Wednesday, 26 January 2022

OECD Opens Membership Negotiations with Croatia

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Tuesday it had opened accession discussions with Croatia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Romania, and Bulgaria.

"There is no deadline for completion of the accession processes. The outcome and timeline depend on each candidate country’s capacity to adapt and adjust to align with the Organisation’s standards and best practices," the OECD said.

The process will include an in-depth evaluation by more than 20 technical committees of the candidates' alignment with OECD standards, policies, and practices.

"Croatia is ready to start OECD membership negotiations. Besides the Schengen Area and eurozone, our priority is OECD membership whereby we will strengthen our economy and Croatia's international standing and influence," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter.

The OECD's main values are individual liberty, democracy, the rule of law, the protection of human rights, and open, trading, competitive, sustainable and transparent market economies. The OECD also promotes sustainable and inclusive economic growth and climate change.

OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann pointed out that "candidate countries will be able to use the accession process to promote further reforms for the benefit of their people, while also strengthening the OECD as a like-minded community committed to a rules-based international order."

The technical reviews will focus on open trade and investment, public governance, anti-corruption efforts, and the effective protection of the environment and climate.

Once all the technical committees have completed their reviews, a final decision will be taken by unanimity of all OECD member countries.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Dubrovnik-Bulgaria Connection: Scientific View on Art and History Ties

September 23, 2021 -The Dubrovnik-Bulgaria Connection stretches through centuries. A lecture by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Scientist Vinicije Lupis reveals some interesting details on their shared art and history.

Connections between Dubrovnik and Bulgaria date back to as early as the 13th century. These connections weren't just in a common, political sense, but also in the sense of art and cultural exchange, as noted by Georgius Bulgarus, a Bulgarian blacksmith that stayed in town back in 1218. 

This fun fact is the opening of an invitation from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute to free up your schedule on September the 23rd for a lecture on the connection between Dubrovnik and Bulgaria by Vinicije B Lupis. The event starts at 19:00 at the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute's Dubrovnik location, at the address: Od Kaštela 11.  

Vinicije B. Lupis graduated in history and archaeology back in 1992 as well as in art history and theory in 1995, both times at Zadar University. Along with his MA on Ston's liturgy silver (1998) and his Ph.D. on the topic of the skull relics in the reliquary of the Dubrovnik Cathedral (2004), Lupis began his professional work in 1992 as a conservatory archaeologist in Split and then moved to work in Dubrovnik's Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments.

''Since 2007, Lupis has worked for the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, and from 2008 on, he has been the Head of the institute's Dubrovnik location. He has published hundreds of scientific papers and several books on the topic of sacral heritage, the art history of Dubrovnik and Boka Kotorska (Montenegro). He is the editor of multiple magazines and almanah's, and as an outside associate of the Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), he gave his contribution to documentary series on Dubrovnik's history and heritage,'' reads the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website. 

With the lecture being held in Croatian and as such not being very accessible to non-native-speakers, its worth noting some of the interesting key facts about Dubrovnik and Bulgaria that will be the subject of Lupis's lecture.

Lupis analyses the Renaissance painting of the Lady with Christ from the St. Kevork Armenian Church in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He dated the picture to be from the beginning of the 16th century and connected it to the Dubrovnik painting circle (which is additionally interesting since this painting is the first renaissance painting in all of Bulgaria). The same church also holds the Engolpion (a medallion with an icon in the centre worn around the neck by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops), which is close to the Dubrovnik-style of production at that time. This is just one example of Dubrovnik's influence on Bulgarian artistic heritage. 

