Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Valpovo Company SpectreXR Impresses with Innovative OctoXR Tool

January the 3rd, 2023 - The Valpovo company SpectreXR is showing that Eastern Croatia, more specifically Slavonia, can be known for far more than agriculture and demographic issues. Augmented reality is their game, and they've been making waves.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, augmented reality (XR), which includes VR, AR and MR technologies, is most often associated with video games, but its application, as revealed by Ivan Rajkovic, the founder and director of the Valpovo company SpectreXR, is far wider. This company which was founded six years ago aims at the industrial application of virtual and augmented reality with its OctoXR tool.

It is a tool that they have been working on developing for a couple of years now and in which they have invested an enormous 350 thousand euros. In 2023, they also hope to monetise this highly sophisticated product, with the help of which the user's hands become a management tool in the digital world, as well as in the real world.

The fact that their hopes have a realistic basis has also been well and truly shown by the fact that the quality of their OctoXR, after its presentation at Expo AWE in Lisbon, was recognised by two large and important technology companies - the Swedish Crunchfish and the American Ultraleap. In short, The Valpovo company SpectreXR, which consists of a team of six people, decided to facilitate and improve hand control in XR, and the functionalities they develop through OctoXR make that entirely possible.

"Our product gives physical properties to hands in the digital world. The hardware is in charge of recognising the hands, through sensors or cameras, and the software we develop enables us to use our hands in the digital world as well as we would in the real world," explained Rajkovic, who added that developing such a tool is a very complex job indeed.

"In addition to a higher level of programming knowledge, you must understand physics, maths, linear algebra and work in digital 3D spaces. Every point of contact between the digital hand and the digital object needs to be properly simulated, the rotations made by the bones relative to the position of the real hand need to be exact, and much more. I'm extremely proud of the team that managed to do it, and with a lot of effort," he added. Moreover, the technology they're developing is heading in the direction the whole industry is going, which believes that realistic control with hands instead of controllers will become key in both virtual and augmented reality.

Rajkovic thinks that joysticks, or controllers, will remain important in the video game industry, but the Valpovo company SpectreXR isn't targeting that sector. Instead, they've got their eyes on industries such as healthcare, automotive, aerospace, space, and manufacturing. In them, XR technologies already play a very important role, and they'll come to play an even bigger role in the future.

As one example, Rajkovic singled out DHL, which uses virtual reality in its employee training. This very well known company uses it, as he explained, to teach employees how to store packages on planes and on other means of transportation, thereby reducing overall costs and increasing productivity. The advantages of virtual training are used not only by logistics companies, but also by the automotive, aerospace, military, healthcare, trade, and manufacturing industries. In addition, it's a form of technology that can be used for the creation of prototypes, the visualisation of objects that go into production, immersive communication, and the list goes on and on. While large companies are reaping the benefits, small ones are more or less yet to really start applying it.

The moment is therefore right for positioning such a tool on the market, and the Valpovo company SpectreXR has all the prerequisites for that – their very own OctoXR tool. The fact that they are very much on the right track was confirmed by their participation in the aforementioned AWE conference in Lisbon, which specialises in XR solutions. There, they agreed to cooperate with Crunchfish and Ultraleap and successfully integrated their software with their solutions. The aforementioned collaborations are important to this company for several reasons. In addition to finances, the team from Valpovo should see the doors of large clients opened, and it will also further ensure their recognition.

"We also see it as a path towards numerous manufacturers of XR equipment, considering the contacts of our associates. We have a developed business model and are well on our way to capitalising on these opportunities. We're absolutely counting on that from January onwards," Rajkovic said.

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Croatian Fuel Prices to Rise Tomorrow, Here Are the New Costs

January the 2nd, 2023 - With all of the celebrations surrounding Schengen and Eurozone accession, something less pleasant for drivers who are likely sick of the ups and downs - Croatian fuel prices are set to rise once again tomorrow.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Government held a telephone session today during which it passed the Decree on determining the highest retail prices of petroleum derivatives, according to which the highest retail prices are calculated according to the formula according to the base price of fossil fuel in the previous fourteen-day period.

This regards a limited margin of 0.0995 euros (0 .75 kuna)/l for diesel and petrol fuel, and 0.0531 euros (0.40 kuna)/l for blue diesel, 0.8229 euros (6.20 kuna)/kg propane-butane mixture for bottles, or 0 ,03716 euros (2.80 kuna)/kg for large containers. Compared to the previous Croatian fuel prices and their accompanying regime, the margin on diesel and petrol fuel, for energy entities, has been returned to the levels we saw back in June 2022.

This regime and as such the new Croatian fuel prices will be valid for the next fourteen day period.

The new prices will be as follows:

– EUR 1.33 (HRK 10.02)/l for petrol fuel (an increase of EUR 0.05)

– 1.47 EUR (11.08 HRK)/l for diesel fuel (an increase of 0.03 EUR)

– 0.97 EUR (7.31 HRK)/l for blue diesel (an increase 0.01 EUR)

– EUR 1.22 (HRK 9.19)/kg LPG for tanks (a reduction of EUR 0.01)

– 1.78 EUR (13.41 HRK)/kg LPG for bottles (a reduction of 0.01 EUR).

