Sunday, 13 November 2022

Croatian Bureaucracy - A Love Affair: Mission Prison Impossible, the Review

November 13, 2022 - Ines Vuckovic Dizdar, a 39-year-old woman from the eastern Croatian village of Petrijevci, went to the Osijek prison to serve her three-day prison sentence but could not get in. Her friends threw her a farewell party, and she packed her suitcase and left her children with her ex-husband to finally return home on the same day. Ines left a detailed review of the Croatian prison system and her bizarre experience in the Ženski RecenziRAJ Facebook group (female reviews group). Her brilliant review was shared hundreds of times.

As Jutarnji writes, Ines was supposed to go to prison because she had accumulated fines for driving without a driver's license. When she finally did all the required hours in the driving school and passed the driving test, she went to pick up her driving license with her certificate. She found out she could not get her driver's license due to unpaid fines. So she went to the prison in July 2018 but was not provided a spot there due to overcrowding.

"I am a child from the village, I have driven a tractor since I was little, and I also learned to drive a car. It's normal there. I needed a means of transport to deliver products from the farm", said Ines, who owns a business making natural products. When she went to pick up her driver's license, the clerk told her that she thought she had seen everything and nothing could surprise her, but Ines had proven her wrong. She told Ines that it was a shame she couldn't obtain her driver's license since her photo turned out so well. "I didn't have the money to pay the fine, and the statute of limitations would only kick in after three years. I decided to do community service to pay it off, and I was tasked with washing bus stops and cleaning the town hall that was being built at the time. A job is a job; I preferred to do that rather than pay a fine", said Ines. Bus stops were often plastered with posters with adhesive coating, making removal even more difficult. Ines called a friend who sprayed them with chemicals and saved herself the trouble of scrubbing and peeling. She treated him to beer and ćevapi, but she doesn't consider it "cheating."

"My eldest daughter brought me "worker's sandwiches," and I had coffee breaks. My friends were worried about how I would feel about cleaning the bus stops because there are always those who enjoy seeing you down and making fun of you, but it wasn't a problem for me at all", says Ines. While doing community service, she paid some of the fines in installments and kept driving using her test certificate. With two installments left to pay off the fine, she was stopped by the police again. She earned a new ticket for operating a motor vehicle before becoming eligible for that and ended up in court.

"The judge was not interested in whether I passed my driving test. She nervously yelled at me to show her the driver's license, showing me hers and explaining that it had to look like that. I told her I didn't have one while looking out the window to see if I would get another fine, considering that the hearing took longer than expected", said Ines. She was sentenced to a fine of three thousand kunas, followed by three days in prison. The judge immediately warned her that it would be difficult to get into prison and mocked her as she said. "I saw it was not worth wasting my energy; the judge had some personal issues. I even wanted to hug her. It wasn't clear why she was sending me to prison in the first place when she knew I wouldn't get in", Ines recalls.

She paid the fine and tried to get her driver's license. The officer told her that she could not get a driver's license until she served three days in prison and added that the prison was full and would not accept her. She advised her to wait three years for the period of limitations to expire and then pick up her license. She immediately remembered the judge's laugh when she was sentenced to three days in prison. "I was weighing out the probability of being stopped by the police because I had to keep working and providing treatment for my sick child. I decided to serve those three days because there was no way I wouldn't be stopped in the next three years. I made an appointment with the judge", she said. She explained to the judge that she had to transport apples and dried meat to the coast and that there was a chance that she would be fined again. She begged to be sent to serve a sentence of three days in prison because she had no other way to get her driver's license.

"She looked at me in wonder over her glasses. She said that she was 56 years old and that this was the first time someone was not asking for a delay but wanted to go to prison. We both started laughing", Ines recalls. She decided to write her a referral for prison, and one of the days she was supposed to spend in prison fell on her birthday. "I was delighted and commented that I would tell my grandchildren that I spent my birthday in prison. The judge said it was not right and that she would change the dates. She entered some dates, and that was it", said the future prisoner.

