Wednesday, 20 April 2022

PM: It's Hard to Change Someone's Attitudes on BiH Impacted by Sarajevo Narrative

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - It is difficult to change the position of the international community on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was tailored by the "Sarajevo narrative", especially since the previous (Croatian) governments did not work on that, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in parliament.

Presenting a report on the meetings of the European Council to the members of the parliament, Plenković in particular referred to the discussions on Bosnia and Herzegovina, stressing it was a success that a reference on BiH's constituent peoples was included in the Strategic Compass, at Croatia's insistence.

"Those in charge of the foreign policy before us could also have discussed this topic, but they never did in this way," said Plenković.

MPs of the Bridge party criticised Plenković for not having done enough to change the existing BiH election law, which allows for Croats there to be outvoted due to their small number.

MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) pointed out that a reference to constituent peoples in the Strategic Compass was not a success as that was a fact which was part of the BiH Constitution.

"Equality of constituent peoples did not exist as a reference. That may seem obvious, simple to you, like copying the Constitution, but it is not," said Plenković, underscoring that Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic explicitly opposed it.

According to Plenković, this "speaks of the rooted attitudes in the international community, which was primarily generated by the political narrative of Sarajevo".

"In Sarajevo, there have been no Croats in the political sense for nearly two decades, and this fact is partly the reason why all international representatives who spend some time there ultimately adopt that narrative," said Plenković.

According to him, for years there has been a lack of understanding of the way BiH is organised.

"Changing that after so many years is extremely difficult," said Plenković, adding that his cabinet has done more over the past two years than all the previous governments combined.

PM: I don't think drone crashed in Zagreb by accident

Plenković also commented on the crash of a Soviet-era unmanned aerial vehicle in Zagreb on 10 March, saying that it was indicative that it had exploded during an informal meeting in Versailles, when a statement on Russia's aggression against Ukraine was discussed.

"It is not highly probable that of all the places within the radius of its range, it crashed in the capital of Croatia. I'm not so inclined to believe in the strange aleatory path of that unmanned aerial vehicle considering how likely it was for it to crash in Zagreb," said Plenković.

Davorko Vidović of the SDP said that Croatia, despite all claims of the government's foreign policy successes, "is the only member of the European Union that has been attacked, and we as citizens do not know who attacked us and why".

At the moment, we cannot categorically state whether that was an attack, a mistake or sabotage, said Plenković.

Friendly relations with Ukraine

The Croatian premier also spoke about the EU's response to Russia's aggression and pointed out that the European Union and Croatia "show solidarity, unity and determination" by providing humanitarian, political, military, technical and other aid to Ukraine and with readiness to find alternative energy sources.

"Croatia has sincere and friendly relations with Ukraine. Ukraine was the first to recognise us. We support its sovereignty and integrity," Plenković said.

He noted that Croatia had received 15,000 refugees from Ukraine, that it had supported the opening of an investigation of the International Criminal Court into war crimes in Ukraine, and that it supported Ukraine's European perspective.

"Croatia will help Ukraine, we want it to get a special institutional status with regard to the EU in these circumstances," said Plenković.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Committee Chair: Nothing Unexpectedly New About Drone Crash

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The Zagreb County Prosecutor's Office said nothing unexpectedly new about last month's military drone crash, the only surprise being that the drone did not contain explosive but an unidentified substance, the chairman of the Croatian Parliament Defence Committee, Franko Vidović, said on Wednesday.

"There was nothing unexpectedly new compared to what could already be heard in the public. I was acquainted with this information at the Committee meeting when we requested information on the drone crash," Vidović told Hina in a comment on the incident that occurred in southwest Zagreb on 10 March.

He said it was somewhat surprising that the investigation found neither 120 kg nor 40 kg of explosive, as speculated in the public, but an unidentified substance of organic origin that was "packed in this ostensible bomb."

Vidović said the most important thing was that such incidents should never happen again, adding that both NATO and Croatia had learned a lesson from this incident.

He said it was not so important whether the drone contained a bomb or not, because the drone of that size was in itself a threat. "Luckily, no one was killed and no considerable damage was done."

The Prosecutor's Office said that the crash was caused by an interruption in the sequence of automatic landing during the activation of the main parachute.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Drone Crashed Due to Disrupted Automatic Landing Sequence, Prosecutor's Office Says

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The drone which crashed in Zagreb on 10 March carried an aviation bomb and the cause of the crash was a disrupted automatic landing sequence due to an incomplete connection between the aircraft and the main parachute, the Zagreb County Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

A commission which investigated the crash said the drone ejected the parachute and continued to free fall. During the fall, a mechanism was activated due to which one probe flew out and the other one did not.

