Sunday, 7 July 2019

Zagreb Philharmonic, Music Youth of Novi Sad Launch Cultural Project

ZAGREB, July 7, 2019 - The Zagreb Philharmonic and the Music Youth of Novi Sad cultural institution have launched a joint, EU-funded project of cross-border cooperation during which the Zagreb Philharmonic will stage 24 concerts in the eastern Croatian towns of Ilok and Vukovar and in Novi Sad and Subotica, in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina, performing music from Charlie Chaplin's films The Kid and The Circus.

Speaking at the launch of the project in Ilok on Friday, Zagreb Philharmonic director Mirko Boch said that this was one of the most important events in the history of the Zagreb Philharmonic, organised in cooperation with the Music Youth of Novi Sad with which the Zagreb Philharmonic had already successfully cooperated.

"Even though they are old, The Kid, made in 1921, and The Circus, made in 1928, are actually timeless movies as is the music composed for them. The original score will be performed by our 50 musicians under the baton of Maestro Krešimir Batinić," said Boch, adding that he hoped the project would contribute to what the region could offer in terms of cultural tourism.

The project will start in Novi Sad, with two concerts a day to be staged on September 3, 4 and 5, followed by concerts in Ilok on September 9, 10 and 11, while concerts in Subotica and Vukovar will be staged in May and July 2020.

The head of the Music Youth of Novi Sad, Milan Radulović, said that Novi Sad, this year's European Youth Capital which in two years' time will hold the title of European Capital of Culture, was eagerly awaiting the concerts by the Zagreb Philharmonic.

Zagreb Philharmonic conductor Batinić said that the project would be a challenge as well as a great experience because the orchestra would be performing music from the two Chaplin films while they were screened, which, he said, would require great concentration on the part of the conductor.

More culture news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Croatian Minority in Serbia Welcomes Pejčinović Burić's Appointment as CoE Secretary-General

ZAGREB, July 5, 2019 - Croatian minority leaders in Serbia on Friday welcomed the appointment of Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Marija Pejčinović Burić, as Secretary-General of the Council of Europe and the message of congratulation by Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić on that occasion, however, they expressed disappointment that the highest Serbian officials did not say anything about this achievement by Croatia's diplomacy.

Dačić said at the 2019 Western Balkans-EU summit on Thursday that Serbia was looking forward to Croatia's chairmanship of the European Union in the first half of 2020 and he congratulated Pejčinović Burić on her appointment as Secretary-General of the CoE, stating that the position "was very important for the region."

"It is odd that in the case of certain events in diplomatic circles that directly impact you, and the Council of Europe certainly does impact Serbia, congratulations and assessments are expressed at international forums abroad and with a week's delay! In that regard, the silence of the highest Serbian government officials about Pejčinović Burić's appointment speaks volumes and can be interpreted as a defeat of their own plans," the president of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), Tomislav Žigmanov, said on Friday.

Pejčinović Burić was elected the new Secretary-General of the Council of Europe by secret ballot in Strasbourg last week and will take office in September.

The CoE was founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 830 million people and its stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.

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

Friday, 5 July 2019

Dačić Says Serbia Looking Forward to Croatia's EU Presidency

ZAGREB, July 5, 2019 - Serbia is looking forward to Croatia's presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020 and expects a lot from it, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said at the Western Balkans summit in the Polish city of Poznan on Thursday.

"Serbia is looking forward to and expects a lot from Croatia's presidency of the EU. We are all family here and it is in our interest to help one another. That is why I think Croatia's presidency should be in accordance with the interests of the entire region," Dačić was quoted by Serbian media as saying at the summit, organised as part of the Berlin Process.

Dačić "congratulated Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić on being elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe," saying that this position is "very important for the region."

Dačić said that Serbia believes that all countries in the region are friends, that they have similar problems and none of them should gloat over the failures of another, suggesting that the countries in the region should mutually support each other.

