Friday, 5 June 2020

SDP Accuses Government of Downplaying Fascism

ZAGREB, June 5, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said on Friday that the court ruling allowing the use of the Ustasha salute "For the Homeland Ready" in a song was scandalous, adding that this was the result of fascism being downplayed the current government.

"The ruling by the High Misdemeanour Court that Marko Perkovic Thompson may use the salute For the Homeland Ready (in his song) is scandalous. Imagine a German court allowing the use of the salute Sieg Heil or Heil Hitler! in Germany," Bernardic said at a press conference while commenting on the court ruling.

He said that the ruling was the result of four years of failure to deal with this problem and of fascism being downplayed by this government which legalized the salute For the Homeland Ready through the commission dealing with the consequences of the rule of undemocratic regimes.

He stressed that Croatia was united in the 1991-1995 Homeland War and that no one had the right to cast a stain on it by using the fascist symbols of the Ustasha regime that was defeated in the Second World War.

Milanovic: Court ruling is odd

During his visit to Sisak on Thursday, President Zoran Milanovic was asked by reporters to comment on the court ruling. He said he had not seen it, but that it seemed odd to him.

"The matter should have been dealt with more clearly by the criminal code, but no one, of course,  should go to prison for that, and I will have no influence on it. It should be an indictable offense punishable by a suspended sentence or a caution. In this way, we only put judges in silly situations and it puts a great burden on them," Milanovic said, adding that the police would not know what to do either. 

He said that Article 5 of the Public Order Act was vague and should be changed.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

SDP Chief Says Gov't Only Reform Is Reform Of Holiday Calendar

ZAGREB, May 30, 2020 - Opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said on Saturday, on the occasion of Statehood Day, that the only reform implemented by the government led by Andrej Plenkovic was the reform of the holiday calendar.

Offering his congratulations to Croatians for Statehood Day, Bernardic noted that Statehood Day was again observed on May 30 by a decision of the incumbent government.

"Holiday dates change, corruption stays, corruption was and remains the trademark of this government, led by the HDZ," said Bernardic, adding that he could not help but think that the latest arrests in a case involving the construction of a wind park were politically motivated and served to divert public attention from the "latest scandals involving (ministers) Bosnjakovic, Coric and INA" and create the impression ahead of elections that state institutions were doing something about corruption.

"Everyone knows that this is the most corrupt government in Croatia's history and that 11 of its ministers had to go because of suspicion of corruption," Bernardic said at the Mirogoj cemetery, where together with other leaders of the RESTART coalition he laid wreaths.

"That topic is irrelevant," he said when asked by reporters if his coalition would, when it came to power, change the holiday calendar.

"The most important topic at the moment is how to save jobs, increase wages and bring back to the country more than 150,000 people who have emigrated," he said.

Croatia will have to wait for money from the EU

Bernardic believes that Croatia will have to fight hard for the 10 billion euros to be allocated by the EU for the country to salvage its economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That money has to pass certain bodies, it is just a proposal by the European Commission and we will have to wait for it, Croatia has unfortunately overslept its EU presidency and fortunately Germany is taking over on July 1," said Bernardic, describing Croatia's EU presidency as inactive.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Bernardic: Decisions Immediately For Key Issues That Should Have Been Resolved

ZAGREB, May 27, 2020 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP) Restart coalition on Wednesday presented its election platform "Agenda for a Start'  for the 5 July parliamentary election with SDP leader Davor Bernardic saying that they are the only true force for a change and a restart.

"It's time for a new policy, a policy of courage, sincerity, and trust. An election awaits us. The choice does not seem to be that difficult. Order or chaos. Honesty or corruption. Justice and equality before the law or protection for the privileged," said Bernardic accompanied by his coalition partners - Silvano Hrelja, leader of the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSU), Anka Mrak Taritas of the Glas party, Goran Aleksic of the Snaga party and leader of the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak.

He announced that the Restart coalition government would make decisions on key issues in its first week in power that should have been resolved prior to the election.

"We will extend job keeping measures through a law on shorter working hours. We will adopt a law on a one-year moratorium on loan repayments, a decision on providing loans by financial institutions for small and medium-sized enterprises and a set of measures for the socially most vulnerable citizens who count for more than a million and we will send the bill on Zagreb's post-quake reconstruction on the fast track to parliament," Bernardic said while listing the first steps if they won the election.

