Sunday, 20 November 2022

Is It Time for The Croatian National Bank to React to Inflation?

November the 20th, 2022 - Is it time the Croatian National Bank (CNB) reacted to the ongoing inflationary pressures we're all continuing to face? What could happen as costs spiral over the coming months?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, October 2022's inflation of 13.2 percent at the annual level exceeded expectations and broke records yet again. Economists continue to struggle with predictions, people are increasingly angry because they can afford less and less, and the window for companies to elegantly pass on the impact of costs to customers is constantly narrowing.

That said, long-term inflation, which has remained rather stubbornly in double digits for the past six months, has begun to erode demand and slow down the flywheel. Cumulatively, inflation increased by 10.2% in a mere 10 months, and after a slight summer break, it has been increasing on a monthly basis for two months now. In October, prices increased (on average) by 1.3% compared to September.

Clothing and footwear took the lead by 6.9%, followed by the category that includes housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels by 2.8%, while food and non-alcoholic beverages rose in price by 1 percent. October is the first month this year in which one category stuck out like a sore thumb with a drop in prices – the segment of recreation and culture (-0.8%).

Although the reduction in prices at least in one area may seem like a bit of good news at first glance, it is a concrete indication that the standard has been undermined to the extent that non-essential consumption has begun being firmly squeezed out.

"Despite the Croatian Government's measures to cap prices in certain product categories, inflation is evidently spilling over to other product groups and is beginning to exert pressure on the demand side as well. This is partly a consequence of the previous increase in costs (which is especially visible in the continued strong growth of producer prices), so with still solid demand, consumer prices in other categories are also rising," RBA analysts point out.

The governor of the Croatian National Bank, Boris Vujcic, recently said that the latest data shows that the spread of inflation started to decrease for the first time in October. He said that this is good news and that it may indicate that we're "closer to the peak of inflation".

The engine of annual inflation (so far) has been the acceleration of prices in categories that are driven by cost shocks, although other categories are also suffering. Looking from the perspective of the month of October alone, food has risen in price by almost a fifth in a year, restaurants and hotels need people to allocate 17.8% more, while the costs of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels are 16.1 percent higher. The category of furniture, home equipment and regular maintenance has seen an average price increase of 15.8 percent. Transportation is also 11.5 percent more expensive today.

"It is slowly becoming more and more clear that the European Central Bank is lagging behind the curve of expectations. Here in Croatian conditions, we also have the element of introducing the euro, which will release enormous liquidity with inflationary potential. Therefore, it would be good for the Croatian National Bank to resort to the macroprudential measures it has as an instrument at its disposal, such as limiting the dynamics of lending, setting stricter requirements for collaterals, and the like," explained Zeljko Lovrincevic from the Institute of Economics.

Most recently when it comes to inflation, Lovrincevic sees two phenomena. "It's important to read that inflation has accelerated significantly since we met the nominal criteria for the introduction of the euro, and it keeps on surprising us. In other words, today we wouldn't manage to meet the inflation condition even with exceptions (countries that are excluded from the calculation for certain reasons) for its introduction,'' he stated.

"The figures show that what we're seeing is very widespread inflation, spanning all categories. If initially it came from energy sources, now inflation is radically spreading to all other groups, with food and non-alcoholic beverages taking the lead. In short, today inflation is fed by demand, which enters the zone of responsibility of central banks,'' explained Lovrincevic.

The months-long debate about inflation raises the question of where it comes from and, consequently, who is responsible for it all. Central banks, including the Croatian National Bank are responsible for ensuring things like price stability, but the economic profession has emphasised the limited capacity of monetary policy when inflationary pressures come from the cost side, in this case the explosion of energy prices across Europe.

People and companies are most interested in what will happen with inflation in the coming months. Roughly, a third of inflation is made up of administratively determined energy and utility prices, that part will directly depend on the government's decisions. The freezing of certain products, which "polished" the inflation statistics, resulted in shortages, but also compensations in the prices of other products.

"The real standard indicates that the burden of rising prices has been transferred to labour. The state will protect itself through the growth of the tax base, and employers through the growth of production and trade margins," the analyst points out.

The latest polls reflect exactly these trends; consumer optimism lags significantly behind that of the corporate sector, indicating the transfer of costs to the end customer. For this reason, this year in the triangle 'labour-capital-state', which depicts the contribution of individual components to GDP, Croatia will have the largest deviation in the share of labour of 2.5 percentage points (44.5 percent instead of the previous 47 percent), whereby the difference to be divided by the state and employers, concluded Lovrincevic.

Over more recent months, RBA expects a continuation of double-digit inflation with a slight tendency to decrease, 10.6% at the level of the whole of 2022, i.e. above 6% in the next year. They warn of the likely continuation of increased energy prices due to the war in Ukraine, but also of the necessary delimitation of administrative prices, which would bring a new inflationary blow with it.

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

Sunday, 20 November 2022

New Rules for Croatian Documents Which Aren't Picked Up on Time

November the 20th, 2022 - COVID-19 rules saw some changes to those who needed new Croatian documents such as ID cards and driving licenses, and MUP has further explained the rules which will remain in place for now.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, let's say you asked for some new Croatian documents such as a new ID card from MUP but you didn't have time to pick it up or you simply forgot about it - don't worry. Your new or updated Croatian documents still at the police station, due to the situation caused by COVID-19, all Croatian documents whose pick up deadline fell on March the 11th, 2020, or will fall during the duration of the coronavirus pandemic (so until the end of the pandemic is declared), can be picked up from MUP with no issue for a maximum of 30 days from the day the end of the coronavirus pandemic is announced.

According to the provisions of the Law on Identity Cards, it is prescribed that a person is obliged to come and pick up their new identity card within the following 90 days from the expiry of the deadline for its issuance, which is 30 days in the regular procedure, 10 days in the accelerated procedure and three working days in the urgent procedure. If the person doesn't pick up their new identity card within the specified period, the competent police department or station will terminate it - MUP replied to Vecernji list. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, different rules currently apply.

