Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Government Preparing Package of Measures to Ease Impact of Energy Price Hikes

ZAGREB, 12 January, 2022 - The government will present a comprehensive package of measures to relieve the effects of the increase in energy prices on households and businesses, Prime Minister  Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday.

"We have a number of tools at our disposal, including measures by the biggest distributor, and that is HEP, measures by regulators and finally measures by the government. By the time this issue becomes current, we will have a whole package that will relieve or prevent any major blow to citizens' living standard," Plenković said in Novska while attending a ceremony marking the town's day.

He did not wish to go into detail about what the government's measures might be and whether that meant regulating energy prices, decreasing VAT, issuing vouchers or something else, as has been speculated in the media.

The prime minister noted that unlike in other EU countries, the prices of electricity and natural gas had not increased in Croatia in recent months. 

"That is because we have been working quietly, talking and taking care that citizens' standards are not affected," he said.

Plenković said that the government would introduce measures similar to job retention measures to ease the impact of increases in energy and gas prices, which are expected on 1 April.

In that regard, the government "will do everything so that before the heating season ends it adopts a policy framework that will reduce any blow to citizens' standard of living that might result from the increase in energy prices, which is a global trend."

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Plenković on Allegations of Insider Trading at Central Bank

ZAGREB, 12 January, 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday would not comment on the revelation by the Index news website that several Croatian National Bank (HNB) officials had traded in securities of banks that are subject to oversight by the central bank, saying that the matter was complex and that he would comment once he had full information.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the eastern town of Novska, Plenković said he had spoken with HNB Governor Boris Vujčić on Tuesday, unaware that the central bank governor would appear in the prime-time evening news programme on HTV public television shortly afterwards.

"That's when I heard again most of what he had told me on the news programme," the prime minister said, adding that the chair of the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, Grozdana Perić, had formally asked the HNB to present its view on the situation.

"We will see what happens after that. At this point I have as much information on this matter as you do," Plenković told the press. 

He added that the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA) would most likely look into the matter as well. "After that, we will have a fuller picture. Right now we do not have any other information."

Recalling that the HNB was under the authority of Parliament and under HANFA's supervision, Plenković said: "This matter is not directly connected with the government, but we will be informed."

The Index news website said on Monday that in the last 20 years over 40 HNB officials and staff, including Governor Boris Vujčić and his deputy Sandra Švaljek, had traded in securities of commercial banks which are supervised by the central bank, citing more than 400 transactions whose value exceeded HRK 10 million (€1.3m).

The HNB said in its reaction on Tuesday that Vujčić and Švaljek had not violated any legal provisions, stressing the need to distinguish stocks and shares from corporate bonds.

Vujčić told HTV on Tuesday evening he had not used inside information for personal gain and that he had no knowledge of other HNB staff doing so. He called on anyone with proof of such allegations to notify the HNB and HANFA.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Croatia Logs Record 9,894 New COVID Infections, 27 Deaths

ZAGREB, 12 January, 2022 - Croatia has logged 9,894 new COVID cases and 27 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the national COVID-19 response team said on Wednesday.

This is the highest number of new infections in a single day, with the previous record having been registered on 6 January, when there were 9,058 new infections.

The number of active cases in the country currently stands at 53,051. Among them are 1,822 infected persons receiving hospital treatment, including 220 who are on ventilators, and 22,474 persons are self-isolating.

A total of 3,921,868 people have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to date, including 21,301 in the last 24 hours.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in the country, 785,033 people have been registered as having contracted the new virus, of whom 12,983 have died.

A total of 718,999 people have recovered, including 3,644 in the last 24 hours.

Fifty-six percent of the total population has been vaccinated against coronavirus or 66.69% of adults. 

To date, 2,272,722 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose and 2,171,126 have been fully vaccinated, which is 63.87% of the adult population.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

300,000 Croatians to Have Their Free Health Insurance Cancelled

January 12th, 2022 - Those who have left Croatia but keep using Croatian public healthcare at the expense of the state will soon be removed from the HZZO database

As many as 300.000 Croatians could soon have their public health insurance policies cancelled by the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO), reports Novi list. Namely, Health Minister Vili Beroš has announced that the HZZO would be cancelling the policies of those insured whose residency or employment status does not grant them the right to free health coverage anymore.

Most of that list consists of citizens who emigrated in the last decade and now work and reside abroad, but retain their Croatian public health insurance at the expense of the state on the basis of being unemployed in Croatia.

