Friday, 30 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman: Croatia and San Marino For Expanding Cooperation

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - Croatia and San Marino have great potential to expand their cooperation in their mutual interest, particularly in the economy, culture and tourism, Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday after meeting with his counterpart from San Marino.

Luca Beccari as San Marino's Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications is currently on a working visit to Croatia. This is the first visit ever by a minister from San Marino to Croatia.

Croatia and San Marino do not have any outstanding issues and they are working on expanding their cooperation in their mutual interest, said Grlić Radman.

"In that regard, I see development potential for our cooperation in the fields of economy, culture and tourism, having in mind our common Mediterranean orientation and the free access that San Marino has to the European Union market," underscored Grlić Radman.

According to Grlić Radman, the two countries are committed to the strategies and objectives of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, which San Marino joined in 2019.

He recalled that San Marino, along with Andorra and Monaco, was implementing the agreement of accession to the European Union, and expressed Croatia's support for the continuation of negotiations and hope that they would be concluded successfully.

Grlić Radman did not omit to thank Minister Beccari for the aid that San Marino had sent to the earthquake-struck areas of Sisak-Moslavina County.

Beccari said that this bilateral visit is an opportunity to take one step further in strengthening mutual cooperation, particularly in the areas of economy, noting that San Marino deeply appreciates Croatia's support when it comes to accession to the EU.

That process was launched in 2015 and we hope that it will be concluded soon, primarily thanks to the support of friendly countries, said Beccari.

In addition to cooperation within the EU market he underscored cooperation between the two countries within the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative as a concrete common platform.

In that way we can have cooperate bilaterally but also with all other neighbouring countries, said Beccari.

He emphasised that San Marino is resolute in cooperation in the fields of economy and that it invests a great deal in new technologies, particularly those related to sustainable development.

During a joint press conference, Grlić Radman spoke about the long historical ties between the two countries, recalling that according to legend the founder of San Marino was Saint Marinus from the island of Rab.

The city of San Marino has had a twin-city agreement with the city of Rab since 1968, and that charter was renewed in 2018.

Minister Beccari will visit Rab during his stay in Croatia.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Says Ambassador Hidajet Biščević Enjoys Government's Support

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday that Croatian Ambassador Hidajet Biščević enjoyed the support from the Croatian government, in his comment to the ethnic Croat leader's accusations against the diplomat.

Addressing a news conference in Petrinja, Minister Grlić Radman said that the experienced Croatian diplomat Biščević enjoyed the support of the government in Zagreb.

He says that exclusively Croatian institutions are in charge of assessing the performance of Croatian diplomats.

The minister said that the status of the Croatian community in Serbia is one of Biščević's priorities.

"Media speculations and such statements in media about Croatia's diplomats are not the best way of communication. Croatia's diplomacy does not deserve that and furthermore this could also be an indirect attempt from outside to impact the political relations in Croatia," said the minister who will travel to Subotica on Wednesday.

He also said that it was also inappropriate to disseminate reports against Biščević after the recent incident in which the Croatian flag was removed from the residence of the Croatian ambassador in Belgrade.

Following media reports about the criticism targeted against Biščević, President Zoran Milanović said that he would recall the ambassador for consultations to establish the truth.

Minister Grlić Radman also rejected Milanović's claims that it was him who appointed Grlić Radman to an ambassadorial post.

Grlić Radman said that he had been employed for diplomatic tasks for the first time in 1991 by the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and since then he has been an official in the foreign ministry.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović to Recall Ambassador to Serbia Over His Alleged Disregard For Ethnic Croats

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Croatia's President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he would recall Croatian Ambassador to Belgrade, Hidajet Biščević, after the ethnic Croat leader Tomislav Žigmanov criticised the diplomat for working against the Croats in Serbia.

In the meantime media outlets have reported that Ambassador Biščević did not react to the developments in which ethnic Croats received death threats, and that he also failed to even telephone those members who received threats to express sympathy with them.

Žigmanov, who is the leader of the Democratic party of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), recently claimed that the Croatian ambassador had made a "tepid reaction" to attempts by Serbian authorities in Subotica to introduce the Bunjevci vernacular as an official language in that northern city and that the ambassador communicated with people whom Žigmanov described as persons "who are actively working on the destabilisation and dissolution of the (ethnic Croat) community."