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Schengen Croatia: What Can I Bring With Me into the Country?

January the 2nd, 2023 - Schengen Croatia is now finally a reality, with the country having joined a Europe without borders yesterday, as well as the Eurozone. While things are far more free, there are still items you can't take across the border. Here's an extensive list.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatia became the 20th member of the Eurozone yesterday, and it also became the newest member of the Schengen zone, the largest area of free movement of goods and people in the entire world. From January the 1st, 2023, the period of dual circulation begins, which will last fourteen days, that is, until January the 14th, 2023 at midnight. During this period, when it comes to cash transactions, in addition to the euro, it will be possible to continue to use kuna banknotes and coins as a legal tender.

The amounts of money that must be paid or calculated are recalculated using a fixed conversion rate that is set at the level of 1 euro = 7.53450 kuna, which means that even if you pay in kuna, the change you'll get back will always be in euros.

If you're planning to travel abroad soon, you're more than likely wondering what you are (not) allowed to carry across the Croatian border and what the fines are if you break the rules, how many packs of cigarettes can be with you in the car, whether you'll be fined if you've got rolls of cheese and more bacon than anyone could ever eat in your boot. What about alcoholic beverages?

There are some illogicalities here, from some countries, you can bring in unlimited amounts of fish, from others you can't even have a single gram of meat, you won't have problems with sweets anywhere, but you will with baby food. Precisely because of all these rules, of which there are so many that sometimes it isn't easy to remember them even for the customs officers themselves, Vecernji list published a list of all the things that you may and may not bring into the newly crowned Schengen Croatia.

First and foremost, it should be noted that this list refers to the import of goods from countries which are outside the EU, with the exception of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, San Marino, Andorra and Liechtenstein. So, for these last listed countries, the same rules apply as if you were transporting goods within the EU, meaning that there are no restrictions on them. Some other special rules apply to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, but in order not to further complicate this already long list, we will omit those two countries here. In short, if you import goods from third countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, etc.), the limit for importing goods must not exceed 3,200 kuna per person in sea and air transport and 2,200 kuna in all other types of transport, and 1,100 kuna for passengers under the age of 15, regardless of the means of transport they're travelling with.

Air passengers can bring slightly more tobacco products into Croatia than those who enter the country by other forms of transport. Those travelling by air can bring in 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars and 250 grams of smoking tobacco. People travelling by road or rail can bring in 40 cigarettes, 20 cigarillos, 10 cigars and 50 grams of smoking tobacco. All passengers can bring the same amount of 50 grams of heated tobacco product, 10 milliliters of e-liquid and 50 grams of the so-called of ''new tobacco products'' from Article 94 paragraph 2 of the Excise Act. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the same rules apply to travel by road, air and sea transport - everyone is allowed to bring in 16 litres of beer, 4 litres of wine and 2 litres of other alcoholic beverages which have less than 22% alcohol, so one litre of stronger alcoholic beverages.

Meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs and other products of animal and plant origin

Customs officials carry out official controls on all products of animal origin that are part of the passenger's personal luggage, meaning bringing in meat and milk and meat and milk products isn't permitted whatsoever. Passengers are allowed to bring in 20 kilograms of fresh, dried, cooked, salted or smoked fish, prawns, crabs and mussels per person, however. When it comes to other products of animal origin, such as honey, eggs, egg products, snail meat or frog legs, passengers can enter Croatia carrying up to 2 kg per person of such items. When it comes to plant origin products, you may also bring up to 5 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables into the new Schengen Croatia, with the exception of potatoes.

Other products (such as baby food and food for pets, cakes, sweets, nutritional supplements, fuel...)

Passengers from third countries into Schengen Croatia can bring up to 2 kilograms of baby milk powder, baby food and special food used for medical reasons, as well as pet food used for health reasons, provided that it doesn't require refrigeration before opening. Without limit or in quantity for personal use, all travellers can bring bread, cakes, biscuits, waffles and wafers, double-baked bread, toasted bread and similar toasted products with less than 20% processed dairy products and egg products that are stable when left at room temperature.

Many other products such as chocolates and confectionery (including sweets) with less than 50 percent processed dairy products and egg products, food supplements packaged for the final consumer containing smaller amounts (in total less than 20%) of processed animal products can be imported without restrictions, as can processed animal products, olives stuffed with fish, pasta and noodles, soup concentrates and flavour enhancers.

When it comes to fuel, you can transport up to 10 litres of fuel identical to the one in your vehicle in canisters, so you cannot bring in diesel if you're driving a car which runs on petrol.

