Tuesday, 31 January 2023

"Taxation Needs to be Correlated to the Risk and Damage Products Produce."

January 31, 2023 - Taxation is always a hot topic in the Croatian economy. Professor PhD Fernando Pinto Hernández from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid with some thoughts on special taxation on energy and tobacco, in an interview in today's Jutarnji List, which is translated below in full.

We talked to a global tax expert, he says that the Croatian economy is at risk: 'You must not prolong this measure'

Decrease of taxation is important to stimulate economic growth. Equally important is the level of taxes and the tax burden, as well as the design of the tax system itself. In the field of special taxes, it is important to design a tax system that differentiates products according to their characteristics and harm to individuals, society and the environment. Such an approach is important because of the long-term social and economic effects, stated prof. PhD Fernando Pinto Hernández from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, referring to special taxes on energy and tobacco.

What is your opinion on the tax policy at the EU level in the context of the energy crisis and inflation?

The problem with inflation, which partly stems from the rise in energy prices, must be accompanied by public policy decisions containing some taxes (progressive ones), such as personal income tax, and lowering others (regressive ones), such as VAT on some commodities or special taxes on consumption.


Due to the crisis, Croatia introduced a tax on extra profits for companies in 2022, regardless of whether they profited during the crisis. What do you think about such taxation and what is the situation in Spain?

I hope that these tax policy measures, which significantly increase the tax burden on companies in certain productive sectors, are temporary. In other words, they should not be prolonged for too long, as they will lead to significant efficiency losses in the Croatian economy, which is already experiencing difficulties due to both rising inflation and its recent entry into the euro area. In the case of Spain, very similar measures are being implemented and therefore the results could be the same if the fiscal policies are not very temporary.

Is it logical to significantly tax potentially harmful products such as tobacco?

It seems logical to tax those products that generate a negative externality of consumption, i.e. that cause damage to the health of others that is not reflected in market prices. However, we need to take into account the real health risk they pose in order not to over-regulate them and impose extraordinarily high taxes. In even simple terms: yes to taxing them, but the level of taxation needs to be correlated to the risk (and damage) these products produce.

What have the experiences of countries such as Sweden, Italy, and the Czech Republic shown considering they followed the principle of higher taxes for harmful products and lower taxes for less harmful alternatives?

What they have shown is that, by setting excise taxes according to the health risk posed by these products, efficient tax policy outcomes are achieved. It could be summarized as a tax policy whose slogan is that “the lower the risk, the lower the taxes”. From my point of view, these countries are an example of success in terms of taxation design.

France proved to be a negative example and what are the prerequisites for designing a good tax policy?

When taxes and public policies lack a technically based design, the desired outcome often turns out to be the opposite. In the case of France, this is exactly what has happened: in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of tobacco by raising prices, the population has opted for substitute goods of poorer quality and greater danger (e.g. illicit tobacco).

How to use taxation as a tool to stimulate growth?

Economic theory indicates that for a tax to have a positive effect on economic growth it must fulfil several premises. The first of these is to have a good technical design. The second is that it should aim to replace the efficiency loss caused by its introduction. And finally, the tax must entail the least possible loss of purchasing power for the taxpayer, as this is the only way for the taxpayer to feel free to consume, save or invest his or her money.

The fight against tax evasion and tax fraud is one of the priorities of the EU. Can this battle even be won?

It is very difficult to fight tax fraud. However, over the last ten years, the European Union and individual countries have implemented their anti-fraud policies very significantly. I would like to think that the battle can be won, but in order to do so, the tax burden and the tax effort of taxpayers must be reduced as much as possible while guaranteeing quality basic public services. This is particularly true when we think about the inefficiencies in re-distribution.

This article appeared originally in Croatian in Jutarnji List - you can read the original here.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

CJA: SLAPP Lawsuits are Form of Journalist Abuse with Dire Consequences

January 31, 2023 - The problem of SLAPP lawsuits is an extremely important topic because they represent the latest form of abuse and attacks on journalists, according to the president of the Croatian Journalists' Association (CJA), Hrvoje Zovko. 

Something that Paul Bradbury has experienced himself, anyway.

As Index writes, speaking on the panel on the legal foundations and challenges in regulating SLAPP - strategic lawsuits against public participation, Zovko pointed out that CJA has been collecting data on the total number of lawsuits against media and journalists for damage to reputation and honour for years.

They are asking for almost HRK 77.5 million from journalists

According to the latest survey results from March last year, at least 951 lawsuits for damage to reputation and honour against the media and journalists were active in Croatia, from which the prosecutors claimed almost HRK 77.5 million.

"This is a very important topic for us and concerns all our members because SLAPP lawsuits are a new form of abuse and attacks on journalists," said Zovko.

