Thursday, 13 May 2021

Zagreb-Belgrade Flixbus Line to be Reintroduced After Year Long Absence

May the 13th, 2021 - Following an entire year of coronavirus pandemic induced absence, the Zagreb-Belgrade Flixbus line will be reintroduced, facilitating cheap road travel between the two capital cities.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, thanks to the increasingly favourable epidemiological situation and the growing vaccination rate here in Croatia, as well as in neighbouring Serbia and various other European countries, the need for movement is finally increasing again.

Consequently, the Zagreb-Belgrade FlixBus line will re-establish international bus lines to Serbia up to four times a week as of this month, more precisely as of May the 20th, thus connecting the Croatian and Serbian capitals regularly and cheaply once again.

"We intended to start opening the network of lines to Serbia earlier than this, as we did with other European countries where epidemiological conditions allowed for that earlier. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible before now, but the demand of passengers for travel, which is visibly growing as the epidemiological situation gradually improves, prompted us to start with the Zagreb-Belgrade Flixbus line again anyway,'' explained Ante Grbesa, the director of the FlixBus CEE South region.

Given the optimistic expectations surrounding the improving epidemiological situation more or less all across Europe, FlixBus will launch all of the international lines in May and June on which it operated back in pre-pandemic 2019.

This season, Flixbus will once again connect Croatia with fifty destinations in eight countries, which are also key emitting markets for Croatia. These include Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, and neighbouring Hungary and Serbia.

''The epidemiological measures are easing across many European countries and together with our bus partners, we're looking forward to returning on an ever-increasing scale. We hope that the situation will allow us to do that, and that the planned opening of most of the network of lines from the record year of 2019 will be completely fulfilled again,'' concluded Grbesa.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Croatian President Zoran Milanović: "Serbia's Attempt to Equate Draža Mihailović With Tito Pathetic"

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that attempts to equate Serbian Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović with the anti-Fascist leader Josip Broz Tito  were pathetic.

During World War II Draza Mihailovic led the Chetnik movement whose members were Nazi collaborators and were held responsible for mass-scale war atrocities against non-Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and some other parts of the then Yugoslavia.

On Victory Day observed on 9 May, during a ceremony held in the National Theatre in Belgrade, two big pictures of Mihailović and Tito were displayed one by another on a video-wall, according to local media outlets. In attendance at that ceremony were Serbia's top officials including President Aleksandar Vučić.

This prompted the Croatian president to say today that Mihailović and Josip Broz Tito, who led the Partisan forces in that war, could not be equated.

"Mihailović was a mere fool. He was not the same as Ante Pavelić (the Fascist leader in Croatia during the Second World War), he was an opportunist and eventually war criminal," Milanović told the press in Zagreb.

As for Mihailović being posthumously decorated by U.S. President Harry Truman, Milanović said that the decoration had been awarded for the operation of rescuing 300 downed Allied airmen. "This is as if you were robbing a bank and then buying to someone a meat pie, pretending to have a big heart," said Milanović.

He went on to say that Chetniks were known for, atrocities, opportunism and cowardice and that they had faced the strongest resistance from Serbs, Montenegrins and Dalmatian Croatians.

He also accused Serbia's authorities of indoctrinating children and young people.

"Unfortunately, everything is delusion there in our neighbours," said Milanović, elaborating that a majority of the Croatians stayed at home during World War Two. "Being Home Guardsman (Domobran) is not at all a crime. It is o.k.," he said adding that a lot of fighters from the Croatian nation joined the Partisan troops, and only a small portion fought for the Axis powers and the (Pavelić-led) Ustasha movement.

For more about history 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, 27 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Says Ambassador Hidajet Biščević Enjoys Government's Support

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday that Croatian Ambassador Hidajet Biščević enjoyed the support from the Croatian government, in his comment to the ethnic Croat leader's accusations against the diplomat.

Addressing a news conference in Petrinja, Minister Grlić Radman said that the experienced Croatian diplomat Biščević enjoyed the support of the government in Zagreb.

He says that exclusively Croatian institutions are in charge of assessing the performance of Croatian diplomats.

The minister said that the status of the Croatian community in Serbia is one of Biščević's priorities.

"Media speculations and such statements in media about Croatia's diplomats are not the best way of communication. Croatia's diplomacy does not deserve that and furthermore this could also be an indirect attempt from outside to impact the political relations in Croatia," said the minister who will travel to Subotica on Wednesday.

He also said that it was also inappropriate to disseminate reports against Biščević after the recent incident in which the Croatian flag was removed from the residence of the Croatian ambassador in Belgrade.

Following media reports about the criticism targeted against Biščević, President Zoran Milanović said that he would recall the ambassador for consultations to establish the truth.

Minister Grlić Radman also rejected Milanović's claims that it was him who appointed Grlić Radman to an ambassadorial post.

Grlić Radman said that he had been employed for diplomatic tasks for the first time in 1991 by the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and since then he has been an official in the foreign ministry.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović to Recall Ambassador to Serbia Over His Alleged Disregard For Ethnic Croats

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Croatia's President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he would recall Croatian Ambassador to Belgrade, Hidajet Biščević, after the ethnic Croat leader Tomislav Žigmanov criticised the diplomat for working against the Croats in Serbia.

