Wednesday, 26 January 2022

PM: Croatia Continues to Foster Friendly Ties with Ukraine, Normal Ties with Russia

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that the Croatian government continues fostering friendly relations and partnership with Ukraine and normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's basic position is respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Plenković said in reference to the Ukraine crisis.

Following all our experience, we give priority to diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution, de-escalation, and cooperation with our partners within the European Union and NATO, the PM said.

The four-way Normandy format peace talks are taking place today in Paris. The entire international community, from the USA to NATO and the European Union, and all the leaders, want peace. No one wants conflicts, the premier told a news conference.

Last December, Plenković paid a visit to Ukraine and offered Kyiv Croatia's experience of peaceful reintegration of occupied areas, and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman visited Russia last week.

Plenković said today that his cabinet's policy is to continue fostering friendly relations and partnerships with Ukraine and to develop normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's role is constructive, it wants to share its experience that can prevent further conflicts, lessen the tension and share experience, which from our point of view, should lead to solutions."

On Tuesday, President Zoran Milanović said that Ukraine did not belong in NATO, which prompted Kyiv to summon Croatia's Ambassador Anica Džamić.

Milanović said, among other things, that there would be no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine in the event of Russia's invasion and that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup, that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian authorities said Milanović's statements in 2014 insulted the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who gave their lives for a European future.

Plenković today described Milanović's statement as "surreal in every aspect" and recalled that this was not the first time that Croatian ambassadors were being summoned over Milanović's comments.

Plenković recalled Milanović's statements on Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and his statements on Hungary and Austria.

This seems to be a consistent track record of upgrading good bilateral relations with a number of countries important for Croatia, the PM said ironically.

Plenković told the press that he had talked with the Ukrainian ambassador in Zagreb and that logically, the ambassador was disappointed by Milanović's statement.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Pupils at Saint Petersburg School Can Learn Croatian

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Pupils at School No691 in Saint Petersburg's Nevsky District can learn six foreign languages, including Croatian.

Since last year, the school with more than 1,500 pupils is home to the Croatian Club and wants to be an exclusive place in the city when it comes to Croatia and its language and culture.

Zagreb and Saint Petersburg have been friends since 1968 and their cooperation has covered various areas, including culture and education.

The cooperation gained new momentum in 2015 thanks to the Zagreb Russian Language and Culture Association and the enthusiasm of No691's headmistress Irina Leonidovna Karpicka, a big lover of Croatia.

Her students can learn Croatian three times a week for a month or two throughout the school year. The groups have numbered 15 to 20 students to date and they have been taught by volunteer Russianists and Croatists.

One of them is Mato Špekuljak, a Russian language and literature professor and president of the Russian Language and Culture Association, who has described School No691 as "one of the most beautiful and technically most equipped I have seen in my life."

The school is new and has a big library, a swimming pool, a toy museum, and computerized classrooms.

It has a Croatian library with some 300 books and multimedia content donated to the Croatian Club by the Zagreb Russian Language and Culture Association.

Other Russianists and Croatists from Zagreb have also guested in the school, including Russian language teachers at Zagreb's Trnjanska Primary School, which cooperates with School No691, as well as in Zagreb's Tin Ujević Primary School, which cooperates with School No351 in Saint Petersburg's Moskovsky District.

Besides the language, the students in the two Zagreb schools are also taught about Russia and its culture, and the students in the two Saint Petersburg schools about "Croatia as a friendly Slavic country," Špekuljak said.

The schools sometimes hold video conferences. "In Petersburg, that proved to be especially interesting to Russian students who spent summers in Croatia with their parents and those who are interested in football and admire the Croatian national football team and its successes," he added.

The Croatian-Russian school cooperation has been disrupted by COVID-19, but both sides hope it will resume and expand once the pandemic is over.

Headmistress Karpicka said one of the post-pandemic plans was to bring together the Croats living in Saint Petersburg and their families. Speaking to Hina, she invited all Russianists and Croatists from Croatia interested in volunteering in her school and making guest appearances in the Croatian Club to write at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Russian Language and Culture Association hopes the cooperation will expand between schools in Zagreb's Donji Grad and Trešnjevka districts and Saint Petersburg's Moskovsky and Novsky districts.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Croatia FM: Good Relations with Ukraine Don't Rule Out Good Relations with Russia

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman thanked his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday for Moscow's support when Croatia was gaining independence in the early 1990s and said that Croatia's "good relations with Ukraine do not rule out good relations with Russia."