The president of the European Federation of Journalists and the Union of Croatian Journalists, Maja Sever, emphasized that the fight against SLAPP lawsuits requires the joint action of professional journalistic organizations, legal experts, and judges.

"This is a joint fight. Unfortunately, the consequences of SLAPP lawsuits on any individual journalist are dire. "Most of our colleagues say that every attack, online harassment (abuse) is nothing compared to the fear of targeted SLAPP lawsuits," said Sever.

Lawyers specializing in media law and freedom of expression and members of the European Commission's expert group for SLAPP lawsuits, Vanja Jurić and Vesna Alaburić, emphasized the extreme importance of education for lawyers and journalists but also judges in the fight against SLAPP lawsuits.

They also assessed that a prerequisite for the successful application of European practices is an excellent knowledge of court practice, even to determine the groundlessness of SLAPP lawsuits, but they also called for caution in defining them.

"The goal of SLAPP lawsuits is not to win a dispute."

Alaburić pointed out that the goal of SLAPP lawsuits is usually not to win the dispute but to discourage journalists or the activities of civil society organizations that raise some sensitive topics.

Constitutional Court Judge Goran Selanec and Professor Dunja Duić took part in the discussion, as well as numerous journalists, including Drago Hedl and Ivan Pandžić, who offered their views on SLAPP lawsuits.

The panel is part of the project "Informed citizens monitor the prevention of future violations of human rights and the work of the Croatian Representative's Office before the European Court of Human Rights," supported through the Fund for Active Citizenship with money from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway within the framework of EEA grants.

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Meet Baby Lotta, the Newest Resident of the Zagreb Zoo

January 31, 2023 - Mom Inola gave birth to her baby pygmy hippo in the Zagreb Zoo just two months ago. The citizens chose the name for the new member of the crew through social networks.

As 24Sata writes, the little pygmy hippo, born two months ago in the Zagreb Zoo, has now been given a name. More than three thousand citizens were involved in selecting her name through social networks, and twelve volunteers chose the four best suggestions: Gloria, Pepa, LuLu, and Lotta.

The citizens voted for Lotta.


Zagreb Zoo Facebook

The little barrel

"Her name suits her perfectly! We are honoured that we participated in choosing her name. Lotta was really tiny when she was born, and now we nicknamed her our sweet little barrel! While we watched over her mom Inola in the last weeks of her pregnancy, we ensured that the birth didn't start in the pool. We were also worried about whether Inola would have a mother's instinct and whether the little one would be able to breastfeed. We are happy that everything went well. Now we enjoy watching the mother and the little one have a nice time hanging out and playing", said student Ana Cindrić, who has been at the Zagreb Zoo since last year.

Ana added that as a veterinary student at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Zagreb, this was a valuable experience for her.

"Thank you to the volunteers for their selfless work! They spent hours and hours with the family of pygmy hippos. They notified us promptly of any change in the hippo's behaviour, thanks to which we could more calmly await Lotta's arrival. The little one is now growing and developing beautifully under their watchful eye. That's why we are glad they participated in selecting her name - said Damir Skok, director of the Zagreb Zoo.


Zagreb Zoo Facebook

This wonderful family of pygmy hippos is housed in the Rainy Africa pavilion. Lotta is constantly near mom Inola, and dad Otto is temporarily separated from the female part of the family by a special fence.

Otto is 28 years old, Inola is seven, and they both came to Zagreb from Germany.

Although Inola is a first-time mother, she takes excellent care of Lotta. She feeds her milk, and Lotta likes to try other things, from lamb's lettuce to hay. She is very playful and loves to frolic in the pool.

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Inflation in Croatia Follows EU Trends, Higher in Lower-income Households

January 31, 2023 - Inflation in Croatia is following the EU trends, being a lot more noticeable and, therefore worse for lower-income households. Inflation for those who earn more is lower. What is the difference exactly?

As Poslovni writes, the difference in inflation for the ten percent of households with the lowest income and the ten percent of the strongest households in Croatia amounts to about five percent. Marina Tkalec, a senior research associate at the Zagreb Institute of Economics, recently presented the estimate.

Individually, she added, there are also households whose inflation is 30 percent. These are highlights from the second phase of a three-year research project on inflation inequalities in Croatia. She is working with two other colleagues, Ivan Žilić and Ivica Rubil.

After the first results were published less than a year ago, new findings on inflation inequality are expected to be presented this week.

The extent to which recent inflation trends affect different population groups differently and how low- and high-income households face different inflation rates due to differences in consumption patterns is also addressed by the international think tank Bruegel.

These days, they published a comparative image for the countries of the European Union with data for the end of last year. However, this overview does not compare deciles, but the fifth of households with the lowest incomes and the fifth of the highest-income households.

