Friday, 28 June 2019

Božinović Says He Has Not Been Offered Post of Foreign Minister

ZAGREB, June 28, 2019 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović on Friday dismissed speculation that he would succeed Marija Pejčinović Burić in the post of Foreign and European Affairs Minister, noting that he had not been given any such offer.

"I have not received any such offer nor would I opt for (the post)," Božinović told reporters.

Asked if a government reshuffle was possible and necessary, he said that he was not aware of any talks on the matter.

"In the coming period, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) will be working to prepare in the best possible way for the next election cycle," Božinović said.

Also today, the head of the HDZ parliamentary group, Branko Bačić, said that there had been no talks within the party on the candidates to succeed Pejčinović Burić after she was elected the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

"She will take office on September 15 and we have two and a half months to decide on who will take her place. The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has been preparing seriously for taking over the presidency of the EU on January 1. Not everything is up to the minister, her closest associates are very much involved in the process so there will be no vacuum," said Bačić.

He also said that his party colleague Tomislav Sokol, who was elected a member of the European Parliament, would resign as a member of the Croatian parliament today and that his successor in the parliament would take over on July 12.

Bačić said that the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) would not succeed in having Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević dismissed.

"I still have not seen the SDP's motion for Minister Kuščević's dismissal, I'm interested in the reasons they have cited. In any case, they won't succeed in having the minister dismissed," Bačić said.

The HDZ official went on to say that deadlines for the dismissal procedure were clear as were deadlines for calling regular and extraordinary parliament sessions.

"Only after we receive the SDP motion will we be able to say when the matter will be discussed... it must be discussed at the latest within 30 days from the submission of the motion and the government's making known its position on the matter," said Bačić.

Asked what would happen if the SDP chose such a timing of filing its motion to make the parliament call an extraordinary session after July 15, Bačić said: "If deadlines are such that we cannot conduct a debate before July 15, we will hold talks to see what to do."

The SDP said on Thursday that it was launching an initiative for Kuščević's dismissal and was collecting signatures in that regard, adding that due to procedural and legal time frames, an extraordinary session of parliament might be convened solely to debate the proposal for Kuščević's dismissal.

Speaking of the reasons why the SDP was calling for Kuščević's resignation, SDP MP Peđa Grbin cited his failure to enter his property in the land register, siphoning property from a company and causing it more than a million kuna in damages, purchasing agricultural land and then converting it into construction land during his term in office as the head of Nerežišća municipality on the island of Brač, and construction of government-subsidised flats many of which ended up in the hands of Kuščević's family and close party colleagues.

More news about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Pejčinović Burić Attends EU Foreign Affairs Council

ZAGREB, June 17, 2019 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić on Monday attended a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg which discussed the effectiveness of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and the situation in Sudan, the ministry reported in a press release.

The council discussed models to improve the effectiveness of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in view of changes occurring on the international scene and of geopolitical challenges.

The ministers agreed that in the coming period efforts will be focused on strengthening coherency and consistency, and strengthening unity so that the EU can be a strong global stakeholder. With regard to foreign policy, the Eu and the member states will continue advocating the protection of common values and interests, security and peace, the promotion of international cooperation, democracy and the rule of law, the ministry's press release said.

The discussion on implementing the Global Strategy was held together with the defence ministers. Progress in implementing the Global Strategy was considered in five priority areas: the Union's security, resilience, integrated approach to conflicts and crises, cooperation with regions, and global governance for the 21st century.

The importance of working on strengthening multilateralism and a world order based on rules was underscored as the best way to promote national and common interests. The ministers welcomed the significant progress made in security and defence, and it was agreed to continue working on implementing launched initiatives and strengthening the EU's capacities, its strategic autonomy and cooperation with partners, particularly with NATO and the UN.

The ministers discussed Sudan and expressed concern with the deteriorating situation. The importance of avoiding further escalation of violence was underscored and the ministers underlined their support for a peaceful and orderly transfer of government and for constitutional order to be reinstated.

The EU supports the mediation of the African Union aimed at finding a peaceful solution to end the crisis, and the EU is prepared to offer political and economic support to Sudan when the transition to a civilian government begins.

