Wednesday, 22 September 2021

President Milanović: "I think Serbian President Vučić is Proud of His Wartime Role"

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović reiterated in New York on Tuesday that his current Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vučić, had incited to war and that he was probably proud of that.

In a talk at Columbia University on Monday, Milanović said Vučić had been a warmonger, which set off a storm in Serbia.

"You can't ignore which roles some people had in our region in the last 30 years. Blood was spilt, there was arson, killing, and some people incited to that," he told the press on Tuesday, adding that "Croatia has gentlemanly let it go but won't bury its head in the sand as many in Serbia are doing."

"I think Vučić was proud of what he was doing. This is something that should be said from time to time, especially when someone... sends on a daily basis his political holograms, spokesmen and agitators to say on his behalf whatever pops into their heads. That's dirty and methodologically cheap," Milanović said.

Vučić said on Monday that Milanović was saying such things about him, "shallow and low insults", because Croatia is jealous of Serbia's economic success. He said Milanović was bothered by the fact that this year Serbia would surpass Croatia in GDP "by a 300 to 600 million euro margin."

"Serbia has a bigger total GDP even than Luxembourg. But Croatia's and Serbia's GDPs per capita are not even close. Serbia is much closer to Albania there," said Vučić. "In terms of general development, Serbia is not at Croatia's level. Life in Croatia is better and richer than in Serbia by all parametres."

Friendly talk on Bosnia with Erdogan

Milanović spoke to the press after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying they had a friendly talk on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"What I say in public, I say at such meetings," he said, adding that Turkey's foreign and defence ministers were also at the "quite open and very pleasant" meeting.

"What I underlined to Mr Erdogan is that there is no one in Croatia who will throw around stories that Mostar and Herzegovina will separate, which we hear from some others about some other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And that's not smart nor necessary. In Croatia, no one advocates such a policy and such outcomes nor thinks that," Milanović said.

While in New York, he was to have met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, but the meeting was cancelled because Milanović had more important commitments.

That wasn't even supposed to be a meeting but a photo op and a five-minute talk, Milanović said. "At that moment, I assessed that I had something more productive, an informal meeting concerning the region, state business."

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Croatian FM Talks War Missing at UN Human Rights Council

ZAGREB, February 26, 2020 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman spoke at a UN meeting in Geneva on Tuesday about Croatian citizens missing from the 1990s war, saying it was their families' human right to find out the truth which, he added, could also help reconciliation between peoples once at war.

Croatia is still tracing 1,871 persons gone missing in the 1991-95 war between Croatian forces and rebel local Serbs and the former Yugoslav People's Army.

Speaking at the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Grlić Radman said shedding light on the fate of the missing was very important for Croatia. "That is of regional and global significance and also provides greater chances for lasting reconciliation between peoples."

"That is the everyday life of hundreds of families in Croatia and that's why we must show special interest and compassion. That's our concern," the minister said.

A photo exhibition by Sandra Simunovic called "Portraits of Sadness", depicting disturbing stories about the Homeland War missing, was opened on the fringes of the meeting.

Grlić Radman also met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, extending his support to her work on the protection of human rights in the world.

"In today's world, where international human rights and multilateralism are increasingly being violated, it's important to support the high commissioner's work," he said.

The minister also took part in a disarmament conference at which he underlined the importance of effectively complying with all international and regional agreements on disarmament.

At the UN Human Rights Council meeting, he also pushed for strengthening the economic status of women, preventing poverty, including children's, as well as social exclusion, and protecting children from violence.

More news about Croatia and the UN can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

UN Rapporteur Accuses Croatian Police of Migrant Abuse

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - The UN rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, on Tuesday called on Bosnian authorities to ensure adequate accommodation for migrants and accused Croatian police of the alleged mistreatment and pushback of migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He wrote a report after visiting BiH for several days to find out first-hand the scope of the migrant crisis in the country. He presented the report at a press conference in Sarajevo.

I received reliable information on the pushback of migrants and asylum seekers by the Croatian border police on BiH territory, he said in the report, adding that according to the statements he was given, many migrants were pushed back to the BiH border without any official procedure.

Concrete tactics are different, but a common pattern is catching people on the move, confiscating their belongings, notably communication devices, hitting people with batons and chasing them with dogs to physically exhaust and prevent them from attempting to cross the border again, he said.

A number of men, according to the statements, were undressed, beaten and forced to walk back to BiH barefoot, he added.

The special rapporteur said the abuse by the Croatian border police clearly represented a violation of those persons' human rights.

