Sunday, 25 August 2019

Croatia Dismisses as Unacceptable Vučić's Justification of Armed Rebellion

ZAGREB, August 25, 2019 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry says that the statement by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić that the armed rebellion of local Serbs against Croatia's authorities in the early 1990s aimed at undermining the Constitutional and legal order was justified is absolutely unacceptable.

The ministry calls on Serbia to abandon the rhetoric that is detrimental to the bilateral relations as well as to stop manipulating the facts and start enhancing the status of the ethnic Croat minority.

Ministry warns about Serbia's attempts to downplay its responsibility for aggression against Croatia

"The Republic of Croatia refutes any attempt of downplaying Serbia's responsibility for causing the armed conflict and aggression against Croatia's state territory, which were the results of the Great Serbia policy of Slobodan Milošević," the ministry underscores in a press release it issued on Sunday.

Zagreb recalls that many relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, verdicts of the Hague-based UN-tribunal for war crimes in former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as well as the judgement of the International Court of Justice in the case of Croatia's genocide lawsuit against Serbia and Serbia's counter-suit, clearly speak about Serbia's responsibility for these developments in the 1990s.

Furthermore, these continuous attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of a neighbouring country is something that makes a distinction between the policies led by Serbia and Croatia.

"Contrary to such Serbian attempts, Croatia is interested in the stability of its neighbourhood and is open to transfer its own experiences to its neighbouring countries during their journey to the European Union."

"We do not allow the disrespect for the fact that Croatia is a sovereign and independent country, created following the democratically expressed will of its people (to have its state) and defended during the imposed war," the ministry says reiterating Zagreb's commitment to developing harmonious good-neighbourly relations with all neighbours.

Croatia provides its minorities with the highest level of protection of their rights and is building a tolerant and inclusive society based on the rule of law and trust among citizens.

"Croatia calls on Serbia to enhance the status of the Croat national minority in the Republic of Serbia, in accordance with the obligations it has assumed, instead of manipulating the facts, and to abandon the rhetoric aimed at reviving the defeated projects detrimental to the relations between the two neighbouring countries."

Following the recent incidents in two cafes near Knin in which guests were assaulted while watching a TV broadcast of the Belgrade-based Zrvena Zvezda's football match, Vučić told Serbian media on Saturday that "it is understandable" that 30 years ago the largest part of local Serbs launched a rebellion against Croatia's authorities.

Vučić described those incidents as "awful" and promised Serbia's help to its people in Croatia.

The 21 August assault against guests in a cafe in the village of Uzdolje near Knin is qualified by the Šibenik county law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities as an act of causing riot, the Šibenik police said on Saturday. The perpetrators, who are facing criminal charges for their riotous behaviour, have not yet been identified. The offence carries a prison sentence from six months to five years. As far as a similar incident in the Đevirske village is concerned, misdemeanour charges have been filed against five people and one person is charged with a criminal offence.

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

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Vučić Admits Asking Grabar-Kitarović Not to Mention "Great Serbia Aggression"

ZAGREB, August 21, 2019 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has told a local Serbian media outlet that the Zagreb-based Nacional newspaper has reported correctly that he requested Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to not keep using the collocation "the Great Serbia aggression."

"I told them: 'Folks, please do not constantly talk about the great Serbia aggression, as there is no sense'," Vucic said on Wednesday.

He went on to say that the Croatian president also forwarded her demands to him, including investing more effort in the search for people who went missing in the 1991-1995 war.

"Grabar-Kitarović particularly insisted that I should address the issue of missing people. In the coming period, I expect the first results considering this issue. It is not easy," Vučić was quoted by the broadcaster "Prva Srpska Televizija" as saying.

The Nacional weekly says in its latest issue that there was e-mail correspondence between the Croatian president and her former aide Mate Radeljić which revealed that the president said that Vucic had asked her not to use the term "Great Serbia aggression" any more.

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

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Croatia Taking Precautionary Measures Due to African Swine Fever in Serbia

ZAGREB, August 14, 2019 - Following the confirmation made by Serbia of the occurrence of African swine fever in some of pig farms in that country, Croatia's Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday called on pig farmers to strictly comply with preventive measures against this viral disease of pigs and wild boars.

The purpose of preventive measures is to detect at early stages any transmission of the virus so as to fend off the outbreak of this disease in Croatia.

