Thursday, 26 August 2021

Milanović Says Current Anti-Epidemic Rules Have No Sense Any More

ZAGREB, 26 Aug 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the current anti-epidemic rules had no sense any more, and that Croatia should follow the example of Sweden rather than France and Germany considering measures taken to combat the COVID pandemic.

Milanović said this did not mean that Croatia should not copy others, however, he admitted that the country was also a part of a wider community and "it cannot always be the way we believe is the smartest."

"I think now that it would be more prudent to do something different than France and Germany or some other countries are doing," Milanović told the press in the Dalmatian town of Kijevo near Knin where he attended ceremonies commemorating civilian victims of the war who died 30 years ago. "I would follow the suit of Sweden. Sweden can afford it for itself, however it pays a political price, we obviously cannot do that," the president said.

The president explained that many people had got vaccinated against coronavirus which now made the anti-epidemic rules unnecessary unless the healthcare system and intensive care wards were exposed to strain.

 He again called on the Croatians to get vaccinated.

 "Get vaccinated. Trust science, be pragmatic, take care of yourselves," Milanović said.

Commenting on the forthcoming population census, Milanović said that the findings of the census would probably show that the population in Croatia alone was downsized by 10% compared to the situation 10 years ago, and he ascribed that to the emigration of Croatians to Ireland, Great Britain, and other western countries.

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

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Milanović Calls Bosnian Prosecution’s Letter of Request Sabotage

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Sunday that a conclusion on non-cooperation in proceedings against Croatian military commanders adopted six years ago was still in force and that a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office was sabotage and a poisoning of relations.

The Croatian Justice Ministry has confirmed receiving the letter from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office to take over the prosecution of 14 Croatian Army generals suspected by Bosnia and Herzegovina of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1995 Operation Flash.

Speaking to the press in Sinj ahead of the 306th Sinjska Alka lancing tournament, Milanović said the technical problem of "will we cooperate or not" was much smaller than the fact that such indictments were arriving and that such investigations were being conducted.

He said he had known about the indictments for some time and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković did too, but would not say why he had communicated that in public instead of the government.

Milanović said the no-cooperation conclusion he adopted as prime minister at a cabinet meeting in 2015 was valid until the incumbent government revoked or changed it. "Perhaps the prime minister, keeping that in mind, didn't think it necessary to comment on it, but I find it necessary, because it's a sort of sabotage."

"It's a poisoning of relations between two states," he added.

Milanović also commented on the national COVID crisis management team's rejection of Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj's request for a relaxation of COVID rules on the day of the Alka tournament.

"The fact is that there are 500 of us here without any supervision. On the other hand, it's not bad for the measures to last a few more weeks for the sake of the impression Croatia leaves because of the tourist season. There are many illogical and silly things about this in all of Europe and we have to fit in a little. I'd be patient a while longer."

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

Milanović Calls for Unity on Status of Bosnia Croats

ZAGREB, 19 June 2021 - The Croatian Heritage Foundation marked its 70th anniversary at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb on Friday, with President Zoran Milanović calling for unity on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In his address, the president called for unity on key matters, saying that today one of them, to a certain extent, was the status of Croats in BiH.

"Their homeland is BiH as it was designed 26 years ago by an international agreement which was signed by Croatia and which it will honor in good faith."

Milanović said there was a big chance to position Croatia among the most advanced states in Europe, "there where it never was but where it belongs."

He said the Croatian nation had been a dream whose realization depended on "a few goods, right people" who gathered around that idea at a certain moment in history.

The Croatian Heritage Foundation is an institution representing a "firm and safe bridge to the homeland" for about 3.5 million Croats and their descendants around the world, it was said at the event.

The deputy speaker of the BiH Parliament's House of Peoples, Dragan Čović, thanked Milanović for "speaking very loudly these days about the role of the Croat people in BiH."

"We are proud to have Croatia as our homeland, but we won't renounce BiH as our homeland either. There's 15% of us in BiH, but as the least numerous, we are the most industrious. We are the leaders of all positive integration processes in BiH," Čović said.

He thanked Croatia's officials for encouraging Croats in BiH to preserve their equality as a constituent people and ensure legitimate representation at all government levels.

The Croatian prime minister's envoy, Zvonko Milas, underlined the importance of focusing on the young as a guarantee of the survival of the relationship between Croats in Croatia and abroad.

The Croatian parliament speaker's envoy, Zdravka Bušić, said the communist authorities had declared the Croatian Heritage Foundation a hotbed of nationalism for connecting Croats in Croatia and abroad and eliminated its leaders from the Croatian people's political and public spheres in Croatia and abroad.

"Today the Foundation realizes about 60 programs and events, connecting 45 countries on all continents where Croats and citizens of Croatian descent live in larger numbers," its director Mijo Marić said, calling on young people of Croatian descent from around the world to attend the Foundation's Croatian language, history, culture and folklore seminars this summer.