In short, Croatia fits into the prevailing pattern among EU members: households with low incomes face a higher rate of inflation than those with high incomes. There are opposite examples in the EU, with higher inflation for more affluent households, but there are significantly fewer of them, and they are mostly the most developed EU members, such as Sweden, Finland, and Germany.

According to Bruegel's data, when it comes to inflation in Croatia, the difference between the lower and upper quintiles is less than two percentage points (1.86 pb). For the lower-income households, inflation at the end of last year was 14.55 percent, and for the higher-income ones, it was 12.7 percent. That difference may not look significant; however, there are considerable differences within these classes. The gap is mitigated to some extent by government interventions, especially in energy and food prices. In addition to that, it should be borne in mind that in order to influence inflation inequality, it is essential that the price of a specific consumption category changes and that it makes up a different share in the consumption baskets of low- and high-income households.

While, for example, a sharp increase in fuel price increases overall inflation, a household without a car will be less affected than one with a car or two. The same price increase has a different impact depending on the share of total household expenditure.

This is certainly the case with average food prices, which have risen by a fifth annually, and have a much larger share in the expenses of poorer households than in wealthier ones. The same applies to housing, electricity, heating, and water costs. However, the impact of price increases on transportation items is the opposite.

Households with high(est) incomes are more exposed to price increases for these services and goods (vehicles, fuel, maintenance, repairs). This is because they drive and travel more, often have more cars, and buy them more often, so their share of these expenses is many times higher than the lowest-income households (often without a car, relying on public transport).

For the same reasons, for example, the annual increase in the prices of clothing and footwear has a mitigating effect on the inequality of inflation; although price increases were smaller there, this category has a significantly larger share in consumption expenditures among households with high(est) incomes.

According to Bruegel's calculations, the difference in inflation in Croatia in the observed income classes is significantly smaller than in several countries where inflation is around 20 percent (Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary) and in Bulgaria, Romania, or Slovakia. In Latvia, for example, this difference is 7.6 points. At the same time, in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia, this measure of inequality is slightly lower than in Croatia.

Habits, circumstances...

In periods of high inflation, few households will recognize themselves in the official figure. In addition to the level of disposable income, the question of consumer habits, preferences, and other life circumstances is also important. Similar to average and median wages, higher-income households have a larger share in official inflation. "At that level, every kuna spent, and not every household, holds one vote," emphasizes Tkalec. The diversity of the spending structure is usually read in the CBS Household Consumption Survey.

According to the distribution resulting from the last available Survey conducted in 2019, ten percent of those from the lowest income bracket spend 40 percent on food and non-alcoholic beverages, while the top ten have half the share. There is a similar gap in housing, electricity, heating, and water costs; for the lower decile of households, 30% of expenses go to them, and for the upper decile, slightly more than 15%.

In contrast, in the basket of the best-off ten percent, ten percent is spent on clothes and shoes, and an average of only three percent in the bottom decile. The difference is much more pronounced in the share

ma transport costs; They take 1.4% from the poorest tenth (for many, only public transport), and for those from the top decile, this item makes up almost 16%.

All in all, the poorest ten percent (retired, single households) spend 70% on food and utilities, and the top ten spend less than a third on average.

Uncertainty and risks

However, even for those halfway between these classes, the "real" inflation is slightly higher than the official 13.1% for December. Everything indicates that the slowdown will be less than was calculated until recently. There are also some potential "distractions" on that track. Željko Lovrinčević from EIZ sees several of them in the coming months. One is the EU embargo on diesel imports that comes into effect on February 5.

At the beginning of March, spring sowing begins with accompanying questions (prices of diesel, fertilizer, planting material). A month later, it remains to be seen what the new framework will look like after the end of the period during which the Government limited the prices of some energy products to consumers. Finally, he says, certain uncertainties and risks in terms of prices are usually associated with the beginning of the tourist season.

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Croatian Orbico Group to Open Largest Logistics Centre in Zdencina

January the 31st, 2023 - The Croatian Orbico Group, a well known company headed by entrepreneur Branko Roglic, is set to open its biggest logistics centre yet, in Zdencina near Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the largest European distributor of consumer goods, the Croatian Orbico Group is continuing strongly with its development policies this year. With new investments financed primarily from the company's own funds and carried out according to the proven best model of cooperation with developers, Orbico's largest logistics and distribution centre is starting to be realised.

"With the investment of the company Orbico Hrvatska (Croatia) in Zdencina, a place situated along the Zagreb-Karlovac route, the construction of the first phase of our new logistics centre covering approximately 40,000 square metres is now beginning. We plan to move into it at the beginning of 2024," announced Roglic after the contract with the contractor was signed.

In the continuation of the project at the same location, a second phase is expected through the expansion of the centre to include another 20,000 m2. With this, the Croatian Orbico Group is sticking with the characteristic transformation processes of its business, all led by digitisation and robotisation and investments in logistics.

