Thursday, 23 June 2022

Eight Must-Visit Croatian Castles, Fortress, and Citadels

June 23, 2022 - In this small guide to Croatian castles, fortresses, and citadels you will find some of the many walled wonders that you can explore in the country, to add a bit of history to your vacation.

It is well known why Croatia is one of the countries where HBO producers set their sights on adapting the acclaimed and popular Game of Thrones novel. Although Croatia is widely known for its Illyrian and Roman heritage thanks to its palaces and amphitheater, many of its castles and fortresses help to display a more medieval side of the country.  

For those who have a particular interest in the feudal and medieval history of Croatia, here we review some of the main Croatian castles, fortresses, and citadels that are worth visiting.

Pula Castle

The Pula Castle is a star-shaped castle with four bastions that was built in 1630 to protect the city and its harbor because of its great significance in maritime trade in the North Adriatic. The Venetians commissioned the building of the Castle to the French military architect Antoine de Ville. This was most probably the site of an earlier fortress dating from the pre-Roman and Roman periods. Today the Castle houses the Historical Museum of Istria.

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Image: Pula Tourist Board

Trsat Castle

The Trsat Castle served as a lookout on a hill 138 meters above sea level, now overlooking the city of Rijeka. It was mentioned as a parochial center for the first time in 1288. At this same site, there was a Liburnian observation post from prehistoric times, used for monitoring the roads leading from the hinterland to the coast. This location served well for the Romans to establish their defense system, the so-called Liburnian limes, whose starting point was the Tarsatica fortress town, located now in Rijeka's Old Town.

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Image: Rijeka Tourist Board

Dubovac Castle in Karlovac

The Dubovac castle is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful monuments of feudal architecture in Croatia. It was built on a hill above the Kupa river and was named after an oak that grows on the surrounding slopes. It changed owners throughout history, changing its appearance depending on current needs and fashion, and got its present appearance after a complete reconstruction in the mid-20th century. It is not known exactly when did construction begin, but books say that it was finished during the 13th century.

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Image: Karlovac Tourist Board

Trakošćan Castle

The Trakošćan castle was built at the end of the 13th century in the defense system of northwestern Croatia as a small observation post to monitor the road from Ptuj to the Bednjan valley. According to the legends, the Trakošćan castle got its name from the Thracian fortress, which allegedly existed in ancient times. Another surviving tradition says that it was named after the Drachenstein knights who ruled the area in the early Middle Ages. A museum with a permanent exhibition was founded in 1954.

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Image: Trakošćan

Varaždin's Old Town

Varaždin’s feudal fortress, known from ancient times as the Old Town, is undoubtedly the most significant historical building in the city. Unlike the royal free city that grew next to and around it, the fort was the heart of the noble estate, which was separate in terms of ownership and law. Disputes between its inhabitants with the citizens of Varaždin were frequent. The fort was built intermittently from the 14th to the 19th century, and its oldest part is the central tower adorned with Gothic benches and canopies, which is a rarity for this type of medieval plastic art in north Croatia.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Medvedgrad in Zagreb

At the top of Medvednica, this picturesque medieval castle has been watching over Zagreb for eight centuries. It was built in 1254, after the catastrophic invasion of Tatars who had raided and devastated this area, burning and razing to the ground the two settlements which later became the city of Zagreb: the burgher’s Gradec and the bishop’s Kaptol. Even though magnificently fortified and always ready for battle, Medvedgrad was never attacked. In 2021, Medvedgrad was reopened to the public with a modern and interactive museum inside.

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Image: Zagreb Tourist Board

St. Nicholas Fortress in Šibenik

The fortress of St. Nicholas, located at the entrance to the Channel of St. Ante in Šibenik, is a unique Venetian fortification. It was built on the island of Ljuljevac, on the site of the former Benedictine monastery of St. Nicholas, after whom it was named. The construction of the fortress, according to the project of the Venetian architect Gian Girolamo Sanmichelli, began in 1540 after the fall of the city of Skradin under Ottoman rule, when the Venetians had to strengthen the defense of Šibenik, its most important strategic port on the eastern Adriatic coast.

