Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Medvedgrad Opening Planned for End of October after 3 Year Renovation

October 12, 2021 - The Medvedgrad opening is planned for October 22 after a 3-year renovation that aimed to establish sustainable use of natural heritage through the Medvedgrad Visitor Center.

The renovation of the Medvedgrad burg has been completed, which will be open to visitors at the end of this month. Namely, the Public Institution Nature Park Medvednica has implemented the EU project "Improving visitor capacity for sustainable management of the Nature Park Medvednica" since 2018, which aims to establish sustainable use of natural heritage through the opening of the Medvedgrad Visitor Center and related facilities to contribute to sustainable social-economic development at the local and regional level, reports HRTurizam.

The EU project was valued at 37,726,252.75 kuna to restore and arrange protected cultural property of the medieval noble town of Medvedgrad, which became the Medvedgrad Visitor Center with several functional units.

In the South Tower, a display of natural and cultural values ​​of the Medvednica Nature Park has been arranged to educate visitors about the values ​​and importance of the protected area. The rich history of Medvedgrad and the Park itself called "Enchanted History" is shown in the central part of the Grand Palace, which also houses the newly equipped space of the multifunctional hall and souvenir shop. The small palace contains a museum exhibition "Secrets of the Ancient Mountains" which includes a display of a medieval pantry and a shadow theater.

The implementation of the EU project carried out other demanding project activities that contributed to achieving the goal of protecting, valorizing, educating, and promoting sustainable management of natural heritage, protecting cultural and natural heritage in the Medvednica Nature Park, making it a recognizable tourist destination that contributes to socio-economic development.

In addition to construction and architectural work, some of the basic management documents were developed, such as cycling development strategy, with accompanying action plans, visitor management strategy, Visitor Center branding, marketing plan, visitor center security manual, which included cooperation with HGSS, marking eight bike paths, setting up informational educational boards, but also marking the access to Medvedgrad, purchasing electric bicycles, designing and making toys, and creating educational workshops.

"By opening the Medvedgrad Visitor Center, Croatia gets a new ecological, tourist, and economic content," said Marina Popijač, director of the Medvednica Nature Park, who added that the official opening of the Medvedgrad Visitor Center is planned for Friday, October 22, and will be open for visitors from October 23 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Waste Separation in Dalmatia Lowest in Croatia, Split Worst

October 12, 2021 - Waste separation is traditionally lowest in southern Croatia, with the city of Split infamously known as the worst. 

Annual reports on waste collection in Croatia issued by the Ministry of Economic and Sustainable Development regularly present sad news about Dalmatia. Namely, it shows a severe civilizational lag in the south compared to the north, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Statistics show that Dalmatia, together with Lika and Brod-Posavina County, is at the bottom of Croatia when it comes to waste separation. But there is tourism here, and the state invests in infrastructure and development, so it makes no sense to compare it with poorer parts of Croatia and where life is objectively more challenging.

Data on waste separation collection in 2020 show that Split is in last place among the big cities in Dalmatia. Dubrovnik has a collection rate of 11.16 percent, followed by Sibenik, which last year still rose with a rate of 6.55 percent. On the other hand, Zadar fell from 7 percent to 6.20 percent last year, while Split is at the bottom of the scale with 5.80 percent. Compared to 2019, Split even improved because it had a disgraceful 3.74 percent two years ago, but even with that miserable shift, it did not move further than the last place.

Moreover, when we move outside the framework of Dalmatia, Split is convincingly in last place among the big cities in Croatia regarding waste separation. This year, Rijeka recorded 14.21 percent, while Zagreb separates 29.74 percent, and Osijek as much as 38.69 percent, which is an improvement from 28.67 percent in 2019.

The record holders are again in Međimurje. Čakovec is at 48.95 percent, and some of their municipalities, such as Belica, separate 79.76 percent of waste. In fact, in Međimurje County, eight municipalities separate more than 60 percent of waste, above the required EU standards.

