Wednesday, 17 July 2019

President to Discuss Constitutional Court Decision on Serb Rights with Vukovar Mayor

ZAGREB, July 17, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will receive Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava on Thursday for talks on the enforcement of a Constitutional Court decision under which the rights of the Serb ethnic minority in the eastern town must be enhanced, her office said on Wednesday.

Penava said on Sunday the dialogue and cooperation between Vukovar's Croatian and Serb residents was satisfactory, and that any expansion of Serb minority rights would hurt ethnic relations. He added that it was first necessary to resolve outstanding issues dating back to 1991.

Penava also said he had talked with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković about the Constitutional Court decision, and that Plenković told him it was necessary to keep the peace and stability and to resolve the issue of the use of ethnic minority languages and scripts through dialogue.

Constitutional Court president Miroslav Šeparović said on Sunday he expected the Vukovar authorities to carry out the court's decision on the use of ethnic minority languages and scripts, and that he would not argue with the mayor.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković told reporters today that "everyone must enforce Constitutional Court decisions."

More Vukovar news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

“No One Can Be Above Constitutional Court Rulings”

ZAGREB, July 16, 2019 - The Vukovar branch of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said on Monday that no one can be above decisions of the Constitutional Court and also criticise Mayor Ivan Penva for "collectivising the guilt of all Serbs in Vukovar" which they cannot accept.

Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava said on Sunday that dialogue and cooperation among local residents and ethnic Serbs in that eastern Croatian town was at a satisfactory level and any increase in the volume of rights of that ethnic minority would deteriorate the relations among local communities. Penava underscores that the first priority is to solve the problems caused in that town in 1991 when the area fell into the hands of Serb rebels supported by the then Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). "We cannot forget and ignore the huge injustice inflicted to us in 1991."

Penava's statement ensued after Constitutional Court President Miroslav Šeparović told a news conference this past Friday that the court recommended that the city council in Vukovar adopt changes to their statute whereby Serb councillors can ask now also orally for the delivery of documents and papers in their mother tongue and in the Cyrillic script. Currently, the request has be submitted in a written form.

The Council is given a deadline until October to make those changes and adopt other necessary decisions that will enhance the Serb minority's right to use its language and script.

Penava insists that the current state of affairs in Vukovar "has not ripened" for steps forward in any direction

The SDSS says in its latest press release that local Serbs cannot renounce their rights which they exercise in compliance with the Constitution.

We expect the implementation of our rights in accordance with laws, the local SDSS says in its press release.

On the other hand, the Croatian Conservative Party (HKS) said that any enhancement of the rights of the local Serb community in the town of Vukovar "opens a Pandoara's box".

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Vukovar Mayor Talks with Plenković about Constitutional Court Decision

ZAGREB, July 15, 2019 - Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava said on Sunday he talked with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković a number of times during the day about a Constitutional Court decision on the use of the languages and scripts of ethnic minorities in the town, and that Plenković told him it was necessary to keep the peace and stability and to try to resolve the issue through communication and dialogue.

Under the recent Constitutional Court decision, the rights of the Serb ethnic minority in Vukovar must be advanced.

Speaking on Nova TV, Penava said Plenković was "open-minded and fully understands the situation" and that "he is fully aware of the gravity of the problem we, and consequently the government, encounter in the town every day."

Penava said everyone reasonable, including the government, would adhere to the letter of the law and justice but also acknowledge that, in line with the constitution, things like human life and dignity were much more important than some other things.

The mayor said "we must first resolve the crimes committed during the Homeland War and then build, on clean foundations, a better society and a state in which there will be room for every, even the smallest, right concerning either ethnic minorities or anyone else living in this country."

Penava said the incumbent government had done very much for Vukovar "and I can only thank them for that."

He fears "very much" the Constitutional Court decision might cause a repeat of the riots that occurred in the town in 2013 when bilingual signs were put on state institution buildings. He said he would not highlight the Serb ethnic minority because, he added, the problem in Vukovar was not caused by the relations between any ethnic minority and the majority population.

