Monday, 25 February 2019

Eastern Croatia Presented at Belgrade Tourism Fair

The Belgrade Tourism Fair is one of the largest in the region, and this year it was held from 21 to 24 February. It was an ideal opportunity to present the tourist offer of Slavonia and Baranja. Visitors were introduced to the European Amazon bicycle route, the Osijek and Subotica Art Nouveau tourist route, the Green Pathways of the Danube and Drava rivers, and the Central Danube Tour – the Central Danube Tourist Destination.

The European Amazon bicycle route stretches from the Alps to the Pannonian plain along the most extensive natural river system in Central Europe. It covers Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia and nearly one million hectares of highly-valuable natural and cultural landscapes and more than 1,000 kilometres of cycling trails.

The Art Nouveau tourist tour of Osijek and Subotica links these two Central European towns of similar size and common historical heritage. Art Nouveau, as a new architecture style, appeared in Osijek in parallel with its emergence in Vienna. Apart from the construction of Art Nouveau housing and industrial buildings, Osijek proudly boasts the tradition of Art Nouveau physical planning as well, since it started with the policy of planned street and park construction in the early 20th century. The most impressive examples of the Art Nouveau in Osijek are the European Avenue, with a unique series of Art Nouveau houses with front-yards, the Postal Palace, the Sakuntala Park, the Urania cinema, and the Art Nouveau fountain.

The Green Pathways of Danube and Drava combine cycling, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and horseback riding, and stretch from Belišće, on the river Drava, for 54 kilometres to Erdut, where the river joins the Danube. On this route, the visitors can learn about the cultural heritage of this region and visit, for example, the Erdut Tower, the sacral heritage (the sanctuary of Our Lady of Consolation in Aljmaš and the sanctuary of St. Anna in Bistrinci), the industrial heritage of the town of Belišće, and of course the natural heritage, the flora and fauna of the Danube and the Drava rivers.

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The Central Danube tourist destination stretches from Baranja in Croatia to Kovilj-Petrovaradin marshes in Serbia. This destination integrates multi-ethnic heritage, natural and cultural resources and landmarks into a single package visible in the local, regional and international markets. The common package of tourism products and services was presented through thematic cross-border routes. This destination offers tourists a mix of Danube natural wealth and the Pannonian way of living. Its contents include mystical Pannonian legends, the cultures which have left traces about their existence from prehistoric times to the present day, the picturesque nature with the varied animal and plant species, the scents and tastes of gastronomy which bases its uniqueness on the mix of peoples and has given birth to the wealth of dishes rarely seen elsewhere.

The wine offer of this area is represented by Baranja, Erdut, Ilok and Sremski Karlovci. Baranja and Erdut are rural wine destinations, while Ilok and Sremski Karlovac are urban destinations steeped in history. The rich history of this region is best presented by the Museum of the Vučedol Culture. The Kopački Rit Nature Park, located on the left bank of the Danube, has its counterpart in the special nature reserve of Gornje Podunavlje situated on the right side of the Danube, and a bit farther away is the special nature reserve Kovilj-Petrovaradin marshes.

The Belje wines, which are produced in Baranja, cover the largest area of vineyards in Croatia (650 hectares), while Zmajevac is widely known for its “surduks”, “gators” and events such as the Wine Marathon. The Erdut wine area is particularly well-known for its great Danube meander, the largest wooden wine barrel in the world still in use, and the Bike&Wine event. Ilok is famous for its medieval town core, the country estate of Principovac, and the Ilok Grape Harvest event.

In addition to the destinations and topical tours from the eastern part of Croatia, visitors of the Belgrade Tourism Fair were also very much interested in similar routes from the wider Pannonian area, such as the Vojvodina Wine Paths, and the Trail of Cheese and Honey, located in the Žabalj municipality in Vojvodina.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Police IT System Fails, Long Lines at Croatian Border Crossings

The IT system of Croatia’s Interior Ministry has failed, which has caused long lines at Croatian border crossings. Personal documents and passports also cannot be issued at police offices around the country, reports Index.hr on February 22, 2019.

The police did not initially confirm the information.

According to the Bosnian media, the system for checking biometric documents at the majority of border crossings between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia has failed. Therefore, the traffic is currently suspended, and long columns of vehicles are being formed at the border crossings.

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The system failed at about 10 am this morning, and the columns of vehicles at border crossings have been getting longer ever since.

