Sunday, 19 December 2021

Survey Shows Politicians, Advertisers Pressure Journalists

ZAGREB, 19 Dec, 2021 - Companies' representatives, advertisers, politicians and government members are the untouchables in the media, according to a survey which journalist and editor Đurđica Klancir did for the GONG civil society organisation.

Although those in power often claim there is no censorship in Croatia's media sphere, more than two in three journalists answered in the affirmative when asked if they were exposed to pressure due to their stories in the past two years, GONG says on its website.

Also, two in three respondents said they witnessed pressure on their newsrooms by power-wielders, media owners, and their own outlet's marketing departments.

Thirty experienced journalists and editors from the public broadcaster, the most influential private TV stations, print media and web portals were contacted at the start of the survey and 23 responded, says GONG executive director Oriana Ivković Novokmet.

Almost half the respondents said that in the last two years they were banned from tackling certain subjects, most often due to advertisers but also during the 2020 parliamentary election campaign. Besides big advertisers, the untouchables included members of the ruling party, ministers, the prime minister, as well as opposition politicians.

Stories are most often stopped due to advertisers, but only a few respondents said attempts were made to influence their work while preparing and researching a story. Such suggestions came most often from their editors or their outlet's owners. According to one respondent, politicians and PR agents also suggested the direction a story should take.

With increasing frequency, journalists are asked to write articles commissioned by editors based on theses given in advance, often incorrect ones, one journalist said. "We are also asked to write PR and native articles, both economic and political ones, often covertly. Refusal to write an article in the way requested can mean, and often means, termination, and it almost certainly means degradation."

The findings of this pilot survey show that there is censorship in Croatia's media sphere and that newsroom censorship mechanisms are increasingly present, GONG says, adding that it's necessary to continue to look into this matter as well as persist in eliminating all forms of censorship and pressure on journalists and the media.

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Saturday, 13 November 2021

Milanović: Plenković’s Cynicism Ruining Croatia Spiritually, Materially

ZAGREB, 13 Nov, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Saturday criticised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's statement that he expected Milanović to release a letter from the military chief-of-staff, saying "such cynicism and contempt for the truth and rules is ruining Croatia spiritually and materially."

That letter is to his defence minister and is classified, Milanović told press. In the letter, he said, the military chief-of-staff "warns, asks, even tells (the minister) that he is harassing the entire system, that he is strategically mobbing him and jeopardising the system."

"That document is not secret, I can declassify and make it public tomorrow, but I wanted Plenković to read it first. I wrote in the letter that I ask him to pay special attention to it... One corrupt loony can cause enormous damage, which is currently happening," the president said, alluding to Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

Speaking of a scandal involving the transport of bishops by a Navy vessel, he said the military must not be used for that and would not be any more as long as he was president. Banožić brought the bishops into an awkward position, he added.

As for the prime minister's statement that the Navy would not be ruined because of that transport, Milanović asked him if the EU would be ruined because of the recently arrested former EU funds minister Gabrijela Žalac.

Such a cynical approach by the prime minister when someone commits an evident offence with criminal intent, that's favouring, that's protection, he said.

Banožić is a case for OLAF and should be removed at once

Milanović said that due to Banožić's arbitrariness, the soldiers escorting him were not receiving per diems. That's a crime, that's his revenge. We'll see how to legally stop such barbarous behaviour, he added. "Banožić is a case for OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office) and should be removed at once."

The president reiterated that he would "sit at the table only with Plenković," not with Banožić.

Fitch rating upgrade expected

Commenting on the Fitch Ratings agency's upgrade of Croatia's credit rating, Milanović said it had been announced and expected due to Croatia's upcoming euro area entry.

Asked to comment on Žalac's arrest earlier this week, he wondered how Plenković would explain in Brussels "this fiasco with EU funds and the people he trusted. Because this is a fiasco. Such outrageous things rarely happen. This is indeed an outrage."

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Thursday, 21 October 2021

Tomislav Coric Claims Government Doing All to Stabilise Fuel Situation

October the 22nd, 2021 - Economy Minister Tomislav Coric has attempted to reassure the public that the government is willing to do all it can to deal with the situation around increasing fuel prices.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the government is considering additional measures in case of continued increase in fuel prices after 30 days of direct intervention in the market through the adoption of a decree on the matter, and according to the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric, there will be a slightly fairer distribution of responsibilities to come.

