Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Croatian Catholic Bishops Deplore Russian Aggression Against Ukraine

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - The Iustitia et Pax (Justice and Peace) Commission of the Croatian Catholic Bishops' Conference on Wednesday condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine and against European values in general, expressing Christian solidarity with Ukraine.

The Russian Federation's all-out attacks against Ukraine amount to the crime of aggression against an independent, sovereign and democratic state, against the fundamental European values and the democratic right of a country to self-determination and against the fundamental Christian values of justice and peace, reads the Commission's statement.

Presenting the document, the Commission's secretary Vladimir Dugalić and member Stjepan Baloban said that the brave resistance of Ukrainian defenders has become the struggle for Europe's freedom and democracy.

The two priests expressed hope that the "Calvary of the Ukrainian nation will result in the resurrection of peace and freedom." 

They conveyed their Christian closeness and solidarity with the Ukrainian people and ethnic Ukrainians in Croatia.

The Commission supports the efforts of the democratic world to offer assistance in the form of shipments of military equipment and weaponry to Ukrainian defenders in their just cause.

The assistance must remain within the framework of proportionality and international humanitarian law so as to keep the conflict under control and prevent it from escalating into a world war, the two priests said.

The Commission says that a difficult task lies ahead for politicians to strike a balance between solidarity and necessary military self-constraint against a backdrop of threats of the use of nuclear weapons which can be disastrous for the entire humankind.

The priests warned that the diplomatic efforts have not attained their goals, warning that the consequences of the war would certainly be felt in the long run.

Dugalić and Balaban said that the Russian aggression cannot be justified by "higher metaphysical" objectives, adding that it is encouraging to see that more and more Russian citizens are expressing their disapproval of the current policy, despite mass repression.

It would be wrong to blame the whole Russian people for the present situation while the responsibility lies with the political regime and a group of citizens and certain Russian Orthodox dignitaries who support the regime, the priests said.

They called on other religious communities to join the Catholic Church in the condemnation of war destruction and mass killings and to accept Ukrainian refugees.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Ukraine Ambassador, County Head Meet Ukraine Refugee Families

ZAGREB, 17 April 2022 - Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych and Lika-Senj County head Ernest Petry met in Gospić on Sunday with representatives of the services providing for refugees from Ukraine, thanking everyone, and participated in an Easter lunch with Ukrainian families at Hotel Ana.

The level of reception of Ukrainians in Lika (region) is high in every respect and refugee children go to school there, the ambassador said. It is not just nice words and gestures, but the friendly and family reception of refugees from Ukraine due to the Russian aggression, he added.

"The strongest word I bring you is thanks. I can confirm that Ukrainians in Croatia, in Osijek, in Lika and elsewhere, have been welcomed warmly, which makes us happy because in this sad moment of cries it means a lot to receive such a hand of support as the refugees are receiving from Croatia," the ambassador said.

There are more than 600 Ukrainian refugees in Lika-Senj County and nearly 700 have passed through the reception centre in Gospić. Some of them have been accommodated in Karlovac County.

Forty-nine refugees have been accommodated in Gospić's Hotel Ana and another 97 elsewhere in the town.

Prefect Petry said the county was prepared to take in more refugees, "depending on the need of the Ukrainian population." To date, he added, 15 Ukrainians have found employment.

Andrii Melnychenko, the father of a family with four children, said they felt at home in Gospić because Croatians "have welcomed us beautifully, with a big heart."

He said their 11-month-old daughter had to be taken to Zagreb for an emergency operation and was now doing fine. "I am forever grateful that we received this help, for free even and of great quality."

On his and the behalf of all Ukrainian refugees in Gospić, whether Orthodox or Greek Catholic, he said they all prayed to the same God for peace, peace and family happiness.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Nearly 1,000 Ukraine Pupils in Croatian Schools Mastering Biggest Hurdle, Language

ZAGREB, 17 April 2022 - Almost 1,000 Ukrainian children have been enrolled in Croatian kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and their biggest problem is the language, but they are mastering Croatian quickly so as to integrate into the new environment as well as possible

Of the 983 children who have arrived in Croatia due to the war in Ukraine, 838 have been enrolled in primary, 64 in secondary schools, and 80 in kindergartens.

To date, 116 elementary school pupils have been enrolled in 42 Zagreb schools, 91 in 30 schools in Split-Dalmatia County, 81 in schools in Lika-Senj County, 73 in 22 schools in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, and 67 in schools Varaždin County.

Speaking to Hina, Dražena Aračić, headmistress of a primary school in Korenica, Lika-Senj County where 55 Ukrainian children have been enrolled, said everything was being done so they could fit as well as possible in curricular and extracurricular activities and feel welcome first and foremost.

She said they were traumatised by war and separated from their families, so the education ministry approved the school's request to hire a counsellor.

Goranka Štefančić, headmistress of a primary school in Varaždinske Toplice, Varaždin County with 20 Ukrainian pupils, said they had assimilated very well and that one could not see that they came from a war zone.

