Thousands Gather at Voice of Entrepreneurs Association Protest in Zagreb

Daniela Rogulj

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Lifting discriminatory measures, regularly paying compensation for employees, canceling parafiscal taxes and mandatory membership fees, and the departure of Economy Minister Tomislav Coric were the demands heard at the protest organized by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP) in Zagreb’s Ban Jelacic Square.

Jutarnji List reports that between five and ten thousand people gathered at the protest today.

Although the UGP called for adherence to epidemiological measures, many did not wear masks, and it was difficult to maintain a distance.

Some of the banners read: “What is the plan?”, “Why can’t Croatia be economically strong?”, “Andrej, it’s enough!”. 


Entrepreneurs and citizens from all over Croatia came to protest. As the executive director of UGP Dražen Oreščanin said at the press conference, several buses arrived from Dalmatia, Kvarner, Bjelovar, Varaždin, and Vinkovci, to name a few.


UGP President Hrvoje Bujas was not able to attend the protest because he tested positive for COVID-19. 

Oreščanin said that everything UGP does is out of any policy and that it is about advocating for a better life and entrepreneurs’ rights, who in Croatia are, in his words, “second-class citizens.”


“This morning I spoke to the Minister of Labor Josip Aladrović and suggested that all ministers and others from the public sector receive a salary of 4,000 kuna until the end of this year, to which he replied that it was a quality proposal and that he would consider it,” Oreščanin said. 

He added that until the opening of the now-closed facilities, UGP asks the Government and the Civil Protection Headquarters for any compensation, even a one-time compensation, because “people literally have nothing to live on anymore.”

His statements were accompanied by chanting and approval of those gathered at the Square, and when he asked them what they had to say to the Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić, it was mostly: “Resign!” and “Enough is enough!”.


The slogan of the protest is “Enough is enough” and “Why Croatia?”. The latter, Oreščanin explained, relates to entrepreneurs who are wondering why Croatia cannot be a competitive, successful and country of satisfied people, and said that the government and politicians should respond.

The representative of the catering segment, Ana Lisak, told Hina that they have recorded a drop in turnover of more than 70 percent and that it means nothing to them what they can deliver when only one percent of the business does so.

“Let everyone know that we are financially on our knees, but it is as if no one cares much about it because it is a pandemic, and we have to be patient. We are patient, we have not worked for almost a year, and many of us who have some funds pay workers and additionally above the state 4,000 kuna, because we do not want to lose them as well as our companies,” said Lisak.


The president of the Independent Association of Zagreb Caterers, who attended the protest in front of the National Association of Caterers, Zaklina Troskot, told Hina that they are not satisfied with the measures of the headquarters and the government because they are “discriminatory and totally unfair.”

“The Government’s expectation that two activities – the catering and fitness industry, will save people from a pandemic, is completely unacceptable for us, and people are therefore desperate. If we do not get tax relief and any compensation, it will be difficult for us to work when we open because we will then face a lack of money to purchase, equip and pay the bills,” Troskot said, adding that any help would come in handy.

At around 11 am, the protesters calmed and stopped chanting, but they did not disperse or intend to for the next few hours.

The caterers from the Square brought them “coffee-to-go” on trays. Some commented that no coffee, not even open restaurants, will help them survive this year without support and fair government measures.

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


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