It is possible to bring ready-made medicines for the personal needs of passengers in quantities necessary for their treatment for up to one month (provided that they're approved by the competent authorities of the country of manufacture) and with the possession of all of the appropriate medical documentation (a transcript of their medical history, a doctor's certificate). Passengers can bring in drugs for the personal needs of the passengers, in the amount needed for treatment up to a maximum of five days, and also with the possession of the appropriate accompanying medical documentation, from which the necessity of taking the respective drug arises. If you decide to take a gamble, know that you can be hit with a massive 100,000 kuna fine if you're caught. The more you tried to bring in, the higher the fine will be.

For more on the brand new Schengen Croatia rules, make sure to check out our news section.

Monday, 2 January 2023

Hajduk Announces Coach Ivan Leko, Starts 2023 with Over 8,000 Club Members

January 3, 2023 - 2023 is off to a running start for Hajduk. Former Hajduk captain and player Ivan Leko has been announced as the new coach, and fans have secured over 8,000 club memberships since January 1! 

Ivan Leko is the new coach of Hajduk! On the last day of 2022, the 44-year-old expert from Split agreed to cooperate with the club until the summer of 2025. He will take over the Hajduk bench at the beginning of January 2023. The first official match of the former legendary and trophy-winning Hajduk captain is expected against Šibenik on January 22 at Poljud. Leko returned to his home club after more than 17 years and won the championship title as a Hajduk player in the 2004/2005 season.

He made his debut for Hajduk at 17 against Osijek under coach Ivan Katalinić. He made 187 official appearances in the white jersey, with 39 goals scored. He won the Cup with Hajduk in 2000, and as captain, he led the team to the championship title in 2000/2001.

In the summer of 2001, he signed for the Spanish club Malaga and returned to Hajduk again in the winter of 2005. In the same season, he won the league title. After that, he spent a large part of his career in Belgium playing for Club Brugge, Beerschot, and Lokeren, where he ended his playing career at 37. He made 13 official appearances for the Croatia national team.

"This moment is very special, emotional. I started playing football at Hajduk and knew the day would come when I would become Hajduk's coach. I am thrilled and looking forward to it, and I hope many beautiful things await us. So many things can be done. The fact is that Hajduk has made huge progress in everything in the last two years. From day one, we will emphasize energy, emotion, and passion, and everything we do will be with that emphasis. I hope our fans will enjoy watching our games," said Leko. 

Leko was an assistant to Igor Tudor at PAOK, and as an independent coach, he managed the Belgian clubs Leuven, Sint-Truden, Royal Antwerp, and Club Brugge, with which he won the championship title, Cup, and Supercup and played in the Champions League group stage in 2018. He also sat on the bench of Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, and his last coaching engagement was with the Chinese Premier League club Shanghai Port, which he led for the previous two years.

The new year also means the beginning of the new Hajduk fan memberships. After the extraordinary 2022, which will be remembered for a record 90,480 members, this year expects even more. 

Namely, in the 112th year of the club, Hajduk wants to reach 112,000 memberships!

"I think that is also impossible, but we have shown so many times that we are moving those boundaries; we can put that figure of 112,000 members to motivate us all together," said Hajduk president Lukša Jakobušić. 

Membership fees this year are 20 euros. If you are under 18 or older than 65, memberships are 10 euros. Family memberships also have a discount of 2 euros for each additional family member.

The new year also means transfer news, and Hajduk has already made some announcements that have surprised some fans. 

Stipe Biuk has left Hajduk after 67 official appearances. The 20-year-old winger left Poljud to join American Los Angeles FC, realizing one of the most significant transfers in the club's history.

As a captain and one of the most talented players of his generation, he led the Hajduk juniors in 2021 to their first junior title after nine years. He made his debut for the first team in March 2021 in a Cup match against Zagreb.

LASK Linz used the option to buy forward Marin Ljubičić, who went on loan to the Austrian club at the end of June this year. Immediately after arriving in Austria, Ljubičić became a standard first-team player and is currently the club's leading scorer. He made 17 official appearances for LASK in the first part of the season. Marin played 44 official matches for Hajduk, scoring nine times and adding four assists.

HNK Hajduk will play four matches as part of final preparations for the spring season, which will be held in Novigrad, Istria.

The first team continued preparations on Monday at Poljud and will travel to Novigrad on Thursday, where they will stay until January 15.

Match schedule: 

NK Kalcer Radomlje - Hajduk (January 7)

MOL Fehervar - Hajduk (January 11)

Celje - Hajduk (January 14)

1. FC Slovácko - Hajduk (January 15)

Source: Hajduk.com

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 2 January 2023

My home in Croatia: A Portrait of Frano Donjerković, an Artist from Korčula

January 2, 2023 - The TCN inbox is full of surprises. Not all, but many of them are good. To start the new year off right, let us share a recent one that came in all the way from Australia. A Portrait of Frano Donjerković, an Artist from Blato, Korčula. 

