Sunday, 5 December 2021

A Further 35 Million Kuna in Croatian Covid Loans Remain Available

December the 5th, 2021 - A large amount of Croatian covid loans remain available as domestic companies operating in the small business sector are also resisting the impact of illiquidity, the real threat and high risk in times of this unprecedented global crisis.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, since the outbreak of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic back in early 2020, thousands of companies have realised low-value aid contained in Croatian covid loans which are primarily aimed at preserving liquidity. This was a brand new financial instrument fully financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Namely, since the outbreak of this global public health crisis, HAMAG-BICRO, in cooperation with the competent ministries, promptly responded and created Croatian covid loans, (which are working capital loans) which is intended to preserve the liquidity of micro, small and medium-sized small businesses.

The allocation for Croatian covid loans was increased several times and by the end of last week, a total of 5,151 such working capital loans had been approved. In total, they are worth to 2 billion kuna. When it comes to their users, with the conditions they meet, these are entities with at least three months of work in 2019 under their belts and with last year's revenue decline of 20 percent or more when compared to 2019.

With these payments, they were given the opportunity to maintain liquidity as a wheel in the chain of overall financial discipline in meeting obligations. For many, it is a defense against falling into the insolvency regime, and it seems to be the reason for today's better statistical indicators in the form of fewer ''axed'' companies and the amount of debt blocked compared to the situation back the beginning of the pandemic.

Croatian covid loans of up to 750,000 kuna with 0.25 percent of the fixed interest rate, according to the industry, were the highest of all, for 1,806 beneficiaries, paid to those in the activities of providing accommodation and food preparation and serving. This is followed by wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles - 787, and 636 entities from the manufacturing industry. As of November the 30th, another 34.6 million kuna has been available for payment, but if the allocation is not used by the end of the year, the duration of the programme will be extended, the competent agency has confirmed.

As part of various programmes to encourage entrepreneurship, from the beginning of the implementation of the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme 2014-2020. To date, the agency has signed 5,177 contracts with a total project value of 15.25 billion kuna, of which 6.55 billion kuna is totally non-refundable. These projects will stimulate the creation of an impressive 17,173 jobs.

But since the beginning of 2020, despite the lockdowns and the pandemic which caused very difficult business conditions, new projects that create new jobs are ''sticking'' to valuable incentives: 1841 contracts were signed with a total project value of 7.43 billion kuna, of which 3.29 billion kuna will be non-refundable, and the creation of 2,408 jobs will be encouraged.

In addition to all of the above, great interest in development funds has been being shown by domestic companies that are intensively developing even in the midst of the pandemic, so it's obvious from their interest in development funds that the pandemic isn't an obstacle to healthy companies in joining the proverbial race for the digital and green transition.

According to the aforementioned agency, the signs that indicate interest in development funds are the results of the "Strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises by investing in the digital and green transition'' call, the aim of which is to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in domestic and global markets, to prepare for green, digital and resilient recovery by promoting energy efficient and/or technologically advanced production, and to encourage innovative business models to develop new competencies, increase production and exports, but also preserve existing jobs and encourage the creation of even more new ones.

The value of grants for distribution in the call stands at a huge 1.14 billion kuna, and the total value is 3.6 billion kuna. Calls for the transformation of businesses into green and digital ones will also be in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. So far, a total of 170 contracts have been concluded with enterprises, the value of projects is 2.05 billion kuna, of which 631.23 million kuna is non-refundable, according to the agency, and these projects will encourage the creation of 1217 new jobs.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Viktor Gotovac Elected New Leader of SDP’s Zagreb Branch

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Viktor Gotovac was elected leader of the Zagreb branch of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday after winning 696 votes in the second round of the internal party election on Saturday, while his rival Matej Mišić received 325 votes.

Of the 1,700 members of the party's Zagreb branch entitled to vote, 1,031 cast their ballot.

