ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - The Women's Network Croatia has joined in a global campaign of support and solidarity with Afghan women as part of which several members of the SOS Rijeka and PaRiter NGOs said in Rijeka on Saturday they would not give up on protecting and respecting women's human rights in Afghanistan.
We want the problems faced by women in Afghanistan to be visible and to show solidarity with them, said Lorena Zec of SOS Rijeka.
"As women in Croatia, we feel quite helpless as to what we can do for women in Afghanistan, but we can constantly raise our voice and demand of those in power in Croatia, the European Union and the United Nations not to allow women in Afghanistan to become victims of the system again," she added.
Women in Afghanistan risk their lives every day by directly opposing the Taliban regime and demanding that their human rights be respected and protected, the Women's Network Croatia said.
They ask that "Croatia does not recognise the Taliban government which took power by force and is violating human rights."
They also ask Croatia, the EU and the UN to do everything to support the women's resistance in Afghanistan.
They call on "governments not to implement nor justify the policy of militarism, religious fundamentalism, fascism, and to stop manipulating with women's rights."
They demand that Croatia, the EU and the international community ensure the reception of refugees and all who wish to leave Afghanistan as well as humanitarian aid.
The campaign is being held in 85 countries, organised by the One Billion Rising campaign against violence against women and girls and the Women's Global Solidarity Network. The main message is "Not one of us is free until the women of Afghanistan are free."
As part of the campaign, the Women's Network Croatia said they would go to the main squares in Vukovar, Osijek, Virovitica, Lipik, Križevci, Zagreb, Korenica, Rijeka, Poreč and Zadar at noon today, carrying banners in support of Afghan women.
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ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the liberation of Varaždin was marked on Saturday with a parade of veterans, soldiers, police and fire-fighters, and President Zoran Milanović saying that fighting for the rights and living standards of all citizens was the only way for Croatia to succeed.
Varaždin was liberated with the surrender of the Yugoslav People's Army's 32nd Corps on 22 September 1991. The seized weaponry increased the Croatian defenders' firepower seven times, marking a watershed in the Homeland War.
President Milanović said Croatia's task now was to ensure a decent life for every person and to make the most of its EU membership. "That's what we owe Croatian boys and girls, Croatian defenders... They would be happy if they saw that living here is safer, better, freer."
Varaždin Mayor Neven Bosilj said the liberation of the town in 1991 marked a watershed in the Homeland War, creating the prerequisites for the creation of the independent and free Croatia.
Varaždin County head Anđelko Stričak said Varaždin's war days in 1991 were as important for the Homeland War as the 1995 Operation Storm. He recalled that the first free area in Croatia was on the territory of present-day Međimurje and Varaždin counties and that 175 defenders from there were killed in the war.
The parliament speaker's envoy, MP Damir Habijan of the ruling HDZ, said Croatian defenders fought for an independent and free state and that now was the time to fight for a successful Croatia and for the Croatian future.
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ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday his statements like the one that he was also the president of Croats not living in Croatia would be "completely or somewhat superfluous" once Croats were able to elect their representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina on their own.
"It's a difficult situation when I have to say that I'm also the president of Croats not living in Croatia, who have the right to vote because they are Croatian citizens. And not just Croats. There are Bosniaks and Serbs in BiH who also have Croatian citizenship. Perhaps they vote, perhaps they don't. When Croats are able to elect their representative in Sarajevo on their own, equally as the other two constituent peoples, then those words of mine will be completely or somewhat superfluous," Milanović told the press in Varaždin.
He was responding to BiH Presidency Chairman Željko Komšić, who said on Thursday that by saying that he was also the president of all Croatian citizens in BiH while Komšić was not, Milanović had surpassed even Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
"If you want to chase Croats out of BiH or alienate them from BiH, then you'll deprive them of those fundamental constitutional rights, while simultaneously accusing those who only fight for basic house rules of being destroyers and comparing them with warmongers," Milanović said, adding that "the more Croats insist on that right, the more, more than before, they care about staying there."
Insults from Serbia
Responding to Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin's statement earlier this week that Milanović was "one of the stupider Croatian politicians," Milanović said he did not have "my own loudmouths and rabble-rousers who will roundly insult Vučić."
"I'll say some things that are not pleasant in my own words, from my own mouth," he said, wondering "what would happen if I was the smartest" politician in Croatia.
Milanović added that while he did say earlier this week that Vučić was proud of having been a warmonger in the 1990s, he did not call anyone a Chetnik. "I draw the line at such things."
No difference between Scholtz and Laschet
Commenting on Sunday's German election for Chancellor Angela Merkel's successor, he said "nothing will change," whether it was Social Democrat Olaf Scholz or Christian Democrat Armin Laschet.
