the implementation. I’m very proud of that because Sveta Nedelja did the biggest tax cut in Croatia, became the most transparent city in Croatia, and received a reward for the best local economy three years in a row.   

You criticized some of the moves by the new Zagreb mayor Tomislav Tomašević. Can you repeat what do you find problematic in his governance so far, but also, is there anything positive, something you would support him in if you made it to the Zagreb assembly?

There are some things that are good, and some are not. I reacted on one occasion, but let's wait a little bit more time before I can comment general impression so far.

However, for our readers who are foreign and didn't have the chance to see your comment in Croatian, can you briefly explain what did you found problematic with Tomašević early on to the point that you had to react publicly?

He stopped most of the public procurement. Even though I understand his concern that there might be corruption problems, that is not the way to solve that problem. That problem should be solved with better process and clear guidance from the mayor to the city administration because if public procurement is stopped for too long, there will be problems for citizens. On the other hand, in a short period of time new mayor will not be able to change much if he doesn’t make the process of public procurement more transparent and efficient. 

Far from the US philosophy

 Once on N1, you said political parties in Croatia are still pretty socialistic. Since on that occasion you were a guest at N1 regarding Zagreb Reconstruction Bill, did you mean they were socialistic just in that regard or in general? Are Croatians also socialistic too?

They are socialistic in general, and that bill was just the latest example. That orientation of political parties in Croatia resulted in a situation in which an enormous part of the economy depends on the state so we actually have crony capitalism. That sends the wrong message to the people, so people lose self-confidence and think they can’t earn for themselves and their families, and instead, they rely on the state to help them in every aspect of their life. They simply don’t take into account the fact that the state is corrupt and inefficient, which may be because of inadequate financial literacy.

However, it seems to me that the tide is changing with the lead from the local level from cites like Sveta Nedelja and that people are beginning to see the benefits of liberal policies.

When you say the parties are socialistic, some could think this is the heritage of Yugoslavia. However, aside from the communist experiences of South-Eastern Europe, the overall European political culture and tradition goes along the way „yes to democracy, yes to free market, yes to the individual freedoms“ but also „yes to social care, yes to free health, yes to free education, yes to supporting cultural and artistic projects, scientific research, etc“. Many people see Fokus as being against that and wanting to dismantle that European political culture with American political culture, which seems to be notorious in Europe for its health and education system, which as people see it, „is alright if you have cash, but not for the poor“. Are you indeed into „making Croatia American rather than European?“ and if so, how would you address the mentioned sectors of health, education, culture, and science? What about HRT in that context (as the idea of a public TV financed by the state is a European invention in the media landscape)?

Of course, we are not for an American-style economy. We prefer the Dutch or Scandinavian style with high economic freedom and adequate social benefits. Some people don’t understand that “free” health care doesn’t exist. Taxpayers pay for that. And if we think a little bit more about our health care system, do we really have health care that is accessible to the poor? How long are the waiting lists? People pay taxes for health care, and when they need it, then they don’t get it. That is not free health care! Almost the same is for everything else. I believe that vouchers would solve that problem because then even poor people could afford health care service from the private sector, and the public health care system would have to be more efficient and provide better value for money. The same thing is possible with education. HRT should be significantly downsized, and subscriptions decreased with the option to opt-out from their service.

When it comes to the overall Croatian political landscape, Fokus does offer something truly different from other political options, and it seems quite right to expect that Fokus will continue to grow. But, what do you think made Fokus uprise to start in central Croatia, in Sveta Nedelja, Samobor, Dugo Selo, and Sv. Ivan Zelina? Is there something that makes the culture and society in these areas different comparing to the rest of Croatia that they were the first to recognize and give a chance to your program?

Fokus also has a mayor of Pirovac in Dalmatia and president of the city council in Čakovec, members of City council in Slatina, etc, so I wouldn’t say that our policies are only recognized in central Croatia. However, we have better support in parts of Croatia, where fewer people work in the public sector and more in the private sector. That is not surprising since we promote policies that would result in a more efficient public sector and less red tape and taxation for the private sector. 

