Friday, 22 October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Electricity and Gas Prices Won't Go Up Until Heating Season Ends, Says Prime Minister

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - Electricity and gas prices for Croatian households and "a huge share" of businesses will not increase until the end of the heating season early in April, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

The only ones that could feel the increase are businesses that did not have long- but short-term gas supply contracts, he added.

He was speaking to the press in Brussels as he arrived at an EU summit that will discuss the surge in fuel prices, among other things.

Plenković said the government had various tools at its disposal that it would use depending on developments with energy prices.

For now, the government has limited the maximum prices of petrol and diesel. "Thereby we stabilized expectations over the next month to see how the situation with oil prices will develop and in that way cushion any blow to households."

He said that after the government's abundant help to businesses during the pandemic and now that conditions had been created for the economy to rebound strongly, he did not wish living standards to be in jeopardy.

Rule of law

The EU summit will also address the rule of law after the Polish Constitutional Court found that in some elements national law is above European law, which was roundly criticized in the EU.

Plenković said it was necessary to first hear out Polish Prime Minister Mazeusz Morawiecki, who sent a memo to all member states' leaders, explaining what the court really decided.

"It's important that the EU does not divide because in times of crisis it's good for it to be as homogeneous as possible. But, on the other hand, when we were entering the EU, we too had to change our constitution quite a lot in order to align with the European legal order. Therefore our position is that we should honor all that we agreed to when we entered the EU."

The summit will also address the COVID situation, foreign relations, migration, trade, and the digital society.

Plenković said the situation in Croatia's neighborhood would be discussed tonight as a continuation of the EU-Western Balkans summit held earlier this month.

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

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Milanović Says Plenković Should Rein Defence Minister In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 21 October 2021

PM Warns of Growing Number of Coronavirus Cases in Croatia

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

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

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

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

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

74 percent of hospitalized COVID patients not vaccinated

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 7 October 2021

PM Says Shelling of Gov't Building Was Crucial Moment for Croatia's Freedom

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commemorated the 30th anniversary of the shelling of the government building by laying a wreath at the memorial plaque on it and saying that those had been fateful moments for Croatia's freedom.

"Today is 30 years since the shelling of the government building. At that time it was the headquarters of the first president of the republic, Franjo Tuđman. That afternoon, a Yugoslav Army MiG shelled the government building with the obvious goal to kill Croatia's leadership," the prime minister said.

He added that together with Tuđman at that moment were the chairman of the presidency of the former Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesić, and federal prime minister Ante Marković, who were talking about the Great Serbia military aggression against Croatia.

"Unfortunately, one person was killed then and several were wounded. Fortunately, president Tuđman and the other officials survived. Those were fateful moments for Croatia's freedom, for all that we have today, and the next day, in the night between 7 and 8 October, the Croatian parliament passed key decisions on independence," Plenković said.

He announced that parliament would mark its day tomorrow, saying they remembered that time with a lot of pride and with the important message that young generations should be informed of all the key events in the creation of present-day Croatia.

MP Zdravka Bušić was in the government building when it was targeted. "God wanted us to survive. It's almost impossible to imagine what it was like. I'm happy that an indictment has finally been filed against the pilot and commander of the military squadron that headed for the government building and Croatia. We know that the commander of that squadron was Ljubomir Bajić. I hope the light will be shed on everything."

Also present at today's commemoration were Interior Minister Davor Božinović, War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, and Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

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

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Plenković, Sánchez Announce Stronger Croatian-Spanish Cooperation

ZAGREB, 6 Oct 2021 - Croatia and Spain cooperate well in many areas, with €1 billion in trade, but the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted that process, so Prime Ministers Andrej Plenković and Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday they would work on intensifying cooperation.

"Croatian-Spanish trade is about €1 billion. We believe that's good. However, we've had certain oscillations during the COVID crisis. Today we talked about how to advance cooperation, how to make our private sectors cooperate as well as possible, notably by utilizing funds from the NextGenerationEU instrument," Plenković told the press after meeting with his Spanish counterpart.

