Thursday, 28 July 2022

Diplomat: Croatia Has Nothing Against Vučić's Visit To Jasenovac

ZAGREB, 28 July 2022 - Croatia's Ambassador to Belgrade, Hidajet Biščević, has said that the recent plans for Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Jasenovac, the site of a WW2 concentration camp, disrespected diplomatic procedure but that the visit was not banned, contrary to the prevailing perception in Serbia.

"Concerning the reportedly planned private visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Jasenovac, it is important to understand that standard diplomatic procedure were not respected," Biščević explained in an interview with the Belgrade-based NIN weekly newspaper.

"Croatia has nothing against (Vučić's) visit to Jasenovac. Croatia defined its attitude towards Jasenovac a long time ago and reiterated it many times by paying tribute to the victims and condemning the atrocities committed there," Biščević said, adding that the visit would be possible when the conditions were met so that it did not cause new polarisation but rather contributed to strengthening mutual understanding while taking into account reciprocity.

The ambassador warned that former Croatian inmates of prison camps in Vojvodina, where they had been taken by Serb forces from Croatia during the Homeland War in the early 1990s, had been denied the opportunity to visit the sites of those camps for years.

Biščević noted that Croatia and Serbia live and will probably continue to live in parallel histories for a long time to come, stressing at the same time that the politicisation of victims perpetuates the vicious circle of bilateral relations and that both countries should make an effort to end it, recalling the way France and Germany did it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ambassador: BiH Media Invent Allegations on Croatia Pushing for Polls' Postponement

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolić on Friday denied allegations by some local media outlets about Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković having lobbied during the European Council's meeting for the deferment of Bosnia's general elections.

The allegations that Plenković advocated the postponement of the elections, which are expected to be held in October, and that the European Council dismissed that possibility were first presented by the Klix news portal, and after that some other local media outlets disseminated them.

Bosnian presidency member Željko Komšić immediately joined the comments that this failed attempt by Croatia's officials to defer the polls is an important and clear message to Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities.

This prompted Ambassador Sabolić to issue a statement in which he denied the invented allegations.

The story about the refusal of the alleged Croatian proposal is made up with the obvious aim of downplaying the recognised and well-accepted constructive efforts of PM Plenković and the Croatian government to speed up a political agreement on the limited constitutional reform and the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the diplomat.

Sabolić recalled the Strategic Compass, adopted by the EU, fully recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional architecture and that at Croatia's initiative, the EU reiterated its readiness to make additional engagement in a bid to help local politician to reach agreement on Bosnia's new electoral law.

The European Council, which held a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, also discussed "the prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina," read the Council's conclusions.

The European Union, which "reiterates its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans," calls on leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina "to demonstrate a strong commitment to finalise swiftly the constitutional and electoral reform, vital for stability and full functionality of the country, as well as to support all other priority reforms set out in the Commission’s Opinion to obtain a candidate status."

"The European Union stands ready to continue its high-level engagement in this regard," the European Council says in its conclusions.

As for the Strategic Compass, the document reads that it is "of particular interest to support the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all citizens and constituent peoples as enshrined in the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution."

For more, check out our politics section.


Thursday, 17 March 2022

Jelena Milić Appointed New Serbian Ambassador to Croatia

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - Serbia's new;y appointed ambassador to Croatia is Jelena Milić, a long-standing civil society activist and former director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies, it was said in Belgrade on Wednesday.

Milić, born in 1965, was appointed by a decree of President Aleksandar Vučić which goes into force on Thursday.

From April 1997 until February 1999, Milić worked on a Serbian Helsinki Committee on Human Rights project for the return of Serb refugees to Croatia. 

In the late 1990s, she actively supported the non-violent Resistance movement, which contributed to the fall of Slobodan Milošević.

Milić established the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies in 2007 and was its executive director until its closure last year. The centr advocated Serbia's EU and NATO membership.

She is considered well-versed in Serbia's relations with the EU and NATO as well as in Russia's influence in the Western Balkans and the status of Kosovo.

Milić's appointment as Serbia's ambassador in Zagreb in the middle of campaigning for parliamentary and presidential elections in Serbia has been condemned by the conservative right opposition.

The NADA coalition said that "because of decades of representing positions contrary to Serbia's interests, one can conclude that Croatia and NATO got an ambassador, not Serbia."

