Friday, 17 March 2023

Privileged Entry to US for Croatians with Global Entry Requirements Met

March 17, 2023 - This partnership allows low-risk Croatian nationals with prior approval to apply for membership in the Global Entry program and thus become trusted travelers to ensure faster entry into the US.

As 24Sata writes, Croatia has successfully completed all the necessary prerequisites to become a full partner in the Global Entry program, thus joining the growing list of 14 other partner countries in the Global Entry program, which includes the Republic of Argentina, the Republic of Colombia, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the United Mexico States, the Netherlands, the Republic of Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation, Taiwan, the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Ministry of the Interior announced.

The full partnership of the Republic of Croatia in the Global Entry program followed shortly after the fulfillment of all political and security requirements for joining the American visa exemption program, of which the Republic of Croatia became a member in October 2021 after several years of joint preparations.

This partnership allows low-risk Croatian nationals with prior approval to apply for membership in the Global Entry program and thus become trusted travelers for faster entry into the United States for tourism or business purposes. Thus, citizens of the Republic of Croatia can start submitting requests to join the Global Entry program from March 16, 2023.

This announcement is another proof of the continued commitment of the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America to the further development of already excellent relations between the two countries by providing benefits to their citizens in a way that facilitates travel and trade while simultaneously strengthening the security of both countries, according to the Croatian Ministry of Interior.

The Global Entry program is one of the four branches of the Trusted Traveler program, which allows low-risk, pre-approved travelers to be screened more quickly when arriving at airports in the United States. Users enter the United States through automated kiosks located at numerous airports within the United States and at screening locations around the world.

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

Friday, 17 March 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Drink Driving, Austrian Brothels and Reforms

March the 17th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had an HDZ politician accused of drink driving, causing an accident, defrauding an insurance company and also seeing three police officers arrested alongside himself. On top of that, we've had more talk about healthcare reforms, resignations, and freedom for the Murter mayor who spent municipal funds in an Austrian brothel. It's been a busy week.


Goran Jandrokovic says the ''institutions are doing their job'' after an HDZ prefect was accused of driving under the influence, causing an accident, faking the circumstances of said accident and then defrauding the involved insurance company for over 13,000 euros

Another day, another very uncomfortable scandal to deal with for HDZ. On the basis of the criminal complaint filed by PNUSKOK, USKOK has issued a decision on conducting an investigation against six Croatian citizens (born in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1968, 1989, and 1970 respectively) due to well-founded suspicion of criminal offenses of influence peddling, the abuse of positions of authority and assisting in the abuse of positions of authority.

The police, as well as USKOK, published a statement about HDZ's Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanic.

''In addition to faking the circumstances of a traffic accident in which he was involved in order to avoid attracting any negative publicity, he also caused damage to an insurance company and obtained an improper financial benefit for himself,'' they wrote, adding that he was over the limit (under the influence of alcohol) and that he was driving 87.9 km/h when the traffic accident occurred.

"The criminal investigation established the suspicion that the 53-year-old county prefect in question was driving the county's official car under the influence of alcohol (1.44g/kg) at an illegal and unadjusted speed of 87.9 km/h in the area of Zupanja and Cerna, shortly after midnight on April the 17th, 2022. As a result of the above, he lost control of the steering wheel in Cerna and the vehicle went off the road and hit the front end of a car which had county registration plates owned by a 47-year-old woman, parked in front of a house, and then into the fence of the said house," the police wrote.

The belief is that, in order to avoid misdemeanor liability and thus the negative publicity that this event would have for him as a county prefect, Dekanic asked the owner of the damaged vehicle not to call the police and that she'd be compensated for the damage caused. Dekanic also allegedly called his cousin to arrange with him to lie to the police. Then three police officers were also arrested related to the accident.

The accident took place near Cerna last year and the saga goes on, and there's little point in rehashing the entire thing in this article, but the story has ruffled feathers within HDZ and within Croatian politics in general, with Milanovic and Plenkovic of course butting heads over it. Parliament Speaker Goran Jandrokovic has also thrown in some of the most famous last words in Croatian politics - that the ''institutions are doing their job''.

This line has been made the brunt of many a joke, because it appears to be code for ''nothing will ever be done about it, but please stop asking about it''.  Jandrokovic's recent comments on the arrest of Vukovar-Srijem prefect Damir Dekanic were that he ''couldn't say anything new about it'' and that ''the institutions are doing their job,'' adding that ''the investigation will show what exactly happened. The barty bodies will make the decisions. We'll see what happens next.'' Rather vague, one might say.

"It's important that the state bodies can work freely without any pressure and they'll come to adecision in accordance with the law, and if there's been a violation of the law, he will be sanctioned," he added, reported N1. He says that he himself did not ask the prefect about the traffic accident in question. "I didn't ask him about it, but I heard from other officials that he said he wasn't driving."

Marin Miletic steps down as the vice president of Most/Bridge

Croatian Parliamentarian Marin Miletic has stepped down as the vice president of Most, claiming that he is resigning irrevocably from the position. He stated that he decided on this move as a sign of "personal responsibility for the complete failure in the elections for local committees in Rijeka". Here's his statement translated in its entirety:

Dear all, I entered politics with a clean face and with a sense of great responsibility towards my voters. My Istrian and Rijeka people, the inhabitants of Kvarner, elected me to the Croatian Parliament to fight for the freedom of every single person and for the dignity of every human being. I've done this since the first day of my representation and will continue to do so until my last day. My fellow citizens of Rijeka also trusted me in the local elections by almost 12%, and Most had more than 10% of the support of the people of Rijeka. In the city council, we've been working with both dedication and strength.

