Monday, 6 June 2022

This is No Time to Sit in Two Chairs, Plenković Tells Serbia

ZAGREB, 6 June 2022 - This is no time to sit on two chairs and Serbia must take a side, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday in a comment on the cancellation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Belgrade.

Plenković said that the visit "has nothing to do with Croatia" and is a matter concerning relations between Moscow and Belgrade but stressed that "in the current circumstances Serbia should be very careful about who it sides with."

"If it has the ambition to continue its journey to the EU, one has to know how it stands. This is no time to sit on two chairs," Plenković said at a news conference at which he presented the latest government decision aimed at alleviating the impact of growing energy prices.

Lavrov's visit to Serbia was canceled after neighboring countries Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro closed their airspace to his aircraft.

The Russian minister is expected to hold an online news conference instead, the RIA Novosti news agency said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

PM Says President Milanović is Acting to Advantage of Russia

ZAGREB, 31 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković rejected in Brussels on Tuesday President Zoran Milanović claim's that sanctions against Russia were ineffective and only did harm to European citizens, accusing him of acting to the advantage of the Russian aggressor.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Croatian president said that the European sanctions against Russia were not working since Moscow could sell oil to others. He made the statement after the EU decided to impose a partial embargo on the import of oil from Russia.

"It is incorrect that the sanctions are not helping, thanks to its energy sources, Russia is financing war operations in which a large number of soldiers and civilians die every day," Plenković said after a EU summit in Brussels, at which the sixth package of sanctions against Russia was hammered out.

Plenković added that sanctions were a moral matter and that one should be on the right side of history and law.

"The government is, I am, and the Croatian public should ask themselves whether mister Milanović is," Plenković said.

"We are pursuing a policy in the interest of Croatia and in the interest of the EU, in the interest of justice and solidarity, and if he's pursuing a policy... to the advantage of the Russian aggressor, he should explain that to citizens, because we aren't. Unfortunately, that has been happening for months and is no longer a coincidence, it's a great pity and shame for Croatia," he added.

Plenković also rejected Milanović's claims that Croatia was no energy hub.

Denying Croatia's strategic role in our neighborhood, all the activities we do, the fact that the LNG terminal was realized during our term of office, and the fact that investments in critical infrastructure would give Croatia a completely different position can be called either ignorance or jealousy. All of that is human and I'm sorry he gives such statements, said Plenković.

During its summit meeting in Brussels on Monday, the European Union agreed on a new set of sanctions whereby seaborne oil imports from Russia would be immediately banned. Two-thirds of the Russian oil imported by the EU comes via tanker and one-third by the Druzhba pipeline. The embargo on seaborne oil imports would therefore apply to two-thirds of all oil imported from Russia. Since Germany and Poland announced that they would completely give up Russian oil by year's end, the import of Russian oil will drop by 90%.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Five Croatian Diplomats in Russia Declared Personae Non Gratae

ZAGREB, 27 May 2022 - Moscow has declared five employees of Croatia's embassy in Russia personae non-gratae, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on Friday as carried by the TASS news agency.

"In response to hostile steps taken earlier by Zagreb to reduce the size of Russia's diplomatic mission, (Croatian ambassador) Tomislav Car received a note which declares five employees of the Croatian Embassy in Moscow personae non-gratae," Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported.

It notes that a "strong protest was expressed to Croatia's ambassador because of unfounded attempts by Croatian authorities to blame Russia for war crimes in Ukraine and provide military assistance to the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv."

On 11 April Croatia announced that it had expelled 18 Russian diplomats and six administrative staff serving in Zagreb.

A day later the Russian Federation slammed the expulsion of the diplomats and sent a strong protest to Croatia's authorities and threatened to reciprocate.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Croatia Expels 18 Russian Diplomats

11 April 2022 - Croatia has expelled 18 Russian diplomats and six members of administrative staff, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a statement on Monday.

Croatia notified the Russian ambassador about the reduction of the number of diplomatic and administrative staff at the Russian Embassy on Monday.

"Eighteen diplomats and six members of administrative staff (24 employees in total) at the Embassy of the Russian Federation have been asked to leave the Republic of Croatia," the statement said.

Croatia thus joined other European countries, including Poland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, in expelling Russian diplomats over the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Neighbouring Slovenia will expel 33 Russian diplomats.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs once again strongly condemned "the brutal aggression on Ukraine and numerous war crimes committed."

Russia was once again called upon to immediately cease its military activities, withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine, and secure evacuation and aid supply routes.

