Thursday, 18 November 2021

Plenković: Vukovar is Croatia and Croatia is Vukovar

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - On the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Homeland War and Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja we recall the heroes to whom the Croatian people owe their freedom and democracy, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

"Today, on the 30th anniversary of Remembrance Day, we recall all the heroes to whom the Croatian people owe their freedom, democracy, and the life that we have after the Homeland War. Vukovar is Croatia and Croatia is Vukovar. This can be seen today with numerous people arriving here from all over Croatia and from abroad to pay their respects," Plenković said in Vukovar ahead of the commemorative procession.

He added that this can also be seen in young people attending and is felt in the people.

Vukovar has a future

"The battle for Vukovar is respected, as is its sacrifice. It is a pledge for our future, the sacrifice of Croatian defenders will never be forgotten," said Plenković.

He said that the government has the duty to always do more for Vukovar and its citizens, to invest in its development, economy, social inclusion, and jobs. Plenković recalled that over the past five years the government has done a lot financially and economically as well as symbolically because it wants Vukovar to have a future befitting those who gave Croatia the most.

"It is up to us to make our small contribution and reward that with our actions in the years ahead," said Plenković, once again expressing his gratitude and respect to all those who gave their lives for Croatia's freedom in Vukovar 30 years ago.

Prosecution of those responsible for the deaths of Vukovar defenders and civilians continues

The prime minister said that Croatia is still searching for 1,800 missing persons from the Homeland War and that Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved is working on that.

"We are seeking information from those who have it and that is the Serbian authorities and individuals who know where the graves of those who fell for Croatia are located. We will persist in those efforts in partnership with the families of the missing, with associations and all those who have suffered and are still suffering because they don't know the fate of their loved ones," said Plenković.

As regards war crimes, he said that almost one-sixth of those accused of war crimes in Croatia were from the Vukovar area. The entire JNA command has been indicted, as well as individuals, and there have been more than 100 convictions, but that process is continuing.

Some of the perpetrators of war crimes are out of reach of Croatia's judiciary, but we will continue with the prosecution of those responsible for the deaths of numerous Vukovar defenders and civilians.

Question of the missing part of the criteria for Serbia's accession to the EU

As far as Serbia is concerned, the issue of the missing is raised at every meeting at all levels and that is something that will continue to be insisted upon, Plenković said.

"Recently there have been some signals of political will to take a step forward but given the experience we have had, we are cautious in analyzing those announcements, and only when we have concrete evidence and information that is currently unknown to the Croatian authorities will we be able to take a step forward. It is clear that the issue of the missing is part of the obligations Serbia has to fulfill on its journey toward the EU and we will always emphasize that," said Plenković.

Asked about his opinion of segregated classes in schools and kindergartens, Plenković said that the process of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region resulted in certain occurrences in that area but the government is working on inclusive policies towards all minorities in Croatia, including the Serb minority.

"We will continue that policy. We consider it to be good and useful for Croatia which has European values that we want to be shared throughout Croatia, including Vukovar," he added.

With reference to the epidemiological situation, Plenković said that the expectation is for everyone in Vukovar to act responsibly.

"We cannot ignore the disease that exists around the globe and has been with us for two years and has caused us to change our way of life. That is why I expect today's commemorative procession, gathering in front of the hospital, attendance at the memorial cemetery, and Ovčara to pass in dignity, above all because of the victims, and everyone should make a small contribution towards responsibility. Even though we will be outdoors, we should not put others at risk," he said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

30th Anniversary Commemoration of Škabrnja Massacre Begins

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the massacre committed in Škabrnja by the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary forces on 18 November 1991 began at 10 am on Thursday morning with a memorial procession.

The procession headed towards the monument built on the site of a mass grave where the victims of the massacre were buried.

Ministers Oleg Butković, Ivan Malenica, Marija Vučković, Vili Beroš, and Nina Obuljen Koržinek are attending this year's commemoration on behalf of the government. Also present are Deputy Parliament Speaker Ante Sanader, representing the Sabor, and the president's special envoy Dragan Lozančić.

