Thursday, 10 June 2021

Tomašević: Nobody Can Be Satisfied With Rate of Reconstruction in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - After his first meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his ministers, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of reconstruction in Zagreb and that he expects a new era of cooperation between the city and the state.

Tomašević and Plenković met in Government House and discussed cooperation between the government and the City of Zagreb after the 22 March 2020 earthquake and the situation regarding the city's finances. Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat and Deputy Zagreb Mayors Danijela Dolenec and Luka Korlaet also participated in the hour-long meeting.

The main topic of the talks, held on the day that the first house with a red label in Zagreb was demolished, was post-earthquake reconstruction.

"We are glad that the demolition of damaged buildings is finally starting. Today three are being demolished, and more will follow in the days to come," said Tomašević.

Admitting that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of reconstruction, he said that the City of Zagreb would from now on be a proper partner so that the process is accelerated, particularly with regard to filling out application forms for apartment buildings.

Horvat and Tomašević announced that they would conduct a working meeting on Tuesday to discuss handling construction waste material as temporary landfills are full, as well as ways to accelerate reconstruction.

Not one decision on reconstruction will be political but based on expertise

"Bulldozers are positioned at three locations in Zagreb and buildings are being demolished," Minister Horvat said and added that the ministry had so far sent 36 decisions for demolition to the Reconstruction Fund and that another 18 decisions would be forwarded this week.

Responding to accusations by the fund's director, Damir Vanđelić, that the ministry was a bottleneck in making decisions related to reconstruction, Horvat said that the problem was no longer the ministry but the Fund itself.

"(Vanđelić) received the first decision for demolition on 20 April and he managed to arrange the first works on 10 June. We are no longer talking about expediting the adoption of decisions but about the implementation of public procurement for bulldozers to appear in the field. That isn't a job for the ministry but for the fund's director," said Horvat.

He added that he would insist on the current reconstruction model and on decisions that were not political but based on expertise.

By the end of the month, the fund will have on the desk some 60 decisions for demolition of the 169 that were received by the ministry. As for the remaining applications, the relevant documentation is being collected and property-rights relations are being dealt with, he added.

He stressed that 3,800 applications for reconstruction that had been submitted in Zagreb had still not been resolved because they involved buildings that did not have legal building permits.

Tomašević stressed that city authorities would contribute to expediting the process of reconstruction by helping citizens complete application forms and conducting quick inspections for damage carried out on the remaining buildings that had not undergone such inspections.

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

Monday, 7 June 2021

Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic Walks to Work Citing City's Poor Financial Status

June the 7th, 2021 - New Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic has been making quite the healthy habit of walking to work, citing the Croatian capital's dire financial status and three years of irresponsibility. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, upon arriving to work on foot once again on Monday, new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic said that he and his associates also came to work over the weekend to try to sort thing out as quickly as possible. He made sure to note that "the financial situation is not good" in the City of Zagreb.

"This is just the result of three years of financial irresponsibility. 2019 ended with a loss of 1.3 billion kuna, without any external reasons, it's just pure financial irresponsibility. 2020 ended with a loss of ''only'' 90 million kuna, but when you look at the Covid loans handed out by the Government and the deferred claims of ZET, Zagreb Holding and (Croatian) Waters, then that loss is much higher and that is, once again, more financial responsibility, because there was no rebalance when it was needed,'' stated the capital's brand new mayor.

He also said that from what he has seen so far of the spending of the city in 2021, it's quite safe to say that this year has been a financially irresponsible one as well, not unlike the previous three - to say the least.

"The main goal is to stabilise the city's finances and analyse the cash flows on a weekly and then on a monthly basis, to revise the procurement plan so that what is not crucial is postponed. Zagreb Holding's report shows a loss of around 305 million kuna,'' he said, adding that there is no worst-case scenario to speak of just yet, and that the new city government will do its best to stabilise these finances and this truly dire financial situation so that this situation doesn't have too many consequences.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated Croatian politics section.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Former Acting Mayor: Zagreb Ended 2020 HRK 90m in Red

ZAGREB, 4 June 2021 - Former acting Zagreb mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević said on Friday the city ended last year HRK 90 million in the red.

Speaking on N1 television, she said annual borrowing was always done with the consent of the Finance Ministry, that it never exceeded 20% of the city budget, and that borrowing until 2035 totalled HRK 2 billion.

She also said that everyone working in the city administration had passed a public call for applications. "It's a procedure that lasts six months in which diplomas and other documents are verified, and it's a procedure the new mayor will have to respect, too."

Earlier today, Pavičić Vukičević transferred executive powers to the new mayor, Tomislav Tomašević, handing over extensive reports, including on the execution of the 2020 budget.

