Thursday, 31 January 2019

Interior Minister Visits Turkish-Syrian Border, Discusses Migrant Crisis

ZAGREB, January 31, 2019 - Europe will have to do more about the resolving of conflicts and finding of peaceful solutions in its neighbourhood, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on the Turkish-Syrian border on Wednesday, visiting two camps in which Turkey has taken in some of the nearly four million Syrian refugees fleeing from military conflicts in their country.

"In the future, Europe will have to do more about conflict solving, about finding peace agreements, because we have seen how much Europe is exposed if its immediate neighbourhood is... destabilised. Unless the situation here is under control, in Europe we can expect various events which we don't want to see," Božinović told Croatian reporters at a Turkish-Syrian border crossing near Kilis, Turkey.

He said Europe must utilise the strength it "realistically has" given that, economically, it is one of the most developed parts of the world. "Europe also has the resources. It's just a matter of agreeing on their use and of how much European, not just narrow national goals, come first to all stakeholders in Europe."

After visiting the refugee camps, Božinović reiterated that Turkey had invested a lot of effort to accommodate almost four million people from Syria. "The logistic support is at a very high level. There are schools, religious facilities, different courses are being organised," he said, adding that in the two camps he visited more than 5,000 children were born in the past few years.

He said the lasting solution was for the people to return to their homes and that he hoped "reason will prevail and that the EU will play a stronger part." "If Europe doesn't play a strong, active role in conflict prevention, we will deal with such crises in future too and that's in nobody's interest."

"In several weeks a delegation from our Interior Ministry will arrive in Turkey and choose another 100 people to come to Croatia. It is important, however, not to make any wrong moves in these integration efforts, because all the failures of the integration policy in the European union came back to haunt us through very radical events in recent history," Božinović said.

He told the press in Turkey that in the 1990s Croatia had one million refugees, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also from other parts of Croatia. He said that he had seen efforts made by all parties involved and a great amount of humanity. Božinović said that regardless of the fact that Turkey was doing all that it could, there was no place like home.

Božinović visited the two refugee camps outside Nizip and Kilis, each accommodating approximately 4,000 people, and held talks with camp administrators and refugees.

Most of refugees that the Croatian media talked to there want to go back to Syria but have no means to do that.

More news on the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Interior Minister Visits Turkey to Discuss Refugee Crisis

ZAGREB, January 30, 2019 - During talks with his Turkish counterpart Suleyman Soylu in Ankara on Tuesday, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović underscored that Turkey, particularly due to its care for almost four million refugees, was Croatia's and also the European Union's strategic partner. "Croatia values Turkey's efforts in resolving the refugee crisis," Božinović said after the meeting at Turkey's interior ministry.

Both ministers underlined that this was their second meeting following the UN conference in Marakesh where they had also discussed bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation in the field of security and migration management. "Migration remains the leading challenge that requires a comprehensive response, particularly when it comes to illegal migration and smuggling networks that have recently intensified their activities on alternative routes," Božinović said.

Soylu recalled the historical ties between Croatia and Turkey, adding that relations with Croatia would continue to be important in the future too. "We have similar thoughts. We had an opportunity to discuss relations between Croatia and Turkey. We exchanged opinions on the issues of terrorism and drug smuggling, and agreed to fight that together," he said.

He expressed hope that when Croatia chairs the Council of the EU in 2020, Turkey would progress toward the European Union, particularly because the presidents of the two countries had already agreed to intensify relations.

Božinović said that security would be one of Croatia's priorities during its EU presidency, including migration, border security, the fight against terrorism, organised and cybercrime.

On Wednesday, the Croatian delegation will visit refugee camps on the Syrian border.

According to UNHCR data, there are currently 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey. According to an EU-Turkey agreement, Turkey receives six billion euro from Europe and Croatia has so far paid in 5.7 euro million for that purpose. In the fourth quarter of this year, Croatia will contribute an additional 250,000 euro and a further 3 million euro in a total of 10 instalments from 2019 to 2023.