Croatia also called on Russia to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Moscow Protests Over Croatian FM's "Insulting" Language

28 March 2022 - Russia has lodged a strong protest with Croatia after Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal, the Russian Embassy in Zagreb said in a statement.  

Insulting language and unfounded accusations against the President of the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable, the statement said.

Russia also protested because Grlić Radman had referred to the Russian government as a regime and wished that it would not stay in power for long.

Such irresponsible behaviour of a representative of the Croatian leadership is destroying the tissue of Russian-Croatian relations, which are marking 30 years this year, the statement said.

The government in Zagreb was called upon to refrain from triggering negative consequences for relations between the two countries.

In conclusion, the Embassy stressed the need for adherence to the universal rules of international communication and diplomatic etiquette.

Last Wednesday, speaking in an interview with Croatian Radio, Grlić Radman said Putin was a war criminal and expressed hope that "the Russian autocratic regime" would not last for long.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Claims She and Putin Would "Talk for Hours"

March the 22nd, 2022 - Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has claimed that she and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently waging an unjustified and utterly bizarre war on neighbouring Ukraine, would ''talk for hours''.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the former Norwegian Prime Minister will leave his position in the Defense Alliance next autumn after serving a period of eight years and become the governor of the Norwegian Central Bank, and it is speculated that he will be succeeded by a woman from an Eastern European country.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic didn't want to comment on a possible new position in NATO

In an interview with Dagens Nyheter, Index reports, former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic didn't want to comment on any of the circulating media speculations that she could become NATO Secretary General, the competition for which includes former British Prime Minister Theresa May, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, but she did make sure to point out that she enjoyed working as Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy from 2011 to 2014.

"Most of the employees there weren't used to having a woman as an associate, but they didn't treat me differently because of my gender. Congratulations to those generals and others who worked hard and didn't protest when we worked hard to empower women,'' the former Croatian president told a Swedish daily.

Former NATO Secretary General and former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to whom Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was an assistant in NATO until the end of his term back in 2014, commented on the upcoming election of a leading civilian official in the defense alliance:

"I think it would be good to choose a strong secretary general with good connections. What's happening in the world now means that NATO will play an even bigger role in the coming years. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is one of the possible candidates, but there are other rumours. I can't say anything more about it at the moment.''

They described her as a conservative Croat

Two Dagens Nyhetera journalists interviewed Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic back on March the 8th after her lecture was held at the Stockholm Business School, a prestigious economic higher education institution, at which Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson completed her education.

Apart from speculating on whether "a conservative Croat would step up to the position in the footsteps of a social-democratic, peaceful and wealthy Norwegian", and stories about growing up in Yugoslavia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin were particularly interesting given current times.

The former Croatian president immediately emphasised that she had been pointing out Russia's aggression against Ukraine for a long time and had previously warned of the possibility of a global crisis: "Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. I think there was a certain naivety in people's thinking. What Putin wanted was quite clear in his 2000 political manifesto, which mentioned the restoration of Russia's economic power and position in the world. The events in Georgia and Crimea later made it known what would happen.''

However, unlike many international leaders who have described Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and lunatic because of his ongoing invasion of Ukraine; US President Joe Biden wondered if his Russian counterpart even had a soul; Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic chose her words carefully in response, Dagens Nyheter points out.

"He was normal and respectful"

“During my meetings with him, he was normal and respectful. We discussed bilateral issues, but also the regional situation across Southeastern Europe. We talked, among other things, about Agrokor, a company that was majority owned by Russian banks and was threatened with collapse and the creation of a crisis in Croatia. In that, but also in some other regional issues, Putin was constructive and provided a solution.

But there were areas in which we didn't agree, and on a very deep level, and that included, of course, NATO enlargement,'' said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, adding that during numerous meetings with Putin, they'd talk for hours about various topics, including sport.

However, Dagens Nyheter didn't fail to mention that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, while she was the Croatian president, during her visit to Moscow in 2018 during the World Cup, handed Putin a jersey of the Croatian national team with his name on it. The photos show them both smiling with the red and white jersey in between them, writes the Swedish daily, and reports Index.

For more, make sure to check out our politics section.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Croatian Company Infobip Stops Working With Sanctioned Russian Firms

March the 12th, 2022 - The remarkable Vodnjan-based Croatian company Infobip, which has made quite the name for itself not only here in Croatia but across the rest of Europe and indeed the world, has suspended its operations in Russia following that country's unjustified invasion of neighbouring Ukraine a couple of weeks ago.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the well known Croatian company Infobip has offices in both Ukraine and Russia, which are now two countries at war. In Russia, they have offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where they employ about 200 people.

