Saturday, 23 October 2021

PM on Visa Cancellation: Strategic Goal Achieved to the Benefit of Croatian Citizens

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović have welcomed the fact that Croatians can travel to the United States without visas as of Saturday, 23 October.

"As of today, Croatians can travel to the USA without visas!" Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"We have met the necessary criteria and achieved a strategic goal to the benefit of Croatian citizens," Plenković said.

"We are opening a new chapter in our relations, strengthening our partnership and creating preconditions for closer economic cooperation and investments," the PM said.

As of 23 October Croatians can travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

Croatia has entered the Visa Waiver Programme, a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and participating countries that enables travel to the USA for business or tourism purposes in the duration of up to 90 days, with national security being protected in the process.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

Application via ESTA is possible any time before travel but the US Homeland Security Department recommends that travellers apply as soon as possible, and 72 hours before travel at the latest, the US Embassy says.

Božinović: Visa cancellation major acknowledgement for Croatia

The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatians travelling to the USA is a major acknowledgement for Croatia, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday after talks with the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Mark Fleming.

Božinović thanked the US Embassy for playing an important role in "moments that were very important" for Croatia, such as its accession to the EU and NATO.

He recalled "the hard work on the cancellation of visa requirements over the past few years", including the connecting of data bases, cooperation with the Homeland Security Department and with agencies in charge of fighting terrorism and organised crime, etc.

This is a very good day for US-Croatian relations, Fleming said.

We want more Croatians in the United States, he added.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

EU Citizens Opposed to Violence Against Illegal Migrants

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - EU citizens want illegal migrants arriving at EU borders to be treated more humanely, and on Saturday they called in the European Parliament on politicians to really help people in migrants' countries of origin to reduce their influx.

The European Parliament on Saturday started a plenary at which 80 EU citizens were presenting conclusions of discussions on different topics held by 800 randomly chosen citizens in September and October.

"Citizens are worried about illegal migrations so our working group discussed that topic more than labour migration between the member states," Croatian pensioner Dajana Milinković said in a public address.

Migrations should be destigmatised, human rights respected

Milinković was speaking on behalf of 200 European citizens who discussed the topic of migrations and the EU in the world. Participating in the discussions was another Croatian pensioner, Dragan Volarević from Zadar, who was also presenting conclusions of that citizens' working group on Saturday.

"One should tackle the real causes of migrations and find ways and funds to help people stay in their countries of origin, by helping them financially and otherwise," Milinković added.

She advocated legal migrations.

"There will be less illegal migration if we establish good programmes of legal migration. That is what the EU lacks with regard to 'third world' countries," she said.

Citizens across the EU feel that they have no influence on decision-making processes, which is why euro-skepticism has been on the rise so the three main EU institutions - the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament - have launched a series of discussions called the Conference on the Future of Europe.

"Citizens have asked to be more involved instead of just being called to go to the polls every five years, so this is our answer to their wish," European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said on Saturday.

Randomly chosen citizens who were invited in October to discuss migrations and the EU in the world have told politicians that they do not want violence against migrants such as that recorded on the Croatian border.

"Migrants' human rights need to be respected. They are humans too and we need to respect them," said Milinković, who comes from the northern Adriatic town of Umag.

Her speech in the European Parliament was welcomed by a round of loud applause.

Earlier this month, media broadcast footage of masked Croatian police officers clubbing migrants who had tried to enter Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina through a forest.

Wishing to lead the country into the Schengen area of passport-free movement, the Croatian government has been trying to convince the European Commission that it is capable of protecting the joint border. Similar reports of brutality by Croatian police have been arriving for months.

The Greek and Romanian governments have also been criticised in recent months over police conduct towards migrants.

"Migrations need to be destigmatised. They should be accepted as a fact," Milinković said.

"European countries need voluntary, legal migrants. That is why they need to be provided with better education in the countries they come from," she said.

Croatia not participating in refugee scholarship programme

Officials from the foreign ministries of 42 countries-members of the Union for the Mediterranean met in Barcelona this past Thursday to discuss the inclusion of refugees in the recipient-countries' education systems.

The talks focused on a project as part of which 300 refugees, mostly from Syria, will be granted university scholarships.

The three-year project so far has been joined by 10 of the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean but Croatia is not among them.

