Thursday, 16 July 2020

Milanovic: Reducing Number of Ministries Good, that's PM's Right

ZAGREB, July 16, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic on Thursday said he believes that reducing the number of ministries from 20 to 16 is good because that will facilitate doing the job and that decision is the prime minister's discretionary right.

"If it will be easier for the prime minister to work, then that is good and that is his right. That is a reduction in the number of ministers and not the number of ministries, several plaques will be changed. That is the prime minister's discretionary right," Milanovic told reporters in the president's office after appointing Andrej Plenkovic prime minister-designate.

Milanovic said that the number of employees would remain the same as will the number of administrations, adding that it is difficult to talk of downsizing when are faced with difficult financial time.

I have supported most of the government's measures

"In my opinion, the government doesn't need to look at how much people are being paid but what they are doing for that salary, what their productivity is like. That is more difficult to measure than it is in the private sector. It is more difficult to gauge the productivity of diplomats, tax officers, police officers, and all those who constitute the state administration and public sector. If that will help the prime minister, and it will because 16 people are easier to work with than 20, all the better then," said Milanovic.

Asked about a "tough cohabitation" between him and the prime minister, Milanovic said that he has supported most of the government's measures and that he has supported the government.

"The things we didn't agree or perhaps didn't understand are some symbolic events. My stance about that is known. It will not change. It is hardly likely to change after all these years and hard to believe it will change in the next few years while I am the president. If I consider that something is not good, not right, that it is damaging, I will react. I have said some things," said Milanovic. 

He underscored that he is pleased that one deputy prime minister will be a member of ethnic minorities and that that is the continuation of a "practice of good spirit" which he always supported and implemented.

"That isn't just a symbolic thing. That is something that distinguishes Croatia as a society, as a community, as a political community from many its neighbours, unfortunately many," he added.

"For the homeland ready" should be penalised as hate speech

Asked about banning the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready," he said the question is whether we will continue to treat it as disturbing the peace or penalise it as hate speech.

"I am not one for bans, nor punishment, but there is no choice here. That needs to be penalised as a criminal offence but with a mild sentence that will leave a mark on whoever intends to entertain that idea, so that that is known, but it should be punishable. It hurts a lot of people but I will not put pressure on that topic. That is up to the will and conscience of those who can change that," he underscored.

Speaking about a law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb, Milanovic claimed that Zagreb has been the most neglected city, with a significant and serious historical urban centre, and that now is the opportunity to change that.

"It is our city. It is the capital of all Croats. It is Croatia's Jerusalem in a way. That city has been neglected. There was money for reconstruction. However, nothing was done. This is an opportunity for the City of Zagreb and the government to do a lot. That, above all, has been the responsibility of the City of Zagreb," he said.

Crossing the floor will require answering more than just one question

Milanovic believes that the support of 76 lawmakers in the 151-seat parliament is sufficient for a stable government and he wished the prime minister all the best, adding that he would have liked for those people who were ideologically and programme-wise close to him to have spontaneously supported Plenkovic as well.

"It's obvious that cooperation will not happen. I expect anyone who in the future decides to support the government to explain that very well, given the mild micro-traumas we experienced with people crossing the floor in the past four years. Anyone who decides to do something like that in the future has to answer more than one question," claimed Milanovic.

He said that he expects a clearer and more precise legal framework from the perspective of the Constitution related to the national COVID-19 response team, such as defining powers for adopting measures and their duration, adding that the current legislation does not define that.

"That can be resolved so that the government or parliamentary majority, pursuant to Article 17 of the Constitution, decides to suspend human rights to a certain degree for a certain period of time in cases like this. That way we would have a clearer legal situation. We are a law-based state. We know what can be done and for how long. Such a decision would make the legal regime we live in a lot clearer and make it easier for the government to do that. I call on all lawmakers to support such a motion if it is put forward," said Milanovic.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Plenkovic: New Government Will Be Somewhat Smaller

ZAGREB, July 13, 2020 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union leader (HDZ) Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that the new government would be somewhat smaller than the previous one and its members will be known on Thursday.

"The government will be somewhat smaller than it was. It will be functional, some of the current members in government will remain, others will be in the Sabor. Some new people will join," Plenkovic said ahead of the meeting of the party's presidency and national council after official complete results of the July 5 parliamentary election that HDZ won were made public today.

He confirmed that the environment and energy sector may be merged with some other ministry. He underlined that talks are still underway in that regard however the issue of climate change will not be neglected and will become the number one issue in the context of economic recovery.

"There will be fewer ministries but that does not mean that public servants will lose their jobs. This is a different type of message of a fewer number of ministries and fewer members of the government," said Plenkovic.

He added that he had expected the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) to nominate Boris Milosevic as the deputy prime minister for social activities and human rights.

