Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Croatian Defence Industry Presented in European Parliament

ZAGREB, 29 June 2022 - Protective gear and other products of the Croatian defence industry were presented in the European Parliament on Wednesday as part of a conference on strengthening Europe's security and defence, organised by Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler.

Security and defence are not a choice today but fundamental issues which come first, he said, per a press release from his office.

Croatia's defence industry is one of its strongest and most successful exports and deserves, alongside other European colleagues, even stronger EU support so that Europe stays the safest continent, Ressler added.

Among those attending the conference was former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who said the situation caused by the Russian aggression on Ukraine called for unity and strengthening the common defence.

She recalled that 90% of EU citizens live in NATO countries and called for deeper cooperation between the EU and NATO.

Also present at the conference were Croatian Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak, Ukrainian MP Maria Mezentseva, and representatives of Croatian and European military companies and the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Defence Industry.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Claims She and Putin Would "Talk for Hours"

March the 22nd, 2022 - Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has claimed that she and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently waging an unjustified and utterly bizarre war on neighbouring Ukraine, would ''talk for hours''.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the former Norwegian Prime Minister will leave his position in the Defense Alliance next autumn after serving a period of eight years and become the governor of the Norwegian Central Bank, and it is speculated that he will be succeeded by a woman from an Eastern European country.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic didn't want to comment on a possible new position in NATO

In an interview with Dagens Nyheter, Index reports, former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic didn't want to comment on any of the circulating media speculations that she could become NATO Secretary General, the competition for which includes former British Prime Minister Theresa May, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, but she did make sure to point out that she enjoyed working as Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy from 2011 to 2014.

"Most of the employees there weren't used to having a woman as an associate, but they didn't treat me differently because of my gender. Congratulations to those generals and others who worked hard and didn't protest when we worked hard to empower women,'' the former Croatian president told a Swedish daily.

Former NATO Secretary General and former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to whom Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was an assistant in NATO until the end of his term back in 2014, commented on the upcoming election of a leading civilian official in the defense alliance:

"I think it would be good to choose a strong secretary general with good connections. What's happening in the world now means that NATO will play an even bigger role in the coming years. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is one of the possible candidates, but there are other rumours. I can't say anything more about it at the moment.''

They described her as a conservative Croat

Two Dagens Nyhetera journalists interviewed Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic back on March the 8th after her lecture was held at the Stockholm Business School, a prestigious economic higher education institution, at which Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson completed her education.

Apart from speculating on whether "a conservative Croat would step up to the position in the footsteps of a social-democratic, peaceful and wealthy Norwegian", and stories about growing up in Yugoslavia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin were particularly interesting given current times.

The former Croatian president immediately emphasised that she had been pointing out Russia's aggression against Ukraine for a long time and had previously warned of the possibility of a global crisis: "Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. I think there was a certain naivety in people's thinking. What Putin wanted was quite clear in his 2000 political manifesto, which mentioned the restoration of Russia's economic power and position in the world. The events in Georgia and Crimea later made it known what would happen.''

However, unlike many international leaders who have described Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and lunatic because of his ongoing invasion of Ukraine; US President Joe Biden wondered if his Russian counterpart even had a soul; Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic chose her words carefully in response, Dagens Nyheter points out.

"He was normal and respectful"

“During my meetings with him, he was normal and respectful. We discussed bilateral issues, but also the regional situation across Southeastern Europe. We talked, among other things, about Agrokor, a company that was majority owned by Russian banks and was threatened with collapse and the creation of a crisis in Croatia. In that, but also in some other regional issues, Putin was constructive and provided a solution.

But there were areas in which we didn't agree, and on a very deep level, and that included, of course, NATO enlargement,'' said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, adding that during numerous meetings with Putin, they'd talk for hours about various topics, including sport.

However, Dagens Nyheter didn't fail to mention that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, while she was the Croatian president, during her visit to Moscow in 2018 during the World Cup, handed Putin a jersey of the Croatian national team with his name on it. The photos show them both smiling with the red and white jersey in between them, writes the Swedish daily, and reports Index.