Grlić Radman was on a return visit to Lavrov and the first EU minister in Moscow this year.

Croatia and Russia will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations on 25 May. Russia recognized Croatia on 17 February 1992, a month after EU member states did.

Speaking at a press conference, Lavrov said Russia saw Croatia as "a respected European partner" with which it has historical and cultural ties.

Grlić Radman spoke of the "brave resistance to the Slobodan Milošević regime's Greater Serbia aggression whereby Croatia succeeded in defending its own territory," thanking Lavrov for the "constructive role, recognition and assistance" in the 1990s.

"In the last 30 years, Croatia managed to achieve great things and Russia was always there when it was necessary, so thank you once again for that", Grlić Radman said.

He added that Russia's president, prime minister, interior, and justice ministers have an open invitation to visit Croatia.

The two ministers talked about intensifying business ties, cooperation in tourism, culture, science, and sports, and the signing of an agreement on a Russian cultural center in Croatia.

Croatia's experience in Ukraine

Grlić Radman said when this visit was being arranged, international circumstances were much more different, but that this provided an opportunity to talk "quite openly" about the current geopolitical situation.

His visit to Moscow coincides with high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Western capitals are concerned about the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, claiming Russia is preparing an invasion, while Moscow seeks legal guarantees from the West that NATO will not spread eastwards.

Grlić Radman told the press he conveyed to Lavrov some messages from an informal meeting of European ministers held in Brest, France last week.

Croatia and Russia believe a solution should be found as part of the Minsk agreements from 2014 and 2015. They envisage the full withdrawal of the army from eastern Ukraine, greater autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk, or restoring full Ukrainian control over the eastern border.

Recently in Kyiv, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who used to chair the European Parliament's delegation for Ukraine, and Croatian diplomats openly supported Ukraine's territorial integrity, offering to share Croatia's experience in the peaceful reintegration of its Danube River Region in the 1990s.

Grlić Radman said that offer was not against Moscow and that "good relations with Ukraine do not rule out good relations with Russia."

He said the peaceful reintegration of Croatia's Danube River Region was one of the most successful operations approved by all UN Security Council member states, including Russia as a significant participant in that process.

"Of course, the Croatian model is not the same as the Ukrainian, but some experiences related to the civilian sector could help," he said, adding that Croatia, "in the bilateral relations with Ukraine, has no intention of doing anything that is not in line with the Minsk agreement."

Lavrov said Croatia and Ukraine had different interpretations of "the transfer of the experience in peaceful integration," with Croatia "thinking about the humanitarian aspects, solving language problems, creating cultural autonomies" and Ukraine wanting to use "the military part of the process that went on."

"Such intentions, which I hope won't occur, are dangerous," he said, adding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said that "Ukrainians who consider themselves Russian can leave for Russia."

"During our talks, we realized that Zagreb understands our rhetoric and remarks" about Kyiv's aspiration to use the military elements of Croatia's experience, Lavrov said, adding that for the Ukrainian issue "there is no plan B, only the Minsk agreement, which must be complied with to the last point."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Croatia Expects 200,000 Russian Tourists this Year

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - Croatia expects a record number of Russian tourists this year, and last year saw a record volume of commodity trade in the past few years, it was said on Monday at the start of an official visit to Russia by Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman. 

Grlić Radman is on a reciprocal visit to Moscow where he will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov after Lavrov visited Zagreb in December 2020.

In the morning, Grlić Radman met with representatives of Croatian companies which are members of the Croatian-Russian Business Club.

"The fact that the visit has begun with this segment clearly shows what Croatian-Russian relations mean for the economy," Croatia's Ambassador to Russia, Tomislav Car, said at the meeting attended by representatives of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Tourist Board, and about a dozen Croatian and Russian companies.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia's exports to Russia had increased by 16.2% in 2020 compared with 2019, amounting to US$201.7 million. Additional growth of about 25% is expected for 2021.

"Our data and statistics regarding the first ten months of 2021 indicate that that will be a year with the greatest commodity trade in the past few years," said Grlić Radman, announcing a Croatian economic forum in several Russian cities this year.

