Thursday, 17 June 2021

BIZkoshnica, Zagreb Coworking Since 2015: Mirela Marovic Omerzu Interview

June 17, 2021 - Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 begins on Monday. Continuing our look at the hosts of the event, meet one of the ciy's coworking pioneers, Mirela Marovic Omerzu, owner of BIZkoshnica, who will be hosting Tuesday's event on Online Presence

The digital nomad buzz in Croatia is getting louder, so time for some perspective. Mirela Marovic Omerzu opened one of the first coworking spaces in Zagreb back in 2015 and has been following the development of this sector ever since. Some fascinating insights into how things where, how they are now, and where they could go. 

1. You were one of the first to open a coworking space in Zagreb back in 2015. Tell us about that decision and how locals perceived your idea.

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To be honest I didn’t really know much about coworking at the time. Well, it's better to say I knew almost nothing. I had a potential space at my disposal that was in a very bad condition and I wanted to make creative space out of it. One that I would share with others. I felt that other micro-entrepreneurs had similar challenges. At the time my kids were very small, I was working from home, which was neither satisfying nor productive. I felt lonely, sometimes desperate and I longed for informal conversations with adults and I needed a boost for my business. When I started researching what is needed to realize this idea, the coworking model stood out. I wanted to offer the market a local story while respecting the core values ​​of the coworking movement such as openness, flexibility, collaboration and sustainability. Today I can say that these values ​​fully resonate with the members of BIZkoshnica and with me and that we live them daily.

At the time, the coworking idea was very abstract to most people, apart from a few freelancers or entrepreneurs. It took some time for a certain mindset-shift for people who start their own business to accept a flexible office solution as ideal and for them to see the benefits it brings. Benefits such as informal networking, business and project opportunities, the development of business skills and personal development that is inevitable in working with people and ultimately that it is more cost-effective. The main advantage is that most of our members are independent and are free from the belief that everyone is everyone's competitor or that they are not allowed to share their ideas, which is a belief people working in larger corporations often have . Working in coworking is characterized by a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere without strict rules where collaboration culture can be implemented easily. The most important thing is that the person is open minded and that they doe what they love and what they are good at.

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2. Things have changed a lot since then of course. How would you describe the co-working scene today in the city?

Today, the scene of coworking space in Zagreb is quite different. A lot of coworking spaces have opened up, there are a lot of spaces called coworking spaces just because it sounds good, but some are exclusively real estate businesses. A lot of specialized spaces have also opened up. IT oriented, social impact, tourism oriented.

Sometimes I feel like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet show who watch it from the sidelines and comment. I am strongly personally attached to coworking and for me, coworking is not just the future of work but the only way to work. I don't know what the future holds, but common sense tells me that people will increasingly accept flexible ways of working and that trends inevitably go in the direction of cooperation, self-employment, independence, digitalization, and that the need for collaborative spaces will grow.

On one hand, I welcome the opening of new shared spaces, coworking spaces, because it means that the economy is recovering, that the way of working is changing in the direction of sustainability, cooperation and flexibility. On the other hand, each space should build its own story with appropriate content and offer it to its specific target group. There is still a lot of potential in the coworking market in Zagreb, which already has a well-developed offer, while in the smaller cities on the coast as well as in interior parts of Croatia the need and potential is even greater. There is still work needed to change people's mindsets and habits.

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3. The pandemic changed the way we work, but Zagreb also had the devastating earthquake of March 22 to contend with as well. Tell us about the realities of running a coworking space in 2020 in Zagreb, and how you adapted?

Sometimes I think we are starting all over again from scratch, but we are fortunate it left mostly material damage. It was really hard in 2020 firstly because all the events stopped due to covid pandemicand that used to account for 70% of our revenues. When the earthquake hit it left some damage in the space too because we are situated in the very central position at Zagreb’s British square. In 15 seconds one of our main selling proposition points turned into the biggest downside. After the first shock, a big help for us was mutual online socializing with our members and with Creative Hubs network as well as regular zoom calls with colleagues from all around Europe that are running spaces. The fact that we are not alone and that we are in the same problem was a soothing fact. We managed to renovate and adapt the space, the loyal members stayed and started to return after the lockdown. We adapted to the situation so that we are offering some of the services online like VirtualBee service or online educations. We encourage our clients to organize hybrid eventswhere online and offline events are combined. The space was adapted so that users have enough space and are not in danger of spreading the virus among each other. The space is regularly disinfected.