Škabrnja fell into the hands of occupying Serb forces on 18 November 1991 following air and artillery bombardments by the Yugoslav People's Army under the command of Ratko Mladić. The village, located 25 kilometers east of the coastal city of Zadar, was completely destroyed in the attack, and 48 Croatian civilians and 15 soldiers were killed on that day.

During its subsequent occupation and until its liberation in the August 1995 Operation Storm, the number of Skabrnja victims rose to 86. Another six villagers were killed by leftover mines after the war. Two thousand people were forced to leave their homes during the occupation.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Remembrance Day Being Commemorated on 30th Anniversary of Fall of Vukovar

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - On Remembrance Day, Vukovar commemorates the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the city's heroic defense and the aggression by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary groups, in which 2,717 Croatian defenders and civilians were killed or went missing, while the city was nearly razed to the ground.

The city on the River Danube was under siege for 87 days, and the battle for Vukovar ended on 18 November 1991 with its occupation, which lasted until 15 January 1998, and the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region, after which the people of Vukovar finally returned to their homes.

Although the fighting in Vukovar and its environs had started even before that, the date usually cited as the day when the battle began is 25 August 1991, when the JNA and Serb paramilitary groups launched an all-out artillery and infantry attack with the intention of overrunning the city in a week at most.

However, the city's defenders, although ten times weaker in terms of numbers and weaponry, managed to resist the attack for nearly three months. Residents were without electricity and regular water and food supply while hundreds of shells fell on the city every day, in addition to tank and air attacks.

The Vukovar hospital sustained severe damage, although it had the symbol of the International Red Cross on its roof, and the wounded were provided with aid in the basement, where surgeries and other complex medical procedures were performed in dire conditions. On 19 October 1991 a humanitarian aid convoy of Doctors Without Borders managed to enter the besieged city and evacuate about a hundred of the wounded defenders.

Vukovar was defended by about 1,800 Croatian soldiers, including many volunteers from all over Croatia, while on the opposite side there were about 30,000 enemy soldiers, supported by more than 600 tanks, hundreds of mortars, and cannons, as well as the air force.

The heroic resistance was broken on 18 November 1991. Some of the defenders tried to get out of the city, those who remained were taken to Serb concentration camps, and many were killed.

On 19 November 1991, the wounded, both defenders and civilians, were taken from the Vukovar hospital by the JNA and killed at the Ovčara farm outside the city in the night between 20 and 21 November. Two hundred bodies were exhumed from a mass grave at Ovčara, with the youngest victim aged 16 and the oldest 84.

About 22,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from the city, and the search for 386 persons who disappeared without a trace in Vukovar in 1991 is still ongoing.

On 29 October 1999, the Croatian parliament passed a resolution declaring Vukovar Remembrance Day in tribute to the people who had participated in the defense of the city -- the symbol of Croatian freedom. A government decision of 2019 declared 18 November a public holiday and a non-working day, which is marked as Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Homeland War and Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja.

For the latest news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Model of the Vukovar Water Tower Placed in Vukovarska Avenue, Split

November 17, 2021 - These days, numerous tributes have been carried out throughout the country to remember the victims in Vukovar and Škabrnja in 1991 during the Homeland War. In Split, school students have built an impressive model of the Vukovar water tower, which has been placed on the city's Vukovar avenue.

In memory of all the victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja, students and professors of the Craft and Technical School Split made a model of the Vukovar water tower, a symbol of suffering and resistance of the city during the Homeland War, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

On the occasion of tomorrow's anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, a model of the Vukovar water tower was placed today at the beginning of the street named after that city. The Split-Dalmatia County also helped make this model.

''This is an example of how students who do practical things can be involved in this initiative, which marks one of the most significant events in our history, and that is the sacrifice and suffering of Vukovar. We strive for all schools to be involved in such activities, in order to pay tribute to all victims of the Homeland War, and especially the victims of Vukovar who are most responsible for the establishment of our independent and sovereign Croatia'', said the head of the Administrative Department for Education, Culture, Technical Culture Tomislav Đonlić.

