Friday, 15 October 2021

Parliamentary Parties Support Croatian-German Visiting Forces Agreement

ZAGREB, 15 Oct 2021 - Croatian parliamentary parties on Friday welcomed the adoption of the law ratifying the Croatian-German Visiting Forces Agreement, with some expressing concern about the article on criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures.

The agreement concerns temporary stays of members of the armed forces of Croatia and the armed forces of Germany in the territory of the other state.

"We are concerned about the article on criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures, which narrows the right to exercise criminal jurisdiction over members of the armed forces of the sending state," Vili Matula of the Left-Green Bloc said during the discussion. "It is not clear to us why the receiving state should waive the right of broader criminal jurisdiction," he added.

The Left-Green Bloc generally supports bilateral defence cooperation with countries that have highly developed democratic standards and do not violate human rights, and when defence cooperation also includes forms of development assistance.

"Germany is one such country and we have no objections to this kind of cooperation," Matula said.

Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party said that these are common provisions in agreements like this. "Without them, I doubt that any country would send its troops to another country. We, too, certainly would not want our soldiers, when deployed in a foreign country, to be tried under the laws of that country, in particular if that country has capital punishment or cuts people's hands off."

Bauk said that this agreement should be supported, because "if any problems arise in its implementation, there is a clear mechanism to fix them."

Katarina Peović of the Workers Front said that the agreement could perhaps have been improved, but that the Croatian parliament did not have a chance to do that.  She resented the emphasis being put on the fact that the agreement was being signed with a major European country, which she said was "pure self-colonialism".

"I don't see this agreement as servile, but as one laying the legal groundwork for cooperation, which is already excellent," said Domagoj Hajduković of the Social Democrats group, adding that the two countries have close bilateral defence cooperation and participate together in NATO and EU missions.

"Everything that applies to the Croatian armed forces also applies to the German armed forces," noted Zdravko Jakup, state secretary at the Ministry of Defence. "We are always responsible for our forces wherever they may be and no one can absolve us from such responsibility," he said, expressing satisfaction that the ratification of the agreement is before Parliament.

The agreement governs the type, scope and duration of stays, the terms of entry, exit and stay, public security and order, public health, criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures,  telecommunications, environmental protection, the operation of vehicles of the sending state’s armed forces and the use of the receiving state’s airfields, settlement of claims, exercises, and settlement of disputes.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Reference to Dayton Was Opposed by Germany, Italy And Other States

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that the reference to the Dayton agreement in NATO's communique adopted on Monday had been opposed by Germany, Italy and some other Western countries, and added that possible changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina must not happen without Croatia and Serbia.

Milanović made the statement in Slovakia, where he participated in the GLOBSEC 2021 Forum and met with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

He discussed with them the NATO summit held in Brussels on Monday, at which Croatia, Milanović said, managed to have a reference to the Dayton peace agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) incorporated in the summit's closing declaration only after insisting on it for six days.

"That should not have happened, that should have been resolved a week ago. Somebody is against it, has a problem with the Dayton agreement and wants to dismantle it," Milanović said, adding that at the same time those countries were criticising the Serb BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik for violating the Dayton agreement.

"Something is not right about that way of thinking," he said.

Milanović noted that a number of countries - Germany, Italy and some other Western countries - had been opposed to mentioning the Dayton peace agreement in the communique.

"Western Europe - and I'm not talking about the leaders, definitely not about Angela Merkel, is acting foolishly, undermining one of the foundations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, regardless of how imperfect it may be, protects it against destabilisation," he said.

Criticism of German diplomacy

Milanović went on to say that talks on the communique had not been conducted by the German chancellor but by the German foreign ministry which, he said, was headed by a political camp different from Merkel's and one he felt close to, "namely by people who in their fantasy are prone to making silly experiments."

The current German foreign minister is Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats who are part of the coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Some Western European countries advocate a so-called civic model for Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace the concept of three constituent peoples envisaged by the Dayton peace agreement. Commenting on that on Monday, Milanović said that "it sounds very noble but is actually a hoax."

"They should do it back at home. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as it is, we share a long border and we will soon have to guard it for the Schengen area," he said.

Milanović stressed that plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be made "under the radar" and that any changes in the neighbouring country had to involve Croatia and Serbia, co-signatories to the Dayton agreement, adding that he had explained this to his Slovakian and Polish counterparts.