When it comes to Croatian documents such as driver's licenses, it is stipulated that a driving license that the driver fails to collect within the next 90 days from the date of expiry of the deadline prescribed (30 days in the regular procedure, three working days in the accelerated procedure and 24 hours in the urgent procedure) becomes invalid, and the competent police department or station will also terminate it.

''Due to the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the amendments to the Law on Identity Cards and the Law on Road Traffic Safety have seen the deadline for people to come and collect their identity cards and driving licenses extended,'' they stated from the Ministry of the Interior (MUP), noting the aforementioned information above regarding March the 11th, 2020.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Do Most Croatian Counties Need to be Scrapped Once and For All?

November the 20th, 2022 - Is it time to finally scrap Croatian counties, of which there are an obnoxious amount, employing an even more obnoxious number of people? With an enormous number of people employed in positions that nobody quite understands over the last thirty years - most believe so.

As Index/Vedran Salvia writes, some believe that Croatian counties created by a legally convicted criminal organisation, are an important lever of the entire social and state system. These seemingly pointless Croatian counties are the ones in which careers are made, and where you can allegedly advance even more easily if you agree to the rules of the game set by HDZ, which are, according to many, mostly based on party loyalty.

Is Croatia a country where it is important to be obedient to both the state and the clergy?

The rules of the game set over the past 30 years aren't difficult to detect. The late Branimir Luksic who was once the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County was also one of President Franjo Tudjman's close friends, and he uttered some words that affect today's reality.

"In Croatia, thank God, there is a considerable number of honest, hard-working, patriotic, philanthropic and God-loving people, and that is the hope for a brighter future for this country," said Luksic. That's how a former prefect saw Croatia. The Croatia of these honest, hard-working, patriotic, philanthropic and God-loving people is the Croatia we live in today. In other words, it is a vision of a country where the ideal is to be obedient, above all to the state and the clergy.

HDZ draws strength from bloated Croatian counties

Croatian counties are the fundamental point here, and they're something that Luksic himself and others like him obviously had a somewhat deeper insight into. HDZ and other parties draw their strength from the sheer amount of counties this country has. Through employment within them, they act as a political tool, and at the same time they're an incubator for stamping (and monitoring) successful party members, some of whom will move on, and some of whom will stay right where they are.

In other words, with all the unified brains that function on the idea of ​​community, patriotism and an apparent love of God, Croatian counties are the core of the Croatian petty bourgeoisie and, above all, a symbol of clientelism, and therefore the decline of the state into a party society.

Sociologist Srdjan Dvornik: Local life is dominated by one party

Sociologist Srdjan Dvornik also talked about this. "In small local [self-government] units, there are often no conditions for interest, political, cultural and other pluralism. Local elites are often concentrated around a small number of powerful and/or rich individuals, and there are not enough strong (or any!) counter-elites that would leave the possibility of a real election.

Because of this, even more than Croatia itself as a whole, local authorities, but also the entire social arena, media and culture live under the domination of one single party. Pluralism is necessary for all the various checks and balances that enable the democratic control of government to work. Instead, there is one dominant party, one centre where it is informally but powerfully decided who will get which job, who will occupy which workplace.

When we look at the level at which real plurality begins in politics, economy, culture... It even goes above the existing Croatian counties, and would be located somewhere in those regions that have been going around for 10-20 years on various proposals to reform the territorial organisation of Croatia. That level is not systemically recognised. In fact, you will see the horror with which almost all nationalist politicians react to the regionalisation of Croatia. To most, that word itself seems like a swear word," says Dvornik.

Indeed, it is enough to recall only the Prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Nikola Dobroslavic, otherwise known for saying that Croats will be divided into those who crossed the Peljesac bridge and those who didn't, who once stated that the proposal for an organisation with five regions is harmful and that it "splits the Croatian national being and opens up room for possible conflicts that have marked our history".

He said that even if there is a new division, Dubrovnik must be the regional centre. In other words, he sees an attack on the "Croatian national being", i.e. on patriotism, in the mere idea of the country being divided up administratively in a different way, although perhaps this would bring economic prosperity and lower costs, which actually means far more meaningful and greater consideration for the homeland.

Dvornik also mentions employment and that Croatian counties serve as training grounds for exactly this. The high-profile case of HDZ member Goran Pauk, the former Sibenik-Knin Prefect who openly bragged to the media that he was a less than savoury character, is a great example of this. Let's remember how Pauk bragged about cheating in an interview with Slobodna Dalmacija more than four years ago.

"I've met a lot of known and unknown people. If we were to look at classic employment, in terms of tenders, applications, references, then we could conclude that everyone got a job through a connection. There's no one who applied for a job without having some recommendation, some kind of relationship,'' said Pauk back then.

Employment isn't the only problem in this sphere. Many prefects literally act like old school sheriffs. Let's just take the case of Varazdin Prefect Andjelko Stricak, who took part in a fight in a cafe in the very centre of Varazdin on the night of September 23-24, and was of course drunk at the time.

He himself admitted that he drank a glass of wine, but from the findings we received it seems that he had a little more than that. Namely, Index is in possession of the findings that Stricak didn't want to comment on, which regard his blood alcohol level being very high. To briefly look back, it was initially published that Stricak was hit in the head with a glass, and then a surveillance camera recording was published that shows that he was the one who physically attacked another young man. The recording was made from a distance, so it wasn't really possible to determine in detail what exactly happened, and it is not known what those involved were saying.

The video shows several people and a ''lively'' discussion. As it seems, the HDZ prefect put his hand around the neck of an unknown young man, and a fight then began.

There is also the example of Vukovar-Srijem Prefect Damir Dekanic, who once said that we ''got Croatia with God's help''. In April, he was involved in a traffic accident on the road between Andrijasevac and Cerna.

