Friday, 25 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Politician Pay Rises, Schengen and Ukraine

November the 25th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from wage increases for politicians and state officials and saying an emphatic ''YES'' to training Ukrainian soldiers, to Austria changing its tune regarding Croatian Schengen accession and Milanovic claiming that it's actually America fighting with Russia through Ukraine.

The monthly wage earned by Plenkovic, his ministers and parliamentarians is set to go up

Much to the delight of every average Joe living and working in Croatia and struggling to make ends meet, Plenkovic and co are set to get a wage increase. 

You'll probably remember that last month, the government and the trade unions finally came to an agreement on a basic salary increase, meaning that the monthly salary will also increase for Plenkovic, Milanovic, Jandrokovic, government ministers and members of parliament, that is, for all officials. However, with the passing of this particular law, the President of the Constitutional Court will be taking home the highest official salary, and not President Zoran Milanovic.

With the amendments to the law that the government sent to the parliament recently, for which it is requesting adoption under an urgent procedure, the base rate for officials will be the same as that applied to civil servants, so all future increases, including this one now, will automatically apply to politicians as well.

One Ukrainian minister thanks Croatia for allowing Ukrainian soldiers to come and be trained to fight the Russians in Croatia

''Thanks, Plenkovic!'' tweets the minister...

You might recall the likes of President Zoran Milanovic among others being staunchly against the idea of training Ukrainian soldiers to fight against their invaders here in Croatia. Milanovic believed that Croatia's showcasing of unwavering support for Ukraine and providing help and safety for refugees was enough, and that anything else would be provocation of Putin and inviting the war to this country's doorstep. Many agreed with him. Many more found themselves surprised at agreeing with him.

Still, it seems that his case for disapproval fell on deaf ears as the Ukrainian Defence Minister, Oleksij Reznikov, thanked Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovi and Defense Minister Marij Banozic on Twitter after the government sent the decision on Croatia's participation in the military aid mission to Ukraine for approval by the parliament yesterday.

"The government of the Republic of Croatia approved the decision to train the Ukrainian army in Croatia. A modern, well-trained army with powerful partners will definitely defeat a pack of Russian murderers, robbers and rapists. Thank you Andrej Plenkovic and Mario Banozic for their support!" Reznikov tweeted.

Croatia's participation in the military aid mission to Ukraine includes the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, which isn't something many people are all too thrilled about. Banozic, however, seems to have allowed all logical opposition to this fly right over his head. ''What are they against? Are they against saving lives?'' he asked.

Zoran Milanovic claims that America is fighting a war against Russia... through Ukraine

If you're a follower of Croatian politics in any deeper capacity, you'll know that President Milanovic often comes out with some rather unusual things. He also never misses an opportunity to spit on HDZ, which for many makes him a popular character in at least one aspect. For others, his distasteful remarks cross the line a bit too often, and for others, well, they can't quite make head nor tail of him. He has recently come out with something quite strange.

The Day of the City of Zadar took place recently, which is celebrated at a formal session of the City Council, and Milanovic was there. As expected, he referred to the government's decision to train Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia which I mentioned above, and which he was firmly against. "This is personal terror and harassment by Plenkovic, it's just his desire to push some of his ideas," said Milanovic, as RTL reported at the time.

President Milanovic also said that he knows what is written in the Croatian Constitution because ''he wrote it''. He was referring to the statement of the government at that session that the training of Ukrainian soldiers is based on the Constitution and on the laws and international agreements according to which Ukraine is an allied country.

''Therefore,'' Milanovic added: "Ukraine, to its credit, is not an ally." "The Croatian Parliament is not responsible for making any decisions on the training of foreign soldiers in Croatia," he said. He called things as they were set up by the government a "Udbas sabotage", which, if you know who the ''Udbasi'' (the Yugoslav secret service) were and what they got up to, you'll realise is quite the statement.

"Now it will be seen who's Russia and who's for Ukraine. I'm not for anyone. I'm for Croatia,'' Milanovic said.

"There's a war going on there between America and Russia. Between Russia and Ukraine, I'm on the side of Ukraine, of course. But it's a war between America and Russia," he said. "We have to state that the Americans are waging a war against Russia through Ukrainian youths, we have to say that. When it comes to decisions that have a security and defense character, you have to consult with the president, and I say to the members of parliament: ''Don't be intimidated,'' he said.

New measures against inflation could come to be, and all hands are on deck for post-earthquake reconstruction (for the earthquake that occurred two years ago)

Plenkovic recently pointed out that the proposed state budget for next year will provide funds for the growth of both wages and pensions, increased funds for veterans and the army, and he also announced possible new measures to mitigate the impact of inflation, with the message that "there's power and space for that".

