Wednesday, 26 January 2022

President, Association Discuss Problems in Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Wednesday met with representatives of SOS Zagreb, an association of citizens founded a year ago with the aim of ensuring a faster and better reconstruction of properties in Zagreb damaged by the March 2020 earthquake.

Members of the association informed the president of the obstacles and problems encountered by citizens in efforts to have their properties reconstructed. They warned of the danger that time would run out to apply for funds under the EU Solidarity Fund to be used for post-earthquake reconstruction and that the cost of reconstruction of many Zagreb hospitals, schools and kindergartens would eventually have to be covered by taxpayers, the Office of the President said in a statement.

The meeting pointed to the lack of a central body in charge of post-earthquake reconstruction as the key reason why reconstruction was slow and ineffective.

This has resulted in only 75 properties in Zagreb undergoing reconstruction two years since the earthquake, the association's members said.

Private reconstruction is encouraged, however, numerous buildings are not creditworthy, which is a problem that requires the state's help in the form of faster compensation for private funds invested, while reconstruction should be compulsory, it was said at the meeting.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

PM: Croatia Continues to Foster Friendly Ties with Ukraine, Normal Ties with Russia

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that the Croatian government continues fostering friendly relations and partnership with Ukraine and normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's basic position is respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Plenković said in reference to the Ukraine crisis.

Following all our experience, we give priority to diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution, de-escalation, and cooperation with our partners within the European Union and NATO, the PM said.

The four-way Normandy format peace talks are taking place today in Paris. The entire international community, from the USA to NATO and the European Union, and all the leaders, want peace. No one wants conflicts, the premier told a news conference.

Last December, Plenković paid a visit to Ukraine and offered Kyiv Croatia's experience of peaceful reintegration of occupied areas, and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman visited Russia last week.

Plenković said today that his cabinet's policy is to continue fostering friendly relations and partnerships with Ukraine and to develop normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's role is constructive, it wants to share its experience that can prevent further conflicts, lessen the tension and share experience, which from our point of view, should lead to solutions."

On Tuesday, President Zoran Milanović said that Ukraine did not belong in NATO, which prompted Kyiv to summon Croatia's Ambassador Anica Džamić.

Milanović said, among other things, that there would be no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine in the event of Russia's invasion and that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup, that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian authorities said Milanović's statements in 2014 insulted the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who gave their lives for a European future.

Plenković today described Milanović's statement as "surreal in every aspect" and recalled that this was not the first time that Croatian ambassadors were being summoned over Milanović's comments.

Plenković recalled Milanović's statements on Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and his statements on Hungary and Austria.

This seems to be a consistent track record of upgrading good bilateral relations with a number of countries important for Croatia, the PM said ironically.

Plenković told the press that he had talked with the Ukrainian ambassador in Zagreb and that logically, the ambassador was disappointed by Milanović's statement.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Ukraine Summons Croatian Ambassador Over Milanović's Statements

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić following Croatian President Zoran Milanović's statement that Ukraine does not belong in NATO.

Milanović said on Tuesday that Croatia would not have a military presence in Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup, that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian ministry said Milanović's statements in 2014 insulted the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who gave their lives for a European future.

Deep disappointment was expressed with the Croatian president's statement on Ukraine's NATO membership and the inappropriateness of assisting our country during the Russian aggression, the ministry said.

It was underlined that the statement was especially contradictory to human values given the bitter war experience of the Croatian people, it added.

The ministry finds that Milanović expressed contempt and ingratitude for the assistance Ukraine provided during Croatia's struggle for independence and in the fight against devastating wildfires last year.

At the same time, we are confident that this ingratitude is his personal trait and that it does not extend to the Croatian people, with whom we are linked by friendship and mutual respect, the ministry said.

It added that Milanović's statements suited Russian propaganda narratives, that they were not in line with Croatia's official position, that they harmed bilateral relations and undermined EU and NATO unity.

The ministry demands a public denial of the insulting statements and that they not be repeated in the future, and said that the Ukrainian ambassador would react in Zagreb.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Plenković: I Want No Involvement in Conflict Between Banožić and Milanović

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he wanted no involvement in the conflict between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, adding that President Zoran Milanović's letters to him were irrelevant but that the ministry and the president's office had to communicate.

"Sending me letters and then making them public via the media is absolutely unacceptable, I consider all of his letters totally irrelevant," Plenković told reporters after a government session.

Defence Minister Mario Banožić said earlier today that President Milanović should declassify documents on his travels and that he would then declassify the findings of an inspection in the office of the Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

The PM said that he had not read the report on the inspection in Hranj's office but would do so once he found the time.

"I do not consider it to be very important, the minister has stated his position on the matter," Plenković said.

As for Milanović's statement that he sees no possibility of cooperation with Banožić over the latter's campaign of strategic harassment, Plenković said that he could say the same about Milanović.