The ministry cites a list of measures which pig farmers are supposed to take. Members of the general public in Croatia are urged to buy pork in registered shops.

The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs; some isolates can cause death of animals as quickly as a week after infection. It does not cause disease in humans.

Serbia's agriculture ministry on Tuesday confirmed that African swine fever had been detected in three villages in the Mladenovac area.

In the meantime, Bosnia and Herzegovina imposed a ban on the import of pigs and pork from Serbia.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Was Tesla Serb or Croat? The Ridiculous and Very Balkan Diplomatic Row

August 13, 2019 - A diplomatic row has erupted between Croatia and Serbia over the use of Nikola Tesla. What would the great man have made of it all?

I want to take you back in time to a hotel room in New York in 1943. Lying on his deathbed at the age of 86 was one of the greatest geniuses ever to walk this planet. Although he did not achieve as much as he himself had hoped for the betterment of humanity, Nikola Tesla changed the world immensely and made it a better place. 

After a lifetime of achievement, he perhaps reflected on his successes and arguably thought back to his family, homeland and childhood. He was  certainly proud of where he came from, as he wrote in 1936:

"Thank you very much for your much appreciated greetings and honors, I am equally proud of my Serb origin and my Croat homeland. Long live all Yugoslavs." 

Perhaps Tesla reflected how he might be remembered in the future. Some 75 years later, history has treated him kindly, and he is a global figure. A new revolutionary electric vehicle brand bears his name, and a local, new generation genius called Mate Rimac is becoming a global superstar with his electric vehicle and battery technology.

But how is he remembered and discussed in his homeland? 

nikola-tesla-ethnicity (1).jpg


I was told once that the best way to start an argument in Split is to drop into a bar and ask everything there who were the top 5 Hajduk players of all time and the leave. On a regional level, there is only one question - was Nikola Tesla a Serb or Croat?

As Tesla's sentence above suggests, he probably considered himself both - an ethnic Serb growing up in his Croatian homeland. His father was a Serb Orthodox priest, his mother the daughter of a Serb Orthodox priest. 

It seems quite clear-cut to me, but nothing is that simple in the Balkans. 

When Tesla was born in 1857, the village of Smiljan was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what was known as the Croatian Military Frontier, a district of the Military Frontier. 

Today that village lies in modern Croatia. And although the country Tesla was born in was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is interesting to note that he was "equally proud of my Serb origin and my Croat homeland."

I don't think that anyone would disagree with the following statement. Nikola Tesla was an ethnic Serb who was born in the village of Smiljan, which is located today in Croatia. 

And if you can accept that statement, then the logical next step (if you can briefly put nationalism and dick posturing to one side) is to conclude that Tesla has a story to tell in both Serbia and Croatia. 


It is a fact that Serbia has done MUCH better promoting its Tesla heritage so far, naming Belgrade Airport after the world's most famous Serb, even dedicating a science day to his birthday. 

By contrast, Croatia has done little with the Nikola Tesla gift on its territory, and the exhibition in Smiljan is an embarrassment compared to what it could offer. 


There are signs that this is changing, however, and Zagreb was chosen as the opening location for the Nikola Tesla Mind from the Future exhibition which will tour the places which had the biggest influence on Tesla during his life - Budapest, Prague, Paris, New York, as well as Dubai. 

But not Belgrade, for although Tesla was a proud Serb and lived, studied and worked in Gospic, Maribor, Graz, Budapest and Prague, he only actually spent 31 hours and one visit in Belgrade. 

And while Croatia might want to lay claim to the Tesla heritage, at such times it is conveniently forgotten that his house was twice destroyed in the 1940s and 1990s. 

A diplomatic row has broken out between Croatia and Serbia over the great inventor has announced its plans to celebrate Croatian innovation at Dubai Expo 2020, celebrating Croatian innovators, including Tesla. It is something I applaud, as I have long been saying that It is Time for Croatia to Claim Its Nikola Tesla Heritage.

Serbia is not amused.

"With his scientific contributions and inventions, Nikola Tesla belongs to the world but as regards his ethnic background, he belongs to the Serb people. No tragicomic attempts to falsify that simple truth can change that," the Serbian Culture and Information Ministry said in a statement. 

Nobody is trying to say anything but that Tesla was an ethnic Serb, but by the same token it is hard to deny that he was born in Smiljan, which lies not in Serbia but in Croatia. And Telsa himself spoke of being "equally proud of my Serb origin and my Croat homeland."

