Sunday, 29 May 2022

Galbraith: International Community was Wrong not to Prevent War in 1990s

ZAGREB, 29 May 2022 - The international community had the wrong approach in the 1990s because it was focused on maintaining Yugoslavia instead of preventing the war, former US ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith said on Sunday.

Thirty years ago, the break-up of the state simply wasn't accepted, so when Croatia and Slovenia declared independence, there was a lot of opposition, but it weakened with the break-up of the Soviet Union, he told the press ahead of a conference on 30 years since the international recognition of Croatia.

The international community, including the United States, had the wrong approach then because the problem was not the break-up of Yugoslavia's nor the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, the problem was the war, said the US ambassador to Croatia from 1993 to 1998.

Instead of preserving Yugoslavia, we should have concentrated on preventing the war, which was a big tragedy, he added.

Speaking at the conference, Galbraith said the 1990s were a series of events whose outcome could easily have been completely different. He is glad, he added, that today, as a peaceful democracy, a NATO and EU member, Croatia has become a diplomatically very boring state.

"Today when they ask me about Croatia, they only ask which places to visit and which restaurants to go to", he said.

Galbraith said that Croatia-US relations were not as they were in the 1990s, when the US was at the peak of its geopolitical power. That power has inevitably weakened, which was accelerated by the mistakes of former presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, he added.

Croatia is part of the EU and NATO, and has no crises. America was here because there was a war, he said.

Galbraith said that before 1993 and the sending of an ambassador, the feeling in the US was that the situation in Yugoslavia was hopeless. Many did not see the difference between what Serbia and Croatia were doing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which changed thanks to the engagement of the Croatian authorities, he added.

Speaking of Croatia's then president Franjo Tuđman and defence minister Gojko Šušak, he said it seemed they did not fully accept BiH's territorial integrity.

But in the key moment, choosing between continuing to support Bosnian Croats in their conflict with the Muslims and a partnership with the US in the reintegration of occupied territories, they chose the second, he added.

After that decision, the US stepped up its engagement, which led to the Washington Agreement and the peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia, Galbraith said.

Commenting on a war crimes indictment against Croatian pilots recently announced by Serbia, he said the proceedings held at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had been very important, very good, just, and that no one escaped justice.

Galbraith said he therefore did not see how Serbia could think that it had jurisdiction to prosecute crimes that did not take place on its territory.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Grlić Radman Asks For Additional US Engagement Regarding BiH Election Reform

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Sunday asked at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for additional US engagement on the election reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warning that otherwise radicalisation was possible in the country.

"I told the US Secretary of State that we are very much concerned about the missed chance to amend the BiH election law. I also warned of possible radicalisation of the situation after the elections," Grlić Radman told reporters.

He added that he had asked Blinken that the US enhance its presence and help ensure agreement between local Bosniak and Croat leaders on rules for general elections to be held in October.

The two officials were attending an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member-countries which again supported Ukraine in the fight against the Russian aggression.

"All the ministers reiterated their solidarity and expressed readiness for stronger engagement, not only by individual countries but by NATO as a whole," said the Croatian minister.

He stressed that NATO was not a party to the conflict but that it supported Ukraine's "just and defensive war."

At a meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană, Grlić Radman guaranteed full support to Finland and Sweden's bid to join NATO.

"We discussed also the pace of the procedure and I believe the issue could be resolved before the NATO summit to be held in Madrid in June," Grlić Radman said.

He repeated that he believed the doubts Turkey has expressed regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden would soon be removed through talks.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

PM on Visa Cancellation: Strategic Goal Achieved to the Benefit of Croatian Citizens

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović have welcomed the fact that Croatians can travel to the United States without visas as of Saturday, 23 October.

"As of today, Croatians can travel to the USA without visas!" Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"We have met the necessary criteria and achieved a strategic goal to the benefit of Croatian citizens," Plenković said.

"We are opening a new chapter in our relations, strengthening our partnership and creating preconditions for closer economic cooperation and investments," the PM said.

As of 23 October Croatians can travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

Croatia has entered the Visa Waiver Programme, a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and participating countries that enables travel to the USA for business or tourism purposes in the duration of up to 90 days, with national security being protected in the process.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

Application via ESTA is possible any time before travel but the US Homeland Security Department recommends that travellers apply as soon as possible, and 72 hours before travel at the latest, the US Embassy says.

Božinović: Visa cancellation major acknowledgement for Croatia

The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatians travelling to the USA is a major acknowledgement for Croatia, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday after talks with the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Mark Fleming.

Božinović thanked the US Embassy for playing an important role in "moments that were very important" for Croatia, such as its accession to the EU and NATO.