The nostalgic, warm, ultimately feel-good read was sent to us by the author of the text originally published in Melbourne in Hrvatski Vjesnik (Croatian Herald), the largest circulating Croatian language (with English insert) weekly newspaper in the global Croatian diaspora. It runs about 7,000 copies and has a digital presence, too, including Facebook. The story features Frano Donjerković, a Croatian Australian living in Melbourne. Read on to feel like you want to return to your home in Croatia, even if it was never there.

The oasis of islands on the Croatian coast has been called “extreme magic,” an awake dream by Truman Capote.

Frano Donjerković left his village of Blato, on Korčula at the doughty and courageous age of 27, in search of a better life in freedom and economic prosperity, reaching the shores of Australia in 1986.  Leaving his home, family and community was a painful and sorrowful experience, and the memories of his youth, family and place have followed him all his life in Australia. Croatia has always been his home as he built a new life in Australia. He lives and works in Melbourne, married to Marien with a daughter Daniela and son Anthony.

Korčula is a magnificent island of artificers, stone masons, wood masters, smiths, shipwrights, sculptors and farmers, wine and olive oil masters and fishermen. Above all else, they are sailors; everyone can sail a boat, but on Blato most can turn to and make one. Korčula also has one of the best water polo teams in the world and many Olympic players. Korčula played a significant role in shipbuilding and maritime affairs in the history of Croatia because of its strategic geographical location and industry of its population.  The great sea powers of Europe wanted to control the narrow channel between Korčula and the Pelješac peninsula, especially on the route between Dubrovnik and Venice.

Blato was once the largest village in the country, boasting more than 12,000 residents in the mid-1920s after an economic boom. Frano Donjerković also recalls vivid stories of hardship and departure from his childhood. He remembers an event that affected Blato significantly, that in one afternoon in the early post-war period 1,200 residents left in search of a better life. Blato’s population today is significantly lower and there are an estimated three-time more people from Blato throughout the world, many in Australia.  

There are many things in Frano's life that are typical of the immigrant experience, from the pursuit of freedom and economic property, to raising a family in a place where everything seems foreign and unintelligible in a completely new language and idioms of speech and cultural habits. That has not stopped Frano Donjerković from being a valued, engaged, and leading member of the Croatian community and his broader Australian community. He is President of the Croatian Social Club Zlinje/Blato, a local Melbourne community organisation that nurtures the culture and identity of people from Zlinje and Blato, which marked its thirtieth anniversary in 2021. His passion for fishing and recreational boating brought him into the Hobson Bay Sport and Game Fishing Club, where today he serves as vice president.

Korčula is famous for many things, and today it thrives as a haven for tourists. It is known as the Marco Polo Isle, the birthplace of that intrepid traveller and prolific storyteller. Frano’s journey took him further south on the other side of the world to Australia, where he tells the stories of his home, family, and community through artistic renditions of miniature boats, ships, and buildings, all from memory.

Korčula is one of the largest islands on the Adriatic surrounded by a crystal limpid water in the glittering arc of Canaletto-blue sea. It is a beautiful and verdant island, and life can be traced back tens of thousands of years. Its statute or governing constitution was enacted in 1214 and defines limits to power through a popular assembly, and spells out the roles of dukes, the grand council, small council, curia, and ensures the provision of utility services and sanitation. The statute is a “unique normative crossword puzzle” of medieval institutions, special freedoms, and layered jurisdictions, representing a genuine constitution. It predates the Statute of Dubrovnik (1272) and the Statute of the Principality of Poljica (1440), two republican poleis serving as pinpricks of freedom in the Adriatic.

Strabo, that intrepid travel writer born in 64 B.C., was the first to distinguish Korčula from Corfu: both were named Korkyra in ancient Greece. Strabo added “Melania” (“dark black”) and coined Korkyra Melaina to denote Korčula because it was so densely wooded. Korčula has been described as glorious and enchanting, one of the isles on which many would welcome shipwreck, but that would not last long because of its proximity to the mainland and its strategic location along the bridges of islands that croisette southern Croatia’s coast. The name Blato is literally “Mud,” a name taken after the fertile plains that link the village to the Vela Luka (the Grand Port). The literal translation is not accurate, however, and “blato” in early Croatian refers to a large body of water. The village received its name from a lake that existed in the valley between the village and port Vele Luka. This lake was drained in the early twentieth century by a four-kilometre tunnel to drain the water into the sea. The village shimmers in the iridescent light of its fortified stone structures and narrow lanes. The linden tree alley “Zlinje” was planted and stretches from one side of the village to the other. It partitions Blato into two and is all but impenetrable, with the additional marquis of arbutus, sage, lavender and rosemary, whose combined heady scents dazzle. All these, plus pine, cypress, and holm oak, which has been used by local shipwrights for a millennium, make Korčula one of the most aromatic and thickly vegetated villages in the Adriatic.

Frano Donjerković and his recreations

Frano’s creations are a freeze-frame of a time and experience lodged in his memory. His home in Blato was the third house built in the village, and its one,-metre-thick walls have not changed much since the first stone was laid. Frano has been creating his boats, houses, and other artifacts about 30 years ago in his studio that also poses as a garage. He works exclusively from memory, and doesn't use plans, sketches, or photographs. All the images are in his mind, etched into his experience and memory of childhood growing up in the enchanting, industrious, and idyllic village of Blato.