"I'm afraid there is actually turmoil in the majority population because the attitude of institutions... respect for the constitution, fundamental state acts, is not on the level it should be," Penava said.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Serb Minority Rights in Vukovar in Focus

ZAGREB, July 12, 2019 - The Vukovar City Council chairman, Tomislav Šota (HDZ) on Friday said that the rights of the Serb ethnic minority in Vukovar were not undermined in any way and that minority communities exercise all their rights according to the Constitution, laws and the city's statute.

Commenting on a Constitutional Court ruling on the use of a national minority's language and script in Vukovar which determined that the rights of the Serb national minority in that city have to be advanced, Šota said that ethnic Serb councillors have for two years already been receiving all city acts in Cyrillic at their request and that right is being consumed without any problems.

"We don't see anything contentious with regard to the Serb minority community in Vukovar whose rights we respect. Mutual relations between the Serb community and Croatian people in Vukovar have improved over the past year even though we would like their political representatives to join Vukovar residents in marking significant anniversaries," Šota said.

Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković of the Democratic Party of the Serbs (DSS) said that the Constitutional Court's decision was "cosmetic and without any substance" saying that the rights of the Serb community are often not applied.

"We've been given the least of the least. There are still outstanding issues from the war and missing ethnic Serbs, the issue of dual language signs has still not been resolved and an entire series of other examples which makes us feel like second grade citizens," Milaković said.

Later in the day the city branch of the Independent democratic Serb Party (SDSS) welcomed the Constitutional Court decision regarding the rights of the Serb minority in that city and said that part of the Court's decision was along the lines of what SDSS councillors have been advocating for years.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 12 July 2019

On the Road with Domovina Birthright Program: Ilok and Vukovar

July 12, 2019 - As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program is taking place in Croatia at the moment, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government.

The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

Kristiana Banđen is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she has kindly agreed to document her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Over to Kristiana:

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Wow - what a journey so far, and it is only two days into the Domovina Birthright Program! It has been absolutely amazing so far.  

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Day 1

Upon meeting all the participants, with welcome messages from the organizers, we started our journey towards Ilok where we spent the afternoon drinking lots of wine to say the least!  

Once we arrived to Ilok, we were welcomed by local students who were joining us for lunch accompanied by the mayor of Ilok. Mayor Marina Budimir who welcomed us to her city with a lovely speech before the start of lunch, which by the way, was absolutely delicious. I can speak for the group and say we are all enjoying the food so much. At first, I was a bit unsure about how much food we will be getting. I eat a lot, and wondered if I would need to pack along snacks. This has not been the case at all! After a fulfilling breakfast we enjoyed a three-course meal at Iločki Podrumi with the mayor and local students. Juha, meso, palačinke and given that we were at a winery, lots and lots of vino!    

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After our lunch, we walked through the Odescalchi Palace, the central building situated in the medieval Ilok, the church and a scenic car ride down to Principovac where we enjoyed the beautiful view with, of course, more vino!  

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Day 2 was an emotional and empowering day in Vukovar visiting the hospital, the memorial centre for Vukovar’s homeland war, Ovacara Memorial Centre and payed our respects to the victims at the Memorial Cemetery of the Victims of Homeland War.  A great way to start our trip. The battle of Vukovar is what founded the independence of Croatia and is absolutely important for all Croatian descendants to know the history. Speaking to local veterans of the war along with tours of the memorial sights gave us all a great perspective and a feeling of love for the strength of our country and what we have rebuilt and overcome.  

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Follow #domovina2019 and @kristianabanden for more photos and insights.

To follow the latest news from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

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Wednesday, 3 July 2019

German Ambassador Visits Vukovar

ZAGREB, July 3, 2019 - German Ambassador to Croatia Robert Klinke made his inaugural visit to Vukovar on Tuesday where he met with Mayor Ivan Penava and later with young people from the German towns of Geisa and Vacha who are currently visiting Vukovar as part of an exchange programme.

