Thursday, 17 March 2022

Grlić Radman: BiH's EU, NATO Membership, Equality of Croats in Croatia's Interest

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Thursday that Bosnia and Herzegovina's Euro-Atlantic integration is in the national interest of Croatia and that it cannot be achieved without the equality of Croats in that country.

"On the international scene, Croatia is the biggest and sincere advocate of Euro-Atlantic associations. That is our clear national interest. That won't be possible without resolving the legitimate and legal demands of Croats" in BiH,  Grlić Radman said at a conference in Neum in an online message in reference to reforms in BiH. 

The fifth conference "Untying the knots - BiH on the path to EU and NATO membership" was organised by Mostar University, the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts in BiH and Croatian universities, with the participation of scientists, politicians and foreign diplomats.

Grlić Radman explained that the Croatian side in BiH has been the most constructive about reaching an agreement on amendments to the election law, providing proposals of how that can be done.

Negotiations on election reforms are continuing in Sarajevo today with the mediation of the USA and EU.

Grlić Radman said that BiH "hasn't resolved the problem of the political disenfranchisement of Croats or stability and institutional functioning in BiH."

According to Grlić Radman, the reason for that is two dominant conflicting politics in BiH, separatism and unitarism.

"It is difficult to say which is more detrimental to the Croat people. Both politics directly demolish the historical and constitutional foundations of BiH as a joint state of three equally constituent peoples and citizens. Without respect of those principles, the knot in BiH will not be untied for it to be a functional and stable country on the path to the EU and NATO," added Grlić Radman.

The president of the Croatian National Assembly of BiH, Dragan Čović, said that BiH has to preserve its multi-national nature and that local politicians have to see the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity.

US Ambassador to BiH Michael Murphy called on political leaders in BiH to reach a compromise so the country can come closer to the European Union.

A new geopolitical moment has emerged in the European Union and the Western Balkans. It's up to leaders to use this opportunity. BiH leaders have the opportunity to move faster to the EU based on compromise and reconciliation, said Murphy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Grlić Radman, Žigmanov Advocate Better Status for Croat Minority in Serbia

ZAGREB, 8 March 2022 - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman on Tuesday spoke with the leader of the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Croats, Tomislav Žigmanov, and the two discussed improving the status of the Croat minority in Serbia, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said in a press release.

"Considering that Serbia is still not implementing the provisions of the bilateral agreement on the mutual protection of rights of the Croat minority in Serbia and the Serb minority in Croatia, the talks underscored the importance of continuing to work on improving the status of the Croat minority in Serbia," the press release said.

The two officials talked about the current social and political circumstances in Serbia, with emphasis on the ethnic Croat community and activities by its key institutions.

They underscored that Croats in Serbia still live in an unfavourable social and political climate while Grlić Radman said that Croatia would continue to actively participate in protecting their cultural and identity interests as well as take the necessary steps in that regard, both in bilateral relations but also within the relevant international organisations.

As regards the coming election in Serbia, Grlić Radman and Žigmanov agreed that it was necessary to invest joint political efforts for ethnic Croats to obtain legitimate political representatives in Serbia's political institutions.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Grlić Radman: Putin Should Be Convinced By Pressure Of Senselessness Of Invasion

ZAGREB, 3 March 2022 - Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Thursday that pressure should be put on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his aides to convince them of the senselessness of the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in an interview with Media Service, Grlić Radman was asked if fear of a nuclear war was founded, to which he said that "we should act cautiously, but resolutely" towards Russia.

"We should use all the instruments of pressure through political diplomacy to convince Putin and his oligarchy, his closest aides of the senselessness of this political adventure," the Croatian foreign minister said. "We should also raise awareness of the Russian people. We can see a lot of protests in many cities, with people taking to the streets to oppose the Russian aggression," he added.

Grlić Radman said that the purpose of the sanctions was for "the Putin regime to feel the reaction on their own skin, rather than the Russian people, ordinary citizens."

As for the possibility of the Ukraine crisis spilling over to southeastern Europe, Grlić Radman said that "Serbia barely condemned the Russian invasion" and Belgrade signed the UN declaration on the Russian aggression under pressure.

"There could be a spillover of the conflict because of the fact that Kosovo is not recognized by Serbia, Russia, and some other countries, and because there are frozen conflicts in Russia's vicinity, notably in Moldova and Georgia. Therefore, a spillover can happen and we want to avoid it," the Croatian minister said.

