Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Two Black Hawk Helicopters, Donated by USA, Presented at Pleso Airbase

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - Two multi-purpose Black Hawk (UH-60M) helicopters, donated to Croatia by the USA, were presented at the Pleso military airbase on Wednesday, with Defence Minister Mario Banožić participating in the first test flight.

The two Black Hawk helicopters and their equipment are valued at $138 million, with $53 million provided by the US government and $85 million by the Defence Ministry.

The helicopters will primarily be used to transport people and equipment. They can transport up to 11 passengers and two technical pilots.

They can develop a speed of up to 360 kilometres per hour, their ceiling altitude is six kilometres and the maximum flying distance 511 kilometres.

US envoy, Commanding General, Special Operations Command-Europe Major General David Tabor underscored that with the US donation, Croatia has strengthened its capabilities and security as a country and as a member of NATO.

After the test flight, Minister Banožić said that the helicopters are equipped with excellent equipment.

He said that the plan is for the other Black Hawks to arrive by the end of the year.

With regard to the training of Croatian pilots, Banožić said that "enough of them have undergone training until now" but he didn't want to reveal how many.

He commented on the replacement of the Soviet-made Mi-8 and Mi-171 helicopter fleet whose resources expire in 2023, saying that talks were being held with the allies and partners regarding further steps. 

Talking about the construction of hangars for the new equipment, Banožić said that infrastructure development was launched in 2021, however, problems occurred with the public procurement procedure and it had to be cancelled.

Two hangars are currently subject to public procurement procedure. They should be built in six months' time after the procurement is signed, Banožić said, noting that two new hangars should be built by 2023.

Attending today's presentation of the US military donation was also President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Zoran Milanović.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Milanović: Croatia, too, Could Have Indicted Vučić, but Didn't

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović repeated on Wednesday that Serbia should watch its actions and that he was only asking for "a fair relationship" between the two countries, adding that Croatia could have indicted Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić but made a political decision not to do it.

"Look at what is happening to Sweden which wants to join NATO. Maybe it had reason to be arrogant towards Turkey over the past 30 years but now it is asking for mercy. So, watch what you say and do because what goes around comes around," Milanović said in a message to Serbia.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office has issued an indictment against Croatian Air Force officers Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić and Danijel Borović for war crimes against Serb civilians because on 7 and 8 August 1995, during Operation Storm, they allegedly ordered a missile attack on a refugee convoy outside Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna, near Novi Grad, northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the indictment, 13 people were killed in the attack, including six children, and 24 were wounded.

Milanović on Tuesday said that the indictment would cost Serbia, which Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić today interpreted as a threat.

"Who is Serbia's prime minister? Is Brnabić still the prime minister?... I have not seen her in Krk for a long time, she is welcome," Milanović said in an allusion to the fact that Brnabić's family from her father's side hails from the northern Adriatic island.

Recalling the time when he was prime minister, Milanović said that "Vučić's speech in Glina (in 1995) was a criminal act", but a political decision was made for Croatia not to indict him.

"Vučić did not kill anyone, that's true, but his rhetoric at the time cost many people their lives and souls," he added.

Criticising Serbia for accusing Croatian pilots of crimes, Milanović said he was only asking Serbia to act in a fair manner, recalling that Croatia was a member "of the associations Serbia aspires to join."

He added that there was no need for the Serbian PM "to be nervous" because he was also speaking in Serbia's favour.

Milanović repeated that some conditions set by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) for Serbia's EU accession are "exaggerated" and that "one should refrain from humiliating anyone" but that the neighbouring country should "be careful about what it does" considering its EU membership bid.

Stoltenberg cannot change anything

Milanović does not share the Croatian government's position on Finland and Sweden's NATO membership candidacy and wants Croatia to make support to their bid conditional on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law.

Milanović and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenbrg spoke over the telephone on Tuesday, and the reason was Milanović's letter to NATO member-countries regarding the status of BiH Croats.