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4. There is a lot of buzz about Croatia as a digital nomad destination. Do you think it is justified? What does Zagreb do well, and what should it be doing better to serve digital nomads? 

This buzz is great and I am really welcoming the idea of Croatia as a digital nomad destination. Croatia has all of the prerequisites for a great life: indescribably beautiful nature, cultural heritage, cordiality, ideal climate, excellent geographical location as well as connections. Those are also some of the reasons why I decided to stay in Croatia. Zagreb particularly is an attractive city, especially in these times with regards health and safety. It’s big enough, while still remaining cosy compared to other metropolises. Proximity to the Adriatic coast, and to other attractive destinations in the interior makes it desirable as well. All the amenities needed by digital nomads are available. High speed Internet connection, coworking spaces and communities, affordable housing, good restaurant offerings and other offerings necessary for a nice quality of living. I’m not particularly familiar with the activities Zagreb as a city undertakes to attract digital nomads. There is a national campaign, but I don’t believe that it is enough.

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5. Three quick wins to improve Zagreb's digital nomad offer? 

The promotion of the opportunities for digital nomads in Zagreb should be done more intensely. Information on how to acquire visas and permits for digital nomads, as well as travel, accommodation, coworking opportunities should be obtained easier. Tax and legal advice and requirements should be more readily available and appropriate. 

6. You have obviously been dealing with digital nomads in Zagreb for several years here in Zagreb. What trends have you noticed in the last couple of years?

We have had digital nomads from all around the world in BIZkoshnica so far. United States, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Morocco, India, Canada, Israel… We remain inspired by their life and business stories. They all fit in very well and had no special requests or needs despite the different cultures that they came from. I would say that locals are more picky and demanding. What the digital nomads brought to our community is a sense of possibility and the feeling that the world is only one and that we are all one. We have kept in touch with many through social media networks, we follow their work and travels. The influence of digital nomads and their openness in the exchange of culture and experiences is invaluable. They can make a real impact in the local economy, as well as provide inspiration for young people to follow their example in life and work. I would say that in the long run, digital nomads themselves could become ambassadors of a country they are visiting if their stay was pleasant and met their expectations. They will spread the word among their friends and companions. Among the digital nomads who came to BIZkoshnica, there were many couples who travel together, but work completely independently and remotely, the age ranges were from 25 to 55. Most of them stayed in Croatia for multiple months and during their stay they were very active in getting to know the country and people and its tourist attractions, local habits and culture as well as visiting surrounding countries on weekends.

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7. What is the Zagreb DN community like at the moment, and what strategies would you implement to grow it significantly?

It takes time and personal efforts to build any kind of community. At the moment the digital nomads community is in the establishing phase but the Digital Nomad Association is doing great in all its initiatives. More stakeholders need to get involved. The numbers of approved digital nomad visas are growing and digital nomads are choosing not only Zagreb but other cities in Croatia to stay. Firstly, once the digital nomads are attracted by Croatian natural beauty, its safety and high quality of life, all the other practical information about accommodation, taxes, health insurance, coworking spaces need to be communicated to the digital nomads preferably in one central spot.

Being aware that digital nomads, alongside freedom and flexibility, are mostly interested in making connections with local people, it is needed to provide different kinds of networking events to enable them to learn about local culture, to meet local entrepreneurs, to participate in meet ups and skill sharing events. All of these events are needed to keep the digital nomad community alive. The intra personal and business connections need to happen, so they can do their job at such events. Given the easing of covid measures, we expect to organize more such events also in our space.

8. Tell us about your involvement in Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and what should the city be looking to get out of the event?

