Thursday, 11 July 2019

Convicted Intelligence Officer Perković Transferred from Germany to Zagreb

ZAGREB, July 11, 2019 - Former Yugoslav and Croatian intelligence official Josip Perković (74) was transferred to Zagreb's Remetinec Prison on Thursday after Germany handed him over to the Croatian authorities so that he could serve his prison term for the 1983 murder of political emigrant Stjepan Đureković.

Perković arrived in Zagreb on a regular flight from Munich and was admitted to prison at 2.50pm.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said earlier in the day that Perković would spend some time at the prison's diagnostics centre after which it would be decided in which prison he would serve the remainder of his sentence.

Perković and his one-time superior Zdravko Mustač (77) were handed over to Germany early in 2014 on the condition that after the trial they served their sentences in Croatia.

In August 2015, the Supreme Court in Munich sentenced them to life imprisonment for their roles in the murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković in Wolfratshausen, outside Munich, in July 1983. Đureković was killed by as yet unidentified perpetrators.

On May 14 this year, the Croatian Supreme Court dismissed Perković's appeal and upheld the Zagreb County Court ruling of December 2018 that translated the German sentence of life imprisonment into a 30-year prison term, which he is to serve in Croatia under Croatian regulations.

Mustač is still in custody in Germany. The County Court in Velika Gorica has converted his sentence into a 40-year prison term.

Following the sentence handed down by the German court, both Perković and Mustač have turned to the European Court of Human Rights.

Perković's lawyer Anto Nobilo said on Thursday he hoped the court in Strasbourg would rule in his client's favour and that he would be released from prison in a year or two.

More info about Croatia as part of Yugoslavia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

German Ambassador Visits Vukovar

ZAGREB, July 3, 2019 - German Ambassador to Croatia Robert Klinke made his inaugural visit to Vukovar on Tuesday where he met with Mayor Ivan Penava and later with young people from the German towns of Geisa and Vacha who are currently visiting Vukovar as part of an exchange programme.

We spoke about Vukovar as a European town and I am very pleased to see that here too young people have an excellent role, representing the town's development potential. These young people from Germany have come here to develop friendly dialogue, and that means respect and understanding that is turned to the future, Klinke said.

Mayor Penava said that he and Ambassador Klinke discussed Vukovar'spast, present and future.

We had the opportunity to reflect on our long history, culture and tradition but also on all those things that signify us today like the Homeland War and the immense destruction which can still be felt in the economy and jobs in Vukovar. We also discussed the town's prospects and potential for future investors that we would like to see in the town, Penava told reporters.

Penava said the youth exchange programme had been implemented since 2014 between Vukovar and Geise and Vach with the participation of Vukovar's Franciscan monastery and religious communities from the two German towns.

Ambassador Klinke was later received by County Prefect Bozo Galić.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Conference Held on Differences in SMEs in Croatia and Germany

ZAGREB, May 29, 2019 - A conference on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Croatia and Germany organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Zagreb on Tuesday discussed the differences and similarities in their success.

In Germany, SMEs are considered a pillar of the economy, accounting for 99.5% of all businesses in the country and employing 70.4% of the population in 2017, said Harald Seibel, permanent deputy German ambassador and head of the economic department.

He said many factors impacted the success of SMEs, such as demography and an increasingly old population, unqualified labour and a shortage of young people. "Our country wouldn't be as economically strong without small and medium-sized enterprises."

Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat said microenterprises and SMEs accounted for 99.3% of all businesses in Croatia, employing over 60% of all workers and generating 60% of added value. "However, there's a difference," he said, asking translators and listeners "not to understand this literally."

"We are creating a quality workforce for German enterprises and we are neither ashamed nor afraid of it," he said, mentioning east-to-west legal economic migration. He said "those who start working here in Croatia at one point recognise their opportunity and... look for a better paid job."