"He cannot change anything in that regard, he is technical personnel. He is expected to distribute the letter, anyone who wanted to has now read the letter and that's it," Milanović said.

He added that the NATO secretary-general was not the one making decisions but implementing them and that "it is his task to listen to the Americans", with the USA "being the boss", however, being Croatia's president, he was fighting "for his own."

Milanović said that Stoltenberg did not share his view that Finland and Sweden's NATO accession should be linked to the amendment of BiH's election law but that he called for taking into account Turkey's reservations to the two countries' accession.

When Turkey presents its demands, then that's not a problem, Milanović said, describing his conversation with the NATO secretary-general as friendly.

He again criticised "the apathy and misery of Croatian politics" with regard to the protection of national interests.

"Let's be clear, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not belong to Croatia... I do not want anyone to think that we act the same way as Budapest... with its constant insistence that this used to be Hungary. This used to be Austria as well, from Pula to Dubrovnik... yet you do not hear Austrians say that this was Austria's sea because they are mature," Milanović said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Banožić: I'll Pay Fine But Won't Return Apartment

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 2022 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić told a press conference on Wednesday he respected the decision of the Conflict of Interest Commission, which fined him HRK 7,000 for granting himself an official apartment, but he does not want to return the apartment to the state property management company.

During a ceremony for the handover of the Black Hawk helicopters, donated by the United States, the Croatian defence minister recalled the period when he was the state assets minister. In September 2019, Banožić signed a decision granting himself an official 92-square-metre apartment in Gundulićeva Street in Zagreb. However, the minister reiterated that he did so in accordance with legal provisions.

"I will not move out of the apartment because the Commission proved what I had said during the proceedings. However, I respect the decision and I will pay the fine," he said.

He added that as a state official he was entitled to a three-room apartment of at least 60 square metres, but he did not choose it himself, the administration of the state property management company did.

I signed the decision just because Article 49 of the State Assets Management Act explicitly states that the state assets minister makes the decisions on apartments, Banožić said.

The defence minister criticised President Zoran Milanović for the overhaul of Croatian MiG fighter jets in Ukraine during his term as prime minister. He thinks there were many irregularities in that business deal and that the aircraft had false technical documentation.

We have solid evidence that the numbers on them were overwritten, that the documents were falsified and that is why a claim for damages should be filed, in accordance with the signed contracts, he said.

However, Banožić stressed "it's insane to talk about asking Ukraine to pay damages now given the situation the country is in", adding that the blame was not on the Ukrainian state but the company that did the overhaul of the aircraft.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

European Public Prosecutor's Office Indicts Ten Croatians for Bribery

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) has indicted ten Croatians, including the Mayor of Nova Gradiška, Vinko Grgić, former Velika Gorica mayor Dražen Barišić and entrepreneur Krešo Petek.

The EPPO reported that the indictment was filed after an investigation of active and passive corruption and abuse of office between 2018 and 2021.

All four cases are related to construction projects with a total value of €22.6 million and the damage to the EU budget was largely prevented thanks to the efficacy of the investigators, the EPPO said in a statement.

Corruption in Nova Gradiška

Mayor Grgić is being charged with accepting two bribes amounting to €15,000 from the first accused Krešo Petek in order to secure the assignment of two construction projects.

The two projects were for a recycling centre and a solar power plant. The first project was valued at €900,000, of which the amount of €562,000 was financed by the European Union Cohesion Fund, and the value of the second project was €700,000, of which 85% was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Three other suspects were involved in these two corruption cases by helping Grgić and Petek in giving the bribes, abusing their office, and illegal favouritism in public procurement.

The recycling project was then awarded to companies connected to Petek who paid Grgić the agreed amount of the bribe.

This meant that the European Cohesion Fund was defrauded of €53,000 and the Town of Nova Gradiška of €32,500. 

The solar power plant project was not awarded as Petek and the others accused had already been arrested.

