Saturday, 28 January 2023

HDZ Claims That Russian Media is Praising President Zoran Milanovic

January the 28th, 2023 - We all know that President Zoran Milanovic (SDP) is one to make sometimes rather strange remarks, and he isn't at all shy when it comes to saying precisely what he thinks of everything and... well, everyone. Unfortunately, some of his statements have made him popular with the Russian press, and HDZ isn't having it.

As Index writes, HDZ recently took to Facebook in order to publish some of the titles and images of articles published in the Russian media space that convey the statements of President Zoran Milanovic about sending Western tanks into Ukraine.

"If America and Russia don't come to an agreement, and that currently isn't something that is in sight, this war will not stop. Somehow I hope that some kind of talks do continue, or we will slowly move towards WW3, which some people think has already started, but I'm a little more reserved on that front. As for the tanks, both Russian and American will burn," President Zoran Milanovic said recently, among other rather alarming things.

HDZ called him out in its social media publication with the taunting title "From Russia with love/Iz Rusije s ljubavlju".

"The caries (an insult comparing the president to a persistent form of tooth decay) from Pantovcak is once again being showcased as a hero by the Russian regime's media. How could they not praise and celebrate Zoran ''Lex Perkovic'' Milanovic when he, much like the Kremlin, insults Germany and condemns it for the delivery of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine? When he fervently spreads ideas which have already been being expressed Vladimir Putin's own spokesman Peskov, claiming that these tanks will 'burn' and threaten humanity - in order to stop aid from being sent to Ukraine - with 'a new world (nuclear) war?'' wrote HDZ.

"He wants Croatia to be in the ''Russian world'' they wrote, using the word ''svet'' instead of the Croatian word ''svijet'' for ''world'', in an apparent jab by using Serbian spelling.

''At the same time, President Zoran Milanovic has been saying things about the Germans, claiming that "that they've already tried to go to war with Russia", alluding to Adolf Hitler - similar to when he accused Ukrainians of "Nazism" because they don't agree with being enslaved. He also claims that the delivery of German and American tanks will ''only prolong the conflict'' (hm, conflict, not aggression or invasion). In translation - He demands that Kyiv capitulate!

Milanovic is now quite openly working in the interest of Russian aggression and Vladimir Putin's undemocratic regime, and against Ukraine, Europe (which he once again showered with insults) and the West. He wants Croatia in the "Russian world". But don't worry: Grbin & Grmoja will continue to support him, and will continue to claim that they ''see nothing objectionable'' in his statements," HDZ's Facebook post reads.

For more, check out our news section.

Monday, 16 January 2023

Croatian Citizen Support for Sanctions Against Russian Federation at 76%

January the 16th, 2023 - Croatian citizen support for sanctions imposed by Croatia and the entire European Union (EU) against Russia for its horrific treatment of Ukraine stands at 76%.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, within the European Union, Croatian citizen support for sanctions against the Russian Federation is above the average, as is its unwavering support for Ukraine. This was confirmed by a recent Eurobarometer survey, according to which 76% of respondents in Croatia stated that they fully or mostly support both Croatian and EU policies regarding events regarding Russia and Ukraine.

The average at the level of the European Union stopped at 73% of support, and it is interesting to look into what the obtained data shows for each individual country. Convincingly, the greatest support for sanctions was expressed in Finland and Sweden, where it stands at almost 100%, with both countries standing at 96%.

Those countries are followed by countries that do not border either Russia or Ukraine (Netherlands 93%, Denmark 92%, Ireland 91%, Portugal 90%) in which support for a complete cooling of relations with Russia is even higher than in Poland (89%) and Lithuania ( 88%).

Arguably, the least support for the European Union's policy towards Russia can be found in Greece, where not even half of the respondents were inclined to show full solidarity with the wartorn and devastated Ukraine. Almost the entire number of countries that made up the former Eastern bloc - Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - are below the European Union average in this regard. Another country showcasing relatively low support (62%) for the sanctions against Russia is also Italy.