"We have the space and strength to do that, if there's a need, and considering the circumstances, our measures will be precise and comprehensive, and as we've done so far, we'll solve it and you'll be satisfied with what we do,'' said Plenkovic in response to Branko Grcic (SDP ) when asked what will happen at the end of March next year, when all previous measures are due to expire.

''We'll also reduce excise duties on heating oil and thereby provide additional assistance to people,'' announced the Prime Minister during the parliamentary debate on the 2023 budget, adding that ''the number of people at risk of poverty is continuously falling in Croatia and that figure is smaller than when we assumed responsibility.''

In his answers to the deputies, Plenković pointed out that the fight against corruption continues, that it is strong and brings results.

Regarding the post-earthquake reconstruction for the earthquakes which struck Zagreb in March 2020 and the Banovina area in December of that same year, which he was also asked about, Plenkovic said that the government is providing a lot of aid and that the reconstruction of houses is intensifying, that all departments are working on reconstruction and are in charge of spending the available funds.

Austria is now all for Croatia joining Schengen, or is it?

You may have read (or heard) about Austria taking a stance against Croatia joining the Schengen zone in January 2023, with talk of the country potentially going as far as to block entry. Now it seems that the tide has turned, or has it? Memories are short when it comes to Croatian politics.

Plenkovic recently received the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Karl Nehammer, at Banski dvori. This is Nehammer's first official visit to Croatia as chancellor.

"In the last thirty years or so, relations with Austria have been among the most extensive of the numerous countries with which Croatia cooperates since it was internationally recognised. Since the 1990s, Austria has been the second biggest investor in Croatia. This year, Croatia was visited by one and a half million Austrian tourists,'' said Plenkovic at the beginning of the press conference.

"Today we also discussed the most important topic ahead of this visit, which is the final two weeks before the decision on Croatian membership of the Schengen area. This was an opportunity to once again explain to the chancellor what Croatia has done from 2016 until today," Plenkovic said.

"We're currently discussing the expansion of Schengen, and we can see that Austria in particular has insufficient protection of its external borders. At the same time, we have a reduction in border protection within the EU itself, in our opinion it can't continue like that, so some measures will have to be taken,'' he said.

"When we talk about Schengen's expansion, and at the same time we criticise the plan that the European Commission should present with regard to these problems that we've presented, it is important to say that this doesn't apply to Croatia. Special votes will be cast for Croatia, as they will for both Bulgaria and Romania. We'll support Croatia's accession to the Schengen area, but we're going to be critical of the efforts of Bulgaria and Romania," added the Austrian chancellor.

The Austrian chancellor also said that it is necessary to change the system and strengthen the EU's external borders in order to make free movement within Schengen possible.

It's worth noting that Austrian Minister of the Interior, Gerhard Karner, caused great concern reently after he said that he was against the expansion of the Schengen area to include Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. Over the past few days, he has repeatedly said that he is against any Schengen expansion, which he said is something that simply isn't working, which can be seen from the increased number of asylum seekers arriving in Austria. That country registered the entry of around 100,000 migrants this year alone, of which 75,000 were not previously registered in any EU country at all.

Nehammer warned that his minister wanted to signal that "Schengen is clearly not working and that new measures are needed." The Council for Justice and Internal Affairs meets on December the 8th and 9th, when it will make the final decision on Croatia's entry into the Schengen area. Croatia's accession was previously supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, so all fingers (and likely toes) are crossed.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep your eyes peeled for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 25 November 2022

Esplanade Hotel General Manager Ivica Max Krizmanic Wins Award

November the 25th, 2022 - The general manager of Zagreb's well known and very popular Esplanade Hotel, Ivica Max Krizmanic, has won the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Award for 2022.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the general ,anager of Zagreb's Esplanade Hotel, Ivica, Max Krizmanic, is the winner of the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2022 for the best general manager in all of Southern Europe. This is otherwise a very prestigious award that is traditionally awarded to the absolute best in the demanding hotel industry.

The press release stating that Ivica Max Krizmanic had received this year's prestigious award was signed by Sanda Sokol, the PR & Marketing Manager of the Esplanade Hotel, stating that "this significant international success is the crowning achievement of the impressive career of the general manager of the Esplanade Hotel, Ivica Max Krizmanic and is a great honour for the hotel itself, as well as for the City of Zagreb".

