Thursday, 14 October 2021

Colas and Geotehnika Win Bid to Build Motorway to Sisak

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - The Hrvatske Autoceste (HAC) road management company on Wednesday selected a consortium of Colas Hrvatska and Geotehnika for the construction of the Lekenik-Sisak section of the A11 motorway between Zagreb and Sisak, as the most economically advantageous bid of HRK 281.33 million without VAT.

Once the contractors enter the construction site they will have 24 months to complete the work, HAC said in a press release.

HAC has secured the entire amount to complete the Zagreb-Sisak motorway without any additional borrowing, the company said.

Colas Hrvatska was established in 1962 under the name Cesta Varaždin. Since 2007 it has been part of the Colas SA global group based in France.

The government adopted a conclusion in February for the completion of the A11 Zagreb-Sisak motorway. The Lekenik-Sisak leg is 10.9 kilometres long. The completion of the motorway is considered a priority project for the long-term revitalisation of Sisak-Moslavina County.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Božinović: EU Unprepared for New Migrant Wave, Croatia Not Doing Dirty Work

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that Europe was not prepared for a new migrant wave, rejecting allegations that Croatian police were doing dirty work for the European Union.

"Many studies by Croatian and international institutions warn of the possible arrival of a large number of migrants as a result of the situation in Afghanistan. Europe must prepare itself for that. However, frankly speaking, the European Union is not fully prepared," Božinović said at a meeting of the Croatian Parliament Committee on Human Rights and Rights of Ethnic Minorities.

The Committee met to discuss pushbacks of migrants by Croatian police on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Božinović said that in the event of a new migrant wave a huge burden would fall on Croatia's shoulders. He said that Croatia could then be asked what it had done to ensure that migrants did not pass through its territory in large numbers, which would call into question its ability to guard the EU's external border.

Speaking of the situation at the border, Božinović said that despite the efforts by the Croatian police, migrants were able to get across the Croatian border, which is more than a thousand kilometres long, as shown by citizens' reports of their holiday cottages and farm buildings being broken into by migrants. These illegal border crossings are not accidental or without risk to migrants, local population and border police, he noted. 

Božinović said that this was a security challenge against organised crime that should not be underestimated, stressing that 4,000 people smugglers had been arrested so far. He said that the Interior Ministry was seeing an increased number of asylum applications, while at the same time it also frequently faced accusations that it was denying migrants access to asylum.

"The fact is that none of these people come to official border crossings to apply for international protection because they know that they do not meet the criteria for such assistance or they do not want to enter the asylum procedure because they risk being returned from EU countries which are their final destination," Božinović explained, adding that 80 percent of asylum seekers do not wait for the outcome of this process but "they simply disappear."

Migrants go to other countries, but they cannot do this legally, without the assistance of smuggling rings who make money on other people's misfortunes, Božinović said.

He dismissed allegations made in the media that Croatia was doing dirty work for the EU, noting that migrants trying to reach Austria or Germany would have to pass through Croatia anyway, whether it was a member of the EU or not.

National chief of police Nikola Milina said that preventing illegal migration was a strategic priority as part of which the police were increasing their legal and technical resources.

Committee member Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party asked if there was cooperation with security services in neighbouring countries, to which Milina said that the Croatian police maintained close cooperation with those services, but added that joint patrols had been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Confirming the cooperation, Božinović said that the neighbouring countries did not have the same interests as Croatia. "Bosnia and Herzegovina wants migrants to get across the border and enter Croatia as quickly as possible, while our interest is to prevent illegal border crossings," he said.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Opposition Satisfied with Supreme Court Ruling, HDZ Says isn't Corrupt

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - The opposition in parliament expressed its satisfaction on Wednesday with the Supreme Court's verdict in the retrial of the Fimi Media corruption under which the Croatian Democratic Union was fined HRK 3.5 million.

Urša Raukar (ZLB) claimed that the verdict clearly identified the HDZ as the most responsible for corruption in Croatia.

That is a great news, added Katarina Peović (RF), at the end of a parliamentary debate on the President's recommendation for Judge Radovan Dobronić to be appointed Supreme Court President.