In the meantime media outlets have reported that Ambassador Biščević did not react to the developments in which ethnic Croats received death threats, and that he also failed to even telephone those members who received threats to express sympathy with them.

Žigmanov, who is the leader of the Democratic party of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), recently claimed that the Croatian ambassador had made a "tepid reaction" to attempts by Serbian authorities in Subotica to introduce the Bunjevci vernacular as an official language in that northern city and that the ambassador communicated with people whom Žigmanov described as persons "who are actively working on the destabilisation and dissolution of the (ethnic Croat) community."

All that prompted President Milanović to say today that he did not know whose policy Biščević "is pursuing there."

I cannot know whether all those headlines are true and I will summon him back to Zagreb for consultations, Milanović said in his address to the press at the Gašinci military range in eastern Croatia.

The Večernji List daily has reported that on 30 March, Žigmanov sent a letter to Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman to inform him that Biščević was working against the interests of the ethnic Croat community in Serbia.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Slams Removal of Croatian Flag From Ambassador's Residence in Belgrade

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday condemned the removal of the Croatian flag from the ambassador's official residence in Belgrade, saying that such incidents fomented an atmosphere of hate, hostility and intolerance.

"Such incidents are certainly not conducive to understanding (...) We hope and wish for the relations between Croatia and Serbia to be good because it makes sense that we should have stable relations," he told the press.

Croatian Ambassador Hido Biščević told N1 television on Thursday it was no accident that the Croatian flag was taken down from his residence and that the incident reflected "part of the atmosphere" in Serbian society, which he said continued to feed on hate speech.

Unknown persons removed the flag from the building which has video surveillance but no guards most likely on Wednesday morning, he said.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry said this was an "injudicious and isolated act," hoping that it "won't cast a shadow on efforts to set Serbia-Croatia relations on new foundations so that in future they can develop in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation."

Grlić Radman said that because of such incidents "we can't say the relations have good prospects, we can't talk about a good future, but we must believe in a good future."

He announced that he will go to Subotica on 28 April for the laying of the cornerstone of a new Croatia House. His talks with local officials will also address an initiative, opposed by Croatian linguists, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that town in northern Serbia.

The minister reiterated that the initiative was contrary to the Croatia-Serbia agreement on the protection of national minorities.

He said that on 27 April the prime minister of the Vojvodina province, Igor Mirović, would visit Petrinja, struck by a devastating earthquake last December.

Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia"

The minister went on to say that Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia." Before Serbia joins, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the war missing, universal jurisdiction, and reparations for POWs, he said.

Serb representatives have three guaranteed seats in the Croatian parliament and Croatia wants Croats in Serbia to be represented as well, he added.

Serbia "must actively and strongly deal" with reforms, the fight against corruption, and the rule of law, he said.

Serbia was granted EU candidate status in March 2012 and began accession negotiations in January 2014.

Ambassadorial appointments

Although Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović have not yet agreed on the appointment of new ambassadors and consuls, Grlić Radman said he did not think the process was blocked and that there was "only one Croatian diplomacy."

He dismissed the possibility of a quota or a 50:50 model (between the president's and government's proposals). He said "agreement must be reached" and that one could talk about the list of candidates the government had sent the president, but that the government was not in favour of quotas.

He said the candidates were "professional diplomats who have proved themselves on the job."

Milanović, on the other hand, wants it to be known who is behind which ambassador for responsibility's sake, saying that this has been the practice before.

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

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Zvonko Milas: "Serbian Croats Receiving More and More Threats"

ZAGREB, 25 March, 2021 - The head of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad on Thursday told the parliament that after the "shameful" decision of the Subotica city's authorities to give a status of an official language to the Bunjevci vernacular, local Croats in Serbia had been receiving more and more threats.

In the wake of the discussions about that wrong and shameful decision by the Subotica City Council, which were also soon followed by the propaganda film "Dara iz Jasenovca",  more and more threats were made against ethnic Croats, notably ethnic Croat leaders in Serbia, Zvonko Milas told the Sabor, while presenting the 2019 report on the implementation of the strategy pertaining to Croat communities outside Croatia.

He also warned that the Subotica decision on the Bunjevci vernacular was against the Croatia-Serbia bilateral agreement on the respective ethnic minorities and that it also led to the further fragmentation of the ethnic Croat community in Vojvodina and Serbia.

Milas said that Croatia would do its utmost to make sure that Slovenia can grant a status of ethnic minority to local Croats.

The community has more than 50,000 members, Milas said adding that Slovenia does not recognise any ethnic rights of those Croats.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Arena Hospitality Group Purchases Hotel in Wider Centre of Belgrade

December the 31st, 2020 - the Croatian tourist company which is known for its numerous business ventures at home and abroad, the Arena Hospitality Group, has purchased yet another hotel in a foreign country, this time in the Serbian capital.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the large Croatian company, the Arena Hospitality Group announced recently that through its local branch located over in Serbia, it concluded the takeover of the 88 Rooms hotel in the wider centre of the Serbian capital of Belgrade. The value of the transaction stands at an enormous 45 million kuna in total.

