Monday, 14 January 2019

Six Albanian Migrants Arrested After Attack on Police

ZAGREB, January 14, 2019 - Six Albanian migrants who were accommodated at the Ježevo registration centre for refugees and migrants near Zagreb were placed in investigative custody on Monday after causing a brawl in the centre and assaulting the police, Zagreb County Court stated on Monday.

They were remanded in custody after being declared a flight risk.

The incident happened at 8 am this past Wednesday, after one of the six migrants who are Albanian citizens assaulted a policeman on duty. The attacker was supported by one of his compatriots. However, the two attackers were overpowered by the police officers on duty. A half an hour later, another four Albanians in the accommodation centre caused another scuffle, attacking two police officers. The other policemen arrived at the scene and overpowered the assailants, according to the information provided by the court.

Three police officers sustained light injuries in the incidents.

More news on the migrant situation in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Albanian, Croatian Language Instruction Offices to be Opened in Tirana, Zagreb

ZAGREB, December 19, 2018 - After a Croatian language instruction office was opened at Priština University this past autumn, another such office is expected to be opened at Tirana University as well, while an Albanian language instruction office will be opened in Zagreb, Croatian MP Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj, who represents five ethnic minorities, including Albanians, and who initiated the introduction of Croatian language classes in Kosovo, said in Zagreb on Wednesday.

Lekaj Prljaskaj said that she believed the opening of a Croatian language instruction office at Priština University in early November would lead to the introduction of a Croatian language and literature department at Priština University as well as the establishment of an Albanian language and literature department at Zagreb's Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty.

The MP said the Albanian language instruction office was expected to start working in March, adding that she hoped the Albanian language department would be established in two years' time.

"In the former Yugoslavia, Serbo-Croatian was taught in Kosovo, but younger generations no longer have that option and given the current circumstances, it is unlikely that Albanians will learn Serbian, which is why I have proposed introducing Croatian language classes," Lekaj Prljaskaj said.

She noted that the Croatian language instruction office in Priština was currently financed with money from EU funds, but that work was underway to have Kosovo and Croatia sign an agreement whereby they would take over the financing of their respective language instructors.

Lekaj Prljaskaj said that she had also talked with officials at the Croatian Education and Science Ministry and the Office for Croats Abroad about introducing Croatian language classes for children in Janjevo, a Croat minority village in Kosovo.

There are about 40 children in Janjevo whose classes are based on Serbia's and not Kosovo's curriculum, they learn Serbian and their books come from Serbia, the MP said.

The officials at the Education and Science Ministry have promised to send a teacher and provide textbooks for those children in line with Croatia's model for the education of ethnic minorities, she said.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Albania can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Croatia Strongly in Favour of Albanian EU Accession Negotiations

ZAGREB, December 5, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Tuesday, saying afterwards that Albanian EU accession negotiations could be opened after the European elections in May and that Zagreb would firmly stand by Tirana in that process.

"Our belief is that, after the European elections, a consensus will be reached on formally opening the accession negotiations and Croatia will support that process with Albania very firmly," Plenković said after meeting with Rama as part of a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit in Zagreb.

He said that at the meeting Croatia once again expressed strong support for Albania in its ambition to join the EU, notably for its embarking on formal accession negotiations now that its legislation was being screened.

"Croatia will continue to strongly support our friends also within the Council of the EU and try to have the pace of that process reflect the meeting of the criteria and Albania's individual achievements," Plenković said, voicing Croatia's willingness to "share the knowledge and experience of Croatian experts."

He said that for Albania and Macedonia it was crucial to begin with intergovernmental conferences and to open the accession negotiations. He said conclusions from June showed that 2018 was the year in which the two countries were becoming acquainted with the EU acquis communautaire.

Rama said Albania and Croatia traditionally had good relations but that they had been growing stronger since Croatia gained independence. "I thank Croatia for the unreserved support to Albania, but also regarding the recognition of Kosovo and our NATO membership." He went on to say that "from the beginning of Croatia's birth, Albania has always been there for its friend and Croatia has always been there for Albania."

He said the statement on strategic partnership between the two countries signed today gave new impetus to Albania-Croatia relations. "We also talked about the further development of economic relations and agreed to organise an economic forum next year."

