Saturday, 7 August 2021

Jandroković: Attack in Subotica Prompted by Serbian President’s Rhetoric

ZAGREB, 7 Aug, 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Saturday the rhetoric used by the president of Serbia and Serbian officials was the reason for a recent physical and verbal attack on Croats in Subotica.

Asked if the attack could be the result of the two countries' policies, Jandroković said the situation in the two countries could not be compared.

"The celebration of Operation Storm in Croatia is dignified. We celebrate our victory in the Homeland War without disparaging anyone. We have a good cooperation with representatives of all ethnic minorities, including the Serbs, and the rhetoric used by Serbia's president and senior officials is probably to blame for some people feeling the urge to physically or verbally threaten members of the Croat people," Jandroković told the N1 broadcaster when asked about an attack on five Croatian nationals in Subotica which local police said was due to a row over a parking space.

The Croat National Council said on Friday that five Croatian nationals were physically and verbally assaulted and their relative was lightly injured when an unidentified man attacked them in Subotica but local police denied it.

Jandroković also said that Serbia should face the truth and accept responsibility for the events of the 1990s.

"That is a precondition for better cooperation. We must all be forward-looking, there is no use in turning to the past," he said.

Speaking of wildfires that have been raging for days in Greece and Turkey, Jandroković called for developing international solidarity.

"We received help from them when the region of Banija was hit by (last year's) earthquake," he said, adding that Croatia was currently able to provide assistance to Greece and Turkey.

Jandroković once again called for compliance with epidemiological restrictions, expressing hope the tourist season would last not only until the end of August but the end of September.

The parliament speaker was today in Imotski, where he attended a ceremony marking 120 years of fire-fighting in the Imotska Krajina region and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Imotski Voluntary Fire Department.

For latest news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Croatian Citizens Attacked in Subotica, Police Deny It

ZAGREB, 7 Aug, 2021 - Five Croatian citizens have been physically and verbally attacked and a cousin of theirs lightly injured by an unknown man in Subotica, northern Serbia, the Croatian National Council (HNV) said on Friday, but local police denied it.

The incident occurred on 2 August when the man physically attacked the passengers in a car with Zagreb licence plates, saying he would "slaughter all Ustasha" and swearing at them, said Darko Baštovanović, an official of the HNV, the Croatian minority's umbrella organisation in Serbia.

Asked by the passengers' cousin, Z. B., why he was doing that, the man grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground, lightly injuring him. Z. B. then called the police, which arrived on the scene but did not give him a report on the attack, Baštovanović said.

Subotica police, however, said in a statement the claims that Z. B. was injured were incorrect and that the Croatians did not report being physically attacked, the suboica.com website said.

Police said Z. B. told them "that a man insulted and grabbed him by the throat over a parking disagreement, but did not mention that his cousins from Croatia had been injured or physically assaulted."

Officers spoke to six of Z. B.'s family members who "did not complain about being physically attacked by that man."

Police said they identified the perpetrator, a 63-year-old man of Subotica, in half an hour, interviewing him and sending the case to the prosecutors.

According to suboica.com, the police called "on all local subjects" to contact them "for correct and verified information, instead of spreading incorrect and unverified information in public, because in that way they are harming the good inter-ethnic relations that are traditionally nurtured in Subotica."

The HNV said it stuck by its claims despite the police statement, condemning "the brutal attack on ethnic grounds" and saying "it is yet another in a series of attacks against the Croatian community in Serbia, which we believe have also been caused by the continuous negative coverage on Croats in Serbian media."

The HNV said the latest case showed in what conditions the Croatian community lived and to what it was exposed, adding that it was especially worried that the attack occurred in Subotica, a multiethnic city and the cultural centre of the Croatian people and Croatian institutions in Serbia.

Baštovanović said Serbian authorities were obliged to respond appropriately because this time Croatian citizens were attacked also, adding that taking appropriate action would prevent inter-ethnic incidents and the further deterioration of Croatian-Serbian relations.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Would Nikola Tesla Have Preferred to be on a Croatian or Serbian Coin?

July 26, 2021 - A global citizen equally proud of his Serb origin and Croat homeland, what would Nikola Tesla have made of the latest Balkan political row over his identity?

It is almost 80 years since the genius that was Nikola Tesla died alone in a New York hotel room, the end of an extraordinary life of invention and creativity that changed the world for the better. 

He certainly deserves to be remembered and celebrated for all he contributed, but the latest proposed recognition of his genius has once more ignited a Balkan political row and fired up the Internet's army of Balkan keyboard warriors. 

It wasn't long after starting Total Croatia News 6 years ago that I learned that the two most clickbait evergreen topics which would attract tons of aggressive comments were the origins of Nikola Tesla and anything that mentioned the word Tito. As such, I have learned to avoid referring to either for the most part, but the latest row regarding Tesla's origins has included statements from the Croatian President, as well as both Croatian and Serbian Prime Ministers.

Someone once told me that the quickest way to start a lively negative debate on Facebook in this region is to invite thoughts on whether Tesla was a Serb or a Croat. It is a question that the Serb authorities take very seriously, as appears to be the case once again after Nikola Tesla was voted to appear as a symbol of Croatia on three coins when Croatia eventually joins the EU.  

Before we dive into the quagmire, it is worth recalling Tesla's own words on the subject, back in 1936:

"I am equally proud of my Serb origin and my Croat homeland. Long live all Yugoslavs."