"The Supreme Court did not rule that the HDZ is a corrupt party, nor criminal enterprise," underscored HDZ party whip Branko Bačić, after opposition MPs continued to debate the Supreme Court's ruling in the retrial of the Fimi Media case. The HDZ was fined HRK 3.5 million while the former PM and HDZ chief Ivo Sanader had his prison sentence cut from eight to seven years.

"The Supreme Court ruled that the HDZ is guilty of being responsible for those responsible in the party and not because of the HDZ, its members and officials," said Bačić.

Bauk tells HDZ MPs not to worry 

Arsen Bauk (SDP) ironically told lawmakers from the HDZ ranks that despite the final verdict they need not worry.

"The Constitutional Court has never let you down and it won't do so now. If it could say that the Courts Act was in line with the Constitution then it can quash your verdict, as if that would not be the first time and then a statute of limitations will expire" and that'll be the end of that, claimed Bauk.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

PM: I will Not Accept Being Labelled as Ivo Sanader or Criminal Organisation

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković, commenting on the ruling in the Fimi Media case, rejected the responsibility of the party's present leadership "for the actions of some other people between 2004 and 2009."

"When it comes to what went on then, as far as the incumbent leadership and policies we are leading are concerned, and I in particular, as the president of the party since 2016, have nothing to do with that nor will we take any responsibility for the actions of individuals," Plenković said commenting on the Supreme Court ruling in the retrial of the Fimi Media case.

He added that he would not accept being labelled as Ivo Sanader or any criminal organisation.

"I have been a member since 2011 and more than half of this time I have been the leader of the party and have been leading it transparently. We are meeting all our obligations and we do not have any loans or anything that would bring our financial situation into question," he said.

He rejected accusations from the opposition that the judiciary is the HDZ's and underscored that today's Supreme Court ruling "is proof that no HDZ judiciary exists."

"Numerous populist, false claims we have heard recently about the HDZ's influence on the judiciary were more than explicitly disputed today in this way and have been shown to be empty phrases and the lowest level of political opposition to the HDZ," he added.

As far as the political price of this case is concerned, Plenković said that the HDZ paid the price at the parliamentary election in 2011 when voters sent the government into the opposition after eight years in office. "That political price has been paid," he said.

Opposition trying to win a few points, but that won't last long

Asked to comment on the opposition's reaction that the verdict confirmed the HDZ as a criminal organisation, Plenković retorted that HDZ convincingly beat the incumbent opposition twice at parliamentary elections and that the opposition is falling apart of its own accord and has not been constructive on even one vital topic.

"Naturally, they will try and win some points and exploit this situation against HDZ ... but that won't last long," he said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday partly upheld the verdict following the retrial in the Fimi Media corruption case, under which the HDZ party was fined HRK 3.5 million while the former PM and HDZ chief Ivo Sanader had his prison sentence reduced from eight to seven years.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Plenković: HDZ Respects Rule of Law, Will Comply with Supreme Court Ruling

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that the HDZ respected the rule of law and would comply with the Supreme Court's ruling under which this ruling party was fined HRK 3.5 million in the Fimi Media corruption case.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court partly upheld the verdict following the retrial in the Fimi Media corruption case, under which the HDZ was fined HRK 3.5 million, while the former PM and HDZ chief Ivo Sanader had his prison sentence cut from eight to seven years.

Sanader and his co-defendants were charged with siphoning around HRK 70 million (€9.3 million) from state-owned companies and institutions through the Fimi Media marketing agency into the HDZ's slush funds from 2004 to 2009. Sanader's prison sentence of eight years, delivered by Zagreb County Court on 13 November 2020, was reduced by one year due to his poor health. However, he was ordered to pay back HRK 14.9 million into the state budget, as an equivalent of his unlawful gain, while the HDZ was ordered to pay back HRK 14.6 million.

Commenting on the final ruling, Plenković said that "the HDZ complies with rulings delivered by Croatian courts and will act according to the Supreme Court ruling."

"The HDZ will pay the fine and the said amount into the state budget," he added.

"We respect the rule of law and accept today's verdict. We regret that during the appeal proceedings, not all the arguments presented by our legal team and lawyers were granted," Plenković said.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Supreme Court's Fimi Media Ruling: Sanader Gets 7 Years, HDZ Fined HRK 3.5m

ZAGREB, 14 October, 2021 - The Supreme Court on Wednesday partly upheld the verdict following the retrial in the Fimi Media corruption case, under which the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party was fined HRK 3.5 million while the former PM and HDZ chief Ivo Sanader had his prison sentence cut from eight to seven years.