Because I personally believe in political responsibility, in the importance of taking personal responsibility - I'm hereby informing the public and my fellow citizens of Rijeka that I am resigning irrevocably from the position of vice president of Most due to a complete failure in the elections for the local committees in Rijeka. I'll continue to humbly work in the Croatian Parliament, in Kvarner, in my beautiful Rijeka and wherever the party wants me tobe, to build a more beautiful and just Croatia. However, I can't demand high standards of morality from other people if I don't behave like that myself. That ' why I'm irrevocably resigning from the position of vice president of Most.

Keep me in your prayers," Miletic posted on Facebook.

Murter Mayor Tonci Turcinov is enjoying freedom once again after having spent municipality cash in an Austrian brothel

Yes, you did read that correctly. Whoever said Croatian politics was boring?

Murter's mayor Tonci Turcinov was released from custody this past week and photographed in Murter, standing in front of the municipality building. Several days ago, his lawyer Fran Olujic confirmed for Index that he was then due for release, after spending almost a month in pre-trial detention due to possible influence on witnesses.

Turcinov was released from custody one day before the deadline because the investigating judge had already questioned all twenty witnesses. Pixsell photographers snapped Turcinov while he was throwing some rubbish away and was standing in front of the Murter-Kornati municipality building. The proceedings against Turcinov continue and he will await his final verdict in freedom.

After receiving an initial police report, USKOK launched an investigation and requested detention for Turcinov, who was arrested for alleged illegalities with which he damaged the Municipality of Murter-Kornati for at least 60,000 euros. The prosecutor's office previously reported that it suspected that Turcinov had used municipal money for private purposes from the beginning of 2018 all the way until the middle of 2022, that is, to pay for travel expenses and other services and expenses in Croatia and abroad. In April 2019, Turcinov paid with said municipality money in a brothel in Austria. He even allegedly shamelessly used the official card of the Municipality of Murter, Telegram revealed. He spent 1,560 budgeted euros in the Austrian La Cocotte club.

He claimed that he used the card in the club by mistake because it was similar to his private card and that he then personally covered the cost of the municipal delegation's accommodation in the Schlosswirt Ebenthal hotel in Klagenfurt in order to indemnify the municipality. The hotel disputed the authenticity of the invoice to Telegram, so the portal announced that Turcinov had falsified an invoice for the expenses at the hotel in order to cover up the expenses of the Austrian brothel.

After the affair broke out in the media, he announced that he was resigning from his position of councilor in the county assembly, but also that, with the support of his associates and fellow residents, he would continue working on the projects he had started in the Municipality of Murter-Kornati. In other words, he remained the boss despite the lurid accusations against him.

Finance Minister Marko Primorac says Croatia doesn't need to worry about its banking system

Minister of Finance Marko Primorac recently spoke about the new package of government measures and other topics as a guest on HRT's Dnevnik. Following the deeply concerning cases of Credit Suisse and the collapse of the American bank Silicon Valley, he said that we here in Croatia need not worry about the situation with the banking system.

"We've been continuously pointing out that the measures that end up being adopted must be targeted, short-term, aimed at those who need help the most, and this is how we've structured all of our packages of measures so far. The total amount of this package of measures, which is comprehensive and targeted at people who need help the most, as well as at business owners, stands at one billion and 700 million euros. In addition to ensuring the continuity of our energy supply and acceptable energy prices, it will also ensure a more peaceful life for our business owners and for people in general,'' Primorac assured.

''Income support, first of all for groups that need this help, pensioners, people who only receive the minimum guaranteed help, child benefit, long-term unemployment, vulnerable groups who need help... rest assured that we'll provide it,'' he pointed out.

"HEP has borne a significant burden of this crisis. Of course, we're going to do everything, not only to keep HEP on its feet, but also to ensure the continuity of the healthy and stable operations of HEP. This isn't in dispute, the funds are being provided for this in the budget but the mechanism by which we will do this it depends on several factors that we are now discussing,'' he said, adding that he is also discussing this with the EC.

''We will not allow HEP's operations to be jeopardised in any way, and its projects such as GoGreen or solar power plants will have the total support of the government,'' he emphasised.

He said that the condition of the state treasury is standard. "Revenues are of course growing, financial appetites - expenditures, state costs are growing, aid packages are also costing. The state's finances are stable. We've been monitoring the developments within the tax system and designing the tax policy, and we will continue to do so. Our tax system is consumption-oriented, which is why it's dominantly related to the collection of value-added tax revenue," he said.

"Income tax is first and foremost the income of local units. I'd like the questions to be directed towards them a little bit more. Opposition MPs should talk to their mayors, if they're ready to bear that burden, let them, for example, reduce the surtax to the minimum level. If they're able to do that, then we'll consider some further measures in the context of income tax relief," he said.

Minister Primorac also commented on whether we here in Croatia should be worried about the situation with banks - referring to the cases of Credit Suisse and the collapse of the American bank Silicon Valley from California.

"What happened in America was due to highly specific circumstances. The Croatian banking system is adequately capitalised - compliant with Basel standards, for example, this wasn't the case in America. In the context of the discussions we held at the Council of EkoFin and the Eurogroup, of course it was an issue that worried us. According to the reports of the European Central Bank and all relevant stakeholders, we can all remain calm for now," he concluded.