He recalled "the hard work on the cancellation of visa requirements over the past few years", including the connecting of data bases, cooperation with the Homeland Security Department and with agencies in charge of fighting terrorism and organised crime, etc.

This is a very good day for US-Croatian relations, Fleming said.

We want more Croatians in the United States, he added.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Croatia Appreciates Defence Support From United States, Defence Minister Says

ZAGREB, 1 Aug, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Sunday that the defence cooperation between Croatia and the United States has been going on for many years and that Croatia very much appreciates the support and donations form the US government for the development of Croatia's defence capabilities.

Banožić and the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Admiral Robert Hranj, were attending a formal reception on board the command ship of the US Sixth Fleet , USS Mount Whitney, which had arrived in Split on Friday for a visit.

Banožić said that the ship's visit was of exceptional strategic importance for Croatia, noting that the United States was Croatia's most important strategic ally in defence.

"The defence cooperation between Croatia and the United States has been going on for many years, and Croatia is very grateful for the support and donations from the US government for the development of our defence capabilities. Joint training and participation in exercises and operations strengthen our operational readiness and interoperability," the defence minister said.

"The Croatian military is fully committed to strengthening stability and security and further promoting our defence cooperation," he added.

Banožić was presented with a plaque by Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the Sixth Fleet.  

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia: Week-Long Visit Regarding Visa-Free Travel

June 15, 2021 -  The US Department of Homeland Security officials in Croatia will continue to work in strengthening diplomatic relations with Croatia and ensuring visa-free travel between the two countries situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are currently in Croatia on a weeklong visit. As reported by US Embassy on social media, the visit is in regard to Croatia's progress towards Visa Waiver Programme Membership.

If Croatia joins the programme, Croatian citizens will not need a visa to travel to the USA for tourism, transit, or even for work as long as they don't extend the 90 day limit placed on their stay in the country.

As TCN reported earlier this year, The American Embassy in Croatia formally confirmed back in February that Croatian citizens will be able to finally enjoy the right to travel to the USA without the need for a visa later this year, by the 30th of September 2021 at the very latest, as was reported by Večernji list.

The final prerequisite for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of November 2020. Back then, sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this criterion had been met, and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. That final bar was set by the USA to Croatia.

''Our two governments are continuing their close cooperation on meeting the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme participation. US Department of Homeland Security officials are currently here, working with their Croatian Government partners on further advancing our shared goals, as well as addressing any remaining technical and policy requirements. People-to-people ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia are robust,'' says the press release by the US Embassy in Zagreb.

They added that the US Embassy is continuing to focus on strengthening ties between the two countries and that Croatia is a trusted partner, and these new travel arrangements will also contribute to deepening bilateral relations.

This bit of news comes as a refreshment when taking into account some other recent events. Croatia and the USA enjoy a close connection thanks to their NATO membership, and recently, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic stated that he would not accept a NATO closing declaration if it failed to mention the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples.

That statement was criticised even by Željko Komšić, the Croatian member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, saying that ''the concept of constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obsolete.''

Additionally, a bit of challenge can be seen with the fact that while the US Embassy has a diplomatic mission in Croatia, there is no appointed Ambassador to Croatia at the moment. But nevertheless, cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations remain tight.

As TCN reported back in May, Croatia participated in a military exercise of transporting American military supplies, before that, in March, the US donated the GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital and also invested $480,000 in the Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre.

In addition to their cooperation in terms of safety and health issues, the US additionally cooperated with the science-technology park - Step-Ri to bring entrepreneurship expertise to the Croats. With this diplomatic friendship evident and constantly being nourished, visa-free travel between the two countries is both fully deserved and now needed.

Learn more about visas in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

US Embassy Donates GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - The US Embassy in Croatia has donated a medical device to the Fran Mihaljević Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb that can detect the coronavirus in less than 45 minutes, the hospital's director Alemka Markotić said on Tuesday.

Four samples can be placed in the GeneXpert machine at the same time. However, it is not used for mass testing, but is useful in quickly dealing with certain situations, Markotić said.

US Embassy official Victoria Taylor said that this is not about just a piece of equipment, but also about the partnership between Croatia and the United States.

We are happy that our small contribution can help the Fran Mihaljević Hospital and the healthcare system in time of need, Taylor said, commending all Croatian health workers for their tireless work during the pandemic.

Markotić said that most of the patients in the hospital's COVID ward were between 50 and 65 years old and had underlying conditions. She noted that the hospital was nearly filled to capacity.

Markotić said that for now there was no substantial number of young people infected with the British variant of the coronavirus in the hospital, but noted that this variant was proved to be spreading faster among young people because of "their greater nonchalance, mobility and socialising."

She warned that the number of new cases was growing and called on the citizens to avoid "risky situations".

