Sunday, 16 October 2022

Croatia Handball Edges Out Belgium in Dramatic 2024 EURO Qualifying Match

October 16, 2022 - After a thrilling second half that went goal for goal, the Croatia handball team beat Belgium 30-27 in Hasselt as part of the EHF EURO 2024 qualifiers. 

After beating Greece in the 1st EHF EURO 2024 qualification round, a new challenge awaited the Croatia men's handball team. On Sunday, Croatia played in Hasselt against Belgium, a national team that has made great strides in the last few years and is rapidly approaching major competitions.

Hrvoje Horvat took 18 players to Belgium. He decided to spare Ivan Pešić, Veron Načinović, and Vlada Matanović. The first two missed the first match, and instead of Vlado Matanović, Horvat took Luka Lovre Klarica to Belgium. 

Qualifications for EURO 2024 began for Croatia on October 12 against Greece. The 2024 EHF European Men's Handball Championship will be hosted in Germany from  January 10 to 28, 2024. This will be the 16th handball Euros and the third to feature 24 national teams. 

Lineups

Belgium: Lettens, Brixhe, Serras, Braun, S. Spooren, Colman, Vandebeeck, Vancosen, Kedziora, Danesi, Glorieux, Qerimi, Gille, De Beule, R. Spooren, Deekens

Croatia: Marić, Duvnjak, Šarac, Karačić, Musa, Cindrić, Mandić, Lučin, Jaganjac, Kuzmanović, Martinović, Šipić, Šego, Glavaš, Klarica, Jelinić

Match report

FULL-TIME Croatia managed to beat Belgium in a tough match - 27:30

59' Lučin brings Croatia back to a two-goal lead with less than a minute left in the match

58' Croatia goes back up to two goals. Lučin and Duvnjak lead Croatia. Belgium calls a time-out

57' Qerimi continues brilliantly, finds the pivot with an excellent ball behind Croatia's defense. Glavaš misses a chance to score, and Belgium equalizes

53' Tin Lučin manages to bring Croatia to a two-goal lead, but Belgium immediately responds 

50' The game is goal for goal; Jelinić keeps Croatia level with two goals, while we have no solution for Belgium's attacks

46' After Cindrić's goal, Qerimi returns. Croatia fails to stop Belgium's attacks

43' Kuzmanović is excellent in goal with his seventh save, preventing Belgium's new lead. Jelinić brings Croatia back to one goal behind

39' Horvat loses patience and calls a time-out. Belgium takes its first lead in the match

38' Belgium equalized, Croatia started to struggle in the attack 

36' Croatia's defense suffered. Belgium failed to equalize only because of two great reactions from Kuzmanović

33' Martinović continues brilliantly, but Qerim responds on the other side. Marino Marić enters the pivot position for the first time in today's game

31' The second half begins in Hasselt, Croatia has a two-goal advantage, and Belgium has the first attack

HALFTIME: Croatia leads 15:13 in Hasselt, Belgium, but it is far from what was expected against Belgium

30' Martinović and Lučin bring Croatia back to a two-goal advantage

28' After an excellent defense, Kuzmanović passes the ball to Belgium, who returns to one goal behind 

25' Croatia plays on the outside line; the defense is still the biggest problem; Karačić, Lučin, and Martinović keep Croatia at three goals ahead 

22' Croatia does not capitalize on three attacks in a row, Belgium returns to just a goal behind, time-out called by Hrvoje Horvat

15' The first time-out of the match was called by Belgium. Croatia is good in the attack but allows too much in the defense

12 'Driving from the outside line and with David Mandić's goal, Croatia reached a comfortable three-goal lead

9' Croatia does not manage to break away; the game is goal for goal

4' Two consecutive goals by Belgium and a short lead before Luka Cindrić's goal to equalize

2' Domagoj Duvnjak scored the first goal of the match

1' Croatia went for its second victory against Belgium in the 2024 European Championship qualifiers

Source: Jutarnji List

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Croatian Restaurant Chain Koykan Hopes to Conquer Germany, Austria

October the 15th, 2022 - The Croatian restaurant chain Koykan, known for its so-called ''fast-casual'' style, is set to spread to the German and Austrian markets following a new investment round.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Wednesday this week, the Croatian restaurant chain Koykan presented its expansion plans for the wider European Union (EU) market to investors, which includes the opening of as many as fifty franchise restaurants in Germany and Austria by the tear 2025. The Croatian chain Koykan is otherwise quite the unique restaurant concept that offers a wide range range of street food dishes and international cuisine in one place, from Asian and Mexican to Mediterranean and American, all based on high-quality and fresh local ingredients.

