Saturday, 24 July 2021

Milanović: Once Serbia Enters Euro Zone, Let It Propose Tesla As Well

ZAGREB, 24 July, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Saturday commented on the reactions from Belgrade following the announcement that Croatia will put the image of scientist Nikola Tesla on euro coins, saying that "once Serbia enters the euro zone, let it propose Tesla as well." 

Writing in a Facebook post, Milanović recalled a failed initiative by the Serb National Council (SNV) of more than ten years ago to establish "a Serb ethnic bank" in Croatia that was to be named after Nikola Tesla.

The initiative was launched in cooperation with "the state leadership and a development fund of Serbia, which allocated nearly five million euro of Serbian taxpayers' money for that purpose", and the SNV's idea was also for Croatia to make its contribution to the initial capital.

"The entire project for an ethnic bank was half forgotten over time, primarily because it was untenable businesswise," Milanović said. 

Milanović, who had served as prime minister at the time, said that he and his finance minister, Slavko Linić, had tried to find a solution, but to no avail, despite the millions of euro from Belgrade and the Croatian contribution. "Our intentions were sincere, but it didn't work."

"It's all right when a financial institution (Tesla Bank) should be established with the joint financial support of Croatia and Serbia. In that case, I guess, Tesla is our common heritage. When Croatia, a forthcoming member of the euro zone, proposes that Tesla should be on a coin, that is cultural appropriation according to Serbia's central bank," Milanović said, adding in conclusion: "Once Serbia enters the euro zone, let it propose Tesla as well and everyone will be happy." 

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 23 July 2021

PM: Serbian Bank Can Have Opinion but Has no Say Concerning Tesla and Euro Coins

ZAGREB, 23 July 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that the Serbian National Bank (NBS), which contests Croatia's intention to put the image of Nikola Tesla on euro coins, could express its opinion on the matter and could take a stand, but that that had no influence in the decision making.

"Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan on the territory of Croatia. And he lived most of his life in the USA. It is citizens who have recommended that one of the future euro coins should include the image of Nikola Tesla, we do not appropriate anybody," Plenković said after the NBS said on Thursday that putting Tesla's image on the national side of euro coins if Croatia joined the euro area "would represent appropriation of the cultural and scientific legacy of the Serb people."

Plenković elaborated that the suggestion made by Croatians amounted to a great gesture, having in mind the fact that Tesla was of Serb descent and his own merits globally were unquestionable.

We can be proud of that. I cannot see why somebody may deem it as a problem. If I were on the helm of the National Bank of Serbia, I would send congratulations (for such a decision), the Croatian PM said.

The NBS responded with its objections after Plenković announced that Tesla's image would appear on 50, 20 and 10 cent euro coins when Croatia joined the euro area.

The Croatian National Bank Currency Committee on Wednesday defined a final proposal of motifs for the national side of Croatia's future euro coins. This will now be considered by the National Council for the introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency, after which the government will adopt a conclusion.

The Croatian coat-of-arms, a geographical map of Croatia, the marten (after which the Croatian currency is named), the Glagolitic script and Tesla are motifs that have been proposed.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Reference to Dayton Was Opposed by Germany, Italy And Other States

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that the reference to the Dayton agreement in NATO's communique adopted on Monday had been opposed by Germany, Italy and some other Western countries, and added that possible changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina must not happen without Croatia and Serbia.

Milanović made the statement in Slovakia, where he participated in the GLOBSEC 2021 Forum and met with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

He discussed with them the NATO summit held in Brussels on Monday, at which Croatia, Milanović said, managed to have a reference to the Dayton peace agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) incorporated in the summit's closing declaration only after insisting on it for six days.

"That should not have happened, that should have been resolved a week ago. Somebody is against it, has a problem with the Dayton agreement and wants to dismantle it," Milanović said, adding that at the same time those countries were criticising the Serb BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik for violating the Dayton agreement.

"Something is not right about that way of thinking," he said.

Milanović noted that a number of countries - Germany, Italy and some other Western countries - had been opposed to mentioning the Dayton peace agreement in the communique.

"Western Europe - and I'm not talking about the leaders, definitely not about Angela Merkel, is acting foolishly, undermining one of the foundations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, regardless of how imperfect it may be, protects it against destabilisation," he said.