''The (Bulgarian) National gallery in Sofia holds the work of Croatian painters from the Dubrovnik area such as Vlaho Bukovac and Mato Celestin Medović. Dubrovnik as a place of inspiration is especially important for Bulgarian painters such as Bencho Yordanov Obreshkov and Mario Zhekov. Zhekov, the most significant Bulgarian marinist, painted an entire series of Dubrovnik landscapes,'' explains the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

This should come as no surprise as the City of Dubrovnik, throughout its history, nurtured relations with various kingdoms and states. These include, as noted by the online edition of Croatian Encyclopedia, the then-Croatia, the Venetians, the Normans, and many others. Dubrovnik also became an independent republic, and history remembers the state for its great diplomacy ( which is valued by Croatian diplomats even today) and for abolishing slavery as early as 1416.  

As TCN previously wrote, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute's scientists also made excellent connections with the Slovakian science community and explored the history of relations between the two countries. It has also since expanded its connection in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Montenegro with regards to the ethnic Croats of Boka Kotorska.

Learn more about Croatian Art Galleries in Zagreb, Dalmatia, Istria & Slavonia on our TC page.

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

Friday, 17 September 2021

DANUP-2-Gas Project: Danube Countries United in Introducing Renewable Energy

September 17, 2021 - The DANUP-2-Gas Project, developing renewable energy opportunities for all Danube countries, is set to hold a stakeholder event on September 28 at the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Engineering and Computing (FER).

The beautiful Danube region in Slavonia, apart from boasting natural beauty, also has a lot of historical and archaeological significance. This is evident with the European Commission having recognised the ''Iron Age Danube Route'' earlier this year.

That being said, the Danube river also boasts a political and economic factors, the one that unites all the countries through which the Danube flows. One form of such international cooperation is the DANUP-2-GAS project.

''The Danube region holds huge potential for sustainable generation and the storage of renewable energy. However, to date, this region has remained highly dependent on energy imports, while energy efficiency, diversity and renewables share are low. In line with the EU climate targets for 2030 and the EUSDR PA2 goals, DanuP-2-Gas will advance transnational energy planning by promoting generation and storage strategies for renewables in the Danube region by coupling electric power and the gas sector,'' says the official website of Interreg Danube which is handling the project.

In an effort to achieve their goals, the DANUP-2-Gas project aims to bring together energy agencies, business actors, public authorities, and research institutions to join the cause.

The project started on the July 1 2020, and it will last until the end of 2022. So far, 24 institutions from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and of course Croatian partners have begun cooperating for DANUP-2-Gas, united by the geographical fact that the Danube connects them all. The Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute (EIHP), the International Centre for the Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, and the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) are the project's Croatian representatives. Check out the full list of partners in the project here.

As (EIHP) reported on its website, September 28 will be an important date for the DANUP-2-Gas project as FER will hold a stakeholder event from 09:30 to 12:30, the lectures held in English will explain the potential of the project, as well as the uses and benefits of renewable energy in the hope of encouraging more support.

The event is imagined as a hybrid event, being held partly online and partly in person, but as EIHP warns, there is a risk of the event ending up being held entirely online, depending on the epidemiological situation.

''Based on the platform developed during the DTP project ENERGY BARGE, it will incorporate all pre-existing tools and an atlas, mapping previously unexamined available biomass and energy infrastructure. Further, a pre-feasibility study utilising an optimisation tool for efficient hub design will identify suitable locations for sectors coupling hubs and a combination of two idle resources in the Danube region.

The unused organic residue (e.g., straw) will be processed to biochar for easy transport along the Danube river and as the basis for synthesis gas generation. Adding hydrogen produced from surplus renewable energy allows for the upgrading of this syngas to a renewable natural gas. This will enable the storage of surplus energy in the existing gas distribution grid, increasing energy security and efficiency. All of the resources required for this process are available in the Danube region and the ten partner countries,'' the Interreg Danube website stated, elaborating the positive changes it is attempting to achieve.

Learn more about Croatian inventions and discoveries from Tesla to Rimac on our dedicated TC page.

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

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Croatian Ambassador to Bulgaria Summoned Over Milanović's Statement

ZAGREB, 20 May (Hina) - Croatia's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Jasna Ognjanovac, was summoned by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday over President Zoran Milanović's statement in which he strongly criticized "Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia," Bulgarian media reported. 

