Friday, 30 April 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman: "Cooperation Between Croatia And Italy Reinforced"

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Petrinja on Friday that the cooperation between Zagreb and Rome has been reinforced bilaterally and trilaterally, thanking Italy for its latest aid following last year's earthquake.

At a working meeting at the "Colonel Predrag Matanović" barracks in Petrinja, the ministers talked about Southeast Europe and agreed that EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is a guarantee of strengthening the stability of the neighbourhood and Europe as a whole, the Croatian minister said.

Both ministers visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in recent weeks, and Croatia and Italy together strive for a stable and institutionally functioning Bosnia and Herzegovina and for its Euro-Atlantic integration, Grlić Radman said.

The ministers discussed Croatia's non-paper on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was agreed with Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus.

The document stresses the importance of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Euro-Atlantic path and says that it must remain at the centre of EU's attention. It underscores that the country's membership in the EU is a priority and an aspiration, and in order to achieve it, a comprehensive transformation of the entire society is needed.

The topic will also be discussed during the debate on the Western Balkans on 10 May at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, Grlić Radman announced.

The cooperation between Croatia and Italy has been strengthened in a trilateral format with Slovenia, the Croatian minister said, recalling last week's meeting of the two ministers with their Slovenian counterpart Anže Logar. Last week, the three ministers signed a joint statement on the protection of the northern Adriatic in the Slovenian mountain resort of Brdo Pri Kranju.

The next meeting should take place in Croatia in June, Grlić Radman said.

The Coordinating Committee of Ministers met in late November 2020 and guidelines for the development of bilateral relations were agreed then. In several months, it will be possible to check how much those forms of cooperation have improved, Italian minister Di Maio said.

Croatia expects Italian tourists in summer

Grlić Radman said that Croatia was committed to the safety and health of visitors and tourism workers, especially through the Safe Stay in Croatia project, so he is convinced of the return of Italian tourists.

"We believe that this year we will accommodate many Italian friends again," Grlić Radman said.

He thanked Italy one more time for its selfless help, which he sees as another indicator of closeness and cooperation.

Italy on Friday donated to Croatia containerised housing units for the accommodation of 50 families who had lost their homes in the earthquake that hit Banija at the end of last year.

Italy was among the first countries to help Croatia by sending 100 military tents immediately after the 29 December earthquake which affected Petrinja, Sisak and their environs the most, and shortly thereafter Italy sent members of the Blue Helmets of Culture to help salvage the artistic heritage affected by the earthquake.

Italy itself faced devastating earthquakes in the recent past, so it decided to help immediately, Di Maio said.

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

 

Friday, 30 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman: Croatia and San Marino For Expanding Cooperation

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - Croatia and San Marino have great potential to expand their cooperation in their mutual interest, particularly in the economy, culture and tourism, Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday after meeting with his counterpart from San Marino.

Luca Beccari as San Marino's Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications is currently on a working visit to Croatia. This is the first visit ever by a minister from San Marino to Croatia.

Croatia and San Marino do not have any outstanding issues and they are working on expanding their cooperation in their mutual interest, said Grlić Radman.

"In that regard, I see development potential for our cooperation in the fields of economy, culture and tourism, having in mind our common Mediterranean orientation and the free access that San Marino has to the European Union market," underscored Grlić Radman.

According to Grlić Radman, the two countries are committed to the strategies and objectives of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, which San Marino joined in 2019.

He recalled that San Marino, along with Andorra and Monaco, was implementing the agreement of accession to the European Union, and expressed Croatia's support for the continuation of negotiations and hope that they would be concluded successfully.

Grlić Radman did not omit to thank Minister Beccari for the aid that San Marino had sent to the earthquake-struck areas of Sisak-Moslavina County.

Beccari said that this bilateral visit is an opportunity to take one step further in strengthening mutual cooperation, particularly in the areas of economy, noting that San Marino deeply appreciates Croatia's support when it comes to accession to the EU.

That process was launched in 2015 and we hope that it will be concluded soon, primarily thanks to the support of friendly countries, said Beccari.

In addition to cooperation within the EU market he underscored cooperation between the two countries within the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative as a concrete common platform.