Criticism of German diplomacy

Milanović went on to say that talks on the communique had not been conducted by the German chancellor but by the German foreign ministry which, he said, was headed by a political camp different from Merkel's and one he felt close to, "namely by people who in their fantasy are prone to making silly experiments."

The current German foreign minister is Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats who are part of the coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Some Western European countries advocate a so-called civic model for Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace the concept of three constituent peoples envisaged by the Dayton peace agreement. Commenting on that on Monday, Milanović said that "it sounds very noble but is actually a hoax."

"They should do it back at home. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as it is, we share a long border and we will soon have to guard it for the Schengen area," he said.

Milanović stressed that plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be made "under the radar" and that any changes in the neighbouring country had to involve Croatia and Serbia, co-signatories to the Dayton agreement, adding that he had explained this to his Slovakian and Polish counterparts.

"That is how things are done in diplomacy, as far as I can remember. I used to be a diplomat and I never caused a scandal. Then I entered politics and in politics you have to cause scandals to be heard," he said.

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

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Migrant Smuggling Market in Balkans Worth €50 Million

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - The migrant smuggling market in the Western Balkans is worth at least €50 million a year, says a report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, describing Serbia as an important destination for migrants because it borders with four EU member states.

The report notes that Serbian police have discovered several tunnels, three to seven metres deep and up to 30 metres long, under the wire fence along the Serbia-Hungary border near the Hungarian town of Szeged and village of Ásotthalom and the Serbian village of Kelebija.

The tunnels are considered relatively risky due to the possibility of arrest and the danger of them collapsing. The smugglers' fees range from €500 to 5,000.

This is much less than during the 2015 migrant however statistics show that the regional market for migrant smuggling is still large regardless of attempts to close the so-called Balkan migrant smuggling route, says the Global Initiative, an international network fighting acquisition of illegal gain and crime.

Quoting Voice of America, the Belgrade media reported about the report, which focuses on the flows of people, drugs and money in the Western Balkans.

Using maps and analyses helps identify key entry and exit points for migrant smuggling through six Western Balkan countries, as well as locations that serve as drug smuggling hubs. Not even the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have disrupted illicit flows, says the Global Initiative.

Its report identifies Serbia as an important destination for asylum-seekers and migrants because the country borders with four EU members - Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

The report quotes data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under which in 2019, 30,216 migrants entered Serbia, almost twice as many as in 2018. The report also quotes data from the Serbian Ministry of the Interior under which in 2020 more than 8,500 migrants were prevented from illegally crossing the Serbian border.

 

 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

PM Says No Room for Intolerance in Croatia

ZAGREB, 6 May 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday condemned hate speech used by a group of football fans in Borovo Selo near the eastern town of Vukovar, underscoring that there is no justification for last Sunday's incident and that there is no room for intolerance in Croatian society.

The incident occurred on the day of commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the killing of 12 Croatian policemen who lost their lives at the start of the Homeland War, and also coincided with this year's Easter celebrated by Orthodox believers according to the Julian calendar.

"There is no room for intolerance in Croatian society against the Serb minority or anyone else. We will always be strongly opposed to that and clearly condemn hate speech against anyone of our compatriots because we advocate a society in which everyone feels good and experience Croatia as their home," said Plenković opening Thursday's cabinet meeting.

He added that the 2 May incident was contrary to Croatia's interests and certainly was not a patriotic act, but just the opposite.

It is not hard to imagine that in such incidents there will be some people that will try maliciously to equate the victim and aggressor, finding some sort of abortive justification for their atrocities 30 years ago. That is all the more reason for clear condemnation, he added.

In an effort to appropriately punish those responsible, the police reacted immediately and arrested the participants involved in that provocative and impermissible incident, he added.

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

Sunday, 2 May 2021

President and Government Condemn Borovo Incident

ZAGREB, 2 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović has condemned an incident that occurred in the eastern town of Borovo on Sunday morning when a group of young men chanted anti-Serb slogans, calling it shameful and heinous hate speech.

"In Borovo today a group of men tried to incite violence using heinous hate speech against our fellow citizens Serbs. That is a disgrace and deserves absolute condemnation," Milanović wrote on Facebook. 

He criticized the police, whom he called the police of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Serb leader Milorad Pupovac, for not taking pre-emptive action to prevent the incident.

The Vukovar-Srijem County Police Department has confirmed that around 6.30 am on Sunday, after laying wreaths at the monument to 12 police officers killed by Serb paramilitaries 30 years ago, a group of about 20 young men went into the town chanting anti-Serb slogans, including "Kill the Serbs". The police responded promptly, identifying the perpetrators. Footage of the incident was posted on the town's Facebook account.

