Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Foreign Ministry Advises against Travel to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) has advised against travelling to areas in Ukraine that border Russia and to postpone travel to the rest of the country.

"Due to the deteriorated security situation in Ukraine and concentration of armed forces of the Russian Federation in areas bordering Ukraine, we advise Croatian citizens to avoid traveling to areas in eastern Ukraine that border the Russian Federation," MVEP said on its website.

That in particular refers to areas under Ukrainian control that border the temporarily occupied areas of the internationally unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk entities, the ministry said.

The ministry further advises citizens not to travel to areas near the annexed Crimea peninsula or areas of northern Ukraine that border Belarus.

For other areas of the country it is advisable to avoid all unnecessary travel and postpone trips if possible. Anyone travelling to Ukraine should take care and stay informed about the situation in all local media.

The warning comes after the US State Department withdrew the families of its diplomats from Ukraine on Sunday, due to the threat of a Russian invasion.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Monday that it considers the US decision to be premature.

There have not been any major recent changes in the security situation: the threat of a new wave of Russian aggression has been constant since 2014 and Russian troops began to gather near the border in April last year, the ministry said in a press release.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Monday said that the EU would not follow suit with the US because it does not see any reason for the time being to withdraw its diplomats from Ukraine.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatian Contingent Returns from NATO Mission in Poland

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022  - The 8th Croatian contingent that was part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence mission in Poland returned on Monday and was welcomed back at the army barracks in Bjelovar.

"Thanks to you, the Republic of Croatia has once again proved its readiness to participate in the joint defence system with its allies and partners, confirming its active contribution to peace and stability not only in this area but far beyond its borders," Defence Minister Mario Banožić said welcoming the troops, according to a press release from the ministry.

The majority of the 8th contingent comprised members of the Guards armoured-mechanised brigade. It served in the US-led Battle Group together with personnel from the United Kingdom and Romania.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Zagreb Mayor Says Proposed Waste Collection Model Cheapest, Fairest

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday, while opening a renovated Zagreb primary school that was damaged in the March 2020 earthquake, that the proposed new model for waste collection, based on the so-called Swiss model, was the cheapest and fairest.

Tomašević said the proposal had been put to month-long public consultation during which all good suggestions would be taken into account, one of them being that waste bags should have a smaller volume - of 10 instead of 20 litres, which is the current proposal.

"Many citizens have contacted us, saying that it would take a lot of time to fill a 20 litre bag and they suggest that the bag should have a 10 litre volume. That is a realistic and good proposal," he said.

The purpose of the proposed waste collection model is to pay the variable part of the waste collection rate through the price of bags for unsorted waste.

Tomašević said that there would be no changes to the collection of sorted plastic, metal and paper waste.

Presenting the new model of charging for waste collection last Friday, the mayor said that waste collection would be charged based on the quantity of unsorted waste generated. The main change is that in addition to a fixed monthly rate of HRK 45 (households) or HRK 90 (businesses), citizens would pay HRK 4 or 8 for 'official bags' to dispose of unsorted waste.

The amount of the second part of the waste collection rate would be up to users themselves. They would have to buy 'official' waste bags, their prices being HRK 4 for a 20 litre bag, and HRK 8 for a 40 litre bag, Tomašević said last Friday.

The city authorities also plan to move garbage containers from public areas to have them controlled exclusively by their users.

Apartment and house owners would thus be responsible for the content of those containers, including waste disposed of inappropriately.

The new system of waste collection should go into force on 1 July.

Presenting the new model last Friday, Tomašević said it was the cheapest and fairest as it encouraged waste sorting.

He said the average monthly bill for a household generating 120 litres of unsorted waste would be HRK 69. A household that generates 60 litres of unsorted waste a month would pay HRK 57 while a household generating 240 litres a month would pay HRK 93.

Only bags for unsorted waste will be charged while those for plastic and bio waste would continue to be free of charge.

