Friday, 17 September 2021

Minister Tramišak Presents Contracts for Co-Funding EU Projects in Osijek

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak on Friday presented local government officials in the eastern city of Osijek and Osijek-Baranja County with contracts for co-funding EU projects worth HRK 48 million.

The contracts concern, among other things, the modernisation of tram infrastructure, the construction of an IT park and the energy efficiency renovation of schools in Osijek, the construction of a sports park in Beli Manastir, and the construction and equipping of kindergartens in several municipalities.

Tramišak said that this money came from the state budget and would cover the portion of funding for the projects the local government units would otherwise have to contribute themselves. She said that this would help them implement the projects that should be completed by the end of 2023.

Tramišak said that 640 projects worth about HRK 20 billion had been submitted to the Fund for co-financing projects at local and regional level.

"The Ministry's aim is to successfully conclude the financial perspective until 2020, and we have until 2023 to draw funds from it. In that way we will help local and regional government units and ensure full absorption of funding for this period," Tramišak said.

Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić said that the projects in his city are worth HRK 1.2 billion and that it would be very difficult for the city to finance them on its own. He announced projects exceeding HRK 2 billion for the next EU financial period 2021-2027, saying that they expected assistance from the ministry in their implementation.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Croatia's August Inflation Rate Picks Up to 3.1%, Highest Since April 2013

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - Consumer prices in Croatia rose by 3.1% in August 2021 compared with the same month in 2020, which is the highest inflation rate since April 2013, when it was 3.3%, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS) on Friday.

The first stronger rise in inflation was recorded in April this year, of 2.1%. It slowed down to 2.0% in June, before picking up to 2.8% in July and 3.1% in August.

The rise is the result of the spillover of prices from global commodities markets, growing domestic and foreign demand, and a price convergence towards the EU average, notably with regard to services, analysts at Raiffeisenbank Austria (RBA) said in their comment on the DZS report.

The rise in consumer prices accompanied the rise in industrial producer prices, which grew by 9.3% in August 2021 compared with August 2020, their highest jump since January 2011. This year industrial producer prices increased by 3.5% in March, 5.8% in April, 7.6% in May, 7.2% in June and 7.9% in July.

Transport prices increased the most, by 9.9% compared with August 2020.

Compared with July 2021, consumer prices went up by 0.2% on average.

In the first eight months of 2021, compared with the same period of 2020, consumer prices rose by 1.7%. The greatest contribution to the rise came from energy prices, which increased by 5.2% on average. At the same time, consumer prices excluding energy rose by 1.0%.

For more on business, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Conflict of Interest Commission Suspends Cases Against PM, Other Officials

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021- The Conflict of Interest Commission on Friday stated that it had suspended proceedings against Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and other senior officials after the High Administrative Court and other administrative courts ruled that the Commission could not act on Article 5.

The said article of the Conflict of Interest Act refers to rules of conduct and stipulates, among other things, that office holders are expected to perform their duties in a honorable, conscientious, fair, responsible and impartial manner.

The suspended case dubbed "Lex Agrokor" included Plenković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, the Bridge party leader Božo Petrov and a former economy minister, Martina Dalić. The case was opened against Plenković due to a lack of transparency in communication towards the general public during the process of the adoption of the so-called Lex Agrokor law.

The Commission's chairwoman Nataša Novaković said that the suspension was temporary.

In the event that the commission's proposal to the state prosecutorial authorities (DORH) is granted, the cases could be re-opened, however, she admitted that it could not happen soon.

Court rulings pertaining to such cases nix the decisions made by the Conflict of Interest Commission.

The administrative courts have overturned the Commission's decisions in the case of the appointment of Croatian ambassador Igor Pokaz to the U.K., after this case was raised by the Commission due to the fact that Pokaz was Plenković's best man.

The Zagreb-based Administrative Court also ruled in favour of PM Plenković in the case dubbed "Flight to Helsinki", after the Commission accused the premier of failing to provide it with the requested documentation on a visit to Helsinki.

The court also quashed the Commission's ruling against former SDP leader Davor Bernardić, who was granted a scholarship in the amount of HRK 263,000 from a private college in 2014 when he was a parliamentary deputy and the leader of the SDP Zagreb branch.

Novaković said that the Commission had requested extraordinary reviews after its decisions were quashed and the Supreme Court would have the final say.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 17 September 2021

President Milanović to Attend 76th Session of UN General Assembly

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - President Zoran Milanović will fly to USA on Sunday to attend the 76th UN General Assembly in New York next week, the Office of the Croatian President said in a press release on Friday.

The 76th General Assembly of the World Organization starts on Tuesday, 21 September, and the Croatian head of state will address the General Debate on that day.

Milanović will also participate in the high-level meeting called "Transformative Action for Nature and People" on Wednesday.

