Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Following Macron's Visit, French-Croatian Economic Partnership Stoked

December the 1st, 2021 - The French-Croatian economic partnership is set to be ramped up even further and cover a variety of different fields following the French President's recent visit to Zagreb in which he stated Croatia's Schengen readiness.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, last week, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, which is a political declaration with a broader scope in which the two countries will engage in deeper French-Croatian cooperation.

The focus of the public, due to the simultaneous signing of the contract on the purchase of twelve Rafale fighter jets, was the military aspect of future cooperation with the country that is now the largest European Union military power, as well as to open French support for Croatia's entry into the Eurozone and the Schengen area.

This French-Croatian strategic document also brings preferences in bilateral relations between the two economies, part of which refers to the engagement of Croatian companies in the implementation of contracts for the procurement of combat squadrons.

The details haven't been specified, but it is stated that "France is ready to increase the development of further high-value aeronautical support activities at the industrial level in Croatia in connection with the Rafale aircraft."

From this it can be concluded that the doors are well and truly open to industrial cooperation in the aviation industry between the two nations. Cooperation between small and medium-sized and large companies and universities, as well as the participation in industrial consortia financed from the EU budget is also envisaged.

French-Croatian foreign trade relations have only been growing from year to year and the Agreement states that greater importance is needed in increasing the recognition of each country's economies and their investments. In the long run, mutual cooperation in education and scholarships will contribute to this, and in the short term, the foundations for stronger networking will be the two countries' plans which are primarily based on going green and the digital transition, as well as the EU's multiannual financial framework.

In addition to connecting to specific projects, France is also offering its support for the development of technology parks and the ecosystem of start-ups in Croatia, and will share its best experiences in supporting startups and growing companies. With experience in infrastructure projects and the automotive industry, a special space is being opened up in waste management, water management, green energy and digitalisation.

The two countries intend to improve their cooperation in the field of tourism, primarily in the search for models on how to escape from the bings of problematic mass tourism. France is the world's number one tourist destination at the moment, it is visited by the most tourists annually, while Croatia is the European country that receives the most tourists per capita. Therefore, the issue of sustainable tourism is becoming more and more significant, and judging by the Partnership Agreement, the way out will be cultural tourism and joint archaeological research programmes..

There is also talk of cooperation through ITER (International Experimental Thermonuclear Reactor), the construction of an experimental nuclear reactor, the largest investment in science in which all countries of the world participate, and its "host" is France. Getting electricity from fusion energy in France is seen as a priority goal to ensure non-carbon energy sources and sustainable development. This agreement does not, therefore, bring individual projects with specific participants into the ''game'', but instead proposes a proper framework for future French-Croatian partnerships, from which three-year action plans will be adopted at a later stage.

This isn't the first strategic partnership between Croatia and France, as they signed a similar agreement back in 2010, but with the acquisition of the Rafale planes, and also with its 2013 status of an EU member state, Croatia is now receiving more attention.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron Met Mate Rimac in Zagreb

November 25, 2021 - As part of a busy schedule on his first official visit to Croatia, French President Emmanuel Macron met Mate Rimac in Zagreb, and was introduced to the recently merged Bugatti Rimac, a notorious union between France and Croatia.

After meeting President Milanović and signing the agreement for the sale of 12 Rafale fighter jets, the French president continued with the rest of the activities scheduled for his official visit to Croatia. Along with Andrej Plenković, Emmanuel Macron met Mate Rimac in Zagreb.

As Jutarnji List reports, shortly after 1 p.m., Rimac Group CEO Mate Rimac and Bugatti Rimac Chief Operating Officer Christophe Pichon presented two Nevera and Bugatti cars on the terrace of the Esplanade Hotel to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Emmanuel Macron.

By the way, Bugatti is a French company that recently moved to Zagreb, since they were taken over by the Croatian manufacturer of electric hypercars Mate Rimac.

''It is already somewhat common that the Croatian Government likes to show foreign guests what we are advanced in, so I am glad that they chose us. Especially because we have a lot of employees in France as well'', said Mate Rimac.

The French leader was greeted at the entrance to the Zagreb hotel by the Alkars of Sinj.

''This shows the cooperation between France and Croatia'', said Rimac.

