Friday, 24 January 2020

Germany: Croatian Police Protecting Border Properly

ZAGREB, January 24, 2020 - Germany's Minister of the Interior, Building and Community, Horst Seehofer, said in Zagreb on Thursday that Croatia was protecting the border properly and that he had no objections to the treatment of migrants by Croatian border police.

Asked by reporters whether he considered that in light of criticism by non-governmental organisations of excessive use of force toward migrants, Croatia was appropriately protecting the EU's external border, Seehofer replied affirmatively. "I believe it is," Seehofer told a joint press conference with Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović after their bilateral meeting.

"I do not have any criticism of the work of the police in Croatia and other security services," he said.

Seehofer, a former leader of the Christian-Social Union and prime minister of Bavaria, was a sharp critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open door" policy toward migrants at the height of the migrant crisis.

"When it comes to protecting the security of citizens and the state, a strong state is needed to ensure the rule of law. That's how it is in Germany and that's the duty of interior ministers," Seehofer concluded.

Seehofer underscored that he agreed with Božinović "one hundred percent" regarding issues of priorities, security analyses and migrants.

"That will be a topic that we will be concerned with for some time yet," he said and added that Germany will help Croatia as much as it can to protect the EU's external border.

In that context, Germany donated ten thermal-vision cameras to Croatia to supervise border regions which the two ministers inspected after the conference.

Božinović thanked Seehofer for the donation and said that "Germany has always helped" Croatia.

"Croatian police guard the longest external European Union land border and Germany is one of those member states that understands and values what Croatian police are doing," said Božinović.

The German minister agreed with the priorities of Croatia's EU presidency and said that Germany, which will take over the presidency from Croatia in July, will continue Croatia's policies which means that this will be a "year of continuing work."

Božinović underlined that he would cooperate with Seehofer in Combating smuggling rings, and said they agreed that the EU has to help its "Greek friends" more as Greece is the first point of entry for illegal and other migrants from the Middle East toward Europe.

The Index.hr news portal on Wednesday released a video showing that police whose badges were not visible were confiscating mobile phones from migrants.

"It is not true that the police did not have badges. They were wearing badges on one of two spots as required," Božinović said and added that the police were "appropriately prepared."

"As far as the treatment of persons without any identification is concerned, they (police) conducted an absolutely legal procedure toward them," Božinović added.

Slovenia's Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said on Tuesday that in 2019 Slovenia had returned 16,000 illegal migrants to Croatia.

Božinović underscored that it is necessary to differentiate the "number of procedures" from the number of persons returned because some migrants attempt to cross the border several times, which means that 16,000 police procedures does not necessarily mean 16,000 migrants.

"As you know, migrants who seek protection in Croatia, before Croatian authorities decide on their application, merely disappear from Croatia," Božinović said claiming that that is why migrants are returned to Croatia.

"Someone submits an application for asylum in Croatia, is issued with a certificate of international protection and then disappears," said Božinović.

"Those people are returned when they are caught somewhere in Europe and that is how we get to those numbers," concluded Božinović.

Seehofer arrived in Zagreb for an informal meeting of EU interior ministers on Friday.

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

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Podravka's Pašticada and Lino Lada Cake Popular at Green Week 2020

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of January, 2020, the Croatian pavilion at Green Week 2020, held in the German capital city of Berlin, was visited on Monday by German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner, accompanied by Ambassadors of various European Union countries, and the Croats among their ''ranks'' was the Croatian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Gordan Bakota, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Tugomir Majdak and Croatian Chamber of Commerce President Luka Burilović.

On that occasion, and as we previously reported, Croatia's much loved Podravka hosted them in their Green Week 2020 national restaurant, where visitors of the fair enjoy daily specialities of Croatian cuisine prepared by Podravka's culinary promoters.

On the menu of Podravka's restaurant there is a rich selection of traditional Croatian meat and fish dishes as well as desserts, and Podravka's pašticada and Lino Lada cake were special hits among the guests, which didn't leave even the most high ranking of guests indifferent.

The unforgettable taste of the pašticada, along with the superior quality of the meat, results in a characteristic sauce, which in this case is enriched with irreplaceable Vegeta and other Podravka spices, while lovers of chocolate desserts are happy to taste a cake with the amazing Lino Lada chocolate creme as its secret ingredient. It is no wonder, therefore, that hundreds of Lino Lada cakes were made in the early days of Green Week 2020.