He reiterated that Croatia supported the European membership prospects for Ukraine, as well as for the Western Balkan countries.

There are  23 Croatian nationals left in Ukraine, of whom ten are married to Ukrainians and do not want to leave the country. Croatian Ambassador Anica Djamić has left Kyiv and will continue her duties in the western city of Lviv, Grlić Radman said.

Croatia has taken in more than 600 Ukrainian refugees, and Grlić Radman said that Croatia would not have trouble accepting even hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Over 800,000 Ukrainians have so far fled the armed conflict in their country, most of them seeking refuge in Poland. Between 4 and 5 million people are expected to leave their homes.

Grlić Radman also said that the government was satisfied with the cooperation with President Zoran Milanović on this issue.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Norwegian and Croatian FMs Meet in Oslo to Discuss Current Affairs

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman held talks with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt in Oslo on Tuesday on bilateral relations, the situation in the Western Balkans and the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The ministers agreed the bilateral cooperation is developed in many areas, but that there is potential to intensify it, notably in energy, green energy, sustainable development, island development, and ship building, the Croatian ministry said in a press release.

Croatia strongly supports the European prospects of Western Balkan countries and believes that an individual approach to each country is the only proper way in the enlargement process, Grlić Radman said.

The prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina can directly impact stability and security in this part of Europe, he said, adding that changing the electoral law is a key reform that can protect BiH's stability and functioning.

The two ministers condemned the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, saying it is unprecedented and unjustified as well as an aggression against peace and the international order.

"At this serious moment in our history, our unity is of crucial importance. Only together and in coordination with our transatlantic partners can we find a way to overcome these challenges. We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and strongly support its territorial integrity and sovereignty," said Grlić Radman, who was on an official visit to Norway.

He said Croatia was ready, as a country which passed through the horrors of war in the early 1990s, to extend humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine.

Grlić Radman also met with Ine Eriksen Søreide, chair of the Norwegian parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee. They discussed the possibilities of strengthening parliamentary cooperation and current security challenges.

Last month Croatia and Norway marked 30 years of diplomatic relations and Grlić Radman thanked Norway for the support to Croatia on its NATO and EU journeys.

He also attended a panel at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs on the 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Croatia Wants March EU Summit to Discuss Bosnia

ZAGREB, 22 Feb 2022 - EU general affairs ministers began in Brussels on Tuesday to prepare the agenda of the next EU summit due in March, and Croatia has requested that the summit discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Croatia has pointed out that it would like to see a European Council debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina," said the state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, Andreja Metelko Zgombić.

She said the dangerous Ukraine situation should not overshadow the situation in BiH, which is at a key moment of talks on electoral reform aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination in the election process and ensuring the right of the constituent peoples to elect their representatives.

EU foreign ministers have discussed the Ukraine situation, which will be on the agenda of the spring summit on 24 and 25 March.

"I reiterated on Croatia's behalf the condemnation of Russia's recognition of two Ukrainian regions outside government control and supported the prompt adoption of a set of sanctions," said Metelko Zgombić.

EU foreign ministers are discussing sanctions against Russia at an extraordinary meeting in Paris.

Before it started, Croatian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman condemned Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"We call on Russia to revoke the recognition and to return to Normandy Format talks. I'd like to reiterate Croatia's full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Civic State Concept Ended Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister Says

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Yugoslavia broke up because of the civic state concept being advocated for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Saturday, adding that Croatia's authorities have made the international community see that such an approach is harmful.

He was speaking in Munich, where he is attending a security conference which is also discussing the future of the Western Balkans and BiH.

Grlić Radman was commenting on a recent initiative by three members of the last Presidency of the former Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesić, Bogić Bogićević and Vasil Tupurkovski, who propose abandoning the Dayton agreement and the ethnic concept of governance for BiH.

"They are comfortably making recommendations, yet are actually among those the most to blame for this situation," he said. "It was such a civic concept, coming from Belgrade that cost the former state and the consequence was the Great Serbian aggression."

"Slobodan Milošević wanted to create a unitary, centralised state that would be governed from Belgrade. It was because of such a narrative that the former state broke up," he said, adding that Mesić, Bogićević and Tupurkovski are pushing that narrative, which would have "horrible consequences" for BiH.

