Sunday, 29 May 2022

Kosovo Hopes Croatia Will Support its Bid to Join EUSAIR

ZAGREB, 29 May 2022 - Kosovo wishes to join the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), a forum in which ten countries cooperate in transport, tourism, and environmental protection projects, and hopes Croatia, which over the presidency next year, will support it.

The ten countries - Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, and San Marino - met in Tirana on 16-18 May, where they adopted a joint declaration calling for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.

A Kosovo delegation led by Local Government Minister Elbert Krasniqi was in Tirana at the time and did not attend the meeting, but did meet with European Commission representatives.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and participates in cross-border cooperation projects only with North Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro as part of the EU's IPA programme.

Speaking to Hina, Krasniqi said "the Adriatic-Ionian initiative can be complete only when all countries have joined."

"This initiative offers possibilities of exchange and common benefits in tourism, the green agenda and mobility, which is important to all countries. It also offers the European perspective," he said. "It's legitimate that we are part of that (EUSAIR). Thereby, our citizens too would get additional opportunities."

For Kosovo to join EUSAIR, the consent of all of its member states is required, but Serbia is blocking it.

A European Commission official who took part in the Tirana talks said on condition of anonymity that Kosovo had requested to join, but that its government understood that it would have to wait for the situation to normalise. EUSAIR could expand, the official added.

EUSAIR is currently chaired by Bosnia and Herzegovina, from which Croatia will take over the presidency on 31 May 2023.

"It will be difficult during BiH's presidency, but after that our becoming a member state will be realistic," Krasniqi said. "The EUSAIR accession process is clear, it's the consensus of all countries, and Serbia is one of them. We must keep meeting and find the right solution."

In Tirana, the Kosovo and Serb delegations did not meet.

"We will once again put our wish to join EUSAIR in the centre of our agenda. We will try to negotiate it. Kosovo should not be denied the right to be part of that. This initiative's idea is inclusion, not exclusion and isolation," Krasniqi said.

Kosovo has excellent projects with neighbours such as Albania and Montenegro, and it is a pity it does not have them with Serbia and EU member states like Italy, he added.

"We are confident that Croatia will support Kosovo's aspiration. We hope to officially become a partner during the Croatian presidency," Krasniqi said.

The Tirana meeting was attended by Croatian Foreign Ministry state secretary Andreja Metelko-Zgombić. She said the meeting did not discuss Kosovo's EUSAIR membership.

Speaking to Croatian reporters, she said Croatia's interest and position were that Kosovo should be included in all initiatives, including international organisations. "I hope that in the near future Kosovo will be able to make a step in that direction."

Kosovo's independence has been recognised by all but five EU member states, including Greece.

"This is about really important and concrete projects for citizens which raise standards. These projects are in everyone's interest," Metelko-Zgombić said about EUSAIR.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Croatia Marking 30th Anniversary of Admission to United Nations

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 - The ministry of foreign and European affairs on Sunday issued a statement to mark the 30th anniversary of Croatia's membership in the World Organisation, underscoring that its entry into the UN was a crown of the process of international recognition of Croatia.

Croatia was admitted to the United Nations on 22 May 1992. By hoisting its flag outside the UN building on 22 May 1992, with then Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali attending, Croatia was admitted to the organisation together with Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The statement issued by the ministry points out that during the first years of the membership "the priority of Croatia's diplomatic efforts in the UN was to ensure the cessation of the Great Serbian aggression as soon as possible."

Also the priority was given to the recognition and the defence of the internationally recognised borders of the Republic of Croatia, the care for hundred of thousands of internally displaced persons in Croatia and refugees arriving from Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the peaceful reintegration of the occupied areas which had been under control of the Serb rebels.

After its admission to the UN, Croatia affirmed itself on the global political scenes through its active participation in many bodies of the UN.

Croatia has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and also a member of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Human Rights Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies and commissions.

The statement highlights a significant contribution of Croatian troops, police officers and diplomats in the UN-run peace missions.

Croatia sits on ECOSOC in the 2022-2024 period, for the second time.

Croatia is taking active part in the implementation of many initiatives and reform processes launched by the UN, including the initiative for responsible use of the right to veto, aimed at holding the five permanent Council members accountable for their use of veto, and the Responsibility to Protection concept.

Croatia gives firm support to multilateralism as a form of global cooperation and finds that the present-day challenges require joint approach and concerted effort..

