Croatia Full of Lifestyle & Safety, Croatia's Tourism Jewels

Several years ago, a friend of mine on Hvar who runs a luxury tourism agency on Hvar told me about the moment he discovered the secret of Croatian tourism.

"I was in an olive grove with a group of rich New York clients," he explained. "Olive tasting, peka lunch, the standard. One of the guests came over to me and motioned to a lemon tree and its abundant fruit nearby. He asked if it would be ok to pick one. Pick ten, I replied, and off he went. At the end of the week, he came up to me to thank me for an incredible week, but he just wanted me to know what the highlight had been for him."

"Picking those lemons," he said. "I grew up in New York and have only seen lemons in a store or on a dinner plate. To pick one as nature intended was just wow."

The secret of quality tourism, my friend concluded, was understanding the things we take for granted but that have a high value for others, and then putting the two together. 

 A lot of lemons have been picked for tidy sums over the last 10 years on Hvar. A fair exchange for the authentic experience. 

Growing up on Hvar, there is no reason to think that picking a lemon from a tree could be an exceptional experience for someone else. It is human nature for people to take their surroundings for granted and to assume that others are aware of them too. But I have always found that listening to visitors and tourists helps to show where the gaps in knowledge and understanding are. And if we are aware of those gaps and can address them, then there is benefit all round. 

It is natural for people in Croatia to assume that tourists coming to visit know where Croatia is on the map, but many really have no clue. After the World Cup heroics of 2018 in Russia, 'Where is Croatia' was one of the most-searched terms out there. People knew that it was over 'in eastern Europe' somewhere, but many could not pin it on the map. 

Croatia's geography has been looming large in Google Search again recently, with one of the most-searched terms finding TCN in recent weeks - Is Croatia near Ukraine?

The reality is that what was the former socialist bloc in Central and Eastern Europe still confuses many in the West, and a bit more clarity on Croatia's geographical position would be useful, plugging one of those gaps in knowledge by potential tourists and assumed knowledge by locals. 

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I decided to write an article on the subject earlier this month - Is Croatia Near Ukraine? Some Answers to Tourist Google Searches. It was one of the most popular of the year so far. So how to plug that information gap? A simple message, reinforced often, to pinpoint Croatia's Central European location, could be done with a combination of these two facts:

Croatia, just 25 km from Italy, and with a capital city which lies west of Vienna.

The assumption that Croatia is somewhere vague in eastern Europe is gone, as is the tantalising prospect of adding it to western European itineraries. 

This article was prompted by a phone call from Croatian television last week, inviting me to appear on the national evening news to comment on a new campaign from the Croatian National Tourist Board, in particular its new slogan, Croatia - Your life, Your time, Your experience. The accompanying byline on the official YouTube channel is Our Life is defined by the memories we create, and our life goal should be to indulge ourselves and the people around us.

I politely declined the invitation, given that I currently have two ongoing lawsuits from the Croatian National Tourist Board (new episode coming soon, but you can catch up on the first two years in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit), including one for satirical comment on their slogan.  

A little like the current Croatia, Full of Life, I am not sure how this new slogan applies to Croatia or showcases its USP or strengths and attributes. You could replace the word Croatia for pretty much any country on the planet and they would come up with a version of the same thing. 

I thought back to the episode of the lemon tree. What were the things that we take for granted here that surprise and impress our visitors?

I have spoken to a LOT of tourists, digital nomads, and expats over the years here. They all have their reasons for visiting - and staying in some cases - but there are a number of factors which are key to them, several of which are a surprise, as they were not aware of them before they visited. And a little like the lemon tree example, if we can listen and plug those information gaps, the brand of Croatia and what it really offers will be all the stronger. And the good news is that, unlike Full of Life and Your Life, Your  Time, Your  Experiences, they cannot be applied everywhere.  They include:

Safety. Croatia is one of the safest countries in the world. I am not talking about COVID-safe (or any associated campaigns claiming that with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU), but safety from a security perspective. I have met so many expats and diaspora who are here because it is a safe place to bring up families. My own personal experience raising two little ones on Hvar was magical. Many are stunned at the safety at night in the big cities, where young women walk home alone and unhindered. In an increasingly uncertain world, the safety of Croatia compared to other countries, is a great marketing tool, especially when coupled with everything else on offer. 

