Monday, 27 June 2022

Milanović Expected to Meet Finnish Counterpart, Swedish PM During NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović will attend the NATO summit in Madrid from 28 to 30 June and is expected to meet bilaterally with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, his office said on Monday.

The summit is being held in the midst of a major security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic area caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and therefore a discussion on strengthening aid to Ukraine is also expected.

A topic of the NATO summit will also be Finland's and Sweden's accession to the military alliance.

Earlier, the Croatian president said that the entry of the Nordic countries into NATO should be made conditional on amendments to the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid an official visit to Croatia last week, and Milanović told her that in principle he was not opposed to Finland's accession to NATO, but at the same time, he underscored the difficult position of Croats in BiH and the security problems facing Croatia due to the unstable situation in that country.

Also, in a recent telephone conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Milanović said that he was not opposed to Finland's entry into NATO, but that he expected to understand from that country for the protection of the rights of BiH Croats.

Invited non-member heads of state and government - Australia, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Finland, and Sweden - and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the summit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the summit via a video call.

On the first day of the NATO summit on Tuesday, Milanović and his wife Sanja Musić Milanović will attend a gala dinner along with other heads of state, hosted by King Philip VI of Spain and Queen Letizia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Milanović Seeks EU Membership Candidate Status For Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday again urged the European Union to grant membership candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to decide on the membership candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, for which there is widespread support.

Milanović on Thursday requested the same status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has Slovenian President Borut Pahor's strong support for this, and Austria has also joined the initiative.

"We have heard from all member states that Ukraine will get the candidate status, which is fine, but Ukraine, just like Moldova, has some huge problems," Milanović said.

"This is an opportunity to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status, as an act of confidence and hope," the Croatian president said, adding that he could not see how anyone could be against it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Annual Terezijana Festivities Taking Place in Bjelovar

ZAGREB, 18 June  2022 - Over 500 costumed participants walked through the centre of Bjelovar on Saturday evening within the annual Terezijana festivities in memory to Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa during whose rule in the 18th century Bjelovar developed into an urban centre.

On Saturday evening Croatian President Zoran Milanović attended the costumed procession through this city 80 kilometres east of Zagreb.

The first edition of the annual festivities called "Terezijana" was launched 26 years ago. Every June since then, Bjelovar prepares this tourist and entertainment programme.

This year, the festivities are being held from 15 to 19 June, and feature regional rock and pop stars.

Typical meals of the local cuisine were also offered to visitors.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Bakšić Mitić Communicator of the Year, Milanović-Plenković Anti-Communicators

ZAGREB, 9 June 2022 - The Croatian Public Relations Association (HUOJ) has named Glina Deputy Mayor Branka Bakšić Mitić as the communicator of the year, while the public discourse of the country's leaders, President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, has earned them the title of anti-communicators of the year.

Bakšić Mitić warned of the too slow process of post-earthquake reconstruction in the region of Banovina, expressing her gratitude for the award and saying she was happy that HUOJ had recognized her simple communication strategy - to tell the truth always and without fear.

"It is a great responsibility to be the voice of all my fellow citizens who are struggling on a daily basis with the consequences of the earthquake. Many good people are helping us to not give up," said Bakšić Mitić and expressed hope that in the future there would be more talk about new houses, jobs, happy families, and less about metal housing containers, non-existing reconstruction, and inactivity of the state.

This year's runner-ups were the Dean of the Electrical Engineering and Computing Faculty (FER), Gordan Gledec, and Rijeka Archbishop Coadjutor Mato Uzinić.

As a direct opposite, the "hard cohabitation" of the country's most senior officials, President Milanović and Prime Minister Plenković, was named anti-communication of the year.

HUOJ labeled it as unacceptable and irresponsible, involving the highest state institutions to the detriment of all citizens and the culture of public dialogue.

The runner-up was President Milanović himself, whose non-constructive style of communication, HUOJ says, undermines the culture of political and public dialogue.

Also rated poorly was communication by the competent institutions regarding the process of post-earthquake reconstruction in Banovina, and communication by the national COVID-19 response team.

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.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Milanović: Croatia, too, Could Have Indicted Vučić, but Didn't

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović repeated on Wednesday that Serbia should watch its actions and that he was only asking for "a fair relationship" between the two countries, adding that Croatia could have indicted Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić but made a political decision not to do it.

"Look at what is happening to Sweden which wants to join NATO. Maybe it had reason to be arrogant towards Turkey over the past 30 years but now it is asking for mercy. So, watch what you say and do because what goes around comes around," Milanović said in a message to Serbia.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office has issued an indictment against Croatian Air Force officers Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić and Danijel Borović for war crimes against Serb civilians because on 7 and 8 August 1995, during Operation Storm, they allegedly ordered a missile attack on a refugee convoy outside Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna, near Novi Grad, northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the indictment, 13 people were killed in the attack, including six children, and 24 were wounded.

Milanović on Tuesday said that the indictment would cost Serbia, which Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić today interpreted as a threat.

"Who is Serbia's prime minister? Is Brnabić still the prime minister?... I have not seen her in Krk for a long time, she is welcome," Milanović said in an allusion to the fact that Brnabić's family from her father's side hails from the northern Adriatic island.

Recalling the time when he was prime minister, Milanović said that "Vučić's speech in Glina (in 1995) was a criminal act", but a political decision was made for Croatia not to indict him.

"Vučić did not kill anyone, that's true, but his rhetoric at the time cost many people their lives and souls," he added.

