Thursday, 19 August 2021

SDP, GLAS Criticise Gov't Decision to Co-Finance Construction of Chapel in Bethlehem

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party has criticised the government's decision to co-finance the construction of a chapel in Bethlehem with HRK 3.3 million, calling on it to use the money for the reconstruction of houses in the earthquake-hit region of Banija while the GLAS party called the decision scandalous.

"At a time when the healthcare system is under strain, when post-earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb and Banija is late and people lack basic conditions for normal living, our foreign minister considers it a priority to finance the Church," SDP political secretary and MP Mirela Ahmetović said in a statement.

Calling on the government to use the money intended for the chapel to rebuild a dozen homes in Banija or buy expensive drugs for children suffering from rare diseases, Ahmetović noted that the Catholic Church receives around HRK 300 million from the state budget annually plus donations from local government units.

Another opposition party, GLAS, described the government's decision as scandalous, noting that Croatia did not have a sufficient number of radiation therapy machines, which was why some cancer patients had to wait for therapy for up to three months.

"The Andrej Plenković government has always chosen its priorities wisely, including this time. Their clients and the Church that brings votes come first, and if something is left over, citizens get what they really need," the party said in a statement.

GLAS MP Anka Mrak-Taritaš proposed to the parliament that the government should purchase three new radiation therapy machines, one costing HRK 5 million.

Earlier in the day the government decided to allocate 3.375 million kuna(€450,000) for the construction of a Croatian chapel in Bethlehem and thus granted a request made by Conventual Franciscans in Zagreb.

The chapel will be built in Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem to honour Croatian saints and Croatians who have been blessed.

Friar Sandro Tomasevic, a clergyman in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, told Hina that he was happy with the government's decision and described Croatia's plan to build the chapel as one of the six nations to do so in Bethlehem as a great success.

"It is a great thing for the whole homeland, particularly for our faithful and pilgrims," the priest said.

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

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Gov't Finances Construction of Croatian Chapel in Bethlehem

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The Croatian government on Thursday decided to allocate 3.375 million kuna (€450,000) for the construction of a Croatian chapel in Bethlehem and thus granted a request made by Conventual Franciscans in Zagreb.

The chapel will be built in Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem and will honour Croatian saints and Croatians who have been blessed.

This site of worship will give a strong contribution to improving the international recognisability of Croatia and its positioning in Israel and worldwide, the government says in a press release in which it highlights that the Catholic Church is "an integral component of the Croatian past and is intertwined in the national identity of Croatians as well as in the spiritual and cultural development of Croatian society."

There are plans for the construction of six chapels in the said area of Betlehem.

The Custody of the Holy Land has donated the land to the city of Bethlehem, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said today.

All the necessary building permits for the Croatian chapel have been issued, and the project is estimated at €450,000, while the interior of the chapel will be decorated with paintings and artworks donated by Croatian artists, Grlić Radman said.

Friar Sandro Tomasevic, a clergyman in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, said in his statement for Hina that he was happy with the government's decision and described the fact that Croatia would be one of six nations to build a chapel in Bethlehem as a great success.

"It is a great thing for the whole homeland, particularly for our faithful and pilgrims," the priest said.

The construction material for the chapel, that is stones, timber and other materials, will be transported from Croatia to Israel.

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

Saturday, 19 June 2021

New Promotional Campaign Aimed at Israeli Market in Dubrovnik

19 June 2021 – The Dubrovnik Tourist Board released a new promotional video made for the Israeli market in Dubrovnik. The motivation behind it is the announcement of direct flights between Dubrovnik and Tel Aviv

Dubrovnik is a famous travel destination in many corners of the world. There are many things attracting travellers to it, none more so than its rich history. Dubrovnik’s history contains a very interesting story about the local Jewish community, and this is exactly the thing Dubrovnik Tourist Board capitalises on in this newest promotional campaign.

At the heart of the campaign is a short promotional video showing some highlights of Dubrovnik’s Jewish heritage. It is hosted by a local tour guide and member of the city’s Jewish community, Matija Singer. In a beautifully filmed, 5-minute video, viewers are taken around Dubrovnik’s historical centre. Mr. Singer expertly presents some of the most important places and artifacts in Hebrew. The video does have English subtitles, so make sure to watch it below.