He said that in the past five years not one serious reform has been conducted in the country.

The attempted pension reform failed. The education reform does not exist and we will remember the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) term in government for a wave of strikes and resistance by the entire education community, said Bernardic.

Taking stock of the current government's term, Bernardic said that today, Croatia had more than a million people living on the verge of poverty, half of them being pensioners. The health system is burdened with scandals and amassed debts of HRK 9.1 billion.

Our objective, he said, is to increase pension allowances by introducing guaranteed pension allowances of 70% of the average wage, increase the minimum wage to HRK 4,000, and increasing the level non-taxable income to HRK 5,000 which will immediately lead to a wage increase for more than 700,000 workers, he said.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Jandrokovic: No Grand Coalition with SDP or Coalition with Skoro

ZAGREB, May 25, 2020 - Croatian Parliament Speaker and secretary-general of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Gordan Jandrokovic, said on Monday that a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was out of the question, as was a coalition with Miroslav Skoro's Homeland Movement, and that cooperation with Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic was unlikely.

"The HDZ will run in elections by itself, our coalition partners are the citizens, there will be no grand coalition with the SDP, and we will also not enter a coalition with Skoro," Jandrokovic told Croatian Radio, noting that the media should "ask Skoro and (SDP leader Davor) Bernardic if they will cooperate, I think it is about time to ask that question as well".

"There will be no talks with Skoro," Jandrokovic answered when asked if there was a possibility to at least talk with Skoro if that proved crucial for forming a government, and how much of a problem Skoro's partners, for instance, Hrvoje Zekanovic and Zlatko Hasanbegovec, could be.

"You have mentioned certain people, we will not cooperate with them because they are not a team who we consider would be capable of leading Croatia responsibly and seriously," Jandrokovic said, confirming that the HDZ's cooperation with Zagreb's Mayor, Milan Bandic, was also in question.

The HDZ objects to Bandic's criticising the government over its response to the consequences of the earthquake which hit Zagreb on March 22.

"It is unusual that Bandic has accused the government unprovoked, and it seems that we are becoming distant to such an extent that cooperation after the election will be impossible," Jandrokovic said.

As for cooperation with the Croatian People's Party (HNS), Jandrokovic did not want to speak about it as of yet.

We first need to see their election result, I would not comment on it yet, Jandrokovic noted.

Jandrokovic, who will be running in parliamentary elections for the sixth time, did not reveal in which constituency he would run. The decision on the order of candidates on electoral lists must first be reached by the competent party bodies, and before that happens it would not be appropriate to go public with such information, Jandrokovic said.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

SDP Chief Promises Construction Of Senior Homes With 10,000 Accommodation Units

ZAGREB, May 24, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardic, who on Sunday visited Split as a stop of on his party's campaign trail, said that the SDP agenda included the construction of retirement homes with about 10,000 accommodation units.

Bernardic said that the SDP planned the construction of new senior homes so that "pensioners, whose numbers are growing in Croatia from day to day, can have a dignified life in their senior age."

He said that the SDP agenda includes also the construction of flats that can be rented by undergraduates, young families, young researchers, and others who cannot live in their home towns, and in this context he criticised the currently high rent prices of flats in Split and other cities.

Bernardic said that the whole agenda of this strongest Opposition party would soon be unveiled and that it would include plans for digitisation of the country, fight against corruption, the establishment of an office for suppression of tax fraud, which he called the USKOK for tax frauds, in reference to the current Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK), the overhaul of the judiciary, and legislation on checking the origins of someone's wealth.

During his stay in Split, Bernardic especially criticised the situation in the city's senior home in Vukovarska Street where 18 of the residents died in recent weeks after the coronavirus made its way to that institution. He accused the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of the developments in that home and for the fact that no one had been brought to justice for that.

The SDP chief would not comment on anything to reporters about the HDZ response that when it came to ethics, Bernardic should be aware that he himself had been found by the Conflict of Interest Commission to violate the principle of transparent action. In late 2019, the Conflict of Interest Commission recently established that Bernardic violated the principle of transparent action when, in 2014, he accepted a scholarship from the Cotrugli Business School worth HRK 263,000 because he received the scholarship as a politician and not as an expert.

