Wednesday, 16 February 2022

RTL Croatia Taken Over by CME in Estimated 50 Million Euro Transaction

February the 16th, 2022 - RTL Croatia, which has been present in the Republic of Croatia since the year 2004, has now been taken over by CME in an estimated 50 million euro transaction.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, RTL Croatia/Hrvatska is set to get a brand new owner in a transaction that is expected to be successfully completed in the coming months. RTL Croatia's ''parent'', the Luxembourg-German RTL Group, sold it to CME Media Enterprises (CME), part of the PPF Group from the Czech Republic, for an estimated 50 million euros.

The current expectations are for the above transaction to be completed by the middle part of this year, after obtaining all of the necessary regulatory approvals and dealing with the involved paperwork.

With this move, CME has secured long-term rights to use the RTL brand, which boasts eight national TV channels and cable, cable service and a music house. PPF operates across an impressive 25 countries in various sectors and employs as many as 80,000 people globally, while CME covers the media business (TV and on-demand platforms) in five CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) countries, where it broadcasts 33 TV channels.

Until the year 2017, CME was the owner of NovaTV, the main commercial competitor to RTL here in the Republic of Croatia, when it sold it to the United Media group, which also has the N1 cable channel.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Milanović: Attacks on Journalists Are Outrageous

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Monday commented on an incident that had occurred during a protest against COVID certificates in Zagreb on Saturday, saying that attacks on journalists were outrageous and that the incident involved "a handful of louts".

"There were a lot of people at the protest. There were people who have nothing to do with this madness we have been listening to, who are educated, vaccinated, some of whom I know personally. They didn't come to hear that idiot Francišković or see some parliamentarians," he said.

He commented on COVID certificates in army barracks, questioning what can be achieved with them considering that most soldiers are vaccinated. "There are people who do not want to be tested, which I don't quite understand this, but which genius has studied how this impacts the combat readiness of our healthy and young soldiers," said Milanović.

Commenting further on the protest, Milanović assessed that it was chaotic because it was a "spontaneous revolt." He questioned what the point was of restrictions if vaccinated people can pass on the virus almost as much as those who have not been vaccinated.

"If we are doing all this because of overcrowded hospitals, then why didn't we prepare ourselves for this excess. It's inhumane to divide people into those who have been vaccinated and those who haven't," he said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

RTL Reporter Attacked During Zagreb Protest Against COVID-19 certificates

ZAGREB, 20 Nov, 2021 - RTL television reporter Goran Latković was attacked during a protest against mandatory COVID-19 certificates in Zagreb on Saturday while covering the event.

At the protest, which draw several thousand people from all around the country, Latković was attacked from behind and he sustained two blows to the head, rib cage and elbow.

As he was attacked from behind, the reporter did not see his attackers.

He confirmed to Hina that he would report the incident to the police.

The RTL television reported about the incident involving its reporter.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević Says Owes No One Anything, Has Free Hand

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Monday he had not promised  anyone any position in the city nor owned anyone anything, adding that he had a free hand to make decisions he considered to be in the public interest.

"That's how I will act until the end of my term," he said on RTL television.

Tomašević said he was confident the two complaints filed against him with the Conflict of Interest Commission during his first month in office would be dismissed.

Regarding the appointment of Tomislav Lauc to the Srebrnjak Hospital Steering Council, Tomašević said he had been "one of 1,500 contributors" to his campaign and that if the appointment of any of them "to one of the 340 institutions and steering councils in the City of Zagreb is a conflict of interest, then we have a big problem."

He said that if they were experts, the fact that they had been contributors should not disqualify them from being appointed.

Tomašević said the Srebrnjak Hospital Steering Council was not the management, that the hospital director was selected in a public call, and that the director was an employee, whereas the people on the Steering Council were not.

He said the decision on the hospital's new director was up to the Steering Council, not him.

Asked if, after one month in office, he felt that he had taken over the running of the city or was still in "hostile surroundings," Tomašević said a large number of people in the city administration was willing to cooperate and that, "naturally, it will take time to win their trust or not win it."

