Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Karlovac Factory to Overhaul Generator of Smolensk Nuclear Power Plant

ZAGREB, August 20, 2019 - The Karlovac-based Adriadiesel factory is going to overhaul an 84-tonne diesel generator from the Russian nuclear power plant in Smolensk, after it was transported from Russia to Croatia by an Antonov 124, a four-engine cargo jet, the HRT public broadcaster reported on Monday evening when the plane landed at Franjo Tuđman Airport.

The diesel generator was manufactured 42 years ago in that Karlovac factory when it had operated under the name Jugoturbina. The purpose of that generator is to provide the NPP with electricity in cases of accidents and power failures inside the plant.

Adriadiesel produces diesel engines and other power plant equipment, as well as spare parts for ADRIA 40 and MAN Diesel SE fourstroke diesel engines and it also provides maintenance and servicing of diesel engines, compressors, pumps and other power plant equipment, the factory says on its website.

A senior executive of the factory was quoted as saying that the job of the overhaul of the Smolensk nuclear plant's engine is evidence of robust revival of the metal industry in Karlovac County.

The job of the overhaul, which will engage local sub-contractors, is due to be completed until the end of this year.

Currently, some 50 generators produced in Croatia are used in nuclear plants in eastern European countries and their function is to provide those plants with electricity in the event of accidents and power failures.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Ambassador: Russian Banks Have Played a Constructive Role in Fortenova Group

ZAGREB, July 1, 2019 - Russia's Ambassador to Croatia, Anvar Azimov, said on Monday that the situation at the Fortenova Group, previously called Agrokor, was stable and that Russian banks Sberbank and VTB had played a constructive role in ensuring the present stability.

Azimov was speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Zagreb-Moscow economic forum at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

Asked if the Russian interests in the Fortenova Group were well protected and if the Russian side was satisfied with the new company's leadership, he said that the situation was good and that both sides were pleased.

"The new company is stable. We are hoping for a good profit," Azimov said.

Asked if Sberbank, the main creditor of the former Agrokor food and retail conglomerate and now the single largest shareholder in the new company, would remain in Fortenova, the ambassador said he did not know how long it would stay, adding that he does know that it is present and involved.

Azimov said that "the problem has been solved" and that Sberbank and VTB had played a constructive role in it.

More news about Fortenova Group, the former Agrokor group can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Ambassador Calls for Lifting of Sanctions against Russia

ZAGREB, May 24, 2019 - Russia is not a threat to the European Union and the most important task of Russia's foreign policy is to renew relations with the EU and the United States, Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said in Zagreb on Thursday, calling for lifting of sanctions against Russia and strengthening of Russia-Croatia relations.

In response to the annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of the neighbouring Ukraine, the EU imposed restrictive measures against the Russian Federation in March 2014. "Sanctions imposed against Russia are non-productive and the European Union is losing the most as a result," Azimov said during a talk he gave on Russia's foreign policy and Russia-Croatia relations. The event was organised by the Croatian Diplomatic Club.

Azimov reminded that Europe still depended on Russian gas, including Croatia which last year imported over two billion cubic metres of gas from Russia.

Azimov also said Russia was a close partner of the EU, adding that efforts were being made to lift sanctions and open dialogue with the bloc regarding a visa-free regime. The ambassador is confident that a visa-free regime would lead to a higher number of Russian tourists in Croatia. "Russia is not a threat to the European Union, but there is a lack of political will to advance relations," Azimov said.

Commenting on Croatia-Russia relations, Azimov said they should be even better. The two countries' trade amounts to approximately two billion euros and Azimov is confident the trade should be at least three billion euros.

He also said there was no alternative to the drawing closer of the European Union and Russia, adding that this "is a natural and logical process."

Also present during Azimov speech was Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić who said that as a sign of friendship with Russia, Zagreb would organise Moscow Day in June and Saint Petersburg Day in September.

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

Friday, 17 May 2019

Russian Art Collection in Zagreb: Putin to Seek Paintings Worth Millions?

