Thursday, 7 July 2022

EC Okays €500m Croatia Scheme to Help Companies Hit by Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

ZAGREB, 7 July 2022 - The European Commission on Thursday approved an up to €500 million Croatian scheme to support companies across sectors in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EC reported.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the Commission on 23 March 2022, based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU'), recognizing that the EU economy is experiencing a serious disturbance.

The EC's Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy,  was quoted as saying that "in a period during which the functioning of the market is severely disturbed, this up to €500 million Croatian scheme will ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available to those companies affected by the current geopolitical crisis by incentivizing lending by private banks."

"We continue to stand with Ukraine and its people. At the same time, we continue working closely with the Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a timely, coordinated, and effective way while protecting the level playing field in the Single Market," she said.

Support to companies across sectors active in Croatia

Croatia informed the EC under the Temporary Crisis Framework of an up to €500 million scheme to support companies across sectors active in Croatia in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The measure will be open to companies active in all sectors affected by the current crisis, except credit and financial institutions.

Measure to be administered by HBOR

Under this measure to be administered by the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR), the aid will consist of limited amounts of aid or liquidity support in any of the following forms: (i) direct loans;(ii) subsidized loans; or (iii) interest rate subsidies, says the EC.

This measure is aimed at incentivizing lending by private banks to companies severely affected by the current geopolitical situation in a period during which the normal functioning of the market is significantly disturbed.

When it comes to limited amounts of aid, (i) the support will not exceed €35,000 per company active in the agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors and €400,000 per company active in all other sectors; and (ii) the aid will be granted by 31 December 2022 at the latest, says the EC.

When it comes to liquidity support in the form of subsidized loans, the maximum amount per beneficiary will be equal to (i) 15% of its average total annual turnover over the last three closed accounting periods; or (ii) 50% of the energy costs incurred over a 12-month period preceding the application for aid.

Furthermore, (i) the maturity of the loans is limited to six years; (ii) the annual interest rates on the loans respect the minimum levels set out in the Temporary Crisis Framework; (iii) the loans relate to investment or working capital needs; and (iv) the loans contracts will be signed by 31 December 2022 at the latest.

Exceptionally, when the companies are active in sectors that are particularly affected by direct or indirect effects of the current geopolitical crisis and the related sanctions, the amount of the loan may be increased to cover their liquidity needs (i) for a 12-month period for SMEs; and (ii) for a 6 month-period for large enterprises.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Zelenskyy Thanks Croatia for Helping with Its Experience in Defense of Country

ZAGREB, 24 June 2022 - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy individually thanked each leader of the EU member states for granting his country candidate status, including Croatia's Prime Minister for "helping with the experience of defending freedom," Ukrainian media reported on Friday.

"Croatia is with us. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your help with the experience we are using to protect our freedom,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday after Ukraine was granted EU candidate status, according to the Ukrainian Kyiv Post.

Addressing EU leaders on Thursday, Zelenskyy said they had made one of the most important decisions for Ukraine in its 30 years of independence.

"However, I believe that this decision is not only for Ukraine. "This is the biggest step towards strengthening Europe that could be taken right now, in our time and in such difficult conditions, when the Russian war is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity," Zelensky said.

The leaders of the EU member states made a historic decision in Brussels on Thursday and granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and promised a European perspective to Georgia.

Ukraine and Moldova received candidate status in the shortest possible time until now.

Ukraine submitted a request on 28 February this year, four days after the Russian invasion, and a few days later the same was done by Georgia and Moldova.

As early as 7 March, the European Council asked the European Commission to draw up an opinion on these requests. The EC did so on 17 June.

Croatia, for example, applied for membership on 21 February 2003, and two months later the Council asked the Commission to issue an opinion.

One year later, in April 2004, the Commission issued its opinion for Croatia, and its candidate status was granted in June 2004. Croatia joined the EU in mid-2013.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 6 June 2022

Vukovar-Srijem County Sends Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 6 June 2022 - On Monday, 16.4 tonnes of humanitarian aid worth HRK 247,311 (€33,000) collected by Vukovar-Srijem County in cooperation with cities and municipalities in this eastern Croatian county was sent from Vinkovci to Ukraine.

At the initiative of County Prefect Damir Dekanić and with the support of the Embassy of Ukraine in Croatia, Vukovar-Srijem County organized the collection of aid for the friendly Transcarpathian region, mainly durable food, baby food, water, and cosmetics.

"We are a region that has experienced the horrors of war in the worst way and it would be sad if we did not recognize someone's suffering. We have accepted refugees from Ukraine since day one and we are ready to continue to do so, but we hope the war in Ukraine stops," said Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić.

According to Dekanić, the campaign, led by the county, was joined by 17 Vukovar-Srijem municipalities and the cities of Ilok and Otok. The county provided HRK 142,751, while cities and municipalities contributed HRK 104,560.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

Friday, 3 June 2022

Wounded Croatian Soldier in Ukraine Returning for Treatment

June 3, 2022 - A Croatian citizen who fought in Ukraine was recently wounded in battle and is expected to return to Croatia for treatment. The wounded Croatian soldier joined the Ukrainian army as a volunteer.

