Monday, 22 August 2022

Russian Warships Enter Adriatic Sea, Ministry of Defence Doesn't React

August the 22nd, 2022 - Russian warships recently entered Croatian waters, and despite the dire situation for which Russia is wholly responsible in Ukraine, the Croatian Ministry of Defense claims it ''didn't have a reason to react.''

As Index Vijesti writes, just three weeks ago, warships belonging to no less than the Russian Navy tried to block the exit of the American aircraft carrier Harry Truman from the Adriatic Sea, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, Chief of the Italian Supreme Defense Staff, revealed in an interview with Rome's La Repubblica. He said that Russian warships had arrived along the Italian coast and had arrived as far as Ancona.

According to the Italian publication, on July the 22nd, 2022, Russian ships blocked the entry-exit route from the Adriatic Sea to try to prevent the movement of the American aircraft carrier. This led to a huge rise in tensions and a series of maneuvers by NATO and Russian ships in the area.

In its reconstruction of events, La Repubblica writes that the NATO commanders immediately reacted to the Russian moves in the Adriatic Sea, who wanted to show that they would not give up control over the passage from the Ionian to the Adriatic Sea. At the end of July, the Russian cruiser Varyag was less than 100 kilometres away from the American cruiser Forrest Sherman, they write.

These ships were located on the sides of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, with the Russian ship on the Adriatic side and the American ship on the Ionian side. A little further to the south was the Harry Truman aircraft carrier with an American escort.

Truman was joined by NATO ships from Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and the USA and formed a square around the aircraft carrier on July the 25th, writes the Italian daily. They add that on July the 31st, the Global Hawk, one of the largest American spy planes, patrolled over the Ionian Sea for hours.

Croatian MOD: We're familiar with the situation

Index sent an inquiry to the Croatian Ministry of Defense about whether or not it was made aware of the activities of Russian and NATO ships in the Adriatic Sea. Here's what they had to say:

"Croatia is continuously monitoring the situation and is in contact with allies and partners. Through the Naval Operations Centre, the Croatian Navy monitors the situation in the Adriatic Sea, mainly in its area of ​​responsibility. This primarily refers to the navigation of ships of foreign navies. On the basis of the above, the HRM Command is aware of the presence, that is, the sailing of warships belonging to the Russian Federation into the Adriatic Sea. Given that no ships were observed entering the territorial waters of ​​the Republic of Croatia, there was no reason to react," the Ministry of Defense told Index.

Ivica Mandic: There was no threat from the ships

"Nobody has ever managed to block an aircraft carrier, so I think that our colleagues from Italy are exaggerating," military analyst Ivica Mandic told Dnevnik Nova TV.

"It's nothing particularly unusual for warships to come and watch the exercises of the other side, this is in one way provocative in the sense that it comes so close, but it is not a threat, especially to the carrier strike group," said Mandic.

"I think this is a distraction from something important that is happening on the ground in Ukraine," he noted, calling the move of the Russian warships in the Adriatic Sea a stupid operation.

"If they'd fired a rocket, they would have been sunk instantly"

"Those ships, if they fired a missile of any kind, they would all be sunk at that moment. You're in a narrow sea called the Adriatic and you are under attack from NATO member countries, you'd be toast,'' said Mandic.

He assured the public that the Croatian Armed Forces have a clear picture of both the Adriatic Sea and Russian warships, as well as the possibility of defense in the event of a threat, noting that Truman's presence on the Adriatic Sea is not accidental.

Akrap: These are common activities

Security expert Gordan Akrap told HRT that this action by the Russian warships should not be taken too seriously.

"This is the usual activity of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, regardless of whether they're air or naval forces, which are trying to come into contact with NATO forces in order to test the organisation, effectiveness, mobility and system of command, control and leadership of the NATO alliance and member countries of the NATO alliance in crises," said Akrap.

He added that we often see such cases in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and in Norwegian waters, and now we're seeing it here in the Adriatic as well. He pointed out that this sea is very well protected - it is protected by Croatia, partly by Albania and also by Italy. He said that, in addition to four ships, several submarines also entered the Adriatic, but they were tracked from beginning to end and immediately sent back.