Fines for waste that has not been disposed of appropriately will amount to around HRK 500.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatian President Says Ukraine Should Not be Part of NATO

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - Ukraine does not belong in NATO, and the situation along the Ukraine-Russia border is a serious crisis behind which stands primarily the dynamics of U.S. internal affairs, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday.

Addressing the press after he visited the Kraš confectionery company, Milanović said that Croatia would in no way be involved in the crisis if it escalated and that there would be no Croatian soldiers in that scenario.

Ukraine does not belong in NATO, the Croatian head of state said, adding that the European Union had triggered off a coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

Western countries are warning about a growing threat of Russia's invasion on Ukraine, and therefore some of them have started to evacuate their diplomats from Kiev.

On the other hand, Moscow dismisses the claims that it is preparing an attack on its southwestern neighbour and insists on guarantees from the West that NATO will not expand towards the east or set up rocket systems along the borders with Russia.

Milanović believes that there are ways to preserve Ukraine in its entirety or 99% of its territory and to provide it with economic assistance. However, that country should not be part of NATO, just as, for instance, neutral Finland, Austria and Sweden are not members of that alliance, either, he said.

The ongoing crisis has nothing to do with Ukraine or Russia, it is connected with the dynamics of the U.S. internal policy led by President Joe Biden and his administration, the Croatian president said, adding that "matters of international security reflect inconsistencies and dangerous behaviour" by the U.S. administration.

Milanović says that the hawks in the Democratic Party as well as the hawks among Republicans, "who until recently justified the play-safe and peaceful policy" of former president Donald Trump towards Moscow, are now mounting pressure on the Pentagon and Biden to take a tough stance towards Russia.

"All that is happening in the antechamber of Russia. One must reach a deal that will take account of the security interests of Russia," said Croatia's president and supreme commander of the army.

If the situation escalates, Croatia will withdraw all its soldiers, he said, adding that Croatia has nothing to do with that crisis.

Milanović again criticised the engagement of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Ukraine.

He labelled former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych as "a swindler who sat on three chairs", adding that his ouster was a coup encouraged by the European Union and the administration in Washington at that time.

After the overthrow of Yanukovych in 2014, "the story was as follows," Milanović said: "Ukraine is going west, it has nothing in common with Russia, the customs union with Russia and former Soviet Union countries is bad for Ukraine, while the EU will be a land of milk and honey."

Eight years later, "Ukraine is still one of the most corrupt countries in the world, stagnating economically and it has got nothing from the EU," Milanović said.

He added that the confrontation with Russia has also produced detrimental effects on gas prices. 

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatia Still Stagnating on TI Corruption Perceptions Index

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - Croatia has been stagnating for the third consecutive year in terms of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the international corruption watchdog says in its annual report.

CPI shows the level of public sector transparency on a scale from 0 to 100.

Countries whose CPI is below 50 are considered corrupt and those with a CPI of more than 51 non-corrupt.

This year, just as in 2021 and 2020, Croatia is ranked 63rd with a score of 47, which places it in the company of Malaysia, Cuba and Montenegro, which have the same score.

A large majority of countries, 131, in 2021 stagnated in the fight against corruption as well. Twenty-five improved their score while the scores of 23 countries worsened.

In 2015 Croatia had a score of 51, and it has been falling since. Of the EU member countries, only Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have a lower score than Croatia.

Since corruption remains mostly outside the public eye, it is difficult to measure, so CPI monitors the perception of public sector corruption among experts and representatives of the business community. It uses 13 independent sources of data, including those of the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

More than two-thirds of countries have a score of below 50, the average score being 43.

The TI ranking is topped by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, with a score of 88, followed by Norway (85), Singapore (85), Sweden (85), the Netherlands (82), Luxembourg (81) and Germany (80).

At the bottom of the ranking are South Sudan with a score of 11, Syria and Somalia are slightly better, with a score of 13, Venezuela has a score of 14 and Yemen, North Korea and Afghanistan have a score of 16.

In its report TI singles out Slovenia for falling to a historically low score of 57, which is nevertheless still much higher than Croatia's.