In terms of municipal waste management, as in 2019, the highest rates of recovery and recycling of waste are still recorded in Međimurje County (58 percent), Varaždin County (53 percent) Koprivnica-Križevci County (50 percent), and the City of Zagreb (48 percent).

On the other hand, the counties where waste is least recycled are Zadar County (20 percent) and Lika-Senj County (20 percent). They are followed by Brod-Posavina (23 percent), Split-Dalmatia (24 percent), Šibenik-Knin (25 percent), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (25 percent).

Another indicator that shows just how bad it is in Dalmatia is shown in the example of Zadar County, where most construction is currently underway in Croatia. Unfortunately, Zadar County is at the bottom of the scale and the most economically underdeveloped part of Croatia.

Most municipal waste in Croatia was disposed of in Zadar, in the Diklo area, as much as 320,905 tons. It should be emphasized that this is almost twice as much as Zagreb's Jakuševac, where 189,975 tons were disposed of, or Split's Karepovac, which is third on the list where 116,876 tons were disposed. Much less mixed municipal waste is disposed of in Zadar than in Zagreb and Split, but it is not explained what the 247,651.71 tons of 'other waste' disposed of in Diklo in 2020 refer to. 

The director of Zadar's "Čistoća" Ivan John Krstičević said that "this is a large amount of excavation that ends at two landfills in that landfill."

Last year, 103,015 tons of mixed municipal waste were disposed of in Karepovac; in fact, almost everything that ended up there falls into that category.

It cannot be said that nothing happens in Dalmatia when it comes to waste, but it is going very slowly. In Zadar, Diklo should stop being a landfill, fortunately for the surrounding locals, when the Biljana Donja Waste Management Center starts operating, and commissioning is expected in the middle of next year. At the end of this year, the CCE Bikarac should start trial work in Šibenik-Knin County.

Split is also at the bottom. The Center for Waste Management in Split-Dalmatia County in Lećevica has been questioned by associations, locals, and some scientists as environmentally unacceptable. Still, it is equally questionable whether it will ever be built. Big money was spent, jobs were created, people were employed in the county’s “Regional Clean Environment Center.” Some retired from that position, but nothing has moved in two decades without anyone responding.

Presenting the Municipal Waste Report at a press conference, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric boasted that Croatia ended last year with 41 percent of separated municipal waste, saying it was an increase of four percent compared to 2019. But he noted that last year was a “pandemic year” marked by a reduction in the work of the service sector.

In other words, there was much less tourism last year than in previous years, so the results on that success are relative. This is especially true for Dalmatia. As a result, the amount of waste is smaller, but, unfortunately, the backlog in separation and recycling is equal.

In Split-Dalmatia County, there are five municipalities with no waste separation (i.e., 0.00 percent), namely Jelsa, Prgomet, Seget, Sućuraj, and Šolta, while Hrvace is at 0.05 percent of separation, and Muć at 0, 06 percent. According to them, Vrgorac is "advanced" with 0.16 percent.

In Šibenik-Knin County, Kistanje, Kijevo, Ervenik, Civljane, Murter and Promina are at "zero", and in Zadar County, Lišane Ostrovičke, Pakoštane, Polača, Povljana, Sali and Stankovici do not separate anything. In Dubrovnik-Neretva, the municipalities of Janjina, Kula Norinska, Lumbarda, Opuzen, Pojezerje, Smokvica, Ston, Zažablje are without separation.

Of course, there are brighter examples, like Lastovo, in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which reached an incomprehensible 40.82 percent for Dalmatia. There, waste separation actions were initiated by associations, the Municipality of Lastovo, the local Komunalac, the Lastovo Islands Nature Park, and obviously, the results were not lacking. For several years in a row in Split-Dalmatia County, Omiš has been praised. This year, it reached 20.70 percent, and Dugi Rat equaled it, which, therefore, shares first place in the largest Dalmatian county.