''Bugatti has a 112-year history in Molsheim, France, and we make the fastest petrol cars there, and we make the fastest electric cars in the world here in Zagreb. So it made sense to connect the two'', he added.

Macron and Plenković toured Bugatti's Chiron, a car with more than 1,600 horsepower that is the fastest in the world with a speed of 490 kilometers, and Rimčev Nevera, the car with the fastest acceleration in the world.

President Macron will end his official visit to Croatia with a working lunch at the Esplanade hosted by Prime Minister Plenković, which will be attended by people from the public, economic, cultural, scientific, and sports life that connect Croatia and France.

The coach of all the coaches also arrived for lunch.

''I am not only happy to be here, but also proud and I think that all Croats should be proud because this is one of the greatest European politicians. I hope to talk to him about women'', said Miroslav Ciro Blazevic.

Zlatko Dalic did not want to comment on anything, so Ciro added: "That's because he is an athlete, not a politician."

After lunch, Macron travels to Rome, on official visits to Italy and the Vatican.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Two Rafale Jets Fly Over Zagreb

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - Two Dassault Rafale F3R multipurpose aircraft made a flyover of Zagreb on Thursday after Croatia and France signed an agreement on purchasing 12 such fighter jets for Croatia's Air Forces.

The flyover was performed after the agreement-signing ceremony and after the talks between the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron and his host, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The contract on the purchase of the 12 planes was signed by the defence ministers, Mario Banožić and Forence Parly. 

Croatia is the second country in the European Union after Greece to buy Rafale, and the French bid was chosen in competition with the American (new F-16 Block 70), Swedish (new JAS 39 Gripen) and Israeli (used F-16 Barak) planes.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Croatia, France Sign New Strategic Partnership Agreement

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and French President Emmanuel Macron signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in Government House on Thursday, which will further strengthen relations between Zagreb and Paris.

The agreement was signed after their bilateral meeting.

France and Croatia already agreed on a strategic partnership in 2010, but the new agreement will expand and deepen it to a number of new areas. It will be a framework for the further strengthening of relations with that country, it was announced.

With the new strategic partnership, France is supporting Croatia in several areas, political, economic, and cultural, including those that are Zagreb's strategic goals - entry into the Schengen Area and the eurozone, and Croatia's membership in the OECD, Croatian sources said earlier.

After meeting with President Zoran Milanović earlier today, Macron hinted that France would support's Croatia's Schengen Area entry.

He said France and Croatia would continue to cooperate in security and migration, and "there's also Schengen."

Croatia expects that the legal process of making a formal decision to join Schengen could begin in December this year during Slovenia's EU presidency, and the final decision made during the French presidency in the first half of next year.

France's support is also important in light of the fact that France is one of the core members of the EU, but also one of the most influential countries in the world. It is the only permanent member of the Security Council from the EU, the number one military and nuclear power of the bloc, and the seventh-largest world economy.

The new strategic partnership also includes chapters on defence issues, economic relations, cultural, scientific, academic, and administrative cooperation.

The idea of ​​the new strategic partnership is also for "Croatia to become a privileged partner of France in this part of Europe," sources said earlier.

Macron's visit to Croatia is taking place ahead of the French takeover of the six-month presidency of the EU Council from January 1 next year, and in 2022, the current head of state will run again in France's presidential elections.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Croatia, France Sign Deal on Purchase of Rafale Squadron

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - Croatia and France signed an agreement in Zagreb on Thursday on the purchase of French Rafale fighter jets, which will raise the defense capability of the Croatian Army to a much higher level.

The agreement was signed by the two countries' defence ministers, Mario Banožić and Florence Parly, in the presence of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived on Wednesday for the first official bilateral visit of a French president to Croatia.

Croatia is buying from France 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets - ten single-seats and two two-seaters - for €999 million to be paid in five installments from 2022 to 2026.

"Those agreements open a new dimension and page in strengthening the defence capabilities of the Croatian Army, the Croatian Air Force. Strategic partnership," Plenković said at a government session on Wednesday.

He had previously stressed that "the acquisition of Rafale fighter jets is strategically changing Croatia's position in the military and defence context, in terms of strength towards international partners, security alliances and coalitions".

On the occasion of signing the agreement, two Rafales flew over Zagreb, exactly the same kind that Croatia is procuring from France.