The judge explained to her that there would be a problem if she got stuck in prison for the weekend because there would be a possibility that she would have to stay longer than prescribed. She was given a list of what she was allowed to bring into the prison. "The list included hygiene items that must be in transparent packaging, medicines if necessary, trousers and shoes without laces, while bras, wires, and tapes are prohibited," said Ines. She thanked the judge and started looking for a connection to break into the prison. She asked if anyone knew a guard or anyone to help her break into the prison.

"I found out that the manager was a soldier. I called my ex-husband, a colonel, to see if he knew him. They asked him what had happened to put me in prison", said Ines. Her friends threw her a party before going to prison, they teased her for days, and then advice started pouring in from all sides.

"My mom acted like I was going to a Paraguayan prison, like from the Prison Break series. She warned me not to brag and not to mess with anyone. She assured me that the state would punish those guilty, and God would judge them", Ines recalled.

The mother of four was showered with advice from her children. She tried to turn everything into a joke to make it easier for them to get through that period. She joked that she would come back with a tattoo and visible abs.

"My eldest daughter Mirna said that the prisoners would be sorry when I got out of prison, and Doris told me that she bet I would click with a prisoner and remain friends forever. My son Šimun told me not to adopt another child, while youngest daughter Tessa asked if I would stay for a long time because she would rather be with me than with her father", said Ines.

To minimise her baggage for three days, she took a shower in the morning because she decided she would not shower in prison. "I put on a cotton top, two pairs of underpants, tights, and flip-flops because it was written that I had to have slippers without laces and buckles. I took a transparent toothpaste, a toothbrush, an ID card, five hundred kunas to put on the canteen card, put a towel on my shoulder, and was on my way", Ines explained. She handed the children to her ex-husband and arrived in front of the Osijek prison in flip-flops with a towel on her shoulder.

"I came to the doorman and hoped I could do my three days. I submitted the paperwork, and soon the deputy director appeared and told me there was no room. I tried to explain that if I didn't get my driver's license, I would have to keep cleaning bus stops until I retire", Ines said.

The director told her that two cells had to remain empty due to domestic violence emergencies and investigations, and priority was given to those with sentences longer than 14 days. The Osijek prison only has one women's wing, which was fully occupied. She asked if he would admit domestic violence to her if she had a little quarrel with her ex-husband.

"The deputy came back after about 15 minutes because he had found me a place in the detention centre. They didn't give it to me in the end so that I wouldn't sue them in the human rights court. Finally, they gave me written confirmation that I came to serve the sentence of my own free will and that the system did not allow me to do so. He said that even the judge called to help me get in", added Ines.

She went to have coffee and then to get her driver's license, which she was finally able to obtain.

"When people pass their driving test, they first tell their family and friends, and I told the police first. My father used to tease me that he was saving for my brother's education and my bail", said Ines.

Last year, the period of limitations finally expired, and now she no longer has to fear going to prison and serving a sentence.

Jutarnji asked the Ministry of Justice and Administration about this particular case and published the reply:

"Persons deprived of liberty are admitted to the prison system based on the decision of the competent court. When the competent court orders pre-trial detention or orders a person to serve a prison sentence based on a final judgment, the same person is sent to and admitted to a penitentiary or prison in accordance with the court's decision. Regarding your inquiry about the "order for serving a sentence for criminal offenses," we point out that persons deprived of their liberty are sent to the prison system exclusively based on clearly prescribed legal provisions that do not know the institution of "waiting."

Convicted persons are sent to serve prison sentences based on the decision of the execution judge who is competent to send them to serve prison sentences. We emphasize that the fundamental task of the prison system is to protect society from criminals. Anyone who poses a threat to an individual, organisation, or the legal order of the Republic of Croatia, and who has committed a misdemeanor or a criminal offense for which a prison sentence is prescribed, or who, by the Law, can or should be sentenced to pre-trial detention, may be sent to the prison system.