"It will be the same policy, the same course. More or less the same people will probably stay in foreign affairs as well," he said, adding that "it almost makes no difference, both for Croatia and Europe," who the new German chancellor is.
"They are moderate people... One should expect the continuity of the German policy. The big parties have weakened. A two-party coalition is hardly possible," he said.
No communication on ambassadorial appointments for weeks
Commenting on relations between his office and the government concerning the appointment of ambassadors, Milanović said Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman had begun talks with the head of his office but they stopped.
"Evidently at the same time as the finale of this story with the appointment of the Supreme Court president... Whether there is a causal connection, whether one has been made conditional on the other, I can't claim that."
He said there had been no communication on the appointment of ambassadors, consuls general and consuls for weeks. "Not because of my side. The head of my office is ready to resume those talks today... That's not my decision, but I'm sure it's not Minister Grlić Radman's decision either."
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ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - Istria County on Saturday marked its day and the 78th anniversary of the decision for Istria, Rijeka, Zadar and islands to leave the Kingdom of Italy and join with the parent country Croatia.
Istria County Assembly chair Sandra Ćakić Kuhar said on that occasion that the World War II People's Liberation Struggle was marked by the noble ideal of resistance to discrimination, hate speech and violence.
It was a struggle in which many lives were lost and the foundations of today's Istria were laid and that must never be forgotten, she said.
"If we lose our regional identity... we will lose a part of ourselves and devalue the struggle of our WWII fighters as well as our (Homeland War) defenders. That is why we have to continue respecting, protecting and promoting the values of antifascism, multiculturalism, multiethnicity, multilingualism and co-existence," she said.
Istria County head Boris Miletić said that Istria most strongly condemned any act attempting to devalue antifascism, stressing that "Istria is particularly ashamed that there is no courage and determination in our country to do away with the demons of the past."
"I am talking about finally outlawing the Ustasha salute. Four years ago, members of parliament from Istria put forward a bill to that effect but that document remains a dead letter," Miletić said, among other things.
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ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - Two schools in the earthquake-struck Banovina region will be built anew with the help of a World Bank loan, the Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Minister Darko Horvat met earlier this week with visiting World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia Jehan Arulpragasam, and the main reason for his visit was a $200 million loan Croatia was given by the World Bank for post-earthquake reconstruction and recovery in the area of Zagreb, hit by a 5.5 earthquake on 22 March 2020, and for strengthening the capacity of the public health system amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Key data on the project and its progress as well as challenges Croatia has been facing in the process of reconstruction were presented at the meeting.
The meeting also focused on Minister Horvat's proposal that the loan should also refer to the construction of two new secondary schools, in Sisak and Petrinja, towns in Sisak-Moslavina County, which was hit by a 6.2 earthquake on 29 December 2020.
Horvat said the meeting discussed the use of resources made available to Croatia to build two schools in Sisak-Moslavina County so as to create conditions for the safe and sustainable education of children in the earthquake-affected area.
Along with the reconstruction of houses and buildings, the reconstruction and construction of schools and medical facilities is one of our main priorities, the minister said.
The meeting was held as part of a five-day working visit of World Bank officials, who visited locations and facilities in Zagreb and in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties most affected by the earthquake, whose reconstruction is to be financed with the World Bank loan.
The 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb and its surroundings is estimated to have caused damage to buildings in the amount of some HRK 86 billion, which is more than 60% of the state budget.
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ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - A poll by the Zagreb-based Museum Documentation Centre (MDC) covering five Croatian museums which in recent years had the largest number of visitors shows that the two peak months of this tourist season have stopped a steep decline in the number of museum visitors caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The poll shows that the Pula-based Istria Museum of Archeology, the Split City Museum, the Dubrovnik Museums, the Museums of the Croatian Zagorje, and the Zagreb-based Klovićevi Dvori gallery saw an 84.9% increase in the number of visitors compared to the same period of 2020, which accounts for 70% of visitors to those museums during the last pre-pandemic summer of 2019.
The MDC says that a favourable epidemiological situation and good tourism results in July and August 2021 have strongly reflected on the number of museum visitors but notes that the actual contribution of this year's tourist season to museums' results in 2021 will be known only in early 2022.
Kocijan: Most visited world museums still far from being optimistic
The world's most visited museums have still not published data on visitor numbers in the first months following lockdown lifting but MDC director Maja Kocijan says they are certainly far from being optimistic.
Unlike Croatian museums, museums elsewhere in Europe were closed this year as well and once the lockdown was lifted, most of them have had to comply with much stricter epidemiological rules, she said.
Kocijan is not optimistic about the overall figures for Croatia for this year.