Asked by the press about those HDZ comments and whether he had paid back the "contentious (scholarship) grant", he said that he did not want to comment any more "on the most corrupt government in the Croatian history".

Saturday, 23 May 2020

SDP Chief Retorts To Plenkovic: Vote For HDZ Is Vote For Corruption

ZAGREB, May 23, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said on Saturday in Dubrovnik that voting for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) meant voting for corruption.

Responding to Plenkovic's statement in an interview that a vote for Miroslav Skoro was a vote for the SDP, the opposition leader thus reiterated his accusations against the HDZ.

He went on to say that during the four-year of the term of the current government Plenkovic "has hidden behind Brussels, his aides, various task forces, the virus, and crisis management teams."

Commenting on Plenkovic's statement that the ban on Sunday work will be lifted if it is established that it is no longer required epidemiologically, but that he is for Sunday to be a non-working day, the SDP chief said that Plenkovic could not decide whether to have working or non-working Sundays.

"He could not take a position on important decisions for Croatia. Therefore, he cannot be at the helm of Croatia, and he will not be after 5 July," Bernardic said at a news conference in Dubrovnik before an SDP meeting.

Bernardic accused the Plenkovic government of lack of care for the tourism sector and promised that as soon as the SDP won the election, that party would reduce Value Added Tax in tourism and hospitality to 10%. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

SDP Leader Says President's Statement Symbolic Gesture Of Neutrality

ZAGREB, May 22, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said during a visit to Sisak on Friday that the SDP-led coalition would assume responsibility for the country after the July 5 election, and that President Zoran Milanovic's statement that he would not go to the polls was a symbolic gesture of neutrality.

Commenting on the political situation in Sisak, Bernardic said that its Social Democrat mayor Krstina Ikic Banicek was working miracles without any support from the state.

"Not only has the state not implemented the necessary reforms, but it also has not even let the town use the premises of the former steelworks for a technology incubator," he said, adding that nonetheless many local projects had been completed, bringing Sisak back to life.

Milanovic's statement symbolic gesture of neutrality

Commenting on President Zoran Milanovic's statement that after the elections he would not be receiving individual members of parliament for consultations in his office, Bernardic said that it was a responsible message and that the president acted in line with the Constitution.

As for Milanovic's statement that he would not go to the polls, Bernardic said that it was "important for as many voters as possible to go to the polls and show what they think about what we have been witnessing for the past four years - unprecedented political corruption and lack of reforms."

Asked whether the SDP's slates would also include party members who had been suspended, he said that all party members who were willing to work in the interest of citizens would be on the party slates.

He also noted that he would not be commenting on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's statements until July 5, after which, he said, there would be no need to do so anymore.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Plenkovic: Milanovic's Statement Striking Message To SDP Leader

ZAGREB, May 22, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that President Zoran Milanovic's statement that he might not go to the polls to vote in the parliamentary election is a striking message to Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic and voters on the left.

"I didn't have time to see his interview because I was in Rijeka. I think that that is a striking message for Davor Bernardic, and for voters on the left," Plenkovic said when asked to comment on Milanovic's statement about considering not to go to the polls on 5 July for the reason of impartiality.

Considering Milanovic's statement that there would not be the usual consultations after the election, Plenkovic said that if voters give the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) their confidence, after the election the party would talk with potential partners.

"As usual, we will seek 76 signatures and when someone has 76 signatures regardless of the model of consultations, everything is clear," Plenkovic said.

Asked whether his position as prime minister was an advantage in the parliamentary election, Plenkovic claimed that in the last campaign he was not in government yet HDZ won then too.

"The theory of separating the party from politics does not exist. For example, after a president is elected he is no longer a member of any party hence he has the liberty to say he won't go to the poll and support Bernardic who had strongly supported him to become president," concluded Plenkovic.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

SDP Chief: After Election Victory, Ten-Year Revitalisation of Slavonia and Baranja

ZAGREB, May 20, 2020 - Social Democratic Party leader Davor Bernardic said on Wednesday that after the election victory of the SDP-led coalition, ten years of revitalizing Slavonia and Baranja would ensue.

"The people here do not deserve to live in poverty. Our task, through the Slavonia 2030 program is to revitalize Slavonia and Baranja in ten years, to increase agricultural productivity twofold, to ensure subsidies for the smallest. To ensure so that they can place their goods and not be racketeered by retail chains and to boost industry," Bernardic said in Vukovar during his election trail.