The new logistics centre is in the function of business optimisation through cost reduction, and the location itself was chosen based on the same assumptions of economy, productivity and the profitability of business.

Record revenues in 2022

For more than half a year, they considered several locations for a new investment, including nearby Sveta Nedelja, the home of Rimac Automobili, as well as near the Hungarian-Croatian border. In the end, the calculations showed that Zdencina in Zagreb County is ideal for a number of reasons for the new momentum of Orbico's business in Croatia.

The company already owns a number of warehouses across the country, and since a few years ago a large logistics centre in Dugopolje, as their main one in Dalmatia. With the new centre in Zdencina and further on the link with the existing one in Dugopolje, Orbico is completing a concrete solution for the biggest distribution problem in Croatia, which manifests itself in highly pronounced seasonality.

"When it comes to the distribution of goods, the main issue in Croatia is how to solve seasonality in the ratio of 1:17. This means that you need 1 tow truck for distribution in the winter, and as many as 17 in the summer, and I think this is the most difficult problem for all distributors in general. Under these conditions, you should also have optimal human resource management," explained Roglic.

The investor in the new project is Orbico Hrvatska with around 1,250 employees out of a total of 7,500, and its activities in 2022 totalled a record 520 million euros in total revenue. The entire system boasts operations in 20 European countries, all of which also enjoyed business growth, generating an impressive 3.2 billion euros in total revenue last year.

In its expansion and development on the basis of the adopted business plan in the medium-term period, i.e. on the horizon of 2028, Orbico should generate revenues of 6 billion euros, which means that it will become twice as large as it is today. Within its current framework, growth is being achieved using the leverage of modern logistics, meaning that the Croatian Orbico Group is leading the way with investments in more than 200,000 m2 of storage space and a total of five LDCs. In addition to Croatia, there are also new logistics centres in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Around 40 million euros was pumped into this investment

For this investment, which is still in the stage of tendering for the selection of developers and contractors, it was stated that the amount involved was around 40 million euros. Roglic hasn't revealed how much the post-pandemic crisis with the additional factor of inflation affected the final amount of the investment for now, but he did make sure to clarify that the company will first work under lease in the new centre, and that after the lease expires, Orbico will take over the facility fully.

"Through the rent, we pay for the investment and realise more new projects in cooperation with developers who are building our new logistics capacities. This is the best way to develop a business, especially when it takes place in several countries. Orbico operates in 20 different European countries, and we're continuing to grow at a good pace, and I must highlight the fact that we don't take loans. After some time has passed with our lease of the new LDC in Zdencina, we will buy the logistics centre," concluded Roglic.

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Return from Germany: Croatian Returnee Starts Up Business in Slavonia

January the 31st, 2023 - While we seem to hear little else about Croatia's demographic crisis than people abandoning parts of Croatia, particularly the east, to head off elsewhere in Western Europe in search of work, the opposite is also true. One Croatian returnee has moved home from Germany, bringing an innovative business idea with him - to Slavonia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VL/Branimir Bradaric writes, for a great many years now, Slavonia was the place from which people emigrated to other parts of Croatia or abroad and never returned. However, there are already an increasing number of cases where people have returned to their rural towns or villages and started a business of their own.

An excellent example of precisely this is the Zivkovic family, who after seven years of living and working in Germany, decided to return home to Vinkovci and start a business there. Jasmina and Petar opened their business, into which they transferred their rich experience gained from working in Germany.

In Germany, Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic worked in precision welding at Siemens plants, and now he has started a business in Vinkovci manufacturing steel structures and industrial furniture. In starting the business, he also used 170,000 kuna in government grants, and he was given space at a preferential price in the Vinkovac Business Incubator.

"The conditions were certainly the main trigger for our return, although we'd been dreaming about it for some time. I also saw that there's a need for this kind of work and craftsmanship here. There's a lot of interest in industrial furniture, so there is no shortage of work. I took advantage of the government grants, bought the necessary equipment and combined all of that with my experience and knowledge. I'm very satisfied with my decision,'' stated Petar Zivkovic.

He is currently the only employee in his trade, but he says that given the volume of work and needs in the future, there will certainly be a need for expansion and the employment of new people. He has equipped his business premises with high quality products, so, among other things, he also owns a locksmith's 3D table, which is currently the only one of its kind in all of Croatia.

Meanwhile, his wife Jasmina opened her own business in Vinkovci, and at the end of February, the Vinkovci Business Incubator will celebrate three years of existence. With 12 offices and 5 production spaces now filled, more space is being sought, especially when it comes to production capacities. The director of the Vinkovci Technology Park, Josip Gilja, said that they started filling the incubators at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but also that regardless of the problems which followed as a result of that unprecedented public health crisis, they still managed to fill all of their units.

