Thursday, 14 July 2022

Croatian FM: Entry Of Finland And Sweden Into NATO Reinforces Collective Defence

ZAGREB, 14 July 2022 - The adoption of the law on the ratification of the protocol for the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO is Croatia's contribution to the further strengthening of the alliance and collective defence, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in the parliament on Thursday.

The foreign minister said in his address he hoped that the Sabor would be among the first ones to give its approval for this "historic enlargement".

On behalf of the government, the pertaining protocol adopted in Brussels on 5 July, was signed by Croatia's permanent representative to NATO, Mario Nobilo.

"Croatia actively participates in all policies and activities that contribute to the strengthening of the alliance and collective defence, and this law additionally supports the strengthening of NATO and our collective defence," Minister Grlić Radman told the lawmakers.

The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO will help the alliance to strengthen its northern and eastern flanks, and will include the whole regions of Scandinavia and the Baltic in the alliance, he added.

Grlić Radman welcomed NATO's open door policy, saying that it contributed to peace and security in Europe.

Commenting on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the minister said that it had changed the security environment and that the whole of Europe and the world were in a very sensitive and dangerous situation.

"In this extremely complex international political and economic situation, membership of NATO has become more important than ever before."

The Croatian government considers Russia's invasion as an attack on freedom of choice, on international law and on the entire European security structure. Therefore, the interest of Finland and Sweden to join the alliance is fully understandable, said the minister.

The protocols will become effective after the parliaments of all 30 NATO member states ratify them, which Finland and Sweden can expect a formal invitation to join the alliance.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Grlić Radman Asks For Additional US Engagement Regarding BiH Election Reform

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Sunday asked at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for additional US engagement on the election reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warning that otherwise radicalisation was possible in the country.

"I told the US Secretary of State that we are very much concerned about the missed chance to amend the BiH election law. I also warned of possible radicalisation of the situation after the elections," Grlić Radman told reporters.

He added that he had asked Blinken that the US enhance its presence and help ensure agreement between local Bosniak and Croat leaders on rules for general elections to be held in October.

The two officials were attending an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member-countries which again supported Ukraine in the fight against the Russian aggression.

"All the ministers reiterated their solidarity and expressed readiness for stronger engagement, not only by individual countries but by NATO as a whole," said the Croatian minister.

He stressed that NATO was not a party to the conflict but that it supported Ukraine's "just and defensive war."

At a meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană, Grlić Radman guaranteed full support to Finland and Sweden's bid to join NATO.

"We discussed also the pace of the procedure and I believe the issue could be resolved before the NATO summit to be held in Madrid in June," Grlić Radman said.

He repeated that he believed the doubts Turkey has expressed regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden would soon be removed through talks.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Grlić Radman: Putin is a War Criminal

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a war criminal, hopeful that "the Russian autocratic regime" would not last long and claiming that Croatia "would know how to respond" if Russian threats were to become a reality.

Speaking in an interview with Croatian Radio, Grlić Radman said that he did not consider threats by the Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Kalabukhov, as realistic, describing them as a form of intimidation.

A few days ago, Kalabukhov warned that Moscow had the right to respond to Bosnia and Herzegovina's potential membership in NATO, asking the interviewer: "How do you know we do not have plans also against Croatia, Poland and Bulgaria as NATO members?"

In an unlikely scenario of the threats becoming a reality, Croatia "would know how to respond" with its allies, said Grlić Radman.

"The ambassador's threat concerns not only Croatia but the entire EU, and if it were to become a reality, it would activate Article 5" of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says that an armed attack against one member state is considered an armed attack against them all, Grlić Radman said.

"That would cause a new escalation of the conflict, which is in no one's interest and I am certain it will be avoided, and ways would be found to negotiate with the Russian president", the minister said.

He added that Putin "has already committed war crimes, but one must negotiate in war."

Putin will "not have any choice because he has not accomplished what he wanted - to conquer Ukraine," said Grlić Radman.

Regime, people not the same thing

Two months after his official visit to Moscow, where he said that "good relations with Ukraine really do not rule out good relations with Russia," Grlić Radman said that he was referring to the Russian people.

"There is no equal sign between a regime and a people. Peoples stay, policies change. I hope this autocratic regime will not last long," he stressed.

The minister said that the EU had pursued a two-track policy towards Russia, with sanctions as well as an open diplomatic channel with Moscow, and that a number of EU ministers had visited Russia before the invasion of Ukraine to advocate de-escalation.

He said that five Croatian nationals were still in Ukraine, and anyone who wanted to leave the country had done so.

More than 9,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia and the number keeps changing, he said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Croatian FM Visits Estonia, Says Russian Invasion Could Destabilise Bosnia & Herzegovina

14 March 2022 - Croatia's foreign minister told his Estonian counterpart Eva-Maria Liimets on Monday that Croatia was being solidary with Ukraine by sending it financial aid and defence equipment and taking in refugees, warning of possible destabilisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the war in Ukraine.