The promotion of traditional specialties of Croatian gastronomy is an important part of Podravka's presentation at one of the most important fairs of agriculture and the food industry in the world.

Green Week 2020 takes place from the 17th to the 26th of January, 2020 at the Berlin Fair, and Croatia is a proud partner country this year. As many as 1,800 exhibitors from sixty countries across the world will be present at the fair, which will showcase more than 100,000 agricultural and food products in total.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on Green Week 2020.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Plenković: “Croatian Farmers Could Profit Very Much from Green Week Fair”

ZAGREB, January 17, 2020 - At the end of his two-day visit to Germany on Friday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković expressed satisfaction with the visit, adding that he hoped Croatia's participation in the International Green Week Berlin agriculture fair, at which it is the partner-country, would additionally strengthen the two countries' economic relations.

"We used our visit to Berlin to attend the Green Week fair, where Croatia, as the partner-country, is represented by close to 50 exhibitors. The case of Finland, which was the partner-country last year, shows that after the fair it increased the export of its farm products by 50%. That is why we expect (the event) to encourage our farm producers as well," said Plenković after touring Croatian stands at the fair.

He said that the first reactions to Croatia's participation in the fair were very positive.

Before Plenković's visit, German Agriculture Minister Julia Cloeckner visited the hall where Croatian farm producers put their products on display.

Plenković gifted Berlin Mayor Micheal Mueller with an olive tree.

Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) head Luka Burilović expressed hope Croatia's participation in the fair would boost the export of Croatian agricultural produce.

"Currently we export more than 2 billion euros worth of farm products, and we can and must export much more. The Green Week is an excellent platform to increase those figures. More than half a million people from around the world will visit the fair and we want to show all of them that apart from quality tourism we also have a good cuisine and that our agriculture has a long tradition as well as great potential," said Burilović.

Commenting on his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, Plenković said that the meeting was very good and that they discussed many topics, such as Southeast Europe as well as global and European issues, considering that both Croatia and Germany were chairing the EU this year.

He repeated that he expected the EU-Western Balkan summit to be held in Croatia in early May to define the course of events in the years ahead, noting that one should stop using euphemisms from the past such as 'potential candidates' or 'European prospects'.

"That is important, but we want a political debate and to bring to the fore elements that have not been emphasised so far, such as economic governance," he said.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Green Week 2020 in Berlin Opens With Podravka Reception for 3500 People

The Berlin Fair, one of the largest in the world, is a great stage and opportunity to promote Croatian products. Green Week 2020 has already seen an appearance from Croatia's beloved Podravka in the form of a reception for 3500 people.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of January, 2020 the Republic of Croatia is a partner of one of the world's most important fairs of agriculture and food industry, Green Week 2020, which takes place in the German capital city of Berlin from January the 17th to the 26th, 2020, and Podravka, as a leading Croatian food company, is actively participating in the activities of representing Croatia as a country.

In addition to presenting and presenting a wide range of its products, Podravka is also participating at Green Week 2020 as a promoter of Croatian cuisine by organising a national restaurant offering traditional Croatian dishes, which was also visited by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on the first day of the fair, accompanied by Marin Pucar, Podravka's CEO and his various associates.

The first opportunity to taste the specialties of Croatian cuisine prepared daily by Podravka's culinary promoters at Green Week 2020 began at the very start of the fair, many guests enjoyed a festive reception on the occasion of the opening of the fair on the 16th of January, where 3500 guests and delegations from around 100 countries enjoyed Croatian delicacies.

For this occasion, 4000 servings of meals and 12,000 cakes were prepared exclusively from Croatian ingredients - including a massive 2500 kilograms of meat and 1000 kilograms of fish. The taste of the rich meat and fish menu was spiced with the indispensable Vegeta. Dolcela, Žito, Lino Lada and Čokolino are also all present with their cake production. With ham and kulen as recognisable Croatian trump cards, Green Week 2020's international guests were delighted by Podravka's offer.