Students of carpentry and electrical engineering participated in the creation of this model, while a group of designers conceived and designed the model. This school has been similarly participating in the celebration of this important date for several years. This year they decided to build a water tower and light it up.

''Fifteen students participated, and we made an electrical and wooden installation. It seems good to us and the idea is to do something every year to combine work and what should be celebrated in our country'', said the director of the Craft Technical School from Split Milivoj Kalebić.

The idea is a month old, and it took them two weeks to implement the draft. Students in the field of carpentry technicians and designers conceived a model, carpenters made a tower out of waterproof plywood, while electricians designed and made lighting. The water tower will take on its full splendor as soon as night falls.

This work of Split high school students is another reason to visit Vukovarska Street and light a candle on the eve of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja. The Split School of Crafts and Technology has been participating in a similar way in the celebration of this important date for several years. This year, they decided to build the Vukovar water tower, and one of the works that they did not do in previous years in memory of tomorrow is the bench in the school building.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


Monday, 15 November 2021

Businesses in Vukovar-Srijem County Generate HRK 655.5 Million in Net Profit

ZAGREB, 15 Nov 2021 - Businesses in Vukovar-Srijem County generated a consolidated net profit of HRK 655.5 million in 2020, which is an increase of 7.2%, while gross investments in new long-term assets decreased by 43.7% to HRK 193.9 million, a report by the Financial Agency (FINA) shows.

A total of 2,273 businesses had their registered headquarters in Vukovar-Srijem County and employed 20,063 people, which is an increase of 310 or 1.6% year-on-year.

Entrepreneurs in the county generated a total revenue of HRK 22.7 billion in 2020, up 17.4% on the year, whereas total expenditure increased by 17.8% to HRK 22 billion.

Profit amounted to HRK 1 billion, which compared to the previous year was an increase of 10.2%, while losses jumped by 16.3% to HRK 359.3 million. The result is a net profit of HRK 655.5 million or an annual increase of 7.2%.

Exports rose by 39.2% to HRK 9.2 billion while imports fell by 9.6% to HRK 968.1 million, resulting in a trade surplus of HRK 8.3 billion.

The average net monthly wage amounted to  HRK 4,749, or 6.5% more than in 2019, and 20.5% less than the national average of HRK 5,971.

Of the two largest cities in the county, Vinkovci registered 688 enterprises with 8,267 employees and a loss of HRK 170.8 million, whereas Vukovar generated a total revenue of HRK 13 billion and a profit of HRK 516.3 million or net profit of HRK 404.2 million, FINA reported.

The Prvo Plinarsko Društvo gas company from Vukovar generated the highest profit in that period (HRK 226.6 million), the highest total revenue (9.8 billion) and the highest revenue from foreign sales (HRK 6.9 billion).

The Boso retail chain from Vinkovci had the largest number of employees (965) while the biggest loser in 2020 was the PIK Vinkovci Plus agriculture company,  generating a loss of HRK 70 million.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

HND: Journalist Subjected to Institutional Lynching Over Article on Vukovar

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Saturday strongly condemned "the public and institutional lynching" of journalist Boris Dežulović over his article published on the website of N1 television in which he criticized the abuse of the plight of Vukovar in the 1991-1995 Homeland War for political purposes.

The HND said in a statement it was particularly worrying that public condemnations of the journalist were made by the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs, thus "institutionalizing the lynching of a journalist and eradication of freedom of speech."

"Our colleague Dežulović has received over a hundred serious threats and death threats over the last few days, some of which he has reported to the police," the HND said, calling on the state institutions to protect Dežulović from any form of intimidation, threat or persecution like any other journalist who encourages important public discussions such as this one.

"Dežulović's persecutors persistently and deliberately insinuate that his article was a gross insult to the sacrifice of Vukovar and its citizens. It is clear to anyone who read the article from beginning to end that the author's intention was only to criticize how state and local authorities treat Vukovar and how various political groups have been carefully mummifying it for decades to keep it in a state that suits their political interest, how its existence has been reduced to a site of special respect, rather than a city fit for living," the HND said.