"In the aforementioned accident, I participated as a passenger in an official car of Vukovar-Srijem County, which was driven by K.B. at my request," he wrote on his Facebook after his blood alcohol levels came to light. K. B. is his cousin Kresimir Bicanic. Despite that statement, an RTL Potraga team published that they had spoken with three witnesses to the accident and that they all claim the same thing - Dekanic was alone in the car on the night of April the 17th.

Visibly drunk, they say, he crashed into a parked car at the entrance to Cerna and begged those present not to call the police. Although the witnesses do not know each other personally, their stories match in key details, as was reported by RTL's Potraga.

One of the two witnesses who asked that their identity be withheld described what happened:

"When we arrived at the scene of the accident, he simply got out of the car from the driver's seat. He was visibly drunk. He literally fell out of the car. Then he begged us not to call the police, that everything would be sorted out. Even the woman who owned the car he ran into said herself, however quietly: ''It's the prefect, don't call the police.''

However, at that moment I don't think there is any law because if you are in the HDZ, you can simply do whatever you want on the road. I guess the law is the same for everyone," witnesses told Potraga.

The most famous HDZ deviant prefect is Alojzije Tomasevic, the former prefect of Pozega-Slavonia County. In December 2020, he was sentenced by the County Court in Karlovac for domestic violence. He was sentenced to 10 months probation, with a two-year probationary period. This confirmed the conviction of the court in Slavonski Brod, which found him guilty of abusing his wife.

"'You know what I'm like when I drink. I'm a drunkard, I don't wish you harm. And the fact that sometimes you get slapped, so what? It's not terrible, it's normal!' he said.

''I was afraid being in such a marriage, if he knew how to come home in such a state, I'd become afraid. Waiting for my husband with fear isn't easy to deal with,'' his wife said at the time.

Through the case of the former Prefect of Sisak-Moslavina, Ivo Zinic, we discovered how many prefects are difficult to get rid of. Let's recall that journalists discovered that Zinic was using several properties owned by the state, which is why he resigned from the position of president of the HDZ County Organisation of Sisak-Moslavina County. However, he remained in the post of prefect until last year's elections in May. His case then reminded us that it is more difficult to remove a Croatian prefect than an American president.

According to the law, the mandate of a Croatian prefect ends by force of law in only six situations: if they submits a written resignation, if they're deprived of his business capacity by a final court decision, if they're sentenced to an unconditional prison sentence of more than a month by a final court decision, if their residence in the territory of the county ceases, if their Croatian citizenship ceases, and if they die.

Two years ago, Index published a piece on how much useless Croatian counties and prefects actually cost the taxpayer. It was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, just after the process of merging state administration offices and Croatian counties began under the guise of savings.

In the county budgets of the time, Index decided to investigate how much Croatian counties cost us when healthcare institutions, secondary and primary schools, care homes, and other facilities suffer. Index then talked about this topic with the scientific adviser of the Economic Institute, Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic, a former minister herself.

Index immediately asked her why the number of Croatian counties was so large, to which she said that the question of the number of Croatian counties needs to be asked in a wider context.

"Primarily, we need to look at the context of what Croatian counties are, as defined by the Constitution and the Act on Local and Regional Self-Government Units, what jobs they should do and what they actually do, how they're being financed, and how they should or could be financed in a different way.

Furthermore, do they follow the needs of residents and companies and do they adapt them to development planning, do they analyse and evaluate what results and concrete outcomes have been achieved by spending public funds and implementing their policies and development strategies, and do they sufficiently include all important stakeholders in the monitoring and evaluation of what has been achieved?

I'd like to remind you that Croatian counties are organised as units of regional self-government to carry out tasks of regional importance, and their area represents a natural, historical, transport, economic, social and self-governing entity.

I'm not the only one who is of the opinion that politicians didn't take enough account of all these criteria when establishing Croatian counties, but that they were guided by some completely different wishes and interests that resulted in the existing unchanged number of counties and strong political resistance at all levels and from all political options to the counties will eventually survive within the existing borders.

The Croatian Constitution states that when determining the scope of local and regional self-government units, the breadth and nature of the tasks involved must be taken into account, as well as the requirements of efficiency and economy, which are often forgotten when talking about either local or regional self-government units," she said.

Index then reminded her of her former words that the division into five regions is enough.

"I base my position on the need to consolidate Croatian counties into larger territorial entities on the results of research conducted at the Economic Institute in Zagreb, in which we presented the framework proposal for a new territorial organisation in order to achieve a more efficient and effective provision of public services. The goal of the conducted factor and cluster analysis was to group Croatian counties into larger spatial entities so that they'd be able to perform public tasks within their scope.

When classifying Croatian counties into larger spatial units, we applied the criteria of homogeneity, i.e. the establishment of regional units (regions) according to the criterion of relative equality or the greatest similarity of the elements that make up the space, then according to the criterion of functionality and classification of space for planning purposes.

Our proposals for the new territorial organisation of regional self-government units are primarily guided by the fact that the basic development task of the formed regional unit is the coordination of development in its area and the high-quality and efficient performance of public affairs,'' she added.

Index then asked her a little more about employment in all of these Croatian counties...

"Employment in Croatian counties should be carried out in accordance with the Law on Officials and Employees in Local and Regional (Regional) Self-Government Units, which stipulates that each unit should prepare a recruitment plan, except for positions that are fixed-term or vacant after the adoption of the plan. It's impossible to speculate about the methods of employment and which criteria, in addition to the prescribed ones, are given priority when selecting candidates for the positions of those who meet all the formal conditions of the tender.

In public, I expressed my opinion that the number of employees in Croatian counties is continuously increasing, especially after the local elections. That opinion is based on the average number of employees in the administrative bodies of these counties. This is publicly available data of the Ministry of Finance from the financial reports of the counties themselves. The data is presented for the period from 2002 to 2020. According to the methodology and coverage, all employees are included in that data, from those who are financed from the county budget and the budget of the European Union (EU) for work on various European projects to former employees within state administration offices that are attached to the counties themselves.