The talks between Minister Gordan Grlić Radman of Croatia and his Estonian counterpart Eva-Maria Liimets focused on the Russian aggression on Ukraine. "The importance of the unity and solidarity of the EU and transatlantic partners was underlined, as was the importance of continuing the implementation of restrictions against Russia," the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

Grlić Radman said Croatia "is showing its solidarity with Ukraine by sending it financial assistance and defence equipment and by taking in Ukrainian refugees. The minister warned of the possibility of further destabilisation of the Western Balkans, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to the war in Ukraine," the Croatian ministry said.

"We strongly advocate the election reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, confident that it would improve relations between the constituent peoples and secure legitimate and just elections," Grlić Radman said.

As regards the security situation in Europe, Grlić Radman reported about the crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle in Zagreb last week and the continuation of the investigation into the incident.

The minister stressed that the case was an indicator of the need for a better and closer communication and cooperation between NATO members, the ministry said in the statement.

It underlined the very good, friendly relations between Croatia and Estonia, their regular cooperation at the highest levels and their partnership within the EU, NATO, Three Seas Initiative and other international formats as well as the potential for enhancing bilateral cooperation.

During his visit to Estonia, Grlić Radman and his host opened a Croatian-Estonian business forum focusing on IT and digitalisation, which was attended by executives of IT companies from the two countries.

Grlić Radman also met with Estonian Defence Minister Kalle Laanet and Parliament Speaker Jüri Ratas and visited the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Norwegian and Croatian FMs Meet in Oslo to Discuss Current Affairs

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman held talks with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt in Oslo on Tuesday on bilateral relations, the situation in the Western Balkans and the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The ministers agreed the bilateral cooperation is developed in many areas, but that there is potential to intensify it, notably in energy, green energy, sustainable development, island development, and ship building, the Croatian ministry said in a press release.

Croatia strongly supports the European prospects of Western Balkan countries and believes that an individual approach to each country is the only proper way in the enlargement process, Grlić Radman said.

The prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina can directly impact stability and security in this part of Europe, he said, adding that changing the electoral law is a key reform that can protect BiH's stability and functioning.

The two ministers condemned the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, saying it is unprecedented and unjustified as well as an aggression against peace and the international order.

"At this serious moment in our history, our unity is of crucial importance. Only together and in coordination with our transatlantic partners can we find a way to overcome these challenges. We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and strongly support its territorial integrity and sovereignty," said Grlić Radman, who was on an official visit to Norway.

He said Croatia was ready, as a country which passed through the horrors of war in the early 1990s, to extend humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine.

Grlić Radman also met with Ine Eriksen Søreide, chair of the Norwegian parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee. They discussed the possibilities of strengthening parliamentary cooperation and current security challenges.

Last month Croatia and Norway marked 30 years of diplomatic relations and Grlić Radman thanked Norway for the support to Croatia on its NATO and EU journeys.

He also attended a panel at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs on the 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Croatian FM Supports Moldova's Territorial Integrity

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, who visited Chisinau on Tuesday, expressed support for the territorial integrity of Moldova which is faced with threats of pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.

After meeting his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu, Croatia's foreign minister reiterated Zagreb's support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders.

The negotiations on Transnistria are being held by Chisinau and pro-Russian separatists as well as by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the USA.

Grlić Radman expressed support for Moldova's efforts to be integrated in Europe.

Currently, Moldovan President is Maia Sandu, a leader who has put this 3.5-million-strong country on a pro-European course.

Moldovan Minister Popescu thanked Croatia for being a great advocate of the European integration of Moldova, and stressed that Zagreb and Brussels had always been with Moldova during its challenging times, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis.

Commenting on Transnistria, Popescu said that the current situation was complicated and that without the European support, it would have been even more complicated.

Popescu said that his country would like to join the Tree Seas Initiative.

The two ministers signed a memorandum on cooperation between the two ministries' diplomatic academies.

The two countries established diplomatic relations 30 years ago.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Milanović: "Dumb" Grlić Radman Officially Invited Putin to Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Jan 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman had officially invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Croatia, but not on his behalf.

During a visit to Sisak, Milanović was answering questions from the press concerning accusations from the ruling HDZ party that he had pro-Russian views and that his statements caused harm to Croatia's reputation.

"The dumb foreign minister visited Moscow the other day," Milanović said in reference to Grlić Radman's official visit to Russia on 17 January.

"What was he doing in Moscow? I would expect he went to reproach (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov, but no, he goes there and hands in an official invitation for Putin to visit Croatia."

"Is he the president of the state? Does he speak on my behalf? He does not. (PM Andrej) Plenković is not the head of state and cannot play host to Putin," said Milanović.

