Croatia strongly supports Ukraine and the Ukrainian people

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On Tuesday 22 August, Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica participated in a meeting of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Athens.  

Prime Minister Plenković completed a two-day visit to Greece, where, at the invitation of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, he participated at an informal dinner at which leaders from the region exchanged views on the further course of the European integration process of Southeast European countries, as well as on the stability and security of Europe in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

During his stay in Greece, Plenković met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to whom he reiterated Croatia’s strong support for the Ukrainian people, authorities and all those fighting for the freedom and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

He underlined that, in late June, the Croatian Parliament had declared the Holodomor a genocide, which was very much welcomed by President Zelenskyy and his delegation.

International conference on demining in Ukraine in October

The Prime Minister also announced a major international conference on demining in Ukraine in October, where Croatia, together with other EU actors and other international organisations, will mobilise support to Ukraine in the demining process, an area in which Croatia, unfortunately, has vast experience.

He also highlighted that Croatia would fully demine its territory thirty years after the last war operations in the Croatian War of Independence.

The Prime Minister also mentioned Croatia’s initiative of cooperation with the Ukrainian judiciary, where Justice Minister Ivan Malenica had hosted many Ukrainian prosecutors and others involved in war crimes prosecution. “This is another area where we will share our experience and we will second our state attorneys to an international team assisting Ukraine”, he added.

Use of Croatian ports for Ukrainian grain export 

Another topic of the meeting was the use of Croatian ports for the export of Ukrainian grain, which would be handled by the infrastructure and transport ministries.

The Prime Minister emphasized the key role of the Port of Rijeka and announced the engagement of Deputy Prime Butković, as the minister responsible for transport and maritime affairs, in this initiative in the coming weeks, adding that the arrangements must be made together with the countries to be involved in the transit of grain to Croatia.

He added that several thousand tons of grain had already been exported from Croatian ports, most of it to Italy, some to the north of Africa, but in the light the new circumstances in the Black Sea, Croatia was ready to make an additional contribution and receive about 40 percent of the grain currently not able to be exported from Ukraine, in transit to primarily African markets. 

The Prime Minister underlined that Croatia would continue with political and military assistance to Ukraine, announcing an additional €30 million military aid package to Ukraine on the agenda of the Government session on Thursday. With around €160 million provided so far, Croatia is thus approaching the amount of €200 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Informal meeting on the enlargement process and security challenges

Upon the informal meeting of leaders on the enlargement process, security challenges and upcoming political and institutional steps, the Prime Minister stated the importance of agreeing on the further dynamics of the enlargement process by the European Council in December, since after that the European institutions would enter the electoral cycle, and the importance of continuing strong support through Macro-Financial Assistance. This would also be discussed during a meeting between the President of the Commission and President Zelenskyy. 

“A new tranche of support worth €1.5 billion should be completed this week, in order to keep Ukraine’s financial circulation functional and for the country to be able to function despite all the challenges of war operations and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine”, Plenković said.

Friendly relations between Croatia and Greece

Asked about the visit of ministers to arrested Croatian nationals, the Pime Minister said that the country was taking care of Croatian nationals in similar situations around the world.

He reiterated that the situation in which over a hundred Croatian citizens are detained in Greece was unusual, stressing friendly relations between Greece and Croatia and adding that another Canadair of the Croatian Air Force was on its way to Greece to help Greece put out the fires.

“The aim of our visit is to help our citizens and to quickly reaffirm the level of relations between Croatia and Greece we have achieved over the past years. I think with this visit and our messages we have succeeded in this", Plenkovic said.

We respect the independence of the Greek judiciary

Prime Minister Plenković said that there was a high degree of understanding about this situation, unpleasant and damaging to the reputation of Croatia as it is. He believes that during their stay in Greece, he and the foreign and justice ministers clarified what Croatia is willing to do to facilitate the process for the Greek judiciary in a manner that fully respects the independence of the Greek judiciary, prosecution, police and courts, but the investigation should be finalised as soon as possible so that those who may not be prosecuted can be deported to Croatia as soon as possible.

“We are ready to make the most of our system in terms of precautionary measures, monitoring measures and co-operation with the Greek judiciary”, Plenković said.

He underscored Croatia’s excellent relations with the Greek intelligence service.

“We believe that in these circumstances it is important to exchange information at that level, too, so that the entire Greek government system can better understand and deal with this issue”, said Plenković, referring to the visit of Croatian’s Security and Intelligence Agency Director Daniel Markić to Athens.

He reminded that it was up to the Greek authorities to transfer criminal proceedings against Croatian fans to Croatia and that Croatia was ready in case of such an initiative.

“We have done everything in our power. We are here taking care of Croatian citizens, the same way we take care of Croatian citizens in any other similar situation around the world", Plenković reiterated, mentioning recent examples of Croats captured by Russian forces in Ukraine and those detained in Zambia.

Profiteering at the expense of Croatian citizens and consumers

In response to a press inquiry, the Prime Minister also touched on inflation, saying that many were raising prices more than normal.

“When the Government does everything in its power to keep society together and reduce inequalities, works on economic growth, keeps the price of energy incredibly low, and we enter the eurozone and the Schengen Area, create a framework to insulate Croatia from European and global crisis events, and then we have this enormous price inflation that cannot be accounted for by input costs, this is not good, it is not responsible and it is not a signal of solidarity, but it is literally profiteering on a favourable framework, at the expense of Croatian citizens and consumers, who will then turn to the Government for help in autumn”, Plenković said.  

He stressed that the government would do whatever it takes to keep society together, reiterating that it was not good for some to take advantage of global crisis situations.

Asked if a new package of relief measures was in preparation, the Prime Minister said the Government would undertake an analysis of the circumstances and inform the public, stressing that they would continue to support those hit hardest.

Source: Government of the Republic of Croatia