A nice, balanced statement paying tribute to the two nationalities with which he clearly associated, even though he went on to be an American citizen. Nobody disputes that he was ethnically Serb, or that he was born and grew up in Smiljan, a small village in what is today modern Croatia. 

But then things get interesting. Serbia claims Tesla as their own - and ONLY theirs - there is no question that Tesla is anything but a Serb, despite the great man professing equal pride at his Croat homeland. Serbia has certainly done a great job at getting the message out there, even naming its main international airport after him. But the proud Serbs who claim him as their own fail to mention a couple of relevant facts. Tesla never had Serbian citizenship, and he only actually spent 31 hours in Serbia in his entire life, a solitary visit in 1892. If you travel to Serbia to search for places that Tesla spent time or created things, then you are going to be disappointed, as there is nothing to see, apart from his ashes which were transferred to Belgrade in 1952. Hardly surprising, given that he only spent 31 hours of his life in Serbia. 

nikola-tesla-ethnicity_1.jpg

The claim that he was born in Croatia should also be clarified, as Croatia was not an independent country at the time of his birth, rather part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Smiljan was in the zone of the Military Frontier at the time, and his citizenship was Austrian, before he bcame an American later in life. Having said that, the quote above shows that Tesla identified with both his Serb ethnicity and Croatian homeland. 

There is, of course, a certain irony - given the nationalist passions in some quarters of this region - of Serbia objecting to the celebration of a Serb on a Croatian coin, but that is perhaps another discussion. 

What can also not be disputed is that Smiljan today is firmly within the boundaries of modern Croatia. And for those looking for evidence of Tesla's formative years, there is plenty to explore, from the visitor centre at Smiljan, his school in Karlovac, the surrounding nature which inspired him, and the city of Sibenik, which was the first city in the world to have street lights powered by alternating current. It is probably worth mentioning that had Tesla's education and life experience continued in this region, he would probably not have fulfilled his potential, as it was only once he got to the States and was exposed to bigger things that he flourished. 

As I wrote a couple of years ago in It is Time for Croatia to Claim its Nikola Tesla Heritage, Croatia has thus far done a terrible job marketing its Tesla heritage, and it is one of the several gifts that it possesses which are totally underutilised. The birthplace of Tesla should be a global attraction, and one which is there to inspire the minds of the next generation. It could - and should - be developed for that purpose, rather than the very poor effort that we have at the moment at Smiljan - there was not even a cafe the last time I visited. Combining the Tesla story with the huge success of Croatia's 21st-century innovator, Mate Rimac, is a compelling story which will bring more interest not just to Croatia, but to the wider region. 

Would Tesla have preferred to be represented on a Croatian or Serbian coin 80 years after his death? He would probably not have had to choose, as Serbia will also get to choose its motifs for the coins if and when it adopts the euro. And wouldn't it be nice for him to be commemorated by both, given that he was equally proud of his association to both?

Just as Nikola Tesla was equally proud of his Serb origins and his Croat homeland, wouldn't it be nice if his Serb origins and Croat homeland could agree to celebrate the genius of a man who gave the world so much, rather than try and score cheap political points?

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Milanović: Once Serbia Enters Euro Zone, Let It Propose Tesla As Well

ZAGREB, 24 July, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Saturday commented on the reactions from Belgrade following the announcement that Croatia will put the image of scientist Nikola Tesla on euro coins, saying that "once Serbia enters the euro zone, let it propose Tesla as well." 

Writing in a Facebook post, Milanović recalled a failed initiative by the Serb National Council (SNV) of more than ten years ago to establish "a Serb ethnic bank" in Croatia that was to be named after Nikola Tesla.

The initiative was launched in cooperation with "the state leadership and a development fund of Serbia, which allocated nearly five million euro of Serbian taxpayers' money for that purpose", and the SNV's idea was also for Croatia to make its contribution to the initial capital.

"The entire project for an ethnic bank was half forgotten over time, primarily because it was untenable businesswise," Milanović said. 

Milanović, who had served as prime minister at the time, said that he and his finance minister, Slavko Linić, had tried to find a solution, but to no avail, despite the millions of euro from Belgrade and the Croatian contribution. "Our intentions were sincere, but it didn't work."

"It's all right when a financial institution (Tesla Bank) should be established with the joint financial support of Croatia and Serbia. In that case, I guess, Tesla is our common heritage. When Croatia, a forthcoming member of the euro zone, proposes that Tesla should be on a coin, that is cultural appropriation according to Serbia's central bank," Milanović said, adding in conclusion: "Once Serbia enters the euro zone, let it propose Tesla as well and everyone will be happy." 

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Construction of Croatian House in Subotica Begins

ZAGREB, 26 June 2021 - The construction of the Croatian House in the northern Serbian city of Subotica has begun, the Croatian National Council (HNV) announced on Friday.

The realisation of this largest infrastructure project of the Croatian minority in Serbia, which is financially supported by the Croatian government, began two months after the laying of the foundation stone. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The Croatian House will be home to the only three professional institutions of the Croats in Serbia. It is the result of joint efforts by the Croatian government, the Croatian State Office for Croats Abroad, and the Croatian minority in Serbia.

The start of the construction work coincided with a holiday of the Croatian community in Serbia and was attended by a representative of the State Office for Croats Abroad, Milan Bošnjak.

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

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.

For more, follow our travel section.

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.

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