Sunday, 15 May 2022

Parliamentary Speaker Visits Istria Sausage Festival, Comments on Current Topics

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Sunday visited an international sausage festival taking place in Sveti Petar u Šumi, describing it as an important event bringing together domestic enterprises and reflecting the synergy between the state, local government and the producers.

Devised as an event promoting the making and sale of traditional Croatian charcuterie products, the festival at Sveti Petar u Šumi sets an example of how to use the opportunities provided by EU membership and is proof that local government can be a successful partner to private businesses, said Jandroković.

"Istria is well known for its olive oil, wine and the restaurant and tourism industry, and the sausage festival is a new brand for the region which in many ways leads the way and sets an example, not only to other Croatian regions but to regions in other parts of Europe," Jandroković said.

On Milanović, abortion law

Answering reporters' questions, he declined to comment on President Zoran Milanović's proposal to make Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO conditional on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law, saying that he found the sausage festival more important "than anything Milanović has to say on any topic."

Asked if the Constitution should be amended to state that the right to abortion is a constitutional right, which is a proposal to be put forward by opposition parties, Jandroković said that it was a topic causing deep divisions in Croatian society.

We don't need topics that cause divisions 

"Considering the current situation, the deep global crisis, the Russian aggression on Ukraine and serious announcements of a global recession, we do not need topics that cause divisions in society, we need to work on mutual respect, tolerance and diversity," said Jandroković.

He went on to say that one should put an end to discussions about the topic because "there is a law which is in line with the Constitution, and which, when compared to the laws of other EU countries, is somewhere in the middle, neither too liberal nor too restrictive."

It is not wise to try to score political points on this topic, which is what some political parties are doing, he added.

Commenting on announcements that Slovenia would make Croatia's entry to the Schengen area of passport-free travel conditional on the implementation of the border arbitration ruling, Jandroković said Croatia and Slovenia were so much oriented towards one another that neither country would benefit from any disputes.

"... I hope we will continue in the spirit of good neighbourly relations, taking care of our common interests. The present times are difficult, one needs to have friends, allies and partners instead of opening topics that divide us," he said.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle and politics sections.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Grlić Radman Says Life of Croatian National Taken Prisoner by Russians Is Priority

ZAGREB, 14 May 2022 - The life of the Croatian national who has been taken prisoner by Russian forces is our priority, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

"Yes, I am optimistic, especially after we have seen the pictures," the minister told Nova TV, which broadcast footage of a conversation between a Republika Srpska Television reporter and the Croatian national.

"Croatia still has an embassy in Moscow and is invoking conventions, assistance under international law and bilateral relations, and it expects cooperation," Grlić Radman said and added: "The life of the Croatian national is our priority."

The Croatian national said in the footage that he was being treated well in Russian prison. He advised Croats wishing to fight for Ukraine to first check where they were going.

Grlić Radman will be in Berlin this weekend for an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers. He said that on that occasion he would express Croatia's support for the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

The Croatian government disagrees on this matter with President Zoran Milanović who wants to make the two countries' NATO entry conditional on the reform of electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rejecting media reports that Croatia was disunited abroad, Grlić Radman said: "We speak about our country abroad in such a way that we protect the Croatian institutions."

Speaking of relations with the new government in Slovenia, he estimated that it would not block Croatia's accession to the Schengen passport-free travel area. "I don't believe in that. The word blockade appeared in the media."

Slovenia's Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that rules defining Schengen accession should include the implementation of the arbitration ruling on the border between Slovenia and Croatia.

"I am sure that my Slovenian counterpart will support Croatia's accession because it is in Slovenia's interests, and I am confident that it will be in a European spirit," Grlić Radman said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Foreign Ministry Says Ambassador Will Obey It As To NATO Entry Of Finland, Sweden

ZAGREB, 12 May 2022 - The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Croatia's ambassador to NATO would obey its instructions in deciding on the admission of Finland and Sweden.

The ministry issued a statement after Minister Gordan Grlić Radman earlier today did not answer explicitly when asked by the press if the ambassador must obey the president or the ministry.

President Zoran Milanović wants Croatia to make the two countries' NATO accession conditional on changing the electoral law in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the equality of Croats. Yesterday he said he would order Croatian Ambassador to NATO Mario Nobilo to veto enlargement if his condition was not met.

The government, on the other hand, supports the accession of Finland and Sweden unconditionally.

The permanent representative to NATO receives his instructions from the ministry, which is the usual procedure and will be so in this case also, the ministry said, adding that in the case of the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden, Nobilo will act in line with the ministry's instructions.

"He is in the service of protecting national interests, which are clear in this case. By enlarging NATO, we are strengthening our own security," the statement said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Milanović Says He Will Veto Finland's Admission to NATO

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he will veto NATO's invitation to Finland to join the alliance.

"In my capacity as the head of state representing Croatia at the NATO summit, I will veto the invitation, if it is extended at that level," Milanović told the press in Vukovar.