"That is how things are done in diplomacy, as far as I can remember. I used to be a diplomat and I never caused a scandal. Then I entered politics and in politics you have to cause scandals to be heard," he said.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac Visits Bavaria to Discuss Tourism Cooperation

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac met with Bavaria's Deputy Premier and Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, in Munich on Monday to discuss ways of increasing cooperation in the tourism sector.

Brnjac said that Croatia and Bavaria would continue exchanging experience and best practice in the digitalisation of tourism services and the development of cultural and rural tourism, her ministry announced in a press release.

"Croatia and Bavaria put emphasis on the development of sustainable tourism, and their cooperation in many areas of common interest has been going on for about 50 years within the Bavarian-Croatian Commission," Brnjac said.

She noted that half of German tourists visiting Croatia come from Bavaria, which is why it is very important for Croatia to convey the information on the activities that are being undertaken so that Croatia is recognised as a pleasant and safe destination.

Bavaria supports Croatia's Schengen membership bid

Aiwanger said there was a lot of space for cooperation between Croatia and Bavaria in the tourism sector, emphasising that Bavaria supported Croatia's accession to the Schengen area next year as an important precondition for facilitating movement of tourists.

The working meeting was also attended by the deputy president of the ADAC motoring association for tourism and finance, Karlheinz Jungbeck.

Brnjac and Jungbeck discussed preparations for the summer tourist season as well as expectations and plans for future development. Brnjac said that the cooperation with ADAC, which has 22 million members, ensured the greater visibility of Croatia on the German market, adding that today's meeting set a framework for future institutional cooperation.

According to ADAC, there is a growing interest in visiting Croatia, notably in the camping segment. This year ADAC included 134 Croatian campsites on its list of the best European campsites, the same number as in 2019, and 13 of the campsites were rated as ADAC Superplatz 2021.

About 42,000 Germans are currently vacationing in Croatia, mostly in Istria. Last year German tourists generated 1.6 million arrivals and 12.7 overnight stays, which was 60 percent of overnight stays made in 2019 when a record 21.2 million overnight stays were generated by German visitors. Last year, the 12.7 million overnight stays made by German tourists accounted for 23 percent of total overnight stays in Croatia.

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

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Croatian Footballer Borna Sosa Switching National Teams?

May 8, 2021 - Borna Sosa, one of the most talented young Croatian football players and a member of the U21 national team, received German citizenship in a secret operation of the German Football Federation and is expecting an invitation from the coach Joachim Löw for the European Championship.

As Index.hr finds out, the German federation has been following the 23-year-old Stuttgart left-back for a long time and is preparing the ground for him to join Germany. Sosa was eligible for a German passport because his mother, Vesna, was born in Berlin.

Croatia could thus lose a great talent that has excelled in the Bundesliga ever since he arrived from Dinamo in 2018 in a transfer worth six million euros. Three years later, Sosa is one of the best offensive defenders in Europe. This season, he played 26 games for Stuttgart and recorded as many as nine assists. Ahead of him in that category is only Cuadrado from Juventus, who shared ten assists. According to Transfermarkt, Sosa is worth 12 million euros, and a transfer to Bayern is planned for the summer.

Croatia has not had such a player in the left-back position for 20 years. And it could be lost in the blink of an eye. 

When Sky Sport first published the news about the German Federation operation and Borna Sosa, the Croatian Football Federation had not been informed. The first HNS operative Marijan Kustić read the news in the media, the U21 national team coach Igor Bišćan said he knew absolutely nothing about it, and Zlatko Dalić sounded resigned.

"Everyone has the right to choose whether to play for Croatia or wherever they want," Dalic told Index, announcing that the official position of the Federation would soon be published on the web.

“We are following Borna, he is on a wider list, and we want him to continue with good games for Stuttgart to get even closer to the A national team,” HNS briefly reported.

Meanwhile, the German Bild announced that Sosa is already on the wider list of Germany for the Euro. When the legendary German striker Oliver Bierhoff, today the German national football team director, spoke up, it became clear that he had been negotiating with the young Croatia national team player for a long time.

"We know who he is, and we have been following him for some time. We believe he has the qualities and potential to play for our national football team. We are always looking for solutions in advance. That means we are thinking about him for the European Championship," Bierhoff said. 

Sosa himself confirmed that he is in negotiations with the German Football Federation (DFB) about possibly playing for Germany.

"Yes, I spoke with the director of the national team Oliver Bierhoff. We talked about everything, not only about the European Championship but also about my future if I play for Germany," said Sosa.