According to data from the Croatian Interior Ministry, 152 Syrians have been integrated into Croatian society to date following a 2015 decision that has been implemented by the present government. In October 2017, the government decided to accept an additional 100 refugees.

More news on the refugee crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Croatia and Turkey Committed to Boosting Trade

ZAGREB, January 17, 2019 - Croatia and Turkey are committed to increasing their trade to a billion dollars annually, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his visiting Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar Kitarović said in Ankara on Wednesday.

Speaking to the press after two-hour talks at the end of the Croatian president's day-long return visit, Erdogan said that they mostly share similar opinions in regional and international affairs. We will intensify our efforts to increase mutual investments, said Erdogan in his comment on the meeting which focused on economic matters.

In 2017, bilateral trade totalled 531 million dollars, and Erdogan expected the trade to have increased to some 600 million dollars in 2018.

The Croatian government recalled that the Croatian-Turkish economic forum which was held in April 2016 had generated huge interest in the two countries' business communities.

The two presidents pushed for closer cooperation in the energy and transport sectors.

Grabar-Kitarović underscored that many Croatian companies had been awarded halal certificates. She expressed satisfaction with continued high-level cooperation between the two countries, considering Turkey's global importance.

Croatia is a staunch advocate of Turkey's European Union membership bid, Erdogan recalled. He expects the strengthening of pertaining activities during Croatia's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020. Turkey and Croatia opened accession talks with Brussels on the same day, however, Ankara-Brussels talks are proceeding slowly and are currently at a standstill.

Grabar-Kitarović described Turkey as a membership candidate and key partner of the European Union. She pointed out Turkey's key role in coping with the migrant crisis. Turkey is an essential partner in curbing illegal migration and in fighting terrorism, she said.

Before the two presidents' meeting, the two countries signed a set of agreements on cooperation in culture and arts and one regulating the construction of an Islamic centre in the Croatian town of Sisak. "Islam is an irreplaceable part of the spiritual and religious mosaic of the Croatian society," the Croatian president told the press conference.

As members of NATO and sharing the interest in developments in Southeast Europe, Croatia and Turkey are perceived as allies, and the two presidents also commented on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey have held seven trilateral meetings since 2010, and the last ones were organised on the margins of the UN General Assembly meetings in 2016 and 2017.

Erdogan and Grabar-Kitarović said they were committed to revitalising trilateral meetings in a bid to help improve the reform processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The trilateral mechanism is important, although we have neglected it, Erdogan admitted.

Asked about his opinion on the election of Željko Komšić as the Croat member of Bosnia's presidency despite the fact that his contender won more votes from the Croatian electorate, Erdogan said that elections were an expression of the will of voters and that he could not say how many voters of Bosniak origin had cast their ballots for Komšić, whom Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats do not accept as their legitimate representative. It is our aim to reach a compromise on the basis of this result, the Turkish president said.

He admitted that the Dayton peace agreement, which ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were good then, but that it needed to be changed. The Dayton agreement cannot bring progress any longer, Erdogan said, adding that he wanted a strong Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country of all its peoples.

Grabar-Kitarović said she could agree with a remark from the press about creeping changes of the Dayton agreement. Croatia will insist on dialogue, she said, adding that Zagreb insists on the implementation of the Bosnian Constitutional Court ruling on election legislation changes. All three peoples should be ensured a democratic right to be able to elect their respective legitimate representatives, she said.

President Grabar-Kitarović began her state visit by laying a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

According to a press release from her office, "with the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Binali Yildirim President Grabar-Kitarović discussed parliamentary cooperation and the Turkish-Croatian Friendship Group, which was formed in the Turkish Parliament on 8 November 2018."

"Furthermore, they exchanged views on current events in the Croatian and Turkish neighbourhood and on the state of affairs in South East Europe, which is an interest both countries share with regard to preserving stability and stimulating progress."

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

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Croatian President to Visit Turkey on Wednesday

ZAGREB, January 16, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will pay a return state visit to Turkey on Wednesday at the invitation of her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, her office said on Tuesday.