For more, check out our news section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Construction of EastMed Gas Pipeline Becomes Topical Again

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - The European Union is trying to slash its gas imports from Russia, and therefore the topic of building the 1,900-kilometre Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) natural gas pipeline to connect the gas reserves off Israel and Cyprus via Greece and Italy to other EU members is again on the agenda.

Geologist Avraam Zelilidis, a professor at the University of Patras and one of the advocates of this project, has recently told Hina that this project could save the Greeks since the continuation of fuel price hikes might push many citizens into extreme poverty.

For the sake of comparison, Greek companies are the most exposed in the EU to losses and bankruptcy due to the energy crunch, shows an analysis of the European Investment Bank (EIB). In Greece, the EIB’s analysis sees a 27.6% projected increase in the share of firms reporting losses.

Professor Zelilidis told Hina that in his opinion great reserves of natural gas and petroleum are also offshore Greece.

However, so far Greek authorities have seemed reticent about the project. At the first stage of the EastMed project, the EU could cover 10% of its energy needs in this way.

The reasons for reticence seem to be the opposition of Greek shipping companies that currently make a profit on the transport of the imported oil supplies. In addition, there are some environmental fears.

However, the head of the Nicosia-headquartered Isotech Ltd. Research and Consultancy, Xenia Loizidou, has told Hina that every gas pipeline poses a risk to the marine environment but in this case, the issue is no longer environmental but political.

Profesor Zelilidis says that at the later stages this gas pipeline could meet 40% of the EU's needs for gas supplies.

The idea of the EastMed project was supported by the European Commission nine years ago as the Project of Common Interest (PCI).

In 2019, Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a Tel Aviv agreement on the matter.

The project is being developed by IGI Poseidon, a 50:50 joint venture between the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) and Italy's Edison International Holding.

In 2020, Italy confirmed its interest in having a branch of the pipeline passing through its territory.

However, there has been some opposition from Turkey to the project as Ankara complains that the selected pipeline route bypasses the long Turkish coastline to deliver gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. Turkey also alleges that the pipeline project ignores its equal rights over the natural resources in Cypriot territorial waters.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has made all routes that can reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels topical again.

New geopolitical and energy market reality

In light of the new geopolitical and energy market reality, on 15 June in Cairo, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, together with the competent Egyptian and Israeli ministers signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the EU, Egypt and Israel for the export of natural gas to Europe.

During her participation in the Three Seas Initiative summit meeting in Riga, Commissioner Simson noted that the initial project of the EastMed could be altered, and in this context she mentioned the Aphrodite gas field, the first gas field to be discovered and granted a production license in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, offshore Cyprus.

There is a possibility for the Aphrodite gas field, after it starts operating, to be connected to Egypt and that LNG supplies are then transported to Europe, said Simson in Riga, noting that the construction of the pipeline could take more time. 

Croatia and Cyprus can assist in Europe's energy independence

During his visit to Cyprus in mid-May, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovič met with said that President Nicos Anastasiades, who said that Cyprus can help the European Union achieve energy independence. Plenković underscored that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a big role in that.

The two officials discussed the energy crisis in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Anastasiades spoke about energy interconnection projects in the eastern Mediterranean, between north Africa and Europe, and about the EastMed gas pipeline which should connect Cyprus with Europe via Greece.

That island state has in recent years discovered significant offshore gas deposits, and the proposed project is still being analyzed to test its economic feasibility, said Anastasiades.

It can help Europe's energy diversification, he told a news conference.

Addressing the news conference in Nicosia, Plenković underlined that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a significant role in achieving Europe's energy security. Thought is being given currently to increasing its capacity and not just for Croatia but for the needs of countries in Central Europe, he said.

Croatia can become an energy hub in the north Adriatic for gas and oil, said Plenković. He underscored on that occasion that Europe has to find a new, long-term sustainable alternative to Russia's energy products at an affordable price.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Over 6,800 Ukrainian Children Find Shelter in Croatia

ZAGREB, 1 June 2022 - More than 6,800 children have arrived in Croatia from war-torn Ukraine and 182 are being accommodated in Hotel Zagreb in Duilovo, Split, Labour and Social Policy Minister Marin Piletić said on Wednesday while visiting a group of refugee children located in the hotel.

