Tuesday, 7 June 2022

PM: It's Worst When You Have a State Whose Position is Not Known

ZAGREB, 7 June 2022 - Having a state whose position is not known is the worst, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday, on the occasion of Croatian Diplomacy Day, stressing that Croatia must be a reliable country on the international political scene.

Speaking at an event organised at the National and University Library in Zagreb to mark Croatian Diplomacy Day, Plenković recalled the beginnings of Croatian statehood and the role of diplomacy in it, noting that present-day Croatia "has an entirely different status and role."

"I can say freely that we have accomplished all strategic national goals - we have a state, institutions, we have become part of the Western circle to which as a nation we believed to belong," he said, adding that the remaining goals to be achieved were membership of the euro area and accession to the Schengen area of passport-free movement, the target date for both goals being 1 January 2023.

"The icing on the cake would be membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose new secretary-general has a favourable attitude to Croatia's ambitions," Plenković said, adding that "it won't happen on 1 January but it will happen in the years ahead."

He noted that the Russian aggression on Ukraine had caused "tectonic global changes" that would be felt at all levels, including in the global economy.

In circumstances such as these, "every move and word is measured carefully" in the international community, and Croatia must be "a reliable country" in that context, he said.

"It's worst when you have a state about which those who want to cooperate with it do not know what its position is," he said, adding that his government's position had been clear for years while others use belligerent rhetoric, including insults.

The event at the National and University Library was also addressed by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 6 June 2022

This is No Time to Sit in Two Chairs, Plenković Tells Serbia

ZAGREB, 6 June 2022 - This is no time to sit on two chairs and Serbia must take a side, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday in a comment on the cancellation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Belgrade.

Plenković said that the visit "has nothing to do with Croatia" and is a matter concerning relations between Moscow and Belgrade but stressed that "in the current circumstances Serbia should be very careful about who it sides with."

"If it has the ambition to continue its journey to the EU, one has to know how it stands. This is no time to sit on two chairs," Plenković said at a news conference at which he presented the latest government decision aimed at alleviating the impact of growing energy prices.

Lavrov's visit to Serbia was canceled after neighboring countries Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro closed their airspace to his aircraft.

The Russian minister is expected to hold an online news conference instead, the RIA Novosti news agency said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica Chosen as EPP's Vice President

June the 3rd, 2022 - Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica has been chosen as the new vice president of the European Peoples' Party (EPP).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica has been elected as vice president of the European People's Party, as reported by N1. On the occasion, she addressed the media, first thanking Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic who put her forward in his proposal for the position.

"I think we're strong at the European Union level, that we are respected within the EPP and we will be able to do something for the Republic of Croatia," she said.

Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica also pointed out that the EPP programme is compatible with the European Commission (EC) programme and that she does not see any significant differences in the work of the EPP and the EC.

"Strengthening the EPP depends on the situation across the EU's member states. We can see that progress is already happening in Germany, we're moving in the right direction and I hope that the three of us women within the first five candidates are a sign that gender equality is being respected and that women are going to be having an increasing level of influence in politics,'' she said, before going on to talk about some more important topics.

"Demography is very important, this isn't only a topic in the Republic of Croatia but across the entire EU as a bloc. I hope that we'll be able to implement the proposals we have adopted as well as possible. We live in difficult circumstances that we've otherwise never seen during this century, war, a global pandemic, everything going on keeps pushing us into even more problems and I hope, when it comes to Croatia, that we will manage to achieve deeper integration,'' Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica said, mentioning Croatia's accession to the Eurozone which has now been given the green light to occur on the 1st of January, 2023, as well as hopes for the country's future Schengen entry.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Plenković: Ukraine Deserves EU Candidate Status

ZAGREB, 1 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a European People's Party (EPP) congress Wednesday that the EPP should be the leading political force in condemning and imposing sanctions against Russia and that Ukraine deserved European Union candidate status.

Speaking at the 27th EPP Congress in Rotterdam, Plenković said that the Russian aggression, which has lasted for more than three months, was not just military, but that it violated international law and denied the Ukrainian nation and identity.

"We, as the EPP, express our solidarity, support and sympathy for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for freedom and for European values for all of us. We thank them for that", the Croatian prime minister said.

Plenković thinks that the EPP should be the leading political force in condemning Russian actions, imposing sanctions, and not tolerating policies that violate everything we stand for.

He called for continuing political, diplomatic, financial, economic, humanitarian and military support for Ukraine.

Ukraine deserves EU candidate status

Plenković considers that Ukraine deserves candidate status in the European Union, which it might gain soon.

"We will support granting Ukraine EU candidate status at the European Council in June. The Ukrainians are expecting that, the Ukrainians deserve that and that symbolic gesture by the EU will be another correct and moral choice in this unprecedented crisis", he underscored.

He reiterated that Croatia supported the European aspirations of other countries, mentioning Georgia, Moldova, Kosovo and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We'd like for the issue of constitutional and electoral reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be resolved in that process in order for all three constituent peoples to be treated equally and to feel satisfied and at ease", Plenković said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the European People's Party adopted a resolution calling for electoral and constitutional reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with decisions by international courts and the BiH Constitutional Court.

