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.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Croatian Foreign Minister Visits Japan

ZAGREB, March 25, 2019) - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić and her Japanese host Taro Kono, confirmed in Tokyo on Monday good and friendly relations between Croatia and Japan and discussed topical global and regional issues as well as cooperation within multilateral organisations, the Croatian foreign ministry said in a press release.

During the second part of his official visit to Japan, Pejčinović Burić held a number of bilateral meetings with representatives of Japanese institutions.

In the first part of her visit, Pejčinović Burić took part in a conference of the World Assembly for Women, held in Tokyo on March 22-24. Pejčinović Burić invited minister Kono to a return visit to Croatia.

The minister also met with representatives of the Japanese-Croatian parliamentary groups of friendship, led by Secretary General Nobu Kishi as well as with the leadership of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is a Japanese government-related organisation that promotes mutually beneficial trade and investment.

The meeting also focused on the support to the two countries' business people so as to advance bilateral trade and attract investments.

They also discussed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and Japan, the biggest trade agreement ever negotiated by the EU that will create an open trade zone covering over 600 million people. The agreement entered into force on Friday, 1 February 2019.

Pejčinović Burić and the Japanse officials also talked about an agreement between Japan and Croatia aimed at eliminating of double taxation.

The Croatian minister also talked with the Yazaki management board president and the leadership of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), the press release said.

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

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Foreign Minister Attends World Assembly for Women Conference in Japan

ZAGREB, March 24, 2019 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Marija Pejčinović Burić, took part in a conference of the World Assembly for Women, held in Tokyo on March 22-24, as part of her working visit to Japan, her ministry said.

The main theme of this year's conference of the World Assembly for Women was diversity.

The purpose of the initiative is to connect women that head states, governments or ministries or hold leading positions in the corporate sector in the context of the empowerment of women in society.

The main guest at the event was Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2014, and the conference was also addressed by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Pejčinović Burić attended two panel discussions, the closing one and a panel discussion on the importance of the promotion of diversity in the media.

The Croatian minister also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to whom she conveyed an invitation by Croatian PM Andrej Plenković to visit Croatia.

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

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Relations Between Croatia and Romania Improving, Foreign Ministers Say

ZAGREB, March 16, 2019 - Relations between Croatia and Romania are improving, as shown by the increasingly frequent high level meetings, and last year trade jumped by about 30%, the foreign ministers of the two countries said in Bucharest on Friday.

"Croatia and Romania have no outstanding issues. They have very successful cooperation in many areas within the EU and NATO and on the bilateral front. We have the same or similar stances on many issues," Marija Pejčinović Burić of Croatia said after talks with her Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu.

The relations have been intensifying recently, including nine high level visits on both sides in the last two years, she added.

We welcome the fact that in 2018 bilateral trade increased by about 33%, which proves the potential for advancing economic cooperation is high, said Melescanu.

Pejčinović Burić said the two-digit trade rise reflected the big interest of the business communities in both countries.

Croatia and Romania, both EU and NATO members, have the same or similar positions on all the topics on the two organisations' agendas, and share common goals, such as entering the Schengen and euro areas, supporting the EU's cohesion policy and enlargement to Southeast Europe, the Three Seas Initiative and the EU's Danube Region Strategy.

Both countries are satisfied with the protection of the respective ethnic minorities.

Pejčinović Burić and Melescanu condemned the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand and extended condolences and solidarity with the people of that country.

Pejčinović Burić also met with Romania's President Klaus Iohannis and Senate President Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

More news on Croatia and Romania can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Croatia and Germany Sign Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement

ZAGREB, March 7, 2019 - Croatia and Germany signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement in Berlin on Thursday, which they described as a milestone in relations between the two countries.

Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas signed a joint statement on increasing government cooperation and an action plan aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation and relations at EU level.

"I think we can describe the signing of these documents as a milestone in our bilateral relations which are developing well in any case and which, based on this action plan, will be further intensified," said Maas.

According to Germany's FM, the action plan that defines the expansion of cooperation between the two governments, covers a "comprehensive range of topics," like digitisation, a dual education system, science and research, climate protection, and security.

Pejčinović Burić said that Germany was one of Croatia's most important trading partners and that the agreement on expanding cooperation, which was reached in August by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, would additionally strengthen mutual relations.

She added that the action plan provided for strengthening cooperation in a dozen areas, from common interest to foreign and European policy to the economy, education, culture, sport and parliamentary cooperation.

"I believe that in two years’ time we will analyse how the plan is developing and will extend it to other areas of cooperation," Pejčinović Burić said before meeting with Maas.

"Signing this agreement is an important step that we will make as part of the existing partnership in the EU and NATO and our common interest for Southeast Europe, which is essential for stability and security in that region and for Europe as a whole. We believe that the signing of this agreement will specifically raise the level of contacts relating to the agreed topics and concrete projects that will develop from those contacts," Pejčinović Burić said.

The talks focused on the future of the European Union, particularly with regard to EU enlargement and Brexit.

Maas recalled that next year Croatia and Germany would chair the Council of the European Union one after the other.

"We wish to use this fact at the European level for a constructive policy and I am already looking forward to joint cooperation between Germany and Croatia," Maas said.

He underscored that the two main themes of the German EU presidency would be unity and strength.

"I think that these are important issues for the European Union's future and am looking forward to cooperation with Croatia," he added.

Maas said that as a "regional power" Croatia brings a rich experience to relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans.

"The Western Balkans is a strategically key region for the EU. What we need in our neighbourhood is stability, democracy, economic growth and that's why we cannot turn our backs on the Western Balkans. That would be a big mistake," he said.

Pejčinović Burić said that it was important to intensify cooperation between Germany and Croatia because, among other things, both countries would chair the EU next year.

