Friday, 4 March 2022

Vukovar Ready to Take in Refugees from Ukraine

ZAGREB, 4 March (2022) - Vukovar City authorities are doing all they can to help the endangered people of Ukraine who are trying to save their lives from the dangers of war, the Vukovar mayor's office said on Friday.

A statement to the press after Mayor Ivan Penava met with the representative of the Ukrainian ethnic minority in Vukovar-Srijem County, Tetyana Kochnyeva, recalls that the city sent an initiative to the government and Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets regarding the possible accommodation of Ukrainian refugees at the Zagreb Hostel in the suburb of Borovo Naselje in Vukovar.

This week, Mayor Penava met with representatives of emergency services, Vukovar's civil protection organisation, the firefighting station, the city's Red Cross branch and the police and talked about providing aid to Ukrainian refugees.

According to Kochnyeva, Ukrainian refugees who have come to Slavonia so far are mostly accommodated in Osijek.

"However, quite a few want to come to Vukovar and that is why we asked Mayor Penava for his help. The situation is changing by the hour and we are working with City of Vukovar to secure accommodation for refugees from Ukraine," said Kochnyeva.

The city appealed to anyone who can provide accommodation or transport from the Ukrainian border to Croatia to contact the the local civil protection at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling +385 (0)99/529-50-40.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Milanović: Had Europe Had Stronger Role, War in Ukraine Might Not Have Happened

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - If Europe had had a stronger role, maybe the war in Ukraine would not have happened, President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday, expressing support for Ukrainians who are defending themselves against the Russian invasion.

"I feel terribly sorry this has happened. One cannot say anything else but express support for a successful defence," Milanović told reporters during a visit to Pakrac, where he attended an event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the start of the Homeland War in the area of that western Slavonian town.

"It is practically impossible to take a big city without completely destroying it. If someone is willing to defend it," Milanović said, recalling that the Iraqi city of Mosul had been defended for eight months before it fell.

Close to 700,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the EU.

The Croatian president said that it was a question for the government if Croatia was ready to take in Ukrainian refugees, noting that he could say that "we are morally ready for it."

"There is an information blockade. The Russian side is releasing what it wants, and that is very little. The other side actually does not know anything," Milanović said, adding that Croatian ambassadors could not do much either, notably the ambassador in Moscow because Russia shared little information.

PM Andrej Plenković said earlier on Wednesday that Croatia's Ambassador to Ukraine, Anica Djamić, had left Kyiv and was on her way to Lviv.

Milanović said that "one should always be concerned" when anyone threatens the use of nuclear weapons, and that that "would be the end of the world" but he does not think that that is happening now.

Answering a reporter's question, Milanović said that he had not spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding that he did not know how it could help and that it was too late to send peace messages.

"I would not want the conflict to move to cities because if it does, it will become horrible," he added.

Milanović expressed confidence that the war could be ended only by Ukraine and Russia or Russia and the USA, adding, "This is their conflict".

"If Berlin and Paris had been in charge, and they could not do it, war would not have happened...the Minsk Agreement was not implemented, who is to blame?" he said.

"If Europe had had a stronger role in this, and it was incapable of it, this conflict might not have happened," said Milanović.

There is no threat to Croatia

Milanović noted that PM Plenković should not have said that the level of the army's preparedness had been raised.

"That has caused alarm in the public. This is a serious matter... the level of the army's readiness has not been raised and will not be in the current circumstances. The army operates as in normal conditions, there is a slightly higher degree of protection, but that is within the remit of the Armed Forces' Chief-of-Staff," Milanović said, explaining that "this means one more guard."

"That has nothing to do with a more serious or any threat to Croatia. That has not occurred for the time being and will not occur," he said.

Milanović noted that at present he did not see any reason for holding a session of the National Security Council, and that Croatia should focus more on the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

BiH, Kosovo deserve EU candidate status, too

The presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia said in an open letter on Monday that Ukraine deserves the prospect of immediate EU membership.

In addition to Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, too, deserve EU candidate status, Milanović said today.

"I was willing to sign (the letter) only if that status was granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo," with the latter not having been recognised by all EU members, said Milanović.

He added that Croatia "wishes BiH well" and that Sarajevo should understand that.

Milanović also called for making a decision to launch accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia "which the EU has been mistreating for years", noting that this "is equally important to Croatia as is Ukraine."