The first planes are expected to arrive in Croatia in late 2023 or early 2024.

In 2007, Rafale jets proved themselves in Afghanistan, then in Libya, the Sahel, and the Middle East, and in 2015, the first sales of those planes started in Egypt, Qatar, and India a year later.

Croatia is the second country in the European Union after Greece to buy Rafale, and the French bid was chosen in competition with the American (new F-16 Block 70), Swedish (new JAS 39 Gripen), and Israeli (used F-16 Barak) planes.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Macron Hints at French Support for Croatia's Admission to Schengen Area

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - President Emmanuel Macron said in Zagreb on Thursday that France and Croatia would continue cooperating in the sectors of security and migrations, and hinted at French support for Croatia's plan to join the Schengen Area.

Marcon was received by Croatian President Zoran Milanović in his office on Thursday morning with the highest state honors.

Addressing the press after their talks, Milanović said that it was a special honor for him to receive the French head of state.

Macron said that he was proud of being the first French president to visit Croatia since the country gained independence. He said that it was unfair that no French president had visited Croatia before.

Announcing the continuation of cooperation between the two countries in the sectors of security and migrations, Macron added, "Schengen is also here."

Croatia expects the legal procedure for a formal decision on its accession to the Schengen Area to be launched this December when Slovenia is still the chair of the Council of the European Union, and the final decision to be made in the first half of 2022 when France presides over the EU.

Milanović and Macron also discussed the procurement of 12 Rafale fighter jets from France for the Croatian Air Forces.

"This is a big deal in Croatia, both strategically and financially. I am happy about that," Milanović said, adding that the strengthening of Croatia's defence cooperation with France did not mean a halt in cooperation with the United States.

"We have cooperated and we will cooperate with the USA," he said.

During the reception at the Pantovčak presidential office, Macron also held a brief meeting with Croatian pilots who will be trained to fly 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Croatian President Milanović Welcomes France's Macron

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - The French national anthem played outside Croatian President Zoran Milanović's office to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron, the first French president visiting Croatia since it gained independence.

Milanović welcomed Macron with the highest state honors.

The Croatian Armed Forces orchestra played the two countries' national anthems. Also present was the Honorary and Protection Battalion.

After the welcoming ceremony, the two presidents went to a tête-à-tête meeting.

Macron will then lay a wreath at the Homeland Monument in Stjepan Radić Square. He expressed the wish to pay his respects to those killed in the 1991-95 Homeland War and will be the first high guest to do so at the new Zagreb memorial.

After that, Macron is going to the government.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Croatia, France to Sign Aircraft Agreement, Support for Entry to Schengen, Euro Areas

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - French President Emmanuel Macron is the first French president to officially visit Croatia, and his visit on Wednesday and Thursday is exceptionally important for Zagreb, which will receive support for entry to the Schengen and euro areas and finalize a contract on the purchase of French fighter jets.

"The visit is in line with Croatia's strategic goals for 2022 - entry to the Schengen and euro areas and the strengthening of defense capabilities with the Rafale aircraft," a Croatian government source said on Monday.

Croatia expects the legal procedure for the adoption of a formal decision on its admission to the Schengen area of passport-free movement to begin in December this year, during Slovenia's EU presidency, and it expects the final decision to be adopted during France's presidency in the first half of 2022.

Talks with President Macron on Schengen, therefore, have a twofold significance - France is one of the main EU members and its EU presidency starts on 1 January, the source said.

The source noted that Croatia also expected to receive France's support for admission to the euro area.

The French president will arrive in Croatia on Wednesday evening, his formal host being Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and the reason for that is that the French president, in line with his extensive powers in the presidential political system, is one of the few heads of state who sit on the European Council, which comprises mostly prime ministers. As such, Macron is a formal colleague to other countries' prime ministers, the source said.

Macron will on Thursday be received for talks by President Zoran Milanović, after which he will meet with PM Plenković.

The talks between Plenković and Macron will focus on bilateral relations, the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, with emphasis on Ukraine and Belarus, the strengthening of the EU's strategic independence, and global topics.

France and Croatia already have an agreement on a strategic partnership but they will sign a new one covering a number of new areas, the source said.

