Monday, 16 January 2023

Security Consulting for Tourism & Event Industry: Meet Goran Košćak of Sector2

January 17, 2023 - The tourism event industry is a major part of the Croatian economy, but who is taking pat of large event security. Meet Goran Košćak of Sector2. 

The tourism industry has many facets, and there are many aspects that contribute to its success which rarely make the headlines. With an increasingly number of festivals and larger events in Croatia, the issue of event security is more and more relevant. I recently came across an enterprising Varazdin entrepreneur who has launched a new niche business within the tourism security industry.

The man behind the story is Goran Košćak. He is the founder and executive director of Sector2 d.o.o. from Varaždin, a company providing security consulting and solutions in tourism and event industry. So, Hi Goran and tell us about how and when you got the idea for your company and for this type of business model.

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Hi, Paul. One could argue that the correlation between security and tourism is understood and inevitable. Even in its etymology, security, with the core of the term coming from Latin securitas is translated as the absence of worries. Tourism has the absence of worries as the essence of its very concept. Meaning, that the very last thing you want to or need to worry about when enjoying your holiday or attending your festival is your own security.

In analyzing the market of tourism, hotels or camping sites and events, business subjects rely heavily on the government and local public service to provide the expected level of security and do not engage properly in raising the security of their own destinations. For example, how many hotel resorts or camping sites have a corporate or any other security department or an individual responsible for security issues on the site? Agonizingly few, and often issues of security are delegated to maintenance, facility management or human resources departments. Organizers of festivals, conferences, and similar events tend to have security budgets; however, it often comes down to security guards. Security is a much broader concept than that, and physical security is not the only way to address potential threats. Whether it is an organizational adjustment, smart solutions, AI integration, infrastructural design, or sometimes just more security guards, the solutions for every client are individual and unique. Maximizing your security is not a generical assignment.

The idea originated back in 2015 after the terrorist attacks in Tunisia beach resort and museums, where attackers targeted tourists and a total of 60 people were killed. During that time, I was working on matters of national security and was analyzing security policies in Croatia. I began to understand that there are significant differences in public policies (goals and outcomes) in matters of tourism and security on national level, implementation on the local level and operational product in the real sector. In the upcoming years there were multiple reports of kidnappings in Mexico's tourism resorts because of their drug wars. As a result, hotel resorts in those and other countries in the World started investing to build up their security and provide their guests with a level of higher security and reduced risk (closed resorts etc.). Still, I could not find any adequate business model in Croatia, one that would address similar issues. And one must take into consideration that Croatia's economy is one of the most dependent on tourism in the EU (24.8% of GDP according to WTTC data). The idea grew, was developed, and organized over the last couple of years.

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As we learned in recent years, threats to your tourist season do not have to come from near proximity to your destination. The global village we all lived in for the last couple of decades is going through fundamental changes with the forming of blocks of countries influencing the flow of goods and people related to tourism. An example is how the Ukraine-Russia conflict influenced the Montenegrin and other tourism seasons. Then again, the effects of the pandemic are still ongoing, the aviation traveling industry is still recovering, the migrant routes are still active, demographic effects on the labor market are as relevant as ever not only in Croatia. Cyber-attacks happen every day, we had a couple of extremist attacks in the EU just in the last couple of years (France, Belgium, Turkey, Austria), potential outcomes of Chinese-Taiwan conflicts on microprocessors shortage can influence the EU’s economy any month now, and there is a foreshadowing of a severe recession in Europe, especially, Germany, the country with the biggest incoming tourist's percentage in Croatia. To name a few. Anybody who works in tourism can testify to how some of these events have influenced or could influence the tourism season in the coming years.

However, there are ways in which one can prepare and organize so that when those changes happen, they do not set your organization back and through the process you build resilience of your organization for the years to come.

Sector2 focuses on the two intertwined sectors (tourism and event industry) in two ways - praxis and theory. Its services include operational and analytical support based on overarching principles of security for tourism resorts/destinations and standalone events/congresses. Also, we offer coaching, educational programs and policy analysis on the correlation between Security and Tourism. It is our strong position that even by investing in the training of the management or staff you can raise the level of security at a particular destination. Our services will contribute to the sustainability of your business, project, or location and offer you a marginal advantage towards your competition. 

It all sounds very logical and straightforward. What do you believe sets you apart in the tourism market and what services and type of consulting is your company providing?

