Monday, 20 September 2021

Božinović: COVID-19 Team Not Considering Tightening or Relaxing Restrictions

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Monday the national COVID-19 response team was not considering either tightening or relaxing epidemiological restrictions, such as the reopening of nightclubs, and that the protest against those restrictions held on Saturday was unjustified.

"At the moment we are not planning any tightening of the restrictions or their further liberalization," Božinović, who heads the COVID-19 response team, told reporters in Šibenik when asked if the reopening of nightclubs was being considered, as demanded by bar owners on Sunday.

He noted that it was not necessary to explain in great detail why nightclubs would not be allowed to reopen even if complying with anti-epidemic rules, including COVID-19 certificates.

"After 18 months of the pandemic, everyone will tell you that indoor areas are the main problem if they are not aired sufficiently and if people do not keep at least a minimum physical distance from one another," he said, stressing that gatherings at nightclubs were more difficult to control than gatherings at football matches.

No reason for the protest

Commenting on a protest against epidemiological restrictions, held in Zagreb on Saturday, Božinović said the protesters had gathered without any real reason.

"After the protest, at least some of them probably went to a cafe or a restaurant and were probably mad because they protested without any real reason," he said, adding the organizers had rushed to "stage something" after seeing scenes of protests in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The minister also said that he did not know if police had acted after Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković had reported a person to them, who called him by the nickname 'Njonjo' (Wuss) in a phone conversation.

"It is normal for a protected person who gets a call from an unknown number to tell their security that they received a call from an unknown person who had insulted them. The protocol about that is clear... there is staff who take care of that," said the minister.

"I do not know if the police did anything, but I'm sure that everyone in that chain did what they were supposed to do," he said.

Božinović also commented on the lifting of visa requirements for Croatian nationals traveling to the USA, saying that after a long-lasting process he was an optimist. He expressed hope that Croatians would be allowed to travel to the USA without visas by the end of the year.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Civil Protection Croatia: Conference on Crisis Efficiency Held in Vinkovci

September 20, 2021 - A civil protection Croatia conference titled "Civil Protection and City Security" analysed the response to the pandemic and the 2020 earthquakes in the country. Could the European PRAETORIAN Project make things better?

The pandemic and shocking earthquakes in 2020 showed in the most painful way possible how important civil protection is and how much Croatia still has to learn. That sais, there is no place for sorrow, as these topics now get more and more attention in public and relevant actors are on the go.

Earlier in September, the small but sweet town of Vinkovci in Slavonia was hosting the “Civil Protection and City Security“ conference to assess and address the relevant issues of civil protection. The conference organised a panel on the topic of civil protection and crisis management in which Krešimir Kuk (from the Croatian seismological service), Dragutin Repinc (from the Croatian War Veterans Ministry), Siniša Petkoviček (from the Croatian Firefighters' Community/HVZ), Davor Spevec (Civil Protection), Pavo Medved (Vukovar-Srijem County) and Josip Granić (the director of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service/HGSS), all took part.

In her opening remarks, Nataša Gajski Kovačić noted that the biggest problem in civil protection back when 2020's earthquakes struck was segments of systems being uncoordinated. The positive side, however, was the HGSS' level of efficiency in earthquake-damaged areas, rapid entrance to damaged sites, finding injured people and bodies, as well as the very quick organisation of help in removing dangerous parts of buildings and information distribution. This shouldn't come as a surprise with HGSS already being a very well loved and respected institution in Croatia.

The institution is respected both for its professional and efficient rescue missions and their edgy sense of humor as HGSS often posts sarcastic remarks to tourists who get in trouble while exploring Croatian mountains and nature without taking precautions. TCN had the chance to interview Josip Granić two days after the devastating earthquake in Petrinja at the very end of 2020.

