Monday, 1 February 2021

Entrepreneurs to Hold Protest Rally in Zagreb's Main Square on Wednesday

ZAGREB, 1 February, 2021 - The UGP association of entrepreneurs said on Monday that due to the decisions by the COVID response team that discriminated against entrepreneurs, they were organising a protest rally in Zagreb's main square on Wednesday, calling on entrepreneurs, tradesmen, employees and citizens to join them.

UGP said that the government and the national coronavirus response team were constantly making inconsistent and discriminatory decisions that had for months now been destroying micro, small ad medium-sized businesses. Many enterprises have been stripped of their constitutional right to work without any compensation or allowance. Unlike many other European countries, Croatia has not taken even one step to compensate enterprises, UGP said.

If you are banned from working, then you should be adequately compensated for, but the government just does not want to realise this, UGP claimed.

UGP said that a study by its economic advisory committee indicates that 7,000 companies had been in danger before the last lockdown and that their failure would create a HRK 3 billion deficit in the state budget.

"We reiterate that this jeopardised at least 49,000 jobs and as much as 10% of Gross Domestic Product. With the new lockdown these figures are even higher and 11,000 jobs have already been lost. If small and medium enterprises, as the pillar of the economy, go under, that will create a hole in the budget. How the government intends to finance healthcare, education and security?" the association wondered.

UGP noted that jobkeeping measures are supposed to help workers and not companies.

"Fixed costs will be covered only for the two months for the companies that are formally closed, while no one cares about the rest, some of which have seen their revenues plunge by over 90%, not even the Ministry of Economy. If this continues, there will not be any jobs left that will need saving," UGP warned.

UGP said it was time hundreds of parafiscal fees that burden citizens and the country were abolished, including mandatory membership fees payable to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Restaurant and Cafe Owners Stage Protest Rally in Front of Finance Ministry

ZAGREB, November 30, 2020 - Dozens of restaurant and cafe owners whose businesses had to close last weekend due to new epidemiological restrictions expressed their dissatisfaction on Monday by staging a peaceful protest rally and lighting lanterns outside the Ministry of Finance.

The protest rally started before noon at Zagreb's main Trg Bana Jelacica square and ended at about 1 p.m., and the protesters estimate that there were several dozens of them.

From the main square, the protesters walked to Katanciceva Street, where the Finance Ministry's building is located, and they lit lanterns in front of the building.

The rally was not organised by any association, the protesters said, adding that it was a spontaneous gathering to protest against closing hospitality and other establishments, such as gyms, and to protest because tighter restrictions were introduced last weekend and operating was made difficult, which puts the survival of businesses, employees and owners themselves at risk.

Drazen Orescanin, representative of the Voice of Entrepreneurs association, said that the gathering was spontaneous and that they were waiting for the results of the meeting between hospitality stakeholders and entrepreneurs with ministers at the Ministry of Labour and Pension System, but what the government was offering was not in line with their requests, according to what he had heard.

"We will keep asking for the compensation to be fair and in accordance with other EU countries, so that everyone who had a significant drop in business is eligible. We also continue our fight for the survival of the economy, for which it is necessary to reduce the VAT rate and for government to make substantial reforms," Orescanin said.

In addition to owners of restaurants and cafe bars, owners of gyms, fitness clubs and others whose businesses cannot operate now also took part in the protest rally, warning that they can no longer survive in the new circumstances.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Charges Brought against Organizer of Zagreb Anti-COVID Protest Rally

ZAGREB, Nov 11, 2020 - Police have brought charges against the 27-year-old organizer and leader of the Anti-COVID protest rally that called for the dissolution of the national COVID-19 crisis response team for failing to ensure law and order and violating epidemiological rules.

They said that the 27-year-old man had not taken measures to ensure law and order, which resulted in the violation of measures introduced by the crisis response team, namely those related to keeping a safe distance and using protective face masks when that is not possible. In addition, the man did not warn protesters or stop the rally when he saw that they were not adhering to the measures in place.

Police said that the 27-year-old man had been informed about his duties as the organizer and leader of a public gathering when he reported the protest rally, and he had been warned to adhere to all epidemiological measures.

They added that the City of Zagreb's crisis response team had sent the instructions to the organizer of the  Anti-COVID protest rally.

Citizens dissatisfied with the work of the national coronavirus response team gathered at Zagreb's Central Railway Station on Sunday and walked towards the main square Trg Bana Jelacica where a dozen speakers addressed the demonstrators.

