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.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman For Opening EU Entry Talks With N. Macedonia, Albania as Soon as Possible

ZAGREB, 22 June, 2021 - North Macedonia and Albania have met all the criteria to open EU accession negotiations as soon as possible and Kosovo deserves visa liberalisation, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday in Luxembourg.

"Albania and North Macedonia have met all the criteria and we believe that accession negotiations should be opened with them as soon as possible," said Grlić Radman upo arriving in Luxembourg for a General Affairs Council meeting.

The General Affairs Council is composed of foreign or European affairs ministers of the member states. They convened today to discuss preparations for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday on migration, enlargement and the stabilisation and association process.  Furthermore, the Portuguese presidency will inform the EU ministers about the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

One of the more important topics to be debated within Article 7 is the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.

Accession intergovernmental conferences with Serbia and Montenegro will be held on the margins of today's meeting, but without opening or closing any policy chapters. So-called political intergovernmental conferences are a new approach in the accession process.

Agreement still has not been reached to open negotiations with North Macedonia due to objections by Bulgaria and no progress is expected before elections in Bulgaria scheduled for next month.

There are no blockades regarding Albania, however some countries do not wish to separate the issue of opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Grlić Radman that Croatia supports the motion for liberalising the visa regime for Kosovo as soon as possible.

Croatia would like talks on candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be launched as soon as possible too, said Grlić Radman and once again underscored the need for the election law in that country to be changed so that it ensures the equality of all three constitutent peoples.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Calls on Remaining EU Countries to Recognise Kosovo

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Croatia encourages the remaining EU countries who have not done so to recognise Kosovo's independence, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday, which is a move that Serbia certainly will not be pleased with as it does not recognise the sovereignty of its former southern province.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 and it has been recognised by about one hundred countries, including all EU member states with the exception of Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia.

"Croatia encourages the remaining five EU member states to recognise Kosovo because that would contribute to stabilising the region and Kosovo itself," Grlić Radman told reporters.

Today Grlić Radman is participating at the international GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, convened to discuss also the situation in the western Balkans.

Croatia's foreign minister said that three things were key to the region's stability: respecting countries' territorial integrity, equal constitutional rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the establishment of mutual trust after the 1990s wars.

"The territorial integrity of Balkan countries needs to be preserved and respected, hence without changing borders like we heard over the past few months in some much-vaunted non-papers that were heading in that direction," said Grlić Radman.

He believes that trust can be achieved through sincere talks, by resolving the issue of the war missing, processing war crimes and providing justice for the victims.

Speaking about BiH, he said the country is trapped between two political tendencies - centralism, or rather unitarism, and separatism.

"That undermines the foundations of a stable BiH and negatively reflects on the status of the Croat people in BiH," he underscored.

He reiterated Croatia's stance that the multi-ethnic BiH needs to reforms the election law to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of equal rights.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia is a "sincere advocate" of BiH's Euro-Atlantic pathway and that at all international forums it keeps that country in the limelight because it is in its interest to have a stable, functioning and prosperous country in its neighbourhood.

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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Attends Ministerial Meeting on Berlin Process

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman participated in a video-conference on Tuesday with the foreign ministers of country participants in the Berlin process, the foreign ministry has reported.

"The Berlin Process has so far resulted in many tangible achievements. Primarily, it has reiterated its commitment to the European Union's enlargement process, created a positive boost for concrete regional cooperation, and has helped to strengthen ties both between the six countries in the Western Balkans region as well as between those countries and the EU," said Grlić Radman.

He added that the area of the Western Balkans has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but also that a recovery framework was created at last year's Berlin Process summit in Sofia.

"In times of crisis, we have to show solidarity with those who require help. Croatia is among the first EU member states to implement the vaccine sharing mechanism, via which we will send vaccines to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia," underscored Grlić Radman.

He reiterated Croatia's support to Western Balkan countries on their European journey, reflecting particularly on Bosnia and Herzegovina, underscoring its stability which is Croatia's interest and of the whole of the European Union.

He underlined the urgency to resolve the most important issues in that country such as reforming the election law and the opportunity to implement that this year.

He called on those countries that have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so because of the positive effect that its recognition would have on the security and stability of Southeast Europe.

He also expressed hope that a consensus would be reached without any delay on the negotiation framework for Albania and North Macedonia and subsequently for an inter-governmental conference to be organised with both countries and for an inter-governmental conference to also be organised with Montenegro and Serbia in the context of the new negotiation methodology.

Today's meeting included the participation of representatives from EU institutions, the Council for Regional Cooperation and the regional youth cooperation office and the office for cooperation with NGOs.

Germany hosted today's video-conference of the Berlin Process, the foreign ministry said in its press release.