"I think the President of the Republic has been strategically harassing a huge portion of civil institutions, commentators, media, and political actors and we do not see any possibility of further cooperation, yet we are open to dialogue," the PM said.

Asked if he would demand that Banožić make the said report public, Plenković said that he would not because it was not Banožić who had classified the document.

Asked again why he would not, given that Banožić had been the one to request the inspection, the PM said that Banožić had not requested it for the public's sake but for his own sake.

"Banožić has said that he is satisfied with the report, if he is satisfied, it's fine with me," he added.

Asked if the Armed Forces could function if there was no communication between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, Plenković said that they had to communicate and that he recommended they do so.

He confirmed that he would soon forward agreements on the purchase of the Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets to the Office of the President.

"He has every right to it, he is the head of state. Whether there is room for cooperation is irrelevant, he has the right to see the agreements and he will obtain them, of course, they, too, are confidential."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

President Should Declassify His Own Requests, Defense Minister Says

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Wednesday he was satisfied with a report by the chief defense inspector "given the circumstances in which the inspection was conducted" and invited President Zoran Milanović to declassify his own requests.

Speaking to Jutarnji List daily, Banožić recalled: "a statement of 4 November 2021, at the start of the inspection, when President Milanović exerted gross pressure on the chief defense inspector by saying that 'they are saying in (power utility) HEP that the chief defense inspector's wife has been appointed director temporarily'."

Thereby, Banožić said, Milanović "showed what the chief inspector and his family will go through if the findings are not favorable to Milanović's interests."

Banožić was commenting on a letter Milanović sent Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in which he said that Banožić was hiding from the public the conclusions in which the Defence Inspectorate found that the military chief of staff did not break the law in implementing Banožić's decision on the holding of a swearing-in ceremony for conscripts and in providing support to the president's office in 2021.

The inspectorate's conclusions confirm that Banožić falsely accused the military leadership of breaking the law, thereby causing harm to the Armed Forces and Croatia, the president said, asking the prime minister to declassify the inspectorate's "restricted" findings.

Banožić said "the inspectorate's findings are classified" and asked the president to declassify "25 requests for transport by helicopter, 125 requests for various protocol matters, requests for using the Učka motor yacht, requests for the services of smaller military units, requests for using Armed Forces vehicles and drivers and for other forms of support which have been classified so that the public can have insight into the whole situation."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

President Tells Defence Minister to Stop Lying

ZAGREB, 6 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that Defence Minister Mario Banožić should "stop lying" and commented on yesterday's online meeting with United States representatives on the possibility of equipping the Croatian Army with Bradley fighting vehicles.

Milanović said in a press release the meeting was convened by Banožić in order for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to obtain detailed technical information from US representatives on the Bradleys "so that he could make a decision."

He noted that Plenković did not participate in the meeting due to other commitments, as Milanović said Banožić told the Americans.

He said the meeting was convened because of Plenković's ignorance, negligence, and lack of interest in the important job of equipping the army with fighting vehicles.

Milanović said Banožić's presentation at the meeting "embarrassed Croatia and its Armed Forces, portraying them as a flippant and irresponsible partner."

Speaking in a Croatian Television program later, after the meeting, Banožić said that Croatia was offered an M2A2 ODS version of the Bradley vehicle, which had not been requested.

Milanović said that was not true and that the Defence Ministry had requested an offer for that version, as confirmed by a ministry memo to the US Embassy of 8 April 2021.

"Minister, stop lying, stop deluding the public, stop embarrassing Croatia, and stop damaging the Croatian Armed Forces," the president said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Milanović Sends Christmas Greetings to Orthodox Believers

ZAGREB, 6 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday sent greetings to citizens of the Orthodox faith who will celebrate Christmas on Friday and called on those in power to show more comprehension for the people, particularly in Banija, where state aid is essential after the earthquakes.

The Christmas feast day is always a call to closeness with one's loved ones and family gathering, and it is my sincere wish that you spend it in peace and joy with your loved ones, the president wrote in his note.

Christmas is an opportunity to show mutual understanding and tolerance, particularly in these difficult times for our numerous citizens who were affected by the consequences of the earthquakes, he said.

We have to show solidarity to all those who will not celebrate Christmas in their homes with their families again this year, and human goodness as the most important message of Christmas, Milanović added.

I take this opportunity once again to call on those in power for more understanding for the people, particularly in Banija, for whom state aid is essential, he said.

In the hope that we will continue to build a tolerant Croatian society in which there will be room and opportunities for everyone, and Croatian citizens will feel to be their home, to all Orthodox believers once again, Merry Christmas with the traditional greeting, God's peace, Christ is born!, Milanović's message said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Milanović: Citizens and People Respect and Love Croatian Army

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - The President of the Republic and Armed Forces Commander in Chief, Zoran Milanović, said on Monday that the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Croatian Military Academy was created amid the war and nation-building, underscoring that the Croatian Armed Forces served to defend the country and were respected and loved by the people.