They issued a statement on Wednesday given the escalation of the conflict in which Ukraine continues to suffer horrendous attacks from hostile Russian aggressors.

"We are appalled by the suffering and humanitarian catastrophe taking place in Ukraine and our hearts are with all those affected by these horrific events," they wrote from the Croatian company Infobip.

They noted that they have been closely monitoring the unfolding situation from the very beginning in order to help their people as much as they can and attempt to ensure uninterrupted business.

"We stand by our people"

''During this time of destructive violence and destruction, we are witnessing courage, solidarity and an unsurpassed desire for peaceful solutions. All of our efforts have been focused on the safety of our colleagues in Ukraine, as well as the safety of their families and their friends. We first supported them by assisting in the evacuation and providing accommodation here in the Republic of Croatia or in other parts of the world, thus providing them with financial, physical and emotional security,'' they said in a statement.

"We are always committed to all our colleagues wherever they are in the world. This includes our employees in Russia, whose lives have also been negatively affected by the consequences of recent events,'' they added.

"We'd like to thank all the Bippers (Infobip employees) who offered up their homes as shelters and donated to the Infobip Foundation for Humanitarian Aid in Ukraine. Infobip will triple each donation made by the Foundation's employees to try to help alleviate some of this unimaginable suffering, '' the statement said.

Infobip's business in Russia has now been suspended. 

"We have restricted our business operations in Russia and suspended business with companies under sanctions," they stated from the Croatian company Infobip, adding that they are closely monitoring the situation as we go forward.

"We hope for an end to this war as soon as possible and for the restoration of peace in Ukraine," they concluded from Infobip.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

No European Stability Without Russia, Milanović Says

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - There is no European, Western European or EU stability without Russia and it is necessary to reach an agreement with it, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday, accusing the West of inciting a war that he hopes will not break out.

"I don't even want one Ukrainian to be killed, even one Russian. As for Croats, not a chance," he told the press.

"There is no European stability, no Western European stability or European Union stability without Russia in the equation, and it's necessary to reach an agreement with Russia."

After telling a female journalist that a head of state does not meet with visiting defence ministers, including the British defence secretary who was in Zagreb today, Milanović speculated that she wanted to ask him for a comment on Great Britain's stand on Ukraine.

"Everything he is doing is mostly motivated by his political situation at home," he said about Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In Great Britain, there are more and more calls on Johnson to resign over Downing Street parties during a strict COVID lockdown.

Milanović accused Britain of "mongering" and said that pushing Ukraine towards a confrontation with Russia was "irresponsible."

"Ukraine will not make itself happy if it listens to London. They are pushing them into a very dangerous adventure and President (Volodymyr) Zelensky has realised this. What I have been hearing from Kyiv in the past few days is very sensible and responsible towards one's own state."

Milanović has been criticised after saying recently that Ukraine does not belong in NATO, that it is corrupt and that Croatian soldiers will not be killed there. The Croatian ambassador in Kyiv was summoned for talks after those statements.

Ukraine's friend

Milanović said today that he was Ukraine's friend and that it was very irresponsible to mislead a state. He spoke of difficult problems Ukraine faced as it was not progressing towards EU membership and was stagnating, whilst being held hostage by London and Washington.

He also said that the EU was sending Ukraine confusing messages. "To stand in solidarity with Ukraine and say 'we support you, clash with Russia' is irresponsible, villainous."

Milanović said one should not foment arguments that Russia will attack Ukraine tomorrow. "If it attacks them, one should ask who is responsible for that."

"The Croatian soldier will not move from here," he added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Milanović: "Dumb" Grlić Radman Officially Invited Putin to Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Jan 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman had officially invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Croatia, but not on his behalf.

During a visit to Sisak, Milanović was answering questions from the press concerning accusations from the ruling HDZ party that he had pro-Russian views and that his statements caused harm to Croatia's reputation.

"The dumb foreign minister visited Moscow the other day," Milanović said in reference to Grlić Radman's official visit to Russia on 17 January.

"What was he doing in Moscow? I would expect he went to reproach (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov, but no, he goes there and hands in an official invitation for Putin to visit Croatia."

"Is he the president of the state? Does he speak on my behalf? He does not. (PM Andrej) Plenković is not the head of state and cannot play host to Putin," said Milanović.

"So the very same Russians that you threaten and stigmatise you hypocritically invite to Croatia," Milanović said.

The president denied having been the one to speculate that Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.

"No, it was Jutarnji List (daily) that did it, saying on its front page that NATO is looking for 1,500 soldiers" and asking if Croatia would send them, Milanović said.