“Due to the failure of the border inspection system of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia today at 10.30 am, the traffic of persons and vehicles through international border crossings is stopped or significantly slowed down at different intervals," Sanela Dujković, the spokesperson of the Bosnian border police, said for Klix.ba.

“Due to technical difficulties, longer waiting times are possible at most border crossings,” said the Croatian Auto Club (HAK).

At 1.40 pm, the Interior Ministry finally issued a statement about the latest events.

“The Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia informs the citizens that during the day the operation of a part of the Ministry’s IT system has been interrupted, which is why certain assignments are being conducted slower than usual. The Ministry's expert services are working diligently to restore the system to being fully functional. We ask the citizens, who have found themselves at the border crossings and in the Ministry’s administrative affairs offices, for understanding and patience,” they said.

The website of the Croatian Auto Club has live cams with video from some of the border crossings.

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Translated from Index.hr.

More news about the Ministry of Interior can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Croatia and Serbia Far from Agreement on Border

ZAGREB, February 21, 2019 - A year after Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić met in Zagreb and agreed that the two countries should try to reach an agreement on the border in the next two years, there is still no agreement between Croatia and Serbia on the matter, with their positions being the farthest with regard to the border on the Danube River.

In February 2018 the two presidents agreed that Croatia and Serbia would try to reach an agreement on the border in the next two years and that if they did not succeed, they would address an international tribunal.

The Serbian president said at the time that Zagreb and Belgrade had opposed positions on the border.

According to officials in Belgrade, even though there has been some progress with regard to the land border, Croatia and Serbia are still miles from an agreement on the border on the Danube River.

A State Secretary at the Serbian Foreign Ministry, Nemanja Stevanović, said in a recent interview with the Serbian news agency Tanjug that the biggest obstacle to the agreement were two river islands on the Danube - the Šarengrad and Vukovar islands - and that Zagreb insisted on a solution that was contrary to international law.

In a comment for Hina, the Croatian Foreign Ministry dismissed the claim about the violation of international law, reiterating that the border of Croatia as a Yugoslav republic had become its state border with its declaration of independence.

"The positions and demands of the Republic of Croatia are firmly founded in and are in line with international law," the Croatian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Croatia wanted a future bilateral border agreement to incorporate "the 1991 border of the former republic which on the day Croatia declared independence became an international border between Croatia and Serbia."

In other words, Croatia wants the basis for an agreement to be the cadastre. "This was also confirmed in the position of the Badinter commission," it added. It noted that the border between the two republics had never been on the Danube.

"The border between the two former republics, in line with both Croatia and Serbia's legislation, was defined precisely and it was not on the Danube but rather stretched, both in Srijem and in Baranja, along the outer borders of municipalities of both republics that were also the outer borders of those municipalities' cadastres in 1991," the Croatian ministry said.

It also stressed that in the continuation of negotiations it expected "Serbia to abide by its general position, made public on a number of occasions, on the need to respect the borders between the former republics as one of the main principles of international law, and to apply them in defining its position for the entire border with Croatia because at present it accepts that principle for only one part of the border, in the area of Srijem."

Stevanović nonetheless notes that at a meeting of the inter-state commission for borders in 2018 certain progress was made with regard to the land border.

The Croatian side underlines that the border commission held a meeting in June 2018 in Zagreb at its invitation and that a meeting of an expert working group was held at the end of 2018. "We now expect an invitation from the Serbian side to a new meeting, and we hope it will be held soon," the Croatian Foreign Ministry said.

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

Sunday, 17 February 2019

President Rejects Allegations She Changed Speeches to Appease Vučić

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - The Office of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Saturday denied the claim by her former domestic policy adviser Mate Radeljić that she had promised to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that she would not use the terms "Greater Serbia aggression" and "the Srebrenica genocide" in her public speeches.

"There is no need to again answer questions about which there is no doubt whatsoever. What happened in the 1990s was aggression on Croatia in the name of Greater Serbia policy, and an international tribunal has qualified the crimes committed in Srebrenica as genocide and no one with good intentions questions that," spokeswoman for the President's Office Ivana Crnić said.

Radeljić told the RTL commercial television channel that the Croatian president had promised to her Serbian counterpart that she would not use the terms "Greater Serbian aggression" and "the Srebrenica genocide".

RTL asked Radeljić who the president was referring to when she said at a press conference earlier on Saturday that she was wrong about the "For the Homeland Ready" salute because one of her advisers had told her that it was a historical Croatian greeting. "It turns out that the president was some sort of a puppet of her advisers. I don't know who she was referring to and it would have been nice if she had said who she meant," Radeljić said.