TI cites pressure on independent monitoring bodies, threats to freedom of assembly and attacks on public media as reasons for Slovenia's score having dropped by three points.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a score of 35, which puts it in 110th place while Serbia has a score of 38, which places it 96th.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Networking and Tourism Management in Croatia Seen as Unsatisfactory - Survey

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - Croatians think that the existing networking between tourism and the rest of the economic sector, the quality of tourism management and the inclusion of the local population in its development are not satisfactory, but also that tourism does not have many negative effects, a survey shows.

The survey of views of local population on tourism was carried out by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport as part of the preparation of a strategy for the development of sustainable tourism for the period until 2030. It covered 1,166 respondents from all counties and the City of Zagreb.

Apart from being dissatisfied with the level of networking between the tourism industry and the rest of the economic sector, the quality of tourism management and the inclusion of local people in its development, respondents also cited the problem of a labour shortage and the insufficient marketing of locally produced food and drinks through tourism.

About 33% of those interviewed said they are not happy with the state of tourism in their county, 35.3% said that the situation is satisfactory, and 51.3% described the situation with environmental protection in their county as satisfactory or very satisfactory.

Slightly over half of the respondents, or 53.4%, said that the development of tourism helps keep young people in the country, 52.2% said that tourism has attracted additional investments to their county and 53% said it has created new jobs.

Respondents also noted that tourism has prompted upgrades to municipal and transport infrastructure, and that local people and businesses have economic benefits from the tourist industry. 59% said that tourism helps increase awareness of the importance of environmental protection and 56% said that tourism encourages the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment.

A majority of those interviewed, or 75.5%, said that tourism encourages the production of local food and drinks, and a similar percentage noted that tourism also promotes the conservation of cultural heritage.

Over 64% of the respondents said they do not agree that tourism jeopardises the quality of life for the local population or that it leads to increased rates of vandalism, crime and drug abuse.

Nearly 42% said that tourism is the reason for traffic congestion and overcrowding, and 44.5% identified uncontrolled building as a problem.

Among the negative effects of tourism, respondents cited increased costs of living.

An analysis of the present situation has identified ten key challenges facing the Croatian tourism industry - seasonal and spatial imbalances, the impact of tourism on the environment and nature, the relationship between tourism and climate change, adjustment to accelerated technological change, the quality of life and wellbeing of local population, insufficient human resources, inadequate accommodation capacity, an unfavourable business and investment environment, an insufficiently effective legal and management framework, and the impact of crises on tourism and changes in tourist behaviour and needs.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatia Reports 51 COVID Deaths in Last 24 Hours

ZAGREB, 25 Jan 2022 - Croatia has recorded 8,471 new coronavirus cases based on PCR testing and 51 deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Tuesday.

On the other hand, media said that 8,221 cases confirmed by rapid antigen tests should be added to this number, which would put the total tally of new infections in the last 24 hours at 16,692.

According to the national coronavirus response team, currently there are 58,866 active cases in Croatia. Among them are 1,951 people who are being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals, including 200 placed on ventilators, and 39,228 people are self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in the country, 887,362 people have contracted the novel virus, of whom 13,502 have died and 814,994 have recovered, including 6,627 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 4,132, 532 people have been tested, including 18,320 in the last 24 hours. A total of 5,052,469 vaccine doses have been administered, with 56.42 per cent of the total population, or 67.15 per cent of the adult population, having been vaccinated.

As of Monday, 2,289,548 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose and 2,198,127 of them have been fully vaccinated, which is 64.63 per cent of the adult population.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatia’s Exodus: What Some Cities in Croatia are Offering Young Families to Stay

January 25, 2022 - When the results of the 2021 Census were revealed on 14 January 2022, reactions were swift and varied. For the first time in over 70 years, Croatia’s population dipped below 4 million to hover around 3.88 million inhabitants (DZS). Since gaining independence in 1991, the country has lost almost 19% of its population, or 895,736 residents over the last 30 years.