A spokesperson for the Union has said that the aim is for as many countries as possible to join in and to extend the project.

A Croatian government official, however, told Hina: "That's it as far as the project is concerned. Those who wanted to participate have joined in."

Involved in the project are currently Poland, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco. The initiative for the project was launched by Portugal where refugees staying there have already enrolled at universities.

The funds for the education of refugees would be raised through donations by foundations, solidary taxation of the academic community, and risk capital fund investments in talented students.

For Croatia's latest news, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

EU Should Use Crisis as Opportunity for Change, Says Grlić Radman

ZAGREB, 23 Oct 2021 - In the time ahead the European Union needs to strengthen its unity and joint action in all areas and use the crisis as an opportunity to make changes with the aim of creating a better future, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Zagreb on Friday.  

Grlić Radman was attending the international conference "European Union in the World: The Past, the Present and the Future", organized by the Croatian Paneuropean Union on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

The event was part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is aimed at enabling citizens across Europe to contribute to shaping the common future with their ideas.

Grlić Radman said that over the past 30 years Croatia had achieved political affirmation on the international scene and was today an engaged and reliable partner in many global and regional organizations.

He recalled that this year the country marks 25 years of its membership of the Council of Europe and in 2022 the 30th anniversary of its international recognition.

Croatia was once part of a totalitarian, communist system but it won for itself freedom and parliamentary democracy and eight years ago became a member of the European Union, said the minister.

He expressed confidence that on 1 January 2023 Croatia would be ready to join the euro area. Speaking of admission to the Schengen area, he said that all technical requirements had been met and that in 2022 Croatia could hope for a positive political decision of the member countries and accession.

Recalling Croatia's presidency of the EU in 2020 in the conditions of a pandemic, which underlined the importance of unity, he said that joint action and unity should be additionally strengthened in the times ahead.

"The ability to predict crises, the readiness to respond to them as well as the EU's overall resilience and strategic autonomy are areas that deserve our special attention and long-term commitment," he said.

Speaking of climate change, which is high on the agenda of European and global policies, Grlić Radman said that it offered an opportunity to develop new technologies and that Croatia had the potential to offer something in that regard.

Croatia is particularly interested in the continuation of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans because we want a stable neighborhood, he said, calling again for amending Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral law to ensure the legitimate representation of the three constituent peoples and other citizens.

The conference was addressed via video link by European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica, who called on citizens to join in the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the biggest project of participatory democracy ever.

The event was also addressed by the president of the International Paneuropean Union, Alain Terrenoire, Croatian members of the European Parliament Željana Zovko and Karlo Ressler, and Croatian MP Davor Ivo Stier.

For more, follow our politics section.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

New Supreme Court President Says Wants Stronger Rule of Law, Fair System

ZAGREB, 23 Oct 2021 - The newly appointed Supreme Court President Radovan Dobronić has said in an interview with Hina that he wants to advance the justice system "in such a way to create a feeling among citizens and business people that the rule of law is stronger and the system is functioning fairly."

"At the same time, I also want to improve working conditions for judges and other staff in the judiciary," Dobronić said in the interview a few days after he was sworn in as president of the highest court.

His appointment put an end to a months-long disagreement over candidates for that post between the president as the constitutional proposer and the prime minister, who holds the majority in the parliament.

Known to the public as the Commercial Court judge who ruled in favor of holders of loans denominated in the Swiss franc, Dobronić was appointed after receiving support from a broad spectrum of political parties at a time when the judiciary is often mentioned as the weakest link in the Croatian society.

Rulings should be justified, reasonable and fair 

"The image of the judiciary will improve when courts create a well-founded feeling with their rulings that they try evenly and treat all parties equally and when rulings are not only formally legal but also justified, reasonable and fair," Dobronić said, adding that so far that had not been the case to a sufficient degree.

The Supreme Court president, who also chairs the State Election Commission, believes that he will cooperate well with all judges, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor, and other stakeholders in the judiciary.

"The system could be described as a coalition of allies and I will act accordingly," said Dobronić, whose program was not supported by the Supreme Court General Convention,  made up of all Supreme Court judges, while the parliament supported it with 120 votes in favor and 3 against.