The ministry says that the 30th anniversary of the UN membership will be marked at a conference on 30 years of Croatia's international recognition, scheduled for 29 May.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

PM: Croatia Looks Forward to Deepening Political and Economic Ties with China

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with the Xinhua news agency released on Wednesday that he looked forward to deepening political and economic relations with China.

 "I very much look forward to deepening our political relationship, our consultations, our economic cooperation," Plenković said on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Croatia and China.

The Croatian prime minister pointed out that the relations between Zagreb and Beijing over the past 30 years had been excellent.

He said that bilateral cooperation within the Chinese initiative "One Belt One Road" had intensified and that the 17+1 initiative, within which Beijing cooperates with Central and Eastern European countries, was an excellent tool for all of us in Central and Eastern Europe.

Plenković also noted that Chinese companies had built the Pelješac Bridge and the Senj Wind Farm, and he also called for more cooperation and dialogue between China and the European Union on global issues, including global security and peace and climate change, especially in the energy sector, Xinhua reported.

"We should cooperate more. I think we have a very solid basis. We have 30 years of cooperation and a very intensive period over the past couple of years," the Croatian PM said.

He said he particularly appreciated that Croatia had been able to acquire sufficient amounts of protective equipment and masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Sends Letter of Condolence Over Death of UAE President

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday sent a letter of condolence following the death of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who died on Friday, the government said.

"The United Arab Emirates has lost a great man and serious statesman, who worked for the benefit of his people and country with foresight and commitment," Plenković said.

"Our thoughts are with the royal family and the friendly people of the United Arab Emirates, whom I offer sincere condolences and deep sympathy," Plenković added.

Sheikh Khalifa, born in 1948, came to power in the richest emirate, Abu Dhabi, in 2004 and became UAE President. He was succeeded on Saturday by his half-brother, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has been widely seen as the de-facto leader of the rich Gulf monarchy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Future Slovenian PM Wants Good Relations With Croatia

ZAGREB, 27 April 2022 - In his first media interview after winning Slovenia's parliamentary election on Sunday, prime minister-elect Robert Golob said on Wednesday that the new government will strive to develop good neighbourly relations with everyone including Croatia.

In the interview with RTV Slovenia televised late on Tuesday night, Golob said that there is no need for any uneasiness following the election with regard to outstanding issues with Croatia. He reiterated that the arbitration agreement is certainly "an anchor" from which not one Slovenian government "can back out of and we too do not have that intention."

"I do not think there is any reason for uneasiness. Naturally, we will try to foster good neighbourly relations with everyone, including Croatia. However, our policy will be a little more involved in seeking a consensus and less on solo opinions of any individual," said Golob who accused outgoing prime minister Janez Janša of going it alone with regard to the EU's common foreign policy and on the international front.

Golob said that he expects the new government to start working in June and as he said, the new government will include a wide circle of experts regardless of their party affiliation.

With regard to removing the wire fence on the border with Croatia, Golob said that the first thing to do is to form a government "because the wire fence was erected by a government decision and it will be up to the government to remove it."

"I am counting on the possibility of removing it during the summer, however, some procedures take longer than we would like. In any case, I'm an optimist and believe that that will be one of the first concrete steps we will face during the summer," said Golob.

With regard to the national plan, his government intends to embark on preparing measures and reforms needed to deal with the energy crisis that could emerge in the autumn and also to prepare measures related to healthcare in case of a new wave of the COVID pandemic.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Croatia Could Join OECD in Three Years

ZAGREB, 10 April 2022 - Croatia has adopted the fewest relevant standards of the six current candidates for accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and its chief negotiator Gordan Grlić Radman believes talks could be completed in two and a half to three years.

The OECD formally launched accession talks with six candidate countries on 25 January.

Croatia has adopted 29 legal instruments of a total of 253 required by the Paris-based club of industrially developed countries.

Brazil has adopted 105 instruments, Romania 56, Argentina 51, Peru 46 and Bulgaria 33, according to data from the OECD website.

Founded in 1961, the OECD is a forum of countries which call themselves democracies and market economies. It is financed by its member-states which discuss global problems and publish economic analyses.

"We have become a member of all relevant international organisations except for the OECD," Grlić Radman said in a video message to Croats attending a meeting of the diaspora in Paraguay a week ago.

Accession to the OECD is politically important to the Croatian government and it has therefore entrusted the Foreign Ministry with conducting the accession talks.