Markotić expressed hope that patients would not be left without medicines, after wholesale drug suppliers warned last week that they might restrict drug deliveries because of HRK 6.5 billion debt owed by the hospitals.

Drug wholesaler Medika said today it had suspended drug deliveries to the hospitals.

Markotić said that her hospital had sufficient drug supplies for now. "We hope that we will not find ourselves in a situation where we, or rather our patients, will be left without medicines."

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said earlier that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Health Minister Vili Beroš would meet with drug wholesalers to discuss the debt and that they would be paid a certain amount of money in the coming days.

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


Friday, 5 March 2021

Wildly Successful Zagreb Agency Five Sold for 40 Million Dollars

March the 5th, 2021 - If you read the Croatian headlines, you´ll notice the trend of doom, gloom and everything is terrible. It isn´t quite so. There are many entrepreneurial stories up and down the country gaining both traction and deserved success, and the Zagreb agency Five is just one of them.

As Telegram/Ivan Luzar writes, the Zagreb agency Five, by this point already very well known as one of the most successful startups from Croatia, has been sold for an enormous amount and is becoming part of the international Endava software group. The amount of the transaction stands at a whopping 40 million US dollars, equivalent to about 250 million kuna, which puts the Zagreb agency Five on the list of the largest digital acquisitions on the Croatian market.

The Zagreb agency Five was founded back in 2005 by Viktor Marohnic, and five years later it was joined by current partner and co-owner Luka Abrus. They have 220 employees in Zagreb, New York, Osijek, Rijeka and Split, with a focus on programming and marketing services for American clients.

"For us, this is a new and exciting chapter," Five told Telegram. “As part of Endava, a company thirty times bigger than Five, we´re going to be able to undertake much bigger projects, for much bigger clients, than we could do on our own. This is as if we have accelerated five years of development and achieved it immediately,"

Negotiations lasted for months

Negotiations on this matter have been going on for months now, more precisely since November last year. Five’s customer, Endava, is a technology company specialising in business solutions, with 7,500 employees in 33 offices worldwide. They are headquartered in the British capital of London and are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The current market value of Endava shares stands at 5.4 billion US dollars.

In an official acquisition announcement, representatives of the group point out that the Zagreb agency Five was interesting to them because of its extensive American operations and its work with clients such as Rosetta Stone, Mariott, Starz, Napster, Penguin Random House, McAfee and other well known names.

“They´re a brilliant team and they will bring additional skills to Endava, especially when it comes to production strategies and growth optimisation,” said John Cotterell, the CEO of Endava. "Additionally, their reputation as a leading New York-based agency in Croatia is complementary to our strategy and further strengthens our presence in the Adriatic region."

Marohnic, Abrus and Marusic all plan to stay with the Zagreb agency Five until further notice

In an interview with Telegram, managers Marohnic, Abrus and Sven Marusic all say that their decision was not easy, but they believe that they did the best for the company and all of its dedicated employees. At the operational and management level, they plan to stay with Five until further notice and work on projects as if nothing has changed.

"Last year I thought I would spend my whole life in this company," says Marohnic. “I founded Five with a simple idea: to create jobs for young and busy developers like I was. At the time, we were reading about the successes of startups in the Silicon Valley in the US and we wanted to get a chance to show how we can be just as good as them. At first, I was just happy to be able to pay my bills.”

It was time for a new and daring business jump...

The Zagreb agency Five, meanwhile, was developing extremely rapidly - about 500 people have passed through the agency in just fifteen years, he says - and it was time for a new venture. In recent years, Marohnic, Abrus and Marusic had been thinking about possible steps forward for Five. They considered, they say, buying smaller companies, as well as seeking out strategic investments that would significantly accelerate business growth.

The third option was to sell the Zagreb agency Five to a much larger group, within which they could take up even more advanced and interesting jobs. After meeting people from Endava, they concluded that they have very similar business and cultural values, and decided to talk to them. “After a lot of thinking, I decided this was the best decision. I guess it’s like with kids, as they grow up, it’s time for them to spread their wings and leave home. It is emotionally difficult, but you know rationally that it´s the right thing,¨ said Marohnic.

Opportunity for growth in all segments

"We´re looking forward to having a joint market presence, new opportunities that will open up to us as a result of this cooperation and opportunities for growth across all business segments," noted Marusic. ¨With this transaction, our people will get the opportunity to work on even bigger projects, with global clients. We believe that this strategic turn in business enables us to make a quantum leap into the future of digital agency business.¨

Over recent years, acquisitions and investments in Croatian startups have taken place more and more. Back in December last year, it was announced that the well known Croatian gaming company Nanobit had been sold for 148 million euros, and large investments were being handled by companies such as Rimac Automobili and Photomath by Damir Sabol.

For more on Croatian companies, follow Made in Croatia.