Abuse of office in Velika Gorica

Petek is also accused of arranging with former Velika Gorica mayor Barišić for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant and a supervisory management system as well as for the renovation of the public lighting system to be awarded to his companies.

The estimated value for the wastewater treatment plant project was €14 million, of which the European Union Cohesion Fund financed 67.34%. The value of the renovation project of the public lighting system was €7 million and it was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

In these two cases, too, there were three accomplices who helped Barišić in abusing office and influence-peddling in public procurement procedures.

In both projects, although all necessary steps were taken in the public procurement process to select the companies connected to Petek, decisions to that effect were not made due to the arrest of all five accused persons, the EPPO reported.

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Up to €15,000 for Small Farmers in EU Thanks to Croatia's Initiative

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - Small farmers in the EU could soon receive up to €15,000 in one-off aid and agricultural SMEs up to €100,000 thanks to a Croatian initiative.

Croatia launched the initiative at a meeting of agriculture ministers last month and it was supported by 13 member states.

According to the initiative, due to the hikes in energy, fertiliser and animal feed prices, every member state would pay small farmers and agricultural SMEs up to 5% of their budgets as part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for 2011 and 2022.

The Commission endorsed the initiative and last week proposed a decree which the agriculture ministers discussed on Tuesday.

"We expect co-legislators to swiftly ratify this proposal, after which we will amend the rural development programme which will enable emergency aid for Croatian farmers and SMEs in the agricultural and food sector," Croatian Minister Marija Vučković said after yesterday's meeting.

In Croatia's case, the 5% amounts to a little over €30 million in additional EU funds.

The ministers also discussed the consequences of Russia's aggression on Ukraine, a big exporter of farm products which cannot export them via its Black Sea ports due to Russia's blockade. The EU is looking for a solution to transport the goods by rail and road to the EU and then to the nearest ports for dispatch elsewhere in the world.

The EU does not depend on import from Ukraine but is trying to prevent hunger in Africa and the Middle East, which are big importers of Ukrainian cereals.

Vučković said Croatia was drawing up a proposal for bringing those goods to its Adriatic ports, from where they could be exported to northern Africa. "We are mapping our ports, our rail network and silos which could contribute to the export of Ukrainian products."

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

West Balkans Wants to Join EU Quickly, but Brussels not Willing

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - Due to the war in Ukraine, Western Balkan countries seek accelerated EU accession, but Brussels officials say there is no political will among the 27 member states for their accession and that their entering too quickly makes no sense.

At an Adriatic-Ionian region forum held in Tirana last week, ten countries signed a declaration calling on the EU to step up the journey of the Western Balkan countries as their accession would be an investment in a stable, strong and united Europe.

EU enlargement is a policy which has always exported peace and stability to all countries where it happened, Bosnian Deputy Foreign Minister Josip Brkić said, adding that the Russian aggression on Ukraine will show how important it is for the enlargement to include Southeast Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for membership more than six years ago and hopes to get candidate status by 30 June. Brkić said candidate status was a political decision.

North Macedonia and Albania, which are candidates, hoped accession negotiations would be opened in March 2020, but Bulgaria blocked them due to a historical and language dispute with North Macedonia.

The EU grouped the two countries together in their membership applications, so now Albania cannot proceed either. Its Deputy Prime Minister Arben Amedaj said at the forum that such obstacles made no sense.

Montenegro has opened all negotiation chapters. Its Foreign Minister Jovana Marović said those relating to the environment and the rule of law were the most challenging.

Serbia has not imposed sanctions on Russia but did adopt the joint declaration in Tirana, although its first article says that the invasion of Ukraine is an illegal and unjustified aggression.

In order to equate its stands with those of the member states and accession candidates, Serbia stated its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

According to speculation on the fringes of the forum, Western Balkan countries and Ukraine might join the EU together in 2027, but a Commission official working with the candidate states dismissed this option.

Entering too soon makes no sense. The countries would not be prepared to draw money from the funds as they first have to set up the necessary structure, he said on the condition of anonymity.

