Sunday, 31 July 2022

Hrvatska Postanska Banka's Organic Growth Sees it Pushed Forward on Market

July the 3st, 2022 - Hrvatska Postanska Banka has been pushed forward significantly on the market owing to its organic growth and the excellent business being done, not to mention a new acquisition.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, during the first six months of 2022, Hrvatska Postanska Banka achieved strong growth in terms of the wider HPB Group's assets and the acquisition of Nova Hrvatska Banka (New Croatian Bank), which is now successfully operating. All of the above has significantly strengthened its overall market position.

After a record 2021, a ten digit net profit of 1.066 billion kuna was realised at a consolidated level as a result of income due to acquisition activities and profit creation at the bank's level. A significant increase in property of 7.7 billion kuna indicates a strong step towards the entry of HPB into the top five banks per total assets on the entire Croatian market.

The main factors of the record positive results of the wider Hrvatska Postanska Banka Group in the first six months of 2022, in addition to the effects of acquisition activities, were the profits made from business even in these dire circumstances of growing inflation and the cost of adjusting business for the introduction of the euro in 2023. Hrvatska Postanska Banka successfully annulled the unfavourable effects of the drop in the price of bonds caused by the announcement of a change in monetary policy to restrain inflation and continued to implement the multitude of strategic projects of the HPB Group.

Back on March the 1st, 2022, the Hrvatska Postanska Banka took over Sberbank d.d., now called Nova Hrvatska Banka, which enabled it to stabilise its business, in that it also secured the preservation of its property and the property of its clients.

A significant increase in the Hrvatska Postanska Banka deposit and the stabilisation of Nova Hrvatska Banka's business, after them having taken it over, contributed to a much more favourable liquidity position and the strengthening of the potential to continue the realisation of a planned market share. The complementary and quality credit portfolio of Nova Hrvatska Banka has also further strengthened the stable and growing credit portfolio of HPB in almost all possible segments.

In addition to the record low level of the stake in unchanging loans, the activities of the diversification and increase in the quality of the bank's card products are reflected in the growth of total revenue from 7.7% fees that have mitigated the drop of net interest income of 6.0% (unconsoilidated) provided by a competent environment.

Thanks to cooperation with a strategic partner, Croatian Post (Hrvatska posta), Hrvatska Postanska Banka has continued to increase the availability of its financial services to different segments of clients even in the smallest and most remote rural locations that have a post office available.

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

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Primosten Beach Made More Disability Friendly With New Automatic Aid

July the 31st, 2022 - Primosten beach has been made much more disability friendly with the addition of a new automatic aid to allow those who struggle with physical disabilities the ease of entry and exit into and out of the sea below.

The Republic of Croatia is full of ancient stone streets, hills, mountains, thin, slippery steps and narrow old streets. If there is one thing it struggles to be purely due to the very nature of the way its cities and towns have been designed, not to mention the natural landscape, it's disability friendly. Things are changing, however, and Primosten beach is the latest in a line of beaches up and down the coast to make things more accessible and easy for those who have various diabilities which hinder them.

As Morski writes, the Municipality of Primosten has received an automated aid for people with disabilities with which they can easily and independently enter the sea in a safe and secure way.

''Leading with the fact that the Municipality of Primosten is a leading destination during the summer months in the sense of the visits made by foreign and domestic tourists alike, listening to peoples' needs, and especially those with special needs, the first Aqualift has been installed on the beach on Ban Josip Jelacic Street (Ulica ban Josipa Jelacica), which will allow people with disabilities to enjoy smooth access to the sea below,'' they explained from the Municipality of Primosten.

The operation of the new Aqualift aid is fully automated and adapted to ensure the user independent and easy access the sea below with minimal effort and with maximum safety ensured. The procurement was funded in part from the budget of the Municipality of Primosten, while the second part was funded by the state budget of the Republic of Croatia.

With this project, this Primosten beach, with an already existing ramp, has provided people with disabilities even an even simpler and more practical approach to the sea in order to cool off during the scorching and often harsh and oppressive summer months.