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Once Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads presented the project to us, we immediately decided to get involved because we see great value in such initiatives that help connect digital nomads with the coworking, business and tourism community in Croatia. We are looking forward to hosting a DNW event at BIZkoshnica and our goal is to introduce visitors to our members, as well as to find out about the needs of digital nomads present in Croatia. Digital Nomad Week is an ideal way to promote and popularize digital nomads and the benefits we can have from their stay in Croatia, not only in terms of tourism but from the perspective of local community development.

Zagreb has yet to open up and show everything that it has in store. Zagreb offers a lot, but is hiding its gems, and there is so much authenticity to be proud of. Perhaps the Croatian paradox of identity is also reflected in this. We Croats often do not appreciate our own and think that we are not good enough and that everything that is coming from abroad is better, while at the same being very proud of our heritage only. That is that paradox that keeps us in place like a children game Frozen queen 1, 2, 3. ☺

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9. And finally, in a paragraph, sell Zagreb to potential DN visitors. Why should they come here?

As a young traditional girl full of life and potential, Zagreb wants to open up and offer all its possessions to the world. She knows she offers a lot, but she’s shy, she likes to hide. She thinks other cities are better. Then one morning she wakes up and realizes she wants to live her own life and be herself. She starts to stroll from the center, through the streets of the lower town full of historical sites and stories, intertwined with the modern way of life. There are a lot of people there, they speak good English, they are educated, cultured and hospitable. They enjoy their city and everything it offers from the urban lifestyle, countless cafes, delicious food, museums, theaters, concerts, events to nature in the city, the beautiful Zagreb's mountain of Medvednica, green city parks, lakes Bundek and Jarun, the Sava River. In the vicinity of Zagreb there are many excursion destinations, many sports and cultural facilities, national parks and nature parks, castles, rural households offering organic food and pristine experience.

The sea and the Adriatic islands are less than a 2-hour drive away. Every place, island, stone tells its own story, and the visitor builds his own experience upon that and always gladly returns to that paradise on earth. The land of the most beautiful sunset, the land of thousand islands, homeland of many inventors, homeland of necktie, pen and the fastest electric car in the world. Welcome digital nomads! Zagreb greets you.

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BIZkoshnica will be hosting Day 2 of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week on Tuesday, 22 June, with the theme of the day - Online Presence. More information on that, as well as where to register (online and in person - please note that physical places are limited due to the measures) here. Attendance is free. 

For more on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.

For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatian Parliament to Vote on Budget Revision on Friday

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - The Croatian Parliament is expected, among other things, to vote on the budget revision on Friday, after the opposition put forward about one hundred amendments.

The government's representatives rejected all the amendments put forward by opposition groups.

The government has stuck to its plan for budget revenue to be increased by HRK 3 billion to HRK 150.3 billion and an expenditure increase of HRK 9.4 billion to HRK 167.4 billion.

It is estimated that the budget deficit will increase by 2.9% to 3.8% of GDP.

The budget has been revised due to the consequences of the COVID epidemic, primarily due to problems in the health sector and debt to wholesale drug suppliers after all legal means have been exhausted to settle the debt with the reallocation of budget funds.

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Slavonski Brod Ranks Third Worst City in Europe on Air Quality Index

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - The eastern Croatian city of Slavonski Brod is the third worst city for the quality of air according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) data which indicates that more than half of European cities still have polluted air despite reduced emissions during the pandemic lockdown.

The worst situation is in eastern Europe where coal continues to be the main source of energy.

The most polluted air was registered in Nowy Sacz in Poland where the biannual average of fine particulate matter on an area of fewer than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), which are considered to be damaging to health, amounted to 27.3 micrograms per cubic meter.

Cremone in Italy ranked second with 25.9 micrograms PM2.5 per cubic meter and Slavonski Brod ranked third with 25.7 micrograms PM2.5 per cubic meter.

Three cities with the cleanest air in Europe were Umea in Sweden (3.7), Tampere in Finland (3.8), and Funchal in Portugal (4.,2).