Criticising Serbia for accusing Croatian pilots of crimes, Milanović said he was only asking Serbia to act in a fair manner, recalling that Croatia was a member "of the associations Serbia aspires to join."

He added that there was no need for the Serbian PM "to be nervous" because he was also speaking in Serbia's favour.

Milanović repeated that some conditions set by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) for Serbia's EU accession are "exaggerated" and that "one should refrain from humiliating anyone" but that the neighbouring country should "be careful about what it does" considering its EU membership bid.

Stoltenberg cannot change anything

Milanović does not share the Croatian government's position on Finland and Sweden's NATO membership candidacy and wants Croatia to make support to their bid conditional on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law.

Milanović and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenbrg spoke over the telephone on Tuesday, and the reason was Milanović's letter to NATO member-countries regarding the status of BiH Croats.

"He cannot change anything in that regard, he is technical personnel. He is expected to distribute the letter, anyone who wanted to has now read the letter and that's it," Milanović said.

He added that the NATO secretary-general was not the one making decisions but implementing them and that "it is his task to listen to the Americans", with the USA "being the boss", however, being Croatia's president, he was fighting "for his own."

Milanović said that Stoltenberg did not share his view that Finland and Sweden's NATO accession should be linked to the amendment of BiH's election law but that he called for taking into account Turkey's reservations to the two countries' accession.

When Turkey presents its demands, then that's not a problem, Milanović said, describing his conversation with the NATO secretary-general as friendly.

He again criticised "the apathy and misery of Croatian politics" with regard to the protection of national interests.

"Let's be clear, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not belong to Croatia... I do not want anyone to think that we act the same way as Budapest... with its constant insistence that this used to be Hungary. This used to be Austria as well, from Pula to Dubrovnik... yet you do not hear Austrians say that this was Austria's sea because they are mature," Milanović said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Milanović Tells Serbia Indictment Against Croatian Pilots Will Cost It

ZAGREB, 24 May 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that indicting four high-ranking Croatian Army officers for alleged war crimes will cost Serbia, calling out politicians in that country for "unintelligent behaviour" with which Serbia will never succeed in joining the European Union.

Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's Office indicted four high-ranking Croatian Army officers for alleged war crimes. They are accused of shelling a refugee column during the military Operation Storm on 7 and 8 August 1995.

"These indictments have occurred despite our years-long attempts to convince them not to play with fire and that it will cost them. I cannot be more polite, I hope they are listening to me. Leave that alone. Otherwise, they should not be surprised by reactions by right-wing lawmakers in the Sabor. The problem is that the majority of people in Croatia think like that," Milanović told reporters.

Asked by N1 television if he was afraid of being indicted for his speech in Glina in 1995 as a possible response to Serbia indicting four Croatian generals, Serbia's President Aleksandar vučić said "the Serbs didn't kill Croatians, it was the Croatians who killed Serbs."

Milanović called on Vučić "not to do that." "I can keep things rhetorically under control to a certain measure. But then this comes from Belgrade and how then can I explain that we pursue a well-intentioned policy?"

Milanović said that these moves by Serbia were "unintelligent behaviour" by a state that is "impoverished and degraded," and that does not have its status resolved anywhere.

"They don't want to join NATO, OK. They will never join the European Union this way. Who needs this? Who is pursuing this policy? Which citizens there is the prosecutor's office addressing?" Milanović said.

He went on to say that he is convinced that 75% of citizens would support his and the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's common stance about Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that just as many people in Croatia believe that "Croatian prosecutorial authorities should indict Vučić."

Milanović however said that that should not be done because Vučić is "being tactical." "And then we hear that nobody killed anyone, but instead the Croatians killed Serbs," he added.

"I am sorry for every Serb who was killed. They need not have been. But a huge majority of Serbs fled straight away. That is a fact. Even the tribunal in The Hague confirmed that," said Milanović.

"Serb brethren, come to your senses," Milanović said, adding that he would probably now be proclaimed an "Ustasha." "Last week I was a Serb."

"We have to be clear and just in our relations with Serbia, articulate what we expect of them," he added

Last week the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts called on Serbia to stop inciting animosity against Croatia and prosecuting Croatian citizens, to renounce Greater Serbia propaganda and respect its obligations in line with agreements, such as protecting the reciprocal rights of the Croat minority and ensuring for Croats free political and cultural organising, as Croatia ensures for the Serb minority.

TFor more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Croatian President Rules Out Possibility of Armed Conflicts in BiH

ZAGREB, 24 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday there was a risk of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina deteriorating and that his intention is to prevent that and help find "a framework for coexistence of the three constituent peoples in BiH", however, he ruled out the possibility of an armed conflict.

"Anyone starting talk of a war erupting in BiH should get their mouth taped," said Milanović adding that speculations like that amount to war-mongering propaganda.

"Who will attack whom in BiH? Perhaps, Serbs with their three armored vehicles?," Milanović wondered in an ironic comment, insisting that not enough weapons existed for anyone to spark an armed conflict.

He announced a phone call to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for Tuesday afternoon so as to inform him of what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last week, the Croatian president sent a letter about this issue to Stoltenberg.

Milanović said that "when it comes to knowing about the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, international leaders are not updated," accusing Croatia's diplomats of that.

Milanović accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of boycotting his proposal to hold a session of the National Security Council to discuss the state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also criticized Plenković over a lack of a joint position on the issue, and again ruled out that "there was anything personal in that conflict."

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.

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