A large number of such policyholders prefer to use the services of GPs or dentists when they visit Croatia, as they find it much more affordable than the equivalent service in the country they currently reside in. It’s estimated that two thirds of Croatian emigrants avail of their health insurance benefits in such a manner.

The HZZO states that a considerably large number of people benefit from the rights guaranteed by their public health insurance despite not paying the compulsory insurance contributions. The exact number could become known in a month’s time, once HZZO and the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) have merged their databases.

All citizens who are not on file with the HZZ, but avail of the free compulsory health insurance on the basis of their unemployment status, will have their health insurance policies cancelled, as well as their dependents.

According to the director of the HZZO Lucian Vukelić, those citizens who are not registered with the HZZ as unemployed persons could lose their free health insurance policies as early as in February 2022, once the two institutions have signed the data exchange agreement.

In recent years, many Croatian citizens have left their homeland in search of work; while the number of HZZ applicants dropped significantly as a result, they mostly remained on file with the HZZO and held onto their free health insurance.

A number of Croatian emigrants were removed from the HZZO database in the summer of 2021, after a data exchange with the Ministry of the Interior showed which citizens had cancelled their residency in Croatia.

According to the HZZO, at present it’s nearly impossible to find out which Croatian citizens work in other countries where they also pay their health insurance contributions and where they should thus avail of public healthcare as well. Even though it’s illegal to have public health insurance in two countries simultaneously, there still doesn’t exist a unified EU database that would reflect where citizens have contributory health insurance and use public health services.

‘Considering that there’s a bunch of different insurance providers in most countries, it’s impossible to obtain the data. You would have to search all over Europe for each policyholder individually to find out if they’re insured in a certain country. It so happens that no one in Croatia ever cancels their health insurance; [employers in] most EU countries are obligated to insure their workers upon employment, and so we end up with an enormous number of people who work abroad and are insured in Germany, Austria or Norway, whereas in Croatia their public health insurance remains covered by the national budget’, said Vukelić.

The HZZO does not have the exact figures regarding potential savings for the national budget if Croatians who are not factually unemployed were removed from the HZZO’s list of unemployed policyholders.

However, if we were to consider the 300.000 people in question, based on the health contribution rate of 16.5% of a monthly gross salary of e.g. HRK 5,000, the state is HRK 2,7 billion out of pocket each year. This does not even take into account the annual costs of health services in Croatia that such policyholders avail of.

The HZZO will also look to cancel the policies of Croatian citizens who have not left the country, but use the benefits provided by their health coverage even though they are not paying the contributions.

An example of this are undeclared workers who neither pay for the coverage nor are they on file with the HZZ, but retain their free health insurance. Such persons will need to register with the HZZ and find legal work, i.e. pay the relevant taxes and contributions.

 

https://www.novilist.hr/novosti/hrvatska/hzzo-cisti-evidenciju-besplatno-osiguranje-moglo-bi-izgubiti-300-000-ljudi-radi-se-mahom-o-iseljenicima/
Ljerka Bratonja Martinović

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Get a Taste of Zagreb County Jastrebarsko on Wine Country Getaway

January 12, 2022 – Celebrated Croatian-American Chef Richard Gruica has a big enthusiasm for local wine and food. This Saturday he'll lead curious gastronauts through a culinary tour of Zagreb County Jastrebarsko on Wine Country Getaway.

These days, it's easier than ever to find great local food in Croatia's capital. But, if you're searching for authentic Zagreb dishes, what you'll actually find is a cuisine of shared provenance.

For the most part, Zagreb food is actually the traditional menu of Zagreb County and Zagorje. These largely rural areas supply the homes, hotels and restaurants of Zagreb with much of their best food and wine.

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In villages and towns surrounding Zagreb, traditional skills are used to get the very best from the land. Often, this know how has been passed down over many generations.

Croatian-American chef Richard Gruica has a big enthusiasm for local wine and food. Splitting his time between the US and Zagreb, there's actually nothing better he likes than setting off on a voyage of culinary discovery in Zagreb County. Thankfully, there's lots to explore.

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This Saturday, 15th January, Richard is sharing some of the secrets he's found in Zagreb County Jastrebarsko on Wine Country Getaway. He'll take a small group from Zagreb to one of Croatia's premium wine-growing regions. There, you'll try some of the best wines made in continental Croatia, while learning about indigenous grapes and traditional methods. After sampling the wines, you'll be treated to a meal of traditional local food, with wine paired to the dishes.