He concluded that such conduct had no real effect because it did not deter migrants from their intention to continue on towards the European Union, but only resulted in the thriving of smuggling networks and organised crime, which he said demanded urgent attention and action by all the countries in the region.

The rapporteur says in the report that he discussed this problem with Croatian Ambassador to BiH Ivan Sabolić, that he will continue the dialogue with Croatia's authorities, and that he expects to receive informed soon that the situation has improved.

The report says that 40,000 illegal migrants entered BiH from the start of 2018 to August 2019, that 7,300 are in the country now, while the rest have managed to head west.

The rapporteur warned that children are especially in danger. They make up 20% of migrants and one in three arrived in BiH without parents.

BiH authorities were asked to improve conditions in reception centres, notably in Una-Sana Canton, where the largest number of migrants is concentrated.

The fragmented political structure, the lack of a uniform vision and will by the authorities at different levels for genuine cooperation undermine the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, Gonzalez Morales said at the press conference.

More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Stop Throwing Waste into Our Oceans, President Says in Her UN Speech

ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 - In her address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović highlighted global problems such as the pollution of oceans and seas, including the Adriatic Sea, which she described as a crucial asset and one of the greatest treasures for Croatia which earns 20% of its GDP off tourism.

The Croatian coast, which is annually visited by some 18 million tourists, is polluted by, among other things, plastic waste from Croatia's southern neighbours.

"Croatian coastal areas, one of the world’s cleanest and most wondrous, are at times severely affected by poorly managed waste from our southern, neighbouring countries," the president said in her 20-minute address which focused on the environment, in particular on the oceans and seas.

"From this spot I encourage all – please stop throwing waste into our oceans and seas. Our own future is at stake," Grabar-Kitarović said.

"We cannot neglect further the severe implications on our nature and the significant economic losses that we are facing in the future," she added.

The Croatian president underscored that marine litter was "a problem of increasing concern" that threatens the marine life in the oceans as well as in the Adriatic Sea.

The main topics on the agenda of the ongoing General Assembly are climate change, poverty eradication and good education.

Concerning the environmental topics, Grabar-Kitarović cited two positive examples of Croatians' engagement in the preservation and facilitation of marine and coastal environmental recovery. In that regard, she praised the activities of the Split-based Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.

"The renowned Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split has been monitoring the Adriatic Sea since 1930 and its scientific activity encompasses very complex research in the fields of biological, chemical and physical oceanography, sedimentology, fisheries biology and aquaculture;" she said.

"Over a hundred scientists and experts are diligently working on the preservation of the sea as one of our greatest assets. One of their many projects involves the cooperation with fishermen: plastics and litter from the seafloor found in their fishing nets is collected and disposed of. A number of fishing ships are involved in the project and have so far collected over 50 tons of waste," the Croatian president said.

The president also praised young environmental enthusiasts on the island of Zlarin who gathered the entire local community to start an action called "Take a break from plastic" last year.

"The goal was to make Zlarin the first Adriatic island free of single-use plastic and plastic waste within a year. Their action was local, but their efforts are indeed global," she said, commending the people of Zlarin and supporters for having the vision and courage to transform their island community.

"Within just one year, the island has transformed. By signing a symbolic declaration, all residents, caterers and merchants have disposed of disposable plastics from everyday use. Today, children on Zlarin educate hundreds of visiting tourists that plastic is not welcome on their island. These are the children from Zlarin and they really deserve recognition.

"In this chamber here, we are running out of excuses for not following the example of the people of Zlarin and not doing the same globally. Let us make all of our communities just as responsible as the people of Zlarin. Let us not hesitate and be discouraged by past or present failures but rather provide strong leadership for our common success in the future," Grabar-Kitarović said in her speech.

More news about Croatia and the United Nations can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Croatian President Denies Having a Meeting with Serbian FM in New York

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - The Croatian President's Office on Tuesday denied media reports that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović had held a bilateral meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić on the margins of the UN General Assembly session in New York, saying that "a courtesy encounter and greeting in the corridor" could not be called a bilateral meeting.

According to a statement by the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dačić had several brief meetings with senior officials from the region and the world ahead of the 74th UN General Assembly session in New York, including one with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Grabar-Kitarović's Office said that she had had many bilateral meetings with statesmen, including US Vice President Mike Pence and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, as well as with representatives of Google and the World Jewish Organisation, but not with Dačić. "To describe a courtesy encounter and greeting in the corridor as a bilateral meeting would be impolite and incorrect," her office said in a statement.

