Friday, 22 April 2022

Penalties for Using Ustasha Salute Might be Increased, Prime Minister Says

ZAGREB, 22 April (2022) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday the possibility of increasing penalties for the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" was being considered in talks with national minorities and antifascists, but not legislative amendments that would ban its use.

"I have underlined once again that the existing regulations and Constitutional Court rulings are very clear about the salute. I think only the practice should be standardised. We can see if the penalties might be increased, so that we can act preventively in that way too, but also punish those breaking the law," Plenković told the press after a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the inmate breakout from the WWII Ustasha concentration camp Jasenovac.

He did not specify whether amendments to the criminal code or the misdemanour law were being considered.

A number of options are being discussed, he said, adding that the courts already have the legal basis but they should standardise their practice, which can also be done by the Supreme Court.

Plenković went on to say that the government was willing to finance the refurbishment of the Jasenovac Memorial Site, and that the education ministry would try to ensure, in agreement with school principals, that as many pupils as possible visited it.

He also commented on a recent statement by War Veterans Ministry envoy Matko Raos at a HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) commemoration that "without 10 April 1941, there would have been no present-day Croatia."

Plenković said Raos made a "serious mistake" and that he apologised to the war veterans minister and him.

"Sometimes inexperienced people say something they shouldn't. We all distanced ourselves from it, condemning it. I'm not sure whether we should send anyone to such events any more," he said, adding that he meant events which resembled a provocation more than a commemoration.

Plenković said those present at today's commemoration honoured all those killed at Jasenovac at the time of the fascist NDH (1941-45 Independent State of Croatia).

"We are sorry for everyone who was killed here, Jews, Serbs, Roma, Croats and antifascists, all who were against that regime."

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 March 2022

Croatian Prime Minister: Bosnia Conclusions Impetus to Leaders to Complete Electoral Reform

ZAGREB, 25 March (2022) - The entire European Union has recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional architecture, and the conclusions adopted by the European Council at Croatia's initiative should be an impetus to Croat and Bosniak leaders to reach a deal on electoral reform,  Prime Minister Andrej Plenković says.

On Friday, the European Council consisting of the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member-states, endorsed the Strategic Compass, a document on the European Union's defence vision in the coming years.

Concerning the topic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Strategic Compass reads that it is "of particular interest to support the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all citizens and constituent peoples as enshrined in the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution," according to the document made available recently.

Furthermore, at the insistence of PM Plenković, the European Council discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday morning.

It adopted the conclusions in which the leaders in that country are urged to complete the electoral and constitutional reform.

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans, read the conclusions.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's leaders are urged to show strong determination regarding the fast completion of the electoral and constitutional reform, which is described by the document as crucial for the stability and full functionality of the country.

They are also encouraged to support all other priorities from the European Commission's opinion on the plans to grant a candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In this regard, the European Union is ready to continue its high-level engagement, it was concluded.

Upon the adoption of the conclusions, Croatia's PM said that this was a constructive contribution of a friendly and benevolent country that has the 1000-kilometre-long border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Asked by the press why the HDZ BiH party did not vote for the proposalmade by Denis Bećirević of the opposition SDP party to adopt a declaration condemning Russia's military aggression against Ukraine in Bosnia and Herzegovina's House of Peoples, Plenković said that one of the opposition SDP MPs had launched that initiative on his own.

The HDZ BiH party has clearly supported the whole set of sanctions which the EU adopted against Russia, and there i no dilemma about that, he explained.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Energy Prices Will Have to be Capped Globally, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 11 March 2022 - The EU proved to be part of the solution in the COVID crisis and will have to react also in the new situation after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, by capping energy prices among other things, including globally to prevent speculation, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"After the Russian invasion, we have three tragedies, the biggest is the one of the Ukrainian people, the second is the big refugee crisis, and the third is the enormous rise in energy prices," he said in Versailles after a two-day informal EU summit.

The EU proved to be very good in dealing with the pandemic crisis by establishing the special Next Generation EU instrument and through common vaccine procurement and distribution as well as job-retention, Plenković said.

"Now it's necessary to help our fellow citizens and the economy again. It's best to cap energy prices, but this must be a global action. It's not good if someone profits from speculative prices, that's immoral."

Energy and food cannot be treated as other commodities, Plenković said. "We have entered a new phase after Russia's attack on Ukraine in which energy and food will be our strategic resources and we should adapt to that."

He said the countries taking in the largest numbers of Ukrainian refugees would need financial aid as a huge refugee wave could be expected.

