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.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Extends Kurban Bayram Greetings

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday congratulated the head of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Mufti Aziz Hasanović, and all Islamic believers on Kurban Bayram, wishing that the Bayram days be filled with peace, health and joy.

Plenković also wished that "this time of sacrifice give you inspiration and strength to overcome the challenges and tests ahead."

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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Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Women Work One Month For Free, Says MEP Glavak

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - Women work one month for free due to lower wages and their total income, and consequently their pension, is lower because they care for children and the elderly, Croatian MEP Sunčana Glavak (EPP) said on Wednesday.

She was speaking at an event at Plitvice Lakes which discussed how to strengthen the position of women in Croatia and Europe, held as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Glavak said a division into men's and women's departments was not felt in the EP because the persons there were competent, but added that a balance had not been achieved anywhere in Europe.

She called on citizens to engage in a debate on that and other European topics via the Commission's platform “futureu.europa.eu.”

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said four women ministers in Croatia's 18 government departments was not enough, but added that they "run important departments and make a big contribution to this government."

He boasted that Croatian women hold high positions in European institutions - Dubravka Šuica is a Commission vice president, Marija Pejčinović Burić the Council of Europe secretary-general, Ivana Maletić a judge at the European Court of Auditors, and Maja Markovčić Kostelac the head of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

"As a government, we will continue to make an effort towards empowering and protecting women, towards equality and women's participation at a higher level and a high representation percentage," he said.

Present at the Plitvice conference were Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac, Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak and Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, while Šuica and EPP Women President Doris Pack participated virtually.

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

 

 

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

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Strongly condemns violence after LGTBIQ Pride Parade

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence that had occurred after the LGTBIQ Pride Parade in Zagreb on Saturday. 

"That is unacceptable, Croatia is a free country and everyone should be what they are. Human rights and the rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities, should be respected," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

"Croatia is big enough for everyone to be free," he stressed.

Plenković recalled that Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights Boris Milošević had also condemned the physical assaults on members of the LGBTIQ community, noting that what Milošević wrote in his Facebook post was on behalf of the whole cabinet.

"I totally agree with him. I think that violence and inciting to violence is unacceptable. And now (Bridge MPs) Petrov and Grmoja are crying because they have received threats, they were obviously perceived as some kind of inciters. I receive such threats on a daily and weekly basis and I don't speak about it with anyone. One learns to cope with it, while they are now crying about it," the PM said.

"The worst actors on the scene are those who are exclusive, and I want us to build an inclusive society in which everyone will advocate and stand behind their values and in which everyone will be able to ensure an education for their children based on the values that they have and share. Things should not be imposed on anyone. If someone is different, respect them, they also have their freedom and their choices. We must build a society that is inclusive, that's the most important thing, and I don't see why it should be any different," he added. 

He said that people in Croatia needed a little encouragement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while certain actors in society needed encouragement to be more tolerant. "That will come about, I am optimistic."

Milanović's double standards

Plenković also talked about the environmental devastation of Vruja Cove on the southern Dalmatian coast and Sunday's protest rally ironically called the Illegal Construction and Nature Devastation Festival, where protesters called out Stipe Latković, a businessman from Split and a friend and donor of President Milanović.

Asked why the government was not acting, given that the property in case is state-owned, Plenković said that the relevant inspectorate had issued a number of decisions, "which obviously were not complied with", and imposed fines,

"Those decisions were made not just this year but for many years, and now these campaigners for (an independent) judiciary, who are accusing the judiciary, as Milanović is, of being under the control of the (ruling) HDZ, are protecting these illegal builders. This is a fantastic example of double standards," Plenković said.

He said that this was not the only "brilliant" example of double standards, citing the cases of Constitutional Court judge Andrej Abramović, who used a garden hose to pour water on his neighbours, SDP MP Marina Opačak Bilić, who is suspected of economic crime, and Sisak mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček who failed to provide requested documents to USKOK anti-corruption investigators.

"All these are double standards of campaigners for an independent judiciary, and here I mean Milanović," the prime minister said.

 Bačić's arrest not pleasant for either HRT or Parliament

Commenting on the arrest of the director-general of the HRT public broadcasting service, Kazimir Bačić, on suspicion of corruption, Plenković said that the judicial authorities were acting completely independently and impartially.

"I don't want to speculate about anyone's responsibility, but the situation is not pleasant either for the HRT or for the Croatian parliament which appointed Bačić," he said.

The parliamentary Media Committee is meeting today to discuss the proposal to relieve Bačić of his duties and appoint an acting director-general. 

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

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Bill Regulating Family Pension Beneficiaries' Status on Parl. Agenda

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - The Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) said on Tuesday that the number of pension insurance contributions had been on the rise for five months in a row, and the number of insurees was higher by 3.54% at the end of this June compared to June 2020.

The government-sponsored amendments were forwarded to the parliament at the session of the Andrej Plenković cabinet on 1 July.

In May, there were 216,000 family pension beneficiaries, and most of them were surviving spouses whose average monthly pension allowance was HRK 2,096, which was below the average pension. For instance, in May, pension associations reported that the average pension paid out  for February stood at HRK 2,567.

The budget allocation for this purpose has been ensured for 2022 and 2023.

According to the government's estimates, this year, an estimated 1,100 recipients of family pensions can exercise this right to work part-time and continue receiving family pensions. In 2022, the numbers can rise to 3,200 and in 2023 to 4,100 beneficiaries.

(€1 = HRK 7.484635)

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

 

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Von der Leyen to Visit Zagreb Thursday after European Commision Okays Croatia's Recovery Plan

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that the European Commission's President Ursula Von der Leyen would arrive in Zagreb on Thursday after the European Commission approved Croatia's national recovery and resilience plan.

President von der Leyen has decided to personally deliver the national recovery and resilience plan to each of the 27 member states.

PM Plenković said that the green-light to Croatia's €6.3 billion recovery plan was an important encouragement.

"We are satisfied with the finalisation of the process before we expected," Plenković said on Monday evening.

In early June, Croatia and another four EU member-states -- Slovenia, Poland, Sweden and Romania -- asked the European Commission to extend a deadline for the assessment of their national recovery and resilience plans.

The EC had two months to assess these plans that set out the reforms and public investment projects that each Member State plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

The rules envisage that member-states can request a reasonable extension of time for the assessment of national recovery and resilience plans after the documents are submitted.

The Commission received Croatia's plan on 15 May, and Zagreb "has requested a total of almost €6.4 billion in grants under the RRF", the EC says on its website.

The Croatian plan is structured around five components: green and digital economy, public administration and judiciary, education, science and research, labour market and social protection, healthcare. It also encompasses one initiative on building renovation.

The plan includes measures to improve business environment, education, research and development, energy-efficiency in buildings, zero-emission transport and the development of renewable energy sources.

Projects in the plan cover the entire lifetime of the RRF until 2026. The plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas, the EC added.

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

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