She said today's talk with Tomašević was "friendly" and that the new mayor would be acquainted with all of the city's operations.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

New Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević: Sandra Benčić (Mozemo!) On First Moves

June 1, 2021 - With the new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević soon coming to the office, Sandra Benčić of the green-left platform Mozemo! (We Can!) spoke to Index.hr about the first moves of the new administration.

Following intense post-first round campaigns in Zagreb for the second round of local elections, Tomislav Tomašević is the new mayor of Zagreb. Additionally, Tomašević's green-left coalition Mozemo! earned 23 seats in the City's assembly, and if the previously announced support of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that has five, Mozemo! will have the majority in the assembly. 

The new mayor is expected to take his seat by the end of this week, and as Index.hr reports, Sandra Benčić, the Mozemo! MP says that ZG Holding chief and directors can be removed from their position immediately.

However, first and foremost, the earthquake damages seem to be taking the lead.

„The most urgent thing is to prepare documentation for the reconstructions of kindergartens, schools, and institutions in the city ownership that were damaged in the earthquake. We have to do that as fast as possible because the deadline to pull money from the EU Solidarity Fund is June 2022. I'm afraid there will be a fiasco regarding how much will the State pull from the fund, but we can only take the money for estates in the city property, and the damaged kindergartens and schools are our priority“, told Benčić for Index.hr

She added that they plan to start an Office for Zagreb Reconstruction and establish mobile teams which will help citizens to fill in documentation and requests for the reconstruction of damaged homes.

Regarding the statement about the fiasco with the State pulling money from Solidarity Fund, the conflict with the government was sparked yesterday when PM Andrej Plenković talked to the press regarding Tomašević's victory. He said he didn't congratulate Tomašević yet, but he will and that he expects good cooperation.

„I see that Mozemo! is paraphrasing my message from 2016 when I said that we are changing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) so we can change Croatia. They say they are changing Zagreb to change Croatia. Clearly, they have something against this Croatia“, said Plenković, sparking controversy.

And Benčić is not the one to remain silent on such statements.

„Yes, we do have something against this kind of HDZ and evening HDZ with the State. They are not the State but an interest group that trapped our country. We want to see the country returns to all its citizens and that, of course, hurts them to the level that the prime minister allows himself these kinds of statements which, if they weren't malice, would be at minimal, unsmart“, said Benčić.

With the biggest number of votes in the history of mayoral elections in Zagreb, Benčić continues they are ready to justify this trust, and they start with work immediately.

„We are going with the financial revision of City's administration, restructuring City offices. We will do it step by step and connect offices while ensuring that functions and services need to deliver to the citizens. It should be noted that Zagreb used to have fewer offices, 17 until 2000 and then offices start to grow exponentially, only to put politically suited people to positions and raise their payments“, explained Benčić.

 And the new Mayor Tomislav Tomašević also gave an interview on Monday. As Jutarnji List reported, Tomašević also talked about his plans to improve Zagreb and fulfill his promises, particularly with so many earned votes.

„This big trust is also a big responsibility. Citizens can expect that we will lead by example from the start. The city administration and authority will be based on three things: decency, modesty, and being at the citizen's service.

He also added that Mozemo! is considering filing a lawsuit against Miroslav Škoro for the filthy instigating campaign, as Tomašević and many other public figures described it.

„I wouldn't like this to happen to anyone anymore on any other elections in Croatia, regardless are we talking about a candidate from the right, left or center," commented Tomašević.

Although no direct link can be proved at the moment, Škoro's rhetoric could've been the fuel for the attacker that set fire to the Mozemo! election headquarters at Zagreb Contemporary Museum on the election night saying to the gathered that „they are communists“ and how he will „kill them all“, on which T-portal reported

The elections are over, but will Zagreb continue to celebrate in such a majority as it did on election night? This is something only Tomašević on his new function can answer in the following months and years.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Monday, 31 May 2021

Man Who Caused Incident Outside Tomašević's Campaign Headquarters Detained

ZAGREB, 31 May 2021 - The man who started a smaller fire near an entrance to a museum where Zagreb mayor-elect Tomislav Tomašević's team gathered on Sunday evening was taken to a police station in Zagreb on Monday, the local police reported.

The police did not reveal the identity of the suspect and only reported that an investigation was being conducted.

As Zagreb's mayor-elect Tomašević was preparing to address his supporters and public at his campaign headquarters on Sunday evening, an older man arrived at the scene, hurling insults at those attending the event and starting a smaller fire, after which he left. The man arrived at one of the fire exits of Zagreb's Museum of Contemporary Art, close to the stage, where he was stopped by security guards.

Shouting insults at the security guards, he spilled a flammable liquid on the floor and on one of the guards. He then set the liquid on fire but the fire was soon extinguished as the man walked away. Police were called to the scene after the incident.

According to media reports, the man called those attending the event communists and threatened to kill them.