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Richard's Wine Country Getaway will visit Plešivica, Jastrebarsko, the Samobor Hills, and the southern part of the Žumberak mountains. The tour will visit the estate of a renowned local winemaker. You'll also drop in on a traditional copper – he's the only one in this region still making wooden barrels in the traditional way. After taking in the tradition, you'll head into the hills to enjoy a traditional lunch in a rustic wooden hillside tavern. Richard's tour will conclude with a trip into town for a famous dessert.

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Richard's tour of Zagreb County Jastrebarsko on Wine Country Getaway includes

• Transportation

• Cooperage visit and tour

• Wine tasting and tour

• Gourmet lunch with appetizer, choice of entrée and paired wine

• Dessert

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All guests will be picked up in front of Hotel Academia (Ul. Ivana Tkalčića 88) at 11am on Saturday 15th January. You'll return to Zagreb at approximately 7.30pm. The cost for Zagreb County Jastrebarsko on Wine Country Getaway is 500 Kn or 75 USD. You can book your place and get more information here.

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Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Zagreb Airport Operator Hoping for Better Trends in 2022

ZAGREB, 12 January, 2022 - Međunarodna Zračna Luka Zagreb (MZLZ), the operator of Franjo Tuđman Airport, is hoping for better business trends in 2022 following the increase in turnover last year, but that will depend on the global situation which is still strongly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the company told Hina.

Some of the flights scheduled for the second half of January and partly for February have been cancelled, but most of them will be on sale again already in February, the company said in response to Hina's query about business operations and expectations for this year.

MZLZ is in continued contact with air carriers across the world to assess market conditions, understand their needs and inform them of the situation at Zagreb. It also maintains regular communication and discusses the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis with the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure as the representative of the concessionaire. Under the Concession Agreement, deferment of the payment of the concession fee has been approved to ensure business continuity, it said.

In December 2021, Zagreb was connected with 51 destinations by 19 air carriers. According to the company's statistics, Franjo Tuđman Airport served 179,500 passengers last month, about 15,000 more than in the previous month and 138,000 more than in December 2020.

The most successful months in 2021 were August (194,900 passengers), September (191,000), October (182,800) and December, and each of these months saw over 100,000 passengers more than at the same time in 2020.

Compared with 2020, the number of flights increased by around 8,000 to 29,605, and the volume of cargo increased from 9,848 tonnes to 10,781 tonnes. 

The number of business aviation and charter flights also increased.

However, the increases were still well below the results of the record-breaking year 2019. For example, the number of passengers in 2021 was 50 per cent lower than in 2019.

Although the airport's operations were strongly affected the pandemic, the company pointed out that for the entire duration of the crisis there had been no lay-offs.

MZLZ employs about 680 workers in all its affiliates and cooperates with many partners, hoping that these figures will be maintained.

Considering the considerable decline in revenues, MZLZ met the conditions to use the government job retention scheme from March 2020 to August 2021 and secured a loan through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to maintain cash flow.

MZLZ plans to open new destinations and increase the number of flights on existing routes in 2022.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Official 2021 Croatian Tourism Figures: A Nice Surprise

January 12, 2022 - The official 2021 Croatian tourism figures are surprisingly fruitful, given the pandemic. 

Namely, 13.8 million arrivals and 84.1 million overnight stays were realized in Croatia last year, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Compared to 2020, there are 77 percent more arrivals and 55 percent more overnight stays.

At the same time, foreign tourists realized 71.9 million overnight stays and domestic tourists had 12.3 million overnight stays. This is a continuation of the trend from 2020, in which domestic tourists crossed 15 percent of all arrivals for the second year in a row and had 13.3 percent of all overnight stays in 2020 and 14.5 percent a year later.

The pandemic deterred many from traveling abroad, so many tourists spent their vacation on the Adriatic.

According to the number of overnight stays, the results from recent years were achieved. The only better period was from 2017-2019. Last year reached 2017 with a 2.4 percent difference as 86.2 million overnight stays were realized in that year.

"On the other hand, 2021 set a record in the size that is the goal of every tourism policy - the average number of stays exceeded six nights per tourist for the first time in tourism history. Moreover, by the end of the third quarter, the average number of overnight stays was 6.7, close to a 7-day average stay. This speaks of the growing interest of tourists to stay in Croatia, which, thanks to the efforts of tourism workers, local communities, and the hospitality and tourism sector has more to offer than the sun and sea," says private consultant Ivica Žuro.