In just two weeks, over two million people from Ukraine have arrived in the EU, while about a million people came during the 2015 refugee crisis.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Croatian-Colored Burj Khalifa Lights Up Expo 2020 Dubai

March 6, 2022 - The world's tallest skyscraper displayed the Croatian flag on Saturday night during Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's visit to Dubai. A look at the Croatian-colored Burj Khalifa!

Croatia should "pay great attention" to Gulf countries that are significant investors, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday, who is in Dubai at the world exhibition EXPO 2020, reports Vecernji List.

"This part of the world, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, are all countries we need to pay great attention to," the Prime Minister added about the countries that invest significantly "thanks to their oil fields."

During his trip, the Prime Minister met with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the Emirates, with whom he visited the Croatian pavilion at the EXPO. He will also meet with the Minister of Trade of the United States Gina Raimondo.

Better yet, Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, was decked out in Croatian colors on Saturday. 

Screenshot_2022-03-06_at_09.15.15.png

"After the meeting with the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed and the Crown Prince of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan - a nice gesture of the host. Burj Khalifa is in the colors of Croatia," Prime Minister Plenković said on Twitter.

Croatia will try to attract Arab investments at the Dubai-Croatia Business Forum, held in the city on Sunday, organized by two chambers of commerce.

"Tomorrow, together with about eighty Croatian business people, I will participate in the opening of the Dubai-Croatia Business Forum, organized by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce," the Prime Minister added on Twitter.

Apart from the Prime Minister, Croatia is also represented in the Emirates by the Minister of Finance Zdravko Marić, the Head of Diplomacy Gordan Grlić Radman, and the Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Blames USKOK for Ruining Croatia's Spectacular Week

January 19th, 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Blames USKOK for Ruining Croatia's Spectacular Week

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković held an impromptu news conference following the arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat. The Prime Minister started the news conference by making an overview of the great week Croatia just had. He goes on to mention “major political events” such as the arrival of the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier in Split, government inflation measures, EU Fund Absorption extension, and contract signing for the Lekenik-Sisak section of the A11 motorway.

After he used the opening few minutes to commend the work of his government this week, he finally comments on the fact that one of his Ministers was arrested for alleged abuse of authority. Prime Minister ironically thanks to the DORH (State's Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia) for the new political event he has to handle now and continues to shortly go through the case while mentioning other politicians that are potentially involved. USKOK (Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime) is a special state attorney ofice specialised for the prosecution of corruption and organised crime who is in charge of this case. Finally, we get to the point where the Prime Minister comments on the suspicious timing and over-dramatization while blaming DORH of having a hidden agenda. He continues to blame the media of creating a dramatic atmosphere and USKOK for unauthorized leak of information related to this investigation. The whole press conference passed with Prime Minister downplaying the importance of this case and stating that the case is dealing with relatively smaller sums while making accussation torwards both the press and the State's Attorney Office.

Without going into detail regarding the alleged abuse of authority, it is very interesting to see that during a political turmoil, when one of your ministers is arrested, Croatia's Prime Minister takes the opportunity to commend the work of his government. What is more he tries to relativize the the whole case even though he states that he does not know anything more than the general public. Political spins, accusations and arguments are not something unusual for Croatia's political scene, but as always Croatian politicians never fail to amaze us. 

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Miroslav Tuđman Helped Shape Croatian Society, Says Plenković

ZAGREB, 31 January 2022 - Opening an online seminar on Miroslav Tuđman on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Tuđman was among the researchers and politicians who in the past 30 years had shaped Croatian society and participated in the adoption of key decisions.

The two-day event, organised by the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences and the St. George association, is being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of the prominent researcher and politician and founder of Croatia's security-intelligence community.

Plenković said Tuđman was one of the last actors on the Croatian political scene who had detailed knowledge of the events since 1990 and before, which, he said, had helped him analyse, in a truth-loving way, processes and phenomena the country had been faced with.

He said Tuđman's most important contribution was the establishment of the national security-intelligence system, his role in strengthening relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and the equality of BiH Croats in relation to the other two biggest ethnic groups, as well as his role in the 1991-95 Homeland War.

"He participated, along with his father, Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman, in all key events and is definitely one of the Croatian politicians who formed and shaped society and participated in the adoption of key strategic decisions that secured Croatia's freedom, democracy and integration with the EU and NATO," said Plenković.

As a member of parliament in several terms, Tuđman headed Croatia's delegation at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and contributed to global security also beyond that transatlantic organisation, he said, adding that with his research Tuđman defended "the truth about his father".

