Monday, 2 January 2023

My home in Croatia: A Portrait of Frano Donjerković, an Artist from Korčula

January 2, 2023 - The TCN inbox is full of surprises. Not all, but many of them are good. To start the new year off right, let us share a recent one that came in all the way from Australia. A Portrait of Frano Donjerković, an Artist from Blato, Korčula. 

The nostalgic, warm, ultimately feel-good read was sent to us by the author of the text originally published in Melbourne in Hrvatski Vjesnik (Croatian Herald), the largest circulating Croatian language (with English insert) weekly newspaper in the global Croatian diaspora. It runs about 7,000 copies and has a digital presence, too, including Facebook. The story features Frano Donjerković, a Croatian Australian living in Melbourne. Read on to feel like you want to return to your home in Croatia, even if it was never there.

The oasis of islands on the Croatian coast has been called “extreme magic,” an awake dream by Truman Capote.

Frano Donjerković left his village of Blato, on Korčula at the doughty and courageous age of 27, in search of a better life in freedom and economic prosperity, reaching the shores of Australia in 1986.  Leaving his home, family and community was a painful and sorrowful experience, and the memories of his youth, family and place have followed him all his life in Australia. Croatia has always been his home as he built a new life in Australia. He lives and works in Melbourne, married to Marien with a daughter Daniela and son Anthony.

Korčula is a magnificent island of artificers, stone masons, wood masters, smiths, shipwrights, sculptors and farmers, wine and olive oil masters and fishermen. Above all else, they are sailors; everyone can sail a boat, but on Blato most can turn to and make one. Korčula also has one of the best water polo teams in the world and many Olympic players. Korčula played a significant role in shipbuilding and maritime affairs in the history of Croatia because of its strategic geographical location and industry of its population.  The great sea powers of Europe wanted to control the narrow channel between Korčula and the Pelješac peninsula, especially on the route between Dubrovnik and Venice.

Blato was once the largest village in the country, boasting more than 12,000 residents in the mid-1920s after an economic boom. Frano Donjerković also recalls vivid stories of hardship and departure from his childhood. He remembers an event that affected Blato significantly, that in one afternoon in the early post-war period 1,200 residents left in search of a better life. Blato’s population today is significantly lower and there are an estimated three-time more people from Blato throughout the world, many in Australia.  

There are many things in Frano's life that are typical of the immigrant experience, from the pursuit of freedom and economic property, to raising a family in a place where everything seems foreign and unintelligible in a completely new language and idioms of speech and cultural habits. That has not stopped Frano Donjerković from being a valued, engaged, and leading member of the Croatian community and his broader Australian community. He is President of the Croatian Social Club Zlinje/Blato, a local Melbourne community organisation that nurtures the culture and identity of people from Zlinje and Blato, which marked its thirtieth anniversary in 2021. His passion for fishing and recreational boating brought him into the Hobson Bay Sport and Game Fishing Club, where today he serves as vice president.

Korčula is famous for many things, and today it thrives as a haven for tourists. It is known as the Marco Polo Isle, the birthplace of that intrepid traveller and prolific storyteller. Frano’s journey took him further south on the other side of the world to Australia, where he tells the stories of his home, family, and community through artistic renditions of miniature boats, ships, and buildings, all from memory.

Korčula is one of the largest islands on the Adriatic surrounded by a crystal limpid water in the glittering arc of Canaletto-blue sea. It is a beautiful and verdant island, and life can be traced back tens of thousands of years. Its statute or governing constitution was enacted in 1214 and defines limits to power through a popular assembly, and spells out the roles of dukes, the grand council, small council, curia, and ensures the provision of utility services and sanitation. The statute is a “unique normative crossword puzzle” of medieval institutions, special freedoms, and layered jurisdictions, representing a genuine constitution. It predates the Statute of Dubrovnik (1272) and the Statute of the Principality of Poljica (1440), two republican poleis serving as pinpricks of freedom in the Adriatic.