Judges with job norm - judicial clerks

"Judges are primarily motivated by their responsibility and not by meeting the job norm because a judge with a job norm is not a judge but some sort of judicial clerk. It seems that this is not entirely understood, that is, there is a fear that without a job norm, judges would not be doing anything," said Dobronić, for whom it transpired during the nomination period that the State Judicial Council had launched disciplinary proceedings against him for not meeting the job norm in 2019.

Depicting judges as poor workers is unacceptable and the truth in most cases is quite the opposite, he said, adding that in the short time that he had held the office he had noticed "a very small number of cases in which judges have concluded main hearings but have not made and forwarded rulings within the legally prescribed deadline."

"Such situations should definitely be avoided. Not only is there no reason for the parties not to be sent the judgment, but such conduct is contrary to the principle of immediacy," he said.

"I will insist that such situations do not recur... they create an impression of irresponsibility, which is not good," he said.

In the current atmosphere of dissatisfaction with the judiciary, he noted, it is being forgotten that a part of judges and court clerks, too, are dissatisfied with the situation in the system.

Computerization or new bureaucracy

Dobronić believes that the quantity and quality of judges' work are affected adversely by three facts - poor spatial conditions, the degree and form of IT support, and the job norm.

He noted that in terms of the physical condition of courts, Croatia has started lagging behind not only old EU members but new, Eastern European ones as well.

It is justified to insist on the computerization of the system to increase its efficiency and transparency, but if the system, instead of working better and faster, becomes slower as more users connect to it, computerization will not facilitate work but rather cause more red tape, he said.

In that context, he called for significantly and promptly improving and simplifying the system, also to make certain types of decisions immediately publicly available.

As for the job norm, Dobronić said that it was not right to deal with the problem of backlogs by continually increasing the norm, "which is unacceptable and contrary to the standard European practice."

He said that he expected support from the executive authority in removing those systemic problems, noting that the state, as the owner of numerous companies, local government units, institutes, and agencies, as well as public municipal companies do not need to engage in numerous litigation cases.

"I expect the executive authorities in that regard to make action plans for next year to withdraw at least 10% of lawsuits... and I expect court presidents to focus more on work organization in a way that will be in line with the type of cases their judges work on," he said.

In that context, he said that he would see to it that the assignment of cases was reduced to the minimum.

Dobronić supported a better model of hiring legal secretaries and pointed to the problem of court reporters and other judicial employees leaving courts because of demanding work and low salaries.

Asked about judicial appointments in line with political criteria, Dobronić said that he could not answer that question because it refers to something he has no experience with.

"It is possible that it has happened, but I do not think the model of appointment itself is so much the problem... the main problem in the way judges are appointed is that... the main criterion is evaluating their work is the number of resolved cases, that is, expediency and other statistical data. That type of evaluation does not exist in most EU countries and it has resulted in the system being fully bureaucratized, with judges thinking more about meeting the job norm than about the quality of their rulings," he said.

For more, follow our politics section.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Croatians Can Travel to USA for Business, Tourism Without Visas as of Today

ZAGREB, 23 Oct 2021 - As of Saturday, 23 October Croatians can travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

In a statement to the media, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Mark Fleming, expressed satisfaction that Croatians now have the opportunity to travel to the USA without visas.

Croatia has entered the Visa Waiver Programme, a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and participating countries that enable travel to the USA for business or tourism purposes in the duration of up to 90 days, with national security being protected in the process.

visa-croatia.jpg

''To America without Visa, Croatia is in the Visa Waiver Program: Find out more: esta.cbp.dhs.gov'' (U.S. Embassy in Zagreb)

This was a long process but it was worthwhile and we congratulate the Croatian government on successfully meeting the strict conditions of entry into the Visa Waiver Programme, Fleming said, expressing satisfaction that this would deepen the ties between the United State and Croatia.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security, and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

Application via ESTA is possible any time before travel but the US Homeland Security Department recommends that travelers apply as soon as possible, and 72 hours before travel at the latest, the US Embassy says.

Passengers from VWP countries and Croatians qualify as of today, do not have to present a specific travel itinerary before applying via ESTA.

Application via ESTA is generally valid for two years.

Passengers with valid B1/B2 visas should continue using their visas when traveling to the USA, the embassy notes.

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

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Croatia Logs More Than 3,500 New COVID-19 Cases, 25 Deaths

ZAGREB, 23 Oct 2021 - In the past 24 hours Croatia has registered 3,585 coronavirus cases and 25 related deaths, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Saturday.

