Croatian Business Owners Don’t Believe Protest Will Have Desired Effect

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, several thousand protesters, mainly Croatian business owners, gathered on Wednesday at Zagreb’s Ban Jelacic Square to attend a rally organised by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP) over dissatisfaction with the Croatian Government’s measures to stop the spread of the pandemic and properly compensate business owners who have been banned from working, such as gym, sports centre, cafe and restaurant owners.

The main demand of the gathered Croatian business owners, who were mostly from the catering and hospitality sector, as well as gym owners who have been banned from working since November, is fair compensation for the ban on their work, but the protesters are also bothered by discrimination in the imposed measures. Most of them are also asking for the re-opening of cafes, which have not been confirmed as places where the virus has spread more rapidly or more efficiently, but a decent number of those protesters still don’t expect the move to bring about the changes they’re asking for.

“Our action is not directed against the epidemiological measures, we just wanted to show that we’re dissatisfied with the economic measures that aren’t sufficient or adequate. Measures to preserve jobs of 4,000 kuna are intended for employees and can’t be a measure of assistance for business owners. We aren’t living, we’re simply surviving. We want quality economic measures and a plan for how the government will help the economy. We’re seeking compensation for all Croatian business owners who have had to close their doors.

We believe that it’s now high time to think about the activities that are closed almost all year round. The event industry, travel agencies and the occasional transport of passengers are recording huge losses, and there’s no help for them,” said Drazen Orescanin, Executive Director of UGP. He added that Croatian business owners need clear announcements of any new or altered measures in time, and that they don’t want to hear about the new measures in the media and wonder what they’re going to be as if it’s a lottery.

Andrija Klaric, the owner of a Zagreb gym who was arrested on Monday after opening it that morning, also addressed those gathered. Marin Medak stepped in as the former president of the National Association of Caterers, now a member of its supervisory board, saying that the state is treating those in hospitality and catering as if they’re mere third-class citizens. At a press conference held almost at the same time, members of the National Civil Protection Headquarters told the protesters that the measures would be eased when the conditions were met, which is something that is being monitored continuously.

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