The prison system of the Republic of Croatia will receive all persons who have been deprived of their liberty by court decisions.

When it comes to the capacities of the prison system, the Ministry of Justice and Administration is implementing a series of measures to expand the capacities. In the last three years, the capacities of the Prison in Bjelovar and the Penitentiary in Požega were renovated and expanded, parts of the Prison in Osijek were renovated, and the closed facilities of the Prison in Požega were expanded, which increased the total capacity by about 120 places.

Works are underway in Požega and Lipovica, which will provide additional capacities of closed conditions for 230 places, relieving the prisons in Osijek and Zagreb.

The Ministry of Justice and Administration has introduced electronic monitoring for parole, and the preparation of the Rulebook on the method of execution of pretrial detention in the home with the use of electronic monitoring is underway, which will further relieve the capacities of criminal authorities, says the response of the Ministry of Justice and Administration.

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

 

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from Posao.hr (November 13, 2022)

November 13, 2022 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency, Posao.hr, 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 Posao.hr, 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 Posao.hr.  Details and links to the job opportunities below in the latest edition of this feature.

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.

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.

Geolux d.o.o. is hiring a Junior Sales Engineer (m/f) in Zagreb. The company is offering a competitive salary depending on your skill set, flexible working hours, a great and experienced team, annual and significant life event bonuses, and more! Apply via this link until Nov 21st.

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.

Gi Group Staffing Solutions is hiring a Sales Representative (m/f) for their client Mecalux in Slovenia. The company is offering a chance to work in an international group, opportunities to develop new skills and advance your career. Apply by Nov 21st via this link.

Astellas is hiring a Key Account Manager (m/f) in the Split-Dalmatia county. They are offering a permanent position with an exciting opportunity for a pharmaceutical KAM to join their Croatian team! Apply here until Nov 18th.

CC Porter Sp. z.o.o. is hiring a Telesales Manager (m/f) for remote work. The company is offering a competitive basic salary and bonus system, subsidy to private healthcare and sport card, remote work with all the necessary tools provided, and more! Apply here until Dec 9th.

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For more career options and job listings, visit posao.hr.

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

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Saturday, 12 November 2022

Success of Modern Methods of Cancer Treatment in Croatia

November 12, 2022 - Private healthcare in Croatia is increasingly focused on treating malignant diseases. Some modern methods of cancer treatment are already proving successful.

As Poslovni writes, the expert team of the Special Hospital Radiochirurgia Zagreb has so far had the opportunity to treat more than seven thousand patients and has analysed more than ninety thousand cases, among which all forms of cancer were represented. Lung, liver, and prostate cancers were the most common types. These figures and the latest cancer treatment achievements were presented at the 8th Croatian Surgical Congress with international activities. As part of the Congress, surgeons from leading hospitals in Heidelberg, Dallas, Tel Aviv, Athens, Liege, Basel, Ljubljana, Maribor, Belgrade, and Zagreb visited Radiochirurgia Zagreb Special Hospital in Sveta Nedelja.

"In six years of operation, Radiochirurgia Zagreb has grown into one of the leading regional and European cancer treatment centers. Using the linear accelerator Varian Edge and CyberKnife S7, which enables the treatment of cancer with the help of artificial intelligence, as well as a superbly equipped oncological-surgical theatre, the expert team of Radiochirurgia Zagreb was the first to introduce modern adaptive-hybrid surgery into practice in this part of Europe, which, in cases where it is indicated, combines classic surgery with radiosurgery and interventional radiology", they point out from the institution headed by Dragan Schwartz.

What the expert team of the Special Hospital is most proud of are the results of the treatment of pancreatic cancer, which they treated in the last five years in 340 patients, 120 of whom were diagnosed with an inoperable locally advanced form, where the survival rate for 50 percent of patients was longer than two years and 13 percent longer than four years. According to available data, this is currently the longest survival rate for this form of cancer worldwide.

At Radiochirurgia Zagreb, they believe that the hybrid approach to treatment will become more and more common in practice, and concrete cooperation with several leading institutions was also agreed upon at the congress.

