Sunday, 16 April 2023

Jakov Bočkaj (21), Young Soldier Beaten to Death in Požega

April 16, 2023 - A young soldier, Jakov Bočkaj, has died, beaten to death by a friend. The police have released new information, reports

Jakov Bočkaj (21), a young soldier who was brutally beaten on the night of Friday to Saturday on the main square in Požega, DIED.

Doctors at the Požega General Hospital fought for the young man's life, but this morning around 9:20 he died from his injuries.

The police arrested 20-year-old M.K., who is from the same place as the young soldier, for the beating. Apparently, they were friends and went out together that night.

New police statement
After the announcement of the death of 21-year-old Jakov Bočkaj, the police announced that they had completed the criminal investigation of a 20-year-old Croatian citizen suspected of having committed the crime of grievous bodily harm resulting in death.

Namely, on Saturday, April 15, 2023, around 2:15 a.m. in Požega, on Trg Svetog Trojstva in the parking lot, after a short verbal argument, the suspect physically attacked a 21-year-old man, hitting him several times in the head area.

As a result of the blows, the 21-year-old man fell to the floor, and the suspect continued to hit him a few more times and left the scene. The injured 21-year-old was transported to the General County Hospital in Požega, where he died as a result of his injuries in the morning on Sunday, April 16.

After completing the criminal investigation, the suspect was criminally reported to the competent state attorney and handed over to the custody supervisor, the Požega-Slavonia police announced.

The young soldier and the attacker were friends
The portal announced that the two young men were longtime friends who practically grew up together and that they were out together that night. Nothing is still known about the motives for the beating.

"They grew up together from a young age, only a year apart. They hung out, shared the good and the bad. They were inseparable," the locals told the portal in disbelief.

M.K. and the beaten Jakov shared the pitch of the football club for which they both played, trained and went to matches.

The beaten young man's friends from primary and secondary school, fellow residents and teammates from the football club are in shock. They said he was a very good boy. Pož also announced that Jakov remained in the Croatian army, while other family members went to work in Germany. After the news about their son's beating, the parents returned to Croatia.

Banožić and Hranj announced themselves
The Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Admiral Robert Hranj, spoke about the death of the young soldier.

"The tragically cut short life of this young Croatian soldier is an irreparable loss for the entire Croatian Army, and at this moment we share with you all the sadness and pain due to this heavy loss.

Jakov was one of those brave young men who decided to make his own way in the Croatian Army, and for everything he did for it, I thank him immensely. May the Croatian country that he loved so much rest in peace. May he rest in peace," wrote Minister Banožić in a telegram of condolence that he sent personally and on behalf of the entire Ministry of Defense and the Croatian Army.

The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, Admiral Robert Hranj, also expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the member of the Croatian Army, Jakov Bočkaj, on the occasion of his tragic death, the Ministry of Defence announced.

The Ministry of Defense announced earlier that he was found unconscious in the parking lot of Trg Svetog Trojstva around 2:25 on the night of April 15, 2023. They also stated that a member of the Croatian army was off duty during the event.

The attacker pretended to the police that he was just a passer-by, he pretended to help
As Dnevnik Nova TV reported, the brutal attack was recorded by surveillance cameras. According to them, it was a case of brutal shoeing, that is, of multiple and strong kicks to the head of a young soldier, who at one point lost consciousness.

After that, the attacker moves away from that place, and the soldier remains lying down.

Nova TV also learned that the police found a 20-year-old suspect not far from the scene of the attack, who pretended not to know what happened and wanted to help them.

The soldier came to the hospital in Požega in a very serious condition, and resuscitation had to be performed there. It was about injuries to the head, internal bleeding, but also injuries to other parts of the body, which make such a difficult treatment even more difficult.

Sunday, 16 April 2023

Zeljava: Meet the $6 BILLION Airport in a Croatian Mountain (VIDEO)

April 16, 2023 - Croatian tourism may be centred on the coast, but for some truly extraordinary things, head inland - how about a $6 BILLION airbase built inside a mountain? Meet Zeljava.

One of the things I love most about living in Croatia is that there is so much to learn and experience, and there are so many things to see and do at a more local level that rarely make it out of the region. I am a naturally curious person, and I soon realised that if I started to scratch the surface of firstly my adopted island of Hvar and then later on Croatia as a whole, there was simply lots of fantastic content to discover and write about. 