In a period of three decades, the number of employees in Croatian counties increased almost three and a half times. I emphasise that the scope of work in the counties has not changed significantly. There's no recent research on the results of public work performed by the counties, and there is a particular lack of opinions from people and businesses when it comes to their level of satisfaction of the public services they expect in their county. I don't know the reason why the Ministry of Justice and Administration doesn't regularly publish data on the number of employees in local and regional self-government units in its Statistical Overview publication.

The latest information available is from the year 2018. There's a lack of transparency and the possibility of public inspection of data on individual employees in Croatian counties. In particular, there is a lack of data on the number of employees from state administration offices in Croatian counties who, after taking over, became employed officials and state employees.

On top of that, the data of the Ministry of Finance is still not available for the year 2021, so we can't really know how many people were employed in official and employee positions in county administrative bodies after the last local elections. It isn't possible to conclude whether this increase in employment in Croatian counties has cotinued or not," she said.

Index then asked her if she thinks that some jobs are invented or unnecessary.

"The answer to that question requires a complete analysis of the business processes in all administrative bodies in Croatian counties and the number of professional characteristics of the people who perform them. However, I'm convinced that there are a certain number of jobs that have no justification for their existence and that those positions are filled by people who receive a salary for doing those jobs. There are certainly those workplaces that aren't described in the rulebook (pravilnik) on internal order and that prefects don't want to think about it all, be it due to ignorance, lack of interest or for other unknown reasons.

Ordinances on internal order are adopted by the prefects, on the proposal of the heads of administrative bodies, separately for each administrative body or as a common rulebook for several administrative bodies, and it determines the names and job descriptions of the workplaces, professional and other conditions for assignment to workplaces and the number of executors involved.

Since the prefect makes a decision on admission to a service, assignment to a workplace, on other rights tions of officials, individuals must comply with the general conditions for admission to this service (adulthood, Croatian citizenship, health capacity for performing the duties of the workplace to which the person is admitted). There are also special conditions for admission to a service and assignment to a workplace (certain vocational education and profession, work experience in appropriate jobs, passing a state exam, knowledge of a certain foreign language, special knowledge, abilities and skills, special health capacity, etc) she explained.

She added that all jobs in local and regional self-government unit are classified according to standard criteria for all administrative bodies, from the necessary professional knowledge, complexity of work, independence in work, degree of cooperation with other bodies and communication with parties to the degree of responsibility and influence on decision-making.

"Croatian counties differ in the number of employees they have in their administrative bodies. The latest available data shows that 92 officers and employees are employed in the administrative departments of Pozega-Slavonia County, the least among all counties, while Split-Dalmatia County has the most employees, a total of 550.

It's interesting to compare Croatian counties according to the indicator of the relationship between the number of inhabitants they have and the number of employed officers and employees in the administrative bodies of the county itself. We can notice big differences between them all. In the administrative bodies of Lika-Senj County, with the smallest number of inhabitants among all of the counties, there aren't (as one may expect) the fewest employees, and one of their employees performs tasks for 346 inhabitants of the county.

On the other hand, in Varazdin and Zagreb counties, the ratio of residents to employees is almost identical (1054 and 1053). Split-Dalmatia County, the most populous, employs the largest number of officials and employees, and one employee performs tasks for 773 inhabitants. The best relationship between residents and employees is in Medjimurje County, where one employee is able to provide all the work required of them for 834 residents. Here, too, we cannot say anything in detail about the quality of the work performed," she added.

Index continued to talk with the sociologist Srdjan Dvornik about the political and social aspects of the existence of so many Croatian counties.

"The place of counties in the territorial structure of government and administration in Croatia, if we compare them with local and state government, was to ensure, on the one hand, sensitivity to the needs of narrower parts of the country, and on the other, functionality. When a country of only four million inhabitants (and now not even that many) is divided into hundreds and hundreds of local units, it's clear that a large part of these units don't really have the capacity for quality governance. Where in a municipality of a few thousand people, often without the presence of any serious industry or other strong economic activities, will you find professional staff and adequate supply and demand, and in the end the income to even detect, let alone meet the needs of life that cannot be satisfied by commercial activities?'' he asked.

He added that counties have the capacity for administrative functions and social activities, but often not for a sufficient level of pluralism, which has been almost non-existent throughout Croatian society throughout history.

"Even in these last few decades of formal democracy, which have still been dominated by the political sphere, it hasn't really developed much,'' he said.

"People who in a municipality or city support a political option that is not ruling at a higher level will find themselves having to deal with many problems if their local unit is not economically strong enough. Candidates often get local voting support based on how well they are (or are portrayed as being) able to attract support from the county under their party's rule. This concentration is one of the explanations for ubiquitous corruption: one institution will not effectively control or limit other institutions if all are decisively influenced by the leadership of the same party.

Staff in the county - whatever their profession and wherever they work - have the opportunity to advance precisely along that party-political line, and so various forms of support are given from the centre, and control is provided to the centre from the local and county level. Such inconsistent decentralisation doesn't ensure much-needed pluralism, because local and sub-regional authorities aren't organised in such a way that they can function independently. They remain dependent on higher authorities, and create the appearance of decentralised adaptation to the specificities of various regions," sociologist Srdjan Dvornik concluded for Index.

For more, make sure to keep up with our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Hvar Nominated in 3 Categories in 2023 Travel + Leisure Awards

November 20, 2022 - The international media love affair with the island of Hvar continues, with Croatia's premier island nominated in 3 categories doe the prestigious 2023 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. 

When I bought my house in Jelsa on the island of Hvar way back in 2002, I had not heard of the island 2 days before I arrived. It looked very pretty, but I had no idea just how pretty. While walking by the harbour, there was a board with a map of the island, on which was written that the island of Hvar was one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. I had chosen well. 

That famous statement - I heard it EVERYWHERE after that - came from the 1997 Conde Nast Readers Awards, where Hvar made it into the top 10 islands in the world, as it does pretty much every year, sometime (as in 2019) as the number one island in the world. 

