Bujas and Oreščanin: Why Should You Come to Zagreb Protest? Because There are Two Croatias

Daniela Rogulj

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The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association initiated the action. It was planned to warn of the inequality of epidemiological measures and insufficient economic measures for companies affected by the corona crisis. It gained an extra dimension after the repression of several entrepreneurs and caterers who opened their premises in protest on Monday, culminating in the detention of gym owner Andrija Klarić.

Index.hr asked the key players of Voice of Entrepreneurs why they think people should come to Ban Jelačić Square on Wednesday at 10 am.

Oreščanin: The main reason for coming to the protest are the statements of Plenković and Ćorić
UGP Executive Director Dražen Oreščanin says that the key reasons in recent days have been given by the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić.

“I think the main reason why every citizen should come to the Square could be heard in recent days from Prime Minister Plenković and Minister Ćorić. The way they talked about UGP, a citizens’ association, and the way they talked about political opponents shows that they have no understanding of what democracy is and that they have no understanding of the people, to whom power belongs in democratic regimes.”

“We don’t know if we should laugh or cry; we can understand their statements as a threat.”
He once again referred to the statements of Ćorić and Plenković.

“One does not know whether they should laugh or cry at their accusations. Minister Ćorić’s statements last night during Otvoreno and Prime Minister Plenković’s statements can be read as an open threat. The first concrete action to show that the threat is serious is the arrest of gym owner Andrija. It is a serious derogation from democratic principles; we as a nation must fight for our rights,” Oreščanin said.

“We are fighting for a country of happy citizens that will not be held hostage by politics.”
“We are fighting by absolutely legal means for the rights of entrepreneurs, employees, all citizens, and for Croatia 2.0, a country of happy citizens that will not be held hostage by politics,” he added.

Several thousand people are expected to protest.

“Over 3,200 people signed up on Facebook, over 1,200 through official registrations, and at least 800 caterers and about 200 people from Rijeka should arrive. It is realistic to expect from 1,000 to 5,000 people, and maybe more,” says Oreščanin.

An appeal to all who come to protest
He appeals to everyone who comes to the Square to adhere to epidemiological rules and general rules of conduct.

“It is necessary for everyone at the Square to adhere to epidemiological measures and for everyone who will make a statement to be polite, to express their opinion in a dignified manner. It is essential to keep in mind that people may be involved as provocateurs even after these threats from the top authorities. That is why we appeal to people not to fall prey to any provocations,” he noted.

“Andrija Klarić said he would come and invited everyone to come.”
He said that the detained gym owner was also coming, who was released last night.

“Andrija Klarić said that he would come and he invited everyone to come, we will help him in the legal battle,” said Oreščanin.

“We believe that it will be the day when the government will finally start listening to the citizens and working in the interest of the citizens.”

He sent a clear message ahead of the protest.

“Our message is in the entrepreneurial sense that there must be no discrimination, that people should be fairly compensated and that measures should be fair, but it is also broader than that. The message to Plenković is that we are not a small group of instigators; there are people in this country who have the right to rule. In democracies, the government is there to serve its people, not to humiliate, insult and drive them into pens like sheep. We believe that tomorrow will be the day when the government will finally start listening to the citizens and working in the interest of the citizens,” Oreščanin concluded.

Bujas: It is crystal clear that staying at home or acting on Facebook has not achieved anything all this time
Index also asked the President of the Voice of Entrepreneurs, Hrvoje Bujas, the same question – why does he think that people should come to the protest at Ban Jelačić Square?

“It is crystal clear that nothing has been achieved by staying at home or acting on Facebook all this time. We have not received any adequate economic measures or a clear plan when it comes to epidemiological measures.

We demand that others who are on their knees and who have a large drop in traffic be compensated, but also that the implementation of all this is far, far more efficient. It is up to two, two and a half months late with the compensation of 4,000 kuna, which is actually paid to the employees,” Bujas said.

He said that their message was much broader than economic measures for the corona crisis and aimed at changing Croatian society for the better.

“All of you who dream of a fairer Croatia – come to the square.”
“We are looking for key reforms; we can’t say it doesn’t matter because we are all very concerned. Let all the people who come to the Square say what they think, we will set up a camera, and everyone will have thirty seconds to say what they have. Let the government see that there is a Croatia that is thrown to its knees that does not know what will happen tomorrow. We expect from the government a clear plan for vaccination and measures, which we never received, and we expect reforms.

All of you who want to hear a clear plan, who are looking for efficient economic measures, who dream of a fairer Croatia, come to the Square,” Bujas said.

He says they have been treated as enemies by the authorities in recent days.

