Monday, 9 May 2022

Croatia Understands Best What Ukraine Is Going Through, FM Says

ZAGREB, 9 May 2022 - Croatia is the youngest and only EU member state which experienced the kind of aggression Ukraine is experiencing, so it understands best what it is going through, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday on the occasion of Europe Day.

"We know what's going on, we know how they suffer, we know how proud they are, we know how brave they are and we know they are not allowing their identity to be attacked," he added.

EU membership has brought Croatia additional protection, security and opportunities for growth and development, which is why Croatia is practically predestined to encourage enlargement, the minister said.

He also spoke of his visit to Ukraine yesterday with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, during which they talked with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk.

"We visited the towns of Irpin and Bucha, which were bombed without reason or motive, houses were razed to the ground, civilians killed and thrown into a mass grave, 400 of them," Grlić Radman said.

On the occasion of Europe Day, the European Parliament's Croatian office organised numerous events and workshops focusing on young people as 2022 was designated European Year of Youth.

In the context of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, the EU's importance as a community of solidarity, values and rule of law was underlined.

Speeches were delivered by the head of the office, Violeta Simeonova Staničić, the head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, Ognian Zlatev, Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych and French Ambassador Gael Veyssiere.

Congratulating young people on Europe Day, Kyrylych said Europe was a strong international community which put up a strong resistance to the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

"They are calling what is happening in Moscow today a victory parade. Victory is not a parade, victory is not a thing, victory is the wisdom and solidarity of the international community, victory is when leaders of peoples visit the guardian of Europe," he said.

"That's what the strong do, that's what the wise and those who look to tomorrow do. Ukraine's big friend, the Croatian prime minister, did that, visiting Kyiv yesterday with the foreign minister," he added.

Zlatev said the role of young people was more important than ever and called on them to use the possibilities and the potential at their disposal, highlighting the Erasmus+ project.

Europe is at your disposal. Research, science and innovation are at the centre of the Union's strategy to stimulate growth and employment, he added.

2022 should have been the year of big recovery, of coming out of the pandemic, of economic growth, of green recovery and digital transition, said Simeonova Staničić.

But, because of the Russian aggression, the struggle for peace and security now comes first, she added.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

Friday, 22 April 2022

The Road to Freedom: Vukovar Welcomes Ukraine from the Front Line

April 22, 2022 - Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom. Meet Vukovar 365, full of compassion. The city that is still recovering over 30 years later knows the pain. Its people have been through hell and back. They would not wish this upon anyone, yet it's happening. Ukrainian people have always been Vukovar's friends, their culture enriching the area that this minority has historically been a part of. Not that we should seek reasons to help, but the people of Vukovar have got plenty and they are always willing to step up.

Hrv reports on a conference that was held in Zagreb, titled "Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom", citing Vukovar's hero war reporter Siniša Glavašević who said, "You have to rebuild. First, your past, your present, and then, if you have any strength left, invest it in the future".

As the title suggests, the topic of the conference was the similarities between the ongoing war in Ukraine with the war that Croatia fought in 1991 to gain its independence and freedom. Damir Luka Saftić, representative of the "Za Vukovar" association commented that the pearl of the Danube bled 31 years ago like the Azov Sea's Mariupol is today, saying that "the resemblance is appalling".

The participants of the conference included Vasilj Kirilič, Ambassador of Ukraine to Croatia, Željka Antunović, former Minister of Defense, Yevhen Stepanenko, Ukrainian journalist, Tomislav Marević of the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, Robert Barić, military analyst, Jakov Sedlar, film director, and Vukovar veterans Damir Poljaković and Tomislav Orešković.

"Croatia has defended its independence and the message for Ukraine is that it can do so too because we are strong in spirit and I believe that we will defend our country. The city of Mariupol is a symbol of defense, as is the Croatian city of Vukovar", said Ambassador Kirilić.

"When you know that your whole family, wife, child, and parents are in the basement, your whole city is in that basement, everyone from your street, friends, your football club, factory, then your strength appears from somewhere and it was either us or them, there was nothing else," said Damir Poljaković, a Vukovar hero who defended the city in 1991 at Trpinjska cesta.

Following the conference, and with Orthodox Easter approaching, the city of Vukovar in partnership with the local Red Cross organised a humanitarian donation action for the Ukrainian refugees in the city. 

A total of 40 refugees from Ukraine are accommodated in Vukovar, writes hrv, which includes 16 families with 18 children. To provide assistance in difficult times, but also to celebrate the upcoming Easter holidays, the City of Vukovar and the Vukovar Red Cross Society provided special food packages for refugees from Ukraine in the Vukovar area, as well as candy packages for the youngest.

