Thursday, 8 July 2021

Prime Minister Says Rise in First-dose COVID Vaccinations Encouraging

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday there was a certain increase in the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 with the first dose, including 8,000 yesterday, which he said was encouraging.

"It's evident that our topics from the last government session have encouraged a certain number of our fellow citizens to be vaccinated," he said at a cabinet meeting, a week after he said that the government would make job-keeping payments conditional on worker vaccination.

Any minority should feel safe and free

Plenković also said that "members of minorities, any minority, sexual, ethnic, should feel safe and free."

He added that some politicians in Croatia still did not realize that minority rights were not a privilege but a guarantee of equality.

"In Croatia, minority rights are a constitutional and legal category, and I insist that they are not to be tolerated but honored," Plenković said, adding that he considered attacks on the LGBT community a hate crime. "We don't want that, we don't agree with that."

He also condemned the hate leveled at MPs of the Bridge party, saying it was unacceptable.

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

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Construction of Regional Training Centre for Firefighters Inaugurated

ZAGREB, 30 June 2021 - Construction works on a regional training center for fire-fighters were inaugurated in Brčići in the Vučevica area on Wednesday as part of the Firespill project, which is part of the Italian-Croatian cross-border cooperation program.

The HRK 120 million project is financed with EU funds, including 65 million envisaged for projects in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia.

Inaugurating the works, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the government gave the land on which the center was being built, thereby contributing to the development of that area.

He said Brčići was a good location as it was close to the Operational Fire Command in Divulje, the main fire command in the country, and that he was "confident it is another good example of utilizing European Union funds."

Plenković said the new training center for firefighters was an important project for Split-Dalmatia County and all of Croatia was it would raise fire-fighting to a new level.

He said his cabinet had strengthened fire-fighting and that Fire Chief Slavko Tucaković managed an annual budget of HRK 450 million.

For more news in Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Plenković: Every EU Member State Should Secide On Its Own On Travel Measures

ZAGREB, 24 June (Hina) - Every EU member state should make its own decisions on measures for curbing the pandemic based on its own assessments, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Thursday ahead of a two-day summit.

"So far we have been in favor of a situation where every state and every public health system is able to make decisions based on its own assessments. We have been functioning that way all this time," Plenković said.

One of the topics of the summit is a debate on a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, there will be a discussion on economic recovery, migration and external relations, including those with Turkey and Russia.

Some member states, including Germany, are pushing for the EU to agree on stricter and more consistent restrictions on travel from areas affected by new strains of coronavirus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Portugal for its decision to allow British tourists to enter the country despite the fact that the Indian/Delta variant of coronavirus is prevalent there.

On the other hand, member states more dependent on tourism are advocating a more liberal approach.

"At the moment, Croatia has a fairly good epidemiological situation, a low number of new infections, fewer patients in hospitals, fewer deaths. The number of persons vaccinated with either the first dose or with both doses is gradually rising," Plenković said.

He added that freedom of movement was a fundamental value of the EU and that it had to be re-established.

"Freedom of movement enables a normal life, normal circulation of people, capital, trade, and ultimately tourism. Tourism is very important to us, we expect this tourist season under the slogan 'Safe Stay in Croatia' to be more successful and better," Plenković said.

EU's twin-track approach to relations with Russia

Relations with Russia will also be discussed at the summit. Ahead of the summit, Germany and France proposed that Europe adopt an approach to Russia where it would on the one hand threaten it with the possibility of new economic sanctions and on the other hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The EU is already following a twin-track approach. Last week EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell issued a report warning that the EU should prepare for a further downturn in its relations with Russia and proposed that the Union simultaneously reject Russia's behavior, exert pressure and engage in dialogue with Russia.

Croatia against discrimination against any minority

One of the topics not on the agenda but which cannot be avoided is the issue of Hungarian law which has been condemned by most leaders due to discrimination against the LGBTIQ community.

Prime Minister Plenković said that Croatia's position was clear against discrimination.

"We are against any kind of discrimination, against any minority, anyone's human rights, and we are very clear about that," Plenković said, adding that the European Commission, as the guardian of the EU treaties, has the task of checking whether certain national laws are in line with EU values and the acquis. "We are against any form of discrimination and see no need to additionally join some positions or declarations."