Lifestyle. Croatia really does have about the best lifestyle in Europe, and there is a lot more to it than 2-hour coffees on the riva. As more people are going down the remote work route, lifestyle is one of the key factors in choosing a destination. Imagine how popular a beautiful destination which had the best lifestyle and was one of the safest places in Europe might be. I am not a fan of the Croatia, Full of Life slogan, but one of its advantages is its flexible usage - Croatia, Full of Culture, Croatia, Full of Wine etc. And yet - according to Google - Croatia, Full of Lifestyle has never been used. Until this article. It could and should be a cornerstone of Croatia's message to the world. 

Croats speak excellent English.  This was a real surprise to me, but I have lost count of the number of visitors who have been stunned by the level of spoken English in Croatia (I just assumed people knew). Croats speak English as well as any country I have lived in (and significantly better than in Newcastle and Glasgow...), and much better than other tourism competitors, according to the many tourists I have talked to about this. Knowing that there is no language barrier to overcome is a definite factor in destination decision-making, particularly for those looking to stay a bit longer. 

The WiFi is great. This is more regarding feedback from digital nomads, but many have expressed surprise at how good the WiFi is in general in Croatia. Of course, there are more remote places where it is patchy, but the knowledge that getting online is not going to be an issue is reassuring. 

Authentic experiences. It feels like the West as it once was, with so many local traditions and authentic experiences. I hear a version of this sentence a lot. For the very simple reason that it is true. Croatia is arguably the authentic experience capital of Europe, with something happening 365 days a year, all over the country. I have never experienced so many weird and wonderful festivals and traditions elsewhere in the world as I have in Croatia, one of the reasons we are creating our new CROMADS platform. In an increasingly standardised world, destinations known for authentic experiences will become more attractive. 

How about a message of Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic, Lifestyle Destination, with a byline including English spoken, fast WiFi, just 25 km from Italy sound?

Read more: 10 Things Croatia Does Better than Anywhere Else 

 

Monday, 23 May 2022

Istrian Apartment Prices Skyrocket, New EU Plan to Cause Further Rises

May the 23rd, 2022 - Istrian apartment prices have shot up recently, and a new European Union (EU) plan regarding greener energy sources is set to contribute to even further price increases.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Istrian apartment prices have been climbing and climbing, and with the recent introduction of obligations to install solar panels for the production of electricity in all new residential buildings as part of an EU directive, they'll likely keep heading on an upward trajectory, writes Jutarnji list.

The European Commission (EC) recently announced the ''REPowerEU'' plan, which aims to quickly reduce the bloc's overall dependence on fossil fuels imported from Russia, against which there are harsh sanctions in place following their invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, and further work to encourage the green transition. As part of that move, among other things, the mandatory installation of solar panels on existing public and commercial buildings and all new residential buildings in early 2026 has been put into force.

"The cost of construction will certainly be higher for a new building, and relatively higher for existing ones," said the Croatian Chamber of Civil Engineers (HKIG). The chamber also warned that the cost of investment and maintenance of each building should be looked at as a whole, and a cost analysis should be taken into account.

“If we look at the entire so-called life cycle of a building, then there will certainly be no increase in costs due to the installation of solar panels. This will reduce energy costs, which is a significant item when it comes to costs in the phase of using one building,'' the chamber noted.

As is well known, the price of Istrian apartments has been growing very significantly over recent years. Any slightly better position can hardly be bought for less than 2,000 euros per square metre, most often more. New construction, on the other hand, has now approached the price of 3,000 euros per square metre.

The cost of installing solar panels on these buildings ranges from 40 thousand to 70 thousand kuna.

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

Monday, 23 May 2022

Bjelovar Wellness Tourism Awaiting Possibility of Recovery Cash

May the 23rd, 2022 - Huge sums of money from Croatia's Recovery and Resilience Plan (Croatian: NPOO) are set to flow into the country's medical and wellness tourism offer, which is a sector that has enormous potential for growth. The Bjelovar wellness tourism sector in particular is rubbing its hands impatiently.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, financing projects in the Croatian tourism sector through the National Program for Recovery and Resilience in the Public Sector, for which Croatia will have a massive 930 million kuna at its disposal, will definitely support larger projects in a high stage of readiness, and most of the money will go to continental tourism, ie spa, wellness and other such health-oriented tourism projects.

The above could be learned from the proposal of the public invitation sent by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport on Thursday for public discussion via the e-consultation portal.