Only 8% of citizens within the entire EU stated that they were completely and utterly against the policy of imposing sanctions against the Russian Federation for their abhorrent actions against neighbouring Ukraine which began with a shock invasion in February 2022, while there is a higher percentage of those who are "more in favour" (42%) of such sanctions than there are of those who are completely in favour.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

Friday, 25 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Politician Pay Rises, Schengen and Ukraine

November the 25th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from wage increases for politicians and state officials and saying an emphatic ''YES'' to training Ukrainian soldiers, to Austria changing its tune regarding Croatian Schengen accession and Milanovic claiming that it's actually America fighting with Russia through Ukraine.

The monthly wage earned by Plenkovic, his ministers and parliamentarians is set to go up

Much to the delight of every average Joe living and working in Croatia and struggling to make ends meet, Plenkovic and co are set to get a wage increase. 

You'll probably remember that last month, the government and the trade unions finally came to an agreement on a basic salary increase, meaning that the monthly salary will also increase for Plenkovic, Milanovic, Jandrokovic, government ministers and members of parliament, that is, for all officials. However, with the passing of this particular law, the President of the Constitutional Court will be taking home the highest official salary, and not President Zoran Milanovic.

With the amendments to the law that the government sent to the parliament recently, for which it is requesting adoption under an urgent procedure, the base rate for officials will be the same as that applied to civil servants, so all future increases, including this one now, will automatically apply to politicians as well.

One Ukrainian minister thanks Croatia for allowing Ukrainian soldiers to come and be trained to fight the Russians in Croatia

''Thanks, Plenkovic!'' tweets the minister...

You might recall the likes of President Zoran Milanovic among others being staunchly against the idea of training Ukrainian soldiers to fight against their invaders here in Croatia. Milanovic believed that Croatia's showcasing of unwavering support for Ukraine and providing help and safety for refugees was enough, and that anything else would be provocation of Putin and inviting the war to this country's doorstep. Many agreed with him. Many more found themselves surprised at agreeing with him.

Still, it seems that his case for disapproval fell on deaf ears as the Ukrainian Defence Minister, Oleksij Reznikov, thanked Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovi and Defense Minister Marij Banozic on Twitter after the government sent the decision on Croatia's participation in the military aid mission to Ukraine for approval by the parliament yesterday.

"The government of the Republic of Croatia approved the decision to train the Ukrainian army in Croatia. A modern, well-trained army with powerful partners will definitely defeat a pack of Russian murderers, robbers and rapists. Thank you Andrej Plenkovic and Mario Banozic for their support!" Reznikov tweeted.

Croatia's participation in the military aid mission to Ukraine includes the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, which isn't something many people are all too thrilled about. Banozic, however, seems to have allowed all logical opposition to this fly right over his head. ''What are they against? Are they against saving lives?'' he asked.

Zoran Milanovic claims that America is fighting a war against Russia... through Ukraine

If you're a follower of Croatian politics in any deeper capacity, you'll know that President Milanovic often comes out with some rather unusual things. He also never misses an opportunity to spit on HDZ, which for many makes him a popular character in at least one aspect. For others, his distasteful remarks cross the line a bit too often, and for others, well, they can't quite make head nor tail of him. He has recently come out with something quite strange.

The Day of the City of Zadar took place recently, which is celebrated at a formal session of the City Council, and Milanovic was there. As expected, he referred to the government's decision to train Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia which I mentioned above, and which he was firmly against. "This is personal terror and harassment by Plenkovic, it's just his desire to push some of his ideas," said Milanovic, as RTL reported at the time.

President Milanovic also said that he knows what is written in the Croatian Constitution because ''he wrote it''. He was referring to the statement of the government at that session that the training of Ukrainian soldiers is based on the Constitution and on the laws and international agreements according to which Ukraine is an allied country.