The "emergency resolution", tabled by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) calls for "electoral reforms to be addressed swiftly in an inclusive manner while complying with the requirements of EU membership."

Strengthening European defence

The prime minister called on his colleagues from the largest group in the European Parliament to make the EPP a leader in demographic revitalisation, the digital revolution and in the fight against climate change by the 2024 European election. He also called for strengthening European defence.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Attorney General Says Not Under Pressure From PM

ZAGREB, 1 June 2022 - Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek said at a hearing before the parliamentary council monitoring the implementation of the strategy for the prevention of corruption, that she was not under pressure from the prime minister.

Speaking at a hearing, called to investigate possible political influence on the Office of the Attorney General (DORH), Hrvoj Šipek said that the prime minister only has the kind of information that under the law he is entitled to have.

"The prime minister does not have any information he is not entitled to have, and the same goes for the president of the republic," she said, adding that there was only pressure "by certain lobbying groups" and people "who think they know everything about everything."

Hrvoj Šipek said that she had thought about whether to respond to the council's request for a hearing at all but that eventually she decided to come out of respect for state institutions.

"I had hoped that persons with information on the pressure would be here as well, but there is evidently no surprise," Hrvoj Šipek said.

After her 30-minute introductory address, the attorney general was expected to answer questions from members of the anti-corruption council as well as other interested members of parliament.

Council chair Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party told Hina earlier that he had requested the hearing so that Hrvoj Šipek could answer questions on possible government influence on DORH.

"I requested the hearing so that she could answer questions about Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's phone calls to her and possible government influence on DORH," he said, recalling that the prime minister had admitted to having phoned Hrvoj Šipek with regard to a possible investigation into Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

As an independent institution DORH must treat all citizens equally, regardless of their political status, influence or financial power and that is why it is important for the attorney general to answer questions that have been raised recently, Grmoja said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

PM Says President Milanović is Acting to Advantage of Russia

ZAGREB, 31 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković rejected in Brussels on Tuesday President Zoran Milanović claim's that sanctions against Russia were ineffective and only did harm to European citizens, accusing him of acting to the advantage of the Russian aggressor.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Croatian president said that the European sanctions against Russia were not working since Moscow could sell oil to others. He made the statement after the EU decided to impose a partial embargo on the import of oil from Russia.

"It is incorrect that the sanctions are not helping, thanks to its energy sources, Russia is financing war operations in which a large number of soldiers and civilians die every day," Plenković said after a EU summit in Brussels, at which the sixth package of sanctions against Russia was hammered out.

Plenković added that sanctions were a moral matter and that one should be on the right side of history and law.

"The government is, I am, and the Croatian public should ask themselves whether mister Milanović is," Plenković said.

"We are pursuing a policy in the interest of Croatia and in the interest of the EU, in the interest of justice and solidarity, and if he's pursuing a policy... to the advantage of the Russian aggressor, he should explain that to citizens, because we aren't. Unfortunately, that has been happening for months and is no longer a coincidence, it's a great pity and shame for Croatia," he added.

Plenković also rejected Milanović's claims that Croatia was no energy hub.

Denying Croatia's strategic role in our neighborhood, all the activities we do, the fact that the LNG terminal was realized during our term of office, and the fact that investments in critical infrastructure would give Croatia a completely different position can be called either ignorance or jealousy. All of that is human and I'm sorry he gives such statements, said Plenković.

During its summit meeting in Brussels on Monday, the European Union agreed on a new set of sanctions whereby seaborne oil imports from Russia would be immediately banned. Two-thirds of the Russian oil imported by the EU comes via tanker and one-third by the Druzhba pipeline. The embargo on seaborne oil imports would therefore apply to two-thirds of all oil imported from Russia. Since Germany and Poland announced that they would completely give up Russian oil by year's end, the import of Russian oil will drop by 90%.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Plenković: Investment Decision on Expansion of LNG Terminal Very Close

ZAGREB, 30 May 2022 - Croatia will most likely decide to expand the existing floating LNG terminal on Krk Island and an investment decision is very close, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Monday.

"Various options exist and the best and most effective one is an investment in the existing terminal to increase its capacity," Plenković said ahead of an EU summit where the main topic will be Ukraine and the consequences of the Russian aggression, which is why the EU is endeavoring to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and diversify its supply routes as soon as possible.

"In the current circumstances, despite it being a surprise to many, Croatia has the opportunity to become a real energy hub for Central Europe," Plenković underscored.

He added that an investment decision is very close regarding the expansion of the existing terminal so that it can be used by many countries in the neighborhood, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and others.

Plenković did not wish to comment on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's statement that excluding the Druzhba oil pipeline from a ban on Russian oil imports was a good approach but that Hungary needs a guarantee that it can import oil also in case of any incident occurring on the section of the pipeline that runs through Ukraine.