Health Minister Vili Beros claims that 2400 Croatian doctors take home a higher monthly wage than Plenkovic

As they should.

Health Minister Vili Beros was a recent guest of Croatian Radio's Interview of the Week. It was during that appearance that he pointed out that the goal of this government is to reform the healthcare system. He then explained the steps of the reforms that are currently being planned. He announced the presentation of new preventive health examinations for next Friday, after the first amended laws are submitted to the parliamentary procedure.

He said that he isn't at all interested in his level of popularity as a minister and that he's only interested in his efficiency and what he does for the betterment of the healthcare system. "I'm interested in my efficiency and functionality in relation to the healthcare system, primarily in regard to patients, and then for all other parts of the healthcare system," said the minister.

A lot of remarks are coming in about the inefficiency and problems within the healthcare system, which the minister himself says. He recalled that on the first day after he was appointed minister, he was a guest on the Croatian Radio programme and spoke about the healthcare system, which is flawed.

"However, the coronavirus pandemic came and we lost a year and a half defending ourselves against the coronavirus. During that period, and even after that, we also found strength, opportunities, and the will to establish a certain reform. The reform that is being planned, which is founded and which has its own content and meaning, is precisely there to eliminate all these allegations. There are also a number of complaints about it, but I can say that we've also received praise for the functioning of the healthcare system," he added.

When asked whether he would continue his mandate, Minister Vili Beros replied that it was a difficult question to answer, but that he would do his best to implement the elements of the reform.

"I'll do my best to implement these elements in the context of our reform that we set as a task. I will tell you this - strengthening public health is our priority," said Beros. The minister added that the next Friday will be the presentation of new preventive health examinations, and he also referred to health literacy.

"We're talking about the development of health literacy, we already have some concrete results, an agreement with the Ministry of Education on that path. We need to develop health literacy from a young age," said Beros, adding that national preventive examinations for the early detection of numerous tumors are all that we really do in the context of prevention.

Considering that this is a pre-election year, Beros was asked whether or not it was a bit late for any reforms, to which the minister replied that such thoughts are calculative.

"I don't have the time or ability, nor am I the kind of person to calculate. I really want to establish those changes in the healthcare system that will be positive for everyone, especially for patients. My personal mission is to bring the patient back into focus," he explained, adding that government determination on this issue is strong.

"Things can always be better, let's not forget that I'm a doctor myself, and of course I understand their fight for higher salaries. But you have to look at the broader context, we're in the post-pandemic era. Since 2016, their incomes have grown by 43 percent. I will clearly answer their requests and listen to all of their objections," he said, adding that he suspects that there are other motives in the whole story.

"I wouldn't go to a protest, that's not the way to solve this problem... In the end, there are over 2,400 doctors in Croatia who have a higher salary than the prime minister. And I won't even tell you how many of them earn more than me, which doesn't even matter. I'm only saying it in the context of talking about the material rights of doctors," he said.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section. Our Week in Croatian Politics articles are published every Friday.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Big Brother? Sibenik to Get 230 Surveillance Cameras in 74 Locations

March the 16th, 2023 - The powers that be in Sibenik have been busy mounting 4K high resolution cameras that are also efficient at night, and creating an infrastructure for a city-wide, state of the art surveillance system. This is the first such project of this magnitude in all of Croatia, as every intersection, every town square, every playground will be covered with cameras.

This project has been in the works for a couple of years. The City of Sibenik has taken out a big loan back in 2020 of about 3.585,000 euros. Only a portion of that money has been budgeted for these cameras, while the rest was set aside for playgrounds and a couple of other projects like funding for a new kindergarten, for the valorisation of a fort, etc.

Deputy mayor of Sibenik Mr. Danijel Mileta said in a recent interview that the cameras themselves will cost about 1.062.400 euros, two control rooms about 212.000 euros, and underground optic cables and various infrastructure about 530.000 euros, and with added VAT, we come to a grand total of about 2.225.500 euros.

Sibenik is a very safe city, but...

During this whole process, local politicians and heads of the local police would always preface their statements with "Sibenik is a very safe city'', but somehow we need 230 cameras in 74 locations paid for by the city's tax payers to make the city "even safer". It's rather unusual that in these times, when everything is financed by EU funds or one of the many ministries, that the cost of this fell directly into citizens' laps.

It's true, Sibenik like the rest of the country in that it is basically very, very safe. It's perfectly fine for women to go out alone at night, muggings don't happen, violence is rare, and when it happens it never has anything to do with foreigners, and is usually domestic violence or feuds between business partners, like the last murders that happened over two years ago.

Is Big Brother making himself comfortable here in our fair city?

Mr. Mileta emphasises that this will not be any kind of "Big Brother", and only a few police officers and city employees specifically trained and certified for this system will be allowed access. Sibenik is the first city in Croatia to get such detailed surveillance of its public areas. We're a city of about 37000 inhabitants, it has one main road running through it, and a historical centre, which will also be full of cameras. The reactions to this move by the city's politicians is polarising.

Some people are rather dumbfounded and very upset that they plan to do this. They cite privacy reasons, and why do the city and the police need such an extensive network of cameras, and are we giving them a lot of power that we'll never be able to take away or control? Could this kind of tool be useful for spying on and compromising political opposition, or something similarly nefarious? Sibenik's local administration is adamant that it will all be transparent and on the level and absolutely not abused in any way shape or form.