Prime Minister Plenković also commented on the strategic partnership statement, which, he said, "additionally strengthens our cooperation" and expressed confidence that the agreement would promote trade between the two countries, which currently amounts to more than 60 million euro. "We want our cooperation to proceed within various trilateral and quadrilateral formats in Southeast Europe, notably as regards the Adriatic-Ionian corridor as well as the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline, which is a project that is interesting to both countries," said Plenković.

He also mentioned the Albanian minority in Croatia, saying that Croatia "appreciates very much the Albanian minority's contribution to its society."

Asked about the strained relations between Serbia and Kosovo and Belgrade's accusations about an attempt to create a Great Albania, Rama recalled that Serbia had violated the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), that Kosovo had complained about it but that there was no response on the other side.

He did admit that Kosovo's increasing customs duties on imports from Serbia by 100% was not normal, but noted that the current situation was not normal either. Under normal circumstances, this would be a problem, said Rama.

As for accusations about a Great Albania, he said that they always appeared when Kosovo Albanians rightfully asked for something and when Albania and Kosovo discussed matters of common interest.

Prime Minister Plenković said that Croatia wanted good relations with everyone – Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. "We want relations to normalise and stabilise, and that is what Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn spoke about today," said Plenković.

Rama, a former basketball player, visited Zagreb's Dražen Petrović Museum, stressing that Albania had always rooted for Croatia, including during the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The meeting between Plenković and Rama was the last of numerous bilateral meetings held as part of the CEI summit with which Croatia ended its presidency of the initiative, established nearly 30 years ago. The next CEI chair is Italy.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović also met on Tuesday with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and expressed satisfaction with the continuation of Croatian-Albanian cooperation at the highest level, the president's office said in a press release.

The president said the political dialogue between the two countries was very dynamic and that she wished for the cooperation to continue, the press release said.

The two officials said bilateral relations were traditionally good and friendly, without outstanding issues, and that there was room to intensify economic cooperation, also underlining the importance of strategic partnership between Croatia and Albania.

They also talked about the cooperation between Croatia, Montenegro and Albania as part of the Adriatic Trilateral, and European Union challenges such as migration.

For more on relations between Croatia and Albania, click here.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Serbia Protests against Croats and Albanians Being "Brothers in Arms"

ZAGREB, July 21, 2018 - Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin, commenting on the statement made this week by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović about Croats and Albanians, told the press in Belgrade on Saturday he regretted that Croatian politicians were "unable to get rid of their complex towards Serbia and Serbs".

Friday, 20 July 2018

Tirana Mayor Hosts Croatian President

ZAGREB, July 20, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović met on Friday with the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and expressed her satisfaction with the cooperation between Croatia and Albania which has continued since Croatia gained independence, and added that she hoped for stronger overall relations between the two countries, including cooperation between their two capital cities.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Croatia and Albania Deepening Economic Ties

ZAGREB, July 19, 2018 - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and the visiting Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović held talks on the enhancement of bilateral economic relations, notably on the improvement of transport connectivity, during their meeting in Tirana on Thursday.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Croatia and Albania Discuss Cooperation, Protection of Adriatic Sea

ZAGREB, July 19, 2018 - Cooperation between Croatia and Albania is constantly improving and the main precondition for its significant expansion is better transport connectivity, from the implementation of the Adriatic-Ionian motorway project to the introduction of ferry services and direct flights, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Albanian host President Ilir Meta agreed at talks in Tirana on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Croatian President to Visit Albania

ZAGREB, July 17, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will travel to Albania on Wednesday for a three-day official visit during which she will meet with the Albanian state leadership in Tirana and visit the Adriatic port of Durres, the President's Office announced on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Croatia Supports Albania and Macedonia in Starting EU Accession Negotiations

ZAGREB, June 27, 2018 - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić attended a session of the EU General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Tuesday and supported paving the way for Albania and Macedonia to prepare for accession negotiations with the European Union, the ministry said in a press release.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Croatia's Neighbours Advance towards EU

ZAGREB, April 17, 2018 - The European Commission on Tuesday issued its latest annual report on the progress of negotiations with the six Western Balkan countries and Turkey towards membership of the bloc.

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