"So the very same Russians that you threaten and stigmatise you hypocritically invite to Croatia," Milanović said.

The president denied having been the one to speculate that Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.

"No, it was Jutarnji List (daily) that did it, saying on its front page that NATO is looking for 1,500 soldiers" and asking if Croatia would send them, Milanović said.

"And what is that but alarming the public?"

"I never said that NATO had asked for that, I said preemptively that Croatia would not send its troops."

"Croatia will not send troops to Ukraine, and as for Poland and Lithuania, we'll see in the future," Milanović said, adding that HDZ officials did not know what they were saying, did not listen to what was said, and did not read the newspaper "that is the long arm and prosthetic device of the Plenković government."

Croatia was not liberated by NATO

Milanović went on to say that Hanza Media, the company that publishes Jutarnji List, scared the public by saying that 1,500 Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.

"Someone had to tell the public that that is a lie, so I said it."

Speaking of the situation in eastern Europe and possible deployment of troops along Ukraine's eastern border, Milanović said that Croatia would not promise anything to anyone unconditionally.

"That's not credibility, that's lack of intelligence. We'll see what happens. If the situation escalates, our people will not expose themselves to the risk," Milanović said, adding that ultimately, the decision was up to him.

"Either that or the two-thirds majority in the parliament, and that will never happen because people have a brain in their head and care for this country, unlike the HDZ, which only steals, insults and disgraces," said Milanović.

"Croatia has not been asked anything yet, and should not be," he said, repeating that Croatian troops would not be sent to Ukraine.

"If things get more complicated, the army will not go anywhere. They will be in Kosovo and in Croatia. Croatia paid too high a price and nobody helped it significantly in its struggle. Croatia was not liberated by NATO but by Croatian soldiers."

"Croatia does not owe anyone anything to have to gamble and for (Croatians) to be sheep for slaughter," Milanović said, recommending that his critics go to Ukraine.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 24 January 2022

EU Must Send Strong Message to Those Halting Bosnia Election Reform, Croatia FM Says

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday the EU must send a clear and strong message to those halting the electoral reform process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Grlić Radman was in Brussels attending a meeting of EU ministers.

Speaking to the press, he said he had spoken of the situation in BiH and informed his counterparts about efforts to amend the electoral law in which US and EU representatives are involved.

"I informed them about the worrying situation in BiH. I said that it's necessary for the EU to send a strong, clear and unambiguous message to those who are halting electoral law changes and whom the status quo suits."

He reiterated that it's necessary to change the electoral law in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination in the election process and to enable the legitimate representation of the three constituent peoples in state bodies.

Grlić Radman said several of his counterparts had supported his stand and that more political efforts should be invested in BiH so that it did not become an area of interest of third countries.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

FM Says President's Comments on EU Conclusions on Bosnia Malicious

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Thursday called out President Zoran Milanović over his criticism of the government's support for the Council of the EU conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina, describing the president's statement as malicious and an attempt to destabilise the government.

"The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs rejects in the strongest terms the malicious insinuations that are detrimental to Croatia's interests, about Croatia's having endorsed conclusions that do not guarantee the rights of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a constituent people," Grlić Radman told a news conference in Zagreb.

In a letter he forwarded to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday, Milanović expressed dissatisfaction with and opposition to the Council of the EU conclusions, adopted on Tuesday, claiming that they do not guarantee rights to Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats as a constituent people in the country.

Grlić Radman today said that the conclusions' making mention of the Dayton Agreement "implies the constitutionality of the three peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

The minister described Milanović's criticism as an attempt to destabilise the government.

While earlier conclusions of the Council of the EU, adopted during the terms of previous Croatian governments, made no mention of the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the part of Tuesday's conclusions concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina and the election reform in that country makes mention, at Croatia's request, of the importance of implementing rulings by the BiH Constitutional Court, which was not envisaged by earlier drafts, the minister said.

Grlić Radman said that the message of the conclusions adopted by the General Affairs Council was unequivocal: it is necessary to eliminate all forms of inequality and discrimination in the election process and implement decisions of Bosnia's Constitutional Court as well as the Sejdić-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Croatian FM Doubtful of Majority EU Support for Sanctions Against Dodik

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday he doubted the EU would reach a consensus on imposing sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, as advocated by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

"Croatia advocates dialogue. It's in our interest to insist on dialogue, to convince all leaders that it's necessary to view and experience Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and integral country, and that there's no room for any separatism," Grlić Radman said.

Baerbock today took part in a Foreign Affairs Council meeting for the first time in her term and said the efforts to break up BiH were unacceptable and that she lobbied for the existing regime of sanctions to be used against Dodik.

"No one insisted on sanctions in a majority format in the sense that all countries agreed. It was more of a testing of member states' opinions and mood," sad Grlić Radman.

He said he and Baerbock met on the fringes of the meeting for talks on the Croatian-German relations and the Western Balkans.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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