Monday, 30 November 2020

Croatia Marks 20th Anniversary of Membership in WTO

ZAGREB, November 30, 2020 - Croatia today marks its 20th anniversary of membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which it joined on 30 November 2000 as the 140th member, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said on Monday.

Accession to the WTO was the foundation for the integration of Croatia's economy with the European and global market, the ministry said in a press release.

Croatia's WTO membership marked a period of further liberalisation, boosting exports and participation in world trade as a factor of development.

That was the first step towards European and regional economic integration and membership of the European Union, the ministry said.

Today the multilateral trade system is faced with many challenges and the current situation requires all WTO members to invest additional effort to find new ways to achieve a more stable trade environment based on regulations, the press release added.

Croatia is confident that the WTO can provide answers for today's key challenges and issues so that it can modernise and facilitate doing business in the 21st century, the ministry said.

Croatia is a strong and dedicated supporter of the multilateral system and sees the WTO as a necessary and valuable partner, it said.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Croatia: Territorial Claims in EU Unthinkable

ZAGREB, May 8, 2020 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Thursday commented on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Facebook post of a Great Hungary map which includes a part of Croatia, saying the two countries had excellent relations and that territorial claims were unthinkable in the EU.

"Generally, any territorial claims in the European Union are unthinkable as all states recognised each other," Grlić Radman said, adding that "the border between Hungary and Croatia has always been known."

"The existence of historical maps which can be bought in an antique store, and not sought in a closet, doesn't reflect reality and, in a way, they divert attention from real life topics, which is building a future together."

The minister was referring to Croatian President Zoran Milanovic's condemnation of Orban's post in which he said that "Closets in most European countries keep similar contents hidden", calling on young people not to share such posts on social media.

Grlić Radman said Croatia and Hungary had excellent relations, as evidenced by the protection of each other's minorities and tourism, adding that Hungary had been among the first to recognise Croatia and that more than 50 Hungarians were killed in the Homeland War.

Orban has been extending best wishes to Hungarian students ahead of school leaving exams for several days now on his Facebook page and on Wednesday, before a history exam, he published a historical map of Hungary that includes portions of Croatian territory.

This map is frequently used in Hungary's popular culture, notably at rallies of the far right, and can also be seen on Hungarian cars during the summer in Croatia.

The map refers to the Kingdom of Hungary before the signing of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, whereby Hungarians lost about two thirds of their territory. For that reason, they consider the peace treaty a national tragedy.

Orban posted the map in the past as well and during a previous term in office he declared June 4, the anniversary of the treaty, a day of national unity, according to Reuters.

His latest Facebook post, shared almost 1,000 times, has been criticised by many inhabitants of Romania as the Great Hungary map includes a portion of its territory too.

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

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Zagreb Summit to Confirm European Perspective of Western Balkan Countries

ZAGREB, May 5, 2020 - The European perspective, the commitment of the Western Balkan countries to the European Union and cooperation in the coronavirus crisis are the key elements of a declaration that will be adopted at the central event of the Croatian EU presidency in Zagreb on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday.

On the initiative of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the summit of the 27 EU member states and the six Western Balkan countries, scheduled for May 6, will be held online in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Cooperation in dealing with the pandemic, giving the Western Balkan countries the European perspective and these countries' commitment to European values" are the key elements of the Zagreb Declaration, Grlić Radman told the press outside the government offices.

He recalled that North Macedonia and Albania had been given the green light on their path to EU membership which he said was "a great Croatian success".

Zagreb will again host a summit on the European perspective of Southeast Europe, just as it did 20 years ago when Croatia was not yet a member of the EU. The next summit was held in Thessaloniki in 2003 and the last one took place two years ago in Sofia.

The Croatian EU Presidency has proposed that summits on European integration be held every two years, Grlić Radman said.

"Not all EU members are equally interested in enlargement. There is still talk of what the future will bring with new members, but Croatia has shown the initiative in this regard," he said.

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

Friday, 24 April 2020

COVID-19 Epidemic Points to Importance of Multilateralism

ZAGREB, April 24, 2020 - Croatia is a strong advocate of multilateralism whose importance has been confirmed during the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said on Friday on International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, marked April 24.

The UN General Assembly decided in December 2018 to declare 24 April as the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

Croatia joined the Alliance for Multilateralism in 2019 which was launched by Germany and France.

"There are numerous issues and challenges that countries around the world need to approach jointly, like climate change, sustainable development, geo-political tensions, international terrorism, hybrid threats and the like," the ministry said in a press release.

"The current COVID-19 epidemic undoubtedly points out the importance of jointly facing an exceptional complex phenomenon through multalateralism and diplomatic efforts," the ministry said in its press release.

Official Zagreb considers that it is necessary to work together on advancing mechanisms in international organisations particularly the United Nations, in an effort to improve their efficiency and to secure collective health, well-being, security and development.

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

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

About 100 Croatians Returning from Tyrol

ZAGREB, April 8, 2020 - Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Wednesday announced that about 100 more Croatian citizens are returning home on Thursday from Tyrol, Austria.

"Tomorrow evening we expect the continuation of repatriation and the arrival of four busses with about 90 to 100 Croatian citizens from Tyrol," Grlić Radman said.

He said that they were mostly seasonal workers "who in the midst of the pandemic have been left without jobs as well as all those who stayed after the winter season ended." Tyrol has closed all ski resorts and hotels in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Grlić Radman added that Croatia's diplomatic and consular network is working "committedly, thoroughly and responsibly on individual repatriations because there are Croatian citizens virtually throughout the world."

"Here I am mostly referring to Australia, India, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand."