In cooperation with numerous partners and Croatian producers, the daily offer of Podravka's Croatian national restaurant at Berlin's Green Week 2020 will feature a rich menu with selected dishes from across all Croatian regions; a selection of top cheeses, prosciutto, kulen, fish dishes, various dumplings and a variety of cakes and other desserts.

"The Berlin Fair, one of the largest in the world, is a great stage and opportunity to promote Croatian products, strengthen economic ties with Germany and other European countries and further step into markets around the world. Podravka also participates in international fairs of this importance with great pleasure in promoting Croatian traditional cuisine. This contributes to strengthening the recognition of Croatia as a tourist and gastronomic destination,'' said Marin Pucar, CEO of Podravka.

Green Week 2020 in Berlin, featuring Croatian manufacturers among more than 1,800 exhibitors and over 100,000 products from all around the world, is an opportunity for the additional promotion of Croatia in the context of the EU Council Presidency throughout the first half of 2020.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Merkel, Plenković Hopeful About Progress on Aspirants' Entry Talks at Zagreb Summit

ZAGREB, January 17, 2020 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who on Thursday arrived in Berlin for a two-day visit, expressed hope that the EU-Western Balkan summit meeting in Zagreb would bring about progress in opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

The two officials discussed the coordination of activities pertaining to the presidency of the Council of the European Union considering the fact that Croatia is the current country-in-chair and Germany will be the next one in the second half of 2020.

Merkel and Plenković reiterated their commitment to finding solutions for the issues such as the exit of Great Britain from the European Union, the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework and a stalemate in the enlargement of the EU bloc.

After the meeting, Merkel said that the EU-Western Balkan summit meeting, set for May in Zagreb, "is a very important thing considering the problems in the opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania."

In late 2019, France, Denmark and the Netherlands vetoed the opening of the membership talks with those two candidates.

Plenković shared Merkel's optimism about progress to be made at the Zagreb summit meeting on 5-6 May.

The summit meeting will provide a realistic perspective on the relations between the EU and the countries in the neighbourhood so as to define a pace of the accession of the aspirants, said the Croatian premier.

Plenković emphasised the fact that his country and Germany have been fostering excellent relations for thirty years.

"Germany has been the most important partner in the political and economic fields for 30 years," he added.

In 2019, three million German holiday-makers visited Croatia and made over 21 million overnight stays.

He recalled that last year the two countries signed an action plan for boosting the bilateral relations. As a result, new economic projects are being implemented and one of them refers to the selection of Croatia as this year's partner country of the Green Week in Berlin, the world's biggest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture. The fair is taking place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds from 17 to 24 January.

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

Friday, 17 January 2020

Croatia Partner Country of International Green Week in Berlin

ZAGREB, January 17, 2020 - Croatia is this year's partner country of the International Green Week in Berlin, the world's biggest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture, and the event, which is taking place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds until 24 January, was formally opened on Thursday.

On that occasion Prime Minister Andrej Plenković promised to see to it that farmers could be better treated in the new multiannual budget of the European Union. He recalled that the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework are under way.

Earlier on Thursday, Plenković and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the coordination of activities pertaining to the presidency of the Council of the European Union considering the fact that Croatia is the current country-in-chair and Germany will be the next one in the second half of 2020.

Plenković said that farmers and producers of agricultural products deserved a special attention during the Croatian presidency of the EU.

We are going to place an emphasis on family-run small farms, he added.

The ceremony of the opening of Green Week will be held on Friday morning with the German and Croatian farm ministers, Julia Kloeckner and Marija Vučković attending it.

A record high 1,800 exhibitors from 72 countries are taking part in the show.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Plenković: Young People Migrating for Financial Reasons, Not Because of Corruption

ZAGREB, January 16, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has told the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily that many of the young people who are leaving Croatia to work abroad are migrating for financial reasons and not because of corruption and nepotism.

"It's true we must step up the fight against corruption on every level, but the main reason for the emigration is the desire of young people to improve their financial situation in a short time," Plenković is quoted as saying in the newspaper's issue of Thursday, dismissing claims that the young are leaving Croatia because they are fed up with corruption and nepotism.

Plenković says half the EU member states are faced with declining populations and that Croatia is fighting at EU level for the problem to be taken seriously.

