Friday, 25 February 2022

Ukraine Ambassador Thanks Croatia's Parliament, Government and People For Their Support

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia Vasyl Kyrylych on Friday thanked the Croatian Sabor, government and people for their support to Ukraine which is faced with Russia's aggression.

"First of all, I would like to thank the Croatian parliament, the government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian people for their strong support to Ukraine," Kyrylych told reporters in Parliament House after the Sabor adopted the Declaration on Ukraine.

The Sabor adopted a Declaration on Ukraine today with 133 votes in favour and one abstention. The declaration most sharply condemns the unprovoked aggression by Russia against Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) abstained from the vote.

Kyrylych said the declaration was a "strong message of support to Ukrainians in this very difficult situation."

He noted that Croatia already passed through what is awaiting Ukraine because it "experienced and knows what it means to defend your country."

"You defended your country, we will defend ours," said Kyrylych.

"We don't need anyone else's, but we will not give ours away," he added.

Kyrylych said that Ukraine was fighting against "Russia's brutal imperialistic conduct," and that the Ukrainian army is "strong in spirit" because it is defending its country.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Milanović: Russia is "Potential Monster", Big States Should Be Taken Seriously

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that big states like Russia were "potential monsters" which should be taken seriously, as should their potential to harm others.

Speaking to the press, Milanović said "all big states are potential monsters" and "should be taken seriously. Their potential to cause damage should also be taken seriously."

"Today it's Putin, tomorrow it will be someone else. One should always take account of that and understand that Russia is not Serbia. Russia is not even France, but much bigger and more different than us," Milanović said.

In Russia, "it's simply darker, it's not democratic and the rules of life are different," he said, adding, "We must see to it that we protect out way of life."

He reiterated that Ukraine should not join NATO, saying this military alliance "must be an exclusive club, inviting only the best."

"It's up to us to assess where we go, who we include and, most importantly, how much it can cost us and how much it can cost small Croatia and its small army."

As for the deployment of Croatian troops in NATO countries, Milanović said it would be optimal if they were deployed in Hungary, and that he felt the conflict spreading to NATO member states "is not even remotely possible."

Milanović said he stood in solidarity with Ukraine but that he did not want the war there to divert the focus from the necessary electoral reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina so that Croats can elect their representatives.

"I sympathise with Ukraine, but this other thing concerns our vital interests. I expect solidarity there, too. There will be no shooting, there will be no war, there will be no killing, but there will be rude obstruction."

"I don't want that focus to be lost because there is no time," he said, referring to the fact that BiH should hold general elections towards the end of the year.

No danger of Ukraine crisis spilling over to the Balkans

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that other "regional hegemonists" could use Putin's aggression as an excuse for their own aggressive moves, which some have understood as a reference to Serbia.

Milanović said that Serbia's leadership, which has not yet condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine, was "on pins and needles" and "waiting to see what will happen."

He said Belgrade did not have the capacity for aggressive action. "What will it attack, Kosovo?... Such things should be explained. Who is being referred to, (Bosnian Serb leader Milorad) Dodik? With what weapons, what ammunition, what money? With whose logistical support?"

"Russian planes can't fly over NATO member states' territories, they can't even come to this region across Bulgaria and Romania. Such things unnecessarily cause tensions and disturb people," Milanović said.

According to him, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is in a difficult situation due to "the burden... of the wars in the Balkans" and cannot recognise the pro-Russian separatist republics in east Ukraine because that would justify the recognition of Kosovo.

Milanović said the EU was treating Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro irresponsibly, creating "illusions, that is delusions, that something will happen." "If we will lie to them, then it's better that we don't promise anyone anything," he added.

He said Georgia's European perspective was an "adventurist policy" because Georgia "must have good relations with Russia, regardless of who is in power."

Friday, 25 February 2022

Parliamentary Groups: Croatia Stands Firm With Ukraine

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Parliamentary groups on Friday unanimously backed  the adoption of a Declaration on Ukraine by the Sabor which most sharply condemns the Russian unprovoked aggression against Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence with the message, "Croatia stands firm with you."

Hardly anyone could have expected war on the European continent in the 21st century, which could have inconceivable consequences on security and the economy. The world order has been brought into question. This isn't only happening to Ukraine but to all of us, deputies underscored during the debate on the declaration.

They strongly supported the delivery of humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine and expressed readiness to accept its refugees.