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Image: Šibenik Tourist Board

Klis Fortress

Klis fortress was built on an extraordinary strategic location separating the mountains of Mosor and Kozjak that allowed military and commercial control over the whole Klis valley and the area of Salona and Split. Because of its importance, Klis was often referred to as the key to Dalmatia and the heart of the medieval Croatian kingdom. It was built as a small stronghold by the Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, then became a royal castle during feudal and medieval times, and lastly served as a major source of defense against the Ottoman advance.

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Image: Jules Verne Times Two/Wikimedia Commons

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

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Zagreb Wild Boars Attack Dog, Hunters Agree to Meeting

June the 23rd, 2022 - It might not really be what one would really expect in a bustling capital city, but Zagreb wild boars which live in the surrounding hills have been getting closer and closer to the centre, and have now attacked a dog.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a reader of Index sent a disturbing video of a dog who had been sadly attacked by Zagreb wild boars and warned that the feral pigs were seen again between Mikulici and Bijenik. He stated that they also attacked a dachshund in some neglected cherry orchards. He also added that there are a lot of people walking dogs and letting them off their leads, which could lead to accidents happening. The disturbing video showed the extent of the injuries the dog suffered as a result of the violent attack.

Groups of Zagreb wild boars are getting braver when it comes to where they roam and are getting closer and closer to the city centre. ''A whole bunch of them walked across the road near the traffic lights. I'm afraid to leave the house because I don't know where I could come across a feral pig in the dark,'' said Djurdja Djuranec for Dnevnik Nova TV. That said, the problem isn't only fear, but also the fact that pigs destroy everything they come across, from flowers to fruit and vegetables, as well as the eggs of ground nesting birds.

Boar hunters are seeking an urgent meeting with Mayor Tomasevic

The number of calls to the Croatian Hunting Association has only increased. On a daily basis, people are calling them and reporting having seen wild boar wandering around. That's why the Alliance is asking for an urgent meeting with Zagreb Mayor Tomasevic to discuss the matter and how to handle it.

The president of the Croatian Hunting Association, Ivica Budor, says that they are asking for a meeting "so that we don't find ourselves in a situation where we have to explain why wild boars are walking along Medvednica, Mikulici and Maksimir today, and maybe tomorrow we'll be seeing them wandering around Zrinjevac". Who will be to blame then? asked Budor, who believes it's only a matter of time before these troublesome Zagreb wild boars reach the heart of the city centre. He believes there are wild boar litters in the city already.

City of Zagreb: We'll gladly receive hunters for a meeting

The City of Zagreb told Dnevnik Nova TV that they would fladly receive representatives of the Croatian Hunting Association for a meeting, adding that a game protection programme had been established and adopted in the urban part of Zagreb and was being successfully implemented.

Zagreb hunters think the exact opposite, that it isn't being implemented at all. Miljenko Kruc from the Hunting Association of the City of Zagreb said that these pigs seem adaptable and that no attack on humans has been recorded. That said, they ARE attacking pets and other animals. They're also carriers of the African swine fever virus to domestic pigs. But so far, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, no case of the disease has been recorded in Croatia.

The City of Zagreb has announced that these Zagreb wild boars that have been spotted in different parts of the city. They explained where they were spotted and what to do if you happen to come across them.

In the urban area of ​​the City of Zagreb, the wild boar is an occasional species of game that migrates daily to easily accessible food and water sources in urban areas, most often in summer-autumn, and in the dry season an additional reason may be access to water sources (Maksimir lakes, Jarun, the banks of the Sava river and various streams).

In this area, Zagreb wild boars, as well as other species of game, are treated in accordance with the Game Protection Programme for the City of Zagreb implemented by the Zagreb Zoo and the Hunting Association of the City of Zagreb.

In order to prevent damage from wildlife, the Wildlife Protection Programme prescribes the following measures: education and cooperation with landowners and users, the procurement of chemical, biological and biotechnical protective equipment and their free distribution to landowners and users at their request, the protection of crops and plantations with the expulsion of wildlife and using protective equipment and scarecrows, etc.