With books, facts and arguments he countered attacks by forgers of Croatia's modern history on the legacy of the first Croatian president, said Plenković, pointing also to Tuđman's political engagement in the HDZ party.

Tuđman was among the founders of the Ivo Pilar institute 30 years ago and the founder of the St. George association", a non-government, non-party and non-profit association founded to promote development and research in the field of international, homeland, national and corporate security, it was said at the seminar.

He was the editor of the "National security and the future" magazine for 21 years and was a long-time professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences' Department of Information and Communication Sciences, it was said.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Croatian PM Arrives in Montenegro for CEI Summit

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković arrived in Montenegro on Friday for a one-day visit during which he will attend a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit and meet with representatives of the Croatian community.

The CEI was launched in Budapest in 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the aim of assisting central and eastern European countries in joining the European Union.

The initial four members were Austria, Hungary, Italy and Yugoslavia. Austria has in the meantime withdrawn from this organisation, which now has 17 members. Apart from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the members are: Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Nine CEI countries are now members of the European Union.

Today's meeting in the coastal town of Budva will mark the end of Montenegro's chairmanship of the CEI. Croatia held the chairmanship in 2018 and handed it over to Italy in 2019, when the organisation marked its 30th anniversary in Rome.

The Montenegrin government has announced the attendance of the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. The Croatian delegation includes Interior Minister Davor Božinović and the Secretary of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, Zvonko Milas.

The summit is expected to adopt a joint statement on further cooperation, with emphasis on development and European integration, and a road map for health and well-being in the Western Balkans until 2025.

The countries in the region are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the world. According to the worldometers.info website, which gathers official information on COVID-19, the country with the highest death toll in relation to its population size is Peru, which is followed by Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Romania ranks ninth and Croatia 13th. The World Health Organisation's Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, will also attend today's summit.

Meeting with the Croatian community

After the CEI summit, the Croatian delegation is scheduled to meet with Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Kirvokapić and visit the Croatian Consulate-General in Kotor, where Prime Minister Plenković will meet with Bishop Ivan Štironja and visit the 12th century Cathedral of St. Tryphon.

After that, the Croatian delegation is due to meet with representatives of the Croatian community in the nearby small town of Donja Lastva.

Local Croats have been complaining about the unresolved legal status of the Croatian Hall in Donja Lastva, the centre of activity of the Croatian National Council in the area.

The 2011 census shows that 6,021 ethnic Croats live in Montenegro, while church records put their number at about 10,000. They are recognised as an ethnic minority, and under the Montenegrin constitution the Croatian language is in official use, according to the Central State Office for Croats Abroad.c

Friday, 22 October 2021

PM: Decision Making on Croatia's Schengen Bid Going According to Plan

ZAGREB, 22 Oct (Hina) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday he expected the decision making process on Croatia's accession to the Schengen area to proceed according to plan.

"I have discussed this matter at all levels, with all governments. I think the momentum is slowly gathering for a decision at the level of the Council of the EU," Plenković told reporters on arrival for the continuation of the two-day EU summit.

Plenković said that ongoing talks during the Slovenian EU presidency and the next French presidency would be "crucial for achieving Croatia's strategic goal - to become a member of the Schengen area."

Among the topics to be discussed at the summit will be protection of the EU's external borders against illegal migration.

Plenković said that also discussed would be several action plans with non-EU countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, to help them improve migration management.

He said that during discussion on foreign policy matters on Thursday evening he had drawn attention to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably to the existing tension and statements by the Serb member of the state presidency, Milorad Dodik, which destabilise the country.

"Croatia supports a single Bosnia and Herzegovina, its independence, sovereignty and good functioning. I also made it clear that the EU should help, together with our partners, first of all the United States, to achieve a timely agreement on electoral legislation so that at next year's elections the Croats, as one of the three constituent peoples, can be legitimately and equally represented in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Plenković said.

He said he was pleased with the quality of the discussion on this matter, adding that several leaders had taken part in it.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Milanović Says Plenković Should Rein Defence Minister In

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should "rein his pal in", a reference to Defence Minister Mario Banožić and his decision to send into retirement the commander of the Honor Guard Battalion, Brigadier Elvis Burčul.

Speaking to reporters in Baćin, where he attended the 30th anniversary of the plight of local residents in the 1991-95 war, Milanović said that PM Plenković was the minister's "political guardian" and that he was not in conflict with Banožić over Burčul's retirement but that he would guarantee the army protection against "bullying and harassment."

