Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Istrian Town of Umag Plans Construction and Further Development

August the 31st, 2022 - The beautiful Istrian town of Umag is set to redefine itself as a modern European city with new construction plans and further development.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the eighth session of the Umag City Council was held on Monday, where several important decisions were made for the further development of the city and the improvement of the quality of life of its residents, writes local portal The Voice of Istria/Glas Istre.

To speak more precisely, the Umag-East Spatial Plan was adopted and passed, which will enable the further economic development of the trade and service zone along the stretch from the entrance roundabout into the town of Umag itself. In the continuation of the zone in the direction of Lovrecica, it will soon be possible to build a completely new quarter, which, due to its appearance, functionality and sustainable green construction, will completely change and redefine Umag as a small, more modern European city.

Furthermore, although the implementation of the POS-4 project, i.e. the construction of the fourth building within the framework of encouraged housing for young families, is still ongoing, the implementation of the construction of a new, POS-5 building was initiated by the majority of votes within the Umag City Council. The move shows that the powers that be within Umag's administration are actively thinking about future needs of young men and women from the area who will, at a far more favourable price, manage to solve their housing issues in this way.

After all the necessary procedures and approvals which needed to be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Decision on the selection of the best bidders for the long-term lease of agricultural land was also unanimously voted on. A 25-year lease will make it much easier for local farmers to plan and plant what they need to on a longer-term basis, creating the prerequisites for investment security and future business within this gorgeous and seemingly up and coming Istrian town.

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

INA: Vanđelić Neither Warned Nor Sent Email about Money Losses

ZAGREB, 30 August, 2022 - The INA oil company on Tuesday reported that a former chairman of its supervisory board, Damir Vanđelić, never said anything at meetings of the board nor did he send any email that would have indicated that INA was losing money, as Vanđelić claimed earlier in the day.

"INA does not support any attempts to score political points in reference to the investigation launched in the gas resale case, and twisting facts to one's own advantage could have a misleading effect on the public. In the six years he spent as the head of INA's Supervisory Board Mr Vanđelić never voted against any decision that was adopted by that body that was related to the work of the Management Board or about the company's operations," INA said in a press release.

It added that Vanđelić "never said anything at the Supervisory Board meetings nor did he send any email that would indicate that INA was losing money," as he claims.

INA added that Vanđelić is "clumsily trying to corroborate his insinuations with e-mails as alleged evidence" by claiming that an e-mail he sent in July 2021 indicated that INA was losing money, unlike MOL.

"The graphs that were sent show the operations of the mentioned companies in 2020, which is more than a year before the signing of the gas contracts that are now under investigation. The graphs compare the return on assets and the return on equity of MOL and INA, which due to different business portfolios by the companies is incomparable. Furthermore, the losses he mentions in the context of suspected unauthorised gas sales refer to INA's losses from 2020, which occurred as a result of the downtime caused by the coronavirus pandemic," INA says.

Vanđelić is also twisting the facts about the dismissal and appointment of new managers at INA.

INA underscored that Vanđelić did send an email requesting an additional item on the agenda regarding managers who left the company, and they consider it important to note that some of them did so at their own request.

"As was the case usually Mr. Vanđelić supported the Management Board's decisions without any further questions or requests," INA said.

Vanđelić was first a member of the INA Supervisory Board and in 2016 he was appointed its chair for a term of five years.

Today, he stated to the N1 broadcaster that the contract that enabled the resale of INA's gas was not in the domain of the supervisory board, but of the management board, and that he saw that INA was losing money, which he reported to the supervisory and management boards, and to then Minister of Economy, Tomislav Ćorić.

Tomislav Ćorić, now a vice-governor of the Croatian National Bank (HNB), also reacted to Vanđelić's statement.

"Vanđelic is very creative in presenting alternative facts," Ćorić said.

In the operation launched on Saturday by the Uskok anti-corruption office and the police, investigators targeted the director of INA Damir Škugor, the president of the Croatian Bar Association (HOK) Josip Šurjak, his business partner Goran Husić, with whom he co-owns the OMS Upravljanje management company, Škugor's father Dane, and the director of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas company Marija Ratkić.

The five suspects were arrested on suspicion of defrauding INA of more than one billion kuna by buying natural gas supplies from the company at below-the-market price and then selling that gas at market prices, thus making an illegal gain of at least HRK 848 million (approx. €113 million).