Private healthcare in Croatia is increasingly focused on treating malignant diseases - this is confirmed by the announcement of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's (UPMC) investment of around 15 million euros in Zabok, based on a cooperation agreement with the St. Catherine's Special Hospital. As announced this week, the establishment of the new Center for the Treatment of Malignant Diseases in Zabok will provide Croatian patients with diagnostic and therapeutic services fully equivalent to those in the USA, in accordance with the current prices of the HZZO.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Split Maritime Studies Faculty Partakes in Annual IAMU

November the 12th, 2022 - The Split Maritime Studies Faculty partook in the 22nd Annual General Assembly of the International Association of Maritime Universities in Georgia.

As Morski writes, this year, the International Association of Maritime Schools (IAMU) held its 22nd Annual General Assembly (AGA) in the city of Batumi, Georgia, from October the 19th to the 22nd, 2022, where experts and official representatives in the field discussed progress and future trends in maritime education, training and research.

The IAMU is an advisory body of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and includes 70 members, including the Nippon Foundation from Japan and the World Maritime University (WMU) from Sweden, which was founded by the IMO.

The Split Maritime Studies Faculty is an active member of the aforementioned international organisation, and representatives, the vice dean for science prof. Ph.D. Merica Sliskovic, and vice dean for development and international cooperation assistant. Ph.D. Marko Katalinic, also participated in the work of the assembly. Presentations were given by some of those from Split University.

Among abstracts submitted from 22 different countries and 35 IAMU universities, the scientific work of a Ph.D. student of the Split Maritime Studies Faculty, Maja Covic, called "Preventing pollution of Adriatic Sea: Oil spill trajectory model using Pisces II scenarios and effects of incident on marine environment using multiple regression" was presented, focusing on Kastela Bay.

Scientific papers have been published in IAMU Proceedings, and extended papers will be submitted to the prestigious scientific journal Journal of Maritime Affairs (JOMA) of the World Maritime University (WMU). The next IAMU conference will be held in Helsinki, Finland, which will continue to work on the development of international cooperation in scientific research potential.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Couple Missing, They Were on Their Way from Split to the Netherlands

November 12, 2022 - Tina Smoljo and Tonino Raic disappeared after they left for the Netherlands by car last Saturday. Their families have not heard from them since Monday, which is why they were reported missing. The Ministry of the Interior published information about the young couple missing on the Nestali.hr website.

Nestali.hr personal information on Tina Smoljo

Tina is a 22-year-old girl, and she is 165 cm tall. Her disappearance is being investigated by the PU Split-Dalmatia, and the date of her disappearance is listed as November 6.

Nestali.hr personal information on Tonino Raic

Tonino is a young man between 175 and 180 centimeters tall and of medium build. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing black sweatpants and a black and red T-shirt, and he has brown hair and brown eyes.

As Index writes, they left in Tonino's black BMW on Saturday, while every trace of them was lost on Monday, November 7, when they last contacted their families.

According to Vecernji, the two of them are in a relationship, and they were going to Rotterdam, where Tonino allegedly had a job waiting for him. Allegedly, an acquaintance from Solin was also with them, but his disappearance has not yet been reported. They also took Tonino's dog (in his arms in the picture published by Vecernji).

"The only reliable information is that they crossed the Slovenian border. We received the last WhatsApp message on Monday at 5:26 a.m. that they would call from a new number as soon as they replaced the card. From then until today, we have not heard anything," a member of Tonino Raic's family told Večernji. He is asking all those who might have information about the young couple missing to contact the police.

If you have seen Tina Smoljo and/or Tonino Raic, please inform the nearest police station or call 192. Any information can also be shared via the e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Croatian Agricultural Products as Much as 22% More Expensive

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian agricultural products are as much as 22 percent more expensive as inflation continues to bite and the costs of raw materials just keep on increasing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the average producer prices of Croatian agricultural products in the second quarter of this year increased by a considerable 22.1 percent when compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

The prices of vegetable products increased by 22.7 percent, and livestock, poultry and livestock products by 21.3 percent. The increase in prices of plant products was achieved in all groups of plant products, except for the group of fruits, in which prices fell by 8.1 percent.