Others are cheering the idea on, especially for children's playgrounds that get vandalised sometimes. They see this as a solution to a lot of communal problems, claiming that the cameras will effectively solve them.

The city administration says they will crack down on illegal parking on the pavements which is a huge problem in Sibenik, it will see the throwing of trash outside of the designated areas dealt with, as well as many other things. The plan is to semi-automate it, the software will recognise an infraction on a vehicle for example, a city employee will then need to OK it on their end, the database will find the owner via the OCR'ed licence plate and then a fine will be sent to that individual.

Not all of the 230 cameras have yet been installed, and there hasn't been any visible work done over the last couple of months. One deadline for the project was already breached, and the latest estimation that Mr. Mileta provides is a launch date in a couple of months. There haven't been any official updates from the Mayor's office regarding the status of this project since this interview in October.

Should this endeavor be a success, we can expect other cities across the country to implement similar technologies. It's a general global trend to have everything under the nose of watchful cameras. Right now, shops, banks, even cafes and practically everything commercial indoors is under the ever watchful eye of a CCTV camera. There have been and of course are cameras placed in public spaces across the rest of Croatia, but we were mostly spared of an all encompassing camera platform. It seems that era is coming to an end, at least in Sibenik.

The 230 cameras are only the first stage, as they also plan to cover other parts of Sibenik-Knin County with similar cameras, and this area is huge and encompasses many villages and communities.

For more, check out our news section.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Could an Unpopular Measure End Up Being Borovo's Best Solution?

March the 16th, 2023 - Borovo has been swimming in troubled waters for a long time now, but could an otherwise wholly unpopular measure actually end up being the best solution of all for this enfeebled company? Maybe.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, a couple of years ago, it seemed that everything regarding the survival of Borovo had finally fallen into place properly, a restructuring programme was fully drawn up, of which the consulting company KPMG was in charge. Since then, the extension of the CERP guarantees has only been approved in order to postpone the repayment of loans to the state banks for yet another year, thanks to which Borovo is still keeping afloat, and the new deadline for another such decision is coming up in just a month.

In CERP, which is the 100 percent owner of this much loved Vukovar-based footwear manufacturer, the case of its restructuring is considered one of the top priorities in 2023, after several problematic cases in the state portfolio were finally closed over the past two years. At the same time, the process within Borovo stands stagnantly right where it was two years ago - the restructuring proposal prepared by KPMG clearly didn't meet the expectations of the relevant ministries.

However, on the other hand - when it comes to Borovo, no deadline was actually set in which the case should finally be closed, either through a new model of operational and financial restructuring, an attempt at privatisation or the worst case scenario - bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy is something to be avoided like the plague in Croatia, there are those working within the ministries of economy and finance who see this very solution as the best one. In their opinion, the projections from KPMG's proposal fail to offer what is needed, and instead only work to postpone the solution of the problem and prolong Borovo's limbo and uncertainty. This is because it starts from some basic recommendations for improving business, such as reducing overhead costs and the number of employees, changing the production profile and focusing on more profitable programmes, and finally finding a good strategic partner. According to the assessment of the relevant ministries, Borovo will continue to remain in a difficult state in which it will hardly manage to attract any serious investors seeking a safe project.

For this reason, as has since been learned, it was requested that KPMG define much more clearly what it would to to ensure and enable a long-term solution without bankruptcy threats and then to find a strategic partner, and that the programme be organised so that it can receive the approval of the European Commission (EC). That something is simply not right with the existing solution was also confirmed by the President of the Board of Borovo, Gordana Odor, who said the following:

"KPMG prepared a restructuring plan one year ago, but it hasn't yet been adopted by the relevant ministry and will have to be refined by KMPG. The main complaint of the ministry is the lack of a strategic partner that would be a guarantee for the survival of Borovo,'' said Gordana Odor, adding that when it comes to Borovo, the bigger picture must be looked at.

First, as she explained, it's actually very difficult to find a private investor who is ready to take over Borovo with all of its accompanying problematic buildings on an area spanning 13 hectares. This is full of unresolved property-legal disputes that are being conducted on the territories of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

According to the current restructuring plan, the state should recapitalise Borovo with 92 million kuna, which would close its existing liabilities to the banks. The share capital of Borovo is at the level of 316.7 million kuna. The assessment of the Management Board and KPMG was that this would enable better positions for the search for strategic partners and investments in the modernisation of Borovo's production, which normally also takes place on machines from 1940, and for which the company could finally rely on European Union funds. In Borovo, they're convinced that, once the company is relieved of all of its loan debts, it can meet all of its obligations and conduct its business properly.

According to the first data for 2022, revenues compared to the previous year have increased by 2% and are at the level of 10 million euros. However, business expenses grew much more. On average, total material costs increased by 23%, wage costs by 6.5%, and the largest increase of 100% refers to gas, while energy costs increased somewhat more slowly, due to government measures, by 20%.

All other input resources had growth trends of 10 to 20 percent, especially leather. An additional cost was a 12% increase in workers' wages, which is a significant increase for a labour-intensive activity, which also increased costs of about 5 million kuna. Overall, the increase in costs resulted in a loss of 9 million kuna for Borovo.

"Under these circumstances, we had to adjust our operations and we placed the emphasis on optimising procurement, production, storage and transportation costs, with the goal of maintaining existing liquidity," explained Gordana Odor. As for the number of employees, currently their number has fallen to the lowest level so far - 563.

