Mayor Zagreb: Milan Bandic Nepotismus : Zagreb Could do Without its New Mountain

12 May 17

Zagreb Could do Without its New Mountain

Borna Sor

The inhabitants of the Croatian capital have long lived in the shadow of a mountain – but now they have a second one to contend with, not filled with bears, but with pestilence, garbage, and corruption.

Zagreb’s Jakusevec „mountain“. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Branko Radovanovic

The capital of Croatia is an ever-growing city. Situated on the slopes of Mount Medvednica, it has doubled in size each post-war period. And God knows, there have been too many wars in this corner of our continent.

Now reaching its first million in population, the cornerstone of the country’s economy, and, since Croatia’s entry into the EU, doubling its tourist numbers, Zagreb can truly be called prosperous.

And yet, its citizens don’t seem too pleased. Maybe you have heard how the citizens of Zagreb – known as «Purgers», from the German word «Burg», meaning «town», not the English «purge» – are generally considered arrogant.

We are. And proud of it. Legend says that long ago our ancestors came to live in the shadow of the holy Bear Mountain, where for generations they fought with the bears over territory, berries, and honey.

Five great wars were fought, with no clear victor. The bloodshed did not stop until the ancient Purgers, led by a vision that only a new mountain would keep them away, built the legendary Bear Castle – Medvedgrad.

And so the bears were defeated, not physically, but psychologically. Within the castle’s strong walls, our ancestors boldly mocked the bears from the inside, coming up with new insults and jokes, slowly pushing them deeper into the forest.

What worked on bears, worked on humans, too. For centuries, Zagreb was protected by its castles, and the population grew confident and proud, claiming the mountain all for itself.

So, yes, we knew we would grow and were not surprised to see so many people coming to live in Zagreb. With the bears gone, that was to be expected. That part we like.

The reason why so many people believe we are not going in the right direction is a matter of another mountain.

Our Mayor, Milan Bandic, has been with us for over 16 years now.  That is 16 year as a mayor, not as a living human. That is longer than your full education should last and longer than all my past relationships combined. And, like all relationships that last for over 16 years, it is either great or something is very wrong with it.

When your boyfriend drunk-drives and runs away from the police, your parents may be worried but you are not going to dump him.

Even when he gets the cop fired, and later forces him to godfather his child in a stunt, you will forgive him. If you really love him, so what if he is under corruption investigations and if the public construction work is as transparent as water in the dark. «All the paperwork is there, you just can’t see it.»

And so the pile of evidence grows. The same roads constantly repaired, the same fishy companies, the same accusations, everything new tainted by suspicion of corruption, every building, square, and fountain ruined by greed.

When something new is built in Zagreb, it feels like being robbed. Whistleblowers come out, the local population revolts, journalists connects the dots, ex-partners confess to police, but, still, nothing can make you dump him, can it, Zagreb? Why?

Why do you love him so much? Is it because he paid you? It is true, he pays those media handsomely that glorify him, or look the other way. But it is not his money to give, so you are not just selling yourself, you are stealing with him.

Or is it because your family loves him? Because he hired them, so creating the biggest local bureaucracy in the region, where nepotism is so high that dating work colleagues is forbidden for the fear of incest?

He also hired them with our money. What seems like saintliness to you seems like thievery to me. And while you look away, the pile of evidence grows – and is now a mountain. It is one hidden by corrupt law officials far away from the public eye. But can you truly hide a mountain and sweep it under the rug? A metaphorical one, maybe, but not a real one.

Over years of and years of accusations, Mayor Bandic has always replied: «I am clean. Everything is clean!» and people believed him, because everything was clean, literally. The streets were so clean, that people from all over the world would come to Zagreb and say «Oh my, it is so clean here.» And we proudly responded, «Yes! Everything is clean.»

– See more at:

VAT on tourism 6%, minister: It formalizes the sector

VAT on tourism 6%, minister: It formalizes the sector
The reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 20% to 6% for the sector of tourism, will help this sector to formalize, but at the same time, it will also attract more tourists into the country.Such fact has been announced by the minister of Finance, Arben Ahmetaj, according to whom, all the negative effects caused as a result of the reduction of VAT, will be countered by the increase of taxed basis.

His declarations come at a time when the Parliamentary Economy and Finance Committee approved the reduction of VAT for tourism to 6%.

Let us recall that in 2016, revenues from tourism reached record levels of 1.5 billion euros, according to the Bank of Albania, while the number of those who visited Albania was 4.7 million, 15% more than the previous year. /

Bulgarian Mafia: Bulgarian Tycoon’s Serbian Factory Faces Bankruptcy

15 May 17
Bulgarian Tycoon’s Serbian Factory Faces Bankruptcy

Workers at the indebted Serbian Glass Factory in Paracin, owned by Bulgarian tycoon Tsvetan Vasilev – whose extradition is now sought by the Bulgarian authorities – are demanding that the Serbian government help them.

Maja Zivanovic


Tsvetan Vasilev. Photo: Media Centre Belgrade

Serbian workers at a glass company in Paracin, facing bankruptcy due to debts of around 50 million euros, are appealing to the government to help – and perhaps buy the firm.