Source: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Direct Flights from Israel

The main driving force behind the campaign is the establishing of a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Dubrovnik. Dubrovacki Vjesnik reports the line will be operated by Croatia Airlines and Arkia Airlines. It will run from the beginning of July to the end of October. We are to see four flights per week with Arkia Airlines connecting the two cities on Mondays and Fridays and Croatia Airlines also running flights twice per week starting on July 15th.

This is exciting news for many in the tourism sector. Interest for Dubrovnik has been rising cautiously over the last decade on the Israeli market. Still, there is still plenty of room for progress. In 2019 local tourist board recorded only 6322 arrivals by Israeli guests. With these announced flights, Dubrovnik has a real chance of breaking those numbers and starting on the path of becoming an important destination for citizens of Israel. Considering this news comes now, while the city is still struggling with the lack of guests and international travel restrictions, it is even more exciting.

 For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 14 May 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman Says Croatians in Israel Are Safe

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - All Croatian citizens in Israel are safe, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday, and expressed solidarity with the families of the civilian victims on all the sides and called for the de-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On 12 May, Croatia called on all the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refrain from any action that would lead to escalation of violence, in which dozens of people have been killed so far, including civilians.

"There is no justification for attacks on civilians," the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a statement last Wednesday, calling on all leaders to help de-escalate the conflict.

Grlić Radman said today that so far Zagreb was in permanent contact with the Croatian Embassy in Israel and was kept informed on a regular basis.

None of the Croatians in Israel have asked for assistance, he added.

It is most saddening that civilians are among the casualties. We extend our solidarity with the families of civilian casualties, and we appeal to all parties for defusing the tensions, the Croatian minister said.

The Middle East crisis has always been very sensitive, and those developments can simply spill over to some other regions, Grlić Radman said.

The European Union with its partners, including the USA, keep calling for multilateral action, he added.

"It is in the interest of all to have a sound, stable, peaceful global order, based on the respect for international and human rights," he said.

Grlić Radman said he did not believe that the USA was insufficiently engaged in that region and he believes that the Joe Biden Administration will make some headway in that regard.

Commenting on the fiercest fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the last few years, President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the USA should define its foreign policy more clearly, noting that the new US energy policy was making that part of the world less interesting than it was before.

"I look at the American position. Israel is defending itself, but is also attacking. (...) The Americans will have to better define their foreign policy and make it clearer," Milanović said yesterday.

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has distanced himself from the Middle East, but is now aware that he cannot distance himself completely, he said.

"That part of the world is ceasing to be interesting as it used to be because of the US energy policy, notably because of this administration, which is much more focused on renewable sources and less on oil, on hydrocarbons which America now produces in sufficient quantities on its own. So the question is, what is their strategic objective in the Middle East other than being a policeman?" Milanović said. "These are extremely important issues that put us in a moral dilemma."

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

 

 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Croatia Calls On All Parties to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to Refrain From Violence

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - Croatia has called on all parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refrain from any action that would lead to escalation of violence, in which dozens of people have been killed so far, including civilians.

"There is no justification for attacks on civilians," the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday, calling on all leaders to help de-escalate the conflict.

According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, over 30 Palestinians have been killed, including women and children, since clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem escalated into fighting. According to Israeli sources, six persons have been killed in Palestinian rocket attacks.

The military conflict between the Palestinian movement Hamas and Israel flared up on Tuesday evening after Hamas showered Tel Aviv with rockets and the Israeli military responded with air strikes against the Gaza Strip.

The international community has called for peace, while Muslim countries have deplored the worst escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel in recent years, prompted by the clashes in east Jerusalem.

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

 

Friday, 23 April 2021

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor: "For the Homeland Ready" Can't Be Both Symbol of Heroism and Evil

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has said in an interview with Hina that the Ustasha salute 'For the homeland ready' cannot simultaneously be a symbol of heroism and a symbol of evil, and pointed out the good example set by Germany and Austria where the glorification of Nazism is punishable by law.