The council briefly reflected on the situation in Venezuela and the Horn of Africa as well as current events in Moldova. The council meeting included an informal meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi, who spoke about the situation in Jordan and events in the Middle East, the foreign ministry reported in its press release.

More news about Croatia and the European Union can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Croatian Foreign Minister Visiting Italy and Malta

ZAGREB, June 14, 2019 - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić visited Italy on Thursday and met with her counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi, the ministry said in a press release, adding that the two officials confirmed the good relations between the two countries and underlined the desire to further strengthen bilateral relations.

The ministers exchanged opinions on numerous regional, European and global issues of common interest such as the results of the European Parliament elections, the EU's new institutional framework, enlargement, the multiannual financial framework, Brexit, the protection of the EU's external borders, and the crisis of multilateralism.

The two ministers underlined the importance of the cooperation between the two countries within the Central European Initiative, whose chairmanship Italy took over from Croatia at the start of the year.

They also discussed Croatia's chairmanship of the Council of the EU next year, extending support for the European journey of Southeast European countries. It was said that Croatia will organise a summit on that topic in Zagreb.

Minister Pejčinović Burić also met with the Italian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

Earlier in the day, Minister Pejčinović Burić was on an official visit to Malta, where she met with her counterpart Carmelo Abela on Thursday to talk about global and regional topics and of improving the already good bilateral relations, her ministry said in a press release.

Pejčinović Burić and Maltese Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Minister Abela underscored the very good relations between the two countries, with the desire to intensify them, particularly in trade, culture, tourism and protection of the sea, according to the press release.

The two foreign ministers exchanged opinions on current global and regional topics, and topics related to the European Union, on a comprehensive approach to migrations, security issues, the Mediterranean and Southeast Europe.

They pointed out the need to intensify dialogue and the exchange of good practice and stances as part of Croatia's preparations for its chairmanship of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

One of the priorities of Croatia's chairmanship will be the European journey of Southeast Europe, which Malta too considers important, and in that regard, Croatia will organise a summit of the EU and Southeast Europe dedicated to that topic, the press release said.

During her visit Pejčinović Burić met with members of Malta's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Pejčinović Burić is a candidate for that organisation's secretary-general, along with Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will decide on the next secretary-general by secret ballot in Strasbourg on June 25, who will then step into office on October 1.

More foreign policy news can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Spanish Foreign Minister Talks with Croatian Counterpart

ZAGREB, May 29, 2019 - Europe has a lot to learn from China, Spanish Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell said in Zagreb on Wednesday after the talks with his Croatian counterpart Marija Pejčinović Burić which also revolved around the construction of Pelješac Bridge.

"I want to emphasise the importance Spain dedicates to relations with Croatia and the wish for them to grow," said Borrell, who is a member of the Socialist government in Spain and although born in Catalonia he is one of the most ardent opponents to that province's independence.

Whether it is coincidental, but Borrell's visit comes after a recent visit by Catalonia's Foreign Minister Alfred Bosch. The Catalan government has a representation office in Zagreb that covers Southeast Europe.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting with his host Pejčinović Burić, Borrell said that they had discussed bilateral topics like strengthening economic cooperation, the future of the European Union in the context of Brexit and the new multi-annual financial perspective as well as Croatia's priorities during its chairmanship of the Union at the beginning of next year, such as enlargement to Southeast Europe.

Borrell said that Croatia has Spain's support to join the OECD, Schengen Area and eurozone and concluded that Zagreb and Madrid need to work on strengthening the mutual interests of citizens in both countries.

Borrell underscored that the talks also focused on relations that the EU and Croatia have with China and the Pelješac bridge that is being constructed near Dubrovnik.

China is a big player and is more and more present in Europe. We have a lot to learn from that country and we are interested in its economic and political activity in east Europe, he said and added that this visit was a good opportunity to become familiar with numerous economic and political activities between Beijing and Europe.

Pejčinović Burić underlined that Croatia and Spain nurture "traditionally good and friendly relations," with cultural and historical affiliation with the same "Euro-Mediterranean circle of countries" and membership of the EU and NATO alliance.

"We nurture common values and mutually support each other on many European and global issues," she concluded.