In that way we can have cooperate bilaterally but also with all other neighbouring countries, said Beccari.

He emphasised that San Marino is resolute in cooperation in the fields of economy and that it invests a great deal in new technologies, particularly those related to sustainable development.

During a joint press conference, Grlić Radman spoke about the long historical ties between the two countries, recalling that according to legend the founder of San Marino was Saint Marinus from the island of Rab.

The city of San Marino has had a twin-city agreement with the city of Rab since 1968, and that charter was renewed in 2018.

Minister Beccari will visit Rab during his stay in Croatia.

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

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Friends of Croatia: Basic Terms of Diplomacy

April 29, 2021 - The second article in the series "Friends of Croatia" covering all things diplomatic, looks into an overview of the basic terms of diplomacy both for a more accessible following of the series,as well as for safer travel and for being more informed in general.

When exploring Croatian diplomatic relations, terms such as diplomats, embassies, ambassadors, and consulates are the keywords of the topic. Diplomacy is important of course for countries to communicate, express and arrange mutual cooperation, push their respective interests, and offer help to their citizens in another country. But, what is for what and who is for who?

The embassy is for everything, the consuls are for more minor details

As Postoffice.uk points out, to a fellow traveller these questions may not be of too much importance, but having a bit of trivia knowledge never hurts.

''An embassy is the base for a country’s diplomatic mission abroad – meaning all of the political, cultural and social relationships between the two countries. There will only be one embassy for one nation in another country, as it is where the country’s ambassador works (and sometimes resides). A consulate is where consular services are performed. Embassies will normally have a consular section. While there will be only one British Embassy in the country you visit, there may be a number of consulates. These would usually be in cities with the most tourists,'' writes Postoffice.uk.

It's worth noting that while the aforementioned explanation is written from the British perspective, this difference is appliable to any country.

The Thought.com page illustrates that very well, explaining the difference in the case of the United States of America.

''An embassy is responsible for representing the home country, for handling major diplomatic issues (such as negotiations), and for preserving the rights of its citizens abroad. Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) handle minor diplomatic issues such as issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates,'' writes Thought.com. The site adds that usually when a country recognises another as being sovereign, an embassy is established to maintain foreign relations and provide assistance to travelling citizens.

Embassies and consulates can help a person out with many things. For instance, if you lose your passport, the diplomatic representatives can acquire you a new one. If you get sick, they can offer you the contacts of local doctors or lawyers in case you're the victim of a crime.

They can't offer you healthcare which is of a different level than the one there is in the country already, nor can they lead any sort of investigation themselves; they can't even pay you money or offer remuneration, but the contacts they can provide as well as the advice they can give can help you tremendously when coming unstuck in a foreign country.

This is why its important to be informed where the embassies or consuls of your country are located in the country you're visiting. But, don't expected them to help you if you end up in trouble with the law in another country yourself, as they can't interfere in those legal processes in respect of other nation's sovereignty. Despite that, they can give you lists of lawyers and guides to the legal process in the country you're visiting, visit you if you're arrested, and maintain contact with your family to inform them of what happened. While you hopefully won't end up in a dire situation it is still better to travel while being as informed as possible. Usually, a bit of common sense and decency will let you avoid such incidents.

Your country is a host to the embassies of other countries too, and you can visit them if you want to travel to another country to check your visa requirements. Keep in mind that in embassies, the country where the embassy is located doesn't have jurisdiction in the embassy, and you can be arrested in the embassy by security forces or ask for protection to avoid arrest from the forces of the country the embassy is in. The ever-controversial Julian Assange finding refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest is perhaps the best-known example of this, and he was arrested by the British police only after negotiations with Ecuador were conducted.

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Ambassador and diplomat: the same job, but the ambassador is the boss

Similar to all toes are fingers, but not all fingers are toes – the ambassador is the highest-ranked of all diplomats in the embassy.

''The ambassador is the highest official in the embassy and acts as the chief diplomat and spokesperson for that embassy's home government. Ambassadors are typically appointed by the highest level of the home government. In the United States, ambassadors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate'' writes Thought.com.