Sanader and his co-defendants were charged with siphoning around HRK 70 million (€9.3 million) from state-owned companies and institutions through the Fimi Media marketing agency into the HDZ's slush funds from 2004 to 2009.

Sanader's prison sentence of eight years, delivered by Zagreb County Court on 13 November 2020, was reduced by one year due to his poor health.

However, he was ordered to pay back HRK 14.9 million into the state budget, as an equivalent of his unlawful gain, while the HDZ was ordered to pay back HRK 14.6 million.

Former HDZ treasurer Mladen Barišić was sentenced to two years and ten months for his role in this case, while former HDZ accountant Branka Pavošević was given 16 months, according to the Supreme Court's final ruling.

The court confirmed the acquittal of Ratko Maček, a former spokesman for the Sanader cabinet and for the HDZ . Maček, who was given a suspended sentence at the initial trial, was acquitted at the retrial.

Nevenka Jurak, who owned the Fini Media company and who was found guilty at the first trial, died during the retrial.

The retrial started in 2016, a year after the Supreme Court quashed a sentencing verdict handed down in 2013.

At the first trial, Sanader was sentenced to nine years and ordered to return over HRK 15 million in illegal gain, while the HDZ was ordered to pay back more than HRK 24 million and was fined HRK 5 million.

At the first trial, Barišić, Pavošević and Jurak were given lower prison sentences and ordered to return the money. Unlike then, at the retrial they pleaded not guilty. Maček and Sanader were the only ones denying the charges from the start.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Croatian Tourism Association Expects Even Better 2022 Summer in Croatia

October 13, 2021 - Preparations are underway for the 2022 summer in Croatia after the 2021 season exceeded all expectations. 

After the main tourist season and post-season results exceeded expectations, the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT) expects an even more successful tourist season next year, and preparations have already begun. The main goal is to provide enough workforce reports HRTurizam.

Namely, 4.1 million tourists visited Croatia in August, realizing 26.2 million overnight stays, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced after all the received data were collected and processed. Arrivals represent a growth of 65 percent compared to 2020, while according to the number of overnight stays, Croatia is up 57 percent compared to August 2020. Compared to the record 2019, we reached 86.3 percent of all arrivals and 94.3 percent of all overnight stays.

"This year we have shown that we are an extremely desirable and quality tourist destination and we expect that the next season will be even more successful. To achieve this, it is crucial to start preparations immediately. We expect continued investment and quality improvement throughout the sector," emphasized Veljko Ostojić, the Croatian Tourism Association director.

Most of the tourists who visited Croatia in August were foreigners (3.7 million) and accounted for 91 percent of all overnight stays and 84.5 percent of all arrivals. Among them, most guests came from Germany and accounted for 35.7 percent of all foreign overnight stays or 8.6 million, an increase of 72.2 percent compared to August 2020, and 88.7 percent more or 1.1 million. On the other hand, compared to August 2019, there were 43.4 percent more Germans in Croatia, with 39.5 percent more overnight stays. After the Germans, the Poles are in second place in terms of overnight stays, followed by the Austrians, Slovenes, Czechs, Dutch, and Italians.

In September, 1.9 million tourists visited Croatia and are responsible for 12 million overnight stays, which is a plus of 245, or 147 percent compared to last September, but also 81 percent of tourist arrivals and 94 percent of overnight stays from September 2019.

With superior numbers of arrivals in the peak season, tourists stayed in Croatia longer this year and spent more, even compared to the record year 2019, which was especially emphasized in August.

According to the analysis of the Tax Administration and data in 2019, 2020, and 2021, the fiscalization system shows an increase in consumption, i.e., an increase in the number and amount of invoices in the hospitality industry compared to last year. 

The results once again showed the importance of tourism in the overall Croatian economy, with a share of more than 20% of GDP, which generates a third of Croatian exports and employs about 100,000 people.