The initiator of the idea was Jadranka Luketa-Markovic, as reported by local portal Primosten Plus.

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

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Rijeka Cruise Ships Arrive Carrying Thousands of Tourists This Weekend

July the 31st, 2022 - Rijeka cruise ships arrived this weekend carrying thousands of passengers into the formerly industrial Northern Adriatic city. Tourists have been becoming more and more of a frequent sight in this part of Kvarner over more recent years, as more people discover the Croatia outside of Dalmatia and the islands.

As Morski writes, on Saturday morning, two large cruise ships, "Mein Schiff 5" and "Marella Explorer 2", and more than ten smaller cruise ships-sailboats belonging to ID Riva Tours, carrying more than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members, arrived in the City of Rijeka, the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka reported.

The Rijeka Tourist Board and the Kvarner Tourist Board, together with the Port Authority of Rijeka, welcomed the guests from the cruise ship by presenting them with welcome gifts and informative brochures so that they could spend their time in Rijeka as well as possible.

Numerous excursions have been organised for these cruise ship guests, and the most interesting of which are excursions to Rijeka itself and its surroundings, as well as to the nearby island of Krk, Istria County and the City of Zagreb, as was reported by Index. Most of the guests who are set to stay in Rijeka visit Trsat and enjoy organised tours of the city centre, taking in cultural and historical sights, markets and local museums.

"By the end of the year, we expect several more cruise ships to enter Rijeka's waters''

With the arrival of Rijeka cruise ships, which were until recently a far more common sight docked in the ports of various Dalmatian cities much further south down the Croatian coastline, the City of Rijeka is being promoted as a tourist destination of its own, as well as a recognisable cruise destination.

Rijeka is resting and breathing easily owing to the fact that it has fully recovered after the global coronavirus pandemic and has now returned in an even better state than it was in back during the pre-pandemic, record-breaking year of 2019.

''By the end of the year, we expect several more Rijeka cruise ships, two in August, September and October and one in November, which is certainly a good announcement for an excellent post-season and a complete recovery of that segment of the market,'' they pointed out from the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka.

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

Saturday, 30 July 2022

"Tokyo Before/After“ Exhibition at Zagreb's Archaeological Museum

ZAGREB, 30 July 2022 - The travelling exhibition "Tokyo Before/After", featuring 80 photographs by Japanese artists showing historical and contemporary Tokyo, opens at the Gallery of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb on 3 August.

The photographs are divided into two groups -- one showing the Japanese capital in the 1930s and 1940s and the other showing images of it captured after 2010.

Before Croatia, the exhibition has visited Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Germany and Oman, and after Zagreb it travels to Iran and Egypt.

The exhibition remains open until 25 August, and admission is free. The organisers are the Japanese Foundation, the Japanese Embassy and the Archaeological Museum.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 16. Living 13 Years Full-Time on Hvar Island

July 31, 2022 - Twenty years a foreigner in Croatia. Part 16 of 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years - what is it like to live 12 months a year on Hvar island, for 13 years? And does it change you?

"Hvar island is so beautiful; you made a great choice. How did you come to live here?"

It is one of the most-asked questions of my life. And the answer (for those who have not already heard the story, which is well-documented) sums up the randomness of my life so far at the tender age of 53. 

I have never been one to plan. My kids often wonder how I am still alive after hearing some of my travel stories of plane crashes, guns to the head, and inadvertently walking into gun battles in the West Bank. Family life has made me a lot more cautious for sure, but before family life... 

A typical bout of lack of planning back in 2002 had me working as a Civil Society Coordinator in Somaliland and Puntland, the dangerous autonomous bit of Somalia where those pirates hang out.  

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(Somaliland was very safe, but Puntland was something else - taking the load from my 24/7 bodyguard, Arafat in Puntland in 2002)

I was based mostly in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, a very peaceful place, and I was sharing a house with 8 African colleagues from Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia. I was the only pink boy in the house. It was a fantastic experience in general, and I made some good friends. We played a lot of Scrabble, they more than me, and I would get into the habit of taking a gin and tonic to the rooftop at the end of the day and watch the world go by, an admirable self-proclaimed state which was rebuilding itself without international money or recognition. 

