Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit Marks 31st Anniversary

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - The Lučko Anti-terrorist Unit, which earned its fame on all Croatian battlefields and handles the most complex police tasks today, on Tuesday marked its 31st anniversary with a demonstration exercise.

Before the exercise, wreaths were laid and candles lit at a memorial to the unit's fallen members, with Interior Minister Davor Božinović attending.

"ATJ Lučko was the first organised unit and the first Croatian armed formation which protected the constitutional order, the state leadership, and which earned its wartime fame on all Croatian battlefields," he said, adding that this elite unit had always been on the front lines and engaged in the toughest operations.

During the 1991-95 Homeland War, more than 350 people were in the unit, 19 were killed and 52 were wounded, the minister said.

He said that in peacetime the unit showed its new equipment every year, such as the best specialist vehicles.

Božinović said the incumbent government had invested considerable funds in the police, including European funds, and that HRK 144 million was invested in the special police alone in the past four years.

Procurement will continue and there are plans to equip ATJ Lučko with three new multipurpose helicopters, he added.

The minister said the government cared a lot about the unit and that its elitism was not fake as the unit was not closed but there to help civilians in various disasters. The helicopters, he added, will be made available to the civil protection system.

"Our special forces do not make only Croatia proud. They have been recognised as members of ATLAS and their colleagues across the EU have a high opinion of them," said Božinović.

The ATLAS network is an association of the police tactical units of the EU's 27 member states established following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 upon the initiative of the Police Chiefs Task Force.

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

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

President Zoran Milanović: There's no Boycott, Some Generals Received Invitation Too Late

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that the fact that some of the army generals will not attend the Victory Day celebration in Knin is not a boycott, but that they received invitations too late.

Who has announced a boycott? Ljubo Ćesić Rojs has not. Josip Đakić is not a general, he is a bum, and a member of parliament, in other words he is nobody. Rojs will be there, Pavao Miljavac will be there and Ante Kotromanović will be there. Of course, not everyone can come every year, but most  people will be there," Milanović said during a visit to the southern town of Sinj.

He said he did not think there was any pressure on some of the generals by the Defence Ministry "because no one can exert pressure on those people," but noted that some of the generals and commanders were put in an awkward position because they received the invitation the day before the event, which was the ministry's responsibility.

During the visit, Milanović conferred high state medals on retired Brigadier Dušan Viro and posthumously on Franciscan Frane Bilokapić for their acts of humanity during the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

He said he did not consider the decoration of General Mladen Kruljac disputable even though he had been found guilty of corruption. "He is a war commander and is decorated what he did in the war. No one is perfect, but what he did in the war is without a doubt impeccable, and he is not the only one."

Judge Dobronić is my candidate for Supreme Court President

Answering questions from the press, Milanović confirmed that 61-year-old Judge Radovan Dobronić is his candidate for the position of Supreme Court President.

He has responded to the call for applications and "now we will see what will those who undermined, torpedoed and dishonoured my previous candidate do," Milanović said, describing Dobronić as smart, educated, honourable and incorruptible.

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

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

European Commision Approves Additional HRK 220m in Aid to Croatian Livestock Farmers

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - The European Commission has approved an additional HRK 220 million (€29.3m) in aid to Croatian livestock farmers, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

HRK 130 million (€17.3m) has been approved under the Animal Welfare Measure of the EU Rural Development Programme, while HRK 90 million (€12m) has been approved for the use of manure on fields.

The Ministry noted that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic it had adopted a number of aid schemes, worth nearly HRK 450 million (€60m) in total, including those for the livestock sector, adding that aid schemes for the poultry and dairy farming sectors were under preparation.

Due to an increase in prices of cereals and other components of livestock feed, at the last meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković called on the European Commission to look into possibilities of granting financial aid to stabilise the livestock sector, as well as other possible mechanisms to ensure the equal treatment of Croatian producers on the global market.

The request was supported by 15 member states, and the Commission is expected to continue monitoring the situation and take any emergency measures as may be necessary, the statement said.

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

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

State Delegations Lay Wreaths at Mirogoj Cemetery

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - On the eve of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, War Veterans Day and the central commemoration in Knin, state delegations laid wreaths at Zagreb's central Mirogoj cemetery on Wednesday.

The government delegation was led by Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved and a delegation of the Croatian Parliament was led by Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner.

The delegations laid wreaths at the Wall of Pain monument, the Central Cross in the Alley of Fallen Croatian Homeland War Defenders, the grave of Croatia's first president Franjo Tudjman, and at the common grave of unidentified victims of the 1991-95 war.