But when you look at the waste management map in the report, it turns out that the northern regions are more advanced in waste recycling. For example, no southern part of Croatia has a composting plant. In fact, in the results for last year, we cannot say that tourism is an aggravating circumstance for Dalmatia, which otherwise produces a significant amount of waste because it was significantly less than in previous years.

It would be unfair to say that nothing is being done. Split has reduced the amount of waste disposed of at Karepovac, and compared to 2018; it has doubled the amount of waste collected separately from 1,614 to 3,136 tons. It has also increased the number of stationary and mobile recycling yards. But that’s all too little to avoid the penalties cities have to pay if they don’t reach specific recycling percentages.

Namely, according to the "Decree on Municipal Waste Management," cities and municipalities are obliged to pay an incentive fee for reducing the amount of mixed municipal waste. It is a measure that encourages local self-government units to reduce the amount of mixed municipal waste. As confirmed by the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, the Fund collected HRK 46.9 million from municipalities and cities in Croatia last year because, in 2019, they did not separate enough mixed municipal waste. Thus, the City of Zagreb had to pay HRK 8.8 million, Osijek HRK 922 thousand, and Rijeka HRK 1.6 million. Of the Dalmatian cities, Split had to pay 3.2 million kuna, Zadar paid penalties of 1.6 million kuna, Šibenik 825 thousand kuna, and Dubrovnik 944 thousand kuna.

It is unknown how much Dalmatian and Croatian cities and municipalities will pay for 2020 because last year's data will be calculated at the end of 2021 after receiving a report from the relevant Ministry.

According to the World Bank, Croatia generally lags behind European waste management directives, so the question is whether it will avoid penalties that would amount to 42,000 euros a day. In 2020, Croatia was supposed to reach 50 percent separate separation, and last year the country ended up with 41 percent. However, it was a pandemic year, as Minister Ćorić admitted. Otherwise, it isn't easy to approach the set norms. For some, the question is whether Croatia will fulfill them, as is the case with Karepovac, given the "Lecevica case."

Since the population's education is emphasized as one of the goals, it is not out of place to know that Čistoća Split has spent around one million kuna on education in the last two years. 

Given that the new Split government, led by Mayor Ivica Puljak, has announced a cleaner Split as one of its strategic goals, we will see if Split can move from the infamous place of the worst city when it comes to waste management.

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Croatia U21s Record 4th Win in 2023 Euro Qualifiers, Top Azerbaijan 5:1

October 12, 2021 - The Croatia U21s have recorded their 4th win in four rounds of the 2023 Euro qualifiers, this time defeating Azerbaijan 5:1!

The Croatia U21s defeated Azerbaijan 5:1 in Sumgayit in the 2023 European Championship qualifiers on Tuesday. It was Croatia's 4th game in Group A.

Igor Bišćan's side thus recorded four victories in the first four rounds of qualifications, with a goal difference of 12:3, and leads the top of the group with 12 points.

Croatia did the job in the first 45 minutes when the excellent hat-trick was scored by the great Roko Šimić (9', 13', 44' penalty). Nikola Soldo (25') also scored in the first half, and the victory of Croatia was confirmed in the 81st minute by Josip Šutalo. The only goal scorer for Azerbaijan was Musa Gurbanli (55' penalty).

The son of former Croatia star Darijo Šimić scored in the ninth minute on Kačavenda's pass, and only three minutes later he scored the fourth goal in his fourth appearance for the U21 national team after a shot by Čolina and a bad intervention by goalkeeper Merbalijev.

In the 25th minute, Lokomotiva midfielder Soldo increased the lead to 3:0 after a free kick by Palaversa. Valizade played with his hand in the penalty area a minute before the end of the half, and Roko Šimić scored a hat-trick from the penalty spot in the first half. 