What sets Sector2 apart is the fact that there is no other company that focuses on these issues in this field across the region and that the professional experience that it brings is extremely specific. Our past is our biggest asset. Over the past seventeen years, I have personally been fortunate to have jobs that I have enjoyed and that have given me the opportunity to grow, learn and develop. For the first six years I have worked in tourism, dealing with various assignments and handling projects in marketing, PR, event, destination, and project management. Then, for more than a decade afterwards I have been involved with different matters of security, specifically international relations and diplomacy, security policies, intelligence and counterintelligence, national and corporate security, and risk management in the practical, analytical, and theoretical sense. I have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and networking contacts in these areas, which merged and resulted in the forming of the Sector2 company. Sector2 is the professional culmination of my experience, knowledge, skill, and interests.

The range of consultancy Sector2 provides goes from critical architecture and infrastructure, forming of security rings/areas, access control, credentialing, risk assessment, security protocols, crisis communication, security auditing, business intelligence, facilitation of video surveillance, cyber protection, data storage, data recovery, cooperation with local and national security services, standard corporative security, and other services. It also serves as a hub for companies that are well versed and experienced in the specific fields mentioned.

While evaluating the market, it became obvious that business owners in the tourism sector do not contemplate issues of security at all or until it is too late. Allowing Sector2 to evaluate their situation and give recommendations can improve not only their security and the security of their guests but also the quality of their product. Security consulting and recommendation of different solutions can be viewed as a way of risk evasion in insurance sense. Even better, we are developing a model of cooperation with two big insurance companies which would benefit business subjects in tourism. With the reduced risk of your destination or project, and the safer environment, there is no reason your insurance premiums should not be reduced.

Security can function with multiple purposes. Sector2 identifies major security risks and develops a set of agendas for managing them, which facilitate operations, prioritize protecting people and other organizational assets while supporting your vision and goals. We provide a coordinating service, marshaling relevant internal and external resources to provide a holistic response always guided by organizational objectives (Gill, 2022). It is our company goal to make your hotel resort, camping site or event profits and reduce losses. Sector2 individualizes and adapts the security needs of tourism/event organizations to add value to your business, enhance your product, and elevate the guaranties of your set goals.

An advantage we bring to the table is the specific experience. Tourism and event industry have delicate natures and viewing it solely from the security aspect could damage the organizational goals. It is rare for someone to embody that sense in one business model and that is exactly what we take pride in. In the last year alone, among our clients were hotels in Croatia and Austria, and we have worked on the biggest and most attractive festivals in Croatia such as the Ultra Europe Music Festival and Fusion World Music Festival in Split, Balkans Finest Competition on the Željava Air Base, and the Phoenix Project.

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How do you evaluate the recent substantial changes in Croatia and how will it influence the tourism season, specifically the entrance in the Schengen- and Euro-zone? If you can focus on possible negative effects on tourism and how would you address them. Just some examples to see how Sector2 operates.

The positive effects on the Croatian tourism could be tremendous, most likely incremental, and I absolutely support both achievements. However, let us talk about the flipside of this euro-coin, risk-wise. There is less security on the border (direction EU) now so local and regional security services are going to have a lot more on their hands, especially during the tourist season. Therefore, I expect that the involvement of business subjects in matters of resolving security issues and raising security awareness on their properties will be expected to rise. For instance, there is a much higher possibility now than before that some persona non grata or illegal substances appear on your destination. Now that there is a border control missing. There are ways to contribute to the safety of your destination. Whether by education of your management and/or staff, better cooperation with the local services on these issues, implementing or adjusting the access control on the site, installing video surveillance with specific software or some other individual solution adequate for your destination or event. Sector2 is here to evaluate and facilitate your requirements and challenges.

The entering of the Eurozone should simplify many aspects of financial wellbeing for tourists in Croatia, especially foreign ones, in comparison to before. Even so, let me focus on the potential security issues tourism resorts and events could encounter. Primarily, one can expect that there will be a significant rise in foreign tourists coming with larger amounts of cash. That logically increases the possibility of counterfeited bills in circulation. If we take into consideration that your resort or event has many registers or micro locations selling items (bars, souvenir shops, leisure activities etc.), we can agree that there is a bigger chance that your organization is going to be affected by it. Also, visibly large cash amounts usually invite thieves or similar individuals. There are solutions for those issues as well. For instance, implementing a cashless system in your resort or event. That way all your financial intake has a bigger control. The Tax services are going to love it because it is easier to control, and inspections will go faster. There will be no money missing in the register by the end of the chaotic shift because there is no cash to go missing. People can use credit or debit cards, phones, apps, or specific RFID tags to pay their bills. In that sense, you gain control and secure a lot of the aspects of your destination/event.