"Some people will say that is a new Yugoslavia, but I am not talking about that. I am saying that we have common interests and that it would be better for to discuss them publicly rather than think the same in various waiting rooms without daring to say so," Dačić said.

He said that conflicts were not in Serbia's interest and emphasised the need for peace in the region.

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

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Serbian President Vučić Congratulates Croatia on Its Statehood Day

ZAGREB, June 25, 2019 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on Tuesday sent messages with best wishes to Croatia and Slovenia on the occasion of their public holidays -- Statehood Day -- observed in remembrance of the declaration of the two countries' independence in 1991 from the Socialist Yugoslav federation (SFRY).

Vučić's message sent to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović reads that the Serbian head of state expects the intensification of dialogue on the matters of joint interest. so as to enhance the Serbia-Croatia relations.

Vučić wrote in his message to his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor that Serbia was committed to the development of bilateral relations.

He added that he appreciated Slovenia's support to Belgrade on its journey towards Europe, according to a press release issued by the office of Serbian president.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović says in her congratulatory message on the occasion of Croatia's Statehood Day, observed on 25 June, that the adoption of the constitutional decision on the country's sovereignty and independence and the Declaration of Independence 28 years ago placed Croatia forever on the global political map.

Extending her cordial congratulations, the president says that 25 June 1991 is one of the most important dates in Croatia's history.

The constitutional decision and the Declaration of Independence marked not only the severance of ties with the republics of the former Yugoslavia but also Croatia's exit from the complex state union, she said in the message released on Monday.

"The name of the Republic of Croatia is thus permanently inscribed on the political map of the world."

Grabar-Kitarović also paid tribute to the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman who led the Croatian people on the journey towards the establishment of its independent state and to soldiers who defended Croatia against a Great Serbian aggression.

The victory (in the 1991-1995 war) has marked the completion of our historical struggle for the sovereign and independent Croatian state, the president says adding that many successes are making Croatia more and more recognisable around the globe.

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

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Ethnic Croats and Serbs Meet for Talks and Football Match

ZAGREB, June 16, 2019 - The football teams of the Serb minority in Croatia and Croats in Serbia played a match in Tavankut, near Subotica, in Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina on Saturday, and the match in which the Croat minority's team defeated the guests 4-1, was organised by the Croat National Council of Serbia (HNV), the Joint Council of Municipalities and the Serb National Council of Croatia (SNV) with the support of the national football federations of Croatia and Serbia.

After the match the leaders of the respective communities, Tomislav Žigmanov and Milorad Pupovac, said that the score was irrelevant, and that it was more important to develop and strengthen the institutional cooperation between these two minorities.

The match took place three years after the two sides played for the first time in Vukovar, when the team representing the Croats from Vojvodina triumphed 4:0.

"We have gathered here to show that we can build bridges, mend communication and develop cooperation. Our experiences are different; however, our aims are the same. Therefore I think that Croatia and Serbia should support our efforts, our institutional cooperation through political and other necessary ways," said the SDSS party's leader Pupovac at a news conference in the offices of the local branch of the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Croats (DSHV) after the meeting between representatives of the two minorities and the subsequent sporting event.

Žigmanov said that he was "glad to see that despite a relatively long stalemate in the Serbia-Croatia relations, we can hold a meeting at the highest political level on our experiences in efforts to ensure the prosperity of our respective ethnic minorities and on the framework of future cooperation."

"We have agreed that cooperation must resume and must be firmer institutionally and enriched with contents," he said and welcomed the envoys of the Serbian President and the Croatian Prime Minister, Sport Minister Vanja Udovičić, and Croatian Ambassador in Belgrade, Gordan Bakota, respectively at the day-long meetings and the match.

The HNV chairwoman Jasna Vojnić, said that the cooperation had been established some time ago but it must be more specific and frequent.

"The HNV is looking forward to this cooperation, and believe that in the future we will see more positive things in both countries," Vojnić said.