And it is not just Conde Nast that keeps Hvar in the spotlight - the island features regularly in various Best of lists. And the latest one is one where you can play a part - the 2023 Travel + Leisue World's Best Awards, where Hvar has been nominated in no less than 3 categories:

-              Best islands in Europe - Hvar

-              Best cities in Europe - Hvar

-              Best hotels in Croatia - Sunčani Hvar Hotels, hotel Adriana

Voting is open until February 27, 2023, and there is an extra incentive of cash prizes of up to $15,000 cash, as well as a luxury cruise for two fo those who vote. 

You can take part by voting here. 

Think you know eveything about this amazing island, or looking to discover more about Hvar? Just as I knew nothing about the island when I moved there, so I was blown away by the incredible things I discovered living there. Put the beaches and nightlife to one side for the moment, and check out 10 things that blew my mind about Hvar after I bought a house there - I am confident that 90% of locals on the island will learn something about Hvar from this video. 


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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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



Sunday, 20 November 2022

'Dani Okusa' Opens as Zagreb County Showcases Its Gourmet Credentials

November 20, 2022 - Good things are happening in the food and wine scene in Zagreb County, with Dani Okusa (Days of Flavours) currently underway and offering a delightful introduction. 

One of the many joys of moving to Zagreb last year has been the chance to be able to explore Zagreb County in greater detail. It is a county which is often ignored, but as I quickly realised, one full of several surprises. Who would have thought, for example, that you do not have to go all the way to Istria to hunt for truffles - they are right there in the forests of Turopolje close to Velika Gorica and the airport, and they can be best experienced in the excellent Mon Ami restaurant in Velika Gorica. Want to see what a Zagreb truffle hunting experience is like? Check out our trip in Move Over Istria: the Rise of Zagreb Truffle Hunt Tourism.

The region's wines are also a surprise, most notably the Plesivica region, with its unique micro climate, the spakling wine capital of Croatia. These wines were best showcased in the recent promo video, Taste above All, which has been winning awards from Zagreb to Lisbon. You can see it above


And the publication earlier this year of the Gault&Millau guide to the restauants of Zagreb and surroundings put the spotlight on some of the excellent restaurants in the county for the first time in a guide in English. Check out the best restaurants in Zagreb County in Around Zagreb: Meet the Top 12 Gault & Millau Restaurants in Zagreb County.

November is an excellent month to explore, as it coincides with the annual Dani Okusa (Days of Flavour) event, which brings restauants from all over Croatia together into a project offering their specialities at promotional prices with fixed menus. The Zagreb County offering, which runs until November 28, was presented this week at the Zagreb County Tourist Board office in Zagreb to the media. 


The Zagreb County Tourist Board has presented the program of the third National Taste of Croatian Tradition Days, which will be held from November 18 to 28, 2022.

Angemahtec, wild boar risotto, dumplings, boiled buncek and stewed greens, baked štrukli, young roasted boar, garlic, venison stew, cream cheese, porcini soup, strudel, vineyard soup, Turopolska pig's cheeks are only a small part of the menu in nine restaurants from the area of ​​Zagreb County, holder of the Tastes of Traditions of the Zagreb Region standard, where the National Days of Tastes of Croatian Traditions are held from November 18 to 28 this year.

At reasonable prices, visitors will be able to enjoy two different menus of three courses at prices of HRK 115.00 (€15.26), HRK 125.00 (€16.59), HRK 155.00 (€20.57) and HRK 195.00 (€25.88).

The standard bearers of the Tastes of tradition in the Zagreb area are hospitality establishments: Vinogradarska kuća Braje (Jastrebarsko), Restaurant Samoborska klet (Samobor), Kos-Jurišić Wine Excursion (Sveti Ivan Zelina), Farmhouse Stara preša (Šenkovec), Restaurant Mon Ami (Velika Gorica). and Bistro Babriga (Velika Gorica), and this year Restaurant Ivančić (Jastrebarsko), Krčma "Gabreku 1929" (Samobor) and Izletište Suhina (Sveta Nedelja) joined this year, also holders of the Tastes of Tradition of Zagreb area standard.

"Considering that food and drink in the global tourism market is one of the main motives for travel, a great potential for exploiting synergies and planned development has been identified. Tourists want to get to know the local gastronomy and offer, and thus experience the destination," said Ivana Alilović, director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board, adding that "the Zagreb County Tourist Board is strengthening precisely through the synergy of all stakeholders in the tourism value chain through the third national project Days of Taste of Croatian Tradition developing the concept of food and drink, that is, the strategic approach adopted in the Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030."

By the way, the national Tastes of Croatian Tradition Days are jointly organized by the county tourism boards in cooperation with local restaurateurs, holders of the Tastes of Croatian Tradition standard, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. More than one hundred catering establishments from twelve different areas are included in the project.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from (November 20, 2022)

November 20, 2022 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency,, who present a selection of weekly job listings.

How hard is it to find a job in Croatia, and what is on offer?

We spoke to Ines Bokan, director of leading jobs site, who kindly took the time for this excellent interview overview.  

Ines has kindly agreed to work with us on a new weekly feature on TCN - a weekly selection of 10 job listings, as chosen by  Details and links to the job opportunities below in the latest edition of this feature.

Röhm GmbH is recruiting for the position of Senior Business Manager Molding Compounds (m/w/d). Place of work West Balkan/Balkan Region - Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade - Home Office. Send complete applications via this link by December 15th.

CCPORTER Sp. z o.o. is hiring an employee in the position of Sales Advisor with Croatian (m/f). The place of work is remote - work from home. Send complete applications via link by Nov 23th.

TRESCON Betriebsberatungsgesellschaft m.b.H. is hiring a person in the position of Software Engineer (m/f). Place of work Austria. Send complete applications via link by Dec 04th.

BHS Corrugated strojevi d.o.o. is hiring several positions in Varaždin: (Senior) Developer Control Systems (m/f); Hardwareplaner (m/w), Engineer / Technician (m/w/d) Automation; Software Engineer (m/w/d) IIoT Platform and a Cloud Frontend Developer form IIoT (m/f). Applications can be submitted until Nov 30th by clicking this link.