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

Monday, 14 June 2021

Minister Says President's Statements About NATO Declaration Unsubstantiated

June 14th, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović's statement that the Croatian government did not react to an attempt by some countries to have the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples left out of a NATO declaration closing is groundless, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has said.

Earlier on Sunday, President Milanović said that some countries did not want the closing declaration of the coming NATO summit in Brussels to mention the Dayton peace agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples but that Croatia would not consent to it.

"That statement is totally unsubstantiated," Grlić Radman said.

Grlić Radman claims that as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina is concerned, a formulation in one of the paragraphs, proposed by the Croatian government, was accepted and that the formulation refers to the Dayton agreement, the constituent peoples, equality and reform processes, notably amendment of the country's election law.

"We have agreed that the Dayton agreement and reform processes, that is, the election law, will be mentioned in that paragraph... President Milanović is not telling the truth, we have all the documents," said Grlić Radman, noting that the government had constantly been working on the protection of the status of the Croat people in BiH.

Asked by reporters if he would support President Milanović if he refused to sign the document in case it did not include the said formulation about BiH, the minister did not give a clear answer.

"The Brussels summit is not dedicated to BiH, the document in question has some 50 pages, and we want to agree that text with our allies, the summit is not decisive for the status of the Croat people in BiH anyway," the minister said about the contentious document, repeating several times that it had been agreed that the document would mention, in one paragraph, "the Dayton agreement and reform processes, that is, the election law."

Commenting on Milanović's statement about his father having been a Communist official who got reach through privatization, Grlić Radman said that the statement was scandalous and proud of his father, who had been a patriot and benefactor.

As for Milanović's statement that he was "lamenting the fate of Croats in Communism," Grlić Radman said that any mention of the word Croat meant danger in Yugoslavia.

"You could not sing ordinary patriotic songs such as 'Marjane, Marjane' and 'Vila Velebita'," he said, describing the former state as "a totalitarian, centralist and unitarist system, with one people dominating diplomacy, finances, police and defense structures."

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

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Milanović: Plenković is Promoter of Right to Lie

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday called Prime Minister Andrej Plenković a promoter of the right to lie who had now classified himself "under authentic interpreters of battles from the Homeland War" and declared himself "almost a war commander".

The president wrote this on Facebook, reacting to Plenković's comment on his proposal that the anniversary of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm be commemorated in other cities besides Knin.

Milanović accused Plenković of "denigrating the proposal to commemorate Operation Storm in other cities in which heroic battles were fought in the Homeland War, and not only in Knin, declaring himself - with the words 'many of us look at Knin differently' - almost a war commander," Milanović wrote.

The president added that the initiative to commemorate Operation Storm "also where hundreds of Croatian defenders were killed, near Petrinja and Glina, for instance, was proposed to him by war generals and commanders who fought liberation battles".

Asked by the RTL commercial broadcaster to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to commemorate anniversaries of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm in Knin every five years and to commemorate the anniversary in Glina this year, Plenković said on Wednesday he didn't know about it, but he found "the repeated use of double criteria particularly indicative".

"He constantly talks about Knin as some kind of train station, a barracks. Many of us look at Knin differently, at its role, at Zvonimir's City, at the Knin Fortress, at the symbolism of the flag at the Knin Fortress. Those are different views," Plenković said, referring to the turbulent history of that Dalmatian region.

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Milanović: Military Aircraft Procurement is a Major Project

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the procedure for the purchase of fighter jets was very strict, but he would not reveal details of today's Defence Council meeting or the type of aircraft Croatia would go for.

"The process has been good so far. It hasn't been compromised, there have been no information leaks. Eventually, the cost will have to be presented to the Croatian public," Milanović told the press.

He said it was important that Croatia had the fighter jets by no later than 2024. "They have to be here by then," Milanović said, adding that Croatia should not be without its own resources even for a day. 

Milanović said that this was a major project and that he hoped the government would take a decision on it before Armed Forces Day, which is observed on 28 May.

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

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Croatian Ambassador to Bulgaria Summoned Over Milanović's Statement

ZAGREB, 20 May (Hina) - Croatia's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Jasna Ognjanovac, was summoned by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday over President Zoran Milanović's statement in which he strongly criticized "Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia," Bulgarian media reported. 

Ognjanovac was summoned at the request of Minister Svetlan Stoev, and she was received by the Director General for European Affairs, Rumen Alexandrov.

The reason for the meeting was President Zoran Milanović's statement after a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process at Brdo Pri Kranju, in which he sharply criticized Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia, the Bulgarian BNT broadcaster said.

Alexandrov called Milanović's statement "unacceptable and unwarranted".