Or are we saying that Tesla himself was wrong to refer to his "Croatian homeland"?

Or that we cannot refer to anyone as American apart from the original indigenous tribes?

Tesla was known for having a mind for the future, and the future was where his focus always was. So why don't we honour the great man and do the same?

Rather than indulge the keyboard warriors, why not do what Tesla would have done and look to the future. There will be 21 million electric vehicles on Europe's roads by 2030, and more than 75% of Croatia's tourists arrive by road. As I outlined in my recent blueprint for resetting tourism here in Branding Croatia: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On, Smiljan has a big role to play, 

Instead of fighting, why not work with EU funding cross-border funding programmes to celebrate Nikola Tesla and the innovation of this region. Build a Theatre of Dreams at Smiljan to stimulate the next generation, as well as similar projects in Serbia. South-East Europe, a hub of innovation and invention, symbolised by the great Nikola Tesla, whose presence was felt throughout the region. 

Do you think that idea would have made that dying old man in a New York hotel room 86 years ago a little prouder than the ridiculous situation we have at present?

Monday, 12 August 2019

Foreign Minister Continues Debate on Nikola Tesla Heritage

ZAGREB, August 12, 2019 - Following criticism from Serbia that Croatia is laying claim to the world-famous scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday that both Croats and Serbs could be proud of Tesla.

The Serbian Culture and Information Ministry last week issued a statement condemning in the strongest terms what it described as an unacceptable attempt by Croatia to lay claim to Tesla.

At the Expo 2020 exhibition in Dubai Croatia will present itself as a country of innovative projects, inventions and world-famous scientists, including Nikola Tesla, Faust Vrančić and Mate Rimac.

In an interview with N1, Grlić Radman said that he considered the reaction from Serbia "unnecessary" and that there were examples of famous people with dual identities everywhere in the world.

"Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia, he is of Serb ethnic background, but he always said that he was proud of his Croatian homeland and his Serb origin," the minister told the N1 broadcaster.

Grlić Radman cited the example of Nikola Šubić Zrinski, saying he was celebrated by both Croats and Hungarians, as well as Lavoslav Ružička, a chemist born in Vukovar, honoured with a Nobel prize for his work in Switzerland.

"In any case... both Croats and Serbs can be proud of having had a man of such renown. He is a universal man who has contributed to humanity," said the minister.

Grlić Radman also commented on the Croatian-Slovenian dispute regarding the border in Piran Bay, saying that he wanted Slovenia and Croatia to set an example in the EU in dealing with outstanding issues.

"Why wouldn't we see together how to solve that problem," he said, adding that other EU members, too, encouraged a bilateral solution to the dispute.

Slovenia insists that the ruling of an international arbitral tribunal on the two countries' border dispute should be applied.

In 2015 Croatia walked out of the border arbitration proceedings following the release of recordings of covert contacts between Simona Drenik, then a representative of Slovenia's Foreign Ministry, and Jernej Sekolec, Slovenia's member of the arbitral tribunal.

Since then, Croatian governments have maintained that the arbitration was irreversibly compromised and have refused to implement the subsequent ruling of the arbitral tribunal.

Slovenia has refused Croatia's proposal to resume bilateral talks on the border issue, claiming that talks are possible only on the implementation of the arbitration award and that by rejecting the award, Croatia is breaching European and international law.

Grlić Radman said that he met with former Slovenian prime minister and incumbent Foreign Minister Miro Cerar when the latter was on holiday in Croatia.

He said that he had told his Slovenian counterpart that the two countries "have been neighbours for centuries and there were never any conflicts between them" and that they should therefore solve their disputes through dialogue.

Grlić Radman also said that he had talked with Serbian counterpart Ivica Dačić and that they had agreed to work on outstanding bilateral issues, with the war missing being the most important issue for Croatia.

More news about Nikola Tesla can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

“Croatia Remembers Tesla with Respect, Not Denying His Ethnic Background”

ZAGREB, August 11, 2019 - Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek on Saturday commented on her Serbian counterpart Vladan Vukosavljević's claim that Croatia is laying claim to Nikola Tesla, saying that Croatia remembers Tesla with respect, without trying to deny his ethnic background.

