Saturday, 21 May 2022

Expert: REPowerEU Offers Development Opportunities for Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 May, 2022 - The European Commission's "REPowerEU", which envisages that JANAF can become a strategically important oil pipeline and that the Krk LNG terminal should increase its capacities, creates great opportunities for Croatia as a future energy hub in this part of Europe, expert Igor Dekanić tells Hina.

On 18 May, the Commission unveiled "REPowerEU" as its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On that occasion the EC said that "there is a double urgency to transform Europe's energy system: ending the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which are used as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly €100 billion per year, and tackling the climate crisis."

"By acting as a Union, Europe can phase out its dependency on Russian fossil fuels faster. 85% of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependency on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible to support Ukraine.

"The measures in the REPowerEU Plan can respond to this ambition, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry and power generation," says the EC

The document reads that "delivering the REPowerEU objectives requires an additional investment of €210 billion between now and 2027."

The Commission says that the reduction of Russian fossil fuel imports can also save the EU almost €100 billion per year.

"To support REPowerEU, €225 billion is already available in loans under the RRF (Recovery and Resilience Facility)."

REPowerEU helps valorise Croatia's geographic position

In his statement to Hina, the energy expert Dekanić says that Adriatic oil pipeline network "JANAF" is envisaged to assume a greater role and the capacities of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk are likely to be expanded.

Dekanić believes that it will enable JANAF to become a supply route for several countries. Furthermore, the project creates possibilities for investment of European funds for this purpose. He explains that it remains to be seen whether JANAF's pipeline will expanded and upgraded or whether its pumps stations will enhance their capacities. In either case, great investments will be necessary.

Dekanić says that these plans also valorise Croatia's geographic position. 

The expansion of JANAF and of the Krk LNG terminal will enable Croatia to become a south European energy hub, according to him.

Apart from smart investments, the EC document also calls for saving energy, reducing fossil fuel consumption in industry and transport as well as for accelerating the rollout of renewables.

"Energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis, and reduce bills," says the Commission.

Therefore Brussels proposes to enhance "long-term energy efficiency measures, including an increase from 9% to 13% of the binding Energy Efficiency Target under the ‘Fit for 55' package of European Green Deal legislation."

Saving energy now will help us to prepare for the potential challenges of next winter, the Commission underscores.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Tito's Secret Underground Air Base to be Repurposed into Race Track

ZAGREB, 21 May, 2022 - The former military underground air base at Željava at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be repurposed as a motorsport race track, the Večernji List daily reported a few days ago.

This September the facility will be used as a venue for a 402 Street Race contest for cars of +1500  horsepower.

Croatian speed car driver Darko Konopek was quoted as saying that the Željava race track could make it possible for drivers to speed up to 500 kilometres per hour.

The organiser of the 24-25 September race contest, Zlatko Ružić, said that the events during the two-day "Balkans Finest Competition" would be the Street Race, the Drift show, the Drift taxi, the Tuning & Styling and th dB race.

Ružić expects more than a thousand vehicles to swarm the Croatian region of Lika for this occasion.

Željava Air Base, situated under the Plješevica mountain, was the largest underground airport and military air base in the former Yugoslavia, and one of the largest in the world.

On 16 May 1992, the retreating Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) used 50 tonnes of explosives in a bid to destroy all the five runways, while its units were leaving the site.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

HDZ: Milanović will Expose Croatia to Veto and Blockades

ZAGREB, 21 May, 2022 - The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) on Friday said that President Zoran Milanović would "expose Croatia to vetos and blockades" with his statements, and the victims, they say, will be Croatian citizens.

"The only 'success' he can achieve is to expose Croatia to 'veto' and 'blockades', whose victims will be Croatian citizens. And all in the midst of the biggest security, economic and energy uncertainties," the HDZ party wrote on Facebook.

In a post titled "How can you help your people if your turn everything against yourself?", the HDZ says that Milanović keeps insulting other countries, including Sweden, the US, France, Ukraine, Germany and the UK, he does not care about European funds, disparages NATO and the EU and wants to drag Croatia into conflict with its Western partners.

"If it was up to Milanović, Croatia would be isolated from all allies, and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be abandoned as during his term as prime minister," the HDZ said.

The party thinks that in today's Croatia, there are Milanović, Raspudić, Beljak and the Workers' Front on one side, while everyone else is on the other side.

On one side, there is strengthening allied cooperation and security within NATO and the EU, and on the other there is "the Moscow man from Pantovčak, blockade and isolation of Croatia," the HDZ wrote, adding that these were two paths -- the path to the future and the path to the past.

