Friday, 4 March 2022

Milanović Talks with Chile President-Elect Boric

ZAGREB, 4 March (2022) - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Friday spoke on the phone with Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric on the centuries-old ties between the two countries and accepted Boric's invitation for a visit, Milanović's office said in a press release.

Milanović once again congratulated Boric on the election victory and regretted that he will not be able to attend the March 11 inauguration.

The two said the Croatian community plays an important role in the social and the political life of Chile. Thanks to that community, Croatia and Chile have had centuries-old close ties, they added.

Milanović and Boric exchanged views on the current situation in the world, with emphasis on the crisis in Europe.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Croatian President Says Sanctions Against Russia Necessary

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that he supported the sanctions which the EU had decided to impose on Russia over its aggression on Ukraine, explaining that there was no other alternative, however, he does not believe that the sanctions will be efficient.

The sanctions are necessary, no other alternative has existed, he told a news conference, and then added that "unfortunately, sanctions do not work" and will not stop the Russian army from continuing to invade Ukraine.

After a month ago he stated that the crisis in Ukraine "is happening in the antechamber of Russia" and that "one must reach a deal that will take account of the security interests of Russia," which was interpreted as Milanović's understanding for Russia's demand that Ukraine should not apply for the membership of NATO, Milanović today said that Ukraine in NATO "is not a topic".

Had that been made clear in the past, perhaps, the situation would have been better now, however, all that is not the justification for Russia's aggression, he said.

Developments in Ukraine serious but not dangerous for Croatia

Concerning the interests of Croatia, the president said that the situation in Ukraine was serious but not dangerous for his country.

"This is an unpleasant situation, but you can stay calm," Milanović said at the news conference.

Concerning the proposal of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for convening a meeting of the Croatian Council for National Security on Friday before Milanović took part in the video summit meeting of NATO so as to inform the president about the relevant topics, Milanović said that one should wait for a few more days and see how the situation could unfold. Therefore he said that the session of the council could be later held.

"I do not need instructions before the (NATO) meeting. He (Plenković) and I are in permanent contact, and it is sufficient for the time being," Milanović said.

Milanović also said that for him the alliance's decision to schedule a video summit meeting does not show the necessary level of seriousness and insisted that NATO should have organised a face-to-face meeting in Brussels.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Croatian President Opposed to NATO's Enlargement to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 18 Feb 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday said that NATO should not expand to include Ukraine.

"While I'm the president, I will be opposed to NATO expanding anywhere," Milanović told reporters on Friday.

The statement, which is contrary to NATO's "open door policy", comes at a time when tensions between Russia, which has been amassing troops on the border with Ukraine, and Western countries, which are warning against a possible invasion of that country, are coming to the boil.

To withdraw its troops, Russia is asking, among other things, for guarantees that NATO will not expand to include Ukraine.

"I think that anyone advocating NATO's enlargement to Ukraine threatens also Croatian interests. We are in NATO and tomorrow someone could order our people to be deployed there," explained Milanović.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 7 February 2022

President Receives Authors of Book on Croatian Diplomacy

7 February 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Monday received the authors of the book "Diplomatski pečat - sasvim osobno" which collects 105 personal stories and reminiscences by diplomats who were the creators and actors of Croatia's foreign policies.

The authors are Goran Bandov, Zagreb University professor of international relations and diplomacy, Jelena Perleta, journalist and editor at Croatian Television's foreign desk, and Ivana Petrović, reporter, commentator and foreign desk editor at Nova TV.

The book, whose title translates as "Diplomatic seal - quite personally", was launched ahead of the 30th anniversary of Croatia's international recognition. It encompasses stories by diplomacy doyens, Croatian presidents, prime ministers, foreign and European integration ministers, ambassadors and consuls-general.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

President Decorates Pilot for Flying First MIG to Croatian Side

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović on Thursday decorated retired Colonel Danijel Borović, who was the first to fly a Yugoslav People's Army MIG over to the Croatian side in February 1992, for the bravery and heroism displayed in the Homeland War.

On the 30th anniversary of that flight, the president thanked Borović for his brave act, saying that in the history of the Croatian war some names were rightfully and respectfully known to the wider public and children.

