County prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Nikola Dobroslavic, appeared on N1 television's morning programme Novi Dan on Wednesday, to comment on current affairs.
Dobroslavic was asked to comment on the measles cases recently reported in Dubrovnik, where the vaccination rate against measles is one of the lowest in the country.
"People should be concerned, and especially those who failed to do their legally mandated duty to vaccinate their children. I hereby invite everyone to get the vaccination and to have their children vaccinated, because that will prevent the spreading of the disease. Unfortunately, our county is at the bottom of the list in terms of vaccination rates in Croatia, and I don't know what the reason is. It is nonsense that people prefer to believe the gossip they read on the Internet, rather than doctors," Dobroslavic said.
Dobroslavic commented on the recently signed contract to re-develop the resort at Kupari, an elite tourist complex southeast of Dubrovnik once owned by the Yugoslav Army, which was severely damaged during the 1991-95 war and left abandoned.
In April, the government signed a concession contract with a local company estimated to be worth 700 million kuna (€95 million), and earlier this month the strategic partner willing to invest in the resort was identified as the global Four Seasons hotel chain.
"That's a consequence of the aggression against Croatia, when many hotels and resorts were destroyed. All facilities that haven's been restored yet must be brought back to life, just like many others that have been redeveloped since the war. We were pleased to hear that the government had selected a concessionaire for Kupari, there were some setbacks in the procedure, but we are hoping that this is behind us now, as a strategic partner has been found. We are hoping that now the preparation work has been completed and that the project will be under way soon," Dobroslavic said.
He also commented on the Peljesac Bridge project, the largest infrastructure project in Croatia in decades, meant to connect the southernmost parts of the country to the rest of Croatia's road network by circumventing a small strip of land belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The bridge could also allow the A1 motorway, which currently ends at the town of Ploce, some 100 kilometres northwest of Dubrovnik, to be extended towards the city.
"We believe that the preparations to build the Peljesac Bridge have been completed and that the construction company hired to build it will complete the bridge within the deadline, which is three years. Another tender for the construction of access road leading towards the bridge is now open. This is a solution of a hugely important problem for us, which is the double border crossing around the Bosnian town of Neum. As for road traffic, we cannot remain to be connected just via the Adriatic trunk route along the coast. We insist that an extension of the motorway should be built," he said.
Dobroslavic also commented on the problem of population drain affecting the entire country.
"We commissioned a report about demographic trends in our county, and it turned out that these problems are not as serious here as they might be in other parts of Croatia. We don't have that much emigration, and we need new labour force for the tourist industry which is so strong here. I think good government measures could help keep people here. Also, the European Union opened to Croatians so it was to be expected that some people will try their luck there, and some of them will return eventually. I think that this whole demography situation is being misused by politics," Dobroslavic said.
He added that some public figures were abusing the issue to score political points.
"The problem is there, the government is trying to solve it the way they can. But the criticism we heard lately is exaggerated, and only serve to help some future political positioning," he added.
Dobroslavic weas asked directly about recent criticism from the President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic directed against the government, and who recently unveiled her own set of measures to tackle the population drain and low birthrates.
"The way she confronts the government, I don't see it as appropriate behaviour for a head of state. All it does is create confusion, it makes Croatia look like a country of chaos and conflict, and that people should leave. I think that's wrong. I think the way the president is doing this is not appropriate," he told N1.