The Patriotic Bloc called Milić a "long-standing NATO lobbyist" and that her appointment was "a huge insult to the 250,000 expelled Krajina Serbs."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Who Guards Guardians? Russian Aggression Blow to UN's Authority, Says Ambassador

ZAGREB, 5 March 2022 - The Russian aggression against Ukraine is certainly a blow to the UN's authority, Croatia's Ambassador to the UN, Ivan Šimonović, said on Saturday, noting that Moldova could be Russia's next target.

"The question is who guards the guardians? If permanent members of the Security Council are guardians of peace and security, who will protect us from them when they violate peace and security?" Šimonović asked in an interview with Croatian Radio.

He ruled out the possibility of the UN sending peace troops to Ukraine, which can be done if requested by one of the warring parties, which Šimonović described as improbable, or by a decision of the Security Council.

"But Russia has the right of veto there and we are again back to square one," he added.

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution asking that Russia immediately stop using force in Ukraine.

Šimonović, a former Assistant UN Secretary-General for human rights, said that was the only way to exert pressure on Russia because in the General Assembly it does not have the right of veto.

Clear legal terminology was used, the operation involving the Russian Federation, and Belarus as an accomplice, was called aggression, and aggression is crime. Russia is becoming more and more isolated, said Šimonović.

The General Assembly resolution, however, does not have direct legal consequences.

"Only Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII are legally binding and force may also be used to implement them," he said, adding that the steps the UN can take at the moment are very limited.

Everyone loses

The diplomat called the invasion of Ukraine a situation in which everyone loses.

"The consequences for Ukraine - from the loss of human lives to material destruction - are already very bad, and what could follow - urban warfare - would be a disaster of epic proportions," he said.

"That is a tragedy for Russia in terms of how much its economy will be affected, isolated and left to the mercy of China, which is its sole orientation," Šimonović said, adding that China, too, would distance itself from Russia if it was left isolated by the rest of the world.

Croatia, too, will be affected in terms of its tourism industry, and since it is part of Europe, where energy prices will go up, its citizens will feel the consequences of the Russian invasion as a drop in living standards, Šimonović believes.

Moldova next possible target

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday that civilians would be able to leave the port city of Mariupol through a humanitarian corridor to be open for five hours, which Šimonović called "the only positive contribution of the negotiations" that "would alleviate the suffering of people at least to some extent."

Šimonović also mentioned Moldova as the next possible target of Russian aggression.

"The south wing of the Russian attack that now goes in the direction of Mykolaiv and Odessa could also be going in the direction of Transnistria, that is, occupied areas of Moldova controlled by pro-Russian forces," said Šimonović.

"Quite certainly Moldova is not sleeping peacefully either," he concluded

Friday, 25 February 2022

Ukraine Ambassador Thanks Croatia's Parliament, Government and People For Their Support

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych on Friday thanked the Croatian Sabor, government and people for their support to Ukraine which is faced with Russia's aggression.

"First of all, I would like to thank the Croatian parliament, the government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian people for their strong support to Ukraine," Kyrylych told reporters in Parliament House after the Sabor adopted the Declaration on Ukraine.

The Sabor adopted a Declaration on Ukraine today with 133 votes in favour and one abstention. The declaration most sharply condemns the unprovoked aggression by Russia against Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) abstained from the vote.

Kyrylych said the declaration was a "strong message of support to Ukrainians in this very difficult situation."

He noted that Croatia already passed through what is awaiting Ukraine because it "experienced and knows what it means to defend your country."

"You defended your country, we will defend ours," said Kyrylych.

"We don't need anyone else's, but we will not give ours away," he added.

Kyrylych said that Ukraine was fighting against "Russia's brutal imperialistic conduct," and that the Ukrainian army is "strong in spirit" because it is defending its country.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Plenković: Croatia Will Support Sanctions Against Russia, Help Ukraine

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Croatia will support the sanctions against Russia and is ready to provide Ukraine with humanitarian and technical assistance, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter on Thursday, calling on Russia to halt its military operations.

"We will support the sanctions package and are ready to provide humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine," the Croatian PM wrote, calling on Russia to immediately stop its military operations that put innocent people in danger.

Plenković met with Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych on Thursday morning, saying that "the Croatian government condemns in the strongest terms Russia's invasion and aggression on Ukraine."

"This is a direct attack on democracy, international law, and Ukraine's sovereignty," he added.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs tweeted that it was following the situation in Ukraine and exchanging information with other countries.