All that prompted President Milanović to say today that he did not know whose policy Biščević "is pursuing there."

I cannot know whether all those headlines are true and I will summon him back to Zagreb for consultations, Milanović said in his address to the press at the Gašinci military range in eastern Croatia.

The Večernji List daily has reported that on 30 March, Žigmanov sent a letter to Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman to inform him that Biščević was working against the interests of the ethnic Croat community in Serbia.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor: "For the Homeland Ready" Can't Be Both Symbol of Heroism and Evil

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has said in an interview with Hina that the Ustasha salute 'For the homeland ready' cannot simultaneously be a symbol of heroism and a symbol of evil, and pointed out the good example set by Germany and Austria where the glorification of Nazism is punishable by law.

The issue of the said salute used by Ustasha, allies of the German Nazis in the Second World War, is raised every April, when Croatia observes anniversaries of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp in Jasenovac in late April in 1945. The 1941-1945 Jasenovac camp was a site of torture and mass executions of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and of Croats who opposed Nazism and Fascism.

Since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the controversial salute, whose abbreviation in Croatian is ZDS, has been permissible at commemorations of fallen defenders who used to be members of the HOS unit and who had that salute on their uniforms during that war of independence. On the other hand, for years, Jewish associations have continued requesting that the use of the salute should be outlawed, just as in the case of "Heil Hitler" salute, as its use carries a prison sentence in Germany and Austria.

"In Vukovar, the 'Za Dom Spremni' salute is considered to be part of heroism of the place, fighting against occupier and in Jasenovac  'Za Dom Spremni' is symbol of evil. So, you have to decide, it can't be the same symbol for totally different points in your history," says the ambassador after he yesterday participated in the commemorations on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac death camp.

Jewish rep expects legislative changes penalising Ustasha salute to be passed by summer

The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said on Thursday there was a realistic possibility for the parliament to vote in amendments to the Penal Code to penalise the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" before its summer recess.

"I believe that there will be no problems in voting the changes in if the Prime Minister and the HDZ mean what they say," Kraus said when asked about the possibility of outlawing the Ustasha salute, an initiative he launched earlier this year.

Commenting on this statement, Ambassador Mor says: "You have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer, i am not Croat and can't give you 'yes' or 'no' (on imposing a prison sentence for that salute). In this case, Germany and Austria are very good role model."

Ambassador warns of attempts to downplay the Holocaust

Commenting on some global trends of downplaying the tragedy of the Holocaust, Mor said that a portion of the Croatian society used every opportunity to glorify the Ustasha troops and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić.

 As if nothing had happened, as if Jasenovac had not been an extermination camp but a labour camp. This is in contradiction with historical facts and the testimonies by those who survived that period, the ambassador said.

Mor went on to say that historians in Croatia and Serbia disagreed about the numbers of Serb victims in Jasenovac, and he said that it was unacceptable to reduce such a tragedy to the issue of numbers.

"If you want to live in peace, you have to do more then producing movies, you have to have real dialogue," he said alluding also to the recent Serbian film ("Dara iz Jasenovca") about this topic which has been perceived in Croatia as well as internationally as part of the nationalistic propaganda of Serbia's authorities.

Mor urged both Croatia and Serbia to let their archives be available to experts and so that they can arrive at a point acceptable to both sides.

The same should be applied when it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, he said and called for resorting to dialogue to overcome different views on the events in the past.

In this context he mentioned the normalisation of the relations between his country and several Arab countries. Following the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, Israel has renewed relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in the past few months.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman Slams Removal of Croatian Flag From Ambassador's Residence in Belgrade

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday condemned the removal of the Croatian flag from the ambassador's official residence in Belgrade, saying that such incidents fomented an atmosphere of hate, hostility and intolerance.

"Such incidents are certainly not conducive to understanding (...) We hope and wish for the relations between Croatia and Serbia to be good because it makes sense that we should have stable relations," he told the press.

Croatian Ambassador Hido Biščević told N1 television on Thursday it was no accident that the Croatian flag was taken down from his residence and that the incident reflected "part of the atmosphere" in Serbian society, which he said continued to feed on hate speech.