"The Croatian encyclopaedia describes Nikola Tesla as a US and Croatian inventor of Serb descent. Tesla was born in Croatia, he was educated in Croatia and left Croatia for Austria and later the Czech Republic, Hungary, France and the United States. One of the greatest inventors, he changed the world and connects the countries and cultures in which he lived. Speaking of himself, Nikola Tesla said that he was proud of his Serb origin and his Croatian homeland," the minister said in a statement to Hina.

She added that unlike Serbia, which has not stopped falsifying history and laying claim to other countries' great people, Croatia "remembers one of the biggest inventors with respect, without trying to deny his ethnic background."

"I would appreciate if my colleague, Mr Vukosavljević, turned to facts instead of myths. If he did so, it would have certainly never occurred to him to propose that Serb cultural centres abroad be named after Ivo Andrić, yet another exceptional person whose identity and origin connect a number of cultures and peoples, and there is no need to lay claim to him the way Serbia did by naming Serb cultural centres after him," said Obuljen Koržinek.

The Serbian Culture and Information Ministry on Friday issued a statement condemning what it described as an unacceptable attempt by Croatia to lay claim to Tesla, whom it said the entire world recognised and remembered as a Serb who spent a large part of his life in the United States.

At the Expo 2020 in Dubai, Croatia will present itself as a country of innovative projects, inventions and world-famous scientists, including Nikola Tesla.

More Nikola Tesla news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Serbia Protests over Croatia's Alleged Laying Claim to Nikola Tesla

ZAGREB, August 10, 2019 - The Serbian Culture and Information Ministry on Friday issued a statement condemning what it described as an unacceptable attempt by Croatia to lay claim to scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, whom it said the entire world recognised and remembered as a Serb who spent a large part of his life in the United States.

Repeated attempts to lay claim to the Serb scientist and falsify the truth will not bring any benefit to Croatia which, according to official announcements, plans to present the great man as a Croatian scientist and inventor at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, the Serbian ministry said in the statement.

At the world exhibition in Dubai, Croatia will present itself as a country of innovative projects, inventions and world-famous scientists, including Nikola Tesla.

The Serbian ministry claims that the only historically correct fact on Tesla's background in encyclopedias, scientific works and popular texts is one that puts Tesla among the most important Serb scientists.

"With his scientific contributions and inventions, Nikola Tesla belongs to the world but as regards his ethnic background, he belongs to the Serb people. No tragicomic attempts to falsify that simple truth can change that," the Serbian ministry said.

Croatia considers Tesla, a Serb born in Smiljan in the central Croatian region of Lika in 1856, to be a Croatian and US scientist and inventor who spent most of his life in the United States, where he created all of his inventions and where he died in 1943.

More info about Nikola Tesla can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Ahead of Operation Storm Anniversary, New Tensions Between Croatia and Neighbours

ZAGREB, August 4, 2019 - Where have 400,000 Serbs and Yugoslavs from Croatia gone, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić asked Croatian officials on Saturday, ahead of events marking the 24th anniversary of the Croatian military and police operation Storm.

Relations between Belgrade and Zagreb become tense every year in August when the operation whereby Croatia in 1995 won the war against the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and local Serb rebels, is commemorated.

Croats consider the operation a legitimate action that liberated then occupied parts of the country while Serbians see it as an act of ethnic cleansing of their ethnic kin from Croatia.

Vučić asked Croatian authorities to explain how it was possible that of the 582,000 Serbs and 106,000 Yugoslavs in Croatia's 1981 census, only 184,000 declared themselves as Serbs in 2011.

The Serbian president is confident that by 2021, there will be fewer than 150,000 Serbs left in Croatia.

"If you say that 100,000 have emigrated for economic reasons, what about the other 400,000? How will you explain that?" asked Vučić.

He reiterated that for Croatia the day of Operation Storm was "a day of joy" while for Serbia "it is one of the saddest days in the country's modern history."

"We must not be ashamed of our tears, we should respect others' victims but unlike before, we must also respect our, Serb victims, talk about them and not downplay them," Vucic told reporters in Belgrade.

Serbia-Croatia relations have been deteriorating in recent years, mainly because of opposite positions on Operation Storm and the plight of Serbs in Croatia, Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) president Milorad Pupovac said this past Thursday, adding that it was necessary to conceive a policy of remembering all the victims which would enable people to live normally.