Grabar-Kitarović will begin the visit by laying a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, and with a working meeting with Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim. Her meeting with Erdogan will be followed by a meeting of the two countries' delegations.

The two presidents will attend the signing of a programme of cooperation in culture and the arts for the 2019-21 period as well as a protocol of cooperation in the Sisak Islamic Cultural Centre Project between the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency and the Islamic Community of Croatia.

Grabar-Kitarović will wrap up her visit with a working dinner with her host, to which representatives of the Croatian community in Turkey have been invited.

Croatia and Turkey have very good relations, without outstanding issues, and this visit will be another opportunity to continue and strengthen dialogue at the highest level, Grabar-Kitarović's office said.

Erdogan paid a state visit to Croatia in April 2016, attending a ceremony marking 100 years since the recognition of Islam's equality with other religions in Croatia. Grabar-Kitarović paid a working visit to Turkey in January last year. She and Erdogan also met on the fringes of the UN General Assembly meeting last autumn.

In Zagreb, Erdogan said he was pleased with the integration of the Muslim community in Croatian society, stressing that Croatia was a praiseworthy example of coexistence of different faiths. He said that in contemporary societies it was necessary to cultivate cooperation, not a clash of civilisations.

Among other things, the two presidents will talk about boosting economic cooperation and stimulating investment. In Zagreb, Erdogan said trade between the two countries should amount to one billion dollars and that tourism, energy, finance and agriculture had potential for stronger cooperation.

According to Croatian data, Croatia-Turkey trade amounted to 486.8 million dollars in 2017, of which 171.6 million dollars were Croatian exports, up 40% on 2016. In the first ten months of 2018, trade was 427 million dollars, Grabar-Kitarović's office said. In 2015, trade was 348.8 million dollars.

The two presidents will also talk about the situation in the Middle East, in the wake of US President Donald Trump's announcement that US troops will pull out of Syria.

They will also talk about the situation in Southeast Europe, with which Turkey has strong historical ties and where it has made major investments, including the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

Croatia will reiterate its support to Turkey on its European Union journey given that Turkey is one of Europe's main security and economic partners.

Grabar-Kitarović said in Ankara last year that Croatia was especially grateful to Turkey for caring for millions of refugees from the Middle East and for honouring the 2016 agreement with the EU which made it possible to stop the refugee flow across the Balkans.

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

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Kurdish Refugee Still Awaiting Release from Prison in Croatia

ZAGREB, July 21, 2018 - Nurettin Oral, a Turkish Kurd who has been granted asylum in Switzerland, expects to be released from custody in Croatia after the Constitutional Court recently upheld his complaint and quashed an earlier ruling by Vukovar County Court and the Supreme Court regarding an extradition request filed by Turkey.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Kurdish Refugee Sought by Turkey Spends a Year in Prison

ZAGREB, July 18, 2018 - The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) non-governmental organisation warned on Wednesday that a Kurdish refugee, Nurettin Oral, was still detained in an Osijek prison even though he was arrested more than a year ago based on a warrant issued by Turkey and even though the Constitutional Court ruled on a temporary ban on his extradition six months ago.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Refugees Resettled from Turkey to Croatia

ZAGREB, July 11, 2018 - Another group of refugees, the fourth since the end of last year, who have chosen Croatia as their final destination, have been resettled from Turkey to Croatia.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Large Turkish Cargo Ship Sinking in Croatian Adriatic

The accident happened near the island of Jabuka.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Turkey’s Dogus Group Hosts Two Regattas in Croatia

ZAGREB, May 23, 2018 - Turkey's Dogus Group is hosting two TP52 Super Series regattas in its marinas in Croatia this month and in late June.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Turkish President Erdogan Promises Support to Bosnia

ZAGREB, May 20, 2018 - Turkey has no hidden intentions towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and it is trying to contribute to Bosnia's stability, Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan said in Sarajevo on Sunday, adding however that he expected full cooperation for a showdown with the "FETO octopus," which is how he calls his political opponents whom he holds responsible for last year's failed coup d'etat.

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