We spoke about Vukovar as a European town and I am very pleased to see that here too young people have an excellent role, representing the town's development potential. These young people from Germany have come here to develop friendly dialogue, and that means respect and understanding that is turned to the future, Klinke said.

Mayor Penava said that he and Ambassador Klinke discussed Vukovar'spast, present and future.

We had the opportunity to reflect on our long history, culture and tradition but also on all those things that signify us today like the Homeland War and the immense destruction which can still be felt in the economy and jobs in Vukovar. We also discussed the town's prospects and potential for future investors that we would like to see in the town, Penava told reporters.

Penava said the youth exchange programme had been implemented since 2014 between Vukovar and Geise and Vach with the participation of Vukovar's Franciscan monastery and religious communities from the two German towns.

Ambassador Klinke was later received by County Prefect Bozo Galić.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Vukovar Film Festival to Be Held on July 4-7

ZAGREB, June 24, 2019 - The 13th edition of the Vukovar Film Festival will take place in that eastern Croatian town on July 4-7, and the first film to be shown is "All Alone" by Croatian director Bobo Jelčić.

Among the films to be screened in the Competition programme are Happy New Year by Hungarian filmmaker Krisztina Goda, System Crasher by German Nora Fingscheidt, The Bra by German filmmaker Veit Helmer, the Czech film titled Winter Flies by Olmo Omerzu and the Whistlers by Romanian Corneliu Porumboiu.

Several short films and documentaries are also included in the programme.

The festival also includes a programme called "Berlin and Cannes Winners".

The European Festivals Association (EFA) and the international Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe (EFFE) jury headed by Sir Jonathan Mills have short-listed 24 laureates among 715 applications for the EFFE 2019-2020 Awards, with Music Biennale Zagreb and the Vukovar Film Festival competing for for the awards.

During the Vukovar Film Festival (VFF), films are awarded in three categories and the winners get Golden Barge for best long feature, Golden Barge for best short feature and Golden Barge for best documentary.

Over the past 12 years, VFF has screened over 900 movies and attracted a total of 300,000 spectators.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Branding of Vukovar through Urban Visual Identity - Vukovart

Vukovart – the harbour of the art is the concept promoting Vukovar as a location that accepts all artists, ie, the creators of new values, and this year it's taking place for the third time, in the period between June 1st and 15th.

The concept will also aim to change the visual identity of the town, thus making it a better place to live, the website reports. In this way, the areas which have received attention by the artists will be an attraction to the ever increasing number of tourists arriving in Vukovar. In the long term, it's important for Vukovar to step away from focusing on the war, and create a positive story.

During the first Vukovart Street Art Festival, Vukovar got 3D anamorphous pictures, and the entire town became a so-called Open Gallery. Last year, five new murals were added, with a total area of over 700 square meters.

This year's moto of the festival is Give Me 5, as five artists with international acclaim (Thiago Mazza (Brazil), Zabou (Francuska), Lonac (Hrvatska), WD (Wild Drawing) (Indonezija)Mehsos (Belgija) will be performing their artistic magic on the facades on five buildings in Vukovar in that period.

The past two years of the festival prove that it's possible to brand the town as the desirable street-art location throughout Europe and the world. Additionally, it's a proof for the idea that investment into various events is not spending money, rather investing into added values that will generate arrivals and tourist spending in Vukovar, which will in turn help out other industries - which is tourism's biggest strength. 

More information about the programme of the event and the project itself can be found on the official website or on the Facebook page.

During the project, a panel discussion on the topics of the importance, the perception and the sustainability of culture, culture within tourism and examples of good practice will be held, with leading local and national experts on the topics of culture and tourism participating.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Vukovar's Hotel Dunav Sold, New 200 Million Kuna Hotel to be Constructed

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of May, 2019, Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava and the CEO of the Swiss company Immo Invest Partner, Džek Djordić, signed a contract on the sale of the Dunav (Danube) Hotel in Vukovar on Saturday, and the Swiss company has thus announced the construction of a new four-star hotel, in which it will invest a massive 200 million kuna.