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Plenković Requests Turkish President's Support for Bosnia Election Legislation Reform

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, requesting Turkey's support for efforts to ensure respect for equality of all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for an election legislation reform in the country.

Plenković flew to the Turkish city of Antalya to attend a summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), being held under Turkish chairmanship. Turkey assumed the SEECP chairmanship on 1 July 2020. Plenković met Erdogan on the sidelines of the meeting.

"One of the topics was Bosnia and Herzegovina. I underscored that it is very important for Croatia that all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina are equal, notably the Croats who are the least numerous," the Croatian premier said after meeting with the Turkish head of state.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croats and the government in Zagreb claim that the Croats are currently not represented on the country's collective presidency and in other institutions because the current member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Željko Komšić, who sits as the Croat representative, is only the nominal representative because he was elected thanks to votes from the Bosniak electorate.

"For us, it is also important that consensus is reached on the election legislation reform during the process of negotiations between political parties and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in this regard, I asked for Turkey's support," said Plenković.

"Of course, in the political sense, Turkey has closer relations with the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and finally with the political leadership of the SDA party. Therefore it is essential that we, Turkey and Croatia, in dialogue with friendly institutions and political parties that are close to us, seek solutions that will ensure that all the peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina feel satisfied," Plenković said.

Croatia-Turkey relations very good and friendly

Plenković described the Croatian-Turkish bilateral relations as very good and friendly.

There are many Turkish companies doing business in Croatia, and Ankara would like to intensify the business cooperation, according to Plenković.

"Croatia is open and we think that will be very much to our benefit,"  he added.

 Plenković informed Erdogan that Zagreb appreciated Turkey's care for a huge number of refugees and efforts to prevent the reactivation of the western Balkan migrant route.

The Croatian PM believes that the agreement between the EU and Ankara on care for migrants will be honored

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

Saturday, 12 June 2021

We Have Struck a Balance Between Health, Financial Security, PM Tells CNN

ZAGREB, 12 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with CNN on Friday that during the coronavirus crisis Croatia had combined public health protection measures and measures designed to help the business sector and financial system well, and that in that sense it had been successful. 

We have struck a balance between health and economic, that is, financial security, Plenković said in a programme called Quest Means Business.

Asked if in preparing for the tourist season Croatia had possibly relaxed epidemiological measures too much, given that tourism accounts for a significant portion of its economy and its experience from 2020, when tourism results were significantly lower than in 2019, Plenković said that Croatia had a stable economic growth before the coronavirus crisis, with a drop in the share of public debt in GDP and budget deficit.

We have supported workers and employers during the pandemic, spending more than HRK 10 billion for aid schemes intended for some 700,000 workers and that has been crucial, he said.

In the current stable political situation, the economy is crucial, he said, adding that Croatia's prospects of recovery were good because in the next seven years it could count on a total of €25 billion from European funds.

As for tourism, he said that it accounted for around one-fifth of GDP and that this year Croatia wanted to achieve results that were better than last year's.

"If we achieve 60-70% of the 2019 results, it will be very good," he said, adding that that was why extensive preparations, epidemiological and those related to security, had been undertaken in cooperation with airports, airlines, restaurants and others.

"Safe stay in Croatia is our main motto this summer," he said.

In response to the interviewer's remark that there have been a lot of objections in Europe about vaccination against COVID-19 being poorly coordinated and asked if he was satisfied with how the opening-up after lockdown and recovery were being coordinated, he said that he was absolutely satisfied with the coordination of recovery efforts, mentioning in that context the €750 billion secured by the EU for its member-states for that purpose.

He also noted that the coordination of the vaccination process in Europe was "very good, with a lot of solidarity" and that there was a sufficient quantity of vaccines.

As for the interviewer's remark that that was not so and that coordination was terrible and a fiasco, Plenković said that that was not true and that at first there had been delays in the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine but that nobody could have known that the company would be late with it.

Vaccination in Croatia now is running smoothly and anyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so, he said.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

PM: Get Vaccinated So We Can Lift Epidemiological Restrictions

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - PM Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that vaccination against COVID-19 with the first shot had slowed down due to a decline in citizens' interest and he called on them to get immunized so that a vaccination rate of 50% could be achieved by the end of June and the remaining anti-epidemic measures lifted. 