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

Monday, 11 October 2021

Grabar-Kitarović New Chair of Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad

ZAGREB, 11 Oct 2021 - Former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has been appointed as the Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reported on its website on Monday.

A press release by the IOC notes that Grabar-Kitarović, an IOC member since 2020, will immediately replace former Chair Kristin Koster Aasen, who stood down following her election to the Executive Board (EB) because no EB member can serve on the Future Host Commissions.

"I am grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with potential hosts on Olympic projects, which will help them to achieve their long-term goals for development, public health, sports participation and inclusion. I would like to continue to build on the great work begun under Kristin's leadership. It is an exciting chance to develop innovative ways to steer the Olympic Games into the future and explore the challenges facing upcoming hosts, such as climate change," Grabar-Kitarović said.

IOC President Thomas Bach also commented on Grabar-Kitarović's appointment.

"The Future Host Commissions have an important role in shaping the future of the Olympic Movement. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will bring rich and diverse skills and experience, including at the very highest levels of government and international relations. As a member of the same Commission, she has already contributed to the successful delivery of the first election under the new approach to choosing Olympic and Paralympic hosts, with the selection of Brisbane 2032," he added.

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

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Is Former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Line for Top NATO Job?

July the 24th, 2021 - Former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic might well be being checked out for a top NATO position amid speculation that has become more serious of late.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Politico portal, which is read worldwide, announced that for the very first time in the 72-year history of this international military organisatio, NATO, Jens Stoltenberg is looking for a successor, preferably from Eastern Europe.

It has been noted that Croatia's former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has an ''impressive biography'', leading this particular story to firmly outgrow the realms of mere speculation and begin to be seriously discussed among those close to the profession and the rest of the public.

Back during the 2015 Croatian presidential campaign, the then HDZ candidate didn't want to reveal what her salary was as an assistant working at NATO.

"I still follow the instructions given to me by NATO, which oblige me as a former NATO employee to make sure this data isn't to be disclosed to the public, and the salary is much less than twenty thousand euros," said former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the confrontation at which the matter was discused with Ivo Josipovic (SDP), who claimed that salaries in NATO aren't actually kept as some sort of big secret.

Then, in late 2016, there was speculation that former British Prime Minister David Cameron potentially becoming NATO's new secretary general, and the British publication The Independent reported that the salary for the post was £220,000 a year (which is around 21,000 euros or 160,000 kuna a month). According to the document from the beginning of 2020, the highest monthly salary paid out to a NATO employee stood at 23,646 euros or 178,000 kuna, according to a report from tportal.

Fast forward to November 2020, NATO asked its members for more money in order to further increase the salaries of its employees, in accordance with the agreed methodology, which some allies refused, considering it inappropriate at the time of the very height of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Judiciary Committee to Call Thematic Session on Situation in Judiciary

ZAGREB, 23 March, 2021 - The parliamentary Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously supported a proposal to call a session focusing on the situation in the Croatian judiciary.

The schedule and the list of guests is to be defined by the end of the week, after which the date for the thematic session of the committee will be set, Committee chair Mišel Jakšić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said.

He said the committee could invite Justice Minister Ivan Malenica, Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and State Judicial Council (DSV) President Darko Milković.

"It is clear from the public perception that people do not trust the judiciary, they believe that corruption in state institutions is widespread," Jakšić said, stressing that it is necessary to start a discussion about that and put forward concrete proposals for improving the situation in the judiciary.

Jakšić said that he would not want former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić, recently sentenced to six and a half years in prison for siphoning money from the club, to be the main topic of the committee session, stressing that his case should be dealt with by judicial bodies.

As for media reports alleging former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's involvement in corruption, Jakšić said he expected those reports to be investigated, calling the accusations horrible and "an attack on the judiciary and the foundations of the state."

Dražen Bošnjaković (HDZ), chair of the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that problems that had lately escalated required a special committee session to discuss them.