Unknown persons removed the flag from the building which has video surveillance but no guards most likely on Wednesday morning, he said.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry said this was an "injudicious and isolated act," hoping that it "won't cast a shadow on efforts to set Serbia-Croatia relations on new foundations so that in future they can develop in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation."

Grlić Radman said that because of such incidents "we can't say the relations have good prospects, we can't talk about a good future, but we must believe in a good future."

He announced that he will go to Subotica on 28 April for the laying of the cornerstone of a new Croatia House. His talks with local officials will also address an initiative, opposed by Croatian linguists, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that town in northern Serbia.

The minister reiterated that the initiative was contrary to the Croatia-Serbia agreement on the protection of national minorities.

He said that on 27 April the prime minister of the Vojvodina province, Igor Mirović, would visit Petrinja, struck by a devastating earthquake last December.

Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia"

The minister went on to say that Serbia's EU path "goes also across Croatia." Before Serbia joins, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the war missing, universal jurisdiction, and reparations for POWs, he said.

Serb representatives have three guaranteed seats in the Croatian parliament and Croatia wants Croats in Serbia to be represented as well, he added.

Serbia "must actively and strongly deal" with reforms, the fight against corruption, and the rule of law, he said.

Serbia was granted EU candidate status in March 2012 and began accession negotiations in January 2014.

Ambassadorial appointments

Although Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović have not yet agreed on the appointment of new ambassadors and consuls, Grlić Radman said he did not think the process was blocked and that there was "only one Croatian diplomacy."

He dismissed the possibility of a quota or a 50:50 model (between the president's and government's proposals). He said "agreement must be reached" and that one could talk about the list of candidates the government had sent the president, but that the government was not in favour of quotas.

He said the candidates were "professional diplomats who have proved themselves on the job."

Milanović, on the other hand, wants it to be known who is behind which ambassador for responsibility's sake, saying that this has been the practice before.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Commander of U.S. Air Forces For Europe, Africa Visits Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa and of Allied Air Command, visited Croatia on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Harrigian met with the ministry state secretary, Zdravko Jakop, the director of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, Major General Ivica Olujić, and the commander of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec.

They discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in defence and Agile Combat Employment, which is based on interoperability, as well as agreements regulating access to the Allied infrastructure and air space.

The Croatian Army, as an active NATO member, is participating in many international military exercises and activities which enhance the common capabilities and intensify cooperation between the member states, including the DEFENDER-Europe 21 and Astral Knight 21 exercises.

Jakop thanked the U.S. for donations and training assistance, saying that the bilateral relations were developed and that the U.S. "is the most important strategic partner in global security building."

Harrigian said he was looking forward to joint participation in Astral Knight, an exercise taking place in Croatia which, he said, offers an exceptional opportunity to train with some of the strongest allies.

Križanec underlined the importance of joint participation in international military exercises and activities this year, including  Adriatic Strike 21, Astral Knight 21 and Immediate Response 21.

Air forces, owing to rapid action and deployment in an exceptionally wide operations area, play a significant role in supporting deterrence as a key element of NATO's collective defence, he said.

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

Friday, 16 April 2021

Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team Visits Croatia's Krila Oluje Pilots

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Ten British Royal Airforce planes landed at the military based in Zemunik on Friday enroute to Greece to visit Croatia's Airforce - Krila Oluje (Wings of the Storm) aerobatic team, the Defence Ministry reported in a press release.

The British Red Arrow pilots were welcomed by their Croatian colleagues in the Krila Oluje team along with a team of aircraft technicians.

"After a long 2020 when we were not able to meet at base nor in the air, we are truly honoured to be able to receive our dear friends and offer them support on their way to Greece," Captain Darko Belančić said.

He hopes that the next season will be more successful despite all the challenges and that pilots will be able to conduct training and prepare for various performances.

"We look forward to their visit again on returning to the United Kingdom after the completion of the Springhawk exercise and hope that we can organise and plan a joint flight and exchange of experiences," added Belaničić.

This is the fourth time the Red Arrows have visited Zemunik as one of the bases on the way to Tanagra in Greece where they will conduct a five-week training in preparation for 2021 performances.

The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands.