But the problem is first and foremost political. The fundamental EU treaties would have to be changed for this many countries to enter at once, and some member states are opposed to that, he added.

Last week in Sarajevo, European Council President Charles Michel mentioned the idea of a European geopolitical community. Non-member states would be gradually included in certain sectors together with the member states after meeting the criteria, without waiting for full membership.

The idea of a European political community was mentioned earlier by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Bosnian Deputy Foreign Minister Brkić said that for all Southeast European countries, the only guarantee of stability and political and economic prosperity was full membership, "as pledged 19 years ago in Thessaloniki."

Western Balkan countries cooperate with EU member states in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region and the Strategy for the Danube Region, which includes Ukraine and Moldova.

Croatian Foreign Ministry state secretary Andreja Metelko-Zgombić said it was important to make progress when the criteria had been met. "We believe that Albania and North Macedonia deserve to open the negotiations as soon as possible."

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Less Than 1/3 of Citizens Think Croatia Ready to Introduce Euro, Survey Shows

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - Less than one third of citizens think Croatia is ready to introduce the euro on 1 January 2023 and a big majority, fears the introduction will lead to tacit price rises, according to the findings of a survey presented on Wednesday.

The survey was initiated by MEP Biljana Borzan and conducted by the Hendal agency in March and April, covering 805 respondents.

The findings show that 29.9% agree with the claim that Croatia is not ready to introduce the euro on 1 January 2023, while 45.5% do not agree and 24.7% neither agree nor disagree.

Also, 86.2% of respondents believe the introduction will be used to tacitly raise prices.

Borzan said the aim of the survey was not to create additional panic but to reassure citizens and give them clear data on why introducing the euro was good, and also to make the government eliminate the fears so that citizens would accept the euro without any problems.

She said that in Slovenia the gross pay went up by 46% and prices by 26% since the euro was introduced, and in Latvia by 67% and 10%, respectively.

Borzan said a minimum short-term rise in prices was a fact but that the long-term benefit was "very visible" for citizens and that she was sure it would happen in Croatia, too, "because entering the eurozone actually means economic profit."

She said Croatia's law on introducing the euro banned businesses from raising prices without justification but did not envisage sanctions.

The survey shows that 83.2% of respondents feel that businesses which convert prices unfairly should be publicly blacklisted.

Borzan said the government rejected such a proposal and that this was part of the problem. "The other is the non-inclusion of consumer associations and citizens so that we know what awaits us."

Furthermore, 83.8% of respondents feel the government's measures against price rises will be useless without good inspections, and over 50% feel that market inspectors are not doing a good job nor protecting citizens from higher prices.

Also, 81.4% of respondents feel that consumers in Croatia are insufficiently protected.

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Croatia Logs 587 New Coronavirus Cases

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - In the past 24 hours, 587 coronavirus cases, out of 3,826 tests, and three related deaths were registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Wednesday.

There are 2,895 active cases, including 240 hospitalised patients, five of whom are on ventilators, while 1,028 persons are self-isolating.

To date, Croatia has registered 1,135,128 coronavirus cases, the death toll is 15,973, and 70.79% of the adult population has been vaccinated, including 68.73% fully.

 

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Bol Tourist Board Director Markito Marinkovic Consults Constitutional Court on New Law

May the 25th, 2022 - The new Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, more precisely the legal provisions which entered into force on the 1st of January this year, has made it so that the term of office of elected directors of tourist boards will now last for four years, and contracts concluded for indefinite periods will be changed to fixed-term contracts. Bol Tourist Board director Markito Marinkovic has taken his argument all the way to the Constitutional Court.

As Dalmatinski portal writes, this resulted in some very serious headaches to multiple local tourist boards. More and more tourist boards are publicly pointing out the illogicality of legal changes that have now put directors at a disadvantage. Criticism was directed primarily at the relevant Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the initiator of the disputed law, holding it responsible for what they consider to be such poor legislation.