 "That proposal was agreed to with me and I expected it to be Milosevic. We know each other. He is a lawyer and I think that he can contribute to this new position, which we discussed last week," the prime minister added.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

PM Calls on All to Get to Work Due to Current Situation, Parliament to Sit in Summer

ZAGREB, July 9, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that due to the current circumstances everyone should leave the recent parliamentary elections behind and get to work, adding that parliament would sit this summer without having a usual summer recess.

"I believe that because of all the public health, financial and economic circumstances in which we are now, it will be good for us to leave the elections behind us and get to work in the interest of Croatian citizens," Plenkovic said at the beginning of a cabinet meeting.

This means that parliament will also sit during summer even though the constitution provides for a summer recess. However, it is always possible to hold extraordinary sessions of parliament, and this will be necessary now because of its inaugural session and a set of laws that need to be adopted, the prime minister said.

Plenkovic thanked all the citizens who had gone to the polls to elect the new parliament and voted for those deputies they deemed to be the best representatives of their views in the Croatian parliament.

Voting has to be repeated at a polling station in Rasa, Istria, after which the final results of the vote for the new 151-seat legislature will be confirmed. After that, the 10th parliament can hold its inaugural session and appoint the new government.

 Plenkovic's Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is the winner of the elections, having secured 66 seats.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Plenkovic Says a Majority of Ministers Will Be Reappointed

ZAGREB, July 9, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic whose Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) scored a convincing victory in Sunday's parliamentary election, said in an interview with the Vecernji List daily on Thursday that a majority of the ministers in his current cabinet would be in the next government.

"Let us conduct internal consultations for a few more days so as to complete the new architecture of the Croatian government. There will be fewer ministerial departments, which means fewer ministers. We are going to conduct some mergers, taking into account the functionality and closeness of the areas of responsibility of certain ministries," said Plenkovic, who is to be the Prime Minister-designate after the elections.

"We are looking for solutions that will help us to form a compact and easy-to-manage government," Plenkovic said, adding that in the outgoing government there were 20 ministers plus prime minister, and this number of people made it more difficult to coordinate the cabinet.

Considering the ambition of ethnic minorities' parliamentary deputies to have their representatives in the next government, Plenkovic said that this topic had not yet been discussed.

As far as other partners of the next government are concerned, the HDZ policy is to talk with parties that have similar worldviews and with those who have programmes congruent with the HDZ platform.

"My aim as the prime minister and the HDZ leader is to reduce tensions and divisions in the Croatian society," Plenkovic said adding that he could hold talks with all protagonists and that it was his duty to talk to everyone.

"It will be good that some other people also widen their margin for talks and communication technologies. If tensions are defused and if one scraps concepts that are not normal, then we can hold talks," Plenkovic said in reference to the possibility of the HDZ cooperation with the Homeland Movement party led by Miroslav Skoro and the Bridge party led by Bozo Petrov. Plenkovic said that cooperation could be possible provided that the two parties gave up their blackmailing rhetoric.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

PM Says Citizens Should Listen To Experts, Not Politicians Pretending To Be Doctors

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenkovic said in Otocac on Saturday that there had not been any big rallies during the current campaign for the July 5 parliamentary election and that citizens should listen to experts rather than politicians pretending to be doctors.

Plenkovic visited the central town of Otocac as part of his party's election campaign.

Asked whether he believed that Croatia was still safe considering the latest increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, Plenkovic said that it was normal that citizens had relaxed and that one should work to find a balance.

"It's only human that citizens have relaxed, we will have to find a balance. Yesterday's meeting of the Scientific Council was excellent, most of the new patients have mild symptoms, and we have to be responsible," he said.

Friday, 26 June 2020

PM Plenkovic Says Doesn't See Any reason to Get Tested Again

ZAGREB, June 26, 2020 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that at the moment he did not see any reason to get tested for the coronavirus again and that he usually consulted with experts on such matters.

"I am not a 'do it yourself' person when it comes to medical consultations, I have a habit of consulting with experts. That is what the Scientific Council is for. If they suggest that I do so, I will consider doing that. At the moment, I don't see any reason for it," he said during a visit to Koprivnica when asked by reporters if he planned to get tested for the coronavirus again.

Asked what would happen if it eventually turned out that he, too, was positive for COVID-19 after all the contacts he had at the recent Adria Tour tennis tournament in Zadar, he said that there was no need for him to answer hypothetical questions.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

PM: Over HRK 12 BN Contracted As Part Of Slavonia Project

ZAGREB, June 6, 2020 - Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenkovic said in Pozega on Saturday that in the July 5 parliamentary election citizens would choose whether to vote for those who had ensured health, jobs and economic growth or groups which were an end in themselves.

He said over HRK 12 billion had been contracted as part of the government's Slavonia Project.

"In the last campaign, we announced the Slavonia Project as a priority. Over HRK 12 billion has been contracted. We are realising projects. The government and the ministers are present in Slavonia. I think voters, having learned from the presidential election, will think carefully about who to vote for. The choice is whether you will go for those for whom you know who they are, who have ensured health, jobs, economic growth," Plenkovic said in the Slavonian city of Pozega where he started his tour of eastern Croatia.

