Thursday, 2 September 2021

Plenković: We Could Exceed 70% of 2019 Tourism Results

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commented on the latest ECDC map on which Croatia's coast has stayed orange, saying that foreign tourists had recognized Croatia as a safe destination and that this year's tourism results could exceed 70% of tourism results in the pre-crisis year 2019.

"According to the new ECDC map, the Croatian coast has stayed orange into September. Foreign tourists have recognized Croatia as a safe destination and we could exceed 70% of the tourism results from the pre-crisis year 2019," Plenković said on his Twitter account.

He concluded that with responsible conduct and vaccination public health and the national economy were being protected.

According to the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control map, released on Thursday, eastern and central Croatia have turned red while the coast and northern Croatia have stayed orange.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

PM Announces Possible Legislative Changes for Tacitly Agreed Overdrafts

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday at the beginning of his cabinet's meeting that amendments to the relevant legislation could be made regarding tacitly accepted overdrafts of consumers.

Earlier on Thursday, Plenković met with Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić, and he informed his cabinet that they had agreed that the HNB would provide the Ministry of Finance with a thorough analysis of this topic that has made headlines recently.

The government is seeking the best solutions, and if necessary, we will change the law, he added.

The premier mentioned a possibility of reducing the effective interest rate, which would also include the fee, in the way that it would not adversely affect clients who use the instrument of tacitly agreed overdraft.

The solution must enable better dissemination of information and a lower interest rate, according to Plenković.

On Monday, the HNB recommended that until regulations on tacitly accepted overdrafts were amended, commercial banks should apply the effective interest rate and make it possible for their clients to cover those overdrafts through installment payments or reduce overdrafts. The central bank also noted that reports about mass-scale cancellation of overdrafts by banks were not true.

This issue as well as the HNB's initiative to amend the relevant regulations in order to set the maximum interest charged on tacitly accepted overdrafts have stirred up a lot of discussion in the public.

Plenković said that the government was committed to the protection of consumers and added that he convened a meeting for the next week with representatives of the commercial banks that offer tacitly agreed overdrafts to their clients.

He went on to say that according to the information presented by Vujčić, the range of interest rates on overdrafts in Croatia were practically within the average in the EU and that the amount in overdrafts decreased by two billion kunas in the nominal terms in the last years.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

PM: We Will Do Everything to Accelerate Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government would do everything to accelerate the process of post-earthquake reconstruction, and recalled that new tenders for about 4,000 houses in Banovina would be advertised already today and tomorrow.

"We will make every effort to speed up that process... and the Ministry of Construction and State Assets will present a comprehensive proposal of measures and possible legal changes which should make the entire reconstruction process more efficient and faster," Plenković said at the beginning of a government session.

As for the beginning of the new school year, the prime minister expressed satisfaction with the increase in the number of vaccinated persons in the school system.

"They set a good example and motive to those that haven't done that yet," he said.

Currently, 57.5% of the teaching staff in primary and secondary schools have been given at least one shot against COVID-19 and in tertiary education, this percentage is higher, 64.5%,  Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Wednesday.

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Thursday, 26 August 2021

Prime Minister Rules Out Tight Lockdown

ZAGREB, 26 August 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that there would be no tight lockdown and called on citizens to show personal responsibility and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is crystal clear that Croatia will not opt for a tight lockdown, the PM said after a government meeting.

He said that the government had secured sufficient amounts of vaccines against coronavirus.

"The threat (of the spread of the disease) will be considerably lower, provided that people get vaccinated, comply with basic measures: wearing masks, keeping a social distance, and airing rooms," Plenković said when asked by the press to comment on President Zoran Milanović's statement that the current anti-epidemic rules no longer made sense and that Croatia should follow the example of Sweden in managing the epidemic.

Urging citizens to behave responsibly, Plenković said that no rewards would be given to those who decided to get a jab.

"I firmly believe in common sense, prudence, and benevolence of our people and in them being well informed," Plenković said when asked about the possible imposition of more stringent rules.

"We do not have the luxury of being populists, demagogues, speculators, or provocateurs. We must be responsible and make decisions to the benefit of all," the premier said.

He added that the lifting of restrictions would mean that there would be no more COVID grants to businesses.

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

Thursday, 26 August 2021

PM Says Croatia's Status in Foreign Affairs Strongest Ever

ZAGREB, 26 Aug 2021 - Croatia now has the strongest position in foreign affairs since it gained independence, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters on the sidelines of a conference of Croatian diplomats in Zagreb on Thursday.

Pointing out the country's strongest status on the foreign policy front since its international recognition, the premier recalled that Zagreb's main foreign policy priorities were now admission to the Schengen area and to the euro area.