Azerbaijan reduced the score in the 55th minute when Šutalo committed a foul on Gurbanli, and the same player was accurate from the penalty spot. In the 69th minute, Azerbaijan had to play with a man down after the exclusion of Valizade, and in the 81st minute, Šutalo hit the net with his head for the final 5:1.

In other group matches, Norway defeated Estonia 3:0 in Drammen, while Finland defeated Austria 3:1 in Tampere.

Croatia leads the table with a maximum of 12 points and a goal difference of 12:3, and Norway is second with nine points, the same as Austria with a game more.

After the introductory win against Azerbaijan in Velika Gorica (2:0), the young Croatia side celebrated 2:0 away against Finland, and last Friday in Varaždin, they defeated Norway 3:2.

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

PM: Government Following Fuel Price Developments: Room to Intervene

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - The government is following developments with fuel price rises, the relevant ministers have been tasked with following the situation in detail, and there are also tools for an intervention if necessary, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday.

Oil prices vary on the global and Mediterranean markets, they are rising, and petrol and diesel prices are rising too, he said after a ruling coalition meeting, adding that besides oil, those prices include excises, margins and VAT.

Speaking to the press, Plenković said Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić were tasked with "following the developments in detail" and that the Economic and Social Council would meet tomorrow to discuss the matter.

"We'll talk with the social partners and see how the situation develops and if a certain intervention will be necessary. There are tools for that," the prime minister said.

He said the government "will not play (with) the psychological limits" of fuel prices because it did not know what the prices would be tomorrow and how high they could go.

Over the past year fuel prices were considerably lower "and nobody was asking then how we would finance roads and similar costs from excises," Plenković said.

He recalled last week's request to the European Commission to propose measures at the European level given the global rise of fuel prices.

As for the complaint by road hauliers that the government was passively watching the rise in fuel prices, the prime minister said the government was not passive and that "we live in a free market."

"When petrol cost eight kuna, no one was saying anything," he said.

As for gas and electricity prices, he reiterated that they would not go up until spring and that Croatia was in a better position than many other countries in that respect.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

IMF Raises Croatian Economy's Growth Projection for 2021, 2022

ZAGREB, 12 Oct (Hina) - The International Monetary Fund has revised upwards to 6.3% the projection of the Croatian economy's growth this year as well as the growth projection for 2022, according to the autumn world economic outlook released on Tuesday.

In April's outlook, the IMF projected that Croatia's economy would grow 4.7% this year and 5% in 2022, while last month, at the end of regular consultations with member states, its Mission projected a 5.4% growth for this year and 5.8% for 2022.

According to the latest report, the estimate of the Croatian economy's contraction in 2020 was lowered to 8%, one percentage points less than projected last spring.

Significantly lower deficit

The current account deficit is projected at 0.1% of GDP, down 2.2 pp than projected last spring. Next year the deficit is projected at 0.8%, half as much as the deficit projected last spring. The 2020 deficit is estimated at 0.4%, down from the 3.5% estimated last spring.

In a concluding statement after last month's consultations, the IMF Mission said the balance of payments indicators were relatively good, despite a strong decrease in tourism revenue.

Higher inflation, lower unemployment

Annual inflation projections for this year and the next have been raised to 2%, up 1.3 and 0.8 pp respectively than those projected last spring.

The 2020 inflation is estimated at 0.1%, down 0.2 pp from last spring's estimate.

Commenting on inflation in September's concluding statement, the IMF Mission said that despite a recent acceleration, it remained low, projecting that it would stabilise in 2023 at 2%.

In the latest projections, the unemployment rates for this year and the next have been lowered by 1 pp to 8.4% in 2021 and 8% in 2022.

For 2020, it is estimated at 9%, down 0.2 pp than in last spring's projections.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Tourist Board Launches Autumn Campaign "#FALLinLoveWithCroatia"

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has launched a new mini autumn promotional campaign, "#FALLinLoveWithCroatia", on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tik Tok,  HTZ said on Tuesday.

