Saturday, 17 October 2020

Two Men Arrested for Threatening Prime Minister

ZAGREB, October 17, 2020 - Police have arrested two men for threatening the prime minister, following the October 12 incident when 22-year-old Danijel Bezuk shot and wounded a police officer guarding the government building in St Mark's Square in Zagreb.

A 63-year-old man from Bezuk's home town of Kletista near Kutina, 80 kilometres east of Zagreb, has been arrested for threatening the prime minister and for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the Sisak-Moslavina County Police said on Saturday.

At least on two occasions the man told different people he believed that Danijel Bezuk, who committed suicide shortly after the attack on the government building, would have shot dead the prime minister had he seen him. He also said that he himself was fantasising about killing the prime minister.

In Zagreb, police arrested a 48-year-old man on Saturday for threatening to kill the prime minister. He posted his threat on social media in the early morning hours of October 14.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Plenkovic Condemns Approval and Downplaying of Attack on Government House

ZAGREB, October 16, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday in Brussels dismissed claims that Monday's attack on Government House could have occurred anywhere and condemned any approval or downplaying of that grave crime by the right and left.

In a statement to the press on Thursday Plenkovic hinted that he personally was the target of the attack on Government House that occurred on Monday because certain individuals in political and media circles incite intolerance and hate towards him.

He also hinted that President Zoran Milanovic was among those who used that sort of language against him in the 2016 election campaign.

Milanovic later posted on Facebook that the "tragedy could have occurred anywhere and that its roots lie elsewhere."

Social Democratic Party leader Pedja Grbin said that he saw the incident as an attack on Croatian institutions located in St. Mark's Square and that it was "unacceptable that Plenkovic is trying to portray himself as the victim."


It was premeditated 

"... I watched the recording of the attack and it is clear that the attack was not intended to occur anywhere else but was premeditated and deliberately committed in St. Mark's Square, where the government is located," Plenkovic told the press on Friday.

"The perpetrator of that horrific crime didn't go to the President's Palace, he didn't go to Nova Gradiska, where Mr Grbin's headquarters are, nor in front of any other building but came in front of Government House," said Plenkovic.

He sharply condemned and approval any downplaying of the attack on Government House.

"You have two trends, the extreme right, Skoro and that sort of people, who virtually approve and have understanding for that horrific crime. On the other hand, you have the left that is downplaying and minimising it."

"If the prime minister was from SDP's ranks, I would be the first to condemn it and show solidarity and call on the competent bodies to investigate it and establish the motive. That's the difference," he said.

He added that there was no room for concern that the current situation could jeopardise media freedoms, noting that despite the numerous insults and defamation he had been exposed to, he had never sued anyone.


Milanovic is perfidious

Plenkovic also commented on Milanovic's negating that he had sown the seed of hate against Plenkovic.

"The President knows very well what he said and how he acted. He is aware of that. He is smart enough and perfidious enough to know very well what this is about. If there is an opportunity, the two of us can discuss that but he knows that very well," said Plenkovic.

He added that there is a "tacit alliance between Skoro, the Bridge party and Milanovic."

"They collaborated in the second round of the presidential election. Milanovic has said that he has established more or less good relations with them. We are aware of that... The entire movement, the entire 'raison d'etre' of that movement was for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic not to be elected president," Plenkovic claimed.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

PM Plenković and Mate Rimac Discuss Electric Vehicles Industry in Croatia

October 14, 2020 – Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Mate Rimac, founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili company. At the meeting, the potential of the electric vehicles industry in Croatia was discussed.

As stated in the announcement of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the investments planned by Rimac Automobili have a broader context for the development of local and national transport, as well as educational and research and development infrastructure.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković expressed his support for the development initiatives and investments of the company Rimac Automobili and announced institutional support to all investors who develop and apply the latest technologies in Croatia.

They also discussed projects that could be included in the list of projects for funding from upcoming assistance programs, including the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund and the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework.