Government strongly condemns the incident

The government also strongly condemned the incident, calling it a scandalous act of provocation and hate speech by a group of football fans. It said that it would always oppose and condemn hate speech against any fellow citizens.

"In Croatian society, there is no room for such outrageous behavior and intolerance towards members of the Serb ethnic minority, who celebrate Orthodox Easter today, or any other minority," the government said in a statement. 

"We will always strongly oppose and clearly condemn the stirring up of hatred against any of our fellow citizens. The Croatian police responded promptly and are investigating to bring those responsible to justice," the government.

For more about politics in Croatia, visit our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Friends of Croatia: New TCN Series On All Things Diplomatic

April 20, 2021 - Check out the newest TCN series "Friends of Croatia", dealing with all things diplomatic, by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac

December 22, 1990, the Croatian parliament known as Sabor brought its first independent constitution, known as „The Christmas Constitution“. After that, the same parliament officially declared Croatia as an independent country and no longer part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. Then followed the Ex-Yu War known in Croatia as a Homeland War, which lasted until 1995.

While this war is one of the foundations of Croatian independence, noted by the modern constitution as well as on other grounds of historic events, the dedication of soldiers, tactics, weapons, force and combat skills weren't the only cards Croatia had to achieve its sovereignty. It was also the communication with the international community and international recognition. This allowed Croatian citizens to not end up in the trap of Transnistria, a sovereign state officially recognized as part of Moldova, where Moldova does not rule due to the army and force monopoly by the Transnistrian government, but whose passports have no benefit for its citizens and despite being a state, in official maps does not exist.

Iceland was the first sovereign country to recognize Croatia as a sovereign state on December 19, 1991, followed by Germany in whose recognition took effect on January 15, 1992. Slovenia technically did recognise Croatia first, the same as Croatia was the first to recognise Slovenia, but neither country had international recognition at the time, which is the reason Iceland counts first. Floored by Iceland and Germany, other countries started to recognize Croatia and the new-found Republic joined the UN on May 22, 1992. The international status was then additionally boosted with joining Nato on April 1, 2009, and the EU on July 1, 2013.

Today, Croatia has 176 diplomatic relations; and for TCN writers, reporting on diplomacy is nothing new. Diplomatic relations can be viewed, in layman terms, like friendships, and this is why this series is called „Friends of Croatia“. As stated by the E-International relations site, diplomacy has existed as long as the human race. It can be viewed in the first negotiations amongst individuals before graduating to the level we know today.

„Among the many functions of diplomacy, some include preventing war and violence and fortifying relations between two nations. Diplomacy is most importantly used to complete a specific agenda. Therefore without diplomacy, much of the world’s affairs would be abolished, international organizations would not exist, and above all, the world would be in a constant state of war. It is for diplomacy that certain countries can exist in harmony“, writes the E-International relations site.

And indeed, shutting down diplomatic relations is a final step before potential war escalation and the spread of violence. Even with certain diplomatic tensions, Croatia has with Slovenia around Piranski Bay, or with Serbia regarding uncleared questions from the Homeland War, the fact there are diplomatic relations both with Serbia and Slovenia ensures that these tensions can be solved by peace and not violence.

But what exactly are the details of Croatian diplomatic relations with other countries and international organizations? This is precisely what this series strives to bring by explaining the history of Croatian diplomatic relations by talking to diplomats, embassies, and representers of international communities, with an informative, unique approach to each specific relation. The series wants to inform of the ups and downs of Croatian international collaboration, how to make them better, what benefits are there in these relations for Croatia, and what benefits are there for other countries. Keep your eyes open for articles in these series with more details and interesting facts about diplomacy in general too.

If you are working in the embassy or in an international organization in Croatia, feel free to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

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

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

VukovART 2021 to Return Art, Culture and Joy to the City of Vukovar

April 20, 2021 - With a five-year tradition already in place, VukovART 2021 promises a month of fun and exciting activities for Vukovar with visual eye candy as souvenirs to last.

A unique concept in the culture and art of Vukovar, the VukovART festival will be held from May 15 all the way to June 15, writes HRTurizam.  

