Saturday, 16 October 2021

Milanović: You Won’t Hear Me Say That HDZ Is a Criminal Organisation

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday that he did not consider today's HDZ to be a criminal organisation due to the Supreme Court's ruling in the Fimi Media case, but he noted that PM Andrej Plenković's statement, in which he linked the ruling with Milanović's rhetoric, was "silly".

"I think that it is irresponsible to link the ruling, whereby the Supreme Court actually upheld a lower court's ruling, with my statements. The idea that my rhetoric had influence on the Supreme Court's decision is silly," he told reporters during a visit to Samobor, a town west of Zagreb, where he attended a ceremony marking the town's day.

The Supreme Court last Wednesday partly upheld the verdict following the retrial in the Fimi Media corruption case, under which the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was fined HRK 3.5 million while the former PM and HDZ chief Ivo Sanader had his prison sentence cut from eight to seven years.

Sanader and his co-defendants were charged with siphoning around HRK 70 million (€9.3 million) from state-owned companies and institutions through the Fimi Media marketing agency into the HDZ's slush funds from 2004 to 2009.

Commenting on Plenković's statement of Friday, Milanović said that he had indeed criticised the Supreme Court but that Plenković had confused the cause with the consequence.

Plenković on Friday said, among other things, that he did not know if some judges worked under the pressure of Milanović's rhetoric.

"And then the Supreme Court does what? It takes revenge on the HDZ by listening to me, who had criticised it. I think such statements are for the Logic Olympiad," Milanović said.

He noted that he did not consider Plenković responsible for crime in the HDZ and did not claim that today's HDZ was a criminal organisation.

"You won't hear me say that the HDZ is a criminal organisation. Not all people there are clean today, but today's HDZ has that, too, in its past. Just as the SDP has in its past the fact that it is the successor to the Communist Party," he said, adding that those things should be left to the past and that new people were emerging and answering to voters.

He said that he had been the first in the country to raise the issue of criminal liability of legal entities.

"There was a law from 2003 which envisaged for the first time that kind of legal responsibility. I raised that issue in the parliament, I was not Prime Minister at the time, and, to my surprise, the Public State Attorney launched the procedure and the (Fimi Media) ruling is a result of that. So in a way, I am responsible for the ruling," he said.

Protesters should not rally outside office-holders' homes

Asked to comment on protests held outside the homes of members of the national coronavirus management team, Milanović said that protesters should not do that.

"They are free to disagree with what those people do, but to protest now, after a year and half? They could have done it earlier if they had objections, and they should especially not be doing it outside (COVID-19 response team's members') homes because that way they disturb their neighbours," Milanović said, calling on the protesters to end the protests.

Speaking about the prosecution of crimes committed in the 1991-95 Homeland War, Milanović said that the Croatian judiciary had done its best, notably with regard to the prosecution of members of the aggressor forces.

"Evidently some things are no longer possible due to the passage of time. I am sure the Croatian judiciary does not have an agenda to help the enemy. There are real limitations regarding time, place and facts. I am not satisfied, but on the other hand, a lot has been done so I can say that I am also satisfied," he said.

We have no relations with Belgrade and Serbia

As for people gone missing in the war, Milanović said that Belgrade was familiar with the destiny of close to 2,000 missing persons.

"We will insist on that, we won't let the matter rest just like that," he said, adding that Croatia currently has no relations with Belgrade.

"Relations with all the others are good or very good, they are not good only with Belgrade and those currently in power there," he said.

Milanović announced that he would attend this year's commemoration of the fall of the eastern city of Vukovar.

"This year is different, last year the way things were organised was wrong," he said.

He welcomed the government's decision to limit fuel prices but noted that it would cost.

"The government has the instruments, naturally all of that costs, and one should be aware that producers and distributors who have fixed costs will have to be compensated somehow," he said, estimating that prices of energy products should go down in a few months.

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Saturday, 9 October 2021

Milanović: Police Can’t Act Like That, It’s Good That Measures Are Being Taken

ZAGREB, 9 Oct, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday he was confident the case of Croatian police who took part in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border was an isolated case, adding that police must not act like that and that it was good that measures were being taken.

"I believe it's an isolated case because otherwise that would be seen and known. Police must not act like that and that's obviously overstepping one's authority," he told the press in Osijek.

"But we must also talk about the police officers who are doing a very tough job every day year-round for modest pay and are protecting the Croatian border. That's a tough job in the interest of the wider community. I wouldn't want the police as a service to be stigmatised because of this," he added.

"Somebody has to protect the border, border equals state. People coming to the border without authorisation and want to cross it are committing a criminal offence. Those are facts," he said, calling for resolving the recently reported case of Croatian police beating illegal migrants.