Radeljić then wondered if any of her advisers told her after Vučić's visit to Croatia last year to give an instruction that the two terms should not be used in any of her public speeches.

"She personally told me after Aleksandar Vučić's visit that she did not want the term Greater Serbia aggression or the Srebrenica genocide to be used in public speeches because she had promised that to Aleksandar Vučić. Let her deny this now and blame it on her advisers," Radeljić said.

Radeljić claimed that Grabar-Kitarović had not used the two terms in any of her speeches after the Serbian president's visit. However, some media have found that this is not true and that the Croatian president used the term "Greater Serbia aggression".

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

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Serbian President Wants Croats to Ride in His New Military Helicopters

ZAGREB, February 16, 2019 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday that Croats would be the first ones he would "take for a ride" in new Mi-35 military helicopters to be delivered to Serbia by Russia, an ironic comment on what he considers to be Croatia's hostile attitude towards Serbia and himself.

This year Russia is expected to deliver Mi-35 attack helicopters to Serbia, which some media outlets in Croatia have called Vučić's devil's chariots.

"You should see how beautiful the helicopters are... I will take you, Croats, first for a ride," he told Croatian reporters covering an international security conference in Munich.

Commenting on Croatian media's alleged dislike of him, Vučić said, "You love campaigning against Serbia and me personally."

"You can't wait for me to be toppled, but that won't happen," he said in an allusion to Croatian Radio and Television reports about anti-government protests in Belgrade which Serbian officials have described as unprofessional and a call for violence.

He reiterated that a recent attack on players of Belgrade's Red Star water polo team in the Croatian coastal city of Split was "horrible", insisting that something like that could never have happened to Croatian athletes in Serbia.

Summing up the results of his meeting with his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in Zagreb a year ago, he said that Belgrade had fulfilled 23 of 26 demands by the Croat community in Serbia.

"I would like to be able to say the same for the Serb community in Croatia, but I'm afraid that that's not the case," he said.

That Croats and Serbs can indeed cooperate well is evidenced by the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vucic said, referring to cooperation between Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Čović.

"Serbs and Croats will have to cooperate in order to survive," he concluded.

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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Fourth Attacker on Serbian Water Polo Players Arrested

ZAGREB, February 14, 2019 - Police in Split on Wednesday confirmed to HINA that they had arrested a 22 year-old suspected of being connected to an attack that occurred last Saturday against Serbian water polo players.

The police said that a criminal investigation would show whether the man was indeed connected to the verbal and physical attack against the three players of Belgrade's Red Star Water Polo Club. Unofficial sources, however, said that the man is suspected of the same crimes as three other suspects that have already been apprehended.

The incident is being treated as acts of robbery, grievous bodily harm and hate crime.

This past Saturday, the three Serbian players, who came to a cafe at Split's waterfront promenade, were physically attacked with metal bars and knives by five perpetrators. Two of the players managed to get to their hotel while the third jumped into the sea and sustained light injuries.

They had arrived in Split for a match scheduled for Saturday night, however, the match was cancelled because of the incident.

The police quickly arrested three of the perpetrators. Two were remanded in one-month investigative custody on Monday evening, while the third of them was released pending completion of the investigation.

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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

No War Reparation Discussions with Serbia

ZAGREB, February 14, 2019 - After a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nela Kuburović on Wednesday, Croatian Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković reiterated that he was not "that satisfied," with the cooperation between the two ministries over the past year and that war reparation was not discussed.

Bošnjaković reiterated that at a meeting with the then Serbian justice minister last year, they had defined certain objectives and that at today's meeting they "evaluated where they were at and what to do next."

"I cannot say that I am overly satisfied with the way things have functioned over the past year, but then we have formed two commissions. One was tasked with defining an international agreement regarding processing war crimes and the other was to work on exchanging information about persons against whom criminal proceedings were being conducted or have been convicted. The commissions did work and we can't say they didn't, but they haven't made any recommendations," Bošnjaković said.

He underlined the wish to intensify meetings between the task forces and that by summer they come up with their recommendations. He explained that an international agreement will define how to regulate war crimes prosecution, adding that it would be above the Law on Jurisdiction that Serbia adopted.

He added that Serbia delivered a list of about 70 names of people in Croatia that Serbia has indicted but that they did not have the full list due to technical problems regarding data collection. Croatia however has sent Serbia a list of 1,300 names.