Ognjanovac was summoned at the request of Minister Svetlan Stoev, and she was received by the Director General for European Affairs, Rumen Alexandrov.

The reason for the meeting was President Zoran Milanović's statement after a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process at Brdo Pri Kranju, in which he sharply criticized Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia, the Bulgarian BNT broadcaster said.

Alexandrov called Milanović's statement "unacceptable and unwarranted".

He said that it was "disappointing not just in the context of the excellent bilateral dialogue between Sofia and Zagreb and their unanimity on a number of topics on the European and regional agenda, but also in view of the fact that being the region's immediate neighbors, Bulgaria and Croatia are naturally bonded by a shared interest in the reform, stabilization and EU integration of the Western Balkans in the near future."

In a statement to reporters at Brdo Pri Kranju, Milanović warned that North Macedonia "is in an impossible position" and that one EU member state demanded that North Macedonia "define its national genesis in the way requested by the neighboring state" in history textbooks.

He said that he would "openly oppose" that within his powers.

Milanović did not name the state but meant Bulgaria, which is rejecting a negotiating framework for North Macedonia because Sofia claims, North Macedonian textbooks "revise and negate their common ethnic and linguistic history."

The Croatian ambassador said she would convey the Bulgarian position to Zagreb, noting the need for cooperation between Bulgaria and Croatia with a view to guaranteeing the stability of the Western Balkans and the region's European perspective, BNT said. 

The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry confirmed to Hina that Ambassador Ognjenovac had been to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry where the Bulgarian side conveyed to her its position.

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Croatian and Bulgarian Presidents Call for Strategic Dimension in Relations

ZAGREB, July 23, 2019 - Croatia and Bulgaria agree that the two countries need to be dedicated to creating a new, strategic dimension in their relations by strengthening cooperation in key areas, from security and defence to science and culture, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Tuesday after she met with Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev.

"President Radev and I agreed that Croatia and Bulgaria have to base their cooperation on a long term, strategic dimension of their relations. We see this strategic cooperation and potential in all key areas: security and defence, European and regional issues, the economy, but also in tourism, education, and science and culture," Grabar-Kitarović said.

The two countries, she said, are allies in the European Union and NATO and share a lot of stances concerning European issues such as cohesion and the multi-annual financial framework, migrations and EU enlargement as well as foreign policy and security issues.

"Both countries want to become part of Schengen. Here we are cooperating within the framework of FRONTEX (...). Croatia is investing a lot of effort in effectively patrolling the longest EU border on land," said Grabar-Kitarović.

She recalled that the two countries are also cooperating within the Three Seas initiative, assessing that cooperation to be of "strategic interest."

As far as economic cooperation is concerned, it is increasingly developing, the president said and underscored that last year foreign trade between the two countries had increased by 38%.

She underlined that Croatian companies were interested in energy projects but also in infrastructure construction projects, particularly in road and railway transport.

She recalled that the two countries are also part of the China+17 format and said that Croatia and Bulgaria will continue to develop their relations with China as well as the European Union's relations with China.

"In that regard, today we signed a joint letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping in which we called for the establishment of a direct Beijing-Sofia-Zagreb air route," the president said.

She added that it was particularly important that Croatia and Bulgaria demarcate the area of Southeast Europe and that the two countries have similar stances about the region, which still is not part of the EU and NATO.

"We intend to cooperate even more deeply and in coordination on issues related to Southeast Europe. We will motivate the Euro-Atlantic journey of these countries based on a strict but just approach. We advocate the European prospect of these countries," she said.

President Radev said that his visit is the continuation of dialogue between the two countries in all areas and confirmed that economic cooperation was growing, but far from the potential that exists.

According to Radev, cooperation in trade, the economy, tourism and science is particularly important for the stability and prosperity of Southeast Europe.