"Today it's completely full. So far, 24 companies have passed through our premises, and they currently employ 40 people. Over the last three years alone, about a dozen companies have "outgrown" the Incubator, they've increased the scope of their work and their number of employees and have gone their separate ways. And that's our goal," said Gilja.

Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic's workshop was also visited by the mayor of Vinkovci, Ivan Bosancic/

"These people have returned home and started businesses here and I hope that this will become a pattern that will encourage everyone who wants to return at some point, to do so, and to bring experience with them to create more business opportunities in Vinkovci,'' said Bosancic.

There is a great need for business spaces, and since the Incubator is full, the design and completion of the Zaluzje Zone will begin at some point during the year.

"The new zone spanning 130 hectares will be aimed at entrepreneurs, we want to have bigger companies operating here. We expect that other returnees will also bring their experiences with them home to Vinkovci, and hopefully also their salaries," said Bosancic.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

Baby Boom in Stari Jankovci Municipality in Slavonia - 365, Full of Life

January 30, 2023 - Two years ago - 19 babies, last year 39. The location of the baby boom - Stari Jankovci, not far from Vinkovci. A small municipality all the way in the east of Croatia. Full of life. How come young families are building their future there?

"I grew up here and will continue my life here with my two children. So I think we actually have all that we need, even though we are a small community," Tena Draženović from Stari Jankovci told RTL / SiB.

A director of a kindergarten from Zadar also decided to move to this intimate environment.

"We are happy with our decision and have no regrets, on the contrary. It is a lot more peaceful here since it is a smaller place, there is less hustle and bustle, and that suits us best," said Ivana Jurčević, director of the Krijesnica Jankovci Kindergarten.

The fact that young people have started arriving to live in Jankovci also helps the locals.

"It's good because young people get married, buy their houses or build them and stay in the village, and that's good for us," said Marijan Boroz.

There are no overnight results in demography, but there is progress. For them, the most important thing is not incentive allowances for children but an encouraging climate for a quality life for young families.
"In the past ten years, the many measures we have implemented have resulted in 39 babies," said Dragan Sudarević, head of the Stari Jankovci Municipality.

Incentives in agriculture and economy, investments in infrastructure, social life, and young families. 5,000 kuna for the first child, 6,000 for the second, 7,000 for the third, and 10,000 for the fourth child.

"We co-finance nurseries; we gift 1,000 kunas for all primary school children; we co-finance high school transport, give out scholarships. There are also many free schools in our municipality, such as a dance school, a football school, a music school, a painting school," he added.

In the municipality of Stari Jankovci, they even financially encourage the adoption of dogs. Their budget is around one million euros, but with careful management and successful acquisition of European funds, they say, all that is necessary for a quality life and future can be provided.

"I have five children with six grandchildren so far; the seventh is on the way. So now I hope my daughter will also return to Jankovci; if she does, even better, and she is likely to do so," Marijan added.

To both new and old residents of Stari Jankovci, congratulations and wishes that their dreams come true. As SiB quotes a popular children's song - children full of imagination, children decorate the world! And Slavonia is full of life indeed.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

Chakavian Officially Declared a Language in 2020, Croatia Pays No Attention

January the 30th, 2023 - Back in 2020, the Chakavian ''dialect'' was officially declared a language in its very own right. The Croatian media paid absolutely no attention to it whatsoever, despite Chakavian being one of the three ''dialects'' from which modern standard Croatian is derived.

As Rijeka Danas/Marin Tudor writes, back during the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, without much fanfare and completely unnoticed by local media, Chakavian became a language which was officially recognised by the main international academic organisation that deals with the classification of all languages spoken by mankind. Chakavian thus received its own special ISO language ID code: ckm

This significant (at least linguistically) historical event paves the way for Chakavian speakers to receive much greater local and national recognition, which has been totally lacking until now because Chakavian was considered to merely be yet another dialect.

American professor of linguistics from the prestigious University of California, Kirk Miller, known in the academic world as a successful field linguist responsible for the research and popularisation of the lesser-known languages spoken by mankind, thought about the need to perpetuate Chakavian as one of the languages of our world.

Seeing that nobody had remembered to classify and identify Chakavian as an official language, Miller himself decided to send a painstakingly thought out and written request on September the 2nd, 2019, for the recognition and documentation of the Chakavian language to an organisation called SIL International.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics International is the full name of an international non-profit organisation based in Dallas, Texas, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document all languages used throughout the world, with the aim of expanding linguistic knowledge, promoting literacy in all languages, and ensuring the language development of linguistic minorities.

Once a year, SIL International publishes the prestigious academic magazine Ethnologue. It is a reference publication available both in print and online that provides statistics and other information about the world's living languages. What is actually perhaps an even more important responsibility of SIL International is to issue ISO type 639-3 codes for comprehensive coverage on behalf of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO, based in Geneva - of which Croatia is a member).