Dornier Seawings GmbH is looking for a Manufacturing Engineer (m/w/d). Place of work Weßling, Germany. Send applications via link until Dec 14th.

Next Step career network is looking for a Receptionist (m/f) in a luxury resort in Austria. The company offers paid vacation, yearly gross salary starting at 30.000€, 14 yearly salaries, full social benefits package, and much more! Apply here by Dec 7th.

Scalable Global Solutions d.d. is looking for an Application Engineer (m/f/d) in Zagreb! This might be a great opportunity for you if you have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, an independent and reliable way of working, and good communication and team skills. Apply here until Nov 30th.

Strabag BRVZ d.o.o. is hiring a Client Application Engineer – Windows Desktop, SCCM, Packaging (m/f/d) for work in Zagreb. In this position, you can expect diverse and responsible tasks in a challenging environment. Apply here by Dec 12th!

Pfizer Inc is hiring a Healthcare representative (m/f) in Zagreb. For all the details about the job requirements and benefits, click here! Applications can be submitted until Dec 9th.

Eumetsat is looking for a Ground Segment Systems Engineering Team Leader (m/f) based in Germany, in Darmstadt. They are offering an excellent salary, attractive pension, full medical coverage, and much more! All the info is available via this link, and you can apply until Dec 9th.


For more career options and job listings, visit


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


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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

Saturday, 19 November 2022

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners: 1st Promo in Zagreb

November 18, 2022 - The first public presentation of Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, took place at the Hocu Knjigu Megastore in Zagreb on Wednesday.

If you think living in Croatia is a challenge, try self-publishing a book. 

It is about 4 months since I started writing a series on LinkedIn called 20 Ways that Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, as I looked to improve my presence on that increasingly relevant platform. Around six weeks later, ably assisted by TCN Editor, Lauren Simmonds, a 256-page book to help foreigners understand the realities of life here, as well as providing lots of practical information about how to negotiate the daily grind, was born.

Writing the book, it turns out, is the easy part... 


It all started very well. Uploading to Amazon was simple, and within 24 hours we were in every Amazon store in the world - you can find the book here

After being let down at the last minute by a Croatian publisher, I decided to self-publish the book. I knew it would not be straightforward, but there was little alternative. And so my journey into the realities of self-publishing began, and I had to find solutions to a number of issues, such as a warehouse space of minimum 5m2 which passed technical inspections for water, electric and sewage. Did you know that you also need a warehouse fulfilling these conditions if you are selling a PDF?

My trusty suitcase carried a maximum of 70 books, and I was to be found wheeling it around the bookshops of Zagreb. The first big delivery was to the Hocu Knjigu Megastore, where Marketing Director Sanja Srdic Jungic has been a heroine from the moment I decided to write a book. A published author in her own right, Sanja guided and advised me through all stages of the publishing and distribution process, and I am very grateful for that. 


This included offering Lauren and I the opportunity to present the book in the Hocu Knjigu stores around the country, starting with the flagship megastore on Bogoviceva in Zagreb on Wednesday, followed by drinks at Swanky Monkey Garden on Ilica. It was a good turnout and discussion moderated by Sanja.

We will be staging several more book promotion events around the country in the coming weeks. Confirmed so far:

Sunday November 20, Split - Discover Croatia store on Narodni Trg in the Palace at 18:30, with drinks afterwards at Paradiso Bar.

Monday November 21, Zadar - Hocu Knjigu in Supernova Zadar at 18:30, with drinks afterwards in Kafic Twiga.

Wednesday November 23, Split - Hocu Knjigu in Joker Centre at 18:30, with drinks afterwards at The Flag Pub. 

Wednesday November 30, Zagreb - International Expats Meetup, powered by Kris at Hotel Dubrovnik (time TBA).

Tuesday December 6  - Osijek - details TBA

Tuesday December 7 - Vukovar - details TBA

We are also hoping to do events in Varazdin, Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik - we will publish details as we get them. 

Thank you for all your support so far. We have been delighted with the reaction, and you can read some of the Amazon reviews below.

If you would like to order the book online, you can do so here on Kindle and Amazon paperback

If you would like to order online in Croatia, you can do so here

The book is also available in book stores around the country at Hocu Knjigu, Skolska Knjiga and Ljevak. 








Friday, 18 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Taxes on Taxes, Drones and Spanish Royalty

This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from Spanish royalty visiting the country for the very first time to Milanovic insulting the foreign minister, missiles hitting Poland, complaints about taxes being put on taxes and still not actually knowing who dropped a drone on Zagreb back in March.

PM Andrej Plenkovic meets the Spanish king

Andrej Plenkovic met with the Spanish king during the very first visit of the Spanish royals to the Republic of Croatia this week. King Felipe VI of Spain and Plenkovic sat down to discuss economic cooperation, the ongoing energy crisis, migrant policies and Croatia's imminent entry into the Schengen area.

As stated, this was the Spanish royal couple's very first official visit to Croatia, and Plenkovic pointed out that the visit is "a pledge to further strengthen bilateral relations with Spain at all levels, with a special emphasis placed on on cultural, educational and scientific exchange".

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation on cooperation in the creation of the DONES Programme, which envisages a partnership between Croatia and Spain in fusion research.

"Projects like this are an opportunity for further cooperation between Croatian and Spanish companies in the high-tech and scientific sphere, they also represent the improvement of economic relations," the press release on the matter stated. Plenkovic was quick to thank King Felipe for Spain's ongoing support in Croatia's entry into Schengen, which is set to occur on the 1st of January, 2023, the same date on which Croatia will officially adopt the euro as its currency.

The pair also discussed current challenges such as the energy crisis caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine and the bloc's migrant policy, which requires a unique European response, as well as the role of the EU in Latin America and in the Western Balkans.