During their march, they did not adhere to epidemiological measures, such as keeping a safe distance or wearing protective masks.

Demonstrators carried banners with different messages, including those reading: "How dangerous is a virus if you need a test to know you have it?" and "This is not a matter of virus, but a matter of control."

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Monday, 9 November 2020

Protest Rally Against Coronavirus Restrictions Held in Zagreb

ZAGREB, November 9, 2020  - An estimated 1,000 people gathered in Zagreb's main square on Sunday to protest against the measures passed by the national coronavirus response team.

The protest was organised by a Facebook group which demands the dissolution of the COVID-19 crisis response team and which brings together more than 160,000 people.

The demonstrators started their march outside Zagreb's central Railway Station on Sunday afternoon and walked towards the Trg Bana Jelacica Square disrespecting the anti-COVID rules, such as wearing protective masks and keeping a distance.

They were addressed by a dozen speakers who criticised the national response team, politicians and the media, saying that face masks were not protective, that families were paid to sign a statement saying that their loved ones had died from coronavirus, and the pandemic was referred to as the so-called pandemic.

One of the speakers was a man who on 14 October threatened to attack the head of Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotic, while she was giving an interview for the N1 broadcaster. That incident took place in Zagreb when an N1 reporter was about to interview Markotic for N1 television channel's news bulletin and the attacker and one more person stopped next to the television crew and their guest and started yelling, threatening them and hurling insults at them.

The organisers of today's protest also said that the measures were political and aimed at "spreading panic and creating benefits for the ruling party and not the people."

Members of the national coronavirus response team have entangled healthcare with politics to such an extent that they have lost the trust of the people and have turned science into a laughing stock, which will have lasting and indelible consequences for public confidence in the medical profession, the organisers said in the invitation to the rally, adding that such behaviour must stop.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said later on Sunday that the police would file a report on today's rally and after that decisions could be expected whether criminal reports would be filed.

Monday, 28 September 2020

International Safe Abortion Day Marked by Public Action in Split

September 28, 2020 - As a part of the International Safe Abortion Day, a public action 'I don’t want others to decide about my body' was held today in Split on Marmontova Street for the right of women to a safe and accessible medical procedure for abortion.

Domine is a feminist NGO, a non-profit and non-partisan association aimed at promoting women's rights, which has so far organized numerous protests and public actions to point out the problems that the female population is struggling with daily.

"In the 21st century, after the rights our grandmothers have exercised, we must take to the streets and say - I will not let others decide about my body. This is intended for the Ministry of Health and the irresponsible Government, which is unable to pass a law on the right to abortion, ie freedom to decide on the female body, which they owe us in a more modern way", said Mirjana Kučer, executive coordinator of the Domine Association.

"We want the new law to be passed by the decisions of the Constitutional Court, to be more modern and to improve opportunities for women's reproductive health, and not to be a step backward. It is inadmissible that a woman who has decided to have an abortion is brought in front of a commission and that she starts to reconsider that decision", she added.

The action, among others, was supported by the president of the Smart party, MP Marijana Puljak.

At the meeting, everyone adhered to the prescribed epidemiological measures, such as social distance and wearing a mask, following what was written in the invitation of the Domine association to public action.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

Caterers in Dalmatia Announced Big Protest, Closing Their Facilities for an Hour

September 18, 2020 – Caterers in Dalmatia, namely in Split-Dalmatia County, have announced a big protest to warn of the problems they are facing during the pandemic, reports Next Thursday, they will close their catering facilities for an hour.

“In hope of your understanding, we would like to inform you that we will close our catering facilities as a sign of a quiet protest due to the extremely bad economic situation. Therefore, on September 24, 2020, from 11:56 am to 12:56 pm we will be with you, but we won’t be serving you,” reads the announcement.

“Namely, the global coronavirus pandemic has caused a collective global lockdown, which has resulted in the largest recorded decline in economic activities in human history. Croatia, as an integral part of the globe, has not remained immune to this global phenomenon. Economic activity in the Republic of Croatia was lower even than during the Homeland War.

Thanks to the ruling party’s hearing, the immediate collapse of the Croatian economy and the dismissals of almost 700,000 people were prevented. The adopted measures saved numerous workplaces from the beginning of the tourist season, which bought a little time, but there is no real solution,” they write.



Copyright Romulić and Stojčić


Many on the verge of collapse

The measures have not helped some activities which are now on the verge of collapse.