''Therefore,'' Milanovic added: "Ukraine, to its credit, is not an ally." "The Croatian Parliament is not responsible for making any decisions on the training of foreign soldiers in Croatia," he said. He called things as they were set up by the government a "Udbas sabotage", which, if you know who the ''Udbasi'' (the Yugoslav secret service) were and what they got up to, you'll realise is quite the statement.

"Now it will be seen who's Russia and who's for Ukraine. I'm not for anyone. I'm for Croatia,'' Milanovic said.

"There's a war going on there between America and Russia. Between Russia and Ukraine, I'm on the side of Ukraine, of course. But it's a war between America and Russia," he said. "We have to state that the Americans are waging a war against Russia through Ukrainian youths, we have to say that. When it comes to decisions that have a security and defense character, you have to consult with the president, and I say to the members of parliament: ''Don't be intimidated,'' he said.

New measures against inflation could come to be, and all hands are on deck for post-earthquake reconstruction (for the earthquake that occurred two years ago)

Plenkovic recently pointed out that the proposed state budget for next year will provide funds for the growth of both wages and pensions, increased funds for veterans and the army, and he also announced possible new measures to mitigate the impact of inflation, with the message that "there's power and space for that".

"We have the space and strength to do that, if there's a need, and considering the circumstances, our measures will be precise and comprehensive, and as we've done so far, we'll solve it and you'll be satisfied with what we do,'' said Plenkovic in response to Branko Grcic (SDP ) when asked what will happen at the end of March next year, when all previous measures are due to expire.

''We'll also reduce excise duties on heating oil and thereby provide additional assistance to people,'' announced the Prime Minister during the parliamentary debate on the 2023 budget, adding that ''the number of people at risk of poverty is continuously falling in Croatia and that figure is smaller than when we assumed responsibility.''

In his answers to the deputies, Plenković pointed out that the fight against corruption continues, that it is strong and brings results.

Regarding the post-earthquake reconstruction for the earthquakes which struck Zagreb in March 2020 and the Banovina area in December of that same year, which he was also asked about, Plenkovic said that the government is providing a lot of aid and that the reconstruction of houses is intensifying, that all departments are working on reconstruction and are in charge of spending the available funds.

Austria is now all for Croatia joining Schengen, or is it?

You may have read (or heard) about Austria taking a stance against Croatia joining the Schengen zone in January 2023, with talk of the country potentially going as far as to block entry. Now it seems that the tide has turned, or has it? Memories are short when it comes to Croatian politics.

Plenkovic recently received the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Karl Nehammer, at Banski dvori. This is Nehammer's first official visit to Croatia as chancellor.

"In the last thirty years or so, relations with Austria have been among the most extensive of the numerous countries with which Croatia cooperates since it was internationally recognised. Since the 1990s, Austria has been the second biggest investor in Croatia. This year, Croatia was visited by one and a half million Austrian tourists,'' said Plenkovic at the beginning of the press conference.

"Today we also discussed the most important topic ahead of this visit, which is the final two weeks before the decision on Croatian membership of the Schengen area. This was an opportunity to once again explain to the chancellor what Croatia has done from 2016 until today," Plenkovic said.

"We're currently discussing the expansion of Schengen, and we can see that Austria in particular has insufficient protection of its external borders. At the same time, we have a reduction in border protection within the EU itself, in our opinion it can't continue like that, so some measures will have to be taken,'' he said.

"When we talk about Schengen's expansion, and at the same time we criticise the plan that the European Commission should present with regard to these problems that we've presented, it is important to say that this doesn't apply to Croatia. Special votes will be cast for Croatia, as they will for both Bulgaria and Romania. We'll support Croatia's accession to the Schengen area, but we're going to be critical of the efforts of Bulgaria and Romania," added the Austrian chancellor.

The Austrian chancellor also said that it is necessary to change the system and strengthen the EU's external borders in order to make free movement within Schengen possible.