Croatia has a trade deficit with Russia, "which is inevitable with a country rich in energy resources like Russia, not just for us but for almost all the countries in the world," said Grlić Radman.

He expressed his satisfaction that 145,000 Russian tourists had visited Croatia last year and generated 800,000 bed nights.

The director of the Croatian Tourist Board Office in Russia, Rajko Ružička, said that this was because Croatia had opened up to Russian tourists and started issuing visas as early as April "which is something none of the competitors in the European Union did." The key also lies in the fact that Croatia was one of the first to recognize Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, he added.

"This year we expect further growth and I hope that it will be a record year with about 200,000 Russian visitors," said Ružička.

Later in the day, Grlić Radman is scheduled to meet with Lavrov and the Metropolitan Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Hilarion. After that, he is due to attend an informal meeting of the Russian-Croatian Friendship Association.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 13 December 2021

Croatian Vaccination Tourism Continuing for Russian Visitors

December the 13th, 2021 - Croatian vaccination tourism, which might sound quite amusing for many considering the relatively unimpressive vaccination rate of the domicile population, is going well for the nationals of the Russian federation who are arriving on special flights.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, among the countries chosen by the Russians in which to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus is the Republic of Croatia, which fully enabled the vaccination of foreign, non resident nationals since mid-July. The media have already written about Russian citizens in queues at vaccination points, and the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) recently confirmed to Novi list that they are coming in an organised manner. Croatian vaccination tourism is actually very much a thing.

''This topic has been current for more than two months now and the CNTB Office is in constant contact with travel organisers, as well as a number of agencies and individual tourists who are interested in this form of tourism. These are mostly three-day arrangements, ie two nights, and in almost 95 percent of cases people are arriving in Zagreb. In Russia, the most active are the Russian Express and PAKS, which offer fully organised arrangements, but there are also a large number of agencies that organise these special tours to Croatia,'' they stated.

Tourists are offered plane tickets, hotel accommodation, excursions around Zagreb and its surroundings, as well as a tour of the Plitvice lakes, as well as various lunches and dinners in restaurants. Vaccination is usually done immediately on the first day or possibly the day after arrival. As the Russians mostly want to be vaccinated with Pfizer (Comirnaty), the vast majority return to Zagreb after three weeks to receive their second doses. By being vaccinated with an EU approved vaccine, these Russians can then get EU covid certificates.

In addition, at the end of December, Aeroflot will introduce daily direct flights to Zagreb, and Russian travel organisers will offer arrangements related to Advent and the New Year in Croatia, according to the CNTB. From other markets, they say, no increased interest is noticeable.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Foreign Policy Forum Established in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - The Foreign Policy Forum, which will bring together experts, scientists, journalists and young researchers from Croatia and the world interested in international relations, has been established in Zagreb.

The Forum was established on 26 March and officially registered on 4 June. Its founders are academic researchers, former diplomats and officials with executive state powers, including former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusić, journalists and young experts in social sciences.

The Foreign Policy Forum will analyse and examine international relations and foreign policies, and organise constructive public debates, talks and researches.

Since November, its initiators have organised four debates, which drew researchers, international relations experts, journalists, ambassadors and others, on Croatia's foreign policy, the EU foreign policy from Croatia's perspective, EU-China relations, and Europe-Russia relations.

The Forum has announced that former Turkish premier and foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu will give a talk on Turkey's foreign policy and its relationship towards the Western Balkans via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The more information, Forum can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

First 2021 Russian Tourists in Croatia Arrive at Pula Airport

April the 26th, 2021 - The very first 2021 Russian tourists to arrive in Croatia landed successfully at Pula Airport in beautiful Istria on Sunday, providing hope for the upcoming season, over the head of which very many question marks still remain.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Sunday afternoon, a Russian airline "S7 Airlines" passenger aircraft landed at Pula Airport, which had resumed traffic on the line Moscow Domodedovo - Pula - Moscow Domodedovo line.

On that flight to Pula Airport, the very first 2021 Russian tourists to arrive in Croatia - all 159 of them - landed in the country.

"This is our first international flight this year, we started with a Russian airline, we received 159 passengers and given the capacity of the aircraft - the occupancy was exceptional," said the director of Pula Airport, Nina Vojnic Zagar, adding that only fifteen passengers had travelled in the other direction, from Pula to Moscow.