NATO is holding a summit in Madrid later this month.

If the invitation is sent through lower levels, he said he was not sure he would be able to make the Croatian ambassador accept his position and veto the invitation.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said in his channel in the Telegram messenger on Monday that Milanović risked Kyiv's retaliation over his views and messages about Russia and Ukraine.

In reference to Medvedev's statement, Milanović said he did not want to "bite that hook", insisting he was not taking Russia's side.

"The Russians are playing their game. They are the aggressor in this war, and we have our own clique  working actively against the interests of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took the oath to protect them, too, and I will die a political death for them, if necessary," said Milanović

Milanović added that he was not afraid either of Russia or of Ukraine, and claimed that he was on the Croatian side and was fighting "for the Croatian state and nation."

"We are being treated like fools and a third-class nation," he said, accusing Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of supporting all that "like a scoundrel".

Milanović reiterated his accusations against the Plenković government, claiming that it was pursuing "a treacherous policy" towards the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Plenković Accuses Milanović, Bridge of Hypocritical Policy Towards Bosnia Croats

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday evening that President Zoran Milanović and his "supporters" from the Bridge party were pursuing a hypocritical policy aimed at doing harm to the government and to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Milanović's proposal that members of the Croatian parliament should vote against the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO was perfidious.

"He (Milanović) has not said that he will block their accession. He has disseminated a perfidious, even worse claim. It was him who said that he would call MPs traitors and he insisted that the Parliament should block (their accession)," Plenković said explaining "the perfidious situation" created by Milanović.

The PM elaborated that this political game was aimed at destabilising Croatia's institutions, the government, and doing harm to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also noted that as far as he could see, only Milanović was against Sweden's and Finland's membership of the alliance, while nobody else in NATO supported such idea.

"Such attitude against NATO's expansion is a pro-Russian stance. He is the only one who advocates that. Only those who advocate pro-Russian views can be satisfied with such attitude," Plenković said, recalling Milanović's criticism of Ukraine.

Plenković noted that Milanović's pro-Russian position does harm to Croatia in international circles and also to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As for the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said that the election system in that country was bad not only for the Croats but also for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia's government believes that the election law must be amended, he added.

The government works on that consistently, it holds talks with the Bosniaks, the Croats and partners in the international community on that topic, Plenković added.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Milanović: Anyone Voting for NATO Expansion Without Reforms in BiH is a Traitor

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Sunday said that any member of the Croatian parliament who votes for Finland and Sweden joining NATO prior to the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina being amended is a traitor.

Milanović has already said on several occasions that he is opposed to Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic Alliance if the election law in BiH is not amended as it enables the more numerous Bosniaks to outvote the Croats in that neighbouring country.

Speaking in Varaždin where he attended a celebration of International Workers' Day, Milanović reiterated that Croatia has a "historic opportunity" to fight for BiH Croats, which is also in "Croatia's interest and not just a wild wish."

"I will label anyone who votes otherwise (for Sweden's and Finland's accession to NATO) a traitor. And I will label anyone who drinks coffee with them a traitor. There's no other way," said Milanović.

"If I were to speak sleep-inducingly as (PM Andrej) Plenković does... then no one would listen to me. This way, I am taking on the burden of being awful, of people hating me, throwing eggs at me, booing me because I am fighting for a just cause. That is my duty. I am the president and supreme commander," he added.

Rafale jets are attractive but useless

Milanović also spoke about the purchase of 12 Rafale multipurpose fighter jets from France, underscoring that they were overpaid and useless, and that France has not advocated changes to the election law in BiH.

"Where if France's assistance regarding BiH? How much needs to be paid, ten billion euros? Is a billion and a half not enough?" asked Milanović.

He believes that it would have been better for Croatia to have bought a hundred drones and strengthened its air defence. But, he said, Plenković decided personally to buy the jets that are unnecessary for Croatia and "useless" in war but good "for showing."

"What use do we have of 12 Rafales with very little equipment and very few missiles? Do you see how short a jet's lifespan is in a war if they aren't the best?" he said.

He added that Hungary, with ten to twelve interceptors, did not manage to detect a Soviet-produced drone that fell in a Zagreb suburb in March.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

FM Says Croatia Supports NATO Membership Of Finland, Sweden

ZAGREB, 28 April 2022 - Croatia supports Finland's and Sweden's potential NATO membership, which would strengthen Croatia's security and defence, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Thursday.

"We feel that the NATO membership of Finland and Sweden will only strengthen our security and our defence," he told the press at Zagreb airport after talks with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, adding that all NATO member states have the same stand on that.

Grlić Radman said that his Finnish counterpart called him two days ago and his Swedish counterpart yesterday, and that he told them he supported "their future application as an important contribution to transatlantic security."

Croatian President Zoran Milanović has said that the Croatian parliament should not ratify the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden until the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina is changed so that the more numerous Bosniaks do not elect the Croatian member of the Presidency and delegates to the House of Peoples.