 Davor_during_his_campaing_in_Zagreb.jpg© Davor Nađi

 Up next: European elections and Croatian Parliament 

On the note of local success, many view local elections as a forecast for what can happen in parliamentary elections. How would you rate your chances on the next parliament elections based on local results?

I’m very optimistic. Fokus has a very good position to grow and to achieve a great result. Fokus is already a success story and we have grown in a number of members in every part of Croatia. I believe that a new government after elections will not be formed without a strong party or coalition from the political center, and if we look at the results of local elections, Fokus is the fourth party by a number of mayors in Croatia. Also, we are the strongest party of the political center in national ratings, so that gives us reason to believe that we can gain even more support from our citizens in the future.

 Back to the Zagreb elections. The two main candidates represented Gree-left values and national, conservative, sovereign values. Tomašević not only got support from some of the other European mayors but, just as with Škoro's values, there are plenty of same-minded people in Europe sharing those values. You mentioned your appreciation for the Dutch Prime Minister, but are you as well in contact with like-minded parties and politicians in the EU?  

Fokus is a new party, so we still haven’t formed significant international alliances, but we can see ourselves working with other European liberal parties. Of course, the one with the best results is Dutch VVD that is in power on the state level. 

But when we talk about the support that Tomašević or some right-wing parties and NGOs in Croatia had in recent years from abroad; I would say that there is a thin line between support and meddling into elections, and I would say that that line was crossed.

But, can we expect that Fokus will try to be in communication with them? Any plans for running on European Parliament elections as a good point to meet with other think-alike politicians in the EU?

I said that we don't have some significant alliances with them. However, we are in contact with some of them. We will see where that will take us. EP elections could be the first opportunity to test eventual cooperation.

And regarding what you said about there being a thin line between support and meddling in elections and how that line was crossed in Zagreb elections by NGOs, is there a risk of entrepreneurs doing the same thing when supporting, either financially or with public influence, certain parties? How can we prevent such meddling legally but yet with respect to the right of political expression to organizations and individuals?

I don’t see the financial support of Croatian entrepreneurs to political parties as a problem. The problem is only if they receive privileged treatment after the election in return for giving financial support. I would go one step further and say that we should welcome donations of private individuals and companies to political parties because that would mean that political parties would be less dependant on public financing. That should be a normal part of the domestic election process. However, if foreign money is included in financing political parties or their leaders, direct or through other channels, then we as a state have a problem.

To conclude, you are MA of the economy, and you talk a lot about economic solutions. Are our economy and business truly the core issues politicians need to address? Additionally, what are your views and the views of Fokus on defense policy, diplomacy, international relations, emigration policy (asylum seekers trying to enter Croatia), Croatian veterans, diaspora, and the ideological, historical disputes among Croatians, which for better or worse seem to often resolve the elections on a parliamentary level?

It would take a much longer conversation to answer all these questions, but I will try to answer in few sentences. Yes, I believe that economy is the most important issue that needs to be addressed because that is the place where value is created and which provides a better life for people and necessary funding for all government programs. Without a strong economy, the state can’t finance defense or social benefits. Unfortunately, you are right that elections are, in the biggest part, decided on other issues that target emotions rather than reason. 

When it comes to defense policies, liberals believe that the basic tasks of the state are to provide to their citizen's rule of law and protection from foreign and domestic threats. So we should have adequate defense capabilities. On the other hand, we have no problem financing social benefits to real war veterans, however almost 30 years after the war, there shouldn’t be any new users of these benefits. Regarding international relations, our position is that Croatia should remain an EU and NATO member with strong relationships with the USA and with a clear position that China can’t be our partner until they don’t behave by the same rules like everyone else with the biggest concern regarding human rights issues.

Even though we are a small country, that doesn’t mean we can’t lead by example. It is up to us if we will stay on the bottom of every European statistic table or we will start going up. We have all the resources we need to thrive.