The packages were handed over to the Ukrainian people by the Deputy Mayor of Vukovar, Filip Sušac, who emphasized that the City of Vukovar, in cooperation with the Red Cross, is trying to make life easier for refugees. "The city of Vukovar has decided to help Ukrainians who are in the area of ​​our city through a series of measures. In cooperation with the City Museum, the City Library, and sports clubs, we have ensured that all Ukrainian refugees can use their services completely free of charge. The City of Vukovar has called on all fellow citizens to help the refugees as much as they can, and we appeal to the Government of the Republic of Croatia to make Hostel Zagreb available - explained Sušac.

Marija Semenjuk Simeunović, Secretary of the Ukrainian Community of the Republic of Croatia, emphasized that all persons who came from war-torn Ukraine feel welcome in Croatia and thanked everyone for their support.

"Displaced persons who came from Ukraine to our city, county, but also the Republic of Croatia, in general, feel welcome. We have all shown compassion and solidarity in some way, especially since we went through the horrors of war 30 years ago. Through their programs, our Ukrainian associations from the entire Republic of Croatia want to include and integrate the Ukrainian people into our society", said Semenjuk Simeunović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Croatia to Commit an Additional €100 Million to Ukrainian Refugees

ZAGREB, 9 April 2022 - Croatia will increase its assistance to the friendly Ukrainian people and as part of the Global Citizen Impact initiative commit an additional €100 million to Ukrainian refugees, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday.

"As the brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine continues, we wish to express support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people," Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"Croatia pledges to commit an additional €100 million to Ukrainian refugees" to be taken in by Croatia, he said.

"In this difficult time for the Ukrainian people, we will continue with our support, solidarity and assistance, standing with Ukraine and Ukrainians," he said.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, four million people have fled the country, according to UNHCR.

According to the latest data, there are more than 12,600 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia.  

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Plenković: EU Was united, Quick and Efficient in Response to Russian Invasion

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - The European Union has demonstrated unity, speed and efficiency in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will continue to adopt sanctions against Moscow, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in interviews with two France24 programmes on Friday.

"The purpose of all three sanctions packages is to prevent Russia from carrying out this brutal aggression on Ukraine. The European Union once again demonstrated unity, our political position was quick, efficient and clear," Plenković told the Ici l'Europe programme, speaking in French.

He spoke of the consequences of the Russian invasion, which has entered its third week.

"First, it is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, with whom we stand in solidarity. Second, it has triggered a refugee crisis in Europe unprecedented since 1945, and third, energy prices have gone up," Plenković said, adding that the latter was the main subject of a two-day summit of EU heads of state or government in Versailles, which ended on Friday.

Europe's dependency on Russian gas is above 40 per cent, and the EU leaders are trying to change this "by increasing domestic production or by importing from other gas producing countries such as Norway, Azerbaijan, Libya or Algeria, or by importing liquefied natural gas by sea," Plenković said in the Talking Europe programme. He mentioned the construction of the LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, which provided Croatia with an alternative gas supply route.

The EU heads of state or government have sent "a strong political signal that we want to intensify relations with Ukraine in any way possible on its European path," the Croatian PM said.

However, the 27 EU member states have made it clear to Ukraine that it will not be able to join the EU under fast track.

Plenković said he had met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in December and signed a declaration on Ukraine's European perspective, stressing that he remained committed to this process.

Plenković said it was important that the EU was united in its condemnation of the Russian invasion. "After the statements by the Russian foreign minister we can conclude that we live in two different realities and that's why we will continue sending strong messages and adopting packages of restrictive measures to let Moscow know that what it is doing is not appropriate and that it should end it immediately," he said.

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

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Minister Says Key to Situation in Ukraine in Hands of Those Who Launched Aggression

ZAGREB, 5 March 2022 - Croatia's Deputy PM Davor Božinović said on Saturday that 1,570 Ukrainian refugees had so far arrived in Croatia, declining to speak about the total number of refugees expected to arrive and noting that the key to the situation in Ukraine was in the hands of those who had launched the aggression.

"There is a lot of work ahead, and as regards organisation, we are very much satisfied. I would not want to talk about any concrete figures because the key to the situation in Ukraine is only in the hands of those who have launched the aggression, they know whether and when it will be stopped," Božinović, who is also Minister of the Interior, told reporters after a meeting with members of the Civil Protection in Osijek-Baranja County and Osijek.

Božinović recalled that the government had set up an interdepartmental task force coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior.

He believes that a solid legal basis has been created to define the status and needs of Ukrainian refugees, and that it will depend on how the situation develops.

Care is being taken of the smallest details, including the issuing of EU COVID certificates to Ukrainian refugees because the coronavirus epidemic is still not over, Božinović said.