 As Wikidiff compares it, the ambassador is ''a minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent his sovereign or country there. (Sometimes called ambassador-in-residence )'' or ''an official messenger and representative''. A diplomat, in essence, is, as Wikidiff continues: ''A person who is accredited, such as an ambassador, to officially represent a government in its relations with other governments or international organisations.''

Marc Finaud, the Head of Arms Proliferation at Geneva Centre for Security Policy (an international foundation for promoting the building and maintenance of peace, security, and stability), writes that diplomats have five main tasks in accordance with the international Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961. ''Representation, protection of national interests, negotiations, reporting, and the promotion of friendly relations. Such skills can also be of interest for non-diplomats engaged in professional activities involving contacts with foreign people or cultures,'' writes Marc Finaud for GCSP.

Diplomacy is interesting, challenging, and above all, an important profession, and much more can be written about it than just this text. Still, these are the basic facts of diplomacy to follow in this series and to arrange safer and more informed travel abroad.

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

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Says Ambassador Hidajet Biščević Enjoys Government's Support

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday that Croatian Ambassador Hidajet Biščević enjoyed the support from the Croatian government, in his comment to the ethnic Croat leader's accusations against the diplomat.

Addressing a news conference in Petrinja, Minister Grlić Radman said that the experienced Croatian diplomat Biščević enjoyed the support of the government in Zagreb.

He says that exclusively Croatian institutions are in charge of assessing the performance of Croatian diplomats.

The minister said that the status of the Croatian community in Serbia is one of Biščević's priorities.

"Media speculations and such statements in media about Croatia's diplomats are not the best way of communication. Croatia's diplomacy does not deserve that and furthermore this could also be an indirect attempt from outside to impact the political relations in Croatia," said the minister who will travel to Subotica on Wednesday.

He also said that it was also inappropriate to disseminate reports against Biščević after the recent incident in which the Croatian flag was removed from the residence of the Croatian ambassador in Belgrade.

Following media reports about the criticism targeted against Biščević, President Zoran Milanović said that he would recall the ambassador for consultations to establish the truth.

Minister Grlić Radman also rejected Milanović's claims that it was him who appointed Grlić Radman to an ambassadorial post.

Grlić Radman said that he had been employed for diplomatic tasks for the first time in 1991 by the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and since then he has been an official in the foreign ministry.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović to Recall Ambassador to Serbia Over His Alleged Disregard For Ethnic Croats

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Croatia's President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he would recall Croatian Ambassador to Belgrade, Hidajet Biščević, after the ethnic Croat leader Tomislav Žigmanov criticised the diplomat for working against the Croats in Serbia.

In the meantime media outlets have reported that Ambassador Biščević did not react to the developments in which ethnic Croats received death threats, and that he also failed to even telephone those members who received threats to express sympathy with them.

Žigmanov, who is the leader of the Democratic party of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), recently claimed that the Croatian ambassador had made a "tepid reaction" to attempts by Serbian authorities in Subotica to introduce the Bunjevci vernacular as an official language in that northern city and that the ambassador communicated with people whom Žigmanov described as persons "who are actively working on the destabilisation and dissolution of the (ethnic Croat) community."

All that prompted President Milanović to say today that he did not know whose policy Biščević "is pursuing there."

I cannot know whether all those headlines are true and I will summon him back to Zagreb for consultations, Milanović said in his address to the press at the Gašinci military range in eastern Croatia.

The Večernji List daily has reported that on 30 March, Žigmanov sent a letter to Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman to inform him that Biščević was working against the interests of the ethnic Croat community in Serbia.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor: "For the Homeland Ready" Can't Be Both Symbol of Heroism and Evil

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has said in an interview with Hina that the Ustasha salute 'For the homeland ready' cannot simultaneously be a symbol of heroism and a symbol of evil, and pointed out the good example set by Germany and Austria where the glorification of Nazism is punishable by law.

The issue of the said salute used by Ustasha, allies of the German Nazis in the Second World War, is raised every April, when Croatia observes anniversaries of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp in Jasenovac in late April in 1945. The 1941-1945 Jasenovac camp was a site of torture and mass executions of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and of Croats who opposed Nazism and Fascism.