Zlatko Dalic included Sosa on the wider list for the first time before the World Cup in Russia. Still, only this season was the young player a serious candidate for the A national team. In Stuttgart, he missed most of the first season due to injuries when the club was relegated to the second division. During the two seasons, Sosa played only 24 games. He had problems with his pubic bone, back, adductor, ligament rupture in the knee joint, concussion, and edema in the knee. He missed the final of the championship in which Stuttgart expressly returned to the first league, and such was the progress of the defender whom the Stuttgart sports director called the new David Beckham. At the end of 2020, he signed a new contract until 2026.

"In the almost two and a half years since I came to Stuttgart, the club and the city have grown close to my heart. Positive things are happening in sports as well, so I hope we can continue to develop together in the future," Sosa said when signing the contract.

He was a standard member and occasional captain of the young national team, for which he played 19 games and won a place at the Euros. Due to a red card he earned in the qualifying match against Scotland, he had to miss the first two matches of the U21 Euro, and coach Igor Bišćan was counting on him for a key match against England.

Index adds that coach Zlatko Dalic told Sosa that he would debut for the A national team against Malta at the beginning of the qualifying cycle for the World Cup in Qatar. The dates coincided with the U21 national team at the Euro, and Bišćan asked Dalic to give him Sosa, which he needed in the crucial match against England. That was the turning point.

Dalic could not reject Bišćan.

Sosa was not at the camp before the match against England on March 31, in which the young national team fought for a historical placement in the quarterfinals. He sent a medical report and a certificate of injury to Bišćan. Croatia went further with Bradarić's goal, and the scenes of celebrations between Bišćan and the players toured Europe. Sosa was not a topic, although only four days later, he played for Stuttgart against Werder, played 90 minutes, and recorded an assist. He also played in the next round for 90 minutes against Borussia Dortmund. He then paused for the next three games in the championship due to injury.

Bišćan did not suspect that there was a problem, but everything became clear to Dalic. Sosa was never promised a spot at the Euros, but Dalic let him know that he is seriously counting on him and that he will have a place on the wider list where he can show his worth.

Dalic already has a complex list for the Euro, but will the possibility of losing Borna to Germany change that now? Only time will tell. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Friends of Croatia: New TCN Series On All Things Diplomatic

April 20, 2021 - Check out the newest TCN series "Friends of Croatia", dealing with all things diplomatic, by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac

December 22, 1990, the Croatian parliament known as Sabor brought its first independent constitution, known as „The Christmas Constitution“. After that, the same parliament officially declared Croatia as an independent country and no longer part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. Then followed the Ex-Yu War known in Croatia as a Homeland War, which lasted until 1995.

While this war is one of the foundations of Croatian independence, noted by the modern constitution as well as on other grounds of historic events, the dedication of soldiers, tactics, weapons, force and combat skills weren't the only cards Croatia had to achieve its sovereignty. It was also the communication with the international community and international recognition. This allowed Croatian citizens to not end up in the trap of Transnistria, a sovereign state officially recognized as part of Moldova, where Moldova does not rule due to the army and force monopoly by the Transnistrian government, but whose passports have no benefit for its citizens and despite being a state, in official maps does not exist.

Iceland was the first sovereign country to recognize Croatia as a sovereign state on December 19, 1991, followed by Germany in whose recognition took effect on January 15, 1992. Slovenia technically did recognise Croatia first, the same as Croatia was the first to recognise Slovenia, but neither country had international recognition at the time, which is the reason Iceland counts first. Floored by Iceland and Germany, other countries started to recognize Croatia and the new-found Republic joined the UN on May 22, 1992. The international status was then additionally boosted with joining Nato on April 1, 2009, and the EU on July 1, 2013.

Today, Croatia has 176 diplomatic relations; and for TCN writers, reporting on diplomacy is nothing new. Diplomatic relations can be viewed, in layman terms, like friendships, and this is why this series is called „Friends of Croatia“. As stated by the E-International relations site, diplomacy has existed as long as the human race. It can be viewed in the first negotiations amongst individuals before graduating to the level we know today.

„Among the many functions of diplomacy, some include preventing war and violence and fortifying relations between two nations. Diplomacy is most importantly used to complete a specific agenda. Therefore without diplomacy, much of the world’s affairs would be abolished, international organizations would not exist, and above all, the world would be in a constant state of war. It is for diplomacy that certain countries can exist in harmony“, writes the E-International relations site.

And indeed, shutting down diplomatic relations is a final step before potential war escalation and the spread of violence. Even with certain diplomatic tensions, Croatia has with Slovenia around Piranski Bay, or with Serbia regarding uncleared questions from the Homeland War, the fact there are diplomatic relations both with Serbia and Slovenia ensures that these tensions can be solved by peace and not violence.