Russian diplomats in Zagreb are preparing for the first official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Croatia, which could be organised next year. Putin and Croatian officials would undoubtedly have a number of important topics to discuss: gasification, Agrokor, Russian investments in Croatian companies, hotels, trade exchange, Ukrainian issue etc. But, according to the latest edition of the Express magazine, the question of paintings by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich (born as Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh) could also be in focus, reports 24sata.hr on May 17, 2019.

The issue includes the possible return of ten of his valuable paintings that have been held by the Modern Gallery in Zagreb for more than 85 years. Russian Ambassador Azimov has opened the issue of giving these paintings to Russia, the country which Roerich left in 1917 and never came back. Although the paintings are well taken care of by the Modern Gallery, Ambassador Azimov said Russia would ask for them because there “would be more interest for them there.”

Before the return of the works, it is necessary to determine the ownership, which is why the Russian Embassy has opened talks with the Croatian Ministry of Culture. “We have held talks with representatives of the ministry and the museum. They are ready to discuss this issue constructively, but it also raises the question of whether there are any documents that the Russian side can present to prove its ownership of the paintings. We believe that the extensive correspondence between Roerich, his assistants and the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences from the early 1930s exists in the archives in Belgrade,” Azimov told the Russian news agency TASS.

The Culture Ministry also issued a statement. “The handover of paintings between the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts and the founder of the Modern Gallery, the Croatian Art Society “Strossmayer”, took place in 1934, and there is an official record. The paintings are protected cultural heritage which has been registered in the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia. According to the Law on Protection and Conservation of Cultural Goods, their permanent, unlimited removal from Croatia is not allowed,” said the ministry.

Igor Zidić, a renowned art historian and the director of the Modern Gallery from the late 1980s to 2008, agrees with the ministry. “Somebody is obviously questioning the ownership. If the paintings are registered in inventory books, then there can be no doubt. No institution in the country would decide to hand over the paintings. That is how it used to be 45 years ago. For example, Nikita Khrushchev came to Split and received one of Vidović’s oil paintings that was supposed to go to Vidović’s museum. This is no longer permissible,” said Zidić.

Roerich created more than 7,000 works during his career. His works reach a price of several hundred thousand dollars at auctions, while the famous painting “Madonna Laboris” was sold several years ago for nearly 70 million. The value of the collection at the Modern Gallery is estimated at millions of euros.

Translated from 24sata.hr (reported by Antonija Vrčić/Express).

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

Friday, 29 March 2019

Croatia Emphasises Importance of Relations with Russia

ZAGREB, March 29, 2019 - Croatia attaches importance to its relations with Russia, especially as a trading partner, and Russia's role in Southeastern Europe cannot be ignored, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Friday.

"Russia is an important trading partner to us, that is what many of our companies say, and its role in our neighbourhood in Southeastern Europe cannot be ignored, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the president said at a press conference devoted to her foreign-policy activities.

She said it was important that Russia supported the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as President Vladimir Putin had confirmed several times.

During a discussion after the presentation of the latest report on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UN Security Council, Russia, along with the United States, was the only country to mention the Dayton peace accords and the need to honour them, and was the only country to speak about the equal rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Grabar-Kitarović said. "This, of course, is the result of our dialogue and we want to continue this dialogue with Russia, on regional issues, the issues of stability, peace and the future," she added.

The Croatian president said that Putin's visit to Croatia had been agreed and that she wanted it to be a well-prepared, meaningful visit. "There have been plans for the visit to take place before the end of June, but since we are in an election year, I'm afraid that President Putin's visit would be put too much in the context of the elections. I want to avoid that, so we are proposing the next year regardless of who the head of state may be," Grabar-Kitarović said.

She said she was pursuing a two-track policy in relations with Russia: absolute respect for international law when it comes to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of states, and dialogue with Russia.