Frano has exhibited twice at the Joel Gallery. In 2022 his exhibition was called “My Home in Croatia,” and in 2018, “Creations.” He has also displayed his creations at Croatian community centres in the past and plans to do more in the future. Photo courtesy of Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre

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Frano’s family home held by generations since it was founded. As the third house built in Blato since the village was founded, with one-meter-thick walls, it has withstood the vastitudes of time and calamities of centuries.

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Frano Donjerković remembers the soothing and inviting sound of church bells in Blato. The bell tower was built in the eighteenth century, and its loopholes in the walls suggest that it was also used for defensive purposes. The parish church is situated with a spacious loggia or square. The Our Lady of the Field church has Roman floors that place its beginnings in the fourth century. The remnants of a Roman agricultural estate (Junianum) and other artifacts dating back prehistoric and Illyrian times. 

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Fishing schooners, boats and ships of cargo are etched in Frano’s memory. The boats are named after family members. The biggest boat took him a year to craft.

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Frano’s family are also masters of winemaking. The first piece of creativity inspired by memories of his home in Croatia is the wine press that his grandfather acquired. This was Frano’s first creation from memory.

Kumpanija: the sword dance of heroes and romantics

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Frano Donjerković performing the “Kumpanija,” a traditional sword dance celebrated in Blato and Vele Luka. As a young man, Frano joined the Knights’ Society Kumpanija (Companions), established as an ensemble in 1927, and is the pride of Blato. The ensemble keeps traditional dances and customs representing a chivalrous confrontation between two armies, with highlights of a sword dance that is accompanied with a menacing drum and harrowing bagpipe. The dance “Kumpanija” or “sword dance” celebrates the success of local armed formations to protect the village and port from pirates and would-be conquerors, which did not have traditional defensive fortifications or walls like many other coastal cities in Croatia’s coastal waters. The dance is wrought with intensity with high-impact sword duels. The “Kumpanija” dancers must have considerable agility, talent, and stamina.

The knights are divided into classes; (barjaktar, captain, kapural, srzetin, buzdonahar) and different parts of the dance (spuz, mostra, tanac, etc). Apart from the sparks flying from the swords, a particularly attractive role is demonstrated by the “alfir” (flag-bearer) and his large Croatian standard, which ends with a dance with the local ladies, called the “tanac.” The sword dance “Kumpanija” takes place in the square (plokata) in front of the Church of All Saints. The main performance takes place on 28 April every year to mark the Day of Blato, which is also the Feast of Saint Vincenca, and on 15 August, feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The “Kumpanija” also frequently performs across Croatia and Europe and can be seen during the height of the tourist season as a regular attraction.

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Stand Here, Captain! 

By Mirjana Mrkela (story) and Niko Barun (illustrations)

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The Blato Public Library and Knights’ Society Kumpanija, Blato in 2019 published a book on the sword dance by Mirjana Mrkela (story) and Niko Barun (illustrations). The book was published in both Croatian and English, with considerable detail on the story of each stage of the dance, including 36 beautifully illustrated pages under the title “Stand Here Captain! Information about acquiring the illustrated book can be obtained by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Croatian Exporters Rejoice at Eurozone, Schengen Accession

January the 2nd, 2022 - Croatian exporters haven't been shy about their joy at the country finally joining the Eurozone and Schengen, stating just how much easier this will make doing business, and how there is now much more room for wage growth.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the introduction of the euro was mostly called for by Croatian exporters, and they've been calling for it since the country joined the EU back in July 2013. For years now, Croatian exporters have endlessly appealed to the Croatian National Bank (CNB) for a change in the exchange rate policy and a weakening of the kuna in order to enable them to be more competitive on international markets, and they also called for the introduction of the euro, which has now finally occurred, and which would simplify their jobs and all of their financial planning, not to mention lead to the overall improvement of borrowing conditions from banks.

One of the most passionate of all was Darinko Bago, the long-time president of the board of Koncar and until recently the president of the Croatian exporters association, who is now very satisfied that Croatian Eurozone accession has finally happened.

Timely government reactions

Bago, while having hoped Eurozone accession would have happened earlier, believes that even though we're ''late to the party'' as it were, it's better now than never.

"Over the last 20 years, the EU has lost more than 36 percent of its market position, the second problem is the drop in the birth rate, and thus its own demand, which is the generator of growth, and the third is the bloc lagging behind, because today, the European Union does not have, for example, a chip factory, and it's still energy dependent. Russian aggression against Ukraine only increased inflation, because the problems started when China unilaterally abolished subsidies and the transport of goods became more expensive, which created a problem with the import of products of lower value and larger quantities into the EU, and then the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine only increased the vulnerability of the EU. Of course, all of this also affects Croatia, because two-thirds of Croatian imports and exports take place with the EU,'' Bago pointed out.