To wrap things up, do you consider Croatia a safe country for the incoming tourists?

Absolutely. I am quite sure that you have mentioned quite a few times in your articles, interviews, and podcasts how safe Croatia is. And I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is not a safer tourist destination in the world I would recommend.

Then again, there is a significant difference between security and the perception of security, in tourism especially. If you can address both then you are on to something. Since I am speaking to a native English speaker, I would like to take advantage of an English saying, Grace Hopper I believe, “that the most dangerous phrase in English language is we have always done it this way.” Since it also applies to Croatia and our ways, I would not recommend tourism business subjects to rely heavily on everyone else to provide security and risk-free environment to their guests and clients, but to be progressive and contribute themselves to keep Croatia the safest tourism destination.

You can contact Goran for more information about his services via the Sector2 website.

Monday, 16 January 2023

4 Million Euros Pumped into Strengthening Zagreb Airport Military Mobility

January the 16th, 2023 - Zagreb Airport military mobility is set to be strengthened with a generous four million euro cash injection from European Union (EU) funds.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the European Union recently approved more than four million euros from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) fund for military mobility to finance the reconstruction of maneuvering areas to improve the civil-military operability of Zagreb's Franjo Tudjman International Airport.

As announced by the Ministry of Defence, Zagreb Airport military mobility is going to be boosted after the airport submitted its project to an EU tender. One of the conditions for obtaining the aforementioned funds was the support of the Ministry of Defense in the form of an explanation of the usefulness of the project for the Croatian Armed Forces.

The Zagreb Airport military mobility project includes the reconstruction of parts of the driving track, the replacement of various pieces of electronic equipment and installations, and the replacement of part of the vertical signaling on the maneuvering surfaces. Defense Minister Mario Banozic also pointed out that the goal of the project, among other things, is to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation in the context of the construction of civil-military transport infrastructure.

"The approval of financing from EU funds confirmed the value of this project, as well as the importance of cooperation between military and civilian institutions. I believe that we will continue on this path and with this same level of intensity," said Banozic.

The call for improving overall Zagreb Airport military mobility under the CEF instrument was announced back in May 2022, and in the sense of the wider military mobility project at hand, 63 applications from all over the EU worth more than 1.5 billion euros were received, of which 35 were approved, totalling a whopping 616 million euros.

Back in 2022, the Ministry of Defense, in cooperation with other competent central bodies of the state administration, adopted the Military Mobility Plan, where one of the goals was to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation and prepare projects for possible co-financing from the EU financial envelope for military mobility for the construction of civil-military transport infrastructure.

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

Monday, 16 January 2023

Croatian Citizen Support for Sanctions Against Russian Federation at 76%

January the 16th, 2023 - Croatian citizen support for sanctions imposed by Croatia and the entire European Union (EU) against Russia for its horrific treatment of Ukraine stands at 76%.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, within the European Union, Croatian citizen support for sanctions against the Russian Federation is above the average, as is its unwavering support for Ukraine. This was confirmed by a recent Eurobarometer survey, according to which 76% of respondents in Croatia stated that they fully or mostly support both Croatian and EU policies regarding events regarding Russia and Ukraine.

The average at the level of the European Union stopped at 73% of support, and it is interesting to look into what the obtained data shows for each individual country. Convincingly, the greatest support for sanctions was expressed in Finland and Sweden, where it stands at almost 100%, with both countries standing at 96%.

Those countries are followed by countries that do not border either Russia or Ukraine (Netherlands 93%, Denmark 92%, Ireland 91%, Portugal 90%) in which support for a complete cooling of relations with Russia is even higher than in Poland (89%) and Lithuania ( 88%).

Arguably, the least support for the European Union's policy towards Russia can be found in Greece, where not even half of the respondents were inclined to show full solidarity with the wartorn and devastated Ukraine. Almost the entire number of countries that made up the former Eastern bloc - Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - are below the European Union average in this regard. Another country showcasing relatively low support (62%) for the sanctions against Russia is also Italy.

