Thursday, 26 May 2022

Jandroković Reassures Ukrainian Official of Croatia's Continuing Support

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - Croatia supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue providing Kyiv with humanitarian, political, and technical assistance, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday in Zagreb at a meeting with a deputy chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Olena Kondratiuk.

The Ukrainian deputy parliament speaker thanked Croatia for the support it has extended so far to her country, including the reception of several thousand refugees.

A press release issued by the Sabor quotes Jandroković as saying that he conveyed Croatians' strong solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Croatia, which itself was a victim of military aggression in the 1990s, can understand the grave situation that Ukrainian defenders and people are now experiencing, reads the press release.

Kondratiuk informed Jandroković of the current military and humanitarian state of affairs in Ukraine and notified him of Ukraine's efforts to be granted EU candidate status.

In this context, she thanked Croatia for its support to Ukraine's European aspirations and also for assistance in mine clearance and in the rehabilitation and treatment of wounded war veterans and for offering its experience in the peaceful reintegration of occupied areas and post-war reconstruction.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Jandroković: EU Should Focus on SE Europe, Moscow Might Use Vulnerabilities

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - The European Union should in particular focus on southeastern Europe and monitor the impact of the Ukraine war on the situation in the region as well as the potential growth of Russian influence, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Tuesday.

"We need to follow the potential effect of a spillover of the Ukraine conflict to neighbouring areas as well as to southeastern Europe," Jandroković said in his address on the second day of the conference of EU parliament speakers in Brdo Pri Kranju, Slovenia.

"I emphasise that the European Union should in particular focus on southeastern Europe," he added.

Jandroković said the main challenges to stability in the region were issues stemming from the past conflicts and Russia might use "vulnerabilities to expand its influence."

That's why it is necessary to support the European membership prospects, sovereignty and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the equality of all three of its constituent peoples and their legitimate representation in the country's political institutions, he added.

Jandroković said that the EU should focus on southeastern Europe because otherwise other countries would spread their influence and pose "a potential threat to the EU and our values."

"Russia is already showing an inclination towards these parts of Europe," he noted.

Jandroković said that Croatia "strongly condemns" the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, which began on 24 February, and that the Croatian Parliament had adopted a resolution by consensus condemning the invasion.

On the sidelines of the conference, Jandroković met on Monday with his counterparts Igor Zorčić from Slovenia, Jüri Ratas from Estonia and Markéta Pekarová Adamová from the Czech Republic, while on Tuesday he is due to meet with Spain's Meritxell Batet Lamaña.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Marić: Total Cost of Introducing the Euro About HRK 2 Billion

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - The cost of adapting the system to introduce the euro currency will cost about two billion kuna, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić revealed during a debate on the euro currency bill in the Sabor on Wednesday, underscoring that the positive aspects of that process outweighed the negative ones.

"We need to introduce the euro as soon as possible because Croatia is a highly eurorised country. Introducing the euro will mean a higher credit rating and hence lower interest rates. The business community also supports the euro, and being part of the euro area will better protect us in times of crisis," Marić said in response to concerns raised by lawmakers that introducing the euro would be an additional shock to citizens.

"When looking at the pros and cons of the euro, the balance is tipped towards the positive effects," Marić said.

He revealed that the total cost of adapting the entire system to the euro would cost about HRK 2 billion.

He said that consumer protection mechanisms have been foreseen and that in addition to dual prices, supervision would be conducted to prevent any unjustified price increases.

In those countries where the euro was introduced prices were rounded off, which meant an average increase of between 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points, while other inflationary pressures not related to euro introduction will be addressed by the government through measures to buffer the shock, Marić explained.

As far as the criteria regarding inflation are concerned, Croatia will meet them, he underlined.

Marić noted that the exchange rate to replace the kuna has been set at 7,5345 kuna for one euro and that it won't slide more than 15% up or down. The precise exchange rate will be known in July, he said.

