Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman For Opening EU Entry Talks With N. Macedonia, Albania as Soon as Possible

ZAGREB, 22 June, 2021 - North Macedonia and Albania have met all the criteria to open EU accession negotiations as soon as possible and Kosovo deserves visa liberalisation, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday in Luxembourg.

"Albania and North Macedonia have met all the criteria and we believe that accession negotiations should be opened with them as soon as possible," said Grlić Radman upo arriving in Luxembourg for a General Affairs Council meeting.

The General Affairs Council is composed of foreign or European affairs ministers of the member states. They convened today to discuss preparations for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday on migration, enlargement and the stabilisation and association process.  Furthermore, the Portuguese presidency will inform the EU ministers about the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

One of the more important topics to be debated within Article 7 is the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.

Accession intergovernmental conferences with Serbia and Montenegro will be held on the margins of today's meeting, but without opening or closing any policy chapters. So-called political intergovernmental conferences are a new approach in the accession process.

Agreement still has not been reached to open negotiations with North Macedonia due to objections by Bulgaria and no progress is expected before elections in Bulgaria scheduled for next month.

There are no blockades regarding Albania, however some countries do not wish to separate the issue of opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Grlić Radman that Croatia supports the motion for liberalising the visa regime for Kosovo as soon as possible.

Croatia would like talks on candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be launched as soon as possible too, said Grlić Radman and once again underscored the need for the election law in that country to be changed so that it ensures the equality of all three constitutent peoples.

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

Monday, 21 June 2021

Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) to be First Nearly Zero Energy Building in Croatia

June 21, 2021 - An exciting new step for Croatian energy efficiency is happening at the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP), as the Institute makes significant changes to its building which will also help to educate other experts for energy efficiency.

As the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) gave great support and input in REPLACE Project that brings energy efficiency to Rijeka and Kvarner region, just put a new log in Croatian energetic efficiency. The start of June saw the contract for granting non-returnable funds for founding nZEB- the National Training Center on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, EIHP reported on its website. The project is financed from the „Energy and Climate Change“ Fund, part of the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021 in Croatia, courtesy of the European Economic Area (EEA).

1,600,000 Euros is the total value of this project on which EIHP collaborates with the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Zagreb. The goal is to empower all the actors in reconstructing buildings to meet the nZEB standard.

With the center being established in the building of the Požar Institute undergoing reconstruction at the moment, it will be a vivid example of the modern technologies that are implemented in nZEB design.

„We will show and share with the widest professional community the solutions that will be developed through this project. The whole process of reconstruction will be followed and documented, and detailed, and serve as an example in the training program as the Institute becomes the first public building in Croatia reconstructed in such a manner. With the appliance of green energy technologies (electrification of heating and cooling systems with a crane that uses shallow geothermal source, integrated photo charged electric plant on the roof, energy containers, efficient lighting), we also wish to include E-mobility, which is certainly the future of traffic as well as accomplish complete digitalization of all technical systems the building is using. That way, the building will be the showcase example of the double transition – green and digital“; said the EIHP headmaster, Dražen Jakšić.

Jakšić attended the signing of the contract, along with the regional development Minister Nataša Tramišak, Norwegian Ambassador Haakon Blankenburg (as Norway also supports the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021), Ministry secretary of economy and sustainable growth dr. Mario šiljeg, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering dean dr. Stjepan Lakušić.

„After this pandemic, we will not develop by repeating the things from before. A historical change is afoot, and we will meet it with green development and with new 'Green Deal'“, concluded Jakšić while Minister Tramišak also pointed out that securing financial mechanisms for advanced technologies and energy renewal.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Calls on Remaining EU Countries to Recognise Kosovo

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Croatia encourages the remaining EU countries who have not done so to recognise Kosovo's independence, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday, which is a move that Serbia certainly will not be pleased with as it does not recognise the sovereignty of its former southern province.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 and it has been recognised by about one hundred countries, including all EU member states with the exception of Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia.

"Croatia encourages the remaining five EU member states to recognise Kosovo because that would contribute to stabilising the region and Kosovo itself," Grlić Radman told reporters.

Today Grlić Radman is participating at the international GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, convened to discuss also the situation in the western Balkans.