Only 8% of citizens within the entire EU stated that they were completely and utterly against the policy of imposing sanctions against the Russian Federation for their abhorrent actions against neighbouring Ukraine which began with a shock invasion in February 2022, while there is a higher percentage of those who are "more in favour" (42%) of such sanctions than there are of those who are completely in favour.

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

Monday, 16 January 2023

Exploring The Croatian Language - The Shtokavian Dialect

January the 16th, 2023 - We've looked into many a dialect, but what about what's known as a ''prestige dialect''? of the modern (standard) Croatian language? A look deeper into the Shtokavian dialect, part of the wider family of South Slavic dialects.

We've explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously.

That goes without even mentioning much about old DalmatianZaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian. Shtokavian is far less obscure than the majority of the above, with the exception of Kajkavian and Chakavian, and forms the basis of the Croatian language standard as we know it today.

If you're not a linguist and you hear the words Shtokavian, Kajkavian or Chakavian, you're probably thinking ''what?!''. Did you know that the question of ''what'' is so valid in this context that it makes up the beginning of each of these names? In the parts of the country where the Western Shtokavian dialect is dominant, the Croatian word for ''what'' is ''shto'', and for the areas of the country where Kajkavian is used, the word for what changes to ''kaj'', and - you guessed it - for Chakavian, people typically say ''cha''.

Where is the Shtokavian dialect used?

In the modern day, Shtokavian is used in much of Croatia, as well as in Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even in parts of Austria (more precisely in Burgenland).

A brief history of the Shtokavian dialect

For the sake of this article not turning into a book, I'll be focusing on the use of the Shtokavian dialect solely in the Croatian sense, and we first see it appear way back in the 12th century, then splitting off into two zones; Eastern and Western - one encompassed Serbia, the more eastern parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and further south in Montenegro, while the other was dominant in Slavonia and in most of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We can read early texts written in the Shtokavian dialect which are dated as far back as the 1100s, one of the most important of them all being the regulation of commerce between Dubrovnik and Bosnia, called the Ban Kulin Charter. Other legal documentation also boasts the dialect from across Dalmatia during the pre-Ottoman era, and Dubrovnik stands out quite a lot in this regard. Another important text written in the Shtokavian dialect is the Vatican Croatian Prayer Book which was published before the year 1400 in Dubrovnik.

Are there different dialects within the wider Shtokavian dialect?

In short - yes. There are a great many dialects (or subdialects) of the Shtokavian dialect which are or were spoken in different areas of not only Croatia but within the wider region. As I said before, for the sake of this article not becoming a book, I'll focus only on Shtokavian spoken in Croatia, and as such draw your attention to Slavonian (old Shtokavian), Bosnian-Dalmatian (neo Shtokavian), Eastern Herzegovian (neo Shtokavian) and the Dubrovnik subdialect (neo Shtokavian).

Slavonian

Meet Podravian/Podravski and Posavian/Posavski (just when you thought this couldn't possibly get any more needlessly complicated). This form of speech is spoken primarily by Croats from Baranja, Slavonia and areas of the wider Pannonian plain. The aforementioned subdialects (Posavian and Podravian) are the northern and southern variants of the dialect, and there are ethnic Croats who speak it outside of Croatia's modern borders in parts of northern Bosnia, as well. The two subdialects boast two accents, Ikavian and Ekavian. 

Bosnian-Dalmatian

This dialect is sometimes referred to as Younger Ikavian and most people who speak it are ethnic Croats from a wide range of modern Croatia - spanning from Dalmatia all the way to Lika and Kvarner. Outside of Croatian borders, you'll also find people who speak it in Subotica (Serbia) and in Herzegovina, and to a much lesser extent in areas around Central Bosnia. Unlike with Slavonian, the only accent heard in the Bosnian-Dalmatian pronunciation of the wider Shtokavian dialect is Ikavian.

Eastern Herzegovian

This is the most widespread subdialect of the Shtokavian dialect of all, encompassing vast areas of Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Of all of the subdialects of the Shtokavian dialect, Eastern Herzegovian (or Eastern Herzegovinian) has the largest number of speakers. 

The Dubrovnik dialect (Ragusan)

You can read more about the Dubrovnik dialect (or subdialect) by clicking here.

