Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Agreement Reached Between Govt, Unions and Protesting Orljava Workers

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - An agreement was reached on Wednesday between two trade unions, workers of the Požega-based Orljava company and the government on three monthly wages in arrears to be paid and on efforts to be made to find a new strategic partner for this clothes company.

Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat received the workers after they held a protest rally outside Government House on Wednesday, demanding talks with the government's representatives.

After the meeting Horvat said that there was no need for the protest to have been held because the government had already taken certain steps in reference to the fate of the Orljava company.

"The government is not running from its obligations. Workers will get their three outstanding salaries in accordance with the law. I promised them that they would get their pay in the next 10 days," Horvat told reporters in Government House.

Horvat: We insist on finding a strategic partner for Orljava

He said that the government is not  thinking of liquidating the company but is insisting on finding a strategic partner. We think that there is no other way out. We have launched very intensive talks with Hemco from Đakovo, he said.

Hemco is specialised inn manufacturing protective clothes.

"At the moment, all the conditions that the government has set for Hemco have not been met for it to take over Orljava, until we negotiate the final details as there is still one small uncertainty," said Horvat.

He announced that a hearing has been set for Friday when Orljava will be assigned with a trustee.

Union leader Tomislav Kiš said that they found common ground with the government and established common stances, objectives and wishes.

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

 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian Poet Criticises Petition Against Culture Ministry's Tender for Support

May the 14th, 2021 - As the new public tender by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media was met with the outrage by writers community, a Croatian poet ranting about writers ranting about the culture ministry is quite the turn of events. TCN reporter and slam poet Ivor Kruljac approves but also debates parts of the petition launched against the aforementioned ministry.

The ever-unfortunate literary scene in Croatia, which is sadly not represented as it should be neither in Croatia nor abroad, took heavy blows as a result of the coronavirus pandemic - much like the majority of other sectors. Popular literary events such as Interliber, and many more fairs ended up being cancelled, the blow to this specific branch of cultural industry that generally receives poor investments and poor profits thus became even more challenging.

To jump to the rescue, The Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media issued a public tender for both writers and translators. As Jutarnji list reported, the tender for the provision of financial aid to authors and translators for the best books and translations in 2019/2020 introduced a little novelty along with it.

''With the commissional value of the books, which in previous editions [of such tenders] was the only criterium of assigning financial support, this new tender also has a numerical valuing of literal works“, reported Jutarnji.

This numerical valuing is assessed by the number of awards, the level of participation in literal manifestations and festivals, and critical responses.

''Forty points goes to the winners of the awards: Janko Polić Kamov, Fric, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, Edo Budiša, Vladimir Nazor, Kvirin, Judita etc. While rewards such as Post Scriptum, going to Fran Galović, Sfera, Tea Rimay Benčić etc, are worth only half of those points. Fifteen points can be received by participating in some festivals and manifestations, while the lower rank of such events is worth ten points. Ten points are also added for reviews in certain media while for others (this sometimes includes expert magazines), the critical review is worth only seven or four points,'' wrote Jutarnji List.

The literary community rebelled, and they started a petition called "The Right to Quality" against these propositions, demanding for the tender to be cancelled, which is supported at the time of writing this article with 233 signatures of Croatian writers and other concerned citizens.

''Public funding support for the best work has significant importance for the number of authors, which is why the authors themselves fought for the existence of this type of support with the initiative ''The Right to a Profession'', reads the text of the petition. The petition also welcomed the description of the criteria to improve transparency but determines that the quantification of literary value, which is a qualitative category in itself, ''disables the authors of a high aesthetic value to get the support their work truly deserves.''

Additionally, playwriters aren't even mentioned in this tender (despite grading rewards which are reserved for playwrites, poets, and essay writers, who are also in a bad position), and the winners of some of these awards will be known only after the ministry's tender closes.  

The Culture Ministry could make many, many improvements, but, having the (mis)fortune of being present on the writing and more particularly, the poetry scene for the last six years (publishing and performing at various events, publishing short stories, and for better or worse, even being covered by the media for my work) I can't say, as a Croatian poet, that the arguments are really on the side of the writer's community either.