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Australian Court Orders Judicial Review of the Croatian Six Case

ZAGREB, 30 Aug (Hina) - Australia's New South Wales Supreme Court has called for a review of the case of the 1981 guilty verdict of six Croats convicted of plotting multiple terrorist attacks, saying they were convicted based on the testimony of a possible UDBA (Yugoslav secret service) agent provocateur.

Judge Robertson Wright ordered an investigation into the 1981 verdicts of Maksimilijan Bebić, Mile Nekić, Vjekoslav Brajković, Anton Zvirotić, Ilija Kokotović, and Josip Kokotović, who were sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison, Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday, stating that this was a "historic decision."

"The NSW Supreme Court has ordered a judicial inquiry into the 1981 convictions of the so-called 'Croatian Six' over an alleged conspiracy to bomb four businesses in Sydney and cut the city’s water supply, amid grave concerns the men were framed by a Yugoslav spy," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The "Croatian six" were accused in 1979 of planning to plant bombs in two Yugoslav agencies in Sydney, a Serbian home, a theatre in Newtown, and the city's water supply.

The verdict was based on the testimony of Vice Virkez (real name Vitomir Misimović), who, as an alleged member of the group, denounced his colleagues to the Australian police in February 1979.

Virkez was sentenced to only two years in prison and after serving he returned to Yugoslavia.

The Australian Croat community warned that Virkez (Misimović), was a Serb from Bosnia and Herzegovina and that he was an UDBA agent who joined a Croatian emigrant group fighting for Croatia's independence and the overthrow of Yugoslavia.

Judge Wright said on Tuesday he was "comfortably satisfied … there are a number of doubts or questions as to parts of the evidence in the case and the guilt of the Croatian Six", and that a key witness for the Crown, a suspected Yugoslav spy, may have given evidence that was "deliberately false".

Judge Wright was quoted by the newspaper as saying that there was a "real possibility that the Yugoslav Intelligence Service used Mr. Virkez as an agent provocateur or informer, to cause false information to be given to the NSW Police, and possibly ASIO, as to the existence of a bombing conspiracy involving the Croatian Six, in order to discredit Croatians in Australia”.

Wright said, "a significant amount of … material in the declassified ASIO documents forcefully suggests that, at least, Mr. Virkez was an informer to the Yugoslav Consulate-General for a number of months prior to the arrest of the Croatian Six in February 1979, if not a Yugoslav agent or agent provocateur."

Although the requests for review were submitted on behalf of Bebić, Nekić, and Brajković, the court will investigate the verdicts of all those convicted.

Higher courts rejected previous requests to review the verdict.

The Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the men’s appeals in October 1982, and in 1986 the High Court refused special leave to appeal against the convictions.

All six men denied they had made confessions NSW Police sought to attribute to them, Wright said, and four of the six alleged they had been severely beaten by police.

The doctors confirmed that the day after the interrogation, Brajković had an injury on his neck resembling strangulation, bruises around his eyes and on his face, and a possible hearing loss in one ear, which could be caused by a blow to the jaw, ABC wrote earlier.

Did Australian authorities know that Virkez was a secret agent?

Australian investigative journalist Hamish McDonald, who published the book Anatomy of Injustice – Australian Croatian Six Case Up For Judicial Inquiry 40 Years On - in 2019, reviewed declassified Australian Secret Service (ASIO) documents on Virkez in 2018.

Those documents, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, were key in the request for judicial review.

Other Australian media outlets also wrote about the suspicion that the verdict against the Australian six was the result of an operation by the Yugoslav secret service.

In February 2021, ABC published a story about the case, stating that the bombs were found only in Virkez's house, car, and a nearby bush.

Australia's largest daily newspaper, The Australian, recently announced that documents marked "top secret" show that the Australian Federal Police warned then-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser that they believed Virkez was acting "as an agent of the Yugoslav government."

"For tactical reasons, the New South Wales authorities want Virkez to be convicted on the indictment so that his evidence against the accomplices is not tainted by the accusation that the agent is a provocateur," reads the notice received by Prime Minister Fraser, reports The Australian.

As early as March 1979, a year before the start of the trial, ASIO informed the New South Wales police that Virkez was a spy.

The six Croatians were released from prison in 1991 before they served their sentences, allegedly for good behaviour, but their sentences were not overturned.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

City of Split Refuses to Issue Amended Building Permit for "Dalmatia Tower"

ZAGREB, 30 August, 2022 - The city authorities in Split have refused to provide the Westgate Tower company with an amended building permit for the Dalmatia Tower high-rise building, the construction of which will soon be completed.