Standard Croatian is based on the neo Shtokavian dialect, but despite that, it took over four centuries for this dialect to gain enough ground and eventually prevail as the basis for modern Croatian, with other dialects (including Kajkavian and Chakavian) falling short primarily owing to not only historical reasons but because of usually turbulent political issues.

 

For more on exploring the Croatian language, as well as the numerous dialects and subdialects spoken in different areas across the country, and even a look into endangered and extinct languages, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

2023 World Handball Championship: Croatia Back on Track, Beats USA 40:22

January 15, 2023 - After losing to Egypt on Friday, Croatia found their rhythm and beat the USA 40:22 in the second match of the 2023 World Handball Championship.

Croatia was after their first victory against the USA in Group G of the World Handball Championship on Sunday in Sweden. Recall Croatia lost to Egypt in the first round on Friday 22:31. 

The USA defeated Morocco 28:27 on Friday to earn its first World Championship win, breaking their 25-game losing streak.

Before tonight's game, Croatia played one match against the USA at the World Championship, in 2001 in France, when they won (41:12).

Losing to Egypt did not threaten Croatia's chance for a spot in the second round of this competition, but it made the path to the quarter-finals a bit more difficult, which was the first goal of this new Croatia team.

Josip Šarac was in the lineup for tonight's match, while Zvonimir Srna watched the match from the stands. 

Match recap

The USA did not take advantage of their first attack, but Croatia did. Karačić scored for 1:0. Blanco leveled the score for 1:1 in the 3rd minute. 

Musa scored after a nice assist from Šarac. Ian Hueter scored, but Šarac quickly countered. The USA took the lead at 4:3 in the 6th minute. 

Musa made it 4:4 two minutes later. After goals from Jelinić, Šarac, Glavaš, and Karačić, it was 9:5 for Croatia in the 12th minute. And it was 12:5 for Croatia in the 14th minute. 

After a few goals from the USA, it was 13:7 for Croatia in the 17th minute. Glavaš scored a penalty for 14:7 in the 19th minute. 

Jelinić scored for 15:7 in the 22nd minute. In the 26th minute, Šarac made it 17:8. Cindrić scored his first goal of the game in the 29th minute. 

The first half ended 20:10 for Croatia. 

A nice play and goal by Karačić opened the second half. Šarac scored his 5th goal of the game in the 34th minute and scored again for 25:12 in the 36th minute. 

Mihićev scored his first goal of the game one minute later. Karačić scored his 5th goal in the 43rd minute for +15 - 30:15.

With 10 minutes to go, Croatia was up 32:18. 

Karačić scored for 33:18 in the 52nd minute. With this result, Croatia has mathematically secured their spot in the second round. 

With five minutes to go, Croatia led 37:20. 

And with a minute left, it was 39:22 for Croatia. Mihić scored the final goal for the game for 40:22. 

Croatia's next game is against Morocco on Tuesday, January 17, at 20:30. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

International Supermarket Tourism: More than Lidl near Bregana Border

January 15, 2023 - Niche cross-border tourism doesn't get much publicity, but Schengen and the euro have brought a new type to Slovenia from Croatia - international supermarket tourism.

For decades it was known (to me at least) for only two things - the largest border crossing befween Croatian and Zagreb (where I and many others have spent hours in border queues), and the only place I knew that had a pub with the bar in one country and the toilets in another (you can read about that in Fortress Europe? Meet Slovenia's Open Schengen Crossing with Croatia.

Bregana. Just 20 minutes from Zagreb, the Slovenian border town now has a new lease of life with its open border with Croatia and more affordable shopping - international supermarket tourism. 

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I first came across niche cross-border tourism a few years ago in Baranja close to the Hungarian border, where an enterprising ice-cream vendor with a Dinamo Zagreb ice cream parlour was doing a roaring trade with Hungarian clientele. Not one for Hajduk fans perhaps, but Slasticarnica Dinamo in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo is located just 2km from the Hungarian border. The ice cream is so good (and it really is) that many Hungarians come over for an ice cream. And that was before the borders were without checkpoints. 

But Bregana is already doing a roaring trade with a steady stream of cars from the Croatian capital popping over the border to shop at the Lidl supermarket in nearby Brezice. The introduction of the euro in Croatia has enabled consumers to compare prices in the same supermarket chain in stores in Croatia and Slovenia. There have been several articles on the subject, with a shopping basket of 100 euro in the Lidl store in Croatia being 20% more expensive than its Slovenian counterpart, this despite the average salaries in Croatia being significantly lower than in Slovenia. As previously reported on TCN, Lidl Croatia Explain Why the Same Products are Cheaper in Slovenia.