"One of the names that, without reason or justification, is not as well-known is your honourable name, Danijel Borović, colonel of the Croatian Army and the Croatian Air Force, the man who was the first to bring a supersonic fighter jet into Croatian ownership," the president said.

He recalled that in February 1992, after his fellow fighter Rudolf Perišin flew across the border, Borović landed a MIG-21 at the Pula airport in the dark after "dangerously, skillfully, heroically and riskily" separating from a fighter duo, putting the aircraft "into the functional use of the Croatian Air Force, which was just being created."

Great heroic act

"That's a great heroic act because heroism, and only then ownership, is reflected in the choices you had and how you could have acted but did not. You could have left, you could have simply come one day to one of our Croatian commands and registered. What you did surpasses that first option many times," Milanović said.

He said Borović had risked his life not only to bring Croatia a fighter jet but also to make that a very significant and visible way of lifting Croatia's morale at that time.

Thanking the president for the decoration, Borović said it was in a way compensation for what he should have received 27 years ago when many people were decorated in the president's office.

He said injustice was done at that time not just to him but also to his wife and five-year-old son Vanja who had been involved in months-long preparations. "We have made it and this award has found its place after 27 years. I thank you for that."

Borović said that despite the disappointment at that time, he and his wife Snježana wrote a book, "Flyover for Croatia", which he said could be used as a textbook because it described what had been happening in 1992.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Milanović Accuses Plenković Government as Most Corrupt Yet

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday accused the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as the most corrupt Croatian government yet.

"Plenković is protecting the people who are simply corrupt. I cannot call it any other way," Milanović said in an interview with RTL television.

Milanović said that Plenković's chief of staff Zvonimir Frka Petešić had deliberately registered his residence on Dugi Otok island so that he could qualify for a state-owned apartment in Zagreb. 

Frka Petešić "is fully aware that what he has done is punishable under the law, yet he enjoys the prime minister's protection," he added.

Milanović rejected the idea of his being an opposition leader in Croatia. "Not only am I not, but I feel bad in this position. All this that I am saying, which I have to say and will keep on saying, is just an unnecessary burden to me. This should not be my job."

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Security Issues Shouldn't Be Discussed Publicly, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday that messages on security issues are not disseminated at news conferences, after he was asked by the press about speculations that President Zoran Milanović's security is at risk following his statements on the situation in Ukraine.

"The basic principle is that security issues should not be discussed publicly. As far as our services are concerned and that refers to security and intelligence services and the Interior Ministry, they do their job 24 hours a day and I am certain that they are monitoring everything that is relevant to the security of Croatian citizens, including protected persons," said Božinović.

Božinović added that security services cooperate with other services and underscored that a press conference is not the place to send messages of that kind.

"Not any serious person, not any service in any country, talks about that in public space," said Božinović.

After President Milanović's statement that Croatia would not interfere in the Ukraine crisis, that it would not deploy its troops there and that NATO has nothing to do in Ukraine, he was denounced as pro-Russian collaborator on Ukraine's online blacklist.

Responding to reporters, Božinović said that the motion for a no-confidence vote in Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Darko Horvat would end just like all of the opposition's previous initiatives.

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

President, Association Discuss Problems in Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Wednesday met with representatives of SOS Zagreb, an association of citizens founded a year ago with the aim of ensuring a faster and better reconstruction of properties in Zagreb damaged by the March 2020 earthquake.

Members of the association informed the president of the obstacles and problems encountered by citizens in efforts to have their properties reconstructed. They warned of the danger that time would run out to apply for funds under the EU Solidarity Fund to be used for post-earthquake reconstruction and that the cost of reconstruction of many Zagreb hospitals, schools and kindergartens would eventually have to be covered by taxpayers, the Office of the President said in a statement.

The meeting pointed to the lack of a central body in charge of post-earthquake reconstruction as the key reason why reconstruction was slow and ineffective.

This has resulted in only 75 properties in Zagreb undergoing reconstruction two years since the earthquake, the association's members said.

Private reconstruction is encouraged, however, numerous buildings are not creditworthy, which is a problem that requires the state's help in the form of faster compensation for private funds invested, while reconstruction should be compulsory, it was said at the meeting.

For more, check out our dedicated 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.

Page 3 of 9