19:14 / 28.02.2022.

Author: Branko Lozančić

Prime Minister: Assistance to Ukraine in the amount of HRK 124 million in weapons and protective equipment

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

Foto: HTV / HRT

At an extraordinary session, the government adopted a package of assistance measures related to the situation in attacked Ukraine. A decision was also made to ban Russian planes from entering Croatian airspace. A political decision on that was made yesterday at consultations.

“Today's session is entirely dedicated to Ukraine, our friendly country. We are all witnessing the brutal attack of the Russian army on Ukraine, from land, sea, air and cyberspace. After weeks of listening to Russian diplomacy's assurances that an attack on Ukraine was not planned and that only military exercises were taking place on the border with that country - the masks have come off and an attack was launched suddenly from the north, east and south. It was launched with the obvious intention of occupying Europe's largest country, even though its democratically elected leadership warned of the impending danger,” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in his introduction.

He emphasized that Croatia knows very well what it means to fight for its freedom.

“There is no dilemma for Croatia; Croatia can only be on the side of a democratic and sovereign Ukraine, on the side of justice, peace and freedom. We call on Russia and the Russian people to end this insane campaign of war and return to the politics of reason and dialogue," he said.

He emphasized that the EU is united in its sanctions against Russia.

“The parliamentary majority that had a meeting this morning is in unity, which is important for the stability of our activities. This morning, the parliamentary opposition also showed unity and full support for the measures we are taking as the Government. In that regard, we welcome the unanimous adoption of the Declaration on Ukraine. We agreed earlier with the Parliament Speaker, and today with the opposition, that we will hold a debate in Parliament on Wednesday on the situation in Ukraine. At the same time, we are witnessing the great zeal of the Croatian people towards the fraternal Ukrainian people, and this fills us with pride,” emphasized Plenković.

“The government already reacted a few hours after the attack on Ukraine. Therefore, today we will adopt measures to support Ukraine and a number of measures to raise the level of preparedness for the possible reception of refugees, accommodation facilities, health care, but also to ensure gas supply and measures to ban the use of Croatian airspace by Russian airlines and their aircraft” said the prime minister.

Croatia is sending HRK 124 million in aid to Ukraine

Croatia will join the EU's decision to exclude some Russian banks from the SWIFT system once it is adopted.

“Today we will make a decision on assistance to Ukraine in terms of defense, and it is primarily about protective equipment and infantry weapons worth HRK 124 million kuna,” said Plenković.

He emphasized the importance of building the LNG terminal on the island of Krk, which provided an alternative supply route for liquefied natural gas. He recalled that its capacities are currently 2.6 billion cubic meters, which is enough for the total needs of Croatian households as well as for the total needs of Croatian business.

In the end, he reiterated that Croatia cannot passively observe the aggression against Ukraine.

“With our actions, we must stand on the right side of history in order to send a message that we understand very well what is happening, that we have, with our policies and statements, unfortunately anticipated such scenarios as we see today. Standing alongside the Ukrainian people is the only right path,” said Plenković.

Another 30-50 Croatian citizens in Ukraine

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said that the Foreign Ministry working group was monitoring the situation in Ukraine 24 hours a day, and Ambassador Djamić was in constant contact with Croatian citizens in Ukraine. Most of them are in Kiev, and a smaller part in Boldava and Lviv.

“It is estimated that there are currently 30-50 Croatian citizens in Ukraine, and at the beginning of the aggression there were 114 of them,” said Minister Grlić Radman. He emphasized that the list of Croatian citizens will be consolidated today in order to determine their exact number and place of residence.

Croatian embassies in Ukraine's neighbors are also involved.

Establishment of an inter-ministerial working group for the implementation of activities for the reception and care of refugees from Ukraine

Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that since the first day of the aggression, all components of Homeland Security have been engaged. He said that 119 Ukrainian refugees have entered Croatia so far, 11 of whom are in the Plitvice Motel, and the rest will be accommodated through private arrangements.

“Reception centers have been established in Osijek, Zagreb, and reception centers in Varaždinske Toplice are being prepared,” said Božinović.

“Some estimates speak of four million refugees from Ukraine to the EU, and there are internally displaced persons, which together can reach 8 million people. This is a major humanitarian crisis. The government is still ready to provide all assistance and receive Ukrainian refugees,” said Božinović.

He also spoke about the adoption of a directive at the EU level so that Ukrainian refugees can enter the labor market immediately.

“Croatian institutions, independently and in cooperation with their European and Euro-Atlantic partners, are monitoring the overall development of the situation,” emphasized Božinović and reported on yesterday's extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers.

"A broad consensus was reached at the meeting on activating the regulation on temporary protection, which should be adopted on Thursday," he said. He hopes that it will ensure equal treatment of Ukrainian citizens in all EU member states and enable them to stay even after the 90-day deadline.

“Activating the directive would legalize the stay of Ukrainian citizens for a longer period and immediately enable their inclusion in the labor market,” he said.

The European Commission,” he announced, “will adopt and prepare guidelines for handling external borders in order to harmonize checks at border crossings and ensure effective control of external borders and EU security in the face of mass influxes.

“Because it is not excluded that other third-country nationals who do not always come to the EU with the best intentions may infiltrate among the refugees,” he warned.

All members of the Union were called upon to "be vigilant" due to the danger of cyber-attacks, hybrid threats and misinformation, he said, noting the coordinated approach of all members given the potential arrival of large numbers of refugees from Ukraine to EU territory.

He said that until yesterday, 18 EU member states, including Croatia, had provided humanitarian and technical support to Ukraine, and that the next step would be to help Moldova, in which about 50,000 Ukrainians have entered.

“We will also respond to their needs together with the Commission, which has already initially approved humanitarian aid of five million euros,” said Božinović.

Croatian airspace closed to Russian airlines

Transport Minister Oleg Butković said most EU member states and the United Kingdom had introduced measures banning Russian airlines, aircraft and carriers hired or in any way associated with Russian citizens from using airspace and landing and taking off from airports on the territory of the member states. This also introduces a ban on overflights, take-offs and landings from EU territory.

“This decision introduces a ban on the use of the Zagreb flight information area for Russian air carriers as well as aircraft leased, operated or owned by citizens of the Russian Federation and thus a ban on overflights, take-offs and landings from airports in Croatia,” said Butković.

Excluded from this ban are humanitarian flights as well as search and rescue flights based on the special approval of the Ministry of Transport and overflights and landing in Emergencies.

“In case of the need to organize repatriation flights, with the expected identical countermeasures of the Russian side, such flights will be organized as humanitarian flights,” said Butković.

Crisis team and Expert Committee for Security of Gas Supply

The Government has also appointed a crisis team responsible for the implementation of the intervention plan on measures to protect the security of gas supply of the Republic of Croatia and the Expert Committee for Monitoring the Security of Supply of the Oil and Petroleum Products Market.

The task of these bodies is to monitor the gas and oil markets and to advise the Government on security of supply issues. They include experts from the Ministry of the Economy, Plinacro, HERA, the Underground Gas Storage, Gradska plinara Zagreb, the LNG terminal on Krk and energy companies, and the Hydrocarbons Agency.

The Government also established a standing Group for the Implementation and Monitoring of the Implementation of International Restrictive Measures and an Expert Working Group for the Coordination and Support of the Provision of Health Care to the Refugee Population of Ukraine.

Source: HRT

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