As for the current challenges, Plenković cited economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis and the developments in Afghanistan and potential migrant waves, while Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković cited the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, the developments in the Middle East, the crisis in Afghanistan and a possible migrant wave.

"Our main goal is to enter the Schengen area as soon as possible considering the developments in Afghanistan. Regarding finance and economy, it is essential to enter the euro area," Jandroković said.

The parliament speaker warned of the strengthening positions of China, India, and Brazil, and said that only concerted action by the European Union member states could render the EU a power player, notably on the global market.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman told the press that the global order would be tested in Kabul.

"The world has become vulnerable, international law is being violated," the minister said.

Former British PM Blair special guest of the conference

During the first day of the conference, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, addressed the event, and on Wednesday he was received by Prime Minister Plenković.

Blair told the press today that his talks with the Croatian PM revolved around the importance of the success of the vaccination rollout globally.

That is the only way for us to overcome the crisis, the former British PM said.

The Plenković-Blair talks also focused on the global situation and challenges lying ahead of Croatia and the future cooperation.

Blair said that it was important for Europe to stay strong and for NATO to redefine its purpose in the present-day world.

He agrees that one of the challenges is the situation in the Middle East.

I believe that peace and stability will eventually come when good governance is established there, and when societies become open-minded and develop religious tolerance, and when people make use of the possibilities of the digital economy, he added.

Plenković said that the purpose of Blair's visit to Zagreb was establishing "potential cooperation" between Croatia and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

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

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Prime Minister: We Will Not Allow Anyone to Question Legitimacy of Operation Storm

Zagreb, 5 Aug 2021 - Magnanimity in victory does not mean that Croatia will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm or the defensive nature of the Homeland War, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told a ceremony in Knin on Thursday marking the 26th anniversary of the operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in 1995.

"It is always a special feeling to come to Knin on this day because it is an opportunity for us to remember the days of pride and victory which are deeply impressed on the hearts of all Croats, but which are also an expression of lasting gratitude to all those who gave their lives so that Croatia could live and be free," Plenković said in his speech, extending his best wishes for Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day.

Today we pay tribute to the victorious Croatian army and police who, under the leadership of President Franjo Tuđman, defeated in battle the criminal policy of the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević, which secured Croatia's survival, ended the war, and established lasting peace.

"That victory and our legitimate right to live as free people in our own country were, unfortunately, paid in the lives of the bravest of Croatian sons to whom we are forever grateful, as we are to many members of the ethnic minorities who also defended Croatia," Plenković said. 

"Today we are in thoughts with the families of the defenders who were killed, Croatian disabled war veterans and many civilian casualties," he said, stressing that the Homeland War and the victories won in Operation Storm, as well as in Operation Flash and other military operations that preceded it, were the foundations of the present Croatian state.

"That's why shedding light on the truth about missing persons, the prosecution of war crimes, and the attainment of justice for everyone who was caused pain remains our lasting duty," the prime minister said, adding that "we will always celebrate Operation Storm indignity so that future generations would also foster the values of the Homeland War."

He said that after symbolic gestures made at last year's anniversary, his government would continue to pursue the policy of reconciliation, co-existence, and understanding, respecting the historical truth and paying respects to all innocent victims.

"But magnanimity in victory does not mean that we will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm and the defensive nature of the Homeland War. This is also a message to our neighbor, Serbia, which in my opinion should abandon the futile rhetoric of the past, face up to its own responsibility, pursue a policy of reconciliation and look to the future", Plenković said.

He said that the sacrifices made oblige us to strengthen the Croatian state in political, economic, defense and security aspects and to respond to the challenges facing us, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery after the economic crisis, the imperative of demographic survival, post-earthquake reconstruction, climate change, and natural disasters.

He said that Croatia would continue to act in its national interests by pursuing the policy of modern sovereignty based on its membership of NATO and the European Union. Here he cited the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, which will provide a direct road link between southern Croatia and the rest of the country, the completion of the motorway in Istria County, forthcoming membership of the Schengen Area and the euro area, and the purchase of fighter jets.

"We are doing all this while strengthening our international position and using the benefits of EU membership and at the same time taking care of Croatian war veterans and their families," the prime minister said.

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

Monday, 26 July 2021

Kosovo PM Flies in to Visit Injured Bus Passengers in Slavonski Brod Hospital

ZAGREB, 26 July 2021 - The prime ministers of Croatia and Kosovo, Andrej Plenković and Albin Kurti respectively, have visited the passengers injured in the bus accident that occurred on the A3 motorway at Slavonski Brod early Sunday morning. 