Speaking after the announcement of the election results, Gotovac thanked everyone for taking part in the election process and "showing that the SDP is important to them because they want it to be better, have new people and work honestly."

He called on SDP members, sympathisers and voters, as well as other people, to stand by them and help them become better. He said that the SDP should fight for social and existential values, municipal issues, as well as for ideas and ideology.

"We have to fight to get back Marshal Tito Square, to ensure that Aleksandra Zec gets a street or square in Zagreb. We have to fight to take power and nothing will stop us. The SDP is going forward," Gotovac said.

Aleksandra Zec was a 12-year-old girl executed together with her parents, Marija and Mihajlo, by Croatian police reservists under Tomislav Merčep in Zagreb in December 1991 during the war. The Zec family were ethnic Serbs.

Mišić congratulated Gotovac on being elected, saying that as of today the SDP continued working together.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Croatian Foreign Minister Visits Several Religious Sites in Rome

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, visited the Church of Saint Jerome and the Pontifical Croatian College of Saint Jerome and several other religious sites in Rome on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a press release.

In the Pontifical Croatian College of Saint Jerome, Grlić Radman met with Rector Marko Đurin, who informed him about the work of that institution and its importance for the Croatian people and pilgrims.

The history of the Church of Saint Jerome dates back to 1453 when Pope Nicholas V gave it to the Fraternity of Saint Jerome. The present building was built in 1589 by Pope Sixtus V, a descendent of a Dalmatian family.

Since its foundation at the beginning of the 20th century, the College has schooled Croat priests from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Srijem region of Serbia, Timișoara in Romania, and Bar and Kotor in Montenegro.

Grlić Radman also visited the the Pontifical University of Saint Anthony and the Church of San Paolo alla Regola, where he was welcomed by Rector Calogero Favata. Together they visited the Chapel of Schola Sancti which houses a plaque showing that it was the titular church of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who never collected it because he was imprisoned after the Second World War.  

The Croatian foreign minister also visited the Basilica of Saint Mary the Great, which is home to a memorial plaque written in the Croatian language and Glagolitic alphabet as testimony to the visit by the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius to Pope Hadrian II in 868. 

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

MOST Party Starts Gathering Signatures for Referendum Against COVID Passes

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - The parliamentary opposition party Bridge started gathering signatures at over 1,200 venues across Croatia on Saturday for a referendum to regulate the work of the national COVID-19 crisis management team and abolish COVID certificates.

"We have started gathering signatures for this crucial referendum to strip the national COVID-19 team of its powers, restore democracy and abolish unlawful COVID certificates," the party's MP Marija Selak Raspudić told a press conference in front of a signature collection point in Zagreb's main square.

Signatures will be collected at stands in public places until 18 December. The referendum would demand that COVID certificates, which are now mandatory for entry into state and public institutions, be abolished within 30 days and that the powers of the COVID-19 crisis management team be transferred to Parliament.

MP Nino Raspudić said that the referendum questions contained what the opposition had been demanding all along - to return decision making to Parliament. He called on the other opposition parties, both left-wing and right-wing, and all people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, to join them "on the last line of defence of democracy and the constitutional order."

The questions were formulated in cooperation with constitutional law experts.

Asked what the alternative to COVID certificates was, Selak Raspudić said that it was the testing of vulnerable groups in all health institutions and compliance with the epidemiological measures.

There is enough money for testing, because vaccines are being purchased in excessive quantities and are later donated anyway. That money could partly be used for buying tests, she added.

"We are not against measures. We are in favour of measures that will be consistent, epidemiologically founded and non-discriminating," Selak Raspudić stressed.

The press wanted to know if the Bridge MPs regretted their support for the recent protest rally against COVID certificates after the police announced they were investigating several persons on suspicion of inciting terrorism and some of those people were connected with the protest.