He reiterated that of the 27 city office heads appointed by his predecessor, ten had resigned and that the offices would be reduced to 16. The heads of the new offices will be selected in public calls, he said.

"We'll appoint the best people. Whether they are members of a party, mine, someone else's or no one's, is unimportant. There will be no faking, they will be real public calls."

Tomašević said the city office for war veterans was not abolished and that it would be part of a new office for protection, health, veterans and persons with disabilities.

He said he was sorry that Damir Vanđelić was resigning as head of the post-earthquake Reconstruction Fund because "we have just established a good dynamic, the (Construction) Ministry, the Fund and the City of Zagreb."

He said a location had been found for construction waste disposal, and reiterated that he hoped "reconstruction will finally begin."

Asked if the city would be able to cover 20% of the reconstruction costs and whether a recently taken HRK 400 million loan would suffice until the end of the year, the mayor said there was no doubt about that and that the loan was "just for liquidity."

He added, however, that "a more serious refinancing of the debt of Zagreb and (utility conglomerate) Holding will ne necessary. We are talking about it with banks and the state."

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Political Science Association Slams PM Andrej Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The Croatian Political Science Association (HPD) on Tuesday strongly condemned the criticism PM Andrej Plenković levelled against political scientist Dražen Lalić and the RTL broadcaster, noting that it was an attack not only on an individual but on all political scientists as well as media.  

The HPD recalled Plenković's statement that "RTL hired Lalić to vilify (HDZ candidate for Zagreb mayor Davor) Filipović in the worst way possible" and his remark that "those are not unbiased media" but "hirelings paid to demonise a political camp."

"Such an unsubstantiated verbal attack by the Prime Minister against our member and prominent Croatian researcher was not only an ad hominem attack - which  as such makes his criticism invalid - but also an attack on the right to express one's opinion and on intellectual freedom. With his inappropriate act, Andrej Plenković has threatened the freedom to express one's professional views and additionally weakened the already weak position of the media," the association said.

It also notes that, considering the disproportion of powers, this type of attack by the PM on a member of the academic community and public intellectual has the potential to instil fear and insecurity in members of the academic community and media alike.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Media Are Not Sacrosanct

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters on Monday evening that earlier in the day, when he was commenting on the elections, he was telling the truth and that amounted to no attack on the media because the media, he said, were not sacrosanct that couldn't be talked about.

"I was just telling the truth," Plenković said when asked by reporters whether he had gone too far  when commenting on the elections and criticisng several commercial broadcasters.

All those I talked about, including your broadcaster (RTL), used the wrong name of HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor in their shows, he said, adding that it had happened several times, even on another TV station and in some print media.

He said "these weren't slips of the tongue" and added that these things had clearly happened "on purpose". "This isn't criticism, I was telling the truth, it isn't an attack on the media. The media aren't sacrosanct so that we cannot talk about it," Plenković said.

Commenting on the statement that the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) called on him not do it and that it was not his first time, Plenković said that that was "a rude and inappropriate statement by the HND president, who is much more slower and evasive when it comes to criticising (President Zoran) Milanović".

Milanović, he stressed, calls out on the media in a much harsher way. He calls the HRT Yutel, HRT reporters mercenaries of a political party, he calls daily newspapers usurers, he calls on your leadership to remove commentator (Žarko) Puhovski and after that I no longer see him in your (RTL) programme, Plenković said.

He said that HND president Hrvoje Zovko was "much more considerate" when it came to reacting to Milanović. Here he dares to talk about me as Lukashenko, Plenković noted, adding that this was going beyond all bounds, which could be classified as being biased.

It is one thing when those running in the election face off in a political match, and another when someone who presents himself as an independent analyst to the viewers, and they don't know whether you are paying him for it, describes a candidate before the elections in the worst possible way, Plenković said, referring to Dražen Lalić's comments for the RTL.

He recalled that it was not unusual for the media in the world to follow one political option.