Since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the controversial salute, whose abbreviation in Croatian is ZDS, has been permissible at commemorations of fallen defenders who used to be members of the HOS unit and who had that salute on their uniforms during that war of independence. On the other hand, for years, Jewish associations have continued requesting that the use of the salute should be outlawed, just as in the case of "Heil Hitler" salute, as its use carries a prison sentence in Germany and Austria.

"In Vukovar, the 'Za Dom Spremni' salute is considered to be part of heroism of the place, fighting against occupier and in Jasenovac  'Za Dom Spremni' is symbol of evil. So, you have to decide, it can't be the same symbol for totally different points in your history," says the ambassador after he yesterday participated in the commemorations on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac death camp.

Jewish rep expects legislative changes penalising Ustasha salute to be passed by summer

The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said on Thursday there was a realistic possibility for the parliament to vote in amendments to the Penal Code to penalise the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" before its summer recess.

"I believe that there will be no problems in voting the changes in if the Prime Minister and the HDZ mean what they say," Kraus said when asked about the possibility of outlawing the Ustasha salute, an initiative he launched earlier this year.

Commenting on this statement, Ambassador Mor says: "You have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer, i am not Croat and can't give you 'yes' or 'no' (on imposing a prison sentence for that salute). In this case, Germany and Austria are very good role model."

Ambassador warns of attempts to downplay the Holocaust

Commenting on some global trends of downplaying the tragedy of the Holocaust, Mor said that a portion of the Croatian society used every opportunity to glorify the Ustasha troops and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić.

 As if nothing had happened, as if Jasenovac had not been an extermination camp but a labour camp. This is in contradiction with historical facts and the testimonies by those who survived that period, the ambassador said.

Mor went on to say that historians in Croatia and Serbia disagreed about the numbers of Serb victims in Jasenovac, and he said that it was unacceptable to reduce such a tragedy to the issue of numbers.

"If you want to live in peace, you have to do more then producing movies, you have to have real dialogue," he said alluding also to the recent Serbian film ("Dara iz Jasenovca") about this topic which has been perceived in Croatia as well as internationally as part of the nationalistic propaganda of Serbia's authorities.

Mor urged both Croatia and Serbia to let their archives be available to experts and so that they can arrive at a point acceptable to both sides.

The same should be applied when it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, he said and called for resorting to dialogue to overcome different views on the events in the past.

In this context he mentioned the normalisation of the relations between his country and several Arab countries. Following the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, Israel has renewed relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in the past few months.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Slams Removal of Croatian Flag From Ambassador's Residence in Belgrade

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday condemned the removal of the Croatian flag from the ambassador's official residence in Belgrade, saying that such incidents fomented an atmosphere of hate, hostility and intolerance.

"Such incidents are certainly not conducive to understanding (...) We hope and wish for the relations between Croatia and Serbia to be good because it makes sense that we should have stable relations," he told the press.

Croatian Ambassador Hido Biščević told N1 television on Thursday it was no accident that the Croatian flag was taken down from his residence and that the incident reflected "part of the atmosphere" in Serbian society, which he said continued to feed on hate speech.

Unknown persons removed the flag from the building which has video surveillance but no guards most likely on Wednesday morning, he said.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry said this was an "injudicious and isolated act," hoping that it "won't cast a shadow on efforts to set Serbia-Croatia relations on new foundations so that in future they can develop in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation."

Grlić Radman said that because of such incidents "we can't say the relations have good prospects, we can't talk about a good future, but we must believe in a good future."

He announced that he will go to Subotica on 28 April for the laying of the cornerstone of a new Croatia House. His talks with local officials will also address an initiative, opposed by Croatian linguists, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that town in northern Serbia.

The minister reiterated that the initiative was contrary to the Croatia-Serbia agreement on the protection of national minorities.

He said that on 27 April the prime minister of the Vojvodina province, Igor Mirović, would visit Petrinja, struck by a devastating earthquake last December.

Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia"

The minister went on to say that Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia." Before Serbia joins, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the war missing, universal jurisdiction, and reparations for POWs, he said.

Serb representatives have three guaranteed seats in the Croatian parliament and Croatia wants Croats in Serbia to be represented as well, he added.