"I've arrived from an institution that has marked its 30th anniversary this morning -- the Croatian National Bank (HNB). That 30th anniversary isn't actually real because that institution had existed before. This one, yours and ours, hadn't existed, it was created amid the war and state-building process. And it's completely new and in that sense completely ours," said Milanović at an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Croatian Military Academy and a graduation ceremony.

He added that after 30 years of the Croatian state, the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Croatian Military Academy and the HNB were the only two institutions that had done their job well and with honor and had never disgraced themselves.

"One of these two institutions is financial and it enjoys a good reputation but doesn't inspire love. The other one, your and our Croatian army is special, it is only ours, it serves to defend our country and did so when it was hardest, and it's respected and loved by the citizens and the people. These two institutions, these two pillars, do what is good in the Croatian state," he said.

He announced that he would visit the Republic of Kosovo in two days, where he would also visit Croatian soldiers who are there as part of NATO's KFOR operation. He stressed they were there "because that is our decision".

"No solidarity, no force made us go there, that is our decision and our assessment that it is good for us and the region. We will increasingly have to be guided by our interests and then solidarity," Milanović stressed.

You have something to be proud of, you've chosen a difficult job

He told the military academy graduates that they had something to be proud of and that they had chosen a difficult job of being a Croatian soldier in a country that is a NATO and EU member.

In addition to President Milanović, the event was attended by his adviser on war veterans, Marijan Mareković, the Commander of the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Croatian Military Academy, Lt. Gen. Mate Pađen, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Siniša Jurković.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Milanović: Plenković Made Mistake for Not Blocking EU Council Conclusions

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - President Zoran Milanović believes that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković didn't make a mistake by going to Sarajevo but he should have used a mechanism at Croatia's disposal in Brussels to block the adoption of the conclusions by the Council of the EU concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Plenković didn't make a mistake by going to Sarajevo but he did make a mistake when he did not, consciously or intentionally, use the mechanism that Croatia has at its disposal in Brussels and that is to block the adoption of the conclusions that are in contradiction to Croatia's starting positions," Milanović said in a statement after attending a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Military Academy. 

Plenković visited Bosnia and Herzegovina last Monday. Several days later Milanović criticized the government's support to the Council's conclusions on enlargement because the final document does not mention the constituent states and the legitimate political representation of Croats in BiH. 

Today he said that the time has come to replace Croatia's Ambassador to Brussels, Irena Andrassy.

Milanović on Sunday canceled his visit to Travnik and Nova Bila, Bosnia and Herzegovina for security reasons, but today he would not discuss the security threats in question. He said he would visit Bosnia and Herzegovina some other time and that "no moral rabble-rousers would stop him."

"I cannot be friends with everyone, especially not with the unitarist clique in Sarajevo who are posing as patriots, and I will oppose them," Milanović said.

He said that the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Milorad Dodik, is provoking those people and that he can understand his behavior. "I understand such behavior, but I do not encourage it. Realistically, Dodik can do nothing to them. He doesn't have two long barrels, which is good in this situation. He is provoking them, but he is dealing with people who are professional liars who would rob an entire community, Croats in BiH. Well, that just won't go," said Milanović.

He criticized the Croatian government for not doing enough to protect the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The government is ignoring its job and what it has at its disposal. Those are diplomatic measures to protect state interests, in this case, the Croats in BiH", said Milanović.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot exist without Croats. They are the smallest constituent group, but they tip the scales for the country's survival. If after all that a handful of unitary rabble-rousers, moral usurers don't like me, that's fine," Milanović said.

He said that nearly 200,000 Croats remained in the Lašva valley. "If you talk to them, they are more for BiH than the Croats in Herzegovina - naturally. We are talking about that political community. They are loyal to Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Milanović.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Milanović Says Will Come to Bosnia Again

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Monday, a day after canceling a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina due to security risks, that he would come again.

Milanović yesterday canceled a visit to Travnik and Nova Bila and today would not elaborate on the security risks.

He said he would come to BiH again and that "no morality rabble-rousers will stop me."

"They can get lost", he added. "I can't be friends with everybody. If one should be in a conflict with someone, and that's the unitarist clique in Sarajevo who say they are patriots, I will be in conflict with them."

Milanović said he felt his statements helped the Croat people in BiH, otherwise, they would be exposed to disorganization. He reproached the Croatian government for not doing enough for their protection.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn't exist without Croats. They are the smallest, but they tip the scales for the state's survival. If, after all that, a handful of unitarist rabble-rousers, morality usurers, don't like me, then great," the president said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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