Here are several arguments regarding to petition (in bold), as well as counter-arguments (not in bold) from the most annoying Croatian poet in the country. I have no doubt my other colleagues will most likely hate me for it, but you, the reader, are free decide what seems to have more sense. Given the fact that Croatia is a democracy, the pluralism of opinions and civilised public debate is always welcome. Despite the fact that I will not sign the petition, you should sign it yourself if you feel it to be the right thing.

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pixabay

Assigning the funds by the number of sold copies of books borrowed in libraries is problematic as it's not showing the work's actual quality. Readership is affected by various factors, which don't always come because of a book's quality, but from the previous visibility of the author and the budget the publisher has.

Well, how exactly do we determine the value of literary work? I'm no literature academic, and literary academics don't really communicate these ''legitimate criteria that makes a good book'' all that well. Additionally, these books which are labelled as being good, are so boring to the average reader, and then the reader often gets insulted by ''the intellectuals'' for reading such garbage. When you look at other arts, such as music, you can see that music academics favour some music over other types but then again, some music, known as pop, is made for common people and the artists don't focus on achieving some melodic masterpiece but rather to entertain their audience or send a brief message.

Why do writers who do the same get so ridiculed by academic circles?

Why are they ignored by Croatian publishers? Why do writers then insult the readers, making literature more repulsive to the audience, and then get shocked when there isn't a lot of reading done and consequently not much money to be had from the book business? This also makes the Croatian literary offer very poor, and often its style and topics end up being very similar as a result of this unexplained criteria. In return, there's very little Croatian crime fiction, SF, fantasy, love stories, and other genres, and the readers turn to foreign writers in search of such stories (Jo Nesbo, Stephanie Meyer, J.K Rowling. Lois McMaster Bujold and many, many more). Such writing makes them popular and also visible. That's the answer as to whose work gets most bought and borrowed in Croatia, give them the cash!

Poets are at a disadvantage from the very beginning. There are far fewer rewards for poetry than there are for prose, which means the poets can do nothing else but achieve fewer points. There's also less poetry writing in general, which means a lower amount of points coming from critical reviews. Child authors, essay writers, and comic book artists are in a worse position than poets as well.  

The above gets right to the heart of the point from the perspective of a Croatian poet. But, why is it like that, exactly? Before the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm, there were so many poetry events filled with poets performing and the audience coming to watch them perform. Be it slam poetry, open mics, or some other poetry events, be it in the libraries, bars, or clubs, it was apparent that Croatia doesn't lack poets, nor does it lack an audience for it. These events were in the majority and were always very open to newcomers.

Social media is also filled with people, either quoting their favourite poets or posting their own, personal poetry. So, why are there no more rewards and why is there not more extensive interest from the publishers (with some honorable exceptions) to invest in poetry and keep up with the trends? Culture journalists working for various media outlets should focus more on poetry as well, and coming from TCN's perspective, poetry articles really do attract an audience, as we saw on March the 21st (assuming that reporting on poetry, an important artistic and historical heritage of the linguistic form, isn't rewarding enough in itself).

Evaluating work by the number of reviews is problematic as books that are more visible, in principle, receive more reviews. The authors whose books are published by smaller editors, who have fewer resources to invest in their promotion, are in a less favourable position. In addition, evaluating the number of reviews where three negatives are worth more than two positives is also illogical in order to evaluate the quality of a piece of work.

On top of that still, the amount of points based on the media site on which the critic is published seems to be very random. The result is the unusual circumstance in which, if the same critic writes two reviews of two different books and publishes them on two different sites, depending on where the critic published the review, one writer will receive 10 points, and the other one four even if the first review was positive, and the other one - negative.    

Again, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there's no empirical way to determine which book is a good book and which isn't. If there were such a righteous empirical way of determining the quality of a book, we wouldn't have the difference between positive and negative reviews. Bad would always be bad, and good would always be good, and there wouldn't be any debates.