More news about the status of Croats in Serbia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Grabar-Kitarović: I Don't Regret Having Invited Vučić to Croatia

ZAGREB, June 12, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Wednesday said that she in no way regretted that she had invited Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić to Croatia and that she would invite him again.

"Knowing even today that some people object to that and how many times have people complained and attacked me because of his visit, the easiest thing to do would have been to cancel the visit. If I had thought of myself and my rating then I would have certainly done that. But how could I embark on delivering on what I promised families throughout Croatia without taking the first step regardless of what the results and consequences might have been," Grabar-Kitarović said at a launch of the book entitled "The Missing in the Homeland War 2."

She recalled that the late president Franjo Tuđman spoke with Serbia's strongman and the then president, Slobodan Milošević in an effort to resolve the war and implement peaceful reintegration because "that was the only way."

She said that the issue of the missing will not be resolved by the EU but that we have to do that on our own and that requires the other side too.

Referring to the information that Vučić brought to Zagreb during his visit which turned out to be data on persons that had already been identified, Grabar-Kitarović claimed that he believed that that was credible information.

She apologised to the families of the missing because no progress had been made and announced that the search for them would not end.

The book "The Missing in the Homeland War 2" like its predecessor presents testimonies by parents, spouses, children and siblings of 45 people who went missing during the 1990s war with the aim of encouraging institutions and the public to resolve that tragedy and also to raise awareness among those who today might be hiding documents about the fate of the missing.

The book's authors Romana Bilešić and Danijela Mikola underscored that the book portrays some truly sad stories and now a quarter of a century since they have been looking for their loved ones, families are beginning to lose all hope.

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

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Serbian PM Wants Plenković to Visit Serbia

ZAGREB, May 22, 2019 - Relations between Serbia and Croatia are important for regional stability and that is why their dialogue should be promoted and efforts should be stepped up to solve outstanding issues, and a visit by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković would encourage cooperation and dialogue, it was said at talks between Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Croatian Ambassador Gordan Bakota in Belgrade on Tuesday.

Brnabić and Bakota discussed the situation in the region and relations between the two countries, with the Serbian prime minister stressing the importance of those relations for regional stability and calling for closer cooperation, according to a press release from the Serbian government.

The Croatian ambassador said that the integration of the Western Balkans with the European Union was crucial for the prosperity of all countries in the region, adding that it would be an important topic during Croatia's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020.

Bakota informed Brnabić of Croatia's plan to organise, during its EU presidency, an EU-Western Balkans summit, at which the EU membership prospects of Western Balkan countries and EU enlargement would be an important topic.

The two officials also stressed the importance of advancing relations in the area of minority rights so that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their ethnic background.

They said that a major step forward in that regard, which was in the interest of both countries, could be made in the field of cross-border cooperation, using IPA funds.

Brnabić said that upgrading rail connectivity was in the interest of both countries and that in terms of infrastructure projects, Serbia's focus in 2020 would be on the railway sector.

The two officials also discussed the cooperation between the two countries' chambers of commerce and plans to organise a bilateral business summit in 2019.

Prime Minister Brnabić and Ambassador Bakota agreed that a visit by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to Serbia in the coming period would send a good signal in terms of the further promotion of cooperation and dialogue between the two countries, the Serbian government said.

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

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Josip Jelačić's House in Petrovaradin to Serve as Croat Community Centre

ZAGREB, May 18, 2019 - The Croat community in Serbia is in possession of a part of the house where Ban (Viceroy) Josip Jelačić, who served as the governor of Croatia from 1848 to 1859, was born, after the Serbian government donated 600,000 euro for its purchase, but it still does not serve as the community centre of ethnic Croats, which will be its purpose, a conference said in Petrovaradin, a section of Novi Sad, on Friday.

"So far the Croats of Petrovaradin have not had any space to meet and show and promote their culture. We will have at our disposal the basement, the ground floor and one apartment in the house, with a total area of 300 square metres," Croat National Council (HNV) vice-president Darko Vuković told the Croatian-language media in Vojvodina.