"The topic of demography was included in the European Union's 2019-24 Strategic Agenda at Croatia's explicit request. We are also happy that Commissioner Dubravka Šuica is in charge of demography in the new European Commission," he says, adding that he will discuss demography with German Chancellor Angela Berlin in Berlin today.

"In order to stop the population decline, we have significantly raised maternity and parental allowances, and we have exempted young people under 25 from income tax and those under 30 pay 50%," Plenković says about his government's measures to stop emigration.

In the interview, he dismisses the possibility of further opening the Croatian market for workers from non-EU countries, including from Southeast Asia. "That's not a topic for us now. Our quota system for issuing work permits is completely sufficient for current needs."

He also commends Croatia's economic development, saying that "thanks to positive development" his government has raised pensions and salaries in the public sector on three occasions.

Plenković is on a two-day working visit to Germany during which he will hold talks with Merkel and attend the opening of the International Green Week Berlin 2020 fair at which Croatia is the partner country.

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

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Is Agreement With Germans New Chance for Croatian Jadroplov?

As Jadranka Dozan/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of December, 2019, Croatian Jadroplov has a new opportunity for a "restart" ready and open for it. Last week, the shipping administration, 70 percent of which is owned by the state, reported that they had reached an agreement with Norddeutsche Landesbank in Hanover, after months of negotiations, agreeing that the creditor would agree to write off 40 percent of the claims lodged against Croatian Jadroplov's companies. Norddeutsche LB is ready to write off all of the claims for a minimum of 28 million US dollars.

In order to confirm the agreement, some conditions have to be fulfilled, among which the resolution of Croatian refinancing stands out. But for a this shipping company from Split as a loser in this game, with a financial position that is not very “bankable”, this is not an easy piece of homework at all. The state development bank, HBOR, should offer to lend Croatian Jadroplov a hand.

Deadlines are also important throughout the story of settling things up with the Germans, so the weeks ahead may prove to be crucial. Jadroplov's management, headed by Branimir Kovačić, believe that in the negotiated "forgiveness" procedure of significant parts of the debt, they have a solid argument in the discussions on domestic (re) financing.

If we take a look at the market value of Croatian Jadroplov's assets and the liabilities that will remain after the settlement is completed into relation with one another, the company does actually return to the positive capital zone, and that significantly improved financial picture also makes a long-planned capital increase more likely. There is also a plan which was approved by the European Commission last May, confirming that the business plan was made in accordance with European state aid rules.

The plan provided for aid of 105.6 million kuna, which mostly consists of bank guarantees for refinancing existing liabilities, but with a significant own contribution to costs.

The plan also envisaged refinancing home loans with 8 million dollars of credit, which, with 50 percent government guarantee coverage, would be covered by collateral for the remainder. In this regard, the Croatian Government had also made a decision to grant a guarantee of 24.3 million kuna for a loan of 48.5 million kuna, but so far it has not been possible to realise that move. Whether or not that will happen soon remains to be seen. From Croatian Jadroplov, they hope that there will be those willing to listen for the sake of preserving the business. Among other things, about 600 million dollars in remittances through the salaries of seafarers enter Croatia every year, and a considerable part comes through Jadroplov's ships.

Back in early 2016, at the height of the freight crisis, Nord LB extended its hand to Jadroplov in its fight for survival. It returned three million dollars of deposits as collateral.

Due to the crisis in this highly cyclical type of business, Norddeutsche LB itself is in the process of restructuring, and it announced back during this summer that it was ceasing to re-lend to the sector, or restructure its existing loans.

At the same time, it sold 2.6 billion euros in shipping loans to the Cerberus Financial Fund. For both the bank and for Jadroplov, reaching a deal is a more cost-effective solution and closing claims is also more cost effective than enforcing collection by stopping ships, says Kovačić.

The seizure process is time-consuming and extremely expensive, and through auctioning, prices are well below market levels, he explained. For Croatian Jadroplov, on the other hand, pre-bankruptcy proceedings simply aren'y an option, as this would, de facto, mean total bankruptcy.

Overall, Jadroplov points out that Nord LB has always been a decent business partner and coming to an agreement would certainly improve not only relations between the two but business for this Croatian company.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Germany - Business Destination for Croatian Enterprises and Posted Workers

ZAGREB, December 4, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce organised a conference in Zagreb on Wednesday on Germany as an important business destination and on posted workers and taxes in cross-border provision of services.