Croatia's foreign minister said that three things were key to the region's stability: respecting countries' territorial integrity, equal constitutional rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the establishment of mutual trust after the 1990s wars.

"The territorial integrity of Balkan countries needs to be preserved and respected, hence without changing borders like we heard over the past few months in some much-vaunted non-papers that were heading in that direction," said Grlić Radman.

He believes that trust can be achieved through sincere talks, by resolving the issue of the war missing, processing war crimes and providing justice for the victims.

Speaking about BiH, he said the country is trapped between two political tendencies - centralism, or rather unitarism, and separatism.

"That undermines the foundations of a stable BiH and negatively reflects on the status of the Croat people in BiH," he underscored.

He reiterated Croatia's stance that the multi-ethnic BiH needs to reforms the election law to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of equal rights.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia is a "sincere advocate" of BiH's Euro-Atlantic pathway and that at all international forums it keeps that country in the limelight because it is in its interest to have a stable, functioning and prosperous country in its neighbourhood.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Reference to Dayton Was Opposed by Germany, Italy And Other States

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that the reference to the Dayton agreement in NATO's communique adopted on Monday had been opposed by Germany, Italy and some other Western countries, and added that possible changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina must not happen without Croatia and Serbia.

Milanović made the statement in Slovakia, where he participated in the GLOBSEC 2021 Forum and met with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

He discussed with them the NATO summit held in Brussels on Monday, at which Croatia, Milanović said, managed to have a reference to the Dayton peace agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) incorporated in the summit's closing declaration only after insisting on it for six days.

"That should not have happened, that should have been resolved a week ago. Somebody is against it, has a problem with the Dayton agreement and wants to dismantle it," Milanović said, adding that at the same time those countries were criticising the Serb BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik for violating the Dayton agreement.

"Something is not right about that way of thinking," he said.

Milanović noted that a number of countries - Germany, Italy and some other Western countries - had been opposed to mentioning the Dayton peace agreement in the communique.

"Western Europe - and I'm not talking about the leaders, definitely not about Angela Merkel, is acting foolishly, undermining one of the foundations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, regardless of how imperfect it may be, protects it against destabilisation," he said.

Criticism of German diplomacy

Milanović went on to say that talks on the communique had not been conducted by the German chancellor but by the German foreign ministry which, he said, was headed by a political camp different from Merkel's and one he felt close to, "namely by people who in their fantasy are prone to making silly experiments."

The current German foreign minister is Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats who are part of the coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Some Western European countries advocate a so-called civic model for Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace the concept of three constituent peoples envisaged by the Dayton peace agreement. Commenting on that on Monday, Milanović said that "it sounds very noble but is actually a hoax."

"They should do it back at home. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as it is, we share a long border and we will soon have to guard it for the Schengen area," he said.

Milanović stressed that plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be made "under the radar" and that any changes in the neighbouring country had to involve Croatia and Serbia, co-signatories to the Dayton agreement, adding that he had explained this to his Slovakian and Polish counterparts.

"That is how things are done in diplomacy, as far as I can remember. I used to be a diplomat and I never caused a scandal. Then I entered politics and in politics you have to cause scandals to be heard," he said.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Satisfied With World Bank Support in Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the World Bank's support to Croatia's efforts to reconstruct the areas hit by the 2020 quakes, and with cooperation in projects aimed at facilitating the recovery of the private sector's exporters affected by the corona crisis. 

A press release issued by the government notes that the premier held a meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, and a few other WB officials in Government House.

On that occasion, Plenković expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the World Bank and the support that institution had provided to Croatia in the reconstruction since the earthquakes had struck Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County in March and December 2020.

He was quoted as saying that he was satisfied with the permanent cooperation in projects aimed at helping exporters in the private sector to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister in particular thanked the World Bank for its support until now in preparing Croatia's 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan. He underscored the importance of fostering further cooperation and the implementation of projects for Zagreb's reconstruction and revitalisation of the Banovina area in Sisak County, the press release said.