According to Tomislav Coric, in the coming weeks, the Croatian Government will analyse the situation, and although they hope to reduce prices, he says, at the moment it isn't expected that this will happen soon, so the concrete actions of Banski dvori are again set to be guided by allowing the price to remain stable and trying to ensure a “fairer distribution of responsibilities that is initially at the disposal of distributors”.

By freezing prices for a period of thirty days, the main aim was for companies and residents to be able to "catch their breath and stabilise their expectations'' in the current situation.

According to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, distributors' margins are high enough to take on this "first wave" of price increases, which, according to the calculations( for diesel fuels that businesses predominantly use) at today's prices means encroaching on margins of 63 lipa per litre of diesel fuel.

The government's move in the first wave is considered to be correct because it has temporarily stopped a whole series of price increases, according to consultant Davor Stern.

In addition, oil circles are speculating about possible government moves which are yet to come, including the possibility of correcting a systemic injustice without interfering with the tax system by amending the basis for calculating VAT, which would result in lower prices for the end users.

In this sense, if the calculation were done on the price of fuel, and with excise duties from which fees on roads and railways are exempted, such a base would result in a reduction in prices overall.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Milanović Says is Also President of BiH Citizens With Croatian Citizenship

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said in New York on Tuesday that he was also the president of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Croatian nationality who have Croatian citizenship, and this statement was questioned on Wednesday by some media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as Oslobođenje daily newspaper or BiH's N1 broadcaster reported today that Milanović had said he was "the president of Croats in BiH".

They left out part of the statement in which Milanović said that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just like Croats in New York, had Croatian citizenship and the right to vote in the election and that it was "a formal and legal fact that he is also their president".

He stressed that this was with "full respect for the countries" in which they live.

The statement was made in response to a reporter's question asking him to comment on the situation when Željko Komšić, the current chairman of the BiH tripartite Presidency who sits in the presidency as the Croat member, came to the UN General Assembly.

"Komšić came here as one of the Presidency members, I don't know... on whose behalf he's speaking, even if he was the representative of Croats because... I said I was the president of Croatia, the president of Croatian citizens, Croats and, in a way, of those Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina," as stipulated by the Constitution, said Milanović.

He added that he had often raised the issue of the voting right of Croatian citizens outside Croatia, in a bid to reduce it to a reasonable level, and his argument for that had been also not to undermine the neighbouring country where the polling stations for Croatian elections were also set up.

Earlier, Milanović also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

I have been telling Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan all this time that there is absolutely no one in Croatia who would talk about secession, which is something we can hear from some other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that isn't smart, it isn't necessary, Milanović said.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Commemoration Held For Three Women Killed at Zagreb Court 22 Years Ago

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Government officials and representatives of the judiciary on Wednesday attended a commemoration at Zagreb's Municipal Court for three women killed at that court 22 years ago. 

On 22 September 1999, during a divorce hearing, Mato Oraškić killed his wife Gordana, her attorney Hajra Prohić and judge Ljiljana Hvalec as well as wounding court reporter Sanja Cvetković.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the perpetrator had been given a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and called for joint, strong and coordinated action in preventing violence against women.

"In partnership with civil society organisations we have enabled progress in the cooperation of all government agencies, introducing stricter penalties, improving procedural law, and ratifying international treaties such as the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which has made it possible for us to align our legal order and improve legislative and procedural frameworks for dealing with that phenomenon," said Plenković.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in an increase of violence but noted that the number of misdemeanor reports for violence had decreased while the number of criminal reports had increased.

Sanctions are now harsher and the message of the government and the entire society to abusers is that violence is unacceptable and that the victims are not alone, he said.

Attending the commemoration were also European Association of Judges President Đuro Sessa, Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica, and Supreme Court Deputy President Marin Mrčela, who all called for raising awareness of the problem and resolutely fighting and preventing violence. 

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

 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Equality of the Sexes Can Increase Croatia's GDP by €4bn a year - McKinsey Analysis

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - If it steps up efforts to reduce the gap between the sexes and uses the potential of the female population, Croatia could increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by €4 billion a year by 2030, shows an analysis by the McKinsey & Company consultancy, released on Wednesday.

