Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Calls on Remaining EU Countries to Recognise Kosovo

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Croatia encourages the remaining EU countries who have not done so to recognise Kosovo's independence, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday, which is a move that Serbia certainly will not be pleased with as it does not recognise the sovereignty of its former southern province.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 and it has been recognised by about one hundred countries, including all EU member states with the exception of Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia.

"Croatia encourages the remaining five EU member states to recognise Kosovo because that would contribute to stabilising the region and Kosovo itself," Grlić Radman told reporters.

Today Grlić Radman is participating at the international GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, convened to discuss also the situation in the western Balkans.

Croatia's foreign minister said that three things were key to the region's stability: respecting countries' territorial integrity, equal constitutional rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the establishment of mutual trust after the 1990s wars.

"The territorial integrity of Balkan countries needs to be preserved and respected, hence without changing borders like we heard over the past few months in some much-vaunted non-papers that were heading in that direction," said Grlić Radman.

He believes that trust can be achieved through sincere talks, by resolving the issue of the war missing, processing war crimes and providing justice for the victims.

Speaking about BiH, he said the country is trapped between two political tendencies - centralism, or rather unitarism, and separatism.

"That undermines the foundations of a stable BiH and negatively reflects on the status of the Croat people in BiH," he underscored.

He reiterated Croatia's stance that the multi-ethnic BiH needs to reforms the election law to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of equal rights.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia is a "sincere advocate" of BiH's Euro-Atlantic pathway and that at all international forums it keeps that country in the limelight because it is in its interest to have a stable, functioning and prosperous country in its neighbourhood.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić Says Croatia Trying To Humiliate Serbia With Participation in Kosovo Force

ZAGREB, 7 May, 2021- Serbia wants to have good and fair relations with all neighbouring countries but Croatia's actions and statements by its officials are not expressions of respect for Serbia but an attempt to humiliate it, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday.

In a comment on the statement by Croatia's foreign minister that Croatia would increase the number of its troops in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) because that was important for maintaining peace in the region and on disputes triggered by Serbian Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin's statements, Vučić said that Croatia could have refused to serve in KFOR but opted to do the contrary "in order to additionally humiliate Serbia."

Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry stated earlier in the day that Serbia's strong reaction to the planned deployment of a greater number of Croatian troops in Kosovo was "a hysterical speculation" intended to divert attention from the introduction of the Bunjevci dialect as an official language in the northern Serbian town of Subotica, which it considers an attempt to fragment the Croat community in Serbia.

The Serbian president today wondered "why anyone would need to participate in the KFOR mission or brag about it", alluding to Croatia's involvement in the international peace mission.

"They could have refused to take part in KFOR, but they intentionally made that decision to additionally humiliate Serbia. We get the message," Vučić told Serbian reporters during a visit to Obrenovac.

In a message to Serbs in Kosovo, he said that they "should not worry" and that he would soon talk with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, stressing Serbia's commitment to avoid conflicts and maintain peace.

"My message to all those who think that there will be new Storms, new pogroms and expulsions - I guarantee that that will not happen," Vučić said in reference to the 1995 Croatian military and police operation that liberated areas previously held by local Serbs who rebelled against the Croatian authorities.

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

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

33rd Croatian Contingent Leaves for Kosovo

ZAGREB, May 12, 2020 - The 33rd Croatian army contingent (HRVCON) was sent to Kosovo on Monday to join NATO's KFOR peace mission in Kosovo, Croatia's Defence Ministry said.

The contingent was seen off by Commander Boris Panić, who underscored that Croatia has participated in the peace mission in Kosovo since 2009 with personnel and two helicopters.

"The contingent is completely prepared to conduct its duty in the field of operation and I am certain that it will represent the Croatian Army and Croatia in this mission in a dignified manner," Panić said.

The commander of the 33rd contingent, Colonel Dubravko Radić, said that the contingent was well prepared, experienced and ready for the new mission. "A specific feature of this mission is that all its members spent two weeks in quarantine recommended by epidemiological measures. They were all tested prior to being sent and we are leaving completely ready to contribute to building and maintaining peace and stability in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO's operation," said Radić.

The main duty for Croatia's contingent as part of the KFOR operation is in and around the Slatina airport in Priština and to transport KFOR troops, freight and VIP personnel.

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

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Serbia-Kosovo Territorial Exchange Would Open up Pandora's Box in SE Europe

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - An exchange of territory between Serbia and Kosovo would open up Pandora's box in Southeast Europe, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday.

The Croatian president was in New York for the 74th UN General Assembly which she will address on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Croatian president met with UN Secretary-General Guterres and discussed with him the situation in Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, relations between Belgrade and Kosovo, and what Croatia "as the leader in the region will do to help further stabilise the situation and help solve outstanding issues."

"I mentioned the exchange of territory and said that it would be a very bad idea that would open up Pandora's box and lead to various demands for territorial swaps in the entire territory of former Yugoslavia," she said.

The Serbian state leadership earlier mentioned the possibility of exchanging the northern, Serb majority part of Kosovo for the Albanian majority south of Serbia, as a way for the two countries to get closer to resolving their dispute. That idea is strongly opposed by France and Germany while the United States and recently Austria said that they could accept such a solution.

Grabar-Kitarović criticised the proposal for a territorial swap at a bilateral meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, whose position on the matter has changed.

Grabar-Kitarović added that Guterres also wanted to know what Croatia would be doing during its chairmanship of the European Union and "how we will make use of it, for ourselves as well as for our neighbourhood."

