Sunday, 3 October 2021

Croatian and Montenegrin Foreign Ministers Lay Wreaths in Morinj

ZAGREB, 3 Oct, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and his Montenegrin counterpart Đorđe Radulović laid wreaths in the Montenegrin coastal town of Morinj on Sunday to commemorate several thousand Croatian nationals, mostly residents of Dubrovnik and nearby communities, who had been held as prisoners of war there 30 years ago.

"We are here today, for the first time in thirty years, to commemorate the sad day when the so-called centre for the reception of prisoners of war was opened here and became a place of torture for innocent people and civilians. The presence of the Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs, Đorđe Radulović, confirms our desire to commemorate that event together by laying wreathes and lighting candles. Some of the people have been convicted for that, mostly guards, but to this day we do not know who gave orders, and they, too, should be prosecuted," Grlić Radman said.

He said that a swimming pool in Kotor was named after Zoran Džimi Gopčević, one of the guard commanders. "We protested against that. The fact that Minister Radulović is here today confirms and proves that that was a rash decision by the local authorities in Kotor which the central government probably could not influence."

"This today is the actual admission that war crimes were committed here. Today we pay tribute to all victims together. This is a big day because the representatives of the states of Croatia and Montenegro have come here together for the first time," Grlić Radman told Hina.

He said he wanted to do a similar thing in Serbia where many Croats had been imprisoned, tortured and killed during Croatia's 1991-1995 Homeland War.

"I spoke with Minister Radulović about installing a memorial plaque here in Morinj. This commemoration was organised by the Croatian National Council (HNV), who are loyal citizens of Montenegro and who cherish their Croatian tradition, culture and language with the support of the Croatian government," Grlić Radman said.

Radulović said that his presence in Morinj showed "the spirit of a new Montenegro, of those who did not take part in the war, but who respect the victims of all wars in the region. That's the spirit of the new Montenegro, which seeks reconciliation of our fathers for the sake of the future of our children. The spirit of a Montenegro that does not dream about its past but about its European future. The spirit of Montenegro living in peace with everyone. Today patriotism is shown by respecting those who think like you, but even more by respecting those who think differently and by respecting your neighbours and friends. Morinj is a reminder that we should never forget that."

 HNV president Zvonimir Deković said: "Today it is a great encouragement to mark this anniversary in the presence of two ministers of foreign affairs and all those who send the message that a true example of heroism is to know how to protect another from yourself." He called for a minute of silence to honour the prisoners of war from Dubrovnik who had died in the Morinj camp and others who had died in the last 30 years.

The Morinj camp operated from 3 October 1991 until 18 August 1992 as a detention centre for POWs from Croatia. A total of 292 people from the Dubrovnik region were held there and 169 of them were subjected to inhumane treatment. It was only in 2013 that the first court judgment was delivered, sentencing four defendants to a total of 12 years in prison for torturing and violating the physical integrity and personal dignity of the prisoners.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

FM Grlić Radman Discusses Situation in Bosnia With Čović and Zovko

ZAGREB, 8 Sept, 2021 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, on Wednesday discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, and the vice-chair of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Željana Zovko, the ministry said in a statement.

The meeting focused on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral legislation "to ensure the quality and legitimate political representation of the Croats", the steps that need to be taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path towards European Union membership and how Croatia can help it in that regard.

Čović spoke of the current political situation and ethnic relations in his country and challenges to the achievement of legitimate rights for the Croats, while Zovko presented the European Parliament's activities concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of southeast Europe.

Grlić Radman reiterated that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the support of Croatia and his ministry in political demands for the legitimate representation of the Croats "so that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be functioning, stable and prosperous and would achieve its Euroatlantic ambitions more easily."

They all agreed that amendments to the election law would contribute to the stability and functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina and increase trust between the three constituent peoples and all other citizens in the country, the statement said.

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

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman: Croatia Will Fight Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Budapest on Wednesday that Croatia would fight illegal migrations and that a difference needed to be made between Afghan nationals who had been helping EU services and Afghan refugees who were the responsibility of the international community.

