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.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Plenković: Croatia Admires Resistance of Ukrainian People

ZAGREB, 8 May 2022 - Croatia admires the resistance of the Ukrainian people and their European aspirations and is ready to help with its own experience in post-war reconstruction, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday.

Plenković made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Victory in Europe Day and ahead of Europe Day, observed on 9 May. In his speech, he expressed Croatia's full support to the Ukrainians in their resistance to the military aggression by neighbouring Russia and to Ukraine's EU path.

"We admire the resistance you have demonstrated in the face of the Russian aggression. You are fighting not only for the freedom of Ukraine but also for the values that we all share," the Croatian PM said.

Croatia itself experienced military aggression and that's why "we understand how hard the pressure is and how difficult the situation is for the defenders and Ukrainians," Plenković said and added: "I have the highest regard for the heroism of Ukrainian soldiers defending their homes, their families, their territory and their homeland."

Addressing a joint press conference with President Zelensky, Plenković noted that he was well aware of the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

Before becoming prime minister, Plenković had served as chairman of the European Parliament delegation to Ukraine and headed an EP observer mission for the 2014 election in Ukraine. As prime minister, he had offered Ukraine Croatia's experience with the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region after its 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Plenković also offered Croatia's experience with post-war reconstruction, mine clearance, and reconciliation. "We would like to share this experience with you," he said, recalling that he had last visited Kyiv five months ago when he and Zelensky signed a statement on Ukraine's EU membership perspective.

He commended Ukraine for responding so quickly to the EU questionnaire, presented to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which is the first step by an aspirant country to gain the status of a membership candidate.

"We will be on your side every step of the way," Plenković said.

Croatia has supported the first five packages of sanctions which the EU has imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and will support a sixth package which is being prepared.

Plenković expressed satisfaction that Croatian Ambassador Anica Djamić has returned to Kyiv and that the Embassy will continue to operate normally. "This, too, is a strong sign of support to Ukraine and Ukrainians," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Božinović Comments on Case of Croatian National Taken Prisoner in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 May 2022 - It is difficult to say at this point when we could expect progress on the case of the Croatian national who has been taken prisoner by Russian forces in Ukraine, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday.

"Croatia is doing and will continue to do all it can. The situation is difficult in that he was arrested by Russian forces. We have sought information through our diplomatic service and will continue following this case, seeking answers to the questions, first of all those asked by his family. That is our obligation under the constitution and law," Božinović told the press in Zagreb.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said on Saturday that a Croatian national had been taken prisoner in Ukraine and that it was dealing with the case in cooperation with Ukrainian authorities. Russian media said that "a Croatian mercenary" had been captured in Mariupol.

"Considering the circumstances, at this point I cannot predict when we could expect any progress," Božinović said.

He said that any Croatian nationals who may be fighting in that war are doing that at their own risk and that the Croatian government is not involved in it in any way.

Commenting on today's visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, Božinović said: "I think this visit is a strong gesture of statesmanship and a sign of support to Ukraine that has been going on since the first day of the Russian aggression."

The visit came nearly two and a half months after Russia launch a military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

"I don't think this visit by the Croatian prime minister differs in any way from visits made by several prime ministers a while ago, by the UN secretary general, the US secretaries of state and defence, and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission," Božinović said, adding that the visit was organised in the same way as other such visits given the security situation in Ukraine.

He recalled that Croatia had sent various types of aid to Ukraine and pledged to send €5 million in aid at a donors' conference in Warsaw on Thursday, and that more than 17,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Hajduk: Over €80,000 Raised in Charity Friendly for Ukrainian Children

2 May 2022 (Hina) - Over HRK 600,000 (€80,000) was raised for Ukrainian children left without parents as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a friendly charity match between Hajduk Split and Shakhtar Donetsk in Split on Sunday, the Croatian football club said.

A total of 6,550 tickets were sold for the match and more than 30,000 calls were placed to the donor number 060 9006, which will be active until 15 May. Among the guests at Hajduk's call centre were well-known athletes, actors, singers, members of the management board and UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Is Croatia Near Ukraine? Some Answers to Tourist Google Searches

May 1, 2022 - As the conflict continues and the tourism season approaches, an increase in Google searches asking the same question - is Croatia near Ukraine?

Back in July 2018, one of the most-searched terms on the Internet was 'Where is Croatia?' The heroics of the national team at the 2018 World Cup, all the way to the final in Moscow, where Croatia eventually lost 4-2 to France, captured the hearts of hundreds of millions all over the globe. 

But just exactly where was Croatia?

Westerners seem to have a particular blind spot when it comes to the geography of Central and Eastern Europe, or so it seems to me. Slovenia, Slavonia, or Slovakia, for instance.  Before the war in the 1990s, Croatia was the second-most visited place after Spain for British tourists, but they knew it better as Yugoslavia. Independence gave Croatia back its identity, but foreigners still struggle to place it on a map. It is often lumped together with other countries in Eastern Europe. 

And so when war comes to eastern Europe, tourists planning on a vacation to Croatia without knowing exactly where it is understandably get a little nervous and ask the same question - is Croatia near Ukraine?

My two fun facts about the location of Croatia which surprise a lot of foreigners should help to place the geographical position of Croatia:

Croatia is just 25km by car from Italy (a short drive through Slovenia)

Vienna is further east than Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. So much for lying in Eastern Europe. 

is-croatia-near-ukraine.jpg

As one can see from the map above, there are several countries - all of which are NATO members - who are between Ukraine and Croatia. In the unlikely event that Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland were drawn into the conflict, then perhaps there would be cause for alarm in Croatia. But at that point, few would be thinking of taking a vacation. 