Take a look at the empirical field of physics and the definition of friction; ''Friction is a force between two surfaces that are sliding, or trying to slide, across each other“. This definition will always be the correct definition regardless of culture, personal preferences etc. Furthermore, positive reviews, even if done correctly by the rules of the still ''unclear criteria of literature scholars“, that wouldn't be set in stone.

When the poetry volume ''The Flowers of Evil“ by Charles Baudelaire was originally published back in 1857, the academics of the time condemned it as immoral and wrong, and of a poor quality, but today it is celebrated by the successors of that same academia, as one of the best poetry books ever. So, no writer should even care if the reviews are good or bad in terms of quality. That being said, reviews will raise a publication's visibility, attract readership, and inspire critics to write more reviews (combined with the PR done by the publisher). All of this shows the writer's ability to spark a reaction with their work. As such, whether a review is good or bad is irrelevant, but reviews do show the impact and public importance of the book, and therefore it seems to be quite the right direction to go in assessing books by the ministry.

That being said, the tender benefiting the publishing of one review in one media outlet over another is problematic if it doesn't better elaborate why some media outlets are favoured over others in the tender.

Furthermore, big publishers publish more books in larger quantities, and invest more in their promotion, and they already have a name that attracts the press. That is absolutely true. But, today, with the development of social media (which allows promotion without high expenses), and while journalists strive to discover new things, new names, new approaches - small publishers have never before been in a better position to push themselves and the writers they represent out into the public arena and develop and expand to the level of ''big players“. The only question is - do they have the will to do it?

It's not adequate that the esthetical value of a book is evaluated by attending events and manifestations. Festivals more often call upon already established authors who then have an unfair advantage. Additionally, every organiser mostly invites his own authors who again have an advantage over the others. The tender doesn't value international festivals, which causes a paradoxical situation in which the promotion in the organisation of the publisher is evaluated, but it's not evaluated when the promotion happens during an established international festival.

The term ''the presenting of the book“ is problematic for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the majority of these festivals don't present the book (and its a problem to prove that by participating in these festivals, the book was actually presented). Last, but not least – this is discriminatory towards authors of a weaker state of health, who are older (with the risk of the novel coronavirus still large) or busy with family and work obligations and are unable to travel.

Festival organisers do discriminate against writers, but whose fault is that exactly? Are these festivals organised by the Republic of Croatia, by the Ministry of Culture? If they are, then it's problematic, but if these festivals aren't organised by the ministry, then this whole petition is barking up the wrong tree. If the festival organisers aren't willing to be more fair and open to new names, then we, the writers, need to show solidarity with our colleagues and negotiate with festival organisers to invite our colleagues who are less presented to participate. If you're a writer/publisher seriously concerned with this issue, but you're among the lucky ones who get invited, use your position to help others out a little.

On the other hand, it's too bad international festivals aren't valued in the tender, and the ministry should work more in helping Croatian writers become more visible on the international scene. Regarding ''vulnerable writers, the old, the sick, and those too pre-occupied to attend'', they should be presented by their publishers, and an additional problem is that often the expenses of travelling to festivals aren't covered for the writer, and their participation costs money.

Awards such as the VBZ award, the Dragutin Tadijanović award assigned by (HAZU) etc aren't mentioned in the tender. Relevant international awards Croatian authors frequently are awarded, such as the Bridges of Struga (Macedonian award), the European Union Literature Award, the European Poet of Freedom, etc, are also ignored.

Every single award, be it Croatian, European or international, should be valued in the tender, but VBZ really shouldn't be. For those who don't know, the VBZ award is the annual award for the best-unpublished novel, and the winner sees their manuscript published, and there is a financial 100,000 kuna prize that goes with it too. With a huge monetary prize and the chance to have that piece of work published, why would VBZ be part of a tender whose goal is to financially help those writers who have run out of money?

The bigger problem is the question of how fair are these awards in the first place. Are they transparent? Are there no biases from the judges appointing these awards? Interestingly enough, there used to be an award called ''Kiklop'', which was given to the most purchased book in Croatia, but was cancelled in 2009 because the winning book by Nives Celzijus (about what's it like to be the wife of a Dinamo footballer) was considered by writing community to ''not be intellectual enough''. When in reality, for a book that can appeal so much to the Croatian readership, in a country that doesn't read much, such rewards should still be respected.