On the evening in question, I had just got news that my house in the UK had sold, the money was in the bank, and I was free to sever all ties with Britain and buy a house somewhere in Europe. Somewhere by the sea, I decided. 

My glass inexplicably empty, I ventured downstairs for a refill and a planned contemplation where I might buy my new home. I had no plans to live there full-time, for I planned to continue my aid worker career, but it would be nice to have a base, somewhere to keep my books that friends could visit. 

The guys were busy with Scrabble, and CNN was on the television, the only station we could get. I was just putting the ice in the gin, when THAT advert came on.

Croatia, the Mediterranean as It Once Was.

Sure beats Croatia, Full of Life as a slogan, doesn't it?

I was hooked. The Croatian National Tourist Board's niche marketing to fat pink Brits in northern Somalia was highly targeted and effective. How ironic that 18 years later, that same fat Brit would be the only blogger/journalist sued by the national tourist board in the whole of 2020. Not once, but twice. (Read more in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit)

A few weeks later, I found myself in Sarajevo, having a beer with a Canadian aid worker friend who had been inside Sarajevo during the siege, but managed to get to the Adriatic coast for regular R&R. She knew the Croatian coast well and suggested we decide on a destination, then visit it the following weekend with her Bosnian boyfriend to see if we could find a place for me. 

It sounded like a plan and, as I didn't really know Croatia, Kendra got a pen and paper and said she would make a list of top 10 places and explain a little about each. I could then choose one, and we would head there early on Friday morning. 

"Number 1 - Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, famous for its amazing old walled town. Number 2 - Split, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Diocletian's Palace. Number 3..."

It was a balmy summer's evening, the beer was hitting the spot, and these Sarajevan ladies were smoking hot. I stopped listening, in the way one does when one asks for directions and then stops listening to the extended explanation from a passer-by. Perhaps I should live in Sarajevo instead?

"Number 10 - the island of Vis. A fascinating military island closed to the world until 1991. That's it. So which one do you like the most?"

I was so embarrassed that I had not been listening, so I closed my eyes and put my finger on the list. 

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(My unpronounceable new home, by Romulic and Stojcic)

Number 6 - Hvar.

"Hvar! Great choice. You do know it is an island, don't you?"

I had never heard of it (and still can't pronounce it properly).

"Of course, and it is very beautiful, isn't it?" (It must be, because it is on your list).

The story of how I bought the house will be explained in detail in the book version of this chapter (20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: the Insider Guide to Surviving Croatia will be out by Christmas. If you would like a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book, and I will contact you when it is published), but I want to focus on the Hvar living experience here. 

Those initial weeks were blissful, and so carefree. I moved in in mid-September, fully expecting the island to be at peak season levels 12 months a year (did I mention that I never plan?). September was quieter than August, but SO refreshing. I was trying to lose weight, and I got into a daily routine of rising at 06:00, then walking along the sea to beautiful Vrboska, where I would have a morning cup of tea on the water about 06:45, then a leisurely walk home. 

That walk to Vrboska is such a wonderful part of the planet - here it is many years later, filmed during the pandemic, above. 

A cappuccino and cherry strudel on the main square in Jelsa after breakfast, just taking in the chilled vibe. And then a daily swim at Mina. I only learned to swim 4 years before I moved to Hvar at the tender age of 29, and doing laps from one side of Mina beach to the other was a daily task which I found very demanding but rewarding, given my terrible technique. 

The afternoon was spent working on my imminent bestseller, Lebanese Nuns Don't Ski, and the evening hour was at my local, Konoba Faros, whose warm welcome and hearty Dalmatian fare had me there every night until October 1, when it was inexplicably closed. 

"You are closed!" I said to the waiter, who I saw having a coffee on the pjaca the next morning. When will you reopen?"

"In May."

May!?! - that is SEVEN months away. What kind of restaurant closes for 7 months a year?  