There are no newspapers in the world for which one doesn't know whether they're left-wing or conservative, he said.

We cannot, he said, live in the belief that everyone is neutral, impartial, objective and in reality they support some option. "One shouldn't be ashamed of that, but it must be clearly stated," Plenković added.

There are double standards

Plenković also thinks that the media had been generating aggression toward the HDZ and the two key candidates in two big cities.

He said that the public had to realise there were double standards.

Asked to comment on Ivica Puljak's victory in Split, he countered with a question -- how can he have an anti-Semite for deputy mayor.

"The man practically wrote a justification for the Holocaust, and if you don't realise that, then you have a dangerous problem," Plenković said, adding that if it was happening elsewhere, "all associations would attack Puljak".

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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Zagreb Local Elections 2021 Analysis: No "Ideological Referendums", Strictly Freedom And Solutions Wanted

May 30, 2021 - Following the turbulent public debate of the Zagreb mayor candidates that ended with Tomislav Tomašević winning the capital of Croatia, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac brings you the Zagreb Local Elections 2021 Analysis, concluding that Zagreb is a city open for all ideologies but in constant search of quality solutions.

It's official – Tomislav Tomašević (seen on the lead image) is the new mayor of Zagreb, the 54th in a row when you look through Zagreb's history.  

As a brand new chapter in Zagreb's local politics is turned, many are still uncertain about whether the former mayor Milan Bandić would lose or win another mandate if he hadn't suddenly and prematurely passed away earlier this year. Still, as Jelena Pavičić Vukićević, Bandić's successor joined the mayoral race and came in third place (despite being perceived as the keeper of Bandić's tradition), we could argue that is the indication that Bandić being suspected of corruption (and taken to court on several occasions) could've been the political end for him, had he lived to see the fight. But, of course, given Bandić's strong personality, that indication needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as many believe that not only would Bandić get to the second round of elections - but he'd even win them.


Former Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić, screenshot / Al Jazeera Balkans

A quick recap

In the first round, Tomislav Tomašević from the green-left platform We Can! (Mozemo!) earned a stunning 45,15 percent (147,631) votes. Not only was that twice as more than Škoro and Pavičić Vukičević combined, as N1 reported, but it was also more than with what Milan Bandić won in the second round of local elections back in 2017.

The mayoral race in Zagreb was highlighted with the question of who will succeed Milan Bandić and who will properly address all the debts and unfairly earned employment in the city administration as well as the overpricing of numerous city projects (such as the many fountains and the plagued Sljeme cable car). Additionally, there were the issues of the handling the mess of the Jakuševec junkyard, as well as handling the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb's very heart. The only thing the majority of the candidates agreed to be good were the city's social policies, but they can still be improved.

However, as TCN previously reported, before even officially entering the second round, Miroslav Škoro turned the elections from practical questions of handling corruption to the age old and frankly boring ideological battle, accusing Tomašević and the We Can! (Mozemo!) platform of wanting to revive Yugoslavia.

''That's the extreme left, and it will be stopped in the second round, so help me God“, said Škoro on the night of the first election results.


Miroslav Škoro, screenshot / Domovinski Pokret

This sort of rhetoric took everyone by surprise. Dražen Lalić, a sociologist and a professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Zagreb, commented for RTL that Škoro himself is a radical candidate and that We Can! (Mozemo!) are neither extreme nor are they the radical left.

''Regardless of Škoro having a doctorate in economis, he's illiterate in the political sense; he doesn't know even the most basic terms. Extreme means outside of the system and not going to the elections. Radical actors are inside the system, and I think Škoro is radical. On the other hand, Tomašević and We Can! (Mozemo!) are very moderate in their attitudes; they're young people. There were no incidents and they are were moderate,'' said Lalić for RTL. He added that Škoro is probably aware that he had absolutely chance of winning but was still trying to reach the far-right electoral body.