During his stay in New York he is expected to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He will visit the local Croatian expat community and hold a lecture at Columbia University.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Average Net Pay in Zagreb HRK 8.309

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - The average net pay in legal entities in Zagreb in June 2021 was HRK 8,309, which is an increase of 6.6% in nominal terms compared to June 2020, according to data from the Zagreb City Department for Strategic Planning and Development.

Compared to the national average, which was HRK 7,175, the average net monthly pay in Zagreb was HRK 1,134 higher.

The highest average monthly net salary in legal entities in Zagreb in June was paid in crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, in the amount of HRK 22,362.

The lowest wage, of HRK 4,496, was paid in leather and related products manufacturing.

The average gross pay in legal entities in Zagreb for June 2021 was HRK 11,532, which was an increase of 4.5% compared to June 2020.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 17 September 2021

New Protein-Based Vaccine in Croatia Produced by French Pharmaceutical Company Sanofi

September 17, 2021 - A new protein-based vaccine in Croatia will soon be put into use, produced by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, announced at a press conference on Friday that Croatia has purchased a new protein-based vaccine produced by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, reports Index.hr.

Beroš: It is a different type of vaccine

"The experts have articulated more clearly that we need to expand the range. It is a different type of vaccine. The question is what the practice will show; these are protein vaccines," Health Minister Vili Beroš said at the press conference.

"It's a lot cheaper than an mRNA vaccine."

"We have ordered about 300,000 doses of the innovative vaccine. So far, we have had vector (AstraZeneca) and mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna). This is protein; it is announced that it will be very effective. It is much cheaper than the mRNA vaccine. When EMA evaluates it, we will know more," Capak said.

"Germany ordered the most, so we ordered a smaller quantity."

"We will see how things go and how they react to viruses. Other countries have ordered the same, and Germany ordered the largest quantities. We assume they have more information. When they took so many vaccines, we also ordered some smaller quantities," Capak added. 

Vaccination was completed for 49.29% of the adult population.

"Today's share of positive cases is 12.5%, in the last seven days we had 11.3%, in the past 14 days 10%, and the total since the beginning of the pandemic 14.4%. Of today's 1394 cases, 1164, or 83% have not been vaccinated. 195 or 14% have been vaccinated. We have nine deaths today, of which one person has not been vaccinated, and only one person with severe comorbidity has been vaccinated," said Capak, adding: "We are in 23rd place in the EU countries in terms of incidence rate. Poland is the lowest."

"Most of the hospitalized, seriously ill were not vaccinated and wished they were, that they were braver and wiser to get vaccinated. It will be good for everyone that has recovered and for those who do not have serious consequences. Our post covid clinic is full in recent months," said Alemka Markotić about the situation in the Clinic for Infectious Diseases.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Croatia's Coronavirus Update: 1,394 New Cases, 651 Hospitalised Patients

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - In the last 24 hours, Croatia has conducted 11,159 coronavirus tests, of which 1,394, or 12.5%, have returned positive, and nine patients have died, raising the COVID-related death toll to 8,481, the national COVID-19 crisis management team reported on Friday.

There are currently 7,991 active cases, including 651 hospitalised patients, 77 of whom are placed on ventilators. Also, 18,710 people are self-isolating.

Since the first registered case of the infection with this novel virus in Croatia on 25 February 2020, over 2.7 million tests have been conducted, showing that 389,654 people have caught the virus, and  of them 373,182 have recovered, including 1.037 in the last 24 hours.

Since the start of the vaccine rollout in the country, 43.76% of the total population, or 52.52% of the adult population, have been vaccinated. The statistics show that 49.29% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Initiatives Converge as Zagreb Digital Nomad Community Strengthens

September 17, 2021 - A stimulating evening with current Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Nimrod Dean Kuchel, as various initiatives converge to strengthen the Zagreb Digital Nomad community. 

It is a term which was almost completey unknown in Croatia about 18 months ago. But the pace of progress of the digital nomad concept taking root is unusually quick for a country famed for its relaxed and laid-back lifestyle. 

Having followed and written about the sector for over a couple of years now, it is interesting to follow the different perspectives of those involved on how they see things, as we as observing how various initiatives are converging to build a community. 

zagreb-digital-nomad-community_2.jpg

(credits Zoltan Nagy/Saltwater Nomads)

One of the most interesting observations in recent weeks - to me at least - was this comment from one of the recent Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence, currently living on Hvar. 'Digitalni Nomadi' is now a term ordinary people throughout Dalmatia now understand. 

There have been various initiatives in recent times to push the digital nomad scene in Croatia, some working in tandem, others independently. Last night, several converged in what was a significant night for the growing Zagreb digital nomad community.

