Zagreb mayor Tomislav Tomasevic has openly discussed his relationship with Andrej Plenkovic, saying that “of course there is some tension…”
Tomislav Tomasevic recently appeared as a guest on Dnevnik N1, where he discussed, among other things such as the post-earthquake reconstruction process, his relationship with the prime minister. In his words, there are tensions, but the pair still need to work together.
“We have to work together, and we need to cooperate because of EU funds, I guess it is in everyone’s interest that this money is spent. I think that so far, we’ve managed to cooperate in a good way, and yes, of course there are conflicts, one concrete example is the increase in water prices. Several dozen cities raised their water prices without any hype about it,” Tomasevic said.
When it comes to Zagreb, he says they don’t have a single affair to discuss.
“A new tram line is being built for the first time after 20 years, new buses and trams are here, some order has been introduced on the street terraces… Before that, not a single new tram had been bought for 17 years, we have trams running in this city that are even older than me,” remarked the Zagreb mayor.
The European Commission is set to get a much more detailed insight into what’s going on with Croatia’s post-earthquake reconstruction process
I don’t know about you, but I personally didn’t think anyone would still be saying the words ”post-earthquake reconstruction process” three entire years after the Zagreb earthquake of March 2020, and well over two years since the Petrinja earthquake struck in December of that same year. Alas, things move slowly in the world of Croatian politics, and we are still uttering those words. The European Commission is going to be getting a detailed look into precisely what’s going on.
Today, the European Commission will be informed of the review of the state of Croatian post-earthquake reconstruction, which is being financed from the EU Solidarity Fund, as well as Croatia’s view of costs across all of its ministries.
This meeting was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Branko Bacic, who, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Zagreb earthquake (March the 22nd), assessed that the aforementioned segment of Croatian post-earthquake reconstruction is being implemented in full as planned, so this gives some hope that the money will be spent within the prescribed deadline.
Has the much talked about Jarun bridge project been kicked into the long grass?
A large project which would have connected the western part of the capital city to Novi Zagreb appears to have stalled completely, with Tomasevic saying that he’d much rather strengthen the city’s already existing bridges in case of another earthquake than build another. That all sounds alright, but there are people stuck in limbo because of this decision. People with properties situated along the route that would lead to the would-be bridge can’t do anything to repair or reconstruct their houses which were damaged during 2020’s earthquake. This issue affects 150 houses situated along this route which are awaiting demolition, but owing to only some things having been formally agreed upon and legalised by the state and other items having been simply disregarded, the situation sits stagnant. Experts say that the Jarun bridge is a classic example of the violation of various laws that ultimately put the City of Zagreb into a deeply unfavourable situation.
Plenkovic claims that foreign leaders are set to come to Zagreb but none of them want to meet with President Zoran Milanovic
The trolling, mud slinging and arguments between Plenkovic and Milanovic have become somewhat iconic at this point. The pair were even depicted as part of the Rijeka carnival process this year. Endlessly taking swipes at each other, these two powerful figures in the world of Croatian politics can never resist a chance to throw each other under the bus.
In this case, however, Plenkovic has a point in the eyes of most when he says that Milanovic’s often rather strange comments about the Russia-Ukraine war are simply not in line with Croatia’s official position and that he is sending a very wrong message out to the rest of Europe and indeed the world with many of the statements he makes.
His politically damaging statements in regard to Russia and Ukraine have seen political figures from abroad question Croatia’s official position, ask how he is ”being allowed to say such things”, and even had Russian media claiming Milanovic supports their country’s disgraceful actions. A poor image for Croatia indeed, especially after the absolutely praiseworthy approach it has towards Ukrainian refugees and Ukraine’s unfortunately all too familiar struggles.
Plenkovic went more deeply into the above during a recent official visit to Istria, where after initially emphasising everything the government has done so far, he once again referred to the strained relationship his government (HDZ) has with Zoran Milanovic (SDP), and why they refuse to cooperate with him. He enumerated the cases of him blocking the government’s proposals for the appointment of various officials and representatives and said:
“This is just to make the general public aware of where the problem is and where the issues stand. Milanovic’s views are completely opposite to the natural position of Croatia,” he said bluntly, before touching on the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine back in February 2022, when Milanovic refused a meeting of the National Security Council.
“If there was a moment when we should have met because of serious security threats, that was the moment. After that came his distancing from Croatia’s position and his repeating of pro-Russian positions that are completely contrary to what the stance of Croatia is as a European country, a country that is neither neutral nor non-aligned. We have diametrically different views,” he said, as N1 reported.
He pointed out that foreign officials don’t want to meet with or cooperate with Milanovic, who has isolated himself with his strange statements and views.
“To make you aware, the Spanish Prime Minister was here recently, he didn’t meet with him, the Danish Prime Minister was also here as well, she didn’t meet with him either, the President of the Canadian Senate came and he didn’t meet with him, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy was here and he did not meet with him. Do you understand what messages our allies and partners are sending him? They’re saying; we hear what you’ve been saying for a year and we don’t want anything to do with it,” Plenkovic said.
Former president Ivo Josipovic says that Plenkovic and Milanovic are the only ones responsible for their poor relationship
Former Croatian president Ivo Josipovic was a recent guest of N1 Studio live, and during that appearance he commented on the constant conflict between President Milanovic and Prime Minister Plenkovic, as well as the elections that are coming next year.
“Both of them are responsible for their poor relationship and I’m sorry that it’s happening,” Josipovic said in regard to the constant arguing and insults being thrown around between the president and the prime minister. He says that he used to talk to Milanovic from time to time, but not about things going on in the sphere of Croatian politics.
“It’s dangerous in a way even if there was a completely regular situation, and this isn’t a normal situation [referencing the war in Ukraine]. This conflict creates a bad political climate and damages Croatia’s international reputation, as well as the view of Croatian politics here at home,” he added.
The war in Ukraine has implications for Croatia’s immediate neighbourhood and our security, and it isn’t a good situation when the two leading statesmen don’t talk,” warned the former president, reminding that both have responsibility for the functioning of the entire political system.
“I have the experience of being in a mandate with a government of the opposite political orientation as well. Did you ever hear such conversations between me and Jadranka Kosor? There was no idyll between me and Milanovic either, but it’s important that everyone sticks to their political competence,” said Josipovic, who believes that the Constitutional Court could declare this entire situation unconstitutional and force the president and prime minister to sit down and talk properly.
The situation with Croatia not moving quickly enough to absorb the EU cash given to it continues to be a burden
“Over the next 100 days, we must spend 403 million euros. A large number of projects are being implemented in the areas affected by the Zagreb and Petrinja earthquakes, and this gives us hope that we will be able to use this money. The works are now in full swing, the construction sites are filled with workers, and we keep receiving requests for reimbursement of funds daily”, it was said by Spatial Planning Minister Branko Bacic.
As most people who have dealt with anything even remotely administrative here, Croatia tends to move at a snail’s pace, and those of us who are better acquainted with this had our heads in our hands from the very day the earthquake struck. Of course, what Bacic is saying isn’t good enough for most, and the University of Zagreb’s rector claims that what Bacic has stated is simply not in line with previous forecasts.
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