People have been advised that if they notice Zagreb wild boars or other game, they should not approach them and should move away. If they have dogs, they should be kept on their leashes so as to avoid confrontation with these notoriously poor-tempered creatures.

Any information from people who have had run ins with Zagreb wild boars, as well as additional information on handling wildlife and damage from wildlife in urban areas of the City of Zagreb can be given/obtained from the Zagreb Zoo at: 01 / 230-2198 or 091 / 6045-506, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Changes to How Croatian Police Fines are Prescribed Coming

June the 23rd, 2022 - Changes to how Croatian police fines are prescribed are afoot, with officers now being trained in how to use POS devices similar to those used in cafes and restaurants to facilitate payment by card.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian police officers are being educated on how to use POS devices, and the cash collection of traffic fines from the beginning of July will no longer be possible, as reported by the Ministry of the Interior (MUP).

From July the 1st, 2022, people will no longer be able to pay cash fines for traffic offenses at the scene of the offense, but from that date, the Ministry of the Interior will switch to cashless collection of fines via POS devices.

For this purpose, the Ministry of the Interior, through the Central State Office for the Development of Digital Society and the Financial Agency, procured 600 POS devices, which are deployed in police departments throughout the Republic of Croatia.

Officers are being trained for this new way of collecting Croatian police fines

The training of police officers on how to use POS devices is underway, and with faster, more efficient and transparent functioning at the scene of the offense, by waiving the payment of fines in cash, the Ministry of the Interior is meeting the recommendations of the Report of the 5th Evaluation Circle of GRECO. This is part of the official body of the Council of Europe which specialises in the prevention of corruption, and which works to improve the control and supervision of the existing system of the payment of fines to police officers, and reduces the risk of corruption among the police officers themselves..

In addition, the aforementioned change includes the recommendations of the Independent Internal Audit Service of the Ministry of the Interior.

"We'd like to emphasise that the police are already using POS devices for the collection of fines out in the field, along with the collection of fines in cash, while from July the 1st, the possibility of paying the fine in cash will no longer exist. A person who, through a POS device, pays a fine at the place where the offense was committed will be handed a Certificate that the fine and the costs of the procedure have been paid, and a slip made upon the transaction performed through the POS device.

What if you don't have your bank card with you?

If person wants to pay their fine at the place of the crime, but is unable to do so because they don't have a card with them, don't have enough funds in their bank account or some other reason, the police officer will hand him a Notice of Misdemeanor. In that case, the fine shall be deemed to have been collected at the place where the misdemeanor was committed if the person in question pays the fine, reduced by half, within three days of receiving the Misdemeanor Notice and submits proof of payment to the body that determined the misdemeanor.

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

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Island of Krk: Unmissable Destinations on Croatia's Golden Island

June 23, 2022 - While the Dalmatian islands remain the most popular among tourists, others like the island of Krk deserve your full attention and you don't even know it yet.

Let's try something. Go ahead and think of a Croatian island other than Hvar. Or Brac. Or Korčula. Or Vis. Or Pag. Or Mljet. Or Dugi Otok. Or Lopud. Or Lastovo. Remember, there are more than 1000 islands in Croatia! This is in no way a criticism. These islands are positioned better than any other and for the fairest reasons. The reputation of its beaches, nightlife, traditions, heritage, and more precedes them. The marine traffic in the Dalmatian islands is impressive, and it is understandable. However, some paradises on the northern Adriatic sea have little or nothing to envy the Dalmatian ones.

One of them is the island of Krk, located in the center of the Kvarner Bay and belongs to the Primorje-Gorski Kotar county. Krk has an area of 405.80 km2 and a population of almost 20,000 inhabitants and is the second-largest island in Croatia. Known as the ''Golden Island'', Krk is perhaps the most accessible island in the country. Why? For starters, Krk is connected by a bridge to the mainland, which allows residents and visitors to get around by car and bus very easily. In addition, Rijeka airport is located precisely on the island of Krk, so if you have booked an island accommodation and arrive by international flight, you will not have to worry much about how to get to your destination.