Strabo, that intrepid travel writer born in 64 B.C., was the first to distinguish Korčula from Corfu: both were named Korkyra in ancient Greece. Strabo added “Melania” (“dark black”) and coined Korkyra Melaina to denote Korčula because it was so densely wooded. Korčula has been described as glorious and enchanting, one of the isles on which many would welcome shipwreck, but that would not last long because of its proximity to the mainland and its strategic location along the bridges of islands that croisette southern Croatia’s coast. The name Blato is literally “Mud,” a name taken after the fertile plains that link the village to the Vela Luka (the Grand Port). The literal translation is not accurate, however, and “blato” in early Croatian refers to a large body of water. The village received its name from a lake that existed in the valley between the village and port Vele Luka. This lake was drained in the early twentieth century by a four-kilometre tunnel to drain the water into the sea. The village shimmers in the iridescent light of its fortified stone structures and narrow lanes. The linden tree alley “Zlinje” was planted and stretches from one side of the village to the other. It partitions Blato into two and is all but impenetrable, with the additional marquis of arbutus, sage, lavender and rosemary, whose combined heady scents dazzle. All these, plus pine, cypress, and holm oak, which has been used by local shipwrights for a millennium, make Korčula one of the most aromatic and thickly vegetated villages in the Adriatic.

Frano Donjerković and his recreations

Frano’s creations are a freeze-frame of a time and experience lodged in his memory. His home in Blato was the third house built in the village, and its one,-metre-thick walls have not changed much since the first stone was laid. Frano has been creating his boats, houses, and other artifacts about 30 years ago in his studio that also poses as a garage. He works exclusively from memory, and doesn't use plans, sketches, or photographs. All the images are in his mind, etched into his experience and memory of childhood growing up in the enchanting, industrious, and idyllic village of Blato.

Frano has exhibited twice at the Joel Gallery. In 2022 his exhibition was called “My Home in Croatia,” and in 2018, “Creations.” He has also displayed his creations at Croatian community centres in the past and plans to do more in the future. Photo courtesy of Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre

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Frano’s family home held by generations since it was founded. As the third house built in Blato since the village was founded, with one-meter-thick walls, it has withstood the vastitudes of time and calamities of centuries.

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Frano Donjerković remembers the soothing and inviting sound of church bells in Blato. The bell tower was built in the eighteenth century, and its loopholes in the walls suggest that it was also used for defensive purposes. The parish church is situated with a spacious loggia or square. The Our Lady of the Field church has Roman floors that place its beginnings in the fourth century. The remnants of a Roman agricultural estate (Junianum) and other artifacts dating back prehistoric and Illyrian times. 

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Fishing schooners, boats and ships of cargo are etched in Frano’s memory. The boats are named after family members. The biggest boat took him a year to craft.

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Frano’s family are also masters of winemaking. The first piece of creativity inspired by memories of his home in Croatia is the wine press that his grandfather acquired. This was Frano’s first creation from memory.

Kumpanija: the sword dance of heroes and romantics

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Frano Donjerković performing the “Kumpanija,” a traditional sword dance celebrated in Blato and Vele Luka. As a young man, Frano joined the Knights’ Society Kumpanija (Companions), established as an ensemble in 1927, and is the pride of Blato. The ensemble keeps traditional dances and customs representing a chivalrous confrontation between two armies, with highlights of a sword dance that is accompanied with a menacing drum and harrowing bagpipe. The dance “Kumpanija” or “sword dance” celebrates the success of local armed formations to protect the village and port from pirates and would-be conquerors, which did not have traditional defensive fortifications or walls like many other coastal cities in Croatia’s coastal waters. The dance is wrought with intensity with high-impact sword duels. The “Kumpanija” dancers must have considerable agility, talent, and stamina.

The knights are divided into classes; (barjaktar, captain, kapural, srzetin, buzdonahar) and different parts of the dance (spuz, mostra, tanac, etc). Apart from the sparks flying from the swords, a particularly attractive role is demonstrated by the “alfir” (flag-bearer) and his large Croatian standard, which ends with a dance with the local ladies, called the “tanac.” The sword dance “Kumpanija” takes place in the square (plokata) in front of the Church of All Saints. The main performance takes place on 28 April every year to mark the Day of Blato, which is also the Feast of Saint Vincenca, and on 15 August, feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The “Kumpanija” also frequently performs across Croatia and Europe and can be seen during the height of the tourist season as a regular attraction.

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Stand Here, Captain! 