A closer look at the data reflects the greatest outflow of inhabitants are between the ages of 20-59, drawn to other European countries with richer labor markets and higher wages. This decline is exacerbated by lower birth rates and an aging population. Croatian women now have fewer children, with a birth rate of 1.44 children per woman, well below the 2.1 needed to grow the country’s population. Simultaneously, Croatia has also experienced a 13.6% increase in inhabitants aged 60 and up over the last decade.

To counter these effects, cities across Croatia have implemented a range of social and economic measures to entice citizens, particularly the younger generation, to stay and thrive. We take a look at a handful of cities across Croatia and the benefits they offer.

Zagreb

Over a quarter of Croatians live and work in Zagreb. Since 2009, the City of Zagreb has introduced a series of measures to make the city more attractive for its inhabitants. According to their model (“zagrebački model pronatalitetne politike”), parents receive financial support for newborns amounting to 3,500 kuna for every child. From the third child onwards, an additional monthly bonus is paid until the child turns 6 years old, amounting to a total of 54,000 kuna.

After-school care is subsidized and scholarships are awarded for gifted students and those of lower socio-economic backgrounds. All students up to a secondary school level are also provided free transportation and textbooks. The city is also looking to further extend these measures to include tax breaks for teachers and scholarships holders. Together, they cost the city approximately 1.072 billion kuna annually.

Rijeka

According to recent headlines, the City of Rijeka is increasing efforts to boost its population. Karla Mušković, the head of the city Department of Health and Social Welfare, said the City is doubling financial support to new parents by awarding them 3,000 kuna for the first child, 4,000 kuna for the second and, for the third child onwards, 6,000 kuna.

An additional 2,000 kuna in vouchers will be awarded to low-income families, single parents, as well as parents suffering from disabilities from the Homeland War. Students and children of veterans missing, detained or perished will also receive a one-off payment of 1,000 kunas in financial aid. The city has also set aside 12 million kunas in this year’s budget to subsidize rising electricity costs for the vulnerable. The total cost for these extended measures is 22 million kuna.

While generous, how do these measures stack up with smaller cities across Croatia?

Vis

Surprisingly, Vis offers one of the most generous policies in Croatia. As of 2016, Vis provides a bonus of 10,000 kuna for the first 2 children. From the third child onwards, parents are given a hefty 146,000 kuna. This is broken down to an upfront sum of 20,000 kuna, with a monthly annuity of 1,200 kuna until the child reaches 10 years old.

Novi Vinodolski

First-time parents are given a sum of 10,000 kuna per child. Additionally, the city also plans for additional subsidies to young families for repayment of housing loans, given the inflation of housing prices due to tourism.

Crikvenica

For Crikvenica, parents with 3 or more children receive 30,000 kuna per child. Mayor Damir Rukavina’s government also enacted a series of measures to combat rising housing costs. In 2007 and 2019, building restrictions were passed to limit construction zones and building plot sizes within the city.

Vukovar

The City of Vukovar rewards 1,000 kuna for the first child, 2,000 kuna for the second child, and 5,000 kuna for the third and each subsequent child. On top of this, Vukovar also co-finances housing costs for families with three or more children, subsidizing bills for water, electricity, heating and waste collection.

Imotski

In 2019, the City of Imotski increased the financial aid for newborns ten-fold. As of 2019, parents will now receive 10,000 kuna for the first child, 20,000 kuna for the second, and 50,000 kuna for the third and subsequent child. These measures make up almost 1.25 million kuna in the annual budget.

While government measures are certainly helpful to alleviate this situation, private businesses can also play a significant role. For example, DM has rolled out significant incentives to ensure their employees thrive in the workplace. In 2019, they increased the bonus given to new parents from 3,000 kuna per child, to 10,000 kuna, while new parents are encouraged to make use of their flexible shift system to ensure proper work-life balance.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Adopting the Euro and Everyday Prices: What Can Consumers Expect?

