Friday, 6 May 2022

Croatia One of EU Countries Seeking Exemption from Russian Oil Import Ban

ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - Croatia is advocating an exemption that would enable it to continue importing a petroleum derivative for the production of diesel at the oil refinery in Rijeka beyond 2022, the Večernji List daily of Friday reports. 

In discussions among members of the Council of the EU, which is expected to adopt a proposal by the European Commission to impose a ban on Russian oil imports in six months' time and a ban on the import of Russian oil products by the end of the year, Croatia advocates an exemption that would enable it to continue importing beyond 2022 vacuum gas oil (VCO) for its oil refinery in Rijeka, the daily learned from sources in Brussels.

VCO supply sources on the market are rather limited and since INA's refinery in Rijeka uses VCO in its production process, INA advocates continuing to buy VCO, the Croatian oil company said following unofficial reports from Brussels.

The discussions in the Council of the EU started on Wednesday, when the EC proposed the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, with an oil import ban as the key segment,  and they continued on Thursday and will probably continue on Saturday as there is yet no sign of consensus.

Hungary is opposed the most to an oil import ban, and it says that it will not agree to the EC proposal which would leave that country as well as Slovakia the possibility to buy Russian oil until the end of 2023, longer than other member-countries.

Hungarian representatives said at the first meeting on Wednesday that they sought a permanent exemption while Slovakians reportedly sought an exemption until 2025.

The Czech Republic and Bulgaria have indicated that they, too, wanted an exemption from the oil import ban, at least until the end of 2023, which is the EC proposal for Hungary and Slovakia.

According to unofficial information, Greece is not happy that the latest proposal of sanctions envisages a ban on the transport, including insurance, of Russian oil anywhere in the world. That regulation affects Greek and other European shipping companies, its purpose being to prevent Russia from redirecting oil exports to buyers outside the EU.

Discussions are still underway and a final decision on a Russian oil import ban may eventually be adopted in a form that departs from the EC proposal. There are no signs yet as to whether Croatia's request has met with a favourable response, the daily says.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Večernji List Journalist Reports Having Received Threats from Russian Diplomats

ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - Večernji List reporter Hassan Haidar Diab in early April received threats from Russian diplomats over his article about Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and has been under police protection since.

In an interview with Hina, Diab described the circumstances in which he received threats from two of a total of 18 Russian diplomats expelled from Croatia in late April, three weeks after his story about the role and mode of operation of Kadyrov and the Chechen death squads in the Ukraine war was published.

He says that after the publication of his text he was contacted by the Russian Embassy in Zagreb and was told ironically that he had written a "great article".

"The article I wrote in early April was extensive, it was an analysis with witness accounts about the way the Chechen fighters led by Ramzan Kadyrov operate and how they killed people in Ukraine. I wrote about who Kadyrov is and how many reporters and political opponents he and his death squads have killed," Diab says, adding that on the day the article was published, 4 April, he was contacted by Matvey Sidorov, media advisor at the Russian Embassy.

Diab says Sidorov told him that he had written a "great article" and that political secretary Sergey Trofimov wanted him to know that the article would be translated and sent to Kadyrov.

After that, the reporter called his editor in chief Dražen Klarić, as well as Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, and was immediately given police protection.

Diab says that a week later he was received by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who told him that the competent services had been instructed to protect him and his family and assured him that they were safe.

Diab adds that Russian diplomats continued to send him messages even after their expulsion from Croatia, with the last message arriving on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.

"Večernji List decided not to go public with the threats for the sake of my security. But after the Nacional weekly published it and after I confirmed the threats in an article published by Večernji List, I again received a message... from Sidorov," Diab says.

"Greetings Hassan, you wrote a great article again, but it's not exactly new, why did you not publish it while we were in Zagreb," read the message, which Diab says he did not want to answer, wondering what it meant and if he would have been attacked or killed had he published the article at the time the Russian diplomats were still in Zagreb.

He stressed that he had talked to security experts and had been told that he should be cautious and should not take the threats lightly.

In a message to reporters covering the war in Ukraine, Diab said: "It is our duty to report about the suffering of people in Ukraine. We must not give up, whatever the cost."

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Caritas Croatia Collecting Relief For Ukraine

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Caritas Croatia said on Thursday it had launched a humanitarian drive to collect relief for Ukraine after Caritas Ukraine's emergency call for help via the Caritas Internationalist solidarity network.

National members of Caritas Europa are in daily contact with Caritas Ukraine, following the situation and developing relief plans.

Today Caritas Croatia representatives took part in a Caritas Europa virtual meeting. In the next 24 hours, Caritas Europa members will say how much material support in kind is available to meet Caritas Ukraine's needs.

Emphasis is on equipment used in crisis situations caused by war, Caritas Croatia said.

It will carry out psychosocial assistance projects and organize summer holidays for children from east Ukraine as well as raise money.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Croatian Parliament Issues Declaration Condemning Aggression Against Ukraine

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - The Croatian parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday unanimously adopted a declaration on Ukraine strongly condemning Russia's unprovoked aggression on its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.

The declaration states that the Croatian parliament calls on Russia to immediately stop the military attack and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

The parliament also condemns the recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent entities because that act represents a gross violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and undermines the foundations of the international order.

It is also said that it gives full support to the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

The parliament expresses full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and calls on the Croatian government to provide humanitarian and technical assistance.

Committee President Gari Cappelli said they were also aware of the economic consequences the conflict would have on the Croatian economy, especially on tourism since many Ukrainian people spend their summer holidays in Croatia, which could cost the budget €350 million.

Unofficially, Croatia will accept several thousands of refugees from Ukraine.

For more, check out our politics section.