Learn more about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC page.

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

Friday, 25 June 2021

Ending Segregated Education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava Announced an Idea

June 25, 2021 - Is there any possibility of ending segregated education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava announced Serbian and Croatian education could merge in school and kindergarten levels, but more details are yet to be revealed.

The start of the week saw interesting news that surprised many. As reported by N1, Ivan Penava, the mayor of Vukovar, announced Croatian and Serbian classes and kindergartens could merge together.

Vukovar, often referred to in Croatia as the „Hero City“ for the heavy blow it suffered in the 90s war Croatians refer to as Homeland War, still has a lot of ruins as memories of that ugly past. In the light of national tensions among Serbs and Croats, the segregation of kindergartens and different shifts in schools for Serbian and Croatian classes seem to be a solution to keep the peace.

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screenshot/ N1

Good idea but more talks needed?

„In Vukovar, parents do not choose the model of education that is imposed by politics, it is nowhere written in public“, said mayor Penava, as reported by N1.

Penava, a former member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), despite earning a new term in the recent local elections as an independent candidate, enjoyed support from Miroslav Škoro, runner-up candidate for Zagreb mayor elections, and the leader of the Homeland Movement (DP) supports Penava's idea.

„I lived in America for a number of years, in Hungary, I traveled the world... what is the difference between Serbian and Croatian mathematics? Is Argentina in Serbian in the northern hemisphere, and southern in Croatian? I don't get it“, said Škoro adding that segregation was done in malice with a tendency to divide children from the start.

„In Vukovar, the symbol of defense had priorities. Reconstruction of the water tower, and certain moves Penava did well in his last term (he wouldn't win elections if he hasn't), thinks that city needs to move on. I support him 100%“, concluded Škoro.

On the other hand, criticism is erected on national-level politics.

„I don't think that local officials are the ones who need to determine a way in which minority education will be conducted. Political trade is clear here, and I'm glad there is no longer just Serbian-Croatian trading coalition, but also another one“, said Dragana Jecov, a Croatian parliament member from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) referring to the accusations of the right-wing that current coalition of HDZ and SDSS and is vile political trade.

Interior Minister Davo Božinović also said that while we need to work on erasing national, social, and political tensions, but this is a question that needs to be discussed more seriously.

Additionally, as N1 reported, the Ministry of Education pointed out that different models of education for Vukovar schools exist, and parents can choose which they find most suitable.

Accepting national differences or nationalistic uniformity?

Some improvements have indeed been seen in the city infrastructure, but Vukovar still remains a challenging place to live. Partly due to the tough economic situation, but also because of discrepancies among Serbian and Croatian residents. Earlier in June, there was even a violent incident when a 30-year-old Serbian member of the Grobari football fan group physically attacked a Croatian 13-year-old boy in front of a bakery for having a medicine mask with Croatian symbols.

„Sadly, this kind of thing happened too long in Vukovar, where people attack each other because of national disputes. Media aren't even introduced to some of these events. It is spread a lot, as evident by the constant police patrols around Vukovar high-schools where there are always police cars around“, said Vukovar police to Večernji List daily newspaper.

Such incidents, a misfortunate loose ends of the war, also come from the Croatian side. Earlier in May, a group of young men chanted anti-Serb slogans in Borovo Selo (close to Vukovar), a scene of heinous war crimes in the '90s), sparking condemnation from both president Milanović and the Croatian Government.

In that light, integrated schools might finally bring positive changes in regards to tolerance and peaceful life for Vukovar citizens. But again, not everyone sees the glass as half full.
Index.hr columnist Gordan Duhaček agreed in his column that Serbs and Croats don't need to go to separate shifts but warns how Penava isn't the guy that should unite them.

„Penava doesn't want to integrate Vukovar schools and end the troubling segregation in a way to ensure a better future for the whole city, but instead to impose his nationalistic, often anti-Serbian narrative as the official one. Penava wants that Vukovar Serbs bow down to his view of the Croatian state“, wrote Duhaček.

