Monday, 9 November 2020

Croatian Minister Attends Berlin Process Meeting on Ways to Strengthen Cooperation

ZAGREB, November 9, 2020 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman participated in an online meeting on Mondayof the member-countries of the Berlin Process focusing on the strengthening of regional cooperation and trust-building, the ministry said.

Regional cooperation and trust-building are to be enhanced through contacts and mobility - primarily between young people and civil society organisations, it was said at the meeting.

Participants confirmed their support to projects and programmes concerning young people and advocated closer regional cooperation as well as the economic prosperity and European journey of the Western Balkan countries.

In his address at the event, Grlic Radman welcomed the first co-chairmanship of the Berlin Process by Bulgaria and North Macedonia, stressing that the regional character of the project was now fully evident and represents the continuity of previous efforts aimed at strengthening good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation as well as the European perspective of the Western Balkans.

He pointed to the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, adopted by the European Commission on October 6, noting that it would encourage economic growth and step up the process of economic convergence with the EU.

Connectivity, green and digital transformation and competitiveness are identified in the plan as the main challenges for the Western Balkan countries and overcoming those challenges will make the region attractive to investments and help it exploit its economic potential, Grlic Radman said.

He also underlined the importance of offering young people better prospects through quality education, equal opportunities, and a stable and safe environment and mobility, to secure the stability and sustainability of regional development.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Minister Says Bosnia's Election Law Detrimental to Croats, Should Be Changed

ZAGREB, November 2, 2020 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has called on political representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina's three main ethnic groups to change the country's election law, claiming that its current provisions are detrimental to local Croats.

Grlic Radman made the statement during a visit to Mostar on Monday, noting that current election legislation made it possible to impose political representatives on local Croats.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina's future depends on an agreement between Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. Their leaders should reach agreement on the country's future, and here we have an election law that is detrimental to the Croat people and it should be changed," Grlic Radman told reporters before delivering a lecture at Mostar University on the 25th anniversary of the Dayton peace agreement.

"Croatia strongly advocates the implementation of all rulings of the Constitutional Court and amendment of the election law so that all three peoples and other citizens are enabled to elect their own representatives at all levels of government. The country's three-member Presidency was intended to reflect the result of voting for representatives of individual peoples, which now is not the case. We want that to change and we want the spirit of the Dayton agreement and its provisions to be respected as agreed 25 years ago," said the minister.

The Croat National Assembly (HNS) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which brings together the biggest Croat political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been organising lectures, panels and other events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dayton peace agreement, which was signed after three-week negotiations on 21 November 1995 in Dayton, Ohio, and which put an end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the 2018 elections Zeljko Komsic was elected the Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina mostly owing to the votes of Bosniaks who are three and a half times more numerous than local Croats.

"It is necessary to ensure that each of the peoples feels at home in this beautiful country, able to exercise its own rights and elect its own representatives. If we in Croatia keep hearing that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are dissatisfied, then something must not be right," said the minister.

He noted that Croatia strongly advocated Bosnia and Herzegovina's Euro-Atlantic journey and that it wanted a stable, functioning and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"It is very important that Bosnia and Herzegovina reflects the general provisions and spirit of the Dayton Accords and Annex IV of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is the basic legal document regulating the status of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs as constitutent peoples and their equality," he said.

Grlic Radman also met with the leadership of Mostar University today, who thanked Croatia for its support to the university.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Foreign Ministry: No Croatian Nationals Among Victims of Greece Earthquake

ZAGREB, October 30, 2020 - There are no Croatian nationals among the victims of the earthquake that struck Greece and Turkey on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign and European affairs said.

A magnitude 7 earthquake hit the Aegean Sea south of the city of Izmir on the west coast of Turkey at 11:50 local time.

The Turkish emergency management authority said that at least six people were killed and 202 were injured.

At the moment, there is no official information that any Croatian national has been killed in the earthquake that struck Greece and Turkey, it was said in the ministry's press release.

The embassies in Athens and Ankara, as well as the consular office in Istanbul, are monitoring the situation and are available to Croatian nationals for all necessary assistance, it was added.

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman extended his condolences to his Greek and Turkish counterparts, Nikos Dendias and Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also expressed his solidarity with Turkey and Greece.

"We deeply regret the tragic loss of life and the damage sustained and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured. Croatia is available to provide assistance," he said on Twitter.

According to Turkish sources, the earthquake measured 6.6 on the Richter scale, and according to American sources it measured 7.

The epicentre was in the Aegean Sea, and the earthquake was felt in Greece and Turkey, where several buildings collapsed.

A tsunami warning was issued on the Greek island of Samos following the earthquake.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Croatia to Establish Diplomatic Relations With Five More Countries

ZAGREB, October 29, 2020 - Croatia is establishing diplomatic relations with South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, Tonga and Bhutan, Croatian Foreign Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Thursday, noting that this will contribute to "the realisation of Croatia's foreign policy goals".

Grlic Radman said after a government session that the goal of establishing those relations was "mutual strengthening of bilateral relations in the economic field and in all aspects of mutual interest".