Poor air in Zagreb too

This year's PM2.5 average in Zagreb amounted to 15.8 micrograms per cubic meter which means the air is of poor quality and presents a moderate health risk. In Rijeka, it was 10.6, which is moderate pollution, according to EEA.

EEA analyzed data for 323 European cities in 2019 and 2020 and determined that only 127 had a PM2.5 level below the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Exposure to fine particulate matter cause more than 400,000 premature deaths per annum in Europe.

The EEA data indicates that the biannual average is only available for those cities that are regularly monitored and do not include all European cities.

EEA notes that the lockdown due to the pandemic resulted in a decrease in the level of nitrogen dioxide released from diesel motors but the level of particulate matter remained high.

The level of nitrogen dioxide fell by 60% in some cities due to the lockdown in April 2020 while the reduction in the particulate matter was less dramatic - with the level of coarse particulate matter (PM10) falling between 20% and 30% in April 2020.

Even though the quality of air improved significantly last year, air pollution remains to be stubbornly high in many cities in Europe, EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said.

For the latest news about Zagreb, click here.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

European Union Annual Inflation Accelerates in May, Highest in Croatia Since Joining EU

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - Annual inflation in the European Union and the euro area in May reached its highest level in nearly two and a half years, while consumer prices in Croatia increased the strongest since the country joined the EU, according to a report released on Thursday by the EU statistical office, Eurostat.

The EU inflation rate rose to 2.3% in May, its highest level since October 2018, from 2.0% in April.

In the euro area, the inflation rate was 2.0%, up from 1.6% in April, also its strongest increase since October 2018.

In May 2020, when economic activities and social life virtually came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation amounted to 0.6% in the EU  and 0.1% in the euro area.

Croatia alongside Germany, Spain, and Sweden

The highest annual rates were recorded in Hungary (5.3%), Poland (4.6%), and Luxembourg (4.0%).

Croatia ranked alongside Germany, Spain, and Sweden with an annual inflation rate of 2.4%, the highest increase since August 2013. In April the annual inflation rate in Croatia was 2.1%.

In May last year, prices in Croatia fell by 0.7% on the year.

The lowest inflation in May was registered in Portugal and Malta at 0.5% and 0.2% respectively.

The only country to register a decrease in prices was Greece (-1.2%).

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Plenković Requests Turkish President's Support for Bosnia Election Legislation Reform

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, requesting Turkey's support for efforts to ensure respect for equality of all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for an election legislation reform in the country.

Plenković flew to the Turkish city of Antalya to attend a summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), being held under Turkish chairmanship. Turkey assumed the SEECP chairmanship on 1 July 2020. Plenković met Erdogan on the sidelines of the meeting.

"One of the topics was Bosnia and Herzegovina. I underscored that it is very important for Croatia that all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina are equal, notably the Croats who are the least numerous," the Croatian premier said after meeting with the Turkish head of state.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croats and the government in Zagreb claim that the Croats are currently not represented on the country's collective presidency and in other institutions because the current member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Željko Komšić, who sits as the Croat representative, is only the nominal representative because he was elected thanks to votes from the Bosniak electorate.

"For us, it is also important that consensus is reached on the election legislation reform during the process of negotiations between political parties and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in this regard, I asked for Turkey's support," said Plenković.

"Of course, in the political sense, Turkey has closer relations with the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and finally with the political leadership of the SDA party. Therefore it is essential that we, Turkey and Croatia, in dialogue with friendly institutions and political parties that are close to us, seek solutions that will ensure that all the peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina feel satisfied," Plenković said.

Croatia-Turkey relations very good and friendly

Plenković described the Croatian-Turkish bilateral relations as very good and friendly.

There are many Turkish companies doing business in Croatia, and Ankara would like to intensify the business cooperation, according to Plenković.

"Croatia is open and we think that will be very much to our benefit,"  he added.

 Plenković informed Erdogan that Zagreb appreciated Turkey's care for a huge number of refugees and efforts to prevent the reactivation of the western Balkan migrant route.