"I can say that I'm surprised, I didn't expect that this great international recognition would go to me. This is a special honour and certainly a motivation to achieve even better results in my future work. I'm glad that I built my career here at the Esplanade Hotel, which is the pride of Croatian tourism. And I'd first of all dedicate this award to my colleagues, who are the main link in the overall work and successful business of the hotel,'' said Krizmanic when receiving the award. It's worth noting that this year, he'll mark around 30 years of work at the Esplanade Hotel and exactly one decade in the position of its general director. The above makes him one of the longest serving directors of the Esplanade Hotel in history.

"The merits for his work have been recognised at the international level, where he has already been awarded for his success in the past. Back in 2018, he received the prestigious international Five Star Diamond Award for excellence in the hotel industry, and in 2021, the Fest - Antonio Conte Charter award, which was awarded to him for his professional excellence, creativity, achieved results, exceptional contribution to the promotion of Croatian tourism and the improvement of tourist cooperation,'' it was stated in the press release.

It's worth noting that Ivica Max Krizmanic also holds many other important positions: he's a member of the Council of the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb and the Assembly of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), he's an honorary member of FIJET (Croatian Association of Travel Journalists and Writers in Tourism), a member of SKAL, as well as a member of the international gastronomic society Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the organising committee of AmCham Talents. On top of that, he also acts as a mentor to future professionals. He is also an Ambassador of Knowledge at the Life Learning Academy and a long-time prominent member of the prestigious European Association of Hotel Managers (EHMA).

Ivica Max Krizmanic grew up in the City of Zagreb, and is a mechanical technician by profession. He was educated at the management schools of the Rezidor hotel group, as well as at Cornell University, Ithaca NY, in the USA. In 2012, he took over the management of the Esplanade Hotel and year after year since, the hotel has recorded constant growth and quite significantly increased revenue.

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

Friday, 25 November 2022

Croatian Modepack Company to Increase Revenue with Eurozone Accession

November the 25th, 2022 - The Croatian Modepack company is set to cash in and increase its income on the mere change of the country's currency from the kuna to the euro as of January 2023.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with an investment of 63 million kuna in their new plant in Velika Gorica near Zagreb, the Croatian Modepack company has recently rounded off its strategic efforts to double its capacity conceived in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, when the demand for their range of courier and security packaging on the global market exploded.

As explained by Jure Siric, director and owner of the Croatian Modepack company, the projections were that the investment, which was supported by the European Union (EU) from its funds in the amount of 7.5 million kuna, would amount to 50 million kuna. However, the drastic increase in the prices of raw materials and goods, as well as rising labour force costs, raised the total investment amount by about 15 percent.

"Given the fact that it's a large space, a building of 5,500 square metres and a plot of land spanning 32,000 square metres, further expansion is also possible. 2/3 of the total investment has already been invested in equipping production. This enabled us to increase our production capacity by approximately 100%, which in practice would mean 300 million pieces produced per year. Further planned investments, such as that intended for solar panels, will make us completely self-sufficient in terms of electricity, which is the only energy we use in the production process," Siric revealed.

Although the foreign market is their main focus, this yea,  suddenly there was a great demand for their products right here in Croatia as well. The reason is the introduction of the euro, that is, the withdrawal of kuna from circulation as the nation's currency.

"We knew that this represented a big opportunity for us, that there would be a lot of work, but what happened in the last weeks was far beyond that. We prepared well and consulted all potential clients. We estimated that we could achieve a turnover of around one million euros on this. Interest was weak until October, when everything exploded and everyone needed our safe packaging for money transfers - banks, Fina, shops, etc. We're very flexible and, thanks to this new facility in Velika Gorica, we've started with the production of this assortment in three shifts. Our current estimates are that our planned turnover on packaging for the collection of kuna and the distribution of euros across Croatia will increase from one million to at least two million euros," explained Siric.

The Croatian Modepack company has otherwise recorded double-digit growth since its very foundation, and that trend has only continued this year, when they expect about 75 million kuna in revenue, which is about 30 percent more than the 53 million kuna they earned last year. Their plans for the next three years are even more ambitious, by 2025, the plan is to achieve 150 million kuna (20 million euros) in revenue.

The opening ceremony of their new plant, where eight production lines will be installed for the time being, was an opportunity for the Croatian Modepack company to present its modernised logo adapted to the global market, from which they generate more than 90 percent of their revenue.