If the island of Krk is your choice as your next travel destination, you will enjoy a place that boasts an enormous history as it is home to the largest heritage of Glagolitic writing in the country, premium wines and olives, one of the most important pilgrimage routes in the world, Camino Krk; as well as being recognized as a health tourism destination, due to its impeccable air.

Although the island of Krk deserves to be recognized as a spectacular whole, in this article we share a little detail about the destinations that you can visit on the island.

Omišalj

Omišalj is a historic town located on the north-western part of the island of Krk and situated at 85 meters above sea level. Omišalj's privileged position seems to have attracted not only modern humans but also prehistoric inhabitants, which explains why Omišalj has existed for more than 10,000 years. Omišalj is one of the oldest towns on the island and today it is an important glagolitic and cultural center. Learn more about Omišalj HERE.

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Image: Krk Island Tourist Board

Njivice

Njivice is located very close to Omišalj and belongs to the Municipality of Omišalj. Also with a rich history, Njivice has been inhabited mainly by fishermen, olive groves workers, and cattle-breeders. Njivice has always stood out for its picturesque houses along the shore and the fishermen's boats and nets, creating a typical postcard of the place. Njivice today has modern and high-quality accommodation, including hotels and camping sites. Learn more about Njivice HERE.

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Image: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons

Malinska

Malinska is one of the most popular destinations on the island of Krk, and in addition to its excellent beaches and accommodation options, it has an important marine heritage. Malinska, surrounded by forests, was once a timber export port and a favorite destination for the Viennese aristocracy. Due to its position, Malinska was also an anchor point for many ships to protect themselves from strong winds and tides. Today Malinska has a new and modern interpretation center, and the old shipyard is still operating on the same site. Learn more about Malinska HERE.

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Image: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons

Krk Town

The town of Krk is the administrative, political, economic, and religious center of the island of Krk. It is the town with the most inhabitants on the island, with a population of approximately 7,000 inhabitants. It is worth mentioning that the town of Krk was mentioned by the famous Greek writer Homer in a poem under the name of Koureto. Undoubtedly, the highlight of Krk is its impressive cathedral complex, built in the 5th century. Learn more about the town of Krk HERE.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Punat

Punat is located on the east coast of the island of Krk and is considered one of its most popular destinations. Despite being considered the most recent town on the island, Punat also boasts a lot of history, culture, and heritage. There you will find not only one of the most modern nautical and marina centers in the entire country, but Punat is also the main olive-growing center on the island. When speaking of Punat, it is always necessary to refer to the small island of Košljun, where a Franciscan monastery is located. Learn more about Punat HERE.

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Image: Krk Island Tourist Board

Baška

Baška is located at the southern tip of the island of Krk, and is definitely one of the most prominent destinations. No matter what angle you see it from, the beauty of Baška is undeniable. In addition to its spectacular and extensive beach, Baška also stands out for the architecture in its old town, as well as its various cultural and historical monuments. Baška can boast of being a very important part of Croatian history, as it is there that the Baška tablet was found, one of the first monuments containing an inscription in the Croatian recension of the Church Slavonic language, dating from c. 1100 AD, thus being one of the most important elements of the Glagolitic script. Learn more about Baška HERE.

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Image: Krk Island Tourist Board

Vrbnik

Vrbnik is indisputably one of the most famous settlements not only on the island of Krk but in all of Croatia. Vrbnik is well known for its Glagolitic heritage and especially for its delicious wines, and in particular is its golden-yellow wine – the Žlahtina, with a great national and international reputation. It's not the only old town on the island of Krk that sits on top of a hill, but Vrbnik sits on a large cliff by the sea, giving it a wonderful view into the distance. Learn more about Vrbnik HERE.