"We supported the people who came out to express their dissatisfaction, and not terrorism. We are the last persons who would advocate violence or any kind of terrorism, because we are fighting for the citizens' rights and freedoms in a democratic and legal way," MP Nikola Grmoja said.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

2021 World Championship: Croatia Women's Handball Crush Paraguay 38:16

December 4, 2021 - Croatia women's handball crush Paraguay in the second round of the 2021 World Championship in Spain, securing their first victory of the competition and a chance at moving to the second round. 

The Croatia women's handball team recorded a convincing victory in the 2nd round of the 2021 World Championship in Spain.

After losing to Brazil at the opening of the World Championship, Nenad Šoštarić's team beat Paraguay 38:16 (15:5) in the second round of Group G.

With an easy victory against Paraguay, Croatia practically secured the second round, in which three national teams from each group will be placed. The win is also important to improve the team's morale after the initial defeat against Brazil. 

Despite the great victory, one of the greatest ever for Croatian women's handball, the match didn't start so well. Paraguay led 3:2 in the fifth minute. However, Croatia came back with a 10:0 series and kept their advantage until the end of the match. 

Ana Turk and Valentina Blažević scored the most in Croatia, six goals each.

Japan beat Paraguay beat in the first match 40:17. The World Championship in Spain is Paraguay's fourth in history. So far, they have been to France in 2007, Serbia in 2013, and Germany in 2017. They were 23rd in the first, 21st in the last two. In 21 matches so far, they have achieved four victories (2007: Australia 16:14, 2013: Algeria 29:19, 2017: Argentina 28:25, China 23: 21), one draw (2013: Australia 18:18), and suffered 16 defeats. The hardest was against Norway at the 2007 World Cup in France of 50:12, or minus 38 goals.

CROATIA - PARAGUAY 38:16 (15: 5)

CROATIA: Bešen, Kapitanović, Pijević; P. Posavec 1, Krsnik, S. Posavec 4, Mičijević 1, L. Kalaus, Ježić 4, Burić, Šimara 2, Dežić 5, Debelić 5, Turk 6, Mamić 4, Blažević 6.

PARAGUAY: Acosta, Fleitas, Gimenez, Acuna 5, Dos Santos, Faria 1, Fiore 1, Fernandez 3, Gonzalez 1, Leiva 1, Insfran 3, Miskinich, Rolon 2.

EXCLUSIONS: Croatia 10 minutes, Paraguay 14 minutes
PENALTIES: Croatia 6/6, Paraguay 3/7

In the last match of the group, the "Queens of Shock" will face Japan on December 6. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Source: HRT

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Kaštelir-Labinci Joins Network of UNWTO Best Tourism Villages

December 4, 2021 - UNWTO has included the Municipality of Kaštelir-Labinci in the Upgrade Program, which in its application showed a commitment to innovation and sustainability in the development of responsible and high-quality tourism.

The best examples of villages that accept tourism, provide opportunities, and encourage sustainable development were highlighted at the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid. As a result, the UNWTO Best Tourist Villages Initiative was launched to enhance the role of tourism in protecting rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and local values ​​and activities, including local gastronomy reports HRTurizam.

Forty-four villages from 32 countries in five world regions received recognition for 2021. They all stand out for their natural and cultural wealth and their innovative activities and commitment to the development of tourism following the goals of sustainable development.

This initiative recognizes those villages committed to making tourism a powerful driver of their development and well-being. An independent Advisory Board evaluated the villages based on a set of criteria covering nine areas:

- Cultural and natural resources
- Promotion and preservation of cultural resources
- Economic sustainability
- Social sustainability
- Environmental sustainability
- Tourism potential and value chain development and integration
- Management and prioritization of tourism
- Infrastructure and connectivity
- Health, safety, and security

All of the 44 selected villages scored a total of 80 or more points out of a possible 100. The best tourist villages of the UNWTO initiative include three pillars:

UNWTO Best Tourist Villages: The label will recognize a village that is an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserves and promotes rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyles, and has a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects - economic, social and environmental.
UNWTO “Best Tourist Villages” Upgrade Program: The upgrade program will benefit several villages that do not fully meet the label criteria. These villages will receive support from the UNWTO and its partners in improving elements of the area identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
UNWTO Best Tourist Villages Network: The network will provide a space to exchange experiences and good practices, learning, and opportunities. It will include representatives of villages awarded the “Best Tourist Village according to the UNWTO,” villages participating in the Upgrade Program, as well as experts, public and private sector partners involved in the promotion of tourism for rural development.