Everything is actually happening at a very untimely moment, at a time when local communities are preparing seriously and diligently for the rapidly approaching summer tourist season, which, according to all projections, is expected to surpass last year's. There's no doubt that the most is expected from the tourist boards during this preparatory time. They are all already designing and planning their tourist programmes and facilities, organising events, and offering training sessions for private renters so that everyone is ready to accept tourists. Instead of all energies being directed to the best possible preparation of tourist destinations, the leaders of tourist boards, as well as the local governing units are having to spend their precious time dealing with the election of their directors, Brac danas (Brac today) writes.

The directors of local tourist boards are outraged at the move

It was these elections that caused an avalanche of dissatisfaction, and the tourist boards were forced to act according to legal provisions which, according to the public, don't really seem very logical, justified or meaningful. The negative reactions are mostly coming in from out in the field, and the directors of the tourist boards are indignant. I can't believe what they're doing at the moment and how, in their opinion, the Ministry is overstepping when it comes to their rights and everything they've done and are doing for the development of local tourism. One of them, the long-term director of the Tourist Board in Bol, Markito Marinkovic, went through all the joys and sorrows of engaging in work related to tourism, in that particular island tourist Mecca, won numerous awards, and is now full of astonishment at the controversial decisions being made by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport in the form of a law which applies to the directors of tourist boards.

Marinkovic warns: This provision is applicable only in pro futuro sense...

''After 27 years of work, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport is questioning my employment contract, which I've concluded for an indefinite period of time,'' said the current director of the Bol Tourist Board, Markito Marinkovic, who is also a signatory of the request for constitutional review of the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism. After consulting with legal experts, that request was sent to the address of the Constitutional Court, requesting that the Constitutional Court address this issue, which, as he said, will result in some serious legal consequences.

Marinkovic is ready to show the documentation with which he's armed himself, including the request he sent to the Constitutional Court, emphasising that the main problem of legal norms is their application to current (read existing) directors of tourist boards, instead of having them apply solely to any new directors.

''This provision is applicable only pro futuro (for future actions) and only for new employment and concluding employment contracts with directors of tourist boards who were employed after the 1st of January 2022. We can't apply this provision to directors who concluded their employment contracts for an indefinite period of time before the entry into force of the new Law on Tourist Board, because in that case, there'd be a violation of Article 90 Paragraph 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia on the prohibition of the retroactive application of the law,'' Markito Marinkovic says when reading part of the request that has now been sent to the Constitutional Court, not hesitating to say that this is a law that is unconstitutional and illegal.

The Ministry of Tourism wrote back in 2012: There are no obstacles to the conclusion of an indefinite contract

In an interview for Brac danas, Markito Marinkovic openly asked the following:

''Why would I agree to have my contract for an indefinite period of time terminated and instead accept an offer a contract for a part-time job?'' He noted that he signed his employment contract back on December the 15th, 2009, for an indefinite period of time as the tourist board director there. His contract was concluded in accordance with the provisions of the then Labour Act, the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, as well as the provisions of the Statute of the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Bol. The fact that there is nothing disputable in his contract was confirmed by the Ministry of Tourism in its interpretation on June the 27th, 2012, to which Marinkovic refers, and in which he unequivocally points out that ''there is no obstacle to concluding an employment contract for an indefinite period in accordance with the Labour Law as the regulator''.

Marinkovic also pointed out the absurdity of these new legal provisions, claiming that tourist boards will elect directors who already have employees within the tourist board.

Marinkovic: We'll end up with two directors, one for an indefinite period and the other for a definite period...

Formerly ''protected'' directors of tourist boards, who were employed indefinitely with their employers, will now be elected for a fixed term, more precisely for a term of four years, as determined by the now disputed law. Current directors will now find themselves at the mercy of their employers who, according to instructions issued to the tourist boards by the competent Ministry, should terminate existing contracts and offer them amended contracts with a specific duration attached to them. Such a thing is simply not acceptable for Markito Marinkovic, which is the reason why he didn't apply for the position of head of the Bol Tourist Board.