"The dramatic drop in visitor numbers and income was stopped for a while this summer but new waves of the pandemic have extended the biggest museum crisis ever into 2021. The season is over, the pandemic unfortunately isn't, new restrictions are on the horizon and the 84.9% increase in visitor numbers in the Croatian museums most attractive to tourists will be neutralised by the negative statistics caused by the pandemic and (2020) earthquakes," Kocijan said, recalling that one-third of Zagreb museums, including the biggest national museums, were entering the autumn closed, preparing for evacuation so that their post-earthquake reconstruction could start.
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September 25, 2021 - A press conference related to the overnight Zagreb child deaths of the three children of Austrian Harald Kopitz has taken place.
Reporting on the story so far:
Below is the transcript in full courtesy of Index.hr.
HARALD KOPITZ, a 56-year-old Austrian from Vienna who lives and works in Zagreb, killed his three children last night in the Mlinovi neighborhood. He strangled twins at the age of seven and a son at the age of four. He then posted a message on Facebook and then tried to kill himself by poisoning.
His friend, who saw a farewell message on Facebook, informed the police about a possible suicide attempt. When police arrived at the crime scene, they found Kopitz and three dead children.
Kopitz was immediately transferred to the KBC Sisters of Mercy hospital, where doctors fought for his life. He is stable now. He faces up to 50 years in prison.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Margareta Madjeric convened a press conference on the murder.
She made a statement at the beginning.
"We are shocked. It is completely incomprehensible what happened. The situation is terrible. I express my sincerest condolences, primarily to the mother, but also to the whole family," she said.
"The family was at the Social Welfare Center during counseling in 2018. The family divorced. The parents came together, had a joint care agreement and there was no action after that. The center did not have a single indication, either by individuals, mothers or any other bodies that would point to violence,” the secretary of state said.
She called on everyone to always report violence if they have information.
The director of KBC Sisters of Charity Davor Vagić gave a statement about his health condition.
"Absolutely all possible findings are being made due to the suspicion that he was under the influence of psychopharmaceuticals, but we cannot say that with certainty."
Journalists asked him if the perpetrator of the horrific crime was conscious, but he did not answer directly.
"The police are with him and he is under police supervision all the time. You will need to ask the police that part," Vagić said.
He also talked about the condition of Kopitz.
"The first and basic thing is that life functions and everything else is in order and we are sure that he is stable in that regard. Only then will long-term relocation and further care be agreed upon," Vagić said.
September 25, 2021 - The 2021 European Languages Day was celebrated at the Franciscan square in Varaždin. Pupils presented souvenirs honoring Germany and the German language.
'Gore gore gore gore' (hills burn worse up there) is one of those sentences that show how weird but cool the Croatian language can be. Add interesting phrases to the equation, and you can understand why Croatians are proud and want to preserve their language.
But Croatians also respect other languages too.
As reported by the Varaždinske Vijesti website, September 25 marked the European Day of Languages.
Under the motto "Deutsch ist Nah!" Varaždin's Franciscan square saw five Varaždin elementary schools, the Varaždin high school, and ten schools from Varaždin County celebrate the event with a suitable program.
„Given that we as teachers recognized the importance of multilingual education, we decided to shed light on the German language, which is important for Varaždin County, both because of geography but also for the economy. In teaching, we address communicative approach and active, vocal communication and active usage of the German language which is very significant in our area“, Vidovec Elementary school German language teacher Lea Lesar Dolenc told for Varaždinske Vijesti.
Dolenc is the initiator of the project that is run along with the European Culture Circle EKULT Association for the popularisation of the German language. The program that lasted from 10 AM to 1 PM saw the presentation of souvenirs with symbols of the Federal Republic of Germany made by the pupils from participating schools.
Apart from German, as former British Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish noted for TCN, Croatians speak English very well too.
When it comes to language learning in Croatia, apart from various courses and private schools, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (FFZG), part of the University of Zagreb, is the most pristine high-education facility that educates its students to be translators. As well as understand various languages and cultures that tag along with lingual expressions. Additionally, FFZG is the home to Croaticum.
„Croaticum – Centre for Croatian as a Second and Foreign Language is the oldest and largest institution engaged in teaching, research, and description of Croatian as a second and foreign language. It is part of the Department of Croatian Language and Literature at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb, the largest Croatian academic institution specializing in social studies and humanities. Croaticum is renowned for its tradition, expertise, and knowledge“, says the Croaticum website, an institution founded back in 1962.
Commemorating the learning of second languages by celebrating the European Day of Languages is now a twenty-year-long tradition, as it was founded in 2001.
„Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans are represented in the Council of Europe's 47 member states, and all are encouraged to discover more languages at any age, as part of or alongside their studies. This stems from the Council of Europe’s conviction that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent. Therefore, the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe“, explains the European Language Day website.
Learn more about Varaždin in our TC guide.
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September 25, 2021 - Croatian school pupil weight measuring will now be done in private instead of in front of the class. This is the result of the Centre for Eating Disorders (BEA) initiative, which the Education Ministry accepted by sending out a memo to Croatian schools.