It's worth noting that Austrian Minister of the Interior, Gerhard Karner, caused great concern reently after he said that he was against the expansion of the Schengen area to include Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. Over the past few days, he has repeatedly said that he is against any Schengen expansion, which he said is something that simply isn't working, which can be seen from the increased number of asylum seekers arriving in Austria. That country registered the entry of around 100,000 migrants this year alone, of which 75,000 were not previously registered in any EU country at all.

Nehammer warned that his minister wanted to signal that "Schengen is clearly not working and that new measures are needed." The Council for Justice and Internal Affairs meets on December the 8th and 9th, when it will make the final decision on Croatia's entry into the Schengen area. Croatia's accession was previously supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, so all fingers (and likely toes) are crossed.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep your eyes peeled for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 7 October 2022

Croatian Educational Campaign About Integrating Ukrainian Families Begins

October the 7th, 2022 - A praiseworthy Croatian educational campaign aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of accepting Ukrainian families who have fled from their war-torn homeland has kicked off.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the very first words of the educational video created by the Centre for Missing and Abused Children which aims to shed light on the importance of the acceptance and integration of displaced persons are that ''we're all born free, mum says that the entire world is ours. I guess we should know that, because we've seen it all.''

Since the end of February this year and the beginning of the armed conflict in Ukraine following Russian invasion, we have been witnessing wanton destruction in that country by Russian forces, due to which many Ukrainian families were forced to leave their homes and flee the country entirely.

In order to provide displaced persons with the best possible support, the Centre for Missing and Abused Children has launched an informative Croatian educational campaign called Sinergija integracije/Synergy of Integration, which is being financially supported by the Office for NGOs of the Croatian Government and which aims to provide displaced persons, in this case those individuals are primarily Ukrainian families, with faster and easier access to all necessary information about protection, help, education and getting into work.

"With this Croatian educational campaign, we want to increase the level of awareness of the wider public about the needs of integration of Ukrainian families in the area of ​​Osijek-Baranja County, but also in other parts of Croatia. In addition to the video, which aims to provide a sense of hope, togetherness and love, we also created other promotional and educational materials such as picture books, colouring books and short stories, with which we want to ensure the reduction of the language barrier and connect children from different cultures,'' said Tomislav Ramljak, head of the Centre.

The Synergy of Integration campaign is part of the wider Slavonian heart for families of Ukraine action/Slavonsko srce za obitelji Ukrajine plan, as part of which an Info Centre for displaced persons from Ukraine was established in Osijek, where they could get all the information about their registration of residence, temporary protection, rights from the social welfare system, employment, healthcare and education. Back at the beginning of June, the Day Centre was established, where various activities and workshops for displaced persons from Ukraine are being held every day.

The Centre for Missing and Abused Children is otherwise a leading organisation that has been operating for more than fifteen years in the field of protecting children from abuse and sexual exploitation on the Internet. It takes care of children who are having to cope in unfavourable living conditions every day and tries to raise the quality of their lives. In cooperation with the wider community, various experts and competent institutions, the Centre works to prevent the disappearance of children and provides support to families in crisis situations.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 18 July 2022

62 Croatian Works of Art Donated to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 18 July 2022 - A humanitarian campaign for Ukraine by the Croatian Association of Fine Artists' (HDLU) Vinkovci branch wrapped up in the eastern town of Vinkovci on Sunday with an exhibition and the handover of 62 works by 57 artists to the Ukrainian Embassy.

"We are giving these works of art to the Ukrainian people with the wish that they ennoble the walls of two to three schools and one institution in Ukraine, to be selected by the Ukrainians," said HDLU Vinkovci vice president Marko Lončar.

He said the exhibition was called Culture to Culture "because we Croats are giving part of our culture to Ukrainian culture."