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Croats Repatriated from Austria, Italy

ZAGREB, April 6, 2020 - On Sunday evening, 111 Croatian nationals were repatriated from Tyrol, Austria as well as 22 from Ancona, Italy, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The Croats returned from Tyrol, which is quarantined, in six buses and four cars to the Bregana border crossing, where they were checked by epidemiologists and instructed to self-isolate.

The Foreign Ministry thanked the Austrian authorities for approving the repatriation and said it would continue to work on the repatriation of Croatian nationals who happened to be abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Jadrolinija catamaran docked in the Zadar port with 36 passengers, including 22 Croats, where epidemiologists took swabs, measured their temperature and instructed them to self-isolate for 14 days.

The other passengers were 11 Montenegrin citizens, one Bosnian, one Italian and one French citizen. The Italian and French citizens will stay in Zadar County while the others will be escorted to the border by police.

The repatriation from Ancona was organised by the Croatian government.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

148 Croatian Nationals Repatriated by Air from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden

ZAGREB, April 5, 2020 - A total of 148 Croatian nationals were flown back to the homeland from several European countries on Saturday, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said in a press release on late Saturday evening.

A total of 155 passengers consisting of the 148 Croatians and a few citizens of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, arrived in Zagreb on Saturday evening aboard special Croatia Airlines flights from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sweden where they were stuck during the outbreak of the coronavirus infection.

Upon their arrival at Franjo Tudjman Airport, the passengers were examined by infectiologists.

All those 148 citizens are required to self-isolate in the next 14 days.

On Sunday, 37 Croatian nationals will arrive by ship from Ancona to Zadar. The Croatian government said on Friday it had ensured the repatriation of Croatian nationals from Ancona by catamaran and departure from the Italian seaport is planned at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Jelena vessel is expected to arrive in Zadar at 6.30 p.m. that day.

Also, a group of Croatians, who are still in the Austrian region of Tyrol which is on lockdown, will be transported back to Croatia on buses.

Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Saturday that it was the government's obligation under the constitution to ensure repatriation of Croatian nationals.

He said on Saturday morning that a total of 893 Croatians had been repatriated since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic and several hundred were due to return this weekend,

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

893 Croatians Repatriated to Date, Hundreds to Return This Weekend

ZAGREB, April 4, 2020 - A total of 893 Croatians have been repatriated since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic and several hundred are due to return this weekend, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Saturday.

A total of 155 passengers, mostly Croatians as well as several citizens of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, are arriving in Zagreb on Saturday evening aboard special Croatia Airlines flights from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sweden, he said.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has sent protective masks and gloves for the passengers, who will need to observe social distancing rules. Upon arrival at the airport, they will be examined by doctors and will be ordered into quarantine or self-isolation if necessary, the minister said, noting that it was the government's obligation under the constitution to ensure repatriation of Croatian nationals.

On Sunday, 37 Croatians are due to arrive in Zadar by catamaran from Ancona and more than a hundred are expected to arrive in several buses from Tyrol.

Grlić Radman said that the governments of Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Italy had helped the Croatian authorities with previous repatriations. "This situation has shown how solidary we can be and how much we can do together. When you act alone, you cannot do much but you need to work in cooperation with others."

A total of 893 Croatians have been repatriated to date, including 564 from third countries such as India, the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Morocco and Peru. Last week, 13 Croatians returned by bus from Tyrol, and as many arrived in a six-car convoy last night, the minister said.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Croatia Supports Albania's European Journey

ZAGREB, March 2, 2020 - Croatia supports Albania's European journey and wants the Zagreb Summit during its European Union presidency to become a watershed in EU-Western Balkan relations, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday.

The main topic of our talks is Albania's European journey, he told reporters in Tirana, where he met with Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj.

With today's visit, we wish to show "Croatia's support on that journey," Grlić Radman said, adding that Zagreb was pushing for opening the accession negotiations without delay.

Croatia wants the negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia to be opened during its presidency of the Council of the EU and an "important contribution" of Croatia to that goal will be the Council's summit with Western Balkan states in Zagreb on May 6-7, he added.

Grlić Radman recalled that the summit would take place 20 years after the Zagreb Summit which opened Croatia's European prospects, saying he expected a similar watershed for Albania and North Macedonia.

"We want our Zagreb Summit to become a watershed in the relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans," he said.

According to an announcement by the Croatian Foreign Ministry, Grlić Radman is also to meet with Albanian President Ilir Meta and then go to Skopje, where he will give the same messages of support at a meeting with North Macedonia President Stevo Pendarovski and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.

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

Monday, 24 February 2020

Croatia: EU Has to Show It Is Committed to Enlargement

ZAGREB, February 24, 2020 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday in Greece that the EU had to show its unequivocal commitment to the European future of Southeast Europe, expressing his belief that the Zagreb summit in May will serve as a "a pivotal point for positive changes."

"The European Union has to send a clear signal that we remain committed to the European future of Southeast Europe," Grlić Radman said on the margins of a high-level day-long conference on the European prospects of the Western Balkans "From Thessaloniki to Zagreb," which was held in that Greek coastal city.

Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, which is currently holding the presidency of the EU, will host the EU-Western Balkans summit in early May. The first gathering of a similar format, called the EU-Western Balkans Summit, was held 21 June 2003 in Thessaloniki.

Grlić Radman, recalled that Croatia had applied for membership to the Union in 2003 during the Greece presidency of the Council of the EU and thanked Greece for its "lasting and strong support to European enlargement."

The Croatian minister believes that the summit in Zagreb in May will "serve as a pivotal point for positive change and decision-making in the enlargement policy," and hopes that accession negotiations will be opened for North Macedonia and Albania which were blocked in October.

He described the new methodology proposed by the European Commission announced early February as a "good and positive step," and added that Croatia will continue to advocate a "credible and efficient policy of enlargement based on merits and fulfilment of all criteria."

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

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