Monday, 29 June 2020

Plenkovic: SDP Is Trying To Undermine Coronavirus Response Team's Credibility

ZAGREB, June 29, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Sunday he regretted that during its election campaign the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) was trying to undermine the credibility of the national coronavirus response team and the professionals involved in the team.

"It's not good when politicians, quack doctors and specialists from other scientific disciplines start dispensing their advice rather than listen to those who helped us overcome the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak in February, March, and April," Plenkovic said in response to questions from the press after meeting members and sympathisers of his HDZ party in the eastern city of Osijek. 

"Right now we have a slightly increased number of infections, but like elsewhere in the world, in the time ahead we will need to balance between protecting public health and maintaining the economy and tourism," he said.

"It should be recalled that thanks to the government's efforts the entire healthcare system has been raised to a high level, protective equipment has been provided. All that has been done by the government of the HDZ and not the opposition, and we will continue to behave responsibly like that," he added.

Asked to comment on Bosnian media reports about Bosnian citizens being denied transit through Croatia and that the Bosnian foreign ministry had announced reciprocal measures, Plenkovic said that the two countries should make maximum efforts to reduce the number of new coronavirus cases for the sake of the citizens of both countries.

"We will pursue the dialogue in that regard, and as soon as the epidemiological situation allows, we will lift those measures," Plenkovic said.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

SDP Tells Capak Not To Engage In Politics

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Niksa Vukas said on Saturday that Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak (HDZ), a member of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, should deal with his profession, not politics.

Vukas was responding to Capak's statement earlier today that by deciding to self-isolate, the SDP's Rajko Ostojic was insulting epidemiologists.

He told reporters the crisis management team was not doing its job but campaigning for the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union). "Three months ago, every contact went into self-isolation, now a person who has been in contact with an infected person and self-isolates of their own accord is an enemy."

The president of the SDP's health council, Danko Vrdoljak, said the current spike in infections was the result of the crisis management team's incomprehensible recommendations because people did not know how to behave.

The SDP's public health coordinator, Sasa Srica, again called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to self-isolate because he was in close contact with an infected person.

He said the crisis management team should realise that the HDZ's election rallies were pandemic hotspots as they drew many people who did not keep a distance.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Bernardic: Our Task Is To Further Decentralise Croatia

ZAGREB, June 24, 2020 - Leader of the Social Democratic Party Davor Bernardic, who is at the helm of the Restart coalition, said on Wednesday that the coalition's task was to further decentralise Croatia and enable Istria, known for its tolerance and inclusiveness, to develop even faster.

Only investments can change the economic structure

He added that for that reason one of the first measures the Restart coalition would put in place would be for a zero tax rate on wages of up to HRK 5,000 so that workers could immediately receive HRK 300 more in their monthly wages.

The SDP-led government would also immediately reduce VAT in hospitality and tourism.

He added that one of the fundamental problems over the past four years was that the government had introduced taxation on investments or reinvested profit which, he said, the Restart coalition would once again abolish because it wanted to attract investments to Croatia "because only investments can change our economy's structure."

National coronavirus crisis management team is a political body

Responding to reporters' questions, Bernardic said that the national coronavirus crisis management team's likely decision to change the border regime with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro was belated as shown by "the escalation of the corona crisis."

"It's obvious that the crisis management team is in a fact a 'political team' because its key leaders are on HDZ's election slates. That is not good given that because of the election, they do not have time to deal with the coronavirus which is why it has spread.

"Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should go into self-isolation. However, it is obvious that one set of rules applies to citizens and another to the prime minister and HDZ members. That is an injustice that citizens feel," said Bernardic.

Monday, 22 June 2020

HNS Cancels All rallies, SDP-led Coalition Scraps Pre-Election Events in Zadar

ZAGREB, June 22, 2020 - The Croatian People's Party (HNS) has decided to cancel all election rallies and events from its campaign tour in the run-up to the 5 July election, urging other political parties to follow its example due to a rising number of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

Following the developments in Zadar where a few tennis players and participants in Novak Djokovic exhibition tournament were diagnosed with the coronavirus, the RESTART coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) stated on Monday that it had cancelled all its campaigning events scheduled for Monday evening in that Adriatic city.

The RESTART coalition says in a press release that it has decided to postpone the rally in Zadar for general health reasons.