Speaking at a press conference, chief air force investigator Mario Počinok said the drone had been in good condition and the engine not in operation when it crashed. The black box was considerably damaged, so it was not possible to recover data.

Asked if this meant that the drone did not crash but landed, Brigadier Počinok said the activation of the auto-landing system depended on the quantity of fuel, the set parametres and the kilometres crossed.

The drone, he added, "was disabled in a way to land. I can't say there was an error because several elements are missing."

Asked if Zagreb had been the final target of the drone, Počinok said it was not up to him to answer that and denied that the NATO secretary general, who claimed earlier that the drone was unarmed, had been informed of the results of the inquiries into the crash.

Major Mile Tomić of the Armed Forces Support Command said 47 pieces of shrapnel, caused by an explosion, and a universal fuse for an aviation bomb with Cyrillic insignia were found at the crash site.

"As soon as the aviation bomb was put into the aerial vehicle, it was not intended for its basic purpose, which was reconnaissance," he added.

Drone subsequently painted yellow and blue

Ivana Bačić, chief forensic examiner at the Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre, said the crash caused a crater 5.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, and that there was a strong smell of ammonia.

No traces of either military or commercial explosive were found. The original aviation bomb is supposed to contain 40-46 kilograms of TNT.

It has been established beyond doubt that the explosion occurred, and that the aviation bomb contained "a high-energy but unconventional substance that completely decomposed in the explosion, which prevented its identification," Bačić said.

"On the right wing of the aerial vehicle the dominant colour was red, which reflected a red and white five-pointed star. That was the original colour and traces were found of subsequent painting into yellow and blue," she added.

According to her, there was no political pressure on the Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre regarding the findings of the expert analysis.

Asked if Zagreb had been the drone's final target, county prosecutor Jurica Ilić said he could not answer the question.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Radars Did Not Recognize Drone as Right Sort of Alarm, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Romanian and Hungarian radars did not recognise the drone that crashed in Zagreb a week ago as there were other false alarms that occured around the same time, but all Croatian partners understood the seriousness of the situation.

Speaking at a cabinet session, Plenković said he visited NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre in Torrejón, Spain yesterday and once again clarified with them radar images from last Thursday night.

"Romanian and Hungarian radars did not recognise the vehicle as the right sort of alarm. That's very demanding given that there are a lot of such blips... It appeared, it didn't appear, and in those days there were other false alarms and fighter jets were raised over situations of a different nature."

"However, since the drone crashed in Croatia's capital, all partners understand the seriousness of the situation". Plenković said.

"There are three possible scenarios, a mistake was made, it was sabotage or it was intentional. That has to be determined so that all surveillance mechanisms are ready for such situations and so that attention is paid because of the war in Ukraine", he said.

"Not even NATO's system could have seen the drone without being informed by those whose radars were closest to it", he added.

The drone carried explosive device

"We will inform the public of all details so there is no confusion, false information, wrong comments and expert analyses without insight into what really happened because that's not good either for the public or those commenting on incomplete information."

The relevant authorities are still looking into all the details of the crash. It has been established that that it was a Tupolev Tu-141 Strizh reconnaissance drone whose range was over 1,000 km.

Given the traces found at the crash site, it has been established that the drone had an explosive device which exploded several metres below ground, Plenković said.

He went on to say that military exercises were taking place these days in Croatia with the French and US air forces, reiterating that this was a strong message to the Croatian public that the allies and partners were with Croatia in this situation.

He also said Croatia had taken in 7,200 Ukrainian refugees to date.

For more on this developing situation, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

U.S. Secretary of State Thanks Croatian Government For Support to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed his deep appreciation for the strong support of Croatian PM Andrej Plenković and his government for Ukraine, including providing security assistance and accepting refugees, and for Croatia’s active role in NATO, the U.S. Department of State said on Monday.

According to a statement signed by spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine "in the face of President Putin's continued war against Ukraine.

"The Secretary expressed his deep appreciation for the strong support of Prime Minister Plenković and his government for Ukraine, including providing security assistance and accepting refugees, and for Croatia's active role in NATO."

Also discussed was the March 10 drone crash in Zagreb.

"The Secretary noted Croatia's critical role in securing the European future of the entire Western Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Secretary also welcomed the March 17 U.S.-Croatia Strategic Dialogue, which will bring together senior-level interagency teams to review joint efforts to advance shared priorities," the State Department said.