Monday, 22 November 2021

Jandroković: It's Selfish to Think About Personal Freedom While Others Are Dying

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Monday commented on Saturday's protest against COVID certificates and asked what sort of personal freedom it was that "brings death and takes numerous lives that shouldn't have been lost?"

"Those who are insisting on their own freedom and avoiding COVID certificates and testing evidently do not think that there are people who pay a high price for this epidemic," Jandroković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

He said that the key issue was not COVID certificates but the fact that more than 10,000 people had died of COVID-19, including a record 73 in the current fourth wave today.

"I don't know what sort of personal freedom it is that brings death and takes numerous lives that shouldn't have been lost," he said.

He also wondered what sort of freedom excluded doctors and nurses who for the past 21 months have been working hard to save human lives and called for showing them some trust as they work in impossible conditions.

With reference to Saturday's protest, he said that it was heterogenous and that there were among the protesters "various false prophets and political profiteers".

Asked whether mandatory vaccination was being considered, Jandroković said that Croatia had adopted measures to curb the spread of coronavirus and that at the moment he could not say whether new ones would be introduced.

It all depends on how the pandemic will develop, he added.

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

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 22 November 2021

PM Says Saturday Protest Predominantly Political

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that the protest against the COVID-19 certificate mandate on Saturday was predominantly a political protest, described as shameful political profiteering from people's fears, COVID-19 deaths, and COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives.

He stressed that he also condemned attacks on reporters during the protest.

"I most strongly condemn the attack on your fellow reporter (Goran) Latković, it is a cowardly and brazen act and it is not clear to me why anyone would bring into question the right of reporters and media to report about a public event. I regret it happened and believe police will identify the perpetrators," Plenković told reporters during a visit to Slovenia.

Noting that it was not problematic to protest and express one's view or disagree with the measures the government was undertaking, Plenković said that the protest was nonetheless of a political nature.

"The gentlemen from the Bridge, the Homeland Movement, the remnants of the Human Shield, and the exhibitionist from the European Parliament whom no one knows there, (Croatian independent MEP Mislav) Kolakušić, have jumped on the bandwagon. (President Zoran) Milanović supported them before and afterward. He is the only president of an EU member country who openly opposes COVID-19 certificates and measures introduced by the government to protect public health," said Plenković.

As for protesters shouting that there was no coronavirus and that they were being denied their freedoms, Plenković said profiteering from people's fears was shameful and called on the protesters to visit an intensive care unit in a Croatian hospital where COVID-19 patients are being treated.

He repeated that vaccination is not mandatory and that testing is being offered as a non-invasive alternative.

"What is invasive about swabbing that lasts half a second? The sole purpose of the protest was to profit from COVID-19 deaths. There are people who try to profit from people's fears while themselves being afraid of a simple test," said Plenković.

Constitution protects Milanović but not his secretary and chief of staff

In a comment on decisions by individual local officials to defy restrictions imposed by the national COVID-19 response team, the PM said that in normal circumstances, everyone fights against disease but that there are know-it-alls who say that there is no coronavirus in Primošten, Sinj, and Čabar, a reference to the three towns' mayors.

"We are dealing here with petty politics and politicians who are sabotaging our measures designed to protect citizens," he added.

As for President Milanović's statements about COVID-19 certificates, Plenković said that the president was protected by the constitution but that his secretary and chief of staff were not.

In a comment on an announcement by the opposition Bridge party that it would organize a referendum on COVID-19 certificates, he said Bridge officials were "the biggest parasites" trying to profit from the current situation, adding that they should be asked if they had got vaccinated as "there are many who are making noise and have protected themselves."

As for a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights pointing to omissions by Croatian police in a case involving the death of a six-year-old Afghan migrant child, Plenković said that he regretted the tragic event and that he respected the ruling.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Agreement for Procurement of 18 Buses Signed in Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - An agreement was signed in Dubrovnik on Monday for the procurement of 18 new buses for Dubrovnik's public transportation bus company, worth almost HRK 38.7 million (€5.16 million) of which 85% will be provided by the European Union.

The Libertas bus company will, thus, renew its fleet with two articulated low-floor buses, six mini low-floor buses, seven mini urban-suburban buses, and three midi suburban buses. As many old buses will be taken off the roads.