To show that that is possible, Bernardic pointed out the example of Nova Gradiska Mayor, Vinko Grgic of the SDP who, as he said, had provided the town with investments valued at HRK 2.5 billion.

"Nova Gradiska is becoming a leader in Slavonia and people elected Grgic not because he is good looking and capable but because they decided to vote for themselves," Bernardic underlined.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Restart Coalition Says It Is Team for Defending Croatia from HDZ

ZAGREB, May 9, 2020 - Leaders of five opposition parties on Saturday presented the Restart Coalition in which they will run in the coming parliamentary election, announcing a new start for Croatia and the defence of the country against the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The Restart Coalition comprises the Social Democratic Party (SDP) led by Davor Bernardić, the Croatian People's Party (HSS) of Krešo Beljak, the Croatian Pensioner's Party (HSU) of Silvano Hrelja, the Civil and Liberal Alliance (GLAS) headed by Anka Mrak Taritaš, and the Civil Activism Party (SNAGA) of Goran Aleksić.

"Croatia needs a restart more than ever, a new beginning on sound foundations, this time without corruption, justly, not with cronyism, with competent ones, not parasites. Our name is our programme, a complete restart of Croatia," Bernardić said at a press conference.

He said people were hopeless and that over a million lived on the brink of poverty.

"Due to numerous scandals and debts, healthcare is facing a total collapse, the education reform is non-existent, the security system is lagging, the state apparatus is overstaffed and doesn't fulfil its purpose. The situation in the judiciary has never been worse. Corruption has seeped into every pore of our society," said Bernardić.

"More than half the government had to go due to suspicion of corruption and it is still in power thanks to political corruption, to the buying of members of parliament, which has destroyed people's faith in the system and institutions," he added.

Bernardić said that when they came to power they would reduce the number of ministries, towns and municipalities as well as the inefficient state administration, and digitise the country and all public services and processes so that the state administration was as close to citizens as possible, but without corruption.

"We will fight corruption by all means, changing laws, making punishment stricter as well as reforming the judiciary, education and healthcare," he said, adding that they would release Croatia's huge potential, boosting industry and exports, relaxing the tax burden on labour and stimulating investment.

"We believe in a new policy, a policy of honesty, courage and trust, a policy and a government which works for citizens, not for itself. We don't want to just turn over a new leaf in our history but write a completely new book, building a strong country," Bernardić said, announcing a new start for Croatia with no more lies, corruption, betrayal and deceit.

He said that in the Restart Coalition they were not distributing positions but concentrating on the platform and a fundamental agreement on jointly running in the election and restarting Croatia "so that Croatia can have a shot at success and the children being born today a shot at a better life."

Bernardić said slates would be discussed when coronavirus restrictions were lifted and election rallies possible. The candidate for prime minister will be the president of the biggest coalition party and the party which wins the most votes, he added.

Beljak said Croatia had needed a new start long before the current crisis and that this crisis had brought to light all of Croatia's problems. "Our coalition has enough know-how, experience, quality and political battles behind it to be able to finally get Croatia started."

Beljak said the HDZ had brought Croatia to the brink of destruction and that it should be opposed. We are the new start, he added.

Mrak Taritaš said the coalition represented a team for the defence of Croatia from the HDZ. "When Croatia had to be pulled out of the biggest crises and abysses the HDZ threw Croatia into, we were the ones who brought our country back to the right path, the path of development, recovery and a functioning state."

She said it was no coincidence that the coalition was formed on Victory Day and Europe Day because this symbolised the Croatia they wanted. Croatia can and deserves to be a country which is not chained by the corruption and incompetence with which the incumbent government is keeping it at the bottom, she added.

Hrelja said Croatia was barely surviving today and that this did not bode for a good and bright future. His party's focus as part of the Restart Coalition will remain on the pension and healthcare systems as well as labour, he added.

Aleksić said he was confident the coalition would take responsibility for Croatia in the coming parliamentary election because it deserved to given its track record in parliament.

The coalition is talking with many county and municipal heads as well as mayors and regional parties such as the PGS and the IDS. Next week it will sign an agreement with Bjelovar-Bilogora County head Damir Bajs.

More elections news can be found in the Politics section.

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