The increase in prices of plant products in general was mostly influenced by the increase in prices in the groups of cereals (by 65.1 percent), vegetables (by 30.4 percent) and wine (by 9.2 percent).

In the group of products that have the largest share in animal husbandry compared to the same quarter of 2021, prices are much higher. For cattle, there has been a price increase of 28.6 percent, for pigs, there has been an increase of 19.5 percent, for milk - 18.4 percent, and eggs - 42.5 percent. Prices have also increased in other groups in animal husbandry.

The prices of goods and services for current use in the second quarter of this year when it comes to Croatian agricultural products compared to the same period last year increased by a very significant 50.1 percent, and this growth was mostly influenced by the increase in the prices of energy, fertilisers and animal feed.

As such, the prices of energy increased by 90.7 percent, fertilisers by 189.9 percent and animal feed by 27.5 percent. The prices of seeds and planting material also increased, by 17.9 percent, hitting the pockets not only of the farmers but of the end consumers quite hard.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Croatian Euro Coins You Can Buy As Of December 2022

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian euro coins will be available for purchase as of the 1st of December, 2022, but won't be legal tender until the first day of 2023.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the production of Croatian euro coins in preparation for the country's entry into the Eurozone started this summer, and by the end of the year, all the quantities planned for this year will finally have been minted. These quantities will be used, among other things, for packaging in so-called initial packages of Croatian euro coins for both individuals and businesses to purchase.

People will be able to get their hands on these initial packages of brand new Croatian euro coins from banks, FINA and post offices from December the 1st this year, with the Croatian National Bank (CNB) also publishing a picture of that initial package.

The initial packages of Croatian euro coins for citizens will be packed in small plastic bags containing 33 euro coins worth 13.28 euros in total. People will be able to purchase a maximum of two bags per transaction, and a total of 1.2 million pieces will be made available for these needs.

What about ATMs?

With the introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency scheduled for January the 1st next year, ATMs will allow people to withdraw 10 or 20 euro banknotes, and requested amounts such as 50 and 100 euros will be paid out in those same 10 and 20 euro banknotes, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) revealed.

From January the 1st next year, dual circulation of both kuna and euros will remain in effect for two weeks, during which time change from payments made in either euros or kuna when buying groceries in stores will be returned to customers solely in euros.

In the period from December the 15th to the 31st, 2022, free kuna withdrawals will be introduced at all and any ATMs across the country. This will be maintained until January the 15th, 2023, in order not to have a negative impact on the availability of cash in kuna, they stated from the Croatian National Bank.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Croatian Schengen Entry Provides Room for Domestic Economic Boost

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian Schengen entry which is set to take place on the same date as Eurozone accession (on the 1st of January, 2023) was given the green light by the European Parliament very recently. It is set to give the domestic economy a much needed boost.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes with the convincing support of the European Parliament, Croatian Schengen entry is now another significant step closer, and the final green light for the complete abolition of border crossings between Croatia and the rest of the European Union should be given by the Council of the EU at the beginning of December.

If it achieves this goal along with Eurozone accession, Croatia will further deepen its integration into the bloc and facilitate business and trade with European Union markets at the beginning of next year. It also all represents a very strong political message from the powers that be in Brussels.

At the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, Croatian Schengen entry was formally supported by a large majority. Of the 612 parliamentarians who voted for the draft decision of the EU Council, 534 voted for, 53 against, with 25 abstentions.

"Schengen has been waiting for Croatia. The Croatian people have been waiting for Schengen and now that moment has finally arrived," said the Parliament's reporter for Croatia's entry into Schengen, Paolo Rangel.