With a five-year tradition, the streets and squares of Vukovar will once again host numerous exhibitions and workshops, debates, children's programs, film, and literary programs, panel discussions, colorful lectures, and concerts. This event, organized by the City of Vukovar and Val Kulture association, co-financed by the European Social fund, promotes Vukovar as a Port of Art, changing the visual identity of the city making it a beautiful place to live. In addition to the local community, tourists also enjoy the eye candy of the city's open-air gallery. Artists Boa Mistura (Spain), BustArt (Switzerland), Jana Brike (Latvia), Mr Woodland (Germany), Victor Splash (Russia), Artez (Serbia), Juandres Vera (Mexico), Kerim Musanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marion Ruthardt from (Germany), and Croatia's own Forest are ten artists who will come this year to give their contribution to the growing visual content of the city.

The festival will be opened by a beloved Croatian band Vatra (Fire), with performances of Mia Dimšić, musical composition CLUE, and vocal composition Watercolor in the following days too. During every larger event of the festival, „a superb craft scene and street food“ offers will be offered to visitors too. 

VukovArt_-_Art_Harbour.jpg

© VukovArt - Art Harbour

Famous Croatian singer from Psihomodo Pop with a neck in painting as well, Davor Gobac will exhibit his paintings and also host Motivational and Art Workshop for children.

„There will also be an active weekend led by the Vukovar Half Marathon, and for a slightly more relaxing activity, a bicycle race will be organized to tour previous works of art“, says HRTurizam article.

Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish, Dusan Bučan, and Robert Knjaz will host travel lectures and the full program and more details can be found on VukovART official website and on social networks.  

Learn more about Croatia's festivals on our TC page.  

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

 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Zvonko Milas: "Serbian Croats Receiving More and More Threats"

ZAGREB, 25 March, 2021 - The head of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad on Thursday told the parliament that after the "shameful" decision of the Subotica city's authorities to give a status of an official language to the Bunjevci vernacular, local Croats in Serbia had been receiving more and more threats.

In the wake of the discussions about that wrong and shameful decision by the Subotica City Council, which were also soon followed by the propaganda film "Dara iz Jasenovca",  more and more threats were made against ethnic Croats, notably ethnic Croat leaders in Serbia, Zvonko Milas told the Sabor, while presenting the 2019 report on the implementation of the strategy pertaining to Croat communities outside Croatia.

He also warned that the Subotica decision on the Bunjevci vernacular was against the Croatia-Serbia bilateral agreement on the respective ethnic minorities and that it also led to the further fragmentation of the ethnic Croat community in Vojvodina and Serbia.

Milas said that Croatia would do its utmost to make sure that Slovenia can grant a status of ethnic minority to local Croats.

The community has more than 50,000 members, Milas said adding that Slovenia does not recognise any ethnic rights of those Croats.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Building Bridges Between Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia

February 18, 2021 – Appropriate government bodies of the three neighbours have come together and agreed to work together to improve bridges between Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia

We say building bridges between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. It's actually more a case of renovating and maintaining bridges between Croatia and the two neighbours to the east.

Despite what journalist Zdenko Jurilj describes as “constant political skirmishes” between the neighbours, in Vecernji List's coverage of this news, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of Ministers and the governments of Croatia and Serbia have reached an agreement to work together in the rebuilding, maintenance and review of bridges which connect them. According to the signed agreement, each party will share 50% of the costs without, as it says, "claiming compensation from the other party, unless otherwise agreed between them."

In other words, the cost of renovating bridges between Croatia and Bosnia will be half paid by Bosnia, half paid by Croatia, the cost of renovating bridges between Bosnia and Serbia will be half paid by Serbia, half paid by Bosnia.

According to the agreement between the three governments, equipment needed for the reconstruction and maintenance of the bridges will be exempt from customs duties. Bridge managers shall make a detailed inspection of each of the bridges at least once every five years and independent experts appointed by the bridges' trustees will inspect them each year.

There are 10 bridges between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina which will be jointly maintained. Most of them stretch between the countries across the Sava river, although a few cross over the Una, Maljevac and Korana rivers. A further 11 bridges between Serbia and Bosnia are within the agreement, making a total of 21 bridges to exist within the deal.

Although there are bridges between Croatia and Serbia (including at Ilok and Erdut in Slavonia), within the article published by Vecernji List there is no mention of an agreement to improve bridges between Croatia and Serbia. Following the optimistic and uplifting promise of the headline at the start of this news item, this fact is a rather more unfortunate metaphor on which to end it.

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