"Borovo is aware that in times of crisis it has to make business adjustments for the conditions ahead, but we certainly need help and the involvement of the state, which we have been talking about for several years now,'' concluded Gordana Odor, noting that we're still talking about the largest employer in the entire Vukovar area which employs mostly women, and that they have spent most of their working lives working for Borovo and have no other qualifications.

The problems faced by Borovo will be on the agenda of the CERP Board of Directors as early as next month, in order to consider another extension of the guarantees for loans that the company has in the amount of 6.1 million euros each, for which the state's shares in Podravka, Koncar and HT are pledged as insurance.

However, before that, representatives of the Management Board, KPMG, CERP and the relevant ministries will need to sit down together in order to shed light on the current ambiguities surrounding the preparation of the final proposal on which the future of the company depends entirely. The reason that no expedient solution has been found for many years lies in the fact that Borovo is not only a commercial and economic issue, but is also burdened by the political context and inter-ethnic relations between Croats and Serbs, as well as conflicting relations between local and state authorities, which further complicates matters.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2023

2022 Saw Record Number of Croatian Startups Receive Investments

March the 16th, 2023 - Last year was a record year for Croatian startups receiving investments, some of which involved enormous sums of money. What will 2023 be like?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, there is no winter rest period or a sense of being ''out of season'' for Croatian startups, and despite investors' caution towards making any particularly risky investments, as much as 958.3 million US dollars were invested in Croatian startups in the first three quarters of last year alone. The aforementioned was concluded at the Algebra startup meetup, which was recently held at the Algebra campus in the City of Zagreb, on the Algebra Spark Event Space premises.

Bernard Ivezic, the editor of the Startup Report magazine, said that the appearance of unicorns such as Infobip and Rimac, as well as big exits like Nanobit and Gamepires, and now Photomath's astonishing success with Google, encourage an increase in investor interest in Croatian startups. Last year seeing a record number of Croatian startups receive investments proves that. "However, due to the war in Ukraine and the hectic exit from the coronavirus pandemic, investment values are lower than they were before, although for Croatian conditions they're still very good. 2022 was the second best year so far," Ivezic pointed out.

Four new venture capital funds are coming to the Croatian market, and over the next five years, the amount of money that will be made available to Croatian startups will be 10 times higher than it was in the past - standing at about 300 million euros. A lot of money also means more problems for funds that are going to need to start competing for startups, which makes the entire ecosystem quite dynamic and competitive, especially in an environment of crisis and economic uncertainty.

"In a crisis, it's important to always lead by example, and that's what the leaders of every startup should focus on. Investors expect this period to last 24 to 36 months. It's the most difficult for seed stage startups that aren't yet in the portfolio, because for them the risks are the greatest, as is their dependence on investors.

This is precisely why good networking with potential investors is most important - my advice is not only to look at them, but also at their portfolio of companies and the companies with which they're connected, because building that network of acquaintances is the key to future success," Miryana Joksovic from Arcion Labs pointed out, before reflecting on recent layoffs in the tech community.

"Most of those who were previously employed in large companies can hardly adapt to the new startup culture, so the question is how we can connect this talent to the startup ecosystem, because they're used to different work standards, atypical for the dynamics of those entrepreneurs who are only just starting to build their own companies,'' explained Joksovic.

Matija Nakic, the founder of Farseer, saw that every crisis, including this one, can also double up as an opportunity. "Our process of getting investments wasn't dramatic and we got the hang of it quickly. Investments have slowed down if we look at the environment, while in the last two years there has been a lot of capital and a significant jump in employment and investments in IT companies. I love crises and I think they're a good opportunity to rethink things like business models. People who left large IT companies like Google will surely find a job quickly because they have excellent knowledge and will return to the ecosystem and bring this new knowledge to young companies. I believe that we have an interesting couple of years ahead of us, especially with the increasing influence of AI".

"In 2021 and 2022, capital was cheap not only for startups but also for funds. In the last quarter of 2022, there was a significant drop in investments. There is money, investments have been shaken up, but they haven't stopped", emphasised Vedran Blagus from South Central Ventures.

Despite the data on the reduced investment wave as a result of global economic events, the panelists agreed that the challenging period facing the domestic and global startup scene is only a prelude to the continuation of a fairly prosperous period. Namely, Croatian startups now face new challenges in the form of investment in research and development, as the basis of new innovations that can help them to overcome these times of crisis.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Zagreb Stock Exchange Expecting Stagnation After Credit Suisse Collapse

March 16, 2023 - Cautious trading is expected on the Zagreb Stock Exchange on Thursday, where the Crobex index could stagnate, and the focus of investors will be events on world stock exchanges, which could recover after yesterday's sharp fall.

As Index reports, all analysts who participated in the Hina survey today expect Crobex to stagnate.

The Crobex index sank on Wednesday by 1.76 percent, to 2,218 points, and Crobex10 by 1.73 percent, to 1,267 points.

It was the biggest daily decline of these indices in the last two months, and they slipped to the lowest levels since February 27.

At the same time, all sector indices also fell, with Crobextransport seeing the most significant change of 4.87 percent.

Regular share turnover amounted to approximately 1.37 million euros, about 100 thousand more than the day before.

"The main stock indices on the Zagreb Stock Exchange ended yesterday's trading in the 'red', following the negative sentiment that prevailed on foreign markets. The total turnover amounted to EUR 1.4 million. Almost the total amount related to the trading of shares, while bonds were traded in the amount of only 5 thousand euros," points out Miso Kalajzic, head of brokerage trading at OTP bank.