24sata columnist Tomislav Klauški wrote about how Škoro's war with the perceived ''extreme left'' is quite literally the only thing in his entire programme. He concluded that such a move isn't going to work for Zagreb, which has never voted for far right options, and he also reminded that former mayor Milan Bandić, despite his many flaws, also came from the social-democratic political option.

''His filthy campaign from the first round, where his agency spread lies that Škare Ožbolt works ''for the Serbs'', where his news sites spread stories that Filipović's father is Serbian, and warned that Tomašević is a concealed right-winger, Škoro is now going further with that into the second wrong. As if Zagreb doesn't have enough problems to talk about,'' wrote Klauški on Monday after the first round.   


Dražen Lalić, screenshot / N1

Škoro then continued to push the narrative of these elections, declaring them an ideological referendum among right-wing and conservative circles. Škoro also accused We Can! (Mozemo!) of being foreign mercenaries working for famous philanthropist George Soros or wanting to revitalise Yugoslavia, and Škoro's associate Zlatko Hasanbegović stepped out into the Croatian public space calling the party a lesbian syndicate - weird indeed. Additionally, Nikola Grmoja (Most) stated for N1 that Mozemo are iPhone Soroshians, and accusations accompanied by rather odd name-calling saw a random generator on the internet designed to mock these terms by random options. Meanwhile, Tomašević continued his campaign by talking about solutions to the problems Zagreb is currently facing but occasionally making remarks on the accusations by his opponents and sometimes even throwing some accusations in Škoro's direction in return.

67% : 33% K.O.

This focus on actual problems Zagreb is facing and the refusal to dwell into ideological issues, along with the experience of activism for Zagreb's interests, proved to be the winning formula for Tomašević, beating Škoro with amazing 199,630 votes compared to Škoro's 106.300 votes. Not only did Tomašević beat Škoro by far, he also earned more than former mayor Milan Bandić did, and nobody has had more votes in Zagreb's mayoral elections to date. 

Škoro lost his own so-called ideological referendum, but let's imagine for a moment that he actually won. Whether Škoro (or some other analysts who believed these elections would finally prove how Zagreb looks at things with an ideological eye) likes it or not, this "referendum" neither proves that Zagreb has turned to some radical left nor does it prove the opposite. First of all, only 45.7% of people voted on the second round of these elections. That's not even half of the total number of citizens that have the right to vote in Zagreb. Secondly, the culture and overall vibe of Zagreb truly tells us that Zagreb is diverse and very much open for everybody.

Zagreb - The pioneer liberal city for every idea

One thing we can say for certain about Zagreb's philosophy, if you will, is that Zagreb is proud to be a pioneer of development and a role model for the rest of the country. To illustrate that, Zagreb was proud that they'd be the first to use telecom lines, and by the time the rest of Croatia got telephones, Zagreb already had mobile phones. Being the capital city of Croatia, and the biggest city in the country, a centre of politics, education, science, culture, and more, Zagreb attracts people from all over the country and abroad, having bloomed into a multi-cultural city whose people have various ideologies and convictions.

When you look at ideological conflict in Croatia, which sadly doesn't seem to be anywhere near its end, it is often perceived that if you're a Croatian nationalist and conservative in Istria, you'll feel quite lonely indeed. On the other hand, left leaning progressives and liberals living in Dalmatia or Slavonia, areas that are known to be quite conservative, can't wait for a chance to leave those areas.

That being said, apologetics of all ideologies head to Zagreb, and Zagreb is a place where looking straightly from an ideological view, everyone is equally happy and miserable at the same time, but overall they're in a better position than in the rest of Croatia is. Before the pandemic, you had a regular event called ''Coffee with non-believers'' hosted by various venues such as Spunk bar or No Sikiriki. The event allowed for all atheists, agnostics, or even religious people unhappy with the breach of secularity by the Catholic Church in Croatia – to find those who think like they do, meet in person, talk, and have a good time.

On the other hand, in the Veliki Tolk pub in Opatovina, you have ''Right-wingers in the Pub'' which provides the same comfort and good times for the conservative-oriented people.