Mate Rimac also presented the planned construction of the Campus, which will include the company's headquarters, modern research and development facilities, a smart factory of high-tech components and electric cars, and additional accompanying facilities. The investment in the Campus project will enable the realization of an increasing number of projects that the company is engaged in, as well as the serial production, and it is planned to create a total of 2,300 workplaces for highly educated professionals.

Furthermore, the company plans to build a Center for Testing Technology and Components for Electric Vehicles, which is necessary to meet the growing demand for the company's services and expand services to test battery systems, propulsion systems, and environmental friendliness of such systems.

Along with Plenković and Rimac, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić, Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property Darko Horvat, and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak were also present at the meeting.


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Monday, 5 October 2020

PM Andrej Plenkovic Issues Message for World Teachers Day

ZAGREB, October 5, 2020 - On the occasion of World Teachers Day, October 5, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Monday issued a message expressing gratitude to teachers and other members of teaching staff as well as nursery assistants for their commitment, noting that education is a guarantee of social and economic development.

"Dear teachers, nursery assistants and other members of teaching staff, World Teachers Day provides an opportunity to once again thank you for your commitment and raise public awareness of the importance of education and the profession you have chosen," Plenkovic said on Twitter.

An education that actively encourages children's integral development, familiarises them with everyday life and prepares them for modern life, the world of labour, employment and/or continuation of education, is a guarantee of a country's social and economic development and readiness for global challenges, the PM said in his message.


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Monday, 28 September 2020

PM Says Will Discuss Only Ambassadorial Appointments with President

ZAGREB, Sept 28, 2020 - PM Andrej Plenkovic has said that President Zoran Milanovic's invitation to him to hold talks is beside the point and that the new ambassadorial appointment will be the sole topic of their meeting, repeating, in the context of the JANAF affair, that "there are no untouchables" in investigations.

Since the JANAF graft scandal broke Milanovic and Plenkovic have been trading barbs, with the government having told Milanovic that he should stabilise, to which he has responded that he is more stable than Plenkovic, recalling the PM's having lunged at a member of parliament during a debate.

Asked to comment on Milanovic's statements, Plenkovic said during a visit to Sibenik on Monday: "One can see from afar that he has stabilised."

No untouchables

The PM repeated that the autonomy of state institutions was the main topic of the ongoing debate.

"We have to get back to the main topic - the autonomy of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor, the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime and police, the secrecy of preliminary probes and a truly uncompromised fight against corruption. That is the policy of our government, and if there is suspicion that someone has been involved in corruption, regardless of who they are, the party they belong to or their office - they have to answer for it," said the PM.

The government has been and will continue acting accordingly, in line with the law, he said, adding that "the public and all political actors have to realise that there are no untouchables. That is, as far as we are concerned, where the story begins and ends," he said.

Talks only on ambassadorial appointments

Asked by reporters if that meant that there would be no meeting to which President Milanovic had invited him, Plenkovic said that the invitation was beside the point.

"The only meeting we will have is one concerning the appointment of new ambassadors," he said.

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Monday, 28 September 2020

PM Says Priority Projects in Sibenik Being Implemented, Prepared

ZAGREB, Sept 28, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Monday visited the coastal city of Sibenik and after talks with mayor Zeljko Buric and county head Goran Pauk, he said he was glad local priority projects were either being implemented or prepared.

"I'm glad we will visit a new centre which will serve to educate young people who with their start-up businesses want to follow in the footsteps of our giants Infobit and Nanobit. The centre, a HRK 28 million investment, to be launched today, shows that the city and Sibenik-Knin County have been following the trends of the fourth industrial revolution, digital transformation and new technologies," Plenkovic said, adding that he was confident the recently amended law on foreign nationals would make Sibenik and Sibenik-Knin County attractive to digital nomads.

Damages should be paid to Varivode victims' families

As Plenkovic arrived in Sibenik after a visit to Varivode, a village in the Sibenik hinterland where he attended a commemoration for nine Serb civilians killed in the aftermath of the 1995 Operation Storm, reporters wanted to know if the victims' families would receive compensation.

