Thursday, 6 June 2019

Bozinović, Avramopoulos Discuss Croatia's Schengen Area Membership

ZAGREB, June 6, 2019 - Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović held talks in Brussels on Thursday with EU Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Croatia's future Schengen Area membership.

Avramopoulos commended the remarkable progress Croatia has achieved in the past 18 months, the Interior Ministry said in a press release.

The two officials agreed common activities for the final verification of the technical conditions for Croatia's entry to the Schengen Area.

The membership is one of Croatia's priorities. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković recently told that his wish is for Croatia to join by 2024. Last year Croatia submitted to the European Commission a document saying it believes it has met all the recommendations in all eight areas.

The director of Bosnia and Herzegovina's border police Zoran Galić on Thursday once again warned that that security agency lacked hundreds of personnel and all efforts to secure the border and control the influx of migrants until now were in vain.

"We are currently lacking four hundred employees," Galić said at a ceremony marking the 19th anniversary of the establishment of the country's border police. He underscored that border police are exhausted because they are continually working extra hours.

The problem of the shortage of workers should be partially resolved when 100 cadets graduate, but filling vacancies still depends on political decisions.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a 1,600 kilometre border with other countries. It shares its longest border, of 1,000 km, with Croatia. There are 83 official border crossings and 55 are categorised as international crossings while the others are for cross-border communities.

Deputy Security Minister Mijo Krešić underlined that illegal migration continues to be the biggest challenge to border police. He added that state policy toward that problem has to change as soon as possible because new challenges will follow, particularly after Croatia joins the Schengen Area.

More Schengen news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Poland Supports Croatia's Bid to Join Schengen Area

ZAGREB, April 18, 2019 - Poland supports Croatia's bid to join the Schengen Area, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said after meeting with Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić during an official visit to Zagreb on Wednesday.

"I hope that next time when I come to Zagreb that visit will be in the Schengen regime," Czaputowicz said.

Economic and defence cooperation, the future of the European Union in light of Brexit, the EU multi-annual budget, cooperation in infrastructure, digitisation and energy with emphasis on the Three Seas Initiative and connecting the Polish and Croatian LNG terminals, were some of the topics discussed by the two foreign ministers.

The two countries share similar opinions on several issues, particularly with regard to security and defence, Minister Pejčinović Burić said. "Energy supply security is the basis of any other security," she said, emphasising that energy diversification is essential in that regard.

The LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk and the terminal in Swinoujscie on the Baltic Sea, which will be connected and which complement the initiative to connect the three seas, the Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas, would contribute to diversification.

"That can be the backbone of the economy" that will spur various forms of economic cooperation, Czaputowicz said.

The two ministers welcomed the economic cooperation between the two countries which currently surpasses 1.1 billion euro. However, "there is much more potential," the Polish minister said. "Polish investors are very interested in investing in Croatia and we are open" to investments by Croatian business people, he added. They are particularly satisfied with the tourism segment in the economic cooperation.

Poles are the fourth most numerous visitors to Croatia, Minister Pejčinović Burić said and her counterpart added that one million Polish tourists had visited Croatia last year.

Croatia will chair the EU in the first half of 2020 during an exceptionally sensitive and important period for the European Union following the European Parliament election and during a time when the European budget will be negotiated, Czaputowicz said.

Croatia is an important partner to Poland with regard to enlargement and "we are pleased that that issue" is among the priorities of the Croatian presidency, he added.

This year Poland is presiding over the Berlin Process, a diplomatic initiative for further EU enlargement. Recently a ministerial meeting was held in Warsaw and this year another meeting will be held in Poznan.

EU enlargement and the Eastern Partnership are not just a matter of security but of economic achievement too, he said.

Earlier this year Croatia and Poland signed an agreement on defence cooperation. Czaputowicz thanked Croatia for the 80 troops participating in NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence in Poland.

At the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of NATO in Washington, the two countries sent a message of the importance of being a member of the alliance, Pejčinović Burić said.

During an era of growing security challenges, we have to invest all our efforts for the trans-Atlantic alliance not only to be maintained but to develop as well, she added.

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

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Croatia Reacts to Slovenian Claim It Is Far from Entering Schengen

ZAGREB, April 7, 2019 - The Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday that the issue of Croatia's membership of the Schengen area was too important not only for the Croatian and European security, but for Slovenian as well, underlining that Croatian and Slovenian police cooperated well at the border.