"I didn't hear what he said so I cannot comment but I can say that (Croatian oil pipeline operator) Janaf, which transports oil from Omišalj towards the mainland, including Hungary, is completely capable of supplying huge quantities of oil that are required by Hungarian refineries," said Plenković.

With regard to procuring vacuum gas oil that INA obtains from Russia for its refinery in Rijeka, Plenković said that "INA is not the only one in the world that needs vacuum gas oil, other refineries need it too and supply it from other countries."

According to a European Commission recommendation, Croatia could continue to obtain vacuum gas oil from Russia for the Rijeka refinery on the condition it does not have an alternative from other sources.

Plenković said that EU leaders will just "touch on" the subject of a sixth package of sanctions at the summit. EU leaders have not been able to come to an agreement on the matter for a month now because of Hungary's opposition and Plenković said the matter would be decided at the level of ambassadors and ministers.

The basis for discussion on the energy issue will be the European Commission's RePowerEU program, which says that the EU should invest in a joint effort to secure sufficient energy products and create an alternative network for its citizens and economies so as to be able to stop being dependent on Russian energy.

"Some countries' dependence on Russia has developed for years and that cannot be changed overnight," said Plenković.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Issues Statehood Day Message

ZAGREB, 30 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday offered his best wishes to citizens for Statehood Day underscoring the government's commitment to the protection of national interests and betterment of the lives of all Croatian citizens.

"We are continuing with our dedication to make Croatia an even more organized, advanced, and developed state," the Prime Minister said in his message for Statehood Day.

The government stands firmly with the business sector and Croatian citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, he said, underscoring that the government wanted to prevent social fracture.

The government aims to use European funds to improve the quality of life for citizens and ensure a faster and more sustainable economic development, he said.

With digital transformation and the green and energy transition we wish to make our economy more competitive and prepared for the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution, Plenković underlined.

On the anniversary of the inauguration of the first democratically elected multi-party Sabor, the Prime Minister recalled the boldness of the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman who, he said, won international recognition for Croatia and enabled the liberation of its occupied areas.

Plenković said the Homeland War was a cornerstone of the Croatian state, adding that Croatia "will always be with its defenders" because of their contribution to the country's independence.

Speaking of Croatian expatriate communities, he said that many of their members had contributed significantly to Croatia's defence and international recognition.

"We will continue to help Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the least numerous of the constituent peoples in BiH, whose equality we resolutely and tirelessly advocate," he underscored.

Plenković also emphasized full support and solidarity with the friendly Ukrainian people whose defenders, he said, are today defending the values and freedom of all of Europe, adding that nobody understands their justified struggle better than Croatians.

"In today's increasingly uncertain international circumstances, it is our duty to preserve the safety of our citizens and we will continue investing in our police and strengthening the overall capabilities of the Croatian army. We have shown that the procurement of the Rafale multipurpose fighter jets will raise Croatia's security to a level it has never been at," said Plenković.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Plenković: Gov't Will Do Its Best to Protect Indicted Air Force Pilots

ZAGREB, 27 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that government officials had met with Croatian Air Force pilots who had taken part in the 1995 Operation Storm, stressing that all available mechanisms would be used to protect them from an indictment from Serbia.

"We discussed the latest developments following media reports that indictments are being prepared in Serbia, at the request of their prosecutor, against four pilots, Air Force commanders at the time of the military and police operation Storm," Plenković said at the start of a government session.

He said that they still did not have any concrete documents or requests for legal assistance but that they would do everything to protect the pilots.

"As before, the government will use all the available mechanisms to protect the Croatian pilots and the dignity of the Homeland War, thus sending a clear message about the fundamental values on which free Croatia is founded," said Plenković.

He said that during the Homeland War no orders had been issued, especially not in the Air Force, that would in any way be directed against civilian targets, repeating that the Homeland War, notably its operations Storm and Flash, had been part of efforts to liberate, protect and reintegrate Croatian territory.

Plenković repeated that with the indictment Serbia "is making a step backward in reconciliation", stressing that he had conveyed his dissatisfaction with the indictment to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić at a meeting in Davos.

The Serbian war crimes prosecutor has issued an indictment charging four Croatian officers with having ordered, on 7 and 8 August 1995, a missile attack on a refugee convoy, but the prosecutor's office has said that the indictment is not final and that the proceedings currently underway are not public.

According to unofficial reports, the indictment refers to Croatian Air Force pilots Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić, and Danijel Borović.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Croatian PM Receives President of EU Court of Justice

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 -  Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Koen Lenaerts, and a delegation of judges and advocates-general of the Court of the EU, the Croatian government stated in a press release.

Lenaerts informed Croatia's side of the organizational aspects of the court, its jurisdiction, and legal instruments.

The interlocutors pointed out the importance of case law as a source of the European Union's law and the even application of the acquis in all member-states.

Also highlighted was the importance of cooperation of national courts with the Court of the European Union, including through the use of the institute of a request for a preliminary ruling.

Plenković expressed support for the Court and its unique role in interpreting and applying European law.

For more, check out our politics section.

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