When you were a pupil in school, did you feel shame or discomfort during PE when that dreadful day on which you were due to be measured appeared on the schedule? Whether over or underweight (believe it or not, some people are too slim, which is particularly awkward for boys who aren't as built as their jock colleagues), it's a matter many would prefer to do in private.
And that is exactly what this initiative launched by the Centre for Eating Disorders (BEA) tried to express to the Croatian education system.
As Srednja.hr wrote, the initiative started earlier this week and quickly became viral, as it was shared by almost every Croatian media outlet, social network influencers, and fitness enthusiasts. From the public to the institutions, as the Education Ministry heard the voice of the public and took it into account.
With great pride and joy, we'd like to notify you that the Ministry sent out this memo and instructions to Croatian schools to secure the individual measurement of children's height and weight for all elementary and high schools,'' Srednja.hr said, quoting BEA's Instagram post.
Still, how fast things will actually change for the better in practice is yet to be seen.
''We at the BEA Centre allow people to become visible, to have their voices heard and to identify their problems. Although we've been working continuously since 2012, we still lack the adequate space to carry out all of our activities on a day-to-day basis and provide support to people suffering from eating disorders and their families,'' explained the BEA website.
The website also adds that 40,000 people in Croatia are affected by eating disorders. One of the Croatian media outlets that wrote about the initiative is Telegram.
In their first article about BEA's initiative, Telegram presented to the Croatian public arguments that individual weight measurement would be beneficial as pupils are in an age where they are just building up their self-awareness and confidence. Having ''public'' weigh-ins results in an enormous amont of stress as it encourages stigmatisation and peer pressure isn't a good way of supporting that delicate development.
However, as Telegram wrote in a follow-up article, social media also saw the other side of the coin, where some of the commentators opposed the initiative with pretty derogative terms.
''It's a a lot of stress??? And being a fat pig is some sweet secret? Nobody knows until the number on scale shows,'' reads one of the many comments written ignorantly and in poor taste, as Telegram pointed out.
Nonetheless, with the memo sent out and accepted, things will look less stressful when it comes to weight for the newest Croatian generations.
With this initiative making a change, the hope arises for other challenges and issues in Croatian schools to be resolved. For example, as TCN reported earlier in September, the start of this year saw the problem of too many pupils having straight A scores due to various pressures placed on teachers to evaluate their performance unrealistically.
Read about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC guide.
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September 25, 2021 - The Austrian father that killed his 3 children in the early hours of September 25 has been named Harald Kopitz. Here is what we know about him so far.
Harald Kopitz, a 56-year-old Austrian from Vienna who lives and works in Zagreb, killed his three children at 2 am on Saturday, September 25. He is said to have strangled his 7-year-old twins and 4-year old son. He also posted a haunting message on Facebook before the crime and tried to kill himself.
A friend who saw Kopitz's farewell message on Facebook informed the police about a possible suicide attempt. When police arrived at the crime scene, they found Kopitz and his three dead children.
Kopitz was immediately transferred to KBC Sisters of Charity. He was hypothermic when he was brought to the hospital and unconscious and thus placed in an intensive care unit. A diagnostic procedure is underway to determine exactly which pills were taken and whether he has any other chronic illnesses. For now, he is stable and under intensive medical care, said the Sisters of Charity Hospital.
What we know about Harald Kopitz so far
Index.hr reports that Harald Kopitz is an experienced financial consultant who graduated from the Donau-Universität Krems and held a Master of Business Administration (MBA), has worked in some leading Austrian leasing companies, but also in management positions at Robert Bosch AG, Alcatel AG, and others. He is an Austrian citizen with a permanent Croatian address, and according to available data, he was born in 1965.
Namely, he worked for 13 years as a member of the Board of Directors and 5 years as the head of international marketing and business development in the CEE region at VB Leasing, 7 years as a manager at Robert Bosch AG, with a focus on development marketing, and for Alcatel Austria and AKG Acoustics.
Before the brutal crime, he posted on social media stating that his girlfriend had left him because his ex-wife was bad to her and that he had run out of money. He also mentions his 'brothers from the Freemasons lodge.'
"Today, September 25, at around 2 am in the center of Mlinovi, based on information about the announced suicide received from citizens due to posts on social networks, a 56-year-old man was found in the apartment who was in poor health when police officers entered.
Three children without signs of life were also found at the scene. The arrival of the ambulance confirmed the violent death of the children, while the man was transported to KBC Sisters of Charity, where he was kept for treatment. The investigation was conducted under the direction of the Deputy County State's Attorney, and a criminal investigation is underway," the Zagreb police said.
At the time of the crime, the children's mother was not in Zagreb, and the children were spending the weekend with their father.
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