Monday, 22 March 2021

Tomašević Announces Reconstruction of Zagreb in Four Dimensions

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - A Zagreb Mayor hopeful, Tomislav Tomašević, warned on Monday on the first anniversary of the Zagreb quake that nothing had been done in the post-quake reconstruction and promised the rebuilding of the city in four dimensions if he won the 16 May local election.

"We have come to know that we do not have not one decision forwarded to the Reconstruction Fund nor has any action been taken," Tomašević told a press conference in front of the City Hall, which was organised by his We Can party and its partners: "Zagreb is Ours " and OraH parties.

He warned that the fund and Ministry of Construction are passing the buck regarding to whether decisions have been written or not and the problems they had outlined during the debate on the Reconstruction Act have now occurred.

He pushed for bringing together experts under the one roof so that good decisions can be made faster.

Tomašević said the current situation could be seen as an opportunity for reconstruction and also for earthquake-resistant development of the city in four dimensions including physical reconstruction which is aimed at increasing earthquake resilience and developing earthquake-proof infrastructure.

The plan is also to reconstruct public places which will give a social dimension to the historical centre of town and suburbs on the rim of Sljeme mountain that will include local construction companies in rebuilding projects and will increase energy efficiency and improve the quality of living as part of the fourth "green" dimension. 

MP Sandra Benčić added that the Reconstruction Fund had received money however it was not being used because blueprints had not been approved through a tender that was advertised.

They believe that the key mechanism to fund reconstruction is in the European ITU mechanism of integrated territorial management whereby structural funds are are managed by city agglomerations.

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Thursday, 4 March 2021

MP Tomislav Tomašević: "Bandić Not Mayor Any More, But His Network Remains"

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - Tomislav Tomašević, the Green-Left Bloc's candidate for Mayor of Zagreb, said on Thursday he was prepared to deal with the legacy and network of the late mayor Milan Bandić, following comments that Bandić's death has shaken his position as an election favourite.

"Bandić is not the mayor any more, but his network, his legacy and problems are still present. We have been preparing for long to deal with these problems. We have entered politics not to be against, but in favour, to deal with the problems and raise the standards of living in Zagreb. Also, we want to change Zagreb in order to change Croatia," Tomašević said.

The present management model in Zagreb did not emerge with Bandić nor will it end with him. It will end only if true change occurs, and we are the sole guarantor of that, he added.

"The coalition between the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and Bandić has been stable for five years. Who ran Zagreb before Bandić? The HDZ. Who rules Croatia on the basis of clientelism and corruption? The HDZ. If we look at all the local 'sheriffs' in Croatia, the model of local 'sheriffs' must be dismantled. The best place to show this is the City of Zagreb, because it is a symbol," Tomašević said.

He said he did not think he was politically incorrect because he had not attended Bandić's funeral and signed the book of condolence in City Hall. He said he had extended his condolences to the family, cancelled all his campaign activities and refrained from making public statements until today.

Tomašević said that he and his associates had been working on the election programme for Zagreb for months. He said he believed that it would be the most comprehensive of all programmes in the forthcoming election, due in May, and that he would present it to the public soon.

Debt to be stabilised by public procurement monitoring

Tomašević said that the city's budget deficit had officially reached HRK 1.3 billion (€173.3m), but noted they had not yet received the report on budget execution for last year, which was very difficult because of the earthquake, the coronavirus pandemic and the socio-economic crisis.

One of the main ways to stabilise and reduce the debt is to reorganise and monitor public procurement, he said. "My message to the private sector is that there will be a level playing field for all, no more favourites," Tomašević said, expressing confidence that in this way the city would cut expenses by HRK 600 million (€80m) annually.

He announced a review of all detrimental contracts with private companies, and said he expected all heads of city departments and all management boards of city companies to offer their resignations, after which public calls for those positions would be issued.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Tomašević: City Administration Should Pay Attention to Safety of Schools

ZAGREB, 11 January, 2021 - The leader of the We Can! platform Tomislav Tomašević said on Monday that the Zagreb City Administration should pay more attention to the safety of schools and kindergartens since classes begin in a week.

A lot of buildings are still not safe for passers-by due to damaged chimneys, parts of the facade, roof tiles and bricks. This need to be cleared up urgently because citizens' safety is at stake, Tomašević told reporters in front of the Ivan Gundulić Primary School.

Over 170 buildings, he said, were damaged in March, and according to City Administration data allegedly only 13 still need to be reconstructed and the reconstruction is under way.

He added that the latest earthquake that hit the Petrinja area increased the damage sustained in March in the centre of the city, in Podsljeme neighbourhoods and in the south in Brezovica.

He said that the safety of schools and kindergartens had to be ensured in three ways.

According to Tomašević, the structural safety of buildings needs to be determined and presented to all parents, safe access to the buildings of schools and kindergartens must be ensured for children and everyone else, and greater safety of children must be ensured in case of new earthquakes, especially through a revision of the existing evacuation plans and protocols.

Asked whether he knew how many houses were destroyed in the Petrinja earthquake that had been reconstructed after the Homeland War, Tomašević said that those had not been isolated cases and that he did not know exactly how many but that the number was not low.

He said that a parliamentary commission of inquiry was needed and that they wanted for the commission to be a joint initiative by the opposition.

"We expect, since the prime minister said he wanted it to be investigated, that the HDZ and the ruling majority support it," Tomašević said.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Left-Wing Parties File Criminal Report Against Mayor Bandic for Sljeme Cable Car

ZAGREB, November 23, 2020 - The We Can! and Zagreb is Ours! political platforms on Monday filed a criminal report against Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic for abuse of office and power and for illegal favouritism related to the construction of the Sljeme cable car.

