Wednesday, 6 July 2022

PM: New Finance Minister Will Gain Good Reputation Just Like Marić

ZAGREB, 6 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday thanked Zdravko Marić for the contribution he made as Minister of Finance, saying that he "has done a great job" and said that the new minister, Marko Primorac, is also excellent and will gain a good reputation with his work, just like Marić.

Addressing a press conference held in Government House after a meeting of the ruling majority, the prime minister said that he has a very good relationship with Marić and that they had a long discussion about his leaving the government.

Every government member supposed to want to work 300 percent

"I am guided by only one principle, anyone who wants to be a member of the government has to want to work 300 percent. He (Marić) worked brilliantly for 6.5 years and obviously the time has come when he decided to do something else for his own reasons. I respect that," said Plenković and underscored that he appreciates Marić's contribution.

Everything that is important for our economic and fiscal policy in the future, will be done with Marko Primorac, Davor Filipović, Marin Piletić and other government members, he added, referring to two new ministers and Primorac whose candidacy is to be confirmed by the parliament,

Plenković would not reveal where Marić is going and added that Marić had told the HDZ leadership, the cabinet and the ruling coalition that he still does not have a clear picture of what and where he will work in the future.

"When he is ready to say something more about that he will do so," the prime minister added.

Plenković underscored that "no one can work in the government for a hundred years" and everyone has an expiry date.

"We have new ministers. We are replacing young ones with even younger, equally good and smart ones. You will get used to them, as will the public, and we will continue to function," he told reporters.

Given the very good reputation that Marić enjoys in the professional and general public, reporters asked how long it would take for the future minister to "adjust," with Plenković saying that the state has to function, and Primorac will gain an equal reputation with his work.

"You will see that Primorac is great, smart, eloquent. He understands the matter and will adapt quickly. He knows people in the ministry. Just like Zdravko gained his reputation for his work Marko Primorac will too," said Plenković.

Asked if he was personally affected by Marić's resignation or whether he experienced it as disloyalty, Plenković said "No. We have been through so much." He underscored how they achieved common goals, entry into the euro area, upgrade of Croatia's credit rating, exiting the macroeconomic imbalance mechanism and so on.

Primorac to also be non-partisan minister

Primorac, like Marić, will be a non-party member of the government and Plenković underlined that he had received the unanimous support of HDZ party bodies.

Asked whether there wasn't anyone in the HDZ who could fill that position, he said there was but that he wanted "someone who will be the right person at the right time."

There are others and this man is ready to be engaged as much as possible. We are just waiting for him to recover from COVID, he added, saying that Primorac will be as good as Marić because that is the "condition for him to be a minister."

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

PM Says Government Systematically Making Strategic Headway For Prosperity Of Citizens

ZAGREB, 30 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government was "very systematically making strategic headway" to improve the lives of citizens and the economy, referring to Croatia's admission to the euro area and the Schengen Area, as well as to the upgrade of the country's credit ratings.

At its last summit, the European Council confirmed Croatia's entry into the euro area on 1 January 2023, and the government expects that Croatia will also join the Schengen area then too.

"We are very systematically making these strategic steps forward for the prosperity of our citizens and economy. They (that headway) are here, they will last, they will remain, and they will be a kind of legacy of the two terms of our government," Plenković said at a cabinet meeting.

"These are really great strategic achievements. They do not just come with some routine schedule. They come on the basis of the implementation of reforms, the fulfillment of benchmarks, the adoption of laws, and our political and diplomatic engagement," he added.

The Moody's agency has recently announced that it could raise Croatia's credit rating to the investment category following the EU's recommendation for Zagreb's entry into the euro area.

Croatia's current rating of 'Ba1' signals investors that the agency considers the purchase of Croatian government bonds a speculative investment.

Last Friday Moody's announced that it will raise Croatia's rating by two levels, to 'Baa2', investment category.

Plenković said that Croatia will have the best credit rating so far in the investment level, according to the assessments of all the three largest global credit rating agencies.

"We are sending a message of confidence to financial markets, investors, partners (...) There will be many more such positive messages. Only now will we appear on the radar of some serious stakeholders on the market since we have been given a sort of tick from all three agencies," he underscored.