Grlić Radman said previous Croatian governments had failed to inform the international community about the BiH situation and that the incumbent government had changed that.

"It is because of all those missed opportunities by the former governments that we have the situation we have," he said, adding that Zagreb has "made international partners see that BiH's prospects depend on the spirit and letter of the Dayton agreement."

Grlić Radman took part in the security conference along with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu in a GLOBSEC debate on the situation in eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and the Three Seas Initiative.

He said the LNG terminal off Krk island, inaugurated at the start of 2021 and "entered onto the energy map of the world," was Croatia's contribution to the Initiative and Europe's energy independence.

Grlić Radman also took part in a debate organised by Google on new digital technologies, cyber security and the fight against disinformation.

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.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Croatian FM Doubtful of Majority EU Support for Sanctions Against Dodik

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday he doubted the EU would reach a consensus on imposing sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, as advocated by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

"Croatia advocates dialogue. It's in our interest to insist on dialogue, to convince all leaders that it's necessary to view and experience Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and integral country, and that there's no room for any separatism," Grlić Radman said.

Baerbock today took part in a Foreign Affairs Council meeting for the first time in her term and said the efforts to break up BiH were unacceptable and that she lobbied for the existing regime of sanctions to be used against Dodik.

"No one insisted on sanctions in a majority format in the sense that all countries agreed. It was more of a testing of member states' opinions and mood," sad Grlić Radman.

He said he and Baerbock met on the fringes of the meeting for talks on the Croatian-German relations and the Western Balkans.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Algerian-Croatian Business Forum Discusses Cooperation in Shipbuilding, Tourism

ZAGREB, 12 Dec 2021 - An Algerian-Croatian business forum, which was opened on Sunday by Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman, focused on boosting cooperation between Algerian and Croatian companies in shipbuilding, marine farming, tourism, and IT.

Croatian companies, specialized in water supplies systems, road construction, and construction of dams and electricity generation facilities, have been present on the Algerian market for quite some time, and Croatian businesses are interested in developing cooperation with the Algerian side in the fields of shipbuilding, mariculture, construction of ports and water infrastructure, as well as in the ICT technology and tourist trade, reads a press release issued by the Croatian Ministry of foreign and European affairs.

"We have agreed that we will join our forces to transform the new economic potentials we have identified into the concrete cooperation," Grlić Radman said.

He called on Algerian companies to use Croatian seaports as the gateway for the shipment of their commodities to Europe.

Also on Sunday, Grlić Radman, who is the first Croatian minister to officially visit Algeria, was received by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Their talks focused on the strengthening of economic cooperation, the importance of peace and stability in the north of Africa, and the Middle East peace process.

They exchanged opinions on the importance of the fight against terrorism and illegal migrations.

Croatian Foreign Minister Grlić Radman, who paid a two-day visit to Algeria, and his host, Algerian Minister Lamamra, on Saturday signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Croatian ministry's Diplomatic Academy and the Algerian ministry's institute for diplomacy.

 For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Ministry Says No Croatian Nationals Among Casualties in Bus Accident in Bulgaria

ZAGREB, 23 Nov 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Tuesday expressed his deepest condolences and offered help to his North Macedonian counterpart Bujar Osmani following an accident involving a bus with North Macedonian license plates in Bulgaria in which at least 45 people were killed.

According to initial reports, there are no Croatian nationals among the casualties.

The bus caught fire on a motorway in the west of Bulgaria early on Tuesday morning, a senior Bulgarian Foreign Ministry official said.

The vehicle, carrying 52 passengers, was moving along the Struma motorway from Sofia to Blegoevgrad in the southwest of the country and the accident happened at the exit at Bosnek, around 40 kilometers south of Sofia, according to information on the website of the BTV television.

An official at the North Macedonian Embassy in Sofia confirmed for BTV that most of the casualties were nationals of North Macedonia.

The Croatian Foreign Ministry said that according to currently available information, there are no Croatian nationals among the casualties, noting that the Croatian Embassy in Sofia is following the situation.

Minister Grlić Radman spoke on the telephone with North Macedonian Foreign Minister Osmani, offering him his deepest condolences and offering help on behalf of Croatia.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia and its people felt solidarity with North Macedonia and its citizens.

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

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