He said that it was "disappointing not just in the context of the excellent bilateral dialogue between Sofia and Zagreb and their unanimity on a number of topics on the European and regional agenda, but also in view of the fact that being the region's immediate neighbors, Bulgaria and Croatia are naturally bonded by a shared interest in the reform, stabilization and EU integration of the Western Balkans in the near future."

In a statement to reporters at Brdo Pri Kranju, Milanović warned that North Macedonia "is in an impossible position" and that one EU member state demanded that North Macedonia "define its national genesis in the way requested by the neighboring state" in history textbooks.

He said that he would "openly oppose" that within his powers.

Milanović did not name the state but meant Bulgaria, which is rejecting a negotiating framework for North Macedonia because Sofia claims, North Macedonian textbooks "revise and negate their common ethnic and linguistic history."

The Croatian ambassador said she would convey the Bulgarian position to Zagreb, noting the need for cooperation between Bulgaria and Croatia with a view to guaranteeing the stability of the Western Balkans and the region's European perspective, BNT said. 

The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry confirmed to Hina that Ambassador Ognjenovac had been to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry where the Bulgarian side conveyed to her its position.

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Monday, 29 March 2021

Plenković Describes Milanović's Statements as Political Barbarity

ZAGREB, 29 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday said that the President had stepped out of his constitutional authority, describing Zoran Milanović's statements in the context of the selection of the head of the Supreme Court as unacceptable political barbarity.

Plenković underscored that "the salvo of insults towards everyone" was not normal. "The media and society are almost getting used to this as if it were something normal and as if it were some sort of trading shots, a fierce reaction, a continuation of something - it isn't."

"This is political barbarity below the dignity of communication, showing spite over procedures and then using the methodology of insulting everyone who thinks differently. And that is unacceptable," Plenković told reporters.

Plenkovič believes that Milanović needs to apologise to MP Milorad Pupovac and the media.

Responding to a question, he did not reject the possibility of impeaching the President, but underscored that in the current situation it would be difficult to obtain the required two-thirds majority support for that in the parliament.

"If this continues, we can talk about that too," he said, warning though of the Bridge party's stance, which he said had helped Milanović to be elected president.

"They have already said that they are against (impeachment)", underscored Plenković.

Milanović's attack against Pupovac shameless

Referring to Milanović's statements, Plenković said that it would be particularly bad for society and the political scene if part of the public approved of such behaviour. "That would be disastrous," he said.

He hopes there are not too many like that and that they are in fact the filth of social networks which, he warned, is the basis for hate speech and then physical attacks against those being insulted.

"This primarily refers to Milorad Pupovac who was attacked as president of the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) and long-standing MP in such a shameless way by the President and I believe that he should apologise to him and the pubic for his words," said Plenković.

Plenković wonders why the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Peđa Grbin, the SDP's candidate for Zagreb mayor Joško Klisović and the President's chief-of-staff Orsat Miljenić haven't reacted.

"Do they approve of these barbaric and vulgar attacks on MP Pupovac?" asked Plenković. 

The President is also attacking the media and that too requires an apology, he said.

Plenković also referred to, as he said, Milanović's personally calling lawmakers regarding the selection of the head of the Supreme Court. 

That same parliament, Plenković underscored, in which that same president did not want to come as an invited guest when the parliament was inaugurated.

"That is a new dimension in how the president sees his role and duties," claimed Plenković, saying that the president's constitutional duty is to recommend a candidate for Supreme Court president. "It is not his constitutional duty to call people from the parliamentary majority or others and turn them into his assets. That is not the president's duty," said Plenković.

Plenković also believes that Milanović overstepped his constitutional authority when he 'expressis verbis' articulated that his political activism is against the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) as a political party.

We could also say that someone is disgusting

Plenković also touched on Milanović's description of Plenković as ugly, Pupovac as dirty and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković as evil.

"We could also say that someone is disgusting," he said in Italian, adding that he will not lower himself to that level but will "stand in defence of other colleagues, in defence of reporters and the freedom of the media," and finally refute the "incorrect argument" that the selection of the head of the Supreme Court is equal to a reform in the judiciary.

That is not the same, underscored Plenković and added that reform of the judiciary is up to the government and parliament by amending legislation, digitising the judiciary and reducing the number of cases, providing a precise action plan for judges as to how many cases and in what timeframe they need to be resolved for them to receive positive performance reports.

"There is no hiding here behind some sort desire to reform the judiciary. That is not the case here. This is an effort to sell a political pamphlet to the public. However, there are enough of us who can see very well, hear and comprehend, and we know how to position ourselves in such a situation," he added.

Plenković reiterated that his HDZ will not support Zlata Đurđević's nomination for Supreme Court president because she allowed herself to be a candidate in a procedure which the Constitutional Court considers was not in accordance with the law and as such it was not in accordance with the Constitution.