In a direct message to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Milanović said that "it would be good if they returned to BiH institutions" and that he could soon phone him.

"Republika Srpska cannot get out of BiH, that's impossible... They belong in the West, the the Serb people belong in the West, not in Russia," he added.

As for Belgrade, Milanović said that now was time for it to decide where it belonged, "whether it is the EU or Russia, for sentimental reasons which I can understand."

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is not giving in to pressure from the West and does not want to introduce sanctions against Russia but has said that Serbia respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Croatia Sending Infantry Weapons for Four Brigades in Ukraine

28 February, 2022 - Croatia has decided to grant Ukraine's request for weaponry and will send infantry weapons and protective equipment in the amount sufficient for four brigades, Defence Minister Mario Banožić told the press on Monday.

"We are talking about rifles and machine guns with the calibres requested by the Ukrainian side," said the minister after the government held a meeting at which military aid to Ukraine was discussed.

The value of the weapons is HRK 124 million (€16.5 million).

Croatia also plans to declare up to 10 soldiers for NATO's rapid response force.

Banožić declined to reveal more information about the soldiers for that mission.

He said that the authorities were monitoring the situation in the region, and that following intelligence collected, the protection of military facilities had been raised to a higher level.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Grlić Radman: Between 30 and 50 Croatian Citizens Still in Ukraine

28 February, 2022 - By keeping its ambassador in Ukraine Croatia has shown its solidarity, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday, adding that about 30 to 50 Croatian citizens may still be in Ukraine whereas prior to the aggression there were 114.

"By keeping the ambassador, Croatia has shown solidarity and it recalls that it, too, was grateful to every country that recognised it and had empathy, with Ukraine being the first UN country to recognise Croatia's independence," Grlić Radman said during a cabinet meeting.

The ministry is continually monitoring developments, the ministry and the ambassador are in constant contact with Croatian citizens who are accessible, the minister underscored.

According to the latest information, most of the Croatian citizens in Ukraine are located in Kyiv while some are in Poltava and Lviv.

"We have their phone numbers, addresses, and they have been accessible, however, their number is constantly changing considering that some of them manage to cross the border to the EU. We are in contact 24 hours a day if any problem occurs," the minister said.

Helping other nationals along with Croatians

A task force set up by the ministry will contact everyone on the list and determine their exact location. Croatian embassies in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have been contacted to help our citizens and their Ukrainian relatives cross the border, he said.

Grlić Radman said that the ministry has contacted crisis centres in the foreign ministries of countries like Germany, France, Italy, Romania and Greece to obtain information about any possible evacuation plans they are carrying out or plan to carry out in Ukraine.

He commended Croatia's embassies, saying that when they manage to arrange for Croatians to leave Ukraine, often citizens of other countries are included, and "we are being commended for that."

Opening the cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Croatia's Ambassador to Ukraine, Anica Djamić, would remain in Ukraine as long as necessary to be at the service of Croatian citizens but also to send a strong political message to Ukraine that Croatia is among the seven remaining EU member states that still have their ambassadors in Kyiv.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Croatian Cyber-Soldiers Being Used to Help Ukraine as Russia Invades

February the 24th, 2022 - Croatian cyber-soldiers are being used to help Ukraine out in its hour of need as Russia launches its invasion of that Eastern European country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian cyber-soldiers who are being sent to the aid of Ukraine during these tremendously difficult times are part of the CRRT, a team for rapid action in cyberspace, which was established by Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania as one of the European Union's ultra modern and enhanced defense cooperation projects.

The Republic of Croatia is among a group of six European Union (EU) member states that are helping Ukraine by mobilising its military cyber forces for rapid action. It is one in a series of reactions from European Union allies to the Russian military's incursion into another part of territory that Russia is formally but illegally trying to seize from Ukraine - the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Russia recognised as independent states very recently.

According to Lithuanian defense sources, the CRRT, including the aforementioned Croatian cyber-soldiers has been activated to help Ukrainian institutions cope with growing cyber threats as Russia begins its invasion of Ukraine which has been strongly condemned across the board. This is the first time that this new European defense project has been activated in real circumstances. In a request for help, the Ukrainian Government said it expects CRRT members to be physically deployed in the City of Kiev in order to help defend key Ukrainian Government computer networks and systems.