The kind of restaurant which is on an island with tourism about 4 months a year. 

October was a shock.

Indeed a series of shocks. With most things now closed for the winter, life was not as much fun.  And it was colder at night. I looked for the heating in the house only to find that there was none. Welcome to Dalmatia.

I didn't have many friends, and I didn't have much to do. And I didn't care that much. There was some money in the bank, and my bestseller would establish me as a world-famous writer. I accepted invitations to pick grapes and olives, a perfect entrance to the Dalmatian way of life. Be at this cafe at 07:00 and we need to leave immediately, for soon it will be too hot to pick. Dutifully I did, only to be joined by the rest of the crew an hour later. Ah, let's have a bevanda (red wine and water) before we start. And then another. And another.

The picking done, back to the konoba for grilled fish, fresh vegetables, and litres of wine in plastic bottles. Bottle empty? Simply go to the tank and refill. 

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My favourite recollection of this time was a boozy lunch with about 8 locals, the conversation all in Croatian. I understood every 100th word, but I was happy in the company. We had grilled sardele (sardines). I am not known for squeezing every piece of flesh from a fish off the bone over lunch (which is VERY un-Dalmatian), particularly the heads, and I left a reasonable amount on my plate, each head intact. 

The chap opposite me had never even acknowledged my existence before or after, and he only ever uttered one sentence to me in his life:

"Are you eating those fish heads or what?" When I said no, he took the plate and the fish heads were gone in seconds. He never looked in my direction again. 

Looking back, life was really blissful. I was a total Croatia virgin, living in a tourism bubble. I did not really appreciate it at the time, but the war had only finished 7 years before, and foreign tourists were very welcome, especially those who would spend all year. It was complete heaven, and the nature was divine.

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I always wore short sleeves in winter. Trust me, when you have been brought up in a Jesuit boarding school in the north of England, then spend a winter on the edge of Siberia in temperatures of minus 32, winters in Dalmatia are mild. My t-shirts were in contrast with locals in several layers of clothing, and my first island nickname (you are not an islander if you do not have a nickname) was coined - Ludi Englez (Crazy Englishman). 

Nicknames and the gruff Dalmatian way were hilarious. You could be in a meeting in a cafe and a local passing would shout  LUDI  ENGLEZ in your direction. It was a form of acceptance, and I appreciated the name.  

'Kratki Rukavi' (short sleeves) was another phrase that was shouted at me a lot, as I walked around in my t-shirt in the 'fierce' bura wind. I absolutely LOVE the bura, and whenever it came, I would open my arms in my t-shirt and embrace it. I have never come across a more cleansing natural experience in my life. It just blows right through you and you come out cleansed on the other side. 

Locals would look at me as though I was nuts. Perhaps I was. Ludi Englez indeed. 

(Blogging in #ForeverKratke short sleeves in the bura - you can't beat it)

I have never been materialistic, but Dalmatia removed whatever Western trappings that remained in my body. In fact, I can't remember the last time I bought something non-essential for myself apart from alcohol (and one could argue about its necessity...). I adored the fact that Dalmatia was so non-commercial. Even though the trappings of tourism and the modern consumer society and Internet shopping are encroaching on traditional Dalmatian values, this is still a region where time - if not completely standing still anymore - is moving very slowly. 

To live in a community where the Christmas tree went up on December 15 on the main square (as it did when I first moved), the first sign of the festive season (things have sadly changed), and Christmas Day comprising a present each and a great family lunch and healthy walk to Vrboska and back, was a blessing coming from a culture of commercial crap. 

Local kids had nothing, but they had everything. Not so many play stations, but the Adriatic as their private swimming pool, and a safe island to run around and enjoy in idyllic nature. 

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One of my best friends from school contacted me after 25 years. A successful accountant with a large house near London and his own boat, he was coming to Hvar sailing and suggested we meet. It was great to see him and meet his lovely family. We exchanged life stories, me talking a little about island life, he about the pressures of the job, leaving at 06:00 Monday to Friday, getting home at 21:00, then one night out with the wife a week on Saturday, and Sunday with the kids. He could not afford to live in London, but took the train an hour a day each way. But there was the compensation of being able to sail around Hvar for a couple of weeks a year. 