The layout of the last floor, as shown in the documentation submitted for the building permit, differs from the present state of affairs, but it is not a big difference, the head of the city's department for zoning and environment protection, Teo Vojković, said on Tuesday.

However, the departure from the initial layout was to such an extent that it required consent from the mayor whose opinion should be corroborated by the prior opinion of experts, according to Vojković's explanation. He said that also some steps in the procedure were not taken which resulted in the refusal of the amended building permit. 

Mayor Ivica Puljak (Centre) writes on his Facebook page that the same rules will be applied to all, including big investors.

The refusal to issue the amended building permit comes just weeks before the expected technical inspection of the 135-metre-high office building and its official opening, set for this autumn.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Ćorić says Never Discussed Škugor with PM, Slams Vanđelić for "Alternative Facts"

ZAGREB, 30 August, 2022 - Croatian National Bank Vice-Governor Tomislav Ćorić said on Tuesday that he had never talked with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković about an INA director, Damir Škugor, one of the five suspects in the gas trading scam.

Ćorić told Hina today that INA Supervisory Board's former chair, Damir Vanđelić "is creative in presenting alternative facts" after Vanđelić said that the INA gas resale contract was not within the remit of the Supervisory Board but of the Management Board and that he notified the competent officials, including former minister Ćorić when he realised that INA was losing money.

"I never talked about Damir Škugor with Plenković," Ćorić told Hina, dismissing allegations presented by the Nacional weekly about this case.

Škugor, one of the five suspects in the INA gas resale scam, was, according to the report made by the Nacional, "among trustworthy persons in Plenković's inner circle" and the newspaper also says that INA Management Board chairman Sándor Fasimon stated that it was Plenković in fact who in 2019 pushed for Škugor to be appointed the director of INA's natural gas trade division.

"Two independent sources claim that Fasimon said that he came to that conclusion after talks he had conducted with the then Economy Minister, Tomislav Ćorić," Nacional alleges.

According to the Nacional, it was Ćorić who directly asked Fasimon for Škugor's appointment, adding that he was conveying Prime Minister Plenković's wishes.

"During my ministerial term, I have never insisted or requested any personnel appointments during the talks with Fasimon, including in Škugor's appointment," Ćorić said.

"This also means that I have never referred to the Prime Minister," said Ćorić.

The five suspects, including INA executive Damir Škugor, were arrested last Saturday on suspicion of defrauding INA of more than one billion kuna by buying natural gas supplies from the company at below-the-market price and then selling that gas at market prices, thus making an illegal gain of at least HRK 848 million (approx. €113 million).

Investigators believe that from June 2020 to 27 August this year, Damir Škugor, head of INA's Gas and Power division and deputy chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije Supervisory Board, conspired with the other suspects, including his father Dane Škugor, their business partners Goran Husić and lawyer Josip Šurjak and Management Board chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distributor, Marija Ratkić to sell INA's gas below market prices.

Minister can't know about transactions conducted at four levels below Management

Commenting on the gas resale scam, Ćorić said that the relevant minister "could not have known the prices at which transactions were being conducted four levels below the Management."

Ćorić also commended the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Administration, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office for successfully revealing the operation aimed at exposing criminal wrongdoings in INA.

Ćorić says Vanđelić presented "alternative facts"

A former chair of the INA Supervisory Board Damir Vanđelić has said that the INA gas resale contract was not within the remit of the Supervisory Board but of the Management Board and that he notified the competent officials, including former minister Tomislav Ćorić, after realising that INA was losing money.

Vanđelić was first a member of the INA Supervisory Board and in 2016 he was appointed its chair for a term of five years.

Responding to the claims, Ćorić said that "Vanđelić is very creative in presenting alternative facts."

"We emailed all members of the Supervisory Board to say that INA's business has been lagging behind and that we are losing 200 million euros annually, so there is obviously a problem. I sent the email to all members of the management and supervisory boards, as well as to (then Economy Minister Tomislav) Ćorić," Vanđelić told the N1 broadcaster today, adding that he did not receive any response, but a phone call in July, "when we were practically reprimanded for problematising the matter."

"Ćorić said that I was politicising the matter," Vanđelić said, adding that "at that meeting, Škugor's name was not mentioned, I do not know him."

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Croatia Registers 568 New COVID Cases, 17 Deaths

ZAGREB, 30 August, 2022 - In the past 24 hours, 568 coronavirus cases and 17 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID crisis management team said on Tuesday.