"The European Commission (EC) is spreading clouds of money around some countries and this is happening in a non-transparent manner, how the money is used isn't really being monitored, nor are any of the effects it produces," concluded Bago. However, even under such conditions, Croatian entry into the Eurozone and Schengen opens up a far better perspective for Croatian exporters, and the decisive factor for the effects on exports and the overall economy will be that the Croatian Government reacts promptly to EU processes and reacts in the right way.

"For us, 2022 was the year of further European integration, and now comes the year of real struggle to maintain the economy," says Bago.

Hrvoje Stojic, chief economist of the Croatian Association of Employers, recalls that Croatian exporters and their products have already benefited from European integration. Since joining the EU in 2013, it has more than doubled to date. Entry into the Eurozone combined with Schengen accession, along with existing membership in NATO, will additionally structurally include Croatian exporters in global value chains, and as such open new opportunities for significant export growth.

"The disappearance of the currency risks, the strong drop in exchange fees, the improvement of financing conditions thanks to the improvement of the perception of risk, also give greater predictability when conducting business. Stronger institutional and market pressures have a positive effect on the competitiveness of private companies and their tendency to invest in order to maintain or strengthen competitiveness. Viewed at the level of a comparable credit rating, membership in the Eurozone enables Croatia to have a 1.5 to 2 percentage point lower cost of financing compared to those who aren't Eurozone member states," Stojic points out.

Greater room for wage growth

Stojic also expects that these positive influences will open up more space for wage growth based on productivity growth, and in the event of a new systematic financial crisis, Croatia will be able to count on the intervention mechanisms of the ECB through access to the European Stability Mechanism, which reduces the risk of potentially expensive banking and balance of payments crises and ultimately serious risks to the country and the domestic economy.

Joining the currency union and the loss of the independent monetary policy of the CNB means the opening of the possibility of enjoying an active monetary policy, which until now, due to exchange rate restrictions, was simply not possible. In addition to that, financial integration with the institutions and the financial market of the Eurozone will be further deepened, making it likely that the costs of not only credit, but also non-credit instruments of financing and export insurance will be somewhat lower.

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Exploring Croatian - The Oldest Known Slavic Alphabet - Glagolitic

January the 2nd, 2023 - Did you know that Croatia once used the oldest known Slavic alphabet? The Glagolitic script can still be seen in various parts of the country, and souvenirs sold across Croatia still bear it to this very day.

We've explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously. That goes without even mentioning much about old DalmatianZaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian. What about Glagolitic?

A (very) brief history

To start off, it's worth noting that the origins of the Glagolitic alphabet are disputed to an extent. This can be said for most ancient languages and linguists are known to squabble over such things, but it is generally accepted that the script was created back during the ninth century by a monk from Thessalonica (today's Thessaloniki in Greece) called Saint Cyril, as well as to Saint Methodius, his brother. The very first observed mention of the word ''Croatia'' in the Glagolitic script dates back to around 1100 AD.

Another interesting fact about Glagolitic is that the precise number of letters in its original form is entirely unknown, but what we do know is that it is likely that Saint Cyril and his brother Methodius created the script in order to facilitate the introduction of the Christian faith, and we can assume with some level of certainty that the initial number of letters would have close to a Greek model. That said, there are elements of a variety of different languages within Glagolitic.

Over the many years, Glagolitic evolved with the population of its users and the tumultuous times they faced. It is certain that during the twelfth century, as Glagolitic in its original form (even with its non-Greek sounds) began to lose its grip, more and more Cyrillic influence could be found. As the centuries rolled on, more and more original Glagolitic letters were dropped, seeing the original number of letters drop to less than thirty in the Croatian recensions of what was called the Church Slavic language. 

The use of the Glagolitic script in Croatia

The first Croatian Glagolitic book to be printed was Missale Romanum Glagolitice from 1483, and if you somehow managed to obtain a fully functioning time machine and took a quick trip back to the twelfth century and landed anywhere in Kvarner, Istria, Dalmatia, or even in Medjimurje, you'd have come across the Glagolitic script more or less everywhere. It's true that Glagolitic was mostly found in the coastal parts of the country, with notable areas being islands such as Krk (the Kvarner area) and the Dalmatian islands which sit just off the Zadar mainland, but traces of it stretched to Medjimurje (far inland), Lika, and even in parts of modern Slovenia.

For a very long time, it was accepted that the Glagolitic script was used solely in the aforementioned areas, but when 1992 rolled around and Croatia was engulfed in some extremely difficult times in its fight for independence and against Serbian aggression, some fascinating discoveries were made in old churches situated along the Orljava river in Eastern Croatia (Slavonia). This rather remarkable discovery blew previous theories about the locations in which this ancient script was used out of the water, and proved that it was also indeed used in Slavonia, something that was simply not even considered before.