There are 17,319 active cases, including 1,033 hospitalized patients, of whom 128 are on ventilators, while 27,714 persons are self-isolating.

Croatia has registered 443,032 coronavirus cases to date as well as 9,010 COVID deaths and 416,703 recoveries, including 1,541 in the past 24 hours, while 3,026,033 persons have been tested for the virus, with 11,193 in the past 24 hours.

To date, 46.46% of the population has been vaccinated, including 55.67% of adults, of whom 52.43% fully.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

All Croatian Medical Tourism Roads Lead to Crikvenica with CIHT 2021

October 23, 2021 - The enormous potential of the Croatian medical tourism industry will once more be the focus next month, as global experts assemble for the annual Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, CIHT 2021. 

After reporting on the news about Croatia for a number of years now, certain things begin to follow a pattern. 

I always report on the Za Krizen procession in Jelsa just before Easter, for example, and there is always a visit to Advent in Zagreb. And early November is reserved for one of my favourite - and impressive - conferences in Croatia, the Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, or CIHT 2021. 

It has a special place in my heart as it was the catalyst for probably the most unlikeliest stories of my writing career a couple of years ago, as my wife and I found ourselves on a plane to Malaysia where I picked up an award for best online international feature as the inaugural Medical Travel Media Awards in Kuala Lumpur. 

Crikvenica and Malaysia may seem an unlikely combination, and I would have agreed with that had I not met one of the most energetic promoters of all things Croatia, Ognjen Bagatin. 

Co-owner of the hugely successful Bagatin Clinic, Ognjen was passionate about the promotion of the medical tourism industry and realising its potential. 

When I met him, I had no idea that Croatia even had a medical tourism industry. Within 10 minutes of meeting him, I was wondering why the whole world didn't know about the excellence on offer in Croatian clinics, and at very competitive prices. 

It did not take me long to learn that the biggest brand in Croatian medical tourism globally - with the possible execption of Bagatin Clinic at St Catherine's Specialty Hospital - was not in fact Croatia itself, but something called the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. This was an alliance of interested stakeholders in the medical tourism industry who were doing fantastic work bringing patients for treatment in a number of specialist medical fields, from dentistry to physiotherapy. 

croatian-health-tourism_2.jpg

The highlight of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster's calendar was an annual conference called CIHT (Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference). Ognjen encouraged me to participate where he promised a great conference with some outstanding presentations and people to interview. 

I was stunned by the high-quality of the international experts who had all made the journey to the Crikvenica Riviera for this health conference out of season in November. Keynote speakers I got to interview included Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal, Ilan Geva from the USA, a leading medical tourism (and other) branding specialist, and Sherene Azli, the charismatic CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council. 

Sherene's presentation was one of the finest I have seen at every conference, and little did I know it, but that interview started a chain of events which would have me on that plan to Kuala Lumpur less than a year later. 

A year later, I was back in Crikvenica, this time also as a (terrible) conference speaker, sharing the podium with medical tourism experts who had flown in from leading establishmnents such as Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. 

 ciht-2021.JPG

The Crikvenica was a hit, and a significant player in the global medical tourism calendar. And after the horrors of the 2020 pandemic, I shall once more be making my way down to the Crikvenica Riviera early next month, to take part in CIHT 2021. 

ciht-2021-2.JPG

After a brief (ok, not so brief) COVID interruption last year, Croatian medical tourism is back, and with some very useful additions to the story. The massive expansion of Ryanair (40 destinations for Zagreb alone by next summer) is opening up affordable Croatian medical tourism to more countries and destinations than ever before. 

ciht-2021-3.JPG

Another welcome trend is the rise in the remote work culture. Croatia is enjoying considerable success in its digital nomad story, and the excellent services of the medical tourism industry should be inserted into that initiative, to the benefit of all sides. 

ciht-2021-4.JPG

CIHT 2021 once more has a very strong lineup, and anyone interested in the medical tourism industry will find a night for them at this year's event. You can see the programme of the two-day event above, and you can get more details and register on the official website

I can't promise you a trip to Malaysia if you do attend, but it is definitely one of the best organised, most social, and content-rich conferences on the Croatian conference scene. 