The school's teachers have taken a free online course in Ukrainian, she told Hina, adding that as of 16 March the Ukrainian pupils are fully included in regular classes, and that numerous donors have provided them with the things they need for school.

Davor Juriša, headmaster of a primary school in Kraljevica, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County which has nine Ukrainian pupils, said that in preparing for their arrival, the school consulted with representatives of the Red Cross and other relevant institutions so that integration could be as simple as possible.

Other pupils have welcomed them very well, he told Hina.

All three principals said the biggest barrier in the integration of Ukrainian pupils was the Croatian language. Aračić said it was a little easier for those who spoke English, but added that they were learning Croatian pretty quickly.

Štefanić said learning Croatian was held every day for two hours at her school and that the pupils were making quick progress.

Due to the situation, the school allows pupils to use mobile phones during classes so they can use translation apps in order to communicate, she added.

At the Kraljevica school, Ukrainian pupils learn Croatian twice a week.

In order to further their integration, Ukrainian children are included in extracurricular activities, from art workshops and learning other languages to sports.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Plenković Wishes Happy Easter to Displaced Ukrainians

ZAGREB, 17 April 2022 - After attending Easter mass on Sunday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wished a happy Easter to everyone, notably to the displaced Ukrainians who were at the service.

"This is a time when we can all together examine in peace what we do, our actions, our decisions, try and collect our thoughts and be even better, towards others, towards those most in need," he said.

"I'm pleased that the displaced from Ukraine were also at mass today, mainly mothers with their children, which once again speaks to how big the tragedy is which this Easter and for more than 50 days now has befallen the Ukrainian people. That's why I'm pleased that Croatia is once again showing a big heart and giving great support to the Ukrainian people and those who, in these difficult circumstances, have found a temporary home in Croatia," the prime minister said.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 April 2022

4,270 Croatian Businesses Have so Far Received €17m in Natural Gas Subsidies

ZAGREB, 15 April (2022) - So far, 4270 Croatian businesses have received a total of HRK 128 million (€17m) in subsidies to cushion the impact of increased natural gas prices on their operations, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić said on Friday.

"In the first two weeks of the implementation of the government measure to mitigate the consequences of increased energy prices, 4,270 businesses applied for a natural gas subsidy allocated by the Ministry and HRK 128 million has been granted. We invite other SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to apply," Ćorić wrote on Twitter.

On 1 April, the Ministry, in cooperation with the HAMAG-BICRO agency for SMEs, launched an aid scheme for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with an annual natural gas consumption of up to 10 GWh, providing a subsidy of HRK 0.15 per kWh. This is de minimis aid aimed at reducing natural gas bills. Under the scheme, every month businesses pay the amount stated on their bills, while the Ministry pays the subsidised amount directly to the natural gas provider. The monthly subsidised amount is automatically deducted from the businesses' vouchers.

The total projected amount of this measure is HRK 600 million (€80m).

Business: For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Committee Chair: Nothing Unexpectedly New About Drone Crash

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The Zagreb County Prosecutor's Office said nothing unexpectedly new about last month's military drone crash, the only surprise being that the drone did not contain explosive but an unidentified substance, the chairman of the Croatian Parliament Defence Committee, Franko Vidović, said on Wednesday.

"There was nothing unexpectedly new compared to what could already be heard in the public. I was acquainted with this information at the Committee meeting when we requested information on the drone crash," Vidović told Hina in a comment on the incident that occurred in southwest Zagreb on 10 March.

He said it was somewhat surprising that the investigation found neither 120 kg nor 40 kg of explosive, as speculated in the public, but an unidentified substance of organic origin that was "packed in this ostensible bomb."

Vidović said the most important thing was that such incidents should never happen again, adding that both NATO and Croatia had learned a lesson from this incident.

He said it was not so important whether the drone contained a bomb or not, because the drone of that size was in itself a threat. "Luckily, no one was killed and no considerable damage was done."

The Prosecutor's Office said that the crash was caused by an interruption in the sequence of automatic landing during the activation of the main parachute.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Drone Crashed Due to Disrupted Automatic Landing Sequence, Prosecutor's Office Says

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The drone which crashed in Zagreb on 10 March carried an aviation bomb and the cause of the crash was a disrupted automatic landing sequence due to an incomplete connection between the aircraft and the main parachute, the Zagreb County Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

A commission which investigated the crash said the drone ejected the parachute and continued to free fall. During the fall, a mechanism was activated due to which one probe flew out and the other one did not.

Speaking at a press conference, chief air force investigator Mario Počinok said the drone had been in good condition and the engine not in operation when it crashed. The black box was considerably damaged, so it was not possible to recover data.

Asked if this meant that the drone did not crash but landed, Brigadier Počinok said the activation of the auto-landing system depended on the quantity of fuel, the set parametres and the kilometres crossed.

The drone, he added, "was disabled in a way to land. I can't say there was an error because several elements are missing."