"Measures to preserve jobs saved our employees from going to the Bureau. However, they did not save businessmen, and among them those who endured the hardest blow of all - occasional passenger transport, event industry, beauty industry, tourist guides, agencies, and caterers.

To maintain the level of catering offer that our guests are used to by coming to us, we have exhausted our resources. The announced favorable loans that the state was supposed to provide to businessmen left unspoken. Access to any credit line is blocked and inevitably leads to the collapse of the sector of which we are factors. We are working today to save income for 60,000 people tomorrow,” they say.


Requests published

According to their survey, out of 500 caterers, 60 percent of them said they recorded a drop bigger than 50 percent. As many as 40 of caterers, as they say in a statement, will not survive until the next season.

“As many as 80 percent of employers will be forced to resort to terminating employees' contracts. These figures will certainly not change for the better in the period ahead.

To save jobs, we require:

- suspension of VAT collection until January 3, 2021

- reduction of VAT on food to 10 percent *

- liquidity loans (HAMAG)

- aid through investment loans (HBOR)

* lowering VAT on all food, including coffee, hot drinks, beer, wine, and juices," they write.



Copyright Romulić and Stojčić


“Aware of the seriousness of the situation that inevitably awaits us, Dalmatian caterers have launched an action “4 to 12”, following colleagues from Istria and Kvarner and their “5 to 12”, with which we symbolically plan to indicate that the last moments for long-term and concrete changes in the economy are expiring.

It is our responsibility to tell the responsible institutions of this country that without their new steps to save the business, no one will be able to save jobs. In doing so, we are not asking for free money, but access to credit lines to preserve liquidity, investments, and permanently real taxes, to consolidate our businesses and keep our most important resource that is – people!

Please understand once again and thank you in advance. If we do not act today, these dear people who serve you risk a better fate in other parts of the world. We don’t want to allow that happen,” they say.


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Monday, 14 September 2020

HND Protests Against the Constitutional Court's Decision

ZAGREB, Sept 14, 2020  - HND protests against the Constitutional Court's decision not to allow reporters to attend its session discussing decisions of the national COVID-19 response team.

"The Croatian Journalist Association strongly protests against the Constitutional Court's decision which prevents media from covering its session focusing on the lawfulness of decisions made by the national COVID-19 response team on epidemiological measures during the coronavirus pandemic," the umbrella journalists' association said in a statement.

It noted that the court's decision was contrary to democratic standards, media freedoms, and the right of the public to be informed of all court decisions, notably the latest one.

Earlier in the day, the Constitutional Court decided that its session discussing the legality of measures introduced to fight the coronavirus epidemic would not be attended by media representatives.

Court secretary-general Teodor Antic said that once the court made a decision, it would issue a statement, and once its decision was published and sent to the parties that had put forward the proposal for a public debate, the court president would hold a news conference.

The HND said it did not believe the Constitutional Court's promise that all questions from the press would be answered fully and in a timely manner, noting that preventing reporters from following the court session "leaves one with a strong impression that the Constitutional Court is hiding something from reporters and the public."

"And all of that is happening in an EU country which until recently chaired the EU," the HND said.

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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Milanovic: Protest Is Democracy, Going To Care Homes Is Idiocy

ZAGREB, Sept 6, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic on Saturday commented on a protest in Zagreb against COVID restrictions, saying that protest is a democracy but that the fact that the protesters stood outside nursing homes was idiocy and disastrous.

He was responding to questions from the press on Rab island if the rally in Zagreb was a festival of democracy, as the participants claimed, and if he considered any restrictions contentious.

"From day one we have been saying that the elderly and the sick are the ones we must care for, not teenagers, my generation. To go outside retirement homes and say that corona is a child's play, which I saw they did, is a disaster... If they are protesting against masks, that's okay."

Speaking of restrictions, he said, "One should be more disciplined than usual, that's the only measure."

Asked what he would tell people who claimed that coronavirus did not exist, Milanovic said ironically that they were "very fine people."

Asked what would happen if the virus entered kindergartens and schools, he said children and youth were the least at risk. "It's time they finally go to school because this has been going on too long."

Milanovic and Slovenian President Borut Pahor were on Rab for the 77th commemoration of the liberation of inmates from the Kampor fascist concentration camp.

"The banality of evil," he said of the WWII camp. "This wasn't a typical extermination camp. This was a camp where you bring Slovenians and Croats because they crossed you for some reason, not just because they are Slovenians and Croats, and leave them to die in a year, you don't feed them. That's the banality of evil. Somebody watched that, those guards, for a year."