The issue of the said salute used by Ustasha, allies of the German Nazis in the Second World War, is raised every April, when Croatia observes anniversaries of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp in Jasenovac in late April in 1945. The 1941-1945 Jasenovac camp was a site of torture and mass executions of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and of Croats who opposed Nazism and Fascism.

Since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the controversial salute, whose abbreviation in Croatian is ZDS, has been permissible at commemorations of fallen defenders who used to be members of the HOS unit and who had that salute on their uniforms during that war of independence. On the other hand, for years, Jewish associations have continued requesting that the use of the salute should be outlawed, just as in the case of "Heil Hitler" salute, as its use carries a prison sentence in Germany and Austria.

"In Vukovar, the 'Za Dom Spremni' salute is considered to be part of heroism of the place, fighting against occupier and in Jasenovac  'Za Dom Spremni' is symbol of evil. So, you have to decide, it can't be the same symbol for totally different points in your history," says the ambassador after he yesterday participated in the commemorations on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac death camp.

Jewish rep expects legislative changes penalising Ustasha salute to be passed by summer

The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said on Thursday there was a realistic possibility for the parliament to vote in amendments to the Penal Code to penalise the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" before its summer recess.

"I believe that there will be no problems in voting the changes in if the Prime Minister and the HDZ mean what they say," Kraus said when asked about the possibility of outlawing the Ustasha salute, an initiative he launched earlier this year.

Commenting on this statement, Ambassador Mor says: "You have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer, i am not Croat and can't give you 'yes' or 'no' (on imposing a prison sentence for that salute). In this case, Germany and Austria are very good role model."

Ambassador warns of attempts to downplay the Holocaust

Commenting on some global trends of downplaying the tragedy of the Holocaust, Mor said that a portion of the Croatian society used every opportunity to glorify the Ustasha troops and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić.

 As if nothing had happened, as if Jasenovac had not been an extermination camp but a labour camp. This is in contradiction with historical facts and the testimonies by those who survived that period, the ambassador said.

Mor went on to say that historians in Croatia and Serbia disagreed about the numbers of Serb victims in Jasenovac, and he said that it was unacceptable to reduce such a tragedy to the issue of numbers.

"If you want to live in peace, you have to do more then producing movies, you have to have real dialogue," he said alluding also to the recent Serbian film ("Dara iz Jasenovca") about this topic which has been perceived in Croatia as well as internationally as part of the nationalistic propaganda of Serbia's authorities.

Mor urged both Croatia and Serbia to let their archives be available to experts and so that they can arrive at a point acceptable to both sides.

The same should be applied when it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, he said and called for resorting to dialogue to overcome different views on the events in the past.

In this context he mentioned the normalisation of the relations between his country and several Arab countries. Following the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, Israel has renewed relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in the past few months.

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

Friday, 12 March 2021

Croatia and Israel Discuss Protocols Facilitating Travel

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatia and Israel have started talks on travel and protocols for tourists from the two countries, Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac said on Friday, hopeful an agreement would soon be reached.

Brnjac and Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor met on Thursday to discuss the travel protocols with the aim of reaching an agreement that would facilitate travel for tourists from both countries during the pandemic.

The minister expressed satisfaction with the meeting at which she informed the ambassador of other activities of her ministry, including a project with the website "Safe stay in Croatia", which provides visitors to Croatia with information on locations and epidemiological restrictions in force as well as recommendations for health safety.

She spoke of special safety protocols which anyone applying for the "Safe stay in Croatia" certificate must comply with and explained how businesses with that certificate would be monitored.

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

Monday, 11 May 2020

Israel Learns It's Dangerous to Equate Victims and Perpetrators of Ustasha Crimes

ZAGREB, May 11, 2020 - The Israeli Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday condemned a plan to hold a memorial mass for the Bleiburg victims in Sarajevo, saying that it constituted a dangerous and destructive attempt to equate the victims and perpetrators of World War II Ustasha crimes.

Attempts to depict all WWII victims in the same way are not only unfair but are also extremely dangerous and destructive for the process of reconciliation to which all nations should aspire, the embassy said in a statement.