The highest turnover achieved by the HT share

The highest turnover, 177 thousand euros, was achieved yesterday by the HT shares, whose price fell by 0.78 percent to 25.50 euros.

With a turnover of 163.5 thousand euros, Span shares followed, whose price sank by 2.58 percent to 49.1 euros.

The focus was also on the Podravka shares, with which EUR 146,000 was realized, with the price falling by 2.17 percent to EUR 90.

Shares of Atlantska Plovidba achieved more than 100,000 euros in turnover, whose price fell by almost three percent to 58.6 euros.

The biggest loser was the share of Alpha Adriatic, with a price drop of 10.5 percent to 23.8 euros.

The share price of the Zagreb Stock Exchange rose the most, by 2.7 percent, to 3.8 euros.

A total of 37 shares were traded on the Zagreb Stock Exchange yesterday, of which the price of only four rose, 25 fell, and eight stagnated.

"For today, we predict stagnation in the movement of stock indices, whereby the direction could largely depend on the sentiment on foreign markets," said Miso Kalajzic.

Fear of a banking crisis weighed on world stock markets

Thus, yesterday, Crobex followed the sharp decline of European stock market indices. The London FTSE slipped 3.8 percent, while the Frankfurt DAX sank 3.3 and the Paris CAC 3.6 percent.

Stock indices suffered sharp corrections on the most important European stock exchanges yesterday. The biggest losses were in the shares of the banking sector, continuing the crisis that started last week with the collapse of the SVB bank in the USA. Of yesterday's more important announcements, the growth of industrial production in the Eurozone stands out, which was somewhat better than expected, while in the USA, a drop in the rate of producer prices was recorded, as well as a drop in retail sales.

Stock prices fell on Wall Street on Wednesday. The Dow Jones lost 0.9 percent, and the S&P 500 lost 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq index gained 0.05 percent.

Recovery is expected

This morning, European futures indices are positive, which heralds the market's recovery after yesterday's sharp decline caused by the problems of the second-largest Swiss bank, Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse's share price sank about 14 percent to record lows yesterday after the bank reported weaknesses in its financial statements for the past year, and the bank's biggest investor, Saudi National Bank, said it could not provide any further financial support aid to this Swiss bank.

This, along with the collapse of SVB at the end of last week, caused speculation about which other banks could be in trouble.

But fears of a banking crisis eased somewhat this morning after news that the Swiss central bank will open a nearly $54 billion credit line to Credit Suisse.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Obesity in Croatia: This Epidemic Could Cause Some Big Problems

March 16, 2023 - If we continue like this, in 2060, 3.5 percent of our GDP will go away, and we will be spending around 5.8 billion euros on something preventable," warned Music Milanovic while discussing the problem of obesity in Croatia.

As Poslovni writes, Croatian citizens are the fattest in the European Union, and treating diseases related to obesity costs 1.7 billion euros annually, it was pointed out on Wednesday at the 7th conference on obesity at the Institute for Public Health "Dr. Andrija Štampar".

"About 35 percent of children and 65 percent of adults in Croatia are overweight or obese. Children are in the high fifth place, while our adults are European champions, both men and women," said Sanja Music Milanovic, head of the Health Promotion Service of the Croatian Public Health Service (HZJZ), before the conference.

She also stated that in 2019, 2.7 percent of the GDP was spent on obesity-related diseases.

"1.71 billion euros. If we continue like this, in 2060, 3.5 percent of our GDP will go away, and we will be spending around 5.8 billion euros on something preventable," warned Music Milanovic.

She also asserted that obesity is the result of the environment in which we live and which forces us to consume more while using less energy.

The conference was held on Croatian Obesity Awareness Day, and this year it was dedicated to young people, changes in habits and behavior.

When asked if the Government stimulates weight gain by protecting the prices of foods that make you fat, such as fatty meat, white flour, and oil, Music Milanovic said that any food is fine; it's just a matter of moderation.

Obesity is a disease and a risk factor for numerous other diseases – cardiovascular, locomotor system diseases, mental health, and certain types of cancer.

The problem of obesity at "Štampar" is approached in a multidisciplinary way; they have three counseling centers with a nutritionist, a kinesiologist, a doctor and a psychotherapist.

Last year, the Ministry of Health launched a working group to draft a proposal for an action plan to prevent obesity.

The representative of the Ministry, Ivana Portolan Pajic, reported that the coordination of the action plan, which will be followed by e-Consultations, is still ongoing and is expected to be adopted in the middle of this year.

The primary level of health care should be more concerned with obesity monitoring, said Ino Protrka, director of the Zagreb Center Health Center.

Following this lead, the Health Center Center launched two obesity prevention projects this year; at the diabetes center, they brought together a nutritionist, a pharmacologist and a diabetologist, and they're planning to introduce exercise as a doctor's prescription.

Psychiatrist Veljko Dordevic concluded that obesity was once considered an aesthetic problem, but today we know it is a health problem and one of the leading causes of mortality.

"Obesity is a deadly disease that we need to prevent, treat and monitor throughout life," he said.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Chinese Tourists to Continue Helping Croatian Tourism, Excellent Relations

March 16, 2023 - Starting tomorrow, Croatia will be officially included in the second series of group trips for Chinese tourists, as announced by the Chinese Embassy in Croatia.

