Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Zagreb Mayor: Amendment to City Budget To Increase Kindergarten Capacity

ZAGREB, 7 Dec, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that an amendment put forward by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to the city budget proposal for 2022 would be accepted to increase kindergarten capacity in the capital city amid plans to phase out allowances for stay-at-home parents.

The SDP is a junior partner in the city assembly to Tomašević's We Can! party.

"We plan an amount of HRK 52 million, which is twice as much money as the average in the past five years. An additional HRK 15 million will be set aside to rent facilities to serve as temporary kindergartens," he said.

The mayor said that an amendment regarding the stay-at-home parent scheme, put forward by the opposition HDZ party, would not be accepted.

"They asked that we take around HRK 200 million in subsidies from the ZET (city public transport company) to compensate for the decrease in allowances for stay-at-home parents. That would make ZET a lossmaker and prevent it from applying for EU funds," he explained.

Tomašević said that the opposition Bridge party was late with submitting an amendment regarding teaching assistants, which was why it could not be accepted but added that an even higher increase in the hourly wage for those assistants would be accepted, to make it amount to HRK 30. The mayor said he hoped next year money for that purpose would be obtained from EU funds.

The city administration will propose the City Assembly a budget in the amount of HRK 15.12 billion, which is 1.1 billion more than the revised budget for 2021.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Viktor Gotovac Elected New Leader of SDP’s Zagreb Branch

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Viktor Gotovac was elected leader of the Zagreb branch of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday after winning 696 votes in the second round of the internal party election on Saturday, while his rival Matej Mišić received 325 votes.

Of the 1,700 members of the party's Zagreb branch entitled to vote, 1,031 cast their ballot.

Speaking after the announcement of the election results, Gotovac thanked everyone for taking part in the election process and "showing that the SDP is important to them because they want it to be better, have new people and work honestly."

He called on SDP members, sympathisers and voters, as well as other people, to stand by them and help them become better. He said that the SDP should fight for social and existential values, municipal issues, as well as for ideas and ideology.

"We have to fight to get back Marshal Tito Square, to ensure that Aleksandra Zec gets a street or square in Zagreb. We have to fight to take power and nothing will stop us. The SDP is going forward," Gotovac said.

Aleksandra Zec was a 12-year-old girl executed together with her parents, Marija and Mihajlo, by Croatian police reservists under Tomislav Merčep in Zagreb in December 1991 during the war. The Zec family were ethnic Serbs.

Mišić congratulated Gotovac on being elected, saying that as of today the SDP continued working together.

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Sunday, 28 November 2021

First Round of Elections in SDP Completed, Zagreb Branch To Hold Another Round

ZAGREB, 28 Nov, 2021 - The first round of intraparty elections in the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) was held on Saturday, and the leader of the SDP Zagreb branch will be known next Saturday, with the two main contenders being Viktor Gotovac and Matej Mišić.

SDP members on Saturday elected presidents, vice presidents and members of party presidencies at the municipal and county levels.

The second round of intraparty elections for the Zagreb SDP branch will be held next Saturday, when SDP members will choose between Gotovac and Mišić.

Gotovac, a labour law professor at the Zagreb Law School, won 524 votes and Mišić 261.

In the first round of party elections the leaders of SDP town branches were elected, with Rijeka Mayor Marko Filipović having been elected the new president of the SDP branch in Rijeka, while the SDP branch in Osijek elected Milan Blagojević its leader and the branch in Split Damir Barbir.

Ostojić, Hajdaš Dončić re-elected leaders of SDP county branches

In the first round of party elections, Ranko Ostojić was re-elected leader of the SDP branch in Split-Dalmatia County while Siniša Hajdaš Dončić was re-elected president of the SDP branch in Krapina-Zagorje County.