The Croatian PM believes that the agreement between the EU and Ankara on care for migrants will be honored

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

City of Zagreb Unlawfully Expropriated Land to Build Car Park for Cableway Users

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - The City of Zagreb unlawfully dispossessed the owners of a piece of land in the Gračani neighborhood to build a car park for the Sljeme mountain cableway, the Justice and Administration Ministry confirmed to Hina on Thursday.

The Ministry said that on 21 May it had annulled the decision by the city department for property relations and referred the case back to the City for reconsideration after it found that the City had taken possession of the property in question before the expropriation decision became final.

According to media reports, the Ministry granted the appeal filed by a lawyer on behalf of one of the co-owners of the land who died during the expropriation process. The City needed the land to build a car park at the foot of Mount Sljeme to serve cableway users.

While it was still not known who would inherit the property of the deceased co-owner, the City decided of its own accord that would be his wife and daughter. Media say that the wife never received a copy of the expropriation application and that the City ignored the fact that she is infirm and needs a guardian. The City, on the other hand, argued during the appeal process that the whole case was conducted in accordance with the Roads Act and not the Expropriation Act and that the owners had been paid for their land.

For the latest news about Zagreb, click here.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Jadrolinija National Ferry Company Acquires New Ship

17 June 2021 - Jadrolinija national ferry company acquired a new ship that will connect the town of Biograd with Tkon on Pasman island.

"Jadrolinija" is one of the most used words in the Croatian language during the summer, at least on the coast. This national ferry company has been connecting the mainland and the islands of the Croatian part of the Adriatic for decades. Its international lines see it connecting Croatia with Italy for part of the year as well.

Because of the small size of the towns and villages and the scarce population living on the islands, only a portion of these lines are profitable and the fleet is pretty large. It is therefore quite a newsworthy item to see Jadrolinija presenting a new addition. Ferry „Tkon“ joined the fleet that now counts 55 ships in total.

Valuable Addition

It was purchased from Rapska Plovidba (Rab Shipping) as index.hr reports. Tkon is a product of renowned Croatian shipyard Viktor Lenac. It is 42 metres long, 15,3 metres wide, and can hold 250 passengers and 35 cars. It was built in 2003. In comparison, ferry „Prizna“ that serviced this Jadrolinija line so far is over 50 years old. It will be on stand-by for the busiest parts of the year. After the purchase Tkon is heading to the docks for maintenace and re-painting. This is good news for all travellers to Pasman island, but also all the islanders and Biograd locals. Chairman of the board of Jadolinija, David Spota said the move goes along the strategic goal of updating and improving the fleet. This is the fifth new ship to come under Jadrolinija flag in the last four years.

It really is difficult to avoid blue-striped Jadrolinija ships along the Croatian coast. They bring much joy to all those wishing to visit some of over a thousand magical islands of Croatia. Here's to Tkon's smooth sailing!

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatian Diaspora in South America: The Story of Nadia from Argentina

June 17, 2021 - Reuniting with your Croatian ancestry can go in many ways. Many of the Croatian diaspora in South America tirelessly seek to trace their roots, and several of them without success. The chances of accidentally meeting your distant relatives are always low, but this is what surprisingly happened to Nadia from Argentina.

Every year, lists are written in media and blogs everywhere to rank Croatian destinations, facts, and people, but I don't know if it has occurred to anyone before that Croatia, in addition to its beaches, its islands, its nature, its Roman, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslav heritage, its geniuses (both in science and sport) and more, Croatia could also be known for its surprises. It is true that being Croatian, of Croatian descent, or living in Croatia can surprise one on various occasions, and not always in a negative way.

Of course, there are known surprises that one can get when going to the police station to carry out a procedure, or when sitting at the table of a Croatian family at lunch, or after a rakija tasting. But some of its most interesting events happen when reconnecting with your Croatian ancestry. Not only through my own experience, but I know of many, many people over the years who have failed to find out more about their ancestors rather than the simple fact that they were Croats.