The campaign will be conducted throughout October and November and is aimed at retaining visibility and promoting Croatia as a tourist destination with an interesting offer in the autumn season by highlighting the rich autumn beauty and attractions of the destinations.

The campaign is being conducted on social media in cooperation with tourist boards throughout the country in an effort to highlight the best each destination has to offer visitors: interesting places, attractive locations, local parks, promenades and traditional activities such as the picking season for grapes, olives, mandarines, mushrooms and chestnuts to the production of oil from pumpkin seeds and olives, and preparing autochthonous delicacies from autumn fruits.

"We want to colour social media with all the colours of autumn and to emphasise the beauty of Croatia's national and nature parks during this time of the year but also to motivate everyone to vacation and explore Croatia in the autumn," HTZ said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Prosecutors Suspect Police of Inhumane Treatment of Migrants: Jutarnji List

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - Prosecutorial authorities have ordered an investigation of police officers recorded participating in violent pushback of migrants because they suspect them of inhumane and cruel treatment, which, if proved, could mean a 10-year prison sentence for the officers, Jutarnji List reported on Tuesday.

Karlovac County public attorney Vera Magdić-Bižanović told the daily that following a video broadcast by RTL television last week she requested an investigation on the suspicion of torture and other cruel, inhumane or humiliating conduct or punishment.

The said offence carries a sentence of one to ten years in prison.

Last Wednesday, a number of European media outlets showed disturbing footage of a migrant pushback on Croatian territory. The footage showed men, wearing balaclavas and clothes similar to those of Croatian police, pushing migrants across a backwater of the Korana river towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović last Friday confirmed that Croatian police officers were involved in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border.

In a statement to the press on Monday, Božinović said that the police who were recorded beating migrants did not do so under any orders.

What could be crucial for the investigation is determining whether the police, given that they undoubtedly used force, had compiled a report, which they were obliged to do under the law and professional rules.

Even if they use force against unidentified persons, police are obliged to write it down in a report at the end of their shift. Unofficial sources have told the daily that in terms of disciplinary responsibility, this could be treated as unconscientious conduct, excessive or unreasonable use of force, and humiliation of the person involved.

Given the circumstances and the media as well as political attention the case has drawn, if the police are found responsible, they could be suspended for a year or transferred to a less exposed position in disciplinary proceedings, Jutarnji List writes.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Zagreb Mayor: No Appointments Based on Political Criteria

ZAGREB, 12 Oct (Hina) - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! party said on Tuesday that cooperation with former members of the management board of the city's Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate was bad and that appointments in city-owned institutions were not based on political criteria.

"It was not communication that was bad, but cooperation. The new members of the Zagreb Holding Management Board were appointed in a public procedure. We did not know them from before. When we realised that things were not functioning, that the old members of the Board were not involving them in decision-making, we simply could not tolerate the situation any longer," Tomašević told a news conference.

He added that the city wanted a strong Supervisory Board for Zagreb Holding as well as strong supervision in all city-owned companies, and that as the Assembly, they wanted to be informed of all key decisions.

"We do not interfere in personnel issues," he said.

Recalling that during the term of former mayor Milan Bandić there was a decision under which the mayor's consent was required for every new hiring in Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that one of the first moves of the new city administration was to annul that decision.

Asked about claims by former Zagreb Holding Management Board chair Nikola Vuković and former Board member Ante Samodol that meetings were attended also by Dario Juričan and (We Can! MP) Sandra Benčić, Tomašević said that that question should be put to them.

"As far as I understand, they went to the meeting in question at the request of former Management Board Chairman Vuković. You should ask them why they are going public with all these things now. The meeting in question happened after our decision as the Zagreb Holding Assembly to relieve the two Management Board members (Vuković and  Samodol) of duties," Tomašević said.

Asked if bank accounts for Zagreb Holding had been opened and if meetings had been held without the knowledge of the two former Management Board members, Tomašević said that he did not know how the Holding's Supervisory Board could open an account for Holding without the Management Board.