Council's conclusions on BiH call for limited constitutional and electoral law reforms

Commenting on the conclusions of the last European Council on the possible candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said that the Croatian initiative included the wording that the European Council is ready to give BiH candidate status if it meets reforms in 14 areas, including limited constitutional and electoral law reforms. They "should address the issue of the inequality of Croats as the least numerous constituent people in the country among other things, said the PM underscoring that Zagreb has been systematically advocating the BiH Croats' rights for years.

Plenković also commented on a decision at the NATO summit in Madrid to give the green light for Swedish and Finnish membership in NATO.

He said he was "glad" that President Zoran Milanović agreed with the government's position, who had previously said that it was necessary to block the Swedish and Finnish request for NATO membership until the election law in BiH was changed.

A proposal on initiating the procedure for concluding a protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO was adopted during Thursday's cabinet meeting.


For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Banning Abortion Would Be Against Constitutional Court Decision, PM Says

ZAGREB, 30 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday the US Supreme Court ruling, which leaves the legality of abortion to the federal states and has led to big divisions, would not impact Croatia as banning pregnancy termination would be contrary to a Constitutional Court ruling.

Speaking at a cabinet session, he said pregnancy termination was an extremely complex legal, ethical and medical issue on which it was often impossible to reach a consensus, but that it was necessary to consider the matter.

"This ruling won't impact Croatia. In Croatia, the right to pregnancy termination is regulated by law and the Constitutional Court has found that the law is in line with the Constitution."

As the Court's president Miroslav Šeparović said recently, banning pregnancy termination would be contrary to the Court's ruling, as would a referendum to restrict or ban pregnancy termination rights, Plenković said.

"In the political sense, there's no need to misinform people with the goal of scoring political points and there's no need to include in the Constitution regulations on an already existing right. We won't agree to such changes."

He called on the opposition to be constructive about this issue and to support changes to the constitutional law on the Constitutional Court, which he said were aimed at additionally protecting constitutional rights, those that cannot be decided in referenda.

Plenković said the ruling HDZ was a Christian Democrat centre-right party advocating the protection of life from conception, while also respecting a woman' right to choose and health.

"Our wish is that there are as few pregnancy terminations in our society as possible, that they are the exception, but statistics and other countries' experience show that this is not achieved by bans. Bans don't lead to fewer abortions, but can make them unsafe and dangerous for a woman's life and health."

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

PM: A Feeling Of Zest, Enthusiasm And Progress Felt In Slavonia

ZAGREB, 2 June 2022 - A special session of the Osijek-Baranja County Assembly on Thursday marked that county's day, and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that great momentum, enthusiasm and progress could be felt in Slavonia with visible results of the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem Project.

Plenković underscored those important investments that were made in transport infrastructure as part of the project and announced that works on the section of the international 5C traffic corridor, from Osijek to Beli Manastir, and a bypass road near Beli Manastir, would be completed this summer.

It is the government's task to continue to be engaged and to help implement development projects and for this and other Slavonian counties to experience prosperity in the fourth decade of Croatian independence and democracy. The government will support you and strive to be the actor you can rely on in crisis circumstances, Prime Minister Plenković said.

County Prefect Ivan Anušić assessed that in the past five years the perception of Slavonia and Baranja has changed - from a non-perspective and economically and demographically devastated area to a promising part of Croatia, which is open to new ideas and projects.

In recent years, we have seen continuous economic growth, the return of emigrants and reduced unemployment, and thanks to government measures, which contributed to the preservation of jobs during the epidemic, the process of the county's growth and development has not stopped, he added.

He informed that the Osijek-Baranja County is currently implementing EU projects worth HRK 7.2 billion, including the completion of a Regional Fruit and Vegetable Distribution Centre, the construction of the first building of the Osijek Economic Centre and new Fairgrounds, the construction of six irrigation systems with another dozen in preparation, and the construction of a new Osijek Clinical Hospital Centre, which will be built in cooperation with the government.

For more, check out our politics section.

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. 


"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.

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