Thursday, 5 May 2022

Croatia To Give €5 Mn Donation For Ukraine At Warsaw Donor Conference

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - Croatia will give Ukraine a donation worth €5 million at a donor conference taking place in Warsaw on Thursday, and the event will be addressed virtually by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Croatian government on Thursday decided to donate to Ukraine financial aid in the amount of four million euros plus a €1 million worth of water and medicines donated by Croatian companies.

"Croatia knows what is means to be attacked and will continue helping Ukraine from the heart and out of principle," PM Andrej Plenković told reporters while arriving for the conference, organised by the Polish and Swedish governments.

The conference is co-hosted by Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki and Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson, in partnership with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Plenković travelled to Poland together with Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, and he is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the margins of the event, including with outgoing Slovenian PM Janez Janša.

The Polish Foreign Ministry on Monday said it expected at least ten delegations at the event.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the conference virtually, and a Ukrainian delegation is expected to arrive in the Polish capital.

At the last donor conference organised in Warsaw in early April by the European Commission, Canadian government and Global Citizens organisation, more than €10 million was raised for Ukraine.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Croatian President Says Western Sanctions Will Not Stop War In Ukraine

ZAGREB, 7 April 2022 - Sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia will not stop the war in Ukraine, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said during a visit to Switzerland, adding that the war could be stopped only with the help of diplomacy.

"These sanctions will not be enough to stop the war," Milanović said at a news conference after meeting his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.

The Croatian president said that having followed "the stock exchange in Moscow and the ruble that has returned to the level of a month ago in relation to the dollar", he had to conclude that "as in every such case, it unfortunately only encourages thugs."

"I would be happiest if Russia withdrew in an hour, if it simply left, but that won't happen," Milanović said, adding that the only way to stop the war is diplomacy, with mediation by the countries "that enjoy a certain level of trust."

There are just a few such countries in the world, he said at the end of the news conference, without specifying them.

"Croatia cannot do much in Ukraine," but it can do much in the Western Balkans, he said, adding that he and his Swiss counterpart discussed the topic at Cassis's suggestion.

"That concerns us directly and we have good intentions," Milanović added.

The Western Balkans is very important for Europe's stability and its security architecture, the Swiss president, a liberal and physician by profession, said.

Cassis said he was particularly moved to talk about that with the Croatian president and that it took him back to the time when he worked as a physician in Switzerland, working also with completely traumatised victims of war from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After their meeting, the two presidents participated in a panel on security challenges in Europe and Switzerland's neutrality, after which they were expected to visit CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Ukraine Crisis Won't Spill Over to Western Balkans, Biden's Envoy Says

4 April 2022 - The war in Ukraine cannot spill over to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia is an example of a smart energy policy, the United States administration's special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said on Monday.

Speaking at the US-Croatia Forum in Zagreb, he said he did not think the Ukraine crisis could spill over to Croatia's neighbourhood because it had returned Europe's focus to dealing with crises around it.

The war in Ukraine has also led to EU membership candidates pro-actively showing solidarity with Western values, Escobar said, adding that Serbia condemned the Russian invasion at the UN General Assembly early in March, calling this a seismic change.

Nonetheless, he said, Serbia is not the toughest topic he discusses with other countries in the neighbourhood, but BiH.

US-Serbia relations go back 140 years and all this time Belgrade has been a close partner to Washington, for example in the two world wars, he added.

The question today is how to draw Serbia to Western democracies, where it has always been and where it belongs, Escobar said, adding that the integration process slowed down during the Slobodan Milošević regime which, he said, was marked by bad governance.

Escobar is confident that the next generation of Serbs will lean more towards Europe, saying they prove this by emigrating to Europe and the US, not to China and Russia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

As for BiH, which, he has reiterated, does not have an ethnic but a corruption problem, he said it was the biggest challenge in the Western Balkans and that it was a country where the West's promises had been fulfilled the least.

Escobar said he hoped that BiH would hold general elections this year.

According to him, it is key to establish functional authorities that will fight against corruption, attract investment and create conditions for young people. However, he said, BiH is a sovereign state and the political will must come from within.

We must encourage them, but it is their responsibility to find solutions, he said about BiH political leaders.

Croatia as a good ally

Escobar went on to say that Croatia is always present in the relations with the US, whether in terms of energy diversification or helping Ukrainian refugees, which, he added, he could not say about all US allies.

Croatia is an outstanding example of a smart energy policy and other countries should follow it, he said, referring to the LNG terminal which Croatia built before the current energy supply crisis.

Thursday, 24 March 2022

9,500 Ukrainians Find Refuge In Croatia So Far

ZAGREB, 24 March - About 9,500 Ukrainians displaced by the war in their country have found refuge in Croatia, Tomislav Marević of the Civil Protection Directorate said on Thursday.

"These are still mainly women and children, and many of them are accommodated privately," Marević said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

He said he was proud that Croatia had responded in solidarity already in the first weeks of the war and that citizens were taking in displaced persons voluntarily.

He commended the government's decision to finance accommodation for refugees, adding that the Civil Protection Directorate would sign a contract with each user and owner of a property.

Anny Brusić, director of the association of small and medium-sized enterprises at the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), said that the business community was very interested in hiring Ukrainian refugees.

"We need a little more time to get the system going because certain procedures need to be simplified before hiring actually begins. A state authority should say that at this point Ukrainian workers are not required to show a certificate of education or a diploma. Our legislation is rather rigid," Brusić said.


Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Ministry: Current Situation Affecting Tourism Demand To Some Extent, Bookings Good

ZAGREB, 16 March 2022 - The current geopolitical situation regarding the war in Ukraine, the growth of prices of energy products and inflation are affecting demand in the tourism sector to some extent, but bookings have not stopped, the Croatian Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry issued the statement following a regular online meeting held this week between Minister Nikolina Brnjac and heads of Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) offices abroad.