Also re-elected to their posts were Mihael Zmajlović as head of the SDP branch in Zagreb County, Barbara Antolić Vupora as head of the party branch in Varaždin County, Umag Mayor Vili Bassanese as head of the Istria County SDP banch, Mitar Obradović as head of the SDP branch in Požega-Slavonia County and Kristina Ikić Baniček as head of the SDP branch in Sisak-Moslavina County.

The newly elected heads of SDP branches in other counties are Ivica Lukanović in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Jure Zubčić in Zadar County, Ploče Mayor Mišo Krstičević in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Krešimir Čulinović in Lika-Senj County, Mario Vučinić in Brod-Posavina County, Sanja Bježančević in Osijek-Baranja County, Goran Heffer in Vukovar-Srijem County, Tomislav Golubić in Koprivnica-Križevci County and Dalibor Domitrović in Karlovac County.

SDP members will choose between Karlo Klarin and Ivan Rajić for head of the SDP branch in Šibenik-Knin County in the second round next Saturday.

Elections for the SDP branch in Međimurje County were postponed due to a repeat of local elections in that county on 28 November, as were intraparty elections in Bjelovar-Bilogora County.

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Zmajlović, Ostojić and Goldstein President’s Ambassadorial Nominees - Večernji List

ZAGREB, 30 Oct, 2021 - Former Social Democrat minister of the interior Ranko Ostojić was to have been appointed Ambassador to Qatar, Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović was to have been appointed Ambassador to Montenegro and university professor and former ambassador to France Ivo Goldstein Ambassador to Greece.

Those were nominations that came from the office of President Zoran Milanović, who co-creates foreign policy with the government, but they were flatly rejected by the government, the Večernji List daily of Saturday says.

The Foreign Ministry said it considered the nominations to be partisan and an attempt to secure meal tickets for former party colleagues Ostojić and Zmajlović, who were not re-elected to the parliament while Zmajlović also lost the elections for Zagreb County head.

The ministry also considers that all candidates, notably Goldstein, are politically very active on the left.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, too, has expressed disagreement with Milanović's nominations. Without specifying who he was referring to, he said on Friday that the president was nominating failed Social Democrat county heads who had nothing to do with embassies and diplomacy.

Milanović said on Friday that the issue of ambassadorial nominations was being dealt with by his chief of staff Orsat Miljenić.

The president's other nominations were Nacional weekly reporter Dragan Đurić for Consul-General to Tuzla and Maja Čavlović, but those nominations did not cause controversy in the government.

On the other hand, the ministry proposed appointing diplomat and PM Plenković's advisor Vladimir Drobnjak as Ambassador to the United States, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Davor Ivo Stier Ambassador to the Vatican, and HDZ member Miro Kovač, who served as foreign minister in the Tihomir Orešković government in 2016, Ambassador to France.

The appointment of new ambassadors, which under the constitution the government and the president have to agree on, reached a deadlock just after New Year, when President Milanović said he would block the regular rotation as he wanted to be a barrier and prevent the HDZ "from taking everything it can," the daily said.

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Saturday, 2 October 2021

Ousted SDP Members Can’t Be in Parliamentary Group, Main Committee Decides

ZAGREB, 2 Oct, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party's Main Committee decided on Saturday that the four MPs ousted from the SDP could no longer be members of its parliamentary group and that this would also apply to all members of representative bodies at all levels who did not implement decisions of the party's bodies.

Main Committee chair Marija Lugarić told the press that 58 members voted for the decision, eight were against and five abstained.

She would not say what would happen to the MPs who voted against the ousting of Nikša Vukas, Zvane Brumnić, Rajko Ostojić and Marina Opačak Bilić from the parliamentary group at a group meeting expected on Wednesday nor if they too would be ousted from the party.

Besides those four, another 14 SDP MPs signed a document against ousting the four from the parliamentary group, which means that SDP leader Peđa Grbin has 18 of the party's 32 MPs against him.

Grbin: SDP's leadership and policy can be only one

He said the majority by which the Main Committee decision was adopted "shows that there are no doubts in the SDP as to the direction the party should take. That also shows that the SDP leadership is not divided and that the SDP's leadership and policy can be only one."