The Croatian Embassy in Ukraine is in contact with Croatian nationals and stands at their service for any consular and other assistance, the Ministry said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 7 February 2022

Ambassador Says Serbia, Croatia Need to Intensify Political Cooperation

7 February 2022 - Political cooperation between Serbia and Croatia needs to be stronger, Croatian Ambassador in Belgrade Hidajet Biščević said in an interview with a Belgrade newspaper on Monday, stressing that economic cooperation and trade were good and that cultural cooperation was increasingly good.

"I have to be honest and say that our political cooperation needs to be stepped up... there have been, for a long time, no meetings at the highest level, too often daily events, statements and incidents set us back. At the same time, that has almost no effect on our economic cooperation and trade, while cultural cooperation has been increasingly more relaxed," Biščević told the Monday issue of the Kurir tabloid.

The ambassador said that a large portion of ordinary citizens, on both sides, ignore old stereotypes and that new generations are coming for which, "despite the parallel histories", "new windows are slowly opening in many ways."

Asked to comment on his statement that "the legacy of the past is too big and has lasted too long", Biščević suggested that "time and patience" as well as "turning to a culture of cooperation instead of insisting on old stereotypes" are necessary.

Asked to comment on announcements in Croatia that Zagreb would block Serbia's accession to the EU, the ambassador categorically dismissed the claims as incorrect.

"I have said on many occasions here that Serbia's EU membership is Croatia's key strategic interest, for us to be part of the European family, share the same values and standards, regulate our relations in the European spirit of tolerance, respect for differences and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and for the European context to serve as a platform for us to overcome the past," Biščević said.

He added that Croatia setting conditions, slowing down or delaying "the realisation of that clearly stated strategic interest" would be a paradox.

He stressed EU entry talks were not about setting conditions or blockades but about "respect for the negotiating rules."

"The EU has clear fundamental negotiating rules and conditions - those who do not accept them block themselves and shifting responsibility to a member state is of no help," he said.

Commenting on the case of Matej Periš, a young man from Split who went missing in Belgrade in the night between 30 and 31 December 2021, the ambassador said that there were a lot of unknowns in that case, but noted that Serbian police were doing their job professionally and with commitment and that they had been cooperating with Croatian police on the case.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) to be First Nearly Zero Energy Building in Croatia

June 21, 2021 - An exciting new step for Croatian energy efficiency is happening at the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP), as the Institute makes significant changes to its building which will also help to educate other experts for energy efficiency.

As the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) gave great support and input in REPLACE Project that brings energy efficiency to Rijeka and Kvarner region, just put a new log in Croatian energetic efficiency. The start of June saw the contract for granting non-returnable funds for founding nZEB- the National Training Center on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, EIHP reported on its website. The project is financed from the „Energy and Climate Change“ Fund, part of the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021 in Croatia, courtesy of the European Economic Area (EEA).

1,600,000 Euros is the total value of this project on which EIHP collaborates with the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Zagreb. The goal is to empower all the actors in reconstructing buildings to meet the nZEB standard.

With the center being established in the building of the Požar Institute undergoing reconstruction at the moment, it will be a vivid example of the modern technologies that are implemented in nZEB design.

„We will show and share with the widest professional community the solutions that will be developed through this project. The whole process of reconstruction will be followed and documented, and detailed, and serve as an example in the training program as the Institute becomes the first public building in Croatia reconstructed in such a manner. With the appliance of green energy technologies (electrification of heating and cooling systems with a crane that uses shallow geothermal source, integrated photo charged electric plant on the roof, energy containers, efficient lighting), we also wish to include E-mobility, which is certainly the future of traffic as well as accomplish complete digitalization of all technical systems the building is using. That way, the building will be the showcase example of the double transition – green and digital“; said the EIHP headmaster, Dražen Jakšić.

Jakšić attended the signing of the contract, along with the regional development Minister Nataša Tramišak, Norwegian Ambassador Haakon Blankenburg (as Norway also supports the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021), Ministry secretary of economy and sustainable growth dr. Mario šiljeg, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering dean dr. Stjepan Lakušić.

„After this pandemic, we will not develop by repeating the things from before. A historical change is afoot, and we will meet it with green development and with new 'Green Deal'“, concluded Jakšić while Minister Tramišak also pointed out that securing financial mechanisms for advanced technologies and energy renewal.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Friends of Croatia: Diplomatic Immunity

June 3, 2021 - The seventh article in the series, Friends of Croatia: Diplomatic Immunity brings you more details on diplomatic immunity, its boundaries, and examples of exceptions in accordance with the International Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Details on how the sentry Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, are included too.