Sánchez, the first Spanish prime minister visiting Croatia, said the two countries were trying to advance their relations, the development of which was stopped by the pandemic last year, stressing that EU funds could help them revive their economies.

"A few weeks ago, Croatia joined the cooperation within MED9, nine European Union members states on the Mediterranean, and this forum will serve as a dialogue for Mediterranean countries to advance cooperation in many areas, notably all those key global issues we are faced with, from the fight against illegal migration to climate change, which are especially important for all Mediterranean countries, as well as in many other security and development topics that are important both for north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean," said Plenković.

He also said that Croatia and Spain could exchange experiences in tourism, "this important industry", and see how, "after this brilliant season that we had", to prepare for the next one as well as possible.

"Croatia is very active in the World Tourism Organization, which is based in Madrid. We are looking forward to cooperation in that area," Plenković said.

He noted that cooperation in defense and security as well as many operations, notably in the Mediterranean, was also important for the two countries, adding that next year Spain will host a NATO summit.

The two prime ministers also mentioned cooperation on the DONES (DEMO-Oriented Neutron Source) project which, they said, is very important for the future of energy and for reducing greenhouse gases.

"That's a Croatian-Spanish partnership in nuclear fusion in which the Ruđer Bošković Institute is participating. It's an important, strategic project financed with European funds so that we can have inexhaustible and clean energy sources," said Plenković.

Sánchez too welcomed the experimental program for preserving the environment.

Following a summit with Western Balkan countries in Slovenia over the past two days, the two prime ministers also talked about the situation in Southeast Europe and EU enlargement.

Plenković said Sanchez was exceptionally familiar with the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the other countries in the region.

"We took this opportunity to talk about how to make it possible for enlargement to go on, how to have, first of all, a stable BiH. For us it's especially important to ensure, through changes to the electoral law, the legitimate representation of Croats as the smallest constituent people in BiH's highest bodies," Plenković said.

According to the Spanish premier, the Western Balkans "should be given the place to which it belongs". He again called for EU enlargement.

Sánchez also invited Plenković to visit Madrid.

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

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Ruling Coalition Supports Dobronić, Mrčela For Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 5 Oct, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday the ruling coalition would back the candidacies of Radovan Dobronić and Marin Mrčela at tomorrow's meeting of the parliamentary judiciary committee on the selection of the president of the Supreme Court.

Speaking to the press after a meeting of the parliamentary majority, the prime minister said Dobronić presented a good programme and that Supreme Court judge Mrčela's programme was good too, so both deserved a positive assessment.

Dobronić meets the terms of the public call for applications, he delivered an important decision in the case of loans pegged to the Swiss franc, and submitted his candidacy as stipulated by law.

He is a man of integrity who is not inclined to corruption, so it is unlikely that someone better might apply in the future, Plenković said.

In this way, the parliamentary majority wants to bring to an end the saga of the selection of the Supreme Court president, and it is good for the Croatian judiciary for this process to be finished.

The parliamentary committee will vote on the five candidates, the president of the republic will be informed of the outcome and recommend one candidate to parliament. If President Zoran Milanović recommends Dobronić, the parliamentary majority will vote for him, Plenković said.

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

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Serbian Textbooks' Negation of Existence of Croatian Language Outrageous

ZAGREB, 5 Oct, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that Serbian textbooks' denial of the Croatian language was outrageous and unacceptable.

"The embassy, the foreign ministry and all the relevant institutions have a clear duty to send protest notes to Serbia," Plenković told the press after he met junior partners in the ruling coalition in Zagreb.

"We consider it a shameful policy," he added.

On Monday, the political leadership of Croats in Serbia condemned the denial of the Croatian language in grammar books for eighth-graders. According to the local Croat-language weekly "Hrvatska riječ", a grammar book for eighth-graders by a group of authors says that the Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian languages are South Slavic languages while "Croats, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call the Serbian language Croatian, Bosnian, Bosniak or Montenegrin." The textbook was approved by the Serbian Institute for the Promotion of Education, the weekly said.