By Mirjana Mrkela (story) and Niko Barun (illustrations)

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The Blato Public Library and Knights’ Society Kumpanija, Blato in 2019 published a book on the sword dance by Mirjana Mrkela (story) and Niko Barun (illustrations). The book was published in both Croatian and English, with considerable detail on the story of each stage of the dance, including 36 beautifully illustrated pages under the title “Stand Here Captain! Information about acquiring the illustrated book can be obtained by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Croatian Exporters Rejoice at Eurozone, Schengen Accession

January the 2nd, 2022 - Croatian exporters haven't been shy about their joy at the country finally joining the Eurozone and Schengen, stating just how much easier this will make doing business, and how there is now much more room for wage growth.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the introduction of the euro was mostly called for by Croatian exporters, and they've been calling for it since the country joined the EU back in July 2013. For years now, Croatian exporters have endlessly appealed to the Croatian National Bank (CNB) for a change in the exchange rate policy and a weakening of the kuna in order to enable them to be more competitive on international markets, and they also called for the introduction of the euro, which has now finally occurred, and which would simplify their jobs and all of their financial planning, not to mention lead to the overall improvement of borrowing conditions from banks.

One of the most passionate of all was Darinko Bago, the long-time president of the board of Koncar and until recently the president of the Croatian exporters association, who is now very satisfied that Croatian Eurozone accession has finally happened.

Timely government reactions

Bago, while having hoped Eurozone accession would have happened earlier, believes that even though we're ''late to the party'' as it were, it's better now than never.

"Over the last 20 years, the EU has lost more than 36 percent of its market position, the second problem is the drop in the birth rate, and thus its own demand, which is the generator of growth, and the third is the bloc lagging behind, because today, the European Union does not have, for example, a chip factory, and it's still energy dependent. Russian aggression against Ukraine only increased inflation, because the problems started when China unilaterally abolished subsidies and the transport of goods became more expensive, which created a problem with the import of products of lower value and larger quantities into the EU, and then the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine only increased the vulnerability of the EU. Of course, all of this also affects Croatia, because two-thirds of Croatian imports and exports take place with the EU,'' Bago pointed out.

"The European Commission (EC) is spreading clouds of money around some countries and this is happening in a non-transparent manner, how the money is used isn't really being monitored, nor are any of the effects it produces," concluded Bago. However, even under such conditions, Croatian entry into the Eurozone and Schengen opens up a far better perspective for Croatian exporters, and the decisive factor for the effects on exports and the overall economy will be that the Croatian Government reacts promptly to EU processes and reacts in the right way.

"For us, 2022 was the year of further European integration, and now comes the year of real struggle to maintain the economy," says Bago.

Hrvoje Stojic, chief economist of the Croatian Association of Employers, recalls that Croatian exporters and their products have already benefited from European integration. Since joining the EU in 2013, it has more than doubled to date. Entry into the Eurozone combined with Schengen accession, along with existing membership in NATO, will additionally structurally include Croatian exporters in global value chains, and as such open new opportunities for significant export growth.

"The disappearance of the currency risks, the strong drop in exchange fees, the improvement of financing conditions thanks to the improvement of the perception of risk, also give greater predictability when conducting business. Stronger institutional and market pressures have a positive effect on the competitiveness of private companies and their tendency to invest in order to maintain or strengthen competitiveness. Viewed at the level of a comparable credit rating, membership in the Eurozone enables Croatia to have a 1.5 to 2 percentage point lower cost of financing compared to those who aren't Eurozone member states," Stojic points out.

Greater room for wage growth

Stojic also expects that these positive influences will open up more space for wage growth based on productivity growth, and in the event of a new systematic financial crisis, Croatia will be able to count on the intervention mechanisms of the ECB through access to the European Stability Mechanism, which reduces the risk of potentially expensive banking and balance of payments crises and ultimately serious risks to the country and the domestic economy.

Joining the currency union and the loss of the independent monetary policy of the CNB means the opening of the possibility of enjoying an active monetary policy, which until now, due to exchange rate restrictions, was simply not possible. In addition to that, financial integration with the institutions and the financial market of the Eurozone will be further deepened, making it likely that the costs of not only credit, but also non-credit instruments of financing and export insurance will be somewhat lower.

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

Exploring Croatian - The Oldest Known Slavic Alphabet - Glagolitic

January the 2nd, 2023 - Did you know that Croatia once used the oldest known Slavic alphabet? The Glagolitic script can still be seen in various parts of the country, and souvenirs sold across Croatia still bear it to this very day.

We've explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously. That goes without even mentioning much about old DalmatianZaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian. What about Glagolitic?

A (very) brief history

To start off, it's worth noting that the origins of the Glagolitic alphabet are disputed to an extent. This can be said for most ancient languages and linguists are known to squabble over such things, but it is generally accepted that the script was created back during the ninth century by a monk from Thessalonica (today's Thessaloniki in Greece) called Saint Cyril, as well as to Saint Methodius, his brother. The very first observed mention of the word ''Croatia'' in the Glagolitic script dates back to around 1100 AD.