The president stressed that between Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and her there were no disputes over the conduct of foreign policy. "There are no disputes between the prime minister and me. There may be different interests. He is perhaps more focused on the EU and European issues, and I on the Transatlantic area and other continents," she said.

Asked what she thought of Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić becoming Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the president said that it would be "great for Croatia to have the leader of the Council of Europe."

Speaking about relations with Serbia and President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Croatia slightly more than a year ago, Grabar-Kitarović said that "it takes two to succeed." She said that any dialogue, regardless of its results, was good and that it was necessary to talk.

She said it was Croatia's success that the EU enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans included a requirement that all membership candidates should settle any open issues with their neighbours before joining the bloc. "We don't want to blackmail anyone, but realistically speaking, we have to take advantage of the rights that we have, which will ultimately benefit citizens on both sides," the president said.

As for the issue of missing persons from the 1991-1995 war, Grabar-Kitarović said she was disappointed by the lack of progress. "I see it as my own promise to mothers, parents, sisters and others. I won't say that I'm frustrated, but I am really disappointed that so far we have failed to take concrete steps in resolving and closing this issue," she said.

Grabar-Kitarović once again appealed to all those involved to make maximum effort so that families who have suffered so much can finally learn what happened to their loved ones and that give them a decent burial.

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

Monday, 25 February 2019

Croatia-Russia Economic Relations Strengthening

ZAGREB, February 25, 2019 - There is a lot of potential to strengthen Croatia-Russia economic relations, particularly in the energy, tourism, pharmaceutical, construction and agriculture sectors, it was said on Monday at a meeting of the Business Council for Cooperation with the Russian Federation and a seminar on how to successfully do business on the Russian market, held at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

HGK president Luka Burilović underscored that due to sanctions between the EU and Russia, there were certain restrictions and obstacles to economic cooperation between the two countries and that it was necessary to focus on the sectors that were not covered by those sanctions. "Business has to be a bridge and channel of dialogue between countries, particularly in times of political tension," he said.

He said possible areas of cooperation were energy and tourism as well as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, construction, infrastructure projects, wood and manufacturing industry, agriculture and food industries, textile industry and the like.

Burilović added that figures show that relations between the two countries have stabilised and that foreign trade is slowly growing. Burilović said that in 2012 trade between the two countries totalled more than 2 billion US dollars, however, due to the sanctions it has decreased. Now, its recovery is noticeable and the aim is to get back to the level of 2 billion US dollars as soon as possible and reach 3 billion.

Russia's Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov underscored that economic relations always had the role of an engine and that that was why they had to improve.

We have to learn to develop economic relations regardless of the sanctions, Azimov said, adding that Russia's economy had suffered 50 billion euro in losses because of the sanctions and that the EU had lost up to 200 billion euro.

We want those relations to grow while Americans want them to decrease so that they can achieve more, he said and added that relations between Russia and Croatia had to be better given the great potential for cooperation.

He said that last year Croatia imported more than 2.5 billion cubic metres of Russian gas and added that gas deliveries would continue regardless of plans to build an LNG terminal on the island of Krk, which he sees as healthy competition.

Azimov said that Russians were prepared to invest in Croatia but were not always successful because it was not wanted by some strategic partners in Croatia, who, he said, believed that increasing Russia's share in the energy sector was undesirable.

Croatia-Russia trade in the first eleven months of 2018 amounted to 600.6 million dollars, up 16.6% from the same period in 2017.

Croatian National Bank (HNB) data shows that in the period from 1993 to the end of 2017, Russia invested 416.9 million euro in Croatia, which makes it the 14th biggest foreign investor in Croatia. In the same period, Croatia's investments in Russia amounted to 98.1 million euro.

Asked about the LNG terminal on Krk and if it could affect Croatia's relations with Russia, Burilović said that Croatia had to have a backup solution that was competitive in price and ecologically acceptable.