"If accountability is established, there should be consequences and punishment, but a problem remains. People, perhaps even families, gather on the Croatian border every day, who want to cross the border and go somewhere else, but that's illegal," he added.

Asked if there was individual or command responsibility in the latest case, Milanović said he did not know.

"I don't believe anyone ordered that. It's evidently an isolated case. I hope we have solved that. The border problem remains. We see that some states, our partners in the European Union a little more to the east, would like the European Union's border to have a fence. I wouldn't want that. I find it inhumane."

The president was in Osijek to attend a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the Osijek Independent Air Platoon.

For Croatia's latest news, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

President Zoran Milanović Supports Ruling Majority's Decision on Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 6 Oct, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday he supported the announcement that the parliamentary majority will select Radovan Dobronić, his candidate, for Supreme Court president, adding that they could have done this last spring.

Speaking to the press, he said they could have done that "last spring at least" instead of "haggling" over it for seven months as it was clear that he would not recommend any current Supreme Court member for that position.

Appointment of new ambassadors "dramatically late"

He denied that it had anything to do with agreeing on new ambassadors, saying their appointment, "which is important, is dramatically late. I don't know why. We started talking and then it stopped at the will of the (foreign) minister. I hope he will get in touch now."

The president said he had not noticed that it was a question of bargaining and wondered "what's the point of this splitting of hairs" since they must reach an agreement eventually.

Initial conflict of interest law imposed from Brussels

Asked to comment on Reformists leader Radimir Čačić's statement that a new conflict of interest law would give the Conflict of Interest Commission deep access to Tax Administration data, Milanović said the initial law from 2011, adopted as part of the negotiations on EU accession, was completely imposed from Brussels.

He said Brussels "experimented" on Croatia, which had to adopt a model that was "not good."

"It's used for political manipulation," he said, adding that some of the Commission's past members "were brought to that Commission as so-called experts and became politicians from the bushes. Undercover politicians one minute, and later politicians. That's unfair."

He said the system in which MPs were overseeing conflict of interest through peer control was not perfect but was more correct.

Nobody has the right to check people's accounts, only courts

The president said nobody had the right to check people's accounts unless it was done under the Criminal Procedure Act. "No commission, nobody. No commissaries, police officers, solely the courts.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Through Pandemics and Earthquakes: World Teachers' Day in Croatia Honors Educators

October 5, 2021 - Commemorating World Teachers' Day in Croatia is another indicator that the country is following global trends. Despite expressed sympathy for teachers, the problems in the Croatian education system are yet to be solved.

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5 October to celebrate all teachers around the globe. It commemorates the anniversary of adopting the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions – says the official UNESCO website. 

Croatia is no exception in honoring the people who teach the youngest generations in the country in the hope they grow into good and educated people that will make Croatia a better place. 

Despite being established on February 2, 2006, under the name of The Faculty of Teacher Education, this institution, part of the University of Zagreb, has a much richer history of educating teachers that began with the first Teacher Training School in Zagreb in 1849. Thus, the oldest instance of Croatian formal teachers' education was followed by Petrinja (1862) and Čakovec (1879).

„The Faculty of Teacher Education, in addition to its constituent units - chairs, centers, institutes, library, and gallery, has three academic departments: Department of Teacher Education Studies, Department of Preschool Education Studies, and Department of Educational Studies. With the resolution of the University Senate of the University of Zagreb dating February 13, 2007, the Four-year Teachers’ College in Čakovec and the Four-year Teachers’ College in Petrinja merged with the Faculty of Teacher Education at first as branches and then as departments of the Faculty of Teacher Education. As such, they have developed for the purposes of organizing implementing the program of study away from the Central location of the Faculty of Teacher Education. Both departments carry out the work and operations under the name of the Faculty of Teacher Education and their own name," says the official website of the faculty.

As it suits a high educational facility for the teachers' field, the Faculty of Teacher Education commemorated the event on Tuesday and appropriately celebrated their professional holiday.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković congratulated World Teachers' Day on Twitter. He expressed gratitude for teachers doing their job during the pandemic and earthquake

„There is no greater task than raising, educating, and shaping the youth which is the future“, wrote Plenković by Twitter as reported by Index.hr.

Croatian president Zoran Milanović attended the ceremony at the Faculty of Teachers' Education. He stated that teachers played a crucial part in shaping Croatian culture.

Based on previous writings by TCN, Milanović's statement can be evident in historical events such as the First Croatian Teacher Congress in 1871. Usually, you could learn more about the history of Croatian education by visiting the Croatian School Museum in Zagreb, but sadly it still awaits post-earthquake reconstruction.

Additionally, its worth mentioning that the start of the new School year exposed the problem of parental pressure on teachers to give children As even when their actual knowledge does not justify the grade.