It is interesting to note that Professor Miller based a part of his request on the previous request of the main association of speakers of the Kajkavian language, which already managed to win the recognition of Kajkavian as an independent language back in 2014. SIL International then recognised Kajkavian as an independent language, but only in the literary form that was used in the period from the 16th to the 19th century and in some works from the 20th century.

Miller's entire argument was already confirmed as valid by SIL International back in 2020. Owing to his efforts, the Chakavian language was given the highest possible linguistic recognition that exists: it was recognised as a living (independent) language of its own, and not merely a dialect.

Who actually invented the word ''narjecje'' - the term the Croatian language mixes up with ''dialect''?

Chakavian and Kajkavian have long been considered languages in the international world of linguistic science, and not a mere branch of the Croatian standard language, that is, the Shtokavian Croatian language as we know it. Of course, both languages are actually much older languages than the standardised version of Shtokavian (in the first few centuries, all Croatian dictionaries were actually written only in Chakavian), which continued to exist and develop even after the creation of that standard, so, they in fact cannot be dialects of that standard at all. Chakavian might even be considered an international language of sorts, because it is spoken in Croatia and in four other member states of the European Union (in Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia).

Despite this, former Yugoslavian (and later a significant number of Croatian linguists) placed both Chakavian and Kajkavian in the category of "dialects" (narjecje) for decades.

The very term "narjecja" has always been a disputed concept when it comes to linguistics outside the vague borders of the Balkans. It's enough to know that there is no direct translation for this word in any other language of the world, nor is there one for the concept that we encompass within that word. In international linguistics, only the terms "language", "dialect" and "sub-dialect" are known. That is why Croatian and ex Yugoslavian linguists were forced to invent a rough English translation for the word themselves - "supradialect" (i.e. super-dialect) - in the desire to explain to the whole world the local concept of something that has all the linguistic, social and historical characteristics of a language, but we for some reason or another have the need to consider less than a language.

As is often the case, this approach is the product of the fact that in Croatia, political circumstances heavily directed science, and it wasn't that science gave the main direction to politics: the Croatian people fought frantically for their place under the sun for almost a century and a half. Being recognised by the world as an independent national community required enormous effort, dogged determination and deep desire of more than six generations of Croats. That meant that entire generations of Chakavian and Kajkavian intellectuals and scientists preferred to neglect their mother tongue and native culture in favour of the greater good of the entire Croatian nation, of which they strongly felt a part throughout history. It was a logical and noble move at the time, but it has left its scars.

Language – the soul and heart of any culture

"If a culture were a house, then language would be the key to the front door, and to all the rooms in it,'' says Khaled Hosseini, an American writer and doctor born in Afghanistan, who was also New York Times' bestseller three times.

Language is indeed the very essence of culture, because its soul begins and ends with language. It shapes the way people think, dream, communicate with each other, build relationships and create a sense of community. It's the main guardian of a value system, because it directly transmits a set of symbols, meanings and norms.

It is that first form of communication with the universe, those first children's words that initiate verbal contact between people. Knowing one's linguistic roots so well automatically enables one to more easily identify with the community around them and to keep the welfare of that community close to their hearts in the deepest sense.

Language is a technology that enhances and expands the capacities of categorisation that we share with those around us and those who came before us, and therefore plays a key role in the transmission of human culture to those who will come after us.

All of this of course also applies to that part of Croatia where Chakavian is the autochthonous language. Croatian culture will disappear when and if the languages on which it is based are lost to the hands of time. This isn't such an incredible possibility: if we continue with today's trends, it is quite likely that in two generations, Chakavian will more or less have the status of an extinct language. When it disappears, native Croatian culture will also disappear with it.

Unfortunately, the statesmen and strategists of Croatia's national branding failed to use the independence of our country, nor the next three decades of freedom, to valorise the linguistic and cultural specificities of its native people. If the Republic of Croatia and its representatives believe that culture is at least somewhat important, then they will have to activate themselves and work much harder to promote the Chakavian (and Kajkavian) languages.

Chakavian's future

This international recognition for the Chakavian speaking world is not only significant, but a truly epochal event. At the global level, the Chakavian language will be studied more seriously and more study and learning of the Chakavian language will be promoted at Slavic departments of universities outside of Croatian borders. A small boom in academic and non-academic literature on the Chakavian language is also to be expected over the next few years.

But above all, this brand new status will really open the door wide for Chakavian speakers to request official recognition of their language where it most needs to be recognised, that is, in the countries where Chakavians have lived for almost 1,500 years and maybe for even longer. It would indeed be a very sad and perversely ironic historical turning point if, after surviving all kinds of enemy invasions, legal prohibitions and changes in language fashions for at least twelve long and arduous centuries, the Chakavian language dies out precisely in the era of the first truly independent and free state of the Croatian people.

