Monday, 17 January 2022

Croatia FM: Good Relations with Ukraine Don't Rule Out Good Relations with Russia

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman thanked his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday for Moscow's support when Croatia was gaining independence in the early 1990s and said that Croatia's "good relations with Ukraine do not rule out good relations with Russia."

Grlić Radman was on a return visit to Lavrov and the first EU minister in Moscow this year.

Croatia and Russia will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations on 25 May. Russia recognized Croatia on 17 February 1992, a month after EU member states did.

Speaking at a press conference, Lavrov said Russia saw Croatia as "a respected European partner" with which it has historical and cultural ties.

Grlić Radman spoke of the "brave resistance to the Slobodan Milošević regime's Greater Serbia aggression whereby Croatia succeeded in defending its own territory," thanking Lavrov for the "constructive role, recognition and assistance" in the 1990s.

"In the last 30 years, Croatia managed to achieve great things and Russia was always there when it was necessary, so thank you once again for that", Grlić Radman said.

He added that Russia's president, prime minister, interior, and justice ministers have an open invitation to visit Croatia.

The two ministers talked about intensifying business ties, cooperation in tourism, culture, science, and sports, and the signing of an agreement on a Russian cultural center in Croatia.

Croatia's experience in Ukraine

Grlić Radman said when this visit was being arranged, international circumstances were much more different, but that this provided an opportunity to talk "quite openly" about the current geopolitical situation.

His visit to Moscow coincides with high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Western capitals are concerned about the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, claiming Russia is preparing an invasion, while Moscow seeks legal guarantees from the West that NATO will not spread eastwards.

Grlić Radman told the press he conveyed to Lavrov some messages from an informal meeting of European ministers held in Brest, France last week.

Croatia and Russia believe a solution should be found as part of the Minsk agreements from 2014 and 2015. They envisage the full withdrawal of the army from eastern Ukraine, greater autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk, or restoring full Ukrainian control over the eastern border.

Recently in Kyiv, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who used to chair the European Parliament's delegation for Ukraine, and Croatian diplomats openly supported Ukraine's territorial integrity, offering to share Croatia's experience in the peaceful reintegration of its Danube River Region in the 1990s.

Grlić Radman said that offer was not against Moscow and that "good relations with Ukraine do not rule out good relations with Russia."

He said the peaceful reintegration of Croatia's Danube River Region was one of the most successful operations approved by all UN Security Council member states, including Russia as a significant participant in that process.

"Of course, the Croatian model is not the same as the Ukrainian, but some experiences related to the civilian sector could help," he said, adding that Croatia, "in the bilateral relations with Ukraine, has no intention of doing anything that is not in line with the Minsk agreement."

Lavrov said Croatia and Ukraine had different interpretations of "the transfer of the experience in peaceful integration," with Croatia "thinking about the humanitarian aspects, solving language problems, creating cultural autonomies" and Ukraine wanting to use "the military part of the process that went on."

"Such intentions, which I hope won't occur, are dangerous," he said, adding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said that "Ukrainians who consider themselves Russian can leave for Russia."

"During our talks, we realized that Zagreb understands our rhetoric and remarks" about Kyiv's aspiration to use the military elements of Croatia's experience, Lavrov said, adding that for the Ukrainian issue "there is no plan B, only the Minsk agreement, which must be complied with to the last point."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

120th Anniversary of Ukrainian Greek Catholics’ Arrival in Croatia Marked

ZAGREB, 10 Oct, 2021 - A service was held in the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Križevci on Sunday on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the arrival of Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Croatia.

Among those attending were representatives of Croatia and Ukraine, Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych, local officials, and priests and pilgrims of Ukrainian Greek Catholic parishes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The life and work of Ukrainian Greek Catholics in our area has made a hugely positive and progressive contribution to present-day Croatian society," Križevci Bishop Milan Stipić said.

The first Ukrainians moved to Croatia from western Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century, when Ukraine, like Croatia, was part of Austria-Hungary. All were Greek Catholics and joined the Križevci Eparchy.

For Croatia's latest news, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Croatia Offers Ukraine Experience in Peaceful Reintegration, Mine Removal

ZAGREB, 23 Aug 2021 - Croatia offers Ukraine its experience in the peaceful reintegration of occupied areas and also assistance in the removal of land mines, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal in Kiev.

Croatia entirely supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and it possesses specific skills that can help this eastern European country to peacefully reintegrate its occupied areas, the Croatian PM said.

Recalling the developments in the 1990s, Plenković emphasized the fact that Croatia's peaceful reintegration of its Danube region "has been one of the most successful UN-run operations ever, particularly on European soil."

