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.

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.

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