"Do Russian or Croatian interests come first for Milanović?," the HDZ asked, adding that President Milanović was "vocal in defending Kremlin" and that he had openly opposed the enlargement of NATO already in February, before the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

However, then he had not yet thought of using Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina for his pro-Russian views.

He showed how much he really cared about them while he was supporting Komšić, he rejoiced when another people imposed political representatives on them, and for full four years as prime minister he did not utter a single word at the European Council about the unjust election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the HDZ pointed out.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

President Milanović: If We Forget Sacrifice of Croats from BiH, We are Doomed

ZAGREB, 21 May, 2022 - President Zoran Milanović reiterated on Friday that Croatia has to block Sweden and Finland's NATO accession until Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats attain equality, pointing out that an above-average number of BiH Croats had died in the Homeland War and that a nation that forgets it was "doomed".

Milanović stressed in Zabok that it was in the Croatian national interest for the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be changed in order to avoid Croats to be outvoted in elections by the more numerous Bosniaks, adding that blocking Finland and Sweden's application for NATO membership was the only way to achieve that.

He think that his policy was "the only way" to protect the rights of BiH Croats and that "anyone who doesn't understand that, doesn't understand what Croatia is".

"This is the only way and probably the last chance," he said.

The Croatian president dismissed objections that Croatia could not achieve anything by blocking the accessions, noting that it wasn't true that the Slovenian policy of blocking Croatia's accession to the EU because of a territorial dispute was not successful.

"If we get what Slovenia got against Croatia, that's great. Slovenia got everything it wanted, it got a rigged arbitration agreement with legal fabrications that was supposed to draw water to their mill. To their chagrin, they drowned, and some good Croats who did their job contributed to that," Milanović said.

He also said that Turkey, which has impeded Finland and Sweden's NATO accession over their support to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with Ankara has been in conflict for decades, would also achieve a lot, despite its demands being "extreme", while Croatia was just seeking fundamental justice, that is, respecting the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Turkey, in addition to ending support for the PKK and lifting the ban on Finnish and Swedish exports of certain weapons to Ankara is asking to rejoin the F-35 production programme, from which it was expelled by the USA for purchasing a Russian S-400 anti-missile system.

In that context, he also said he expected that "the Croatian media understand the basic Croatian needs" and that, for example, the BBC still understood that it was in Britain's interest to be against Russia, while Croatia, on the other hand, had the HRT, "which protects Plenković".

Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers of the Sweden Democrats told Milanović a day earlier on Twitter that vetoes went both ways and that Croatia received billions of euros from the European budget.

Milanović today responded that he was not interested in "what a fanatical Islamophobe is saying."

Milanović described him as a Swedish Fascist and called him a scum, adding that Croatia did not depend on his money.

Serbia is destroying itself

Milanović also commented on the decision of Serbian prosecutors to issue an indictment against four Croatian Air Force pilots for war crimes because during 1995's Operation Storm they allegedly ordered a missile attack on a refugee convoy outside Bosanski Petrovac and Bosanski Novi.

"Serbia is destroying itself," said Milanović, adding that he wanted to help it on its European path, and it was pursuing a policy that collided with the accession framework.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Croatian Hospitals Costs Are Five Times Higher than Last Year

May 21, 2022 - The costs of Croatian hospitals have skyrocketed. Bills are up to five times higher than last year, so an additional 3.5 billion kuna provided to the Croatian healthcare system from the recent rebalance of the state budget won't be enough to cover expenses.

Even after the rebalance of the state budget, which will provide the healthcare system with an additional three and a half billion kuna this year, which means that instead of the planned 32 billion it will now have 35 and a half billion kunas, hospital directors still say that this will be a difficult year with much uncertainty due to a lot of unknowns in expenses, reports Index.hr.

Namely, the recent warning of wholesalers that debts for medicines continue to grow despite last year's injection of 6.3 billion from the state budget and that they reached as much as six billion kunas, of which four billion are due, is the reason for this early rebalance. Two billion is intended for Croatian hospitals, and one and a half billion for the Croatian Health Insurance Fund for the settlement of old debts.

Bills are five times higher than last year

For now, it is certain to say that 35.5 billion kunas for this year will not cover all costs, which is confirmed by Croatian hospitals bills from the first four months of 2022. They stand out especially for energy, food, and medicine, which in some cases are five times higher than in the same period last year. Therefore, it is not surprising that the losses of the system on a monthly basis are between 400 and 500 million kunas, which could mean a hole in the health fund of at least five billion kunas by the end of the year.