Intensive talks are underway at EU level to make Europe's response uniform, notably regarding humanitarian issues and care for those most in need, said Božinović.

Asked about the state of buffer stocks and if they had been checked since the start of the war in Ukraine, Božinović said that they had definitely been checked but that it was a question for  the Directorate for Commodity Stockpiles.

"The Directorate and the competent ministry are part of the interdepartmental task force. Arrangements will be made on a daily basis, depending on the needs, and procurement procedures will be conducted in such a way to enable a response at any time, meeting the high standards of the European Commission," said Božinović.

Asked to comment on a rally of support to Russia in Belgrade, Božinović said that everyone in the current crisis was relying on the values they advocated, and that as an EU and NATO member Croatia had clearly communicated its values and response to the war in Ukraine.

Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić recalled that a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees had been set up in the city, and that a local sports hall was also available for that purpose.

The city administration has ensured free public transport for refugees and their transport from the border to Osijek, and we are also ready for the integration of children in kindergartens and schools, said Mayor Radić.

The head of the Osijek County Civil Protection, Mato Lukić, said that 65 Ukrainian refugees were currently staying in the county, 18 in two boarding houses and the rest in private accommodation facilities in Osijek and other cities in Osijek County.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Ukrainian FM Says Croatia Would Like to Reciprocate For Our Support

ZAGREB, 26 Feb 2022 - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday thanked Croatia for its support to Kyiv and to sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Kuleba held a telephone conversation with Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman.

"Zagreb recalls the early 1990s when Ukraine helped Croatia through practical decisions during the Homeland War. Croatia is now reciprocating for our support. I thank Croatia for its support to the EU sanctions against the Russian invaders," the Ukrainian minister tweeted.

On 11 December 1991, Ukraine recognised Croatia, being thus the first United Nations member state to do that. Ukraine did it after Slovenia and Lithuania, which also at that time had not still gained international recognition, recognised Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Remaining Mine-Infested Areas to be Cleared of Mines By Mid-2026

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Tuesday that until the spring of 2026 the remaining 250 square kilometres of land believed to be infested with landmines left over from the 1991-1995 Homeland War would be cleared of those explosive devices.

Božinović commented on the plan for a mine-free Croatia at a ceremony in the town of Josipdol, where he presented a HRK 241 million project, Karlovac KARST, for the removal of mines from forests in the areas of Karlovac and Josipdol.

The implementation of the project will create prospects for job creation in the region, he added.

Karlovac County Prefect Martina Furdek Hajdin said that HRK 188 million had been absorbed from the European Union for the Karlovac KARST project.

In the next few years, 17.1 square metres of forest land in Tounj, Josipdol, Plaški, Saborsko and Rakovica will be cleared of landmines, she added.

The county prefect added that Karlovac County had already tapped HRK 29 million from the EU funds to remove landmines from 3.8 square-metre-large farmland.

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović Decorates Participants in 1991's Operation Plitvice

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021- President Zoran Milanović, acting in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces,  on Tuesday decorated participants in 1991's Operation Plitvice, describing them as heroes to whom Croatians owe lasting gratitude.

Milanović presented the decorations at a formal reception in his office, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the operation and in memory of Josip Jović, the first Croatian police officer killed in the 1991-95 Homeland War. 

Jović, 22, was killed and nine other police officers were wounded in a police operation on 31 March 1991 after Serb insurgents occupied the Plitvice Lakes National Park and blocked the D1 state road that connects the country's north and south. Jović was a member of the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit.

Addressing the participants in the operation, Milanović said that as the Commander in Chief he would pursue a non-partisan policy.

"A policy that does not recognise either of the two big parties or third parties, a policy that recognises only our interests. And for Croatia and us Croatians to be able to define and realise those interests, the state had to be defended and created first. Without you, none of that would have been possible. May the memory of Josip Jović live, to you we owe our gratitude. Long live Croatia!" Milanović said in his address.

In a statement to reporters after the reception, Milanović noted that no government representative attended the event.

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

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Pupovac: Adults Responsible for Stopping Hate Produced by War

ZAGREB, Aug 26, 2020 - Adults are responsible for stopping the spreading of hate produced by war which policies have continued to spread and it's a big deal that Croatia's state leadership and Serb community representatives have decided to change that trend, SDSS president Milorad Pupovac said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the public broadcaster HRT about a commemoration for Serb civilian war victims held in Grubori earlier in the day, he said "it's a big deal that the Andrej Plenkovic cabinet and President Zoran Milanovic, together with us from the Serb community, have decided to change the trend and stop the spreading of hate produced by war."