"Combined with the entry into the monetary union, this is going to represent a positive shock for the economy. The monetary union is not just a replacement of a country's currency, as is unfortunately often emphasised in the Government's own campaign, but an entry into a new institutional framework that gives investors a clear signal that we're now part of a unique space, significantly more complex than it was in previous crises. The differences between Croatia, Austria and Slovenia will be based on other factors in the future, such as logistical ones, and Croatian Schengen entry removes logistical obstacles," explained economist Damir Novotny, adding that, for example, a potential investor can now weigh up their investments, counting on the fact that there will be no more waiting at the border and related costs.

The report of the European Parliament, which previously passed the committees so that the final vote can actually be a formality, stated that all of the criteria have now been met and that there are no obstacles to Croatia becoming a full member of the Schengen area which is totally devoid of internal (passport) controls.

It is important to note that the role of the European Parliament regarding the issue of Schengen expansion is advisory in nature and not binding, but it is an indispensable step of the procedure that requires EU member states to request the opinion of the Parliament.

After meeting the technical conditions and the recommendation of the EP, the final decision is political and will be made by the 22 EU member states that make up the Schengen area, which is expected to happen at the session on December the 9th, 2022.

The fact that the ticket to the club of member states of the European Union without borders comes despite criticism of the behaviour of the Croatian police at the borders towards migrants and illegal "push backs", and illustrates the strength of political support for Europe in the face of the war in Ukraine.

Videos brought to light by the journalist organisation Lighthouse have showcased beatings and mistreatment of migrants on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina by Croatian police. This and similar reports apparently caused consternation, but the Schengen accession process was not seriously shaken by any of it.

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

Friday, 11 November 2022

New Turkish Owners of Petrokemija, a Troubled Croatian Fertilizer Company

November 11, 2022 - After two years of speculation, gossip and due diligence, on Thursday it was finally confirmed that the Turkish conglomerate Yildirim will buy a majority stake in Petrokemija

The only major Croatian petrochemical company produces mineral fertilizers, at such a rate that their production consumes a fifth of the total amount of gas consumed in Croatia. The Turkish company took over the Terra mineral fertilizers company from its previous owners, INA and PPD. That company owns 54 per cent of Petrokemija's shares. How much Ina and PPD earned from the sale to the Turks was not made public.

It was not easy sailing for the Petrokemija companies even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started the global energy crisis. Just three months ago, the CEO of Petrokemija Davor Žmegač told Bloomberg TV that the problems started since the earthquake, the supply chain crisis and the increase in gas prices, and that it is not economically profitable for them to do business at all because their monthly gas bills reach one hundred million euros.

How the new Turkish owners will deal with all of these problems remains to be seen. Local farmers will wait to see if they're still able to count on the fertilizers produced domestically, without which there is no sowing or harvest. The good news is that Yildirim has a rich experience in everything the Kutina company might need at this point.

Although Petrokemija operates with an annual income of around 300 million euros and has 1,250 employees, it will be only a small part of Yildirim Holding, whose annual income is reported to be around two billion euros and employs more than 16,000 people. Yildirim has companies operating in various industries, where the most profitable ones are mining, ports, petrochemicals, logistics and energy. The company was founded in 1963 as a construction business by Garip Yildirim, but has been the fastest-growing Turkish industrial group since 2005. Its current owners are the sons of Garip Yildirim, Ali Riza and Robert, who entered international trade outside the borders of Turkey in 1993 by importing coal from Russia. 15 years ago, they made their first foreign acquisition by taking over the metals company Vargön Alloys in Sweden, and today they have companies in 53 countries on five continents. 

Their annual production capacity of all types of fertilizers exceeds two million tons, and Petrokemija produced one million tons of fertilizer in 2020. Given that Petrokemija's production capacity is respectable compared to that of the Turkish owner, serious investments in Kutina and the continuation of operations can be expected. We will soon see what the first steps of the Turkish owners will be and how the integration into the Yildirim group will proceed, but Petrokemija could be on the verge of a renaissance, especially if its plants are able to get some cheap gas, which is probably something new owners have already looked at, and which might be an ace up their sleeve.