Pupovac, a Croatian MP, said Croatia-Serbia relations had been bad since 2011 and that, aside from different interpretations of Operation Storm, "a serious problem for Serbs in Croatia" was the absence of sentences for war crimes, persecutions, the destruction of villages, and the prevention of returns.

This year Operation Storm has also caused disputes in relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, after President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that it had saved Bosnia and Herzegovina's northwestern Krajina region from genocide and that she would like the neighboring country never to forget who gave it a hand in the most difficult times.

A former commander of the Bosniak Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hamdija Abdić Tigar, dismissed Grabar-Kitarovic's statement, claiming that it was Bosniak troops that had liberated parts of Croatia.

"The hell they saved us... We kept this region safe for them the whole time. What would have happened had we been defeated? Where would Croatia be today? Its border would be running along the Karlovac-Karlobag-Virovitica line," said Abdić.

The 24th anniversary of Operation Storm will be marked on August 5 and as in previous years, the central commemoration will be held in Knin, the former stronghold of Croatian Serb rebels, and it will be attended by the highest state officials.

On August 5 Croatia also observes Victory Day, Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans' Day.

More news about the Operation Storm can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Vukovar Cross Border Project Presented

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - A Croatia-Serbia Interreg 2014-2020 cross border project, the Panona Net Destination Management Model was presented in Vukovar on Thursday, and the project includes Vukovar and Velika, Croatia and Subotica, Serbia.

"This project will enable the Velika Municipality to develop its ecological tourism, Subotica its rural tourism and Vukovar its urban tourism... I consider this to be a good way for Vukovar to be heard far away and for tourists to choose Vukovar to visit along the EuroVelo 6 route," the director of the Vukovar Development Agency, Vedrana Zilić, said.

Mayor Ivan Penava is convinced that the project will attract an additional 850,000 kuna to continue working on the project that was launched 4 years ago.

"Vukovar is developing urban tourism and highlighting the tourism product segment, which is relatively new but is significantly and continually growing. With this project we will additionally promote urban tourism in line with increased cyclo-tourism and arrivals of tourists who visit our city on the EuroVela 6 route," said Penava.

The project is being financed with EU funds from the IPA Interreg Croatia - Serbia 2014-2020 cross border programme with a total value of more than 4.7 million kuna, 837,000 kuna of which is earmarked for Vukovar.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia Strengthening Cooperation in Search for War Missing

ZAGREB, July 30, 2019 - Locating and identifying the remains of those gone missing in the war in the former Yugoslavia is primarily a humanitarian issue and must not be the subject of political dispute between countries in the region, Croatia's representative told his counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in Sarajevo on Tuesday with whom he signed protocols to speed up that process.

Croatian Assistant Veterans' Affairs Minister Stjepan Sučić, the head of Serbia's office for missing persons, Veljko Odalović, and the director of the Institute for Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nikola Perišić, signed documents on the implementation of a previously agreed protocol on cooperation in the search for missing persons.

Croatia is still searching for 1,892 people who went missing during the 1990s Homeland War, yet the previously signed agreements have not produced any progress for that issue to finally be resolved, Sučić recalled. "When the time for action comes, disputes emerge," he added.

The missing, however, are primarily a humanitarian problem that must be separated from other outstanding issues between countries in the region, he said.

Today's signing is a "small step forward" and we aren't expecting "anything spectacular if good will doesn't exist and if that issue is not treated without any politics or relating it to other outstanding issues," Sučić said.

The existing agreement on tracing the missing signed with Serbia need to be reviewed as do the rules of procedure so that they are in line with the law on missing persons recently adopted in the Croatian parliament because it is necessary to protect the rights of missing persons and their families too, he said.

Perišić said that the documents signed today define the method of cooperation and exchange of information, including the exhumation and handing over of remains.

There are still about 12,000 people considered to have gone missing during the wars in the entire area of the former Yugoslavia and morgues throughout the region contain the remains of about 4,000 people that have not been identified.

He added that in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone there are about 7,200 missing persons and without institutional cooperation that search would be an impossible mission.

Odalović said that Serbia is prepared for cooperation without any restrictions so that the issue of those gone missing during the 1990s wars can be resolved, but considering the nature of all those conflicts, that problem cannot be solved without regional cooperation.

"There has to be a regional search mechanism" Odalović said, adding that country borders must not be an obstacle in the search for the war missing.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Page 5 of 39