Friday, 20 May 2022

Croatian PM Meets with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration

ZAGREB, 20 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn in Zagreb on Friday, a government press release said.

The European Commission announced earlier in the day that it had granted Croatia an extension of the deadline for using money from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for the repair of the earthquake damage until the end of June 2023, aligning the implementation deadlines for the earthquake that struck Zagreb in March 2020 and the earthquakes that hit Sisak-Moslavina County in late December 2020 and January 2021.

Thanking the Commission for accepting the arguments made by the Croatian government, the prime minister and competent ministers informed Commissioner Hahn of the steps being taken to accelerate the use of EUSF funding so that the allocation awarded to Croatia would be successfully used within the set deadline.

Also discussed were Croatia's plans to join the Schengen Area and the euro area. Commissioner Hahn and the European Commission strongly support Croatia's ambitions, assessing that the country meets all the membership criteria, according to the press release.

Plenković and Hahn also discussed further EU assistance to and solidarity with Ukraine, the energy crisis as well as the economic and financial situation in Croatia.

The prime minister said that after a strong recovery in 2021, Croatia continued down the path of growth, public debt reduction, and financial stability, as confirmed by international credit rating agencies.

Plenković also talked about the situation in southeastern Europe, notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He emphasized the need to change electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure equality and legitimate political representation of the Croats as a constituent people, saying that that was the basis for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a functioning and stable country.

Also attending were Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Ivan Paladina.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

PM Says Croatia Can Play Crucial Role In Providing Energy In Europe

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatia can be a crucial country for future energy supply to the countries in its neighbourhood that now fully depend on Russian energy sources, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday commenting on the "REPowerEU" plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels in Europe.

Plenković told a news conference that the REPowerEU Plan, which the European Commission presented on Wednesday as its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, highlights the need to invest in gas and oil pipelines networks.

This is an opportunity for the Croatian companies Plinacro and Janaf, and talks are being conducted with them to see what can be done, said the PM.

Plinacro, a leading Croatian gas transport system operator, and Janaf, which manages the oil transport network, have initial projections of necessary investments, according to Plenković.

The EU has a high degree of understanding for Croatia's crucial role, and the Croatian energy companies "have important roles in the changed energy structure of Europe," he added.

The PM highlighted three aspects of the EC plan: saving energy, diversifying supplies and accelerating the rollout of renewables.

The €300 billion plan consists of schemes for the disbursement of €225 billion in loans and €75 billion through grants.

The investment in gas and oil infrastructure is important to us because they create possibilities for additional investment, enhance our capacity and help Croatia become a strategic country in the diversification of supply routes, said Plenković.

He said that the government was taking necessary steps to fill gas storage capacities, as required by the EU.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

PM: Constitutional Court's Ruling is as Expected

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, Andrej Plenković, said on Monday that the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Bridge party's referendum question was as expected.

Earlier today, the Constitutional Court ruled that the questions in the two referendum petitions launched by the opposition Bridge party - to abolish mandatory COVID passes and transfer the powers of the national COVID response team to Parliament - were not in line with the Constitution.

"We had no idea what the decision would be," said Plenković after a session of HDZ party's Presidency and National Council, dismissing claims that the Constitutional Court was "someone's puppet".

"To anyone who had read the request to assess the constitutionality, such a decision is not a surprise," added Plenković, pointing out that the Constitutional Court's decision was well-argued ed and reasoned.

He said that the entire thing was too politicized and that the initiative was led by anti-vaxxers.

As for the statement by President Zoran Milanović that the Constitutional Court should be abolished and that the decision was a coup d'etat, PM Plenković said that this was "yet another brilliant claim".

He also said that Milanović's statement in which he asked the Croatian State Attorney's Office (DORH) to "imprison" Defence Minister Mario Banožić was unacceptable and unheard-of He added that it was unimaginable that anyone could incite DORH against a minister.

Plenković on SDP initiative for new abortion bill

The prime minister also commented on the abortion bill, saying that the initiative of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was "a lightning-fast transformation of a personal tragedy and health situation into a political initiative".

He recalled that the issue of termination of pregnancy had not been on HDZ's agenda or coalition agreement and that it was back "on the table" following a decision by the Constitutional Court after 26 or 27 years.

"We have a coalition in which there is the HDZ, some other center-right parties, as well as liberal parties and ethnic minorities, and this is an issue on which it is extremely difficult, I would even say nearly impossible, to reach a consensus within our parliamentary majority," Plenković said, recalling that the Constitutional Court did not task the government but the parliament to adopt a new law.