The second day of the two-day conference moved from discussions to more specific plans of action when the ''Smart City and Crisis Management'' part presented the PRAETORIAN Project. Being an acronym for ''The protection of critical infrastructure from advanced combined cyber and physical threats'', the project's strategic goal is to increase the security and resilience level of critical European infrastructure (CI), facilitating coordinated protection of interrelated physical and cyber threats.

''The project will specifically tackle (i.e. prevent, detect, respond and, in the case of a declared attack, mitigate) human-made cyber and physical attacks or natural disasters affecting CIs. It will also address how an attack or incident in a specific CI can jeopardise the normal operation of other neighbouring/interrelated CIs, and how to make all of them more resilient by predicting cascading effects and proposing a unified response among CIs and assisting first responder teams. PRAETORIAN is a CI-led, user-driven project, which will demonstrate its results in three international pilot clusters. Some of them cross borders, involving 9 outstanding critical infrastructures: 2 international airports, 2 ports, 3 hospitals, and 2 power plants“, says the European Commission's website.

France is busy coordinating this project which started back in June and will last until the end of May 2023.

HGSS is, along with Zagreb Airport and the well known Croatian company Končar, one of the partners on the project.

With the hopes that the PRAETORIAN Project will help boost Croatian CI, making cities safer and more resilient to earthquakes various other threats, it's worth noting that Croatia already does enjoy a reputation for handling things well and insisting other countries solve their own problems. Look no further than smoke and fire - literally. Not only has Croatia learned how to handle its own troubles with wildfires, but it also helps others to do the same. Just this year, but Croatia sent its firefighters to assist Turkish colleagues and also sent several firefighting planes to Greece — earning international respect and expertise acknowledgment.

Not far from Vinkovci is Vukovar, and you can learn more about Croatia's Hero City in our TC guide.

For more about the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Minister Says Croat Expatriates in USA Croatia's Unofficial Promoters

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - Croats in the United States contributed to Croatia's international recognition and are today its unofficial promoters, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in New York on Sunday, after meeting with members of the Croat expatriate community.

"The Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius here is headed by the Franciscans from Herzegovina, and the Croatian school here brings together already the third generation of U.S. Croats," Grlić Radman said, noting that this bore witness to a wish to preserve one's national, cultural and linguistic identity.

Croats "have given a major contribution to the prosperity of the U.S. society, without forgetting their own roots," he said, adding that Croat expatriates were unofficial promoters of their country, having advocated Croatia's recognition and "spreading the truth about Croatia's struggle for freedom against the Great Serbian aggressor."

The minister said that Croat expatriates in the USA had helped Croatia politically as well as by sending humanitarian assistance.

He recalled that in 2020 the Croatian government initiated an amendment of the citizenship law to make it easier for "all descendants of the Croat people" to obtain Croatian citizenship.

Asked about former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's having joined President Zoran Milanović's delegation on a visit to the United States for the ongoing 76th session of the UN General Assembly, Grlić Radman said that he supported "everything that is aimed at promoting Croatia's national interests."

Grlić Radman is visiting the USA from 19 to 25 September.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, visit our dedicated page here.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Ombudswoman Calls on Split City Authorities to Honour Its Para-Athletes

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - Ombudswoman for Persons with Disabilities Anka Slonjšak has called on the Split city authorities to honor local athletes who have won medals at the Paralympic Games by inscribing their names on the Split Sports Walk of Fame, thus showing that persons with disabilities are accepted and equal to other members of society.

The western section of the city's waterfront, upgraded in April 2013, includes the Sports Walk of Fame featuring bronze plaques with the names of 76 Split athletes who have won 94 medals in 11 events at the Olympic Games, starting with the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Slonjšak noted that by symbolically honoring Split para-athletes by inscribing their names on the Sports Walk of Fame the city authorities would send an important message - that persons with disabilities are accepted and have equal rights as other members of society.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Milanović: Croatia Very Safe Country, Has Never Been Stabler

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - In an address to members of the Croat expatriate community in New York on Sunday, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said that Croatia "is a very safe country" and that it had never been stabler as well as that it was responsible for its neighborhood staying safe as well. 

