Saturday, 26 June 2021

Croatian PM Attends Ceremony Marking 30 Years of Slovenia's Independence

ZAGREB, 26 June 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence in Ljubljana on Friday, and in his speech he pointed out the ties between the two nations in history and at the time of their independence from Yugoslavia 30 years ago.

"Croatia and Slovenia are two friendly countries, and Croats and Slovenes are two friendly peoples. What divides us is a trifle compared to what binds us together," Plenković said, congratulating Slovenia on the 30 years of independence.

He said that on the same day in 1991 the parliaments of Slovenia and Croatia had taken crucial decisions that led to the independence of the two countries. He noted that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, other countries had also become independent, but that Croatia and Slovenia did not gain their independence peacefully. 

"Both our countries were the victims of military aggression, we both know what war is like," Plenković said. This fact binds Croatia and Slovenia even today as they both know what was happening then, he added.

Plenković said he hoped that the Slovenian presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year would be successful and that he was sure that Slovenia would make a significant contribution to this process with its knowledge and creativity. He stressed that Slovenia can count on Croatia as a partner and friend in this process.

The ceremony was also attended by the Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the foreign ministers of Italy and Portugal, and EU Council President Charles Michel.

In his address, Slovenian President Borut Pahor called for unity in diversity, for an end to political quarrels and for achieving "a third consensus" on how Slovenia should be developing over the next 30 years. He said that his country should develop through a smart and green strategy by strengthening plurality and dialogue in society. 

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Slovenian PM Supports Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša on Wednesday supported the Schengen entry of Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania as it would strengthen security in Europe.

We support Croatia's entry to the Schengen Area, as well as the entry of Bulgaria and Romania. We believe those are steps that strengthen security in Europe, he told a joint press conference with European Parliament President David Sassoli.

He spoke at the press conference via video link from Ljubljana after presenting to European Parliament leaders the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts on 1 July.

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Tuesday he expected Croatia's Schengen membership could be on the agenda during the Slovenian presidency.

"Croatia is on the right track to become a member of the Schengen Area in 2022 and then to enter the eurozone. I think that's possible. When we look at the very good relations we now have with Slovenia, it would be a great scenario if something like that happened during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU," he told the press.

Janša today also supported EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, saying many problems there, including the border issue, would be taken off the agenda with the accession of those countries.

EU enlargement is in our common interest. It should be our strategic response to numerous challenges, he added.

He said that when the EU was dealing with the financial and then the migrant crisis, neglecting enlargement, some other factors started expanding their influence in the Western Balkans.

Those foreign factors don't have the same values as we in the European Union, he added.

Janša said a European perspective was the answer.

We can solve problems by making borders less important. Slovenia is now part of the European Union and Schengen, where there are no physical borders, he added.

He announced an EU-Western Balkan summit for 6 October in Slovenia.

As for the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency, Janša highlighted respect for the rule of law and EU resilience to crises. He also underlined the importance of the Conference on the Future of the EU, which will end next year during the French presidency.

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

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Croatia is Only in Top 5 EU Markets for Slovenia - For Their Products

April the 8th, 2021 - In the entire European Union (EU), the Republic of Croatia has found itself in the top 5 EU markets, and for their exports, to neighbouring Slovenia only.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, when it comes to the European Union's foreign trade relations, last year was marked by the emergence of China as the very first partner, a place from which it pushed the United States, the bloc's traditional main partner in the exchange of goods.

According to Eurostat, goods worth 383 billion euros were imported into the European Union from China last year, and 203 billion were exported, while 203 billion euros worth of goods were imported from the United States and 353 billion were exported.

The US is still the main export market for EU products, and China is in third place, after the United Kingdom. However, last year, compared to pre-pandemic 2019, trade with the United States fell significantly, both in exports and imports, meaning China, with an increase in the total, took over the traditional first position previously held by the United States.

These ups and downs of course include Brexit, which also left a visible mark on import-export statistics and will more than likely continue to do so.

The turnaround among the EU's top trading partners was boosted by increased demand in the second half of the year, largely as a result of China's strong economic recovery from the pandemic, while European product sales plummeted in US and UK markets.