Mayor Mato Franković announced that traffic around the historical old town will soon be restricted to vehicles of local residents and public transport.

"I believe that visitors to the city will choose Libertas as the simplest and easiest form of transport to the historical old town," said Franković.

The bus company's director, Franko Mekišić, said citizens will directly feel the benefit of the procurement because the buses meet the newest standards and ecological norms.

"This will reduce the overall age of vehicles from 12 to 9 years. We currently have 110 vehicles, 80 of which are in use. We are intensively working on absorbing certain EU funds in the coming period to procure more buses," said Mekišić.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

ZSE Indices Go Up

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Monday went up by more than 0.50%, gaining for the second consecutive day, with the stocks of shipping companies being the biggest winners.

The Crobex went up by 0.69% to 2,007 points while the Crobex10 rose by 0.54% to 1,228 points.

Regular turnover amounted to HRK 4.6 million, HRK 400,000 less than on Friday.

An additional HRK 6.08 million was generated in block trading with shares of the Atlantic Group, at HRK 1,580 per share.

The most traded shares were those of the Atlantska Plovidba shipping company, which turned over HRK 1.09 million, their price going up 8.68% to HRK 413.

The stock of the Valamar Riviera tourism company was the only other stock that turned over more than a million kuna, generating HRK 1.07 million, with its price stagnating at HRK 32.

Forty-three stocks traded today, with 17 gainings and 13 losing in price, while 13 were stable.

(€1 = HRK 7.49)

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Milanović Say His Office Will Summon Austrian Ambassador

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Monday his office would summon the Austrian ambassador to convey his concern over "fundamental human freedoms" in that country after the government in Vienna recently summoned the Croatian ambassador over Milanović's comments on COVID rules in Austria.

The Croatian diplomat was summoned last week after Milanović recently commented on the Austrian government's anti-epidemic measures, noting that they were reminiscent of Fascism.

Asked by the press today about Austria's imposing an all-out lockdown and its plan to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 as of February 2022, Milanović called it a disaster.

"I think the Swedes are much cleverer than they are than their authorities. Considering that our diplomats are being summoned, today the Austrian ambassador will be summoned so that we can convey our deep concern for the fundamental human freedoms in Austria," Milanović said.

"Our ambassadors are constantly summoned over some nonsense, so we will summon theirs," he said.

On 17 November, Croatia's Ambassador to Austria, Danijel Glunčić, was called to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over Milanović's statement about the Austrian coronavirus policy. "I can confirm that I was called to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Glunčić told Hina last week, declining to reveal details of the discussion.

According to a statement from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Glunčić was called over "highly unusual statements by the Croatian president," which were "sharply rejected".

"Comparing the measures against the coronavirus pandemic to fascism is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to protect the citizens of Austria and we are acting accordingly," the Austrian ministry said, as quoted by APA news agency.

Austrian media quoted the Croatian president as saying after an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday that the Austrian decision to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people was "reminiscent of the 1930s" and called it foolish.

Commenting on the latest developments, Milanović said today that the governments of some Western European countries kept criticizing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Poles, while some of them behave as if they are "sacred cows that do everything perfectly".

"No, it's stupid. It is not scientific and you terrorize people. Given that this is the European Union and I am a European statesman, I have a problem with that," Milanović said.

He went on to say that if the Dutch can comment on Bosnia and Herzegovina every week, he can comment on the situation in Rotterdam.

"Your people have revolted (against COVID measures). And they are not immigrants but blonde and blue-eyed Dutchmen. Use your head, gentlemen," Milanović said, referring to violent riots in that Dutch city over the weekend.

Commenting on increasingly stringent restrictions being imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, Milanović accused "dull-witted" Eurocrats in Brussels of such policy, adding that no such restrictions are in place in the Scandinavian countries.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Plaque Commemorating Croatia and Slovenia's Cooperation in 1990s War Unveiled

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - The scars and traces of the 1990s war and Slobodan Milošević's insane policy are felt even today, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said in Slovenia on Monday, at the unveiling of a memorial to the cooperation of the governments of the two countries at the time of their struggle for independence.