 

Saturday, 23 October 2021

120,000 More Croatian Residents to Get Free Supplementary Health Insurance

October the 23rd, 2021 - As many as 120,000 Croatian residents are set to get free supplementary health insurance (dopunsko) provided to them by the state. These individuals are overwhelmingly pensioners.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of December the 1st, 2021, as many as 120,000 Croatian residents, primarily pensioners, will receive a supplementary health insurance policy from HZZO at the expense of the state.

At yesterday's session, the Croatian Government accepted Silvano Hrelja's proposal to amend the Law on Voluntary Health Insurance, which raises the income threshold on the basis of which Croatian residents are entitled to the state to pay for their supplementary health insurance, so, in the future, the threshold per household member will be two thousand kuna, and for a single person it will rise to two and a half thousand kuna.

This represents an increase in both categories by more than 400 kuna, or 25 percent compared to the current census, and Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros explained that in the future, an additional 120,000 Croatian residents will, as stated, receive a supplementary HZZO health insurance policy at the expense of the state. The state budget will have around one hundred million kuna per year taken out of it as a result.

The fact that the Croatian Government is ready and willing to accept Silvano Hrelja's proposal could be inferred from the fact that among the MPs who signed the support for sending legal changes to the parliamentary procedure were numerous HDZ members, and Minister Beros himself said that this sets a more appropriate threshold for the most socially sensitive in our society.

Hrelja's support from the Croatian Government has already resulted in the previously announced intervention in the area of ​​family pensions, which the Government has included in the national recovery and resilience plan, taking place two years earlier than originally envisaged, which should bring a 10 percent increase to pensions for more than 200,000 retirees as of the year 2023, Novi list writes.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle and politics sections.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Zagreb Yamaha Music School (YMS) Programme Opens to Music Lovers

October the 23rd, 2021 - The well known Yamaha Music School (YMS) music programme, present today in more than forty countries around the world, has arrived in Zagreb this autumn, at the newly opened school at Tuskanova 37. The new Zagreb Yamaha Music School is already attracting a lot of attention.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, on October the 21st, an open day was organised, and those interested had the opportunity to try out the Yamaha Music School's popular singing programmes, acoustic, classical and electric guitars, bass guitars, drums, keyboards and pianos, saxophones, violins and flutes. They were conducted through the programmes by licensed mentors and experts.

The concept of YMS is based on a unique structured curriculum followed by books and materials from beginner to professional level. The feature, as they say from YMS, is group music making and a focus being placed on the creativity and individuality of the participants, and a less traditional approach which, as they claim, often results in a loss of motivation and distancing from music as a subject.

YMS licensor Olja Desic says that the new school is already filling up its existing groups, and they are forming new ones due to the large number of interested people in Zagreb. They already have more than 180 students and there is a growing interest in individual lessons, and the mentors at YMS are happy that people want to develop their musicality.

"There are no non-musical people, only undiscovered talent, and this goes for children, teenagers, and adults. All those who want to bring music back into their lives, for the reason of becoming musicians or just hobbyists. Every motive is a good motive,'' claims Desic.

The new Zagreb Yamaha Music School is therefore intended for all generations - from as early as 1.5 years old, kids can start being educated in all sorts of entertainment fields, and for kids over eight - including adults (without an upper age limit), they have a developed curriculum followed by Yamaha Music Education textbooks; various modern instruments, but also classical ones such as the violin, flute, piano and the classical guitar. Desic also referred to the teachers at the new Zagreb Yamaha Music School. who, as she says, are very carefully chosen.

“The unique method of group teaching for which all our teachers have mastered the necessary competencies, and in which there are written books and sound recordings just for that way of working, is the greatest jewel of YMS, and this is proven every day in practice.

We carefully select the people we want to work with, respecting the set standards of the quality of knowledge, skills, career achievements and, in particular, the personalities needed by YMS. Those who respond to our call have several important steps to access this system, which is extremely quality-controlled: they take an online theoretical and practical exam assessed by a commission in Hamburg, and are required to attend methodological seminars before starting work,'' she said.

The first Yamaha Music School was founded in Japan back in 1954, and to date it has become present in about 40 countries, with more than 6,000 schools, through whose system more than 30 million students have passed so far.

The first Croatian branch was opened in Rijeka in 2019, followed by Cakovec, and now the Zagreb Yamaha Music School is open. YMS Rijeka has grown almost to its full capacity in just two years and currently has about 250 participants, and YMS Cakovec has about 80.