Horvat said the present-day emigration from Croatia was quite different from the one in the past because then people went to Germany to work on a temporary basis, whereas nowadays they took their families with them and stayed there.

The minister said he would "like computers to do the administrative part in my ministry so we can focus only on... recognising good ideas. Now we do 80% of the work mechanically, not thinking strategically to answer the question of what we want of Croatia in ten years."

He said "the German state secretary has the answer to that question, as she has a vision of what it means to draw up strategic documents systematically, so that it doesn't happen that when one political elite replaces another... everything that was done before is set on fire because nothing's good."

Horvat said the digitisation of the whole system would reduce the possibility of corruption. "If what I'm talking about doesn't happen, in October we won't be 56th, we'll be 68th. We'll fall for the sixth year in a row and won't recover easily," he said, adding that the goal was to convince the World Bank that Croatia was ready for change in order to stop dropping on the Doing Business rankings.

More news about doing business in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Merkel and Weber Participate in HDZ Election Rally

ZAGREB, May 19, 2019 - Addressing the main campaign rally of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in Zagreb on Saturday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European People's Party's (EPP) lead candidate for European Commission President, Manfred Weber, said that nationalism was an enemy that wanted to destroy the European Union, whereas patriotism was not against European values.

Our values are that we can be proud of our country - patriotism and the EU do not clash with each other. On the other hand, nationalism is an adversary that wants to destroy Europe and we must say that clearly, said Merkel at the rally which brought together 6,000 HDZ members and supporters in the Dražen Petrović Sports Hall.

Merkel said that the European Union was a project of peace, freedom and prosperity. "We in Germany now have 74 years of peace. You (in Croatia) had a war in the 1990s and you are aware what it means and why it is important to preserve this peace," she said.

And that can be accomplished only if the national cause is advocated on the one hand, while on the other hand we need to be able to put ourselves in other people's shoes and build bridges, the German chancellor said.

She wrapped up her speech in Croatian calling on voters to go to the polls for the EP elections and support the Europe of peace, freedom and prosperity. "Support the EPP and the HDZ, support Manfred Weber and Karlo Ressler," she said. Ressler is the top candidate of the HDZ slate in the 26 May elections for the new EP.

Weber said in his speech that "we love our countries, we are patriots, but we also believe in unity at the European level." Weber called for a response to nationalists and promised that nationalists would not be part of his majority in the future EP.

In his comment on a rally held in Milan earlier on Saturday, at which Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen addressed their supporters, Weber said that nationalist ideology in the past had caused a lot of tragedies and should be resisted.

Weber said that the EU was not only an economic alliance but also a community which shares values, underscoring that Christianity is a pillar of Europe. He said that while travelling across Europe he saw diversities of the continent, however he also noticed that in the centre of each town, city or village there was a church which, he added, signifies the Christian faith as a European foundation.

As for illegal migration, Weber said that each country had the right to decide who could pass through its territory and that such a decision should not be made by smugglers.

He also noted that after Athens he visited Zagreb which he described as an obvious and reasonable decision as Croatia was the newest EU member, describing Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković as a close friend.

Weber, who has served as leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament since 2014 and who is an official of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, congratulated Croatian football coach Niko Kovač for the success of Bayern Munich which won the Bundesliga championship under his leadership this season.

The HDZ's lead candidate for the European Parliament elections, Karlo Ressler, said he was confident that his party would score yet another convincing victory in the forthcoming elections. "The list of candidates that I lead is an alliance of several generations of the HDZ and several generations of Croatia. But we all work together and breathe as one," Ressler said.

He said that the HDZ's programme was forward-looking, aimed at growth, employment and security, and was promoting a safe and strong Croatia within a strong European Union. He said that young generations in Croatia today had the honour to fight for a better Croatia and prepare it for technological, social and political challenges.

Ressler said that patriotism today was proved with dedicated work and knowledge, citing the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, the construction and reconstruction of over 500 kindergartens, and the creation of over 96,000 jobs in the last three years. "That's what we do today and what we insist on," he said.