As the years go by, it becomes more difficult to connect the evidence that one finds to solve numerous questions such as the year their ancestor was born, where they were born, when did they leave Croatia, why did they leave Croatia, what did they do while living there, what did they do after arriving at their new country, and so on. This is very difficult to solve, especially for the large Croatian diaspora in South America, a distant continent in so many ways beyond what’s measurable. If there’s something I know, it is that one of the decisions that can facilitate this search is to return to the mother country. It is not a guarantee, but it can definitely bring you closer to the answer you are looking for.

But what if one is not looking for it? It does not mean that there is no type of interest, but precisely it ceases to be a priority when it becomes so difficult to know something about our origins. When you find something you were looking for, it always brings a pleasant sense of success and fulfillment. But when it is unexpected, the feeling of joy can be equal or even greater. This is what I thought when I first heard about Nadia's experience. But I feel like the story will feel more magical if it is shared through her own words. Meet Nadia Milevčić, a returnee from Argentina.

What country are you from and when were you born?

I am from Argentina, I was born in Buenos Aires in October 1994.

When did you know that you were of Croatian descent?

I can't give you an exact date because it's something I've known for as long as I can remember. Perhaps because of my last name, the fact of being of Croatian descent was always something very present. My dad's four grandparents were Croatians and he talks a lot about them and the things they taught him. My grandmother, daughter of Croats, used to speak to me in Croatian when my brother and I were young. She also told me about our family, about the city of Split in Dalmacija, and about the history of Croatia as a country. For all these things, the Croatian heritage was very important in my family.

When did you decide to travel to Croatia and what motivated you?

In 2018 I started thinking about studying abroad because I wanted to have the experience of living in a totally different environment from mine. First I thought that this trip would be related to something in my career. At that time I had two years left to finish my Bachelor of Arts degree and I looked for some scholarships in other countries, but nothing appeared.

I started thinking about studying in Croatia when I went to the Buenos Aires embassy to find out how to begin the process of Croatian nationality and the woman who worked there told me about the Croaticum program. It seemed to me that the idea united my desire to live in a totally new place and also my desire to finally know that country that I had been told so much about. In March of that year, I began to work on my project and began to study Croatian in Buenos Aires while waiting for the opening of the call for the scholarship program. That year I applied but did not win. It was very disappointing, but later I understood that it was not yet my time to leave Argentina. In 2018 I also finished the annual Croatian course and continued to search for papers that could help me to prove my Croatian ancestry more clearly.

In 2019, the last year of my degree, I applied for the scholarship again and won it. That same year, a distant cousin of mine contacted me from Croatia saying that we were family. At that time my idea was not only to get to know the country of my great-grandparents and live in it for a while but also to reestablish the bond with the rest of my family in Croatia, of whom I did not know any of them.

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Nadia on the popular Biokovo Skywalk, the same day she met her distant Croatian relatives. (Personal album)

What was your impression when you first arrived?

My first impression of Croatia was that everything was very beautiful and that the people were very friendly. When I met my cousins ​​they seemed to me to be very open and very loving people. The first month I was delighted with everything I saw, it seemed to me that everything was very organized and I felt very safe.

How did that impression evolve over time?

After living here for a year and having moved several times, I also began to see the negative side. All countries have something good and something bad, it is normal. There are things that I don't like and I think that's part of living in the reality of a country and getting out of that stage of infatuation in which I was at the beginning. Now I have a more realistic impression.

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Nadia was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994. All of her grandparents are Croatian. (Personal album)

What did you know about your relatives in Croatia?

It was always quite a complicated story because all of my dad's grandparents are Croatian and most of them had a very large family. I know a lot about my great-grandmother Ermenegilda Stanić because they were like twelve siblings and my grandmother went to Argentina because my great-great-grandfather arranged her marriage to a rancher so that she would have a good future in financial terms. When she arrived in Argentina she fell in love with my great-grandfather Duje Runje, a Croatian who worked as a laborer in that ranch. Obviously, it was something very strong for all of his family and my dad always talked to me about the two of them. He doesn't have much information about his paternal great-grandparents because my grandfather, Spiro Milevcic, died when my dad was four years old.