Milanović arrived in New York on Sunday to attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, during which he is expected to hold several bilateral meetings, including with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

On the first day of his visit, Milanović met with representatives of the Croat community at the St. Nikola Tavelić Centre, which is part of the Parish of Saints Cyril and Methodius and St. Raphael, and in his address to them, he said that he was more interested in developments in Croatia and its neighborhood than in topics to be discussed by the UN General Assembly.

"I cannot do a lot, but being President, my voice in the region is heard, analyzed, and criticized, and I will go on," Milanović said as quoted by a statement from his office.

He said that he was dissatisfied with developments in the region, describing Croatia as the most rational stakeholder.

"Fortunately, this is no longer 1990, there is no danger of a serious conflict erupting. But we must follow what is happening in our neighborhood, and people there have been behaving as if war did not happen and no lessons were learned from what happened in the 1990s."

"In all of that, Croatia and the incumbent government, I as President, and my predecessor are the calmest, most conciliatory, and most rational. We are responsible for keeping the region peaceful, safe, and for life in Croatia to stay normal and safe. Croatia is a very safe country," he said.

Despite disagreements on a daily basis, Croatia has never been stabler, Milanović said in his address.

He also again underlined the importance of Croatia making the most of the benefits of its EU membership and fighting for its own interests and repeated his position on COVID-19, calling for lifting epidemiological restrictions.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Zagreb Mobility History: Enjoy Cipelcug Through Past Exhibition

September 20, 2021 - Are you curious about Zagreb mobility history? Head on over to the Zagreb City Museum, learn about it and see how Zagreb's citizens moved around and exercised as the capital of Croatia honors European Mobility Week.

Cipelcug, which is a bit of an outdated but still quite distinct word from Zagreb's own jargon, is a term used for walking and being a pedestrian.

With the word being more commonly used in the historic days of Zagreb's city life, it is only right that the programme ''Cipelcug Through The Past“ which deals with the historical development of Zagreb's transportation, carries such a name. The programme hosted by the Zagreb City Museum (MGZ) already kicked off Saturday, and this Wednesday, September 22, at 11:00, another day of this event is set to take place.

MGZ invites everyone to walk to the museum up in Upper town (Gornji grad) and enjoy the thematic tour looking into the history of Zagreb's public transportation and other ways of moving through the city. In addition, an expert from the Medveščak Sport and Recreation Society will demonstrate how people exercised in the past.

The demonstration will be followed by an opportunity for the visitors to try out some antique exercise props themselves. Participation is free, and you can also look at the permanent exhibition of the museum that stores relics of the earliest human activities in Zagreb's territory, leading all the way up to modern times. This includes, as TCN previously wrote, the display of three previous cannons that took the duty signaling noon for Zagreb's residents before being replaced by today's cannon from the 80's.

The ''Cipelcug Through The Past“ programme is organised to honor and contribute to European Mobility Week (September 16-22), and on a local level, it is part of a ''Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility'' initiative, coordinated by the City of Zagreb.

The City of Zagreb first took this initiative with the World no Car Day back in 2001 and for the past 20 years, it has organised a week-long streak of activities which makes Zagreb a ''Golden participant'' in the eyes of the international community.

''The selection of this year's theme honors the difficulties both Europe and the world witnessed during COVID-19. It celebrates the resilience of cities and their achievements in trying to preserve the momentum. It also reflects the possibilities of changes that come from this public health crisis which has been unseen in Europe until now,'' says the City of Zagreb's official website.

For its efforts in promoting carless mobility and the rich content of its events, Zagreb won the Mobility Award back in 2012.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Monday, 20 September 2021

Help Create Affordable Rimac Nevera: Vote for the LEGO Version

September 20, 2021 - Fancy owning a Rimac Nevera, but a few dollars short of the asking price? Help create the budget version, powered by LEGO.