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Image: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons

Dobrinj

Dobrinj is located in the upper part of the island of Krk, to the east. Dobrinj includes other places of interest such as Šilo or Klimno, but surely the first thing one should do is visit the main town, which stands on a 200-meter-high hill. Dobrinj is very reminiscent of the settlements one can find in central Istria, also on hills. A beautiful destination without a doubt, surrounded by thick forests and with a great Glagolitic heritage. Likewise, many other important traditions stand out, such as its folkloric events, its typical costumes, its school of wind instruments, and its home cuisine. Learn more about Dobrinj HERE.

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Image: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons

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

Thursday, 23 June 2022

6th ACAP Conference in New York: CNTB Representatives Discuss Developing Croatian Tourism

June 23, 2022 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB), as well as the CNTB Office in New York, participated in the 6th Annual ACAP (Association of Croatian-American Professionals) Conference, which was held last week in New York - under the motto "An Evolving Mindset: Innovation, Collaboration, and Sustainability." 

Kristjan Staničić, director of the CNTB, pointed out the following during the conference: “The conference gathered more than 300 professionals, many of them Croats with very successful foreign careers and business projects, and many potential partners interested in Croatia. In such an environment, our goal is to highlight the best of Croatian tourism, for which our country is the most recognizable in the global context. We are sure of many positive effects for our country as a whole, because during the conference, in addition to tourism, we talked about many other sectors and areas where there is room for exchange of ideas, additional networking and cooperation that will ultimately result in concrete projects. Staničić further emphasized that the US market is also the most important distant market for Croatian tourism, from which we generate the largest tourist turnover. The conference was also attended by Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Croatia, who delivered a strategic address. 

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The cooperation between the Croatian Tourist Board and the Association of Croatian-American Professionals referred to the CNTB's host in the evening program of the conference, but also as part of the panel discussion "Building a Sustainable Tourism Ecosystem". The panel discussion was moderated by Leila Krešić-Jurić, Director of the CNTB Office in New York, and was attended by Ognjen Bagatin from the Bagatin Polyclinic, Iva Bahunek, Head of the CNTB Office in Los Angeles, Jeana Havidich, Head of the Working Group for Medical Tourism in Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Jan De Jong, co-founder of Webpower Adria and Antonija Urlić, director of the Association of Unique Croatian Hotels STORIES. Among other things, it was pointed out that Croatia is very well recognized in the world as a destination with extremely preserved and rich natural heritage, while the activities of STORIES were cited as a positive example of sustainable tourism through carefully selected small and unique hotels in Croatia. "The ACAP conference is the first business gathering of professionals from various economic sectors in Croatia and the USA after the pandemic, and the CNTB is a proud partner in the conference, which we expect to bring concrete business results through networking of Croatian companies and American investors. This is not just about tourism, but about various interdependent sectors, where tourism is a link, and often just the first step towards concluding business cooperation, "commented Krešić-Jurić

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At the same time, business workshops and presentations of the Croatian tourist offer were held in Chicago as a result of cooperation between the Croatian Tourist Board and Signature Travel Network, a well-known American association that brings together the most successful and prominent stakeholders in the tourism industry. In addition to the CNTB, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board presented itself in Chicago. According to the eVisitor system, Americans have made more than 135,000 arrivals and more than 420,000 overnight stays in Croatia so far this year, which is an increase of 385 percent in arrivals and 211 percent in overnight stays compared to the same period last year. 

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For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Bolette Cruiser is First Large Vessel to Pass Under Pelješac Bridge

June 23, 2022 - The Bolette cruiser, under the command of Dubrovnik Captain Jozo Glavić, passed under the Pelješac Bridge in the direction of Neum this morning with just over a thousand passengers on board.

This ship passed successfully at 6:18 am. It is the first large ship to pass under the newly built bridge, officially opening in late July. Passengers on board could enjoy the view of the bridge, which has just now ticked off another test, reports Slobodna Dalmacija. You can find all photos HERE.

Namely, after heavy trucks drove across the bridge, testing the durability of the steel structure and windbreaks were tested, it was time to check the permeability of maritime traffic between the pillars of the bridge.