"I urge once again those who have not done it yet not to hesitate. That is the only way to completely get back to how we used to live because the first dose already provides effective protection against serious forms of the disease," he said at a government session.

He noted that positive epidemiological trends were continuing, with the seven-day incidence having been restored to the level of 10 months ago, which, he said, is owing to a growing number of people who have been vaccinated and those who have acquired immunity, as well as owing to warmer weather and responsible behavior.

He warned, however, that of the adult population, 40.8% had been vaccinated with at least one dose even though enough doses had been secured for the percentage to be much higher.

"We should not stand by and watch countries that were less successful than us in the fight against COVID-19 become more successful in vaccination. By getting vaccinated we are protecting not only our health and lives but also our economy, jobs, salaries, freedom, and the right to a normal life," he stressed.

It is important to vaccinate the planned 50% of adults by the end of June so that epidemiological restrictions could continue to be eased. If that is not done, the tourist season will be at risk, which means additional losses for our economy, he warned.

"We cannot afford that luxury. In addition to the pandemic, Croatia was hit by two earthquakes and that has cost us as much as four pandemics. That situation is specific and that is why the economy must return to the path of continual growth and recovery," Plenković said.

He particularly called on young people to set an example to others, be brave, trust science, and get vaccinated.

Plenković also recalled his meeting with representatives of associations for the protection of domestic violence victims, which was held on Wednesday to acquaint those associations with the planned changes to the Penal Code to be discussed by the government today.

The changes envisage the ex officio prosecution of sexual harassment as well as the prosecution of revenge porn, which is the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent, made by a partner in an intimate relationship. They also envisage stronger protection of children and vulnerable groups.

The government also plans to amend the Domestic Violence Act.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centers and vaccination points across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

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.

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

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Plenković: Those Were Not Accusations Against Media, But My Comment On Campaign

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - Prime Minister Plenković commented in an interview with RTL on the media campaign for the local elections, in which, he said, the HDZ won a colossal victory, and regarding his criticism of the media due to their treatment of some HDZ candidates, he stressed he hadn't accused anyone but stated his opinion.

"Those weren't accusations, it was my comment on the campaign behind us, in which the HDZ once again received by far the greatest support of Croatian voters and these results are for us even better in some areas than the results in 2017," PM Andrej Plenković said.

Plenković said that his comment on the campaign had been - as a comment by someone who is both president of the party and prime minister, is involved in politics and tries to follow the activities - that some HDZ candidates in the areas where the campaign had received the most media coverage, "were under a lot of fire in the media, especially HDZ's candidates in Zagreb and Split, and that reflected on the results".

You won't change your policy because of what I'm saying. I'm simply stating my position - which is the truth, with arguments and examples, he told the commercial broadcaster.

He added that he had congratulated all newly elected mayors and county prefects in writing, and he was planning a meeting with new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević.

"We called him yesterday or the day before yesterday and he didn't answer. Today, an associate told me he had returned the call, (...) so we will talk, but I was in other meetings. I congratulated him and all other newly elected county prefects and all mayors in county seats in writing. They are my partners," he said.

Asked 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 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.

"You have a president who allowed himself to ignore Statehood Day passed by the Croatian parliament. He refused to attend a gala concert on Saturday. Everyone was there, including former president (Ivo) Josipović. The current president refused to come and didn't send anyone," he said.

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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

PM Issues Statehood Day Message

ZAGREB, 30 May, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday issued his Statehood Day message in which he underscored the importance of the first multiparty parliament, established on 30 May 1990, for the following period of Croatia and he pointed out the importance of the post-pandemic and post-quake recovery.

Croatia is observing Statehood Day on Sunday in memory of 30 May 1990 when, after decades of communist rule, the foundations of the modern Croatian parliament, the Sabor, were created and its historic role in the preservation of Croatian statehood was confirmed.

"Statehood Day has great importance for all of us, because the foundation of the first democratically elected multiparty Sabor on this day in 1990, meant the birth of a Croatian democracy," Prime Minister Plenković said in his message, extending his best wishes to Croatia's citizens in the country and abroad on the occasion of this public holiday.

On this day 31 years ago, Croatia restored its sovereignty after centuries-long strugle for its own state and since then the Croatian people has been managing its state in a democratic way, he added.