"You saw the news from Greece, namely what is happening on the so-called Balkan route which is potentially the biggest migrant route in Europe. Croatian and Slovenian police have good cooperation at the border and I am confident that Slovenian citizens appreciate what the Croatian police are doing to protect the EU external borders," Božinović said commenting on the statement by Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec that Croatia is far from Schengen area membership.

Asked if Slovenia can make Croatia's joining the Schengen area conditional on some sort of an agreement concerning the two countries' arbitration issue, Božinović said there two issues were unrelated.

"This is an important security issue for both Croatia and Slovenia. I am talking about the migrant crisis and the EU. All EU member states, notably those still on that route, such as Germany and Austria, highly appreciate what the Croatian police are doing and I am confident that all stakeholders are aware of that."

Slovenian Prime Minister Šarec said on Saturday that Croatia was still far from membership of the Schengen area, without ruling out a possibility for his government to tie Slovenia's support to Croatia's membership to the unresolved border dispute.

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

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

President of Greece Visits Croatia, Voices His Country's Support

ZAGREB, February 5, 2019 - Greece will always be on Croatia's side, as it showed during Croatia's accession to the European Union and to NATO, and it will show its support for Croatia's entry into the Schengen and euro zones too, the President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said on Tuesday after meeting in Zagreb with his Croatian counterpart President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Croatia needs the support of all EU member states for its accession to both zones. Slovenia's officials have hinted that Ljubljana might block Croatia's entry to Schengen due to the unresolved border dispute.

President Grabar-Kitarović said that "Croatia is investing a lot of effort to protect the EU's external borders and, once it joins the Schengen Area, it will do that even more effectively and will significantly contribute to the EU's overall security."

She added that Zagreb appreciates Greece's role in managing the migrant crisis as the first guard of the European borders.

"The Western Balkan route is still closed, but we call for constant caution because of the migrant pressure on that route," she warned and underscored that it was necessary to work on resolving the fundamental causes of migrations.

President Pavlopoulos hopes that 2020 will be important for Croatia's accession to the euro zone, as Croatia will chair the European Union in the first half of the year. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has on several occasions announced that year as the year to introduce the euro in Croatia which is a legal obligation for all EU member states, with the exception of Denmark and Great Britain.

"We are here to help governments in our countries that will decide on that. We advocate that our countries cooperate better at the economic and other levels," Pavlopoulos said. In Greece, the president's role is ceremonial.

Speaking about economic cooperation between the two countries, Grabar-Kitarović underscored that it was fairly modest with regard to trade and investments. "Investments are very low. Croatian investments in Greece are almost non-existent and Greece is, unfortunately, not among the 40 top investors in Croatia," she said.

Croatia's most exported commodity to Greece is sugar, iron and steel products, textile products, fertilisers and medicines, while Greece's exports to Croatia include citrus fruits, textile products and aluminium products.

Grabar-Kitarović sees potential for further cooperation in strengthening ties in tourism, maritime and land transport, establishing direct flights between Croatian and Greek cities, and many other areas.

She recalled that Croatia is a signatory to the memorandum of understanding with Albania and Montenegro for the construction of the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline that will connect to the pipeline currently under construction in Greece.

The two heads of state support the completion of the Adriatic-Ionian transport route which would connect their two seas and Croatian and Greek ports.

Pavlopoulos said Athens and Zagreb, "because of the vision of its fathers", had the duty to support the further unification of Europe and, together with Romania and Bulgaria, build the EU's southeast pillar.

He said all neighbouring countries must join the EU because "the bigger it is, the better for it as well as for the whole world," but first they must meet requirements such as the rule of law and the adoption of the acquis.

He also spoke of North Macedonia, the state which, as of January, has a new name after the Greek and Macedonian parliaments adopted a historic agreement to that effect.

"We Greeks are here to help it on the path to NATO and the EU, but also to convince it that, without respecting the law and eradicating any irredentism, it can't make progress on that path," Pavlopoulos said, adding that the same applied to Albania.

He said the EU must be built on the federal principle and that it was a union of people, but with a global role which other world powers should have too.

"There is no other power in the world that can better push for peace, humanism, democracy and the law. We must defend our peoples as well as all of humanity in this delicate period," he said, referring to European elections in May at which populist parties are expected to rise in popularity.