A social evening, organised by the largest DN social media group, Digital Nomads Croatia, hosted its monthly gathering in the centre of the city, at Bustan Bar. The bar is part of a complex of a converted hostel, which also is home to the first 24/7 co-working space, Myspace. 

Special guest was Dean Kuchel, September's Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Nimrod Dean Kuchel, part of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week project by Saltwater Nomads, the Zagreb Tourist Board, and TCN. 

And among those in the audience was Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, whose initiative to introduce a Croatian digital nomad visa has brought global attention on Croatia as a DN hot spot. 

Kuchel was a very entertaining and enthusiastic keynote speaker during Zagreb Digital Nomad Week (you can see his presentation above), with a focus on building community. One of his mantras is that he travels solo, but never alone. On a mission to visit all the countries in the world (and currently on 101), the presence of an awaiting community is a big draw for him to visit a destination. When asked about his impressions of Zagreb in the short interview below, he answered that Zagreb ticked all the DN boxes, and the only thing missing for nomads in Zagreb was more digital nomads.

He has been very active in promoting Zagreb ever since. Firstly, through the 24,000-strong DN community he runs, and more recently by applying to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador. When we met for a welcome drink shortly after his arrival at the beginning of the month, he stated that his aim was to work to develop the community during his stay. 

Last night's event, of which the centrepiece was Kuchel's AMA (Ask Me Anything) session about his DN lifestyle was both popular and lively. New friendships and networks were developed, ideas traded, and various actors in the digital nomad sector met for the first time. 

zagreb-digital-nomad-community_5.jpg

There is a growing momentum with the Zagreb digital nomad story, which seems to be surprising visiting nomads with the quality of the lifestyle, WiFi and spoken English, among many other positives. The growing of a cohesive community and support from international ambassadors such as Kuchel can only accelerate that process. 

An Israeli bar/co-work owner, an Israeli DN ambassador, and a Dutch entrepreneur - all invested in developing Zagreb and Croatia in this exciting new direction, in partnership with great local partners. It is encouraging to see. 

zagreb-digital-nomad-community_1.jpg

Kuchel posted his feelings about his Zagreb exprience on social media this week:

Two weeks into my Zagreb visit, I understand why Jan de Jong made Croatia his home.

I was invited to #zagreb by the board of tourism to experience the city as a digital nomad and remote professional.

What I found is a capital city, and a country, taking actions to welcome digital nomads.

Excellent connectivity and speeds everywhere, plenty of co-working spaces, and a one-of-a-kind Digital Nomad visa, so you know no-one is kicking you out after 90 days. Bliss!

Nice people, festive culture, perfect weather, and excellent cost-of-living to quality-of-life ratio - are also included.

Say YES! Go Explore Zagreb. I am there as well, and I'm loving it.Pro tip: bring your mom, she'll thank you.

#remotework #digitalnomads #sayyes #worldtravel

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Read more - Zagreb, Split Attracting More Digital Nomads than Prague, Krakow, Budapest

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Friday, 17 September 2021

DANUP-2-Gas Project: Danube Countries United in Introducing Renewable Energy

September 17, 2021 - The DANUP-2-Gas Project, developing renewable energy opportunities for all Danube countries, is set to hold a stakeholder event on September 28 at the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Engineering and Computing (FER).

The beautiful Danube region in Slavonia, apart from boasting natural beauty, also has a lot of historical and archaeological significance. This is evident with the European Commission having recognised the ''Iron Age Danube Route'' earlier this year.

That being said, the Danube river also boasts a political and economic factors, the one that unites all the countries through which the Danube flows. One form of such international cooperation is the DANUP-2-GAS project.

''The Danube region holds huge potential for sustainable generation and the storage of renewable energy. However, to date, this region has remained highly dependent on energy imports, while energy efficiency, diversity and renewables share are low. In line with the EU climate targets for 2030 and the EUSDR PA2 goals, DanuP-2-Gas will advance transnational energy planning by promoting generation and storage strategies for renewables in the Danube region by coupling electric power and the gas sector,'' says the official website of Interreg Danube which is handling the project.

In an effort to achieve their goals, the DANUP-2-Gas project aims to bring together energy agencies, business actors, public authorities, and research institutions to join the cause.

The project started on the July 1 2020, and it will last until the end of 2022. So far, 24 institutions from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and of course Croatian partners have begun cooperating for DANUP-2-Gas, united by the geographical fact that the Danube connects them all. The Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute (EIHP), the International Centre for the Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, and the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) are the project's Croatian representatives. Check out the full list of partners in the project here.

As (EIHP) reported on its website, September 28 will be an important date for the DANUP-2-Gas project as FER will hold a stakeholder event from 09:30 to 12:30, the lectures held in English will explain the potential of the project, as well as the uses and benefits of renewable energy in the hope of encouraging more support.