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Portugal Supports Croatia's Schengen Membership Bid, Says Grlić Radman

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, who held talks with his Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon on Wednesday, said that Portugal supported Croatia's efforts to join the passport-free Schengen Area, as well as to enter the OECD and the MED7, an alliance of Mediterranean EU member states.

Portugal has expressed unreserved support for Croatia in that regard, Minister Grlić Radman told Hina after he held the hour-long talks with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon.

Grlić Radman recalled that during his recent visit to Madrid, Spain's officials also expressed support for Croatia's Schengen membership bid and plans to join MED7.

MED 7 or EuroMed 7 is a group consisting of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta, and their ministers meet once a year to discuss topics of common interest and harmonize their positions. The group was established in 2013 at the proposal of Spain and Cyprus.

The next meeting of MED 7 is likely to be organized in Greece this autumn, and Grlić Radman said in Lisbon that he hoped that Croatia and Slovenia, which also aspire for MED7 membership, could attend that ministerial gathering.

The admission of Croatia and Slovenia to that association will bolster the Mediterranean cooperation, the Croatian minister said.

Portugal is the chair of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2021, and on Thursday, a Gymnich meeting, an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU member states, will take place in Lisbon. EU-Africa relations, the unresolved conflicts in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region will be on the agenda. There will also be an exchange of views with the Jordanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ayman Al Safadi, who has been invited to take part in the working lunch.

Grlić Radman, who will attend that meeting, said that he had congratulated Minister Santos Silva on the successful Portuguese EU presidency.

Croatian-Portuguese relations excellent, TAP introduces direct Lisbon-Zagreb flight service

Considering the Croatian-Portuguese relations, Grlić Radman described them as excellent without any outstanding issues.

He thanked Santos Silva for the prompt Portuguese assistance after the 29 December 6.2 strong quake hit central Croatia.

"We discussed economic cooperation. There is room for its advancement," Grlić Radman said.

TAP Air Portugal, the state-owned flag carrier airline of Portugal, will restore the direct flights between Lisbon and Zagreb on 2 June, after it had ceased operating that line more than five years ago.

We are looking forward to that service, the Croatian minister said.

In 2019, 65,570 Portuguese visitors traveled to Croatia, and in 2020, their number fell to 7,122  due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the data provided by the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Grlić Radman also welcomed the Portuguese authorities' decision to relax rules for the entry of Croatians into Portugal. Currently, travelers arriving from Croatia into Portugal are required to have a negative PCR test to coronavirus and need no quarantine.

The two ministers discussed the developments in the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement to that part of Europe.

The European security and stability depend on the admission of those countries in the European space, and this is also important in the light of reducing the influence of third countries on Western Balkan countries, the Croatian minister said. 

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Croatia's FM Attends Gymnich Meeting in Lisbon

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Thursday attended the informal meeting, known as Gymnnich, in Lisbon, which is, as a rule, organized by the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The latest edition of the Gymnich meeting of foreign ministers organized by Portugal, the current chair of the EU, focuses on EU-Africa relations, the unresolved conflicts in the Eastern Neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region.

Before the start of the meeting, Minister Grlić Radman said that the issues of migrations were important also for Croatia.

"We expect African partners to show greater engagement so that their citizens will not embark on a precarious journey towards Europe. We will help them to build migration management capacities," Grlić Radman told the press while entering the congress hall where the meeting took place.

"We would like to help efforts aimed at creating conditions for a better life in Africa."

Concerning the EU'S Eastern Neighbourhood, the minister recalled that several countries in that region did exercise complete control over the whole of their territories. Those are Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and the EU would like to make a stronger engagement in a bid to find solutions to those conflicts, with some of them lasting several decades, he added.

Croatia has the experience of peaceful reintegration and can make its contribution to those EU efforts, Grlić Radman said.

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

Friday, 14 May 2021

"Croatia to The World" Exhibition Could Be Shown in Diplomatic Offices

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - The fantastic exhibition "Croatia to the world" represents the best that Croatia has contributed to the world and it would be good if it were shown in diplomatic offices abroad to help to break down stereotypes, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

He was accompanying diplomats accredited in Croatia who were visiting the exhibition at the Meštrović Pavilion. The exhibition honour 38 greats linked to Croatia whose work left a deep trace on humankind. Apostolic Nuncio Giorgio Lingua, doyen of the diplomatic corps, thanked the minister on their behalf.

"In order for the exhibition to be visible, it would be good if it were shown, for example, in Budapest, Berlin, Rome," Grlić Radman told the press.

That would help to break down the stereotypes about Croatia, which is often seen as a country of athletes, footballers, the most beautiful sea, nature and such, he said.

Today's visit was an opportunity for diplomats to get to know the many things they use every day without knowing who contributed to their creation, said Archbishop Lingua. "This is a good opportunity to see how much Croats have contributed to many fields in the world."