"Skeletons of the past are being awakened. We must take action to resist those threats. Europe was built on the rubble of World War II and we must fight so that something like that doesn't happen ever again," Pavlopoulos said.

He said his next meeting with Grabar-Kitarović would take place in October.

Grabar-Kitarovic spoke of the historical links between the two countries. "The Aegean and the Adriatic Seas have linked us for millennia and traces of ancient Greek culture are visible in Dalmatia, on several Croatian islands, including in the northern Adriatic, where Lošinj has one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Apoxyomenos sculptures."

She said many Croats of Greek descent had left a strong mark in Croatia, including 19th century dramatist Dimitrije Demeter and 20th century composer Boris Papandopulo.

Pavlopoulos is staying in Croatia two days and will also meet with Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

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

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Slovakia Supports Croatia's Schengen Area Entry

ZAGREB, December 4, 2018 - Slovakia believes it is very important to strengthen the external borders and supports Croatia's Schengen Area entry, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said on Tuesday after meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, voicing confidence that Zagreb would achieve that goal.

The two prime ministers met in Zagreb as part of a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit.

I'm convinced that Croatia already meets all the criteria, both technical and formal, and I believe Croatia will succeed in entering Schengen, Pellegrini told reporters, saying he was glad that Slovakia had contributed to that with its experts.

Plenković said Slovakia's support for "Croatia's ambition to become part of the Schengen Area is very clear and firm." "We also want to meet the criteria for the euro area. Those two close integration formats at European Union level are very important for Croatia."

Pellegrini voiced hope that Croatia would enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERMII).

Slovakia never regretted entering the euro area. That's a very successful story and, because we have the euro as our currency, we mainly do business with euro area countries. That makes doing business a lot easier, he said, adding that one should not be afraid of adopting the euro.

Plenković said Croatia and Slovakia had excellent cooperation in NATO, the EU and other initiatives, and highlighted the economic cooperation. "Our trade has reached 400 million euro and more than 500,000 Slovak tourists have visited the country."

The two prime ministers said they were glad they had managed to agree on the next European budget.

It was also thanks to Prime Minister Plenković that we managed to sign a joint declaration on that plan last week in Bratislava as part of 14 EU countries, said Pellegrini, referring to a Friends of Cohesion meeting.

"Reducing inequalities among EU member states is quite high on our list of priorities, so the cohesion policy and agriculture are a common priority of both Slovakia and Croatia," said Plenković.

He and Pellegrini also talked about the successful cooperation in the economy, notably tourism, defence, industry and energy.

Croatia is our constant partner and will certainly remain so, said Pellegrini, while Plenkovic said the CEI market was "very important for Croatia" as it accounted for 55% of its trade.

They supported the countries wishing to join the EU, with Pellegrini warning that if aspirants were denied firm and clear support, other countries such as China, Russia and Turkey could step in.

For more on relations between Croatia and Slovakia, click here.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Croatia Receives Strong Support for Schengen Area Entry

ZAGREB, September 7, 2018 - Croatia has once again received strong support for its bid to join the Schengen area, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said after discussing Croatia's progress in meeting accession criteria with European Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in Brussels on Thursday.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Finland Supports Croatia’s Schengen and Erurozone Plans

ZAGREB, September 4, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini in Zagreb on Monday, expressing hope that a decision on Croatia's accession to the Schengen area would be made by the start of 2020, a government statement said.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Croatia to Join Schengen and Eurozone in Next Five Years

ZAGREB, July 2, 2018 - The next five years of Croatia's EU membership will be marked by two goals, joining the Schengen and euro areas, while the Pelješac bridge will symbolise the first five years, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday at a conference on the first five years of Croatia's EU membership. "We have set ourselves two goals on the European journey. Schengen first, the euro area second. They will mark the next five years of membership," he said.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Germany Supports Croatia’s Efforts to Join Schengen Area

ZAGREB, June 15, 2018 - German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Friday received his visiting Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović in Berlin and on that occasion expressed his strong support to Croatia's admission to the Schengen Area.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

EU: Croatia to Enter Schengen As Soon As It Meets Technical Standards

ZAGREB, June 9, 2018 – The international conference "Schengen - Achievements and Expectations" was held in Dubrovnik on Friday in preparation for Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area.

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