He said that he did not have information that Mamić had co-financed Grabar-Kitarović's presidential campaign, adding only that the law on the financing of political parties and political campaigns envisaged very transparent publication of all information and the opening of separate accounts to see what is being financed and who finances what.

"Zdravko Mamić can say anything he wants, but all those statements have to be checked," he said.

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

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Reveals How Life Changed

March the 23rd, 2021 - Former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has spoken out about how her life has dramatically altered since stepping down as Croatia's very first female president to make way for the then incoming Zoran Milanovic (SDP) over one year ago now.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, more than a year ago, former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic stepped down from her role as head of the Croatian state, and now she works as an advisor at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, reports Exkluziv.

''I'm very comfortable with my new position and I must say that this is somehow a pleasant departure from the political world and that sort of life, and yet it offers many opportunities in what I love the most, and that is international relations and international cooperation, connecting institutions, connecting people, and promoting Croatia,'' said former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic when asked about the changes that have taken place in her life since leaving the political world, emphasising that things have totally changed for her.

''My life has changed a lot, not only because I'm no longer in that position, but also because of these pandemic-induced conditions. The lives of each and every one of us have altered,'' said the former president, adding that she is extremely interested in the world of athletes and how they can be helped in their later transition between their sporting life and the ''normal world'', as well as continuing to engage them in private entrepreneurial activities following their retirement from sport.

She also revealed where she sees herself in the future and what she sees as a continuation of her career.

''One day I'm attracted to becoming a professor, maybe to have my own course, to teach people,'' former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic concluded.

For information on Croatian politics, follow our dedicated section. For current travel, testing and other coronavirus information specific to Croatia, click here.


Friday, 5 March 2021

Bomb Threat: Sisak School, Former President's Apartment Menaced in Same Day

March 5, 2021 - Two regions of Croatia today were menaced by a bomb threat. The Zagreb apartment block of former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and a school in Sisak, to which an explosive was allegedly brought

As Index reports, today in the centre of Zagreb, in the building where former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović lives, there was a dramatic intervention by special services. Shortly before noon, police received a report about a woman who locked herself in an apartment in Antun Bauer Street. She threatened to injure herself. She posted notes in her window on which it was written "there are bombs in the apartments".

PXL_050321_32054672kolindbombwind.jpgBomb threat in Zagreb Emica Elvedji PIXSELL

Police officers, firefighters, and an ambulance immediately went to the scene, as well as members of the Interior Ministry's anti-terrorist unit from Lučko. The tense situation lasted for about 45 minutes, after which special forces broke into the building and took the woman away.

Unofficial information says that the woman is a mentally unstable person. She was taken away by ambulance. As 24sata has learned, the former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was not in the building at the time of the drama, nor were members of her family.

PXL_050321_32054749bombsqkolapt.jpgBomb threat in Zagreb Emica Elvedji PIXSELL

In the same street, more precisely, at the next entrance, lives the politician Vladimir Šeks, the former president of the Croatian Parliament, who was shocked by the news. He  also was not at home at the time of the event. A police investigation is currently underway.

PXL_050321_32055150sisakschool.jpgDrama at a school in Sisasak, to which a young man claimed to have brought an explosive Slaven Branislav Babic PIXSELL

At around the same time in the city of Sisak, a young man entered the Sisak Vocational High School building and also issued a bomb threat. Croatian media have reported the young man is the son of a deceased war veteran. The young man is said to have been looking for the HDZ prefect of Sisak-Moslavina County, Ivo Žinić. County administration employees were moved to the building of the Sisak High School after the earthquake, where they were today - together with about 200 students and professors. All had to be evacuated immediately. Prefect Ivo Žinić was not in the school building at the time of the bomb threat.

Police went to the scene and surrounded the school. The young man who claimed to have an explosive was alone in the school premises for half an hour, after which time he turned himself in to police. Večernji list reports that the young man walked out of the school building, was immediately overpowered by the police and then placed in a police van to be taken away. A criminal investigation has begun.