The HNS leader Predrag Stromar said in a press release on Monday that the HNS would continue presenting its platform online and by media outlets, underscoring that the "health of our citizens is of utmost importance."

Stromar recalls that the first wave of COVID-19 epidemic has caused negative economic consequences, and one should not allow a new lockdown.

This should be considered primarily by those candidates who are running for the premiership in the coming elections. Political activities must not be given priority over the safety and health of people or over economic activity, he added.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Milakovic Says Closer To SDP In Views Because Of Stand On Minority Rights

ZAGREB, June 17, 2020 - The president of the Democratic Alliance of Serbs and Deputy Mayor of the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar, Srdjan Milakovic, submitted his slate to the State Electoral Commission (DIP) on Tuesday.

Milakovic told the press that his list of candidates was targeting one seat in parliament and that their views were closer to those of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) due to their position on human and minority rights.

Milakovic said he is aware that the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) is controlling more or less all Serb political and cultural institutions and that the SDSS is confident that it will win all three seats intended for the Serb minority in parliament.

He, however, added that the Democratic Alliance of Serbs was also recognised as the slate that was representing interests of the Serb minority, voicing confidence his slate had a shot at the coming election.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Bernardic: Church Should Not Be Interfering in Politics

ZAGREB, June 16, 2020 - The leader of the SDP and the Restart coalition, Davor Bernardic, said on Tuesday that the Church should not be interfering in politics and elections because Croatia is a secular country, commenting on the recommendations by the Croatian Bishops' Conference for the July 5 parliamentary election.

"First of all, Croatia is a secular country and the Church should not be interfering in politics or in elections. This suggests that they are dissatisfied with the government because it failed to ban work on Sundays," Bernardic said at a presentation of the Restart coalition's education programme.

Speaking of the position of prime minister within the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and the Restart coalition, he said that under a decision by the SDP's main committee the president of the SDP is the candidate for prime minister.

Bernardic said that an interview with the head of the Homeland Movement, Miroslav Skoro, clearly showed that Skoro intended to form a coalition with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, adding that a vote for Skoro was a vote for the HDZ and vice versa.

Asked why he had declined an invitation to face off against Plenkovic in a debate on the public television service HRT, Bernardic reiterated that he had confirmed his participation in debates on the commercial television channels Nova TV and RTL during the official part of the election campaign.

"There is an impression that this is a competition for the President of the Republic or a tennis match between me and Plenkovic. No, this is the presentation of the best team and the best programme for Croatia. I know it's embarrassing for Plenkovic to talk about his team because 15 people have left it," Bernardic said.

As for Zeljko Sabo, who has been included on the SDP's election slate although he was found guilty of corruption by a court of law, Bernardic said that the rehabilitation period had passed.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Bernardic: We'll Have Enough Seats To Form A Firm And Stable Government

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 - The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Davor Bernardic, said on Saturday he was confident that together with their partners from the centre-left Restart coalition they would win enough votes in the forthcoming election to form a firm and stable government.

"Today is a very important day for the SDP on the road to a final victory at this election and I am certain that after this day we will be a step closer to it because we have the most competent people, as we showed at the European and presidential elections," Bernardic said in his opening remarks at a meeting of the party's main committee where lists of candidates were to be agreed.

He said that their mission was to ensure a better life for the citizens and that no one would stop them from achieving that. "Only together can we succeed, as we did at the European and presidential elections, riding on a wave of unity, good ideas, good programs, and the faith and vision that our country deserves better."

"That's what will happen at this election too. Rest assured that the SDP and its coalition partners will have a sufficient number of seats to form a firm and stable government. Today I am certain of a victory more than ever before," Bernardic said.

He said that Croatia needs a decent, responsible, and transparent government with a strategy to address the present crisis and with a clear vision of the future. In the past four years Croatia has not carried out a single reform and lags behind other EU countries on all criteria, while it can do better and deserves better, he added.

Bernardic said that If elected, in the first week in office the Restart coalition will extend the job retention scheme by passing a law on a shortened work week, a law on a moratorium on loan repayments, a decision for the development bank HBOR and the SMEs agency HAMAG to provide loans to small businesses and family-run farms, a set of measures for the most vulnerable social groups and a law on the reconstruction of Zagreb after the March 22 earthquake.