While the twelfth century was in some ways a form of peak for the old Glagolitic script in Croatia, it did survive beyond that as the nation's main script, and for some time, but after a while, the development (or indeed decline) of this script was very poorly documented for a variety of reasons. Just before the marauding Ottomans began sniffing around the area, and before the Croatian-Ottoman wars truly began, the use of Glagolitic was at its very peak, and in today's measure, the amount of people using it back then would correspond to the amount of people in Croatia who use the Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects (two of the main dialects which make up modern standard Croatian) today. 

The Ottoman wars and the decline of Croatian Glagolitic

The Ottomans and their invasions in the surrounding areas sounded the death knell for Croatian Glagolitic, and its stability in the region began to slip severely, with more damage being done to the use of this old script in areas more devastated and culturally altered by the Turkish forces. While the Ottomans certainly laid the heaviest of the groundwork to put the nails in Glagolitic's coffin, the real blow which set the wheels in motion for Glagolitic to meet its fate came much, much later, more precisely in the seventeen century, and by a bishop from Zagreb, no less. 

The Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy, the west and the Italians

You've likely never heard of this conspiracy, as it's known in Croatia by this title, but to others it is simply called the Magnate conspiracy. In short, this conspiracy was an organised attempt to remove foreign influences (read Habsburg) from both Croatia and neighbouring Hungary during the seventeeth century. This left the Glagolitic script entirely without secular protection, and its use was severely limited, seeing it used only in the coastal region of modern Croatia. One century later, in the very late part of it, western influence saw to it that Glagolitic was to be no more. The culture and the script crumbled under secular pressures from the west, and it relied solely on printed material. By the time the twentieth century had rolled around and Fascist Italy did its bit in many part of modern Croatia, the areas in which the Glagolitic script had managed to cling on to existence suffered tremendously, and these areas were scaled back even more.

Glagolitic in modern day Croatia

Many ancient buildings, such as churches, still bear the Glagolitic script to this day, and of course, items bearing it can also be purchased across the country. The brand new Croatian euro coins with national motifs on them also proudly bear this ancient script, and it can be found on the 2 and 5 cent coins minted here. The 1992 discoveries in Eastern Croatian churches also shed light on the script, and those churches are in Lovcic and Brodski Drenovac. Some of the oldest stone monuments with the Glagolitic script engraved on them have been found in Istria and on the island of Krk, and in February each year, Croatian Glagolitic Script Day is marked in an attempt to preserve the rich and rather mysterious history of this script for generations to come.

For more on the modern Croatian language, dialects, subdialects, extinct languages, and learning Croatian, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Croatian New Year Traditions: Swimming Into 2023 in Rivers and the Sea

January 1, 2023 - One of the most fun Croatian New Year traditions is swimming. Every region of the country knows its local legends who ensure never to miss the opportunity no matter the temperatures. This exceptionally warm winter might have made it a bit easier, but it was as legendary as ever.

As 24Sata writes, three weeks ago, young Ukrainians returned to Zadar from Montreal from the World Championship, where they competed in platform diving.

On the first day of 2023, they decided to practice jumping into the sea in Zadar.

They are gold world champions in platform diving from 10 and 12 meters. One of them won gold, another silver, and one even won the title of junior champion.

Some jumped in wetsuits, while some didn't mind the sea temperature so they didn't even wear one. Accor, ding to DHMZ, the sea temperature in Zadar is 14.8 degrees Celsius.

And more jumpers were found at the Greeting to the Sun in Zadar. The people of Zadar tasted their sea and decided to celebrate the new year in the same way.

Many swimmers in the Karlovac rivers

Brave swimmers plunged into the sea and rivers yesterday as well.

Swimming in cold rivers or the sea on New Year's Eve is a tradition many have practiced for years, including the 24Sata readers from Rab.

Swimming in the cold Drava is a tradition started more than three decades ago by Duško Rudež, the 'Seal from Osijek,' and continued this year in his honor by two young people from Osijek.

A special farewell to the Old Year and entry into the New Year in the Winter Harbor at exactly noon from Osijek's Promenade was followed by about a hundred people from Osijek who supported the two young men with a thunderous round of applause.

Saturday's air temperature of 15 degrees Celsius did not make the jump into the icy Drava any easier, said one of them, Bojan Marušić, and added that this was the warmest year since 2016 when, together with the legendary Tuljan (Seal), he first jumped into the Drava on New Year's Eve.

Marušić recalled that the Drava was really cold six years ago, but he also pointed out that it is cold this year, noting that it is better when there is less difference in air and water temperature.

When the air is colder, the body can more easily tolerate diving into cold water, and when it's this warm outside, the water feels freezing, Marušić explained. He thanked everyone who came to support them in continuing this tradition, which Osijek has known for a long time, and promised to continue nurturing this tradition. The deputy mayor of Osijek, Dragan Vulin, attended the traditional New Year's Eve swimming in the Drava, saying that it was in memory of Duško Rudež Tuljan, who died last year.