The head of the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Thomas Sichla, informed the gathering that this institution represented more than 400 members and provided assistance to German and Croatian enterprises wishing to do business on the German market, as well as gave advice about taxes and regulations.

Considering the topic of posted workers - employees sent by their employers to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis - lawyer Ivan Matić of the Zagreb-based Kallay & Partners law firm informed the event of novelties in the latest EU directive on posted workers.

The EU law defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers, which includes remuneration, workers’ accommodation and allowances or reimbursement of expenses during the posting assignment.

The posting of workers can last 12 months, with a justified six-month extension.

In 2017, 417,000 workers were posted to work in Germany. Across the European Union, 0.4% of all employees were posted workers that year. Over 9,800 workers were posted to work in Croatia, whereas 47,000 Croatians left the country for temporary employment abroad. As many as 47% of workers cross the EU borders for employment in the construction sector.

The event also revolved around Croatia-Germany trade. In 2018, the export of commodities from Croatia to Germany totalled nearly two billion euros, while imports from that country totalled 3.6 billion euro, according to HGK data.

From the early 1990s to the mid-2019, German investors spent 3.3 billion euro on their projects in Croatia, and the biggest German investors in Croatia so far have been Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Bayer and ThyssenKrupp.

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

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Merkel Supports Croatia's Efforts in Protecting EU External Borders

ZAGREB, November 21, 2019 - The perspective of a country safeguarding the European Union's external borders differs from the perspective of member-states in the heart of the Schengen Area, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday in Zagreb, where she arrived for a European People's Party (EPP) congress.

During a news conference, Merkel defended Croatia against accusations that it was violating the rights of migrants.

Asked if Croatia should take over the presidency of the EU now that it was being accused of disrespect for the human rights of migrants at its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, the German chancellor said that "the European Union lives off having different perspectives".

Things appear differently from the perspective of a country that is supposed to protect the external borders and from the perspective of a country in the centre of the European region, Merkel said after her bilateral meeting with Croatian Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković on the margins of the EPP congress in Zagreb's Arena sports hall.

Croatia, as a young country, can bring its experiences because its memory of the accession negotiations is still fresh, unlike Germany's memory, since its accession to the EU happened long ago, Merkel explained.

Croatia has done a lot to create the preconditions for its accession to the Schengen area and the European Commission has positively assessed those efforts, she recalled.

Germany has not yet discussed Croatia's Schengen membership bid. However, Merkel said that she would draw attention to all that has been done.

During Germany's chairmanship (in the second half of 2020), this will be on the agenda, said Merkel.

In the first half of 2020 Croatia will chair the EU and after that Germany will assume the rotating presidency.

In October, the European Commission confirmed that Croatia met the technical conditions to join Schengen and it is now on the European Council to make the final decision on Croatia's admission to this passport-free area.

Plenković told the news conference that it was not realistic to expect Croatia's admission to Schengen during Zagreb's presidency over the EU.

This, however, does not mean that at the operational level of working groups the Commission's report will not be discussed, Plenković explained. He also recalled that Bulgaria and Romania have been waiting for the green light for years.

Upon its presidency, Croatia will do its best to assure its European partners that it deserves to be part of the Schengen area, he added.

During its presidency over the EU, Croatia will also address the Union's enlargement to southeast Europe.

Plenković reiterated that the negotiating framework for the accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro includes mechanisms for a suspension of the negotiations.

Merkel said that it was regrettable that Albania and North Macedonia had not opened accession negotiations recently.

In this context, she supported the Croatian government's plans.

Plenković said Germany has always been a friend of Croatia which supported Zagreb in its efforts to accomplish strategic international goals.

Germany is Croatia's main trading partner and one of the biggest investors.

Also, some 395,000 Croat expatriates live in Germany. Merkel praised them for a good coexistence with local Germans, and recalled that a rising number of German tourists visit Croatia.

She believes that bilateral economic cooperation could be boosted.

Both Merkel and Plenković agreed that topics high on the agenda of the Croatian presidency would be the next stage of negotiations on Brexit, the EU's multi-annual budget for the 2021-2027 period, including the cohesion policy, the common agricultural policy and allocations for security, climate change, investment, education and development policies.

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

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