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Nadia, who was living and working in Rijeka at the time, decided to travel to Dalmatia for vacation. She hadn't planned to find out about her family on the trip. (Personal album).

Did you have any expectations or plans to meet them?

Yes, my dad has a book that the Stanić family wrote about the descent of the twelve siblings. All the names appear there, including mine. The whole family has it and thanks to that my cousin contacted me from Croatia. It was just the same year that I won the scholarship. She told me that she lived in Rijeka and thanks to that I chose this city as the place where I was going to study for the Croatian language scholarship. This is how I met the descendants of one of the Stanić brothers, but I also knew that she had much more family in Croatia. Last year I didn't meet anyone else because most of them live in Dalmacija.

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Lokva Rogoznica is a Dalmatian town, one hour away south of Split and 10 minutes away from Omiš. (Google Maps)

The day you met your distant relative, what were you doing and where?

Last month I went on vacation to Split and decided to go to Lokva Rogoznica, a town about an hour away because my great-grandmother was born there. My dad and my Croatian cousins ​​had asked me to go meet him, but it was not my plan to look for anyone there, just take a couple of photos and see what the place was like.
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''La Sirena'' autokamp, in Lokva Rogoznica, the town where Nadia's family originated. (Personal album).

How was the encounter?

We stopped at a sign on the route to take a picture of me and we wanted to go down to the beach. I saw that there was a sign for an autokamp and that the beach was private. I remembered my cousins ​​telling me that one of the Stanić was the owner of a campsite somewhere in Dalmacija, but I didn't know where. When we were about to go down to the beach, the owner of the campsite appeared and told me that the beach was private and that we couldn't enter. I don't know why it occurred to me that this could be my relative and I asked him if his last name was Stanić. He said yes and at that moment I told him that we were family because I was Ermenegilda's great-granddaughter. At that moment his face changed completely and he asked me if my great-grandmother had traveled to Argentina. When I said yes, he came closer to me and gave me a hug, and introduced himself as Milan Stanić.

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Nadia, soon after she met her distant relative, Milan Stanić. (Personal album)

How did you feel when the last names matched?

I felt very good and very strange at the same time. I was thinking of my dad because his desire was always to meet his Croatian family. I was the first person in my family to return to Croatia and from the first moment, I felt that it was my task to re-establish the bond with the other descendants. I also thought that I had come to take a photo and I ended up leaving with one more piece of my family. I like to think that it was something that had to happen and that it was time for us to meet.

What was his reaction when he found out?

He was very excited and very happy. From the first moment, he was very open with me and he introduced me to all of his family. That day we had lunch and dinner together. It was a very nice moment because all his daughters and his wife welcomed me very well and everyone was interested in talking to me.

Are you still in touch with him?

We don't talk every day, but I have his number and my cousin’s Facebook, so I can let them know the day I'm going to visit them again. They know that I am living in Rijeka and that I am working, but that at the end of the summer I am going to travel with my brother so that he can meet them too.

nadia-5-croatian-diaspora-in-south-america.jpg

Milan, his daughter, and Nadia. (Personal album)

What is your goal in Croatia? Would you like to stay?

My idea of ​​Croatia totally changed over time. When I arrived I planned to stay for only four months to study, but then I applied again for a second semester. I think that the decision to reapply for the scholarship was no longer motivated by the desire to know another culture, but was related to the fact that I felt good in Croatia and that I still did not want to go back to Argentina. Nowadays I am more established with the Croatian language and culture, but I cannot tell you that I want to stay permanently. I feel a strong connection to Croatia, but I also have my best friends and family in Argentina. Every day I miss my country and the people who live there and that is why I know that I will return to my country at some point. I sincerely feel that one half is here and another half is there in Argentina and for that reason, I would like to go and come back, spend some time in each country. I think it is a decision that is made every day. I can only tell you that today I choose to stay here.

