For the first time in history International Roma Day (April 8) was celebrated under the auspices of the Croatian Parliament. The Parliament also hosted the event. Croatian Parliament Speaker Boris Šprem, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, several ministers and numerous members of the Roma National Minority Council and Roma associations gathered for the occasion.
The Speaker underlined that starting from the month of May Croatia would be chairing the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 and expressed his hope that the Roma social and economic status and their social inclusion would significantly improve over the course of the year. Veljko Kajtazi, MP representing twelve national minorities including the Roma, said the Roma political participation was getting stronger and the Roma organizations more powerful, adding he expected the positive cooperation with the Government to continue. Kajtazi announced that the Roma language would soon be taught as an optional subject at the Zagreb University.
“In World War II Croatia fought on the side of the victorious anti-fascist coalition. The fight against fascism is a fight for freedom, tolerance and humanity, and against any form of extremism or totalitarianism. Anti-fascist values are built in the foundations of the independent and sovereign Republic of Croatia, in the historical foundations of its Constitution. These are also the values that made Europe rise from the ashes and ruins of World War Two. Croatia’s loyalty to the values of European civilisation is incontestable.”
excerpt from Boris Šprem’s address at the Jasenovac commemoration
Boris Šprem held a number of meetings in April. At the celebration of the International Workers’ Day the Parliament Speaker and the President of the Republic Ivo Josipović attended the reception organized by the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia. In his speech Šprem underlined how difficult it was to celebrate Workers’ Day in times when the level of unemployment was high. He expressed his conviction, however, that the government measures would stimulate a new investment cycle worth 58 billion kuna that should create new jobs.
The Speaker took part in the commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the breakthrough of the prisoners from the Jasenovac concentration camp. He warned the crimes committed in Jasenovac must not be forgotten or denied and reminded that antifascist values were built in the foundations of the independent and sovereign Croatia in the historical foundations of its Constitution.
As for the Speaker’s diplomatic activities in April, Šprem received Zlatko Lagumdžija, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament Fritz Neugebauer, Cuban and United Kingdom's ambassadors Juan Carlos Marsan Aguilera and David Slinn. Msgr. Mario Roberto Cassari, Papal Nuncio to the Republic of Croatia, paid a farewell courtesy call to the Speaker.
The Parliament Speaker convened a twelve-day plenary session during April and May. On the first day of the session, April 18, the Morning Question time was held and 39 MPs put questions to the members of the Croatian government.
Croatian Parliament delegations travelled to Strasbourg for the regular annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to Tirana for the parliamentary conference of the NATO member states in southeast Europe, and to Kampala for the 126th session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The Croatian Parliament Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the NATO reminded that Croatia had now been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for three years.
Deputy Speaker Josip Leko, Chairman of the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee Miroslav Tuđman and the Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee Zdravko Ronko met with the Ban Josip Jelačić War College graduates.
Deputy Speaker Jadranka Kosor and the Judiciary Committee Chairman Josip Kregar met with a delegation from the Bavarian Parliament and Bavarian business and media representatives.
A delegation of the Finish Parliament Audit Committee visited Sabor and met with Ana Lovrin, Chairwoman of the National Council for Monitoring Anti-Corruption Strategy Implementation, Daniel Mondekar, Chairman of the European Integration Committee and with Srđan Gjurković, Chairman of the Finance and Central Budget Committee.
During their two-day visit to the Croatian Parliament, a delegation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic met with Deputy Speaker Milorad Batinić, Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee Milorad Pupovac, Chairman of the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee Miroslav Tuđman, Chariman of the Defence Committee Tomislav Ivić and Chariman of the European Integration Committee Daniel Mondekar.
Daniel Mondekar also held meetings with Alexandra Cas Granje, director for accession candidates at the European Commission's Enlargement Directorate General, and, on a separate occasion, with the Austrian Ambassador Andrea Ikić-Böhm. Mondekar organized and hosted the conference on “The Role of National Parliaments in the European Union". The lecture was delivered by Thomas Christiansen, Professor at Maastricht University.
Deputy Speaker Josip Leko met with Ramin Mehman Parast, assistant to the Iranian Foreign Minister, Milorad Pupovac received Edita Tahiri, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, and Davor Božinović met with the Israeli Ambassador Yosef Amrani. On behalf of the Speaker, Igor Rađenović received Lord Robert Skidelsky, member of the United Kingdom Parliament House of Lords, who was particularly interested in the political organization and electoral system in Croatia.
Gender Equality Committee held a special session to present the project “South East European Women in Rural Development Network”.
In April Croatian observers in the European Parliament assumed active roles in the EP political groups and committees. Ingrid Antičević Marinović (SDP) joined the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE). Biljana Borzan (SDP) joined the same political group and became member of the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN). Davor Božinović (HDZ) is now member of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). Boro Grubišić (HDSSB) is a Non-Attached Member (NA) who joined the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI). Romana Jerković (SDP) is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Frano Matušić (HDZ) is a member of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and of the Culture and Education Committee (CULT). Tonino Picula (SDP) joined the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). Andrej Plenković (HDZ) joined the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and the Budgets Committee (BUDG). Milorad Pupovac (SDSS) is also a member of the Budgets Committee, but a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). Jozo Radoš (HNS) is now member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). Tanja Vrbat (SDP) joined the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO), while Nikola Vuljanić (Croatian Labourists - Labour Party) is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) who joined the Culture and Education Committee (CULT).