"This seemed like an excellent timing for this move. Modepack always strives to be up to date even now, after six years, and we wanted to modernise everything together. Through this process, we were guided by the backbone of our business: the product - people - production - the planet. The goal we set when creating a new brand was to strengthen our position on the market through clear and consistent communication. Amazon, H&M, Vans, Adidas, DHL, DPD, Loomis, numerous European financial institutions as well as the Antwerp Diamond Exchange (AWDC) are just some of the many users of the company's courier and security packaging.

Although we've only been present on the market for six years, Modepack is already one of the global leaders in the production of high-quality packaging for the logistic transport of goods, with an emphasis placed on e-commerce and courier deliveries, as well as security packaging for money and valuables. We export to 32 world markets,'' Siric explained, adding that Modepack was created based on the assessment that e-commerce would become a reality very soon, and this happened much earlier than expected. This was especially pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic, when e-commerce grew at triple-digit rates.

"I'm not a complete stranger within this industry because I come from the Weltplast family company, which has been involved in packaging and recycling since back in 1983, and since 2010, I've been in charge of sales for the EU market. However, it's a large company that generally deals with packaging and all of the raw materials for it, and my desire was to step into something new and a bit different. I don't think I made a mistake in doing so,'' said Siric, whose company occupies an increasingly large part of the global market, and currently their main focus is Scandinavia and France, where they were present at a large specialised fair this week.

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit: Key Witness Shares Thoughts on LinkedIn

November 24, 2022 - Last week's hearing in the ongoing lawsuits against TCN CEO Paul Bradbury from the Croatian National Tourist Board included two witness cross-examinations. One shared his thoughts about the experience on LinkedIn.  

The first comment I saw on a thread about the trial from Zoran Pejovic was 'Kafkaesque.'

Zoran and I have known each other for a decade and he is what I consider to be one of the true tourism visionaries in this country, particularly in the luxury tourism sector. It was no surprise that he also appeared in the article in the Croatian media which led to me getting the first lawsuit of my life. Even though I didn't write the article, don't own the portal which published it, there was no request for a retraction, and the article is still live in its original format. You can read it (with Google Translate) here.

Zoran wasn't sued for his comments in the article (indeed, it turns out that the only journalist/blogger that the Croatian National Tourist Board sued in 2020 was me - twice), but he was called as a witness. And so he got up at 04:00 to take the first flight from Split to Zagreb, flying back immediately after the hearing. Another waste of time and resources in this 2.5 year saga. 

Zoran was excellent during his first-ever appearance on the witness stand, and he took to LinkedIn to share his thoughts once back in Split. 

You can read his post in full below, but for those less familiar with the case, you can read the latest instalment of the saga and a look at last week's heaing in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit: Irish Newspapers & Belgian Radio.

You can read the full official transcript of last week's hearring here

Over to Zoran:

The curious (court) case of Paul Bradbury

It was early June 2020. My phone rang and the voice on the other side of the line introduced herself as a journalist for Index.hr, Croatia's leading online news portal. She said that she was writing an article on the preparedness of Croatia for the summer tourism season and asked if I would comment on the perception of Croatia in the international travel trade and travel media, given the uncertainties we were facing in those early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Long story short, I had shared my take on the situation that the international travel trade and travel media did not have clarity and understanding of Croatia's Covid rules and border restrictions and that the national tourist board was failing to communicate news and updates clearly.

The article was published on June 12, 2020, and I didn't make much of that, other than finding out that the other contributor to the article was Paul Bradbury, award-winning journalist, and owner of Total Croatia News.

This entire story would have been quickly confined to the forgotten corners of the internet if it was not for a call I received about a year later from Paul Bradbury informing me that he is being sued by Croatian National Tourist Board for the thoughts he expressed in the article we have both contributed to. I was baffled beyond belief. He inquired if I was being sued as well. I wasn't.

Fast forward to today. This morning I took an early morning flight to Zagreb where I was summoned by the court as the witness in the case of Croatian National Tourist Board vs Paul Bradbury. Zagreb was foggy and wet, and the chilling morning breeze was only adding to the slightly unnerving feeling one gets when faced with a court proceeding that could be described only as Kafkaesque. I took the stand and recollected the days of early Covid for the court.

There was not much new to be sad about those days, but as I was standing there I came to a personal realization. Ever since I learned of the case against Paul I have reduced my Croatian media appearances. Several times I was asked to comment on some of the ongoing challenges of Croatian tourism and I politely declined. It only today dawned on me that I chose the path of lesser exposure to stay out of the limelight and avoid similar litigations, regardless of how pointless and ultimately unsuccessful they tend to be.

Perhaps they never aimed for victory in court.

You can follow Zoran Pejovic on LinkedIn.