"Our costs increased in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year by a total of 5.52 percent. But worrying is the fact that energy costs increased the most, by as much as percent, or from 7.8 to 15 million kunas. The cost of food products grew by 8.4 percent, and compared to 2020 by 40 percent, which is a huge increase'', said Dr. Alen Ruzic, director of KBC Rijeka.

Medicines haven't kept the previous numbers of consumption either, so in the first four months, they were 7.76 percent more expensive than last year, and by almost 20 percent compared to 2020.

In the largest Croatian hospital, KBC Zagreb, costs increased by 6.5 percent or HRK 71 million from January to the end of April compared to the same period last year, as it increased from HRK 1,099 billion to HRK 1,171 billion.

During the pandemic, KB Dubrava was a COVID hospital, so some data from last year jumped out of the usual amounts, such as spending on drugs, which were lower than spending in previous years when the hospital was operating at full capacity for all patients. But it is clear that this hospital pays for the largest energy guild, especially the one for gas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

BlockDown Croatia: Founder Erhan Korhaliller Reflects on World's First NFT-Enabled Web3 Festival

May 21, 2022 - It's been one week since the world's first NFT-enabled Web3 festival was held at Amadria Park Hotel Ivan in Šibenik, transforming Croatia into the crypto capital of the world. TCN spoke to BlockDown Croatia founder Erhan Korhaliller to find out why Šibenik was chosen as the lucky location to highlight the exploding phenomenon of Web3. 

BlockDown Croatia was held at Amadria Park Hotel Ivan from May 11 to 13 to focus on the Web3 world, particularly the metaverse, NFTs, gaming, and the role of DAOs in how we work, and play and socialize.

NFTs functioned as the tickets for the festival where participants were able to unlock exclusive experiences, connecting the potential of the metaverse with the real world. Attendees came to Šibenik from more than 50 countries, with 45 speakers, ten keynote sessions, presentations, panels, exhibitions, prizes, networking sessions hosted by figureheads in the industry, afternoon boat parties, VIP lunches and dinners, NFT galleries, and dinners at St. Michael's fortress. It was three days packed with innovative discussions and next-level networking, bringing together professionals, entrepreneurs, regulators, prominent industry executives, and investors from all parts of the world.

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"Unlike existing industry events, we plan to take our attendees on a three-day trip into another universe, where the excitement and energy of the Web3, NFT, and metaverse worlds collide in a feast for the senses," said BlockDown festival founder Erhan Kohallier before the event, emphasizing that this was the first-ever NFT enabled Blockchain conference. 

And it was Šibenik to have this honor. 

TCN was one of the lucky conference attendees and got to catch up with BlockDown founder Erhan Kohallier on the conference's final day to learn more. 

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'I'm 31 and spent a lot of time in Croatia in my early 20s going to festivals and always loved how beautiful it is, how warm the people are, and had special memories here. I knew that I wanted to do an event here at some point in my career - little did I know that it would be a crypto event. We launched BlockDown because of lockdown (blockchain + lockdown), and we launched it as a virtual event to put smiles on people's faces. We did six virtual events, and this was our first in-person event. All of the concepts we have tried to do on virtual streams have been upbeat, an event for the people, creative and fun. We wanted to bring that into the real world."

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But why Šibenik?

"We didn't want to do this in a city center or Miami or London as there are so many of them already. We were scouting locations and looking for places in Europe specifically as we felt that Europe needed an NFT/Web3 festival, which doesn't exist here. There are loads in the US but barely any in Europe. So it came down to Portugal and Croatia. We were looking for a convention center with a main stage that could hold 1500 people. This convention center in Šibenik had that. Then we shortlisted the locations in Portugal and Croatia to see what else they could offer, and when I came to Amadria Park, my jaw hit the floor. The natural beauty of this place is insane. While we spent a fair amount on production, we almost didn't need to because everything here is already beautiful. That helped us with the festival vibe. Every area gives you a different vibe. I wanted people to meet more naturally as opposed to being rushed. We wanted to add elements like sound healing and yoga, beach bar happy hours, boat parties, and events outside of the actual conference," said Kohallier.

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"Everyone commented on how amazing this location is. And I've never been to an event in crypto or even outside of crypto that is this beautiful. But what people loved is that this conference wasn't solely tied to 9-5 in the convention center. We ended all panels in the early afternoon so attendees could enjoy the outdoors here and the beautiful days. I've also had incredible feedback about the actual attendees. The conference had a laid-back vibe which was a positive. No one felt the pressure to have to network; it was done in a more natural way and environment."

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Did you encounter any issues in Croatia?