"Good management of human resources in tourism, primarily by investing in their knowledge and skills, we will raise the quality that has proven to be the key to success in the pandemic years. Continuously raising quality will enable greater competitiveness, which is the formula for success in the coming years. For this reason, we began to work on preparations for next summer actively and sent to the ministries our proposals for measures to preserve and improve the labor market in the tourism sector. It is necessary to start implementing the measures now, to keep quality people and attract new staff," concluded Ostojić.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Lošinj Open Becomes First ATP Tennis Tournament Held on 'Island of Vitality'

October 13, 2021 - On an island with a long tennis tradition, the Lošinj Open tennis tournament in the ATP Challenger 80 category is on the calendar this autumn, from October 18 to 24, which is another step forward in confirming Lošinj as a recognizable tennis destination.

As part of the Ljubičić Tennis Academy, which gathers professional tennis players and young competitors on Lošinj this year, all tennis enthusiasts will be able to enjoy this sports spectacle, as well as the natural beauties of the island of Lošinj, announced HRTurizam.

Along with Ivan Ljubičić, one of the best Croatian athletes who also hosts the tournament, the tournament will feature Italian Marco Cecchinato, former 16th player in the world and winner of the ATP tournament in Umag, and Russian tennis player Teymuraz Gabashvili, the former 43rd player in the world. After an excellent performance at the ATP Challenger in Naples, the young Duje Ajduković will also arrive on Lošinj, who will defend Croatian colors together with Nina Serdarušić.

"When I started the Ljubičić Tennis Academy, I wanted it to become one of the leading tennis centers in the world, and I recognized Lošinj as an ideal place where talent and sports skills will be developed. Therefore, I am proud to cooperate with partners who helped organize such an event which will not only set new standards of professional tennis, but also contribute to the popularity of sports, but also Lošinj as a destination," said Ivan Ljubicic, famous tennis player, top coach, and leader of Ljubičić tennis academies.

The cooperation of Ivan Ljubičić and Jadranka Group has additionally contributed to the branding of the island of Lošinj as an attractive destination, and Lošinj Open as the first tournament of this category held on Lošinj will strengthen efforts to make this island of vitality a gathering place for tennis fans from around the world. Furthermore, the tournament is also the only Challenger in Europe in that period, which is a good precondition for this sporting event to become a tradition and get a well-deserved place in the ATP calendar.

The organizer of the tournament from the ATP Challenger series, which will attract many visitors to the tennis courts within the Vitality Hotel Punta in Veli Lošinj, is Jadranka Turizam d.d. in cooperation with Ljubičić Tennis Academy and in partnership with the Tennis Club "Lošinj - Jadranka", Jadranka store, Kvarner Tourist Board, Mali Lošinj Tourist Board and manufacturer of top sports equipment HEAD, while the tournament director is Mario Višak from the Tennis Club "Lošinj - Jadranka".

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

2021 Split Advent Program Coming to Life as Offers Begin for Holiday Houses

October 13, 2021 - As we get closer to the holiday season we get a better idea of what to expect in the 2021 Split Advent program as offers for holiday houses roll in around the city.

To experience the real Advent experience, Split residents will not have to travel to Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Makarska, but also other cities outside Croatia this year. This year's Split Advent peak will be on the Riva, at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer Park (Đardin), on the Cornaro ramparts, and in Mertojak, reports Dalmacija Danas.

The first round of the public invitation to exhibit, present and sell products and services at the 2021 Split Advent ended earlier this week. 

"Yesterday, at a public invitation, we received an offer for the Mertojak zone. With this offer, all zones were filled, except for one catering house on Đardin and several shops on the Riva. Therefore, tomorrow we will publish the second round of applications, and we hope that the little that is left will be filled," said the director of Žnjan d.o.o. Ante Šunjić.

Namely, OPG Ante Žigo submitted an offer for 8,000 kuna, Obrt za trgovinu Sirko and Naprid bili for 6,000 kuna, and Riba Dražin for 10,000 kuna. UO Ring sent a bid for a spot on the Riva (going for a little more than 51,000 kuna), and for 33,500 kuna, they will also sell their products in Đardin. They will be joined by BSRZ Naši ljudi in the park in the center of the city, who offered 33,600 kuna for their house.

Highline Cars, which offered HRK 50,013, will take care of the catering offer at Mertojak.