The Bolette ship is slightly more than 237 meters long and 32.5 meters wide. The ship has 12 decks, can accommodate 1,380 passengers, and can sail at 25 knots. "Air Draft," or the height from the water to the highest point on the ship, is 48.1 meters, while the maximum allowed height under the Pelješac Bridge is 55 meters.

Bolette had no problems entering the Neum area. Experienced captain Glavić managed fantastically at the helm. And how could he not when he gained world fame by maneuvering a ship in the narrow Corinth Canal with a 195.82-meter-long and 22.5-meter-wide cruiser without significant problems, setting a new world record.

It should be reminded that the maritime society from BiH and politicians there have repeatedly pointed out that the Pelješac bridge will prevent ships from entering Neum. The Bosnian academic community went the furthest, suggesting cutting the Pelješac bridge and making it movable, which would be raised and lowered so that large ships could sail into Neum.

However, the designer of the Pelješac bridge, Slovenian Marijan Pipenbacher, calls such claims from Sarajevo nonsense that are placed for daily political purposes.

"Such statements have nothing to do with the profession. The Republic of Croatia has opened a maximum passage to Neum, 55 meters high, and every ship can pass. It passes as in the largest European ports. Large ships and cruisers have nothing to do here because it is a protected area through Natura 2000. Large propellers would dig up the seabed," Pipenbacher explained.

"Up to 35 meters in height would be enough for this bridge. So sailboats with a 25-meter high mast can pass. However, the area is too sensitive, and Neum has such a small port that a large ship can't even turn around," Pipenbacher added, emphasizing that they have four passages under the bridge 285 meters wide, so those passing towards Neum can choose where to go, which was confirmed by the Bolette.

However, it seems that they are not thrilled with the arrival of the first cruiser. It has nothing to do with the Pelješac Bridge, but the people of Neum do not want mass tourism, city crowds, and the pollution that cruisers bring. They are also allegedly preparing a protest against cruise tourism.

The President of the Municipal Council of Neum, Daniela Matić, believes that the announced entry of Bolette into the Neum area is inadmissible.

"I think that something like this is inadmissible. Neum is not a port; therefore, big ships have nothing to do in our bay. The entry of this and similar ships into the Neum Bay means automatic endangerment of the ecosystem and pollution that will cause significant damage to Neum," Matic said in a statement sent to the BiH public just before the cruise ship sailed.

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

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić Book Eastbourne International Semi-final!

June 23, 2022 - The Croatian doubles side will play in the Eastbourne International semi-final match today around 1:30 pm. 

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić will play in the doubles semifinals at the ATP tournament in Eastbourne, where they beat the American-French doubles side of Maxime Cressy - Hugo Humbert 7-6 (9), 6-1, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

This was the sixth consecutive victory for the current Olympic and Wimbledon winners who started their series last week at London’s Queen’s Club. In the first set, the Croatian duo missed the break advantage (4-3), and in the tie-break, they saved two set points (6-7, 8-9). In the second set, Mektić and Pavić took a 3-0 lead, and Cressy and Humbert only managed to catch a consolation game.

This is Pavić's tenth consecutive victory on grass. Before the title in London, he won the tournament in Stuttgart with partner Pole Hubert Hurkacz.

For a spot in their sixth joint final in 2022, and the 18th title match since they merged at the start of last season, Mektić and Pavić will play against Briton Jamie Murray and Brazilian Bruno Soares, who were better than the British-Finnish side of Glasspool - Heliovaara 6-4, 7-5. The Croatian side won against Glasspool - Heliovaara in Sunday's final at the Queen's Club.

Recall, after clinching the title in Rome and Geneva this year, Mektić and Pavić won the Queen's Club last weekend for their 12th joint title and 15th victory in the last 16 matches. The duo awaits Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam tournament of the season where they will work to defend the title. Last year, not only did these two win Wimbledon before celebrating in the historic all-Croatian doubles final at the Tokyo Olympics, but they finished the year as the best doubles team in the world. 