Another interesting fact about Glagolitic is that the precise number of letters in its original form is entirely unknown, but what we do know is that it is likely that Saint Cyril and his brother Methodius created the script in order to facilitate the introduction of the Christian faith, and we can assume with some level of certainty that the initial number of letters would have close to a Greek model. That said, there are elements of a variety of different languages within Glagolitic.

Over the many years, Glagolitic evolved with the population of its users and the tumultuous times they faced. It is certain that during the twelfth century, as Glagolitic in its original form (even with its non-Greek sounds) began to lose its grip, more and more Cyrillic influence could be found. As the centuries rolled on, more and more original Glagolitic letters were dropped, seeing the original number of letters drop to less than thirty in the Croatian recensions of what was called the Church Slavic language. 

The use of the Glagolitic script in Croatia

The first Croatian Glagolitic book to be printed was Missale Romanum Glagolitice from 1483, and if you somehow managed to obtain a fully functioning time machine and took a quick trip back to the twelfth century and landed anywhere in Kvarner, Istria, Dalmatia, or even in Medjimurje, you'd have come across the Glagolitic script more or less everywhere. It's true that Glagolitic was mostly found in the coastal parts of the country, with notable areas being islands such as Krk (the Kvarner area) and the Dalmatian islands which sit just off the Zadar mainland, but traces of it stretched to Medjimurje (far inland), Lika, and even in parts of modern Slovenia.

For a very long time, it was accepted that the Glagolitic script was used solely in the aforementioned areas, but when 1992 rolled around and Croatia was engulfed in some extremely difficult times in its fight for independence and against Serbian aggression, some fascinating discoveries were made in old churches situated along the Orljava river in Eastern Croatia (Slavonia). This rather remarkable discovery blew previous theories about the locations in which this ancient script was used out of the water, and proved that it was also indeed used in Slavonia, something that was simply not even considered before.

While the twelfth century was in some ways a form of peak for the old Glagolitic script in Croatia, it did survive beyond that as the nation's main script, and for some time, but after a while, the development (or indeed decline) of this script was very poorly documented for a variety of reasons. Just before the marauding Ottomans began sniffing around the area, and before the Croatian-Ottoman wars truly began, the use of Glagolitic was at its very peak, and in today's measure, the amount of people using it back then would correspond to the amount of people in Croatia who use the Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects (two of the main dialects which make up modern standard Croatian) today. 

The Ottoman wars and the decline of Croatian Glagolitic

The Ottomans and their invasions in the surrounding areas sounded the death knell for Croatian Glagolitic, and its stability in the region began to slip severely, with more damage being done to the use of this old script in areas more devastated and culturally altered by the Turkish forces. While the Ottomans certainly laid the heaviest of the groundwork to put the nails in Glagolitic's coffin, the real blow which set the wheels in motion for Glagolitic to meet its fate came much, much later, more precisely in the seventeen century, and by a bishop from Zagreb, no less. 

The Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy, the west and the Italians

You've likely never heard of this conspiracy, as it's known in Croatia by this title, but to others it is simply called the Magnate conspiracy. In short, this conspiracy was an organised attempt to remove foreign influences (read Habsburg) from both Croatia and neighbouring Hungary during the seventeeth century. This left the Glagolitic script entirely without secular protection, and its use was severely limited, seeing it used only in the coastal region of modern Croatia. One century later, in the very late part of it, western influence saw to it that Glagolitic was to be no more. The culture and the script crumbled under secular pressures from the west, and it relied solely on printed material. By the time the twentieth century had rolled around and Fascist Italy did its bit in many part of modern Croatia, the areas in which the Glagolitic script had managed to cling on to existence suffered tremendously, and these areas were scaled back even more.

Glagolitic in modern day Croatia

Many ancient buildings, such as churches, still bear the Glagolitic script to this day, and of course, items bearing it can also be purchased across the country. The brand new Croatian euro coins with national motifs on them also proudly bear this ancient script, and it can be found on the 2 and 5 cent coins minted here. The 1992 discoveries in Eastern Croatian churches also shed light on the script, and those churches are in Lovcic and Brodski Drenovac. Some of the oldest stone monuments with the Glagolitic script engraved on them have been found in Istria and on the island of Krk, and in February each year, Croatian Glagolitic Script Day is marked in an attempt to preserve the rich and rather mysterious history of this script for generations to come.