Duhaček also reminded the readership of the attempt and fail of the Danube International school that supposed to integrate pupils of both nations, an idea that spawned 16 years ago. But, the project failed, and Duhaček sees both Penava and SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac not feeling too sad about it.

vukovar_watr_tower.jpg

Iconic Vukovar water tower, pixabay

Questions on details

At the end of the week, the situation seems more confusing than clear. Is class integration a good idea? Could it save money for the city financially? What are some actual details of merging Croats and Serbians into one class? Obviously, Škoro is right that 2+2=4 in any math class around the world. But, troubling questions appear in subjects such as language and history. Croats and Serbs sadly have their own, different interpretations of historical facts, particularly when it comes to the last war, and while the speakers of two languages perfectly understand each other, some words do differ, and there is a different accent and spelling in the two formal languages. So, how can these issues be resolved? Would those two subjects remain in different shifts while universal subjects such as biology, math, or physics will listen in one merged classroom? Or will there be a different curriculum that would present both Serbian and Croatian history, Serbian and Croatian literature in that way, making Vukovar pupils more knowledgable in those areas than other pupils in the country?

Or some curriculum consensus on history could be reached, one that would satisfy both the Croatian and Serbian sides and thus truly open a doorway to the better understandings of the two nations in the future in perhaps the most nationally torn city in Croatia?

Obviously, Vukovar city authorities have some tensions with SDSS, but the city also has an expert associate for the development of civil society and national minorities, Siniša Mitrović in one of the City's departments. Did Mitrović manage to gain input from the Serbian minority in Vukovar about this merge? And how fast could the whole thing be realized? This autumn or maybe a bit later?
These are important and interesting questions that can only be answered either by mayor Penava himself or perhaps Josip Paloš, the director of the Vukovar City Education Department.

„Mayor Penava is in a lot of meetings and on fields, and his schedule is full. We will sadly not be able to answer you by your Friday deadline, but we will contact you at the earliest convenience“, said the lady at the Vukovar City PR service when I called them (and E-mailed) with a wish to arrange and conduct a brief phone interview.

While this article may present the current issues surrounding segregated education in Vukovar, this TCN reporter hopes mayor Penava will share more details about his plan on ending segregation in Vukovar schools and kindergarten with joint classes. If done right, this move can indeed be the way to a better, more peaceful future for Vukovar citizens.

Learn more about Vukovar on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: 32 Years After Founding HDZ Remains Strongest Political Party

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - A delegation of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) on Wednesday laid wreaths on the grave of HDZ founder and first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman to mark the party's 32nd anniversary, with the party leader, PM Andrej Plenković, saying the HDZ was the strongest political party in Croatia even today.

At the start of day-long events commemorating the party's 32nd anniversary, HDZ officials, led by Plenković, paid their respects at Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery to Franjo Tuđman, whom Plenković described as "a statesman, a visionary, the man who led Croatia to freedom, independence, with the plebiscite support of the Croatian people, and with the courage and bravery of Croatian defenders."

"Even today, 32 years later, the HDZ is the strongest political force in the Republic of Croatia, in Croatia in which we have achieved all basic national goals - freedom, democracy and the protection of human and minority rights, and have built institutions. Now in the fourth decade of our independence, the goal is the economy, demographic revitalisation, social inclusion, following key global processes and the fourth industrial revolution, but also the green transformation and the digital transformation," Plenković said in a statement to reporters.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

SDP Adopts Draft Programme For Cooperation With Možemo! in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021- The presidency of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has adopted a draft programme for cooperation with the green-left platform Možemo! and their partners in Zagreb, which will ensure their majority in the new City Assembly following recent local elections, the SDP announced on Monday evening.

Addressing the press after the SDP Presidency meeting, Glasovac said that the draft 28-point programme was adopted unanimously and that several other details needed to be agreed before Wednesday, when the programme is expected to be signed.