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You can follow the latest in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit, including Judgment Day on January 13, 2023 in the dedicated TCN section.

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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.

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Thursday, 24 November 2022

Cvarakfest Karanac: Slavonia and Baranja in a Nutshell

November 25, 2022 - The largest fair of local products in eastern Croatia is held on the Karanac fairground alongside the traditional Cvarakfest. We are yet to find a more Slavonian event.

As SiB writes, like every year, the fattest and tastiest festival in the region awaits on the last Saturday in November. A festival dedicated solely to no less than the truffles of Baranja – cvarci!

The Karanac winter fair is an event that offers the products of almost 80 local producers, mainly from the OPGs of Slavonia and Baranja. Here you can make sure you stock up your pantry shelves for the whole winter. Famous cured meat products from Baranja (kulen, bacon, sausage, ham, cracklings, lard...), wine, brandy, juices, cheeses, pastries, cakes, honey, ground red pepper, wicker baskets, wooden kitchen utensils, souvenirs, antiques, are only some of the things you might find here.

Naturally, no event in Baranja can do without its famous cuisine. At the Vasar (fair), you can taste local cobanac (shepherd's stew), bean stew from a clay pot, kotlovina (grilled meat and vegetable stew), grilled sausages, and carp on forks. Wash it all down with top-quality wine. Before you start, don’t forget your aperitif of homemade rakija!

As part of the Winter Fair, the sensational Cvarakfest is also held in the same place. This unique event is a competition in preparing cvarci (pork cracklings) in the traditional way by “melting” them in a cauldron over an open fire. The winner wins the title of Cvarak Majstor (Cvarak Master). If you don’t feel like you’re up for the competition and would just like a taste, you can buy some fresh hot cvarci directly from the competition cauldrons.

The programme of this year’s Cvarakfest is looking pretty good:

Saturday, November 26, 2022

09:00

  • Cvarak cooking competition
  • Fair of local products: cured meat, cheese, winter meat, cakes, Baranja gingerbread, rakija, wine, antiques, wooden products, woven baskets, jewellery, souvenirs, etc.
  • A rich gastronomic offer: grilled sausages, carp on forks, beans in clay pots, etc.
  • Mulled wine

12:00

Cvarak Majstor Award Ceremony

If you are looking to spend the day in nature, with the added benefits of good food and even better fun, trust us – visit the Cvarakfest and winter fair in Karanac. Knowing how things usually unfold in Slavonia and Baranja, you might even learn how to do it and apply for the competition to become the Cvarak Majstor yourself!

And if you’re unsure about indulging in your cvarci as they are, you can always put them away, turn them into drozda and bake them into delicious pogacice sa cvarcima.

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Croatian Lottery Winner "Had to take the Bus, Husband too Excited to Drive"

November 24, 2022 - Vesna Lukac is the latest Croatian lottery winner. She played the Druga Sansa (Second Chance) game and won a million kuna. 

24Sata spoke to the lucky winner. "I won the prize on the day when, 30 years ago, I had to leave Turanj as a refugee of the war. In the end, I stayed there, and somehow I consider the prize a reward for everything I went through," says Vesna. "I wasn't sure if my husband was crying, singing or laughing... he is in such a condition that he can't drive, so as a millionaire, I had to take the bus to Primošten, said the smiling winner, who in the drawing of Loto 7 on Wednesday also turned the wheel on Second Chance won a prize of HRK 1 million.

Vesna says her husband is the actual player, but the pandemic has changed his habits.

"He was in charge of playing every week, and he would never skip a round. However, since this virus and pandemic arrived, I have been the one who is in charge of paying for the Loto 7 and Eurojackpot tickets. If I accidentally forget, he is there to remind me - says Vesna, a continental woman from Turanj, but the war and circumstances took her to the sea.

"I see the name of the game Second Chance as the beginning of something new, just as my move from Turanj to Primošten was the beginning of a new era," says Vesna, who fully embraced the Dalmatian way of life.

"The olive harvest has just ended, and now we will make oil, and the weather has served us so well that the last time I swam in the sea was two weeks ago," she said.

She has yet to figure out what she will spend the winnings on.

"As long as our health serves us, that's the only thing that matters. And what we will do with the prize is yet to be decided. At the moment, I am also quite confused, and I have already described my husband's condition. I have to admit that I never thought I would win and what I would do with the winnings, and my husband always told me, 'It's our million' and has done so week after week. And now it is; it's really ours", Vesna said at the end. She couldn't wait to start the journey back to her Primošten - to the peace and quiet among the olive trees.

