Saturday, 12 March 2022

Plenković to Meet With NATO Commander at Base Near Madrid on Wednesday

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will visit the NATO base near Madrid on Wednesday and meet with its commander in connection with aviation control, a government source told Hina on Saturday.

Plenković is going to Madrid for a bilateral meeting with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez, who visited Zagreb last October.

The Spanish military base at Torrejón de Ardoz, 20 kilometres northeast of Madrid, is used by NATO to monitor the skies of its southern member states, including Croatia.

Although the Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejón is tasked with identifying unknown flying objects, it did not report or react to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that entered Croatia's air space on Thursday night.

The UAV is a Soviet-era TU-141 which was launched from Ukraine and crashed in the Croatian capital after flying over Romania and Hungary, both NATO members.

A source at the Torrejón base, which is manned with staff from 17 NATO nations, including Croatia, said today that "everyone is gathering data" and that analysis would take a certain time.

In Madrid, Plenković will also meet with King Felipe VI and the Spanish parliament speaker.

For more on politics, visit TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Plenković: EU Was united, Quick and Efficient in Response to Russian Invasion

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - The European Union has demonstrated unity, speed and efficiency in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will continue to adopt sanctions against Moscow, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in interviews with two France24 programmes on Friday.

"The purpose of all three sanctions packages is to prevent Russia from carrying out this brutal aggression on Ukraine. The European Union once again demonstrated unity, our political position was quick, efficient and clear," Plenković told the Ici l'Europe programme, speaking in French.

He spoke of the consequences of the Russian invasion, which has entered its third week.

"First, it is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, with whom we stand in solidarity. Second, it has triggered a refugee crisis in Europe unprecedented since 1945, and third, energy prices have gone up," Plenković said, adding that the latter was the main subject of a two-day summit of EU heads of state or government in Versailles, which ended on Friday.

Europe's dependency on Russian gas is above 40 per cent, and the EU leaders are trying to change this "by increasing domestic production or by importing from other gas producing countries such as Norway, Azerbaijan, Libya or Algeria, or by importing liquefied natural gas by sea," Plenković said in the Talking Europe programme. He mentioned the construction of the LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, which provided Croatia with an alternative gas supply route.

The EU heads of state or government have sent "a strong political signal that we want to intensify relations with Ukraine in any way possible on its European path," the Croatian PM said.

However, the 27 EU member states have made it clear to Ukraine that it will not be able to join the EU under fast track.

Plenković said he had met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in December and signed a declaration on Ukraine's European perspective, stressing that he remained committed to this process.

Plenković said it was important that the EU was united in its condemnation of the Russian invasion. "After the statements by the Russian foreign minister we can conclude that we live in two different realities and that's why we will continue sending strong messages and adopting packages of restrictive measures to let Moscow know that what it is doing is not appropriate and that it should end it immediately," he said.

For more on politics, visit TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Energy Prices Will Have to be Capped Globally, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 11 March 2022 - The EU proved to be part of the solution in the COVID crisis and will have to react also in the new situation after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, by capping energy prices among other things, including globally to prevent speculation, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"After the Russian invasion, we have three tragedies, the biggest is the one of the Ukrainian people, the second is the big refugee crisis, and the third is the enormous rise in energy prices," he said in Versailles after a two-day informal EU summit.

The EU proved to be very good in dealing with the pandemic crisis by establishing the special Next Generation EU instrument and through common vaccine procurement and distribution as well as job-retention, Plenković said.

"Now it's necessary to help our fellow citizens and the economy again. It's best to cap energy prices, but this must be a global action. It's not good if someone profits from speculative prices, that's immoral."

Energy and food cannot be treated as other commodities, Plenković said. "We have entered a new phase after Russia's attack on Ukraine in which energy and food will be our strategic resources and we should adapt to that."

He said the countries taking in the largest numbers of Ukrainian refugees would need financial aid as a huge refugee wave could be expected.

In just two weeks, over two million people from Ukraine have arrived in the EU, while about a million people came during the 2015 refugee crisis.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Plenković: It Has to be Established Who Launched the Drone and How it Reached Croatia

ZAGREB, 11 March 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday the most important thing was to establish who launched the drone which crashed in Zagreb last night and if it reached Croatia by accident or deliberately.

He informed the leaders of other EU member states at a summit in Versailles about the incident and said Croatia had experts for such situations.

"We will share with others the things they find out," he said at the end of the summit.

"They received this information with maximum seriousness. It's not usual for an aircraft that is 14 metres long and weighs six tonnes to fall on a capital city."

Asked if NATO tracked the drone and if Croatia was informed about it, Plenković said, "If someone had been notified, the reaction would have been different. Our planes would have taken off and reacted."

This was a totally unforeseen situation, he added.

A NATO spokesman told Hina the alliance's air defence tracked the drone's flight path.

The Russian-made drone arrived in Croatia from Hungary, and in Hungary from Romania. It was in Croatia's airspace for six or seven minutes before crashing in a residential area in Zagreb.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Plenković: Women Make Society More Progressive, Humane and Better

ZAGREB, 8 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković congratulated women on International Women's Day on Tuesday, thanking them for making Croatian society more progressive, humane and better, and in particular for nurturing family values.

"Achieving equality for women in society is our firm commitment. With the synergy of the measures for greater employability of women, advancing demographic measures and the resolute fight against all forms of discrimination and violence against women, we are resolute in creating a society of equal opportunities," Plenković said on his Twitter account.