The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) claims the new tax which was proposed recently will further discriminate against certain companies and work to punish the most successful

''We're shocked by the government's proposal for a new profit tax because it's discriminatory and puts the most successful companies in Croatia at a disadvantage. This is actually the dishing out of a punishment to the most successful companies in this country, the companies that fill the state budget the most, employ the most people, pay the highest salaries and invest the most," said the Croatian Association of Employers, reacting to the introduction of the new profit tax.

"Companies operating here in Croatia don't have extra earnings, this year's profit barely covers losses from previous years, and it's completely unclear as to why the government is doing this. Ahead of us lies a crisis and recession, the depth of which we don't yet know. What we know is that Croatian companies are cancelling orders left, right and centre and that now we need the strength to survive the recession and let people keep their jobs," they warned from HUP.

"This is a proposal to introduce a tax on taxes, which will certainly stop investment in development, which means that there will be no new jobs or salary growth, and we're once again becoming an unsafe country for business and looking unattractive to investors. Along with Hungary, we're the only country that spreads the tax across the entire economy instead of, as prescribed by the European Commission Regulation, keeping it exclusively to the energy sector, which made an unexpected profit thanks to market disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine," announced HUP.

"HUP cannot support the unjustified discrimination of large companies that this proposal brings. On top of that, this tax cannot be introduced retroactively for the year 2022, when investment and employment plans have already been implemented. This proposal will unjustifiably penalise the most successful Croatian companies, the best employers and the largest investors who and they pay the most into the state budget," said Irena Weber, CEO of HUP.

Instead of introducing yet more new taxes, HUP very concretely advocates a full tax reform and stronger work relief through an increase in the personal tax deduction and a reduction in income tax rates. This is the way to strengthen the economy, attract new investments, increase wages and create new jobs, according to them.

Milanovic and King Felipe talk politics while their wives talk healthcare and the prevention of obesity in children

King Felipe VI of Spain and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic are both satisfied with the bilateral relations between the two European countries, while their wives emphasised the importance of preventing obesity in children for preserving the health of the entire population, according to the press releases published after their meetings in Pantovcak.

The Spanish king was on a two-day official visit to the Republic of Croatia together with Queen Letizia, and after the ceremonial reception at Pantovcak, President Milanovic and his wife Sanja Music Milanovic spoke with the royal pair. The Spanish king and the Croatian president both stated that they are satisfied with the bilateral relations between Croatia and Spain, which are two friendly and allied countries, members of the European Union and NATO.

King Felipe and Milanovic also referred to the close scientific cooperation between the two countries, which is particularly marked by the joint partnership in the aforementioned DONES programme, which the Spanish king also discussed at length with Plenkovic.

The meeting also discussed current European and global topics, including the security crisis in Eastern Europe caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine, while their wives discussed the importance of preventing obesity in children.

Sanja Music Milanovic and Queen Letizia of Spain separately discussed innovative approaches to obesity prevention in children in Croatia, Spain and the entire continent. The importance of obesity prevention in children for preserving the health of the entire population was emphasised and the importance of a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention through a multisectoral set of interventions aimed at all periods of life was emphasised, the press release on the topic stated.

Music Milanovic presented the professional and scientific activities she carries out in this area in Croatia and Europe and announced the upcoming inaugural summit of the spouses of European leaders on the topic of childhood obesity prevention across Europe, which she will jointly organise with the European Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The King and Queen of Spain were, as stated, on their very first official visit to Croatia during the year which marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Croatia and Spain, all with the aim of confirming exceptionally good bilateral relations and providing incentives for their further development.

Croatian authorities still don't know who launched the six-tonne drone which hit Zagreb eight months ago

As news broke about an alleged Russian missile having crossed over into Polish territory, killing two people, our memories return to the drone which struck Zagreb eight months ago. It turns out that the powers that be still have no idea who launched the mysterious drone which crash landed and ended up in pieces. 

The Russians are still claiming that the drone which struck Poland had nothing to do with them, saying all those who are claiming it to be Russian are just trying to provoke. Still, we were all shocked and we went from speculating about a Russian attack on Poland, a NATO country, to thinking about the possibility of a third world war to, what is now increasingly likely, finding out that the missile was in fact Ukrainian.

As a reminder, two people were killed after, as Polish authorities then said, a "Russian-made projectile" fell near the village of Przewodow, about 6.4 kilometres west of the Polish-Ukrainian border, around the same time that Moscow forces launched their largest wave of missile attacks on multiple Ukrainian cities in more than a month.

The circumstances of the incident, including information about who fired the missile and from where it was fired, were unknown, which caused possible speculation about Russian involvement in the event and expectations of NATO's next step following the apparent striking of Poland, a NATO member state. But according to US officials, initial findings suggest that the missile that hit Poland was actually fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile.

Three officials told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that the Ukrainians were trying to defend themselves against Russian fire aimed at their electrical infrastructure. This is the event that reminded us of the incident that happened on March the 10th right here in Zagreb, just two weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Then, a strange Soviet-made Tu-141 unmanned aircraft crashed in Zagreb near the "Stjepan Radic" student dormitory. During the fall, the unmanned aircraft crashed into the ground, leaving a crater behind it.

The circumstances behind it all are still unclear, so Index asked DORH recently if it had ever actually been established who had sent that drone into Croatian territory.

"On April the 13th, 2022, the County State Attorney's Office (DORH) in Zagreb, in the presence of experts, held a press conference where they reported on the results of the investigation related to the crash of the drone.

''At the aforementioned press conference, it was stated that the answers to the questions about where the [unmanned] aircraft came from and whose aircraft it was are under the jurisdiction of other bodies, and not under the jurisdiction of the State Attorney's Office," the answer reads. As for the press conference that DORH mentions in the answer, it was said that the drone had Ukrainian colours on it, but also that it was carrying a bomb. "It was undoubtedly established that it was fragments of an OFAB 100-120 aerial bomb," Major Mile Tomic said in a DORH press release back in April, adding that a lighter was also found.

"During the impact, an explosive device did explode, as was evidenced by the creation of a large crater, the scattering of earth and stones, the ejection of fragments from the crater, as well as traces of tearing and hardening of the metal parts of the bomb," said Ivana Bacic, a chief fire and explosion expert.