Asked whether the ministries' delegations discussed war reparation, Bošnjaković said that this was not discussed as that "isn't in the remit of the Justice Ministry but other ministries."

During her visit to Croatia, Minister Kuburović also met with representatives of ethnic Serb minority organisations.

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

Monday, 11 February 2019

Attackers on Serbian Water Polo Players Reported for Hate Crimes

ZAGREB, February 11, 2019 - Two men, aged 25 and 23, who this past weekend were involved in an attack on three Serbian water polo players in Split, have been taken into custody and charged with two hate-motivated crimes – attempted infliction of grievous bodily harm and robbery.

The three Serbian players are members of Belgrade's Red Star Water Polo Club who had arrived in Split for a game against the local side Mornar BS, which was scheduled for 8.30pm on Saturday. The match was cancelled because of the incident.

The police said on Monday that their investigation into the incident revealed that the two men, acting in collusion, came to a cafe at Split's waterfront promenade around 1.30pm on Saturday and physically attacked three Serbian athletes sitting on the cafe's terrace.

The motive for the attack, police say, was that one of the Serbian players wore his club jerseys. Demanding that he take them off, the youths started kicking and hitting the Serbian players with clubs.

"The perpetrators called the player names and threatened him, and after he fled and jumped into the sea, they continued to demand, threatening him with a knife, to hand over his jerseys, which he eventually did. The 29-year-old player sustained light injuries in the incident," the police said.

The police spoke to a number of witnesses to the incident and searched the suspects' flats, finding the Serbian water polo player's jerseys with one of the two arrested assailants.

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

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Police Arrests Three Attackers on Serbian Water Polo Players

ZAGREB, February 10, 2019 - Police in the southern coastal city of Split have arrested three young men on suspicion of attacking three Serbian water polo players on the city's waterfront promenade on Saturday. Two attackers are still on the run, local police said on Sunday morning.

The police said that a club jersey that had been taken from one of the players had been found with one of the men that were brought in on Sunday morning.

The three players are members of Belgrade's Red Star Water Polo Club who had arrived in Split for a game against the local side Mornar BS, which was scheduled for 8.30pm on Saturday. The match was cancelled because of the incident.

The three players were sitting in a cafe on the Riva promenade early on Saturday afternoon when they were approached by five youths who objected to their wearing their club jerseys. The youths first demanded that they take them off and then attacked them. Two of the players, aged 25 and 26, were hit in the back, but managed to run away, while a third escaped by jumping into the sea.

Police soon arrived at the scene, the 29-year-old man was pulled from the sea and taken to the hotel where the Belgrade team were staying. He was later taken to a hospital where he was found to have suffered slight injuries to the head, temple and nose.

The Croatian government strongly condemns this attack by hooligans, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has discussed the incident with Interior Minister Davor Božinović and Split Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara, government spokesman Marko Milić told Hina.

The attack was earlier condemned by the Croatian Water Polo Federation, the Croatian Olympic Committee and many athletes and politicians.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić told the RTS public broadcaster on Saturday evening that his ministry would present a protest note to Croatia over the attack in Split. He said that the incident was the result of an ongoing chauvinist anti-Serbian campaign in Croatia, adding that Belgrade would formally demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The Serbian Water Polo Federation and the Red Star Water Polo Club have announced that they will seek increased security measures for their clubs and national water polo team during Euro Cup matches in Croatia.

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

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Serbian Water Polo Players Attacked in Split

ZAGREB, February 9, 2019 - Three Serbian water polo players were attacked on the waterfront promenade in the southern Croatian city of Split on Saturday afternoon. Two of the players managed to run away while one escaped by jumping into the sea.

Police were alerted at 1.40 pm that five youths had attacked three players of Belgrade's Red Star Water Polo Club on the Riva promenade, Hina was told.

"One of the water polo players jumped into the sea, while the other two escaped. By the time we arrived at the scene, the attackers had fled too. We offered medical assistance to the young man who jumped into the sea, but he refused. He doesn't have visible injuries for now. We took him to the hotel and conducted an interview there. We also interviewed the other two who had managed to escape. An investigation is under way," police spokeswoman Željka Radošević told Hina.

According to unofficial sources, the attackers were apparently provoked by the fact that the three players wore their team's jerseys.

The Belgrade team play the local side Mornar BS this evening.

More news on the water polo in Croatia and the region can be found in the Sports section.

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