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.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Serbia’s Jugobanka Loses Suit against Croatia

ZAGREB, February 1, 2019 - Zagreb's Commercial Court has turned down a motion by Belgrade's Jugobanka, which is in official receivership and which asked for nearly 21 million euro and 2.6 million Swiss francs from Croatia, arguing that it was a debt stemming from loans which were used between 1985 and 1989 by the Croatian companies 3. Maj, Varteks and Duhan, and that the loans were being repaid to the Paris Club by Serbia, instead of Croatia.

The lawsuit, filed in 2009, says that Jugobanka bases is claim on Annex 6 from the succession treaty to the former Yugoslavia, i.e. provisions on the servicing of loans and other liabilities from agreements with the governments of the Paris Club member states.

Responding to the lawsuit, the Croatian State Prosecutor's Office said Croatia had not undertaken the obligation to repay loans contracted by Jugobanka Udružena Banka Beograd branches nor the obligation to repay debts contracted by Jugobanka d.d Beograd as the Croatian branch.

Croatia said it had not undertaken those obligations either in bilateral agreements with the German and Swiss governments.

The fact that the end users of loans for which Jugobanka Udružena Banka Beograd borrowed abroad were based in Croatia does not mean that Croatia was obliged to pay to Paris Club member states the amounts which said bank had borrowed, Zagreb's Commercial Court says in the explanation of its ruling, which can be appealed.

Croatia's obligation to those states stems only from the international agreements Croatia signed with Germany and Switzerland, the explanation says.

More news on Croatia banks can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Croatian Culture Minister Meets with Serbian Counterpart

ZAGREB, January 28, 2019 - Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek on Monday met with her Serbian counterpart Vladan Vukosavljević, who was taking part in a commemorative event at the invitation of the Serb National Council, and the two ministers talked about cultural cooperation and restitution of Croatian cultural objects, the ministry said in a press release.

The two ministers concurred that the long-standing process of restitution of Croatian cultural assets is nearing a completion.

From 2001 to 2018, more than 29,885 moveable cultural objects were returned to museums, churches, monasteries and archives while the remaining artefacts yet to be returned mostly belong to the Krk and Šibenik Serb Orthodox monasteries, the ministry said.

The talks also focused on a Croatian-Serbian combined government committee for minorities which is scheduled to convene its eighth meeting in Zagreb in February.

The ministers commended the good cooperation within the framework of the Southeast European Advisory Board with emphasis on cooperation in strengthening a culture for sustainable development, the importance of museums in society, their role in protecting and promoting cultural wealth and of their role in promoting cultural and social diversity.

The next meeting of southeast European cultural ministers is schedule for April in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

The ministers assessed that good cooperation existed within the framework of China+16 initiative.

The two ministers commended bilateral cooperation involving the exchange of visiting theatre companies as well as developing cultural and literary cooperation between Croatian and Serbia.

The ministers also discussed the preparation of a cultural cooperation programme based on a bilateral agreement and possible exchange of certain modern art exhibitions, the ministry concluded.

More news on the cultural policy in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Vučić Calls for Better Relations between Croatia and Serbia

ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday that Croatia and Serbia should have much better relations if they wanted to survive, adding that the entire region should stop thinking about the past and look forward.

"What I am not happy about are political relations in the region," Vučić told Hina and the Croatian public broadcaster HRT on the margins of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

"There are always countless problems there, too much thinking about the past and too little about the future, but I guess it's the characteristic of all of us and that's what we'll have to change," the Serbian president said.

Vučić earlier attended a panel on the Western Balkans together with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and had an opportunity to talk to him informally.

He said that economic relations were much better than the political situation in the region. "I think that the Serbs and Croats as nations, not just the Serbian and Croatian states, regardless of their emotions which are not always good, must have much better relations if they both want to survive," Vučić said.

He said that both countries had "terrible demographics" as many people were emigrating. "If we are to survive, we will have to work together, get closer to each other, and that will happen," Vučić said.

He added that the Croats and Serbs would find ways of cooperating once they started thinking less about "stabbing one another in the back" and became more focused on the future. "I absolutely believe in this," he stressed.

Vučić said that relations with Priština were a burning issue for Belgrade, and that the imposition by Kosovo of customs duties on imports from Serbia was against all European rules. He said that all important European and world stakeholders had told him in Davos that they were against Kosovo's move.

Speaking of other problems in the region, Vučić mentioned the latest initiative by the Bosniak SDA party in Bosnia and Herzegovina for assessment of the constitutionality of the name of Republika Srpska, the country's Serb entity.

Its name "is a Dayton category, it's a constitutional category of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They cannot do that and expect support from the world," the Serbian president said.

The announcement by the SDA that it will formally ask the Constitutional Court to assess whether the name of the Bosnian Serb entity is constitutional has met with strong reactions in the country and condemnation from the international community. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegović said on Thursday that it was a legitimate initiative the aim of which was to eliminate evident discrimination against non-Serbs living in Republika Srpska.

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

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Croats in Serbia Encouraged by Messages from Croatia's Leaders

ZAGREB, January 24, 2019 - The leader of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), Tomislav Žigmanov, said that the messages and promises by the prime minister and president of Croatia during his visit to Zagreb this week were encouraging and stimulating for Croats in Serbia, Croatian-language media in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina said on Thursday.

Žigmanov said his delegation was encouraged by the readiness of the Croatian leadership to support, both politically and financially, their major projects.

He said that they had discussed several projects of great importance for the Croatian minority in Serbia, including the opening of the birth house of Ban Jelačić in Petrovaradin, an educational and recreational centre on the Croatian Adriatic coast, office space for the Hrvatska Riječ publishing house in Subotica, and the opening of regional offices of the Croatian National Council.

He said they had also talked about Croatian-Serbian relations and concluded that they were stagnating.

"These relations are currently almost at a standstill. We are suffering the consequences of that, but we cannot make them better," Žigmanov said, adding that expectations for 2019 are not optimistic because of an expected early election in Serbia and the ongoing instability over Kosovo.

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

Page 9 of 40