Over the years, I had heard mention of some airbase called Zeljava which was mostly in Croatia but also partly in Bosnia and Hercegovina, which Tito had built between 1948 and 1968 at an estimated cost of $6 billion in today's money. It had always been on my list to check it out, and that became a reality over a drink with tour guide par excellence Iva Perokovic from Swanky Travel in Zagreb last year. 

Not only did Iva know ALL about this incredible part of Croatian history, but she also did an urban explorer tour to Zeljava. It didn't take much persuading for us to find a date to learn more. 

Located mostly inside a mountain, but also partly in neighbouring Bosnia and Hercegovina, close to Bihac, Zeljevo is an incredible complex which at its height, allowed MiG fighters to shoot out of the mountain onto the awaiting runways and be airborne within seconds. There are several entrances, and space enough inside for some 80 MiGs to park, from memory. At its height, Zeljava was a thriving community, with a mess capable of feeding 1000 people at a time, as well as multiple facilities  to enable those inside to last 30 days with supplies. THe huge metal doors were designed to withstand a nuclear attack the strength of Nagasaki. 

Here is a rare video of Zeljava back in the last 1980s, to give you an idea. 

Zeljava's fate changed considerably when the Homeland War started in 1991. As the Serbs retreated, they detonated tons of explosives inside the mountain to render the airbase useless. Locals in Bihac said that smoke could be seen rising from the mountain six months later. 

These days, Zeljava is guarded by police for a very different reason - with the open tunnels between the two countries, it is a possible migrant route. If you want to visit as a tourist, the police will not hinder you, but you are advised to take an organised tour. Check out our CROMADS experience in the video below, and don't forget the selfie on the Douglas C47 Dakota close by (see lead photo).

Zeljava has recently undergone another change in fortunes, as a local enthusiast has managed to get a concession on the airbase and surrounding runways. Last year he held a very successful speed race there, something that will happen again in 2023.

Video by 45 Degrees Sailing.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.



Sunday, 16 April 2023

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from (April 16, 2023)

April 16, 2023 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency,, 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, who kindly took the time for this excellent interview overview.  

This week's top 10 jobs from

Sunce Hoteli d.d. / Bluesun is hiring a Junior CRM Specialist (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. Possibility of additional prizes and bonuses. Send complete applications via link by April 30th.

Tesla Cables d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position Sales representative - export (m/f). Place of work Sveta Nedjelja. Send complete applications via link by April 23th.

Pharmamed Mado d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position Independent accountant (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. We offer work with international clients. Send complete applications via link by April 19, 2023.

PLIVA Hrvatska d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position Senior specialist for equipment qualification (m/f). Place of work Zagreb. Send complete applications via link by April 17th.

Deltron d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position of Human Resources Coordinator (m/f). Place of work Split. We offer a great atmosphere at work, good relationships, team spirit and team cohesionSend complete applications via link by April 24, 2023.

Ziegler d.o.o., Kutina is hiring a person in the position of Program engineer - electrical engineer (m/f). Place of work Kutina and Zagreb. The possibility of constant improvement and advancement. Send complete applications via link by May 5th.

Austrian Business Agency GmbH / Work in Austria is hiring a person in the position IT employee (m/f). Place of work Austria. Send complete applications via link by April 25th.

Bridge Personal & Service d.o.o. is hiring a person in the position of Software development / Software developer (m/f). The place of work is the whole of Austria. Send complete applications via link by April 30th.

AGV Group Malta is looking for a Nurse (m/f) and a Personal assistant (m/f) in Malta. Candidate must have good knowledge of the Italian language. Apply by April 21st via link.

CCPORTER Sp. z o.o. is hiring a person in the position of Sales Trainer with Croatian and English (m/f) for work from home. They offer attractive remuneration and an opportunity to develop coaching skills. If you are interested in a job, apply by April 21st via link.

For more career options and job listings, visit


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


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Sunday, 16 April 2023

10 Things that Amaze about Montenegro

April 16, 2023 - Our little YouTube channel is going international... 10 things that amaze about Montenegro.

It is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, whose name literally means Black Mountain, a country where its imperious mountains descend into the Adriatic Sea, a wonderful blending of Nature at its finest.