For more on the modern Croatian language, dialects, subdialects, extinct languages, and learning Croatian, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Croatian New Year Traditions: Swimming Into 2023 in Rivers and the Sea

January 1, 2023 - One of the most fun Croatian New Year traditions is swimming. Every region of the country knows its local legends who ensure never to miss the opportunity no matter the temperatures. This exceptionally warm winter might have made it a bit easier, but it was as legendary as ever.

As 24Sata writes, three weeks ago, young Ukrainians returned to Zadar from Montreal from the World Championship, where they competed in platform diving.

On the first day of 2023, they decided to practice jumping into the sea in Zadar.

They are gold world champions in platform diving from 10 and 12 meters. One of them won gold, another silver, and one even won the title of junior champion.

Some jumped in wetsuits, while some didn't mind the sea temperature so they didn't even wear one. Accor, ding to DHMZ, the sea temperature in Zadar is 14.8 degrees Celsius.

And more jumpers were found at the Greeting to the Sun in Zadar. The people of Zadar tasted their sea and decided to celebrate the new year in the same way.

Many swimmers in the Karlovac rivers

Brave swimmers plunged into the sea and rivers yesterday as well.

Swimming in cold rivers or the sea on New Year's Eve is a tradition many have practiced for years, including the 24Sata readers from Rab.

Swimming in the cold Drava is a tradition started more than three decades ago by Duško Rudež, the 'Seal from Osijek,' and continued this year in his honor by two young people from Osijek.

A special farewell to the Old Year and entry into the New Year in the Winter Harbor at exactly noon from Osijek's Promenade was followed by about a hundred people from Osijek who supported the two young men with a thunderous round of applause.

Saturday's air temperature of 15 degrees Celsius did not make the jump into the icy Drava any easier, said one of them, Bojan Marušić, and added that this was the warmest year since 2016 when, together with the legendary Tuljan (Seal), he first jumped into the Drava on New Year's Eve.

Marušić recalled that the Drava was really cold six years ago, but he also pointed out that it is cold this year, noting that it is better when there is less difference in air and water temperature.

When the air is colder, the body can more easily tolerate diving into cold water, and when it's this warm outside, the water feels freezing, Marušić explained. He thanked everyone who came to support them in continuing this tradition, which Osijek has known for a long time, and promised to continue nurturing this tradition. The deputy mayor of Osijek, Dragan Vulin, attended the traditional New Year's Eve swimming in the Drava, saying that it was in memory of Duško Rudež Tuljan, who died last year.

"Because of the man who started this tradition, who swam 32 times in this place, precisely on New Year's Eve, and last jumped into the Drava in 2018, it is important that this tradition is kept, and I believe that it will continue to be so", said Vulin. It should be noted that Duško Rudež's mission was to point out the ragweed problem by diving into the cold Drava on New Year's Eve as one of the pressing problems for the citizens of Osijek.

Zvonimir Karadža Kara (71) from Slavonski Brod saw off another New Year in his traditional way - by swimming in the icy Sava.

His friends faithfully cheered him on this year as he jumped from his friends' rafts in Splavarska Street in Slavonski Brod.

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

Sunday, 1 January 2023

New Croatian Currency Now in Effect with First Euros Withdrawn

January 1, 2023 - Croatia officially became the 20th member of the eurozone, a monetary union member of the European Union (EU), making the Croatian currency and the only legal tender the euro, the second most important world currency.

As Index writes, on the first day of the New Year, Croatia became the 20th member of the euro area, and the euro became the official Croatian currency and legal tender in Croatia. The previous eurozone expansion took place in 2015 when Lithuania became a member.

Minister of Finance Marko Primorac and CNB Governor Boris Vujčić met in front of CNB. Minister Marko Primorac commented on the introduction of the euro.

"Croatia has joined the circle of the most developed countries in the world. This was by no means an easy process. It took a long time; a number of people made significant efforts," he said. "The euro will provide us with some security in these turbulent times," he said and added that the euro will enable further growth and development.

"Over 95 percent of ATMs are stocked with euros; now the transition process is underway. So we can relax and enjoy ourselves," said Primorac.

"Kuna is going down in history; it served us well."

Then Boris Vujčić took the floor.

"I am thrilled because this year we finished the project that we started five years ago. We created the Eurostrategy then, and I must say that it did not always look like we would be in the Eurozone on January 1, 2023. This is a record timeline; it could not have been faster," he said.

"Croatia is the 20th country that uses the second most important currency in the world," said Vujčić and listed the advantages of the euro. "It is not a magic wand that will solve many of our problems, but it will help us be a richer country," Vujčić said.