Wreaths were also laid by a delegation of President Zoran Milanović, led by his advisor on defence and national security Dragan Lozančić, as well as a delegation of the City of Zagreb, led by deputy mayor Luka Korlaet.

Shortly after that, a delegation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), led by member of the SDP presidency and MEP Predrag Fred Matic, laid flowers and lit candles at the Wall of Pain monument and the Central Cross in the Alley of Fallen Croatian Homeland War Defenders.

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

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

President Zoran Milanović Visits Wildfire Sites at Seget Gornji

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović, accompanied by Chief Firefighting Commander Slavko Tucaković, visited on Wednesday by helicopter locations devastated by wildfires at Seget Gornji, inland from the southern coastal town of Trogir, the President's Office said in a press release.

Before visiting the fire sites, Milanović discussed the situation at wildfire locations at Seget Gornji and in Mirlović in Šibenik-Knin County with local firefighting officials.

Firefighting representatives briefed the president about the efforts firefighters had made so far, and the assistance provided by the Croatian Army.

The president thanked the firemen and all those who helped put out the wildfires.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

AEPO-ARTIS: Croatia Making Position of Performing Artists Difficult

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - AEPO-ARTIS, a non-profit organisation that represents over 650 performing artists, has sent a letter to the Croatian culture minister criticising Croatia for being late with the adoption of new copyright legislation and missing a deadline for the implementation of two EU directives, the Croatian Musicians Union said on Tuesday.

The organisation said that the implementation of the Copyright Directive and the Directive on online transmissions and retransmissions was being delayed because Croatia was late with the adoption of the new Copyright and Related Rights Act.

The letter, signed by AEPO-ARTIS secretary general Ioan Kaes, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between the growth of profit by online giants and individual artists because the latter do not participate in the fair distribution of this turnover.

The situation is particularly dramatic because in the new business circumstances the turnover of online platforms has become a dominant source of income for the music industry. For over a year and a half, performing artists have been denied their basic source of income - live performances, while at the same time the use and turnover of their recordings increased and performers could not enjoy their rights equally with others. Although their works still reach wide online audiences, artists receive small or no remuneration for them, according to the letter.

The institute of performers' inalienable right to remuneration is not incorporated into the proposal for the new Copyright and Related Rights Act, and under the proposal, record companies would be given an additional three years to adjust their business. This would allow Croatian record companies to continue their unfair and unethical practice of blackmailing performing artists and not paying them for the performances that have been used by online services for years, the letter said.

AEPO-ARTIS concluded by saying that introducing the inalienable right to remuneration, which artists would be able to exercise through their collective management organisations, is the best, if not the only, solution that guarantees that artists receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration for their work.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević Announces New Model For Appointment of School Boards

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević announced on Tuesday that next Monday, applications would be invited for the appointment of members of school boards, with around 400 members to be selected, plus 200 who are representatives of local government units. 

Speaking at a news conference, Tomašević said that under the new model, of the three school board members who are appointed as representatives of schools' founder, namely the City of Zagreb, one would be chosen from among representatives of local government bodies and two would be selected in an open competition.

Around 400 school board members will be selected in an open competition, around 200 will be nominated by heads of city district councils.

The boards of primary and secondary schools whose founders are local government units each have seven members, of whom three have so far been appointed exclusively by a decision by the mayor.

The Večernji List daily recently reported that the appointment of some of the school board members in an open competition would be introduced by Zagreb and Split, whose mayors, Tomašević and Ivica Puljak respectively, have said the new model is aimed at depoliticising educational institutions.

Tomašević today also noted that fees for members of school boards as well as for members of the management boards of city-owned kindergartens and cultural institutions would be cut. 

Amendment of criteria on lease of city premises

Speaking of waste management in Zagreb, Tomašević said at today's news conference that the situation in Zagreb was critical regarding the disposal of bio-waste and bulky waste.

A new public procurement procedure has been launched for the disposal of bio-waste while the public procurement procedure for the disposal of bulky waste is under way, he said.

The mayor of Zagreb also announced changes to criteria for the lease of city-owned premises, noting that by raising prices of lease, which are currently very low, the city's revenue could be increased.

"I do not see any logic in leasing commercial businesses that earn millions in revenue spaces of several hundred square metres at a price of several thousand kuna," he said.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

HRW, AI And Other NGOs Criticise Croatian Border Monitoring Mechanism

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and six other NGOs on Tuesday criticised the new Croatian border monitoring mechanism, expressing concern about the body's independence and efficiency.

Recent media reports and official statements about the newly established border monitoring mechanism raise serious concerns, especially over the body's mandate, efficiency and independence, Amnesty International, Are You Syrious, the Centre for Peace Studies, the Danish Refugee Council, Human Rights Watch, the International Rescue Committee, Refugee Rights Europe and Save the Children said in a joint press release.