The Kosovo-registered bus with 67 passengers and two drivers on board, en route from Frankfurt, Germany to Kosovo, ran off the motorway at Slavonski Brod, eastern Croatia, at 6.20 am on Sunday, as a result of which nine passengers and the driver who was resting were killed. Forty-four passengers were injured.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Kurti flew into Slavonski Brod on Sunday evening aboard a Croatian army helicopter deployed in Kosovo as part of the KFOR peacekeeping mission. He was welcomed by Croatian Prime Minister Plenković, who had visited the injured passengers earlier in the day.

"I am glad that the prime minister of Kosovo promptly arrived in Croatia," Plenković said. Kurti said that this was a hard day for the people of Kosovo, extending his condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.

Kurti thanked Plenković for the assistance provided by the Croatian government as well as the doctors at the Slavonski Brod hospital where the majority of the injured passengers are being treated.

"I visited all the patients and I want to thank the hospital's directors and all staff who are looking after the patients," Kurti said. He was accompanied by Kosovo's foreign minister, interior minister, health minister, and presidential chief of staff.

The two prime ministers also visited the passengers who were not injured, who are accommodated in a boarding house in Slavonski Brod.

Plenković reiterated that Croatia would provide all the necessary assistance.

Kurti said that Monday would be a day of mourning in Kosovo.

The Croatian police and prosecutors have opened an investigation, confirming that the driver has been arrested after admitting that he fell asleep for a moment.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

PM: Marked Rise in New COVID Cases, Restrictions to Be Introduced in Adriatic Region

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that after a period of decrease and stagnation, the past week saw a marked increase in the number of new cases of the coronavirus infection, and he called for caution, adding that additional restrictions are being introduced in the Adriatic region.

The largest number of cases were registered in four Dalmatian counties which are all tourist destinations, so the national COVID-19 crisis management team will introduce additional epidemiological measures in that area to limit the possibility of the infection spreading, to control events with a greater number of participants, to avoid risks and to make tourist season possible, Plenković announced at his cabinet's session.

He added that the government took into account the health aspect, but also the tourist, economic, financial, and social aspects.

As for vaccination, he said that as of yesterday Croatia passed the number of 1.6 million people vaccinated with the first dose against coronavirus.

"That's very good, we're getting closer to the number of 48% of the vaccinated adult population. I still call on everyone, especially those in two minds or in fear, to get informed, to have confidence in the profession, medicine, all those who want to protect as many citizens as possible, and to decide to get vaccinated themselves," the prime minister said.

94% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients not vaccinated against this infection

He said that there was "an abundance" of vaccines and recalled last week's decision to enable all Croatian citizens without mandatory health insurance and Croatia from all over the world, as well as all other foreign nationals, to get vaccinated, so, for instance, someone from Mostar going on holiday to Makarska can get vaccinated for free there.

"I would like us to contribute to the protection against COVID beyond our borders also in that way because this is a global game, and with our action, we want to make that contribution," Plenković said, inviting people to use this opportunity.

He also underlined that 94% of hospitalized COVID patients had not been fully inoculated against that infection.

Ministers: Numbers growing, a new package of measures to be introduced

Health Minister Vili Beroš said at the government session that the number of COVID cases was unfortunately rising and that the epidemiological situation in some counties called for caution, while Interior Minister Davor Božinović announced the introduction of a new set of measures.

In the two-week period from 5 to 18 July, Zadar, Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties and the City of Zagreb registered the largest number of new cases, Beroš said.

"The numbers are unfortunately still growing, the increase in positive cases over the past seven days is 46.1%, the situation in some counties calls for caution, so it requires increased monitoring and caution," said Beroš, warning of the easy spread of the new variant of the virus and of several smaller hotspots.

He said the situation in hospitals was generally favorable, with the exception of some hospitals in Dalmatia, which are recording a slight increase in the number of hospitalized patients. There are currently 122 patients in hospitals, 13 of whom are on ventilators, he said, reiterating that 94% of hospitalized patients have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

A total of 2.9 million doses have been administered, and the minister announced pharmacies would join the vaccination process and issue COVID certificates.

On the 514th day since the outbreak of coronavirus in Croatia, 179 new cases have been registered, the percentage of positive tests over the past 24 hours is 4.56%, and Croatia's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants is 35.9, the health minister said.

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

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Plenković: Italian Union Strengthens Identity of Ethnic Italians in Croatia and Slovenia

ZAGREB, 17 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday praised the role of the Italian Union in strengthening the identity of ethnic Italians in Croatia and Slovenia and congratulated the association on its 30th anniversary.