These are children aged between 8 and 16 and mostly play for the Shakhtar football club or some other Ukrainian clubs whose stay was arranged by a former prominent Croatian football player Dario Srna, it was said during Piletić's visit.

"We thank everyone who is helping these children. We wish these children ther return to their homes as soon as possible but we are also prepared to integrate them into our society," the minister said.

"The government stands with Ukraine, politically, economically and emotionally because we experienced that in the period from 1991 to 1995," he said.

Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban underscored there are 3,064 Ukrainian refugees located in the county, mostly in tourist facilities and private apartments.

"The tourist season is coming and together in cooperation with the Civil Protection administration we are finding ways to accommodate refugees so that tourism facilities can be put to use during the summer tourist season," said Boban.

UNHCR representative in Croatia, Anna Rich thanked Croatia for establishing a comprehensive legislative approach and for accepting and caring for Ukrainian refugees.

The majority of refugees fleeing from Ukraine are women and children and we call for caution regarding the risk of gender conditioned violence, people trafficking and grave risks to the protection given the profile of the population and unstable situation, said Rich.

She added that the UNHCR supports government efforts including those of the Croatian government to increase preventative measures and protection against exploitation and abuse including raising awareness and providing information to refugees.

Children's ombudsman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević underscored that the Convention on the Rights of the Child commits all countries to protecting children's rights, particularly vulnerable groups like children from Ukraine because of the war.

She added that online access has been arranged for children located in Hotel Zagreb so they can follow school lessons being conducted in Ukraine.

CZ Director Damir Trut informed that so far 18,899 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Greenpeace Adriatic Protest Held in Front of Tanker Headed for Omisalj

May the 31st, 2022 - A Greenpeace Adriatic protest was held in front of a large tanker (SCF Samotlor) headed for the Port of Omisalj, which was transporting Russian oil.

As Morski writes, Greenpeace activists protested recently in front of the SCF Samotlor tanker, which was transporting Russian oil to the Port of Omisalj. They staged a protest ahead of a recently held European Union (EU) summit, urging EU political leaders to urgently impose an embargo on all Russian fossil fuels and speed up the energy transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Greenpeace pointed out that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine back in February, EU countries have spent more than 54 billion euros on Russian oil, gas and coal, which turns out to be co-financing the war still going on in ravaged Ukraine.

Hundreds of millions of euros continue to flow from EU countries into the Kremlin in exchange for Russian fossil fuels, and EU leaders have still failed to impose sanctions that would effectively curb this, what they deem to be an utterly immoral trade. In other words, and in the opinion of those who held the recent Greenpeace Adriatic protect, the European Union is still co-financing the war in Ukraine and such a practice must stop immediately.

''The EU must finally show true solidarity and impose an embargo on all Russian fossil fuels. No delays, no legal loopholes, no special treatment and exemption for any country,'' warned Eszter Matyas, campaign manager at Greenpeace CEE.

The Greenpeace Adriatic protest took place the day before the aforementioned summit, and the European Commission has proposed phasing out Russian oil imports in most EU member states, but not before the end of this year. Some countries like Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria could get even more time permitted. Recent comments from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen show that EU leaders are nowhere near an agreement, Greenpeace warned.

''The humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine will only continue to deepen if a weak embargo is imposed, or if nothing is imposed at all. The war in Ukraine should be a wake-up call for European Union leaders. Security in a world powered by fossil fuels simply doesn't exist. The current ban on all Russian fossil fuels can and must be a strong impetus for the development of renewables and energy efficiency across Europe. It's important not only because of climate security, but also because of its independence from autocratic regimes that trade in fossil fuels,'' said Petra Andric from Greenpeace Croatia.

The majority of oil consumption in the EU is accounted for by transport, while the EU is dependent on imports for as much as 97% of its oil products. A study commissioned by Belgium's Greenpeace offers guidance to those responsible for decarbonising Europe's transport sector by 2040, which could be powered by renewable energy without relying on biofuels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently announced that a limited set of short-term transport measures could reduce consumption by as much as 2.7 million barrels of oil per day over the next four months. In Germany, short-term measures could reduce Russian oil imports by about a third, the global organization warns.