According to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the wounded Croatian soldier in question was transported to a safe place from where he will be provided with transport and continue his journey back to Croatia, where he will continue his treatment in one of Zagreb's hospitals, reports Jutarnji List.

''We can confirm the information about the injured Croatian citizen in Ukraine, who was transported to safety by the joint efforts of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Ministry of Health along with the help of the Ukrainian authorities. From where he is now, he will be provided with further transport and continue his journey to Croatia'', said the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Jutarnji list learned that the Croatian citizen who was wounded in Ukraine is stable and out of danger. 

''A young man went to Ukraine to fight at the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine,'' confirmed Denis Scheler, who was a member of the Azov Regiment for six years, and who was recently accused by Moscow of organising the departure of Croats to Ukraine.

''What I do know is that he was slightly injured because of a small amount of shrapnel that hit him. He is able to normally and everything is fine, it's nothing terrible,'' says Scheler.

He is on his way to Zagreb where he will be treated and then spend time recovering after being wounded on the southeastern battlefield in Ukraine about ten days ago. Scheler notes that no Croats are in the Azov Regiment, and that includes this particular wounded man.

As Jutarnji list unofficially found out, the Croat wounded in Ukraine will be taken by a Croatian ambulance from the Hungarian-Ukrainian border and most likely transferred to Dubrava Hospital, unless some specific injuries are identified that cannot be treated there. He will then be transferred to KBC Zagreb.

The Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, only briefly confirmed to Jutarnji list that the organisation of the reception of the wounded Croatian citizen from Ukraine is in progress, and that his injuries pose no danger to his life.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

PM Says President Milanović is Acting to Advantage of Russia

ZAGREB, 31 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković rejected in Brussels on Tuesday President Zoran Milanović claim's that sanctions against Russia were ineffective and only did harm to European citizens, accusing him of acting to the advantage of the Russian aggressor.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Croatian president said that the European sanctions against Russia were not working since Moscow could sell oil to others. He made the statement after the EU decided to impose a partial embargo on the import of oil from Russia.

"It is incorrect that the sanctions are not helping, thanks to its energy sources, Russia is financing war operations in which a large number of soldiers and civilians die every day," Plenković said after a EU summit in Brussels, at which the sixth package of sanctions against Russia was hammered out.

Plenković added that sanctions were a moral matter and that one should be on the right side of history and law.

"The government is, I am, and the Croatian public should ask themselves whether mister Milanović is," Plenković said.

"We are pursuing a policy in the interest of Croatia and in the interest of the EU, in the interest of justice and solidarity, and if he's pursuing a policy... to the advantage of the Russian aggressor, he should explain that to citizens, because we aren't. Unfortunately, that has been happening for months and is no longer a coincidence, it's a great pity and shame for Croatia," he added.

Plenković also rejected Milanović's claims that Croatia was no energy hub.

Denying Croatia's strategic role in our neighborhood, all the activities we do, the fact that the LNG terminal was realized during our term of office, and the fact that investments in critical infrastructure would give Croatia a completely different position can be called either ignorance or jealousy. All of that is human and I'm sorry he gives such statements, said Plenković.

During its summit meeting in Brussels on Monday, the European Union agreed on a new set of sanctions whereby seaborne oil imports from Russia would be immediately banned. Two-thirds of the Russian oil imported by the EU comes via tanker and one-third by the Druzhba pipeline. The embargo on seaborne oil imports would therefore apply to two-thirds of all oil imported from Russia. Since Germany and Poland announced that they would completely give up Russian oil by year's end, the import of Russian oil will drop by 90%.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Croatian President Does Not Believe that EU Sanctions Have Any Effect

ZAGREB, 31 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that the European sanctions against Russia "are not working" since Moscow could sell oil to others.

During its summit meeting in Brussels on Monday, the European Union agreed on a new set of sanctions whereby seaborne oil imports from Russia would be immediately banned. Two-thirds of the Russian oil imported by the EU comes via tanker and one-third by the Druzhba pipeline. The embargo on seaborne oil imports would therefore apply to two-thirds of all oil imported from Russia.

Milanović said in his ironical comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin could now have a self-complacent smile on his face, and gas and oil supplies could be redirected from Russia to other destinations "where there is a high demand for them".

Milanović went on to say that European citizens will pay a high price for the sanctions that are not working.

"Perhaps one day, they will start producing some effect. Currently, neither has the rouble depreciated nor is Russia feeling the financial effects (of the sanctions). Once it starts feeling them, the war will be already over."

Milanović, therefore, thinks that Europe should introduce "an all-out energy embargo" against Russia. He wonders why no embargo has been put on the gas imports from Russia.

As part of the agreement to ban the import of Russian oil delivered by ships, Hungary will be able to procure oil via Croatia in case of problems with the Druzhba pipeline.

Milanović finds this to be good for Hungary, while Croatia is "irrelevant" in this case and it can only earn a pittance in this arrangement.