Asked if Zagreb had been the final target of the drone, Počinok said it was not up to him to answer that and denied that the NATO secretary general, who claimed earlier that the drone was unarmed, had been informed of the results of the inquiries into the crash.

Major Mile Tomić of the Armed Forces Support Command said 47 pieces of shrapnel, caused by an explosion, and a universal fuse for an aviation bomb with Cyrillic insignia were found at the crash site.

"As soon as the aviation bomb was put into the aerial vehicle, it was not intended for its basic purpose, which was reconnaissance," he added.

Drone subsequently painted yellow and blue

Ivana Bačić, chief forensic examiner at the Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre, said the crash caused a crater 5.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, and that there was a strong smell of ammonia.

No traces of either military or commercial explosive were found. The original aviation bomb is supposed to contain 40-46 kilograms of TNT.

It has been established beyond doubt that the explosion occurred, and that the aviation bomb contained "a high-energy but unconventional substance that completely decomposed in the explosion, which prevented its identification," Bačić said.

"On the right wing of the aerial vehicle the dominant colour was red, which reflected a red and white five-pointed star. That was the original colour and traces were found of subsequent painting into yellow and blue," she added.

According to her, there was no political pressure on the Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre regarding the findings of the expert analysis.

Asked if Zagreb had been the drone's final target, county prosecutor Jurica Ilić said he could not answer the question.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Is Croatia Expelling Russian Diplomats? Hundreds of Names on Sanction List

April the 10th, 2022 - Is Croatia expelling Russian diplomats in the face of the horrendous invasion of Ukraine and the alleged war crimes that have since taken place there at the hands of Russian troops? The sanction list of Russian names is long indeed and the Security and Intelligence Agency is also involved.

As Morski writes, five months after, as he put it, he "discovered the warm and poetic soul of Sergei" and read poetry by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Russian, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has written a decision to expel Russian diplomats from the Republic of Croatia.

This comes as a very important sign of solidarity and a response to the latest developments and brutal Russian aggression in Ukraine where we're being stunned by the crimes and horrors committed by the Russian army in that innocent country.

''In addition to expelling Russian diplomats, we are also actively working on freezing the property of those persons under sanctions,'' Minister Gordan Grlic Radman revealed for RTL. State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Frano Matosic also added:

''There are 893 persons and 65 legal entities on our sanctions list. We expect this situation to change soon again, given that a new package of measures will be adopted in Brussels. Russian diplomats in Croatia, among other things, are being left without the luxury they enjoyed, primarily on the coast, as well as the freezing of the money in their accounts. Their companies are being frozen, in terms of preventing those persons on the sanctions list from using these economic resources to extract funds that could be passed on for aggression against Ukraine,'' said Matosic.

Otherwise, that number is much higher, because not all of the seized yachts whose connection with Russia is being established are counted. The real owners are known for three of them. Croatia doesn't decide on the sanctions independently, those decisions are made in Brussels. The rich often try to hide everything they have, so they register their property on distant islands and in third names, making it challenging to determine what is actually Russian-owned and what isn't.

When it comes to the question of whether or not SOA (Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency) helps in determining what is Russian property in Croatia, the answer is that of course it does.

The Russian Embassy in Zagreb is also closely following everything that is happening, and when asked about the expulsion of Russian diplomats from this country, they say that they don't want to comment on it until they receive official information from the Croatian Government.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatia Joins Initiative to Have International Crime Courth Probe War Crimes in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 April (2022) - Croatia has joined the initiative of 38 countries to have the International Criminal Court open an investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine, the government said on Friday.

The initiative requests that ICC prosecutors investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide believed to have been committed in Ukraine since 21 November 2013.

Although Ukraine is not party to the Rome Statute whereby the ICC was established, it has accepted its jurisdiction over crimes against its citizens of which it accuses Russian officials and officials of the separatist regions in east Ukraine.

Besides Croatia, the initiative has been supported by 38 parties to the Rome Statute - all EU member states bar Lithuania, which submitted its request independently - Albania, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain.

The UN has documented the deaths of 1,480 civilians in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Condemns Kramatorsk Train Station Shelling

AGREB, 8 April (2022) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday condemned the shelling of the railway station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, earlier in the day when dozens of civilians were killed and over 100 were wounded.

Thousands of people - most of them women and children and the elderly - were at the railway station in Kramatorsk when it was hit by rockets, the city's mayor Oleksander Honcharenko was quoted by foreign media as saying.

The station, located in eastern Ukraine, was being used to evacuate civilians from the eastern Donbas region.

PM Plenković said the shelling of the train station was one more piece of evidence of Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine.

Things getting back to normal, but caution is still advised

With almost all the COVID restrictions being lifted, life is getting back to normal, but caution is still required, said the premier at the start of his cabinet's meeting.

The Croatian COVID-19 crisis management team has established that conditions have been met for the relaxation of COVID protocols, Plenković said referring to the team's decision to lift all anti-epidemic rules as of Saturday, while the mask mandate will stay in place for hospitals and nursing homes.

 For more, check out our politics section.



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