I smiled, and I was genuinely happy for his success, and he was clearly earning about 50 times what I was. But I wouldn't have swapped my Hvar island for anything at that point. 

The fisherman and the billionaire story - from my personal experience, and I would choose the fisherman every time. 

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I met a girl - the assistant librarian - in the library, and she took pity on me and consented to be my girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife. I don't write about the family much as it is personal, but suffice to say that being a Dalmatinski zet (Dalmatian son-in-law) is one of life's great privileges, especially when you have a legendary punica (mother-in-law) and punac (father-in-law) as I did.

I could take at length about Hvar island and the food, the wine, the safety, the olive harvest, raising children, and doing business, but these I have already covered elsewhere in this series.

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Apart from my lovely wife, there were other friends on the island, and we got into the routine of meeting for coffee (or something stronger) late morning at Caffe Splendid on Jelsa's main square, which became my office when I started our real estate business.

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The core crew were Vivian, a Croatian physio of international acclaim who had lived most of her life in London, but retired to the island, and one of her many badges was as the physio for the British Olympic team in Moscow in 1980; Mark from London, who started out as a real estate client, but quickly became my best friend and got me into all kinds of trouble; and Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, whose success with the ladies was as impressive as it was inexplicable. The Professor and I teamed up together to start a language series on Hvar dialect that ended up being beamed into the homes of millions in the UK.

Here he is, with that iconic first video, the Dalmatian Grunt.  A e!

The core team was supplemented by lots of interesting characters who had bought holiday homes through me, as well as other expats and locals that came over to join our circle. There was an Irishman who was gold prospecting in Cameroon, UN consultants, a celebrity snapper who brought Jodie Foster to Hvar as a 15-year-old, and a blogger far more famous than me who frequented my office. I always really enjoy chatting to the BBC Sport's chief football writer, Phil McNulty, and it was amazing to learn that the most popular blog of the year - his Premier League predictions for the new season - is always written at Caffe Splendid in Jelsa. Great, so I can't even achieve the status of the best blogger in a cafe in the third biggest town on Hvar Island. 

Great brain food all round. 

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Healthcare was always great, not that I ever got really sick, but the emergency health point just outside the town was always excellent. On the one occasion we needed to get our child to hospital urgently, the helicopter from Split arrived in 12 minutes, and 12 minutes later mother and child were at Split hospital. You could not get there quicker from many parts of Split itself. Dental care was outstanding, and if you went privately, 200 kuna was the going rate for a filling.

So why, if life on Hvar island is so perfect, am I not still there?

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Life on Hvar island really IS perfect, but it takes a specific mentality to live on an island I think. I often say that full-time living on a Croatian island should be given intangible UNESCO heritage status, as without those who do, tourism would not happen to the same degree of quality.  And I would heartily recommend it as a way of life, especially if you have a young family. It is without doubt one of the best places to raise young children (20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 10. Raising Children), but it is also true that the reality of full-time living there is that locals are all busy making their money in the season, and so have little time to enjoy, and in winter, when there is time aplenty, nothing is open. Going somewhere for the weekend becomes a challenge after you have visited the low-hanging fruits of Split and surroundings, as everything starts and ends with a 2-hour ferry, of which there are only 3 a day in the off-season.

I personally MUCH prefer winter.

Although if there was no Internet...

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And, as wonderful as it is for young kids, options are more limited after the age of 10 or so. Besides we were ready for a change after 13 years - there are only so many conversations you can have about olives.  

Varazdin, and now Zagreb, has been a completely different experience, and I am loving the diversity and energy of city life, but always in the knowledge that my beloved Hvar island is just a few hours away. Having lived there full-time for 13 years, I now enjoy it in the same way that most Croatians do - in the summer. 

Oh, and the olive harvest of course.  