The final item of the tender that tries to consider the books that went unnoticed isn't going to accomplish too much. From the whole tender, it's visible that the emphasis is being placed on the work that received the most media attention and follows the old principle - The more attention something gets, even if it isn't good attention - the better.

Again, books should be visible to the public, and visibility should be awarded. The majority of publishers seem to see the distribution of a writer's work as their only job, and then they're surprised when despite distribution, the books just sit there not being snapped up by eager readers. Knock on doors, contact people, contact the press, everyone. Prepare a decent press release. Scream from the rooftops that you published a book from the top of your lungs and afford your writer the attention their work deserves. With the aforementioned development of social media, there's truly no excuse to be lagging in that respect today. Then, you'll get the media attention, and half of this tender would not be problematic at all. The problem is the policy of publisher's work and not the criteria by the ministry for this particular item.  

Overall, the Ministry isn't without sin in this saga, but the Croatian writing community (particularly publishers, and event organisers) also needs to act differently to benefit the writers themselves, especially the new generations (and poets, stop forgetting the poets!).

Poets and writers deal with language, and you can learn more about the ins and outs of the Croatian language on our TC page.

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

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Croatian Unions Stage Protest Performance to Mark Workers' Day

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - Three trade union federations marked International Workers' Day by staging a protest performance, called "The last train to a better normal", at Zagreb's Central Station at five minutes before midnight on Friday, wowing to stop the price of labour from being further lowered and further deprivation of workers' rights in Croatia.  

Since traditional trade union marches and public protests could not be held because of the coronavirus epidemic, the Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH), the Independent Croatian Trade Unions (NHS) and the Matica Association of Croatian Trade Unions (MHS) organized a midnight performance to draw attention to the emigration of Croatian workers in search of more secure jobs and higher wages.

The state of workers' rights in Croatia "has been swept under the carpet" because of the epidemic and squabbles between the prime minister and the president of the republic, NHS leader Krešimir Sever said.

In the last decade, about ten percent of Croatians have emigrated because of insecure jobs and low pay and have been substituted by foreign workers "who accept low wages out of desperation because the situation in their home countries is even worse," he said.

Sever told the workers that they were not alone and that the trade union federations would not allow employers to be given favorable treatment. "Further flexibilization and deprivation of workers' rights have to stop. Should the employers continue to insist on this, we always have mechanisms and ways to get people going, even in the present circumstances."

The performance showed workers in a dilemma of whether to stay and fight for a better livelihood or catch the last train and leave.

Croatian politicians do not face this dilemma, nor do most of the employers whose only interest is a quick profit by keeping the price of labor low, SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said.

He said that the so-called "modern" Labour Act, advocated by the government, would not make the Croatian economy any more sustainable and would not create good jobs.

"Sectoral collective bargaining, good social dialogue, and free trade union organization are the only guarantees of a satisfied worker and employer," Novosel said, announcing the signing of an agreement between the SSSH and the Croatian Employers' Association on the start of collective bargaining for the public transport sector.

Matica leader Vilim Ribić said that the coronavirus crisis was a chance to change things in Croatia. "Thanks to the pandemic, Europe is changing - minimum wage rules are being introduced, employment measures are being strengthened, an entire set of social rights are being introduced, the insane policy of austerity, which has resulted in Croatian workers leaving the country, is being abandoned."

Ribić said that in order to overcome the present crisis tax policy must be changed to ensure greater social equality and justice and greater dignity for workers. "That's the only way for us to stop the emigration," he concluded.

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

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, 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.

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 Index.hr. 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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Sunday, 2 February 2020

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic Protest 'Enough' Draws 20,000: Stops Traffic

Around 20,000 citizens protested in Trg bana Jelačića against Zagreb Mayor and USKOK indictee Milan Bandić and demanded his permanent removal from politics. The protest was punctuated with crowd chants of “Enough, Milan", "Go, Go" and "Thieves, Thieves".