When it comes to the Greenpeace Adriatic protest, activists have also held similar protests in Ukraine since the start of the war, calling for an embargo on Russian fossil fuel imports to European countries including Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom and Croatia in late March.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Croatia and Cyprus Can Assist in Europe's Energy Independence

ZAGREB, 11 May 2022 - Cyprus can help the European Union achieve energy independence, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday during an official visit by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who underscored that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a big role in that.

The two officials discussed the energy crisis in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

President Anastasiades also condemned a decision by Turkey to not join in Europe's sanctions against Russia.

Anastasiades spoke about energy inter-connection projects in the eastern Mediterranean, between north Africa and Europe, and about the EastMed gas pipeline which should connect Cyprus with Europe via Greece.

That island state has in recent years discovered significant offshore gas deposits, and the proposed project is still being analysed to test its economic feasibility, said Anastasiades.

It can help Europe's energy diversification, he told a news conference.

Addressing the news conference in Nicosia, Plenković underlined that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a significant role in achieving Europe's energy security. Thought is being given currently to increasing its capacity and not just for Croatia but for the needs of countries in Central Europe, he said.

Croatia can become an energy hub in the north Adriatic for gas and oil, said Plenković.

He underscored that Europe has to find a new, long-term sustainable alternative to Russia's energy products at an affordable price.

Bilateral cooperation

The two officials emphasised that this was the first visit by a Croatian prime minister to Cyprus and that it should mark a turning point in cooperation between the two countries so that their political agreement on European topics can expand to economic ones.

The two countries are expected to finalise in November an agreement on avoiding double taxation and they have also signed a memorandum on strengthening economic cooperation, which should be accompanied by a memorandum on digital transformation and sea traffic.

We are two Mediterranean countries not far from each other, we share the Mediterranean and I believe there is a lot of room for expanding cooperation, Plenković said, underlining the petrochemical and electrical energy industries, IT sector, pharmaceutical industry and financial and digital cooperation.

Cyprus and Croatia have been connected by air for the past two years, which has resulted in an increased number of tourists.

Croatia's political objectives

Plenković said that he and "his good friend" Anastasiades also discussed Croatia's ambitions for deeper integration in the EU that should occur this year - accession to the passport-free Schengen area, on which a final formal decision is expected in June or July, and accession to the euro area, on which a decision is expected in July.

We will be ready for euro changeover on 1 January, said Plenković.

The two officials also discussed the situation in Southeast Europe, with emphasis on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the need to ensure the political rights of Croats in that country, with Zagreb having full support from Nicosia in that regard.

Plenković's two-day visit to Cyprus, during which he laid a wreath at the monument to Makarios III, Archbishop of Cyprus who was the country's first president and is considered to be the father of the nation, ended with a meeting with the country's parliament speaker.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Slightly More Than 17,300 Ukrainian Refugees Have Arrived in Croatia, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 11 May 2022 - Just over 17,300 Ukrainian refugees, of whom 85% are women and children, have arrived in Croatia so far, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Wednesday.

Speaking in an interview with Croatian Radio, Božinović said that at the very start a clear and transparent system for refugees was established and that a temporary mechanism of protection was activated, providing the refugees with all rights, including integration in the labour market.

"I'm pleased to say that the entire process has been free of any problems and difficulties. I believe that the Ukrainians are satisfied with and grateful for the treatment they have been given in Croatia," he added.

Božinović also spoke about the difference between Ukrainian refugees and migrants arriving from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

"Despite the war going on, all Ukrainian refugees have entered Croatia via border crossings with personal documents, unlike migrants who practically never come to border crossings from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and do not have personal documents, which is a very important difference," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Plenković: Croatia Admires Resistance of Ukrainian People

ZAGREB, 8 May 2022 - Croatia admires the resistance of the Ukrainian people and their European aspirations and is ready to help with its own experience in post-war reconstruction, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday.

Plenković made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Victory in Europe Day and ahead of Europe Day, observed on 9 May. In his speech, he expressed Croatia's full support to the Ukrainians in their resistance to the military aggression by neighbouring Russia and to Ukraine's EU path.