While in the school building, the young man also sent his photo to the media, angrily commenting about how "the county is occupied." Meanwhile, police employed the help of two of his friends in order to try and calm him and negotiate with them.

Defense Minister Tomo Medved came to the scene, so too a professional negotiator from the anti-terrorist unit Lučko. Medved said the young man had not stated any demands or motives. The Vocational High School in Sisak director, Ivica Beloglavec, told local media the school would not reopen in the afternoon because of the incident.

As Večernji list unofficially finds out, the attacker is a resident of Sisak who was active in distributing humanitarian aid in the earthquake-affected areas. He is said to have displayed angry annoyance on social media, only to decide to act on it today. However, his full motives are still unknown.

Fortunately, none of the county administration and school staff were injured, nor were the students.  What made this young man from Sisak initiate this act will hopefully become known when the police investigation is over. The first statement of Sisak-Moslavina police in regards to the incident is pending.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Ex-Croatian President Calls for Solidarity in Efforts to Suppress Coronavirus

ZAGREB, November 30, 2020 - Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday called for solidarity in the struggle against COVID-19 pandemic, and underscored the importance of vaccines to immunise the population.

"I believe that it is not easy to those who make decisions on (anti-COVID) measures, since it is necessary to strike a balance between the public health and economic implications. One should make it clear that all this is not about measures but it concerns the responsibility of individuals and the general public. No measure can be successful unless it is respected by citizens," said Grabar-Kitarovic, a member of the International Olympic Committee, before the start of a conference on investments in sports, which is taking place in Zagreb.

She called for the compliance with the measures and for solidarity with those who are at the highest risk of infection.

Considering the matter of vaccination, she said that she and her family would get jabs as soon as it could be possible.

Asked by the press whether she trusted the national COVID-19 crisis management team, Grabar-Kitarovic answered in the affirmative and called for following advice given by experts. 

Friday, 11 September 2020

Croatian Ex-President Faces Long Recovery After Surgery

September 11, 2020 - Today, the Croatian media has reported that the former Croatian President and the current International Olympic Committee member, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, underwent surgery on her spinal cord on Friday.

Jutarnji list reports that the surgery has been a complete success and that the Croatian ex-president will be released from hospital on Saturday. It is expected that her full recovery will take several months. 

Although it's obvious that nobody wants to spend time in hospitals, especially so during an infectious disease epidemic, the former president obviously had reasons to undergo surgery. She underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with instrumentation on her C4 and C5 vertebrae.

It's a kind of surgery that releases the pressure put on the nerve roots and/or spinal cord by a herniated disc or bone fragments. The disc gets removed during the surgery through an incision made in the front of the neck, thus releasing the pressure created by a slipped disc, as they remove the pressure surface. The space between the bony vertebrae is empty after a disc is removed. To prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, a spacer bone graft is inserted to fill the open disc space. The graft serves as a bridge between the two vertebrae to create a spinal fusion. The bone graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws.

We'd like to wish the former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović a speedy and successful recovery! 

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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic Opens Up About Engagement in International Olympic Committee

August 4, 2020 - Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic spoke to Croatian Radio about becoming a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which values she would promote during her tenure and the future of Olympism and sport amid a pandemic.

Jutarnji List writes that several months have passed since she was nominated, and she was confirmed as an IOC member by video conference two weeks ago.

"IOC President Thomas Bach called me shortly after the end of his presidential term and suggested it. I accepted the proposal with enthusiasm. Before it passed the candidacy and ethics committee and before the Executive Committee made a decision, it was all supposed to be kept secret. After the IOC itself announced it, I confirmed it and waited for the decision of the assembly. I was excited. I was waiting for the vote on the new board members and working bodies, which was coming to an end. It was interesting to watch the video conference, but I would much rather have seen each other than waiting in silence from home. For now, I have online activities ahead of me, mostly introductory seminars for new members and an introduction to the membership of the committee that decides on the future host of the Olympic Games to which I have been appointed this week. Other activities depend on the pandemic."