She said that the cooperation programme included points on a transparent budget, civic education in schools, care for pre-school children, and certain infrastructure projects. 

Glasovac confirmed that the draft also dealt with the division of roles in the City Assembly, but would not say whether Joško Klisović, the SDP's mayoral candidate, would serve as deputy chairman of the Assembly. 

Možemo! said that it would discuss the draft on Tuesday.

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

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

SDP Leader Peđa Grbin: Majority in Zagreb City Assembly to be Formed, Zagreb Branch Dissolved

ZAGREB, 9 June, 2021 - SDP leader Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday that the majority in the Zagreb City Assembly would definitely be formed while the SDP branch in Zagreb would be dissolved to prevent the SDP from turning into "an employment office". 

Addressing a news conference on decisions adopted at a session of the party leadership on Tuesday, Grbin said that the session focused on two topics - dissolution of the party's Zagreb branch and the course of negotiations on the formation of the majority in the Zagreb City Assembly.

"I can say with certainty that on 17 June, when the Zagreb City Assembly is to be inaugurated, the majority will be formed. The SDP considers it an obligation towards the residents of Zagreb because we know that after years of poor governance, Zagreb deserves better," he said.

He noted that talks with the winner of the local election in Zagreb, the We Can! platform, including on the post of Zagreb City Assembly president, were under way.

As for the functioning of party branches, Grbin said that the most important decision made by the party leadership yesterday was the one on the dissolution of the Zagreb branch.

He recalled that a few months ago the party leadership decided to dissolve bodies of that party branch, adding that that decision had not proven sufficient to stop some bad processes that had been happening and make sure the branch operated as it should, focusing on citizens' problems.

"... This decision concerns those who have started treating the SDP as an employment service, who want to use it exclusively for their personal benefit," Grbin said, adding that the party's purpose was to work for the wellbeing of citizens and that radical decisions such as the latest one were sometimes necessary.

He said that concrete names would be discussed within the party and at a meeting of its Main Committee on Saturday.

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

87 Municipalities, 57 Cities, 14 Counties to Hold Runoffs on Sunday

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - After the repeat of local polls in seven municipalities and cities last Sunday, the State Electoral Commission (DIP) on Tuesday said that the second round of the election would be held for 87 municipal mayors, 57 city mayors including the mayor of the capital city of Zagreb and 14 county prefects on 30 May.

There are total of of 432 cities and municipalities where the second round of the elections is to be held or at 5,497 polling stations on Sunday, 30 May.

DIP recalls that the local elections will be repeated at eight polling stations in the Municipality of Kneževi Vinogradi as well as at one polling station in the election for city councillors in the Varaždin City Assembly on 30 May.

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

 

Saturday, 22 May 2021

PM: HDZ Is Centre-Right Party, Voters Should Vote According to Their Conscience

ZAGREB, 22 May 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that his HDZ party was a centre-right, state-building, patriotic, people's, Christian democratic party, calling on voters to vote in the second round of local elections in Zagreb on 30 May according to their conscience.

"The party's position has not changed... we know our values and platform. We respect our voters and recommend that they vote according to their conscience in the runoff," Plenković said during a visit to Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

Asked which of the two candidates for the Zagreb mayor, Tomislav Tomašević or Miroslav Škoro, would be easier to cooperate with, Plenković said that he respected voters' will.

"Whoever wins voters' trust is a collocutor to me as the prime minister. We have been pursuing a policy of balanced regional development in all parts of Croatia. It was never a problem for me to talk to representatives who are in the opposition at the national level and are in power in some part of the country. The same will apply to Zagreb," he said.

Vaccination as a way to achieve a better tourist season

Asked if current epidemiological restrictions could be relaxed sooner, that is on 27 May, as demanded by restaurant and bar owners, Plenković said that the epidemiological situation would be discussed in the coming week.

"The figures are very, very good. Compared to the week before, there are fewer infections, the number of people who have got vaccinated is growing, and vaccination provides protection against the worst outcomes. We must make decisions that will help maintain the current good trends and not jeopardise the tourist season," he said.