Congratulations to Vesna and her overwhelmed husband! We could not be happier for you.

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Public Car Auction to be Held at Zagreb Velesajam this Saturday

November 24, 2022 - A public car auction will take place on Saturday, 26 November, at Zagreb Velesajam (Zagreb Fairgrounds). The auction system is buy-as-is. The vehicles are untested, possibly defective, or incomplete, and the seller does not guarantee the correctness of the mileage on the vehicles. The auction will be carried out through a buy-as-is system, which excludes the possibility of subsequent objections.

As Poslovni writes, an auction of used vehicles at the Zagreb Fair will be held on November 26, 2022, in the Brijuni hall, starting at 9:00 a.m. All vehicles can be inspected on November 24 and 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Velika Mlaka at 1 Nikole Kramarića Street. Examples of vehicles sold can be viewed in the gallery put together by Poslovni.

All persons have the right to attend and participate with the obligation to pay a deposit of 10 percent of the starting price for each vehicle or a minimum of HRK 500 (€66.36). When making a payment, it is mandatory to indicate the vehicle for which the deposit is paid.

A person who pays a deposit for a particular vehicle and the same vehicle is not auctioned is considered to have abandoned the purchase and thereby loses the right to refund the paid deposit.

The vehicles are untested, possibly defective, or incomplete, and the seller does not guarantee the correctness of the mileage on the vehicles. The auction will be carried out through a buy-as-is system, which excludes the possibility of subsequent objections.

During the public auction, the starting prices can be raised by a minimum amount of HRK 200 (€26.54). The exit invoice is issued exclusively in the name of the natural or legal person who auctioned the vehicle. If the paid vehicle is not picked up within seven days after the auction, a lien fee of HRK 50 (€6.36) is charged for each subsequent day.

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Euro in Croatia: How to Pay for December Utility Bills due in January

November 24, 2022 - Euro in Croatia: on the first day of 2023, the euro will become the official currency in Croatia. Paying in kuna (only in cash) will be possible until January 14. Preparations for the introduction of the euro in Croatia from January 1, 2023, are proceeding without any problems and according to plan, as was pointed out this week at the session of the National Council for the introduction of the euro.

As Poslovni / N1 write, Croatian citizens are already mostly familiar with what awaits them from the first of January. One of the questions that remain, however, is what will happen to the utility bills for December, which will arrive in January.

The utility bills for the December consumption will be issued in January 2023 and will be expressed in euros, according to the Croatian Association of Bankers.

For all payment slips that the citizens receive in advance and on which the amount of payment is in kuna, and they pay them after the introduction of the euro, the bank is obliged to make payment in euro in the amount corresponding to the amount of kuna specified on the payment order. The bank will act this way until July 1, 2023, says the Croatian Association of Bankers.

It is crucial to emphasize, they remind, that from the 5th of September until the 31st of December 2022, the dual pricing continues. This means that the final amount of the bill will be in HRK and EUR with the fixed conversion rate specified.

There are exceptions to that:

  • value shown for prepaid electronic communication services (prepaid vouchers)
  • the value and amount stated on the payment order based on an invoice or other individual document, i.e. based on the displayed price
  • the value shown on cards for public payphones
  • the value printed on the SIM card packaging

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

2022 World Cup Impressions from a Croatian Female Football Journalist in Qatar

November 24, 2022 - The media has had a lot to say heading into the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but what’s it really like on the ground? TCN Sports Editor Daniela Rogulj shares her impressions as a Croatian female football journalist in Qatar. 

There has been a lot said going into this World Cup, and I won’t bore anyone by repeating it. Having read many articles before I departed for Doha on November 21, I, too, was a bit nervous. From the rules in Qatar to the FIFA organization, how would the world's biggest football tournament play out?

I will begin by saying this - Qatar has exceeded my expectations. 

I arrived at 4 am on November 22, unsure how I would begin the journey to my accommodation in The Pearl district of Doha, located north of Hamad Airport. The metro didn’t start running until 6 am, meaning two hours to kill at the airport were inevitable. After disembarking the plane, there was undoubtedly some anxiety surrounding customs and having the correct documentation (which I checked 100 times). But the journey from the plane, through passport control and customs, was a breeze. I was off the plane and through customs in 15 minutes, along with several other Croatia fans. 

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Once I made it into baggage claim, hundreds of football fans from all over the world arrived too, at 4 am, enthusiastically wearing the jerseys of their national teams. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an airport so full of life at 4 am, with so many people on the ground, ready to help anyone who needed assistance find the right transportation to their accommodation. Free SIM cards were also handed out at the airport to all fans, valid for three days. A wonderful gesture that everyone appreciated. 