A clear distinction has to be made between the victims who without any guilt on their part were forced to concentration camps like Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška and killed there and those who are responsible for those crimes even if they did not have the opportunity to stand a fair trial for them, the embassy said.

The Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina last week opposed the memorial service for Croatian civilians and soldiers of the Nazi-allied Ustasha forces, which is due to be held in Sarajevo by the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljić, on May 16.

Its head Jakob Finci and the head of the Jewish Community of Sarajevo, Boris Kozemjakin, said in a joint statement that they "condemn the announced commemoration and Mass for the Ustasha who were defeated a long time ago."

"The memorial service for criminals responsible for the suffering of Sarajevans, including Maks Luburić and Jure Francetić, not to mention others, commemorates the killers of our mothers, fathers, grandfathers, our compatriots and all the other innocent people killed by the fascists of the para-state Independent State of Croatia," reads the statement.

Plans for the memorial service were earlier condemned by the Bosniak and Croat members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić respectively, as well as by leaders of all major political parties based in Sarajevo.

It is evident that the commemoration is clearly condemned by citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina many of whom can be proud of their ancestors' contribution to the legacy of antifascism and to the fight against fascism, said the embassy.

More news about the Jewish community can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Israel and Croatia Sign Cyber Security Cooperation Agreement

ZAGREB, September 12, 2019 - Croatia and Israel will in future cooperate much closer in combating cyber attacks and a cooperation agreement to that effect was signed in Tel Aviv on Thursday by Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Božinović and Yigal Unna, the Chief Executive Director of the Directorate's Cyber Technologies Unit at Israel's Ministry of Public Security.

In a statement for Hina, Unna underscored that it was a great honour to sign this "historic agreement" on cyber security which is one of the fundamental threats. Cooperation is a must for all countries that share the same values, according to the Israeli official.

We are faced with growing threats and we have to stick together, Unna said and added that Croatia and Israel now have a way for our two countries to also protect Europe from cyber threats. I would hope for a lot of activities and programmes that we will work on together so that we can achieve cyber security, Unna said.

Božinović too underscored that the institution the agreement was signed with is one of the leading agencies of its kind in the world.

"Our lives are moving more and more into the digital sphere and that is why it is necessary to protect what we have at our disposal and what we are dealing with today and Israel is one of the leading countries in the world in that regard," Božinović told Hina.

"This is a big step for us and a great honour. We look forward to future cooperation in protecting the interests of our countries and peoples," he added.

The Interior Ministry underlined the number, seriousness and international nature of cyber attacks which requires growing effort and innovativeness from countries but also cooperation between countries. Cooperation on the national, regional and international level is essential for proper functioning and security in a digital environment and the ministry is convinced that this agreement will contribute to the cyber security of Croatia and of its citizens and institutions.

All our experiences are also yours, Unna said, who presented the work of his agency prior to signing the agreement.

The national cyber unit is directly responsible to the prime minister and is ranked along with other security institutions such as intelligence services.

The agency provides incident handling services and guidance for all civilian entities as well as all critical infrastructures in the Israeli economy, and works towards increasing the resilience of the civilian cyber space.

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

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Israel: We Share Same Goals and Vision with Croatia

ZAGREB, September 11, 2019 - Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović, met with Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi during his visit to Tel Aviv. Božinović said he is pleased that with this meeting Croatia and Israel have further deepened their mutual understanding and that both Israel and Croatia are trying to play a constructive role in their respective regions.

"I am certain that these talks and contacts that we have with Israel will produce a higher level of our bilateral relations to the benefit of the citizens of the two countries," Božinović said.

Hanegbi told Hina he was happy to meet Božinović and contribute to the friendly relationship between Israel and Croatia, adding: "We share the same goals, we share the same vision, and we will keep working together to enhance our friendship and our cooperation."

The two ministers discussed challenges the two countries are facing in developing constructive relations with their respective neighbours. Israel is striving to change the perception of it by its Arab neighbours while Croatia is dealing with unresolved issues stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia and migration while at the same time supporting the countries of Southeast Europe on their way to EU and NATO membership.

On Wednesday, Božinović is scheduled to visit the Holocaust Museum and meet with Foreign Ministry officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's national security adviser.

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

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