“We’ve been informed that a pre-bankruptcy procedure was launched on May 5 … but we have had problems for a long time,” Zivojin Matejic, from the union at Srpska Fabrika Stakla/ Serbian Glass factory, told BIRN.

The firm in Paracin was sold to Bulgarian businessman Tsvetan Vasilev in 2012 for 35 million euros. He bought 63 per cent of the shares in the company through a consortium of companies – Corporate Commercial Bank, Glass Industry and Rubin. The new buyer even got write-off of the company’s debt to other state companies.

Meanwhile, Vasilev’s bank, Corporate Commercial Bank, CCB, collapsed in 2014 in by far the biggest bank collapse in the history of Bulgaria.

Since then, the controversial businessmen has lived in Serbia, while the Bulgarian authorities seek his extradition for running a ponzi scheme and for illegally acquiring 206 million leva [103 million euros] in assets from the failed bank.

In February 2016, the Bulgarian Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture, submitted a claim to a Sofia Court to seize illegally acquired assets worth over 2.2 billion leva, or 1.1 billion euros. The subject of the record forfeiture claim was property assets located in Bulgaria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Greece.

Workers at Serbian Glass protested on Thursday, saying they now fear ending up unemployed if the state does not step in.

“This is Gordian knot as nobody knows who owes whom, how much, or for what. Every day we hear a different figure,” Matejic told BIRN on Friday, adding that the company debt stands at around 50 million euros, not including overdue electricity and gas bills.

“I understand the reform process and that all the rot must be cleansed away in order for the healthy part to bring results, but we want a new model [of managment], as we have seen in other similar cases,” Matejic said, pointing to the example of the indebted Smederevo steel company that the Serbian state bought back in 2012 from its private owner.

Asked about conditions in the factory, he said that since Vasilev became the owner the factory had been modernized and new hangars opened.

“We even got new machines – but they are still unpacked because they are not paid for, as Vasilev’s Bulgarian company went bankrupt,” he explained.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic visited the factory in Paracin in February 2014, only months before Bulgaria asked Serbia to extradite Vasilev.

“The investment in the glass factory in Paracin is one of the most important and successfully implemented Bulgarian investments in Serbia,” Nikolic said back then, Tanjug news agency reported.

It added that Vasilev, who was Nikolic’s host at the event, had underlined that “a new page of cooperation between Serbia and Serbian companies with Bulgarian is opened”.

According to the Serbian National Bank, Serbian Glass Factory’s accounts have been blocked since November 2016……………………………

– See more at:

OP/ED: The EU’s tragic mistakes in the Western Balkans

OP/ED: The EU’s tragic mistakes in the Western Balkans

OP/ED: The EU's tragic mistakes in the Western Balkans

The dissolution of Yugoslavia with the active participation of several EU countries opened up Pandora’s box as far as current developments in the region of the Western Balkans are concerned; a region which underwent civil and ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe for the first time since World War II.The EU’s responsibilities are great as far as the history which was written after 1991 in Europe is concerned. However, despite the bad experience that should have been a lesson in European policy for the course which Western Balkan countries would follow, the EU continued to make the same mistakes, pushing countries that are in the process of joining the Union into new conflicts.

The EU’s first mistake was the loss of impartiality with regard to its relations with the accession states. By moving the goal posts according to the country the EU is losing its credibility and creates contradictory expectations for the accession countries.

On the one hand there is Serbia, which accepted the West’s hatred during the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and on the other, countries such as Croatia or Albania and FYROM have a more privileged relationship than the country that is a barometer for developments in the Balkans, but that also has a strong state, an important factor in the accession talks.

Serbia, which accepted most of the responsibility for the conflicts following the breakup of Yugoslavia, became the black sheep and was targeted as no other country in the region. No one can forget the severity of the Belgrade bombings when Croatia and Bosnia did more or less nothing in the 1990s.

Considering that there were powerful Serb populations in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the only way, without the horrors of the Serbs, was to defend the integrity of their ethnic nationals. This, of course, does not relieve Serbia of its responsibilities.

But this practice reinforced ethnic controversy, since there was implicit support for any form of independence of these countries from the countries of the West.

The breakup of Yugoslavia, the upsurge of Albanian nationalism, the need for new countries‘ policies for funding, and the loosening of structures to combat corruption and organised crime have made the rise of corruption and organised crime possible.

The downfall of the Western Balkan states following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the fall of totalitarian regimes in the region turned a prominent number to drug trafficking, smuggling and every illegal act that brought black money.

Albania, Kosovo, FYROM, Montenegro, Bosnia became the crossroads for trafficking drugs, smuggling goods, weapons, and exporting extremist-terrorists.

The EU, following the promises it made without the criteria of its Treaties being fulfilled, gave hope to governments for membership, while Union officials such as Romana Vlahutin, Commissioner Johannes Hahn and others acted as bad consultants in countries like Albania , FYROM, and Kosovo thus strengthening the arbitrariness of their governments…………………..