The memorial plaque in Otočec Ob Krki was unveiled by the two countries' current prime ministers, Janez Janša and Plenković, and their prime ministers of 30 years ago, Franjo Gregurić of Croatia and Alojz Peterle of Slovenia.

"We remember all the horrors that happened during the Great Serbian aggression of the Milošević regime, and the crucial role in it of the then Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), both in Slovenia and in Croatia," said Plenković.

As of mid-1991, there were no longer JNA troops in Slovenia's territory, while a part of Croatia's territory was occupied until 1995 and the military and police operations Flash and Storm, Janša said.

"We suffered the consequences of that aggression practically throughout the 1990s, and the scars and traces of that period and Slobodan Milošević's insane policy are unfortunately felt to this day," Plenković added.

Janša said that "it is important to have a good neighbor in difficult situations" and that Croatia and Slovenia were good neighbors to one another at the time.

Gregurić said that understanding and cooperation made it possible for businesses to reopen despite the war, for trade to function as well as transport, "which to us was very important because there were de facto major barriers to transport connectivity due to the war in Croatia, not only with Serbia but the Eastern Bloc as well."

"Our customs and police services agreed very quickly and there were no impediments to the transport of any goods and services between Croatia and Slovenia. To us it was very important to have a free passage and a corridor to the West," the former Croatian PM said, thanking Slovenia for taking in a portion of Croatian refugees, and Plenković and Janša for their successful cooperation.

Slovenia's six-month EU presidency is nearing the end and Slovenia has been a partner to Croatia on its journey to accession to the Schengen and euro areas, said Plenković.

"Slovenia has been not only a friend and partner that supports us, but it has also been an EU chair actively helping us make progress in the months to come," Plenković said.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Croatian Embassy Condemns Izetbegović's Statement

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - Croatia's Embassy in Sarajevo on Monday condemned statements by Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović bringing into question the historical identity of the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The embassy's statement was a response to speeches which Izetbegović, leader of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), made at functions organized by expats in Germany last week.

The embassy points to Izetbegović's misuse of historical terms for what it describes as petty political purposes and in a bid to erode the identity of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as the least numerous constituent people in the country.

During the events, organized by Bosniak expat communities, Izetbegović said, according to reports in local media outlets, that all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina "are the descendants of the good Bošnjans, that is Bogomils", a reference to members of the Christian neo-Gnostic or dualist sect in Bosnia in the early Middle Ages. He went on to say that it was only in the more recent time that those people were divided along ethnic and religious lines by political forces.

Izetbegović also insisted that there was sufficient evidence that in the Middle Ages residents of Bosnia were members of the Orthodox or Catholic Church but that they were not Serbs or Croats, especially not in the present-day meaning of those terms.

The Croatian embassy recalls that the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes three constituent peoples: the Bosniaks, the Croats and the Serbs.

Officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country aspiring to become a candidate for EU membership, are expected to show commitment to European values, including the principle of equality and preservation of the different national identities of the three constituent peoples, says the embassy.

The Croatian National Council, an umbrella association of Croat parties and societies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has already condemned Izetbegović's statements that the HDZ BiH party "will get nothing" if its leader Dragan Čović does not accept compromises concerning amendments to the country's election legislation.

The HNS BiH has accused Izetbegović of behaving like an Ottoman Turkish bey.

"This does not pave the way to any compromise. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a private land owned by a bey. Representation of the constituent peoples... is a constitutional category confirmed by all the rulings of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Court of Human Rights," the HNS BiH said.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Croatia, France to Sign Aircraft Agreement, Support for Entry to Schengen, Euro Areas

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - French President Emmanuel Macron is the first French president to officially visit Croatia, and his visit on Wednesday and Thursday is exceptionally important for Zagreb, which will receive support for entry to the Schengen and euro areas and finalize a contract on the purchase of French fighter jets.

"The visit is in line with Croatia's strategic goals for 2022 - entry to the Schengen and euro areas and the strengthening of defense capabilities with the Rafale aircraft," a Croatian government source said on Monday.

Croatia expects the legal procedure for the adoption of a formal decision on its admission to the Schengen area of passport-free movement to begin in December this year, during Slovenia's EU presidency, and it expects the final decision to be adopted during France's presidency in the first half of 2022.