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

 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Grlić Radman: Stability Reason for Croatian BiH EU Membership Support

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - Croatia wants to see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a future member of the European Union because that is the only way to ensure stability in this area, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will have all our support, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Thursday.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is our most important neighbour, a country with which we share 1,100 kilometres of border, a country made up of two entities, three equal peoples, including Croats, and it is our constitutional and moral obligation to help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path," Grlić Radman said in Kreševo at the end of his two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He visited the Franciscan monastery and a museum co-financed by the Croatian government, which should open soon.

"We want to help all areas of life of Croats in this place, where Croats make up more than 80% of the population, so that they would stay in this area, especially young people," Grlić Radman said.

Together with HDZ BiH party leader Dragan Čović, he visited the plants owned by the Stanić family, noting that these modern production facilities prove that it is possible to live and invest there.

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

 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

American Film Producer Don Victor Cisternino Ends Up in Remetinec Jail - Jutarnji List daily Reports

ZAGREB, 14 April, 2021 - US actor and producer Don Victor Cisternino has found himself on an international arrest warrant because the United States wants him for fraud of millions of dollars in subsidies for his employees affected by the pandemic, the Jutarnji List daily said on Wednesday.

I was afraid that the new administration under President Joe Biden would prosecute me for this kind of business, even though it was allowed during the Trump administration. That is why I decided to flee to Europe after the election in the US and seek asylum in Russia or some other country. And that's how I came to Croatia where I wanted to seek political asylum, Cisternino was quoted as saying.

The 45-year old actor and producer, known for his episode role in the television series ER, was arrested on an international arrest warrant on Sunday evening when he entered Croatia from Slovenia in a vehicle.

Over the past few years Cisternino has been running his own company, Magnifi Co, providing consulting services in the film and art industry. The state attorney in Orlando, Florida has charged Cisternino with embezzlement of $7.2 million of a state loan for support to companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cisternino submitted fraudulent details to obtain a jobkeeping loan claiming that his company employed 422 employees, yet it only has two - Cisternino and his wife.

Irregularities were discovered by the tax authorities as Cisternino's tax return noted that all his workers paid the same tax of $3,356. However, due to tax deductions related to the number of children, unemployed spouse and other benefits, taxation varies from employee to employee which then raised suspicion as all 422 workers paid an identical tax amount.

Cisternino has declared that he objects to being extradited to the US. That means that his extradition won't be expedited and the formal extradition procedure will follow, the daily reported.

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

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

$480,000 Invested in Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The refurbished building housing Rijeka's Maritime Crisis Centre for Faster Response to Any Disaster off Croatia’s Coastline was officially opened on Tuesday.

The investment into the upgrade of this offshore emergency response centre in the biggest Croatian seaport totalled US$ 480,000, and the lion's share of the investment was provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During the ceremony, the state secretary of the Croatian Sea, Transport and Infrastructure ministry, Josip Bilaver, thanked the U.S. administration and military as well as the US Embassy in Zagreb for this donation in the amount of HRK 3.2 million.

The ministry has invested a million kuna, while the local county authorities provided 100,000 kuna for the project.

"The U.S.-Croatia partnership at sea is essential to the two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security. That is why the United States, through the U.S. Military’s European Command (EUCOM), provided assistance to the Croatian Ministry of Sea, Transportation and Infrastructure and the Rijeka Harbor Master’s office to advance training and emergency-response capabilities at sea," the embassy said on its website.

The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Victoria Taylor, who today joined State Secretary Bilaver for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, expressed satisfaction with the completion of this project.

Over the last decade, the USA has set aside HRK 4.5 billion to support numerous civilian and military projects in Croatia, she said.

The Rijeka centre is described as a a renewed facility that will become "the central point for planning, training, and management in response to emergencies at sea, from supporting persons and vessels in need to addressing maritime accidents and oil pollution."

"The upgraded center will therefore play a critical role in maintaining the safety and environmental stewardship of Croatian coastal waters, ensuring quick action in response to a potential environmental disaster. Protection of the environment is a key priority for both Croatia and the United States, and joint capacity to mitigate against incidents and accidents at sea can make all the difference in a crisis."

The embassy recalls that "Rijeka is already a hub for U.S.-Croatia cooperation, with the port city benefiting economically from nearly 900 million kuna in contracted services by the U.S. Navy for ship maintenance and support since 2011."

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

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