Split Riva
This year, the Riva will feature eight trading houses and two ‘sweet’ houses. One of the eight trading houses is Hajdukova, meaning the Hajduk Fan shop will move to the Riva during this holiday period. 

The catering houses have been transferred to the Cornaro ramparts.

"Due to the current epidemiological situation, which may be better or worse, we are not able to set up catering houses on the Riva. However, visitors can expect ten houses, eight of which are commercial and two 'sweet' houses," said Šunjić.

He notes that the second round of applications for the exhibition, presentation, and sale of products and services at Split Advent starts today. There are several trading houses left on the Riva.

Đardin
This year, there will be a skating rink in Đardin, with two food and three ‘sweet’ houses.

Cornaro ramparts
A real surprise for the people of Split is the food offer at Cornaro. The best bid of 160,013 kuna was made by the Festival Production Association, owned by Domagoj Petričević, otherwise the leader of the Association of Nightclubs and Bars.

Mertojak Park
Residents of Mertojak can expect a skating rink and food offer.

“For the first time this year, we organized a zone outside the city center, on Mertojak below the church. There will also be a smaller skating rink and catering houses for all ages," added Šunjić for Dalmacija Danas.

Žrnovnica
After a one-year break, the Žrvanj Association plans to organize another Christmas story in Žrnovnica in the center of Bašta in December.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Good Energy Tour to Promote Solar Energy in Croatian Cities

October 13, 2021 - Solar energy in Croatian cities will be promoted thanks to the Good Energy tour, held for the second time in October and November this year. 

The Green Energy Cooperative (ZEZ) announces that, in cooperation with the European initiative Covenant of Mayors, the Association of Cities, and the Island Movement, it will conduct a Good Energy tour for the second time in October and November to promote solar energy in Croatian cities, reports Jutarnji List.

The first edition of the tour was held in autumn 2020 when the cooperative visited 11 Croatian cities in continental Croatia and Istria, and this year will include 12 new cities in northern and central Croatia (Čakovec, Ludbreg, Prelog, Zaprešić, Ivanić-Grad), Slavonia (Slavonski Brod, Pleternica, Slatina) and the coast and islands (Zadar, Cres, Mali Lošinj, Hvar).

"With 0.5 percent of electricity obtained from the sun, Croatia is at the bottom of the European Union in terms of using its solar potential. The Good Energy Tour is one of the initiatives we want to encourage its greater use. That is why we gave priority in choosing the host cities of this year's edition to cities that have stood out in their application for our public call for their commitment and readiness to invest further in solar energy, especially in the context of achieving the goals of the European Green Plan."

The cost of installing a home solar power plant, installation conditions, necessary documentation, opportunities for co-financing, association with fellow citizens to exchange energy, as stated in the notice, are just some of the valuable information that citizens will have the opportunity to learn first hand at free training on solar energy in the host cities of the Good Energy tour.

"The use of solar energy is no longer a matter of the distant future. Home solar power plants are affordable and usable in every part of Croatia, and we want to help citizens realize them in a way that will be maximally profitable for them," said the Green Energy Cooperative.

They also state that the campaign is locally focused to bring the opportunities related to the use of solar energy closer to as many citizens as possible through direct communication and encourage understanding of solar energy as a local resource that can be a carrier of Croatian cities. In addition to training on the installation of domestic solar power plants, the Green Energy Cooperative will support 12 host cities in the development and investment in solar energy projects through advisory activities as part of the tour.

They invite all citizens interested in participating in the free education to pre-register via the application form. The first cities that ZEZ will visit as part of the tour are Čakovec on October 19, Ludbreg on October 21, and Prelog on October 26, and detailed information on training in each city and tour schedule can be found on the website of the Green Energy Cooperative www.zez.coop.

The Croatian Parliament passed the Electricity Market Act on 1 October, an essential law in the green transition that transposes all the provisions of Directive (EU) 2019/944 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on standard rules for the internal market in electricity and amending Directive 2012/27 / EU (OJ L 158, 14.6.2019).

Adopting the Law on Renewable Energy Sources and High-Efficiency Cogeneration, which has passed the first reading, is also expected and is adopted following Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on access to energy from renewable sources. The proposal for this law should be adopted by the Government of the Republic of Croatia at the end of October 2021, and its entry into force is expected by the end of November 2021.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.  

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