Last week, members of the parliamentary majority could vote on this ideological question in line with their program and values, Plenković said, noting that the HDZ understood the message and that it was a signal of caution.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Plenković and Jandroković Meet With Visiting Bulgarian FM

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković met separately with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska during her visit to Zagreb on Thursday.

Genchovska, a historian, military academy graduate, and expert on security and defense issues, and Plenković discussed the situation in Ukraine, emphasizing that the two countries shared views on the war in Ukraine and the need to continue providing assistance to that country, according to a government press release.

Plenković informed Genchovska about Croatia's final preparations for accession to the Schengen area and euro area, as well as about its bid to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is the objective of both countries.

The two officials also exchanged views on EU enlargement and the situation in southeastern Europe.

The situation in the Western Balkans was also discussed during Genchovska's meeting with Parliament Speaker Jandroković. They agreed that it was of critical importance to prevent a spillover of the Ukraine crisis to the region.

According to a press release from Parliament, Jandroković emphasized the importance of the equality of all three constituent nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jandroković and Genchovska strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people. They also discussed humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine and the acceptance of refugees.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

€163m Scheme for Construction of Kindergartens for 22,500 Kids Presented

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - A HRK 1.22 billion (€163 million) scheme for the construction and equipment of kindergartens, the aim of which is to create 22,500 new kindergarten places was presented by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday.

By the end of 2026, we intend to create conditions so that 90% of children aged three or more can participate in early and preschool education before going to school, which will enable a better educational outcome for children, and Croatia will catch up with the world and Europe, Plenković told a press conference.

In Croatia, the participation rate in preschool education is still among the lowest in the European Union.

In the 2004-2016 period, the number of children attending regular kindergarten or nursery programs in Croatia rose by 37.2%, while the number of kindergartens increased by 34.7%.

Since 2017, the government has invested HRK 2 billion in 498 kindergartens in Croatia, and with these investments, the total amount will reach HRK 3.43 billion, said Plenković.

The achieved level is still significantly below the "Barcelona objectives" of having 33% of children under three years of age and 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age covered by education programs, that is, the goal of the European Education Area to have 96% of children between three years of age and primary school to be covered by preschool programs.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 11 April 2022

International Roma Day 2022 – Unbreakable Ties with India

April 11, 2022 – To celebrate International Roma Day (April 8), a two-day conference is being held in Zagreb with the main focus on the ties between India and the Roma. 

As Večernji List writes, the two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

Strengthening ties between the Roma community and India to improve the position of Roma in the world is the main topic of the conference titled "Roma as the Indian Diaspora - Unbreakable Ties", where Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that all its participants share the same values ​​– equality and respect for minorities. The two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

It aims to send a message and an invitation to India to recognize the Roma as its national minority.

Addressing the participants – representatives of the Roma population from 17 countries and representatives of Croatian political, scientific, and cultural life – Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that all share the same values ​​– equality, respect for national minorities, and joint efforts so that not only Roma but all other national minorities in Croatia feel good, equal, and free to exercise their rights. He pointed out that in the two mandates of his government, through the National Plan for Roma Inclusion and the accompanying action plan, budget funds have doubled since 2016 and amount to slightly less than 50 million kuna. The Roma Educational and Cultural Center in Zagreb was opened and the Roma Memorial Center Uštica was built as a reminder of the greatest crime against the Roma people, the genocide committed by the Nazi and Ustasha regimes (samudaripen) during World War II.

Plenković: History cannot be changed, but crimes should be reminded and condemned

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed in concentration camps in Europe during this "darkest period of world history". "Unfortunately, we cannot change history, but we sincerely regret these terrible events, and we should keep reminding of these acts and condemn them unconditionally", said the prime minister. The government, he added, gives great importance to the history of the Roma, their identity and culture, while also confronting the darker sides of our common history. It is thus important that today's conference reminds us of what remembrance means – that it does not mean living in the past, but rather "tearing past experiences away from oblivion and making them a pledge of a better future". "Remembrance that does not turn into malice is healing. Such remembrance includes the present and has a clear view of the future; it is purified and nurtured through upbringing, family, and the education system," he said.

The importance of education for better integration of Roma into society

The Prime Minister also pointed out the importance of education, i.e. keeping the youngest in the education system to better integrate Roma into Croatian society. "When we succeed in that goal, then we have solved many long-term problems faced by the Roma national minority," he said.

In the context of the topic of the conference, the Prime Minister reminded us that the connections between Croatia and India, and Roma and Croatia have lasted for centuries – from the first historical evidence of Roma in Croatia in Dubrovnik in the 14th century, over Dubrovnik and other Croatian sailors in India, Burgenland Croat Filip Vesdin and his Sanskrit grammar at the end of the 18th century, and Count Ljudevit Drašković, the first Croatian romologist.