"Last night Fitch upheld Croatia's credit rating. That means they trust us, they see resilience, know-how, and trust to return, with the economic recovery measures, to the previous level as soon as possible."

Speaking of coronavirus, he said "Croatia took a very good position, which was no accident. The economic measures we provided were no accident. Specifically, more than 8,000 people in Pozega-Slavonia County received wages for March and April and will receive them for May solely because of this government's political will and the way to find the money for that."

"We are counting on the safe vote for those you can seriously count on in the next four years. You have those with whom you don't know what you will get, those whose topics have nothing to do with the future," Plenkovic said, adding that choosing those who were rational should not be too difficult, especially in Slavonia.

Friday, 5 June 2020

PM Says Is Opposed To Wire Fence On Croatia-Bosnia Border

ZAGREB, June 5, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, that he is opposed to a wire fence on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after the migrant crisis has once again escalated.

Over the past few weeks, the number of migrants coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina has increased once again, and they are trying to reach European Union members passing through Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina's Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic resigned earlier this week due to a difference in opinion in the ruling coalition with regard to resolving the migrant problem. 

Plenkovic, who today met with the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union's sister party in Bosnia and Herzegovina - HDZ BiH, Dragan Covic, said that the solution cannot lie in building physical obstacles on the border.

"I am opposed to erecting wire fences between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are two neighboring countries directed to each other and a message like that would not be good," underscored Plenkovic.

He believes that it is key to resolve the migrant crisis on the Greece-Turkey border.

Strengthening the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Plenkovic underscored the need to strengthen the status of Croats in that Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We will do everything so that the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not weakened, just the opposite, that it is strengthened. We are constantly working on that and I think that we have more than clearly communicated the topic of the equality of Croats at all levels of the Council of the EU and the European Commission," he told a press conference held together with Covic.

The Croatian premier added that the most important thing for Bosnia and Herzegovina is that it advances to EU membership and the equality of the three peoples there is a precondition to reach important agreements in the country.

Croatia supports Bosnia's aspirations for EU membership and for its integration to NATO which is important for the country's stability.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

PM Calls For Establishing Who Is Responsible For Undermining Surveillance

ZAGREB, June 4, 2020 - Condemning the wind park scandal Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday said that his cabinet was fully committed to the fight against corruption and called on the judicial institutions to ascertain what happened and who was responsible for breaking through surveillance measures.

"On behalf of the entire government, I want to say that the government is entirely committed to the fight against corruption, while proof of the independent work of the police and state prosecutor's office can, in fact, be seen in the process that unfolded last week, at least when it comes to the public. There is no dilemma that we wish to support the fight against corruption and encourage the relevant bodies to do their job in accordance with the law and without anyone meddling in their work," Plenkovic said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

As some of the actors in this scandal were office-holders appointed by this government - a state secretary and some other officials and an assistant minister, that is proof that the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) and police are doing their job without any influence, the premier said.

"We consider that conduct to be unacceptable and that is why we dismissed the said officials and took measures that are very clear and have moved this entire episode away from collective responsibility from all of us in government. We in no way want to be implicated in someone's individual acts that harm the government's reputation," he said.

Plenkovic underscored that it is in the interest of strengthening trust in judicial institutions to determine those responsible for surveillance measures being cracked in the wind farm scandal.

"Seeing that measures were allegedly cracked among those stakeholders involved and they may have included the police and DORH, I think that it is in the interest of strengthening trust in judicial institutions to determine how that is possible and who is responsible for surveillance measures being cracked and that all these procedures have an epilogue within a reasonable time," he added.

"I say this very precisely without any idea of possibly pressuring any of these bodies but it is also just as important to determine who is responsible because that is important for trust in DORH's activities, the police, and the court functioning. That is what I expect from all stakeholders in reference to legal security," underscored Plenkovic.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

PM Says Croatia Today Better Than In 2016

ZAGREB, June 3, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday Croatia today was certainly a better country than in 2016, when his government came to power, adding that "We are going after a vote of confidence for the second half."

Speaking on Croatian Radio, he said that in the first half, since 2016, the government worked on four promises made to citizens - political stability, legal certainty, economic growth, and social solidarity.

Plenkovic reiterated that during his government wages increased, the average pay by HRK 1,150, that pensions increased, that Croatia had a sound economic growth, a budget surplus for three years, that the public debt was reduced and that the country came out of the excessive budget deficit procedure.

He said his HDZ party aimed to win 61 seats in parliament, as it did almost four years ago.

He said the July 5 election would be particularly because the right of centre was the HDZ, the Homeland Movement and Bridge, and on the other end a coalition which he said had no solutions. He underlined the importance of preventing a repeat of the dissipation of votes on the right.

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