The event is imagined as a hybrid event, being held partly online and partly in person, but as EIHP warns, there is a risk of the event ending up being held entirely online, depending on the epidemiological situation.

''Based on the platform developed during the DTP project ENERGY BARGE, it will incorporate all pre-existing tools and an atlas, mapping previously unexamined available biomass and energy infrastructure. Further, a pre-feasibility study utilising an optimisation tool for efficient hub design will identify suitable locations for sectors coupling hubs and a combination of two idle resources in the Danube region.

The unused organic residue (e.g., straw) will be processed to biochar for easy transport along the Danube river and as the basis for synthesis gas generation. Adding hydrogen produced from surplus renewable energy allows for the upgrading of this syngas to a renewable natural gas. This will enable the storage of surplus energy in the existing gas distribution grid, increasing energy security and efficiency. All of the resources required for this process are available in the Danube region and the ten partner countries,'' the Interreg Danube website stated, elaborating the positive changes it is attempting to achieve.

Learn more about Croatian inventions and discoveries from Tesla to Rimac on our dedicated TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 17 September 2021

MUP Confirms: Visa-Free Travel for Croatians to USA Possible by End of 2021

September 17, 2021 - MUP confirms that visa-free travel for Croatians to the USA should be possible by the end of the year.

A decision on Croatia's entry into the US Visa Waiver Program should be made by the end of the US fiscal year, while Croatian citizens could travel to the US without visas by the end of this year, the Ministry of the Interior reported on Index.hr.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović met with US representatives on an evaluation visit to Croatia from September 12 to 18 to enter the US Visa Waiver Program.

Božinović pointed out that this evaluation visit, despite the coronavirus pandemic, is a critical moment in Croatia's accession to the Visa Waiver Program and expressed satisfaction with the intensive cooperation over the past years, which significantly helped Croatia reach this advanced stage of the accession process.

The Croatian government is committed to meeting all political, legal, and security preconditions for accession. These preconditions, among other things, included reducing the rate of rejected visa applications to a minimum and creating conditions for better cooperation in law enforcement between the two countries, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

They add that the intensification of interstate and interdepartmental cooperation has led to the fact that in May 2019, Croatia submitted answers on 176 pages. After verifying the submitted answers, which indisputably show significant progress of Croatia in meeting the security requirements, significant efforts have been made to lower the level of rejected visa applications.

The rate of rejected visa applications was lowered below three percent in 2020, which the State Department officially confirmed on February 16, 2021. Meeting that condition has been a major challenge for years.

In the process of joining the Visa Waiver Program, several security requirements also had to be met, with the Department of the Interior working intensively with the US Department of Homeland Security for the past four years.

Most of the security conditions were related to strengthening the capacity and providing technical conditions for collecting and analyzing biometric data of passengers entering Croatia, security of travel documents, strengthening the capacity to fight terrorism, exchanging information on foreign terrorist fighters, and a range of other relevant security information with the relevant U.S. services, primarily those in the Department of Homeland Security, and then the FBI, the Terrorist Surveillance Center, and the DEA.

Minister Božinović reminded that during this process, Croatia and the USA concluded important international agreements and arrangements aimed at improving security and data exchange between the two countries while at the same time working on building the highest security standards.

A pre-evaluation visit by a delegation from the Ministry of Homeland Security to Croatia was held earlier this year, from June 14 to 18. A draft report submitted to the State Department by the US Department of Homeland Security following a visit was followed by a formal invitation from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to include Croatia in the program, one of the last steps before a formal visa waiver decision.

Minister Božinović emphasized that the Government of the Republic of Croatia was also working on Croatia's accession to Schengen and that all preconditions had been met in that field.

"Croatia is determined not only to meet all the requirements for access to the visa waiver program but also to maintain compliance with these requirements. This determination stems from our deep conviction that this compliance will further improve cooperation between Croatian and US authorities and increase the security of our citizens," said Božinović.

As part of the evaluation, from September 12 to 18, the US delegation visited, among others, the Port of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Airport, the Karasovići and Bregana border crossings, and the Ježevo Reception Center for Foreigners.

Following this week's evaluation visit, the US Department of Homeland Security will submit to the State Department a final report on meeting all the necessary conditions and a proposal for a final decision on Croatia's accession to the US Visa Waiver Program.

The members of the American delegation clearly underlined that due to the seen readiness and equipment of the Croatian police, their earlier optimism for fulfilling the conditions turned into satisfaction, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Accordingly, the US expects that the decision on Croatia's entry into the US Visa Waiver Program should be made by the end of the US fiscal year, more precisely by September 30, 2021, while Croatian citizens could travel visa-free to the US by the end of this year. 

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

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