Grbin said he could not predict what would happen at the parliamentary group meeting, but that everyone would decide for themselves if they wanted to be part of the team or not.

Asked if he would see a possible rift within the parliamentary group as his political defeat, Grbin said he would be very sorry if any SDP member were to decide not to be part of the team any longer.

He said the MPs "who decide not to implement the Main Committee's decision will be saying that they don't want to be part of the team called the SDP." 

Grbin said Vukas, Brumnić, Ostojić and Opačak Bilić were ousted from the SDP because "we were faced with serious manipulation not befitting a serious political party."

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Sunday, 19 September 2021

SDP Leader Talks Conflict Within Party, COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 19 Sept, 2021 - Social Democratic Party president Peđa Grbin said on Saturday he was ready for radical measures against the caucus members who would be for the four ousted members staying in the caucus, adding that he would do his best to prevent a split within the party and that it was now up to the caucus.

The SDP parliamentary group has 32 members, of whom 18 demand that Grbin convene a caucus meeting to vote on the ousting of four caucus members - Rajko Ostojić, Zvane Brumnić, Nikša Vukas and Gordan Maras - who have been expelled from the party.

Speaking on Croatian Television, Grbin said the question was whether there was will in the caucus to resolve the situation through dialogue or continue the conflict.

He said it was now up to the parliamentary group to decide whether "the party will continue to deal with itself or start dealing with what citizens elected us for, which is to care for their interests and standard."

Asked if he was prepared to possibly have 12 or 14 MPs, Grbin said his goal was a strong SDP that was willing to stand up for people's interests.

He said there were many problems in Croatia and called the ruling HDZ "a clientelist organisation and a party which has done Croatia too much evil."

Grbin said if the situation in the SDP could not be solved through dialogue, he was prepared to take radical action, although he would rather not have to. He added that the situation was untenable and might become even more difficult if it was not solved shortly.

COVID certificates necessary because of negligence

Commenting on a protest against COVID rules held in Zagreb earlier in the day under the name Freedom Festival, Grbin said it was a festival of irresponsibility.

As for making COVID certificates a requirement in health and social care, he said Croatia's vaccination rate was the same as in India, Guyana and Colombia, and not as in Scandinavia as he would like.

Grbin said the certificates needed to be introduced "considering the inaction, negligence and poor government work," adding that "it's an indicator of failure and inaction."

He said the government should have but failed to assure people that nothing happened from vaccination, other than being safer.

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Saturday, 11 September 2021

Grbin Says He Feels Stupid Because of SDP Member Suspected of Faking Threats

ZAGREB, 11 Sept, 2021 - Social Democratic Party president Peđa Grbin said on Saturday he felt stupid because of SDP member Stjepan Kovač, who made up threats over which Grbin comforted him, but would not talk about his future in the party until he talked to him.

Grbin was responding to reporters who asked if Kovač would be punished by the party or even ousted after being arrested yesterday on suspicion of having staged death threats.

Grbin said he expected to have an answer in five to six days, adding that anyone who committed a crime must be held to account, regardless of which party they were from.

Asked if he felt deceived because he comforted a teary-eyed Kovač in front of the cameras over threats which Kovač allegedly made up, Grbin said he would do it again if a colleague told him that they were being threatened and if the police took the threats seriously enough to give them protection.

"A threat in politics is not allowed because it's not just a threat against a person, but is also a threat against the rule of law."

He said that if the charges against Kovač proved to be true, the colleagues who had been threatened for real would be brought in a "very unfavourable position because tomorrow everyone will question if the threat is real... making their life and work difficult."

Grbin said if Kovač was indeed guilty, "that's totally inappropriate." He added that he did not feel deceived. "But stupid? Certainly."