Diplomatic relations with those countries will be established through a permanent mission to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

Grlic Radman said that Croatia thus "completes the process of establishing diplomatic relations with all modern and internationally recognised countries in the world", of which there are 194.

The foreign minister also announced that he would take part in the annual ministerial conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Croatia has been invited for the first time to actively take part in that conference, and topics to be discussed include the coronavirus pandemic and the countries' recovery, Grlic Radman said. The minister will report on the measures Croatia has been taking to fight the virus.

He reiterated that Croatia joining the OECD was one of its most important remaining foreign policy goals.

Croatia applied for membership in early 2017, and the minister hopes that this will be realised in the future.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

FM Expects Favourable Response From Countries Considering New Measures

ZAGREB, Aug 20, 2020 - Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Thursday that he today expected a positive response from certain countries that had been considering introducing new measures for Croatia and that Germany could keep the existing regulations for Croatia, with some modifications.

"Yesterday I spoke with a colleague from Germany, and I think we can be sure that in line with the recommendation by their Robert Koch Institute (of public health) that country will keep the existing regulations for Croatia, with some modifications and probably recommendations for some regions in Croatia that they should not be visited because of (coronavirus) hotspots, but Germany remains loyal as a traditional market from which tourists come here," Grlic Radman said.

He underscored that he hoped that countries that were now considering new measures for Croatia, without saying which ones, would make a positive response and that "our great effort will bear fruit and that we will still have tourists in the country by the end of August, and even in September and October."

Underscoring that they have been aware since the start and the reopening of borders that some foreign markets will introduce measures for Croatia, Minister Grlic Radman noted that timely and interministerial action and measures in Croatia were what made tourist results possible.

"In diplomatic contacts, we have been pointing out the fact that cases of the infection were not spread out evenly across the entire country, and we were making sure that in case new measures were introduced for Croatia, the regional aspect of the spread of the infection would be taken into account and measures for the entire country would be avoided," Minister Grlic Radman said, adding they are advocating exchange of information and experience regarding measures that apply to the return of citizens to their homeland from other countries at the EU level.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Foreign Minister Says 4 Staffers Have Coronavirus

ZAGREB, July 29, 2020 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman confirmed on Wednesday that four female employees at the ministry had coronavirus, saying he was tested before meeting his Slovenian counterpart yesterday and that he was negative.

Speaking to the press, he told that two ministry staff were positive on Saturday and that now they were four. "We have disinfected the whole ministry and everyone who was in close contact with those infected is self-isolating... We are in touch with epidemiologists, following their directions."

The minister said he had not been in contact with the four staffers. He said he was tested yesterday morning and that he was negative.

I called the Slovenian foreign minister, with whom I met yesterday, when I went to get tested, and I also told him the results so as to avoid any doubts, he added.

As for the source of the infection in the ministry, Grlic Radman said a female employee might have contracted the virus at a place where there were a number of people.

SDP MP says Foreign Ministry new coronavirus hotspot

Earlier on Wednesday MP Domagoj Hajdukovic of the Social Democratic Party said that the Foreign Ministry was a new coronavirus hotspot, with six persons infected.

"According to my information, we have a new infection hotspot, the ministry. The first case was recorded at the end of last week in the ministry's secretariat. New infections have been confirmed today, six in all," he said in parliament.

Hajdukovic said quite a few people were ordered to self-isolate and asked Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, who was in the chamber, if he had been in contact with them and if he was tested.

MP speculates that Bosnia may have been source of infection for ministry employees

As for a possible source of infection, he said "many people from the ministry were helping out" with the vote in Croatia's July 5 parliamentary election in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Did the infection come from there? Were there safety breaches? Were those people tested and kept in self-isolation when they came back?"

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Foreign Ministers Discuss Fight Against Coronavirus

ZAGREB, July 28, 2020 - Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers Anze Logar and Gordan Grlic Radman met in Ljubljana on Tuesday, discussing further cooperation in efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic and cooperation within the European Union.

Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Logar said he had learned from Slovenian epidemiologists that the number of new coronavirus cases was on the decline in some areas of Croatia and that he was glad about it.

"I think that Slovenia and Croatia should continue to cooperate closely and take coordinated action to curb the epidemic," Logar said.

Responding to questions from the press, Logar said that he and Grlic Radman had also discussed epidemiological risks in Croatia and the possibility of Slovenian tourists bringing the virus into Slovenia after returning from their holidays in Croatia.

Logar raised the issue of open nightclubs and bars in Croatia, saying that there had been several cases of the virus being imported from Croatia. He also cited cases of people entering Slovenia from Croatia after previously visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is on Slovenia's red list of unsafe countries. He said that those people stop over in Croatia for two days to get a certificate so that they would not have to go into quarantine in Slovenia.

Logar said that Slovenia was closely monitoring the epidemiological situation in its neighbourhood, including Croatia where a lot of Slovenian tourists are spending their summer holidays. He denied media reports that the Slovenian government was thinking of closing the border with Croatia in mid-August to prevent the possibility of children becoming infected while on holidays in Croatia and then returning to Slovenia before the start of the new school year.