Most tourist overnight stays were recorded in Istria (23.5 million), Split-Dalmatia (15.5 million), and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (15.3 million).

They are followed by Zadar County (12.7 million overnight stays), Šibenik-Knin County (5.9 million), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (5.4 million). The destinations that attracted the most visitors were Zagreb (638,000 arrivals), Rovinj (549,000), Dubrovnik (543,000), Split (529,000) and Poreč (431,000 arrivals).

Looking at the markets in 2021, most arrivals were made by Germans (2.9 million, 84 percent growth compared to 2020), domestic tourists (2.3 million or 41 percent more than in 2020), Slovenes (1.2 million, 18% growth compared to 2020), Austrians (1.1 million, 180 percent growth compared to 2020), Poles (1 million, 50 percent growth compared to 2020) and Czechs (775.00 or 50 percent more than in 2020).

Compared to 2020, there were 78% more Italians, 100% more Hungarians, 168% more French, and 324% more Dutch.

Central and Eastern Europe is still our primary market, especially compared to the record  2019. Poles achieved 8% more overnight stays; Germans are on the same number, Czechs achieved 97% of pre-pandemic overnight stays, while Slovenians and Austrians achieved about 82% of overnight stays from 2019.

Most overnight stays by type of accommodation were recorded in households (32.1 million), camps (17.4 million), and hotels (15.7 million). In addition, 3.1 million overnight stays were realized in the nautical charter segment. Compared to 2020, the highest traffic growth was achieved in hotels (+124 percent), camps (+92 percent), nautical (+87 percent), and household facilities (+45 percent).

According to the Croatian National Tourist Board, in the first nine months of 2021, revenues from foreign tourists amounted to 8 billion and 268 million euros, representing a growth of 90% of revenues from the same period in 2020 (the first corona-pandemic year). Compared to the first nine months of 2019, 88% of revenues were generated.

During the summer months and the third quarter of 2021, revenues from foreign tourists amounted to 6 billion and 775 million euros, an increase of 100% of revenues generated during the same period in 2020.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Lufthansa Munich-Zagreb Line Delayed Until May

January 12, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as the Lufthansa Munich-Zagreb line is delayed until the beginning of May. 

Star Alliance group member Lufthansa has postponed the start of the Munich-Zagreb line until May this year, reports Croatian Aviation.

Although the flights were previously planned from the first day of the summer flight schedule (the beginning of April), Lufthansa has now extended the first flights on this route by a month to the beginning of May.

Namely, as of May 2, 2022, the Lufthansa Munich-Zagreb line, on which A319 aircraft has been announced, will depart before noon from Munich, with an early afternoon departure from Zagreb.

Croatian Aviation has learned that meetings will be held within the company in the coming days on the destination network from Munich.

As it is a feeding line, its traffic in the upcoming summer season will depend on long-haul or overseas lines from or to Munich.

If Lufthansa decides to keep most flights from its central hub, Frankfurt, flights between Munich and Zagreb will likely be canceled this summer as well.

The Croatian national airline, Croatia Airlines, also operates between Munich and Zagreb. By the end of January, as many as ten flights a week were announced on DashQ400 aircraft with a capacity of 76 seats. As Lufthansa and Croatia Airlines have signed a code-share agreement for this route, scheduled flights are available to passengers of both airlines.

Recall, Croatian Aviation reported that Lufthansa would increase the number of weekly rotations between Frankfurt and Rijeka in the upcoming summer flight schedule.

Lufthansa has operated a regular flight between Munich and Rijeka for many years. In 2021, Lufthansa also introduced a regular line between Frankfurt and Rijeka, which was also in operation every Saturday. 

Instead of one weekly flight, Lufthansa will operate twice a week between Frankfurt and Rijeka this year. The line should start working on Saturday, April 9, and the second weekly flight will be introduced on Wednesday, May 25. Flights on Wednesdays will run in the evening, and on Saturdays in the morning. This will give passengers to and from Kvarner more flexibility when planning a trip, which was practically impossible with one flight a week.

A320 aircraft with a capacity of 168 seats have been announced for the summer of 2022.

German Condor will also operate between Frankfurt and Rijeka in the upcoming summer season, once a week, also on Saturdays, between May 21 and September 24. Thus, Rijeka will be connected to this famous European hub with three flights a week.