If not on any other day, hopefully, both the politics and the public may learn and decide to act on World Teachers' Day to help teachers resolve this troubling issue.

Read about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC guide.

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

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Milanović Attends Ceremony Marking 30 Yrs of Croatian Army’s 103rd Brigade

ZAGREB, 2 Oct, 2021 - President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanović on Saturday attended a ceremony marking 30 years of the Croatian Army's 103rd Brigade in Sveti Križ Začretje.

Milanović thanked the veterans for all they did for the free and independent Croatia and recalled that they went to war barehanded.

Every Croatian warrior will say that those from Zagorje were the best fellow fighters, as organised and brave men, he said.

"Thirty years ago, this was a job only for the brave, the bold, for the small number of good men, the few right guys, that's you."

Milanović said it was necessary to talk about the war for the sake of young people, so that they did not forget the war's lessons and all the horrible things that occurred.

"We see that there are those in the region today who act as if they overslept these 30 years... as if nothing is clear to them. They haven't told their children enough of the truth. The truth sometimes hurts. However, it shouldn't hurt us and you, Croatian soldiers and veterans," he added.

The 103rd Brigade's wartime commander, Žarko Miholić, said more that 11,000 inhabitants of Krapina-Zagorje County were in war units, including almost 7,000 in the 103rd Brigade, which had eight dead.

State secretary Špiro Janović, speaking as the prime minister's and the war veterans minister's envoy, said the best Croatia had in 1991 went to defend their country. "What was the best in '91, and that's you, is the best also today, and that's why you are the pledge for this country to be even better, prouder, braver and more honest."

Krapina-Zagorje County head Željko Kolar veterans were greatly contributing to society also today, when there were new challenges.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 1 October 2021

President Zoran Milanovic Slates Former Zagreb Government

October the 1st, 2021 - Zoran Milanovic is known for not mincing his words and speaking his mind. The president, who is also a former prime minister, has become somewhat famous (or infamous, it depends how you view it) for his creative insults and wars of words with PM Andrej Plenkovic. He has now spoken frankly about his beliefs about the former local Zagreb government, and the poor management which caused the dire issues the city is facing today.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that, as far as reconstruction after the devastating earthquake of March 2020 in Zagreb is concerned, we're now "simply going into the red''. This was his picturesque warning of the fact that the financial situation in the Croatian capital city is not good because the previous Zagreb government led it into this ''abyss''.

"If we're talking about the reconstruction of Zagreb, we're now quite simply going into the red. The financial situation in the City of Zagreb, as far as I hear, isn't good, not because of this government, but because of the previous Zagreb government,'' said Milanovic, clearly pointing fingers at the former mayor, Milan Bandic, who was one of the most controversial Croatian politicians of our time, even by this country's rather impressive standards.

Mired in corruption accusations and alleged wrongdoing, Bandic (often affectionately referred to as Bandit) died suddenly and prematurely from a massive heart attack earlier this year, with many calling him the greatest Croatian politician of all, simply because he died without ever having been charged.

Asked about the reconstruction of Zagreb after the earthquake, he told reporters at the "Big Plans Day/Dan velikih planova" conference that it was financially important in Zagreb for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to start paying some actual attention to it.

"There's no room for trade and agreements. The city cannot borrow beyond a certain point, and the previous Zagreb government brought it into this abyss of a situation it's now in,'' concluded the president.

For more, make sure to check our our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

President Zoran Milanović: "We're Nearing 'Red' Zone With Regard to Zagreb's Reconstruction"

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that as far as Zagreb's post-quake reconstruction was concerned, the processes "are already entering the red zone", warning that the financial situation in Zagreb is not good because the previous city administration brought it to the edge of the abyss.

"If we are talking about Zagreb's reconstruction we are already entering the red. The financial situation in the City of Zagreb, as far as I have heard, is not good and not because of its current authorities but its previous administration. They invoiced or tried to invoice and give away anything possible over the past years. And in the end, we all know how that ended - the other option won and it is barely making ends meet," said Milanović.

Asked about Zagreb's reconstruction following the 2020 earthquake, Milanović said that it was important for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to dedicate attention to the issue of Zagreb's finances.

"There is no room for bartering and agreements. The City of Zagreb cannot incur debts above certain levels and the previous authorities have brought it to the edge of the abyss," said Milanović.

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

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

President Zoran Milanović and Izetbegović Discuss Relationship Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović spoke with the leader of the Democratic Action Party (SDA) of Bosnia andHerzegovina, Bakir Izetbegović, on Tuesday about the relationship between the Bosniaks and Croats, the President's Office said in a press release.

They discussed the relationship between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably the relationship between the Bosniaks and Croats and the need to improve it in accordance with the Dayton agreement, the press release said.