The public consultation will be open until June the 2nd, 2022, and according to the first comments made by interested parties, there shouldn't be many objections to what's on offer. A call for the private sector to receive most of the 1.2 billion kuna ''cake'' is yet to come.

Amounts and limits

After passing the phase of public debate, the tender will be re-agreed with the European Commission (EC), followed by a real match for a total of 2.2 billion kuna in grants. "We're being given an excellent opportunity for the long-term sustainable and efficient development of tourism and we expect that these projects will have an impact on strengthening destinations and the quality and competitiveness of their entire offer," said Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac.

In the public call, the projects were divided into three groups. The first and most generous infrastructure lies in the function of the development of health and wellness tourism, and this includes the construction, reconstruction, renovation and/or equipping of infrastructure, whether it be in regard to accommodation facilities or other facilities. An allocation of 465 million kuna is planned for this group.

For all projects, the amount of co-financing is 100 percent of the eligible costs for projects that don't contain state aid, while for investments in projects that do already contain state aid, the amount is regulated in accordance with the rules for granting state aid.

A minimum of 9 million kuna and a maximum of 120 million kuna can be allocated for an individual project in this group. Bjelovar wellness tourism, which is brimming with potential, is expecting the highest amount from this for its thermal riviera complex with Olympic, outdoor and indoor pools and a water park, relying on sustainable energy and geothermal sources.

The large sport and tourism project of the City of Bjelovar is worth a massive 250 million kuna, and Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak announced back in March that the Bjelovar had obtained a building permit for the construction of the spa.

The Bjelovar wellness tourism project will be given a huge spring in its step. Hrebrak says: ''We've been looking forward to this''

The issuance of a building permit is also the final step before announcing a public tender for the execution of the works, which the city administration expects to come June this year.

"We've been looking forward to this call and I must commend the competent ministry on its work. The criteria for the grant are really complex in order to be able to fully support all goals, to support ready-made, large projects with building permits, projects that have serious partners, and projects that will bring added value, and that's exactly what we're planning in Bjelovar. There's no reason that we won't manage to receive the maximum amount of support,'' believes Hrebak when discussing Bjelovar wellness tourism hopes.

The second group for funding includes projects for visitor infrastructure that promotes cultural and natural heritage, gastronomic, oenological and other such destinations. These include visitor centres and interpretation centres, and an allocation of 185 million kuna has been planned for this group, with the view that an individual project can receive a minimum of 8 million kuna and a maximum of 40 million kuna.

For the third group, active tourism infrastructure, 280 million kuna has been earmarked for assistance from the NPOO, with a minimum of 7 million kuna and a maximum of 40 million kuna per project. These include sport and recreational infrastructure in the function of tourism, mountaineering facilities, swimming pools, as well as hotels, camps, hostels, camping resorts, hiking trails and lookouts that are part of a comprehensive project.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 23 May 2022

German Media Takes Swipe at Croatian Labour Market Struggles

May the 23rd, 2022 - Croatian labour market struggles are continuing as we hurtle rapidly towards the height of the summer season, and the German media has had a say in just what this country continues to do wrong year after year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it is estimated that approximately 35,000 waiters, chefs, waiters, receptionists and other profiles within the tourism industry will be missing this summer. But the most striking fact is that the complaints of catering and hospitality employers are somehow always accompanied by some weird (and misplaced) sense of surprise. Everyone is surprised in a certain way, every single year, although we can certainly expect the same situation next year as well.

There's no big riddle to try and solve here. Croats typically head off to the western EU countries en masse during their working lives, because their salaries in Croatia are too low. There's not much of a labour force to speak of in Slavonia, the population of which literally flows down into the Adriatic during the summer months. There is also a huge lack in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia... The pool of personnel in Croatia's immediate neighbourhood has also been somewhat exhausted, so more and more people are reaching for tourism staff from distant Asia, as was the case earlier on in the Croatian construction sector with workers being imported into the country from Nepal, the Philippines, India, etc, writes Deutsche Welle.

The same head-scratching and shock is repeated year after year...