So far, there has been no confirmation that the CRRT member states have agreed to physically send their military cyber experts, or that Croatia has agreed to send its people, be they Croatian cyber-soldiers or others, to Kiev, as reported by Vecernji list.

For more on Croatian politics, foreign policy and diplomacy, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Croatia Advises its Citizens to Leave East Ukraine

ZAGREB, 20 Feb 2022 - Croatia has advised its citizens staying in east Ukrine to leave that area, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Munich on Sunday.

The recommendation has been adopted during an intensive communication session with Croatia's Ambassador in Kyev and following the experience of other countries, said the minister.

A week ago, Grlić Radman said that there were 25 Croatians in the east of that country.

Most of them are believed to have departed from the area in the meantime.

The Croatian minister said in Munich today that the situation in Ukrine was worrisome, however this did not mean that it would escalate.

"Diplomatic efforts are being made to prevent escalation", said Grlić Radman in the Bavarian capital city where he attended the international security conference.

This year's conference has brought together US Vice President Kamala Harris, State Secretary Antony Blinken, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, amongst other office-holders.

Russia has not sent any representative for the first time in recent years.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Foreign Minister Says There are 114 Croatians in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 13 Feb 2022 - There are 114 Croatian nationals in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Sunday, adding that for the time being, there was no reason to close the Croatian embassy in Kyiv.

"There are 50 Croatians in Kyiv, 25 in the west and 25 in the east. There are also 14 Croatians in the OSCE Mission, so the number (of Croatians currently staying in Ukraine) we are certain of is 114," Grlić Radman told reporters in Split.

Stressing that his information was not certain, Grlić Radman said that he believed "nobody has yet left Ukraine in larger numbers."

Croatian nationals have been advised to contact the embassy and temporarily leave Ukraine.

As for the embassy, the minister said that there was still no reason to close it down.

"The situation is unpredictable, but in any case major efforts are being invested in dialogue as de-escalation, peace and finding a solution that would not compromise stability and security are in everyone's interest," the minister said, adding that conflict "would not benefit anyone."

Western countries have been withdrawing their ambassadors from Ukraine and advising their nationals to leave the country due to what they describe as a great likelihood of a Russian invasion.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday spoke out against spreading panic, saying that it only helped the enemy.

"If you or anyone has any additional information about a 100-percent chance of an invasion, give it to us," he added.

Concerns have been growing for months that Russia, which has amassed troops along the Ukrainian border, is thinking of invading Ukraine. Russian-backed rebel forces already control eastern parts of Ukraine, and Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Russia denies any such plans. It, however, has used the attention focused on the region to express its fears that NATO has come too close to its territory, demanding that the Western alliance withdraw from what Russia regards its own sphere of influence.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatian President Ends Up on Ukrainian Online Blacklist

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Spies, priests, prosecutors and journalists; the innocent and the guilty alike are denounced as pro-Russian collaborators on Ukraine's online blacklist.

"Some of those on the 'Myrotvorets' database may have been involved in acts of propaganda or heinous war crimes in the country's east, but others have done nothing more than offend political or popular sensitivity, or simply use the 'wrong' vernacular'," the London-based The Times reports.

"It matters not: one and all are judged by a hidden panel, accused of 'deliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine' and have their personal data published alongside their supposed crimes for all to see."

"As the threat of Russian invasion mounts, antagonising political schisms and stoking invective within Ukraine, neither rank nor reputation exempts individuals from accusation by Myrotvorets," the Ukrainian nationalist website, says The Times.



The newspaper published its article on the Ukrainian name-and-shame list two days before Croatian President Zoran Milanović ended up on it.

He is accused of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine, of aiding the Russian aggression, disseminating Russian propaganda and supporting and justifying the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Milanović ended up on the list for saying that Croatia will not in any way get involved in the Ukraine crisis in case of its escalation and that it will not deploy its troops there.

He has also said that Ukraine does not belong in NATO and that the European Union triggered a coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić to protest against Milanović's statements, which, conversely, were applauded in Russia.

Milanović's inclusion on the Myrotvorets database blacklist was confirmed also by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev at a regular press conference on Thursday.

The list contains as many as 187,000 names, including not only war criminals and Russian FSB secret service agents but also Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, who three years ago said Russia had more rights to Crimea than Ukraine.