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

Monday, 31 May 2021

Transfer of Authority in Zagreb on Friday at Earliest, Says Acting Mayor

ZAGREB, 31 May 2021 - Acting Zagreb Mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević said on Monday all the documents necessary for transferring authority to newly-elected Mayor Tomislav Tomašević were ready at the city administration and that the transfer could occur on Friday at the earliest.

She congratulated Tomašević on his election and wished him and his team success in their work.

We followed the campaign and saw the election programs, and we expect their prompt and good realization, she told the press.

Pavičić Vukičević also congratulated the people of Zagreb on City Day, which is observed today.

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

Monday, 31 May 2021

What Will New Zagreb Mayor Tomasevic Do for Capital's Citizens First?

May the 31st, 2021 - Zagreb has a new mayor and a major political shift has taken place in numerous places across the country which were former HDZ strongholds. With the results finally in after the second round, just what does brand new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic from Mozemo! (We Can!) promise to do for the capital's residents?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic said last night that he expects the official handover to take place at the end of the week and that the first meetings are expected as early as today.

"I'm going to proudly lead this city to a better future and I will be the mayor for all of its citizens, both those for whom I was the choice and those for whom I wasn't the choice. I believe that all of the citizens of this city, regardless of how they voted and whether they went to the polls at all, want better living conditions in their neighbourhoods, more accessible kindergartens, better healthcare services, more care homes, better public transport, better bike paths, more green areas, they want this city to finally give a bit of perspective to young people,'' said the new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic when giving his winning speech.

Tomasevic and his party Mozemo! announced that they'd reduce the existing 27 city offices, and thus the head offices, down to about 15. This of course also requires a vote in the Assembly. However, the late Milan Bandic's top people will not be easily replaced - the contracts for 11 of them will cease to be valid by the end of the year, but some of them have contracts for another three years and Zagreb mayor Tomasevic cannot dismiss them, even if he fully cancels their positions in the city's offices.

"We;'l talk to all of those people and directors, we'll see what projects are underway, what the deadlines are. There will be a normal transition of power. We'll have about 15 city offices, and for coordination, 27 offices are way too many, that's clear,'' said Tomasevic after the first round.

He also spoke about his first moves between the two rounds of local elections.

“We can immediately restructure the city administration and establish a city office for reconstruction. Currently, 80 percent of apartment buildings haven't even submitted a request for renovation, because people are struggling with documentation, which is a failure of both the city and the state. The city has the human capacity to form an office that will help people meet the requirements, that they don't have to collect documentation by going to city and state offices, but that we do it for them and communicate with people on their own doorsteps. The first thing that will be felt immediately after the change of government will be in the city administration, which will become open, accessible and transparent,'' Zagreb's new mayor assured, giving hope to many still struggling shamefully after the March 2020 earthquake struck Zagreb.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Tomašević Calls on Zagreb Residents To Participate in Decision-Making

May 31st, 2021 - Zagreb's new mayor Tomislav Tomašević said in his first address as mayor-elect on Sunday that residents of Zagreb had put trust in his ability to run the city, calling on them to participate in decision-making on the city's development.

"Thank you, Zagreb! Thank you for your trust, hope, your belief that a true change is possible. Thank you for a clear mandate for a real change. Thank you for believing in me, in yourselves, and all of us," Tomašević said in the address at his campaign headquarters at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"We will do our best to justify your trust," he said, also thanking voters who did not vote for him and stressing that in time he hoped to gain their approval as well with a better model of governance and better quality of life for all.

Tomašević said that he had been fighting all his life for the city and its interests and against harmful agreements and decisions by those who, he said, had captured the city, systematically neglecting it and using it as their own cash machine.

He recalled that his campaign for Zagreb started back in 1998 when he was 16 and fought against the illegal dumping of hazardous waste in gravel pits by the River Sava.

"Twenty-three years later, here we are, together with the best team with whom I have been fighting for years for a juster, more solidary, and more tolerant society. Those are the people with whom I share a vision for Zagreb as a greener, more just, and more transparent city," said Tomašević.

"I will proudly lead this city to a better future, and I will be the mayor of all its residents, both those who voted for me and those who did not," he said.

"I believe that all residents of Zagreb, regardless of how they voted and whether they voted at all, want better living conditions in their neighborhoods, more available child care, better health care, more retirement, and nursing homes, better public transportation, better cycle lanes, and more green areas and that they want this city to finally make it possible for young people to have a future here," he said.

"Our mission will not last only until the next election; we look much farther into the future because the city's long-term wellbeing is the most important to us. Zagreb, you have given me your trust, and I ask you to participate, together with us, in making decisions on the city's development," said Tomašević.

He also called for patience, adding that a lot of work lay ahead and that the changes the city was about to undergo were neither quick nor simple.