In June last year the World Bank approved two $500 million projects to provide urgent support to the government in an attempt to relieve the impact of the tremors that hit Croatia and of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank also provided technical support in preparing a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA 2020), which was an important document to mobilise €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The World Bank also provided technical assistance in the RDNA for the earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Bjerde was accompanied at the meeting by World Bank's Country Director for the European Union Gallina Andronova Vincelette, the World Bank's new country manager in Croatia Jehan Arulpragasam, and Special Assistant at World Bank Group Fanny Weiner.

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

 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia: Week-Long Visit Regarding Visa-Free Travel

June 15, 2021 -  The US Department of Homeland Security officials in Croatia will continue to work in strengthening diplomatic relations with Croatia and ensuring visa-free travel between the two countries situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are currently in Croatia on a weeklong visit. As reported by US Embassy on social media, the visit is in regard to Croatia's progress towards Visa Waiver Programme Membership.

If Croatia joins the programme, Croatian citizens will not need a visa to travel to the USA for tourism, transit, or even for work as long as they don't extend the 90 day limit placed on their stay in the country.

As TCN reported earlier this year, The American Embassy in Croatia formally confirmed back in February that Croatian citizens will be able to finally enjoy the right to travel to the USA without the need for a visa later this year, by the 30th of September 2021 at the very latest, as was reported by Večernji list.

The final prerequisite for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of November 2020. Back then, sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this criterion had been met, and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. That final bar was set by the USA to Croatia.

''Our two governments are continuing their close cooperation on meeting the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme participation. US Department of Homeland Security officials are currently here, working with their Croatian Government partners on further advancing our shared goals, as well as addressing any remaining technical and policy requirements. People-to-people ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia are robust,'' says the press release by the US Embassy in Zagreb.

They added that the US Embassy is continuing to focus on strengthening ties between the two countries and that Croatia is a trusted partner, and these new travel arrangements will also contribute to deepening bilateral relations.

This bit of news comes as a refreshment when taking into account some other recent events. Croatia and the USA enjoy a close connection thanks to their NATO membership, and recently, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic stated that he would not accept a NATO closing declaration if it failed to mention the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples.

That statement was criticised even by Željko Komšić, the Croatian member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, saying that ''the concept of constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obsolete.''

Additionally, a bit of challenge can be seen with the fact that while the US Embassy has a diplomatic mission in Croatia, there is no appointed Ambassador to Croatia at the moment. But nevertheless, cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations remain tight.

As TCN reported back in May, Croatia participated in a military exercise of transporting American military supplies, before that, in March, the US donated the GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital and also invested $480,000 in the Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre.

In addition to their cooperation in terms of safety and health issues, the US additionally cooperated with the science-technology park - Step-Ri to bring entrepreneurship expertise to the Croats. With this diplomatic friendship evident and constantly being nourished, visa-free travel between the two countries is both fully deserved and now needed.

Learn more about visas in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac Visits Bavaria to Discuss Tourism Cooperation

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac met with Bavaria's Deputy Premier and Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, in Munich on Monday to discuss ways of increasing cooperation in the tourism sector.

Brnjac said that Croatia and Bavaria would continue exchanging experience and best practice in the digitalisation of tourism services and the development of cultural and rural tourism, her ministry announced in a press release.

"Croatia and Bavaria put emphasis on the development of sustainable tourism, and their cooperation in many areas of common interest has been going on for about 50 years within the Bavarian-Croatian Commission," Brnjac said.

She noted that half of German tourists visiting Croatia come from Bavaria, which is why it is very important for Croatia to convey the information on the activities that are being undertaken so that Croatia is recognised as a pleasant and safe destination.

Bavaria supports Croatia's Schengen membership bid

Aiwanger said there was a lot of space for cooperation between Croatia and Bavaria in the tourism sector, emphasising that Bavaria supported Croatia's accession to the Schengen area next year as an important precondition for facilitating movement of tourists.

The working meeting was also attended by the deputy president of the ADAC motoring association for tourism and finance, Karlheinz Jungbeck.

Brnjac and Jungbeck discussed preparations for the summer tourist season as well as expectations and plans for future development. Brnjac said that the cooperation with ADAC, which has 22 million members, ensured the greater visibility of Croatia on the German market, adding that today's meeting set a framework for future institutional cooperation.

According to ADAC, there is a growing interest in visiting Croatia, notably in the camping segment. This year ADAC included 134 Croatian campsites on its list of the best European campsites, the same number as in 2019, and 13 of the campsites were rated as ADAC Superplatz 2021.

