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Croatian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-08-15 09:48:54
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Croatia thanks neighbors after "most terrifying incident"

Croatia's air traffic control authority has thanked Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services (SMATSA) for its "quick and professional reaction on July 30." SMATSA briefly took control of the entire Croatian airspace after the country was hit by bad weather. "At 1.22 p.m. that day, the most terrifying incident in the short history of Croatian air traffic control took place," the authority said in a letter to Serbian colleagues. A major power outage resulted in a loss of radar image and frequencies on nearly all positions, on a day when Croatia had 119 overflights and eight open sectors.

"The 35 minutes before we - or rather, you, our dear friends - cleared our sky, were what most flight control officers described as the most shocking and the most terrifying minutes of their careers, and most of them have been in the profession for more than 15 years. A big thank you to all of you", the letter said. The severe weather conditions caused a complete failure of flight control systems in Croatia and 45 percent of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, prompting SMATSA to take over, SMATSA Director Radojica Rovčanin said.

"Absolutely all airplanes in Croatian airspace were left without ground navigation, so other providers came to their rescue. We assigned extra people to shifts, so a large number of people went back to work," Rovcanin said. "It was a day for feats. All that we had trained for years for an unprecedented emergency situation like this paid off in practice," the SMATSA director said.


100,000 Croatian Nationalists Join ‘Victory Day’ Party

Conservative campaigners and a freed war criminal joined celebrations in the village of Cavoglave on the anniversary of the Croatian Army’s victory over Serb forces in 1995’s Operation Storm. Nationalist singer Marko Perkovic, who takes his stage name from the Thompson machine gun, hosted the annual ‘Victory Day’ festival on Tuesday which drew tens of thousands of people to Cavoglave, near the Croatian town of Knin. Among his guests were the recently-freed Bosnian Croat war criminal Dario Kordic and the head of the conservative pressure group In the Name of the Family, Zeljka Markic, who led a successful campaign for a referendum aimed at outlawing gay marriage. Some of those attending wore wearing insignia from a Croatia’s World War II Nazi-allied Ustasa regime, and police issued seven misdemeanour charges for wearing and selling T-shirts with offensive language and for insulting police officers.

Kordic, the former leader of the self-proclaimed wartime statelet called the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, who was released in June after serving 17 years of his war crimes sentence for ordering the killings of Bosniaks, was treated as the guest of honour and welcomed onto the stage while Thompson was performing. “Here are Croats from Croatia, but also from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from abroad. We should say that we have one homeland in two countries,” said Kordic, sparking applause from the crowd. He said that the singer had supported him while he was in jail and even visited him in prison. “Along with faith in God, this gave me the strength to hold on,” he said.

The Cavoglave event, which has no official support, has been staged every year for a decade in the village, where Thompson was born. Cavoglave is also the name of his first hit song from 1991. The event on Tuesday started with a mass at a nearby Catholic church, followed by traditional folk dances and a motorbike procession to Cavoglave, led by Thompson. The anniversary of Operation Storm, which saw Zagreb’s forces seize back large amounts of Croatian territory held by Serbs during the war, was also commemorated by Croatian state officials in Knin on Tuesday. Officials in Belgrade meanwhile mourned the Serbs who were killed or driven out of Croatia by the military offensive at a ceremony in Belgrade on Monday.


Croatia won't hit budget deficit target

Croatia will not be able to meet a budget deficit target agreed with the European Commission for this year because of high public spending, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Friday (1 August). Croatia, in its sixth year of recession, agreed with the European Union's executive to reduce its deficit to 4.5% of national output this year, down from around 5% last year. "We will do our best to keep things under control, but the budget gap will be somewhat higher than planned and agreed with the European Commission," Milanovic said in an interview for a local news provider Media Servis posted on its website and to be broadcast later on Friday.

"There are simply too many expenditures and I think no one can say we are squandering money. Many people were made to believe the state can look after everything ... We are not poor but our spending is simply structured in the wrong way." The EU, which Croatia joined last year, initiated in January an excessive deficit procedure (EDP) against Croatia in a push to ensure the former Yugoslav republic brings its budget deficit and public debt back into line with EU requirements.

Brussels wants Zagreb to reduce the gap to below 3% of national output by the end of 2016. However, most economists are sceptical that it can reach this goal due to the slow pace of structural reforms aimed at making the public administration cheaper and more efficient and at turning the private sector into the main engine of growth. Croatian Finance Minister Boris Lalovac said this week he planned to revise this year's budget in the autumn to reflect lower than expected tourism revenues and a decline in general economic activity.


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