Dežulović rightfully drew attention to the ongoing exodus of its residents because of neglect for the city and the absence of any political strategy other than a commemorative one, and he did so in the public interest, notably in the interest of its residents, the statement said.

The HND noted that Dežulović has been writing about this matter continually, recalling that he had received the prestigious European Press Prize for an article published on 19 November 2013 under the title "Vukovar - A Life-Size Monument to the Dead City".

The HND said that a topic such as the treatment of Vukovar 30 years after its destruction at the start of the war in 1991 must be open to public discussion. "Otherwise, we will allow multiple victimization of this city, which will not only remain captured in its commemorative role but will also be deprived of any discussion on the purpose and effects of such a role," the statement said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Largest Croatia Fan Procession Expected before Russia World Cup Qualifier at Poljud

November 5, 2021 - The largest Croatia fan procession ever is expected ahead of the Croatia-Russia World Cup qualifier at Poljud Stadium in Split on November 14. 

All available tickets for the match between Croatia and Russia have been sold. A packed Poljud of about 33,000 fans will cheer on Croatia in an attempt to win first place and secure a spot in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. That is, assuming Croatia wins in Malta three days earlier. 

Tickets went on sale October 25 at 1 pm, and hours later all tickets for the west and east stands were claimed. In the following days, tickets for the remaining sectors in the north and south stands were taken, sold from 80 to 200 kuna.

HNS announced that there will be no ticket sales at the box office and that in the coming days some free tickets may appear on the Internet if the customers who ordered them do not pay on time.

Fans who come to the match are invited to the Riva waterfront, where the largest Croatia fan procession in history, with between 20,000 and 30,000 people, is expected in honor of the 30th anniversary of Vukovar. Fans will head towards the stadium from 12:30 on November 14. Kickoff at Poljud is scheduled for 3 pm. 

All fans coming to the stadium must have an EU digital covid certificate with a valid QR code to be checked at the entrance. Certificates of vaccination or illness or various test results will not be recognized.

Children under the age of 12 do not have to have a certificate if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who has a valid certificate and a ticket, and HNS will provide rapid antigen testing to fans who do not have a digital certificate.

Tickets for the match in Malta, which will be played on November 11 at 8:45 pm at the Ta'Qali National Stadium, went on sale from Thursday at the price of 80 kuna.

In Malta, however, only people with full vaccination against the coronavirus or those who have recovered from Covid AND have received at least one dose of the vaccine are allowed. This does not only apply to children aged five to 11, who need a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.

Source: 24 Sata

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Government Approves Concession Termination of Vukovar Free Zone

November the 4th, 2021 - The Croatian Government has approved the concession termination of the Vukovar Free Zone, bringing the number of them located on Croatian territory down.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, in terms of the EU, Croatia is at the very top in terms of the number of free zones - until last week it had eleven, with three being in the process of being ''deleted'' for some time now, and according to the new concession, the Vukovar Free Zone will also join that listdecentia .

The request to terminate the concession came from Vukovar itself, more precisely from the company Filir, which, along with the Fund for Reconstruction and Development of the City of Vukovar, is also the founder of the Danube Free Zone (otherwise known as the Vukovat Free Zone). The 25-year free zone concession was approved back in 2003 and would have been valid until February 2028, but its founders and users have concluded that they no longer want to operate under that regime.

As a reason for revoking the concession, they stated "the current economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the need for storage and production facilities in order to expand business."

These reasons and the request for termination of the concession are supported by all six beneficiaries, for whom, as stated in the Government decision, the conditions of business outside the free zone regime will be more acceptable than business in the free zone regime.

One of the explanations is that out of 290 million kuna of revenue in that zone last year, only 2 percent was generated through actual exports. If we compare the data on the operations of all free zones, which was recently the item on the table of the Government, in the last five years in the Vukovar Free Zone there were no major deviations in the amount of revenue, the number of users or the share of exports in terms of revenue.