A Winning Combination: How empowering women can benefit central and eastern Europe (CEE), is the title of an analysis studying the presence of women in the cooperate sector in the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Women account for 52% of the population in those countries and more than 60% have university education. Despite that, they account for only 45% of the total workforce, McKinsey's analysis notes, adding that by increasing the equality of the sexes, central and eastern Europe could unlock €146 billion in GDP a year until 2030, which is roughly the amount of Croatia and Slovakia's GDP combined.

Three key factors for that would be increasing the participation of women in the total workforce, increasing paid hours for women and better representation of women in high-productivity sectors.

Increasing women's participation to help curb labour shortage

A partner at McKinsey & Company, Marta Matecsa, underscored that more women participating in the workforce would significantly help resolve labour shortages. Currently, the CEE has 630,000 job vacancies.

If the region reinstates its pre-pandemic growth rate, the number of job vacancies could increase to more than 2 million by 2030, said Matecsa.

Women hold only 8% of director positions

McKinsey's analysis shows that women account for more than 60% of graduate students in the CEE and as much as 37% of all managers - a share that is larger in comparison to Western Europe and even Nordic countries.

Nonetheless, women account for only about 20% of executive positions and only 8% of director positions. As many as 44% of the leading companies in the CEE do not have even one woman in that role.

In 2012 the share of women in management in CEE was 14%, just one percentage point behind Nordic countries and five percentage points ahead of Western Europe. Eight years later, the gap between the CEE and Nordic countries increased six-fold while the gap between Western Europe and the CEE was reduced to just three percentage points, McKinsey reported.

McKinsey added that a correlation existed between the portion of women in management positions and better financial results in companies.

Pandemic worsens balance between private and business life

The analysis shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the balance between business and private life and even though both women and men now spend more time on household chores and unpaid care, more than 40% of female respondents said that the pandemic has significantly contributed to them considering reducing paid work or working hours and transferring to less demanding jobs or even leaving the workforce.

The analysis shows that 54% of women with children under 10 are actually considering just that.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Household Electricity Prices Won't Go Up This Year

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Economy Ministry state secretary Ivo Milatić said on Wednesday that electricity prices for households would not increase this year.

"You heard (power provider) HEP's clear statement that this is not being considered by the end of the year," he told Davor Dretar of the opposition Homeland Movement, who asked if electricity prices for households would go up this autumn.

Dario Zurovec of the opposition Fokus asked if arise was expected in a year's time given the turbulence on the world market.

Milatić said that if prices were corrected next year, the corrections "will not be as in neighbouring markets."

He said that if electricity prices continued to increase, some corrections would be inevitable, but added that Croatia was in a different position as 60% of the total energy production was renewable, with half of that from the hydro potential.

Household electricity prices won't be raised for political reasons

Mirela Ahmetović of the opposition SDP said household electricity prices would not be raised for political reasons but that they would be for businesses and that this would affect households through more expensive goods.

She said Croatia imported almost 35% of electricity and that this made it dependent on galloping prices.

Milatić said Croatia was in a "good position" with regard to the price of electricity and would stay there.

Croatia ranks 26th among 33 European countries when it comes to household and 21st when it comes to corporate electricity prices, he said, adding that refunds for energy poor citizens would increase if the price of energy they could not pay went up.

He also said that significant funds were envisaged to co-finance the construction of charging stations for electric cars.

Milatić said Croatia had a number of power providers, with HEP's companies holding 80% of the market. This is good, he said, as Croatia is not as affected by prices as some other countries.

MPs were debating an electricity market bill which envisages transition to clean energy and transposes an EU directive on common rules for the electricity market. One of its main novelties is that Croatian households will be able to buy electricity from a provider in any other EU member state and their citizens will be able to buy it from HEP.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Parliament Observes Minute's Silence For Women Victims of Violence

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Wednesday observed a minute's silence for all women victims of violence on the National Day of combating violence against women.

"On this day we also remember all the other women who lost their lives due to violence," Speaker Gordan Jandroković said, recalling that parliament declared 22 September National Day of combating violence against women after the murders which took place on this day in 1999.

On 22 September 1999, during a divorce hearing at the Zagreb Municipal Court, Mato Oraškić killed his wife Gordana, her attorney Hajra Prohić and judge Ljiljana Hvalec as well as wounding court reporter Sanja Cvetković.

By observing this day, we wish to additionally raise public awareness, point to this social problem and send a clear message about zero tolerance to violence and about the importance of protecting victims and punishing perpetrators, said Jandroković.

Special emphasis should be put on recognising and reporting violence, he added.

