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.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Europe Has to Assume Greater Responsibility for Its Security, Croatian FM Says

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - European countries should assume greater responsibility for their own security through NATO and the EU given that the United States "is increasingly preoccupied with the Indo-Pacific and China," Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

"Because of all that as well as the fact that we no longer live in stable post-Cold War times, the EU can no longer rely only on soft security instruments, but must develop capabilities for independent crisis management, including military ones," he said in a Conference on the Future of Europe debate in Pula.

Still, he added, Croatia "clearly sees NATO as the main guarantor of Euro-Atlantic security and its NATO membership as the main protection from possible external aggression."

"We advocate further deepening the partnership with NATO, which remains the cornerstone of our collective defense, and strengthening cooperation with the most important partner, the United States, in a score of topics," said Grlić Radman.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also took part in the debate, saying that strengthening Europe's defense policy is complementary to NATO.

"Can we rely on NATO? For Greece, and we have a real security problem, there is no dilemma. The European defense initiative is of use for NATO and Euro-Atlantic cooperation," he said, adding that those are not two "antagonistic" concepts.

The most prominent advocate of strengthening European defense cooperation and creating a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We must be realistic. If we want the EU as a global actor, we must start at home and in our neighborhood. We need more unity and more solidarity. We must take others' security problems very seriously," Dendias said.

Grlić Radman reiterated Croatia's stand on the need to change Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral law before this year's vote in order to prevent the more numerous Bosniaks from electing Croat representatives in the House of Peoples and the Croat member of the Presidency.

"BiH is at a crossroads. An agreement on changes to the electoral law and restricted constitutional changes would improve the political atmosphere in the country and replace the existing mistrust between the key political parties, with a view to achieving a more stable and more prosperous BiH," he said.

"The absence of an agreement would push Bosnia deeper into a political crisis with fatal consequences," he said, reiterating that Croatia pushes for BiH as one state of three constituent peoples and two entities.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Croatian Minister Warns of Unitarism, Separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 15 Nov 2021 - Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman warned on Monday that unitarism and separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina were causing instability and that it was crucial to abide by the principle of equality of the constituent peoples.

"Unitarism and separatism have been growing stronger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, causing instability to increase. The solution is respect for the principle of equality of the constituent peoples. The reform of electoral legislation is a key strategic issue and we need urgent progress on that," the minister said ahead of a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs, with Western Balkans being one of the topics on the agenda.

Grlić Radman said that the situation in the Western Balkans was worsening and that divisions were deepening.

"Enlargement policy is the solution, we need a strong political approach, that is the only way to move forward," he added.

He expressed concern about developments in Western Balkan countries, underlining the importance of preserving their territorial integrity and democracy.

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

Saturday, 6 November 2021

FM: Croatia's Admission to Council of Europe Was Great Achievement

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - Croatia joined the Council of Europe 25 years ago and that was "a great achievement", the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, said at an event marking this anniversary in Zagreb on Saturday.

On 6 November 1996, Croatia became a member of the oldest pan-European organization whose role was to strengthen European unity and prosperity by promoting common values, fundamental human rights and freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law, Grlić Radman said.

"Twenty-five years ago it was a great achievement for Croatia to be admitted to the Council of Europe. Our membership means that we have adopted all its standards and that we respect fundamental human rights and all freedoms," the minister told the press.

Today, Croatia is an active member of the Council of Europe, and the Croatian representatives and experts within this organization and as part of intergovernmental and interparliamentary cooperation participate in the adoption of all policies and documents of the Council of Europe, he said.

Grlić Radman said that the greatest recognition of Croatia's efforts within the Council of Europe was the appointment of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić as Secretary-General of the Council of Europe on 26 June 2019.

This is the highest office a Croatian official has held in an international organization to date, he noted, adding that Croatia further confirmed its commitment to the European values through the presidency of the most important executive body of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers, in the second half of 2018.

As part of events marking the 25th anniversary of Croatia's admission to the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs set up an info stall in Cvjetni Trg square in Zagreb on Saturday to raise public awareness of the importance of the Council of Europe and Croatia's membership of this organization.

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

Saturday, 6 November 2021

FM Expects "Constructive Dialogue" With President at Meeting on Tuesday

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Saturday he expected a constructive dialogue between the president of the republic and the prime minister at a meeting of the Defence and National Security Council on Tuesday in the interests of the functioning of the state, its institutions, and national interests.

President Zoran Milanović has proposed a meeting of the Defence and National Security Council because of the escalation of his conflict with Defence Minister Mario Banožić, whom he accused of politicizing the Armed Forces. The government proposed three dates for the meeting and Milanović chose 9 November.

"I expect a constructive dialogue, an exchange of views and proposals because we politicians and officeholders are accountable to our citizens. Everything that is in the interest of the functioning of the state and its institutions, national interests, will be on the table," Grlić Radman told reporters during a visit to his ministry's stall in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg square as part of events marking the 25th anniversary of Croatia's membership of the Council of Europe.

"We are facing a serious task ... because Croatian citizens deserve what they need, and that is social stability, economic growth, a higher vaccination rate, and security. The government will provide an appropriate answer in that regard," he added.

Ambassadors are a priority

Speaking of filling ambassadorial positions, Grlić Radman dismissed Milanović's claim that he did not want an ambassadorial nominee because he was an ethnic Serb. "I never said that," Grlić Radman said, calling Milanović's claims "empty talk" and "base insinuations".

Grlić Radman said that ambassadors were a priority to him. "We have three important positions - Paris, Vilnius, and the Vatican, and they need to be filled. This will also be discussed" at the Defence and National Security Council meeting, he added.