Between Munich and Rijeka, Lufthansa should operate once a week this summer, and Croatia Airlines is expected to launch three-weekly flights on this route.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Euro 2022 Croatia Handball Player List Set, First Match against France on Thursday

January 12, 2022 - The Euro 2022 Croatia handball player list has been set ahead of Croatia's first match against France on Thursday. 

After eleven days of preparations and two Croatia Cup matches against Russia, the Croatia handball team traveled to Hungary for the European Championship, reports HRS.

Luka Šebetić's injury, the positive COVID-19 tests for captain Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Cindrić, and the minor injury of Marko Mamić, largely disrupted preparations in Osijek. As the situation with Duvnjak and Cindrić was quite uncertain, Tin Lučin later joined the national team.

The new temporary captain of the national team is Ivan Čupić.

On Tuesday, the epidemiologist gave the green light to Domagoj Duvnjak, but Luka Cindrić is still positive and will remain in isolation in Osijek until further notice. Unfortunately, COVID-19 left a mark on captain Duvnjak and he will continue his therapy in Croatia and join the national team later. Therefore, coach Hrvoje Horvat decided to take all 19 players he had at his disposal during the preparations to Hungary. Seventeen were on the bus to Szeged on Tuesday.

Those who test positive must have two negative tests in 24 hours before they can start training or playing. Croatia will face France on Thursday, then Serbia on January 15, and finally, Ukraine on January 17. Only the top two teams from each of the six groups advance.

Depending on the condition of Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Cindrić, coach Horvat can invite another player later. 

Euro 2022 Croatia handball player list 

IVAN PEŠIĆ – TVB 1898 STUTTGART
MATE ŠUNJIĆ – US IVRY HANDBALL
MATEJ MANDIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
DAVID MANDIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
LOVRO MIHIĆ – ORLEN WISLA PLOCK
IVAN ĆUPIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
FILIP GLAVAŠ – HC TRIMO TREBNJE
MARIN ŠIPIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
LEON ŠUŠNJA – ORLEN WISLA PLOCK
ŠIME IVIĆ – SC DHfK LEIPZIG
IVAN MARTINOVIĆ – TSV HANNOVER-BURGDORF
LUKA CINDRIĆ – BARCA
DOMAGOJ DUVNJAK – THW KIEL
MARKO MAMIĆ – SC DHfK LEIPZIG
ZVONIMIR SRNA – RK PPD ZAGREB
HALIL JAGANJAC – RK NEXE
ANTE GADŽA – HC VARDAR 1961
NIKOLA GRAHOVAC – RK PPD ZAGREB
TIN LUČIN – ORLEN WISLA PLOCK

Professional Staff

HRVOJE HORVAT, COACH
IVANO BALIĆ, TRAINER
NINOSLAV PAVELIĆ, GOALKEEPER TRAINER
MILJENKO RAK , CONDITIONING TRAINER
GORAN KRUŠELJ, PHYSIOTHERAPIST
MATIJA RAJNOVIĆ, PHYSIOTHERAPIST

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

 

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Large Increase in Illegal Entries into EU, 125% More on Western Balkan route

ZAGREB, 12 January, 2022 - The number of illegal entries into the EU in 2021 reached nearly 200,000, which is the highest number since 2017, and the highest increase, of 125% on the year, was recorded on the Western Balkan route, the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex said on Tuesday.

Compared to the pre-pandemic 2019, the number rose by 36%, and compared to 2020, by 57%, the agency said.

The largest number of illegal border-crossings was registered on the Central Mediterranean route, over 65,000, a jump of 83% compared to 2020.

It is followed by the Western Balkan route, which saw over 60,000 illegal border-crossings, 125% more than in 2020.

The Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Mediterranean route saw an increase of 0.5% and 6% respectively.

A new route, which has not been used before, on eastern borders with Belarus, nearly 8,000 illegal border-crossing were recorded, which is a rise of 1,069%.

In 2021, most of the people detected crossing the border illegally were Syrians, followed by Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians and Afghans.

As in 2020, women accounted for less than 10% of illegal migrants, a significant drop in their percentage compared to 2019, according to Frontex. The share of minors remained largely the same.

On the Central Mediterranean route, most of the illegal migrants were Tunisians, followed by Egyptians, whose number increased seven times compared to 2020, and then migrants from Bangladesh, Algeria and Morocco.

On the Western Balkan route, the number of illegal border-crossings had been rising until September last year, and then it fell slightly.

Most of those detected crossing the border illegally were in the area before, and they have been repeatedly trying to enter the EU territory and continue to their desired destination, Frontex said.

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