The need for masks erupted as the coronavirus pandemic spread globally

Imports from China were further contributed to by the fact that the need for medical and PPE arose across the EU due to the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In the review of data by country, China is rather unsurprisingly one of the top 5 EU markets (in exports) for only two member states - Germany and Ireland, while it is among the five main markets from which they import goods from as many as thirteen countries.

The largest contributors to high Chinese imports and growth last year was the Netherlands, which imported 91 billion euros worth of goods and China tops its list of markets for goods, Germany came next with 82 billion euros in imports and China its second largest import market after the nearby Netherlands.

Among the EU member states for which China is one of the main supply markets are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

For the largest number of EU member states, sixteen of them, Germany is the main trading partner, and among them is Croatia, in which case Germany took over this position last year from Italy which was the nation's long-term main partner. On the other hand, for seventeen other EU member states, Germany remains the main export market.

Exceptions include, for example, Lithuania, for which Russia is the main export market and Poland the main import market, and Estonia, for which Finland is the main partner, and Cyprus, which has the highest trade with Greece, and Portugal, whose main partner is Spain.

For the Spanish, the biggest buyer when it comes to products is neighbouring France, and Ireland is the main partner from which the United Kingdom procures goods, with the United States filling the same role but for exports. However, an important buyer for Ireland, mainly of high-tech products, is China, where the Irish economy accounted for 6 percent of total exports last year, equal to a massive 10 billion euros.

For both of Croatia's two main trading partners, Germany and Italy, China is the second most important import market, while for Germany the number one import market is the Netherlands (142 billion euros), and the main export market is still the United States (104 billion euros).

For German products, China became the second export destination last year, and France slipped down into third position. In the case of Italy, Germany is the main destination for both exports and imports.

Slovenia is the third trading partner for Croatia, while neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary hold the fourth and fifth positions on the list of export markets, and Hungary is also the fourth on the list of import markets, with Austria holding the fifth position.

The Republic of Croatia, on the other hand, is on the list of the top 5 EU markets/member states only for neighbouring Slovenia, and that's solely for the export of their products. Slovenia's main partner is otherwise Germany, while Switzerland is in second place for both imports and exports, and Croatia is its fourth export market after Italy.

The first Eurostat trade data for 2021 indicates that China could strengthen its leading position as a trading partner for the EU, which is unlikely to come as a shock to most.

At the annual level back in January, there was a 6.6 percent increase in European exports to China, with a decline of 3.8 percent, but exports to the US fell by 10 percent, and imports from the US is as much as one whole quarter lower, while the real failure can be seen in trade with the United Kingdom, to which exports fell by 27 percent back in January and imports halved.

For more, follow our business section.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Slovenian and Croatian 2021 Travellers Have Similar Coronavirus Questions

March the 12th, 2021 - Slovenian and Croatian 2021 travellers face the same questions and the same threats. With the coronavirus pandemic raging on and the vaccination rollout going slowly, what might we expect from foreign leisure travel this summer?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, spring is just around the corner, summer is coming, the tourist season is rapidly approaching, and most of us are far from preparing to go on holiday somewhere abroad. The coronavirus pandemic continues to reign strong, plans are almost impossible to make, talk of covid passports, EU restrictions changing in the blink of an eye, airlines scrapping routes at the drop of a hat and potentially getting stuck somewhere are all too much for many.

However, it doesn´t cost us anything whatsoever to sit down and think about whether we´ll travel outside of Croatia this summer season at all, and when it comes to that, it seems that the Croats are at the top of the world, as are the Slovenes. As the research undertaken by WIN International, the leading global market research association, suggests, Croats and their neighbours are among the most reassured of all when it comes to the idea of going off somewhere abroad this year.

The results of this global scan of attitudes and beliefs towards coronavirus vaccines, the ability of governments to resolve the ongoing public health crisis, the capacity of healthcare systems and the likelihood of travel in Croatia this year were published by the Mediana Fides research agency.