In Sunday's runoff election for Zagreb mayor, Tomašević won 199,630 votes, the most votes so far. Before him, the largest number of votes was won by the city's long-serving mayor, the late Milan Bandić, who in 2013 won 170,798 votes.

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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Zagreb's Acting Mayor Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic Leaving Politics

May the 30th, 2021 - Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, who stepped in as Zagreb's mayor following the premature and sudden death of longtime mayor Milan Bandic, has decided to leave the political scene and pursue another career in a very different field.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, the current acting Mayor of Zagreb, failed to enter the second round of recent Croatian mayoral elections, so she decided on a change in her career path, opting instead to kickstart her scientific career as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb, Jutarnji list reported on Saturday.

The Faculty of Kinesiology announced on its website that Dr. sc. Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic is to give an inaugural lecture as "an application in the process of election to the title of scientific-teaching title of assistant professor in the scientific field of social sciences, scientific field of pedagogy, for the subjects of pedagogy and didactics" on Wednesday.

Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, while known for stepping into the role of Zagreb's mayor following Bandic's untimely death, is otherwise a doctor of science. Back in 2018 she received her doctorate in pedagogy, and now, after becoming an assistant professor, she will be able to work as an independent lecturer.

Her associates have confirmed that she will remain here in the Republic of Croatia and that she will teach at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb following her doctorate.

There was speculation in the media that Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic could leave Croatia upon stepping down from her current political role at the capital's helm.

The above could be heard being circulated in the corridors of the city administration because her husband works abroad, and she herself has openly said that such a possibility exists for her too, but that it is the least possible option when compared to remaining here in the country.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Croatia Holding Election Runoffs on Sunday

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - The second round of local elections will take place on Sunday for the mayors of 57 cities and 87 municipalities as well as for the prefects of 14 counties in Croatia.

During the second round of voting, 3,231,000 citizens are eligible to vote at nearly, 5,500 polling stations that will be set up in 432 cities and municipalities.

Four biggest cities to get new mayors

The results of mayoral runoffs will show who will run the four biggest Croatian in the next four years. In the capital city of Zagreb, the mayoral candidate of the Green-Left Coalition, Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can party faces off Miroslav Škoro of the Homeland Movement party (DP), whereas in Split, the mayoral runoff includes Vice Mihanović of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Ivica Puljak of the Centre party.

In Rijeka, Marko Filipović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and independent Davor Štimac are vying for the mayoral of this northern Adriatic seaport, and in Osijek, Ivan Radić of the HDZ and Berislav Mlinarević, supported by the DP party and the Bridge party, are running in the mayoral runoff.

Those four cities will have new mayors, as none of the incumbents are in the mayoral race. In Zagreb Milan Bandić, who was at the helm of the city for 20 years, died of heart attacks on 28 February.

The outgoing mayors of Osijek and Split, Ivica Vrkić and Andro Krstulović Opara (HDZ), decided not to run for a new term, citing health reasons.

The outgoing Rijeka mayor Vojko Obersnel, an SDP official, who has been at the helm of Rijeka since 2000,  said before these local elections that the time had come for younger politicians to take the helm and supported Marko Filipović of the SDP as his successor.

Another major cities, which are county seats, for instance Varaždin, Dubrovnik, Vukovar and Sisak will have the mayoral runoffs between the incumbents and the new opponents.

In Pula, which was run by Boris Miletić of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) until these polls, the IDS official Helena Puh Belci faces off independent candidate Filip Zoričić.

Six counties get prefects in 1st round, 14 to have runoffs

Six counties elected their prefects in the first round of voting on 16 May, when the winners won more than 50% of the ballot, and the remaining 14 counties will have runoffs for their prefects on Sunday.

Of those six winners in the first round, four are HDZ representatives: Antonija Jozić of Požega-Slavona, Igor Andrilović of Virovitica-Podravina County, Ivan Anušić of Osijek-Baranja County and Danijel Marušić of Slavonski-Brod Posavina County.

Social Democrat (SDP) official Željko Kolar was reelected prefect of Krapina-Zagorje County and Matija Posavec, an independent candidate, was reelected as the head of Međimurje County.

In the other 14 counties, the first two vote-getters will participate in the runoffs on 30 May.

Anti-epidemic measures to be implemented at polling stations

Voters going to the polls on Sunday are required to wear protective masks and they are also advised to have their own pencils. Although the epidemiological situation has improved since the first round of the voting, the same anti-epidemic measures will be implemented on Sunday.

Polling stations open from 7 am to 7 pm

The polling stations will open on 7 am and close at 7 pm. The course of voting will be observed by 8,334 monitors, and the lion's share of them have been proposed by political parties running in the elections, while a mere 17 monitors will be at polling stations on behalf of nongovernmental organisations

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