Plenković recalled all the challenges Croatia has weathered to date, including the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 devastating earthquakes, and underscored that "Croatia can be proud of its achievements in last three decades of its independence."

"We established the institutions of a democracy, gained international recognition, set up a respectable army, defended and liberated our homeland, reconstructed the war-ravaged areas and built a modern state that is now a member of NATO and of the European Union which we already chaired. We have restored the economy and enabled investments in the upgrade of the infrastructure."

The priorities in the coming period are the recovery of the economy at a faster rate and the post-quake reconstruction.

"We are committed to the implementation of a set of necessary reforms and investments that will improve the living standards of our citizens and further modernise our economy and make it more competitive and resilient to future crises."

For that purpose we will make use in the best possible way of 24 billion euros of EU funds put at Croatia's disposal, the premier promised.

We will continue developing our democracy, solidarity, tolerance in the society as well as social responsibility, he added.

Croatia is on the right track to join the passport-free Schengen area and the euro area in the next years, which will make Croatia's European Union integration deeper and also strengthen the security along the Croatian borderlines, as well as bolster the national economy, he says in his Statehood Day message.

Plenković thanked Croatian war veterans for their sacrifice during the Homeland War in which Croatia defended itself against the Great Serbia aggression. 

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 28 May 2021

PM Says Croatia to Have Most Advanced Fighter Jets in This Part of Europe

ZAGREB, 28 May 2021 - By purchasing 12 F3-R Rafale jets Croatia will obtain the most advanced combat aircraft in this part of Europe, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"With today's decision we are not only making the biggest investment in Croatia's Armed Forces since the country gained independence, we are making the biggest investment in a lasting peace and security for Croatian citizens," Plenković said at a government session.

By procuring fighter jets, Croatia is gaining a powerful strategic deterrent for the next 30 to 40 years, which significantly strengthens its international position and its airspace protection and multiplies the overall combat capability of the Croatian Army, said Plenković.

Offer includes training, weapons and year-long warranty

He noted that in addition to the aircraft, the French offer also includes a flight simulator, basic weapons package, ground and test equipment, spare parts, staff training according to the principle of "training of trainers", comprehensive support from authorised representatives of manufacturers for a period of three years and a warranty of 12 months per each delivered aircraft, engine, other equipment and spare parts.

Plenković added that the purchase of Rafale planes would make the protection of Croatia's sovereignty on land, at sea and in the air much more effective, and that the country would acquire a powerful strategic instrument of deterrence, thus raising national security to an unprecedented level.

"The purchase of a multi-role fighter aircraft will strengthen Croatia’s position as an ally within NATO and a partner within the European Union. With this move, Croatia will for the first time reach the level of spending of 2% of GDP for strengthening its defense capabilities, which is the goal of all NATO members," said Plenković.

By significantly increasing its security, Croatia will become more attractive to foreign investors because it will enhance the security of their investments, which in the long run will contribute to a better credit rating and economic development of the country, said Plenković.

The purchase also creates new possibilities for the defence industry in terms of research and development.

Plenković thanked the bidding countries -- the United States, Sweden and Israel -- for their high quality offers and the effort invested in that demanding process, congratulating all involved in the process on protecting its integrity and confidentiality.

"I am particularly pleased to be making this decision today, on Croatian Army Day, as a token of lasting gratitude to defenders and soldiers, those who gave everything for Croatia and those who are always faithful to the homeland," said Plenković.

Defence minister: Partnership with state, not aircraft manufacturer 

Defence minister Mario Banožić said that considering the value of the project, the decision to buy French aircraft was the biggest investment in the army since the 1990s.

He noted that it would enhance the Air Force fighter component's capability and potential and significantly increase the overall combat capabilities of the Croatian Army as well as help maintain the tradition of combat aviation in Croatia.

"As a NATO member Croatia has the obligation to invest in its own defence capabilities by making contributions to the defence budget and also in the part referring to equipment and modernisation," said Banožić.

He added that the decision showed Croatia's determination to develop its own defence capabilities to contribute to its own security and defence as well as that of NATO and the EU.

Recalling the course of negotiations on the purchase of the aircraft, the minister said that the project would be implemented at the government level and that it envisaged partnership with the country from which the aircraft came, and not the manufacturer.

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

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