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

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric Talks Rebalances, Projections, Eurozone

October the 23rd, 2021 - Finance Minister Zdravko Maric has spoken out about rebalances, projections for the future, stability and of course, the topic on the lips of most - Croatian Eurozone entry, which is edging ever closer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, at the end of this year or at the very beginning of 2022, the situation in the Republic of Croatia should return to pre-crisis levels. This is of course good news for the domestic economy with the perspective of Eurozone entry in 2023, but this generally optimistic picture is still being threatened by numerous risks, from poor vaccination levels to so-called ''bubbles'' on the Croatian real estate market. These matters could be heard being discussed at the conference of the Zagreb Stock Exchange and pension funds entitled "The Challenge of Change/Izazov promjene".

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric announced that he would step out next week with a rebalance and a few new projections.

"At the end of this year, or at the beginning of next year, we should reach pre-pandemic figures," he assured. The Croatian Government will also refresh its fiscal expectations for the next three years, which will be marked by the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the effects of which should boost GDP by 1.5 percentage points on average.

818 million euros have been pumped into Croatia so far, and the new cash injections will depend on the fulfillment of 34 different criteria by the end of the year. If they're met, the government will submit a report to the European Commission (EC) in January or February, and then "we can expect a new payment in May or June."

In terms of Eurozone accession, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric says, everything is currently going according to plan. Interest rates and the exchange rate aren't in question, but inflation is a new fear. "Inflation is a priority for us because of society, the economy and of course because of people, but we should also look at it through Maastricht, even though Croatia is at the EU average. According to these projections, we should satisfy that as well. The real date of joining the Eurozone is 2023, I see no reason as to why we won't manage to meet the criteria,'' said Maric.

The introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency could reduce the risk premium by two levels and thus partially amortise the possible growth of interest rates, which has been a current topic lately.

Croatian National Bank (CNB) Governor Boris Vujcic, on the other hand, expects a quick recovery "in the shape of the letter V", for 2021 in the form of GDP growth of 8.5 percent, and then of 4.1 percent. He noted that inflation is a consequence of supply disruptions, making it somewhat difficult for ordinary monetary tools to address it.

"Raising the reference interest rates over the next two years isn't going to significantly affect the price of oil and gas, which make up half of inflation," said Vujcic. He underlined that the current figures (3.5 percent in September, op.a.) are historically low, but that we have become accustomed to a long period of low inflation, which has in fact been too low.

"This year we expect an inflation rate of 2.3 percent, which isn't worrying, it's actually very close to the goal of monetary policy and it will calm down slightly next year,'' he assured.

Risks in the macro environment...

In addition to energy, the CNB sees numerous risks in the macro environment in the form of the slower cleaning of the market from bad companies and the creation of a real estate bubble, among other things. Prices are also being pushed by foreigners buying properties, especially on the coast.

“The availability of property has started to deteriorate, loan installments in relation to disposable income are slowly growing. "If this trend continues, property purchasing becomes inaccessible to a part of the population with lower incomes, and this should be kept in mind because it's now also becoming a political problem," the governor warned.

Assessing the risks to financial stability, Hanfa's Ante Zigman briefly summed it up by saying that "it isn't exactly great, but it isn't terrible either".

“We’re not too worried about it all, but we’re on guard,” he said. In the second quarter, the risks were somewhat reduced, and for the third, in which inflation returned to the scene, there is no data to be looked into yet. There are a range of risks present; from investment concentration, labour market issues to, once again, the issue of real estate.

"Currently, there are high risks of valuation, the question is whether or not we have an overheated market. The risk of things falling due to high valuations is very possible ", warned the head of Hanfa. Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic out that there is reason for optimism at the end of the global coronavirus pandemic.

"We've never had closer cooperation between politics and economics. The government acted in a timely and adequate manner, we can say that we saved the economy. We're now going into the job creation phase,'' he said, announcing that a very important role is played by pension funds that manage 130 billion kuna.

“They need to invest in long-term sustainable investments, which will create pensions and increase them in the future. It's up to us to redefine the regulations in the direction of the diversification of investments and goals, which we'll do in the short term and in cooperation with those pension funds,'' he concluded.

For more, follow our politics section.

Page 10 of 3293

Search