When it comes to the question of just how further activities will take place after the termination of the concession, so far there's no information from the owner Filir, who is the majority owner of the Vukovar Free Zone with a share of 70 percent.

Doing business in zones of this type brings certain benefits, from tax and customs treatment to lower levies at the local level, benefits in terms of utility fees and taxes from/on salaries. The annual concession fee amounted to 2 percent of revenues generated by users, half of which goes to the state and half to the city budget, but last year the Government additionally abolished the obligation to pay this fee.

Spatially, the Vukovar Free Zone was ''halved'' six years ago, because users requested that the area it covers to be reduced from 21,000 to 7.6 thousand square metres, and of that area, just over 3,000 metres remain operational.

Although the people of Vukovar cite difficult conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the termination of the concession, the Vukovar Free Zone recorded the smallest "earthquake" of all zones in Croatia last year - the revenues of its six users fell by 0.48 percent and the company ended the year with 3.23 percent higher profit, totalling 47.6 million kuna.

Back in 2020, a total of 74 enterprises operated in all Croatian free zones, two more than a year earlier, with 2.6 thousand workers, about 200 less than back in pre-pandemic 2019. Their total revenues amounted to 1.55 billion kuna, which marks an approximate 8 percent lower result than in the year before the pandemic, while profit was more than a third lower, reaching 110 million kuna last year.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Delegation of Ministries and County Lays Wreath at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery

ZAGREB, 31 Oct, 2021 - A joint delegation of the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the War Veterans Ministry and the Vukovar-Srijem County on Sunday laid a wreath and lit candles at the Memorial Cemetery of Homeland War Victims in Vukovar on the occasion of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

The delegation was led by Defence Minister Mario Banožić and included Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić, who called for unity.

"With a joint wreath we send a message of unity, a message that no one can joke with or belittle those who gave their lives for Vukovar, Vinkovci, the entire Slavonia, a message to all authorities in Croatia that we must keep together if we want to resist challenges which await us in the coming period, especially in terms of keeping people in this area," said Dekanić.

Asked by reporters why there were no representatives of the City of Vukovar in the delegation, Dekanić said that "it is simply a joint agreement and a joint message from the ministries and the county" and that he, as well as other county representatives, would attend protocol celebrations of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day wherever they manage to.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 18 October 2021

30 Years of Minefield War Crime Commemorated in Lovas

ZAGREB, 18 Oct 2021 - The people of Lovas on Monday laid wreaths and lit candles at a monument to 21 locals forced into a minefield by Serb paramilitaries and the former Yugoslav Army 30 years ago today.

On 18 October 1991, a few days after entering Lovas, aggressor forces chose a group of 51 residents and forced them into a minefield, where 21 were killed and 14 wounded.

"I hope that those responsible will be brought to justice one day," said Vukovar-Srijem County head Damir Dekanić.

Lovas Municipality head Tanja Cirba said 89 Lovas residents were killed in the Homeland War and that one of the most horrific crimes took place in that minefield. "On that day, another 23 Lovas residents were killed in their houses, garages, and basements."

Justice for the Lovas crimes is far from being served because those who organized and ordered them have not been punished, said Staša Zajović of the Women in Black association from Belgrade.

"We are very worried because dealing with the past in Serbia has been stopped and strong propaganda glorifying war criminals is at work," she said.

In 2007, the Belgrade District Court opened an investigation into 14 people suspected of war crimes against 69 Lovas civilians and an indictment was filed.

In 2012, 14 were found guilty for the deaths of 41 civilians and sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 20 years. An appellate court quashed the sentence in 2013. A new indictment covered 32 civilian victims due to the deaths of five defendants and a lack of evidence.

In the retrial, the Belgrade Appellate Court acquitted Željko Krnjajić and Milan Devčić and reduced the sentences against Saša Stojanović, Darko Perić, Radovan Vlajković, Radisav Josipović, Jovan Dimitrijević, and Zoran Kosijer. The sentences were reduced to three to six years.

The victims' families and the Lovas municipal authorities are dissatisfied and bitter at such low sentences.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Page 8 of 28