"We admire the resistance you have demonstrated in the face of the Russian aggression. You are fighting not only for the freedom of Ukraine but also for the values that we all share," the Croatian PM said.

Croatia itself experienced military aggression and that's why "we understand how hard the pressure is and how difficult the situation is for the defenders and Ukrainians," Plenković said and added: "I have the highest regard for the heroism of Ukrainian soldiers defending their homes, their families, their territory and their homeland."

Addressing a joint press conference with President Zelensky, Plenković noted that he was well aware of the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

Before becoming prime minister, Plenković had served as chairman of the European Parliament delegation to Ukraine and headed an EP observer mission for the 2014 election in Ukraine. As prime minister, he had offered Ukraine Croatia's experience with the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region after its 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Plenković also offered Croatia's experience with post-war reconstruction, mine clearance, and reconciliation. "We would like to share this experience with you," he said, recalling that he had last visited Kyiv five months ago when he and Zelensky signed a statement on Ukraine's EU membership perspective.

He commended Ukraine for responding so quickly to the EU questionnaire, presented to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which is the first step by an aspirant country to gain the status of a membership candidate.

"We will be on your side every step of the way," Plenković said.

Croatia has supported the first five packages of sanctions which the EU has imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and will support a sixth package which is being prepared.

Plenković expressed satisfaction that Croatian Ambassador Anica Djamić has returned to Kyiv and that the Embassy will continue to operate normally. "This, too, is a strong sign of support to Ukraine and Ukrainians," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Božinović Comments on Case of Croatian National Taken Prisoner in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 May 2022 - It is difficult to say at this point when we could expect progress on the case of the Croatian national who has been taken prisoner by Russian forces in Ukraine, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday.

"Croatia is doing and will continue to do all it can. The situation is difficult in that he was arrested by Russian forces. We have sought information through our diplomatic service and will continue following this case, seeking answers to the questions, first of all those asked by his family. That is our obligation under the constitution and law," Božinović told the press in Zagreb.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said on Saturday that a Croatian national had been taken prisoner in Ukraine and that it was dealing with the case in cooperation with Ukrainian authorities. Russian media said that "a Croatian mercenary" had been captured in Mariupol.

"Considering the circumstances, at this point I cannot predict when we could expect any progress," Božinović said.

He said that any Croatian nationals who may be fighting in that war are doing that at their own risk and that the Croatian government is not involved in it in any way.

Commenting on today's visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, Božinović said: "I think this visit is a strong gesture of statesmanship and a sign of support to Ukraine that has been going on since the first day of the Russian aggression."

The visit came nearly two and a half months after Russia launch a military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

"I don't think this visit by the Croatian prime minister differs in any way from visits made by several prime ministers a while ago, by the UN secretary general, the US secretaries of state and defence, and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission," Božinović said, adding that the visit was organised in the same way as other such visits given the security situation in Ukraine.

He recalled that Croatia had sent various types of aid to Ukraine and pledged to send €5 million in aid at a donors' conference in Warsaw on Thursday, and that more than 17,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Oil Embargo Against Russia Won't Have Major Impact on Croatia, Energy Expert Says

ZAGREB, 4 May 2022 - An EU ban on imports of crude oil and oil products from Russia should not have a major impact on Croatia, which mostly gets its supplies from the Mediterranean, energy expert Igor Dekanić told Hina on Wednesday.

"Croatia is not in a bad position because more or less it imports oil products from the Mediterranean, specifically from Italian refineries. As for natural gas, we have an LNG terminal that provides considerable sources of supply from countries other than Russia," Dekanić said.

Asked if there would be enough energy products and at what price, he said that there would probably be enough energy products, but that it was difficult to say at what price because energy prices were formed based on expectations. He said he expected higher prices because suppliers that would replace Russia would certainly not offer oil and oil products at lower prices.

Asked about the position of the Hungarian energy company MOL, a co-owner of the Croatian oil company INA, Dekanić said that MOL's position on Russian oil imports could be inferred from the position of the Hungarian government, which has so far been reserved about energy sanctions against Russia. Since MOL's imports from Russia are not insignificant, the company will have to be very "innovative" if the sanctions against Russia should be enforced.