He added that Croatia is already helping Ukraine with its experience in addressing the issues and needs of war veterans, and pledged the support of Zagreb to Ukrainian efforts to remove landmines. We have companies specialized in de-mining and we are willing to make our assistance available to Ukrainian authorities, he said.

Plenković arrived in Kiev on Sunday to take part in the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform, which is taking place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.

Seven years have passed since the Russian annexation of Crimea. The fighting that ensued between the Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists after the annexation has claimed 13,000 lives.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who announced the launch of the Crimean Platform last year, has recently said that the platform intended to address the issue of the militarization of that peninsula, the liberation of more than 1000 Ukrainians who are political prisoners and to consider the status of Crimean Tatars.

The USA and the European Union stand firmly by Ukraine and continue imposing sanctions against Russia. Germany and France are mediators within the so-called Normandy Format talks.

Ukraine's Shmyhal thanked Plenković for all his support to Ukraine on its journey to Europe.

Croatia is an advocate of Ukraine's European journey, and helps Kiev in the implementation of the Europe-bound reforms and in the processes envisaged by the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, he added.

Plenković underscored that it was important that targets set out in the EU climate policy and energy policy be a part of the implementation of the association agreement.

Shmyhal also invited Plenković to pay a bilateral visit to Ukraine this autumn.

Plenković thanked Ukraine for its assistance in the aftermath of the devastating quakes that hit Croatia in 2020 and in the evacuation of Croatian nationals from Afghanistan.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Croatian PM Travels to Ukraine for Two-Day Visit

ZAGREB, 22 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will travel to Ukraine on Sunday to take part in the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform in Kiev.

During his two-day visit, Plenković will hold talks with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky is expected to present the Crimean Platform, an initiative of Ukraine aimed at raising the issue of Crimea in international cooperation and strengthening international coordination on the situation in Crimea.

The Platform is to operate at several levels: heads of state and government, foreign ministers, inter-parliamentary cooperation, expert networks.

The participants in the summit are expected to adopt a joint declaration confirming commitment to Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity and defining the framework for the international policy toward Crimea.

The summit takes place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence. Approximately 40 foreign delegations are expected to attend.

The Croatian prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Raman and Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 31 May 2021

First Three Croatian Gavrilovic Products to Head for Ukraine

May the 31st, 2021 - The very first three Croatian Gavrilovic products are set to head east to Ukraine as economic ties between Croatia and Ukraine strengthen.

As Novac/Jozo Vrdoljak writes, on Wednesday, June the 2nd, 2021, the first delivery of Croatian Gavrilovic products in cans will head to Ukraine, intended for the largest Ukrainian retail chain, Fozzy Group. Quite symbolically given everything this city went through at the end of 2020, the cans will depart from the Petrinja production plant.

''We announced such a possibility in the past, and now the realisation of the first export of Croatian Gavrilovic products to Ukraine is finally beginning. Despite the difficult circumstances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the export of Croatian products to Ukraine is currently proceeding smoothly. Our existing producers are increasing the quantities and assortments they have on offer, and we're constantly introducing new ones, such as with Gavrilovic now. Of course, we aren't going to just stop at this because we're also working on the placement of products of some new Croatian manufacturers and on strengthening the existing ones.

In all this, we have the exceptional support of State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture Tugomir Majdak,'' said Ivica Piric, the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Split and President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce for Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Piric added that now, in a situation when the pandemic is weakening and when we're witnessing the easing of anti-epidemic measures across Croatia, the organisation of the Ukrainian-Croatian Economic Forum is very likely.

''We've already chosen a date, which is August the 23rd and 24th. These are the dates when Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day, and this year it will mark 30 years of independence, as such, the Croatian leadership is expected to visit Ukraine. That's the plan as long as something unforeseen doesn't happen. Such forums are very important because they are the easiest way to conclude deals and improve economic cooperation. Companies from the food, ICT, construction, defense, energy and tourism sectors will participate and there will be talks about investments, either existing ones that are being developed and realised, or new investments in both countries,'' said Ivica Piric.

Trpimir Lovrekovic, the director of marketing and exports of this well known Croatian company, revealed that in this first export of Croatian Gavrilovic products to Ukraine, things are going to begin with three products. These are canned meat breakfast, ham and mandolin ham, all of which have bene popular for a very long time among consumers here in Croatia.

''Thanks to the engagement and mediation of Ivica Piric, cooperation with the largest Ukrainian retail chain has come to fruition. This is our first delivery to the Ukrainian market from which we expect a lot. We've talked to the responsible persons of the Fozzy Group, and we expect to expand our range and increase the quantities of these three products.

Gavrilovic is taking small steps to position itself on the global market, and after Ukraine we expect the opening of the markets of countries that gravitate to that market, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The Ukrainian market is the first step in expanding towards those countries,'' Lovrekovic concluded.