Trade between Croatia and Spain is on the rise. Two years ago, it amounted to 673 million euro and last year grew to 741 million euro. The number of Spanish tourists visiting Croatia is also growing. Last year, 290,000 Spaniards visited Croatia and Pejčinović Burić said that that was thanks to "good air connectivity," between the two countries.

This is the first visit by a Spanish minister to Croatia in the past 14 years. Borrell is expected to meet with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković.

More news on relations between Croatia and Spain can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Croatia and France Step Up Cooperation

ZAGREB, May 24, 2019 - Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić and French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday in Paris, where Pejčinović Burić took part in the presentation of candidates for the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe, that Croatia and France had stepped up bilateral cooperation.

Pejčinović Burić was on a visit to Paris on May 22-23, where she held a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings.

She is running of the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe against her Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders.

The Parliamentary Assembly will proceed with the election of the next Secretary General during its June part-session.

The talks with Le Drian focused on the "year-long implementation of the action plan for the Strategic Partnership 2018-2021. The two ministers agreed the political dialogue had been stepped up and bilateral cooperation intensified, notably in the sectors of the economy, home affairs, culture, science and education," the Croatian foreign ministry said in a press release.

The ministers also talked about France's support to Croatia's entering the Schengen zone and the euro area, the ministry said, adding that special attention was attached to cooperation aimed at strengthening stability in Southeast Europe and EU prospects of Southeast European countries.

Pejčinović Burić also held talks with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay about UNESCO's strategic transformation and initiatives regarding education, artificial intelligence and biodiversity.

More news about relations between Croatia and France can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Croatia's EU Chairmanship in 2020 Opportunity to Promote Country

ZAGREB, May 11, 2019 - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić said on Friday that Croatia's chairmanship of the Council of the European Union would be a great opportunity to present and promote Croatia.

"Any large gathering, not just a political one, when someone comes to our country, is an opportunity to present ourselves," Minister Pejčinović Burić said at a round table discussion on the challenges of Croatia's chairing the European Union in 2020 for international positioning.

"In just over six months, we will have the opportunity, literally every day, sometimes in Zagreb, sometimes in Brussels, to communicate with a lot of people in different formats," she said at the round table, organised as part of a conference on the branding of Croatia.

She said that the activities of the Council of the EU are pretty much set and that the two large topics during Croatia's chairmanship will be Brexit and adopting the next seven-year multiannual financial framework, i.e. the European budget.

The issue of migration and security will also be very important, i.e. reforming the Dublin Agreement and the Schengen Zone, she said and added that Croatia will try to turn the focus during the remainder of that programme toward education, tourism, health and demographic revival.

She added that most of these activities will continue to be conducted in Brussels, but Zagreb will host about thirty events of the greatest importance, including EU ministerial meetings.

Croatia will also organise about 1,400 other events, one being a conference of civil society organisations with about 1,200 participants that will be held in Šibenik.

Events at the highest level, she said, will on the most part be held in Zagreb, because meetings at the highest level, if held anywhere but Zagreb, would cost twice as much, she claimed.

She recalled that Croatia plans to spend about 60 to 70 million euro during its chairmanship, while other member states spent between 50 and 130 million.

More news about Croatia and the European Union can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Croatia Opens Embassy in Azerbaijan

ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 - During her official visit to Azerbaijan on Monday, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić opened the Croatian embassy and a business forum in Baku, her ministry said in a statement.

The minister met with her host Elmar Mammadyarov and the two officials discussed current global and regional topics and cooperation in multilateral organisations, energy security, Brexit and preparations for Croatia's presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The embassy opened by Minister Pejčinović Burić is certain to contribute to the further strengthening of the two countries' relations, which are good and friendly, it was said.

Croatia supports Azerbaijan's negotiations with the EU aimed at concluding a comprehensive bilateral agreement on cooperation and strengthening of cooperation within the Eastern Partnership.

Minister Pejčinović Burić also met with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov.

They discussed ways to strengthen economic cooperation ahead of the second meeting of the joint commission for economic cooperation, as part of which a business forum would be held.

The Croatian minister also met with Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov and the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Samad Seyidov, with whom she discussed bilateral and multilateral topics of mutual interest, notably the further strengthening of parliamentary cooperation.

Pejčinović Burić also opened an Azerbaijani-Croatian business forum, which was organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and AzPromo and which brought together more than 80 business people. Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas reserves and has significant agricultural potential.