“It is not clear to me why Plenković tolerates Ćorić, who is the main reason for the failure of the negotiations.”
“The Voice of Entrepreneurs has been giving a hand to those in power since day one, which is normal if we want to achieve some changes, but we cannot be manipulated, and it bothers them. I can even publicly praise most ministers, except one – Tomislav Ćorić. He never answered our email, he did not want to be found, and de facto interrupted the negotiations that were going in the right direction. My question is why Plenković tolerates Ćorić. I can’t figure it out. We remain persistent in demanding Ćorić’s resignation. We are looking for a man who can give a solution, not deepen the crisis. The direct culprit for the termination of negotiations and for our taking to the streets is Minister Ćorić. In a way, we are also endangering our health, although everyone at the Square will adhere to all measures. I received a positive rapid test for COVID-19, and I will certainly not come to the Square tomorrow to endanger anyone’s health, but that is the only reason I will stay at home. I call on everyone who comes to adhere to epidemiological measures and to be responsible people; I understand the frustration, but let us show an example of how to behave in a public space and how to keep healthy,” Bujas told Index.

“There are two Croatias. In one Croatia, people go to the stock market, and in the other, everything is fine, and salaries are still rising.”
But he says that doesn’t mean people at the protest shouldn’t say what they think.

“Say everything that is on your mind because they obviously live in another Croatia, where everything is fine. There are two Croatians. In one Croatia, people go to the stock exchange, and in the other, everything is fine, and salaries are still rising. Why don’t they hear that there is also that Croatia where everything is not right, where people are on their knees? Who are we insulting when we tell the truth? ” Bujas wonders.

“Any repression at the protest would be the twilight of democracy.”
He hopes there will be no problems with the police at the protest, which reacted rather repressively on Monday when some entrepreneurs and caterers opened their facilities in protest.

“Any repression at the protest would be the twilight of democracy; these are people who want to say everything they think.”

Mate Janković: Why will I be at the Square? Because I don’t want to play under these rules anymore
The famous chef Mate Jaković, who has been cooking in Banija with other volunteer chefs in recent weeks, also announced his arrival at the protest.

He explained why he was coming to the protest.

“Why will I be at the Square on Wednesday at 10.00? It has nothing to do with Covid or the measures. The business climate in this country was bad before Covid. We were backward, corrupt, and a bad society before, and there is a huge chance that we will stay that way after Covid. That’s the main reason I’m coming. Nothing in my life has motivated me enough to go out on the road and express dissatisfaction, but grumbling on Facebook is no longer an option. I can no longer stand by and act like I don’t care because it’s just not true. I’ve had enough. I’ll either try to change as much as possible, or I’ll go to another country and build my life there. But under these rules, I don’t want to play anymore,” Janković wrote.

The protest announcement 
The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association previously published an announcement of the protest in which it explained its reasons for the protest.

“If entrepreneurs and workers are banned from working, which is a constitutional and human right, they should be adequately compensated. Why is Croatia not a country equal for all, for those in the public and those in the private sector? Why are entrepreneurs second-class citizens who are not cared for by their government? It is time to hear the voice of the people, the voice of reason, and the voice of entrepreneurs! We invite all entrepreneurs, craftspeople, employees, and citizens to join us. Each of them will say, from 10 am on the Square, one by one, and through live stream: Enough is enough! Enough bad crisis management! It is enough that entrepreneurs and employees in the private sector are second-class citizens. Why is Croatia not a country of equals?” reads the beginning of the protest announcement published by the Voice of Entrepreneurs.

“The Government of the Republic of Croatia and the National Civil Protection Headquarters have been destroying micro, small and medium enterprises for months with inconsistent, discriminatory, and bad decisions. Many entrepreneurs have had their constitutional right to work revoked without any compensation. Unlike many European countries, Croatia has not taken a single step to compensate entrepreneurs. If the right to work is prohibited, it should be adequately compensated. However, the Government of the Republic of Croatia does not seem to want to understand that. Entrepreneurs care about their health and respect the government’s decisions, even when they are illogical and discriminatory. But this action is a painful cry with which we want to say: The Government of the Republic of Croatia, you have forgotten those who feed you. Recall, job preservation measures are helpful for workers, not for companies. Fixed costs will be reimbursed in just two months to those who are formally closed, while for all others, some of which have a drop in turnover of more than 90 percent, no one cares, not even our Ministry of Economy. If this continues, there will be no jobs to be saved at all,” they write.

They added that they had enough of the highest taxes in Europe.

“Well, we have had enough of the injustice that entrepreneurs have suffered since the beginning of the crisis, we have had enough of the highest taxes in the European Union, we have had enough of double standards, and we have had enough of discriminatory decisions. We believe that we have everything we need to be a prosperous and competitive country. Still, it is time for the Republic of Croatia’s Government to listen to experts and entrepreneurs finally.

For these reasons, we are organizing an action to show that citizens are dissatisfied with the poor management of the crisis and to make their voices heard. Entrepreneurs and their employees in times of greatest crisis seek help to survive from a system that they have been financing for decades and in which they are paying billions of kuna. It is time for that same system to start taking care of them in an adequate way.

We see the crisis as an opportunity to reset a system that has not served society for years. It is also time to abolish the hundreds of parafiscal taxes that burden the citizens of this state. Also, we believe that now is the opportunity to abolish the payment of mandatory membership fees in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, which are just another in a series of taxes for entrepreneurs,” the statement said.

To read more about business in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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