He said that his government would have five priorities - kick-start economic recovery and growth, boost employment, wages and pensions growth, a crackdown on corruption, implement a comprehensive digital transformation of the system, reform the state, and local government system, and reform the healthcare system.

"Our goal is a progressive, modern, and successful Croatia. At this election, the citizens will choose whether they want a Croatia free of corruption, poverty, and injustice or a return to the old ways. They will decide whether they want a Croatia without discrimination that will give everyone, and not just some, a chance to succeed," the SDP leader said.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Restart Coalition: Green Economy to Create 100,000 Jobs

ZAGREB, June 10, 2020 - Leader of the Restart Coalition and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardic on Wednesday announced that his government would work actively on a prompt transition towards a circular economy so that it reaches a share of 25% and by the end of the decade creates 100,000 jobs.

"Based on numerous indicators, Croatia is at the bottom in Europe in terms of the judiciary, corruption, living standards, the economy's competitiveness, absorption of EU funds, and in applying a circular economy," Bernardic warned while presenting the Restart Coalition's green development election platform.

"The share of circular use of the material is 4.4% whereas the average in the EU is 11.7%. We are eighth from the bottom with regard to ecological innovations and we account for just 38% of the EU average with regard to productivity in all sectors of the bio-economy or €13,000 in added value for each employee, while in the EU that is €41,000," said Bernardic.

The EU's New Green Deal is a key development document that foresees Europe's social and economic transformation by 2050, which means that Croatia has to work more intensively and faster on the transition from a linear to a circular economy by adopting and implementing the green transformation strategy, he underscored.

Considering that Croatia imports 50% of its food and energy, there is room in these sectors for green development and employing a large number of people, he added. 

One of the first moves will be to adopt a Circular Economy Strategy which foresees the construction of 100 bio-composting and waste sorting plants and 50 smaller bio-gas units with EU funds.

He announced that the main source of green transformation funding would be from the EU's Horizon Europe fund, in addition to state and local government budgets, the Environment Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development and commercial banks, along with private investments and donations.

SDP green policy advisor Mirela Holy underlined that green transformation has to be the main paradigm of change and that the New Green Deal is the EU's key development document which entails large investments in energy efficiency.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Bernardic: Plenkovic Pursuing Traitorous Policy

ZAGREB, June 8, 2020 - Social Democratic Party president Davor Bernardic on Monday accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of pursuing a policy which betrayed national interests because Hungarian PM Viktor Orban was laying claims on Rijeka and that in return, Plenkovic was delivering Croatian oil.

"Orban is Plenkovic's friend. He claims parts of Croatian territory and as a reward, Plenkovic delivers Croatian oil to Budapest," he said in response to questions from the press, calling this a "policy of betraying Croatia's national interests."

As for the announcement from Canada that Croatian citizens there would not be able to vote in Croatia's parliamentary election because of COVID-19, Bernardic said the key task of the government and the state was to make sure that every Croatian citizen could go to their polling station anywhere in the world.

That was one of the reasons why the SDP asked the COVID-19 crisis management team to ensure that citizens can vote, notably in care homes, he said.

Asked if he would sign a green-left coalition petition for the president to convene an extraordinary parliamentary session after the election so as to have a law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb passed, Bernardic said that the SDP-led Restart Coalition, after winning the election, would pass that law at parliament's first session.

Our experts from various fields are working on that bill and our goal is that citizens return to their homes as soon as possible, that we activate the construction sector and stop the real estate brokerage currently going on in Zagreb because people have moved out and their properties have been devalued, Bernardic said.

Commenting on a public opinion poll according to which 42% of citizens would not go to the polls, he urged citizens to vote and "say no to the thieving government" because, he said, it concerned every citizen what Croatia would look like and if it would be free of corruption.

Monday, 8 June 2020

SDP Official Physically Assaulted, Attacker Arrested

ZAGREB, June 8, 2020 - The president of the Social Democratic Party's Osijek-Baranja County branch and former MP, Domagoj Hajdukovic, was physically assaulted in Osijek on Sunday, sustaining light injuries, and the attacker has been arrested, county police said on Monday.

Without identifying either the attacker or the victim, police said they were notified around 5.30 p.m. on Sunday by a 39-year-old man that he had been verbally and physically attacked in the street by a 26-year-old man known to him.

Doctors established that he was lightly injured.

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