Montenegro has only been fully independent since 2006, but its heritage dates back millennia, and its tourism industry is booming, offering a luxury that is harder to find elsewhere on the Adriatic.

I have been visiting since 2001 and have witnessed a country undergoing enormous change. And nowhere more so than on the Lustica Peninsula, a slice of heaven that is being developed by Egyptian-Swiss company Orascom, with a planned 7 hotels, 2 marinas, 18-hole golf course, and a village of 2,500 people.

Pride of place and arguably the best luxury address in Montenegro is The Chedi Lustica Bay, who invited me to visit in January 2023 to discover the real Montenegro off-season, and with whom this video is made in paid partnership.

You can learn more about The Chedi Lustica Bay on the official website - So what did I find in Montenegro?

Here are 10 things that I think are amazing about this small but stunning land.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Saturday, 15 April 2023

Fitch Ratings Confirms BBB+ Rating for Croatian Economy

April 15, 2023 - Fitch Ratings has confirmed Croatia's 'BBB+' rating and stable outlook, estimating that the Croatian economy should preserve its resilience to external shocks thanks to improved fiscal and external positions and the successful adoption of the euro. In mid-July, Fitch raised the rating of Croatia's debt securities by one level, to 'BBB+', with a stable outlook, after the conclusion of the admission process to the eurozone.

As Index writes, in October, Fitch confirmed the assessment and outlook, warning that economic growth should slow down in 2023 due to inflation and slowing growth in the eurozone.

Reaffirming the 'BBB+' rating and stable outlook on Friday, the agency reiterated that the Croatian economy should remain resilient to external shocks thanks in part to an improved fiscal and external position and adopting the euro.

Approaching the core

Croatia became a member of the eurozone at the beginning of the year, and adopting the euro should improve its integration with the countries in the core zone of the common European currency and strengthen its institutional capacities, according to Fitch. "Access to the ECB's credible monetary policy framework and liquidity capacities for banks will significantly reduce external and financial weaknesses, given the elimination of currency risk," Fitch points out.

European incentive

The Croatian economy will grow by 6.3 percent in 2022, Fitch estimates, raising the forecast from the October report by 0.2 percentage points. This year, growth should slow to 1.7 percent, which is 0.6 percentage points more than they expected last autumn.

Personal consumption is likely to slow down to around one percent this year as disposable income continues to be pressured by inflation and consumer confidence remains muted, Fitch estimates. The key engine of economic growth this year will be investments, which should grow by around 5.5 percent since the withdrawal of money from EU funds should reach its peak, they note, highlighting the fast pace of withdrawal of funds from the European Program for Recovery and Resilience.

In 2024, the growth of the Croatian economy should accelerate to around three percent, driven by the recovery of personal consumption, Fitch estimates.

Less debt

Public debt expressed as a share of GDP should drop to 65.2 percent this year, from 68.3 percent in 2022, to be 20 percentage points lower than at the peak of the pandemic, and will continue to decrease in the coming years, albeit at a slower pace, due to weaker nominal GDP growth.

The budget should be in deficit this year, of 24 percent of GDP, after a surplus in 2022, due to weaker economic growth and higher consumption, Fitch forecasts.

The current account balance should show a slight deficit due to weaker demand from the main trading partners and more significant investments that require imports, they estimate, adding that the adoption of the euro and entry into Schengen could further support tourism.

The fruits of the euro

Fitch notes that it could lower the rating of Croatia's debt papers if the public debt grows over a more extended period, "for example, due to a more pronounced and more extended period of looser fiscal policy.

A trend of weaker economic growth due to structural shocks or weaker demographic indicators would also negatively affect the rating. On the other hand, the agency could raise the rating if it assesses that the government can preserve the trend of reducing public debt through fiscal consolidation.

The rating would also be positively affected by determining the positive consequences of adopting the euro, which would support Croatia's approach to countries with a higher rating and strengthen its institutional capacities, according to Fitch.

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

Saturday, 15 April 2023

Zagreb on Prestigious List of World's Best Emerging Filming Locations

April 15, 2023 - Global Production Awards 2023 is a prestigious awards ceremony organized by Screen International magazine and the British consulting firm Olsberg SPI. Screen Intl. is one of the three professional publications with the largest distribution worldwide, and it was their jury that recognized the city of Zagreb as the most desirable newly discovered and fast-growing location for filming.