Asked if he and Pahor discussed bilateral topics, Milanovic said, "We talk all the time... about the situation in the region, everything that goes on around us. About the right-wing in Europe. I don't mean traditional Christian values but... I don't like the words 'anti-European policy' because that means nothing, but there is a number of leaders and politicians in Europe who see the enemy in everything."

Asked if he and Pahor talked about the reopening of borders given that Slovenia put Croatia on the red list of COVID countries, Milanovic said there was a reason why Slovenia did that.

"The number of daily cases of infections increased because almost a million foreigners arrived in Croatia in July and August so that we could make money. That's not surprising. That's the price we consciously paid both as a state and as a society, and we should finally accept that... Let's not be surprised that almost a million foreigners passed through Croatia, leaving their money here, socializing, forming crowds, and that some got infected. But that's the price of the risk we were all willing to take. Slovenia's reaction was expected, that will change."

Asked if he would ask Pahor that Slovenia apply the regional COVID model towards Croatia, like Germany, Milanovic said, "He doesn't decide on that, just as I don't in Croatia."

He said they often spoke on the phone. "The topics are political, concerning the region, the Balkans, the eastern Balkans."

Asked if he heard the appeals from the ruling HDZ, the minister of defense, the parliament speaker, and the prime minister that he should be more rational with military resources, Milanovic said he did not. "Since I'm the commander in chief, I'll decide what's more rational, if they really said that. We are being very rational."

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Friday, 4 September 2020

Brodotrogir Workers Protest Over Unpaid Wages

ZAGREB, September 4, 2020 - About 20 workers of B.T.HULL, which operates as part of the Brodotrogir group, demonstrated outside the shipyard in Trogir on Friday, demanding their wages, after which management offered that they work for Brodotrogir Cruise.

Workers told reporters they wanted to work and that if there was no work, for the shipyard to file for bankruptcy so that they would get severance packages.

After meeting with workers' representatives, Brodotrogir director Mateo Tramontana said workers did not receive the past two monthly wages, and that today they would receive compensation from the agency for the protection of workers' receivables for June and next week for July.

He said 54 workers were asked to come to work for Brodotrogir Cruise given that B.T.HULL had no work.

Unionist Sinisa Kosic said B.T.HULL workers did not have a collective agreement, that their wages were significantly slashed so they would have smaller claims in case of bankruptcy.

He said the Metalworkers Union asked that workers, about 80, receive a minimum pay of HRK 3,250 from the agency for the protection of workers' receivables and that the first amount would be paid today.


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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Group of Faculty of Humanities Employees and Students Hold Protest Walk

ZAGREB, July 14, 2020 - A group of employees and students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb on Tuesday marched from the faculty to Government House and handed in their petition against the Zagreb University Rector's recent decision to suspend the faculty's dean Vesna Vlahovic-Stetic.

Professor Neven Jovanovic, for whose appointment as dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences the University Senate withheld consent in April, said that they wanted to hand in the petition, which is supported by 8,000 signatures, to the government and that they demand the resignation of Rector Damir Boras, accusing him of taking the university in the wrong direction.

Jovanovic said that only the government and the prime minister could stop the attempts to stifle democracy in the university.

One of the participants in the protest walk was Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can political platform who said that he supported the protesting students and professors. Tomasevic accused Boras of abusing the autonomy of the university since he became rector.

Protesters carried banners with messages: "No Pasaran!", or "The Faculty is Ours!" and messages promoting left-libertarianism.

Last week, Rector Boras suspended Vlahovic-Stetic and that decision caused strong reactions. Boras's decision ensued after a final ruling by the Zagreb County Court of June 26 which found Vlahovic-Stetic guilty of harassing Vice-Rector Ante Covic, thus harming the dignity of employees in the sphere of communication, social relations and quality of their professional status.

The court ruled that Professor Covic was subjected to harassment by Vlahovic-Stetic from the start of her term in office as dean in November 2017 to 15 November 2018, when his employment contract expired. Boras said in his decision that Vlahovic-Stetic had also caused financial harm to the Faculty because it now has to pay its former employee HRK 25,000 (€3,300) in damages plus HRK 11,250 (€1,500) in litigation costs.

Commenting on the case, Science and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak said in a Facebook post that academic cliques were destroying the system of science and education and that "the Covic-Boras axis is causing huge damage to the system" as well as that "the University must do better."

This past Thursday, students, and professors at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences staged a protest outside the faculty building against the rector's decision.

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