Belarusian writer, Nobel Prize winner and Kremlin critic Svetlana Alexievich has ended up on the list just for mentioning that some ethnic Ukrainians helped Nazis in the persecution of Jews.

The list also includes 500 Ukrainian civil servants, ethnic Hungarians, who have obtained Hungarian passports. The reason - Ukraine prohibits dual citizenship, and Myrotvorets considers such an act of treason.

The database was established in 2014 after a meeting of Ukrainian politician George Tuka and a former member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), known only by his pseudonym Roman Zaitsev, The Times says.

Tuka told The Times that former police officers, former soldiers and some political figures continued to have pro-Russian views and that lack of an official database with their names was the reason why Myrotvorets was created.

Several people were killed after their names and addresses ended up on the database. Tuka claims there is no connection between that and the database but notes that those were enemies of Ukraine and that he does not miss them.

The list also includes data on around 4,500 Western, Ukrainian and Russian reporters who had accreditations of the separatist authorities of Donbas, which was a condition for them to work in the area controlled by pro-Russian forces. Many of them later received threats.

The list is very dangerous and should be removed immediately. The tension is already high and it only adds fuel to the fire, former Human Rights Watch official in Ukraine Yulia Gorbunova said.

The removal of the list has been requested a number of times by the UN, G7 and EU ambassadors and human rights groups, but to no avail.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

PM: Croatia Continues to Foster Friendly Ties with Ukraine, Normal Ties with Russia

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that the Croatian government continues fostering friendly relations and partnership with Ukraine and normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's basic position is respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Plenković said in reference to the Ukraine crisis.

Following all our experience, we give priority to diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution, de-escalation, and cooperation with our partners within the European Union and NATO, the PM said.

The four-way Normandy format peace talks are taking place today in Paris. The entire international community, from the USA to NATO and the European Union, and all the leaders, want peace. No one wants conflicts, the premier told a news conference.

Last December, Plenković paid a visit to Ukraine and offered Kyiv Croatia's experience of peaceful reintegration of occupied areas, and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman visited Russia last week.

Plenković said today that his cabinet's policy is to continue fostering friendly relations and partnerships with Ukraine and to develop normal relations with Russia.

"Croatia's role is constructive, it wants to share its experience that can prevent further conflicts, lessen the tension and share experience, which from our point of view, should lead to solutions."

On Tuesday, President Zoran Milanović said that Ukraine did not belong in NATO, which prompted Kyiv to summon Croatia's Ambassador Anica Džamić.

Milanović said, among other things, that there would be no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine in the event of Russia's invasion and that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup, that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian authorities said Milanović's statements in 2014 insulted the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who gave their lives for a European future.

Plenković today described Milanović's statement as "surreal in every aspect" and recalled that this was not the first time that Croatian ambassadors were being summoned over Milanović's comments.

Plenković recalled Milanović's statements on Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and his statements on Hungary and Austria.

This seems to be a consistent track record of upgrading good bilateral relations with a number of countries important for Croatia, the PM said ironically.

Plenković told the press that he had talked with the Ukrainian ambassador in Zagreb and that logically, the ambassador was disappointed by Milanović's statement.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Ukraine Summons Croatian Ambassador Over Milanović's Statements

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić following Croatian President Zoran Milanović's statement that Ukraine does not belong in NATO.

Milanović said on Tuesday that Croatia would not have a military presence in Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup, that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian ministry said Milanović's statements in 2014 insulted the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who gave their lives for a European future.

Deep disappointment was expressed with the Croatian president's statement on Ukraine's NATO membership and the inappropriateness of assisting our country during the Russian aggression, the ministry said.

It was underlined that the statement was especially contradictory to human values given the bitter war experience of the Croatian people, it added.

The ministry finds that Milanović expressed contempt and ingratitude for the assistance Ukraine provided during Croatia's struggle for independence and in the fight against devastating wildfires last year.

At the same time, we are confident that this ingratitude is his personal trait and that it does not extend to the Croatian people, with whom we are linked by friendship and mutual respect, the ministry said.

It added that Milanović's statements suited Russian propaganda narratives, that they were not in line with Croatia's official position, that they harmed bilateral relations and undermined EU and NATO unity.

The ministry demands a public denial of the insulting statements and that they not be repeated in the future, and said that the Ukrainian ambassador would react in Zagreb.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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