Wages have, on balance, risen slightly, but obviously not by enough, but employers say they have no options at their disposal to raise them even more. They also claim that they aren't in a position to raise anything else because of ongoing inflation, so one can often hear objections from the state to offering any further help. Damir Kresic, the director of the Institute for Tourism in Zagreb, spoke about this to DW:

"The state could definitely do something else, but not without working with employers and with the unions - first to develop a strategy for the whole economy. In doing so, they could answer the question of how many workers Croatia actually needs and from which professions. For years, I've been warning people in vain about this problem in tourism. But our approach is a yearly spontaneous one, and the amazement is the same every time, although the problem hasn't changed. We're really shocked by it each time, for some reason,''

Kresic then went on to explain that the solution lies in the long-term preparation of the education system, after defining sectoral needs. In addition, the Croatian labour market needs to be further regulated, so that workers receive adequate remuneration for their work, instead of a situation in which many prefer to accept income under the table, cash in hand, or simply work "on the black market", because that way they get more to play with.

After all, if it's only three or four months of work a year, there can be no question of stable employment and a strategic solution for anyone's existence. Then it would be logical for workers to go to Ireland for equal pay, but for permanent employment, let alone twice as much money in their pockets.

"Among other things, we faced certain shortcomings in the engagement of the Asian workforce in Croatian tourism. It turns out that they aren't a good solution for our employers in that sector, but now we don't have many choices, at least not for this and next season. At the same time, I have nothing against these people from another continent, so let me be clear. They can be more diligent or honest workers than us, there are no rules, so I'm not talking about that. The problem is the service industry in which the Croatian worker here always offers a better authentic experience,'' says Kresic.

In a similar way, a Croatian receptionist or waitress wouldn't be a more successful worker in the Philippines than a person from there. He went on to explain that tourism simply means contact, local experience, understanding of the context, cultural integration. "That's why we need planned staff production with adequate conditions to keep hold of people on the Croatian labour market, of course, because otherwise we'll be training them in vain,'' he concluded.

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

Monday, 23 May 2022

Croatian-American Robert Vlasic of Vlasic Pickles Passes Away at 96

May 23, 2022 - Few Croats know about Robert Vlasic. Even fewer know that the American "king of pickles" passed away on May 8 at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, at the age of 96.

The son of Josip Vlašić, a Croatian immigrant, made his fortune in the pickle industry in America. He was the owner of 'Vlasic Pickles', one of the largest American pickle brands. Vlasic was also remembered as part of American pop culture in the 70s, writes Jutarnji.hr.

The 'Vlasic Pickles logo, a recognizable stork with a butterfly bow, glasses, and a postal hat, holding a pickle like a cigar, was an indispensable part of American television commercials in the 70s and 80s. As the story goes, one 1978 pickles commercial is credited with spreading the myth that “pregnant women crave pickles”. Vlasic is said to have been an entrepreneurial and marketing genius who introduced witty and humorous advertisements to the American advertising industry. He also published the book "101 jokes about Bob Vlasic's cucumbers".

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Vlasic Family

"We decided that pickles were fun food," he once explained to the Detroit Free Press. "That we don't want to take ourselves or our business too seriously."

For the Vlašić family, it all began in 1912 when Franjo Vlašić, Robert's grandfather, arrived in America from his native Livno, on the islet of Ellis Island in New York. Upon his arrival, Grandpa Franjo got a job in the auto industry in Detroit, where he worked for two dollars a day and saved to bring his family, son Josip and wife Marija, to America. He succeeded two years later and soon started a milk delivery business. He also involved his son Josip, who eventually expanded his father's business.

When Robert Joseph Vlasic was born on March 9, 1926, in Detroit, the Vlašićs already had two companies, one for dairy products (Vlasic Dairy Company) and the other for the distribution of pickles and sauerkraut. After graduating from school, Robert Vlasic joined the Army and Navy, and after graduating from the University of Michigan, he started working for his father's pickle distribution company. This was not ambitious enough for him, so in addition to transportation, he started his own production. In the early 1950s, he bought a sauerkraut factory in Imlay City, about an hour north of Detroit, and procured machines to produce and package pickles. He signed contracts with cucumber and cabbage growers.

When he took over as director of the company from his father in the 60s, 'Vlasic Pickles' was already the strongest brand of pickles in the United States. His acquaintances attributed Robert's success to his managerial style. He allegedly demanded regular reports from his managers, but those reports had to be summarized on one page of paper. "Give me good news quickly," he often said, "but bad news even faster."