The first visit of a French president is considered important also in light of the fact that France is the EU's leading military power, its only nuclear power, and the only permanent member of the UN Security Council from the EU.

After Plenković and Macron sign a new agreement on strategic partnership, the two countries' defense ministers, Mario Banožić and Florence Parly, will sign an agreement on the procurement of the Rafale jets.

Country's security to be raised to the highest level ever

The purchase of the Rafale jets, "the most modern, new-generation aircraft, for the least money and with the fastest delivery" will mean a huge step forward in Croatia's defense security, raising it to the highest level ever, government officials have said.

Croatia will obtain the most powerful aircraft in the area between Germany and Greece, which will enhance its geopolitical importance as there are no jets in its neighborhood that could be compared with the Rafale.

The jets are expected to arrive in late 2023, which is when Croatia will be able to control its entire territory for the first time, the government source said.

Zagreb in May announced that it would buy 12 Rafale jets to modernize its armed forces, opting for the biggest procurement of military equipment since its war of independence, the Agence France Presse has said ahead of Macron's visit.

Clear French support

The document on a strategic partnership to be signed by Plenković and Macron underlines France's clear support to Croatia's accession to the euro area as well as the Schengen area. France also supports Croatia's admission to the OECD, the Croatian source said.

The idea behind the new agreement on strategic partnership is for Croatia to "become a privileged partner to France in this part of Europe," the source said.

The other elements of the strategic partnership refer to economic relations and cultural, scientific, academic, and administrative cooperation.

Croatia is one of the two EU members, the other being Hungary, which Macron has still not visited since the start of his presidential term.

The French president will end his visit with a dinner, to be organized for members of Croatia's public, cultural, scientific and sports life, after which on Thursday afternoon he travels to Rome, where he will sign an agreement on strategic partnership with Italy, while on Friday he is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

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

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Macron to Pay Official Visit to Croatia on 24-25 Nov

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Croatia on 24 and 25 November, the Elysée Palace announced in a press release on Thursday. 

Macron will be the first French head of state to pay an official visit to Zagreb since Croatia gained independence in 1991.

During the visit, the two countries are set to sign a strategic partnership and an agreement on the procurement of French Rafale aircraft for the Croatian Air Force.

In May, the Croatian government announced its intention to purchase 12 Rafale multipurpose fighter jets to upgrade its Air Force, and the AFP news agency described this as the biggest procurement of weaponry by Croatia since its independence.

In September, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that "security-wise, the purchase of (French) military aircraft strategically changes the way Croatia is perceived as it is about to significantly change its status in military terms."

So far in his presidential term, Macron has visited all EU member states, except Croatia and Hungary.

After Zagreb, the French president will fly to Italy and the Vatican.

 France takes over the EU presidency from Slovenia on 1 January 2022.

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

Sunday, 29 August 2021

French President to Visit Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Aug, 2021 - French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the most important European politicians, will pay a working visit to Croatia, the Jutarnji List daily reports in its Sunday issue.

Even though the exact date of the visit has still not been agreed, it is expected to happen sometime in October or November, a high source at the Foreign Ministry has told the daily.

The visit is seen by Zagreb as proof of increasingly strong ties between France and Croatia, which could be described as a strategic partnership, particularly since the Croatian Air Force decided to buy French-made Rafale combat jet, the daily says.

A close associate to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that Croatian-French relations have been increasingly good, even though that was not so at the beginning.

"In the early 1990s, the then French President Francois Mitterrand supported the Serb side in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia but Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Alain Juppé  pursued a more balanced policy. We now have very good bilateral relations, partly also owing to the close relationship between PM Plenković and President Macron," the associate said.

"The visit is expected to help deepen the economic cooperation between France and Croatia and the talks will also definitely focus on the EU's strategic policy. France is not very much in favour of EU enlargement but it has slightly modified its position, thanks to PM Plenković's engagement, and now it supports in principle the accession of Western Balkan countries, naturally, within a reasonable time," the official said.

PM Plenković said earlier this week that "security-wise, the purchase of (French) military aircraft strategically changes the way Croatia is perceived as it is about to significantly change its status in military terms." France is leading the process of strengthening European defence, in which, judging by Plenković's statements, Croatia will be given an important role, Jutarnji List says.

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

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