Brazil, who has made the most progress in accession talks, has entrusted that role to its Economy Ministry, led by Paulo Guedes.

In February 2022 the Croatian government formed a negotiating team for talks with the OECD, with Grlić Radman as the chief negotiator. A representative of the Economy Ministry was also appointed a member of the team.

On 16 March Grlić Radman met in Paris with OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, saying in a Twitter post afterwards that he had an excellent meeting.

Croatia submitted an official request to join the OECD on 25 January 2017.

"However, due to objective circumstances and inability to participate in OECD working bodies, our progress on that path has been slowed down for most of the time since the submission of the membership request," the Foreign Ministry said in a reply to Hina, without specifying the objective circumstances.

"In 2021 our cooperation with the OECD intensified more significantly and we were given the opportunity to join more working bodies, which eventually led to the opening of talks on 25 January 2022," the ministry said.

It noted that work was underway with the OECD on implementing "demanding reforms" in areas such as state administration, digitalisation, green policy, labour market and justice.

In June 2021 the OECD said that Croatia had to improve corporate governance in state-owned companies.

It recommended that Croatia establish a body in charge of ownership coordination, requesting greater transparency and public announcements for those companies, as well as stronger autonomy and independence of supervisory boards in state-owned companies.

The Foreign Ministry said a steering board was formed by the Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Ministry, with representatives of state administration bodies participating in it, which adopted an action plan for the implementation of OECD recommendations.

The process of meeting the conditions from the action plan is proceeding as planned and the reform of corporate governance is expected to be completed by 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

OECD technical committees, consisting of representatives of member-countries, oversee the adoption of legal instruments, an OECD spokesperson has said.

At the end of the process, the OECD carries out a full review to make sure the countries have really done what they were asked to do, the spokesperson says.

After that, the OECD Council, the main steering body of the organisation, decides on a country's accession.

According to preliminary estimates by the OECD, Croatia's accession talks would not last longer than two and a half to three years, officials at the Croatian Foreign Ministry said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Croatian-Spanish Fusion Project Starting Soon

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - In two to three weeks Croatian and Spanish scientists will start to examine materials necessary for building an EU power plant where electricity will be produced by fusion.

The Croatian and Spanish science ministers, Radovan Fuchs and Diana Morant, respectively, signed in Madrid on Wednesday an agreement green-lighting the DONES (Demo Oriented Neutron Source) project.

The EU wants to build the first demo power plant where electricity will be produced by the fusion of two lighter hydrogen atoms into a heavier one that releases huge amounts of energy. Currently, materials used to build power plants are unable to withstand such high temperatures and radiation.

In order for the construction of the first demo plant to begin in 2035, it is necessary to find the required construction materials.

"Croatia and Spain will examine materials from which fusion reactors should be made in the future... because we are talking about high intensity radiation," Fuchs told Hina.

Croatia and Spain agreed in 2018 to examine the materials together as part of the DONES project. A facility will be built in Granada, Spain and local scientists will work together with colleagues from Zagreb's Ruđer Bošković Institute.

Fuchs said the project was worth €400 million and that Croatia would participate with €30 million, the rest coming from Spain.

"This opens a whole range of possibilities for the participation of high tech companies building such experimental plants," he said, adding that Croatian companies are interested, too.

Fuchs visited Madrid as part of a Croatian delegation led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who met with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez, who mentioned the future cooperation on this project at a joint press conference.

Fuchs said today's agreement was just the start of the whole story and that the project "begins in two or three weeks. There will be intensive traffic between Granada and Zagreb."

Croatia and Spain were among the countries that applied for the DONES project, submitting the documents required to the EU Fusion for Energy (F4E) body.

An F4E task force assessed that the locations the two countries proposed for the project, Spain's Granada and Croatia's in the Moslavina region, were both suitable but that Granada was more ready as a vacant technological park. The Moslavina location, an empty building site, serves as a backup location.

The Spanish Science Ministry said that since 2018, when the cooperation was agreed, Spain and Croatia had participated together in several European projects as part of the EUROfusion project.

"This is yet another step in the science cooperation between Spain and Croatia", said Minister Morant.

The ministry said the construction of the facility in Granada would create 1,000 jobs, including for 400 top scientists from all over the world.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Plenković Announces Stronger Cooperation With Spain

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - Wrapping up his visit to Spain on Wednesday evening, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced the further strengthening of bilateral relations in economy, science, culture in the Mediterranean as well as cooperation in international issues such as the Ukraine conflict.