"We will discuss countries in Southeast Europe and their pathway and progress toward EU membership, of course, when conditions for that have been met," she said.

Maas pointed out the good relations between citizens in the two countries. "There are 370,000 Croatian citizens living in Germany and last year a record number of German tourists visited Croatia. For me that is an example of the Europe that we live for and that we feel like neighbours," he concluded.

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

Saturday, 9 February 2019

After 20 Years, Croatian Foreign Minister Visits Morocco

ZAGREB, February 9, 2019 - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić is currently on an official visit to Morocco, the first visit of a Croatian foreign minister in twenty years, the ministry said in a press release on Friday evening.

Pejčinović Burić met with Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives Habib El Malki and Minister for National Defence Administration Abdellatif Loudiyi.

They discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on current global and regional issues, as well as a common response to challenges such as terrorism, crime and illegal migration.

Three documents were signed: a memorandum of understanding on comprehensive long-term partnership between Croatia and Morocco, a memorandum of understanding on healthcare, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in tourism.

Also signed was a framework intergovernmental agreement on defence cooperation, the press release said.

More news on the activities of the Foreign Ministry can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Croatia Supports Juan Guaido as Venezuela's Interim President

ZAGREB, February 5, 2019 - Croatia supports Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president so that, in that capacity, he can carry out presidential elections as part of a solution to the crisis in the country, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry expressed concern about the latest developments in Venezuela and the further deepening of the political, economic and humanitarian crisis, strongly condemning the violations of human rights and the rule of law as well as the violence which resulted in deaths and injuries of citizens and numerous arrests.

Croatia supports the democratically elected legitimate bodies of Venezuela, the National Assembly and its president, in carrying out, in his capacity as interim president, free, fair and democratic presidential elections and ensuring the legitimacy of institutions, the ministry said.

In this respect, Croatia has joined other European Union member states in a joint statement, the ministry said.

We underline the importance of finding a peaceful and democratic solution as part of a viable political process which should include the holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections in line with international democratic standards and Venezuela's constitution, the ministry said.

Madrid, London, Paris, Berlin and several other European capitals recognised Guaido today as Venezuela's interim president after Nicolas Maduro refused to give in to an ultimatum and call presidential elections. The European Union is divided over this, with some countries, such as Italy and Greece, deciding to wait to see how the situation develops before making a decision.

The Foreign Ministry said that Croatia, as part of efforts for overcoming the current crisis peacefully, supported the establishment of an International Contact Group on Venezuela which should help create conditions for a credible political process and the holding of elections.

We are working with partners in the EU to enable the provision of humanitarian aid which, due to a regime ban, cannot be delivered. In this context, Croatia is especially concerned about the large Croat community living in Venezuela, the ministry said.

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

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Fake News Used to Elect Candidates to European Parliament

ZAGREB, January 22, 2018 - The European Union's foreign ministers on Monday discussed an action plan to tackle fake news in the context of perceiving fake news as a challenge in the run-up to the forthcoming European Parliament elections, and Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić said that there were some in Croatia who resorted to fake news in a bid to win a seat in the European Parliament.

"In the context of preparations for countering fake news and in connection with the forthcoming EP elections, it is obvious that the election campaign has already been launched in Croatia and that there are some who use fake news in an attempt to win a seat in the European Parliament," Pejčinović Burić said in Brussels, answering questions from the press.

She also believes that the recent developments and debates in the Croatian parliament should be perceived in that context.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council focused its debate on the prevention of fake news and the influence of third countries on east and southeast Europe and on the EU's southern neighbours, as well as on the EU member-states.

The action plan outlined by the European Commission in December revolves around the exposure of citizens to large scale disinformation, including misleading or outright false information.

The Commission has engaged with all stakeholders to define a clear, comprehensive and broad-based action plan to tackle the spread and impact of online disinformation in Europe and ensure the protection of European values and democratic systems.

"The European Union has outlined an action plan to step up efforts to counter disinformation in Europe and beyond focusing on four key areas. This plan serves to build EU's capabilities and strengthen cooperation between member states by improving detection, having a coordinated response to threats, collaboration with online platforms and industry as well as raising awareness and empowering citizens," according to information on the EC's website.

The Croatian minister said that by March, the EU member-states are supposed to set up national contact points for the exchange of important information.

In the medium- and long-run it is essential to raise awareness of the existence of fake news and to enhance media culture and ways to interpret information and verify it, she added, calling for a broad struggle against this phenomenon.

More news on the elections for the European Parliament in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

No Conflict of Interest Proceedings Against Foreign Minister

ZAGREB, January 19, 2019 - The Conflict of Interest Commission decided on Friday that it would not launch proceedings against Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, thus rejecting a motion tabled by an association of war veterans from Slavonski Brod that accused Pejčinović Burić of being in a conflict of interest as the minister who used to provide Serbia's government with counselling in the accession negotiations with the EU from 2013 to 2016.

The Commission concluded that having been an adviser in the project aimed at helping Serbia to expedite its accession negotiations, Minister Pejčinović Burić did not create any interest in contravention of Croatia's interest.

The association filed the report against the minister insisting that Pejčinović Burić's counselling activities before her ministerial term and her current position in which she monitors the achievements of Serbia in meeting benchmarks within the EU membership talks amounted to a clash of interests.

Dismissing the association's request, the commission explains that the contents of the project in which Pejčinović Burić offered counselling services from 2013 to 2016 and the duties to monitor Serbia's progress in fulfilling the benchmarks differed completely.

Tatijana Vučetić of the Commission explained that being hired as an international expert by the European Commission following the advertised tender for counselling Serbia in a specific project, Pejčinović Burić did not pursue private interests that might have clashed with Croatia's interests.

More news on the conflict of interest issues in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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