"This is a strategically important property in Vukovar, the building of the former Dunav Hotel, which has attracted a lot of interest from the public," stated Penava, pointing out that the building is located in an extremely valuable location at the very mouth of the Vuka along the Danube, but also because it involves a building that has not been in function for nine years now.

He added that the city, owing to the fact that the hotel had remained totally out of use for a long time, bought the former Hotel Dunav in order to sell it to a hotel business that had already established its branch office in Vukovar. The city will do everything to make the investor feel welcome with their investment which is strategic and considered to be at the state-level.

Deputy Mayor Marijan Pavliček recalled that the City of Vukovar had purchased Hotel Dunav for 10.3 million kuna, while a price of 10.7 million kuna was asked for at the public tender, and the aforementioned Swiss company offered 11.3 million kuna and paid the difference in accordance to the higher requested price.

"The investors are obliged to collect all of the necessary permits in the next eighteen months after which the parcel will be handed over to their ownership, after which a seven-year legal deadline for the construction and commissioning of the facility comes into force," Pavliček said, adding that the investors have promised a significantly shorter implementation deadline, more specifically until the year 2023.

Pavliček emphasised the fact that this is the biggest investment after the Homeland War in the tourist sector of Vukovar, which will open up welcome new jobs.

Immo Invest Partner's CEO Džek Djordić announced the construction of a four-star hotel with about 120 rooms, 240 beds, and which will include several restaurants, offices and a multimedia space in which about 200 million kuna will be invested, and the hotel should be open in 2023.

Immo Invest Partner Board Member Petar Đorđić thanked the mayor and his deputy for their engagement in the realisation of this deal and said that all those involved are great optimists and that the entire investment will be realised within the anticipated deadline.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and lifestyle pages for much more.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Vukovar Symbol of Resistance and Development, European Croatia to be Built There

ZAGREB, May 4, 2019 - Addressing a special session of the Vukovar Town Council on Friday, the Feast Day of Saints Phillip and James who are the town's patrons, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that Vukovar was not only the symbol of heroic resistance during the Homeland War but also of the development of Croatia.

In her speech, the president paid tribute to the forces that defended the eastern town at the start of the war in 1991 and to all who suffered and made sacrifice, and she promised that Croatia would never give up on the search for those who went missing in the war.

The president praised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Mayor Ivan Penava for the many development projects in the town.

Extending his best wishes to Vukovar residents on the occasion of the town's day, Plenković said that his cabinet was dedicated to implementing projects to the benefit of Vukovar.

"Yesterday we endorsed a development aid programme for Vukovar estimated at 1.4 billion kuna," Plenković said referring to the programme for the reconstruction of municipal and power infrastructure and for the conservation of the town's historical heritage, which encompasses 59 projects. At the same time, the Fund for the Reconstruction and Development of Vukovar was increased by 50% or 20 million kuna.

In reference to the 1991-1995 war which hit the east of Croatia hardest, Plenković said that people in that part of the country appreciate the truth most and they want to hear the truth which is a precondition for forgiveness, reconciliation and coexistence.

Therefore, the truth must be established. I can understand the mayor's and numerous Croatian defenders' efforts in that regard, he added.

"This should be done by the institutions of the Croatian state and they perhaps should be more intensively engaged. However, we should do that in the political sense being aware that we are now in 2019 and that our key national goals have been accomplished and that Vukovar is a free Croatian town in which Serbs also live. This is the town in which we need to build a European Croatia," the premier said.

Mayor Penava said that in 2018, a total of 13 million kuna was invested in economic programmes, and the number of created jobs rose by 579 from 2017.

Penava thanked the government for investments in the town. "After a huge setback during the Homeland War, Vukovar has recovered and is making good progress," he underscored.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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