At the end, the rally was addressed by Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković. He called on all those present to support Weber as the EPP spitzenkandidat for President of the European Commission.

Plenković also mentioned successes of his government, including the budget surplus, better absorption of EU funding, and EU-funded projects such as the Pelješac Bridge and other infrastructure projects.

More news about the European elections can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Croatian Companies to Use Services of German Chambers of Commerce

ZAGREB, May 10, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) on Friday signed an agreement with the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) under which Croatian companies operating abroad would be able to use the services of German foreign trade chambers under the same terms as German companies, the HGK said.

HGK president Luka Burilović said that only an export-oriented economy could guarantee sustainable long-term development to Croatia.

"The agreement means easier access to the markets where DIHK has foreign trade representations, and we are talking about more than 140 locations in 92 countries," Burilović said, calling on all HGK members to use that support on the ground in all markets where they have a business interest.

The services to be provided to the HGK by German foreign trade chambers include market research, support in the search for business partners and accounting services.

The HGK is a natural partner to the German network of chambers, which comprises 79 chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) in Germany, representations and foreign trade chambers (AHK) around the world and the DIHK, based in Berlin and Brussels, said DIHK deputy director Volker Treier.

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

Friday, 3 May 2019

Bavarian Prime Minister Soeder Visits Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 3, 2019 - Migration and innovation were the main topics discussed by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his Bavarian counterpart Markus Soeder during their meeting at government headquarters in Zagreb on Thursday.

It was the third meeting between Plenković and Soeder, and the first visit of a head of government of the German state of Bavaria to Croatia after 12 years.

Trade between Croatia and Bavaria exceeded 1.1 billion euro in 2018. Some 1,300 Bavarian companies have a presence in Croatia, and 1.2 million Bavarian tourists visit Croatia annually, Plenković said, adding that "this testifies to the diversity of our relations and closeness of our countries."

About 110,000 Croats currently live in Bavaria, providing "a strong link" between the two countries in political, economic and cultural terms, the Croatian PM said.

The two heads of government discussed ways of promoting relations as part of preparations for a meeting of the Croatian-Bavarian Commission which is to take place in Croatia. They also talked about the EU strategy for the Danube region and the Croatian presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020. Also discussed was prevention of illegal migration and Croatia's bid to join the Schengen area.

Croatia and Germany, including Bavaria, need to have a single, coordinated policy, and the migration issue should be addressed at its source and EU members located at that source should be helped, Plenković said.

An agreement on academic cooperation between the University of Rijeka and the University of Regensburg, in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, was signed. "Scientific, research and university cooperation is one of the keys to a successful future," Plenković said.

Soeder said that cooperation is necessary in the areas of innovation, robotics and artificial intelligence, because countries cannot make much progress on their own. "We are not as large as China or America, but through our cooperation, which we seek to promote today, we can be stronger," Soeder said.

Speaking of the forthcoming election for the European Parliament, Soeder said it "is very important that we are not together with those who want to split Europe, but with those who want to support it and ensure its further progress."

Asked about the rise of far-right parties and how to deal with them, Soeder said that in Germany they will have to fight against Alternative for Germany (AfD) "with substance and more active communication."

"It seems to me that AfD has gained a monopoly over social media and that's why we need to better explain to people who they are and what they want and be more present in public debates," Soeder said, adding that AfD's influence in Bavaria had been reduced.

Plenković said that the rise of extremist parties, both on the right and the left, was caused by the migrant crisis of 2015, Brexit, the rise of social media and disinformation campaigns.

Plenković and Soeder later attended a round table where they spoke of scientific cooperation, development of academic resources, promotion of academic exchanges and economic initiatives between Croatia and Bavaria.

Plenković said that improving competitiveness by investing in science, education and innovation was the key to the success and prosperity of the European Union and all its member states on the global market.