As Poslovni writes, after a highly successful year in the Croatian capital with all kinds of audiovisual works, another confirmation of success has arrived. The city of Zagreb, despite numerous applications, was chosen in the 'Emerging location' category of the Global Production Award 2023, and its competitors include:

· Film AlUla (Saudi Arabia)

· Film Friendly Samaná (Dominican Republic Film Commission – DGCINE)

· Film in Limerick (Ireland)

· New Mexico Film Office (US)

"We are very proud that Zagreb was selected from the many applications, along with only five other locations worldwide! This is already a great success for us; we look forward to the announcement of the winner during the Cannes Film Festival in May and secretly hope for victory. We also send a big thank you to the Croatian producers with whom we have excellent cooperation in the promotion of Zagreb and who have greatly helped us put Zagreb on the film map of the world again," said Mia Pećina Drašković, head of the Zagreb Film Office.

Film stars in Croatia

The year 2022 was in terms of the number of days of filming (573 days in total) in Zagreb at the level of the years before the pandemic, but what marked '22. is the filming of the Hollywood film 'Canary Black', which will be extremely important for the promotion of Zagreb. The city plays itself for the first time throughout the film and is one of the story's most important 'characters'. In addition to 'Canary Black', the second season of the series 'Hotel Portofino', as well as numerous commercials for well-known companies such as Samsung, Zalando and PlayStation, were filmed.

It is important to emphasize that Zagreb and Zagreb County have risen in the ranking of the most desirable cities for filming in Croatia in the past few years, jumping from fourth to second place, right behind Split-Dalmatia County (HAVC / Filming in Croatia data).

All of the above has resulted in Zagreb being on the world list of newly discovered locations for filming, and we will find out whether it will beat the competition at the final award ceremony during one of the biggest film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival, on May 22, 2023!

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

Friday, 14 April 2023

Croatian Artist Alfred Freddy Krupa Sets Very Unusual World Record

April the 14th, 2023 - Under monitored conditions, Croatian artist Alfred Freddy Krupa drew 'My Panoramas' on a raw canvas of 69x892 format over the 10th and 11th of January 2023 in the drawing room of the Duga Resa High School's graphic design department. 

In addition to creating large and in this case very large paintings, he wanted to draw attention to the painting-drawing form that he has been dealing with for many years and encourage a possible competition in that area.

Alfre Freddy Krupa 2

Croatian artist Alfred Freddy Krupa's work was recognized as the largest of its kind and a world record by the American organization RecordSetter. 

By applying the publicly available table of Krupa's indicated values created by i-CAC, the market value of 'My Panoramas' would be around 92,000 Euros. Krupa has also been certified and ranked 15th in the Francophone world by the French organization, i-CAC (Indice de Cotation des Artistes Certifiés). Krupa was included because his previous artistic activity in France qualified him for membership in this organization exclusively for French and Francophone artists. 

His work for i-CAC was evaluated by Olivier Houg, an expert member of the National Chamber of Specialists in Works of Art and Collections – Paris / Chambre Nationale des Experts Spécialisés en Objets d'Art et de Collection – Paris / as well as the European Confederation of Art Experts – Paris / Confédération Européenne Des Experts d'Art – Paris /). 

Alfre Freddy Krupa 1

A series of awards and recognitions were awarded to Croatian artist Alfred Freddy Krupa over the last year, including winning the International Art Award New Generations 2022 (Miami, USA), winning the Japan Ink Painting Society Artist Award (Tokyo, Japan), and being named on the 7th Gold list of the world's best artists (Israel - Italy - USA - Germany).

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

Friday, 14 April 2023

Truffle Hunting from Split?!? It is Time to Visit Dugopolje

April 14, 2023 - Did you also think that truffle hunting was only in Istria? Think again, and take a closer look at Dugopolje, where the motorway connects with Split.

One of the things I love about living in Croatia is finding out how much I do not know about the country despite living here for more than 20 years. 


For the first 17 of them, for instance, I had always believed that the only truffle area in the country was Istria, the gourmet region that has made truffles a central part of its gourmet brand. 

I was a little surprised a few years ago to learn from a friend on Korcula that there are truffles on the Peljesac Peninsula, but he refused to tell me exactly.  


And then the big surprise, as the Zagreb County Tourist Board Director, Ivana Alilovic, invited me to go truffle hunting in the forests of Turopolje near Zagreb Airport. Truffles outside of Zagreb? Really?!?