"What you are seeing now is exclusively and solely the President's fault. It is not the fault of the government or parliament and the public has to hear that clearly and understand. Everything else is just a salvo, a method that is based on spite and insults. That is not our political style and we will not agree to it," he concluded.

Commenting on the initiative by HDZ member Vladimir Šeks to have Milanović impeached, Plenković said that Šeks was speaking on his own behalf.

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

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Committee Chair Says President Should Have Requested Constitutionality Review

ZAGREB, 20 March 2021 - The chair of the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System, Dražen Bošnjaković (HDZ), on Saturday dismissed President Zoran Milanović's claim that the ruling HDZ party was obstructing changes in the judiciary.

"If anyone has introduced changes in the judiciary, that's the government led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković," Bošnjaković said, adding that numerous changes had been introduced and that a change at the helm of the Supreme Court alone did not mean a reform.

Milanović's statement was prompted by the parliament's decision on Friday to confirm the opinion of its Constitution and Standing Orders Committee that Speaker Gordan Jandroković did not make a mistake when he asked President Milanović to supplement his motion on the nomination of Zlata Đurđević as the Supreme Court president.

Asked if Milanović was in breach of the Constitution, Bošnjaković said that he believed he was because he did not respect the institution of public call, nor had he stated his opinion on the proposed candidates.

The issue drew public attention after Milanović decided not to nominate any of the three candidates who had applied for Supreme Court president after the State Judicial Council (DSV) advertised a public call.

Milanović said that his candidate, Zlata Đurđević, who did not participate in the public call, was a good choice, reiterating that the public call was not transparent and that he as the president had the power under the Constitution to nominate a candidate.

Bošnjaković said that the dispute regarding the appointment of the Supreme Court president did not make much sense and that the president should have submitted a request to check the constitutionality of the Courts Act, which stipulates the procedure of the appointment of the Supreme Court President, which some other people recently did.

"I am surprised by the opinion of some legal experts who claim that the president directly applies the Constitution," Bošnjaković said, wondering if this meant that he did not have to respect the law.

Asked if he expected applications for the post of Supreme Court president to be invited again, Bošnjaković said that it would be good to defuse tension and that there was time until 15 July, when the term of the current Supreme Court president expires.

Regarding the latest developments and claims that the HDZ was to blame for the situation in the judiciary and judges socializing with indictees, Bošnjaković replied, "What does the HDZ have to do with that?"

Judges are elected in an independent procedure, and the State Judicial Council decides about their appointment, and the HDZ most strongly condemns the conduct of some judges, he said.

"We want mechanisms to be launched so that they are prosecuted and so that eventually, if necessary, the most difficult decisions are made. This undermines trust in the judiciary, but there are mechanisms to counter and sanction that," he said.

There are around 1,700 judges in Croatia, and a vast majority of them do their job responsibly and conscientiously. At the same time, those who tarnish that reputation should be subjected to disciplinary proceedings within the DSV, Bošnjaković said in a comment on some judges having socialized with former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić, recently sentenced for siphoning money from the club, and businessman-turned-politician Željko Kerum from Split.

Judges socializing with persons against whom criminal proceedings are underway is unacceptable, Bošnjaković said.

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

Monday, 8 March 2021

President Visits Faculties in Sisak, Petrinja on International Women's Day

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Monday visited the Sisak Faculty of Metallurgy, saying metallurgy was stereotypically considered a male profession, and the Petrinja Faculty of Teacher Education, saying teaching was considered a female profession.

One of the topics with faculty officials and students was the role of women in science and higher education.

"The reason I am here today, on International Women's Day, is also the fact that at (the Sisak) faculty, in management and leadership, are solely women, which is very unusual given that the nature of their profession is stereotypically considered male," Milanović told the press, adding that it was also unusual that half the students were women.

Speaking of the 60 years of the Sisak Faculty of Metallurgy, which is part of the University of Zagreb, the president said it was fighting and developing despite all the changes Croatia had gone through.

"In Sisak, the cradle of Croatian metallurgy, which has had its ups and downs, fighting for survival and progress, that knowledge is nurtured," he said, adding that the doctoral studies at the faculty were "a big success considering how demanding, intensive and complicated they are."

Milanović said he was sure the Science and Education Ministry and the faculty itself would advance the faculty with European funding.

After visiting the Petrinja Faculty of Teacher Education, which is also part of the University of Zagreb, the president said he was confident that it would "carry this city" after the devastating earthquake last December.

Congratulating women on their day, Milanović said "there are women and women," explaining that some were fighters who would not sell themselves or be broken, who would "kick in that place" any thug or abuser, while others put on a show.

Asked if he was again referring to Hollywood actresses, he said, "Never mind those actresses now."

Asked if women deserved protection, he said the weak deserved it. "Female teachers deserve protection, the girls who are teaching assistants and must make headway through a non-transparent system and who depend on older colleagues, but are not interesting enough for 30 cameras to gather because of them."

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