For more information on Croatia's adoption of the euro, check out our dedicated business and politics sections.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Paladina Has Accepted Nomination to Help Post-quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Ivan Paladina, who has been nominated as the candidate for the new construction minister, said on Wednesday that he could not turn down the proposal made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for his nomination as it is a call to rebuild the earthquake-affected homes of Croatian citizens.

"We have little time and a lot of work to do. I accepted this proposal as it also concerns the call to reconstruct the homes of our compatriots," Paldina said while presenting his agenda at a joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy today.

He said that he is always guided by principles of cooperation, inclusion of different opinions and that he always listens to the opinions of professionals and wants to make things simpler.

"Administrative obstacles must not slow down the reconstruction of anyone's home and they must not hinder progress. People, who suffered damage in the (2020) earthquakes, must not fall victim to rules", he said.

He will also focus on making legislative changes so as to accelerate the processes of post-quake reconstruction.

Concerning the criticism from the Opposition that he was an executive of the company that ran the Kupari Luxury Hotels project, Paladina underscored that he had withdrawn from that project four years ago and that he launched procedures to exit from ownership, in this case, two years ago.

"All the investments I was included in were conducted in line with the law and market principles, and I paid my taxes accordingly", he said.

In response to the questions from opposition MPs, Paladina said that to date he has completed many successful investment projects in construction and real estate and that his experience could be useful for the post-quake reconstruction.

The ministerial nominee said that he had already consulted experts and has detected the main problems in the process of the post-quake reconstruction.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Government Sends Bill On Euro Introduction To Sabor

ZAGREB, 3 March 2022 - The government on Thursday sent the parliament a bill on the introduction of the euro as legal tender in Croatia for first reading, and, among other things, the bill concerns the basic principles of euro introduction, possibilities of exchanging kuna for euros and the period of both currencies being in use.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said the bill defines that, after the Council of the EU decides to introduce the euro and adopts a regulation determining a fixed conversion rate, the government will make a decision announcing the date to introduce the euro, the fixed rate of conversion, the start and end date of both currencies being in use, and the start and end date of dual price display, as well as other issues related to euro introduction.

The bill also defines fundamental principles to introduce the euro, including the principle of consumer protection, the principle of banning unjustified price increases, the principle of continuity of legal instruments, the principle of efficiency and economizing, and the principle of transparency of consumer information said Marić.

Cash exchanges will be possible in banks, FINA financial agency branches, and post offices for a period of 12 months as of the introduction of the euro.

"Citizens will be able to exchange 100 notes and 100 coins per transaction without any fee. After the 12 months expire, exchanges will be conducted in the Croatian National Bank without any fee, and it will be possible to exchange notes for an unlimited period and coins for a period of three years after the introduction of the euro," he underscored.

The period of both kuna and euros being in circulation will last 14 days after euro introduction. The bill also contains details regarding exceptions (poker machines, slot machines, ATMs).

The bill also contains regulations regarding dual price displays as a measure to protect consumers. Commercial enterprises will be obliged to show dual prices clearly, visibly noting the exchange rate. That obligation will apply as of September this year and ends at the end of 2023.

The bill defines also exceptions from dual price display where that isn't practical, for example at market stalls, mobile sales, farms, warehouses, slot machines, recyclable packaging, gift cards, and so on).

The bill defines rules for the conversion of deposits in accounts, kuna payment orders, kuna loans, kuna leasing contracts, and the like as well as adjusting interest rates where necessary. The bill also envisages the obligation to report to clients about the conversion, which must not put consumers in a less favorable position than the one they would be in if the euro had not been introduced.

The bill also brings rules related to preparing the budget and financial plans for the year preceding the year of euro introduction, rules for business bookkeeping, rules on reporting, bodies in charge of oversight, and rules related to violations.

"And that is assuming Croatia meets the set conditions and the process of introducing the euro is completed and the euro is introduced on 1 January 2023," said Marić. 

A total of HRK 32.8 million of budget bunds has been secured in 2022 to implement the bill, plus an additional HRK 3.6 million in 2023 and HRK 0.9 million in 2024.

A total of HRK 13.3 million has been secured in the state budget for the financial plans of extra-budgetary users in 2022, and HRK 1.4 million in 2023.