"I see the construction of the LNG terminal primarily as an alternative to the only existing supply route and the market will show where we will supply gas from. Our primary concern are Croatia's interests and the interests of consumers," Burilović said.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Russia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Sberbank Focused on Further Stabilisation of Agrokor

ZAGREB, February 25, 2019 - Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said on Monday the sale of Russian banks' stakes in Croatia's Agrokor was a corporate issue and that he was certain that in the period ahead Sberbank's main accent would be on further stabilising and improving the situation in the food and retail conglomerate.

Responding to questions from the press about the possible sale of Russian state banks' interest in Agrokor, Azimov underlined the positive role of Sberbank and VTB. After the implementation of a settlement for Agrokor, Sberbank will hold 39.2% and VTB 7.5%.

Azimov said their main goal had been to salvage Agrokor, stabilise and restructure it.

All those objectives have been met. The situation in the company is much better now, it's profitable, and Sberbank's job is to make the company even more profitable in the interest of Croatia and its stability, he added.

As for the possible sale of Agrokor shares, Azimov said it was a corporate issue between Sberbank and Agrokor. We in the embassy don't interfere in these things, but I'm absolutely sure that in the months ahead Sberbank's main accent will be on further stabilising and improving the situation in Agrokor, he added.

Asked if Croatia's future LNG terminal would affect its energy cooperation with Russia, Azimov said it would not as Croatia would always need Russian gas.

If Croatia is interested in building an LNG terminal, we can welcome that. Even if it builds the terminal, Croatia will always need Russian gas. Last year we exported more than 200 billion cubic metres of gas to European Union countries and the demand for gas is rising, while at the same time production in EU countries and Croatia is falling, Azimov said.

He said all they wanted was fair competition. I know that the LNG terminal can't compete with Russian gas, which is cheaper, more reliable and better, he added.

More news about Agrokor can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Croatian Reintegration Model Applicable to Ukraine and Georgia, Says Plenković

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković reiterated on Saturday that Croatia's experience with the peaceful reintegration of its Danube region in 1998 could benefit Ukraine and Georgia which have lost parts of their territories in wars with Russia.

Similar statements in the past have provoked sharply-worded responses from Moscow which believes that "parallel domestic structures" encourage Kiev's "war campaign" rather than call for the restoration of dialogue with Moscow through the Minsk process.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Plenković said that the experience of Ukraine and Georgia was comparable to that of Croatia, parts of whose territory were occupied by Serb insurgents backed by the Yugoslavia from 1990 to 1998.

"We had two solutions: a military solution and a diplomatic solution. The solution that relied on pressure and diplomacy resulted in the reintegration of our territory," Plenković said.

He said that this model could be applied to Ukraine and George, adding that the two countries would have fared better had they been members of the EU and NATO.

"Ukraine and Georgia are neither members of the EU nor of NATO and this complicates the situation. Had they been members, the situation would have been much different," said Plenković, who had formerly served as chief of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian ministry for temporarily occupied territories and displaced persons said recently it was studying the Croatian model for the reintegration of its eastern Donbass region, controlled by Moscow-backed pro-Russian rebels since 2014.

Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, has been left without its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and East Ossetia which depend on Moscow militarily and economically.

Croatia regained sovereignty over its Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem region in January 1998 after a UN transitional authority was established there in 1996.

More news on relations between Croatia and Russia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Lighting of Evolution Tower in Moscow Designed by Croatian Company

The Transneft global corporation has organised the opening ceremony of their new corporate headquarters in Moscow, one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in the world, the Evolution Tower, whose lighting design has been created by Skira. The award-winning Croatian designer Dean Skira and his team worked on the prestigious project of the new Moscow skyscraper for the last four years and have achieved outstanding results in the field of deployment of the latest lighting technology, reports Jutarnji List on February 2, 2019.

"I would like to point out that Transneft is the largest oil company in the world and I am personally convinced that our skyscraper will contribute to the reputation of the company. The Moscow Kremlin and the basilica symbolise the Russian past, while our building will become a symbol of Moscow's future,” said CEO Nikolay Petrovich Tokarev.