And another wonderful gesture? All public transport is free during the World Cup, making it easy for fans to get around by simply showing their Hayya Card. 

The 6 am metro to Legtaifiya Station, where I needed to connect to get the bus to The Pearl, was perhaps the cleanest metro I’ve seen. And it was packed with football fans and Qatari locals heading to work. A wonderful mix of fan atmosphere and everyday local life during the world's biggest tournament. 

Arriving in The Pearl without WiFi and relying on a GPS location sent by FIFA for my apartment building was... not the easiest time. It was 7 am, getting warm, and I was being spun into circles trying to find the building. Fortunately, I was able to catch a few locals walking their dogs at 7 am, who happily helped and directed me as best they could. I ended up in the wrong building anyway. The wonderful receptionist at the building spent 45 minutes with me to find the right building, as did lovely security guards along the way. This was by far the most stressful part of my time here, and it has been smooth sailing ever since. 

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My Accommodation 

Is a dream. I booked through the official FIFA media accommodation. While not cheap ($265/night), I have an enormous one-bedroom, 1.5-bath apartment with a full kitchen, TV, and balcony hovering over the heart of The Pearl. The Pearl area is a luxurious artificial island on the coast, built on one of Qatar’s previous major pearl diving sites, as Qatar was once a major pearl trader. The Pearl resembles a string of pearls, and it’s an absolute gem sprinkled with high-rise apartment buildings, luxury brands, and bustling shops and restaurants. Not to mention that everything stays open until at least 2 am, including restaurants and markets. No matter the hour, everyone is out having a good time. 

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The Locals

I've encountered the loveliest locals, and I can't say enough about how incredible they have been. Everyone has been beyond eager to help, with a smile. No matter where I’ve gone, from public transport to coffee shops or supermarkets, I have felt welcomed. They have given up their seats for me on the metro, escorted me to my final destination, and shared their mobile phone hotspots when I didn’t have service. Overall, the locals are proud to show their country to the world, and their genuine hospitality so far has been second-to-none. I've made an effort to speak to as many as I can. 

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The Prices 

Well, The Pearl isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s also about knowing where to go, which took a few days. For example, a large iced coffee in a tourist area can cost you 6 EUR, while around the corner, you can find it for half the price. The Monoprix supermarket near my accommodation can be compared to Whole Foods, though you can go to the Spar market just a few minutes further instead. A 1.5-liter bottle of water is just over 1 EUR. Meals average around 40-60 QAR, or 10 to 15 EUR, depending on where you decide to eat. You also have a world of choices depending on your budget, from Nando’s to Burger King and Fatburger or much nicer international restaurants. The food options are endless. 

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Media Perks

Indeed my experience as media is different from a fan, and there are definitely perks. Like media transport from my accommodation to the main media center. From there, I pick up a media shuttle to the stadium. The buses run frequently, and you can catch one every 15 minutes ahead of games. After the match, you hop back onto the media transport to the main media center. The only downside? Some stadiums take over an hour to get to. Buses back to the accommodations run every 30 minutes after the match. My bus journey is a bit longer compared to others staying in more central Doha areas, but all buses have WiFi and are beyond comfortable. If I catch a match at 10 pm, I return to my accommodation around 2 am.

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Media also has more affordable prices at the main media center. For example, a water bottle and Americano iced coffee cost me just over 2 EUR the other day, while there is also an affordable fresh buffet and grab-n-go sandwich options. 

Pro tip: Uber is also ridiculously cheap in Qatar, and many journalists have also been using the app to get around if they don't want to rely on media transport. 

The Matches

A big bonus to having the World Cup in a small country like Qatar is its accessibility, allowing fans and media to see as many games as they can - or two a day! I've applied for 11 games while I am here or one a day, mainly to ensure I have time on the laptop to deal with other commitments. TCN photojournalist Slobodan Kadić is hopping around to two a day, getting the most out of this World Cup experience.

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The stadiums are also as high-tech as you've seen on TV. I have been to two stadiums so far - Al Janoub for France v. Australia and Al Bayt for Morocco v. Croatia. 

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The Heat

Perhaps the only downside thus far, and not because it’s brutally hot. It’s been a comfortable 28-29 degrees Celsius since I arrived, but that doesn’t stop everyone from blasting the air con as if we were in 40+ temperatures. This has been especially tough for European journalists (and apparently teams) who aren’t used to air conditioning. I’ve noticed many blowing their noses while asking bus drivers to switch off the air completely. I almost feel as if I’m back in the United States.