"I realized it's not easy to do things outside of Zagreb as much of what we needed for this event came from Zagreb, from the production team to the dancers. That caused us some roadblocks, but I love a challenge. It was all part of the process and made this event more rewarding for me. We managed to work through everything."

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Will BlockDown stay in Šibenik?

"I am not 100% sure as we want to bring BlockDown to other areas of the world. We are also looking to take it into Asia, Bali - other beautiful natural settings, and emerging markets like South America and Africa. The idea is that we have the teams in place now, and we keep scaling up. Maybe we have an event every three months with multiple teams working on them. I would love to do something in Croatia again. Having the first in-person BlockDown in Šibenik is a testament to how beautiful Šibenik and the area are. After meeting so many wonderful people in Croatia, this event can only improve." 

You can keep up with BlocDown here.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Zagreb Culture of Tourism Project Continues Involving City's Youth

May the 21st, 2022 - The Zagreb Culture of Tourism project is continuing to involve the capital city's youth with the systematic education of high school students.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb (TZGZ) in cooperation with the City Office for Education, Sport and Youth is once again implementing the Zagreb Culture of Tourism project. This is a project where the systematic education of high school students, for whom tourism and hospitality are not primary subjects, seeks to raise their awareness of their own city and introduce young people to the tourist, cultural and natural potential of Zagreb.

This year, six schools participated in the Zagreb Culture of Tourism project, and the final presentation of the project will be held on Monday, May the 23rd, 2022, at 11:00 at the Zagreb Dance Centre at Ilica 10.

"We're very proud of all the students who are researching the touristic side of the city within this project and considering the possibilities of evaluating the existing tourist offer, as well as the development of a new one. In this way, students have the opportunity to get to know their city from a slightly different perspective and give their own views and ideas for the City of Zagreb as a tourist destination.

The Zagreb Culture of Tourism project seeks to involve young people in programmes to preserve ethnological, historical and cultural heritage, protect the environment, and raise the level of hospitality and create a welcoming climate, which should leave a mark on Zagreb's tourism and, in general, development of Zagreb,'' said Martina Bienenfeld, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board.

It's worth noting that the Zagreb Culture of Tourism project is a project that the Tourist Board started way back in the academic year of 2010/2011. Every year, during a one-semester extracurricular activity, students from selected Zagreb high schools have the task, in agreement with project managers, to design and implement projects with a tourism theme, which they then present publicly.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Could Pula Arena Become Host of Fight Nation Championship This Summer?

May the 21st, 2022 - Could the stunning Pula Arena become the backdrop of the Fight National Championship or something very similar in future?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Wednesday, the first man of the Fight Nation Championship, Drazen Forgac, and Matej Filipcic, the director of marketing and martial arts promotion, visited Pula, local portal Glas Istre reports.

The kickstarter was a conversation with city's leading names in the company of Zelg Galesic, the coach of the Pula Trojan, and the reason was the desire of the organisers of martial arts events who are continuing to break all ratings records in the entire region, to hold something similar in the Pula Arena.

The date of September the 3rd has been set, and since the City of Pula gave its full support to the event behind which American investors are ready to invest a lot of money in the organisation to make the Pula Arena look spectacular that day, we should expect official confirmation of this event to come in soon.

On the sporting side of the matter alone, it would definitely be a hit, because through several editions of ''Gladiator Fight Night'' in Pula and Medulin we could see precisely how many freestyle wrestling fans there are in this area, and with the Fight Nation Championship as a strong support, it would all rise together to another, much higher level.

Quality fighters would perform in the unique ambience of the ancient Pula Arena, and an additional lure for visitors would be Daniel Bazant. The member of the Pula Trojan should have his first defense of the Fight Nation Championship lightweight champion's belt in Pula, which he won two months ago in Zabok by defeating Brazilian Rony Mariano Bezerra.

"If the Fight Nation Championship comes to the Pula Arena, Bazant will certainly perform, and his opponent will be a well-known face from martial arts. I wouldn't want to come out with the name of said individual because the contract hasn't been signed yet and so far everything has only been agreed orally, the only thing I can say is that he is a former UFC fighter,'' said Zelg Galesic, revealing that Bazant will not be the only ''Trojan'' in Pula's fight card.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Times Publishes Lucie Grace's List of "Must Go" Croatia Locations

May the 21st, 2022 - The highly respected British publication The Times has published a list compiled by writer Lucie Grace on eleven ''must see'' Croatian locations.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the British The Times has published an article by journalist Lucie Grace in which the author reveals eleven beautiful locations across the Republic of Croatia that guarantee an unforgettable and authentic holiday without the crowds, according to Darija Reic, the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board Office in London.