"I would like to see Croatia playing a crucial role. However, Croatia is not a key player. Croatia is no player, at all," said Milanović, calling for being engaged in a tug of war in trade.

He again claimed that Croatia "is not fighting for its interests".

Even if it recognizes its interests, Croatia fails to advertise them. We are afraid of demanding anything. We are ashamed of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while we have understanding for the Turks," said Milanović in reference to his view on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the problems surrounding the current electoral law in that country.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Ukrainian, Croatian Actors Protest in Cannes Against Censorship of Images of War

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - Ukrainian filmmaker Maksym Nakonechny and actors in his film "Butterfly Vision", including Ukrainian and Croatian actors, held a protest against social-media censorship of Russia's invasion, on Wednesday in Cannes before the premiere of this film.

The group covered their faces with content-warning signs and held a banner that read "Russians kill Ukrainians. Do you find it offensive and disturbing to talk about this genocide?”, while air raid sirens were played over the speaker system.

Among the protesting actors were Croatians Daria Lorenci Flatz and Edvin Liverić, who played roles in the film. The film is a Croatian minority co-production and is co-produced by Anita Juka (for 4Film), the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) reported on Thursday.

Butterfly Vision, which premiered globally in Cannes, is "a harsh and surreal story about a Ukrainian woman named Lilia who, after spending months as a prisoner of war after the Donbas Conflict a few years ago, struggles to return to her life as a soldier and wife in her homeland, refusing to be labeled a victim." The script was co-written by Maksym Nakonechnyi and Iryna Tsilyk, says HAVC.

Lorenci Flatz was quoted as saying that she was happy to see that the film had won rounds of applause from a sympathetic audience in the Debussy theatre in Cannes.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Russia Says Disappointed with Croatia's Hostile Behaviour

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - Russia is disappointed with the hostile actions of the Croatian authorities in recent months, but hopes their mutually beneficial cooperation will be restored, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement was released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Croatia and Slovenia, and the latter is also accused of "destroying bilateral relations."

Croatia and Slovenia have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and joined in European sanctions against Moscow. As part of those measures, Zagreb in April expelled 18 Russian diplomats and six members of administrative staff.

"Unfortunately, the Croatian authorities have in recent months adopted a hostile position towards Russia that is in stark contrast with the quality of our bilateral relations, destroys their foundations and causes serious damage to the true interests of people in the two countries," the statement says.

Such destructive behaviour, it says, represents a "baleful approach that has no future".

"We believe common sense will prevail, and Croatia will return to the path of constructive dialogue, based, among other things, on the awareness of geopolitical realities and true national interests," the statement said.

Speaking of Slovenia, Moscow said that it was disappointed by its government's decision to take "entirely unprovoked hostile actions" aimed at "destroying bilateral relations despite the historical logic of their development."

"We are confident that such policy on the part of Slovenian authorities, which is contrary to the true interests of our friendly peoples, will eventually give way to a balanced position natural for Russian-Slovenian relations," the Russian ministry said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Milanović Says Ukraine is Not Only Crisis That Deserves Attention

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 - Addressing the opening of a World Health Assembly session in Geneva on Sunday, President Zoran Milanović said he was following the attacks at hospitals and healthcare institutions in Ukraine with great sorrow and dismay, however, he added, this was not the only crisis that deserved global attention.

This year’s session of the Health Assembly focuses on the theme of "Health for Peace, Peace for Health" and will run from the 22-28 May at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic are also the topics on the agenda of the ongoing gathering.

Commenting on the theme of the meeting, President Milanović said that it evoked memories of the shelling of hospitals, healthcare institutions and ambulances and suffering of civilians during the 1991-1995 Homeland War in Croatia.

"At that time even children's hospitals were not safe havens", he recalled.

"Today it is with great sorrow and dismay that Croatia is following the attacks against hospitals and healthcare institutions in Ukraine. However, this is not the only crisis that the world is facing", he added.

"The developments in Ukraine are perhaps in the greatest focus of interest, however, there are many other conflicts occurring on the global level which may also deserve our equal support and attention", said Milanović.

He called for stronger and more inclusive healthcare architecture and for bracing for future threats to public health.

The Croatian president said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed great weaknesses in the global health management.

On Sunday morning, Milanović met with the World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and expressed support for his reelection to this post.

Also on Sunday, Ghebreyesus bestowed the WHO Director-General's Health Leaders Award on Milanović's wife, Sanja Musić Milanović, a doctor, for her long-standing promotion of health. The ceremony was held before the third edition of the event called Walk the Talk in Geneva.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Hajduk: Over €80,000 Raised in Charity Friendly for Ukrainian Children

2 May 2022 (Hina) - Over HRK 600,000 (€80,000) was raised for Ukrainian children left without parents as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a friendly charity match between Hajduk Split and Shakhtar Donetsk in Split on Sunday, the Croatian football club said.

A total of 6,550 tickets were sold for the match and more than 30,000 calls were placed to the donor number 060 9006, which will be active until 15 May. Among the guests at Hajduk's call centre were well-known athletes, actors, singers, members of the management board and UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.

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