When I was growing up back in the 15th century, LEGO was king. Simple blocks to build, a chance for childish creativity. I would play for hours. 

There were no distractions of gadgets or the Internet back in those days, and the simple LEGO pieces, which all came in standard sizes, were popular with kids everywhere. 

rimac-nevera-lego_3.jpg

About 10 years ago, I was looking for gifts for my nephews on a trip back to the UK. I was heartened to hear that they were into LEGO, with a special interest in Star Trek and Star Wars. I was admiring their creativity in my head - just how would you build the Starship Enterprise from those simple blocks - until I went into the story. LEGO had clearly moved on, and I left a few minutes later with some custom-made inter-galactic LEGO sets.  

rimac-nevera-lego_4.jpg

And not only is LEGO still thriving, but it is also evolving. One of its coolest features is to encourage innovation in new models. The company encourages its customers to design new products using LEGO pieces, and if there is enough interest (10,000 votes), then the company will consider putting the design into mainstream production.  

This initiative takes some serious planning and dedication for those with a passion, and TCN has featured a couple of designs before. But could this be the ultimate cool LEGO gift for your nephew or niece, a gift to inspire for the future. Meet the proposed LEGO version of the Rimac Nevera!

It is all the brainchild of a fan called platon_dr who tells us a little more about the proposed LEGO version on the official LEGO website

rimac-nevera-lego_5.jpg

The model itself consists of 2127 parts, has an opening boot, doors and several compartments in the interior.

There is no frunk, just in like the real car, all the space in the front is used for making the car faster, than any car before had ever been.

The interior is very accurately copied, there are several opening compartments, the butterfly doors open just like the real ones, except they’re a bit smaller. 

 I must confess that my first reaction to seeing the Rimac Nevera was 'wow!' But platon_dr had another reaction:

The second I saw the car, I thought to myself “this would be a pain to build out of LEGO” and then I took it as a challenge. It would make a great set as LEGO also has to move on into the electric car future.

rimac-nevera-lego_1.jpg

(The real thing - photo by Rimac Automobili)

Want to help make the budget Rimac Nevera a reality? You can voice your support for the idea here

Alternatively, go for a spin with one of the first buyers of the Rimac Nevera, Formula One legend Nico Rosberg.

For more Croatian innovation, check out the TCN Made in Croatia section

Monday, 20 September 2021

USA Visa-Free Travel for Croatians: Decision in Next Few Days, Says Plenković

September 20, 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also confirmed USA Visa-free travel for Croatians, and that a decision should be made in the next few days.

Andrej Plenković said that the USA should abolish visas for Croatia in a few days, reports Index.hr.

"We are about to abolish US visas for Croatian citizens. This should happen in the next few days. We have been working on it for a long time. I think that finally this obstacle, which has slowed down trade and investment flows with the US, is soon behind us," the Croatian prime minister said.

Recall, visas for the United States should be abolished no later than September 30 - the end of the US fiscal year.

During the summer, signals came from the US that this should be the case.

In early August, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken nominated Croatia for the Visa Waiver Program.

"Today, I nominated Croatia to join the Visa Waiver Program. This step towards a visa-free regime signifies Croatia's tremendous progress in meeting strict standards for participating countries. We hope for an even stronger US-Croatian relationship," Blinken wrote on Twitter in August.

Croatia has been working on visa-free travel since 2007. And while abolishing visas has often been linked to the rate of refusals, there has been - and continues to be - intense communication and work to meet strict security criteria.

In the last few years, the Ministry of the Interior has been cooperating intensively with the US Department of Homeland Security on strengthening security capacities, such as border security, migration, and international protection, collecting and analyzing data on cross-border passengers and air passengers, fighting terrorism and terrorist fighters and information exchange.

The abolition of visas has been an unresolved diplomatic issue in relations between the two countries for almost 30 years. To enter the visa-free regime, several preconditions need to be met, and the last that Croatia had to meet was less than three percent of rejected applications.

Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are the only EU members whose visas have not yet been abolished by the United States. In 2014, the European Commission asked the United States to cancel visas for Croatia and other EU countries whose citizens still had to have the document to enter the United States. They even threatened reciprocal measures, but that did not happen.

Poland was excluded from the regime late last year after conducting a campaign to encourage business people and officials who were almost sure to obtain a visa to apply.

A similar campaign was conducted this year by Croatia, which already on September 30 last year, when the fiscal year in America ended, lowered the number of rejected requests to four percent and was no longer far from achieving the goal.

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

Monday, 20 September 2021

COVID-19 Update: 264 New Cases, 14 Deaths, 85 Patients on Ventilators

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - In the past 24 hours 264 coronavirus cases and 14 deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Monday.

There are 7,518 active cases and 695 hospitalized patients, including 85 on ventilators.

Croatia has registered 392,248 coronavirus cases to date, including 8,514 deaths and 376,216 recoveries, of which 1,018 in the past 24 hours.

A total of 20,966 persons are self-isolating.

To date, 2,730,993 persons have been tested for the virus, including 3,863 in the past 24 hours, and 43.93% of the population has been vaccinated, including 52.73% of adults, of whom 49.50% fully.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 20 September 2021

More Than 1000 Workers Currently at Peljesac Bridge and Access Roads

September the 20th, 2021 - Works at the Peljesac bridge site, Croatia's most important stragetic project, are going at full speed as 1000 workers are busy finishing things off and dealing with the access roads.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Peljesac bridge and access road construction site is as busy as ever. More than 1,000 workers are currently employed on this largest construction site in the Republic of Croatia. More precisely, according to Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads), Peljesac bridge and its access roads are being built by a total of 1,098 workers at this moment in time, and when technical and support staff are added, there will be a total of 1,277 people on the ground on site and in the nearby Mali Ston Bay, as reported by Vecernji list.

On the access roads themselves, (more precisely on the Duboka - Sparagovici section) work was being carried out on the wide excavation of the route all the way to the Kamenica tunnel. Between the Dumanja Jaruga bridges (I and II) and the Debeli brijeg tunnel, work is currently being done on the construction of an external drainage system, and on the Dumanja Jaruga I bridge, the construction of columns as well as the first segment of the span structure on pillar S1 has now been completed.

On the Dumanja Jaruga II bridge, two segments of the span structure were constructed with the help of a cage, and the foundation was concreted on the S1 pillar. At the Zaradeza junction, excavation works are underway for the future Zaradeza traffic control centre, where walls, horizontal and vertical circles are currently being built. In the Debeli Brijeg tunnel (1424 metres in length), which was breached back in December, works on the construction of waterproofing, reprofiling and sub-concrete are continuing. A total of 296 workers are engaged on this section of the access roads, of which 61 are technical staff.

On the Ston bypass and the Sparagovici - Papratno - Doli road section, among other things, all segments have been drawn up on the Prapratno viaduct. Works on the steel structure and AKZ are also now in progress. The excavation of the Polakovica tunnel (1242 metres) has been completed, and a wide full profile excavation is now being carried out. The Supava tunnel (1290 metres) also now breaks through on two sides (and entrance and an exit).

On the Ston bridge (485 metres), reinforced concrete works on the head of the S5 pillar have now been completed. Reinforced concrete works on the construction of the pillar of the S3 pillar are in progress. The reinforced concrete foundation of the S4 staircase has been completed and reinforced concrete works on the construction of the pillar of the S4 staircase are in progress. Works on the head of the pillar of the S2 pillar and reinforced concrete works on the abutments of the Ston U1 and U7 bridges are in progress and the second phase of the wall and wings of the U7 abutment has been completed. A total of 330 workers are engaged in various jobs on the Peljesac bridge construction site, along with 33 members of the technical and administrative staff.

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

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