There are 4,829 active cases, including 635 hospitalised patients, 17 of whom are on ventilators, while 3,127 people are self-isolating.

Croatia has registered 1,212,547 coronavirus cases to date, the death toll stands at 16,690, and 70.87% of adults have been vaccinated.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

:BRUT - Baranja Rural Trail Cycling Event in Slavonija and Baranja

August 30, 2022 - At the junction of Slavonia and Srijem, through vineyards and hills, forests and plains, through museums and monuments, where the Danube kisses the sky, on September 3, a new BRUTAL bicycle race is coming. After a successful race in Beli Manastir, in Baranja, BRUT arrives in Vukovar. It is a 25 or 50 km race through vineyards, fields, forests, and unpaved roads.

In addition to the race itself, on September 1 and 2, we can expect a bicycle tour of the Bata-Borovo industrial heritage as well as street art murals as part of the VukovArt program, a tourist tour around Vukovar, a children's race and a traffic safety workshop, and of course, evening entertainment programs on the 2nd and on the 3rd day of the event.

The full program, as presented on the official website of :BRUT, will look like this:

September 1, 2022 :BRUT Murali starting at 16:00 - 18:00 tour of the city of Vukovar and murals on buildings by bike.

September 2, 2022 :BRUT

Small children's races starting at 10:00 and duration until 12:00, city center Vukovar.
Preschool kids, 100m races.

Traffic safety - joint action with the Ministry of Interior and PD Vukovar.

September 2, 2022 :BRUT Sights starting at 16:00 a tour of the sights in the city of Vukovar – a tourist tour by bike and then a gathering in the bar "Vukovarsko naj".

September3, 2022 :BRUT Vukovar  

:BRUT Vukovar 2022 race route map

:BRUT official race map

Start of the race on September 3, 2022 at 16:00h (registration of participants from 14:00h)
Start - zone target: Salaš Goldschmidt (on the road between Vukovar and Sotin)
Length 25 km and 50 km (choice of route on the trail)
The path is circular in shape. Cyclists ride 1 lap in the 25km race and 2 laps in the 50km race.
The time limit (time-cut) is 3:00h (until 19:00h), and everyone who does not complete one lap in 80 minutes will not be able to go to another and will be counted time for :BRUT Vukovar 25.

After the race, lunch and drinks are provided for all participants and :BRUT Chill with a DJ, fun and socializing. 

For an awesome weekend of walking, cycling, and enjoying the sights and events, we encourage you to apply here (participation includes the start package, meal and drink, and guaranteed entertainment).

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Croatia Airlines Serves Slavonian Snack to Promote Destination

August 30, 2022 - 600,000 passengers on many routes, from Zagreb to destinations around the world, will see and taste the Slavonian snack.

As SiB writes, the Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board, Croatian Tourist Board, and Croatia Airlines are from August 1 to November 30, 2022, implementing the joint promotional project "Tastes of Slavonia". Passengers on all flights of the Croatian national airline are served a Slavonian meal, which represents a special experience, and at the same time promotes Osijek-Baranja County as a tourist destination, as well as the gastronomy of Slavonia, Baranja, and Srijem. This way, more than 600,000 passengers on 10,000 flights to 30 international and domestic destinations can taste Slavonian delicacies, and thus destinations.

On this occasion, yesterday (August 29, 2022), a press conference was held at Osijek Airport, where the director of Osijek Airport Ivan Kos, director of the Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board Ivana Jurić, director of commercial affairs of Croatia Airlines Slaven Žabo, Osijek Deputy Mayor Dragan Vulin, and Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anušić spoke about the project "Tastes of Slavonia".

The Director of Osijek Airport, Ivan Kos, initially thanked Croatia Airlines for the partnership on the "Tastes of Slavonia" project and expressed his belief that Slavonia and Baranja will be presented to passengers on all lines through this unique project.

"The products of Slavonia and Baranja in the air through the Tastes of Slavonia project in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board and Croatia Airlines will last four months. It is a project that invites you to visit the destination through the flavours, because good food is one of the first associations with Slavonia and Baranja, with Osijek-Baranja County as the largest tourist county in the east of Croatia. This confirms once again that the east means hedonism, which means a lot of good food and drink, as well as the events that the destination offers. We are happy that we are promoting the destination not only on domestic but also on international flights, and we continue our good cooperation with Osijek Airport, Osijek-Baranja County, the City of Osijek and the Croatian Tourist Board," said the director of Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board Ivana Jurić.