The international recognition of the Chakavian language and Croatia's next steps will thus surely become an important cultural factor on the European path of this proud little country and Croatian civilisation itself, because in Europe, local and minority languages have been lovingly nurtured for decades, and unique languages have some very efficiently (and profitably) regional and national brands built on them, and through these, the true respect of the people towards their local communities is promoted.

All municipalities and counties in which Chakavian is the original autochthonous language are now given the opportunity to recognise Chakavian at the very highest level, as a parity language alongside the standard one, and it is now the turn of Croatia to launch some proper initiatives and political guidelines to first preserve the language, and then to help the Chakavians to standardise it all to some extent and effectively promote it at both the local and global level.

Of course, this requires a lot of work and the orchestrated multi-year work of all participants in the Chakavian speaking world, but the goal is a worthy one and one which is definitely achievable (especially with the help of all the instruments and means offered by the European Community for these purposes). If it is possible to revive languages that have completely died out in Cornwall and the Isle of Man under the constant pressure of the most heavily spoken language in the world (English), or to revive the unwritten Maori language in New Zealand, then reversing the negative trend of a language that is still fluently and daily used by hundreds of thousands of people in a modern European country can't be that hard at all. It only requires good will, diligence and, of course, love. Things that were never missing among Chakavian speakers.

For more on the Croatian language, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Hotel Ambasador, Split's New 5-Star Diamond: Meet GM Stipe Medic

January 30, 2023 - I have stayed in many hotels on the Croatian coast over the years, but none with a view quite like the new 5-star Hotel Ambasador in Split. Learn more about that and this fabulous new addition to Croatian tourism by meeting Hotel Ambasador General Manager, Stipe Medic.  

Split has a 5-star hotel in a 7-star location, with simply the best hotel view I think I have seen in my life. Introduce Hotel Ambasador for us.  

Split had been waiting for something like Hotel Ambasador for a long time, and it is certainly a hotel that a destination like Split deserves. You said it yourself – Ambasador's God-given location with a perfect view over the Split harbor and old town was the starting point for management to think about and develop the hotel's features and amenities. They had to be as extraordinary, strong, and beautiful as the location itself. In short, Ambasador is a 5* hotel that opened at the tail-end of summer 2022. The hotel has 101 rooms and suites, each with an open view to the harbor and/or Split’s old town, with a direct path to the promenade connecting Diocletian’s Palace and the famous Riva on one side, and the port, the most beautiful beaches, and Marjan forest on the other. 


The design is very distinctive. Tell us more. 

Architects Nora Roje, Neno Kezić, and Emil Šverko are the authors of the project. The idea behind it was a contemporary reinterpretation of the original hotel building that was the center of Split's social life since 1937. Both the interior and exterior were designed to be in line with Split and the Mediterranean’s notoriously relaxed lifestyle, summed up by one word – 'pomalo'. We believe that we managed to deliver this with equal parts of luxury, subtly refined design, and above all, inviting and cozy architecture. The interior decor was conceived by studio Arhiv, with special attention to the highest-grade natural materials and their key accents. It tells the story of Ambasador’s tradition and exclusivity, which has been there from the beginning. Several objects represent a direct dedication to Croatian architectural heritage, but the hotel's most distinctive feature is its orientation towards the outside because Ambasador's greatest value lies, literally, in its surroundings.


One thing that is immediately obvious is the connection between a luxury hotel and the city. Giant photos of life in Split in the 1960s make a real impression on arrival in reception. Tell us more about that concept. 

Split's heritage is a crucial part of the hotel's identity. We wanted to represent it in the common areas in the best way possible. We wanted our guests to emerge in the laid-back Split vibe from the moment they enter the reception. We thus contacted Feđa Klarić, a great photographer and Split photo chronicler. Our cooperation resulted in what you can see now - his works mostly, and the authors he chose. Famous pieces from his vast collection of Split motifs throughout history are a sort of permanent exhibition in our hotel. We take much pride in that! 


The location is superb for several reasons, not only the views and the proximity of the marina, but also due to its distance from Diocletian's Palace and the riva - close enough to walk to but far enough to avoid the noise. How important is the location do you think? 

Ambasador's location on the coast, just footsteps away from the hustle and bustle but outside the epicenter of nightlife, is ideal not only because of the breathtaking views and scenery. Guests can exit the hotel and, within minutes, be in a beautiful pine forest, on the best beaches, or in the heart of the city. You can even feel the buzz of the nearby islands. I'd say it is our Croisette. 


You are a local man. What impact will such a luxury hotel have on life and tourism in Split? 

Hopefully a big one! I think we all want more upscale locations and services in Split. The fact is, a prime destination like Split deserves and surely needs more high-class hotels. Ambasador is here to fill that need. The profile of guests visiting largely defines the offer of any tourist location, so by bringing in travelers looking for that premium experience, Ambasador will contribute to the diversity of what Split has to offer.