The modern hotel is located a mere few minutes away from Belgrade's historic city centre, as its name suggests, it offers 88 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar and conference room, as well as a well-equipped gym.

The acquisition of 88 Rooms is another milestone in the Arena Hospitality Group's strategy to expand its operations across the Central and Eastern European region. This acquisition also further enables the Arena Hospitality Group to increase the volume of the business it engages in in cities across Europe with the aim of increasing its presence in the higher category market segment in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, while striving to create added value for shareholders, Seebiz reports.

The Arena Hospitality Group's projects, in both the short and medium term, include repositioning the Brioni Hotel in the beautiful Istrian city of Pula into a luxury hotel boasting 227 rooms, with the ambition for it to become the best hotel in that category in all of Pula and its surroundings, the repositioning of Camp Stoja in Pula into a higher category camp, the conversion of a building location in the heart of Zagreb into a hotel with 113 rooms, which will include a famous restaurant and bar, wellness and spa facilities, a fitness centre, a meeting space and more, and the renovation of the Riviera Hotel in the very heart of Pula.

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Friday, 11 September 2020

Milanovic's Policy of Reconciliation Praised by German President

ZAGREB, Sept 11, 2020 - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier supports the policy of reconciliation in Croatia pursued by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, it was said after their meeting in Berlin on Friday. 

In his first months as head of state, President Milanovic took important steps in the process of reconciliation with the Serbs and the Serb minority in Croatia, and we are grateful to him for that, Steinmeier said.

The German president said he supported his Croatian counterpart on this brave path. This path launched by Croatia will hopefully be an inspiration for others to build bridges, he added.

The Croatian president began his two-day official visit on Thursday by meeting with representatives of Croatian associations in Germany.

Milanovic thanked his host for inviting him and for supporting him on the path of reconciliation in the region. 

I have been pursuing the policy of reconciliation for twenty years and I believe for the first time that we have interlocutors for such policy in Croatia, Milanovic said, adding that he would continue this policy in the future.

Successful Croatian presidency of the EU

The two presidents also discussed the strengthening and functioning of the European Union in the present circumstances of the coronavirus crisis.

With the aid package adopted in June, the EU demonstrated solidarity that is not even remotely possible elsewhere in the world, Steinmeier said.

He praised Croatia for a job well done during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of the year.

Strengthening the EU is the most important task and Croatia managed to do that with its presidency under very difficult circumstances. Now it is up to us to continue this work until the end of this year, the German president said.

One of the topics discussed was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and the Croatian president expressed hope that the epidemiological situation in Croatia after the summer tourist season would calm down.

I hope the Croatian counties included on the German red list will disappear from that list, Milanovic said.

Excellent bilateral relations

Both presidents said that relations between Germany and Croatia were excellent.

Germany's policy towards Croatia has always been predictable in a positive sense, meaning reliable, Milanovic said.

The two presidents also highlighted efforts in providing humanitarian aid to migrants who have been left without a roof over their heads following a fire in the Moria refugee camp in Greece.

I have heard that the Croatian government has decided to take in a certain number of displaced persons, which I consider a nice and humane gesture and I support it, Milanovic said.

Steinmeier denied claims that the EU's common policy on migrants had collapsed.

During its EU presidency, Germany will work with the European Commission on promoting the common refugee policy, he said.

Milanovic was the first statesman to be received with military honors after a months-long pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the day, the Croatian president is scheduled to meet with Wolfgang Schauble, Speaker of the Bundestag. He will end his two-day visit by meeting with Mario Ohoven, head of the German association of small and medium-sized enterprises (BVMW).

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Friday, 15 May 2020

Biscevic: EU Offers Zagreb & Belgrade Chance to Move Away from History

ZAGREB, May 14, 2020 - Zagreb and Belgrade are the "pillars of stability" and peace in this part of Europe and without their cooperation it would be hard to expect that parts of the region will come out of the state of "unfinished peace" and "frozen conflict," Croatia's new ambassador to Serbia, Hidajet Biscevic, has said.

If politicisation is removed, if the constant repeating of the media and verbal clammer is avoided and if we stick to the fundamental principle of international relations of not meddling in internal affairs, history does not need to remain a lasting source of conflict between Serbia and Croatia, he says in an interview with the Belgrade paper Danas.

Biscevic underscored that he is not idealising the European Union because "it is not a magic cloth which wipes away differences, including those of a historical nature," but underlined that the EU offers "Belgrade and Zagreb an opportunity to move away from history," and to turn to "other paradigms and values, to leave history in the past and for history to not be a stopper of today or tomorrow."

He underlined as exceptionally important the protection of national minorities in Serbia and in Croatia, stressing that in a lot of ways that is a measure of the "democratic and European capacities" of the two countries.

He pointed to the fact that the problem of the war missing continues to be "one of the most sensitive issues" in the relations between the two countries and that institutions need to help in resolving that "undoubtedly humanitarian" problem.

"I hope that in my first contacts I have properly felt that that issue has been recognised as an important component of Serbia's foreign policy agenda and in that regard I will advocate that the work in resolving that issue is accelerated," he concluded.

 

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