Plenković recalled that of the epidemiological restrictions, the only ones to remain in force were bans on events and gatherings of more than 25 people, on stay in indoor areas of restaurants and bars, and on indoor sport activities. As for everything else, we have been living more or less normally while other countries have had major restrictions, Plenković said.

Speaking of the tourist season, he said that it was up to Croatia to create conditions, through the vaccination of tourism workers and other workers in the services sector, that will help visitors stay safe.

Germany's decision very good, first wave of tourists in July

Germany has taken Croatia off the red list of countries with a high risk of coronavirus, and as of midnight on Sunday, Croatia will no longer be considered a high-risk but a risk region.

Commenting on this, Plenković said that the decision was good because Germany was one of Croatia's biggest tourist markets.

He noted that he had been in touch with state officials from other countries whose citizens could hardly wait to visit Croatia again and that the first bigger tourist wave was expected in July.

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović Comments on Outcome of Local Elections, Sources of Parties Funding

ZAGREB, 19 May (Hina) - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that he could agree with comments that the Social Democratic Party (SDP), whose member he used to be before he became the president, had experienced a fiasco in the elections for Zagreb mayor and the city assembly.

When it come to the performance of the SDP and other political parties in the local elections in other cities and municipalities in Croatia, Milanović said that there would be interesting things and that one should wait for the outcome of the second round of the voting on 30 May.

As for insinuations by the Homeland Movement (DP) party that the We Can political party and its coalition partners had received financial support from abroad, Milanovć said that the claims "are insane."

That can be claimed by people whose whole life is focused on earning money and royalties. This is not only insulting but also insane for Croatia in the 21st century, said Milanović.

He went to on to say that the recent campaigns by political parties were much cheaper than, for instance, the campaign conducted by the deceased mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, in 2009.

Milanović accused Bandić of "having robbed the SDP which I led at the time." Millions were spent then. That was paid by private donors, clients, mobsters of every sort, and in the end the party had to settle the bills, Milanović said.

He went on to say that political parties were financed from the state budget and not by some fanatic sects or Soros, alluding to the Hungarian-born American billionaire investor George Soros who founded the Open Society Foundations and who is perceived as a supporter of progressive and liberal political causes.

Milanović recalled that the We Can party won seats in the parliament in the 2020 elections, and this (the state budget) was the source of "legal and abundant financing", the president elaborated adding that any other source of financing of political parties is suspicious.

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

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Budapest, Innsbruck, Grenoble Mayors Support Tomislav Tomašević For Zagreb Mayor

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - The mayors of Budapest, Innsbruck and Grenoble have sent video messages of support to Tomislav Tomašević, the green-left coalition's candidate for the mayor of Zagreb, the We Can! political platform said on Wednesday.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony says in his message that Zagreb and Budapest are not only geographically close but also friendly cities with many links, underlining how important it is for the progressive green agenda to strengthen its position in the region and to act together to achieve a viable, democratic future.

Karácsony says the policies Tomašević advocates, such as green public transport and recycling, are the key issues on which he is working as mayor too, and calls on the people of Zagreb to vote for Tomašević

Innsbruck Mayor Georg Willi says the challenge today is to find the right response to climate change and that green changes will primarily occur in European cities. That's why Zagreb needs strong advocates of those changes under Tomašević's leadership as mayor, Willi adds.

Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle says he is looking forward to cooperating with Tomašević in the network of ecological cities flourishing across Europe, from Innsbruck and Amsterdam to Bonn and Hannover as well as many cities in France.

Piolle says Tomašević has been fighting for the environment for years, working on transparent policies and including citizens in shaping their city.

By electing Tomašević as mayor, Zagreb has a chance to join the increasing number of European cities governed by progressive green-left political forces which are making important steps forward in improving quality of life by taking account of climate change and other challenges of the 21st century, Piolle says in his video message.

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

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