"People who had been helping (us) within the European External Action Service (EEAS) and our soldiers in NATO, to whom we have a certain obligation, are one thing, and another thing are refugees who are burdening the entire international community," Galić Radman said after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.

The two ministers talked, among other things, about the crisis in Afghanistan and migrations.

"We want to see refugees get relocated to Afghanistan's neighbouring countries where their human rights and safety will be secured," Grlić Radman said.

"Croatia will most definitely fight illegal migrations. We do not want 2015 to happen again," the Croatian Minister said.

The EEAS has called on EU members to take in EU staff from Afghanistan, namely approximately 500 locals, mostly interpreters, Logistics providers and their families. Croatia will accept 20 people. Hungary, for now, will not accept anyone.

Hungarians vacationing in Croatia

"The COVID-19 pandemic did not have a negative impact on our (bilateral) economic relations either, the proof of which is a stable trend in economic trade, and tourism has been very good this year as well, despite numerous restrictions," Grlić Radman said.

He expressed satisfaction with the fact that "Hungary, as always, has recognised Croatia as a safe vacation destination," saying that more Hungarian holiday-makers visited Croatia in the first seven months of 2021 than in the entire 2020.

The talks also focused stepping up economic and cross-border cooperation and Grlić Radman  thanked Hungary on the assistance it provided after the devastating earthquakes in Croatia in late 2020.

Later today, the Croatian minister is scheduled to take part in a conference of Hungarian ambassadors.

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

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

FM: Croatia to Accept 20 Afghans Who Worked for EU Delegation

ZAGREB, 18 Aug 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday that 20 Afghan citizens who had worked for the EU Delegation in their country would be accepted by Croatia.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) has called on the EU member-states to take in EU staff from Afghanistan, that is, about 500 local residents who worked as interpreters and logistic support providers and their family members.

Grlić Radman said that 20 would be allocated to Croatia.

"They provided support to our (NATO-led) forces and it is our duty to protect them," he said.

They were vetted and tested for employment (in EU institutions), they are highly educated. They are not irregular, undocumented migrants but persons known to our institutions, the minister added.

After the Taliban rapidly took control over the whole of Afghanistan immediately upon the withdrawal of NATO troops, many countries are now trying to pull out their diplomats and Afghans who worked for their embassies in that Asian country. 

Until Tuesday, all the 26 Croatians who had been in Afghanistan were evacuated, and the minister today thanked the Ukrainian, U.S., British and German authorities for assistance in their evacuation.

Croatia to follow EU policy on the Taliban

Grlić Radman, who attended an informal online meeting of EU foreign ministers on Tuesday, said that he had emphasized the importance of protecting human rights, primarily the rights of women and girls, as well as the safety of all EU citizens and local staff that used to work for the EU Delegation, so they would not be the targets of Taliban retaliation.

After nearly 20 years, the transformation of Afghan society has failed, he said.

He recalled that Croatia had participated in 70 bilateral projects, including the establishment of a school for midwives in Afghanistan.

That contribution should not go unnoticed, he said.

The minister told the press that Zagreb would follow the agreement of EU member-states on the topic of international recognition of the new regime in Kabul.

Tuesday's informal meeting also focused on a possible new migrant tide after the establishment of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

In order to prevent a new wave of migrants, it is important to have communication with the Taliban, with third countries and Afghanistan's neighbors that are expected to share the burden of a possible migrant wave, the minister said.

"If the Taliban show and prove that they are ready to respect the rule of law and human rights, it will definitely be an opportunity to establish cooperation," said Grlić Radman.

He added that Croatia did not want a recurrence of the situation in 2015 and 2016.

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

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

GLAS Party: Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Should Advocate Active Role of EU in Taking Care of Refugees

ZAGREB, 17 Aug, 2021 - The GLAS party on Tuesday requested that at today's extraordinary meeting of European foreign ministers, Gordan Grlić Radman of Croatia advocate a proactive role of the EU in taking care of refugees and protecting the human rights of Afghan citizens, especially women and girls.

"The images from Afghanistan must not leave us indifferent, nor can we pretend that is not our concern," GLAS said in the press release and requested that Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Grlić Radman openly advocate a proactive role of the EU in taking care of refugees.