County budgets for 2022 have been secured HRK 5.78 million while city budgets have HRK 15.89 million secured for 2022 for the implementation of the law.

Public consultation on the bill was conducted between 17 January and 15 February 2022 and 128 comments were submitted. The bill will be discussed under the regular procedure.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Parliamentary Groups: Croatia Stands Firm With Ukraine

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Parliamentary groups on Friday unanimously backed  the adoption of a Declaration on Ukraine by the Sabor which most sharply condemns the Russian unprovoked aggression against Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence with the message, "Croatia stands firm with you."

Hardly anyone could have expected war on the European continent in the 21st century, which could have inconceivable consequences on security and the economy. The world order has been brought into question. This isn't only happening to Ukraine but to all of us, deputies underscored during the debate on the declaration.

They strongly supported the delivery of humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine and expressed readiness to accept its refugees.

"Croatia stand firm with you," minority deputy Vladimir Bilek (National minorities group), and added that world peace and order are facing the biggest challenge since World War II and that the situation in Ukraine reminds us greatly of the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

"God save the Ukrainian people,"  Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement), said claiming that we are living in a dangerous world. He is also concerned with Serbia's failure to condemn the Russian aggression, adding that it was justified for Croatia to purchase fighter jets and invest in its defence resources.

He warned that the sanctions against Russia will have repercussions on Croatia's economy too, hence it is important to take the security of the LNG terminal into account.

Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) warned that the crisis could spill over to our neighbourhood - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. "We have to be cautious and protect the interests of the Croatian people," underscored Pavliček.

Krešo Beljak (HSS and RF) assessed that Croatia has to exert pressure on neighbouring countries to state who they are sided with and to clearly call for their accession to the NATO alliance.

MP Milorad Pupovac (SDSS) expressed solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine and that it would be a great loss if after the Berlin Wall had come down for a new Iron Curtain to be raised.

Davor Ivo Stier (HDZ) said that Croatia firmly supports the European journey for Southeast Europe and NATO allies in our neighbourhood and called for Europe's future to be open for Serbia and for Kosovo.

He called on Bosniak leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to accept Croats as equal partners and not to compel them to tactical cooperation with Banja Luka and authorities in the Republika Srpska entity which is a branch of Belgrade.

Lawmakers welcomed the unity expressed by the country' leaders, the prime minister and president during these trying times.

All parliamentary groups welcomed the adoption of the Declaration on Ukraine and condemned Russia's unprovoked aggression sending a message of solidarity and encouragement to the Ukrainian people.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Sabor Speaker Worried by Russian Aggression, Expresses Solidarity With Ukrainians

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday voiced concerns over the latest developments in Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian nation.

"We denounce the Russian aggression on Ukraine and we hope that the hostilities will stop and that human lives will be saved," Jandroković said before the parliamentary debate on Croatia's declaration on Ukraine, drawn up by the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.

"All of us are following the developments in Ukraine with disbelief, anxiety and concern," the parliament's chief said.

The Russian aggression has violated all the tenets of the international order and law, he added.

"We must take into account Croatia's interests, and also being a country that experienced the Serbian aggression, we convey our solidarity with the victims and we will help them as much as we can and thus contribute to efforts to bring this sad episode to an end," Jandroković said.

On Thursday, the foreign affairs committee unanimously adopted the declaration on Ukraine.

The declaration states that the Croatian parliament calls on Russia to immediately stop the military attack and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

The parliament also condemns the recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent entities because that act represents a gross violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and undermines the foundations of the international order.

The document gives full support to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

The parliament expresses full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and calls on the Croatian government to provide humanitarian and technical assistance.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Parliament Adopts Package of Judicial Laws

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted a package of judicial laws as well as a report on the effects of epidemiological measures against coronavirus from 1 September to the end of December 2021.

The package of judicial laws includes amendments to the Courts Act, the State Attorney's Office Act, and the law governing the territorial jurisdictions and seats of courts and state attorney's offices. It specifies the election procedure for the Supreme Court President and Attorney General and introduces mandatory background checks for all judges and state attorneys every five years.