Izetbegović also serves as Chairman of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Milanović: My Words Will Be Superfluous When Croats Are Equal People in Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday his statements like the one that he was also the president of Croats not living in Croatia would be "completely or somewhat superfluous" once Croats were able to elect their representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina on their own.

"It's a difficult situation when I have to say that I'm also the president of Croats not living in Croatia, who have the right to vote because they are Croatian citizens. And not just Croats. There are Bosniaks and Serbs in BiH who also have Croatian citizenship. Perhaps they vote, perhaps they don't. When Croats are able to elect their representative in Sarajevo on their own, equally as the other two constituent peoples, then those words of mine will be completely or somewhat superfluous," Milanović told the press in Varaždin.

He was responding to BiH Presidency Chairman Željko Komšić, who said on Thursday that by saying that he was also the president of all Croatian citizens in BiH while Komšić was not, Milanović had surpassed even Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

"If you want to chase Croats out of BiH or alienate them from BiH, then you'll deprive them of those fundamental constitutional rights, while simultaneously accusing those who only fight for basic house rules of being destroyers and comparing them with warmongers," Milanović said, adding that "the more Croats insist on that right, the more, more than before, they care about staying there."

Insults from Serbia

Responding to Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin's statement earlier this week that Milanović was "one of the stupider Croatian politicians," Milanović said he did not have "my own loudmouths and rabble-rousers who will roundly insult Vučić."

"I'll say some things that are not pleasant in my own words, from my own mouth," he said, wondering "what would happen if I was the smartest" politician in Croatia.

Milanović added that while he did say earlier this week that Vučić was proud of having been a warmonger in the 1990s, he did not call anyone a Chetnik. "I draw the line at such things."

No difference between Scholtz and Laschet

Commenting on Sunday's German election for Chancellor Angela Merkel's successor, he said "nothing will change," whether it was Social Democrat Olaf Scholz or Christian Democrat Armin Laschet.

"It will be the same policy, the same course. More or less the same people will probably stay in foreign affairs as well," he said, adding that "it almost makes no difference, both for Croatia and Europe," who the new German chancellor is.

"They are moderate people... One should expect the continuity of the German policy. The big parties have weakened. A two-party coalition is hardly possible," he said.

No communication on ambassadorial appointments for weeks

Commenting on relations between his office and the government concerning the appointment of ambassadors, Milanović said Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman had begun talks with the head of his office but they stopped.

"Evidently at the same time as the finale of this story with the appointment of the Supreme Court president... Whether there is a causal connection, whether one has been made conditional on the other, I can't claim that."

He said there had been no communication on the appointment of ambassadors, consuls general and consuls for weeks. "Not because of my side. The head of my office is ready to resume those talks today... That's not my decision, but I'm sure it's not Minister Grlić Radman's decision either."

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Friday, 24 September 2021

Milanović Supports Healthier, More Sustainable, More Just Food Systems

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović supported in the UN on Friday the establishment of healthier, more sustainable and more just food systems and progress in all sustainable development targets, with special emphasis on food security as the most important global target.

He was speaking at a virtual summit on food systems held as part of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presiding.

The summit sets a foundation for the transformation of global food systems in order to step up recovery from COVID-19 and achieve sustainable development targets by 2030.

We are increasingly witness to the need for healthier, more sustainable and more just food systems, Milanović said, adding that Croatia supported such campaigns and intentions to achieve progress in all sustainable development targets.

Agriculture has an important role in activities related to climate and the environment, but food security remains our most important goal, he said, adding that the importance of food security was especially evident in the ongoing COVID crisis.

In Croatia we are witness to the positive effects of agricultural interaction on climate and the environment as a result of measures we undertook to protect natural resources. But in order to achieve even more ambitious climate goals, new investment is necessary, which agriculture alone cannot ensure, Milanović said.

This begs the question of how to meet the needs for producing sufficient food on the one hand, and meet the public's expectations regarding environmental protection, combating climate change, or the well-being of animals on the other, he added.

Changes which lead to sustainable and resilient food systems must be based on an integral approach, and research and innovation must support those changes, Milanović said.

Sustainable food systems begin by developing the best agricultural practices, improving food distribution systems and reducing food waste, he added.

Milanović said the challenges were many and that Croatia was especially involved in dealing with those concerning green production, food quality, and reducing food waste.

He supported the promotion of the One Health concept, saying the health of people, animals, plants and their common environment was inseparable and intertwined.

Milanović said it was necessary to intensify cooperation in all of those issues.

Croatia is ready to share with others its knowledge and experience in dealing with the challenges agriculture faces in the global world, he added.

He said he was confident the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Committee on World Food Security could make a significant contribution to achieving sustainable development targets via the transfer of knowledge and by connecting the international community.

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