He also mentioned the 150-year-long Sanskrit university course in Zagreb, the Indology course in Zagreb which has existed for 60 years, as well as the Romology course at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.

Kajtazi: Satisfactory cooperation with the government  -Member of Parliament for the Roma national minority Veljko Kajtazi expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the Croatian government, saying that no government has done so much for the position of Roma in society. In Croatia, Roma are no longer “special cases”, specific policies have been introduced to improve their position through regular activities of line ministries and work is being done to equalize their living conditions with other citizens because it is important to erase the still huge differences that cause all the ugly events”.

The participants were also greeted by the Indian Ambassador Raj Kumar Srivastava, the President of the International Roma Union Normunds Rudevičs, the Slovak Member of the European Parliament (EPP) Peter Pollak, the Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, the President of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Velimir Neidhardt, as well as the President of the Croatian Roma Association Kali Sara Suzana Krčmar.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Demographic Revitalisation Remains Strategic Issue, Prime Minister Says

4 April 2022 - Demographic revitalisation remains a strategic issue of Croatia's future and all actors must cooperate in this long-term project, from the national and local governments to civil society and the business sector, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

Speaking at an Economic and Social Council session, he said the Croatian Bureau of Statistics was still processing the results of last year's census but that they led to the conclusion that everyone would have to work together on more effective public policies that would contribute to turning the negative population trends around.

"We wish to create a positive social climate for starting and expanding a family, better care for children and our older citizens, because a demographically more vital Croatia is the only solution to the future of the Croatian people," the prime minister said.

That requires the synergy of the state, municipalities, towns, counties, civil society, the social partners, the academic community and the business sector because it is an issue on which it is easiest to reach a broad national consensus, he added.

Croatia's population began decreasing in 1991 as a consequence of the war, emigration, ageing and fewer births, but other EU member states have the same problems, he said.

The government is taking measures for youth, families and other social and economic actors via population, tax, social, housing, education, employment and other policies.

Plenković said a national reform programme would comprise 95 reforms in six areas - the economy; public administration and the judiciary; education, science and research; the labour market and welfare; health; and building reconstruction and energy efficiency.

He mentioned challenges such as climate change, energy efficiency, the crackdown on corruption, stronger administration, a modern education system, helping those most in need, and promoting healthy lifestyles and disease prevention.

Plenković also mentioned the government's activities to boost the economy and mitigate the blow of the crisis to living standards.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Croatian Government Reshuffle by May 30? As Many as 7 Names Are Mentioned

March 27, 2022 - Several sources from the ruling coalition claim that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has broken through and that a wider Croatian Government reshuffle will take place around May 30.

This began to be seriously considered after the arrest of Minister of Construction Darko Horvat, and especially after Uskok opened investigations against two other members of the Government: Minister of Labor and Pensions Josip Aladrović, who is suspected of favoring the employment of two people in 2018 and 2019 while being director of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, who is suspected of mediating in "arranging" incentives for selected companies, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The idea of ​​a broader government reshuffle, according to sources, was terribly pushed by the latest affair that erupted after the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak publicly announced that she had received terrible threats but did not report them to the police until her public appearance, nor to her boss - the Prime Minister. They are convinced that Tramišak has already been de facto written off, especially after Prime Minister Andrej Plenković publicly said that "the whole situation with Minister Tramišak is extremely bizarre" and that "it is not yet completely clear to him".

''I will not make statements. The whole case was taken over by the police.'', was all that Minister Tramišak told Slobodna Dalmacija yesterday.

The idea has been ''cooked'' before

A source from the HDZ says that the story about the government's reshuffle was "cooking" even before the Tramišak case, that it will cover much wider than her, Aladrović and Milošević, and that it will take place between Easter (April 17) and Statehood Day (May 30).

''As for Minister Tramišak, it is clear that she no longer has any confidence. A more serious reconstruction is being considered, which would not only affect her and the members of the Government burdened with investigations (Aladrović and Milošević). There are executed people in the Government, such as the Minister of Agriculture Marija Vučković, and the stay of the Minister of Health Vili Beroš is still uncertain.'', says the source. He claims that the case of the Minister of Defense, Mario Banožić, is particularly interesting. He says that he is terribly untalented and that almost no one in the party supports him (anymore).

''But it would be too bold to claim that he lost Plenković's trust because Banožić is completely loyal to him.'', he says.

In addition to the mentioned names, in the context of the Government reshuffle, sources from HDZ and the ruling coalition parties note that the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić could also leave the Government".

One of the sources claims that he received information that Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Veterans' Affairs) could replace Mario Banožić as Minister of Defense.