Regardless of what kind of genre of music you listen to, what movies you want to see, what kind of clubs you want to go to, mainstream pop, alternative rock, electronics, jazz... Zagreb's public sphere offers something for everyone.

Zagreb does have hospitals whose doctors refuse to perform abortions, but if there is any place a woman can have her reproductive rights respected in Croatia, then that place is Zagreb. Despite several violent homophobic incidents, the relaxing atmosphere of the LGBTQ Pride picnic on Ribnjak Park, and the support coming for the parade from the windows of Zagreb's buildings show that Zagreb is a safe place, and you won't feel alone because of your sexual preferences.

How these ideologies co-exist in being equally happy and miserable at the same time was perfectly demonstrated over the last two weeks. LGBTQ flags put out for the International Day Against Transphobia were torn down by vandals on the Victims of Fascism Square. A few days later, a pro-life initiative, Hod za Život“ (Walk for life) flags displayed on Ban Jelačić Square, were also quite quickly torn down. And the culmination of that event was seen on Saturday when the pro-life Walk For Life march was met with counter-protesters from Crveni Otpor (Red Resistance), which is pro-choice. So, as we can see, these ideologies create conflict at times, but more often, it's a peaceful co-existence. Equally miserable and happy at the same time, and still in a better position than the rest of the country.


Pro-life march in Zagreb © Hod za život - Zagreb



Pro-choice protesters waiting for pro-life march in Zagreb © Faktiv

Zagreb is liberal in its nature, courtesy of the growth and development it has seen, and even in the event that a conservative or even a radical conservative ever took the mayoral position, Zagreb wouldn't lose what it is in its soul.

Those who vote in Zagreb proved that ideological disputes are irrelevant, as long as freedom is respected by the candidate, and as long as you are not a radical and have a good solution for the city's problems, you're more than welcome to try and be a mayor.

Democracy is yet to be understood

That being said, there are some issues these elections highlighted for the political culture of Zagreb. First, Zagreb citizens that don't vote need to understand that voting is very important as our democratic right to have our say in what we want in Zagreb (as in the entire country). The freedom and all of the perks of living in Zagreb that citizens enjoy or don't enjoy are the direct results of politics, and any improvements or downfall in the city will come from politics. Having your say in these dynamic events is something that shouldn't be missed.

Democracy isn't a once-every-four-year event but a continuous practice of civic participation to make sure that promises before the election don't end up forgotten after the celebration.

Tomašević has said that "Zagreb is ours" (as is the name of one of the political parties in the Mozemo! platform), and so it's important for him to be open for the city's citizens, but also for citizens to be open to communicate with the local authorities to make a better community.    

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Croatia President's Campaign Demanded TV Network End Debate

According to a statement released by RTL this morning, an adviser to the Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović campaign demanded that RTL end yesterday’s debate due to the Croatia President’s fatigue. However, both campaigns had already agreed in advance that they would permit the debate, which began at 20h yesterday, December 30, 2019; to last longer than 90 minutes.

In addition, both candidates publicly agreed to continue the debate when asked by RTL moderators during the broadcast, according to Vijesti/RTL on December 31, 2019. The debate, which attracted over 1 million viewers, lasted almost two and a half hours and ended around 22:30h.

RTL Releases Statement About Ending Debate

“The end of the debate was requested by Advisor to the President of the Republic, Ms. Renata Margaretić Urlić, who arrived at RTL studios with members of Croatia President’s campaign headquarters. During the debate, she entered the television control room and demanded that 'due to the prolonged duration of the debate and fatigue of the president, it must end immediately.' When asked by the debate’s editor if that was the official position of the campaign headquarters, Ms. Margaretić Urlić replied that she had 'entered on behalf of the headquarters.'"

The RTL debate moderators conveyed the request (without mentioning who it came from) to presidential candidates Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Zoran Milanović, but also offered them the opportunity to continue the debate, to which they both publicly agreed.