These are locations and experiences which are quite popular among the local population. The potential and specifics of Samograd bay on the Central Dalmatian island of Korcula, the source of the Ombla river near Dubrovnik, the Stari Fijaker restaurant in Zagreb and the Kozlovic winery in Istria are highlighted, as is the beauty of the Krka National Park's stunning waterfalls and the islands of Sipan and Mljet. The ferry ride from Orebic to Korcula, a tour of the Zagreb Cathedral, the Dragon's Furrow in Motovun and the Cingrija villa in Dubrovnik are also all recommended, writes local Dubrovnik portal, Dubrovacki.

“The recent publication in the Sunday Times, which included Croatia in the list of the best and most favourable destinations that provide quality conditions and low living costs, also contributed to Croatia's visibility on the British market. This is a publication created as a result of the cooperation of the CNTB Office in London with journalist Liz Rowlinson and Michael Freer, the director of Digital Nomads Associations (DNA) for Croatia, who lives and works in Kastela and who compared costs and lifestyle in Croatia and the United Kingdom.

By being included in this list, Croatia is being ranked next to Spain, Portugal, France and Turkey, and the greatest advantage of Croatia, with its low living costs, is the beauty and preservation of nature within which you can lead a pleasant, active and dynamic life, they stated from the CNTB.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

German Desire for Croatian Holidays Enormous According to Tour Operators

May the 21st, 2022 - German desire for Croatian holidays as we approach the height of the summer season is enormous according to happy tour operators who are glad to be back to normal after two unstable and depressing pandemic-dominated years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, record inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine don't seem to be having any particular affect the desire of Germans to finally book their Croatian holidays, reports Deutsche Welle. Multiple tour operators are happily reporting a large influx of summer arrangements, and the number of Croatian holidays sold to German tourists already exceeds the figures that prevailed before the coronavirus crisis broke out in Europe at the beginning of 2020.

Another trend is noticeable among German tourists in 2022, it seems the people looking for a holiday this year are no longer looking at the price as much as they did before, and are also buying arrangements from the more expensive sector.

"People are looking for longer holidays in better hotels," said the largest German provider of travel arrangements, TUI.

"After a long period of giving up travel and tourism, Croatia is at the top of the German wish list. Even strong inflation and rising prices aren't negatively affecting this trend,'' said Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Tour Operators Association (DRV). It seems, according to Fiebig, that Germans are no longer looking at every euro they might spend this year when planning a holiday. Despite the general increase in prices, trips this year aren't significantly more expensive than they were last year.

Stable prices - for now

Many tourist companies leased hotel and transport contingents at the prices stated last year, which explains the stable prices. But the closer the summer season gets, the more expensive the arrangements get.

“This year, those looking for bargains could end up surprised,'' believes TUI director Fritz Joussen.

According to a survey commissioned by the Bavarian Tourist Board (BZT), 69 percent of those surveyed this year intend to go somewhere on holiday regardless of the situations which might play out, so they won't be spending their time off at home as was mostly the case during the coronavirus pandemic. One third of the respondents who haven't yet decided where to go on holiday, still state the price as the basic criteria when choosing an arrangement or destination.

Croatia remains one of the favourite destinations of German travellers

Those who decide on a spontaneous flight to their destination must in any case count on higher fuel prices this summer, which have risen significantly since the start of the war in Ukraine. Price increases have already been announced by companies such as Lufthansa and KLM.

The FTI Group says that after the start of the war in Ukraine, there was a delay in the purchase of tickets, but in the meantime the market has very much recovered.

"Reservations for the entire period from Easter to autumn for people's usual favourite tourist destinations exceed the figures from pre-pandemic times," said FTI Director Ralph Schiller. This, in particular, applies, he said, to destinations such as Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

“Over the summer, we expect a big rush to these destinations so not everyone will get to their desired place on the plane,” Schiller says. Alltours reports similarly. They are talking about an "enormous increase in demand" that could exceed the demand from pre-pandemic 2019 by 40 to 80 percent.

Packages containing luxury hotels and offers are especially sought after. All companies emphasise that the increase in kerosene prices will not affect the prices of purchased arrangements. But despite huge demand, the turnover of travel companies overall still lies below the level of the last year before the pandemic (2019).

"Despite a very good summer, we still aren't expecting to achieve the total annual turnover from the period before the pandemic," said the umbrella organisation DRV. As for 2023, the industry is cautiously optimistic, despite the unpredictable development of the situation around the war in Ukraine, as well as ongoing inflation.

For more, check out our travel section.

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