Yes indeed, as you can learn in Move Over Istria: the Rise of Zagreb Truffle Hunt Tourism.


It was a fantastic day and one more example of authentic Croatian tourism that was somewhat under the radar. 

And then I heard that there was truffle hunting in Lika. And then just outside Split. Really?!?


Dugopolje is perhaps best known as being the motorway connection to Split, as well as home to the huge retail park that flanks the approach road to the fast road to Zagreb, but it is quite an interesting little destination of its own, being a gateway between the Dalmatian capital and the truly unique inland Dalmatia. And if you like Dalmatian prsut, this is a great place to try the local stuff. 


But yes, Dugopolje also offers truffle hunting, and the CROMADS team took in the experience a few months ago to discover a fabulous day trip from Split that is hardly known about. You can check out the experience video below, and if you plan to make the trip, having experienced the wonders of Dugopolje above ground with the truffle hunting dogs, time to meet Dugopolje's most spectacular attraction, the truly fabulous Vranjaca Cave. You can learn more about Vranjaca here.

Video by 45 Degrees Sailing.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Friday, 14 April 2023

HUP: Croatian Economy Could Grow Three Percent by 2033

April 14, 2023 - The Croatian Association of Employers presented its new forecasts for the Croatian economy, which came as a somewhat pleasant surprise following a good period.

As Poslovni writes, back in the winter, employers' associations (HUP) in Croatia expected that this year would be stagnant for the Croatian economy and that after two years of strong post-pandemic growth (cumulative about 20 percent), the GDP growth rate could be slightly negative.

However, the situation in the environment, primarily in the eurozone, has so far turned out to be more favorable than expected: a mild winter and high levels of gas storage eliminated the need for stronger rationalization of the consumption of key energy sources, the improvement of the situation with supply chains favors the recovery of the industry in the first half of the year, and fiscal expansion aimed at mitigating the consequences of the energy crisis greatly helps preserve the purchasing power of the population.

So now, in the HUP report for this year, in the basic scenario (with a 40 percent probability), they expect a growth of the Croatian economy of 1 percent, inflation calming down to 3 percent at the end of the year, and a solid 2 percent employment growth.

A few 'ifs'

Although they underline that pronounced uncertainties still mark the global environment, they are more optimistic about the potential for growth in the somewhat longer term. They calculate that it could rise to an average of 3 percent per year in the next ten years. Hrvoje Stojić, the chief economist of HUP, nevertheless mentions several important "ifs".

This forecast, he says, presupposes tax relief and the implementation of reforms in health, education, justice, and the public sector. They are essential for productivity growth and competitiveness and ultimately for the continuation of the downward trajectory of the level of public debt.

"I believe that Croatia will achieve an A credit rating in the next few years, if necessary reforms are implemented that lead to faster and simpler business, lower tax burden, less administration, and if the absorption of EU funds continues. We have all the preconditions, including stable public finances, and a decrease in public debt. and a significantly increased GDP growth potential," he said.

All this is important in the context of approaching membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Along with HUP Horizonti as the new format of macroeconomic forecasts of the Association of Employers for the next two years, the expectations of trends for the economies of the 20 most developed countries were presented by the Director of Economic Affairs of the OECD, Isabell Koske, who also referred to the examples of several members of the organization from the Middle and Eastern Europe, which stood out for its progress.

In this sense, she emphasized the successes of the Czech Republic and Poland, which through raising competitiveness, using EU funds, and above all by implementing reforms of the education system, made significant progress and positioned themselves as leaders in the region. So, for example, in the case of Poland, she cited a high-quality and highly educated workforce as the key to success. In 20 years, Poland has raised the share of highly educated people from 9 to more than 30 percent, he says.

Constant improvement

Among the key reforms for the advancement of Croatia, he emphasizes education, because "the labor market must have adequate and qualified personnel in order to be able to develop ideas and compete on the global market." In addition, he adds, it is equally important to enable those who have completed their education to have more accessible re-education and continuous improvement with new skills that the modern world is looking for. "Employment rates in Croatia are still lower than those in OECD countries," she reminded.

Despite the relatively optimistic forecasts of HUP, this year's expectations still reflect a strong cooling of personal consumption and a slowdown in growth, and inflation on average (in the base scenario) should remain elevated, around 6.5 percent.