''It seems that we're going to have two directors by the will of the ministry; one for an indefinite period of time, and the other for a definite period, which will be elected by the Tourist Council under the new Act,'' he added, noting that the instructions, written back in December last year and subsequently sent out to the country's local tourist boards, are also confusing and difficult to follow properly. According to the guidelines signed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport's Monika Udovicic, current directors who aren't selected in a tender and those to whom the institution doesn't offer another job within the tourist board will receive a termination of their employment contract.

''How is it possible for a director to become an organisational redundancy, and for someone else to be hired for that position? The Labour Law stipulates that a business-related dismissal (contract termination) can only be given if the need to perform a certain job ceases. In addition to that, another person can't be hired following that for the next six months,'' Markito Marinkovic said, clearly terribly surprised by the numerous illogicalities that the Ministry somehow keeps on coming up with owing to their controversial decisions and interpretations of things.

Why was the tender for the position of the director of the Bol Tourist Board cancelled?

When it comes to the tender for the election of the director of the Tourist Board of Bol, it became somewhat unstuck on the very first step. After the tender deadline expired, and interested candidates submitted their applications and received notification(s) of the presentation of the programme at a session of the Tourist Council, the same council, at the suggestion of the President of that body of the Tourist Board, Katarina Marcic, agreed to the cancellation of the tender. The explanation for that was:

''We want to eliminate every single slight suspicion of illegality of the procedure. According to Marcic's announcement and her public attempt to explain the reasons why the tender was annulled, these aren't serious irregularities, at least not according to the statement of the Ministry to which Marcic refers. It's true, the tender was open for 21 days, while the recommendations lasted from 8 to 15 days. Experts on the election procedures we contacted are of the opinion that the tender deadline which is longer than the deadline recommended by the competent ministry should not call into question the legality of the election procedure. All in all, a new tender will be drawn up, a check by the Ministry will be awaited, and then another tender will be announced. Whether it's really an election procedure or some other reason why the Tourist Council decided to return everything to the beginning, only time can tell.

The Constitutional Court has since confirmed: The case has been assigned to a judge-rapporteur

Brac danas contacted the Constitutional Court. They were interested in what happened to the request for a review of constitutionality under the controversial Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, and when the request would be on the agenda. The Constitutional Court confirmed that it had received a motion for assessment.

''The case has been assigned to a judge-rapporteur, and at this moment it isn't possible to predict when it could be sent to the session of the Court to decide on the proposal,'' said the Secretary General of the Constitutional Court, Dr. Teodor Antic. Back in mid-April, Markito Marinkovic addressed the Constitutional Court yet again, this time in a hurry, at a time when the tender for the position of director was open.

''Considering that in the meantime, more precisely on April the 1st, 2022, the Tourist Council of the Tourist Board of Bol announced a public tender for the election of the director for a term of four years referring to the provisions of ZTZ, and ignoring the employment contract concluded on an indefinite basis between me and the Tourist Board of Bol for the same job for which a public tender has now been announced. It's obvious that the implementation of this tender will violate my employment rights,'' Markito Marinkovic wrote in his letter. He emphasised, in addition, that the above-mentioned actions of tourist boards will generate numerous lawsuits in the near future due to the disputed provisions of the law.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sport isn't responding to press inquiries on the matter

Given the fact that only the competent ministry is looking at the disputed tender for the director of the Bol Tourist Board, and especially at the request sent to Prisavlje 14 in Zagreb by a concerned resident of Bol, asking for the tender to be annulled, the ministry was also asked to comment on the topic. A press inquiry with specific questions was sent to the Press Service on May the 1st, as Brac danas had received an anonymous letter to its editorial e-mail about a possible illegal tender being announced by the Tourist Council.