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Largest Crowd of Three Protests Against Zagreb Mayor

The protest, which was called "Enough", began at 16:00 CET yesterday. According to the organizers' observations; this protest has by far gathered the most residents of all three against the mayor. The third protest, which feature live bands and a stage, was organized by Siget Citizens Association, Green Action and Zagreb Te Zove according to Matej Devčić/Jutarnji List on February 1, 2020.

“In the first protest we shouted, ‘step down’, in the second we were jurors and passed down a ruling - you are guilty. We even showed up at the courtroom. But this has all happened with the support of the government. Without Andrej Plenkovic, Bandić would not have been able to do all this,” Gordana Pasanec, president of the Siget Citizens Association, told the gathering.

Bernard Ivčić from Green Action said that citizens came to Zagreb's Trg bana Jelačića to say enough to Bandić's system of clientelism, which is destroying Zagreb.

Mayor’s GUP Plan Benefits Friends: Residents Choking on Trash

“The GUP (General Urban Plan City of Zagreb) is a scandalous document in which Bandić backs Zagreb Manhattan for the benefit of his friends and lets us choke on the trash everywhere. We ask all MPs to oppose this plan,” Ivčić said.

Jelena Miloš from the Zagreb Te Zove said that Zagreb is ashamed of its mayor. Residents take pride in their neighborhoods and are fighting against the criminal GUP plan and waste mismanagement. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the HDZ in the city assembly, she said.

“We are also saying to the HDZ: we will not forget you,” Miloš proclaimed to the crowd.

Marko Košak from Green Action arrived to the stage holding a garbage bag full of trash.

“What I have in my hand is a symbol of Bandić,” said Košak, adding that the mayor is guilty for all the waste problems in Zagreb.

“Remember this date: February 1, 2020; today we are taking down Milan Bandić,” Košak added.

Zagreb Protest Crowd Reached 20,000: Shut Down Tram Service

Police officers wouldn’t provide crowd estimates, but observers claim the crowd, which filled the entire main city square, reached 20,000. There were so many people in Trg bana Jelačića that tram traffic was suspended at one point.

Bandić Dismissed Protesters as Whiners and Actors

Yesterday, Mayor Bandić spoke to reporters about the protest organized against him and suggested that some protesters were "whining, and some were acting."

“It is the democratic right of protesters to protest, and the democratic right of the mayor to work,” said Mayor Bandić, who responded to questions on Cvjetni trg, where P.I.N.K. had organized an event to commemorate World Cancer Day.

Highlights of the Zagreb Protest as It Happened

16:25 - Several thousand people gathered at Trg bana Jelačića to protest Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić. Protesters came to the square with banners chanting "Prison", "Bandits and thieves" and "Enough!"

Comedian Marina Orsag, a presenter at the protest, addressed the crowd. "Thank you, everyone, for pointing out that you are not afraid to come out, that we are not little hooves who will not fight Milan Bandić," Orsag said, according to Dnevnik "What happens when you are dissatisfied with an employee? You fire him!"

16:45 - Film director and candidate in the last presidential election Dario Juričan also came to protest Milan Bandić.

The protesters were also addressed by Bernard Ivčić of Green Action. "A little kid would have done more than (Milan) Bandić. Everywhere around Zagreb, there are affairs, all with the support of Andrej Plenkovic and the HDZ, who hold a majority in the assembly.

Orsag asked the assembled people to remove derogatory signs and claimed that the protesters had "stopped traffic".

17:00 - Jelena Miloš from Zagreb Te Zove addressed the protesters. "(Milan) Bandić has to leave because he has been destroying GUPs for the last 20 years," Miloš said, to which protesters responded with "Leave!" "Zagreb is ashamed of its mayor."

"Today we are proud of Savica, who defended their park. Samoborček and Trešnjevka, because they are defending green spaces. Resnik fought against a harmful incinerator. Novi Zagreb too. "We say - 'we won't forget about you,'" Miloš said.