As President of the Republic of Croatia, she received Bach in Pantovcak.

"That was the beginning of our work cooperation, I think I can freely say friendship, although we did not have the opportunity to hang out together often. I would always find time even when I was in New York to meet with Mr. Bach and IOC members. That first meeting was in Pantovcak when we had the Open Days and we presented sports, athletes, active sports for the healthy development of both the individual and society. That was the moment we clicked. Lots of common thoughts, ideas, the general attitude towards sports, accessibility of sports to young people, but also sports as a way of thinking, not just physical activities. And philosophies, as the Olympic Charter itself, says: Olympism is a philosophy of life that implies a lot. In terms of development, but also world peace, harmony and balance in society, quality of will and mind, but also sport as a weapon that can and must be used in general diplomacy, in stopping wars, the Olympic truce is known. These are just some of the forms of action and goals that Mr. Bach and I share in sport."

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic is the fourth person from Croatia in the IOC, and the first woman.

"It is a great pleasure and recognition for me personally, but also great recognition for Croatia as a country of sports. I am sorry that the first news that followed the announcement of the candidacy was accompanied more by some financial aspects, and in fact, it is a much more substantial job. It’s not just going to sporting events; it’s a lot of work. For Croatia, I think that is extremely good. When foreigners mention people who come from Croatia, they mostly mention athletes, rarely or never politicians, even people from other walks of life. At this moment, we must use all the values of sports diplomacy and thus profile Croatia on the international scene. Even a symbolic gesture, give someone the jersey of the Croatia national team with their name printed on the back, can do wonders. And imagine only when you embark on some much more significant actions such as organizing international camps."

She points out that she will work closely with the Croatian Olympic Committee, and welcomed the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

"Sport is so important that it deserves its ministry. It's not just because of the great national team players. This is because of every child in this state who must have the right to access sports, to ensure they are cheap, accessible, and they can engage in either top-level sports or for pure pleasure and health reasons. The general health of the population is essential and sport is essential for immunity. There are huge opportunities ahead of us. Combining tourism and sports is really great. I plan to visit the minister and meet her associates. As a member of the IOC, I must be absolutely neutral, politically and in any other way."

She also referred to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, where she cheered from the ceremonial box in the Croatia jersey.

"It took a little courage. I specifically asked them if I could violate the jersey code prescribed by the FIFA leadership. In fact, I was amazed that it was so. I don't think we should be ashamed of national colors, sport is to rejoice, maybe grieve a little if we lose, but in the end to accept it all in sports and give a hand to each other and show that there are no evil thoughts and that sport brings us closer and contributes to better understanding among nations. The reactions are great and even today, when I travel, people who follow football recognize me."

At the suggestion of the IOC President, she was also appointed to the Commission for Determining the Future Hosts of the Olympic Games.

"I'm going into fifth gear right away. I study documents, arrange future online meetings. Although I have to say I’m a little frustrated that I can’t go somewhere on the spot. The first thing I would do is go to Lausanne and meet everyone at the Olympic House, the people I would work with so closely, on a volunteer basis. Something you invest your own time in, and I will say my heart beats for Croatia, but in the years ahead, I will have to beat for world sports and athletes from all over the world.

I hope that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be held next year. However, if circumstances do not return to normal by then, they are unlikely to hold them in front of empty spectators and when there may be a mass infection among athletes. Still, I hope for a medical miracle in the meantime that will solve these problems. A committee that decides on future hosts has been set up to make savings and make the process more transparent. The responsibility is huge, but also an honor. The work of the board will be quite arduous. You need to consider in detail all aspects of what the possible future hosts of the Games are proposing, and that decision should be made that is the best and balances all arguments from political support to infrastructure. But I have to admit that there isn’t much talk about candidacies at the moment because of the epidemic. It seems to me that they will go towards spending less on the opening of the Olympic Games and similar ceremonies," Grabar-Kitarovic concluded.

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