Croatia is a member of NATO and is not a major importer of Russian oil, and Russian gas accounts for about 5% of its needs.  The distance (through NATO-country Hungary) from the westernmost point of Ukraine to the easternmost point of Croatia is about 500 kilometres. Munich, Venice and Milan are much closer. 

So Is Croatia near Ukraine, and should this affect your holiday planning to Croatia? Not at all. Croatia is near Ukraine in only one thing - its unwavering support against the current aggression. But if you are planning your holiday to Croatia, proximity to Ukraine and the likelihood of the conflict spilling over is no more likely than in any other NATO country. 

For more on tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated travel section.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Croatia Has Taken in 15,550 Ukrainian Refugees

25 April 2022 - Croatia has taken in 15,550 refugees from war-torn Ukraine and 2,446 of them are currently located in Split-Dalmatia County, the head of the Civil Protection Directorate, Damir Trut, said in Split on Monday.

"So far, fewer than 10,000 people have applied for temporary protection and they have the right to education, accommodation, healthcare and other needs," Trut said after meeting with Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban and local civil protection personnel included in organising the reception of refugees.

A Ukrainian doctor and psychologist are available to refugees, while unaccompanied children have been placed in foster care. According to the head of the local civil protection organisation, Srđan Kušćević, children are attending online classes.

Trut and Boban discussed options for the Ukrainian refugees who are currently staying in accommodation that is usually rented out during the tourist season.

Of the children staying in the county, 106 are attending elementary school, 7 are secondary-school students and 17 are attending kindergarten.

Elderly refugees are learning Croatian at the Centre for Life-Long Learning.

Split-Dalmatia County is "one of the few counties that has its own operations centre where all the information related to refugees can be obtained in one place thanks to the Red Cross," Boban said, adding that activities are also being prepared with the Ukrainian ambassador.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Can Croatian Financial Sector Withstand Consequences of Ukraine War?

April the 23rd, 2022 - Can the Croatian financial sector withstand the consequences of the war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion? Experts say yes.

As Tomislav Pili/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian financial sector isn't immune to the consequences of the ongoing war in Ukraine, but there will be no big problems because it is strong enough to withstand whatever the outcome may be, according to the Macroprudential Risk Scanner of the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (Hanfa).

The growth of geopolitical risks caused by the Ukraine-Russian war increased systemic risks in the financial services sector back in February by increasing already pronounced inflationary pressures and disrupting investor sentiment, the publication said.

Risk growth

The beginning of 2022 was additionally marked by the growth of interest rate and market risk, which in the short term had a negative impact on the risk of profitability of the financial services sector, but the level of capitalisation of the Croatian financial sector remains high even in such unpleasant conditions.

“Liquidity in the Croatian financial sector in terms of services during the first quarter of 2022 was maintained at very high levels despite increased pressures on disbursements from some investment funds. The analysis conducted in the analytical report called: ''Do domestic institutional investors behave pro-cyclically?'' Showed that in the period from 2014 to 2021, there was no systemically significant search for returns in the financial services sector, despite pressures on profitability in the form of declining returns on bond investments.

Nevertheless, cyclical systemic risks are at elevated levels in the context of pronounced market uncertainties and pronounced structural vulnerabilities of the sector, which are primarily reflected in the increased concentration of investment in domestic government bonds,'' they said from Hanfa.

At the beginning of the year, investment funds recorded double the amount of pressure placed on assets in terms of negative market movements, as well as increased disbursements, but to a much lesser extent than back in March 2020.

Their net assets at the end of March were 16 percent lower than they were back at the end of 2021 and amounted to 18.1 billion kuna. Sudden pressures on share payments due to the limited nature of such a recent shock and high liquidity reserves of the funds didn't manage to undermine the liquidity position of investment funds, the regulator claims.

Negative impacts

Changes across the wider financial market also affected the value of investments of pension funds, whose assets amounted to 139.8 billion kuna back at the end of March, which is a decrease of 0.7 percent when compared to the end of 2021.

The negative impact of market developments on the value of net assets boasted by pension funds partially mitigated the inflow of new funds in the amount of 2.8 billion kuna. Although the domestic stock market in the previous period before the Russian invasion of Ukraine didn't record record highs and was only marginally exposed to economies subject to sanctions at the end of February, global market corrections and deteriorating market sentiment also affected Croatian capital market prices.

As such, some sectors, whose business relies more heavily on the imports of materials, such as the construction sector, lost up to 10 percent of their value from the end of January in February.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatia Joins Initiative to Have International Crime Courth Probe War Crimes in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 April (2022) - Croatia has joined the initiative of 38 countries to have the International Criminal Court open an investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine, the government said on Friday.

The initiative requests that ICC prosecutors investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide believed to have been committed in Ukraine since 21 November 2013.

Although Ukraine is not party to the Rome Statute whereby the ICC was established, it has accepted its jurisdiction over crimes against its citizens of which it accuses Russian officials and officials of the separatist regions in east Ukraine.

Besides Croatia, the initiative has been supported by 38 parties to the Rome Statute - all EU member states bar Lithuania, which submitted its request independently - Albania, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain.

The UN has documented the deaths of 1,480 civilians in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February.

 For more, check out our politics section.

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