Serbia "must actively and strongly deal" with reforms, the fight against corruption, and the rule of law, he said.

Serbia was granted EU candidate status in March 2012 and began accession negotiations in January 2014.

Ambassadorial appointments

Although Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović have not yet agreed on the appointment of new ambassadors and consuls, Grlić Radman said he did not think the process was blocked and that there was "only one Croatian diplomacy."

He dismissed the possibility of a quota or a 50:50 model (between the president's and government's proposals). He said "agreement must be reached" and that one could talk about the list of candidates the government had sent the president, but that the government was not in favour of quotas.

He said the candidates were "professional diplomats who have proved themselves on the job."

Milanović, on the other hand, wants it to be known who is behind which ambassador for responsibility's sake, saying that this has been the practice before.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Commander of U.S. Air Forces For Europe, Africa Visits Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa and of Allied Air Command, visited Croatia on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Harrigian met with the ministry state secretary, Zdravko Jakop, the director of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, Major General Ivica Olujić, and the commander of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec.

They discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in defence and Agile Combat Employment, which is based on interoperability, as well as agreements regulating access to the Allied infrastructure and air space.

The Croatian Army, as an active NATO member, is participating in many international military exercises and activities which enhance the common capabilities and intensify cooperation between the member states, including the DEFENDER-Europe 21 and Astral Knight 21 exercises.

Jakop thanked the U.S. for donations and training assistance, saying that the bilateral relations were developed and that the U.S. "is the most important strategic partner in global security building."

Harrigian said he was looking forward to joint participation in Astral Knight, an exercise taking place in Croatia which, he said, offers an exceptional opportunity to train with some of the strongest allies.

Križanec underlined the importance of joint participation in international military exercises and activities this year, including  Adriatic Strike 21, Astral Knight 21 and Immediate Response 21.

Air forces, owing to rapid action and deployment in an exceptionally wide operations area, play a significant role in supporting deterrence as a key element of NATO's collective defence, he said.

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

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Connecting Economies of Croatia, Israel and BiH Cantons

ZAGREB, 22 April (Hina) - Diplomatic representatives of Croatia and Israel met with local cantonal authorities in Široki Brijeg in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday to discuss joint economic projects for which Croatia has earmarked funds this year.

Non-resident Israeli Ambassador Noah Gal Gendler said after the meeting with government representatives and businessmen that he was exceptionally pleased with the talks.

"The objective is to exchange ideas and after that to include the private sector because they know how to very quickly recognise potential. As the state of Israel, as the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as cantons and naturally as the Republic of Croatia, we will support those efforts," said the ambassador. He expressed satisfaction that Israel will help the development of this area by sharing its knowledge and experience.

Diplomatic advisor in the Croatian Embassy in BiH Mladen Glavina underscored that this is about connecting business people and exchanging ideas between the three countries.

"Our aim is long term, to achieve in the next few years as many contacts as possible between business people on the three sides," said Glavina. This all started last year with contacts between the foreign ministries of Croatia and Israel and is continuing today, with concrete cooperation to follow, said Glavina, announcing that the Croatian government will assist in this trilateral cooperation and that certain funds have been allocated for it.

West Herzegovina Canton Prime Minister Zdenko Ćosić said that together with businessmen he would visit Israel in an effort to make way for their cooperation.

Representatives of Croatia and Israel visited three cantons in BiH that border with Croatia over the past three days in an effort to motivate economic cooperation between the three countries.

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

USA Not Recommending Travel to 100 Countries, Including Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - The U.S. State Department has added about 100 countries this week to its "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisory list, putting Croatia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and others on the list, citing a "very high level of COVID-19," Reuters reported.

On Monday, the State Department said it would boost the number of countries receiving its highest advisory rating to about 80% of countries worldwide.

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Do Not Travel." The State Department now lists about 131 countries at Level Four, says Reuters.

The State Department said Monday the move "reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) existing epidemiological assessments."

Other countries in the "Do Not Travel" list include Finland, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. Some countries like China and Japan remain at "Level 3: Reconsider Travel."

Most Americans already had been prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa, Reuters says.

On Tuesday, the United States extended by another 30 days restrictions barring non-essential travel at its Canadian and Mexican borders.

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

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