On the first day of her stay in New York, Grabar-Kitarović attended the opening of a UN summit on climate change, announcing that her address at the General Assembly would include the topic of pollution and warming up of the Adriatic Sea.

The Croatian president also took part in a summit on religious freedoms. "The thing that should be said and that is often misunderstood is that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world and that every day 11 Christians are killed worldwide because of their religion," she said.

"So, let us not think just about other religions for the sake of political correctness, let us think equally about all religions, including our own," she said.

Grabar-Kitarović also singled out a meeting with a Google vice-president with whom she agreed "on further cooperation regarding the Three Seas Initiative and the digitisation of the entire region", notably Croatia, its islands and other parts of the country.

This would enable distance learning and remote work, which would enable people to stay in Croatia, strengthen jobs and help increase salaries, she said.

More news about Croatia and the United Nations can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Plenković Participates in Balkan Summit in Berlin

ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 - A Balkan summit in Berlin has ended without a concrete agreement between Serbia and Kosovo regarding blocked negotiations, but it has been agreed to continue dialogue in order to diffuse existing tensions.

Western Balkan leaders gathered in Berlin on Monday, with the goal of defusing the worsening feud between Serbia and its former province, Kosovo.

The summit was jointly organised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. In attendance were heads of state and government from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also travelled to Berlin for the talks.

"The key messages from tonight's meeting was a 'yes' to efforts aimed at restarting negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. In any case, the efforts Germany, France and broad European diplomatic community have made will most probably require more talks in order to unblock the situation," said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who attended the summit.

Plenković said there was no agreement because the positions of the two sides were too far apart.

He added that the so-called Berlin process on stability would continue in early July with a meeting in Poznan, Poland.

Plenković said that at a meeting in Berlin he had underscored Croatia’s ambitions for next year when Zagreb will take over the presidency of the European Council. "We will try to combine outstanding political topics that exist between Southeast European countries and the institutional part of drawing closer to the European Union," Plenković said.

The next meeting in this form will take place in Paris in early July.

Serbia and Kosovo's relationship has been fraught for years, with Belgrade refusing to recognise its neighbour's move to declare independence from Serbia in 2008. Some 100 countries have recognised Kosovo as a sovereign country.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Monday evening he was disappointed with the outcome of a Balkan summit in Berlin which ended with no agreement between Serbia and Kosovo regarding blocked negotiations, stressing that most participants were criticising Serbia but that the exceptions were Croatia and Slovenia.

"I have to admit that representatives of Slovenia and Croatia were fair and we have nothing to hold against them," Vučić said after the Berlin summit.

Vučić particularly criticised the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić who, according to Vučić, was extremely unfair when talking about the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

Vučić also said that Serbia's representatives at the summit were put in an awkward position, as they were surrounded by countries that have already recognised Kosovo. He said it was good that dialogue will resume, adding however that "Serbia had no serious partner for dialogue."

Vučić also thanked the hosts of the summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for the enormous effort they have invested so as to make progress in the Western Balkans.

More news about Croatia and the Balkans can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Croatia Supports Kosovo on Its Journey to NATO

ZAGREB, November 7, 2018 - Croatia is prepared to share its knowledge and assist Kosovo on its Euro-Atlantic journey, just as it has assisted Montenegro and just as it is helping Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said after his meeting with the visiting Minister of the Kosovo Security Force, Rrustem Berisha.

"The Croatian Army is an example of professional and supreme preparedness and we are ready to share our knowledge with our partner Kosovo and assist it on its Euro-Atlantic journey, the same way we have assisted Montenegro and the way we are helping Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina," Krstičević said.

Berisha said Croatia was a friendly country and a strategic partner, adding that Kosovo could learn a lot from Croatia. "With this meeting, we want to boost cooperation which is in the interest of both of our countries, but also in the interest of peace and stability of the entire region," Berisha said.

The talks also focused on the process of transforming the Kosovo Security force. Berisha briefed Krstičević about three draft laws, stressing that they were "in accordance with the Constitution and the new Kosovo Security Force mandate and will be in the interest of all citizens."

During his stay in Zagreb, Berisha also visited the company for the production of military equipment – HS-Produkt – which, according to Krstičević, was an opportunity for equipping and modernising the Security Force, but also an opportunity for the Croatian military industry.

The talks also focused on good cooperation in the education sector. Krstičević said that over the law five years, a total of 40 Security Force members have been trained at a Croatian military academy.

For more on Croatia’s relations with Kosovo, click here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Croatia Rejects Serbia-Kosovo Exchange of Territory

ZAGREB, September 5, 2018 - Croatia believes that proposals for territory exchange are not good in the context of stability in Southeast Europe, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić said on Wednesday in a comment on Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's proposal for a territory exchange between Serbia and Kosovo.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Serbia Does Not Want Croatia Discussing Its Border with Kosovo

ZAGREB, August 29, 2018 - Commenting on Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's statements made in Berlin on Tuesday, Serbian Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović said that it was not "up to Plenković" to determine Serbia's borders.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Croatia's Neighbours Advance towards EU

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

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Juncker Talks about Possibility of War in Western Balkans

ZAGREB, April 17, 2018 - In a rather dramatic warning to the European Parliament on Tuesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the European Union had to offer Southeast European countries a prospect of EU membership so as to avert a repetition of conflicts like those that occurred in the 1990s.

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