"Spain has extended strong political support for Croatia's entry to Schengen, the euro area and the OECD. We appreciate the cooperation in the Mediterranean", Plenković said after meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Plenković was the first Croatian prime minister who visited Spain since 1996.

"I took the opportunity for talks on Southeast Europe as well, on the need to reform the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want that law to be just for all three constituent peoples, so that they can elect their true representatives", he said, adding that Croatia will support BiH on its EU path.

The situation in BiH is not in Madrid's focus.

Sánchez said they confirmed that they would strengthen the bilateral relations and commended the cooperation with Croatia in the Council of the EU.

This year marks 30 years of bilateral relations between the two countries.

After meeting with Sánchez, Plenković met with Congress of Deputies President Meritxell Batet for talks on parliamentary cooperation and the humanitarian repercussions of the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

He was then received by King Felipe VI at the royal palace.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Plenković said the meeting was cordial. They exchanged views on bilateral and European matters.

"Faced with new security challenges, we are strengthening our partnership within the EU and NATO", he wrote on Twitter.

King Felipe VI vacationed on the Croatian coast in the past and an official visit is being arranged.

Plenković wrapped up his visit by meeting with the Croats living in Madrid at the Croatian Embassy, telling them to continue to develop cooperation in all areas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Croatia-UAE Cooperation Becoming 'More Serious', PM Says

ZAGREB, 6 March 2022 - The cooperation between Croatia and the United Arab Emirates will soon become more intensive and more serious, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a business forum between the two countries in Dubai on Sunday.

Plenković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac arrived at Expo 2020 on the occasion of Croatian National Day at the exhibition.

They came to Dubai with numerous Croatian business people who attended the business forum.

"I would say that this stay at Expo, such a big turnout of Croatian business people and this business forum will contribute to increasing trade, which will soon pass US$ 100 million again," the prime minister said.

After meeting with UAE leaders, he said he had a "strong confidence that the cooperation between Croatia and the UAE will take a more intensive and more serious direction."

At the forum, Plenković presented the Croatian economy to the Arab participants, saying that Croatia has a stable economic growth and the highest investment rating in its history.

For more, check out our business section.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Plenković Talks Croatian Innovativeness, Cooperation With Arab World at Expo Dubai

ZAGREB, 6 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday attended the marking of Croatian National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai, saying Croatia is a "country of investors" and that it has centuries-long ties with the Arab world.

Croatia is attending Expo for the first time since 2010 in China.

Today the Croatian Pavilion at Expo 2020 was visited by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, a member of the United Arab Emirates government and commissioner of the exhibition.

"UAE-Croatia relations have been growing considerably in the last decade and we wish to expand the cooperation in the commercial, political and cultural spheres," he said, adding that the Croatian pavilion symbolises the "growing relations" between the two states.

Plenković said he was proud of the "history, talent and creativity" of the Croatian people and the "beautiful and preserved nature and the diversity of the cultural heritage."

He mentioned the necktie, Faust Vrančić as the first man to jump with a parachute in 1617, criminalist and fingerprinting creator Ivan Vučetić, modern seismology founder Andrija Mohorovičić, and Nikola Tesla.

"Thanks to him (Tesla), in 1895 Šibenik became the first city whose street lighting received energy from a hydroelectric power plant," Plenković said and also mentioned the Rimac Automobili company, which made the fastest electric car in the world, which is displayed in the Croatian Pavilion.

"Besides an innovative and creative spirit," Croatia is also full of talent in sports, culture, music and art, he said, calling on those present to visit Croatia.

Plenković said the relations between Croatia and the Arab world dated back to the Middle Ages.

"For centuries, the Croats were the only Slavic people which maintained relations with the Arabs in the Mediterranean, and the Croatian republic of Dubrovnik traded intensively with the Arab states as a mediator between East and West," he said.

"Therefore it's no coincidence that the first mention of Croatia on the world map was on the one designed by the great Arab Islamic geographer and cartographer al-Idrisi in the 12st century," Plenković added.

He also mentioned Croatian philosopher Hermann the Dalmatian, one of the most important translators from Arabic to Latin, the author of the first Latin translation of the Qur'an, and the fact that Croatia was the third European country to officially recognise Islam as a religion in 1916.

Plenković was accompanied to Dubai by Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

For more, check out our business section.

Page 1 of 2