 

By the end of the 1970s, Vlasic Foods outperformed competitors such as H.J. Heinz Co., producers of ketchup and mayonnaise. Vlasic then concluded that to further develop the company, it would have to become part of a larger corporation. The company was then sold by Campbell Soup Co. for about $35 million in 1978 and he joined Campbell’s Board of Directors, of which he was president from 1988 to 1993.

Robert retired in 1993 but remained active in the community. He was known for philanthropy and mostly donated to the Catholic Church and educational institutions such as the Cranbrook Learning Center in Bloomfield Hills.

 

Vlasic is survived by his five sons, 17 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Vlasic Foods is now part of Conagra Brands Inc., and his son Bill Vlasic is active in the company.

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

Monday, 23 May 2022

HŽ Zagreb-Pula Train Needs 22 Hours and 43 Minutes to Travel 267 km?

My 23, 2022 - Croatian train travel has never been applauded for its efficiency, especially when one HŽ Zagreb-Pula train needs almost 23 hours to travel 267 kilometers. 

A screenshot from the official Croatian Railways (HŽ) website has recently been spread on social networks, showing just how long it will take HŽ passengers to travel from the central railway station in Zagreb to Pula, reports Index.hr.

The distance from the central railway station in Zagreb to Pula, according to Google Maps, is 267 kilometers.

Since HŽ does not have direct trains on the Zagreb-Pula route, the official HŽ Passenger Transport website offers several travel options - one with three transfers and one option with two transfers.

The shortest HŽ ride from Zagreb to Pula takes just under 9 hours

If you take Croatian Railways to get from Zagreb to Pula today, however, you will ride for at least 8 hours and 48 minutes. According to the schedule, the train departs at 1:12 pm and will arrive in Pula at 10 pm after two transfers. The price for one passenger in one direction is 73 kuna and 10 lipa.

The longest ride takes an incredible 22 hours and 43 minutes

However, if you decide to leave about an hour later, or at 2:22 pm, you will arrive in Pula only tomorrow after 22 hours and 43 minutes of traveling and three transfers.

The travel length, in other terms, is not much better: Only two options offer a travel length of fewer than 9 hours, and there are travel options that take 12 hours and 15 minutes, 19 hours and 45 minutes, 18 hours and 33 minutes, and 15 hours and 19 minutes.

Now, anyone choosing to drive this 267 km route can make it from Zagreb to Pula in just over 3 hours. Croatia Airlines even has non-stop and connecting flights from Zagreb to Pula that'll get you there even quicker (though at a much higher price).

Those of us in Croatia already know that Croatian Railways is unlikely anyone's go-to for traveling around Croatia, especially with so many bus options and the Bla Bla ride-sharing evolution. And if you need further proof of Croatian travel failures - just check out this two-day Slavonian train adventure traveling just 83 km away!

For more, check out our travel section.

 

Monday, 23 May 2022

Varaždin Secures Croatian First League Promotion for 2022/23 Season

May 23, 2022 - Varaždin secures their Croatian First League promotion after beating Dugopolje 2:1 on Sunday!

One round before the end of the Croatian Second League (HNL), Varaždin secured their return to the highest rank of Croatian football. Thanks to a 2:1 victory against Dugopolje, Varaždin escaped second-placed Rudeš with unattainable four points with one round to go.

In a wonderful atmosphere in front of more than 5,000 fans, Varaždin took 3 points and secured their spot in the Croatian First League next season.

In the 15th minute, Varaždin took the lead thanks to a phenomenal goal scored by Itsuki Urata. The Japanese left-back received the ball and hit the bottom left corner from more than 30 meters out. It was a goal that will surely be included in the narrow competition for the best goal of this Second League this season.

The start of the second half saw Varaždin increase its advantage. Namely, in the 55th minute, Fran Brodić found the back of the net, who had previously missed four great opportunities in the match. Then, in the 66th minute, Urata made a mistake, and Ćubelić took advantage of his clumsiness to bring the score to 2:1.

Dugopolje did not give up, but several changes led to a drop in the game's intensity. Before the end of the match, Varaždin again had two great opportunities in the 83rd and 88th minutes, and the ball moved from one end of the penalty area to the other, and no one managed to shoot on target.

At the end of the match, excited fans rushed onto the pitch and celebrated with Varaždin for winning the Second HNL title and promotion to the First HNL.

 

Dugopolje will fight for its status in the Second League until the very end. Namely, five clubs are dropping out of the Second HNL since the league will be reduced to 12 clubs next season, and there will undoubtedly be other Dinamo and Osijek teams included. Furthermore, it is already known that Sesvete and Opatija will be relegated, and we will find out the remaining passengers for the Third HNL on Saturday, May 28, when the last round is scheduled.