"Court decisions awarding damages should be implemented, and as for responsibility, there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, so we expect the competent institutions to continue with their work. We have stepped up work on the prosecution of war crimes... a lot of time has passed and it is increasingly difficult to find evidence and witnesses. Both police and specialised prosecutorial offices will continue working on that," he said.

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

President Replies to Government's Call to Apologise, again Invites PM to Meeting

ZAGREB, Sept 27, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic has replied to the government's call for him to apologise to everyone he has insulted, saying ironically that he wants to apologise to those, notably government ministers, whom the prime minister and some of his associates exposed to undeserved loss of face.

"The President of the Republic apologises in good faith to all those, primarily ministers, whom the Prime Minister and some of his associates have exposed, through their indolence and inaction, to undeserved humiliation," Milanovic said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

The post appeared after on Saturday the government, in response to Milanovic's criticism of the work of investigative and judicial bodies in the JANAF scandal, and his statement that he would invite PM Andrej Plenkovic to a meeting on that topic said that "Milanovic should first apologise to all those he has been insulting, and then stablise."

Milanovic says in his post that he also apologises to citizens for ministers' luxury cars and undeclared assets.

"The President of the Republic also apologises to all citizens because the (Andrej Plenkovic) government for years included ministers who could not explain the origin of their luxury Mercedes cars or failed to declare their assets worth millions of kuna because they amassed such a fortune that they themselves were unable to count those assets. And all of that happened just because the Prime Minister did not want to know anything about it... regardless of how much others spoke or wrote about it, or warned him," Milanovic said.

Milanovic also attached to his post a link to an article by Deutsche Welle from 2014 under which the then German minister of the interior, a member of the CDU party, had information about an investigation against a member of parliament from the SPD party.

President again invites PM to a meeting 

Milanovic today again invited Plenkovic to a meeting at which they would discuss their opposing views on the functioning of state institutions in the context of the JANAF graft scandal.

"I once again invite the Prime Minister to a meeting, whenever it suits him. Lest it is forgotten," the president said in his Facebook post.

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Friday, 25 September 2020

You Think I'm Thrilled That My Ministers Went to the Club? PM Tells the Press

ZAGREB, Sept 25, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that he was not pleased that three of his ministers had visited the club of former JANAF CEO Dragan Kovacevic during the lockdown when all bars were closed and citizens were advised to avoid large gatherings. 

"I think the same as you do. You think I am thrilled? You should ask around a bit more about who was there and when. I don't know, but you look into it," Plenkovic said in response to questions from the press after a meeting of the parliamentary group of his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.

Asked if he considered it a problem that his ministers had gone to the club during the lockdown, he said that there were also some more senior officials who frequented the place.

"I asked all my ministers at the cabinet meeting and three of them said they had been there. They had also said this in public, which was the first time I heard about it. Why do you think that I as the prime minister should know where any of them has their lunch or dinner, who they socialise with. That's not realistic, it's beside the point," Plenkovic said.

He referred the press to the ministers Tomislav Coric, Oleg Butkovic and Josip Aladrovic to ask them to explain why they had gone there, noting that he did not know and that this was not something he should know.

He added that they should also ask the State Inspectorate why they had not checked the club. "As far as I could see in the media, they said they did not go there because that place is not registered as a catering establishment."

"What is very important in this whole story is the astonishment of the President and some of the former presidents who were quoted by some dailies yesterday as experts. That is a novelty to me and a much bigger thing than those who are astonished that the government, the State Attorney's Office, USKOK and police act in accordance with the law," the prime minister said, adding that at issue here was the separation of powers into three branches of government and compliance with the law. "That is crucial, of course, along with suspicions of corruption." 

Asked to comment on the opposition's initiative to set up a parliamentary inquiry commission to look into the influence of the executive branch on the work of independent judicial institutions, Plenkovic said that he did not need an inquiry commission to understand "who is astonished by what." He said that as soon as the opposition decides on the exact scope of that commission, the HDZ and their coalition partners would consider the proposal.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Milanovic: Prime Minister Should Not Pretend to Be Naive

ZAGREB, Sept 23, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should have known about the investigation against suspected JANAF CEO Dragan Kovacevic as he is the "keeper of state secrets," adding that the premier should not pretend to be naive.

