Croatian Entrepreneur Reveals Jokes Being Told About Croatia Abroad

By 25 January 2019

''They're already telling jokes about Croatia abroad,'' says Croatian entrepreneur Stjepan Bedić, who took to Facebook to detail his experience with some Libyan investors.

As writes on the 23rd of January, 2019, pilot, entrepreneur and aeronautical engineer Stjepan Bedić, who is otherwise the director of BEST Aero and the leader of the Team Stellar project, one of sixteen teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, wrote on Facebook just how Croatia is treating potential investors willing to bring millions into the country, and uncovered out what exactly this damage does to the trust of would-be investors. He says that foreign investors are already busy telling jokes about Croatia and its insane, ridiculous ways.

The ambitious Croatian entrepreneur and his associates are stuck in, as he says, "an administrative machine and a situation that not even Monty Python would be able to think up."

Here's his post translated into English:

"So, we had some investors come over from Libya last year. There was a 3.5 million dollar investment agreed upon. They got their visas, they came to Croatia, they paid 180,000 dollars for all the initial administration, they enrolled as co-owners of the firm at the commercial court. Their visas expired, they left with the intention of returning, and paying the remaining 3.3 million dollars to start up the airline.

Croatia denied them their visas. Pay attention now, Croatia denied their visas after they'd already been in Croatia a month ago, paid over a million kuna and so on. They submitted a request again, and once again Croatia refused their visas, I, as the director of the firm and the signatory of the letter of guarantee, have no right to know why [they were refused their visas], even though I did learn off the record that they weren't criminals, but that they'd got caught up somewhere in the administration machine.

I wrote to the president!

I wrote to the president, and from her office they were looking for a report from MVEP. The report was full of citations from regulations on issuing visas, how to complain about solutions, and stuff like that.

Here's my answer to them, CC'd also to the president's office:

To whom it may concern,

Thanks for the the detailed e-mail with quoted regulations and a detailed description on issuing visas.

I agree with everything written.

The investors simply no longer want to invest in Croatia. 

It's simply because of one other thing, and because of that, as a country, we're known as a place where no investment should ever be made. The other day I had the chance to talk to the Katra royal family, who also told me they didn't want to ever invest in Croatia again. I talked to one other investor about Libya, when it was in a warlike state, split with two governments, and that was of more interest for investing in than Croatia. Can you believe that?

Abroad, people are already telling jokes about Croatia. Do you know what ABC means in colloquial investor talk? "Anything But Croatia."

I absolutely agree that all of the regulations, both ours and those of the EU, have to be respected. The question is how we do it. And we do it in a disastrous way.

Can it be more efficient?

When talking about all of the quoted regulations that you've enclosed and used as some sort of excuse for such awful results, the reality is that these people were in Croatia in mid-2018, they invested over one million kuna, were entered into the commercial court as co-owners of a company. How was their visa issued? What changed over those months? After investing a part of the money, they were refused a visa twice, and now we've missed out on a 3 million dollar investment. That's your reality. Would it have been possible for all these regulations to have been implemented in a more efficient way?

I'd say that it could be possible. And here are some examples of why:

1. A hotel reservation has expired. After repeated inquiries to find out which date to reserve the hotel, we don't get any information.

If a company, of which I'm the director, and they're the majority owners, books a hotel and, after all, I sign a guarantee letter, are we really violating the privacy of these citizens if you tell me which date to reserve the hotel? The first reservation was lost because the visa wasn't completed. The reservation costs 3,500 euros and I can't just keep booking every day and then cancelling reservations. Is that really so difficult to understand? What's the problem in just writing a sentence, or, in answering the phone: "Reserve new flight tickets and a hotel for 15.12.2018"?

2. Is it normal for your representative in Cairo to say that for a visa with multiple entries allowed, advance planning for a flight ticket and a hotel is needed? How on earth can people know when each time they're going to come and go for the first six months will be?

3. Is it normal for your Cairo representative to say that they can't add additional documents to the case?

4. Is it normal for your representative in Cairo to just not bother to deliver a resolution after a number of requests from the person who submitted the request, who has received no reason as to why the visa was denied?

What exactly is the issue here? The solution? You've wonderfully described the appeal process all the way to the Pope in Rome, but what does any of that mean when they have not officially received anything at all?

I understand all about Libya and that it's a country with an increased risk, but they continue to do business and they have a lot of money.

For your information, thanks to this, the talks with the Brodotrogir shipyard fell apart, and they were looking to us to sort out meetings with INA because they offered cheap crude oil, as well as Podravka about food exports to Libya. I didn't agree to carry out these two last meetings given the fact that it was obvious they weren't going to come to Croatia. I already took them to see the plot for a hotel with 300 rooms in Zagreb.

Now pay attention to this situation that not even Monty Python could think up. They entered the firm as co-owners, the firm has 180,000 dollars, or a million kuna. Another 3.3 million dollars should have come, but it will not come. They can't even get out of the company's ownership because, in order to do so, they need to go to the same notary with whom they were with a month before, when they had a visa, AGAIN.

And now I'm opening a new company in order to seek other investors, and only God knows what I'm going to do with BEST Aero d.o.o. where a million kuna is lying there for no reason, where the investors and co-owners can't even come to Croatia, where they can't undertake any recapitalisation or do anything at all but show up as debt.

On the other hand, if they were granted the same visas they had until mid-September 2018 AGAIN, they'd now have a company with fifty employees and two 189-seat passenger planes.

Now, you see whether or not something can be done and whether this email is correct or not.

Only you doing everything "by the book" dig deeper and deeper, while others use the situation and are progressing. Your ambassador told me that one of our firms got a contract to deal with all the plumbing in Libya after the conflict, and that the Libyans had to come to Zagreb, and they were denied a visa, which the Spaniards were very happy to give them, and now the Spaniards are renovating Libya's waterworks, and our firm failed.

And the Spaniards are in the EU, they're even in Schengen. So, with what magic did they manage to solve this visa problem for people who were proven to be bringing a multi-million dollar job with them? I've been told that government ministers end up waiting for a visa for Croatia for ten months, and that people coming to meetings with the prime minister are doing so on a tourist visa!

It's clear to me that there are all sorts of underhand things going on, but there must be a simpler and faster process for investors who have proven themselves and who have already invested part of their money in Croatia. These people are the co-owners of firms, they have property in Croatia that they can't even get to.

[This has been written] with the desire that your wages start depending on the performance of you and your colleagues,

capt. Stjepan Bedić, Engineer Aeronaut.
BEST Aero d.o.o. "

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