A member of Parliament from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) and head of the Serb National Council (SNV), Milorad Pupovac, said on Thursday that if someone thought that they would stifle ethnic minorities by reducing budget funds for the operation of their institutions, they were wrong, while an MP from the Bandic Milan 365 party and head of the parliament's War Veterans Committee, Miodrag Demo, said that he would stop planned cuts in the budget funds for the War Veterans Ministry.

"If someone thinks they will stifle us by reducing funds for the work of minority institutions, I can only say - they will not," Pupovac told reporters in a comment on the budget proposal for 2016 under which funds for the SNV for this year would be cut from HRK 7.5 million to 1.8 million.

He clarified for reporters that data "on the budget cut refers to all budget users so far and to the first three months of this year and is part of a decision on temporary budget financing." As for financing until the end of the year, Pupovac said he believed that the reduction would be around 8% for all users of budget funds allocated to institutions of ethnic minorities through the Office for Ethnic Minorities and Human Rights.

Budget funds will be allocated through that office based on agreements, Pupovac explained. "The same goes for the Council for Ethnic Minorities. Its funds have been cut by slightly less than 11%, which is a significant decrease considering that we have been recording cuts in budget funds every year. In the last three years, those funds were cut by more than 20%, but considering the situation in the country and the fact that we all need to contribute to reducing costs, representatives of ethnic minorities' and the SDSS parliamentary benches accepted it at a meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday," said Pupovac.

Pupovac said that cuts in housing reconstruction programmes were too big and added that he expected the Prime Minister not to accept the proposed reduction. "If of the 230 million kuna (for housing reconstruction), 60 million is taken away, then it can seriously jeopardise reconstruction and housing programmes. I expect the reduction not to be that radical and that the Prime Minister will at least halve it," said Pupovac.

An issue of special importance for all representatives of ethnic minorities are underdeveloped areas, which are particularly vulnerable in terms of population growth and economic development and which are largely populated by ethnic minorities, he said.

The head of the War Veterans Committee, Miodrag Demo, who is a member of Parliament elected on the slate of the Bandic Milan 365 party, told reporters that he would stop plans to reduce budget allocations for the War Veterans Ministry by HRK 56 million, saying that those entitlements would not be touched by anyone.

"The proposed cut (in funds for war veterans) amounts to HRK 56 million and I believe that the Committee on War Veterans will not approve it," said Demo.

Those financial entitlements cannot be cancelled that easily because they have been acquired and cancelling them would require amending the relevant law, said Demo. "That won't happen as long as I am the chair of the Committee. The only cuts that can be made are administrative ones," Demo told reporters.

Asked if benefits for veterans would be determined based on a means test, Demo said that that would not apply to veterans. "The Committee on War Veterans will meet on Monday and we will try to stop it," he said.

Asked about Djuro Glogoski, a new candidate for the post of War Veterans Minister, Demo said he believed HDZ secretary-general Milijan Brkic should take over that ministry.

Asked if that meant that no other candidate would be given sufficient parliamentary support, Demo said: "I claim responsibly that they will not."

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.