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Croatian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-11-21 11:34:44
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Croatia selects mediator for talks with MOL

The Croatian government authorized Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak to select a mediator who would help the government's and Hungarian oil and gas company MOL's negotiators to find a solution for INA, Croatian news agency HINA reported today quoting an unnamed source.

An American company is also interesed in INA; this would be in line with October’s news reports suggesting that the U.S. government has offered friendly mediation in the dispute between the Croatian government and MOL over INA. MOL owns 49.08% of the shares of its Croatian peer INA, complete with management rights, while the Croatian state owns 44.84% of the company. On November 5, Bloomberg reported that Croatia was preparing for a possible purchase of Hungarian MOL oil company’s stake in its Croatian peer, INA, in the event that the ongoing talks with MOL on the joint management of INA should fail.

Earlier, on November 3, the U.S. expresssed its disagreement with the rumored sale of MOL’s 49% stake in INA – Croatia’s largest energy company – to Russian energy giant Gazprom. International news agency Reuters reported that U.S. diplomacy was attempting to block the transaction that would allow Gazprom to establish itself within the EU between partly state-owned MOL and partly state-owned INA.


Croatia gets six bids for Adriatic oil and gas exploration

Croatia has received six bids in an international tender for oil and gas exploration areas in the Adriatic Sea and will choose the best ones by the end of the year, Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak said on Monday. "We are satisfied, we've received bids from big, serious companies," Vrdoljak told reporters. The government sees oil exploration as a key project for the newest European Union member, whose economy has been stuck in recession since 2008. Croatia, an EU member since July last year, said earlier this year it expected investment worth some $2.5 billion over the next five years in exploration activities.

Local media have earlier reported oil majors like Exxon , Shell, Chevron and Total as being interested but Vrdoljak declined to name any of the bidders. The tender, which closed on Monday after running for seven months, comprised 29 block areas for exploration and future exploitation, eight in the north and 21 in central and southern Adriatic. The size of one block ranges from 1,000 to 1,600 square kilometres. Each bidder was allowed to compete for an unlimited number of blocks. The six submitted bids were for 15 blocks altogether, Vrdoljak said. The government plans to sign concession agreements by the spring 2015. The exploration concession will be awarded for five years with a possibility to extend it for another year, while exploitation concessions are planned for 25 years.

According to the preliminary data, gas reserves are more likely to be found in the north while crude deposits are expected in the southern part of Croatia's Adriatic, where the seabed is deeper. Local environment groups say oil drilling could destroy the Adriatic and hurt Croatia's lucrative tourism industry. The government said the concessionaires would be required to respect the highest international environmental protection standards. Croatia currently covers about 65 percent of its annual gas consumption of 3 billion cubic metres from its own fields offshore. It hopes to be able to meet the entire local demand from the domestic wells following the new exploration efforts. Croatia is currently also running an international tender for onshore oil and gas exploration which expires in February.


Bosnia Croatia war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj freed

The United Nations court trying crimes from the bloody break up of former Yugoslavia has ordered the release of ailing Serbian war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj for “compelling humanitarian reasons.”

His allies say he is seriously ill with cancer and the court said he should be released from the prison in The Hague. Prosecutors allege that Seselj incited his followers to commit his followers to commit murder, ethnic cleansing and other war crimes in multi-ethnic Bosnia and Croatia during the wars.

The former politician has been detained for a decade waiting for a verdict. Lawyers and scholars have criticised the tribunal for allowing him to remain in detention for so long.


Croatian community awaits installation of Archbishop Blase Cupich

Football, fellowship and faith connect Croatian Americans in Chicago. On a Sunday evening at the Croatian American Radio Club in Bridgeport all eyes were glued to the screens as Croatia played Italy in the Euro 2016 qualifying match but beyond football, Croatians world-wide are preparing to witness history. The first Croatian-American is being installed as the Archbishop of Chicago. “I feel like everybody is so proud now because at one time we were hardly known and now it's great,” said Frances Sabbia in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis. If someone would have told Sabbia decades ago that the Archbishop of Chicago would be Croatian, “I would say I can't believe it,” said Sabbia.

Sabbia and her family were already celebrating Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich ahead of Tuesday's installation. Sabbia family's Bridgeport home was filled with traditional Croatian cuisine and a plentiful helping of pride. Sabbia says Cupich's appointment will resonate with old and young alike. “You hear this announcement about Archbishop Cupich and it just makes you prouder of that you're Croatian,” said Ante Markota. Markota, 25, was born and raised in Croatia and moved to Chicago two months ago. He describes faith as the compass that guides many Croatian Americans.

“So when you see somebody in this position, Archbishop Cupich, you see that compass directing, pointing in the direction which we all want to go,” said Markota. “I believe he's going to be involved in our Croatian community, our parishes and our club societies to visit the people and not only do we expect this of him but I think that's his mission as the senior shepherd of the people of Chicago,” said Father Jozo Joe Grbes. Croatia has overcome a difficult history in recent years, finally gaining its independence and now recognized by the world. Many Croatian-Americans say this is their second proudest moment. The first was the election of Chicago mayor Michael Bilandic, a Croatian-American. Now, the installation of Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich is another proud moment.


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