Monday, 7 March 2022

PM: If You Are on Russia's List, You've Pursued a Good Policy

7 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday commented on a list of enemy countries released by Russia, which includes Croatia, and added that "if you're on that list, then you've pursued a good policy, you can be proud of that".

He said that 1.8 million people had fled Ukraine to date and that according to estimates, the number would be higher and higher.

Plenković reiterated that he supported Ukraine's EU path, adding that the method of accession required some time.

"I understand that political desire, Croatia will definitely be a voice of support," he said, expressing some doubt whether all of that was realistic "in such a short time."

He also pointed out that the stability of Southeast Europe, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, was in Croatia's interest.

"The most important thing is that a political agreement is reached between the constituent peoples on just changes to the electoral law which will stop the long-term practice of electoral engineering," he said.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leadership today also discussed the government decision on cushioning fuel price hikes.

"Our basic tasks will be to ensure energy supply, security, which has gained a new dimension, and we will try to reduce the impact on the citizens' standard of living," Plenković said, adding that the circumstances were such that they required intervention from the state.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Croatia Should Pay Attention to Gulf Countries, PM Says in Dubai

ZAGREB, 5 March 2022 - Croatia should "pay great attention" to the Gulf countries which are big investors, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Dubai on Saturday on a visit on the occasion of Expo 2022. 

"This part of the world, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, they are all countries we should pay great attention to," he said, adding that they invest a lot "thanks to their oil fields."

Plenković is visiting the UAE together with Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac. They will try to attract Arab investment at the Dubai-Croatia Business Forum scheduled for Sunday.

Plenković said it was a good opportunity to establish contacts with potential partners to increase trade. "I'm confident that it will return to the numbers we had before the COVID-19 pandemic, to about $95 million, as well as that the cooperation can be enhanced."

He said fast-growing economies such as the UAE, notably Dubai as "the centre of sustainable development, tourism and innovation" and Abu Dhabi, where 90% of the country's oil fields are, "have their role in the development of economic cooperation with Croatia."

Plenković met with Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE prime minister with whom he visited the Croatian pavilion at Expo 2022, while on Sunday he is due to meet with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Prime Minister Says Croatia Will Consistently Implement Sanctions Against Russia

ZAGREB, 3 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday said that his cabinet would make sure that the sanctions against Russia are carried out consistently by Croatia.

Also, the war in Ukraine is going to disrupt supply chains in agriculture because Ukraine is one of the major exporters of cereals and oilseeds to the European Union.

"The government is analyzing all the consequences of this situation, and will take all necessary measures accordingly so as to protect Croatian citizens and businesses and reduce the repercussions for everyday life," said the PM.

Next week, Plenković will attend an informal meeting of the European Council, which will focus on the aggression against Ukraine and on reinforcing various aspects of European sovereignty.

He recalled that Croatian Postal Bank (HPB) took over Sberbank Croatia and the government managed to ensure this transaction in a record short time.

"We have helped that sound bank to survive now as part of HPB and also to reassure its deposit holders and clients by this rapid response."

Furthermore, this transaction has increased HPB's share in the Croatian banking market to nearly 8%, and Plenković added that none of Sberbank subsidiaries in Europe had been liquidated.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Plenković: Aggression on Ukraine Resembles of What Happened to Croatia in 1991

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine represents the violation of all principles of international law and bears a resemblance of the aggression on Croatia in 1991, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday.

"Aggression of this type against Ukraine represents a denial of all values on which the international order is based, and is violation of all the principles of international law," Plenković said.

 He described Russia's aggression on Ukraine as brutal.

Commenting on the Ukrainian President's appeal, Plenković said that the situation resembled what happened to Croatia in 1991.

It is very similar, however, this invasion is of a much larger scale, said the Croatian PM.

This is a clash between democratic systems and the systems that do not change the authorities very often, he said.

Sanctions imposed on Russia without impact on Croatia

The leaders of the European Union on Thursday reached agreement on new sanctions on the Russian financial, energy and transport sectors.

Russian banks Sberbank and VTB  hold an interest in the Croatian Fortenova retail and food group, and Plenković said that he did not believe that this kind of the sanctions against the Russian banking system would produce a large impact on the ownership of Fortenova.

In general, Plenković does not think that Croatia's economy would suffer from big consequences of the sanctions on Russia.

There are discussions on cutting Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system as part of their sanctions against Moscow for invading Ukraine.

We are ready for the sanctions concerning SWIFT, just as most of the EU members are ready, Plenković said in Brussels.

However, media outlets speculate that Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Hungary oppose such sanction.

Concerning the restriction on the delivery of Russian gas supplies, Plenković said efforts were being made to procure gas supplies from Norway, Azerbaijan and Libya and to procure liquefied gas.

In the long run, a new network of gas supplies provision is being created, he said.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Plenković: Croatia Will Support Sanctions Against Russia, Help Ukraine

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Croatia will support the sanctions against Russia and is ready to provide Ukraine with humanitarian and technical assistance, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter on Thursday, calling on Russia to halt its military operations.

"We will support the sanctions package and are ready to provide humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine," the Croatian PM wrote, calling on Russia to immediately stop its military operations that put innocent people in danger.

Plenković met with Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych on Thursday morning, saying that "the Croatian government condemns in the strongest terms Russia's invasion and aggression on Ukraine."

"This is a direct attack on democracy, international law, and Ukraine's sovereignty," he added.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs tweeted that it was following the situation in Ukraine and exchanging information with other countries.

The Croatian Embassy in Ukraine is in contact with Croatian nationals and stands at their service for any consular and other assistance, the Ministry said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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