The aforementioned publication still hasn't received a response from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. On several occasions, they also tried to contact the Media Service by phone and find out what this delay was about. After several calls, they were once connected to the press service, and in another case, an official of the ministry apologised for not providing a timely response. A reminder of the inquiry was then sent to the cabinet of the same Ministry, on May the 6th, asking for answers to the questions which had been sent already. However, the main cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport hasn't yet responded or attempted to clarify any of the issued mentioned in this article.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Bol&Culture: Bol Tourist Board Awarded Distinguished International Award for Tourism Film

May 25, 2022 - The Bol&Culture tourism film has won the Golden Bear Award in the “Art & Culture” category!

Everybody knows that the sun and the sea are not enough for memorable summer holidays anymore. The town of Bol on the island of Brač, a famous Croatian tourist destination, is especially aware of that. This picturesque town has a rich and versatile offer irresistible for international and domestic visitors. Apart from the cycling tourism and many other sports activities and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat), the citizens of Bol also take pride in their rich cultural heritage and are dedicated to preserving it. The value of this heritage has also been recognized recently at a prestigious international film, print, and multimedia competition, the Golden City Gate 2022, held during the famous international tourism fair ITB Berlin. Amongst a selection of tourism films from all over the world, 45 professional judges chose “Bol&Culture”, as the winner (The Golden Bear Award) in the “Art & Culture” category.

Markito_Marinković_i_Đurđa_Eterović_s_nagradom_s_ITB_Berlin_2022.jpg

The basis of evaluation criteria followed by the jury was creativity, storytelling, emotional effect, and information value communicated in the film. The film was made in cooperation with the DOKU FILMS production team, Mihaela Reščić, the producer, and the screen-wright, Hana Klain from the Klain PR Agency. Tourist fairs are an excellent opportunity for the global promotion of natural beauties and the rich cultural heritage of Croatia. Every year, this prestigious event attracts more and more visitors and tourism professionals seeking to learn about famous and beautiful tourist destinations, and Croatia is one of them.

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The awarded film is an omnibus that brings together three stories: Zmajeva špilja (The Dragon's Cave), the Dominican monastery, and the Branislav Dešković Art Gallery. Zmajeva špilja (The Dragon's Cave) is a place of ultimate peace. Its walls are decorated with a fascinating and unusual set of reliefs believed to be sculpted by 15-century friars who expressed their faith, preaching, and asceticism through them. A 15-century Dominican monastery hides a collection of valuable works of art dating back to the 16th to 19th centuries. Archaeological finds, liturgical items, many rare manuscripts, and a numismatic collection with samples of rare antique coins are just a part of this valuable display. The most attractive piece of artwork in this collection is an altar painting Madonna with a Child and Saints by Tintoretto. A visit to the Branislav Dešković Art Gallery, located in the Bol centre, is an opportunity to experience Brač through the eyes of famous Croatian painters. This Renaissance-baroque palace is the home of hundreds of artworks by Croatian painters and sculptors.

 

“I am really happy to see that more and more visitors show interest in our rich cultural heritage. The art is eternal, and it adds unmeasurable value to Bol. We are sincerely proud to offer this authentic treasure dating back to distant history. Like all the awards we have received so far (and there were many of them), this is an important recognition of our efforts and the quality of our projects that further strengthen our motivation to be even more dedicated to our work. At the same time, I am proud of 'the special recognition of the presentation of the excellence of the Bol tourist offer I received from international travel journalists last year," added Mr. Markito Marinković, Bol Tourist Board director.

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Bol is actively preparing for the upcoming season. Almost all the hotels and resorts are open, and around 1.000 visitors are already spending their holidays in this town. We aim to accomplish 90% of the 2019 turnover. Most visitors are from Austria, Germany, Slovenia, and Croatia - visitors arriving here by car. We hope that this will change and that more guests from overseas will visit us. We have 14 ferry lines and 4 catamaran lines, all from Split, during the summer. We also have direct flights Zagreb-Bol throughout the season until October. We expect charter flights from Graz and Wien to start from May and new lines from Bratislava and Bolzano.

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

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