"There were no appointments whatsoever based on political criteria. We have removed the mayor's consent for any appointments, from the lowest to the highest position. It is fairly clear from the episode with the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital how we 'appoint personnel in line with political criteria'. When have we told anyone to appoint a specific person, threatening with dismissal?" Tomašević said in reference to Darko Richter, who was recently selected by the Governing Council of the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital as the new director, but backed out of the selection and appointment procedure after his selection was met with heated reactions in public due to his views, including his claim that artificial insemination is a "form of rape in a test-tube."

On debt enforcement

Speaking of debt enforcement procedures that were, according to media reports, being launched against Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that the new city administration had inherited a very difficult situation regarding the company's liquidity and a debt of some five billion kuna.

There is still no official information on debt enforcement, he said, noting that the financial situation is under control but that it is not good.

"Zagreb Holding's debt is huge and liquidity is not good, not just of Zagreb Holding but of the City of Zagreb as well. A large part of Holding's revenue does not come from consumers of municipal services but directly from the City of Zagreb. Still, the situation is not alarming, financial liabilities are being met regularly and communication with all suppliers is regular," the mayor said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik This Year's Leaders in Digital Readiness

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021- Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik are the leaders this year with regard to digital readiness in Croatia, shows an analysis conducted by the Apsolon consulting company and released on Tuesday.

This is the third year the consultancy has analysed digital readiness in the 20 largest cities in Croatia and their progress compared to the preceding years.

Rijeka is the absolute leader this year according to the composite index for digital readiness, which is based on the quality of e-services, service information and a single payment system, access to city data, citizens' participation in decision-making and communication channels between city administration and citizens.

Based on the quality of e-services, Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik faired the best.

Rijeka was also the best for service information and unified payment system, followed by Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Šibenik.

Rijeka, Zagreb, Pula and Karlovac had the largest scope of open data offered through open-data portals or geographic information systems (GIS) regarding physical planning.

Rijeka and Zagreb recorded the biggest increase in accessibility of city data, followed by Split, Pula, Šibenik, Bjelovar and Dubrovnik.

The index of citizens' participation, including access to city budget information, transparency and the like showed major improvements compared to last year.

The best results in this regard were achieved by Dubrovnik and Rijeka, followed by Split and Slavonski Brod.

The analysis also shows that communication with citizens was the most efficient in Rijeka, Zagreb and Varaždin.

Progress is visible but it is important to absorb EU funds 

The composite index shows that cities are working on developing new solutions and that progress is visible compared to last year. Twelve out of the 20 cities analysed have improved their digital readiness by more than 10% while the greatest progress has been made by Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka.

A member of the management board at Apsolon, Mirjana Samardžić Novoselec, underscored that city administrations are adapting to new ways of doing business, enabling public services to be accessed from home, and that they are introducing systematic online communication with citizens.

Although this is developing slowly, during the COVID-19 crisis significant progress was recorded and 2020 showed a growing trend in developing digital channels and other forms of communication between city administration and citizens, she said.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Croatia Logs 1,007 New COVID-19 Cases, 24 Deaths

ZAGREB, 12 October, 2021 - Croatia has registered 1,007 new coronavirus infections and 24 related deaths over the past 24 hours, and the number of active cases stands at 8,068, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Tuesday.

There are 870 COVID patients in hospitals, including 140 on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when Croatia recorded its first coronavirus infection, a total of 419,035 people have been registered as having contracted the virus, 8,802 of them have died, and 402,165 have recovered, including 1,200 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 16,185 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 2,924,958 people have been tested, 8,928 of whom over the past 24 hours.

As at Monday, 3,491,225 vaccine doses against the novel virus were administered, and 45.72% of the total population or 54.82% of the adult population was vaccinated.

The share of the adult population fully vaccinated stood at 51.43% on Monday.

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