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

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Zmajlović, Ostojić and Goldstein President’s Ambassadorial Nominees - Večernji List

ZAGREB, 30 Oct, 2021 - Former Social Democrat minister of the interior Ranko Ostojić was to have been appointed Ambassador to Qatar, Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović was to have been appointed Ambassador to Montenegro and university professor and former ambassador to France Ivo Goldstein Ambassador to Greece.

Those were nominations that came from the office of President Zoran Milanović, who co-creates foreign policy with the government, but they were flatly rejected by the government, the Večernji List daily of Saturday says.

The Foreign Ministry said it considered the nominations to be partisan and an attempt to secure meal tickets for former party colleagues Ostojić and Zmajlović, who were not re-elected to the parliament while Zmajlović also lost the elections for Zagreb County head.

The ministry also considers that all candidates, notably Goldstein, are politically very active on the left.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, too, has expressed disagreement with Milanović's nominations. Without specifying who he was referring to, he said on Friday that the president was nominating failed Social Democrat county heads who had nothing to do with embassies and diplomacy.

Milanović said on Friday that the issue of ambassadorial nominations was being dealt with by his chief of staff Orsat Miljenić.

The president's other nominations were Nacional weekly reporter Dragan Đurić for Consul-General to Tuzla and Maja Čavlović, but those nominations did not cause controversy in the government.

On the other hand, the ministry proposed appointing diplomat and PM Plenković's advisor Vladimir Drobnjak as Ambassador to the United States, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Davor Ivo Stier Ambassador to the Vatican, and HDZ member Miro Kovač, who served as foreign minister in the Tihomir Orešković government in 2016, Ambassador to France.

The appointment of new ambassadors, which under the constitution the government and the president have to agree on, reached a deadlock just after New Year, when President Milanović said he would block the regular rotation as he wanted to be a barrier and prevent the HDZ "from taking everything it can," the daily said.

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

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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman: Cancellation of Visa Regime For US is "New Recognition" of Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatian nationals travelling to the United States is "a new recognition" 30 years after the recognition of Croatia, and a law on avoiding double taxation is expected to be signed now, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday.

Thirty years after the recognition of the Republic of Croatia this is "a new recognition", the minister said commenting on the announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security about Croatia joining the Visa Waiver Program.

Exactly a year has passed since the end of the fiscal year in the United States and that was the deadline for Croatia to submit a sufficient number of qualified applications, which means the visa refusal rate had to be below three percent, he recalled.

That qualified Croatia for the cancellation of visa requirements in addition to some other minor conditions, such as security in air traffic, he said.

The next step that both countries are expecting soon is signing an agreement on avoiding double taxation, which will facilitate business communication.

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

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Says Bosniak Minority Precious to Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The Bosniak minority is "a precious value" to Croatia, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Zagreb on Tuesday at an event marking the 28th Day of Bosniaks in Croatia and wished the community to successfully preserve its identity.

In a multiethnic nation, it is good when everyone feels comfortable and respects each other, the minister said. The Bosniak minority is well-integrated, it is a "precious value" to Croatia, he said.

Following statements by previous speakers that "loyalty" was not an expression that reflected the emotional attitude of Bosniaks because "they love Croatia", he recalled their contribution to the Homeland War.

About 25,000 Bosniaks took part in the Homeland War, and 1,187 laid down their lives for Croatia.

Grlić Radman also talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose territorial integrity Zagreb strongly supports.

"No one has it in their interest for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a stable and functioning state as much as the Republic of Croatia," he said.

He said that Croatia had achieved its goals of integration with NATO and the European Union and that it wanted the same path for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also commented on the dissatisfaction with the violation of equality and constituency of Bosnian Croats.

"Reforms from 2000 onwards and changes to the election law mainly through interventions by the High Representative have enabled Bosniaks to outvote Croats, who don't have a legitimate representative in the three-member presidency. We should strive for changes in the election law that will enable equality and constituency and eliminate any forms of discrimination," he said.

He expressed hope that leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina would find a solution, and the new High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt would first and foremost talk and listen, and not impose solutions.

Grlić Radman wished the Bosniaks in Croatia to be successful in preserving their cultural Bosniak identity.

The Day of Bosniaks is observed in memory of the first meeting of the Bosniak Assembly, held on 27 and 27 September 1993, at which Muslims changed their name to Bosniaks and the name Bosnian language was advocated.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Croatian FM Gordan Grlić Radman: Key for Afghanistan to Maintain Progress Made in Past 20 Years

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Afghanistan has come a long way in the past 20 years, making progress with the support of the international community, and now it's key that these accomplishments are maintained, notably regarding the rights of women and girls, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in New York on Tuesday.

He was speaking in a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan as part of the 76th UN General Assembly. The meeting focused on maintaining the achievements of the international engagement in the country over the past 20 years, with emphasis on encouraging the prospects of women and girls and ensuring their access to education.

I believe we all agree that Afghanistan needs our constant commitment and assistance as well as support in recovery, Grlić Radman said, calling on the new government in Afghanistan to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, includes the rights of women and girls.

Croatia carried out in Afghanistan more than 70 development and humanitarian projects in education, healthcare and ensuring business opportunities for women. Most of the projects were aimed at strengthening the social status of women. The presence of Croatian women diplomats contributed to better understanding the needs of Afghan women and to bigger efficiency in project implementation, the minister said.

Together with its partners and allies, Croatia will continue to encourage Afghanistan to honour the international commitments undertaken by previous governments, which should lead to renewed international community commitment and support to the Afghan people in using the chance for a better future, he added.

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

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