"Kuna is going down in history," Vujčić said. "The kuna served us very well. It was stable since we introduced the kuna, we had low inflation, it will go down in history with pride, we will only remember it for the good," he said.

After that, at a nearby ATM, Minister Primorac withdrew the first euros from the ATM.

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

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Schengen Croatia Welcomes 2023 by Lifting the EU Ramp One Last Time

January 1, 2023 - At midnight, Schengen Croatia marked its entry into the Schengen area with the symbolic removal of the plaque at the Bregana border crossing, the lifting of the ramp, and the green light for free passage at the site of the former border control, which is now going down in history. "We opened the door to a Europe without borders," said Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović in Bregana. "Tonight, he added, we celebrate a new day, a new year, a new Europe with Croatia in Schengen."

As Index writes, at the beginning of 2023, Croatia became a new member of the Schengen zone, the largest area of free movement of goods and people in the world, which includes all the members of the European Union, except for Bulgaria and Romania, Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland and four other non-EU countries: Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

On this occasion, on New Year's Eve, special ceremonies were held at numerous border crossings with Slovenia and Hungary, including one of the largest crossings on the Croatian-Slovenian border, Bregana-Obrežje.

Borders have stood there for too long

Minister Božinović hosted Slovenian Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, while Acting Chief Director of Slovenian Police Boštjan Lindav joined Chief Police Director Nikola Milina.

"There are no more borders that stood between our neighbors and us for too long, the natural environment to which we belong both as a people and as a country," Božinović said.

He assessed that last night's act is more than the abolition of border controls: It is the final affirmation of our European identity, for which generations of Croats fought and ultimately won. He thanked the Slovenian minister and delegation for sharing moments of joy and pride. "Happy new year in Schengen to all of you!"

The Slovenian minister considered it a historical event. "Just as we symbolically set borders about 30 years ago, we are removing them now. However, this does not mean that security will decrease since we have thoroughly prepared for this moment in both countries," said Ajanović Hovnik.

After a short meeting of the ministers, at midnight, a ramp was simultaneously lifted on both sides of the border, which enabled free passage between the neighbouring countries. The lifting of the ramp on the Slovenian side was followed via a video wall.

Five minutes before midnight, the police officers at Bregana carried out the last border control, along with an appropriate gift - a teddy bear dressed in the uniform of a Croatian policeman.

In addition to the ramp, the sign with the inscription "Bergana Border Police Station" was removed, but just before that, the last report of the station chief was recorded, in which he informed the police officers to stop implementing border controls and move on to the tasks of compensatory measures.

The two countries' delegations then headed to the Slovenian side, to the area of the former Obrežje border crossing, where the chiefs of police stations and police officers thanked each other for their cooperation so far, with the symbolic removal of plaques from the police building in Obrežje. In the first 15 minutes after midnight, a dozen cars entered Slovenia without control from Croatia, greeting the assembled police officers with the sound of their horns.

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

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Vucedol Culture Museum and the City: Free Entry for Vukovar Residents

December 32, 2022 - Though it has been visited by more than half a million visitors from Croatia and abroad since its opening in 2015, the Vucedol Culture Museum remains one of Europe's most underrated museums. The stunning architecture, unique location, the modern exhibition and exciting events deserve all the attention. A place with a soul like that, though, will no doubt go a long way.

As Glas Slavonije writes, the archaeological site of Vučedol is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Europe. For visitors of all generations who want to experience something new, beautiful, and interesting, the Vucedol Culture Museum offers a new universe of discovery and inspiration, with an incomparable and unrepeatable combination of location, architecture, pleasant atmosphere, and, above all, archaeological and historical values presented in a contemporary way.

It is not surprising that from the day it opened, the museum became an important place in the tourist offer of Vukovar, so many domestic and foreign tourists who visit the city on the Danube do not miss the opportunity to learn something about the locality itself and the history of the area. The museum employees help with their knowledge and presentation of the exhibition. Furthermore, they pointed out that a few changes await the citizens in the first days of 2023 and shared some good news for the residents of Vukovar.

"From 1st January, entry to the museum will be free for all Vukovar residents. It is enough to present an identity card as proof of residence. During the seven years since the museum's foundation, many fellow citizens have visited us, so we would like to thank them for supporting us. Also, the people of Vukovar visit the museum together with their guests and remain the best promoters of their city", pointed out the head of marketing Darko Bilandžić.