Being a diplomat isn't bad at all. You get to travel and explore the country you are assigned to, experience the new culture while promoting your own. Additionally, you work on improving bilateral relationships and contributing to the dynamic of the geopolitical scene (hopefully for the better).

Earlier in the series, there was an article dedicated to the key terms of diplomacy. But, there is one more thing that is worth giving special attention to: diplomatic immunity.
You probably might be thinking that means exemption from legal prosecution, and you are kinda right. But that doesn't just mean you can just do whatever you want, and law-abiding behavior is, of course, one of the needed characteristics to fit the job description.

In fact, the International Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961 has very clear instructions.

„The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State (a State in which the diplomat is based) shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity“, says article 29 of the Vienna convention. Its also worth adding that the same protection applies for his/her private residence, as well as papers and correspondence, and the diplomatic agent is also not obliged to give evidence as a witness.

But, for not everything to be all benefits and no responsibilities, article 31, despite repeating that „ a diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State and that diplomatic agent „shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction“ – he lists exception. Such as in the event of a real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving State, (unless he holds it on behalf of the sending State for the purposes of the mission) or in the case of an action relating to succession in which the diplomatic agent is involved as executor, administrator, heir or legatee as a private person and not on behalf of the sending State and finally, in the event of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving State outside his official functions.

Additionally, „the immunity of a diplomatic agent from the jurisdiction of the receiving State does not exempt him from the jurisdiction of the sending State“.

                                                                                            Ministry at your (diplomatic) service

With the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs already stating for this series that they take diplomatic relations very seriously, they respect the convention, and their Diplomatic Protocol Office is here to help. As evident in their protocolar guide, they have an entire section dedicated to privilege and immunity.
„Diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited in the Republic of Croatia notify the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, to the Diplomatic protocol arrival of the (diplomatic) mission, attaching the diplomatic note, and the copy of the passport that will be notified“, states the guide in respects to the International Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The guide adds that when stepping on duty, the Diplomatic protocol will have a view in the passport of a notified person, and it will place a stamp with the following content that will confirm the passport was reviewed by the Ministry. Along with the date and signature to match. This leads to issuing a special identity card that then allows entering the Republic of Croatia without a visa.

„The special ID is issued to the members of missions and consulate offices, members of the UN organizations, and other specialized UN institutions, members of international organizations accredited in the Republic of Croatia, as well as members of their families or members of the shared household and members of private service“, elaborated the guide.

With the aforementioned documents, to get the ID, diplomats must also provide their photos and fill in a questionnaire which can be downloaded from the guide.


Diplomatic protocol questionnaire/screenshot, Total Croatia News

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about diplomacy in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 30 April 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman Calls on President Zoran Milanović to Unblock Process of Ambassadorial Appointments

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday called on President Zoran Milanović to cease obstructing the process of the appointment of 19 Croatian ambassadors and to go back to the constitutional and legislative frameworks when performing his presidential duties.

Grlić Radman's statement ensued after the dispute between the government and the president Milanović about the process of the appointment of 19 ambassadors and six consuls-general whose  current terms will soon expire.

"I think that the president is behaving like the Opposition leader rather than the head of state," said the minister.

Milanović insists on "a fifty to fifty quota" so that he could nominate a half of those appointments and a half can be proposed by the government, claiming this was the practice of in the terms of some of the previous presidents. Insisting on this quota model, Milanović says that this should fend off the attempts by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) attempts to control everything.

The minister explained that he had not known of the fifty to fifty quota in the past.

This is not the proper way. Croatia's diplomacy is one diplomacy which cannot be fragmented, ambassadors do not belong to somebody, they are top-ranking political representatives in host countries and pursue the foreign policies of their countries, Minister Grlić Radman said.

Grlić Radman recalled that on 23 November 2020 during a meeting of the National Security Council, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković presented a list of ambassadorial nominations to President Milanović and a few days later the presidential office's chief of staff said that Milanović did not want to discuss the list containing the nominations and that he insisted on 50 to 50 quota.

"President Milanović is a co-creator of the country's foreign policy and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wants to discuss this with him, as the list has to be fine-tuned", the minister said today.

He also called on the president to stop using offensive language.

For more about diplomacy in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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