Former Croatia Prime Minister Responds

Upon learning of his opponent’s campaign demand to end the debate; Milanović wrote on Facebook:

“I came to a television debate last night with a severe cold and fever, but at no point did it occur to me to put my mild health problems ahead of the rights of our citizens to see and hear what the presidential candidates have to say. Getting tired of the debate in front of Croatian citizens whose trust you are seeking; what does that mean? If you are not able to talk for two hours about topics that are plaguing Croatia, then you are not capable of leading Croatia. Unless the reasons and motives for interrupting the debate have to do with something else…”

Indeed, the former Prime Minister appeared to have a runny nose and his sniffling was audible, if not distracting, during the entire debate.

Highlights from Monday’s Presidential Debate

Here are a few highlights from the debate according to Index on December 30, 2019:


Ms. Grabar-Kitarović, why are you the best choice?

Kolinda: "What I am offering is a program. Our country was in crisis five years ago. The exodus of young people had already begun, and Croatia is in a better position today. I believe that our citizens should take those preexisting macroeconomic factors into account. Every citizen lives better now. I was the change that was needed in 2014, and now I'm looking for continuity."

Milanović got the same question: Why is he a better choice than Kolinda?

Milanović: "I have experience. I will behave in a positive predictable way. I left government while (Croatia) was in a period of growth."

Kolinda: "Croatia was devastated at the time of my arrival and the flames of pessimism were burning."

Milanović: "The year of 2015 ended with growth in the fourth quarter. Interest rates were at their lowest and there was growth in the GDP."

Kolinda: "In terms of experience, apart from experience in Croatia, I have international experience.”

Milanović then pointed out that the Sanader government, in which Kolinda had an appointed seat, still owed Croatia 135 billion HRK (18.1 billion EUR). Note: Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was just convicted of corruption and sentenced to 6 years in prison.


Mr. Milanović, is there anything about Kolinda’s leadership worth commending? Is there anything you would continue to do?

Milanović: "I would not continue."

Mr. Milanović, Vučić attended Kolinda's inauguration, would you have invited him?

Milanović: "I was a career diplomat. Sanader brought Kolinda on board. I did not invite Vučić to Croatia. I do not think that this should be taken out on Serbia. I would not have invited Vučić. But its necessary to work with these people (Serbian citizens). And I mean work with them, not hug them, then create diplomatic chaos and fan flames."

Kolinda: "I'm fanning flames…I said that until he fulfills his promise to find the missing (from the Homeland War), there wouldn't be another in-person meeting."

Milanović: "You were the right hand of political commissioner Ivo Sanader. Vučić create a circus here, and that's your contribution. I can talk to Vučić about missing people, but time goes on, and business goes on too. I will deal with the missing as well as business matters."

Should Croatia block Serbia on its way to the EU?

Milanović: "No. That country has the misfortune of being led by a junkyard war guy. This man is working on behalf of the Belgrade bazaar, but he is not leading the Serbian state and people. But I see a partner (in Serbia) and Croatian companies are working there."

Kolinda: "I decided to stay in Croatia, I am the daughter of a butcher who advanced in position."

Milanović: "You are from a wealthy family and a very slippery person. My father left the (Communist) party."

Kolinda: "For as much as my father had worked in Yugoslavia, he could have been a billionaire in another country."

In Bosnia, most of the voters support HDZ. How can you convince them that you are a better choice?

Milanović: "It doesn't appear that I have their support. But I don't blame them. I'm here to help. When it was necessary to give them millions in funding, we were there. We invested in a series of targeted projects, including building Catholic schools. My conscience is at ease."

Kolinda: "Congratulations. But it would be a good idea to listen to them a little more. You consider them to be second-class citizens and want to deprive them of suffrage."

Milanović: "When did I say that?"

Kolinda: "I am fighting for Bosnia and their voters. For years I have been advocating for Bosnia to enter into a concrete plan for NATO membership."

What do you think about Trump?