January 25, 2022 - This year will mark the introduction of the Euro (€) in Croatia, two years after participating in the exchange rate mechanism since 10 July 2020. This set the exchange rate at 1 euro = 7.543450 kuna, with a band of fluctuation of 15%.

From September 5 onwards, retailers throughout the country should display dual prices with both kuna and euros. This measure will extend until the end of 2023.

According to the Croatian media, reactions from the general public surrounding the adoption of the Euro is one of hesitancy. Many fearing the adoption of the Euro may bring on additional inflationary prices.

This sentiment is understandable considering the country is also facing one of the highest year-on-year inflation of 5.5% (DZS).

The same fears were also expressed when 12 countries adopted the Euro in 1999. As many as 80-90% of consumers in Austria, Finland, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece, Germany, and Spain believed that prices were higher after the adoption.

But what could have led to these beliefs in euro-related inflation?

One reason is that consumers use approximated exchange rates for ease of conversions. For example, it can be more intuitive to use a rate of 8 kuna to 1 euro compared to the real rate, distorting inflation by about 6%.

Another, perhaps more calculable concern, is due to something called the rounding effect. This occurs when prices are replaced with more attractive, higher price points that frequently end with numbers 0, 5, or 9.

But are these fears justified, especially for the consumption of everyday goods? Responses from experts have so far has been encouraging.

Leading Croatian economists and even the European Commission have repeatedly assured the introduction of the Euro will not have significant effects on aggregate price levels. Researchers have also supported these claims, showing Euro-related inflation has a larger perceived (as opposed to actual) inflation on consumer prices, particularly for cheap, frequently purchased goods.

Two common sectors that can be used as examples to determine if, and how, the rounding effect may lead to an increase in average spending for consumers are: the restaurants and cafes sector, and the food and produce sector.

Food and Produce

Table 1 outlines the average price of 10 common everyday household items bought on a weekly basis. Conservative estimates are made based on prices averaged from figures at Numbeo and Prices World.

These figures are based on the assumption that Euro prices are rounded to the nearest attractive price ending with 0, 5, or 9.

Table 1table_1_small.jpg

When 12 countries adopted the Euro in 1999, consumer prices saw an increase of 0.12% to 0.29%. Although the increase in the rounding effect in Croatia may be slightly higher in the hypothetical scenario above, in real terms, this is almost negligible. Based on these estimates, the total cost of these weekly goods is currently 265.18 kuna. After the adoption of the Euro, the conservative estimate for the same goods is €35.29 or 266.01 kuna. A difference of 0.83 kuna or a 0.31% increase. While the euro-related inflation for everyday groceries may not burn a hole in consumers’ pockets, what about a common leisure activity, enjoying a drink or meal at a restaurant or cafe bar?

This is likely where consumers would feel more of a pinch.

Restaurants and cafes

Back in January 2002, inflation for the restaurant and cafe industry in countries that adopted the Euro averaged a jump of 15.63%. In the following 3 months, these prices continued to increase at a rate of 5%. This was in contrast to countries that chose not to adopt the Euro, namely Denmark, Sweden, and the U.K. that only saw price increases of 1.01-2.18%.

Although the Euro was adopted by these countries in 1999 as outlined earlier, Euro notes and coins were only introduced 1 January 2002 which explains this trend. Until then, the old notes and coins of each country were still legal tender.

In neighboring Slovenia when the Euro was adopted in 2007, then governor of the central bank, Mitja Gaspari also shared a similar anecdote regarding the increase in coffee prices.

What might consumers expect from restaurants and cafes in Croatia? The following table uses similar predictions based on countries that previously adopted the Euro and includes a rounding effect.

Table 2

Table_2_cropped.jpg

Using numbers from Numbeo and Price World, a meal at an affordable restaurant would average 59 kuna/person. With euro-related inflation, this could go up to 68.22 kuna/person.

The biggest jump is in mid-priced restaurants where an average meal increases from 220 kuna/person to 253.51 kuna/person.

There are a couple of explanations for this large increase in prices for restaurants and cafes, compared to food and produce.