Ivan Dodig and his American partner Austin Krajicek will also fight for a place in the final. The Roland Garros finalists reached the semifinals by defeating French duo Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 6-2. The semi-final rivals of the Croatian-American team will be Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop and Australian Luke Saville.

Source: HRT

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

New EFJ President: Security and Strengthening Rights of Journalists Priority

ZAGREB, 22 June 2022 - Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) leader, Maja Sever, who was recently elected president of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), has said in an interview with Hina that her priority will be strengthening the safety and security of reporters and their struggle for free media.

"Unfortunately, today the priority of an organisation such as the European Federation of Journalists is the safety and security of journalists and their protection. Our colleagues are dying in Ukraine, but journalists are also the target of other attacks - physical and online. There is also the issue of protecting and strengthening their labour rights to ensure their existential security, because only then can journalists write freely," said Sever, who was given broad support from European colleagues at the EFJ assembly in Izmir, with 137 of the 144 members of the European Federation of Journalists voting for her.election as the new head.

In her inaugural speech then, Sever said that the new goal was to get a strong European law on media freedom, to continue the fight for copyright protection and to strengthen the legal framework for the protection of quality journalism.

A vicious circle of pressure from politicians and advertisers

In the interview with Hina, she stressed that on the "domestic battlefield" she will continue to advocate for strengthening the independence of the Croatian media - independence from economic and political pressure. That also means continuing to fight for high-quality professional and free media which is something domestic professional journalist organisations such as the Croatian Journalists' Association and the SNH have been advocating for years. The situation in Croatian journalism is becoming increasingly difficult, said Sever, assessing that the "vicious circle of pressure" by politicians and advertisers was becoming stronger.

“We are witnessing this from the local level, where local media outlets are dependent on co-financing by political stakeholders who in turn are practically seeking political propaganda in local media, on to the national level where a very unusual system has also been established. A system in which the government, ministries, state institutions abundantly co-finance and enter into arrangements with mainstream media, who organise conferences, events and presentations of the results of European projects. That, de facto, binds and pressures them. How will the media freely criticise if they have just signed an agreement on, say, five 'events' in which they will publish the results of their project," Sever wonders.

She added that the situation of labour rights in Croatian media outlets is becoming more difficult. There are more and more freelancers, atypical workers who do not have collective agreements and have very weak protection of labour and social rights.

On the other hand, she underscored, her election as president of the European Federation of Journalists is a sort of message to social partners, and to Croatian politicians. It is also recognition of the struggle by domestic professional journalist organisations to improve the rights of Croatian journalists and encourage quality and professional journalism. 

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

EU Summit: Support to Croatia for the Euro, Ukraine and Moldova's Candidate Status

BRUSSELS, 22 June - The leaders of the EU member states will gather on Thursday and Friday at a summit to support the recommendation on Croatia's entry into the euro area and to decide on the candidate status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.

The European Council welcomes Croatia's fulfilment of all the convergence criteria set out in the Treaty. It supports the Commission's proposal that Croatia adopts the euro on 1 January 2023 and calls on the Council to swiftly adopt the relevant Commission proposals, a draft conclusion said.

This is the second-last step in the decision-making process on Croatia's accession to the euro area. The last step will be the adoption of three legislative proposals on Croatia's entry, which will take place at a meeting of the Economy and Finance Council on 12 July.

The main topic of the summit is enlargement, and giving candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, while Georgia should receive a promise of its European perspective, which roughly corresponds to the status of a potential candidate.

So far, there are no indications that anyone will oppose candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova.

Western Balkans

EU leaders will also discuss the Western Balkans and reiterate their full and unequivocal commitment to the membership prospects of the countries in the region and call for speeding up the accession process.

Ahead of the EU summit, a meeting of EU leaders with their counterparts from the Western Balkans will take place on Thursday morning.

Three member states are asking for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be granted candidate status, but I do not see a consensus on that, said a senior EU official, well versed in the summit's preparations.

The same source says that in 2019, the Commission published an opinion on the candidacy of Bosnia and Herzegovina with 14 key priorities that the state should meet in order to obtain candidate status.