A total of 75 UNWTO member states nominated 174 villages (each member state could represent a maximum of three villages) for the 2021 pilot initiative. 20 villages. Among them, 44 have been declared the best tourist villages by the UNWTO, and another 20 villages will be included in the Upgrade Program.

Among others, the UNWTO has included the Municipality of Kaštelir-Labinci in the Upgrade Program, which in its application showed a commitment to innovation and sustainability in the development of responsible and high-quality tourism. The vision of the Municipality is the development of a recognizable destination, i.e., the development of indigenous rural tourism, which contributes to the coordinated development of agriculture and tourism, rich offer of various contents and events adapted to different target groups - nature lovers, active vacationers, recreationists, gourmands, weekenders, hunters.

All 64 villages are included in the UNWTO network of the best tourist villages. The next edition will open in February 2022.

List of best tourist villages according to UNWTO 2021:

Bekhovo, Russian Federation
Bkassine, Lebanon
Bojo, Philippines
Caspalá, Argentina
Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal
Cuetzalan del Progreso, Mexico
Cumeada, Portugal
Gruyères, Switzerland
Batu Puteh, Malaysia
Kaunertal, Austria
Le Morne, Mauritius
Lekunberri, Spain
Mani, Mexico
Misfat Al Abriyeen, Oman
Miyama, Japan
Mokra Gora, Serbia
Morella, Spain
Mustafapasha, Turkey
Nglangeran, Indonesia
Niseko, Japan
Village of Nkotsi, Rwanda
Old Great Harbor, Mauritius
Olergesailie, Kenya
Ollantaytambo, Peru
Pano Lefkara, Cyprus
Pizza, Chile
Pochampally, India
Puerto Williams, Chile
Radovljica, Slovenia
Rial Alma’a, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Testo Alto, Brazil
Saas Fee, Switzerland
San Cosme y Damián, Paraguay
San Ginesio, Italy
Sidi Kaouki, Morocco
Solčava, Slovenia
Soufli, Greece
Taraklı, Turkey
Purple Island, Republic of Korea
Ungok Village, Republic of Korea
Valposchiavo,  Switzerland
Wonchi, Ethiopia
Xidi, China
Yucun, China

In addition, the UNWTO will work with the following villages participating in the Upgrade Program:

Ordino, Andorra
Khinalig, Azerbaijan
Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria
Kastelir Labinci, Croatia
Agros, Cyprus
Fuwah, Egypt
Western Samos, Greece
Hollókő, Hungary
Biei, Japan
Capulálpam de Méndez, Mexico
Years, Montenegro
Gornja Lastva, Montenegro
Oukaimeden, Morocco
Barangay Tenani, Philippines
Gasura, Rwanda
Gostilje, Serbia
Gorenja Vas, Slovenia
Cantavieja, Spain
Bo Suak, Thailand
Ruboni, Uganda

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Croatia’s Industrial Stockpiles Down Year-on-Year, up Month-on-Month

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Croatia's stockpiles of finished industrial goods in October 2021 were 1.6% higher than in the previous month and 10% lower than in October 2020, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

Broken down by main industrial groupings, compared with  September 2021, energy stockpiles increased 5.7%, and stockpiles of non-durable consumer goods went up 3.7%

At the same time, stockpiles of capital goods contracted 12.7% month on month, and of durable consumer goods by 2.8%, whereas stockpiles of intermediate goods decreased 0.2% month on month.