A new breed of foreigner is starting to discover Hvar and other Dalmatian islands - the remote worker. Just over 18 months ago, two digital nomads contacted me to rent our place, as they heard that the view and terrace were divine (they were not wrong). They ended up staying for 8 months after I helped them get the digital nomad permit. A very photogenic American couple from Silicon Valley, I thought they would make a great story on why Hvar island out of season. They agreed, some phone calls were made, and I do encourage you to watch this excellent report, which went out on primetime national TV (98% in English)  on the lives of Jess and Thibaud and why they love life on a Dalmatian island in winter, above. 

Are you a remote worker? This could be you...  

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That terrace view is pretty fab, isn't it? There are still a couple of weeks free in September (as well as 2023 of course) at Panorama Penthouse Jelsa, but hurry. 

I highly recommend it. Who knows, you may end up staying 13 years...

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: the Insider Guide to Surviving Croatia will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Number of Great New films on this Year’s Brač Film Festival

July 30, 2022 - Idyllic summer cinema opens doors on 10th of August for the 8th edition of Brač Film Festival.

From 10th to 13th of August, summer cinema in Supetar on the island of Brač will be again hosting this remarkable film event. Through 4 days audiences will be able to see diverse film program made by first and second time filmmakers.

Real treats for all film buffs

Main programme is held in summer cinema every evening at 9:30PM where one short student film will be screened before a feature film. Screening of short films is designated for promotion of film students from the region. This year BFF will be featuring films “Gunz and Helmets”, “Crisis”, “Džonika” and “Sound Mixer”.

For the first evening, Brač Film Festival will screen the film Savages (dir. Dario Lonjak). This action-comedy brings story of three fans of the Croatian football team who mistakenly find themselves inside a terrorist camp!

The second evening will feature film As Far as I Can Walk (dir. Stefan Arsenijević) that had premiere on a prestige Karlovy Vary Film Festival where it received numerous awards

Third evening brings the highly anticipated film “Staffroom” (dir. Sonja Tarokić). Film is claimed from by the Croatian Associations of film critics as “definitely one of the best Croatian films in the recent history”. The film was awared on Pula with 5 Golden Arenas, including the Golden Arena for Best Film.

On the closing day of the Festival BFF will screen the sport drama Golden Boy (dir. Ognjen Janković). The film tells the story about 20-year old perspective football player who finds it hard to deal with all the expectations of the professional football league.

Films for kids, too!

From the very beginnings Brač Film Festival chearishes importance of the screenings for kids as their first encounter with the seventh art! Screenings of children film will be held on the summer stage behind the church every evening at 9pm. Films are suitable for kids aged 6+. Popular domestic film “How I learned how to fly” will kids be able to see before anyone, as right after the festival film goes into distribution. The film brings story of 12 year old Sofia, whose summer on Hvar turns into a real adventure. Kids programme will also feature films awarded on international film festivals, such as “Comedy Queen” and “Nelly Rapp: Monster agent” and animated films “Even mice belong to Heaven” and “Egg”.

This year’s Festival bring diverse programme. Due to high demand it’s important to get tickets in advance. Whole programme is available at the website: https://bracfilmfestival.hr/en/

To learn more about the island, check out the Total Croatia Brac in a Page guide.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Croatia Logs 1,496 New Coronavirus Cases, 12 Deaths

ZAGREB, 30 July 2022 - Croatia has registered 1,496 new coronavirus cases and 12 COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Saturday.

The number of active cases in the country stands at 10,435, including 668 hospitalized people, of whom 27 are placed on ventilators, while 6,407 people are self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was reported in Croatia, 1,185,799 people have been registered as having contracted the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, of whom 16,300 have died and 1,159,064 have recovered, including 1,565 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 5,046,775 people have tested for the coronavirus, of whom 3,816 in the last 24 hours.

For everything you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Croatian Students Win Four Medals at Central European Olympiad in Informatics

ZAGREB, 30 July 2022 - Dorijan Lendvaj of Croatia and Alexandru Luchianov of Romania are the winners of the Central European Olympiad in Informatics, held in Varaždin, Croatia, on July 24-30.