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The Clothing

I was initially quite nervous about this aspect after reading countless blogs about the appropriate attire in Qatar, especially considering the high temperatures. So I packed accordingly, with long trousers, light denim jeans, and linens as often as possible. All t-shirts also cover my shoulders to respect the rules in place. However, it's not as strict as it was made out to be. May fans and ex-pats have walked around in tank tops and shirts, mixing with locals dressed far more conservatively. I haven’t seen anyone asked to cover up yet, though I know stricter rules apply in different areas. 

The Booze & Nightlife

While I have yet to experience it, I have spoken to many others here for the tournament or who have been here setting up for the last month. There are several places to find international beverages, from hotels to some pubs, as well as music festivals and DJ events running until the early morning hours. It seems to be a lot easier than many thought. The official FIFA fan zones also sell beer. I will make it there eventually. 

And have I been treated any differently as a female journalist here?

Absolutely not, even though our male counterparts hugely outnumber us. 

Overall, my time in Qatar has been better than I imagined. Here’s to another exciting eight days and much more to come. 

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

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Croatian Company Include Eyeing Italian, German Markets

November the 24th, 2022 - The remarkable Croatian company Include, at the helm of which is young entrepreneur Ivan Mrvos, is now eyeing the markets of Germany and Italy with its innovative Smart City solutions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, after three years of development, the Croatian company Include has finally launched brand new smart solutions for cities and municipalities on the market. This is how the installation of the redesigned version of the wildly popular Steora smart bench and two completely new products - Aerys - an air quality monitoring station and Terra - a waste container, began.

"For a long time now, the long-term goal has been to expand our Smart City sales portfolio with solutions that solve some of the key challenges that today's communities face - public property management, micromobility, air quality and waste management," explained Ivan Mrvos, the founder and CEO of the Croatian company Include.

Last year, Include's redesigned smart benches were put on the market, which are now equipped with micromobility features and can recognise and charge all types of e-mobiles and e-bikes.

Aerys, Include's first air quality monitoring station, was installed back in March, and to date more than 20 of them have been installed across Croatia, Montenegro and Italy.

"At the beginning of next year, we expect orders from other markets where we're already present with our Steora benches," said Mrvos.

This month, the first five Terra waste containers with compression systems installed, and which can hold five times more waste than a standard container of the same size, were installed. In addition, operators can remotely monitor its filling levels and plan rubbish collection routes accordingly. As early as next month, as Mrvos announces, an additional four such containers should be installed. In addition, they developed the Solos software solution, an IoT platform that connects and facilitates the management of smart solutions.

As far as expansion is concerned, the market is the whole world, but the primary focus of the Croatian company Include will be right here in Europe, that is, the countries where they generally achieve the best results with their benches - Italy and Germany.

"We're talking about very large markets where existing competitors generate tens of millions of euros in revenue annually. Now we have a big job ahead of us to successfully promote and place our new solutions on different markets,'' stated the director of the company, which has received a massive 3.4 million euros in investments since its foundation back in 2015. The last investment, one from the beginning of this year which amounted to 400 thousand euros, helped expand Include's already enviable portfolio, which was anything but a simple task.

This company, which generates 90 percent of its revenue on foreign markets, explains that the biggest challenge was coronavirus restrictions and the lack of chips on the market.

"The chips with which we initially designed our modules and products became completely unavailable and we had to redesign certain components almost from scratch with other chips that were more available, and even then it was questionable whether these new chips would be available on the market in the long term. All this put an additional financial burden on us because we had to make additional unplanned supplies, and the supply chain itself of almost all the materials needed for work became chaotic and unavailable for work at one point," Mrvos recalled.

Fortunately, that situation is now firmly behind them.

As far as financing is concerned, Mrvos stated that they are actively working on new opportunities and that they will probably have some news on this matter in the next year. In the years to come, their vision, Mrvos pointed out, is to enable the implementation of "smartness" across all small towns and municipalities.

"We saw that smaller cities and municipalities very often don't participate in Smart City projects because integrators often focus on large cities as potentially large clients. In addition, cloud platforms through which such products are controlled are often adapted to larger environments and require smaller ones to have infrastructure in the form of employees or IT equipment with which to manage these products.

The long-term vision we have is that all cities, regardless of their size and infrastructure, can participate as Smart Cities and that through our platform they can control their smart products without significant investment in IT infrastructure or new employment,'' they explained from the Croatian company Include.

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

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