Kolinda: "Trump is the President of the United States, and there is currently a court process against him. I did not choose the President of the United States. The way I treat him is governed by my goal of taking care of Croatia's interests. At this stage, we are in the process of signing a double taxation treaty. We are also in the process of abolishing the visa (compulsory for Croatian citizens wishing to visit the US). Of course, I would meet with him in person."

Milanović: "I would not comment on Trump, that was not my choice."

The Euro could be introduced to Croatia in 2023. Are we prepared?

Kolinda: "I think we were ready during the first Sanader government. We moved away from that during your government."

Milanović: "Again, Sanader. A little more and the man will become a demigod. We were not members (of the EU) at the time. While you were hunting for generals (Croatian generals who were indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal and in hiding) around the world, we didn’t have any chance of entering."

Milanović: "Croatia could soon become eligible if it cuts its public debt. Look at the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, they are not entering the eurozone, but they could. These are older countries, and they are calculating. The claim that loans will be cheaper does not hold water. That correlation simply doesn't exist. But I'm not against it and am interested in discussing the options. These are complex topics…”


What is your relationship with (Milan) Bandić? What does he have to offer?

Kolinda: "He is the mayor of Zagreb. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We cannot find someone guilty and then prove that they are innocent. How many people have been imprisoned and then it turned out that they were imprisoned without cause? This is a principle I will always fight for."

Milanović: "In Croatia, fools are making a living from work, and members of the HDZ are making a living from missing evidence. I defeated him (Bandić) in SDP, and then expelled him from the party. He became your friend when he got out of detention."

Kolinda: "The presumption of innocence exists for everyone."

Milanović: "It is a disaster; this man came into my life when I defeated him in the party elections. These are friends of Ms. Kitarović. Bandić is dangerous and it's a disgrace for the city I live in. Not because he’s Herzegovinian, that’s my origin too, but it's a shady crowd."

Kolinda: "That's a man you once called your friend. I'm working with him to open kindergartens, build stadiums, deal with graffiti."

Let's say you are in Herzegovina and you run into (Zdravko) Mamić, what would you do?

Kolinda: "I would say come back to Croatia and face justice."

Milanović: "I would probably shake hands. I wouldn't say anything to him. He already knows what people think. He is a phenomenal manager, but I don't know why he became a thief."

A video of the debate can be accessed here.

Both presidential candidates will meet for two more debates before the election. On Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 20:05h they will debate on HRT. And on Friday at 20:20h they will face off on Nova TV.

Follow our Politics page for news on the upcoming presidential election in Croatia, which will take place on Sunday, January 5, 2020. We will be providing by-the-minute exit poll results and final election results after the polls close at 19h Central European Time (CET).

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Croatia President to Debate Former Prime Minister on RTL

Current Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and opponent former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović have officially accepted RTL's invitation to participate in a presidential debate, which will be held at 20h on Monday, December 30, 2019 – according to the television network.

This will be the first debate between the two remaining presidential candidates who entered the runoff after the December 22 elections. The runoff will take place on Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Debate Will Last 60 to 90 Minutes

The debate will be moderated by Damira Gregoret and Ivan Vrdoljak and edited by Ana Bulić on RTL. It will last between 60 to 90 minutes, which is considerably shorter than the first two-and-half-hour debate, which included all eleven first round presidential candidates. As announced, the two remaining candidates will answer questions regarding political, economic, social and other topics of public concern. Each candidate will be given equal time to respond.

During his appearance in Split on Saturday, Presidential candidate Zoran Milanović said that he expects RTL to agree that ideological issues will be kept at a minimum during the upcoming debate with his contender Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and that this debate will focus on "development and growth topics".

Debate Won't Focus on Ideological Issues

“I expect questions that will deal with ideology of Tito and team and Pavelic to be kept to a minimum. I will insist on that, because these are the rules of the debate that have been agreed upon. "I want to know the general framework, not the individual issues - this is not HRT (Croatian Radio Television). Of course, I love HRT, but this is a more professional television network and I expect an agreement," Milanović told reporters while campaigning on the Split Riva.