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

Sunday, 28 April 2019

German Chancellor Merkel to Attend EPP Election Rally in Zagreb

ZAGREB, April 28, 2019 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend an election rally of the European People's Party in Zagreb in May, which will be her first appearance at rallies outside Germany, and she will also meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, government spokesman Marko Milić confirmed to Hina.

Merkel and the favourite for the next European Commission President, lead candidate Manfred Weber, will attend the central EPP election rally in Zagreb on May 18.

Merkel's visit to Zagreb, after Plenković's two visits to Berlin during his current term, confirms the ever closer Croatian-German relations, the government said.

Choosing Zagreb as the host of the central EPP rally ahead of elections for the European Parliament confirms the good relations between Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Plenković, as well as the HDZ's work in the EPP and Croatia's position in the European Council, Milić said.

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

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Emigration from Croatia to Germany Decreased in 2018

The record number of foreigners lived in Germany in 2018, and their number increased by 292,000 last year and now stands at 10.9 million. The number of people who moved from Croatia to Germany in 2018 was 27,772, according to the German State Statistical Institute in Wiesbaden, reports 24sata.hr on April 16, 2019.

The number of citizens of the Republic of Croatia registered as living in Germany increased by 27,772 from 31 December 2017 and 31 December 2018. This was noticeably fewer people than the year earlier when the number of Croatian citizens in Germany increased by 35,295.

Last year, for the first time since Croatia entered the European Union in 2013, the number of new immigrants from Croatia declined compared to the previous year.

At the end of last year, there were 395,665 Croatian citizens living in Germany, which is 170,694 more than at the end of 2012, which is the last full year in which Croatia was not a member of the European Union.

Most Croatian citizens, around 117,660 of them, live in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.

By the number of people living in Germany, Croatia is behind Turkey, Poland, Italy, Syria, and Romania.

At the end of 2018, almost 83 million people lived in Germany. The number of 10.9 million foreigners only includes persons with foreign nationality. If we look at the total number of so-called residents with a migrant background, which includes foreigners, German nationals of foreign origin, as well as ethnic Germans who moved to Germany after the collapse of Communism, their number is 19.7 million, almost twice as large.

The most significant inflow of immigrants last year was recorded from the Western Balkans countries, namely Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania. The rise in the number of immigrants from these countries is linked to the law on immigration of skilled workforce from this part of Europe, which was adopted by Germany in 2015.

In addition to the inhabitants of the Western Balkan countries, the most significant number of immigrants coming to Germany came from India, China and the United States.

Translated from 24sata.hr.

More emigration news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

German President Steinmeier Visits Zagreb

ZAGREB, March 21, 2019 - The European Union must not lose itself in bilateral quarrels, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Zagreb on Thursday after meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, with whom he agreed that the prospects of even better bilateral cooperation would occur in 2020, when both countries are set to preside over the European Union.

Steinmeier began his two-day official visit with talks in Grabar-Kitarović's office during which they said the two countries shared the same views on many European issues and that they were strongly linked by the Croatian community in Germany.

In a joint press conference after the talks, Steinmeier said Croatia, as the newest EU member, was a bridge between the European bloc and Southeast Europe, with which it shares a common past. There were difficult periods in that past, he said, urging the countries of Southeast Europe to resolve outstanding issues.

In Europe, "dealing with the difficulties of the past paved the way to the future," he said. Later today, he will visit the Eurocampus international school, where German and French schools operate under the same roof. "That's a nice example of reconciliation," he said.

Grabar-Kitarović said Croatia supported the Euro-Atlantic perspective of all Southeast European countries. "In that sense, we want a stable Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina." She said that Croatia would dedicate another summit on EU enlargement to Southeast Europe while chairing the Council of the EU in the first half of next year.

The calendar envisaged that we assume responsibility one after the other, Steinmeier said. Germany will chair the Council in the second half of 2020. "That's a chance to cooperate even better at European level."

