Tuesday, 30 March 2021

US Embassy Donates GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - The US Embassy in Croatia has donated a medical device to the Fran Mihaljević Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb that can detect the coronavirus in less than 45 minutes, the hospital's director Alemka Markotić said on Tuesday.

Four samples can be placed in the GeneXpert machine at the same time. However, it is not used for mass testing, but is useful in quickly dealing with certain situations, Markotić said.

US Embassy official Victoria Taylor said that this is not about just a piece of equipment, but also about the partnership between Croatia and the United States.

We are happy that our small contribution can help the Fran Mihaljević Hospital and the healthcare system in time of need, Taylor said, commending all Croatian health workers for their tireless work during the pandemic.

Markotić said that most of the patients in the hospital's COVID ward were between 50 and 65 years old and had underlying conditions. She noted that the hospital was nearly filled to capacity.

Markotić said that for now there was no substantial number of young people infected with the British variant of the coronavirus in the hospital, but noted that this variant was proved to be spreading faster among young people because of "their greater nonchalance, mobility and socialising."

She warned that the number of new cases was growing and called on the citizens to avoid "risky situations".

Markotić expressed hope that patients would not be left without medicines, after wholesale drug suppliers warned last week that they might restrict drug deliveries because of HRK 6.5 billion debt owed by the hospitals.

Drug wholesaler Medika said today it had suspended drug deliveries to the hospitals.

Markotić said that her hospital had sufficient drug supplies for now. "We hope that we will not find ourselves in a situation where we, or rather our patients, will be left without medicines."

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said earlier that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Health Minister Vili Beroš would meet with drug wholesalers to discuss the debt and that they would be paid a certain amount of money in the coming days.

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

 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

$480,000 Invested in Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The refurbished building housing Rijeka's Maritime Crisis Centre for Faster Response to Any Disaster off Croatia’s Coastline was officially opened on Tuesday.

The investment into the upgrade of this offshore emergency response centre in the biggest Croatian seaport totalled US$ 480,000, and the lion's share of the investment was provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During the ceremony, the state secretary of the Croatian Sea, Transport and Infrastructure ministry, Josip Bilaver, thanked the U.S. administration and military as well as the US Embassy in Zagreb for this donation in the amount of HRK 3.2 million.

The ministry has invested a million kuna, while the local county authorities provided 100,000 kuna for the project.

"The U.S.-Croatia partnership at sea is essential to the two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security. That is why the United States, through the U.S. Military’s European Command (EUCOM), provided assistance to the Croatian Ministry of Sea, Transportation and Infrastructure and the Rijeka Harbor Master’s office to advance training and emergency-response capabilities at sea," the embassy said on its website.

The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Victoria Taylor, who today joined State Secretary Bilaver for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, expressed satisfaction with the completion of this project.

Over the last decade, the USA has set aside HRK 4.5 billion to support numerous civilian and military projects in Croatia, she said.

The Rijeka centre is described as a a renewed facility that will become "the central point for planning, training, and management in response to emergencies at sea, from supporting persons and vessels in need to addressing maritime accidents and oil pollution."

"The upgraded center will therefore play a critical role in maintaining the safety and environmental stewardship of Croatian coastal waters, ensuring quick action in response to a potential environmental disaster. Protection of the environment is a key priority for both Croatia and the United States, and joint capacity to mitigate against incidents and accidents at sea can make all the difference in a crisis."

The embassy recalls that "Rijeka is already a hub for U.S.-Croatia cooperation, with the port city benefiting economically from nearly 900 million kuna in contracted services by the U.S. Navy for ship maintenance and support since 2011."

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

Friday, 12 March 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Thanks Greece For Post-Earthquake Aid

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday thanked his Greek counterpart Nikolaos Dendias for his country's aid to Croatia after last year's devastating earthquakes.

"I'm taking this opportunity to thank Minister Dendias for the generous and prompt humanitarian aid that Greece sent to earthquake-hit areas in Croatia," Grlić Radman said in Athens, where he arrived for an official visit a day after visiting Cyprus.

"Greece itself was recently hit by strong earthquakes and I'm conveying our support and willingness to help," he added.

Greece was struck by two tremors earlier this month, the strongest measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, which caused material damage but no fatalities.

Support for Croatia's membership bids

Grlić Radman also thanked Dendias for the Greek support for Croatia's accession to MED7, a group which comprises seven Mediterranean EU member states - Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain.

He also thanked Dendias for supporting Croatia's accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the euro and Schengen areas.