''I think that would be a phenomenal move because the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, respects him terribly, especially because of Medved's role in the country's defense. Therefore, Milanović could no longer score easy goals, as he does now with Banožić. However, I think that Plenković will not give up Banožić, not (only) because of their good relationship, but because of Milanović who would declare such a move his victory (in a clash with the Government and Prime Minister Plenković).

Ministers are silent

Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved was not in the mood yesterday to discuss the government reshuffle.

We did not receive any comment on the information on the government reshuffle from the others mentioned in that context: Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic, Ministers Banožić, Aladrović, and Beroš, as well as from the Minister of Agriculture Marija Vučković.

Some of Plenković's coalition partners are also strongly advocating a broader government reshuffle.

- I am sure that there will be a reconstruction. Without going into, of course, whether they (Aladrović and Milošević, n. A.) Are guilty or not, it is objective that the burden of these investigations puts the Prime Minister in a position to go into government reshuffle. This is not in dispute or questionable at all. In addition, there are still some open topics in the public and it can be assumed that some other ministerial positions may be the subject of government reshuffle - says the head of the Reformists  Radimir Cacic. 

HSLS President Dario Hrebak is also a supporter of the (wider) government reshuffle.

''HSLS will continue to support the ruling majority, but we should not run away from the problems we have. As a serious party, we believe that Croatia does not need new elections because of everything that is happening in the world, as well as in the domestic economy. But that does not mean that we will not advocate certain refreshments in the Government within the ruling majority. I think it would be good to do that. But the final decision on the reconstruction is made by the prime minister. He is the prime minister, he is forming the Government, and he will best assess whether he needs reconstruction. HSLS sees its role as a party that will not blackmail or condition anything, but propose. We will certainly suggest that we need to refresh the Government because we have two more years of mandate and we are simply coming to a political position that requires us to make certain changes. I would like to mention once again that Prime Minister Plenković has a much broader picture. He should suggest when, in what way, and whether a government reshuffle is needed. HSLS will continue to support the ruling majority.'', says Hrebak.

Consultations have not yet begun

A source from the HDZ, who is also convinced of the government's spring reshuffle, says "serious consultations on the subject in the party have not yet begun".

"We haven't come that far yet," he says.

Clearly, there are those in the HDZ who believe that the government reshuffle should not go much further than those burdened with investigations such as Aladrovic and Milosevic.

''Why would Minister Tramišak, for example, leave the Government as part of a package that includes persons who are the subject of Uskok investigations? Unlike them, she is "pure", she received threats because she did not want to please anyone. After all, we will discuss her position in the Government on Tuesday at a meeting of the HDZ leadership. While the Prime Minister finds it bizarre that Tramišak did not report the threats to the police before she spoke about them publicly, it is bizarre to me that he has a Minister of Defense who has not been able to evict the Nazi for more than two weeks, and it is bizarre to me that in Zagreb, more than two years after the earthquake, reconstruction has not yet begun'', says the interlocutor from the ruling party.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Prime Minister Believes Opposition Satisfied With Talks on Situation in Ukraine and Drone Crash

ZAGREB, 18 March (2022) - PM Andrej Plenković said on Friday after talks with opposition MPs on the situation in Ukraine and last week's crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle in Zagreb that they seemed to be satisfied with the information presented at the meeting, and that he suggested holding such meetings on an as-needed basis.

A special item on the agenda of the meeting, held in the government offices, was information on last week's crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle near a student dorm in Zagreb.

"We believe our colleagues from the Opposition have obtained valuable new information that will help them take a position when making comments, in political debates and when assessing the seriousness of the situation," Plenković told reporters after the talks.

He said that opposition politicians were mostly satisfied and that the information they obtained today would be useful to them when making public statements.

"(We need) the greatest possible amount of responsible behaviour, responsible statements, politics that is on the right side of both law and history... in the circumstances that have been anything but normal since 24 February," he said.

The PM said the opposition MPs were provided with reliable and verified information that the drone was armed, that an explosion occurred and that the device in question was most probably an aerial bomb that exploded on impact.

A fuse and bomb fragments have been found and it has been established beyond doubt that the drone, normally intended for reconnaissance, was adapted to carry a weapon, he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 14 March 2022

PM: I Spoke with Banožić and Hranj About Strengthening Capabilities of Armed Forces

14 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday said on Twitter that he had spoken with Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Admiral Robert Hranj, about investments in strengthening the capabilities of the Armed Forces.

Shortly before that, he said that a meeting had been held with members of the government and relevant institutions about the facts established so far about the crash of the military aerial vehicle in Zagreb.

The competent bodies are conducting an investigation that will shed light on all circumstances. We are intensively communicating with NATO allies, PM Plenković said in the tweet.

Page 1 of 21

Search