"Croatia stand firm with you," minority deputy Vladimir Bilek (National minorities group), and added that world peace and order are facing the biggest challenge since World War II and that the situation in Ukraine reminds us greatly of the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

"God save the Ukrainian people,"  Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement), said claiming that we are living in a dangerous world. He is also concerned with Serbia's failure to condemn the Russian aggression, adding that it was justified for Croatia to purchase fighter jets and invest in its defence resources.

He warned that the sanctions against Russia will have repercussions on Croatia's economy too, hence it is important to take the security of the LNG terminal into account.

Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) warned that the crisis could spill over to our neighbourhood - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. "We have to be cautious and protect the interests of the Croatian people," underscored Pavliček.

Krešo Beljak (HSS and RF) assessed that Croatia has to exert pressure on neighbouring countries to state who they are sided with and to clearly call for their accession to the NATO alliance.

MP Milorad Pupovac (SDSS) expressed solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine and that it would be a great loss if after the Berlin Wall had come down for a new Iron Curtain to be raised.

Davor Ivo Stier (HDZ) said that Croatia firmly supports the European journey for Southeast Europe and NATO allies in our neighbourhood and called for Europe's future to be open for Serbia and for Kosovo.

He called on Bosniak leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to accept Croats as equal partners and not to compel them to tactical cooperation with Banja Luka and authorities in the Republika Srpska entity which is a branch of Belgrade.

Lawmakers welcomed the unity expressed by the country' leaders, the prime minister and president during these trying times.

All parliamentary groups welcomed the adoption of the Declaration on Ukraine and condemned Russia's unprovoked aggression sending a message of solidarity and encouragement to the Ukrainian people.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Croatian President Says Sanctions Against Russia Necessary

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that he supported the sanctions which the EU had decided to impose on Russia over its aggression on Ukraine, explaining that there was no other alternative, however, he does not believe that the sanctions will be efficient.

The sanctions are necessary, no other alternative has existed, he told a news conference, and then added that "unfortunately, sanctions do not work" and will not stop the Russian army from continuing to invade Ukraine.

After a month ago he stated that the crisis in Ukraine "is happening in the antechamber of Russia" and that "one must reach a deal that will take account of the security interests of Russia," which was interpreted as Milanović's understanding for Russia's demand that Ukraine should not apply for the membership of NATO, Milanović today said that Ukraine in NATO "is not a topic".

Had that been made clear in the past, perhaps, the situation would have been better now, however, all that is not the justification for Russia's aggression, he said.

Developments in Ukraine serious but not dangerous for Croatia

Concerning the interests of Croatia, the president said that the situation in Ukraine was serious but not dangerous for his country.

"This is an unpleasant situation, but you can stay calm," Milanović said at the news conference.

Concerning the proposal of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for convening a meeting of the Croatian Council for National Security on Friday before Milanović took part in the video summit meeting of NATO so as to inform the president about the relevant topics, Milanović said that one should wait for a few more days and see how the situation could unfold. Therefore he said that the session of the council could be later held.

"I do not need instructions before the (NATO) meeting. He (Plenković) and I are in permanent contact, and it is sufficient for the time being," Milanović said.

Milanović also said that for him the alliance's decision to schedule a video summit meeting does not show the necessary level of seriousness and insisted that NATO should have organised a face-to-face meeting in Brussels.

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.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Ukrainian Embassy in Zagreb Issues Statement on Course of Hostilities

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - On Thursday, when Russia launched a military aggression on Ukraine, 137 Ukrainian soldiers, including 10 officers were killed, reads a press release issued by the Ukrainian embassy in Zagreb on early Friday morning.

Furthermore, 316 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, and the press release reads that the fighting  continued northwards in the areas of Peremoga and Hlukhiv.

The embassy says that the defence forces were engaged in fending off attacks in the area of Kherson, and that the Ukrainian forces retook a bridge and defended the left bank of the Dnieper.

The report quotes Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, as saying that the Russians lost more than 30 tanks, about 130 armoured fighting vehicles and six fighter jets and helicopters each.

A part of the Ukrainian armed forces have been repositioned to defend the capital city of Kyev.

Ukrainian fighter jets are attacking the columns of Russian troops that are occupying Nova Zburivka, Kupiansk, Nova Kakhovka  and enemy forces near the airport of Hostomel, reads the report, among other things.

It says that groups of Ukrainian units have restored their positions at the frontline in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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