Bookings for Croatian destinations have not stopped despite the current geopolitical situation, the heads of the HTZ offices said, noting that by 24 February, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, the booking dynamic and announcements for the peak tourist season were at the level of the record year 2019 and that in some segments they were around 10% better.

According to data from the HTZ eVisitor system, in the first two months of this year 410,000 tourists visited Croatia, generating slightly more than 1.2 million overnight stays, which are increases of 98% and 83% respectively compared to the same months of 2021.

Almost half the arrivals, 196,100, were foreign visitors, which is an increase of as much as 371.2% compared to the first two months of 2021, and they generated 721,000 overnight stays, an increase of 187%.

The most numerous foreign visitors were Slovenians, visitors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austrians and Germans.


Politics: For more, check out our politics section.


Thursday, 10 March 2022

Varaždin Faculty of Informatics Joins #ScienceForUkraine Initiative

ZAGREB, 10 March 2022 - The Varaždin Faculty of Organisation and Informatics said on Thursday it had joined the #ScienceForUkraine initiative due to the catastrophic consequences of the Ukraine war on its academic community.

As part of the University of Zagreb, the Faculty joined the international scientific community's social media initiative to collect information about universities, scientific institutions, and other organizations within the system that can be of help to Ukrainian students and researchers.

The Faculty, present in four northwestern Croatian cities - Varaždin, Sisak, Zabok, and Križevci - is offering help to all Ukrainian students, teachers, and researchers with whom the University of Zagreb has bilateral cooperation.

The help envisages free continuation of education in Croatian or English, the possibility of completing part of the studies at the Faculty (student exchange programme), performing professional practice, involvement in teaching and research projects, and psychological counseling.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Parliament Supports Deployment of Croatian Troops in Hungary

ZAGREB, 10 March 2022 - Members of parliament on Thursday supported a proposed decision to send up to 70 Croatian troops to Hungary as part of NATO forces, agreeing that this was required by the current situation and was also Croatia's obligation.

Presenting the proposed decision, the State Secretary at the Defence Ministry, Zdravko Jakop, said the current security situation in the east of Europe was one of the most serious threats to Europe's security in the past decades.

"The attack on an independent, peaceable, democratic state is a bitter reminder that freedom, peace, security and stability cannot exist if we are not prepared to defend them," Jakop said.

Jakop said that in recent months NATO had generated additional rapid reaction forces, deploying additional forces in the eastern members of the alliance, consolidating existing forces in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and forming new battlegroups in Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

A total of HRK 38 million has been secured in the state budget for the implementation of the government's decision to send troops to Hungary, he said.

Currently, Croatia has 181 troops in UN and NATO peace missions, and most of them, 141, are serving in the mission in Kosovo.

We must be solidary, we must respect our obligations, this is the defence of peace and international order, MPs of both the ruling majority and the opposition said during the debate.

"That is the only guarantee that we will preserve what we have acquired because we live in a crazy world, with crazy leaders that will stop at nothing to launch armed conflicts," said HDZ MP Rade Šimičević.

"It is important to send a message that participation in NATO does matter, a message that in the event of a threat we are prepared to act together," said Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin.

Nino Raspudić of the Bridge party, too, supported the decision but noted that a risk assessment should have been made and the context of the decision should have been explained in geopolitical terms.

Care was taken of security assessment, and the estimate was that this is the best, least risky proposal, Jakop replied.

MPs also wanted to know if the Defence Ministry was considering increasing the number of Armed Forces members, considering the instability in Croatia's neighbourhood.

"There is a possibility of enhancing the forces with reservists, the law also provides for civil-military cooperation, there is no grading of readiness for the time being but activities are defined on a daily basis," he said.

Asked by independent MP Marijana Petir if additional NATO forces would be needed in Croatia, Jakop answered in the negative.

"That option is not being considered," he said, adding that the security situation in the neighbourhood and in Southeast Europe was being monitored and that for the time being there was no reason for concern.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

In Worst Case Scenario, How Safe Are Croatian Sberbank Savings?

March the 1st, 2022 - We recently wrote about Croatian Sberbank clients lining up outside Sberbank in Split and Zagreb to withdraw their cash as countries across Europe and the rest of the world imposed harsh sanctions on Russia following its recent invasion of Ukraine. How safe are Croatian Sberbank savings in reality?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the sense of general nervousness over sanctions imposed against Russian banks by many countries has resulted in the aforementioned queues in front of Sberbank's branches in both Zagreb and Split as Croatian Sberbank savings are withdrawn. The Croatian Deposit Insurance Agency says, however that ''there is no reason to panic, Croatian Sberbank savings are safe regardless of the war and the sanctions''.

“The deposit insurance system has been in place for more than twenty years now, there is no reason to panic about deposits in any bank. At the moment, Sberbank Croatia has slightly more than 69,952 clients, of which 69,858 clients are insured and protected,'' said the director of the Agency, Marija Hrebac. All deposits up to 100,000 euros have been secured, and DAB currently has over 5.6 billion kuna at its disposal.

More about that can be read by clicking here.

The Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) has stated that the impact of the sanctions imposed against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine is divided.

"Given the first initial insight into European sanctions, Sberbank Croatia is not directly affected. However, there are also American sanctions, and under them are all institutions, including Sberbank Croatia,'' explained Vice Governor Michael Faulend, saying that the CNB will continue to look into all of the effects.

He said that the Croatian banking system was "very stable and well-capitalised and that it was important to emphasise that Sberbank occupies approximately two percent in this system. If something were to happen to the bank in an undesirable scenario, its impact on the financial system would not be so disruptive to overall relations,'' he assured those with Croatian Sberbank savings.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.