Friday, 22 April 2022

President Pays Tribute to WW2 Jasenovac Camp Victims on Breakout Day

ZAGREB, 22 April (2022) - President Zoran Milanović on Friday held a separate commemoration at the Jasenovac concentration camp site on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of Jasenovac Breakout Day.

The breakout was made on the morning of 22 April 1945 by the last 600 prisoners and about 100 survived.

The Jasenovac Memorial Centre has documented the names and details of 83,145 people killed at Jasenovac where the Nazi-style Ustasha regime had run the camp for 1,337 days during the Second World War. Most of victims were ethnic Serbs (47.627), Roma (16.173) and Jews (13.116).

During his commemorative event held at 9 am Friday, Milanović laid flowers and pebbles in front of the centre's monument "A Stone Flower".

On Thursday, commenting on the planned separate commemoration, Milanović said that he would go there with his aides rather than with government officials, whom he accused of encouraging Ustasha-related outbursts and then pretending to be liberals.

Friday's commemorative ceremony, which is being organised by the Memorial Centre, will be attended by government officials and representatives of the Antifascist Alliance and the Serb and Roma minorities, while the Jewish community, dissatisfied with the authorities' treatment of the Ustasha salute and insignia, will again organise a separate commemoration a few days later.

Milanović said that he would join the Jewish community in its commemorative event on 28 April.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Milanović: Bosnia Can Be Civic Only Upon Joining EU, Croats Will Not Be Minority

ZAGREB, 8 April (2022) - Bosnia and Herzegovina can be a civic state only after joining the EU, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said in Mostar, BiH on Friday, adding that Croats in BiH will never become a minority.

"We want the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Union. Only then can it become a civic state. Until then it is regulated by (the) Dayton (peace agreement) and it was created in the blood of Croatian soldiers," he said at a ceremony marking 30 years of the establishment of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO).

Milanović said such statements from him were not seen as friendly in BiH. "I have no prejudices either against the Serbs, who were the aggressors, or against the Bosniaks."

The HVO, the Croatian Army and the Army of BiH were allies in the liberation of BiH, he said, wondering what happened for the Croatian side to be considered an enemy today.

Milanović called on present-day Bosniak political leaders to return the decoration which former Croatian president Franjo Tuđman bestowed on former BiH president Alija Izetbegović if they considered the HVO and Croatia criminal.

The role of the HVO was "fatefully significant" for the survival of BiH, he said, adding that Croats in BiH will preserve the role and status they have under the Dayton agreement. "As the least numerous people in BiH, Croats don't want to be a minority today. Croatianhood can't be eradicated from BiH."

Milanović criticised the outvoting of Croats in elections and said this was not done with representatives of national minorities in Croatia.

Croatian War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, who attended the ceremony as Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's envoy, said Croatian volunteers from BiH and the HVO played an important role in the liberation of Croatia and a crucial role in BiH's survival.

"There would have been no free and independent BiH had the HVO not been established at the start of the war," he said, adding that the Croatian government will continue to support Coats in BiH in the exercise of their political rights via changes to the election law and in defusing tensions and restoring the alliance between Croats and Bosniaks.

The fight for Croats in BiH continues by insisting on achieving equality, said Dragan Čović, president of the Croatian National Assembly, an umbrella organisation of Croat political parties in BiH. He called for the support of all Croatian institutions.

Before the ceremony, wreaths were laid for the HVO defenders killed in the war in BiH, including by Milanović and Medved.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

President Milanović Receives Gifted Students

21 March 2022 - On the occasion of International Day of Gifted Pupils, President Zoran Milanović on Monday met with representatives of the Rijeka-based Centre  for Gifted Children.

This year the centre from Rijeka is organising "Gifted Awareness Week" during which it will hold workshops for children and youth, lectures for teachers, expert associates and parents, it was said during the meeting.

The centre's representatives mentioned the problems related to the system of education for gifted children in Croatia.