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

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Serbia-Kosovo Territorial Exchange Would Open up Pandora's Box in SE Europe

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - An exchange of territory between Serbia and Kosovo would open up Pandora's box in Southeast Europe, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday.

The Croatian president was in New York for the 74th UN General Assembly which she will address on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Croatian president met with UN Secretary-General Guterres and discussed with him the situation in Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, relations between Belgrade and Kosovo, and what Croatia "as the leader in the region will do to help further stabilise the situation and help solve outstanding issues."

"I mentioned the exchange of territory and said that it would be a very bad idea that would open up Pandora's box and lead to various demands for territorial swaps in the entire territory of former Yugoslavia," she said.

The Serbian state leadership earlier mentioned the possibility of exchanging the northern, Serb majority part of Kosovo for the Albanian majority south of Serbia, as a way for the two countries to get closer to resolving their dispute. That idea is strongly opposed by France and Germany while the United States and recently Austria said that they could accept such a solution.

Grabar-Kitarović criticised the proposal for a territorial swap at a bilateral meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, whose position on the matter has changed.

Grabar-Kitarović added that Guterres also wanted to know what Croatia would be doing during its chairmanship of the European Union and "how we will make use of it, for ourselves as well as for our neighbourhood."

On the first day of her stay in New York, Grabar-Kitarović attended the opening of a UN summit on climate change, announcing that her address at the General Assembly would include the topic of pollution and warming up of the Adriatic Sea.

The Croatian president also took part in a summit on religious freedoms. "The thing that should be said and that is often misunderstood is that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world and that every day 11 Christians are killed worldwide because of their religion," she said.

"So, let us not think just about other religions for the sake of political correctness, let us think equally about all religions, including our own," she said.

Grabar-Kitarović also singled out a meeting with a Google vice-president with whom she agreed "on further cooperation regarding the Three Seas Initiative and the digitisation of the entire region", notably Croatia, its islands and other parts of the country.

This would enable distance learning and remote work, which would enable people to stay in Croatia, strengthen jobs and help increase salaries, she said.

More news about Croatia and the United Nations can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Croatian President Travelling to United States

ZAGREB, September 18, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is travelling to the United States on Thursday to attend the 74th UN General Assembly, where she will support the implementation of UN reform, advocate the strengthening of multilateralism, and warn about the importance of sustainable development and preserving the environment, notably the protection of the Adriatic Sea.

Grabar-Kitarović will address the General Assembly next Tuesday.

By advocating the importance of multilateralism, which is currently in a crisis and which is especially important for smaller states, Croatia is not ignoring bilateral relations, a source in the president's office has said, adding that she is welcome among world leaders.

The Adriatic is "a small and closed sea that is very important for Croatia," the source says, recalling that it is threatened by plastic and that the garbage which currents carry from Montenegro and Albania is a danger to Croatia's tourism.

Grabar-Kitarović will use her address to present the "Zlarin Without Plastic" project, which was launched on the island of Zlarin last year.

"Great progress has been achieved in a year. It's the first Croatian island without plastic and this carries a global message. The president will present, at the global level, Croatia's successes and Zlarin is our example of good practice," the source has said.

On Monday, Grabar-Kitarović will attend a climate summit as well as be a guest at an Atlantic Council meeting on transatlantic relations. She will also meet presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Hashim Thaci of Kosovo and Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia as well as the King of Jordan, Abdullah II.

The talks with President Erdogan and King Abdullah II will focus on migrations and the latest crisis in the Middle East, the source has said.

On Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarović will attend a political forum on sustainable development as well as an evening reception organised by US President Donald Trump. She will also meet the leaders of Chile, Argentina and Colombia as well as Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) president Jose Angel Gurria Trevino to lobby for Croatia's accession to the OECD, which is currently opposed by Slovenia.

On Wednesday, Grabar-Kitarović will moderate a panel on sustainable development and organise a meeting of 75 former and incumbent women presidents and prime ministers, having taken over the Council of Women World Leaders chairmanship in March.

She will also meet UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. UN Women is the global leader in gender equality advocacy and Grabar-Kitarović is one of the four women presidents in the organisation's 193 member states elected by direct vote.

Before New York, Grabar-Kitarović will visit Cleveland and Pittsburgh, while after New York she is going to Boston to visit her daughter at Harvard.

She will return to the US in October to receive the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award.

More news about Croatia and the United Nations can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Meeting of UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Taking Place in Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 28, 2019 - A meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe (CEU), which is taking place in Zagreb on 27-30 May, was formally opened on Tuesday morning by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who described the event as a compliment to Croatia and its tourist trade.