But if Bregana and its open border is now reinventing itself as a gateway to cheap supermarket option for Croatian consumers, why not encourage Croatian consumers to learn more (and spend more) in the town itself? A rather enterprising article promoted by the Slovenian Embassy in Zagreb which appeared in Jutarnji List highlights 12 things to check out in nearby Brezice while on your next Lidl trip. I, for one, had no inkling of Bregana and the surrounding area other than a border crossing town, but there is plenty to investigate in Brezice apart from Lidl, it seems. Learn more in the original Jutarnji article

 

 

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Croatian President Milanovic: What Should We Be, American Slaves?

January 15, 2023 - Croatian President Milanovic with some forthright views on several current issues, reports Index.hr

PRESIDENT Zoran Milanović participated in the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the international recognition of the Republic of Croatia and the 25th anniversary of the end of the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region in Vukovar. At the beginning, he commented on the refusal of SDSS representatives to come to the celebration of the anniversary of peaceful reintegration, reports N1.

"I think they should have come, even though I know it's not easy. This was a conflict between two sides, and now there is peace and things are moving forward somehow. I know they can't have an attitude like mine, but I don't expect that either," said Zoran Milanović.

"Plenković spits on Croatian citizens in foreign media"

The president then commented on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's interview for the French media, in which he touched on his statements on the issue of training Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia. "You spit on Croatian representatives and Croatian citizens in the French media," he said and added: "Never insult the democratic representatives of your citizens and your citizens in foreign media. That is the minimum etiquette."

Plenković told the France 24 channel yesterday that the decision of parliament members that Croatia does not participate in the European Union's mission to support the Ukrainian army (EUMAM) was a "historically wrong choice".

Milanović said today that the decision on the training of Ukrainian soldiers or any involvement in the war should be the choice of Croatia, which should not do what the bigger powers impose on it. "Washington and NATO are waging a proxy war against Russia through Ukraine. And vice versa. However, if you don't have the ultimate goal, if you don't have a plan, then it ends up like Afghanistan," Milanović said.

The president, who previously opposed Croatia's participation in the mission several times, repeated that it is "legally very doubtful". "The decision is that for the first time in its history, the EU is participating in a war. And this is against the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, because it only foresees missions outside the territory of the EU," Milanović said.

"The plan cannot be to remove Putin"

"The plan cannot be to remove Putin. The plan cannot be sanctions. This is nonsense. We will not achieve anything. They didn't even break Milosevic with sanctions. They go from war to war. What should we be? American slaves?" he added.

The president was also asked about rounding off, i.e. increasing prices after the introduction of the euro.

"They should have hired an entire army of inspectors to look around. However, the prices have been displayed in euros and kunas for months. We don't live in the Soviet Union. I would expect someone to tell the government. It is the customer who has the most power. He should say : 'You're underestimating me, you're underestimating my intelligence and I'm going to someone else,'" he said.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Exploring Croatian Traditions: Vinkovo, Saint Vincent Blessing Vineyards

January 16, 2023 - If it's sunny on Vinkovo, then " into the barrels abundant wine will flow". If a sparrow bathes in a puddle on that day, winemakers will "bathe" in wine in autumn. If it's a dry day, there won't be any wine either. There is a direct correlation between how much wine the winemakers drink and how fruitful their grapes will be. Those are some of the beliefs associated with the feast of one of the most beloved saints among winemakers. St. Vincent found his place in the calendar on January 22. As Croatian tradition clearly and long has stated, a visit to the vineyards is non-negotioble on the day, regardless of the winter weather conditions.

As Agroklub writes, many traditions are tied to Vincekovo, Vinceška, Vincelovo, Vinkovo... as this holiday is called in different parts of continental Croatia, but the most common one is the blessing of vines.

A blessing for a more fruitful harvest

In a prayer with the priest, winemakers with their friends invoke God's blessing "for bountiful harvests and abundant fruits of all kinds, above all rich grapes" in the coming year, but also protection of the vines from frost, hail, disease, pests... in short, anything that can cause damage.