But since then we have not seen any reforms or any progress in BiH, the source said.

They underscored that European Council President Charles Michel recently received the leaders of the parliamentary parties from BiH, who agreed on a text entitled "Political Agreement on Principles for Ensuring a Functional Bosnia and Herzegovina Advancing on the European Path."

A senior diplomatic source said that the text was not acceptable to two parties from Republika Srpska and that one other party leader did not come for reasons for which I still have no explanation.

HDZ BiH President Dragan Čović did not appear at the meeting of party leaders and members of the BiH presidency.

Recently, the French presidency has been trying to resolve the issue of Bulgaria's blockade by opening talks with North Macedonia. It is still unclear whether these efforts will bear fruit. The Bulgarian parliament will take a vote of no confidence in Kiril Petkov's government on Thursday morning.

Bulgaria demanded that issues related to the common history, language and national identities be included in the negotiating framework for North Macedonia as a precondition for removing the blockades.

Given the great pressure by larger EU member states, particularly in light of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, there have been some indications from Sofia that it could make some concessions, which is why the government is experiencing internal problems.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi on Wednesday thanked the main opposition party's leader, former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, for "making necessary proposals to the parliament today so Europe can move forward." 

European (geo) political community 

As part of the "Wider Europe" debate, leaders will discuss the EU's relations with partners in Europe.

Earlier last month, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the creation of a "European political community" to boost EU cooperation with other European countries as those countries' EU accession is not realistic in the near future.

Shortly afterwards, Charles Michel, proposed the creation of a European geopolitical community and the gradual involvement of the Western Balkan countries in certain EU sectoral policies, in line with their progress in the accession process.

Country aspirants fear that this new framework for cooperation could be a substitute for full membership.

The draft conclusions explicitly state that such a framework will not replace existing EU policies and instruments, in particular enlargement.

In the conclusions on Ukraine, the leaders will once again reiterate their strong support for the country and promise to continue providing economic, military, social, financial and humanitarian assistance.

The summit will also discuss food security, which is threatened by Russia's aggression against Ukraine because millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain cannot be exported due to the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Minister: Croats Among Victors of WW2, Tuđman Proposes 22 June as Holiday

ZAGREB, 22 June - Addressing the central commemoration of Croatia's Anti-Fascist Struggle Day in Brezovica near Sisak on Wednesday, Justice Minister Ivan Malenica said that the Croatians were among the victors at the end of the Second World War.

The Partisan movement brought together many Croatian citizens of different ethnic backgrounds and different religious confessions who were united by their wish to defeat Fascism and ensure peace said Malenica, who attended the event as the government and PM Andrej Plenković's envoy.

"That joint goal was also recognised by the first Croatian president, Franjo Tuđman, who himself was a member of the resistance movement (in the 1941-1945 war) and in 1991 he proposed that 22 June should be observed as a national public holiday," said Malenica.

Croatia observes 22 June as a national public holiday in memory of 22 June 1941 when the first Partisan detachment and the first anti-Fascist unit in this part of Europe was founded near Sisak.

Tuđman's efforts to define the fundamental elements of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia also sent a clear message that anti-Fascism is part of our identity and the history of the Croatian people, which is inbuilt in our statehood, said Malenica.

Accepting both one's own good and bad things in the past is a sign of the maturity of a nation, the minister added.

Unfortunately, some of the Croats took part in the Ustasha movement and cooperated with Nazis and Fascists who caused unthinkable suffering and left behind consequences we are ashamed of when looking backwards, said Malenica explaining that during the Ustasha-led Independent State of Croatia (NDH), many atrocities were committed against Jews, Roma, Serbs and those Croats who opposed the Ustasha regime.

Commenting on mass murders in the wake of WW2, the minister said that "extrajudicial mass killings and removal of different-minded people cannot be justified with ideals."

"Those crimes cannot be eliminated from collective memory. They cannot be erased from our past. We must speak about that and those crimes must be unequivocally condemned," said Malenica.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

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