Logar said that he and Grlic Radman had not discussed tighter border controls because of the COVID-19 outbreak. "It all depends on the epidemiological situation in both countries and the number of possible virus imports from Croatia," the Slovenian foreign minister said.

Logar said that he had presented his Croatian counterpart with Slovenia's views on cooperation within the Three Seas Initiative, which is due to hold a summit in Tallinn in October, and that he was interested in Croatian projects within this initiative and possible cooperation between the two countries in this regard.

Grlic Radman chose Ljubljana as his first foreign destination after the new Croatian government was confirmed and he retained his portfolio in the new cabinet. He said that this showed the importance Croatia attached to the cooperation with Slovenia.

He recalled that he had met with Logar on May 22, after which Slovenia opened small border crossings which had been closed because of the epidemic. He announced further successful cooperation in all areas, especially in the coordination of efforts to contain the epidemic.

Grlic Radman also pointed a recent successful meeting between Croatian and Slovenian prime ministers Andrej Plenkovic and Janez Jansa in the Slovenian border town of Otocec ob Krki, which had also focused on overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Croatian FM: Turkey Important Partner, Dialogue Necessary

ZAGREB, July 13, 2020 - Turkey is an important partner with which it is necessary to talk so as to turn around the negative trend in its relations with the EU, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Monday.

Grlic Radman participated at the first physical meeting of EU foreign ministers since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The main topic was a comprehensive and strategic discussion of the complex relations between the EU and Turkey whose activities in the eastern Mediterranean are causing concern.

There was also talk of Turkey's intention to reconvert Hagia Sophia back to a mosque after the Turkish high court stripped the Byzantine site of its museum status.

"EU member countries strongly advocate that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan change that decision. We hope that that will happen," Grlic Radman said.

He added that Turkey is a candidate country for NATO membership with which is it necessary to hold dialogue, however, it is also necessary to warn it of its violation of an embargo on arms to Libya and some other situations that deteriorate our relations.

"Dialogue is necessary so that this negative trend can be turned around and become positive and constructive because Turkey is an important partner and geopolitical fact," the minister said.

Grlic Radman said that he asked the foreign affairs council to discuss the Western Balkans at the first available opportunity.

"Croatia does not want for all of that be over with the Zagreb summit and that it be brought down to just the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. We as the direct neighbour to those countries, want other topics to be on the agenda of the Council of the EU. That contributes to a better understanding in member countries of the processes that are developing in the Western Balkans when it comes to the issues of democracy, media freedom, combatting corruption and the rule of law. It is certainly good to have permanent dialogue," said Grlic Radman.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Foreign Minister: We Want an Efficient Government

ZAGREB, July 8, 2020 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of the inner cabinet, that all options were on the table as regards government downsizing and that the goal was to have an efficient government serving the interests of state policy and citizens.

"All options are open... We want to have a government that will be efficient and serves the interests of the state and citizens," said the minister.

Asked if he would keep his post as Foreign Minister in the new government, Grlic Radman said that he "is serving his homeland" and that the prime minister-designate would be the one to decide.

Asked if he thought he was doing his job well, Grlic Radman said that he did.

Asked which department could go to ethnic minorities, he said that it would be negotiated.

"Minorities have traditionally always supported the government. It is good when minorities in Croatia can participate in the government, which is an achievement of the parliamentary democracy in Croatia. Croatia can serve as an example to many countries in the EU and beyond in that regard," he said.

As for the closing of the border with Serbia, he said that the national civil protection authority would decide about that, noting that Croatia had demonstrated seriousness, organisation and reliability and that protection of citizens' health was a priority.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

FM: EU Mobilising €4 BN for Eastern Partnership States

ZAGREB, June 11, 2020 - The engagement with the six Eastern Partnership states remains an EU priority and almost €4 billion in aid has been mobilised for them, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Thursday after a video conference with his counterparts in the initiative.

"We confirmed that the engagement with these six states remains a European Union priority," he said after two video conferences, one on tourism and the other an informal meeting of EU and Eastern Partnership ministers.

The EU is solidary with those states, as shown by the mobilisation of €962 million as part of the Team Europe package for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and €3 billion in additional macro-financial assistance, said Grlic Radman.

He said he was especially pleased that this meeting took place during the Croatian presidency after the Zagreb Summit with Western Balkan countries in May.

The meeting was held ahead of a June 18 video conference of the 27 leaders of EU member states and the six leaders of the Eastern Partnership states Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

"I supported the efforts the six Eastern Partnership states are investing in reforms," said Grlic Radman. "I encouraged them to continue on that path because their achievements also contribute to our security, stability, and prosperity."

"In particular, I pointed to the need to deepen economic cooperation, invest in youth and connecting and environmental protection projects, strengthen the ability to respond to crises such as the current pandemic," he said.

He underlined that Croatia was commended for its Council of the EU presidency, which ends on June 30, to be taken over by Germany.

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