020219-Evolution Tower3.jpg

Skirin's task was to implement a complete interior and exterior lighting design with a centralised light management system. The project contains lighting solutions designed for the interior and exterior of skyscrapers in accordance with European and Russian standards, regulations and special requirements of the client.

“The Evolution Tower is an example of a project in which the investor's trust has resulted in an exceptionally successful and energy-efficient building. According to our knowledge, the Evolution Tower is the largest office building in Russia that is fully illuminated by the LED technology. The skyscraper is highlighted during the night because the light reflects the beauty of its architecture and at the same time allows a pleasant stay for its users,” explained Skira.

The unique spiral shape and extreme climate conditions (from -40 to +40 degrees) have demanded creativity in finding the best facade lighting solution. The specially designed products by iGuzzini have been mounted from the inside of the windows next to the glass surface so that the light does not enter the interior. The RGBW technology allows for endless programming of separate 3,500 mounted pixels. Horizontal white lines are illuminated with fixed white spotlights positioned around the skyscraper. Their purpose is to emphasise and highlight the architectural rhythm of the architectural lines. Each space is individually designed to achieve uniformity of lighting throughout the building. The glass facade tilt is different on each side of the skyscraper.

The Evolution Tower is a 55-floor skyscraper, with a height of 255 metres and the total area of 169,000 square metres. It is recognisable by its DNA form, and it was designed by Toni Kettle, in collaboration with Karen Forbes. The construction of the skyscraper started in 2011 and ended in late 2014. In 2016, the Evolution Tower was named as the second-best skyscraper in the world at the Emporis Skyscraper Awards. It was named the best Moscow office building in 2015 and won the first prize at the 2015 Glass in Architecture Awards and many other recognitions.

More news on the Croatian design can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Barbara Ban).

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Russia Has Nothing against Croatian LNG Terminal Construction

ZAGREB, January 31, 2019 - Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said on Wednesday that Russia had nothing against building the Croatian LNG terminal, adding however that his country was prepared to deliver cheap Russian gas to Croatia as much as necessary.

Asked to comment on the energy situation in Croatia, given that the government approved the purchase of the water-based LNG terminal, Azimov said Russia was interested in seeing Croatia always be a safe country energy wise.

Azimov said that on the energy diversification front, the source of the gas supply was always important, that this moment Russian gas was still the cheapest and that Russia last year released two billion cubic metres of gas to Croatia. He said Croatia would always be interested in buying cheap Russian gas.

The Russian ambassador said that last year EU member states imported over 200 billion cubic metres of gas and that Russia has proved itself as a safe partner.

Azimov said that if the floating LNG terminal was to be built, Russia would be happy if it would benefit Croatia. He, however, said he was confident that Croatia and the entire Europe would be interested in cheap Russian gas. Russia is prepared to supply Croatia with gas as much as necessary, he said.

The Russian Ambassador was in Rijeka where he attended the annual meeting of the Croatian-Russian Friendship Society session and spoke about challenges in 2019.

He said that the latest developments in relations between the United States and Russia and Russia and the EU were not good.

The ambassador said sanctions were unfounded and that apart from Russia they also affected the EU and Croatia.

He said Russia was prepared to defend its partners and friends and that it wold not agree to a model on which the United States insisted, stressing that not a single country could control the others.

Azimov said that following Croatia's entry into NATO and the EU, relations between Croatia and Russia had deteriorated, but that Russia was confident that Croatia had made the right choice which suited its interests, namely that Russia respected the fact that Croatia had joined NATO and the EU because that was a reality.

He said it was difficult for him to hear the Croatian government say that its strategic partner was the United States and that there was no mention of Russia. Azimov underlined that Russia was prepared to invest in Croatia and issue loans to it, but that strategic partners were against it.

He underscored that Croatia-Russia relations were now growing, that Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović made a huge contribution to that, as did Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić.

More news on the relations between Russia and Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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