"The original aerial bomb should contain 40 to 46 kilos of TNT military explosive, which would be characterised by blackening," Bacic noted.

The Zagreb drone incident could therefore have had horrendous consequences, and yet it seems we're none the wiser. By sheer luck, a real tragedy was avoided. When people say the word 'drone', to many people it sounds like a plastic toy or indeed a type of worker bee, but in this case we're dealing with something that weighs six tonnes and was carrying an explosive on it. It fell in the immediate vicinity of the student dormitory and what could have happened doesn't bear thinking about. In spite of all of that, it is still not known who the drone belonged to, how it was launched, or and why.

Back at that time, the drone event stimulated two debates. First, the question arose as to how much protection NATO provides to Croatia in general.

Before entering Croatian territory, the drone flew over two NATO member states, Hungary and Romania, only to crash in the third NATO member state, Croatia, after seven minutes of flight. In those seven minutes, no one reacted, neither the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia nor the Directorate of Civil Protection. NATO did nothing either, and all that lack of action in the then very fresh situation of the shocking Russian invasion of Ukraine and the outbreak of war here in Europe once again.

"NATO's integrated air and anti-missile defense followed the flight path of the object that subsequently crashed in Zagreb. The Croatian authorities have announced that they are investigating this incident," said a NATO official at the time.

Second, in parallel with the investigation, there was a debate about whether the drone really had a bomb on it or not. Defense Minister Mario Banozic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic claimed that there was an explosive device in the drone, while a number of experts disputed this. President Zoran Milanovic was also skeptical about the presence of a bomb in the drone, and he was quick to reproach Plenkovic and Banozic for stoking fears.

Even NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg entered the discussion about the explosive device on the drone, and he stated at a press conference that the drone was unarmed. After that, another press conference was called by Prime Minister Plenkovic, who denied his claim, along the way showing photos of parts of the drone that he said belonged to the bomb.

As stated, despite the severity of this incident and all of the potential reasons behind it which are extremely concerning to think about given Russia's actions and the ongoing war over in Ukraine, nobody seems much more in the know then they were back on March the 10th.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman says that we will not be training Ukrainian soldiers on Croatian territory

If you recall, Zoran Milanovic was among the loudest in his opposition to this idea, and it seems he is far from alone in his thoughts that supporting Ukraine should be as far as Croatia goes, as we don't want to bring the war to our doorstep. 

"I'm absolutely not going to give my consent. Grlic Radman went to Brussels without my prior consent. There are enough of Plenkovic's mini ministers going up to Brussels without the prior consent of the commander-in-chief, and it isn't going to carry on that way. Grlic Radman is nobody and nothing, Plenkovic is actually important here, but he went and pushed himself to the front row like a dumb nerd,"  Milanovic said about the Minister of Foreign Affairs, once again using another opportunity to sling mud and throw insults around.

Grlic Radman also said later today that there will be no training of Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, and he remained polite and professional in his wording.

"What Croatia can offer, it will offer. Is it the training of Ukrainian soldiers on our territory? No, no it isn't, it will be on the territory of some other EU member states that have offered. However, the countries in which that might take place still haven't been determined,'' Grlic Radman said in an interview with RTL Danas/Today.


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

Friday, 18 November 2022

Novi Vinodolski Flooding Raises Cause for Concern

November the 18th, 2022 - Novi Vinodolski flooding is causing cause for concern among many, and although the Republic of Croatia, at least in some parts, is no stranger to floods, the sheer level of rainfall which has caused this was unexpected.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it has been raining fairly heavily and continuously since the early morning hours in parts of the country, and in some locations this has been accompanied by thunder and other stormy weather. A huge amount of precipitation fell on Novi Vinodolski, where some roads were closed, and now Novi Vinodolski flooding is another issue for residents.

In some places, the water is knee-deep.

For more, keep up with our news section.

Friday, 18 November 2022

City of Split to Co-Finance Medically Assisted Reproduction

November the 18th, 2022 - The City of Split is set to co-finance medically assisted reproduction in order to attempt to raise the birthrate in that part of Central Dalmatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the City of Split will co-finance medically assisted fertilisation from 2023 onwards, writes Vecernji list, stating that such a pronatal measure has already been introduced by the Eastern Croatian city of Osijek, as well as by the municipality of Gradac in the Makarska littoral.

Many couples try to become parents even after several failed fertility procedures, when they no longer have the right to the procedure of medically assisted reproduction at the expense of the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance, which is a big blow to any normal bank account, so, in an effort to improve the devastating demographic trends in Dalmatia, the city will cover part of the costs of such interventions.

When it comes to demographics in the city and the wider area, the situation is truly alarming. Split has lost 10,100 inhabitants in the last ten years along, and as for the ratio of births and deaths, in the same period, about 3,000 more people died were born.

''We've agreed with Mayor Ivica Puljak that from 2023 on, the City of Split will receive a fund for subsidising medically assisted reproduction. The fund will amount to 600,000 kuna. We will further harmonise the regulations with the mayor before announcing the tender. Otherwise, HZZO covers the costs of four procedures, for women up to 42 years of age. I propose that the City of Split co-finance procedures for women living in Split until the age of 44 or 45, but also to co-finance procedures for couples who have already used all of the procedures financially covered by HZZO, of which there are unfortunately many,'' said Davor Matijevic, a Split city councilor from SDP.

He explained that HZZO pays out in full for four procedures if they are performed at KBC Split (Split Hospital). If those procedures either don't work or result in loss, people seeking such treatments then have to pay for them alone, which is either incredibly difficult or in some cases simply not possible.

For the additional three procedures, the City of Split will co-finance 80 percent of the total costs if the procedure is performed at Split Hospital, 60 percent if the procedure is performed in one of the private institutions in the wider area, and 40 percent (up to 7,500 kuna) for procedures performed in another healthcare institution located on the territory of the Republic of Croatia or even in another European Union member state.

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

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