“Globally, when it comes to travel for either leisure or for work this year, 65 percent and then 77 percent of respondents consider the idea unfeasible. The survey was conducted in late 2020 on a sample of 26,579 people across 32 countries,” they stated from Mediana Fides. It turned out that in Croatia´s immediate region, the Slovenes are the most optimistic about foreign travel for their holidays (with 58 percent of respondents considering it very likely or probable), followed by Croatian travellers (with 43 percent of respondents saying that such a trip in 2021 is very likely or probable), followed then by Serbia (37 percent).

When it comes to the old "business, not pleasure" sort of trips, then those same three countries are in the same readiness for business travel - Serbia (22 percent), Slovenia (21 percent) and Croatia (20 percent).

As for the rest of the world, India and Nigeria have jointly taken the lead with scores above 50 percent in terms of the probability of going abroad. Mediana draws attention to the case of China: "It has one of the highest levels of people willing to get vaccinated and at the same time one of the lowest levels of intention to travel in 2021." From this it could be concluded that tourists coming from the Far East to Croatia this year probably won´t happen, be they vaccinated or not.

Across the world, according to the findings of the same piece of research, 7 out of 10 people, regardless of their gender and/or age, agreed with coronavirus vaccination. When looking at the level of education, it turns out that those with the lowest level of education and the unemployed are the least interested in getting vaccinated. When it comes to different parts of the world, the Asia-Pacific region with 80 percent of the population agreeing with and wanting coronavirus vaccinations is in the lead, and by countries it looks like this: Vietnam (98 percent), followed by China and India with 91 percent of their respective populations ready and willing to vaccinate against the novel virus.

Here at home in Europe, there is an unusual case with neighbouring Serbia, which boasts the second highest rate of vaccination of the population on the Old Continent, but there, a surprising 62 percent of respondents are still not convinced when it comes to coronavirus vaccination.

Here in Croatia, a similar thing can be said - 59 percent of Croatian residents don´t have much trust and would actually refuse to be vaccinated. As little as 13 percent of Croats have stated that they would definitely be vaccinated. France is at 56 percent, and in neighbouring Slovenia, 47 percent of people would not want to receive a vaccination against the novel coronavirus.

"Given that each country must vaccinate 65 percent of its population in order to achieve collective immunity, it is necessary to resort to informing the public and raising awareness of the importance of vaccination," they stated from Mediana Fides. This is somewhat correlated with the assessment of the surveyed citizens according to the ability of their governments to cope with the current health crisis.

In Serbia, they rate it the worst (only 30 percent of the population thinks that the Serbian Government has handled things well), 33 percent of people in Slovenia and 39 percent of people in Croatia believe that the work of their governing bodies in the fight against the coronavirus is positive.

It can also be read from the same survey that regarding the issue of the capacities of the healthcare system, only 36 percent of the population(s) of Serbia and Croatia and 46 percent of the population of Slovenia rate it as positive.

If vaccination against the new coronavirus becomes mandatory in any sense, it will be interesting to see how many Croatian 2021 travellers will be inclined to accept the vaccine despite their suspicions in order to have an easier life when crossing borderd and boarding planes.

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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Jansa: Croatia's Entry into Euro and Schengen Area is in Slovenia's Interest

ZAGREB, July 11, 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Friday that Croatia's admission to the euro area and the Schengen zone of passport-free travel was in Slovenia's national interest.

He criticised the policy of the Slovenia's two previous governments which advocated the blocking Croatia's membership of those two areas, underlining the futility of that conditionality policy.

"The recent past has shown us that Slovenia's vociferous opposition to Croatia's entry (into the OECD,  the Schengen or the euro area) has led us into this situation which we have with the (border) arbitration agreement, and there is no use of that," Jansa told the Slovenia Television on Friday evening after he met his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenkovic earlier in the day for the talks on the bilateral relations and the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic.

"Slovenia is a responsible member of the European Union," said Jansa explaining that Ljubljana would insist on the implementation of equal criteria for all euro area and Schengen zone aspirants.

"The adoption of the common currency (the euro) has not been only the possibility but also the obligation since 2004, and it is not about whether or not to adopt the euro but about when to do that," Jansa said adding that it would be pragmatic for Slovenia that the euro could become the sole legal tender in Croatia as soon as possible.

He explained that in such case Slovenians vacationing in that eastern neighbour would no longer need to exchange the euro for the kuna.