Friday, 11 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Fortenova, Foster Parents and Schengen

November the 11th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from still apparently not really knowing what's going on with Sberbank's shares in Fortenova and talk of the alleged Croatian desire to squash corruption, to more cash for foster parents, a blast from the past with COVID-19 and of course, Croatia's Schengen approval.

The Croatian Government is seeking additional financial help from the European Union following the coronavirus pandemic

With the utterly dire situation being faced by Ukraine following Russian invasion early this year and inflation causing us to have to dig deeper and deeper to make ends meet, the global coronavirus pandemic which rocked the world in 2020 almost seems like a distant memory. The government however is still working on patching up the enormous holes it left in the state budget and now wants additional financial help from the powers that be in Brussels.

Assistance in the amount of 550 million euros from the SURE instrument will be sought by the Croatian Government, and with the decision it recently made on that, it also obliged state-owned companies to pay 60 percent of last year's net profit into the state budget for the year 2022.

Taking into account the increase in public expenditures by 2.2 billion euros from February the 1st, 2020 to the end of April, 2022 due to national measures taken to address the socioeconomic consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia decided to request additional financial assistance from the SURE Instrument in the amount of 550 million euros, stated Finance Minister Marko Primorac, noting that the SURE Instrument (a European Union instrument for the issuing of temporary support to reduce the risk of unemployment in an emergency situation) provides extremely favourable financing conditions.

He also stated that on October the 25th, 2022, the Council of the EU adopted an amendment to the Implementing Decision of the Council, which approved Croatia's request for additional financial assistance to be paid out in the amount of 550 million euros.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi says there is a will to stamp out corruption in Croatia

Laura Codruta Kovesi stated that corruption can unfortunately be found absolutely everywhere and there are no "clean" countries anywhere in Europe. She added that Croatia is showing its willingness to uncover and investigate criminal acts that harm the financial interests of the European Union.

"There's a myth that I would like to dispel today. If Croatia or Bulgaria or Romania have more cases of corruption that come to light than some other EU member state, it doesn't mean that these countries are more corrupt than others. There is no 'clean' country in Europe. Corruption is everywhere," said Europe's chief prosecutor.

"Here in Croatia, I see the will to uncover these criminal acts, to investigate them, and I think that is very important because when we talk about corruption and the fight against financial fraud, how the authorities position themselves is very important. If they sweep everything under the rug and don't uncover any cases, it doesn't mean that things are clean. I think the number of cases shows that there is political will... And that everyone is doing an excellent job," she pointed out.

She said that all cases are equally important, whether they involve ministers or ordinary people, because everyone is equal before the law and investigations into corruption are conducted in the same way. More than 1,200 cases of corruption are now under investigation by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), but she said she couldn't talk about them publicly and couldn't comment on individual cases and cases which are currently under investigation.

It is estimated that the loss from VAT fraud, especially related to organised crime, amounts to 60 billion euros annually across the EU. In the first year of the EPPO's operations, criminal assets worth 250 million euros were confiscated. The EPPO's annual budget otherwise stands at a massive 44 million euros.

The Fortenova saga continues, and it has now come to light that the Dutch court never gave its approval for the sale of Sberbank's Fortenova shares to anyone

The competent Dutch court did not approve the sale of Sberbank's stake in Fortenova to an investor from the United Arab Emirates, claims the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating that permission was neither sought or issued at any point.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an answer to the question of whether the Dutch authorities had given approval for the above transaction. They received an answer that permission was never requested, nor was it issued.

The MVEP states that the ministries will cooperate in order to determine all of the relevant information regarding the violation of the EU sanctions regime which has caused this scandal. It should be noted that the approval for the sale of Sberbank's 43 percent stake in Fortenova was not even given by the competent authorities right here in Croatia.