He recalled that the campaign began in April with a donation exhibition called "Appeal to Assist Displaced Ukrainians" in Vinkovci, in cooperation with the Croatian Red Cross.

Thankful for the donation, Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyly Kyrylych said Croatia and its people strongly supported Ukraine since the start of the Russian aggression.

"Here in Vinkovci today, we see again that Croats strongly support Ukraine because they experienced and know what it means to defend one's state. We are grateful for that. We are strong in spirit and strong, not in hope, but in faith that we will win because we are defending our country, our homes, our families," he said.

"This is yet another aspect of our assistance to the Ukrainian people, with whom we empathize, confident that they will succeed in winning their freedom," said Vukovar-Srijem County head Damir Dekanić.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

56th Đakovački Vezovi Folklore Festival Opens with Ukraine as Partner Country

ZAGREB, 2 July 2022 - The 56th Đakovački vezovi folklore festival opened in Đakovo on Friday and this year's partner is Ukraine.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said this festival in the heart of the Slavonia region showed how rich Croatian culture, tradition, heritage and folklore were.

He said that "in this difficult moment for Ukraine, Croatia, and notably Slavonia, know and understand what sacrifice is, what it means to be attacked, and what solidarity and support for friends are when they need it most."

That's why these past few months Croatia has taken in Ukrainian refugees and extended strong political, humanitarian and financial support to Ukraine, a victim of Russian aggression, Plenković said.

We say that on the ninth anniversary of Croatia's EU membership and just a couple of days after Ukraine won EU membership candidate status, with strong, firm and big support from Croatia and the Croatian people, he added.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said many MPs from different political groups gathered at the opening of Đakovački vezovi and that this showed how much they cared about nurturing Croatian tradition, identity and roots.

He said that "in such challenging times, firm roots are extremely important." Our firm roots come from our tradition, history, faith, identity and culture, and Đakovački vezovi is a festival celebrating everything Croatia has and what the Croatian people has built over the centuries, he added.

Đakovo Mayor Marin Mandarić said the festival was a top cultural and tourist event in Croatia.

Ambassador Vasily Kyrylych extended his thanks for the invitation that Ukraine be this year's partner country and for the strong support to Ukraine and the reception of its refugees. He also thanked the Croatian parliament for being the first in Europe to adopt a resolution on the situation in Ukraine and its support to his country.

The main event of Đakovački vezovi is on Sunday, when 50 folklore groups with 2,000 participants from Croatia and abroad will take part in a procession through the city centre. The festival includes exhibitions, workshops, concerts, cuisine and children's programmes.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Ukrainian Films to Be Screened in Croatian Independent Cinemas in July

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - At the beginning of July, the Croatian Independent Cinemas Network and Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) will start screening Ukrainian films in independent cinemas throughout Croatia, where visitors will have the opportunity to see three Ukrainian classics and three contemporary productions.

The program will be held until September in more than 20 cinemas. The screenings have been organised in cooperation with the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre.

The three Ukrainian classics that will be shown to the Croatian audience are: "Man with a Movie Camera" from 1929, "Operation Dowry" from 1961 and "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" from 1965. HAVC noted that these masterpieces of Ukrainian cinema are excellent starting points to get to know Ukrainian film culture.

A special partner of the Film Borscht programme is the Ukrainian Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, and the programme also has a humanitarian character with a fundraising campaign for the centre.

The programme begins in July and in some cinemas it will run through August and September. 

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Zelenskyy Thanks Croatia for Helping with Its Experience in Defense of Country

ZAGREB, 24 June 2022 - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy individually thanked each leader of the EU member states for granting his country candidate status, including Croatia's Prime Minister for "helping with the experience of defending freedom," Ukrainian media reported on Friday.

"Croatia is with us. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your help with the experience we are using to protect our freedom,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday after Ukraine was granted EU candidate status, according to the Ukrainian Kyiv Post.

Addressing EU leaders on Thursday, Zelenskyy said they had made one of the most important decisions for Ukraine in its 30 years of independence.