Considering Croatia's admission to the Schengen zone, Jansa explained that it was in Slovenia's interest that Croatia could meet the technical conditions for that area membership as soon as possible, hence it would mean that the Schengen external borderline was shifted from Slovenia to Croatia's eastern borders, and consequently, this would made it easier for the Slovenian border police to tackle the issue of irregular migrants.

Both Slovenia and Croatia face similar problems regarding COVID-19 infection sources

Asked whether Plenkovic had reassured him that due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, Croatia would impose more restrictions on passengers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, Jansa answered that Slovenia and Croatia faced similar problems regarding sources of COVID-19 infection and that there were now more local transmissions in both countries.

A majority of new infections have recently been imported into Croatia and Slovenia from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In recent days Croatia has imposed some stricter measures for entries from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, even for those who are only in transit through Croatia, the Slovenian PM said.

Jansa added that he and Plenkovic had discussed the possibility of introducing a common mobile application for monitoring contacts of the infected persons and persons who self-isolate as a means to reduce the number of new infections.

Jansa said that both of them expressed regret that at the start of the epidemic, no agreement had been reached on a joint EU mobile application solution. The Slovenian premier holds that such joint EU mobile applications in combating COVID-19 would be useful.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Slovenia: Relations with Croatia Better Despite Border Issue

ZAGREB, May 10, 2020 - Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar said on Saturday the Janez Janša cabinet wanted good relations with all neighbours and that relations with Croatia had improved even though the border dispute remained unsolved.

Speaking for Saturday's issue of the Ljubljana Delo daily, Logar said good relations with neighbours "should be based on respect, the rule of law, but also on a certain chemistry."

He said "there are contentious issues which still haven't been solved" but that Ljubljana-Zagreb relations had been "reset" and that there existed "mutual respect and trust."

Logar said the previous Slovenian government sued Croatia before the end of its term over its non-application of a border arbitration ruling without having ensured a political consensus for that.

He said previous Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar "highlighted that border issue at practically every international forum and in all that time we made not one step forward about the arbitration issue."

He said that caused tensions in the two countries' communication which the incumbent government was defusing, wishing to solve outstanding issues via quiet diplomacy and better cooperation.

"At the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, a certain distrust was felt in the air which led to problems in international freight transport, but we resolved those issues in cooperation with Croatian (Foreign Minister) Gordan Grlić Radman relatively quickly," Logar was quoted as saying.

"We were cooperative and well-synchronised, which is a good start for the next steps. The epidemic has put relations on a new starting point."

Logar noted that Croatia could not put the focus on bilateral issues in the first half of the year because of its presidency of the Council of the EU and that some of those issues could not be solved. This has yet to be put on the agenda, he added.

But Croatia is "on the eve of an election" so the border issue will wait for the next government, Logar said.

As for the Janša cabinet's stance on the border arbitration ruling, he reiterated that "the arbitration award is clear."

"We believe that legal acts should be honoured and that's a negotiating position which is closed for us, while all the rest is a matter of agreement," Logar said.

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

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Gari Cappelli and Slovenia Optimistic about Opening Borders between Two Countries

April 30, 2020 - On Wednesday morning, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli announced that the border with neighboring Slovenia would be the first opened, which is Croatia's second most important market, generating 10% of overnight stays in the country last year.

HRTurizam reports that Slovenes have a great desire to come to the Adriatic, at least according to the current interest of the media. Still, of course, two crucial preconditions must be fulfilled: a satisfactory epidemiological situation and opening the borders.

Otherwise, the epidemiological situation in Slovenia is better than in Croatia, and with 10 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, there are a total of 1,418 patients and 89 deaths.

On the topic of opening the borders, Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli met with Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia, Zdravko Počivalsek, Wednesday afternoon.

Croatia and Slovenia have had excellent tourism cooperation for many years, not only because they are presented together to distant markets, but also because guests from Slovenia are one of the most loyal and numerous guests in Croatia, Minister Cappelli said during the meeting, adding:

"We are actively discussing the possibilities of opening borders, as well as ways to secure all the necessary measures and processes for Slovenian citizens to spend their holidays in Croatia. We especially addressed Slovene citizens who own real estate in Croatia and are trying to find solutions for them to come to their property, in compliance with all prescribed epidemiological measures. We have a common desire to initiate mutual tourist flows when circumstances permit, and we also want to find ways to ensure the highest level of health care for Croat and Slovene citizens in the event of a possible tourist exchange."