"In its foreign policy and action within the EU, Croatia must build recognizability on the promotion and protection of human rights as well as on empathy and advocacy of human life as the highest value. Our experience of war destruction and suffering gives us not only an additional moral obligation to always be the first to advocate these values, but in such traumatic situations it can also be an important contribution to the EU policy and activities it plans to take," the opposition party said in the press release.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Croatian FM Grlić Radman: High Representative in BiH Remnant of Past

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in an interview with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily on Tuesday that the post of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH) was a remnant of the past which was also proof of the lack of democracy in that country.

"As a relic of the immediate post-war period, the post of the High Representative is today a manifestation of the lack of democracy in the political life of that country," said Gordan Grlić Radman.

FAZ said that Croatia, which is not only Bosnia and Herzegovina's only EU neighbour but also a signatory to the Dayton Accords, closely watched the arrival of the new High Representative, German politician Christian Schmidt, who took office on Sunday.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a place for experiment. I say that not only as the Croatian foreign minister but as someone who was born in Bosnia and Herzgovina and whose family comes from there," said Grlić Radman, referring to the so-called "Bonn Powers" which allow the High Representative to remove politicians and pass and repeal laws by decree.

Grlić Radman expressed reservations about the recent decision of High Representative Valentin Inzko to pass a law punishing the denial of genocide.

Proof of democratic deficit

"The High Representative has the right to use the Bonn powers but their application represents a democratic deficit which is not in accordance with Bosnia and Herzegovina's European ambitions," Grlić Radman said.

He also said that changing Bosnia and Herzegovina's Constitution through decrees was no solution.

Issue of representative of Croats

Grlić Radman also thinks that centralist tendencies of some Bosniak politicians are not a solution either.

Croatia's foreign minister said that Zagreb had been observing the "open practice" of excluding Croats from the political decision-making process for years.

When electing the members of the tripartite Presidency, a part of Bosniaks choose a candidate who is only seemingly a Croat candidate but in reality supports Bosniak interests, said Grlić Radman, as carried by FAZ.

Reform of election law needed

He said that Croatia had been advocating for years a reform of the election law, which would, for instance, through the reorganisation of electoral units make it impossible for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be overvoted when electing members of the presidency and the parliament.

According to Grlić Radman, that is a question of Croats electing their own representative and no longer being overvoted, not of creating a third entity, in addition to Republika Srpska and the Federation.

He stressed there was growing support for such an approach in the EU and expressed optimism about Christian Schmidt's term of office.

"We look forward to cooperating with Christian Schmidt and we are certain that together with the EU and the U.S. he will encourage legitimate representatives of the constituent peoples to reach a compromise," Grlić Radman told FAZ.For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Croatia FM Grlić Radman For Shedding Light on Fate of Missing, Killed Bugojno Croats

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday he expected light to be shed on the fate of missing and killed Croats from Bugojno, central Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he laid wreaths and attended Mass in a church destroyed in the 1990s war.

"It's very important to shed light on the dark past so we can live together, so we can open a new chapter of coexistence. It's important to shed light on the past, on the fate of the missing, the killed. Their families are still alive," Grlić Radman said in Kandija.

Croats in Bugojno are commemorating the 28th anniversary of suffering during the war with the Bosniak Army of BiH. In the summer of 1993, about 16,000 were driven out and about 300 were killed, while 15 top military and political officials, who were captured, taken to concentration camps and then killed, are still being traced.

Tomorrow, the search for their bodies will continue with excavations at Rostova, where the remains of four missing Bugojno Croats were exhumed last year.

In Kandija, Grlić Radman laid a wreath for the Croat victims of the Homeland and other wars.

He said Bugojno was a test for all in BiH in "bringing back the spirit of unity, tolerance, multi-ethnicity."

The minister said it was sad that 16,000 Croats lived in Bugojno before the 1990s war and only 2,500 today.

"It's necessary to create the prerequisites for their return. The Croatian government and all its institutions will help with appropriate crossborder cooperation projects and through EU funds. I'm sure the Croats of Bugojno will be able to return home and that the Croatian identity will be cultivated and shown here again, while respecting all other faiths and nations as it used to be."

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

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