Attending the business forum were the companies Atir, Enigma Aviation Travel, GEO-TEO, IND-EKO, Končar, Podravka, Tehno Filter, Potestas, Telecor and Velox.

Trade between Croatia and Azerbaijan in 2018 amounted to 407 million dollars, an increase of 62% from 2017.

Croatian exports in 2018 totalled 980,000 dolars, an increase of 25%, while imports amounted to 406 million dollars, an increase of 62%.

Even though the increase is significant, trade is still far below the actual potential, the HGK vice-president for industry and energy, Tomislav Radoš, said. "Forums held so far show that business people are interested in closer cooperation in many areas, from the chemical industry to energy and agriculture, IT sector and infrastructure," he said at the forum.

More news about relations between Croatia and Azerbaijan can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Croatia Adopts EU Presidency Action Plan

ZAGREB, April 15, 2019 - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić on Monday unveiled a government action plan for the Croatian EU presidency which determines the content of the presidency, logistics, human resources and a schedule of important meetings.

"This is the biggest task state administration has ever had and therefore it requires a special approach and the activation of everyone, both in state administration and outside of it, such as professionals, representatives of civil society, the Croatian parliament and many others," Pejčinović Burić said at a cabinet meeting.

Croatia takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2020, and Pejčinović Burić said that the action plan was also a guide to the public on the significance and functions of the presidency.

"This is a good way to keep track of everything that is done. We have drawn from the experience of others. This is a major task for both large and small member states, those that do it for the first time and those that held the presidency before. It is important that we prepare the presidency well, and this is a good opportunity for Croatia to show that it is ready to implement all activities as a member state," the foreign minister said.

The National and University Library building will serve as the headquarters of the Croatian EU presidency where most formal activities and meetings will take place.

About 30 high-level events will take place in Croatia during its EU presidency, a summit of heads of state and government, 20 informal councils of ministers and conferences, and four major events that will be organised by the Croatian parliament.

Most of the activities will take place in Zagreb, but some will be organised outside the capital to promote other parts of the country, Pejčinović Burić said.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Ministry Rejects Claims about Dissuading Ambassadors from Going to Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 13, 2019 - The Foreign Ministry on Friday dismissed accusations by the leader of Croatian Jews that it had called foreign ambassadors to talk them out of attending a commemoration for the victims of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp held today by representatives of ethnic minorities and antifascists.

Earlier today, the head of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, accused "high level people" in the ministry of calling foreign ambassadors in Croatia to talk them out of attending the commemoration.

The state will commemorate the victims on Sunday. Separate commemorations have been held for the past four years as representatives of ethnic minorities and antifascists blame the government for tolerating the far right and the glorification of the Nazi-style Ustasha regime in WWII Croatia.

The ministry said it had invited several ambassadors to Sunday's commemoration but fully rejected claims that it had tried to dissuade them from attending the one held today. "We believe that, in any case, the victims of that as well as any other regime should be honoured," it told Hina.

Today's commemoration was attended by embassy representatives of Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Australia as well as by Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović.

The commemoration was organised by the SABA alliance of antifascist fighters and antifascists of Croatia, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the Serb National Council and the Kali Sara Croatian Roma Alliance.

Sunday's commemoration will be attended by top state officials.

More news about the Jasenovac commemorations can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Croatian Foreign Minister Shortlisted for CoE Secretary-General

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić has been short-listed for the position of secretary-general of the Council of Europe, the CoE said on Wednesday.

The other shortlisted candidate in the final round of the selection process is Belgium's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and minister of defence, Didier Reynders.

Apart from them, the other two candidates in the first round were former Lithuanian premier and lawmaker, Andrius Kubilius as well as a former Greek foreign minister and parliamentary deputy, Dora Bakoyannis.

The Committee of Ministers interviewed the four candidates separately in March, before deciding upon a final list of candidates that will be transmitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly will then proceed with the election of the next Secretary General, which is due to take place in June 2019. The mandate of the new Secretary General starts on 1 October 2019.

The current Secretary-General is Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian Prime Minister and parliament speaker.

Croatia chaired the CoE from May to November 2018.

More news about Marija Pejčinović Burić can be found in the Politics section.

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