"However, I believe that this decision is not only for Ukraine. "This is the biggest step towards strengthening Europe that could be taken right now, in our time and in such difficult conditions, when the Russian war is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity," Zelensky said.

The leaders of the EU member states made a historic decision in Brussels on Thursday and granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and promised a European perspective to Georgia.

Ukraine and Moldova received candidate status in the shortest possible time until now.

Ukraine submitted a request on 28 February this year, four days after the Russian invasion, and a few days later the same was done by Georgia and Moldova.

As early as 7 March, the European Council asked the European Commission to draw up an opinion on these requests. The EC did so on 17 June.

Croatia, for example, applied for membership on 21 February 2003, and two months later the Council asked the Commission to issue an opinion.

One year later, in April 2004, the Commission issued its opinion for Croatia, and its candidate status was granted in June 2004. Croatia joined the EU in mid-2013.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Over 6,800 Ukrainian Children Find Shelter in Croatia

ZAGREB, 1 June 2022 - More than 6,800 children have arrived in Croatia from war-torn Ukraine and 182 are being accommodated in Hotel Zagreb in Duilovo, Split, Labour and Social Policy Minister Marin Piletić said on Wednesday while visiting a group of refugee children located in the hotel.

These are children aged between 8 and 16 and mostly play for the Shakhtar football club or some other Ukrainian clubs whose stay was arranged by a former prominent Croatian football player Dario Srna, it was said during Piletić's visit.

"We thank everyone who is helping these children. We wish these children ther return to their homes as soon as possible but we are also prepared to integrate them into our society," the minister said.

"The government stands with Ukraine, politically, economically and emotionally because we experienced that in the period from 1991 to 1995," he said.

Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban underscored there are 3,064 Ukrainian refugees located in the county, mostly in tourist facilities and private apartments.

"The tourist season is coming and together in cooperation with the Civil Protection administration we are finding ways to accommodate refugees so that tourism facilities can be put to use during the summer tourist season," said Boban.

UNHCR representative in Croatia, Anna Rich thanked Croatia for establishing a comprehensive legislative approach and for accepting and caring for Ukrainian refugees.

The majority of refugees fleeing from Ukraine are women and children and we call for caution regarding the risk of gender conditioned violence, people trafficking and grave risks to the protection given the profile of the population and unstable situation, said Rich.

She added that the UNHCR supports government efforts including those of the Croatian government to increase preventative measures and protection against exploitation and abuse including raising awareness and providing information to refugees.

Children's ombudsman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević underscored that the Convention on the Rights of the Child commits all countries to protecting children's rights, particularly vulnerable groups like children from Ukraine because of the war.

She added that online access has been arranged for children located in Hotel Zagreb so they can follow school lessons being conducted in Ukraine.

CZ Director Damir Trut informed that so far 18,899 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Jandroković Reassures Ukrainian Official of Croatia's Continuing Support

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - Croatia supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue providing Kyiv with humanitarian, political, and technical assistance, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday in Zagreb at a meeting with a deputy chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Olena Kondratiuk.

The Ukrainian deputy parliament speaker thanked Croatia for the support it has extended so far to her country, including the reception of several thousand refugees.

A press release issued by the Sabor quotes Jandroković as saying that he conveyed Croatians' strong solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Croatia, which itself was a victim of military aggression in the 1990s, can understand the grave situation that Ukrainian defenders and people are now experiencing, reads the press release.

Kondratiuk informed Jandroković of the current military and humanitarian state of affairs in Ukraine and notified him of Ukraine's efforts to be granted EU candidate status.

In this context, she thanked Croatia for its support to Ukraine's European aspirations and also for assistance in mine clearance and in the rehabilitation and treatment of wounded war veterans and for offering its experience in the peaceful reintegration of occupied areas and post-war reconstruction.

For more, check out our politics section.

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