In the east of Croatia, holy water is sprinkled or blessed wine poured over a vine on which kulen, sausage or schvargl are hanged. This will ensure that the year's clusters of grapes are at least the same size as the meat.

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Steve Tsentserensky

In some places, the host consecrates the vineyard by sprinkling holy water on all four sides or pouring blessed wine in its four corners. In the northwestern parts of the country, a prayer is said to God to protect the vine and keep it safe from hail and frost, and to St. Vincent for a good year ahead. The traditional prayer in Croatian: "Dragi Bog čuvaj trsa mog, evo Ti zrelog vina da bu dobra godina. Oblake razmakni, sunce primakni, mraza zgoni, na tuču zvoni. Se bum obdelal da bi v jesen popeval. Rozgvu si bum zel i vu vodu del. Sv. Vincek pokaži svetu kak bu vu novom letu".

And just as this prayer says, the host then takes a pair of scissors and with the first cut of the vine marks the beginning of the year's pruning and thus symbolically starts the new season. A cut off branch is taken into the house, where it buds in a warm place, and based on the number of buds, the hosts can predict how fruitful their crop and the year's harvest will be.

Kulen for the Vincilir (Vineyard Master)

Traditionally, after the "official" part, many guests toast with good wine to a successful start of the year, cheerfully singing, next to an open fire. And where there's fire, there's bacon or sausage roasteing on sticks, maybe some shepherd's or wine bean stew cooking. The crowd also enjoys the kulen that hanged on the blessed vine. Traditionally, though, this kulen would be given as a reward to the Vincilir, the man who looked after and cultivated the vineyards 'as if it were his own'. This stems from times when Vincilirs had to travel by horse-drawn carriages from the Slavonian villages to the vineyards, which took a lot of time and energy.

In some Croatian regions, this celebration is exclusively for men,since according to another popular belief, the presence of children or women would invite hail.

In Moslavina, on the other hand, beliefs dictate that there should be enough wine at the celebration to last until the evening, because otherwise (again) hail would destroy the vineyard. If water leaks from the eaves on the day, the year will be wet and the harvest rich. To protect themselves from evil spells, people there hang a wreath of garlic on the porch.

Some winemakers also open their cellars for the blessing of young wine, so on that day fans of this elixir can have a long celebration with a spontaneous tour of several cellars along a wine road. It is practically unimaginable that any host who cares about their reputation does not host everyone who comes by on that day.

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Steve Tsentserensky

Five "commanded" holidays

It is interesting that the 'wine saint' does not really have any concrete connection with vineyards or wine, if this clarification is sought in a religious sense. According to his biography, this early Christian martyr, deacon Vincentius lived in Spain, today's Saragossa, in the 4th century, during Diocletian's persecution of Christians. In order to renounce his faith, the proconsul Dacian subjected him to terrible torture and threw his body to the beasts. According to the legend, his tortured body was saved by a raven, so he was thrown into the sea with a stone around its neck, but the sea washed his body ashore. He is commemorated on the day he died in 304, and his relics are preserved in Lisbon.

It is to be assumed, therefore, that the connection can be sought with some pre-Christian or pagan ritual of farmers, given that it is in the calendar part of the year when the beginning of the new vegetation and the new cycle of agricultural work is expected. Some associate the celebration of Vinkovo St. Vincent with the god Dionysus, who was celebrated in ancient Greece at the beginning of February. Barrels with new wine would be opened, all to be drunk, thus marking, just like Vinkovo, the awakening of nature.

Most people support the simplest interpretation, according to which they began to worship this saint as their patron because the root of his name in many languages is 'wine'.

All in all, Vinkovo is one of the five "commanded" holidays of winemakers rooted in Croatian tradition. There are also St. Juraj (April 23), St. John the Baptist (June 24), St. Michael (September 29) and St. Martin (November 11). Traditions dictate that for Jurjevo new vines should be planted, while pruning, fertilizing and digging of the old vines should be completed. For St. John the Baptist, the vines are should be weeded and sprayed for the second time. After this memorial day in the vineyard, the vines are plucked and regular spraying is done, then Miholje awaits, which marks the beginning of the harvest. Active work ends, and winemaking begins for Martinje, when young wine, freshly produced must is blessed.

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

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from Posao.hr (January 14, 2023)

January 14, 2023 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency, Posao.hr, who present a selection of weekly job listings.

How hard is it to find a job in Croatia, and what is on offer?