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

The Rise of Ukraine as a Potential Tourism Market for Croatia

October 11, 2020 - There was not a lot of good news in the 2020 tourism season, but one positive trend is worth further investigation - the steadily increasing number of visitors to Croatia from Ukraine. 

With the devastating effects of the pandemic, there has been little comfort to be taken from official tourism statistics this year. But if you look a little closer, there are some interesting seeds of hope. 

With such a marked turndown in tourist arrivals, is it possible, for example, to find a country whose nationals visited in greater numbers in 2020 (which has still got three months of statistics to report) than 2016?

There is at least one such country, whose tourists have been discovering Croatia in ever greater numbers without any significant (if indeed any at all) tourism promotion from Croatia in the market. 


And wherever I went this summer, the subject of Ukrainian tourists popped into the conversation. The third biggest market in Dubrovnik's luxury tourism market, according to two 5-star hotel general managers? That would be Ukraine.

The only airline which responded magnificently to Croatia's overnight decision to introduce PCR tests was Windrose from Ukraine, who arranged for tests for all passengers, then delayed the flight until the results were in. 

The Total Croatia Travel Info Viber community was at one point flooded by Ukrainian tourists with questions about getting PCR tests on the drive from Kiev - they were at one point the most active nationality in the group. our Viber community has been an extremely good finger on the pulse of what has been happening in tourism in Croatia this year, and it first alerted me to the Ukrainian factor. 

And while the numbers are not huge compared to Croatia's main markets, they have been growing steadily in recent years - at least until the disaster that is 2020. But even with all the travel restrictions, more Ukrainians have visited Croatia this year so far than in 2016. Had there been no corona, that number would have been significantly higher. 

Year - No of Tourists - Overnights

2014 - 52,120 - 360,276

2015 - 53,298 - 354,761

2016 - 66,260 - 440,330

2017 - 81,149 - 499,652

2018 - 105,160 - 643, 263

2019 - 135,035 - 817,350

2020 - 75,375 - 486,074 (January to September)

Back in 2016, Ukraine was Croatia's 31st largest market. In 2020, it is 14th. 

There are several factors which make Ukraine an interesting market which is perhaps worth taking a closer look at for Croatia's tourism strategy. 

Firstly, Ukraine used to have its own excellent domestic beach destination - Crimea. That came to a screeching halt with Russia's annexation of the peninsula back in 2014.

Ukraine has a special visa-free relationship with Croatia, which is a huge attraction for would-be tourists from Ukraine, where visas are often a major deterrent (to give a start example, passenger traffic at Pula Airport dropped by 40% after Croatia's EU entry in 2013, as Russian tourists could no longer visit without a visa). Ukrainians with a biometric passport can now enjoy a visa-free trip to Croatia.  

There has been a marked increase in seasonal flights from Ukraine to the Adriatic coast in recent years, as Ukrainians look for alternative summer destinations. Windrose has been at the forefront of that, and the airline has also just introduced regular flights through the winter from Kyiv to Zagreb, as many other airlines are cancelling. 

What surprised me the most from the Viber community feedback, however, was just how many tourists drive from Ukraine to Croatia. It is quite a drive, some 17 hours from Kiev to Zagreb, for example, with the coast a little further. The enticing Adriatic must be worth it, however, as they are coming in increasing numbers.

Ukrainians obviously like what they see, and all the ingredients are there for a campaign to build on that initial interest with an effective campaign. Regular flights, a destination which is driveable, a luxury market to target - there is plenty of potential to develop. If Ukrainians are coming during a pandemic with little to no promotion, what could be achieved in 2021 with a little advertising and the viurs (hopefully) much less of a factor in our daily lives?

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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Ukraine Police Visit Croatia's Police Academy

ZAGREB, October 2, 2019 - A delegation of the Ukraine Police Patrol Academy in Kiev is conducting a visit this week to Croatia's Police Academy where they will exchange experience on police training, specialist courses and higher education.

The Ministry of the Interior (MUP) underscored that the topic of the first working meeting was cooperation in the area of education, specialist courses and training, with special emphasis on international cooperation as well as cooperation in scientific research.

"As representatives of a young academy founded in January 2018, the guests had a lot of questions considering that their duty is to provide training for police, and they were particularly interested in all details related to basic training and the daily routine of students at the Academy," MUP underscored.

The ministry added that it would inform its guests of the organisation, scope of activities and curriculum of the Police Academy as well as the process of student selection and recruiting.

The ministry will inform the visiting delegation of the possibilities of e-learning as well as of new working processes related to support for sport.

The Ukrainian guests will also be acquainted with specific training for border police.

The Ukrainian delegation has also visited the MUP's police dog training centre, the ministry said.