Flights on this line will take place every Sunday until the end of May and will continue depending on the epidemiological situation in both Russia and in Croatia.

"Our expectations from this year are high, but at the moment the situation is such that we don't know if they will continue to be so high after June the 1st," warned Vojnic Zagar. She noted that it is too early to talk about what the tourist season will be like at this moment in time as the coronavirus pandemic rages on globally.

"Honestly, we expect a better season than the one we had last year, but we aren't going to be particularly surprised if this doesn't happen due to the epidemiological situation," added the director of Pula Airport.

She reported that last year, Pula Airport achieved ten percent of traffic compared to the record year of 2019, which is equal to 83 thousand passengers, she also added that she still believes they'll achieve a much better result this year, with expectations of about 300 thousand passengers for 2021.

For more, follow our travel section.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Croatia Resumes Issuing Tourist Visas to Russians

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - The Croatian Embassy to the Russian Federation has received initial applications for tourist visas from Russian citizens and currently there is a good interest on the Russian market in vacationing in Croatia, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) said on Wednesday.

Russian national airline Aeroflot will fly from Moscow to Pula, Dubrovnik and Split every day from the start of June to the end of September, the HTZ said in a statement.

Currently, Aeroflot flies between Moscow and Zagreb once a week and plans to introduce a second weekly flight as of May, while in the summer it will operate on this route three times a week.

S7 Airlines will fly from Moscow to Pula and Dubrovnik from late April to late October, while Nordwind will connect Moscow and Zagreb during the same period.

The head of the HTZ office in Russia, Rajko Ružička, said that there is a growing demand on the Russian market for safe summer destinations, and that Croatia is one of them.

Russians can enter Croatia with a negative PCR or antigen test, a certificate proving that they have recovered from COVID-19 or a certificate showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, Ružička said.

A great interest in Croatian destinations has also been shown at the recent MITT travel show, the HTZ said.  

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

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Pandemic Has Affected Croatia-Russia Economic Relations, Forum Hears

ZAGREB, November 12, 2020 - The COVID pandemic has affected Croatian-Russian economic relations, with trade dropping 21% in the first seven months of the year, and the focus should be on turning the trend around, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Thursday in a press release on a Russian-Croatian banking forum.

In the first seven months of 2020, trade between the two countries totalled US$ 228 million, down 21% on the year. We must focus on turning the trend around and work together on returning to the volume of trade which used to exceed $2 billion, the online forum was told.

Banks must play a key role in that, said Josip Zaher, the HGK vice president for commerce and financial institutions.

Croatian Ambassador to Russia Tomislav Car said relations between the two countries were slowly becoming dynamic.

"Both the interstate and economic elements are looking forward, which is a message of encouragement to all of us. However, behind all that are people with their knowledge and ambitions," he said, adding that the embassy and the HGK's Moscow office were always at entrepreneurs' disposal.

Russian Ambassador to Croatia Andrey Nesterenko said all efforts must be focused on the normalisation of relations, with emphasis on banking.

In these difficult times it is very important to continue with activities and maintain continuity in relations. It is also important to learn from one another, exchange ideas and thus find new opportunities in this crisis, he said, announcing that the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation would meet soon.

The forum's main topic was banking in conditions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zaher said commercial bank assets at the end of June totalled HRK 444.3 billion, up 4.4% from the end of 2019, while bank profits plunged 48% annually.

The forum was organised by the Association of Russian Banks and the HGK, with the support of the Russian and Moscow Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Russian Ambassador Azimov, Moscow, Saint Petersburg Offering Assistance to Zagreb

ZAGREB, March 24, 2020 - The Zagreb crisis management head Pavle Kalinić on Monday announced that the city authorities would set up a special support fund and that many, including Russia's Ambassador to Croatia, Anvar Azimov, the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg offered support to the quake-hit Croatian capital city.

Kalinić told the commercial RTL broadcaster that experts from the Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Faculty of Architecture had been also engaged to help in efforts to assess the extent of damage on buildings in the city.

He recalled that statics experts had inspected 450 damaged buildings during the day and added that a lot of chimneys had been damaged and that falling bricks had caused more damage to pavements and parked cars.

More news about the earthquake can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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