Nevertheless, along with its slowdown, a gradual recovery of the real income of the population is expected in the rest of this year. The acceleration of investments on the wings of EU funds will contribute to GDP growth; according to HUP's forecasts, investments could grow by 7.5 percent this year. Finally, although a strong slowdown in the growth of merchandise exports is expected this year, HUP expects that the "niche" structure will mitigate the effects of an unfavorable environment.

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

Friday, 14 April 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Ukraine, NATO and Franjo Tudjman

April the 14th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had to entertain the idea of Plenkovic potentially heading off for a very high position within NATO, calls to tackle the issues with the judiciary (again), leaked US documents have mentioned Croatia, and Franjo Tudjman took a tumble.

Foreign policy analyst Denis Avgadic talks Plenkovic, NATO, and issues with the Croatian judiciary

As Index writes, Croatian foreign policy analyst Denis Avdagic recently commented on the problems in the Croatian judiciary, the potential departure of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to NATO, the ongoing war in Ukraine, protests raging in France, and the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy on N1 television.

The Croatian judiciary

"I think it's clear to everyone that the Croatian judiciary is the key cancer wound of this society and until we solve it, we'll continue to be forced to deal with problems that are far beyond our ability to solve them. Let's solve the issues with the Croatian judiciary first of all, and many things will become easier, more comfortable, and more efficiently as a result,'' he said.

"I believe that the Croatian judiciary needs a reform of a wider scale. The judiciary as it is now is simply ineffective," he added, noting that some cases are still being dealt with from the former state (Yugoslavia) and that this is utterly tragic.

Plenkovic could be heading off to NATO?

"The fact is that in European circles and a little more widely, Andrej Plenkovic is seen as a high quality member of staff, as a person who has certain diplomatic skills, quite extensive political experience, and as such he's acceptable for a whole range of supranational functions. First of all, we in Croatia have been talking for a long time about whether Plenkovic is simply sitting and waiting for a higher position at the level of the European Union," he pointed out.

"Looking at it from that aspect, it's clear that there is speculation as to who could be an adequate replacement at the head of NATO," he continued. He indicated the method of election of the head of NATO and that the bloc of new NATO members believes that the head of that alliance should be a person from that area who understands what Central and Eastern Europe has gone through what Ukraine is going through.

"Is Plenkovic a template person who would be responsible for that? Absolutely, yes, he is. Is Plenkovic a person who is acceptable to the whole bloc? Yes. Is he acceptable to the others? Absolutely. Is he acceptable to the Americans? Yes. Then we see why it occurred to someone to talk about him," claimed Avdagic. He noted that Plenkovic is one of the leaders of the EPP.

"Plenkovic is a good candidate for the head of NATO"

He believes that Plenkovic could become the head of the European Commission, but pointed out that Plenkovic is a relatively young politician and therefore there's no need for him to suddenly leave Croatian politics. Avdagic also emphasised that polls show that he could win another election right here in Croatia. "He's one of those politicians who is a good candidate for the post of NATO chief," he said.

A huge picture of Dr. Franjo Tudjman fell while Plenkovic was speaking

This was symbolism in motion in the eyes of many across the spectrum of Croatian politics as the first president of the independent Croatian nation almost cut Plenkovic's speech short. 

''Oh God, surely not?'' Plenkovic said while turning to see the huge image of Tudjman falling from its place, seemingly also aware of the symbolism behind such an amusing event. Tudjman's fall from grace as it were occurred precisely when a group of gathered journalists were asking him about Swedish media articles that had been circulating about him being among the candidates for the head of NATO, as I talked about above. Then the cameras turned to the wall where Tudjman is as the image fell down.

Politico claims that leaked secret US documents mention Croatia and Croatian helicopters

Europe has special forces on the ground in Ukraine, with Poland and Slovenia having provided almost half of the tanks delivered to Kiev. Neighbouring Hungary may also be releasing weapons through its airspace. These are just some of the striking details about European participation in the Russian-Ukrainian war from the 53-page document, based on leaked information from US military intelligence.

From precisely these leaked US documents, one can also learn something about the European war effort in Ukraine as a whole. The leaked files offer insight into everything from a British-dominated special forces group in Ukraine to how and when France and Spain will send a key missile system out into the battlefield. The documents also contain claims that Turkey is a potential source of arms for Russian mercenaries.