According to him, Croatia must use this "historic" chance to fight for BiH Croats' rights and also solve a security issue.

Grlić Radman said today that by joining NATO, Croatia agreed to the open-door policy which envisaged that all countries that met the standards could join if they wanted to.

Szijjarto said Finland and Sweden had not yet applied for membership, but that Hungary would have a positive view if they did.

The two ministers discussed the situation in BiH, with Szijjarto saying that Hungary supported Croatia's position that the Presidency's Croat member must be elected by Croats.

He said that for BiH's stability, it was necessary to respect the will of all three constituent peoples and that Hungary did not support the political campaign and sanctions against the Presidency's Serb member Milorad Dodik.

Grlić Radman said national minorities were a strong link in Hungarian-Croatian relations and that the model of the protection of their rights in the two countries was exemplary.

Speaking of the energy situation in the wake of Russia's aggression on Ukraine, Szijjarto said energy supply was not a philosophical but a physical issue and that Hungary would pay Russian gas so that it reached Hungary.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Milanović: Finland, Sweden Can't Join NATO Before Bosnia Election Law Changed

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that Finland and Sweden could not join NATO before the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina was changed.

The Croatian parliament "must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO" until that law is changed, he told the press. The accession of Finland and Sweden can be discussed, but it is "a very dangerous adventure," he added.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, next month the two countries will state their wish to join NATO, their media reported yesterday.

Milanović said that formally he could not decide on his own on their accession to NATO but called it "very dangerous charlatanism."

"As far as I'm concerned, let them join NATO... but until the issue of the election law in BiH is solved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans, if they can and want to, force (Bosniak officials) to change the election law in the next six months and give Croats their fundamental rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO."

Milanović said "we are in a terrible situation" because Bulgaria and Romania cannot join Schengen, North Macedonia and Albania cannot begin EU accession negotiations and Kosovo has not been recognised, while Finland "can join NATO overnight."

We are only asking that Finland and Sweden "tell the Americans to solve this," he said. "For me, that's a vital national interest of the Croatian state, nation and people, that BiH be a functioning state."

Milanović said he raised this issue with his French and German counterparts, but that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, due to his function, had a lot more room for that. "But he is neglecting that consciously and cowardly."

Asked if Croats in BiH should boycott general elections in October unless the election law was changed, Milanović said he did not know at the moment. "It seems to me the feeling among Croats in BiH is that they shouldn't boycott so as not to bring into question local government."

Commenting on the victory of manager Robert Golob and his party in Sunday's parliamentary election in Slovenia, he said Slovenia had been "left-liberal" for the past 30 years.

Croatia-Slovenia relations have been "really good" in the past two years, he said, adding that this was due also to Prime Minister Janeza Janša, who was defeated in Sunday's vote.

"We have seen that Croatia-Slovenia relations have been more stable when Janša was in power, but they were not hostile when the left was in power either."

Tanja Fajon, whom Slovenian media say might be the new foreign minister, was in the past against Croatia's accession to Schengen.

"If they want to prevent Croatia's Schengen entry, okay. Croatia won't go down because of that. They will cause damage to themselves," said Milanović.

He said Croatia was ready for Schengen already in 2015, but added that it was "a political decision and torture." He also criticised the fact that Bulgaria and Romania have not yet entered Schengen, despite being in the EU since 2007.

"Slovenia will, if it looks after its interests, ask that Croatia join Schengen. If not, if will have to hire another 20,000 police officers," said Milanović, who is meeting with Slovenian President Borut Pahor later today.

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

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Grabar-Kitarović Declines Comment on Her Candidacy for NATO Secretary-General

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - Former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Tuesday would not give an answer when asked if she saw herself as the next NATO Secretary-General, saying the appointment should be based on qualifications and not on sex.

The moderator of a panel discussion at the US-Croatia Forum focusing on the representation of women in the security and economy sectors asked the former president if time had come for NATO to have a woman secretary-general and if she saw herself in that role.

"The next NATO Secretary-General must be chosen exclusively based on their work, education, ethics, competence, experience and all the other aspects we insist on when selecting someone for a position," she said.

"You have nothing to add?" the moderator asked.

"Nothing to add. We can discuss the women's quota, but that is an entirely different matter," said the former president, who some say is a potential successor to current NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Grabar-Kitarović said earlier at the panel that NATO was the most women-friendly of all environments she had worked in, where she was treated "as a person, not as a woman."

She noted that it had been her experience so far that she had to use much more energy than her male colleagues to be taken seriously in the same posts, calling on media not to treat women in positions of power differently than their male colleagues and noting that her statements had on many occasions been taken out of context as well as that the media scene was often misogynistic and sexist.

When someone feels insulted on ethnic grounds, that is hate speech, but that is not the case when insults are based on a person's sex, she said.

"I'm far from being satisfied with the world we live in and am determined to work on a fairer society for all daughters, sisters and other women," she said, noting that education is the key.

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.

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