17:25 - Marko Košak from Green Action brought a black garbage bag to the stage. “This is a symbol of Mayor Bandić. If Milan Bandić is famous for something, then it is an inability to solve trash problems. We have had enough,'' Košak said.

''Now he wants to increase everyone's bills. It won’t work, Milan!'' said Marko Košak to Bandić, as quoted by Dnevnik.

''Remember this date: February 1, 2020, today we are taking down Milan Bandić here!'' Košak concluded to the wild applause of protesters.

17:50 - Marina Orsag ended the protest with a message for Bandić, "I have one slogan to end with - when we get rid of the scum, we get rid of the garbage," Orsag concluded.

Siget Citizens Association president Gordana Pasanec thanked everyone who came to the protest. "When I see how many there are of you are on stage, it makes me tremble. Thank you for showing up in such large numbers," Pasanec said.

Green Action: GUP Not Taking Public Interests into Account

On Friday, Green Action welcomed the Zagreb Constitutional Court's ruling that it would not increase the cost of transporting waste for Zagreb which was slated for on February 1, but they also had announced that they would not withdraw from the protest.

Green Action president Željka Leljak Gracin said there were many other reasons for today's protest because "Bandić's politics and city management are anything but acceptable." At the protest, she said, "we will once again demonstrate that it is time for Bandić to leave this position."

She also said that changes to the GUP will be decided next week, which she claims are "increasingly detrimental to the city in every case and are in no way taking public interests into account. I believe that residents need to show that this city is not Bandić's, but it is being managed as if it is," she claimed.

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A considerable archive of Total Croatia News articles about Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić can be found here.

Information on Zagreb Organizations Working to Remove Bandic

Follow Zagreb Te Zove here to keep updated on events and protests the Zagreb mayor. Information on Dario Juričan, documentary film maker and performance artist, can be found on his Facebook page and website. Information on Zagreb je NAŠ, a Zagreb-based political party, can be found on Facebook here and on their website.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Zagreb Residents Chant 'Prison' at Protest Against Mayor Milan Bandić

More than 1,000 Zagreb residents and supporters chanted “prison” for Mayor Milan Bandić at yesterday’s protest in the city's downtown square.

The demonstration, which was organized to protest the Zagreb mayor and multiple USKOK (Croatian State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption) inductee Milan Bandić, was held at Trg bana Jelačića, the main city square, according to Index on December 21, 2019.

The protest began at 16h and was organized by a number of associations: Udruga građana Siget (the Siget Citizens' Association), Braniteljska udruga Vidra (the Veterans of Vidra), Veterani i društvena akcija sa Zelenim odredom (the Veterans' Association with Green Squad social action group), Udruga za zaštitu okoliša UZOR iz Resnika (the UZOR Environmental Association of Resnik), Udruga Eko-Zagreb (the Eco-Zagreb Association), Inicijativa Samoborček (the Samoborček Initiative), Inicijativa Hipodrom (the Hipppodrome Initiative), and the građanska inicijativa Zagreb bez zračenja (Zagreb Radiation-Free Initiative).

According to organizers, the protest gathered around two thousand citizens. They are planning another protest at the end of January.

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Clear Message from Zagreb Protesters: Resign!

Among the messages on the banners were "Resign", "Enough of Banditism", "Your Mayor is poisoning you and robbing you", "Bandić's godfathers: You will fall into Resnik" (Resnik is a garbage dump in Zagreb), "Put the right thing (Bandić) in the right place in Remetinec" (Remetinec is a Zagreb prison), "Zagreb must not be defined by Milan Bandić"," Whose benefitting from the garbage centers?" and "Bandić and his 26 bandits".

City Council 'Thieves' Voted for Waste Removal Cost Increase

They explained that these "26 thieves" are the city council members who voted for an increase in waste collection costs and will be voting on the GUP (General Urban Plan). The protesters also exhibited four garbage bags which contain the names of the mayor and his associates, Mirka Jozić and Sanja Jerković, with one bag saying "26 city deputies."