The two ministers underlined the importance of continuing EU enlargement to Southeast Europe and of Brussels having a consistent policy so that candidates do not lose the European perspective.

Grlić Radman cited Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is having a hard time managing the migrant crisis, and underlined solidarity with Greece, which is also on the front line of that "big political, security and economic problem."

The minister said they were pleased with the increase in Croatian-Greek trade, singling out the Greek company Avax, which is building access roads to the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia.

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

 

Friday, 12 March 2021

Parl. Parties Endorse Ratification of Classified Information Agreement With Spain

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatian parliamentary parties on Friday endorsed the proposal to ratify the Agreement on Mutual Protection of Classified Information between the governments of Croatia and Spain.

During the discussion, Zvonimir Troskot (Bridge) noted that Croatia and Spain had had good bilateral relations since the 1990s, sharing the same principles and goals.

"Both countries are facing the same challenges - migration, the fight against terrorism, climate change, Spanish companies are already present on our market, so why are we ratifying this agreement only now?" Troskot asked.

Juro Martinović, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Administration, said that "there is nothing spectacularly new" in the Agreement. "States always regulate such matters. Under international law, Croatia is a successor to many agreements concluded by (former Yugoslavia)," he added.

Martinović said that the Agreement had been signed on 15 December 2020 and that it established a legal framework for the protection of classified information that is generated or exchanged between the parties, and designated competent authorities for the implementation of the Agreement. The Agreement also determines equivalent classification levels, national measures to protect classified information and mechanisms for transmission of such information.

Independent MP Marijana Petir asked Martinović if Croatia had similar agreements with other EU countries and whether there had been any violations of those agreements, to which he said that he had no knowledge of any violations.

Ivan Budalić of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that Croatia had similar agreements with many countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Sweden and Italy. 

Dalija Orešković (Centre party) was interested to know who had decided on concluding the Agreement, who had appointed the delegation and whether the President of the Republic was involved in the process, to which Martinović said that the Agreement enters into force after it is signed by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Gazette and the two governments exchange notes.

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

Friday, 11 September 2020

Milanovic's Policy of Reconciliation Praised by German President

ZAGREB, Sept 11, 2020 - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier supports the policy of reconciliation in Croatia pursued by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, it was said after their meeting in Berlin on Friday. 

In his first months as head of state, President Milanovic took important steps in the process of reconciliation with the Serbs and the Serb minority in Croatia, and we are grateful to him for that, Steinmeier said.

The German president said he supported his Croatian counterpart on this brave path. This path launched by Croatia will hopefully be an inspiration for others to build bridges, he added.

The Croatian president began his two-day official visit on Thursday by meeting with representatives of Croatian associations in Germany.

Milanovic thanked his host for inviting him and for supporting him on the path of reconciliation in the region. 

I have been pursuing the policy of reconciliation for twenty years and I believe for the first time that we have interlocutors for such policy in Croatia, Milanovic said, adding that he would continue this policy in the future.

Successful Croatian presidency of the EU

The two presidents also discussed the strengthening and functioning of the European Union in the present circumstances of the coronavirus crisis.

With the aid package adopted in June, the EU demonstrated solidarity that is not even remotely possible elsewhere in the world, Steinmeier said.

He praised Croatia for a job well done during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of the year.

Strengthening the EU is the most important task and Croatia managed to do that with its presidency under very difficult circumstances. Now it is up to us to continue this work until the end of this year, the German president said.

One of the topics discussed was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and the Croatian president expressed hope that the epidemiological situation in Croatia after the summer tourist season would calm down.

I hope the Croatian counties included on the German red list will disappear from that list, Milanovic said.

Excellent bilateral relations

Both presidents said that relations between Germany and Croatia were excellent.

Germany's policy towards Croatia has always been predictable in a positive sense, meaning reliable, Milanovic said.

The two presidents also highlighted efforts in providing humanitarian aid to migrants who have been left without a roof over their heads following a fire in the Moria refugee camp in Greece.

I have heard that the Croatian government has decided to take in a certain number of displaced persons, which I consider a nice and humane gesture and I support it, Milanovic said.

Steinmeier denied claims that the EU's common policy on migrants had collapsed.

During its EU presidency, Germany will work with the European Commission on promoting the common refugee policy, he said.

Milanovic was the first statesman to be received with military honors after a months-long pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the day, the Croatian president is scheduled to meet with Wolfgang Schauble, Speaker of the Bundestag. He will end his two-day visit by meeting with Mario Ohoven, head of the German association of small and medium-sized enterprises (BVMW).

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