According to the EU regulation, a possible exemption can be provided for such transactions in the event that the competent authority of that EU member state grants its approval, but considering that the competent authorities here in Croatia and up the Netherlands have not done this, it is likely that the mystery surrounding the Fortenova saga will continue.

The police contact the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia in regard to the Fortenova situation

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic recently confirmed that the police have approached the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH) regarding the sale of Sberbank's shares in Fortenova. He also pointed out that at the stage when the Council for the Implementation of Sanctions is in session and they are collecting all the necessary information, nobody can give any concrete answers.

When asked if the Arab investor to whom Sberbank sold its stake in Fortenova is coming to Croatia and if there will be a meeting in the government, Bozinovic repeated that he did not know and that there were many things that needed to be investigated and clarified before he could speak on anything.

When asked if the government had received SOA's report on Fortenova, he said that SOA regularly reports to the state and institutions about this and other such matters. When asked repeatedly whether he had received information from the SOA, he answered in the affirmative, but added that he could not reveal anything at this moment in time.

The government increases allowances paid out to foster parents 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated at a recent government session that by increasing the basis for calculating the compensation to be paid out to foster parents and maintenance allowance for the year 2023, an additional step forward will be made for 2,504 Croatian foster parents.

"We are making an additional step forward for 2,504 foster parents and 5,838 beneficiaries in foster families," Plenkovic said, adding that this is a continuation of the increase in financial resources being poured into the field of foster care.

The government provides 160.5 million kuna in EU cash for the construction of a new port terminal in Osijek

The Croatian Government recently secured state co-financing in the amount of 160.5 million kuna for the construction of a bulk cargo transshipment terminal in the Port of Osijek. Government decisions have as such given consent to the Port Authority of Osijek to assume obligations at the expense of the state budget throughout 2023, 2024 and 2025 in the total amount of 160.5 million kuna.

Back in September this year, the Board of Directors of the Osijek Port Authority made a decision to enter into a contract for the construction of a new port terminal with GH Holding from neighbouring Slovenia. The value of the works was determined in the total amount of 143.5 million kuna without VAT, or 179.3 million kuna with VAT, with a deadline of 28 months.

The financial resources needed to settle the anticipated contractual obligations have been secured from the European Cohesion Fund and the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia for 2022 and projections for the years 2023 and 2024.

The new terminal for transshipment of bulk cargo in Osijek will be located on the right bank of the Drava River in the eastern part of the port area, and it will include two new connections spanning a length of 240 metres, the installation of facilities for the transshipment, loading and unloading and transport of goods, an access road which will be 300 metres long, railway tracks with a length of 610 metres, crane tracks and roads with a length of 285 metres, a substation and the construction of the necessary communal infrastructure, according to the State Secretary in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Josip Bilaver.

The construction of the brand new Osijek port terminal will reduce traffic congestion in the city centre and the negative impact on the environment and noise, and the safety of ships in the port will increase, he added.

Croatia is given the nod to join Schengen by the European Parliament

Last but by absolutely no means least, the moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived and Croatia has been given the final nod from the powers that be to join the Schengen zone at long last. This is certainly a moment HDZ is likely to run with as a scamp of their perceived success in Croatian politics.

In his opening address at a recently held government session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the European Parliament had just voted for Croatia's entry into Schengen.

"We are very satisfied with the presentation of the Commissioner, that is, the Vice-President of the EC, who gave very clear and strong support. There were 534 votes in favour of Croatia's membership of the Schengen zone," said the Prime Minister, congratulating Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and the whole team who have been leading the activities to push for Croatian Schengen accession for the past few years.

"We are moving towards the final steps of the final adoption at the level of the EU Council on December the 8th" said the Prime Minister, adding that "with this, in addition to the decisions already made regarding membership in the Eurozone, Croatia will complete its two goals of deeper integration within the EU with both Schengen and Eurozone entry as of the 1st of January, 2023.

"These are such major capital foreign policy state goals that have now finally been realised, and in the years ahead we will have the opportunity to talk about the fruits of Croatia's additional international positioning," he said.

 

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

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