It's important to note that Politico hasn't independently verified the documents, and there are indications that some of the leaked pages are actually forged. That said, the USA has  acknowledged the intelligence breach and arrested the suspect on Thursday. Here are some of Politico's analyses after studying the dossier:

Europe allegedly has troops on the ground

According to the US documents, a European special forces group has been operating in Ukraine - at least since March the 23rd. The United Kingdom dominates the "US/NATO" contingent of 97 people with 50 members of its special forces. The group includes 17 people from Latvia, 15 from France and one from the Netherlands. There are also 14 American nationals.

As expected, national governments have been largely silent on the subject. The British declined to comment, while the White House admitted there was a "small US military presence" at the US embassy in Ukraine stressing that the troops were "not fighting on the battlefield". The other countries listed did not respond to a request for comment.

Europe is providing most of the tanks to Ukraine

Tanks are one area in which Europe collectively outdoes America. One page gives an overview of the 200 tanks that US allies have promised to send to Ukraine - 53 less than what the document says Ukraine needs for its spring offensive. Poland and Slovenia appear to be the biggest contributors, accounting for almost half of the total number of tanks, according to an estimate as of February the 23rd. France and the United Kingdom are also key players, each with 14 tanks.

There is also the modern German Leopard 2 tank, which Ukraine has spent months convincing its allies it needs. This composition includes Germany, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Finland.

Croatia is also mentioned

Neighbouring Hungary appears several times in the leaked documents, which offers a lot of information about a country headed by Viktor Orban that regularly confuses its own allies. The most interesting tidbit of all in this sense is buried in a "Top Secret" CIA update dated March the 2nd, which says Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban worryingly labelled the US as "one of his party's three biggest adversaries'' during a strategic policy session held in February this year.

These concerning remarks, the document points out, represent Orban's "escalating level of anti-American rhetoric." Indeed, Orban's somewhat controversial government charted its own course during the war by pushing pro-Russian narratives, essentially calling on Ukraine to back down and strongly rejecting allied efforts to isolate the Russian economy and impose harsh sanctions on the Russian Federation.

However, the US documents also show that Hungary - which shares a small border with Ukraine - may be secretly allowing allies to use its airspace to move weapons towards the battlefield despite promises to ban such transfers. One of the leaked documents describes the plan of Ukrainian pilots to fly donated helicopters from Croatia to Ukraine in detail, and it also claims that will be done "through Hungarian airspace". If this is indeed correct, the information shows not only that Hungary is releasing weapons through its skies but also contradicts media reports that the helicopters will be transferred by land or flights over Poland.

Hungarian and Croatian officials did not respond to any requests for comment.

Plenkovic says Eurozone and Schengen accession pushed Croatian growth forecasts above government expectations

Since Croatia's official entry into the Eurozone and the Schengen area on the 1st of January this year, international institutions revised the growth expectations of the Croatian economy above the government's GDP growth forecast for this year by 0.7 percent, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said during the opening of a recently held government session.

He recalled the World Bank's January forecast of 0.8 percent growth this year, which this month raised that same forecast to 1.3 percent, the European Commission announced in February that it expects Croatian GDP to grow by 1.2 percent, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated this year's growth of the Croatian economy by 1.7 percent a few days ago.

"The impact of membership in the Eurozone and in Schengen will be felt in terms of growth"

"All of this means that they're somewhat more optimistic than the forecasts that we ourselves projected, and I believe that the impact of membership in the Eurozone and the Schengen area will really be felt when it comes to domestic economic growth, which will be better than expected, despite the slowdown of the global economy in 2023,'' said the Prime Minister.

He noted that according to Eurostat data, Croatia has reached 73 percent of the EU level of development, taking GDP per capita as a measure, which is the highest level so far, and in 2016, the country was at 62 percent. This means that Croatia is using its international position strongly and maximally, Plenkovic asserted. As for tourism, he predicts that this year's summer season will be a record one. He also announced further government activity in preparations for loans from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

So far, as he explained, 2.2 billion euros have been paid to Croatia free of charge out of the 5.5 billion that are available, and the country has another 3.6 billion euros of loans available, with the government wanting to invest this money in education, renovation, energy efficiency, the water supply, transport, energy, gasification, etc.


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