Friday, 2 July 2021

Croatia Donates 10,000 COVID Vaccines to North Macedonia

ZAGREB, 2 July 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Friday donated 10,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to North Macedonia, saying that "efficient vaccination is the only way out of the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Efficient vaccination is the only way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, while maintaining the necessary balance between gradually opening borders and people's health," he said in Skopje.

Assistance to North Macedonia is continuing because the Croatian government decided yesterday to donate another 20,000 vaccines, Grlić Radman said.

North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Venko Filipče thanked Croatia for the donation. The additional 20,000 doses will be from AstraZeneca or Moderna, "which would be the first batch of that vaccine" in the country, he said.

Grlić Radman said Croatia would continue to underline "the importance of Southeast Europe for the EU and support EU initiatives for delivering COVID-19 vaccines to countries in Europe's immediate neighbourhood."

"Only through joint effort and a solidarity-based approach will we create the conditions for sustainable social and economic recovery after the pandemic," he said.

For more news, follow TCN's dedicated news 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.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Croatian Minister Attends Berlin Process Meeting on Ways to Strengthen Cooperation

ZAGREB, November 9, 2020 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman participated in an online meeting on Mondayof the member-countries of the Berlin Process focusing on the strengthening of regional cooperation and trust-building, the ministry said.

Regional cooperation and trust-building are to be enhanced through contacts and mobility - primarily between young people and civil society organisations, it was said at the meeting.

Participants confirmed their support to projects and programmes concerning young people and advocated closer regional cooperation as well as the economic prosperity and European journey of the Western Balkan countries.

In his address at the event, Grlic Radman welcomed the first co-chairmanship of the Berlin Process by Bulgaria and North Macedonia, stressing that the regional character of the project was now fully evident and represents the continuity of previous efforts aimed at strengthening good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation as well as the European perspective of the Western Balkans.

He pointed to the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, adopted by the European Commission on October 6, noting that it would encourage economic growth and step up the process of economic convergence with the EU.

Connectivity, green and digital transformation and competitiveness are identified in the plan as the main challenges for the Western Balkan countries and overcoming those challenges will make the region attractive to investments and help it exploit its economic potential, Grlic Radman said.

He also underlined the importance of offering young people better prospects through quality education, equal opportunities, and a stable and safe environment and mobility, to secure the stability and sustainability of regional development.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Foreign Minister Says 4 Staffers Have Coronavirus

ZAGREB, July 29, 2020 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman confirmed on Wednesday that four female employees at the ministry had coronavirus, saying he was tested before meeting his Slovenian counterpart yesterday and that he was negative.

Speaking to the press, he told that two ministry staff were positive on Saturday and that now they were four. "We have disinfected the whole ministry and everyone who was in close contact with those infected is self-isolating... We are in touch with epidemiologists, following their directions."

The minister said he had not been in contact with the four staffers. He said he was tested yesterday morning and that he was negative.

I called the Slovenian foreign minister, with whom I met yesterday, when I went to get tested, and I also told him the results so as to avoid any doubts, he added.

As for the source of the infection in the ministry, Grlic Radman said a female employee might have contracted the virus at a place where there were a number of people.

SDP MP says Foreign Ministry new coronavirus hotspot

Earlier on Wednesday MP Domagoj Hajdukovic of the Social Democratic Party said that the Foreign Ministry was a new coronavirus hotspot, with six persons infected.

"According to my information, we have a new infection hotspot, the ministry. The first case was recorded at the end of last week in the ministry's secretariat. New infections have been confirmed today, six in all," he said in parliament.

Hajdukovic said quite a few people were ordered to self-isolate and asked Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, who was in the chamber, if he had been in contact with them and if he was tested.

MP speculates that Bosnia may have been source of infection for ministry employees

As for a possible source of infection, he said "many people from the ministry were helping out" with the vote in Croatia's July 5 parliamentary election in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Did the infection come from there? Were there safety breaches? Were those people tested and kept in self-isolation when they came back?"

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Grlic Radman for "a More European Europe" in Challenging Times

ZAGREB, July 18, 2020 - Croatia's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlic Radman, on Friday called for "a more European Europe" instead of "withdrawing into oneself" at the time of the global coronavirus pandemic, the crisis of multilateralism and trade disputes, the ministry said in a statement. 

Grlic Radman was in the German city of Hof to attend Paneuropean Days organised by the Paneuropean Union, the oldest movement for European unification.

During a discussion on challenges to European unity at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grlic Radman cited as an example the coordination of diplomatic efforts in repatriating European citizens to their home countries.

"We are facing numerous challenges, but they are the reason for a more European Europe and not for withdrawing into oneself," the Croatian minister said.

"Europe should move on despite the challenges to world peace, the crisis of multilateralism, and trade disputes. It is a solidary and united Europe, firmly relying on the common democratic values, that can embrace the future," he stressed.

Despite the fact that the Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of this year took place in unprecedented circumstances, Grlic Radman said that the decision to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, and the decision to open the last negotiating chapter with Montenegro were a great success.

"We believe that the integration of Southeastern Europe is a guarantor of long-term European stability, while at the same it is also our duty and our interest," Grlic Radman said.

"We need to keep our door open to the countries of Southeastern Europe aspiring to membership, subject to fulfillment of all the criteria and implementation of the necessary reforms, as confirmed at the Zagreb Summit," he added.

The meeting was also attended by the deputy speaker of the Bundestag, Hans-Peter Friedrich, former Bavarian minister for science and the arts Bernd Sibler, and the chairman of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Grlic Radman: Threats against Puljic Speak of Position of Croats in Bosnia

ZAGREB, May 14, 2020 - The public vilification and lynch threats against Sarajevo Archbishop Vinko Puljic, over a mass for the Bleiburg victims to be held in Sarajevo, suggest that the position of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not as it should be, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister said on Thursday.

Gordan Grlic Radman told reporters that he had expressed support to Archbishop Puljic, a man who had stayed in Sarajevo during the war and is "a shining example of coexistence, multiculturalism."

"This vilification, the lynch, in a way suggest that the position of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not as it should be," the minister said.

He talked to Puljic on the phone and supported the celebration of a mass in Sarajevo to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy. The announcement of the mass, scheduled for 16 May, was met with harsh criticism in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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