"The minister is not relevant here. This is an immoral, serious abuse of legal authority to which I can respond with much bigger power. But where does that lead? The guardian should rein in his pal, who is a man without political autonomy. This has to do with the Prime Minister... and that can be proven easily," Milanović said.

In that context, he mentioned a state secretary in the government who was an active general, noting that he should have already sent him into retirement but did not do it because he felt sorry for him and waited for Plenković's decision.

"I want it done right away, otherwise I will have to do it. I warned Plenković of that because Banožić does not make any decisions anyway."

Milanović noted that an active serviceman cannot be a member of a political government.

Asked about the motive for Burčul's retirement, Milanović said: "A personal vendetta."

I want Burčul back and for him to retire in a dignified way

He noted that the Honor Guard Battalion was in charge of his security.

"And the minister dares harass such a person (Burčul). I want him back at work and I want him to retire in a dignified way," he said.

He noted that the extension of Burčul's term had been requested due to the requirements of the post, for the sake of transfer of duties and appointment of a new, younger commander as well as to enable Burčul to retire in a year and a half in a dignified way, instead of "being harassed by a person who until yesterday was a political nobody."

"That cannot pass, otherwise I will start acting the same way, but not towards the army," he said.

Milanović noted that the legal regulation under which the minister made the decision about Burčul's retirement was unconstitutional.

"The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief, the minister is not, there is no mention about the minister in the Constitution. The minister has very extensive powers which in my opinion by far exceed the spirit and message of the Constitution - they decide about people's destinies during their term... If you rub them the wrong way, you can end up paying for it dearly," he said.

Milanović said that given that the budget was being adopted, he would on Friday request a meeting of the Defence Council due to the worrying financial situation in the army, noting that he believed Plenković would "delay the meeting, too, just as he makes an ordeal of everything, including the appointment of the Supreme Court president."

Asked if Burčul's retirement could be Plenković's revenge for the Supreme Court president, he said that it was possible.

"But that's futile, I can always respond in kind or worse in some cases," he said, mentioning in that context the appointment of new diplomats.

If you have not got vaccinated, you only have yourselves to blame

Commenting on the vaccination campaign and the potential expansion of the use of COVID-19 certificates, Milanović said that people in charge of making those decisions did not have a way to motivate people to get vaccinated "apart from using repression and nagging them."

"This is October 2021, those who have not got vaccinated have only themselves to blame," he said.

Milanović noted that it was possible he would receive a third shot but would have to check the level of antibodies first.

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

Thursday, 21 October 2021

PM Warns of Growing Number of Coronavirus Cases in Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday warned of the growing number of coronavirus cases in Croatia, saying that the death toll would soon exceed 9,000 and stressing the importance of vaccination and compliance with epidemiological measures.

"We must comply with the basic protection measures - wearing a face mask, keeping a distance, airing the premises, and maintaining hand hygiene," Plenković said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

He stressed the importance and necessity of vaccination, especially for elderly people, noting that the elderly are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19. "One in four elderly persons aged 65 and over have not been vaccinated yet, and we are talking about 238,000 persons or about 25-27 percent."

Plenković warned that the COVID-19 death toll will soon exceed 9,000. "This is a high price we are paying as a nation and society. But now we have vaccines, and there is no reason for this number to be so high," the prime minister said, adding that the vaccines also effectively protect against serious forms of the disease.

He appealed to people who have still not been vaccinated to get vaccinated, citing the views of medical professionals and the government's Scientific Council as well as statistics.

74 percent of hospitalized COVID patients not vaccinated

Plenković said that 74 percent of infected people who have been hospitalized this month were not vaccinated, which is three in four patients, while 80 percent of patients who were or still are on ventilators were not vaccinated, which is four in five.

"These are very clear and convincing figures," Plenković said, noting that 93 percent of the people who died from coronavirus were above the age of 60 and 98 percent were above the age of 50.

He said that the Scientific Council, which met two days ago, stressed the importance of vaccination, especially for the elderly.

"We all agree with the view of the Croatian Public Health Institute on a third dose, that it should be administered to immunocompromised persons and to health and welfare workers because it will help in the fight against the epidemic," the prime minister said.

He said that the situation in Croatia is similar to the rest of the world. "The unvaccinated people represent a pool where the virus spreads the most and where mutations occur the most. It's a fact that vaccinated people can also transmit the virus, but that is less likely than among the unvaccinated, and in the case of infection the disease is much milder."

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

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