Reporters also asked him about Matija Posavec, who resigned as Međimurje County head today after admitting to bribe-taking. Posavec won a seat in parliament on the SDP slate and could now activate his term.

Grbin said a corrupt person who admitted to bribe-taking had no place in politics, including in the SDP and its parliamentary group.

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Saturday, 11 September 2021

Božinović: Opposition Seems Not to Want Corruption Cases to Be Prosecuted

ZAGREB, 11 Sept, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Saturday criticised statements by some Opposition MPs following arrests in two corruption cases in Međimurje County. 

"I am certain that already the present and the future will prove their cheap political statements wrong. They seem not to want such cases to be prosecuted," Božinović said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

Speaking after the arrests of Međimurje County head Matija Posavec and Social Democrat (SDP) MP Stjepan Kovač, MP Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party said on Friday that the arrests were politically motivated to "divert attention from the scandal in Kutina" involving the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, while the SDP's Arsen Bauk said that the timing of the arrests in two unrelated cases showed "a skilful manoeuvre" by the Attorney-General's Office (DORH).

Responding to these accusations, Božinović said that in the first eight months of this year the police had brought corruption charges in 86 percent more cases than in the same period last year. "This means that the police, along with USKOK (anti-corruption office) and DORH, are fully committed to their work, and great changes can be seen in this regard."

"However, no changes can be seen in reactions from the Opposition. Whenever the police and DORH do something, the Opposition immediately says that it is politicisation. I cannot understand those people at all," the minister said.

Commented on the fact that one of the suspects in the Kovač case is a police officer, Božinović said that the police have zero tolerance to any illegal behaviour. Last year proceedings were launched against more than 540 police officers and so far this year against more than 320 officers, he said. 

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Wednesday, 18 August 2021

SDP Chief Says Croatia Should Receive Afghan Refugees

ZAGREB, 18 Aug 2021 -  Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Peđa Grbin said on Tuesday his party advocated that Croatia receives Afghan refugees.                                                                    

Croatia should accept Afghan refugees, notably women, for several reasons. First of all, it is a matter of solidarity. Second of all, Croatia had taken part in a mission in Afghanistan. The most important question is whether the departure of refugees from Afghanistan is going to be organized or is 2015 going to happen all over again, Grbin said.

The SDP chief added that in 20 years, the international community failed to do anything in Afghanistan.

Addressing reporters after a 4-hour session of the party presidency, which focused on the dissolution of party city organization in Zagreb and Slavonski Brod, Grbin said the presidency had decided these processes were over and that they had been conducted in accordance with the SDP statute and party regulations.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

SDP Expels Six Prominent Members

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - Six prominent members of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) have not had their membership renewed following membership reviews in the party's Zagreb and Slavonski Brod branches, Hina learned unofficially.

The members in question are: MP and former cabinet minister Ranko Ostojić, MPs and former secretaries-general Zvane Brumnić and Nikša Vukas, MP Marina Opačak Bilić from Slavonski Brod, who was involved in a financial scandal, former head of the Zagreb branch Gordan Maras, and Tihomir Barišić, best man to former party leader Davor Bernardić.

The reasons for their expulsion are of a political nature. They were told that people who did damage to the party or refused to take an active part in recent local elections could not keep their membership cards.

With these decisions, the SDP has been left without four MPs and now holds 28 seats in the 151-seat parliament. The question is whether there will be more expulsions and how Bernardić will react, given that these are mainly his associates.

According to unofficial sources, the six expelled members were called by SDP leader Peđa Grbin to tell them that their membership would not be renewed.

After the membership review in Zagreb, it is estimated that of the previous 4,000 members about 1,700 are left now, as members who could not be contacted or have not paid their membership fees for more than a year have also been expelled.

Writing in a Facebook post, Maras said that he would never sell his views to win anyone's favours. "What matters the most to me is you who support me without any interest and just because you know that i am OK. There are stages in life and nothing happens without a reason. I believe i didn't let you down," Maras said in a message to his followers.

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