Grabar-Kitarović said the two countries shared common European values and commitment to a strong EU. Croatia will always remember "the key role of Germany and other close friends during the struggle for survival, notably the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher," she said, adding that Croatia continued to count on Germany's support.

Croatia appreciates Germany's "constant and strong" support for Croatia's membership of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said Grabar-Kitarović.

The EU will "become safer and stronger when Croatia enters the Schengen and euro areas," she said. "In that respect, we are counting on Germany's support," she added, noting that Croatia is making big efforts to efficiently monitor "the EU's longest eastern external border."

Germany is one of Croatia's principal economic partners - its first trade partner, the fourth foreign investor and the first in the number of tourists, Grabar-Kitarović said, noting that 2.9 million Germans visited Croatia last year.

She said Croatia wanted to increase exports to Germany. The two countries cooperate in many areas and Croatian citizens in Germany and ethnic Germans in Croatia are "a strong bridge of friendship and a link." The 360,000-strong Croat community in Germany is strongly integrated, she added.

Asked by German journalists about the emigration of Croats, Grabar-Kitarović reiterated that demography was the number one issue and that mobility was something good but that it was necessary to create return conditions.

Steinmeier said Croatia was a new member state but has "settled in the heart of the EU" as a bridge helping to overcome the difficulties between old and new member states. He illustrated Croatia's role with the Three Seas Initiative, which some in Europe saw as an attempt to distance new member states from "the old Europe."

Croatia said from the very beginning that the Initiative must not be used for political purposes and invited other countries to join, which Germany did, he said. "A lot is at stake in Europe" today, which is why the European Parliament election "isn't just another election in history" as it "will decide on the different drafts of the European Union's future," he added.

Neither president would speculate on the outcome of a European Council meeting on Brexit that is taking place today and tomorrow.

Asked how that would impact the decision to call the EP election for May, Grabar-Kitarović said she would announce it by March 26.

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

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Prime Minister Receives Steiger Award in Germany

ZAGREB, March 17, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received in Essen on Saturday the Steiger Award in the Europe category and called for Europe's unity.

"I see this award also as a recognition to my fellow citizens in the building of a European Croatia," he said at the award ceremony, recalling that Croatia's EU journey was much harder than those of other central European countries.

Europe is facing the biggest challenges since World War II, he said. "Not even the biggest EU countries can deal with all the problems alone. That's why the key is in unity and that's the point of the European Union."

Plenković underlined the importance of the European perspective for Southeast European countries. "Europe should not neglect its neighbourhood. This especially refers to Southeast Europe because there the European Union membership is a motivating perspective, as shown by the European Union's attractiveness. That's also the European Union Croatia wants to push for while chairing the European Council in the first half of next year."

Plenković was presented with the award by North Rhine-Westphalia PM Armin Laschet, who underlined Plenković's commitment to the European idea.

"These days it doesn't just go without saying that someone stands for Europe. The European Union has many external and internal enemies. Only a few stand for Europe. One of them is Croatian Prime Minister Plenković," Laschet said, adding that former German Foreign Minister "Hans-Dietrich Genscher would have been pleased to see that a country he advocated is a recipient of this award."

Laschet recalled that 50,000 Croats live in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's largest state, and said they had contributed to the well-being in Germany.

"Croats have played an important role in this process and that's why the award for Europe is going into the right hands," he said, hoping the award would help Plenković deal with the challenges when Croatia presides over the EU early next year.

According to a press release from the Steiger Initiative, Plenković was nominated for the award by Laschet and German MEP Elmar Brok. "Honoured are people who demonstrate straightforwardness, openness and tolerance in their actions and thinking. They are people who are not deterred on their way and willing to take responsibility," the press release said.

Among the previous recipients are former Israeli President Shimon Peres, former Serbian President Boris Tadić, and Genscher.

More news about Andrej Plenković can be found in the Politics section.

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