"According to the conspirator who sent a video to all media outlets with clear evidence, DORH (Office of the Chief State Prosecutor) and the USKOK anti-corruption office should already act ex officio. However, I am filing a criminal report against Bandic for abuse of office and power, graft and conspiracy to commit crimes" Councillor and MP Tomislav Tomasevic said.

That is not only Bandic's but also Andrej Plenkovic's cable car

He filed a criminal complaint also so that institutions would report to him on what they had done, he added.

"For this 13 unlucky years, the City of Zagreb has been waiting for the repair of the old Sljeme cable car or for a new one. The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) even set the construction of a new cable car as a condition for forming a coalition with Milan Bandic. So this most expensive cable car in Europe is also HDZ's cable car, not only Bandic's, but also Andrej Plenkovic's cable car," he said.

Coordinator for cable car construction from Bandic's party

In addition to that, in 2016 Bandic appointed Vladimir Gruborovic, a member of the the Main Committee of Bandic's party, as the coordinator of the team for the construction of the cable car, which includes representatives of the City Administration and all city companies.

That is more than enough evidence, Tomasevic said.

Friday, 9 October 2020

MP Says Number of Psychiatric Patients Growing, Croatia Lacks Strategy

ZAGREB, October 9, 2020 - MP Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can! platfom said on Friday, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, that the number of psychiatric patients in Croatia had been growing due to the coronavirus pandemic and that there was no national strategy to improve medical and social services for those patients.

"The number of mental disorders has been growing icreasingly but despite that, since 2016 we have not had a strategy for the improvement of mental health that would envisage implementation instruments and funding for medical and social services," Tomasevic told reporters.


Depression to become most widespread disease globally by 2030

He recalled estimates by the World Health Organisation saying that  depression would become the most widespread disease in Croatia and the rest of the world by 2030, noting that this problem was discussed very little.

"Because of the stigma that goes with mental disorders, people hide their problems... and public focus or the focus of political debates is not on topics such as mental health," he warned.

This needs to change because the "new normal" caused by the coronavirus pandemic will have major consequences for the population's mental health, he said.

New Left party leader Ivana Kekin, who works as a psychiatrist at the KBC Zagreb hospital, warned that for a long time not enough had been invested in mental health in Croatia.


Kekin: Pandemic caused drop in quality of mental health services

"The WHO recently published a study which shows that during the pandemic in 93% of countries worldwide the quality of health services in the area of mental health has dropped, and Croatia is no exception," Kekin said.

She warned that as of recently psychiatric wards were being closed down in the country, such as the one at Zagreb's KB Dubrava hospital, while the space for psychiatric patients at KBC Zagreb was being reduced due to the March 22 earthquake.

"Instead of expanding and investing in infrastructure, we have been 'shrinking' and services are becoming less and less available," she warned.

We know that the vaccine for the coronavirus will be ready in the winter or possibly spring, but there is and will be no vaccine for depression, panic attacks, alcoholism and suicide, she said.

The first step should be to adopt a national strategy to increase investments in prevention and mobile teams, and we have to move away from the model of treatment where most chronic patients are hospitalised, Kekin said.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

We Can! Platform Says HDZ Right to Fear Inquiry Commission

ZAGREB, Oct 7, 2020 - The We Can! political platform has said that the HDZ party is right to fear a proposal to form a parliamentary commission to investigate possible influence by the authorities on investigations and prosecution of corruption, noting that it will not give up until that influence has been investigated.

"They are afraid that the commission of inquiry could find answers to the questions of why we do not have convictions for corruption, why after billions of kuna stolen there are no culprits, and why long-term prison sentences are not being served," MPs Sandra Bencic and Tomislav Tomasevic said after the HDZ said that it would reject the Opposition's motion to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the work of state institutions and information leaks in the JANAF corruption case.

The two MPs said they would not give up on the goals stated in the motion for the commission of inquiry regardless of whether the commission would be formed with the will of the HDZ-led parliamentary majority.

"Our message to the HDZ is: We will investigate it one way or another, so you have reason to be afraid," they said.

They dismissed PM Andrej Plenkovic's and the HDZ's justification for their opposition to the motion, such as that the commission's investigation would be too extensive, that the commission would bring into question court autonomy, that state institutions already function, and that the same objectives could be achieved through existing parliamentary committees.

Bencic and Tomasevic say that the commission has a very clear and narrow objective, which boils down to the influence of politics on investigations and the judiciary and the leaking of information from investigations.

The commission would not bring court autonomy into question

The law on inquiry commissions says that a motion to form such a commission must refer to an entire area and an entire set of questions, and not just one, as claimed by Plenkovic, they say.

Court autonomy does not entail a ban on the oversight of the judiciary as a system, and the purpose of the opposition's motion is not to investigate individual cases but rather the way the system works, its weak points with regard to resilience to corruption, and it's capacity to deal with big corruption cases, the two MPs say.

They note that the commission will not bring into question court autonomy but will ask representatives of the judiciary to say, based on their experience, how the system can be improved.

As for the PM's claim that "state institutions function", Bencic and Tomasevic wondered how it was possible for the Express weekly to publish a list of 60 big corruption scandals of which only a few resulted in a conviction and most involved members of the HDZ.

Existing parliamentary committees cannot carry out the investigation because they lack the powers a commission of inquiry has. Nobody can refuse to testify before or submit documents requested by a commission of inquiry on pain of penalty, they say.

Bencic and Tomasevic conclude that Plenkovic and the HDZ are afraid the commission would deal with systematic shortcomings in the fight against corruption and organized crime and that it would transpire that the HDZ has created and maintained a system that is weak and susceptible to political influence, which is why it cannot resolve any major corruption case.

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