The Croatian diaspora in South America is one of the largest in the world, and we at Total Croatia and Total Croatia News are committed to developing more on the subject in the coming months. If you belong to the Croatian diaspora in South America and want to share with us a story of reuniting with your distant relatives or your experience living in the land of your ancestors, you can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more about the Croatian diaspora in South America, visit our dedicated page here.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatia Moves Upward by One Position on IMD World Competitiveness Ranking

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - Croatia ranks 59th on the latest IMD World Competitiveness Ranking that covers 64  economies in the world.

The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking measures the capacity and readiness of economies to manage their competencies to achieve long-term growth, generate jobs and increase welfare.

This year, Croatia has moved upward by one place after, in 2020, the ranking covered 63 economies.

In the last five years, Croatia's annual positions on this ranking ranged between 59th and 61st place.

The latest ranking from the Lausanne-based IMD World Competitiveness Center (WCC) positions Switzerland and Sweden in the first and second place respectively.

The ranking is based on 334 criteria, of which two-thirds are statistical data, and one-third are based on the opinion of businesspeople polled for this purpose.

Considering 20 competitiveness indices, Croatia fares well in international trade (29th place), price level, health and environment, and education.

Croatia, for instance, fares poorly in management practices, labor market, business legislation, and some other criteria.

In comparison to all the EU members, Croatia is at the lowest position.

The president of the National Competitiveness Council, Ivica Mudrinić was quoted as saying that the EU funding available to Croatia could help the country to speed up highly-anticipated structural reforms.

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

A Guide To A Positive Tourist Experience in Croatia

June 17th, 2021 - 2020 has been a difficult year for Croatia as the country mostly depends on tourism. With the borders opening and travel returning to normal, it's important to remain respectful to the people and the environment you're in, no matter the place. Here is a guide to a positive tourist experience in Croatia just in time for the summer season. 

1. Learn basic words

Many Croatians speak English, especially those in the tourism industry, but it's always a nice gesture to learn a few basic words. Simple words such as "hvala" (thank you," "kako si?" (how are you?) can go a long way and make Croatians feel really special. Also, it's pretty cool to be able to say you know some basic Croatian! It can't be that hard to leave a few unique words which can completely change your experience while on your holiday! 

2. Clean up after yourself

tourist-experience-in-croatia_.jpg

Pixabay

Croatia prides itself on keeping its beaches pristinely clear, but it's not always possible as a tourist destination. Remember that you're a visitor to our beautiful country, and be mindful of that. While not everyone does their job cleaning up trash, every town, city, and island is packed with trash cans for your convenience. Those beaches, unfortunately, don't clean up themselves and if you'd like to return to crystal clear water and a pristine beach, do your part! 

3. Avoid political discussions

Croatia's history is long, complicated, and recent. The last occurred only 26 years ago, which many tourists aren't aware of. If you aren't aware of the history, avoid getting into the discussion because Croatians are very passionate. Remember that your knowledge of history is completely different from those who lived through it. Do your best to avoid the topic or listen to gather knowledge of the situation if it comes up. 

4. Double check the currency before paying

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Pixabay

Very often, tourists assume you can pay with Euros anywhere in the country, and while this is mainly true, many businesses in Croatia are family-owned. They may accept Euros but not coins because even though we are a part of the European Union, our currency remains the Croatian Kuna. At times it might be much easier to pay in the local currency, and there are many ATMs and exchange offices all around the country. 

5. Be open to new experiences

Much like any other destination, there is more to Croatia beyond the mainstream tourism locations. If you're in Dubrovnik, explore beyond the walls. If you're in Split and Zagreb, there is so much more out there outside the city center. Croatians are more than sharing the beauty of their country with tourists, and a lot of it remains unnoticed by foreigners. Be open to new experiences, such as exploring and trying out things outside of your comfort bubble! 

6. Be respectful

We get it; you're on holiday in a beautiful country, but try to be mindful of the local people. Respect the historical monuments, the environment you're in, and the locals. Don't overcrowd historic places everyone wants to enjoy or block narrow streets in Split, Dubrovnik, or islands. The city does not belong to you at the end of the day, but it is thrilled to have you. 

For more information about currency in Croatia, click HERE.

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

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