But what exactly are the details of Croatian diplomatic relations with other countries and international organizations? This is precisely what this series strives to bring by explaining the history of Croatian diplomatic relations by talking to diplomats, embassies, and representers of international communities, with an informative, unique approach to each specific relation. The series wants to inform of the ups and downs of Croatian international collaboration, how to make them better, what benefits are there in these relations for Croatia, and what benefits are there for other countries. Keep your eyes open for articles in these series with more details and interesting facts about diplomacy in general too.

If you are working in the embassy or in an international organization in Croatia, feel free to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

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

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

VukovART 2021 to Return Art, Culture and Joy to the City of Vukovar

April 20, 2021 - With a five-year tradition already in place, VukovART 2021 promises a month of fun and exciting activities for Vukovar with visual eye candy as souvenirs to last.

A unique concept in the culture and art of Vukovar, the VukovART festival will be held from May 15 all the way to June 15, writes HRTurizam.  

With a five-year tradition, the streets and squares of Vukovar will once again host numerous exhibitions and workshops, debates, children's programs, film, and literary programs, panel discussions, colorful lectures, and concerts. This event, organized by the City of Vukovar and Val Kulture association, co-financed by the European Social fund, promotes Vukovar as a Port of Art, changing the visual identity of the city making it a beautiful place to live. In addition to the local community, tourists also enjoy the eye candy of the city's open-air gallery. Artists Boa Mistura (Spain), BustArt (Switzerland), Jana Brike (Latvia), Mr Woodland (Germany), Victor Splash (Russia), Artez (Serbia), Juandres Vera (Mexico), Kerim Musanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marion Ruthardt from (Germany), and Croatia's own Forest are ten artists who will come this year to give their contribution to the growing visual content of the city.

The festival will be opened by a beloved Croatian band Vatra (Fire), with performances of Mia Dimšić, musical composition CLUE, and vocal composition Watercolor in the following days too. During every larger event of the festival, „a superb craft scene and street food“ offers will be offered to visitors too. 

VukovArt_-_Art_Harbour.jpg

© VukovArt - Art Harbour

Famous Croatian singer from Psihomodo Pop with a neck in painting as well, Davor Gobac will exhibit his paintings and also host Motivational and Art Workshop for children.

„There will also be an active weekend led by the Vukovar Half Marathon, and for a slightly more relaxing activity, a bicycle race will be organized to tour previous works of art“, says HRTurizam article.

Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish, Dusan Bučan, and Robert Knjaz will host travel lectures and the full program and more details can be found on VukovART official website and on social networks.  

Learn more about Croatia's festivals on our TC page.  

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

 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Will Traveling During the Coronavirus Pandemic to Croatia be Problematic? Plan B in Place

April 14, 2021 - With the season approaching, the question on everyone's mind is will traveling during the coronavirus pandemic to Croatia bring problems for tourism in the country?' A light at the end of the tunnel still might be possible.

While many high-reputation magazines regularly praise Croatia as a top destination, this summer, the season will be only as strong as the health situation regarding coronavirus – both in Croatia and abroad, from where the country welcomes as many tourists as possible. Sadly, as Croatian National Radiotelevision (HRT) reports, due to the bad pandemic situation, many European countries, including Croatia, are canceling the travel season.

While, as we reported on TCN, many flights are returning and coming to Croatia, the measures are possibly demotivating travelers.

HRT says Croatia is declared as a highly-risked country in Germany, and returning citizens need to show a negative test that is no older than 48 hours which is a change to previous arrangments when Germans could test after returning home.

„The English planned to allow traveling from May 17 but tour operators and others don't have a big number of reservations to make it profitable so everything is postponed until June 24“, said hotelier  Domagoj Tomasović to HRT. 

British tourists were indeed expected mid-May, but as Darija Reić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board in London, said on the "Good Morning Croatia show" on HRT, there are still fines for non-essential travel.

„Travelling outside of UK is still illegal if you don't travel for essential reasons which include traveling for business, education or medicinal purposes. Otherwise, it's possible to be fined 5000 pounds“, explained Reić, as noted by Turizmoteka.

Tonči Glavina, state secretary for Tourism ministry, said for HRT that the UK is not alone in sending a message to its citizens to not travel anywhere and went on to say that may not be bad for Croatia.

vaccine.jpg

pixabay

While the UK stands better in the percentage of vaccinated people than Croatia, Croatians are focusing on reaching the green zone by the end of May. Seventy thousand vaccinated workers in the tourist sector are the goal for the country.