Shrinking stockpiles year-on-year

Year-on-year, industrial stockpiles of capital goods in October shrank by 31% and of intermediate products by 16.2%, while energy stockpiles contracted by 14.9%. The durable consumer goods' stockpiles went down 9.9% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.9%. 

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Hoteliers Expect Advent Festivities To Contribute to Better Business Results

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Hotels in Zagreb as well as hotels open in December elsewhere in Croatia expect the Advent season and the Christmas and New Year festivities to contribute to hotel occupancy figures, however, the pandemic is likely to cut guest turnovers by 40% compared to 2019.

These figures were presented by the chairwoman of the hoteliers' cluster within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Josipa Jutt Ferlan, in her interview which Hina published on Saturday.

Jutt Ferlan says that the epidemiological developments make it difficult to forecast the results of this year's Advent season.

She projects that in December 2022 hotels could reach the volume of their business in December 2019.

Jutt Ferlan, who is also Cluster General Manager at Hilton hotels in Zagreb, tells Hina that inquiries about the Advent in Zagreb events and bookings of accommodations hint at good results notably during weekends this December.

Commenting on COVID certificates, she underscores that many business activities and many event organisers rely on the COVID certificate and on vaccination as a way out of the pandemic and return to the normal life.

In many European countries the COVID certificate mandate has already been introduced also for hotels, restaurants and cafes, she says adding that there are more and more foreign visitors who  ask why hotels or spa facilities in Croatia have not yet imposed the mandatory certificates.

If all other countries, our competition, introduce this requirement, then our "safe stay" designation will become meaningless, if we do not impose certificates, too, she explains.

Jutt Furlan added that the government's job-retention grants had made it possible for hotels to keep doing business and keep their workers during the lockdown.

She says that that during the last summer season, Zagreb hotels fared well, explaining that a good summer season along the coast also means a good summer season for Zagreb.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Croatia’s Coronavirus Update: 4,465 New Cases, 54 Deaths, 4,712 Recoveries

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - In the last 24 hours, 11,717 coronavirus tests have been conducted in Croatia and of them, 38% (4,465) have returned positive, whereas another 54 COVID patients have died, bringing the COVID-related death toll to 11,150, the national COVID-19 crisis management team reported on Saturday.

Currently, there are 31,348 active cases, and of them 2,382 are receiving hospital treatment, including 317 patients on ventilators.

Since the first registered case of infection with the novel virus in Croatia on 25 February 2020, 628,241 persons have caught the virus and 585,743 of them have recovered from the infection, including 4,712 in the last 24 hours.

During the vaccine rollout, over 4.2 million doses against coronavirus have been administered. So far, 54.29 % of the total population have got at least a jab, or nearly 65% of adults.

Furthermore, 58.13% of adults have been fully vaccinated.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Two Men Reported by Police Over COVID Rally in Šibenik

ZAGREB, 4 Dec, 2021 - Two men, both aged 59, were reported by the police for having organised a COVID rally in Šibenik on 1 December in contravention with the law on public assembly.

The rally of opponents of COVID certificates and anti-vaccine advocates was held in the centre of this Croatian coastal city from 1700 to 2000 hours on 1 December contrary to the relevant law and no anti-epidemic rules had been taken during the gathering.

According to some media reports, the two organisers mobilised an estimated 100 protesters, including a column of several bikers, in Šibenik's central square.

Police investigating several persons suspected of inciting to terrorism

The Police Directorate in Zagreb said on Friday that the law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities were investigating a number of persons suspected of publicly inciting to terrorism.

The police are investigating "actions which incite to undermining Croatia's fundamental constitutional, political, economic or social structures by attacking the physical integrity of other persons and public buildings."

According to media reports, several persons have been arrested, including Marko Francišković and Natko Kovačević, members of an organisation called Pravednik (Righteous).

Francišković spoke at recent protests against COVID certificates in Zagreb and Šibenik.

The police said the investigation was being conducted in Zadar, Šibenik-Knin and Lika-Senj counties as well as in Zagreb and Bjelovar.

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