The house needs thorough renovation, he said, adding that the Croat community expected help from the Town of Novi Sad and the governments of Serbia and its northern province of Vojvodina.

Vuković said the local Croat community wanted the house to become "an attractive cultural centre with tourism potential, where guests will be received, cultural events held, and where business people from Serbia and Croatia will meet. The property will also be used for Croatian consular services and serve as the HNV office."

The purpose of the Petrovaradin conference was to present information on how similar, well-established cultural centres in Croatia and Vojvodina operate.

The Croat minority in Vojvodina had been asking for years to be given the house of Viceroy Jelačić, built in 1745, so that it could turn it into a memorial centre and the seat of the local Croat minority.

Progress in that regard was made after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Zagreb in February 2018, when the status of the property was defined during talks on the status of the Croat minority in Serbia.

More news about the status of Croats in Serbia can be found in the Diaspora section.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Teams of Croat and Serb Minorities to Play a Football Match

ZAGREB, May 6, 2019ina) - The football teams of the Serb minority in Croatia and the Croat minority in Serbia will play a match in Tavankut, near Subotica, in Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina on June 15, organisers announced.

The match has been organised by the Croat National Council of Serbia, the Joint Council of Municipalities and the Serb National Council of Croatia with the support of the national football federations of Croatia and Serbia.

"The football match will be an opportunity for the political representatives of Croats from Serbia and Serbs from Croatia to meet and use their cooperation in sports to improve relations between the two countries. In that way they believe they will show that both ethnic minorities want to be a true bridge of cooperation and make their contribution to the further advancement of relations between Serbia and Croatia," leaders of the Croat minority in Serbia said in a statement.

Milorad Pupovac, a member of the Croatian parliament and leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), is expected to attend the event.

The match takes place three years after the two sides played for the first time in Vukovar, when the team representing the Croats from Vojvodina triumphed 4:0.

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

Saturday, 4 May 2019

President: It is Devastating that Serbia Allows Radicals' Assembly in Hrtkovci

ZAGREB, May 4, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has written on her Twitter account that it is devastating that the Serbian authorities allow persecutors of the Vojvodina Croats to gather again in 2019 in the town of Hrtkovci after they conducted expulsions of local Croats in early May in 1992.

"It is devastating that in 2019 the Serbian authorities allow the gathering of those same persons in Hrtkovci, the byword for the suffering of the Croats in Vojvodina," the president said on Saturday afternoon in her comment in reference to the Hrtkovci convention of the Serb Radical Party (SRS) which on Saturday re-elected its leader, Vojislav Šešelj, whom the Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in The Hague sentenced to 10 years in jail for expulsions and deportations of the Croats from Vojvodina and Serbia.

The SRS held its convention in Hrtkovci today and on 6 May 27 years ago leaders and supporters of that party held a rally in that Vojvodina village at which Šešelj read out the names of "undesirable" local Croats. In the following days, about 700 residents left the village due to pressure and threats.

There were no official reactions from Serbian authorities to demands that today's SRS gathering be banned.

The SRS leader and ICTY convict Šešelj said today during his party's meeting in Hrtkovci that the Radicals' ideology remained unchanged, and he persisted in denying persecution of Croats from Hrtkovci. He also demanded that Serbia should introduce a penalty of life imprisonment for all those who say that war atrocities in Srebrenica amount to genocide.

Šešelj said Croats were not deported but that they willingly left after they swapped their properties. "I did not commit a crime and I will prove it. All Croats who left Hrtkovci had swapped their property and that is not deportation, especially not a war crime," said Šešelj.

Last year, the Appeals Chamber of the MICT, the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), sentenced Šešelj to ten years' imprisonment for crimes against humanity over the inflammatory speech in Hrtkovci which it found resulted in the deportation, persecution, displacement and other inhumane acts against Vojvodina Croats. When that final ruling was handed down, Šešelj did not have to go to jail because the time he spent in detention in The Hague was credited to the sentence.

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

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