Source: Gol.hr

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

Monday, 23 May 2022

45 British Airways Split Flights Announced in June!

May 23, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as 45 British Airways Split flights will operate next month, with daily operations in June between Heathrow and Split Airport!

Oneworld alliance member British Airways recently reduced the number of weekly rotations to Zagreb in July, justifying the move by lower demand and a shortage of crew and aircraft, but also increased the number of weekly flights to Split starting next month, reports Croatian Aviation

In June, British Airways will operate 45 return flights between the two London airports and Split Airport, and from May 28, one aircraft will spend the night on Saturday in Resnik.

Namely, Saturday's arrival of the plane from Heathrow to Split is scheduled after 11 pm, with an early departure from Split back to London the next day, which is certainly positive news for the airport and some of the hotels nearby where the crew will spend the night.

British Airways will operate daily between Heathrow and Split in June, and two flights a day are available on certain days of the week, especially Saturdays and Sundays.

In addition to the Heathrow route, British Airways will operate a regular seasonal route between London City Airport and Split this summer, and according to the latest announcements, this route should operate from June 17, three times a week, every Monday, Thursday, and Friday.

More than 15,000 seats are available on the line between Heathrow and Split in June alone, as well as an additional 1,100 additional seats to London City Airport. This is excellent news for Split Airport which is already expecting one of its busiest summer seasons after taking the title of the busiest airport in Croatia in 2021!

British Airways also operates to Zagreb and Dubrovnik, and the fourth destination in Croatia will soon be Pula Airport.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Zagreb Pride Ride to Take Place on 25 June

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 - The third Zagreb Pride Ride will take place on 25 June to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons, the Proud Zagreb initiative announced earlier this week, adding that they will not stop fighting for their rights until they achieve full equality.

"As populism and nationalism flourish globally, threatening freedom of choice, our identities join us together into a community in which solidarity is inherent," Proud Zagreb said on the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, observed on 17 May.

They said they wanted all members of the LGBTIQ community to know that they were not alone and that their identities were the source of their power.

Despite the efforts by activists and organisations focusing on the protection of the human and civil rights of LGBTIQ persons, only modest progress, if any at all, has been made, said Proud Zagreb member Azra Ayyash.

She warned that LGBTIQ persons were subjected to violence on a daily basis, citing discriminatory messages in the media and on social networks as well as physical attacks. 

Ayyash said that last year attacks had been reported in Zagreb, Rijeka, Kaštel Sućurac and Split but that the actual situation was much worse, in particular in small communities where people fear that their complaints might trigger even worse consequences.

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

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Milanović Says Ukraine is Not Only Crisis That Deserves Attention

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 - Addressing the opening of a World Health Assembly session in Geneva on Sunday, President Zoran Milanović said he was following the attacks at hospitals and healthcare institutions in Ukraine with great sorrow and dismay, however, he added, this was not the only crisis that deserved global attention.

This year’s session of the Health Assembly focuses on the theme of "Health for Peace, Peace for Health" and will run from the 22-28 May at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic are also the topics on the agenda of the ongoing gathering.

Commenting on the theme of the meeting, President Milanović said that it evoked memories of the shelling of hospitals, healthcare institutions and ambulances and suffering of civilians during the 1991-1995 Homeland War in Croatia.

"At that time even children's hospitals were not safe havens", he recalled.

"Today it is with great sorrow and dismay that Croatia is following the attacks against hospitals and healthcare institutions in Ukraine. However, this is not the only crisis that the world is facing", he added.

"The developments in Ukraine are perhaps in the greatest focus of interest, however, there are many other conflicts occurring on the global level which may also deserve our equal support and attention", said Milanović.

He called for stronger and more inclusive healthcare architecture and for bracing for future threats to public health.

The Croatian president said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed great weaknesses in the global health management.

On Sunday morning, Milanović met with the World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and expressed support for his reelection to this post.

Also on Sunday, Ghebreyesus bestowed the WHO Director-General's Health Leaders Award on Milanović's wife, Sanja Musić Milanović, a doctor, for her long-standing promotion of health. The ceremony was held before the third edition of the event called Walk the Talk in Geneva.

For more, check out our politics section.

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