"Croatia does not have a system to identify gifted children in kindergartens and schools nor a comprehensive system to care for gifted children at the state level," the centre's president, Jasna Arrigoni said. 

Parents spoke about experiences and problems they are faced with in the education system, adding that they hoped the new Education Act, which is currently being prepared, will clearly regulate working with gifted children.

The Centre is an association comprising teachers, school counsellors, psychologists, university professors, early childhood and preschool education student volunteers, teacher education and psychology student volunteers. It was established in 1997 to promote giftedness and raise awareness about gifted children who are exceptionally important for society's development.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Milanović: Drone Arrived From Ukraine, Was Not Directed Against Croatia

ZAGREB, 11 March (2022) - President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that an unmanned aerial vehicle's crash in Zagreb was a serious incident, and the assessment is that the incident was not directed against Croatia, and that it was likely that control had been lost over the drone that had probably come from Ukraine.

The unmanned aerial vehicle fell in the area of Jarun, and fortunately there were no human casualties, the president said at an extraordinary news conference.

An investigation is under way to establish how it could happen that a six-tonne aerial vehicle, the size of an aircraft, had not been detected why flying all the way from Ukraine to Zagreb, he said.

The assessments show that the incident was not directed against Croatia and that the aerial vehicle departed from Ukraine and flew over two NATO member states -- Romania and Hungary -- before entering Croatia's airspace.

How could it happen that an unsophisticated aerial vehicle had flown unnoticed nearly an hour in the airspace of NATO member states, the president wondered.

Military services have been included in the investigation. It seems now that the aerial vehicle had flown from Ukraine, fell in Zagreb when it ran out of fuel and control over it was lost, said the president.

Milanović convened the press conference after being briefed by the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Services and the directors of security and intelligence agencies. Milanović said that he had also spoken with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The president said that radars in Croatia had detected the object which was in the Croatian airspace for a brief period.

He also said that this was not the right time to call out anybody over the incident.

The president also did not find it necessary to convene the National Security Council which, he said, is not an operational agency.

He described the state of affairs in the national air defence system as unsatisfactory, however in such an extraordinary and unpredictable situation, Croatia depends on partners and members of NATO, and omissions were made there, he concluded.

Milanović commented that no international media outlets had reported about this incident.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

President Says He Did Not Request Refurbishment of Summer Villa

ZAGREB, 10 Feb 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday he had not requested the refurbishment of a presidential summer residence on the southern island of Hvar, as claimed by Defence Minister Mario Banožić, and would therefore demand a probe.

Following Defence Minister Mario Banožić's statement on Wednesday evening in which he called out Milanović for the refurbishment and investments in the state-owned villa on the island of Hvar, which cost several hundred thousand kuna, the President today denied the allegations that he had demanded the renovation of the building.

The President neither requested the renovation nor had he any knowledge of the refurbishment and investment, performed obviously by the Državne Nekretnine state property management company during Banožić's term as the State Assets Minister, the President's Office said in a press release.

Milanović demanded specifications of the costs of the refurbishment since there could be seen no signs of renovation or investment in the villa that would warrant such an amount.

The President wondered ironically whether during his term as the State Assets Minister, Banožić had got the villa refurbished at his own initiative in order to obtain the President's favour.

Đerek responds to Banožić's accusations

Maja Đerek, a former employee at the Državne Nekretnine company who was accused by Banožić of misappropriating funds for the refurbishment of the villa, counterclaimed on Thursday that it would be useful for Banožić to recall that it was the company's acting director Renata Sabo who was responsible for the management of the Kovač Vila.

Đerek said ironically that Banožić's personal "realtor" Sabo was the person responsible for the case.

Đerek said it was evident from the relevant documents that the refurbishment had been done on 21 May 2020 when Banožić served as the State Assets Minister and when her superior was Sabo.


Thursday, 11 November 2021

Jandroković: Milanović Is Supreme Commander but Also Supreme Liar

ZAGREB, 11 Nov, 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Thursday responded to criticism by President Zoran Milanović, saying that unlike Milanović, he did not want to use insults and lies and then said that apart from being Armed Forces' Supreme Commander, Milanović was also a supreme liar.