The meeting, which is taking place in Zagreb for the second time, has brought together representatives of more than 40 countries and Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who praised Croatia as a good example of the development of the tourist sector and of the whole country.

Plenković said that Croatia's National Tourist Board would open its office in Madrid where the UNWTO main offices are located.

As for the Croatian tourism sector, the premier spoke about a shift to sustainable tourism, and added that more and more efforts were being made to develop the tourist trade in the interior of the country, notably in the eastern region of Slavonia.

He said that during Croatia's chairmanship of the European Union in the first half of 2020, Croatia would organise a meeting of EU tourism ministers in the country.

Addressing the event, Mayor Milan Bandić spoke about Zagreb's tourist results in recent years.

Bandić and Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, who are the hosts of the 64th meeting of the CEU, underscored the importance of Croatia's cooperation with the UNWTO. Cappelli said the UNWTO was an important partner to Croatia in many international projects.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

United Nations: On Average, Serbs Are Happier Than Croats

Finland is a very happy country, according to the United Nations' survey of happiness, while Croatia is placed in the middle of the rankings, behind Serbia, Kosovo, Slovenia and Montenegro. Finland is followed on the list of the happiest countries of the world by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands, reports Express on May 1, 2019.

The United Nations have published a report on global happiness for the last seven years. It tracks the situation in 156 countries according to six key factors contributing to the level of happiness – income, freedom, trust, life expectancy, social support and generosity. Croatia is ranked 75th, while Serbia and Montenegro are 70th and 73th.

The particularly surprising data is the fact that Serbia has seen an increase in the feeling of happiness in the last several years, while Croatia has seen a decline in most years, although it did progress slightly compared to the previous year, jumping from 82nd to 75th position. Still, this is a significant drop compared to 2016 when Croatia was 58th. While our neighbours are becoming more positive and more satisfied, Croats are becoming more dissatisfied and unhappy.

Kosovo is at the 46th position, Slovenia at 44th and Hungary at 62th, while neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina is placed three positions behind Croatia.

Citizens say the biggest problem is corruption, which hampers the feeling of happiness and satisfaction with the current situation. That is why many are leaving the country, which shows that the dissatisfaction has gone beyond the limits people can handle. "In Croatia, we live in a grotesque that resembles the Alan Ford comic, and this is ultimately unfavourable for the mental health of individuals. The recipe for happiness, apart from going abroad, includes personal effort. It is important to point out positive examples. Everyone can do something to make our surroundings better and more beautiful. We can be more kind to each other, less jealous, focus on what we can change, including voting in the elections,” explained Nebojša Buđanovac, a social worker and psychotherapist.

It seems that the feeling of happiness in neighbouring countries is not linked to the amount of money people have, because average Serbian citizen has just a third of assets compared to the average Croat. Credit Suisse says that the average Serb had about 10,700 dollars last year, while Croats had 35,900 dollars, Hungarian 37,500 dollars, and Slovenians 79,000 dollars. This includes money, shares, bonds and other financial assets.

It is interesting that residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina had 14,000 dollars, making them richer than the average Serb. The survey also states that this is an average wealth per capita, which means that the figures do not show differences in income.

According to this data, the average Serb is at the financial level which the average Croat had 15 years ago. Even though Serbia has almost twice as many inhabitants, the total financial assets of Serbia amount to just 100 billion dollars, 20 billion less than Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina has financial assets of only 51 billion dollars.

Translated from Express.

More news about Croatia and Serbia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Croatia Ranks in the Middle of UN World Happiness Report

ZAGREB, March 25, 2019 - Finland is the happiest country in the world, shows an annual UN World Happiness Report covering 156 countries. Croatia is ranked 75th.

The report, published on March 19, is based on three years of research by the Gallup analytics and advisory company on how happy citizens of the 156 countries perceive themselves to be.

This is the second time Finland ranks first.

It is followed by its Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

The first ten countries also include the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria.

Croatia is ranked 75th, which is seven places higher than in the previous ranking. Despite this, Croats seem not to perceive themselves particularly happy.

Countries that consider themselves happier, for example, are Kosovo (46th), Serbia (70th), and Montenegro (73rd).

Italy ranks 36th, Slovenia 44th, and Hungary 62nd. Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks three places below Croatia.

Some of the factors going into the assessment include gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom to make life choices, and perceptions of corruption.

South Sudan is at the bottom of the ranking, accompanied by Rwanda, Afghanistan and Central African Republic.

The five countries that have seen the biggest decline in the last ten years are Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela.

More Lifestyle news can be found in the dedicated section.

Page 1 of 4