Talks with President Macron on Schengen, therefore, have a twofold significance - France is one of the main EU members and its EU presidency starts on 1 January, the source said.

The source noted that Croatia also expected to receive France's support for admission to the euro area.

The French president will arrive in Croatia on Wednesday evening, his formal host being Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and the reason for that is that the French president, in line with his extensive powers in the presidential political system, is one of the few heads of state who sit on the European Council, which comprises mostly prime ministers. As such, Macron is a formal colleague to other countries' prime ministers, the source said.

Macron will on Thursday be received for talks by President Zoran Milanović, after which he will meet with PM Plenković.

The talks between Plenković and Macron will focus on bilateral relations, the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, with emphasis on Ukraine and Belarus, the strengthening of the EU's strategic independence, and global topics.

France and Croatia already have an agreement on a strategic partnership but they will sign a new one covering a number of new areas, the source said.

The first visit of a French president is considered important also in light of the fact that France is the EU's leading military power, its only nuclear power, and the only permanent member of the UN Security Council from the EU.

After Plenković and Macron sign a new agreement on strategic partnership, the two countries' defense ministers, Mario Banožić and Florence Parly, will sign an agreement on the procurement of the Rafale jets.

Country's security to be raised to the highest level ever

The purchase of the Rafale jets, "the most modern, new-generation aircraft, for the least money and with the fastest delivery" will mean a huge step forward in Croatia's defense security, raising it to the highest level ever, government officials have said.

Croatia will obtain the most powerful aircraft in the area between Germany and Greece, which will enhance its geopolitical importance as there are no jets in its neighborhood that could be compared with the Rafale.

The jets are expected to arrive in late 2023, which is when Croatia will be able to control its entire territory for the first time, the government source said.

Zagreb in May announced that it would buy 12 Rafale jets to modernize its armed forces, opting for the biggest procurement of military equipment since its war of independence, the Agence France Presse has said ahead of Macron's visit.

Clear French support

The document on a strategic partnership to be signed by Plenković and Macron underlines France's clear support to Croatia's accession to the euro area as well as the Schengen area. France also supports Croatia's admission to the OECD, the Croatian source said.

The idea behind the new agreement on strategic partnership is for Croatia to "become a privileged partner to France in this part of Europe," the source said.

The other elements of the strategic partnership refer to economic relations and cultural, scientific, academic, and administrative cooperation.

Croatia is one of the two EU members, the other being Hungary, which Macron has still not visited since the start of his presidential term.

The French president will end his visit with a dinner, to be organized for members of Croatia's public, cultural, scientific and sports life, after which on Thursday afternoon he travels to Rome, where he will sign an agreement on strategic partnership with Italy, while on Friday he is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Milanović: Attacks on Journalists Are Outrageous

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Monday commented on an incident that had occurred during a protest against COVID certificates in Zagreb on Saturday, saying that attacks on journalists were outrageous and that the incident involved "a handful of louts".

"There were a lot of people at the protest. There were people who have nothing to do with this madness we have been listening to, who are educated, vaccinated, some of whom I know personally. They didn't come to hear that idiot Francišković or see some parliamentarians," he said.

He commented on COVID certificates in army barracks, questioning what can be achieved with them considering that most soldiers are vaccinated. "There are people who do not want to be tested, which I don't quite understand this, but which genius has studied how this impacts the combat readiness of our healthy and young soldiers," said Milanović.

Commenting further on the protest, Milanović assessed that it was chaotic because it was a "spontaneous revolt." He questioned what the point was of restrictions if vaccinated people can pass on the virus almost as much as those who have not been vaccinated.

"If we are doing all this because of overcrowded hospitals, then why didn't we prepare ourselves for this excess. It's inhumane to divide people into those who have been vaccinated and those who haven't," he said.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Professor Talan's Book About Croatian Mountains Launched

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - A 351-page book about Croatian mountains and mountain peaks has been published by the AGM publishing company.

The book, titled  "Ne/pre/poznata Hrvatska - Putositnice (s) hrvatske planinarske obilaznice", is written by Professor Nikica Talan, who portrays mountain trails and summits, both well known and less known ones.

The book also contains multimedia content, with QR codes for mobile phones which will enable readers to view videos of the mountains described in the book.

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

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