Protest Held against Closing Down of Zagreb Horse Racing Venue

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 8, 2019 – Several hundred citizens rallied in Zagreb on Saturday outside the entrance to the city’s horse racing venue to protest against Mayor Milan Bandić’s decision to build what is colloquially called the Zagreb Manhattan project in that part of the city, warning the city authorities not to deprive them of that green area and the mayor to let them be.

Not long after Bandić announced that the Zagreb Manhattan project would be implemented in the area between Zagreb’s Jadranski Most bridge to the west, the Sava River to the north, the Zagreb Trade Fair to the south and the INA company headquarters and the Most Slobode bridge to the east, equestrian associations and horse owners were informed that they had to move all of 147 horses from the city’s racing venue.

Today’s protest was organised by civic associations, and among the protesters were numerous children.

One of the banners displayed by the protesters carried Bandić’s statement from 2018 in which he said that the city racecourse would not be touched as long as he was the mayor.

Ivana Ljubić, head of the Pony Express equestrian club, said that the racecourse was a second home to more than 500 children who did not own a horse and came there to ride.

Ninety percent of equestrian events in the country are held on the Zagreb racecourse and the place “is much more than a big meadow suitable for building commercial buildings with a high tower like the one in Mordor, offering a good view of subjects.”

Ljubić recalled that town planners, too, opposed the project, that the racecourse was of strategic importance for children and the city, and that civic associations would not give up their fight for it.

As for the mayor’s announcement that horses would be relocated from the racecourse to two equestrian venues in the area of Zagreb, Ljubic said that no private racecourse, regardless of its capacity, could take over the role of the city’s main racing venue as the equestrian centre.

Another activist, Vesna Grgić, said that Bandić was behaving as a farmers’ market vendor, “selling parts of Zagreb to whomever gives the highest bid.”

In a comment on Bandić’s statement that the city would not finance anyone’s hobbies, a remark directed at people protesting against the closing down of the racecourse, activist Tomislav Vukoja said: “Nobody has asked us – the taxpayers who fill the city budget – what we think about the plan. If the city money was not spent on the unlawful hiring of ‘relatives’ who are incompetent but receive pay – there would be money for various hobbies.”

The organisers of the protest said that until June 22 they would be collecting signatures for a petition to be given to the mayor, and activist Gordana Pasanec of the New Left party said the next protest would be held outside the city assembly.

According to the organisers, the protest was attended by more than 1,000 people, while police did not give any information on their number, saying only that there were no reports of incidents.

The protest was also supported by members of the Opposition in the Zagreb City Assembly – Renato Petek of the Forward Croatia – Progressive Alliance party and Gordan Maras of the Social Democratic Party.

In March this year, the city authorities said that Eagle Hills, a group of investors from Abu Dhabi, was the likely strategic investor in a possible development project colloquially called the Zagreb Manhattan.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Politics section.


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