The crime of 22 September 1999 permanently obliges us to be loud in condemning violence and leaving a more tolerant society to younger generations, said Ljubica Maksimčuk of the ruling HDZ, adding that violence against women and girls was one of the most widespread forms of violence in the world, often going unreported.

This government is resolute in the fight against all forms of violence, she said, underlining the importance of education and prevention from the earliest age.

Ivana Posavec Krivec of the opposition SDP said the aim of observing this day must be to raise public awareness of the problem of violence and to send the message about zero tolerance.

It would be good if we introduced civic education, teaching from the earliest age that violence cannot be tolerated, she added.

Nothing is more pathetic than when a man hits a woman, than a man who commits any violence against a woman, said Marin Miletić of the opposition Most.

Violence against women is present in all societies and the low number of reports is a special problem, for which there are many reasons, he added.

Sexual violence is one of the least reported crimes and there are 15 to 20 unreported rapes to every reported one, he said.

Hrvoje Zekanović of the opposition Sovereignists said Croatia adopted the Istanbul Convention in April 2018, when Prime Minister Andrej Plenković assured that domestic and violence against women would go down.

"However, he lied, it hasn't decreased but has even increased," he said, adding that the convention was about something else, not protection from violence.

"The human species is divided into two sexes, male and female, and it is not divided into two genders. Gender is something fluid, subject to change when it crosses your mind. That's what the Istanbul Convention is about," he said.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Inflation Should be Taken Very Seriously, Says Financial Minister

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Inflation should be taken very seriously because of the criteria for introducing the euro as well as living standards, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Croatian Radio on Wednesday.

Asked if inflation would threaten Croatia's entry into the eurozone, he said next year's budget deficit would again be within 3%, which would mean that the cost of COVID-19 of over HRK 35 billion would be almost totally a one-off.

The public debt-to-GDP ratio is again decreasing this year already, he added.

He said that inflation, one of the criteria for introducing the euro, had become a topic in recent months and that it must be a maximum 1.5% more or less than in the three member states with the lowest inflation.

Croatia's average inflation is somewhat below the EU average but Greece, Cyprus and Portugal still have very low inflation, which affects the formula for calculating the Maastricht criterion, he added.

But even with those three countries combined, he said, Croatia is still within the criteria for introducing the euro.

He said inflation was, first and foremost, affected by energy prices, oil in particular, and that this was reflected in food and construction material prices.

Speaking of fears of price rises after the introduction of the euro, Marić said that at least six months before it was announced that Croatia was entering the area, prices would have to be displayed in both kuna and euro for a year, perhaps longer.

Although the general VAT rate is not expected to be cut upon accession to the euro area, he did not rule out the possibility of cutting VAT on food.

Marić reiterated that Croatia would receive €25 billion from the EU budget in the next seven years, including €6.3 billion for its National Recovery and Resilience Plan, of which a 13% advance "is arriving in a matter of days."

Marić said he was surprised by the success of the tourism season, notably in July and August, but this month also as the amount of fiscalised receipts in tourism this month so far was up 24% from September 2019.

He announced a 2021 budget revision, alongside preparations for the 2022 budget, for mid-October.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Croatian FM Gordan Grlić Radman: Key for Afghanistan to Maintain Progress Made in Past 20 Years

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Afghanistan has come a long way in the past 20 years, making progress with the support of the international community, and now it's key that these accomplishments are maintained, notably regarding the rights of women and girls, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in New York on Tuesday.

He was speaking in a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan as part of the 76th UN General Assembly. The meeting focused on maintaining the achievements of the international engagement in the country over the past 20 years, with emphasis on encouraging the prospects of women and girls and ensuring their access to education.

I believe we all agree that Afghanistan needs our constant commitment and assistance as well as support in recovery, Grlić Radman said, calling on the new government in Afghanistan to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, includes the rights of women and girls.

Croatia carried out in Afghanistan more than 70 development and humanitarian projects in education, healthcare and ensuring business opportunities for women. Most of the projects were aimed at strengthening the social status of women. The presence of Croatian women diplomats contributed to better understanding the needs of Afghan women and to bigger efficiency in project implementation, the minister said.

Together with its partners and allies, Croatia will continue to encourage Afghanistan to honour the international commitments undertaken by previous governments, which should lead to renewed international community commitment and support to the Afghan people in using the chance for a better future, he added.

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