He said he expects to discuss developmental and statehood topics, and presidential powers. He is not interested in having anyone “describe Croatia's policy toward Bosnia in one minute. We got that question at HRT," Milanović pointed out.


Milanović Notes His Successes and HDZ Failures

Asked why he thought he would be a better president than prime minister, Milanović replied that they were two "substantially different jobs." He claimed that, as prime minister, he pulled the country out of a severe crisis, and that HDZ has increased Croatia’s public debt twice as much as his government had. "Even with the Plenković government, the public debt has grown by almost 20 billion HRK," Milanović said, adding that "within a half year it had paradoxically decreased by three billion during the time of Orešković."

Milanović also asserted that his government was "therapeutic for Croatia, relatively fair, free of affairs, imprisonment and indictments." He said that Croatia had entered a period of "economic expansion" during his government.

"Then comes Kitarović, and we get someone who cannot not read, write or speak Croatian (Tihomir Orešković). Then Plenković shows up and things really haven’t changed much – if at all. We currently live in a time of minimal economic growth," Milanović emphasized. He added that “we rank last in European countries to completely utilize available EU funds.”

Croatia World Superpower in Tourism Only

According to Milanović, under HDZ’s rule, we have failed to integrate into the European and world markets except in tourism where we are a world superpower.

"We live off of peace, stability, warm seas and perhaps too much from selling these resources, and the current president does not understand this," Milanović concluded. "Geopolitics is very important because you need to know whom you associate with and choose respectable partners. However, HDZ and the president have chosen to associate with bad partners."

Croatia President Appeared Alone on N1 Sunday

Despite sending the same invitation to the headquarters of both candidates, N1 did not have official confirmation from either headquarters that the candidates would participate today’s debate on N1. However, the current president and candidate for second term, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, showed up.

Her opponent Zoran Milanović did not appear, and Nataša Božić, editor of “Tocka na tjedan” (Topic of the Week) had a conversation with the president, while a chair for her opponent sat empty.


President Clarifies Message to Voters

"I called on the citizens to vote for Croatia for everyone, not for a divided Croatia," the president said, explaining her message to voters to "choose the right Croatia."

"I do not want to divide our country into either us or them, but to vote for Croatia, and unite around common values," said Grabar Kitarovic, who initially told Nataša Božić that she did not tell the voters at the recent Karlovac rally that they were choosing "the right Croatia ".

"I am sending my messages and expect that the Croatian voters will vote based on what I represent and based on my program," she said.

Successes of First Presidential Term

“I have not fulfilled some of my promises, because during my term you could see that some objectives were impossible to achieve or there were other priorities, but this is what I have done,” Grabar-Kitarović said of her achievements in the first term.

"I have saved taxpayers 25 million HRK in five years, which may not seem like much to some people, but if you have a budget that is just over 30 million, then 25 million is a respectable figure," the president added.

President Tells Voters to Circle Wrong Ballot Number

"Dear Voters, I urge you to go to the polls on January 5, 2019 and cast your vote for Croatia and continue the process of growth and development. Vote for a Croatia that knows and can do better, a Croatia that is proud of its values, a Croatia that does have an inferiority complex on the world stage but is an equal participant. I urge you to circle number 1 on the ballot for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović," the president told voters.

Zoran Milanović, her opponent, is number 1 on the ballot for the upcoming runoff presidential election. The current president is number 2 on the ballot. This is the latest in a series of campaign gaffes by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović which have led to questions regarding her ability to continue managing the demands of the office.

Follow our Politics page for developments during the final days of the Croatia presidential campaigns. We will be providing by-the-minute exit poll updates and election results after the polls close at 19h on January 5, 2020.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Prime Minister Apologises to Female Reporter for Inappropriate Remark

ZAGREB, October 3, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković apologised on Wednesday to a female reporter from the commercial RTL TV station for an inappropriate remark he made on Tuesday evening following a meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) presidency and national council.

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