"I sincerely wanted to help him. I am not nervous. I am worried because this is a terribly serious scandal and someone has put him in a serious situation because he obviously was not informed, because if he was there is no way he would have appointed Kovacevic for another term," Milanovic told reporters on the margins of a business conference.

Milanovic's comment, is the latest in the trade of arguments between him and Plenkovic regarding the influence peddling and the public tender rigging probe. Ten suspects have been arrested in the scandal and Janaf CEO Dragan Kovacevic is the main suspect along with businessman Kreso Petek under suspicion of corruption in closing deals with Petek's company.

Earlier Milanovic alleged that Plenkovic along with Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic knew about the investigation against Kovacevic which Plenkovic denied retorting that Milanovic was nervous.

MIlanovis said that he is not nervous but "angry" because things like this should not be happening in a democracy. Milanovic said that Plenkovic has now been put in a "situation by not being in the  know, ignorance or by one of his associates."

Milanovic criticised the work of the DORH state prosecutor's office because the investigation was not suspended when, based on details from the investigation, Petek brought HRK 1.96 million in kickbacks to Kovacevic's private "club."

Milanovic added that he did not see anything contentious in the fact that some ministers visited Kovacevic's "club" however what is contentious is that some judges visited the club too.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Plenkovic: Strong Economy Needs Predictable and Reliable Legal and Fiscal Framework

ZAGREB, September 22, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday said that developing a reliable and stable legal framework and predictable fiscal framework had a key role in achieving a strong Croatia economy-wise.

"That is essential to have a stimulating business environment, production, investments and employment," Plenkovic said opening a conference organised by the Vecernji List daily and Podravka food manufacturer on tax policy in the function of boosting competitiveness of Croatia's economy.

The state needs to develop a system without legal and fiscal unknowns for entrepreneurs and that means a passable system and each new wave of tax reforms starts on the first day of the year, said Plenkovic.

He underscored that during the term of his cabinet more than HRK 9 billion had been released through tax cuts and currently 1.9 million citizens are exempt from income taxes which is twice as many as at the start of the first term of the government under his premiership.

The average wage has increased by HRK 1,150, which is five times more than in the period between 2011 and 2015, he recalled.

For the purpose of boosting purchasing power of households. VAT has been halved for basic food items and certain commodities and the non-taxable income has been increased, the premier said.


Continuation of tax cuts

Plenkovic underlined that tax cuts would continue in 2021, which would include reducing income taxes brackets: from 36% to 30% and from 24% to 20%, while profit tax for small enterprises from 12% to 10%.

During this term VAT on all food will be reduced from 25% to 13% but circumstances for that are still not ripe. Taxation of real estate transactions will be abolished too but not necessarily on 1 January 2021, he added.

All VAT tax payers will be able to choose whether they will pay it after an invoice has been paid, he added and digitisation will continue for tax and administration procedures.

Plenkovic underlined that a desirable Croatia for its residents is a country that is safe, resilient to crises, with macro-economic stability and a country with solved transitional problems.

Plenkovic underscored that the government is focused on four points, strengthening economic sovereignty which comprehends self-sufficiency in production and increased exports.


About €1billion to save jobs until end of year

Plenkovic said that the fight against Covid-19 showed how important and inevitable the state's role was because only it can ensure the necessary support with financial support schemes and on the other hand ensure financial stability of public finances.

Plenkovic underscored that as a result of the government measures, Croatia has not seen a huge increase in unemployment.

To date HRK 6.3 billion has been invested in job-retention measures and has saved about 600,000 jobs in 100,000 companies, he said.

By the end of the year that amount will have risen to about €1 billion in forms of grants to the private sector, added Plenkovic.

An important factor will be in European funds that Croatia will have at its disposal in the next four to seven years, he added.


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