„If that doesn't happen until the start of the season, then we need tests and it would be good if tourist board make testing zones and if we co-finance the expenses of testing to our guests“, concluded Tomasović.

The Ministry of Tourism already secured 20 million kuna to co-finance testing for tourists if Croatia doesn't reach the green zone.

PCR tests currently cost 500 kuna; quick antigen test is 150 kuna, and the translations of the results to English is 125 kuna. Twenty tourists were already tested in Zagreb on Tuesday. 

Learn more about coronavirus: news and travel in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Monday, 29 March 2021

Despite Pandemic, 26,000 Croatians Moved to Germany in 2020

ZAGREB, 29 March, 2021 - In 2020 Germany saw the lowest increase in the number of foreigners in the last ten years, however, despite the pandemic, more than 26,000 Croatians emigrated to Germany last year, show statistics published by the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden on Monday.

The net increase in the number of Croatian citizens with residency in Germany in 2020 was 11,955 to 426,845.

From 1 January to 31 December 2020, 26,335 Croatian nationals emigrated to Germany while 10,305 Croatians moved out. Around 1,000 Croatian citizens obtained German citizenship and were consequently removed from the register of foreigners.

Croatians are the sixth most numerous foreign community in Germany, after Turks, Poles, Syrians, Romanians and Italians.

The number of Croatians with residency in Germany has almost doubled since Croatia joined the EU in 2013.

In 2012, the last year before Croatia's accession to the EU, there were 224,971 Croatians in Germany.

In 2020, the number of people with a foreign passport in Germany rose by 262,000 while in 2019 it grew by 376,000.

Statistics for 2020 show that immigration from EU countries remained stable but immigration from third countries slowed down significantly, which is associated with difficulties related to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of 2020, roughly 11.4 million foreigners lived in Germany.

The number of residents from the Western Balkans grew last year as well.

Currently 211,000 nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina live in Germany, which is around 7,000 more than in the previous year, as do 242,000 Serbians, around 5,000 more than in 2019.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Germany Declares Four Croatian Counties Safe for Traveling

March 5, 2021 – As of March 7, 2021, four Croatian counties – Istria, Krapina-Zagorje, Požega-Slavonia, and Bjelovar-Bilogora – won't be on the German list of risky areas anymore.

As reported by Romeo Draghicchio, the Croatian National Tourist Board director in Germany, the German Robert Koch Institute of Health removed four Croatian counties from the list of risk areas. Counties that, according to German estimates, are no longer risky are: Istria County, Krapina-Zagorje County, Požega-Slavonia County, and Bjelovar-Bilogora County.

Accordingly, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs also lifted the negative warning for travel to these counties. This means that when returning to Germany from the mentioned four Croatian counties, a negative PCR test does not have to be presented and no quarantine is required.

The said decision shall enter into force on March 7, 2021.

The news is also listed on the Croatian Interior Ministry's (MUP) website.

"According to the notification from the Robert Koch Institute and the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany, dated March 7, 2021, the following counties are not on the list of risky areas: Istria, Požega-Slavonia, Bjelovar-Bilogora, and Krapina-Zagorje. A warning has been issued for other counties and the City of Zagreb, asking citizens not to travel if it is not necessary," reads the notice on the MUP's website.

In these four Croatian counties, a small number of people infected with coronavirus were recorded today. Krapina-Zagorje County has seven new infections today, Požega-Slavonia County six, and in Istria and Bjelovar-Bilogora County, only one case of coronavirus infection has been recorded.

The Istria County Civil Protection Headquarters continues to call for caution and responsibility in order to maintain a favorable epidemiological situation in that Croatian county.

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Friday, 22 January 2021

German Firefighters Bring Third Convoy of Aid to Quake-Hit Area

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - Forty-three German firefighters from the state of Baden-Württemberg on Friday brought the third convoy of aid to the quake-hit area in Croatia aboard 16 trucks and four vans, including 17 housing containers, firefighting equipment and construction materials.

The donation also included an ambulance.

The convoy was welcomed by a Croatian foreign ministry state secretary, Zdenko Lucić, and county fire marshal Mijo Brlečić.

The first convoy from Baden-Württemberg arrived on 2 January, bringing 110 tonnes of firefighting equipment, medical supplies and food.

The second, 23-truck convoy arrived on 8 January, bringing firefighting equipment, construction material, clothes, hygiene products and food. The donation included five vehicles for firefighters in the quake-hit area.

Fire marshal Brlečić thanked the German firefighters for their donation.

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