Pupovac confirmed the anchor's statement that Croatia was still waiting for the acknowledgement of all victims and suffering from the 1990s war.

"We are doing everything for that communication to begin on as many fronts as possible and for this process to be accepted also in Serbia, as well as in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, as something that will be done together, with all the differences which will remain, while simultaneously building respect for the victims and creating a culture of peace and normal relations," said Pupovac.

 

Strong messages with uniform stance

He said the Grubori commemoration had great significance as very strong messages were sent from there, different in tone and content but uniform in stance - the condemnation of crimes, sympathy and respect for the victims, sympathy for those who remembered them, and turning to the future.

The messages also refer to leaving the war and its atrocities to the best commemorative practices possible, which we saw today and will see increasingly in the future with joint gestures, so that no one is excluded or forgotten, and so that the war stops dividing people in our country as much as it did until a few weeks ago, Pupovac said.

The anchor noted that Croatia was making steps forward yet Serbia was not, and asked if it was time for Serbia's delegation to pay its respects to the victims of Vukovar.

Pupovac said two things happened which showed that Serbia was starting to make steps or gestures.

Firstly, President Aleksandar Vucic has received representatives of Croatian institutions in Serbia for talks on vital topics for the Croatian community there, including their integration and participation in the executive authority, he said. Secondly, he added, Vucic's special envoy for the war missing Veran Matic was in Grubori today.

Those are messages which say, let's deal with unresolved minority issues and let's deal with the war missing, one of the most painful topics in Croatia-Serbia relations, Pupovac said.

He noted that Matic said he was confident Vucic would also make a gesture to show respect for the Croatian war victims, saying that he shared Matic's confidence and that it was not unrealistic to expect that to occur in the not so distant future.

 

SDSS has been working on the issue of the war missing for two years

Asked if the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) and he would push for resolving the issue of the war missing more quickly, Pupovac said the SDSS had been working on that for two years thanks to contacts with Croatian Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and now Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic as well as thanks to everything that happened since August 5 and would happen in the months ahead.

"The SDSS cares very much about establishing the fate of the missing, both Croats and Serbs, and it's very important to us that families find out as soon as possible what happened to their dearest ones."

 

It's time for big reforms

Asked if children were growing up with prejudices and if they bothered with who was a Serb and who a Croat, Pupovac said that, unfortunately, young people bothered about that much more than adults both in Croatia and in Serbia.

"Young people don't know what coexistence was, they only know war experiences and war stories, messages and war divisions," he said, adding that it was finally time to start changing that and for young people to learn how to have respect for their own and the suffering of their compatriots.

"That's a huge demand for every society, including Croatia's, and tomorrow for the society in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, so what we are doing and expect to be done with young people in stadiums, at concerts, in schools are huge reform steps which will happen in the near future, in which adults have a big responsibility."

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Croat War Veteran Sends Incredible Gift To Injured Serb War Veteran

August 15, 2020 - Novica Kostić from Vlasotince, near Leskovac, received a touching package yesterday and expressed his heartfelt gratitude to a Croat war veteran on Facebook

Injured during the war, life has since not been easy for Novica Kostić, a veteran living in Vlasotince, near Leskovac, southern Serbia. Since the day the war stopped for him, he has been without his left foot. He's one of many that suffered life-changing injuries at the time.

Things haven't been much better of late for Novica because, although entitled, he has been waiting for a replacement prosthetic foot for seven years. The one he wore was old and worn.

Life took a turn for the better on Friday 14 August when Novica received a surprise package in the post; a new prosthetic foot, to the exact specifications he needed. Inside the package was also a touching letter.

117603927_3750347374995147_8228933261886093769_o.jpg
The old and worn prosthetic foot, pictured next to the new one sent by a Croat war veteran, posted on Facebook by Novica

Taking to Facebook later in the day, Novica detailed the contents of the package and the note. It had been sent by a Croat war veteran who, although he revealed himself to Novica, said he wished to remain anonymous.

"The letter that was inside had a very very touching content, with a lot of warmth, empathy, and solidarity,” explained Novica, who went on to detail that the Croat war veteran had not himself been wounded in the war, but had managed to find the prosthesis through a colleague.

While elements of division linger between some sections of Croatian and Serbian society, this gesture and compassion is not an isolated incident between those who actually fought against each other on the battlefield.

"What to add here, what to say, except that this can be a strong message to others, especially politicians, that if we, who shot directly at each other, can talk and accept each other, why is it a problem for them, what prevents them from doing so?” wrote Novica. “I know that everyone will look at this from their own angle, but you must admit this should be considered, especially when it comes to ordinary people, people who take everything in society, even the war, on their backs."

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