More news about relations between Croatia and Ukraine can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Croatian Meat Products to Be Exported Freely to Ukraine as of July 1

ZAGREB, July 1, 2019 - The free export of Croatian meat products to Ukraine is possible as of July 1, the Agriculture Ministry has reported.

"After several rounds of talks and in light of the fact that Ukraine underwent a long process of adjusting its import rules with international standards, during a general assembly of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris this year, we finally managed to complete the adjustment of criteria contained in the international veterinary certificate. As of today, there are no more veterinary sanitary obstacles to the export of Croatian meat products to Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić said that this was a result of the long-standing work of ministry staff who had proven that Croatia had a well-developed system of food safety and that it was a safe country in terms of food exports.

A few years ago, Croatian food companies expressed interest in exporting their products to Ukraine, but Ukrainian import rules were not in line with international standards set by the OIE.

The Agriculture Ministry therefore launched negotiations on veterinary sanitary conditions, basing its position on international standards and equivalence whereby the system of control in force in the EU and Croatia provides the same level of safety to Ukraine as well, the ministry said.

It underlined the good will on the part of Ukraine, which despite the fact that it has been negotiating the harmonisation of all veterinary sanitary certificates for exports to Ukraine from EU member-countries with the European Commission, agreed to simultaneously conduct bilateral negotiations with Croatia to expedite the process and enable Croatian producers to access the Ukrainian market.

More news about Croatian agriculture can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Croatian Reintegration Model Applicable to Ukraine and Georgia, Says Plenković

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković reiterated on Saturday that Croatia's experience with the peaceful reintegration of its Danube region in 1998 could benefit Ukraine and Georgia which have lost parts of their territories in wars with Russia.

Similar statements in the past have provoked sharply-worded responses from Moscow which believes that "parallel domestic structures" encourage Kiev's "war campaign" rather than call for the restoration of dialogue with Moscow through the Minsk process.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Plenković said that the experience of Ukraine and Georgia was comparable to that of Croatia, parts of whose territory were occupied by Serb insurgents backed by the Yugoslavia from 1990 to 1998.

"We had two solutions: a military solution and a diplomatic solution. The solution that relied on pressure and diplomacy resulted in the reintegration of our territory," Plenković said.

He said that this model could be applied to Ukraine and George, adding that the two countries would have fared better had they been members of the EU and NATO.

"Ukraine and Georgia are neither members of the EU nor of NATO and this complicates the situation. Had they been members, the situation would have been much different," said Plenković, who had formerly served as chief of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian ministry for temporarily occupied territories and displaced persons said recently it was studying the Croatian model for the reintegration of its eastern Donbass region, controlled by Moscow-backed pro-Russian rebels since 2014.

Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, has been left without its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and East Ossetia which depend on Moscow militarily and economically.

Croatia regained sovereignty over its Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem region in January 1998 after a UN transitional authority was established there in 1996.

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

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Croatian Prime Minister Condemns Russian Action in Kerch Strait

ZAGREB, December 4, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković condemned on Tuesday Russian action in Kerch Strait, saying that it was an unacceptable violation of international law.

Tension between Russia and Ukraine has escalated after Russia captured three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews a week ago as they tried to pass through the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Russia has ignored international calls to release 24 crew members, of whom three have been wounded, claiming that they crossed the Russian border illegally.

"We are concerned about the situation in Ukraine. ... That is unacceptable and contrary to international law," Plenković said in his opening remarks at a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit in Zagreb. "We support all international initiatives to ease tensions, fully supporting Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," he added.

Security and migration are among the topics to be discussed at the summit, with which Croatia wraps up its year-long presidency of the 18-country regional initiative.

Plenković said that the problem of migration could be tackled effectively only if approached comprehensively, by regulating legal migration and preventing illegal migration.

"We are not a country that has decided to put up physical barriers at the border. Instead, we have deployed 6,500 border police to guard the border, preparing to enter the Schengen system," the Croatian prime minister said.

He said that cooperation with other EU members and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, was crucial. "I believe that such an approach can deliver results."

Plenković emphasised the importance of the CEI for the transfer of experience to countries aspiring to join the EU and NATO. "As the youngest member state, we will unselfishly offer all our experience, knowledge and political support," he concluded.

The CEI summit is taking place at the end of Croatia's year-long presidency of the organisation. The main topics discussed are security and economic issues.

Five CEI prime ministers arrived in Zagreb on Monday, but Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Romanian Prime Minister Vasilia Victoria Dancila have left before the summit ended. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was not present, although he had announced his attendance.

The CEI was established in Budapest in 1989 with a view to assisting countries in the region in joining the European Union. Of the 18 CEI member states, 10 have joined the EU, five are on track to becoming members of the bloc, while three are members of the Eastern Partnership. The CEI members are: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

The next CEI president is Italy.

For more on the relations between Croatia and Russia, click here.

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