Not only do Croatia and Bulgaria have to, they are obliged to work on the closest cooperation possible so that they can give countries in the region a positive example, and we have to work on the European integration of our region, Radev said, while Grabar-Kitarović recalled that the European prospect of Southeast Europe would be one of the priorities of Croatia's chairmanship of the Council of the EU next year.

Radev also advocated a deeper European integration of Croatia and Bulgaria and convergence between Europe's north and south and east and west.

He touched on the question of the Schengen Area and recalled that both countries had fulfilled all the technical requirements, expressing hope that the EU will stand by the rules it has set.

He said that Croatia has to find a way to better absorb money from European funds, adding that there is no secret to Bulgaria's success in absorbing funds (97%) and that this required a strategy and vision. According to Radev, the hardest thing was to teach the local administration how to do their job efficiently.

With regard to migration, he considers that that issue must be resolved at the EU level and in tight cooperation with countries migrants were coming from.

He too advocates even stronger cooperation within the China+17 platform.

Grabar-Kitarović and Radev met officially last year in April when Croatia's president conducted an official visit to Bulgaria.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bulgaria can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Bulgarian President to Visit Croatia

ZAGREB, July 21, 2019 - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev is coming to Croatia next week for a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, her office announced in a press release.

The visit kicks off on Tuesday with a welcome ceremony at the President's Office, a tete-a-tete between the two presidents and a bilateral meeting between the delegations of the two countries.

Also on the first day of the meeting, the Bulgarian president is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and representatives of the Bulgarian community in Croatia.

On Wednesday, Radev travels to the coastal city of Zadar where he is due to meet with Zadar County Prefect Božidar Longin. He will also visit the Croatian Air Force base in nearby Zemunik.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bulgaria can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Croatia Received Advice on How to Handle EU Presidency

ZAGREB, November 6, 2018 - Croatia should be ready for ongoing changes during its presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020, including an adjustment of priorities, Lilyana Pavlova, minister for the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU, said in Zagreb on Monday.

The Croatian administration should be ready for ongoing changes, including an adjustment of priorities. They should be defined as broadly as possible so that they can be adjusted to specific challenges, Pavlova said in her address at Europe House where she was hosted by the Croatian Office of the European Parliament in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Set yourselves ambitious, yet attainable goals, she said, adding that the EU presidency is both a great opportunity and a great challenge for member states.

Pavlova spoke of organisational, diplomatic, technical, financial and political challenges in the preparation and execution of the Bulgarian EU presidency in the first half of 2018 and of the main themes of the presidency, including the future of young people and Europe, connecting the Western Balkans, security and the digital economy.

She said that "an entire army of people" had been involved in the implementation of the presidency programme, and that the Bulgarian government had decided to form a dedicated ministry to centralise the process and make it more effective.

Pavlova said she believed that the environment and climate change, security, digital transformation and the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 would turn out to be the main themes of the Croatian presidency. She said that the presidency required cooperation at national, European and global levels, stressing the importance of dialogue with citizens and positive media coverage.

Andreja Metelko-Zgombić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, said that Croatia's preparations for the EU presidency were well under way. She added that the priorities themselves would be adopted just before the presidency and would reflect the EU agenda at that point.

The presentation was moderated by Violeta Simeonova Staničić, head of the Croatian Office of the European Parliament, who spoke of the timing of the Croatian presidency. She noted that a new European Commission and a new European Parliament would take office at the time, warning that the influence of new political factions could be expected.

If you want to read more about Croatia and the EU, click here.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Bulgarian Prime Minister Visits Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 26, 2018 - Croatia will continue Bulgaria's initiative regarding the EU's enlargement to Southeast Europe and regional infrastructure connectivity, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

President Meets with Croat Minority in Bulgaria

ZAGREB, April 5, 2018 - Croatian and Bulgaria share a similar recent history of transition and they are faced with similar problems that are also encouraged by their surroundings, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Sofia on Wednesday during a meeting with representatives of the Croat community in Bulgaria.