Since its opening on June 30, 2015, the museum has been visited by more than half a million visitors, making Vucedol one of the most visited museum institutions in Croatia.

During that period, it received several awards for its work and many activities in Croatia and abroad. Not so long ago, the first international scientific and professional conference on the meaning of Vučedol culture was also held in Vukovar.

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

Saturday, 31 December 2022

May 1994 to January 2023 - An Ode to the Croatian Kuna

December the 31st, 2022 - The Croatian kuna is set to enter the history books tomorrow, after being in use since May 1994 in its modern (current) form. As we prepare to bid farewell to the Croatian national currency, let's look back on its history.

Subdivided into those irritating little lipa coins, 100 of them to be exact, the Croatian kuna (coded as HRK) is minted at the Croatian mint and sent out into the country by the Croatian National Bank (CNB). The design of the Croatian kuna banknotes were by Vilko Ziljak and Miroslav Sutej, and the first series of these banknotes were dated on October the 31st, 1993. There was once even a five kuna note, which has been withdrawn since 2007.

Meaning marten (a mink type creature), the kuna's roots go back to the exchanging of marten pelts (furs, skins) back in medieval times as a form of payment for goods and services. Lipa, those small silver and golden coins which end up in everyone's back pockets and left on cafe tables because nobody really knows what to do with them, draw their name from the linden tree. These trees were planted in and around Croatian market places during the early modern period.

A brief look into the deeper history of the kuna reveals the importance of martens and their pelts back during, you guessed it, Roman times, where these pelts were collected as a form of tax. These pelts were sought after and carried a very high value, and the Croatian word, marturina, comes from precisely this. Foreign currencies and means of trade and payment were in use across Croatia for many years, but by the time 1939 rolled around, the Banovina of Croatia planned to introduce its own currency alongside Yugoslavia's dinar. A couple of years later in 1941, under Ustasa rule as the Independent State of Croatia, the Croatian kuna was born, then called the Independent State of Croatia kuna. This was the means of payment in Croatia until 1945, when it was replaced with the dinar.

Fast forward to the turbulent 1990s, Croatia was engulfed in the strife of the breakup of the well and truly failed experiment of Yugoslavia and the Croatian War of Independence broke out (Homeland War/Domovinski rat). Back then, the Croatian dinar, a somewhat short-lived currency was in circulation here, introduced in 1991 and lasting only until the final month of 1994. Then came the Croatian kuna as we know it, tied to the German mark from the very beginning.

Of course, there were those who weren't fans of calling it the Croatian kuna because the name was coined (no pun intended) by the Independent State of Croatia and was in circulation during 1941-1945, a time many people preferred to try and forget. Other names were suggested as a result, including the banica (the wife of the viceroy) and the kruna (crown). The idea that the kuna would echo back to Ustasa rule and as such be a controversial name was dismissed, and the Croatian kuna remained with its rightful title. 

The CNB's policy was keeping the Croatian kuna's fluctuations with the bloc's single currency stable, as the initial expectations for Croatia adopting the euro officially, which was four years after joining the EU in July 2013, didn't come to fruition.

Croatia adopted the Croatian kuna as we know it today in May 1994, and it has remained in circulation ever since. It will continue being permitted as legal tender until mid January, 2023, but it is officially being scrapped tomorrow, on the 1st of January, 2023, making way for the euro as the country's new currency. Croatia fulfilled all of the many requirements for Eurozone entry this year, being given the green light not only for Eurozone accession but also for Schengen entry. No country has ever managed to enter both at the same time, on the very same day.

For some, the loss of the Croatian kuna marks a loss of identity and hard-won monetary independence, and for others, the introduction of the euro means more financial and economic stability, less people who have taken out loans being victims of exchange rate fluctuations, and more protection during crises. Whichever camp you fall into, Croatia abandoning the kuna for the euro is certainly an enormous moment in history for the little country that not only could, but consistently has, in the face of whatever has been thrown at it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Croatian Hospitality Establishments Air Euro Concerns on Kuna's Final Day

December the 31st, 2022 - Croatian hospitality establishments, particularly bars, restaurants and cafes have been airing the last minute concerns as we are set to introduce the euro as Croatia's official new currency tomorrow. Will they all end up being more or less exchange offices for the next two weeks or so?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, will Croatian hospitality establishments double up as unwilling exchange offices during the first half of January? Who will have enough euro coins and cents and who won't? How will cash registers be closed on New Year's Eve? These are all questions currently troubling Croatian hospitality establishments, as with store closures, they'll be the first port of all for all euro transition confusion.