The ministers also discussed facilitating tourism with the development of travel procedures, which was discussed during a video conference of tourism ministers of EU member states, held earlier this week. They also stressed the importance of strengthening the position of tourism, i.e., the availability of funding for the tourism sector through future EU financial frameworks, as well as in the current situation to maintain the stability of economic operators and jobs in the tourism sector.

"There are approximately 110,000 private properties owned by Slovene citizens in Croatia and it would be appropriate to allow them to visit their summer residences. In Slovenia, we are optimistic about the possibility of at least partially establishing cross-border tourist traffic between our two countries, at least in the late summer and under special health care conditions," said Slovenian Minister Počivalšek, noting that Slovenia and Croatia are traditional tourist and friendly countries and that both nations are good hosts.

According to data from the eVisitor system, in 2019, almost 1.6 million arrivals and almost 11 million overnight stays were generated in Croatia by guests from Slovenia.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Ministers Discuss Tourism

ZAGREB, April 29, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and his Slovenian counterpart Zdravko Počivalšek on Wednesday met in Zagreb for the talks on the tourism industry in the circumstances marked by the COVID-19 epidemic.

In light of the fact that Croatia and Slovenia have been cooperating for years in the joint promotion of their tourist industries, the two ministers underscored the importance of the further cooperation in that sector expressing hope that the epidemiological situation would soon allow for the opening of the borders.

They discussed the idea of enabling travels for tourist purposes provided that protocols for such travelling could be prepared, as suggested at a recent video conference of the European Union's tourism ministers.

Cappelli and Počivalšek also considered the availability of financial means for the stronger positioning of tourism through the future EU financial frameworks so as to maintain the stability of businesses in this sector.

Tourists from Slovenia are one of the most numerous and loyal visitors to Croatia and therefore we are talking about the possible reopening of the borders and making it possible for Slovenians to go on holidays in Croatia provided that there are all necessary measures in place, the Croatian minister said.

In this context he recalled that Slovenians have property in Croatia and are trying to find a solution how to visit their property in compliance with the epidemiological measures imposed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Počivalšek noted that about 110,000 summer houses or second homes are owned by Slovenians in Croatia and that it would be "suitable to allow them to visit their summer homes."

Počivalšek said that Slovenia was optimistic about partial re-establishment of the cross-border traffic for travellers between the two countries in late summer in compliance with the health protection measures.

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

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Slovenian President Pahor to Croats: We Will Defeat Coronavirus Together

ZAGREB, April 19, 2020 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor on Sunday sent a message of solidarity and encouragement to Croatian President Zoran Milanović and all Croatian citizens, saying we will defeat coronavirus together.

"We deeply admire the Croatian people which is showing determination, courage and hope in these difficult times," Pahor tweeted.

"Slovenia feels your sorrow and is genuinely looking forward to your successes," he added.

United with other European peoples, we will defeat coronavirus together, Pahor said. "Everything will be all right."

In the past few days, he sent messages to several European peoples, including Britons, the Czech, the French, Spaniards and Italians.

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

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Slovenian Committee Rejects Motion on Activating Troops Along Border with Croatia

ZAGREB, April 2, 2020 - The government-sponsored motion to give some of the police powers to army servicemen along the border with Croatia was turned down by the Slovenian parliament's defence committee on Wednesday evening.

For the proposal to be adopted, a two-third majority vote was necessary. However, during the vote, out of the 19 members who attended the committee's meeting in Ljubljana, 11 voted for the proposal, which was not enough to have the required two-third majority.

As a result, the motion could not be added to the agenda of the parliament.

Proposing the motion, the government led by Prime Minister Janez Janša said that the army, deployed in a five-kilometre-wide belt along the border with Croatia should be given some of the police powers in order to help relieve the burden on police officers so they can better be deployed to help keep the coronavirus epidemic in check.

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

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