Addressing the press in Parliament House, Jandroković said that even though he had not intended to make any statements today, responding to Milanović "is a matter of dignity and honour after the insults he has hurled at me."

Responding to Milanović's accusation that he used his mobile phone during a recent meeting of the National Security Council and the Defence Council, Jandroković said that he did not do anything that was not allowed.

"I accidentally kept my mobile phone after a pause between the meetings of the Defence Council and the National Security Council. At the start of the National Security Council meeting, my mobile phone was indeed with me and after being warned, I took and left it in the same spot where it had been during the Defence Council meeting. No one considered it problematic because it happened at the very start of the meeting but I see that attempts are being made to exploit even such a situation to defame the other side," said Jandroković.

He also denied any disrespectful treatment of the Armed Forces' Chief-of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, underscoring that he could not reveal any details of the meeting and claiming that Milanović "was continually interrupting and patronising Hranj."

"Milanović described the situation in the army as being very difficult, which shocked me. I then asked Admiral Hranj what his opinion of Milanović's statement was but Milanović would not let him reply even though Hranj wanted to. Then he began interrupting me because I insisted on the Admiral's opinion. That led to a very unpleasant debate between Milanović and me, that's true," said Jandroković.

He can hurl insults at others, but I will retort

"There was no swearing but angry words were used. He is used to insulting others and some may tolerate it, but I get even, particularly during closed meetings," Jandroković said.

He added that it was evident from Hranj's statement that Milanović would not let him speak, saying that responded to all the questions. "After about five, six, seven minutes of that exchange between Milanović and me, Hranj was able to briefly say something and Milanović is indeed the last person who can accuse anyone of truculence," said Jandroković.

"The day before that, when I attended a meeting between the Prime Minister with the military commanders, he questioned my right as the parliament speaker and member of the Defence Council, to participate in that meeting. This is some sort of pathological obsession, I don't know why he is constantly trying to drag me through the mud with the most vulgar insults against me," said Jandroković.

"I will not respond in kind because apart from being the supreme commander he is also a supreme liar, there is no point in trying to compete with someone who insults everyone standing in their way," Jandroković added.

Jandroković also rejected allegations in the media that he is the person behind Defence Minister Mario Banožić and that he is the one instigating conflicts between Milanović and Banožić, claiming that the allegations "are ridiculous and untrue."

Asked whether former minister Gabrijela Žalac, who was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of embezzling money from the EU and Croatian budgets, would stay on the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Presidency and the party in general, Jandroković said that the HDZ was waiting for a court decision, after which party bodies would take a stand and make a decision.

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Friday, 5 November 2021

President Meets Chief of US National Guard Bureau

ZAGREB, 5 Nov 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Friday met with the Chief of the United States National Guard Bureau, General Daniel Hokanson.

"The meeting discussed the cooperation to date between the Croatian Armed Forces and the Minnesota National Guard, which was mutually assessed as very successful," the Office of the President said in a statement.

Support for the further strengthening and development of the current partnership was expressed at the meeting.

According to information on the National Guard website, Croatia and Minnesota have cooperated in the field of humanitarian and civil assistance missions for more than 25 years.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Milanović Criticises EU for Prolongations in Croatia's Accession to Schengen Area

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that Croatia's problem is that it is on the "external border of the Schengen Area, yet it isn't Schengen," he said, criticizing the EU for procrastination in allowing Croatia to join this passport-free area.

That is being prolonged yet Croatia is expected to act as if it is playing in the first four Series A or premiership league teams, Milanović said after meeting with his Maltese counterpart George Vella.

Apart from strengthening cooperation, the presidents discussed foreign policy topics including migration which has once again come to the fore with the Afghanistan crisis.

Milanović believes that Croatia is in an unfavorable situation due to its position.