You opened at the end of the season. How have things gone so far, and what lessons have been learned? 

We are more than satisfied with the first results. The most important thing is the feedback from our guests, and their response is great! We decided to soft open Ambasador to have enough time and resources to dedicate the whole team to the needs of our guests. And what have we learned? Those challenges, which are an essential part of beginning in any business, make us stronger and push us forward. It goes without saying that we should always strive for more and be better at our work.


How are bookings for next season, your first full year, and what kind of season are you expecting? 

Bookings are going well, and the announcements for next year give us reason to be happy and optimistic. We expect our first full season to be exceptional. All the interest shown in Ambasador after opening is further proof that this is what Split was missing. 


Tell us a little about what guests can expect from a stay at Ambasador.  

We are delivering the highest standard of luxury service but with a relaxed, casual feeling that makes Split famous. We encourage our guests to take their time and truly feel the life of this vibrant and welcoming city. And what can we offer? Rooms with unforgettable views, furnished and decorated in accordance with the highest standards, our fine dining restaurant Méditerranée, the lively Bar Split, outdoor pool, top-notch beauty and spa services at Hacelia Spa, which spans over 500 square meters, a rooftop bar with even more magnificent views over Split's archipelago, a multipurpose conference room, and a highly personalized approach to every guest's needs. In short – our guests can expect a superior Mediterranean experience.


How accessible will the hotel and its services be for locals and non-residents. 

We want Ambasador to live with, and not next to, Split's residents. The entire philosophy is to be an integral part of the city. Our terraces, bars, and restaurants are part of the promenade, and our events are oriented not only toward guests visiting Split but also toward people who live here because they make Split what it is. We want to show that distinctive vibe to our guests because we want them to develop a sort of crush on Split, to feel they want to come back for more. And that is not a hard task! 

And finally, as a local man, your 3 favourite things about Split. 

I am from Brela, but I am also in love with Split. First and foremost, because of our football team, Hajduk Split, which has given me so much excitement (and so many headaches) in life. My second favorite thing about Split is sitting on Ambasador’s terrace and enjoying all the beauty that was given to this city. I also love Split’s mentality and humor, and at the same time, the fast-paced, slightly nervous, but really nurturing and laid-back ‘pomalo’ way of life. Split is easy to love, and I think everybody can agree on that.

To learn more about the magic of Split's new tourism star, check out the official Hotel Ambasador website.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Sali Municipality Offering Generous Incentives for Demographic Revival

January the 30th, 2023 - The Sali Municipality on Dugi otok has decided to pour very generous sums of cash into trying to ensure a demographic revival for the area, with each family who has a child being granted an enviable amount of cash from the local authorities.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a positive example of proper care for families and tackling the ongoing demographic crisis can be found in the Sali Municipality on Dugi otok, which holds the record in Croatia for the benefits it provides for each newborn child. Each family that has a child receives a massive 60,000 kuna - almost eight thousand euros in the new currency, in six equal annual installments.

Negative demographic growth is a problem for most of Croatia, and it especially affects the islands. Dugi otok has a little more than 1,500 inhabitants, of which about 650 live in the Sali Municipality. The fee paid out by the powers that be for each newborn child was introduced back in 2017, and now amounts to slightly less than 8 thousand euros, according to a report from HRT.

The time spent by the youngest little islanders in the new kindergarten in Sali is also co-financed by the municipality, and money is also allocated for Christmas gifts and school workbooks. In short, allocations for children make up a large part of the local budget, which means a lot to their parents.

''Children get a better treatment, they can get access to better services, better food for babies, better strollers can be bought. It's a big deal because everything is more expensive on the islands, so that money means a lot and goes a long way,'' said Sebastijan Raljevic, the father of a one-year-old girl in Sali.

Another fact that is often forgotten is precisely what Sebastijan mentioned - that everything is more expensive for islanders, from basic food and hygiene items to fuel and building materials. In addition, everything that is taken for granted in the city, such as arranging extracurricular activities for the kids, becomes a real undertaking. However, there are quite a few children in the Sali Municipality, and their numbers are steadily on the up.

''When we look purely statistically, since 2017, more than ten children have been born in the Sali Municipality every year. If we look at the number of students attending the local primary school, in the eight classes there are, only three classes have ten or more children. I think the greatest importance of this support is to make life easier for both children and their parents and for them to stay at home here on the island, which is the goal of this measure, said Zoran Morovic, the mayor of the Sali Municipality.

As such, parents of two or more children receive already very large amounts from the local authorities, with the help of which they can start a business, or equip and modernise an existing one, which will make life on the island easier for adults and ensure a carefree childhood for the youngest residents.

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

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