We spoke to Ines Bokan, director of leading jobs site Posao.hr, who kindly took the time for this excellent interview overview.  

Ines has kindly agreed to work with us on a new weekly feature on TCN - a weekly selection of 10 job listings, as chosen by Posao.hr.  Details and links to the job opportunities below in the latest edition of this feature.

The Zagreb School of Economics and Management is hiring a person for the position of Director for executive education programs (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. Send complete applications via link until Jan 23th.

Iconis d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position of React.js developer (m/f). Place of work Rijeka / Zagreb or remote. Salary from €1,500 to €2,900 and bonus for the end of the year up to €330. Send complete applications via link by Jan 19th.

dotSource is hiring a DevOps Engineer (f/m/x). Place of work Rijeka. Your work-life balance is important to us – flexible working hours, home office and fitness incentives. Send complete applications via link by Feb 11th.

Gi Group Staffing Solutions is hiring a Junior Architect (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. Previous experience in a similar work field will be highly appreciated. Send complete applications via link until January 20th.

posao.hr is hiring a sales consultant (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. The possibility of receiving a salary bonus. Send complete applications via link by January 16th.

Tesla is hiring a person in the position of Mechanical / Electrical Technician (m/f). Gigafactory location Berlin - Brandenburg, Germany. Support for moving and traveling to work. Send complete applications via link by February 10th.

Lindner Montage + Service GmbH is hiring a person in the position of Structural Engineer / Construction Designer (m/f). The place of work Arnstorf / Leipzig (Germany) or the surroundings of Zagreb (Croatia). For this position we offer you comprehensive training, a long-term perspective, work from home and a dynamic work environment. Send complete applications via link until Jan 24th.

Scalable Global Solutions d.d. is hiring a person in the position of C#/.NET Software Developer (m/f/d). Workplace Zagreb. Experience in the development of software for real-time systems or embedded systems. Send complete applications via link until Jan 31th.

Rittmeyer AG is hiring a person for the position of Project Manager IT (a). Place of work Baar, Switzerland. We also offer attractive employment conditions and are a well-positioned company in a market environment with future potential. Send complete applications via link by Feb 3th.

Eumetsat is hiring a Remote Sensing Scientist – Hyperspectral Infrared Level-2 Products (m/f) for work in Darmstadt, Germany. The company is offering an excellent salary of up to 7.500 € net per month, flexible working time, private medical coverage, and much more. Apply via this link by Feb 2nd.

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For more career options and job listings, visit posao.hr.

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These weekly job listings will appear in the weekly TCN newsletter - you can subscribe here.

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Saturday, 14 January 2023

Free Guided Tours in Over 40 Croatian Cities - Get to Know Your Country

January 14, 2023 - "Get to know your country" is a project of the Croatian Tourist Board of free guided tours organised in more than 40 Croatian cities on Sunday, January 15, for the Day of International Recognition of the Republic of Croatia, the Association of Croatian Tour Guides announced on Wednesday.

As Gloria writes, the tours will be provided all over Croatia, and in almost all cities, they will start at noon. There are a couple of exceptions where the programme will be coordinated with other celebration protocols, such as Vukovar marking peaceful reintegration, or Cres, where the tour will happen a day early due to the start of the carnival.

The association of guides implemented the project in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), several partners, and with the support of many museums, historical units, and cultural institutions.

The campaign has been carried out since 2018; the president of the Association of Croatian Tourist Guides, Kristina Nuić Prka, reminds Hina and points out that it has received a great response from the local citizens, which she expects this year as well.

Hidden stories

There was a break in 2021 due to the pandemic; in 2022 it continued, and this year a large number of citizens are expected to join.

"In the first year, we included 60 cities, there were more than five thousand participants, and though it is difficult to say how many will participate this year, the interest is great. It is important that people know about their cultural and historical heritage because in the age of globalisation when national identities are lost, this is our wealth in difference", said Nuić Prka.

In addition to national identity and cultural heritage, this, as she emphasizes, once again points to the importance of tourist workers and guides for Croatia's international reputation.

"We invite all citizens to learn about cities across Croatia and discover the hidden stories with their tourist guides. Every citizen of Croatia can be a promoter and ambassador of their homeland, and it is good to know its history, culture, and other details", believes Prka Nuić, who thanked fellow guides and volunteers, thanks to whom the project costs nothing but provides a lot.

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

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