Court presidents and state attorneys will be required to apply for security checks with the competent security and intelligence agency through the Ministry of Justice.

In reference to the election of the Supreme Court President, the State Judicial Council (DSV) will submit timely and complete applications to the President of the Republic, and not his chief of staff, who will then request an opinion on the candidates from the competent authorities, a general assembly of the Supreme Court and the competent parliamentary committee.

If the President of the Republic does not recommend any of the candidates within 30 days, the DSV will revoke the public call for applications and advertise a new call within eight days.

In the case of expiry of the Supreme Court President's tern, the DSV will have the authority to appoint an acting president until a new president is elected. Under the present law, in this case, the duties of the Supreme Court President are carried out by the Vice President.

The State Attorney's Council (DOV) will submit applications for the position of Attorney General to the government which will then request an opinion on the candidates from the competent authorities and if the government does not recommend any of the candidates within 30 days, the DOV will revoke the public call for applications and advertise a new call within eight days.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Parliament Asks Gov't to Verify Signatures for Anti-COVID Referendum

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - Parliament on Friday asked the government to verify the number and authenticity of the signatures collected for the Bridge party's referendum petitions to abolish COVID certificates and the crisis management team, and to include at least two representatives of each petition in the process.

The government was also asked to check if all the signatures were collected in line with the Referendum Act.

Parliament passed the relevant conclusions, proposed by the Committee on the Constitution, with 77 votes, while 32 MPs were against and 13 abstained.

Before the vote, parliament rejected amendments by Bridge and the Social Democratic Party to ask the State Electoral Commission, rather than the government, to verify the signatures in 30 days and the SDP proposal to establish a parliamentary task force, comprising three members from the opposition and four from the majority, to supervise the count.

Speaker Gordan Jandroković said recently he could not say how much the verification would take and that once the signatures had been counted, the process was back in parliament's hands.

If it is established that Bridge collected enough signatures, parliament can either call a referendum or ask the Constitutional Court to assess the referendum questions.

Bridge delivered the signatures to parliament on 24 January, saying they had collected 410,533 for the petition against COVID certificates and 409,219 against the national COVID crisis management team, more than the 368,867 required (10% of eligible voters) for a referendum to be called.

Bridge calls out majority for not allowing State Electoral Commission to count votes

Before today's vote, MP Marin Miletić of Bridge called out the ruling majority for not allowing the State Electoral Commission to count votes because "everyone would be sure in that case."

He appealed to the majority's conscience during the vote, telling them not to be afraid of citizens and to allow the referendum.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

MP Deplores Rejection of Criminal Report for Wartime Murder of 4-Year-Old Girl

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - Željko Sačić of the Croatian Sovereignists party (HS) said on Friday the State Attorney General and the justice minister should demand an explanation of the decision of the Osijek County State Attorney's Office to scrap a criminal report against the murderers of a small girl in Borovo Selo in 1992.

The county office has dismissed the criminal report filed by an association of war veterans against the perpetrators of the March 1992 war crime in Borovo Selo where four-year-old Martina Štefančić and her grandmother were killed and her uncle was seriously wounded when there were no war operations there.

Sačić told the parliament that the explanation sent to the association read that of the seven perpetrators, some were amnestied and five were outside Croatia, and that the testimonies of the witnesses, who were 12 and 14 when the crime happened, could not be treated as credible.

Therefore, the HS party insists that State Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek and minister Ivan Malenica must demand an explanation in greater detail.

He said that this party would request convening the parliamentary committees on war veterans and on national security to discuss this matter.

Željko Štefančić, whose niece and mother were the victims killed during the occupation of the village, told Vukovar County Court in 2004 while testifying at a war crimes trial of eight former Serb paramilitaries, that one evening somebody had opened fire at his house and that he had been wounded. The witness did not see who or how many people entered his house. His mother and niece were taken to another room, where they were killed, according to his testimony.

For more, check out our politics section.

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