"And what is that but alarming the public?"

"I never said that NATO had asked for that, I said preemptively that Croatia would not send its troops."

"Croatia will not send troops to Ukraine, and as for Poland and Lithuania, we'll see in the future," Milanović said, adding that HDZ officials did not know what they were saying, did not listen to what was said, and did not read the newspaper "that is the long arm and prosthetic device of the Plenković government."

Croatia was not liberated by NATO

Milanović went on to say that Hanza Media, the company that publishes Jutarnji List, scared the public by saying that 1,500 Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.

"Someone had to tell the public that that is a lie, so I said it."

Speaking of the situation in eastern Europe and possible deployment of troops along Ukraine's eastern border, Milanović said that Croatia would not promise anything to anyone unconditionally.

"That's not credibility, that's lack of intelligence. We'll see what happens. If the situation escalates, our people will not expose themselves to the risk," Milanović said, adding that ultimately, the decision was up to him.

"Either that or the two-thirds majority in the parliament, and that will never happen because people have a brain in their head and care for this country, unlike the HDZ, which only steals, insults and disgraces," said Milanović.

"Croatia has not been asked anything yet, and should not be," he said, repeating that Croatian troops would not be sent to Ukraine.

"If things get more complicated, the army will not go anywhere. They will be in Kosovo and in Croatia. Croatia paid too high a price and nobody helped it significantly in its struggle. Croatia was not liberated by NATO but by Croatian soldiers."

"Croatia does not owe anyone anything to have to gamble and for (Croatians) to be sheep for slaughter," Milanović said, recommending that his critics go to Ukraine.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatian President Ends Up on Ukrainian Online Blacklist

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Spies, priests, prosecutors and journalists; the innocent and the guilty alike are denounced as pro-Russian collaborators on Ukraine's online blacklist.

"Some of those on the 'Myrotvorets' database may have been involved in acts of propaganda or heinous war crimes in the country's east, but others have done nothing more than offend political or popular sensitivity, or simply use the 'wrong' vernacular'," the London-based The Times reports.

"It matters not: one and all are judged by a hidden panel, accused of 'deliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine' and have their personal data published alongside their supposed crimes for all to see."

"As the threat of Russian invasion mounts, antagonising political schisms and stoking invective within Ukraine, neither rank nor reputation exempts individuals from accusation by Myrotvorets," the Ukrainian nationalist website, says The Times.



The newspaper published its article on the Ukrainian name-and-shame list two days before Croatian President Zoran Milanović ended up on it.

He is accused of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine, of aiding the Russian aggression, disseminating Russian propaganda and supporting and justifying the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Milanović ended up on the list for saying that Croatia will not in any way get involved in the Ukraine crisis in case of its escalation and that it will not deploy its troops there.

He has also said that Ukraine does not belong in NATO and that the European Union triggered a coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić to protest against Milanović's statements, which, conversely, were applauded in Russia.

Milanović's inclusion on the Myrotvorets database blacklist was confirmed also by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev at a regular press conference on Thursday.

The list contains as many as 187,000 names, including not only war criminals and Russian FSB secret service agents but also Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, who three years ago said Russia had more rights to Crimea than Ukraine.

Belarusian writer, Nobel Prize winner and Kremlin critic Svetlana Alexievich has ended up on the list just for mentioning that some ethnic Ukrainians helped Nazis in the persecution of Jews.

The list also includes 500 Ukrainian civil servants, ethnic Hungarians, who have obtained Hungarian passports. The reason - Ukraine prohibits dual citizenship, and Myrotvorets considers such an act of treason.

The database was established in 2014 after a meeting of Ukrainian politician George Tuka and a former member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), known only by his pseudonym Roman Zaitsev, The Times says.

Tuka told The Times that former police officers, former soldiers and some political figures continued to have pro-Russian views and that lack of an official database with their names was the reason why Myrotvorets was created.

Several people were killed after their names and addresses ended up on the database. Tuka claims there is no connection between that and the database but notes that those were enemies of Ukraine and that he does not miss them.

The list also includes data on around 4,500 Western, Ukrainian and Russian reporters who had accreditations of the separatist authorities of Donbas, which was a condition for them to work in the area controlled by pro-Russian forces. Many of them later received threats.

The list is very dangerous and should be removed immediately. The tension is already high and it only adds fuel to the fire, former Human Rights Watch official in Ukraine Yulia Gorbunova said.

The removal of the list has been requested a number of times by the UN, G7 and EU ambassadors and human rights groups, but to no avail.

For more, check out our politics section.

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