"The exhibition is an introduction to the unimaginable wealth of the Croatian cultural heritage," said Grlić Radman. It is dedicated to "extraordinary minds" linked to Croatia by birth, education or activity, he added.

The exhibition is dedicated to individuals whose work influenced global processes, changed the world or influenced global history, the minister said, such as inventor Nikola Tesla, presented as the man "who discovered the 20th century," or Nobel winners Lavoslav Ružička and Vladimir Prelog, or "the father of forensics" Ivan Vučetić.

Archbishop Lingua said he was pleased that today's visit was an opportunity "to see the world through Croatian eyes."

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

Friday, 14 May 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman Says Croatians in Israel Are Safe

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - All Croatian citizens in Israel are safe, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday, and expressed solidarity with the families of the civilian victims on all the sides and called for the de-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On 12 May, Croatia called on all the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refrain from any action that would lead to escalation of violence, in which dozens of people have been killed so far, including civilians.

"There is no justification for attacks on civilians," the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a statement last Wednesday, calling on all leaders to help de-escalate the conflict.

Grlić Radman said today that so far Zagreb was in permanent contact with the Croatian Embassy in Israel and was kept informed on a regular basis.

None of the Croatians in Israel have asked for assistance, he added.

It is most saddening that civilians are among the casualties. We extend our solidarity with the families of civilian casualties, and we appeal to all parties for defusing the tensions, the Croatian minister said.

The Middle East crisis has always been very sensitive, and those developments can simply spill over to some other regions, Grlić Radman said.

The European Union with its partners, including the USA, keep calling for multilateral action, he added.

"It is in the interest of all to have a sound, stable, peaceful global order, based on the respect for international and human rights," he said.

Grlić Radman said he did not believe that the USA was insufficiently engaged in that region and he believes that the Joe Biden Administration will make some headway in that regard.

Commenting on the fiercest fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the last few years, President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the USA should define its foreign policy more clearly, noting that the new US energy policy was making that part of the world less interesting than it was before.

"I look at the American position. Israel is defending itself, but is also attacking. (...) The Americans will have to better define their foreign policy and make it clearer," Milanović said yesterday.

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has distanced himself from the Middle East, but is now aware that he cannot distance himself completely, he said.

"That part of the world is ceasing to be interesting as it used to be because of the US energy policy, notably because of this administration, which is much more focused on renewable sources and less on oil, on hydrocarbons which America now produces in sufficient quantities on its own. So the question is, what is their strategic objective in the Middle East other than being a policeman?" Milanović said. "These are extremely important issues that put us in a moral dilemma."

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

 

 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatia to Join MED 7 Alliance Says Minister of Foreign Affairs

May 13, 2021 - After his visit to Spain, Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gordan Grlic Radman announced the possibility of Croatia joining the Med 7 alliance.

Croatia might be joining the alliance of Mediterranean and southern European countries know as MED 7. Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman returned from a two-day visit to Madrid where he discussed this option with his Spanish colleague Minister Arancha Gónzalez Laya. The official announcement is expected in autumn at the yearly meeting of the alliance on Crete.

MEDT 7 or EuroMed 7 is an alliance of 7 countries of the Mediterranean region. Member countries are Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus. Portugal is the only country within the alliance that is not a Mediterranean country. However, it is a part of the wider region. MED 7 was established in 2013 following the initiative by Spain and Cyprus. The idea behind the group is to be able to form common stances on issues of interest. All countries in the group are EU countries.

Croatia to Fit in Well

According to Minister Grlic Radman, as reported by tportal.hr, Croatia fits well into the group and satisfies all necessary prerequisites for joining the alliance. He also expressed his belief in the need for Croatia to participate in discussions about the issues facing the Mediterranean region. Minister noted how the group will gain much from Croatian participation as well. In order to join the alliance, Croatia will have to approach each of the member countries individually.

Some of the main issues that the alliance might deal with in the near future are climate change, illegal immigration, pollution, and cooperation with non-European countries of the Mediterranean region.

It makes sense for Croatia to join such an alliance. After all, it does make up for most of the eastern Adriatic coastline. With the political power balance in the EU changing with Brexit finally coming to its end stage, it will be interesting to see whether Mediterranean countries can take a more important role in shaping EU policies.

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

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Friends of Croatia: Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs - The Croatian Side of Diplomatic Relations

May 13, 2021 - The fourth article in the series "Friends of Croatia: Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs" takes a look at the Croatian diplomatic relations from the perspective of the appointed ministry for diplomatic questions and foreign relations.

It takes two to build a friendship. While this series focuses on conversations with ambassadors, diplomats, and representatives of international organizations in Croatia, what is the official take on diplomatic relations and diplomacy from the Croatian side?

The Ministry of Foreign and European affairs (currently run by minister Gordan Grlić Radman) is the branch of the Croatian government that is the first and foremost point of contact and communication with the international community. If you are a country that wants to have diplomatic relations with Croatia, this is the ministry to reach.