She explained that "Slavonian snack" is part of the "Croatia full of flavour" platform as a project of the Croatian Tourist Board, and that the package distributed to passengers includes crackers based on corn and red pepper, which are associated with Baranja, its fish stew, and other flavours that we find in dried meat products, followed by čvarak spread, kulen (spicy sausage), pickled vegetables and a contemporary interpretation of the Slavonian Šapice as a dessert. There are different package sizes, from the crackers handed out on shorter domestic flights to the full package given to passengers on longer international flights.


Osijek-Baranja County

The Director of Commercial Affairs of Croatia Airlines, Slaven Žabo, pointed out that through this joint project, which is based on the wider project of the Croatian Tourist Board (Croatia, Full of Flavours), a range of products/meals for flights was put together that actually represent traditional Slavonian specialties, spices, and other products of this region.

"This joint project is the crown of cooperation between Croatia Airlines, the Tourist Board of Osijek-Baranja County, the City of Osijek, the Croatian Tourist Board, and Osijek Airport, through which we established an international Osijek-Munich route that operates all year round. Its added value, apart from enriching Croatia Airlines’ offer on its flights, is that we have also created the preconditions for the promotion of the specialties of this region," said Slaven Žabo.

The Deputy Mayor of Osijek, Dragan Vulin, expressed his satisfaction that, as he said, the best possible flavors will be available to all passengers on Croatia Airlines flights and will thus contribute to the branding of the food from this area. He pointed out that compared to last year, the City of Osijek now records 55 percent more arrivals and 28 percent more overnight stays of tourists, and in August (until August 25) the record from August last year was exceeded.

"Through the project "Slavonian snack" we can see the continuation of the activities for the promotion of Slavonia and Baranja that we announced and started several years ago. We are still doing this together with Croatia Airlines, our Tourist Board, the Croatian Tourist Board, and the City of Osijek. We are glad that around 600,000 passengers on many routes, from Zagreb to destinations around the world, will see and taste the Slavonian snack, and it is precisely our goal to increase the visibility and quality of our service and offer", said Prefect Ivan Anušić. He added that the results of tourist visits in Osijek-Baranja County this year are better than the record year of 2019 and that the County wants to remain the leader in the development of continental tourism in Croatia, so it continues to strengthen tourism and the economy in all segments.

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

War Veterans Minister says Serbia Not Cooperating in Search for War Missing

ZAGREB, 30 August, 2022 - War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said in Vukovar on Tuesday, at a commemoration marking the national day of remembrance for people gone missing in the country's 1991-95 Homeland War and the International Day of the Disappeared, that there was no cooperation on Serbia's part in the search for the missing.

Medved said that Serbia was not submitting information on the fate of persons gone missing in the Homeland War although it was completely clear that data on the whereabouts of the missing persons' remains could be found in Serbian archives.

"I therefore again call on Serbia to face the fact that it carried out military aggression against Croatia and committed horrible crimes, and to open its archives and provide information on the whereabouts of the missing persons' remains so that we can speed up the process," Medved said.

Asked by a reporter if the Croatian government was prepared to block Serbia's EU accession talks if its non-cooperation continued, the minister said that at the time when talks on policy chapters 23 and 24 were opened in Serbia's EU entry talks, Croatia made its conditions clear and that those conditions were still the same.

"Those are cooperation in the search for missing persons, payment of compensation to former inmates of Serb-run concentration camps, and the withdrawal of the law on the so-called regional or universal jurisdiction... Those are not only Croatia's conditions but the EU's conditions as well," said Medved.

He recalled that Croatia was still looking for 1,832 persons gone missing in the 1990s war.

In the past six and a half years Croatia has made significant progress in that process, having established the fate of 221 missing persons, with exploratory exhumations being carried out on a daily basis, he said.


Tuesday, 30 August 2022

German Chancellor Supports Croatia's Entry into Schengen

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - The European Union's member-states -- Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria -- meet the criteria for the Schengen area membership and Germany will work to make it possible for them to join the border-free area, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Prague on Monday.

"Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria fulfil all the technical requirements for full membership. I will work to see them become full members," he said in his speech titled "Europe is our Future", delivered at the Charles University in Prague.

Scholz said that Germany would continue supporting Ukraine as long as necessary, foreign news agency reported.

Commenting on the European Union's enlargement, Scholz said that Germany was committed to the enlargement process and that Western Balkan countries, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia should join the bloc over time.

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