The Croatian government announced that the negotiations on the mechanism have concluded, but has not publicly disclosed further details about its structure or functioning, according to the press release.

The independent mechanism should monitor the treatment of illegal migrants by police officers, following several reports by NGOs of violations of migrants' rights at the border, which the Croatian government denies. The establishment of the mechanism was earlier proposed by the European Commission.

"Any border monitoring mechanism should be independent in law and practice and have sufficient resources and a robust mandate to monitor border-related operations anywhere on the territory of a state," the NGOs said.

The source of contention is the fact that according to the NGOs, the mechanism's mandate would be limited to police stations near the border and border crossings, while most contentious actions of the Croatian authorities take place further away from them, the press release says.

The objection also referred to the involvement of other institutions and organisations.

"To ensure that the mechanism is credible and effective, it needs to involve independent institutions or organisations that have monitoring experience – such as civil society organisations, United Nations agencies, and national human rights institutions – that are not financially dependent on the government;" they said, adding that any mechanisms that do not meet such standards could undermine the European Commission's efforts to end violence on the Union's external borders.

"The Commission should actively review and assess the mechanism to ensure that Croatian authorities put in place a system that can credibly monitor compliance with EU law in border operations and should provide political and financial support only to a system that meets the above standards," the NGOs said.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Croatian FM Grlić Radman: High Representative in BiH Remnant of Past

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in an interview with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily on Tuesday that the post of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH) was a remnant of the past which was also proof of the lack of democracy in that country.

"As a relic of the immediate post-war period, the post of the High Representative is today a manifestation of the lack of democracy in the political life of that country," said Gordan Grlić Radman.

FAZ said that Croatia, which is not only Bosnia and Herzegovina's only EU neighbour but also a signatory to the Dayton Accords, closely watched the arrival of the new High Representative, German politician Christian Schmidt, who took office on Sunday.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a place for experiment. I say that not only as the Croatian foreign minister but as someone who was born in Bosnia and Herzgovina and whose family comes from there," said Grlić Radman, referring to the so-called "Bonn Powers" which allow the High Representative to remove politicians and pass and repeal laws by decree.

Grlić Radman expressed reservations about the recent decision of High Representative Valentin Inzko to pass a law punishing the denial of genocide.

Proof of democratic deficit

"The High Representative has the right to use the Bonn powers but their application represents a democratic deficit which is not in accordance with Bosnia and Herzegovina's European ambitions," Grlić Radman said.

He also said that changing Bosnia and Herzegovina's Constitution through decrees was no solution.

Issue of representative of Croats

Grlić Radman also thinks that centralist tendencies of some Bosniak politicians are not a solution either.

Croatia's foreign minister said that Zagreb had been observing the "open practice" of excluding Croats from the political decision-making process for years.

When electing the members of the tripartite Presidency, a part of Bosniaks choose a candidate who is only seemingly a Croat candidate but in reality supports Bosniak interests, said Grlić Radman, as carried by FAZ.

Reform of election law needed

He said that Croatia had been advocating for years a reform of the election law, which would, for instance, through the reorganisation of electoral units make it impossible for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be overvoted when electing members of the presidency and the parliament.

According to Grlić Radman, that is a question of Croats electing their own representative and no longer being overvoted, not of creating a third entity, in addition to Republika Srpska and the Federation.

He stressed there was growing support for such an approach in the EU and expressed optimism about Christian Schmidt's term of office.

"We look forward to cooperating with Christian Schmidt and we are certain that together with the EU and the U.S. he will encourage legitimate representatives of the constituent peoples to reach a compromise," Grlić Radman told FAZ.For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Croatian President Extends Condolences to Turkish Counterpart Over Wildfires

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has offered his condolences to Turkey, where forest fires have led to deaths and material damage, and invited his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit Croatia.

I spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this evening and he thanked Croatia for sending the Canadair CL415 plane and two crews to help put out wildfires in Turkey. I extended my condolences to him and the entire Turkish nation for the suffering of people in the wildfires," Milanovic wrote in his Facebook post on Monday evening.

He said that sending the firefighting airplane to Turkey was a token of friendly and partner-like relations between the two countries, saying that the decision to send the plane was made together by the Croatian government and him as the Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces.

"I invited president Erdogan to officially visit Croatia so that we can continue to build and develop friendly relations between our two countries.

Turkey is suffering the worst fires in at least a decade. The fires in Turkey began last week and now threaten the cities of Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris, where hundreds of tourists and residents were evacuated from their hotels and homes.

Eight people have been killed by the fires.

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

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