"Because of the man who started this tradition, who swam 32 times in this place, precisely on New Year's Eve, and last jumped into the Drava in 2018, it is important that this tradition is kept, and I believe that it will continue to be so", said Vulin. It should be noted that Duško Rudež's mission was to point out the ragweed problem by diving into the cold Drava on New Year's Eve as one of the pressing problems for the citizens of Osijek.

Zvonimir Karadža Kara (71) from Slavonski Brod saw off another New Year in his traditional way - by swimming in the icy Sava.

His friends faithfully cheered him on this year as he jumped from his friends' rafts in Splavarska Street in Slavonski Brod.

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

Sunday, 1 January 2023

New Croatian Currency Now in Effect with First Euros Withdrawn

January 1, 2023 - Croatia officially became the 20th member of the eurozone, a monetary union member of the European Union (EU), making the Croatian currency and the only legal tender the euro, the second most important world currency.

As Index writes, on the first day of the New Year, Croatia became the 20th member of the euro area, and the euro became the official Croatian currency and legal tender in Croatia. The previous eurozone expansion took place in 2015 when Lithuania became a member.

Minister of Finance Marko Primorac and CNB Governor Boris Vujčić met in front of CNB. Minister Marko Primorac commented on the introduction of the euro.

"Croatia has joined the circle of the most developed countries in the world. This was by no means an easy process. It took a long time; a number of people made significant efforts," he said. "The euro will provide us with some security in these turbulent times," he said and added that the euro will enable further growth and development.

"Over 95 percent of ATMs are stocked with euros; now the transition process is underway. So we can relax and enjoy ourselves," said Primorac.

"Kuna is going down in history; it served us well."

Then Boris Vujčić took the floor.

"I am thrilled because this year we finished the project that we started five years ago. We created the Eurostrategy then, and I must say that it did not always look like we would be in the Eurozone on January 1, 2023. This is a record timeline; it could not have been faster," he said.

"Croatia is the 20th country that uses the second most important currency in the world," said Vujčić and listed the advantages of the euro. "It is not a magic wand that will solve many of our problems, but it will help us be a richer country," Vujčić said.

"Kuna is going down in history," Vujčić said. "The kuna served us very well. It was stable since we introduced the kuna, we had low inflation, it will go down in history with pride, we will only remember it for the good," he said.

After that, at a nearby ATM, Minister Primorac withdrew the first euros from the ATM.

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

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Schengen Croatia Welcomes 2023 by Lifting the EU Ramp One Last Time

January 1, 2023 - At midnight, Schengen Croatia marked its entry into the Schengen area with the symbolic removal of the plaque at the Bregana border crossing, the lifting of the ramp, and the green light for free passage at the site of the former border control, which is now going down in history. "We opened the door to a Europe without borders," said Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović in Bregana. "Tonight, he added, we celebrate a new day, a new year, a new Europe with Croatia in Schengen."

As Index writes, at the beginning of 2023, Croatia became a new member of the Schengen zone, the largest area of free movement of goods and people in the world, which includes all the members of the European Union, except for Bulgaria and Romania, Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland and four other non-EU countries: Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

On this occasion, on New Year's Eve, special ceremonies were held at numerous border crossings with Slovenia and Hungary, including one of the largest crossings on the Croatian-Slovenian border, Bregana-Obrežje.

Borders have stood there for too long

Minister Božinović hosted Slovenian Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, while Acting Chief Director of Slovenian Police Boštjan Lindav joined Chief Police Director Nikola Milina.

"There are no more borders that stood between our neighbors and us for too long, the natural environment to which we belong both as a people and as a country," Božinović said.

He assessed that last night's act is more than the abolition of border controls: It is the final affirmation of our European identity, for which generations of Croats fought and ultimately won. He thanked the Slovenian minister and delegation for sharing moments of joy and pride. "Happy new year in Schengen to all of you!"

The Slovenian minister considered it a historical event. "Just as we symbolically set borders about 30 years ago, we are removing them now. However, this does not mean that security will decrease since we have thoroughly prepared for this moment in both countries," said Ajanović Hovnik.

After a short meeting of the ministers, at midnight, a ramp was simultaneously lifted on both sides of the border, which enabled free passage between the neighbouring countries. The lifting of the ramp on the Slovenian side was followed via a video wall.

Five minutes before midnight, the police officers at Bregana carried out the last border control, along with an appropriate gift - a teddy bear dressed in the uniform of a Croatian policeman.

In addition to the ramp, the sign with the inscription "Bergana Border Police Station" was removed, but just before that, the last report of the station chief was recorded, in which he informed the police officers to stop implementing border controls and move on to the tasks of compensatory measures.

The two countries' delegations then headed to the Slovenian side, to the area of the former Obrežje border crossing, where the chiefs of police stations and police officers thanked each other for their cooperation so far, with the symbolic removal of plaques from the police building in Obrežje. In the first 15 minutes after midnight, a dozen cars entered Slovenia without control from Croatia, greeting the assembled police officers with the sound of their horns.

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

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