As Poslovni reports, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Croatia held a press conference at the Esplanade Hotel, where the internal and external policy of the People's Republic of China in 2023 was discussed, as well as the Chinese point of view on various issues related to international relations between Croatia and China, current world events, changes and challenges in politics, economy. In addition, some main points from the "Two Sessions," an important event in China's political life, held these days, were also discussed.

Two sessions

H. E. Mr. Qi Qianjin, Ambassador of China to Croatia, emphasized four key points of this year's "Two Sessions". One is a reform, strengthening the optimization and adaptation of the responsibilities of institutions in the fields of science and technology, the financial regulatory framework, and big data, and reducing the number of staff in central government bodies by 5%. Another is development - in the past five years, China's GDP has increased to about 18 trillion US dollars, with an average annual growth rate of 5.2%, which ranks it second in the world. This year, stability will be a priority. The goal is to increase the GDP by 5%, which aligns with the consensus forecasts of international financial institutions. Looking ahead, relying on China's huge market size, complete industrial system, abundant human resources, solid foundations for development, and outstanding institutional advantages, China's economic growth will have unlimited prospects, which also provides more new opportunities for Croatia and other countries in the world. The third is openness, the fundamental state policy of China. In the past five years, China has decided to open up even more to the outside world and deepen mutually beneficial international economic and trade cooperation. The fourth is China's modernization, which strives to achieve shared prosperity for all instead of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This means an increase in the Chinese people's purchasing power and scope of market consumption.

Chinese foreign policy

The meeting discussed China's foreign policy. H. E. Mr. Qi Qianjin emphasized that in the face of the complicated international situation, China's overall foreign policy remains unchanged, and China will continue to implement an independent foreign policy of peace and a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up; China will always be a builder of world peace, contribute to global development and defend international order. China will keep in mind the interests of the world, look at internationalism, and actively participate in global governance. Over the past ten years, President Xi Jinping has put forward several important initiatives and proposals, the Belt and Road Initiative, the shared values of humankind, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative. The main message of these initiatives is that countries are interdependent, humanity has a common future, and the international community must unite for cooperation.

This year, China's diplomacy will be carried out in the following five aspects: follow the guidelines of diplomacy at the highest level, and defend China's core interests. China opposes any form of hegemony and power politics, and Cold War mentality. It will build an extensive partnership relationship. The goal is openness and development. It will encourage high-quality development and openness to high standards. It will champion an open and inclusive world economy and create new opportunities for the world. It will move towards multilateralism. It will promote the building of a community with a future for all humanity, promote greater democracy in international relations, and make global governance more just and equitable. It will offer more, better Chinese insights and solutions to help solve humanity's common challenges.

Relations between China and the EU

Relations between China and the EU were also discussed; Mr. E. Mr. Qi Qianjin stated: "China has always seen the European Union as a comprehensive strategic partner and supports European integration. We believe that our interactions are an independent choice of the two parties based entirely on our respective strategic interests. The relationship between China and the EU is neither directed against any third party nor subordinated to or controlled by any third party. Trade and investment between the EU and China continue to grow. According to Eurostat data, the trade volume between China and the EU reached 856.3 billion euros in 2022, with an increase of 22.8%. China is the second-largest trading partner of the EU, the largest source of imports, and the third-largest export market. In the future, it is important to maintain good relations between China and the EU."

Relations between China and the USA

Mr. Qi Qianjin referred to the relations between China and the US and commented on the recent incident related to the drone. He emphasized that it was entirely an accident caused by force majeure. He stated that China does not pose a threat to the US and that China does not want to create problems. China is dedicated to promoting the healthy and stable development of relations with the US in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The Taiwan question

Mr. Qi Qianjin also touched on the issue of Taiwan: "Taiwan is part of the territory of the People's Republic of China." It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to carry out the great task of reunifying the motherland. This is our position on the Taiwan issue. Solving the Taiwan issue is a matter for the Chinese people, and no other country has the right to interfere."

The war in Ukraine

The crisis and the war in Ukraine were also discussed. China's Position on the Political Resolution of the Ukraine Crisis was recently published, which comprehensively and systematically explains China's position and proposals on the Ukraine crisis, which can be summed up in one sentence: to promote peace and negotiations.

The ambassador emphasized that China firmly rejects the use or threat of nuclear weapons, advocates that nuclear weapons should not be used, and that nuclear wars should not be fought. Last week, China donated 200,000 euros to Ukraine's nuclear safety technical assistance project through the International Atomic Energy Agency, supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency's efforts to strengthen the safety of Ukraine's nuclear facilities through practical action.

Chinese-Croatian relations

Since establishing diplomatic relations between China and Croatia 30 years ago, China has always considered Croatia a good friend and partner. The two sides have always respected each other, setting a good example of friendly cooperation between countries with different populations and social systems.

Economic and trade cooperation flourished. Last year, the trade volume between China and Croatia reached 2.42 billion US dollars, increasing more than 60 times in just 30 years. The Peljesac Bridge, a project of trilateral cooperation between China, Croatia, and the EU, opened to traffic as scheduled last year, becoming a symbol of friendship between the two nations. H. E. Mr. Qi Qianjin pointed out: "Since I arrived in Croatia a year and a half ago, Croatian friends from all walks of life have been full of praise, stressing that the bridge has helped Croatia achieve its long-awaited desire to connect the north and south of the country, strongly promoted local economic and social development, embodied China's speed and showed a good image of Chinese companies. Croatian government officials aptly call it the brightest pearl in the crown of Sino-Croatian relations."