Cash problems

Dalibor Kratohvil, the president of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK), said that the state was asked, considering that on New Year's Eve there will be a lot of pressure on Croatian hospitality establishments, to continue making it possible to return the difference when giving people change in kuna.

"The Ministry answered saying that it is clearly written in the Euro Act, in Article 40, Paragraph 2, which says that in the first two weeks of January, in exceptional cases, they can return kuna, if there are no euros available to them at that moment in time,'' said Kratohvil, noting that this is only in exceptional cases such as a shortage of cash in euros.

When speaking about the concrete adaptation of the hospitality sector to the introduction of the euro, Hrvoje Margan, vice-president of the Catering Guild at the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, said that as far as the technical part is concerned, anyone who is a little more serious about things is ready for it and can do it.

"I think we're all somewhat ready and have a vision of how we'll work, and the biggest problem was that, in order to take some kind of advance supply of money, you had to have enough money in the bank account, and it's not like we're sitting on millions," he stated.

Closing the cash register

He added that IT experts did a good job and prepared the software for the transition to the euro. Thus, if and when a guest pays in kuna, the difference that they must return will be automatically converted into euros. Explaining what will happen at midnight from December the 31st (today) to January the 1st, he stated that, in order to be able to start anew on January the 1st, Croatian hospitality establishments would have to close their cash registers on December the 31st, make a calculation in kuna and then start working again. They'd then have to close all open items until then. The state, he added, came to the rescue and raised the cash limit from 10,000 kuna to 40,000 kuna for this purpose.

Clarifying what could be problematic when the euro comes into force, the vice president of the Catering Guild said that it isn't really a problem if a guest has a bill of 15 euros and pays it with a 200 kuna note, but when someone pays for a coffee of 1.60 euros with a 500 kuna note or more, then issues will arise.

"We're all afraid, not only cafe, restaurant and bar owners, but others as well, of becoming exchange offices," he stated, and when asked what about rounding up of prices and expected price increases, he added that he doesn't expect that to happen because in this situation, when people are looking at every single kuna, there isn't really much room for that.

"I don't know if any of my colleagues touched their prices at all, or if there's been price rounding, I don't expect that there will be any big price increases. Specifically, if we take for example coffee, which is now 12 kuna, it will cost 1.60 euros, or 12.07 kuna, from the New Year onwards, so there won't be a significant difference," he concluded.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

City of Split Updates Prices in Euros, Parking is Now More Expensive

December the 31st, 2023 - The City of Split has updated its prices in anticipation of the introduction of the euro in Croatia tomorrow, and while public transport may be cheaper, parking isn't...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with the introduction of the euro as this country's official currency, Split's local authorities, or more precisely two of its utility companies, decided to "round up" the prices of some utility services and, as they claim, in such a way as to benefit the end users themselves. Let's make that more simple: city car parks are now more expensive, but public transport is cheaper.

As confirmed to tportal, the prices of Split's car parks will be adjusted to higher amounts with the introduction of the euro, and the winter regime going forward will be similar to what it is currently, one euro in the first zone, while in the summer period, one hour of parking will cost 1.5 euros. A special item on this particular list is the car park on the Riva (promenade) itself, which will be significantly more expensive: from the current 15 kuna (equal to about two euros) for the first hour and 20 kuna for each subsequent hour to slightly more in the winter period (two euros for the first hour, and three euros for the next hour).

However, from the months of May to September, parking on Split's famous Riva will cost 4 euros for the first hour and as much as 5 euros for each subsequent hour.

"However, most of the other prices have actually remained the same: parking in public garages isn't going to increase in price, the price of tenant subscriptions won't change either," they explained to tportal from "Split parking". They then once again announced the intensification of the construction of new public garages in different Split city districts: one has just kicked off as far as construction is concerned, another is due in about three months, and several more are planned throughout the year.

In parallel with the increase in the price of parking, public transport in Split is becoming cheaper: a monthly ticket for the first zone, which until recently cost 290 kuna, will cost the people of Split 30 euros in the future, equal to around 226 kuna. The difference from the actual price, which is set at 35 euros, so about five euros, will be subsidised by the company "Promet" from Split's own city budget.

It is this company that recently implemented a new ticketing system, meaning it's now possible to buy a ticket for the use of Split#s city buses in several different ways - at card machines, through a mobile application, on prepaid cards and the like. They will be slightly cheaper from the current eight kuna, costing around one euro in 2023.

For more, check out our news section.

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