They called the bags "radioactive waste", which they say will be taken to Bandić and the Zagreb City Administration on Monday where they will be placed under a pine tree.

Gordana Pasanec, from the Siget Citizens’ Association, said that they were protesting because they were fed up with Milan Bandić's despotism, from the "golden toilets", and benches for 20, 30, 40 thousand HRK, his bullying of city government staff, and his insults directed at journalists and citizens.

She also pointed out that Zagreb is separating only 10 percent of its waste, there is no real waste management system or fair billing and Zagreb streets are flooded with waste.

"The chaos we are witnessing is the result of a long-standing (lack of) waste management policy implemented by the Mayor of Zagreb. There is no single justifiable reason for this; no increase in services except for the systematic robbery of citizens by the Mayor through waste collection, which has benefitted individuals and interest groups for 20 years.

Branka Genzić-Horvat from UZOR said that they have been protesting for 14 years and because they are fed up with what is happening and want to make Zagreb a better place to live.

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Pensioner in Wheelchair Calls Bandić 'Garbage'

Višnja Škreblin, who was introduced as the oldest activist, said that Bandić has consolidated his power (over the city) and has humiliated and belittled its citizens. “He says 'if you can't pay the cost of utilities and services, then you should leave Zagreb,’” which infuriated the wheelchair-bound pensioner, who publicly called Bandić "garbage."

"We have been witnessing this for 14 years. And it all started back in 2005 under the leadership of a mayor who has put himself at the forefront of these interest groups. The Waste Management Center is a continuation of concocted thievery, which this mayor carries out in the interest of specific groups and individuals. The Ministry of the Environment has backed an octopus who has ruled Zagreb and Croatia for many years," she said. She also said that for 14 long years they have been closely watching every step of this mayor and now the “water has reached her throat".

Ivan Kos from the Eco-Zagreb Association said that what Mayor Bandić is doing was "unacceptable".

Fled Scene of Drunk-Driving Accident in 2002

Bandić, a onetime member of SDP (Social Democratic Party) was elected mayor of Zagreb in 2000 and re-elected in 2001. In 2002, Bandić fled from the scene of a motor vehicle accident while under the influence of alcohol and was forced to resign.

The Zagreb SDP had the authority to nominate a new mayor, but the city council was so dominated by Bandić that it was questionable who would be able replace him. Eventually Vlasta Pavić took over, while Bandić retained a position as deputy mayor. However, he was eager to become mayor again, and blocked Pavić's development plans while pushing for an early election. In response, Ivica Račan (then head of SDP) tried to restrain Bandić's activities.

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Successful Power Grab Led to 2005 Reelection

At that time, the law would not allow Bandić to serve a second term as mayor. Although Vlasta Pavić attempted to strike a deal to end their ongoing feud, but Bandić eventually succeeded in undermining her authority. Even though early elections were not held, he was re-elected mayor in 2005.

Bandić is currently serving his sixth term as Mayor of Zagreb. His administration has been defined by scandal and accusations of corruption. Bandić left SDP in 2009 and identified as an independent candidate for six years. In 2014, he was arrested on charges of corruption, bribery and organized crime, along with two other members of the Zagreb City Council. In 2015, he founded his own party, the Bandić Milan 365 – Labor and Solidarity Party. The 365 in his party’s name refers to his claim that he works for the city of Zagreb as mayor every day of the year.

In the 2017 local elections, Bandić narrowly defeated challenger Anka Mrak Taritaš. His current term ends in 2021.

Follow our Politics page to keep up with protests against the Bandić administration. For more information on upcoming protests against the Mayor, check out the Zagreb Te Zove (Zagreb is calling you) page on Facebook.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Protests and the Catholic Church: Politics of Istanbul Convention Demonstrations in Croatia

The ratification of the Istanbul Convention has aroused strong feelings and protests on both sides in recent weeks. Longterm expat resident of Split Tim Bourcier explains his views on what happened in Split last Friday in a guest blog.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Slavonski Brod Brings Pollution Protest to Zagreb

The residents of Slavonski Brod take their pollution protest directly to the capital.

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