The first scenario may be due to the switch acting as a motivator and coordination device for most, if not all, restaurant and cafe owners to switch to higher prices. This is also made possible through the widespread availability of menu prices online, leading to the rapid diffusion and adoption of a new Euro price point.

A secondary explanation for high inflationary prices can simply be attributed to the increase in anticipated menu costs due to the increase in marginal costs from raw ingredients. Since restaurants and cafes purchase these in bulk, costs accumulate relatively quickly and are passed down to the consumer.

Will these effects last?

The good news is for most euro-adopters in the long run, these spikes were largely temporary as people adjust to the new currency. The Croatian central bank is also giving inhabitants a longer time horizon of over a year to make this adjustment with dual prices lasting through 2023.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Ancient Salona Archaeological Discovery: Peacock Mosaic, Symbol of Eternal Life

January 25, 2022 - Another ancient Salona archaeological discovery reveals a stunning peacock mosaic depicted in early Christian art as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.

The beautiful ancient mosaics discovered recently in the center of Solin caused a sensation in archeological circles, but also beyond. The probable floor of some Roman villas on the outskirts of Salona may shed new light on the area where the capital of Roman Dalmatia stretched. And not only that, but this is one of the few findings that can show how people lived in Salona, reports T.portal.

Apart from the profession's interest and the work that restorers are currently doing on mosaics, the main issue is the future presentation of one of the critical Salona discoveries in the last few decades. As things stand now, the mosaics will be covered with glass and get a well-deserved place in the future city cultural center, which is why the works that led to the discovery began in that area.

PXL_160122_91501261.jpeg

Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL

With underfloor heating installations and a beautiful small mosaic with flowers, the main discovery is undoubtedly a giant mosaic with more decorative details - an image of a peacock. It may be that the former villa owner, unknown to us today, admired the beauty of this bird. Still, according to some experts, the depiction of a peacock may indicate when the villa was built, i.e., in early Christianity, from the 4th century onwards (Salona was abandoned in the first half of the 7th century). The reason is the significant symbolism of the peacock in the Christian religion. 

Peacocks are usually depicted in early Christian art as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life. Such a meaning probably comes from pre-Christian religions, from Greek to Jewish. It was believed that peacock meat did not decay even after death, so they considered it a symbol of eternity. The belief was also passed on to Christians, who portrayed this bird as a sign of Christ's eternal existence. St. Augustine tested this thesis in practice and was surprised at how long the meat remained undigested. In "The State of God," he even wrote about his experiment: "a year later, it remained the same, except that it dried up." These are all reasons why this bird can be seen in catacombs and tombs because it reminds believers of the soul's immortality.

In the Middle Ages, this was supplemented by the fact that the peacock sheds its feathers every year, and new ones grew even more beautifully than before. Legends also said that the beautiful colors of peacock feathers come from food, that is, that a peacock can kill and eat venomous snakes, whose venom 'turns' into miraculous feather colors. It was similar, it was believed then, with Christ: he dies for us on the cross, then rises from the dead by defeating evil by taking divine form, and with healed wounds. It can also be said that the peacock - whose beauty is not always visible - symbolizes a Christian who has attained eternal life by faith and has shown all his greatness by resurrection, just as a peacock spreads its spectacular tail on special occasions. Interestingly, in later times, and even today, the peacock was seen more as a symbol of vanity.

The peacock's tail had another meaning - the 'eyes' at its ends reminded Christians of the God who sees everything. For example, the pillars of Theodosius' Forum in Constantinople, today's Istanbul, were decorated with that part of a peacock's tail.

We can only hope that the announcements about the presentation and (more importantly) preservation of this finding will come true, and that it will not experience the fate of the most famous Salona mosaic, a depiction of two deer drinking water and the inscription 'As a deer longs for a spring of water, so my soul longs, God, for You.' Namely, this mosaic disappeared between the two world wars, and today there are only replicas and paintings.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Page 5 of 3365

Search