The Senj wind farm, built by Chinese companies, annually provides about 530 million KWH of clean electricity for Croatia, helping the country achieve a green energy transformation and better cope with the current energy crisis. Chinese companies like Huawei and Xiaomi are dedicated to providing more high-quality products and services for Croatia. At the same time, high-quality agricultural products from Croatia, such as wine, olive oil, and truffles have been put on the tables of Chinese families. In the future, more high-quality food will enter the Chinese market, which is one of the priorities of the Chinese embassy, as well as work to strengthen mutual deepening and friendship between the two sides.

H. E. Mr. Qi Qianjin emphasized: "Croatia will be officially included in the list of the second series of group trips by Chinese citizens from tomorrow, and we believe that the number of Chinese tourists will recover this year or even exceed the number from 2019. In the future, we will constantly strive to strengthen the exchange and cooperation between the two countries at all levels and in all kinds of areas and to deepen the friendship between the two peoples. In particular, by hosting the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, we will use the potential for deepening cooperation and advancing practical cooperation in infrastructure, green energy, digitization, and agriculture as an opportunity. We also hope that our Croatian friends will take the opportunity and make good use of the benefits of China's rapid economic recovery and its large middle-class market of over 400 million people

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

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Vukovar Card to Be Presented at Dangerous Ideas 2 Zagreb Conference

March 16, 2023 - So what are the ideas to build a better Croatia? An innovative conference in Zagreb on Saturday - the second edition of Dangerous Ideas.

This is turning out to be a hugely positive week for me. 

Firstly, I welcomed on board my first official partner to try and realise my concept of the Dalmatian 'Olympics' of Traditional Dalmatian Games, an attend to preserve and celebrate the individual heritage of Dalmatian villages before some of these traditions are lost. You can read more about the concept in Introducing the Traditional Dalmatian Games Olympics: Get Involved!


Yesterday's fun was at Kaptol Cinema for the annual 3T - Tourism, Travel and Technology conference, which was a very inspiring and GREAT networking event. In addition to presenting Unlocking Croatia's 12-Month Authentic Tourism Potential, there was a great chat with conference organiser Oleg Mastruko on how Croatia can compete in the modern multi-polar tourism world. Great energy and an awesome list of speakers. 

Tonight is one of my favourite events of the year, where seemingly all the positive energy in Croatia gathers for one night - the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award. It always feels as if the future of Croatia is gathered in one room for an evening. 

And as if that was not enough fun, a nice addition to the weekend at Hotel Westin in Zagreb on Saturday, for a conference which is bound to throw out some very cool suggestions. Dangerous Ideas 2, an initiative from the Centar party nd FNF (and no, I am not interested in Croatian politics, but I do support cool ideas) to invite people to pitch their ideas for a better Croatia.

"All the good stuff you wish could happen in Croatia but nobody dares to implement."

Each speaker will have just 10 minutes to get their points across, and there is a very impressive list of speakers, and I am grateful for the invitation to contribute my 10 minutes. You can see the timetable and list of speakers below. Everyone is welcome, and the event will be streamed live here


I will be presenting my concept, the Vukovar Card, a New Deal for Eastern Croatia, which you can learn about in this video from my channel.

The conference is open to all, and entrance is free, starting at 10:00 at Hotel Westin.

The latest sprinkling of positivity in Croatia - there is a lot of it about these days. 

See you there!


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.



Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Hajduk U19s Make History and Advance to UEFA Youth League Semi-final!

March 15, 2023 - Hajduk U19s are in the semi-final of the UEFA Youth Champions League!

In the quarter-final match at Signal Iduna Park in Germany, Hajduk U19s defeated Borussia Dortmund on penalties. After 90 minutes it was 1-1, and Marijan Budimir's team won 9-8 on pens after a wild shootout.

Dortmund maintained possession throughout the match while Hajduk had more chances. Hajduk had its first serious attempt in the 21st minute when Roko Brajković's left-footed shot went just short of the goal post. Hajduk missed an even bigger chance in the 64th minute. 

A more concrete game by Hajduk finally resulted in a goal in the 72nd minute. Brajković precisely crossed from the right side to Mate Antunović who found the back of the net with a beautiful header for the lead! 

However, Borussia came back only four minutes later. Julian Rijkhoff accurately executed the penalty kick after Tomislav Arković fouled Michel Ludwig.  Hajduk was not swayed by that goal, and they were close to winning even before the penalty shootout. Brunner almost shook his own net after Hrgović's cross hit the top of the crossbar and was saved by the Dortmund defense.

The drama of penalties did not prove to be a problem for Hajduk. During the eight rounds, both sides were infallible, but in the ninth, Hajduk's goalkeeper Borna Buljan saved Filippo Mane's shot, while Ante Kavelj scored for the big celebration! 

With this victory against Borussia Dortmund, the Hajduk U19s qualified for the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League. Hajduk has thus made history and became the first Croatian club to reach the semi-finals of this competition. 

The final tournament will be played in Nyon, Switzerland, from April 21 to 24. In addition to Hajduk, Sporting, AZ Alkmaar, and AC Milan advanced to the semi-finals.

On April 21, Hajduk will play against AC Milan, while Sporting and AZ will compete in the second semi-final. 

The final is scheduled for three days later, on April 24. 

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

Page 7 of 3766