„If diplomatic relations have been established between two countries, the sending country expresses the intention of opening a diplomatic mission (Embassy) to the receiving country, in this case, the Republic of Croatia, with a verbal note and seeks the consent of the competent institutions of the Republic of Croatia“, explained the Ministry the process of establishing Embassies.

„The competent authorities of the Republic of Croatia carry out the procedure of issuing the consent for the opening of a diplomatic mission and, upon its completion, inform the sending country about the outcome by verbal note. If the decision on giving consent for the opening of the Embassy in the Republic of Croatia has been granted, the sending country can start searching for a location to accommodate the Embassy and start the procedure of appointing an Ambassador," the Ministry added.

Ministarstvo_vanjskih_i_europskih_poslova_2.jpgForeign Minister Gordan Grlić Visiting Spain © Ministarstvo vanjskih i europskih poslova

With this procedure in place, concluding with 2021, Croatia has 56 resident Embassies, 67 non-resident Embassies, 4 Consulates General, 3 Representative Offices of the bodies of the European Union, 8 Representative Offices of international organizations, and 103 Consulates General/Consulates/Vice-consulates (which what is interesting, as the Ministry pointed out, are handled by honorary consuls who are mostly Croatian citizens).

„Resident Embassies can be based only in the capital city, and they are headed by an ambassador. Non-resident Embassies are located outside the state, with a seat in some other country, usually, an EU member state, while Consulates Generals can be located in other larger cities besides the capital and are headed by general consuls and responsible for their work to the Embassy of the said country“, explained the Ministry.

Croatia may be a young county with 30 years of sovereignty, but the tradition of its diplomacy is traced deep in history. Most notably, in the Dubrovnik Republic, a role model to Croatian diplomats even today.

„Croatian diplomats take pride and inspiration in the tradition of diplomacy of the Dubrovnik Republic. As a small country, surrounded by powerful empires and influential Mediterranean city-states, with no military force, the Dubrovnik Republic was able to preserve its foreign policy sovereignty mainly thanks to the diplomatic skills and the awareness of its geopolitical position. These very qualities are constantly a source of inspiration for those who defend the interests of the Republic of Croatia on the modern world's stage“, explained the Ministry.

As is evident by following the work of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, Croatia takes its diplomacy very seriously, and of course, with some countries, this is more evident than in others. One of the most recent examples was with Egypt. At the end of March, as TCN reported, Croatia showed solidarity with Egypt donating 100 books, and additionally, Croatian companies expressed interest in doing business on the Egyptian market

167448346_4516426265040018_5838100975654270980_n_egypt.jpg

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić in Egypt © Ministarstvo vanjskih i europskih poslova

„Minister Grlić Radman’s visit to Egypt was very successful, with his Egyptian counterpart Minister Shoukry opening a business forum which was attended by more than 120 Egyptian and Croatian business people“, said the Ministry, adding that representing the interests of Croatian companies and Croatian economy, in general, is an important task for Croatian diplomacy“.

Companies can ask for help by contacting the Ministry, specifically the Directorate General for Economic Affairs and Development Cooperation, or the Croatian embassy in the country of interest directly. No matter which way the request is made (regardless of whether the company has contacted the Ministry or the Croatian embassy in the country of interest directly) the company is kindly asked to fill out a request for support to the exporter, available on the economic diplomacy webpage. Within a couple of days, the company will receive a proposal for the realization of its request or an invitation to a meeting to discuss it jointly in more detail. All requests of exporters are recorded in a database that can be accessed by all employees of the Ministry in Zagreb and abroad in charge of economic affairs and through which the status of the case can be monitored“, explained the ministry the process of stepping on the market in more details.

Embassies in Croatia that are in frequent contact with the Ministry are there for their citizens when visiting the country, but also, the Ministry welcomes Croatians to contact the Embassies for questions regarding traveling to other countries. 

„Croatian nationals can obtain more information on entry requirements, COVID-19 restrictions, possibilities of obtaining residence permits or visas, and other types of information about a specific country. Also, Croatian students who are interested in studying or continuing their education abroad can get more information about the educational system and ways of applying for scholarships through foreign Embassies“, said the Ministry.

While the Ministry has no intention of stealing the jobs of the Embassies (such as providing consular assistance), they are at service if needed.

„Croatia is a popular tourist destination, so the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs recognizes the importance of communication with all foreign nationals who are interested to come and visit us. The Ministry provides information related to e.g. entry requirements, COVID-19 restrictions, the possibility of issuing the residence permits or visas, as well as all other types of information for foreigners who want to visit us as tourists or become residents“, concluded the Ministry.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is located in Zagreb, at Zrinjevac 7-8.

You can learn more about their work and all things travel-related at their official website and you can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flickr. The phone numbers of various branches within the ministry can be found here.

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

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

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