"This puts us and our reputation in a bad situation because if the Croatian police don’t control the border then Croatia is unreliable and isn’t doing its job. If the Croatian police do their job and make mistakes at times, exceeding their authority, then it is something that Europe points its finger at Croatia. That’s not fair," said Milanović.

Milanović asked Malta to support Croatia, as the youngest EU member state, and its accession to the Schengen Area and criticized the Union for "procrastination and delay."

Romania and Bulgaria have been members of the EU since 2007 and are still waiting for a green light to access that European area without border controls.

Vella said that the migration issue is a huge challenge for the EU, however, he expects a consensus from all 27 members of the bloc.

Saying that his small country is full of migrants, the only solution is to proportionally distribute migrants and refugees among member states prepared to take them. 

We are trying to find countries - 20, 22- as many as possible willing to work together and try and implement a system of distribution (of migrants), said Vella.  

Milanović praised Malta for its treatment of the migration issue.

"A small nation such as Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean – with a special culture, language and identity, is different from others yet open in every aspect the whole time – it is able to deliberate the difficult topic of migration maturely, soberly and humanely, while some Central European states are just about to arm their population. Incredible difference! This just says how openness, especially for small economies, is important. Well done, Malta!"

This is the second meeting between the presidents in a few weeks and Vella said that it confirms "the splendid relations between the two countries and the friendship that has been developing between our nations."

EU enlargement: The bloc "is buying time and the years are passing"

The two presidents talked about the countries in Southeast Europe and their journey towards the Union.

Vella said that Malta has "always advocated for the Western Balkans to become part of the EU."

"Countries such as Croatia and Slovenia have become members and can definitely help, they can show the way. The process of EU accession is lengthy, certain sacrifices are necessary, but I am sure that there is a strong will both in the EU and in the Western Balkans for them to join the EU," said Vella.

During the recent EU-Western Balkans Summit organized by Slovenia as the incumbent chair of the Council of the EU, membership prospects for those countries were once again confirmed however they were not given any time frame for that.

I wouldn't want this to be transformed into some kind of procrastination, delay. "A lot indicates that the EU has such a policy because, in fact, it hasn’t got one, it’s buying time and the years are passing," said Milanović.

There is an election here or there, hence the fear of leading mainstream politicians of right voters and rivals on the right (...) and then countries with an Islamic population which is one of the prejudices we have to talk about, are some of the reasons why the EU is not clearly stating what it wants, believes Milanović.

Croatia's President said he wants a more stable neighbor and that in the context of the Western Balkans it is necessary to talk about stability, predictability, security, and money.

"When we talk about the Western Balkans, we must talk about stability, predictability, and security, and ultimately we talk about money too because those are fundamentally impoverished states," he said.

Malta's President Vella and his wife are on a state visit to Croatia at the invitation of President  Milanović.

Vella is expected to meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković. He will also visit Varaždin.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Milanović Meets with Dodik

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday held talks with Milorad Dodik, the representative of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the president's office said in a press release.

The meeting with the Serb member of the tripartite BiH Presidency was part of Milanović's activities that are aimed at achieving the stability and functioning of BiH as well as the legitimate representation of all three constituent peoples in line with the Dayton peace agreement, the press release said.

For that purpose, the president already met with Bakir Izetbegović, the representative of the Bosniak people, and with Dragan Čović, the representative of the Croat people, it added.

For more, follow our politics section.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Milanović Meets Representatives of Croat Expatriate Community in New York

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - During his stay in New York, where he is attending the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, Croatian President Zoran Milanović has met with representatives of the Croat expatriate business and scientific communities in New York, his office said on Thursday.

Representatives of the Croat community in New York informed Milanović of their activities in establishing connections between Croat expatriates in New York and strengthening their ties with Croatia.

They also presented proposals on how to improve that cooperation and offered their help in promoting Croatia in New York and elsewhere in the United States, expressing satisfaction with the meeting with Milanović and the respect shown them by Croatian state institutions.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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