"Between political and ethical principles and sanctions in the energy sector there is always a grey zone," Dekanić said, noting that despite the scale of the war in Ukraine neither side was suspending Russian gas deliveries via Ukraine to Europe for now. "Reserves are being destroyed, but the oil and gas pipelines are not. That would probably be the last thing to destroy."

As for the European Commission's proposal to ban Russian oil imports, Dekanić said that the proposal was yet to be discussed by the European Parliament and it should also be seen how Germany and eastern Europe would react, because they are more dependent on Russian energy products than western Europe is. "Goals and principles are one thing, while the position of individual members of the Union is another," he said.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the member states to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

"We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets," von der Leyen said.

She also called for those responsible for war crimes committed in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and for the siege of Mariupol to be brought to justice.

The EU's sixth package of sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine also includes a proposal that Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system and that three Russian media organisations be banned from broadcasting in the EU.

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

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

PM: It's Hard to Change Someone's Attitudes on BiH Impacted by Sarajevo Narrative

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - It is difficult to change the position of the international community on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was tailored by the "Sarajevo narrative", especially since the previous (Croatian) governments did not work on that, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in parliament.

Presenting a report on the meetings of the European Council to the members of the parliament, Plenković in particular referred to the discussions on Bosnia and Herzegovina, stressing it was a success that a reference on BiH's constituent peoples was included in the Strategic Compass, at Croatia's insistence.

"Those in charge of the foreign policy before us could also have discussed this topic, but they never did in this way," said Plenković.

MPs of the Bridge party criticised Plenković for not having done enough to change the existing BiH election law, which allows for Croats there to be outvoted due to their small number.

MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) pointed out that a reference to constituent peoples in the Strategic Compass was not a success as that was a fact which was part of the BiH Constitution.

"Equality of constituent peoples did not exist as a reference. That may seem obvious, simple to you, like copying the Constitution, but it is not," said Plenković, underscoring that Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic explicitly opposed it.

According to Plenković, this "speaks of the rooted attitudes in the international community, which was primarily generated by the political narrative of Sarajevo".

"In Sarajevo, there have been no Croats in the political sense for nearly two decades, and this fact is partly the reason why all international representatives who spend some time there ultimately adopt that narrative," said Plenković.

According to him, for years there has been a lack of understanding of the way BiH is organised.

"Changing that after so many years is extremely difficult," said Plenković, adding that his cabinet has done more over the past two years than all the previous governments combined.

PM: I don't think drone crashed in Zagreb by accident

Plenković also commented on the crash of a Soviet-era unmanned aerial vehicle in Zagreb on 10 March, saying that it was indicative that it had exploded during an informal meeting in Versailles, when a statement on Russia's aggression against Ukraine was discussed.

"It is not highly probable that of all the places within the radius of its range, it crashed in the capital of Croatia. I'm not so inclined to believe in the strange aleatory path of that unmanned aerial vehicle considering how likely it was for it to crash in Zagreb," said Plenković.

Davorko Vidović of the SDP said that Croatia, despite all claims of the government's foreign policy successes, "is the only member of the European Union that has been attacked, and we as citizens do not know who attacked us and why".

At the moment, we cannot categorically state whether that was an attack, a mistake or sabotage, said Plenković.

Friendly relations with Ukraine

The Croatian premier also spoke about the EU's response to Russia's aggression and pointed out that the European Union and Croatia "show solidarity, unity and determination" by providing humanitarian, political, military, technical and other aid to Ukraine and with readiness to find alternative energy sources.

"Croatia has sincere and friendly relations with Ukraine. Ukraine was the first to recognise us. We support its sovereignty and integrity," Plenković said.

He noted that Croatia had received 15,000 refugees from Ukraine, that it had supported the opening of an investigation of the International Criminal Court into war crimes in Ukraine, and that it supported Ukraine's European perspective.

"Croatia will help Ukraine, we want it to get a special institutional status with regard to the EU in these circumstances," said Plenković.

For more, check out our politics section.

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