Apart from Lendvaj and Luchianov, who share the first place with the highest score, gold medals, with fewer points won, also went to Patrick Pavić of Croatia and Michał Stawarz and Jan Strzeszyński of Poland.

Croatian representatives Marko Dorčić and Fran Babić also won two bronze medals at the event, organised by the Croatian association of IT specialists (HSIN).

Competing at the Olympiad were 52 high school students from Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Gas Deal Between Croatia, Slovenia and Three Other EU members

ZAGREB, 30 July 2022 - In case of a real crisis in the supply of Russian gas and an EU emergency, member-states are expected to show solidarity, including by signing bilateral supply deals, and Croatia is currently preparing such an agreement with Slovenia, the Jutarnji List daily reports in its Saturday issue.

According to information available to the daily, talks will be held on solidarity deals also with Italy, Hungary and Austria, and they imply technical, legal and financial arrangements.

This mechanism was envisaged by a 2017 European regulation on supply security but so far only six solidarity deals have been signed in the EU. The first one was signed in December 2020 between Germany and Denmark, in late 2021 Germany and Austria signed such an agreement, and as many as four were signed this year - between Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania and Latvia, Italy and Slovenia, and Finland and Estonia.

The European Commission has in the meantime amended the regulation with articles which, if necessary, can be directly applied if there are no bilateral agreements.

The purpose of this is for countries to help one another in ensuring gas supply for their protected consumers (such as households and hospitals) also in the case of the biggest crisis.

Slovenia's minister said at an emergency European meeting on energy earlier this week that Ljubljana definitely wanted to conclude with Croatia an agreement to that effect before the end of the summer, and that a similar proposal had also been sent to Austria.

Under the latest EU agreement on reducing gas consumption by 15% in the period until the spring of 2023 (saving is currently voluntary but in case of an EU emergency, it will become compulsory), member-states need to update, by the end of the summer, their existing gas supply emergency plans and show how they intend to meet the reduction target, and report on it to the EC every two months.

As for members seeking solidary gas deliveries, they will be asked to show which measures they have taken to reduce domestic demand, the daily says.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Ex-Minister Released from Investigative Custody

ZAGREB, 30 July 2022 - Former HDZ minister Tomislav Tolušić, whom the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) suspects of misappropriating European funds to build a winery, was released from investigative custody on Friday.

Tolušić was released at the EPPO's request after all 16 witnesses who he could have tampered with were questioned.

The former minister was remanded in custody on 8 July, after he and Željko Ferenc, an employee at the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, were arrested in Virovitica.

Ferenc was released from investigative custody on Thursday after having been previously suspended.

Following their arrest, the EPPO said, without revealing their identities, that Tolušić, as an owner of a family-run farm, submitted an application for a project for the construction and equipment of a winery, worth HRK 4.65 million, with the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development in early May 2020, and that the level of co-financing with European funds was 70%.

In the application, Tolušić falsely stated that the financing of the project would be secured with a loan from a financial institution. However, he did not apply for a loan, and he financed the project with money whose legal origin cannot be proved, the prosecutor's office said.

Moreover, he did not inform the agency about the change in the financing, and was granted HRK 2.92 million in aid.

Tolušić applied to another tender, advertised by the agency on 2 June 2021 for the construction of new vineyards and the reconstruction of existing ones.

For the second application, Tolušić reportedly incited Ferenc to give a positive opinion on his application for the grant, although the application falsely stated that the piece of land in question had no crops planted in it, when in fact he had previously planted a vineyard there.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Croatian Agency for Agriculture and Food refused to issue a positive opinion on the submitted technological project due to knowledge of the existence of a vineyard already planted there and due to other observed irregularities, the EPPO said.

After the rejection, Tolušić removed the grapevine that had been planted, obtained a new technological project and submitted it with the application.

He expected to receive a grant of HRK 1.5 million, with 85% being co-financed by EU funds, that is, more than HRK 1.3 million. However, the agency established that he did not meet the conditions, so the funding was not granted, the EPPO said.

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