Plenković said today that Croatia expected Serbia to rectify such anomalies in its grammar books.

He added that he would also convey Croatia's position on the matter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić who is expected to attend a two-day EU-Western Balkans summit, which begins on Tuesday afternoon in Slovenia.

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

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Through Pandemics and Earthquakes: World Teachers' Day in Croatia Honors Educators

October 5, 2021 - Commemorating World Teachers' Day in Croatia is another indicator that the country is following global trends. Despite expressed sympathy for teachers, the problems in the Croatian education system are yet to be solved.

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5 October to celebrate all teachers around the globe. It commemorates the anniversary of adopting the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions – says the official UNESCO website. 

Croatia is no exception in honoring the people who teach the youngest generations in the country in the hope they grow into good and educated people that will make Croatia a better place. 

Despite being established on February 2, 2006, under the name of The Faculty of Teacher Education, this institution, part of the University of Zagreb, has a much richer history of educating teachers that began with the first Teacher Training School in Zagreb in 1849. Thus, the oldest instance of Croatian formal teachers' education was followed by Petrinja (1862) and Čakovec (1879).

„The Faculty of Teacher Education, in addition to its constituent units - chairs, centers, institutes, library, and gallery, has three academic departments: Department of Teacher Education Studies, Department of Preschool Education Studies, and Department of Educational Studies. With the resolution of the University Senate of the University of Zagreb dating February 13, 2007, the Four-year Teachers’ College in Čakovec and the Four-year Teachers’ College in Petrinja merged with the Faculty of Teacher Education at first as branches and then as departments of the Faculty of Teacher Education. As such, they have developed for the purposes of organizing implementing the program of study away from the Central location of the Faculty of Teacher Education. Both departments carry out the work and operations under the name of the Faculty of Teacher Education and their own name," says the official website of the faculty.

As it suits a high educational facility for the teachers' field, the Faculty of Teacher Education commemorated the event on Tuesday and appropriately celebrated their professional holiday.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković congratulated World Teachers' Day on Twitter. He expressed gratitude for teachers doing their job during the pandemic and earthquake

„There is no greater task than raising, educating, and shaping the youth which is the future“, wrote Plenković by Twitter as reported by Index.hr.

Croatian president Zoran Milanović attended the ceremony at the Faculty of Teachers' Education. He stated that teachers played a crucial part in shaping Croatian culture.

Based on previous writings by TCN, Milanović's statement can be evident in historical events such as the First Croatian Teacher Congress in 1871. Usually, you could learn more about the history of Croatian education by visiting the Croatian School Museum in Zagreb, but sadly it still awaits post-earthquake reconstruction.

Additionally, its worth mentioning that the start of the new School year exposed the problem of parental pressure on teachers to give children As even when their actual knowledge does not justify the grade.

If not on any other day, hopefully, both the politics and the public may learn and decide to act on World Teachers' Day to help teachers resolve this troubling issue.

Read about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC guide.

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

Friday, 24 September 2021

PM Meets International Judo Federation President

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday received for talks representatives of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the Croatian Judo Federation, on the occasion of the IJF World Judo Tour - Zagreb Grand Prix 2021.

IJF president Marius Vizer, Croatian Judo Federation president Sandra Čorak, Croatian Judo Federation honorary president Tomislav Čuljak, and Hrvoje Lindi, secretary general of the Croatian Judo Federation attended the meeting. The prime minister was accompanied by Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

They discussed the upcoming Grand Prix in Zagreb, a competition important for promoting judo and Croatia in the world, which PM Plenković will officially open today.

PM Plenković congratulated the International Judo Federation and the Croatian Judo Federation on their many activities and expressed the government's continued support for developing sports and encouraging sport activities for a healthier and more active life, especially among young people. Also, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports provides continuous financial support to the activities of the Croatian Judo Federation.

The meeting underscored the importance of popularising judo among young people and its participants mentioned Croatian judoka Barbara Matić's success and her gold medal at the World Judo Championship in Budapest.

For more on sport, CLICK HERE.

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