The Italian Union ("Unione Italiana"), headquartered in Rijeka, is an umbrella association of members of the Italian minority, that implements cultural programs with the aim of preserving and promoting the ethnic and cultural identity of local Italians. It is the union of more than 45 societies of local Italians and it has a branch office in Koper, Slovenia.

Addressing the ceremony, held in Rijeka on Friday evening to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its establishment, Prime Minister Plenković said that the participation of all ethnic minorities in the parliamentary majority made his cabinet happy.

He underscored the importance of the fact that representatives of ethnic minorities also participated in the executive branch of the government.

"I think that this is the best way to make headway and to make sure that all people living in Croatia feel well," Plenković said.

He promised that the Croatian authorities would continue providing strong support to the efforts of ethnic Italians to preserve their identity, culture, language, tradition, and customs.

This is particularly important in the relations between our two peoples, and in the past, there were periods in those relations that we feel happy to recollect and also some periods which we could remember with less pleasure, Plenković said, admitting that some parts of the history of those relations were not fortunate.

 It is important to put an emphasis on the things that connect us, on the future, on our cooperation rather than on the periods from the past that divided us, he added.

The prime minister again underscored an important role played by ethnic minorities in the political and social life of Croatia.

"We are a country with high representativeness of ethnic minorities in the parliament. As many as eight seats are designated for lawmakers representing ethnic minorities and we are proud of that,"  he said.

He promised further support of his cabinet in the implementation of operational programs for ethnic minorities, and Croatia's commitment to delivering on the goals of the 1996 bilateral agreement regulating the status of Italians in Croatia and Croats in Italy.

The Croatian parliament's Deputy Speaker Furio Radin said that Italian Union had always been committed to protecting the Italian community in this region even in the times which had been more difficult for local Italians.

Radin, who represents the Croatian Italians in the Sabor, said the Italian Union represented Italians living in Croatia and Slovenia in line with the international agreements and made a significant contribution to the relations between Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia and thus contributed to the cause of the European Union as a union connecting nations and people.

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Thursday, 15 July 2021

Plenković: I Believe in Social Agreement Between State and Citizens on Vaccination

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday he believed a social deal would be reached between the state and citizens on vaccination against COVID-19, calling on everyone who can get vaccinated to do so for the benefit of all and stressing that the "tool" for that has been ensured - the vaccine.

In an interview with the HRT public broadcaster, Plenković stressed the goal of vaccination was to gain collective immunity against COVID-19, recalled the government had provided enough vaccines, and congratulated everyone who had been vaccinated, with the percentage of vaccinated people in the adult population now standing at 46.3%.

The prime minister believes the agreement reached with employers would be implemented and that up to 70% of those employed in companies that will apply for business support due to the consequences of the pandemic would get vaccinated.

Earlier on Wednesday, cabinet ministers and social partners held the second round of negotiations at which it was proposed that businesses, where over 70% of workers have been vaccinated against COVID, would get payments for all workers, while those with lower percentages would get payments proportionate to the number of workers with COVID certificates.

PM Plenković appealed for common sense to prevail and solidarity so that all get vaccinated except those who cannot for medical reasons.

Railways - the largest investment

Talking about Croatia's National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the prime minister said no one, including Europe, was imposing reforms on us, but we knew ourselves that we had to carry them out.

He recalled that in addition to COVID, which hit the entire world, Croatia had four times more costs due to the 2020 earthquakes. Plenković explained that was why the entire National Recovery and Resilience Plan was based on the government's program and the national strategy, the key components of which were the economy, investments in all sectors guided by the logic of green and digital transformation and transition.

As for the announcement about the creation of 100,000 new jobs, the prime minister stressed we would achieve that in the sectors where we wanted - in the ICT sector, which was achieving phenomenal results in Croatia, with or mostly without the state, but also in traditional, tertiary industries, such as hospitality and tourism, which were yet to experience real recovery and investments.

Plenković recalled a huge step forward had also been taken in the energy sector and transport infrastructure so now, he said, we only had to make investments in the railway.

On 1 July, the Plenković cabinet adopted a document on the modernization and restructuring of the railway sector, which contains the main reform elements and presents an action plan for the reform of the railway sector. Croatia plans to invest about HRK 33 billion in upgrading the rail sector until 2030.

Status of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats

Commenting on recent statements by President Zoran Milanović on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the prime minister said there was nothing new in them.

Because, he recalled, the position of the government and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has been for years that Croats, as one of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina, must be equal, and the Dayton-Paris peace agreement must be respected.

He recalled that issue had existed since 2006 when Bosniaks elected a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croats on the territory of the Federation entity, and that unfavorable "electoral engineering" had unfortunately been repeated several times since, the last time in 2018.

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