About 42,000 Germans are currently vacationing in Croatia, mostly in Istria. Last year German tourists generated 1.6 million arrivals and 12.7 overnight stays, which was 60 percent of overnight stays made in 2019 when a record 21.2 million overnight stays were generated by German visitors. Last year, the 12.7 million overnight stays made by German tourists accounted for 23 percent of total overnight stays in Croatia.

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

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović Hopes For Macron's Re-Election Next Year

ZAGREB, 9 June, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that the 2022 French presidential election would be crucial for the "European story" and that he hoped Emmanuel Macron would be re-elected.

The French president was slapped by a man from a welcoming crowd during a visit to the south of France on Tuesday, as shown by video footage of the incident.

Milanović described the incident as "bizarre," saying that it was "unbelievable that security allowed that person into that area."

"This only shows that next year in European politics will be cursed because Macron is going for re-election. I would like him to win, rather than Le Pen and that generally claustrophobic and nervous policy of suspecting everyone who is not white and Christian, and unfortunately European policy has turned into that," Milanović said in response to questions from the press during a visit to the northern island of Krk.

"In Germany, whoever wins in September will more or less continue the present policy, which is moderate and well-balanced, while things in France are a bit different," the Croatian president said.

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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Attends Ministerial Meeting on Berlin Process

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman participated in a video-conference on Tuesday with the foreign ministers of country participants in the Berlin process, the foreign ministry has reported.

"The Berlin Process has so far resulted in many tangible achievements. Primarily, it has reiterated its commitment to the European Union's enlargement process, created a positive boost for concrete regional cooperation, and has helped to strengthen ties both between the six countries in the Western Balkans region as well as between those countries and the EU," said Grlić Radman.

He added that the area of the Western Balkans has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but also that a recovery framework was created at last year's Berlin Process summit in Sofia.

"In times of crisis, we have to show solidarity with those who require help. Croatia is among the first EU member states to implement the vaccine sharing mechanism, via which we will send vaccines to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia," underscored Grlić Radman.

He reiterated Croatia's support to Western Balkan countries on their European journey, reflecting particularly on Bosnia and Herzegovina, underscoring its stability which is Croatia's interest and of the whole of the European Union.

He underlined the urgency to resolve the most important issues in that country such as reforming the election law and the opportunity to implement that this year.

He called on those countries that have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so because of the positive effect that its recognition would have on the security and stability of Southeast Europe.

He also expressed hope that a consensus would be reached without any delay on the negotiation framework for Albania and North Macedonia and subsequently for an inter-governmental conference to be organised with both countries and for an inter-governmental conference to also be organised with Montenegro and Serbia in the context of the new negotiation methodology.

Today's meeting included the participation of representatives from EU institutions, the Council for Regional Cooperation and the regional youth cooperation office and the office for cooperation with NGOs.

Germany hosted today's video-conference of the Berlin Process, the foreign ministry said in its press release.

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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović: Clear Link Between Croatia's Schengen Membership And EU Security

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - The Strategy for the Schengen Area for the first time clearly articulates the link between Croatia's membership of the Schengen Area and the EU's security, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

“The debate today on the Strategy for the Schengen Area is especially significant for us because for the first time it has identified a clear link between Croatia's membership of the Schengen Area and security for the EU as a whole," Božinović said ahead of a meeting of the EU's Home Affairs Council.

The interior ministers of EU member states met in Luxembourg on Tuesday for an initial discussion on the Schengen strategy that was presented by the European Commission last week. The agenda also includes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fight against organised crime, the internal security outlook in terms of artificial intelligence, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and exchanging opinions on the current status in the discussion on the new migration and asylum pact.

Last week the Commission presented the strategy towards a "stronger and more resilient" Schengen Area, which includes enlargement to EU member states that are still not part of the area, and called for Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania to be admitted into the Schengen Area as they had met the technical criteria for the application of the Schengen acquis. 

Božinović said that it was becoming more and more clear that Europe's security was not the sum of security capacities of member states but that it was cooperation, interoperability and solidarity.

"These are the principles that Croatia has insisted upon in European forums for years," said Božinović.

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

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