In order for the company's ambitious plan to expand its business to the European Union market to come true, the founders of Koykan plan to attract an investment worth one million euros with the help of the digital investment platform Funderbeam, and would-be investors have confirmed their interest in investing in this rapidly growing Croatian street food franchise.

"Funderbeam is a global digital platform that enables startups and developing businesses to raise capital under more favourable conditions than venture capital and other forms of investment at that stage of business development. At the same time, Funderbeam also enables individuals to become part of the business success of innovative and growing businesses as small investors with an investment of as little as 250 euros. This is a significant change in the world of investments, since until now such investments were reserved only for large institutional investors,'' explained Ognjan Despot, the director of Funderbeam for Central and Eastern Europe. He also pointed out that Croatian companies have already raised more than six million euros through various Funderbeam investments, while total investments through Funderbeam amount to more than 50 million euros.

"We didn't just decide to take this step overnight. Over the past decade, we've learned a lot, often from our own mistakes, we've worked persistently, we've developed, and only now are we truly ready for expansion into the European Union markets. With the help of Funderbeam, our goal is to raise one million euros in Series A and with that spring our step, to open up fifty franchise restaurants throughout Germany and Austria over the next three years," explained Boro Milivojevic, one of the co-founders of the Croatian restaurant chain Koykan.

Every company on Funderbeam must have a leading investor who contributes to the campaign's credibility with their investment, and the leading investor in Koykan, Mato Marcinkovic & Partners, emphasised that here in the Republic of Croatia, it is necessary to activate the investment climate in promising companies that plan to expand to a much larger market in Europe.

Davor Bruketa, a partner in the famous Croatian branding agency Bruketa&Zinic&Grey, joined Koykan as one of the investors. "After hearing about Koykan's story a few months ago, I decided to invest and financially support the project. The expansion of the first Croatian fast-casual restaurant chain is also interesting to my agency, so we decided together that Bruketa&Zinic&Grey will help with the design, digital advertising and brand activation for their franchise expansion," says Davor Bruketa.

The Croatian restaurant chain Koykan wants to include all of its fans in this project, therefore both Koykan employees and major suppliers have become investors, and the desire is for customers who like the famous Koykan classics such as their burgers, gyros, wraps and other offers to join in as well. The fundraising campaign on Funderbeam is set to continue for another month, and the currently expressed interest in investing has already exceeded the initial expectations of the founders.

For more on Croatian companies and investments, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Friday, 14 October 2022

Dutchman Finds Dubrovnik Father after 55 Years

October 14, 2022 - Some 55 years after a holiday romance that brought him into the world, a Dutchman comes to Dubrovnik to search for his father... and finds him!

It has been quite a 3 weeks since I published the appeal of a Dutchman trying to locate his biological father, with just a grainy old photograph of a Dubrovnik waiter, a name which was probably not correct, and a few details of a holiday romance on the Adriatic back in 1967 - Looking for My Dad, a 1967 Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik Waiter.

My inbox was flooded with offers of help - paid and unpaid - and leads to the father in no less than 5 countries. Cometh the hour, cometh the legendica. I asked for help from my partner-in-crime, Laura Siprak from 24Sata, from last year's story identifying the mystery woman on Krk who had lost her memory

Laura took over the story completely, and all credit for finding Stefan's father and uniting them is 100% hers. Here is her story, published earlier in Croatian on 24Sata.

Stefan found his father! 'I found peace and a piece of family. After a whole 55 years, I hugged my dad!'

It all started with an email that Stefan Brouwers sent to Paul Bradbury on the Total News Croatia portal. He was looking for a father he had never met, and his mother was not comfortable talking about it. He had one blurry picture, the name of the Hotel Bellevue and his name: Gojko Smiljanić.

Bradbury published his email and contacted 24sata reporters to help, based on previous good cooperation. And we helped. After a video call with Stefan and his wife, the two of them packed up and set off from the Netherlands on a 1,500-kilometer journey to Dubrovnik.

At the same time, Bradbury was getting information from people from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and we set about checking directories, asking former hotel drivers who are still alive, looking into old school and military archives, even the first director of the Dubrovnik - Neretva tourist board, Anto Štrbić - Fulina. In his youth, he was a baker in Dubrovnik, and even today he runs a restaurant in Ploče, so he knows most of the restaurateurs from that area. But the number of people named Gojko Smiljanić is higher than expected, so the elimination process took a few days.

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In the end, the friend of Gojko we were looking for called and, after the initial uncertainty and cancellation, Stefan managed to find his father.

- I have to thank everyone who called, you who did an excellent job with Paul, and my father's friend who acted as a mediator and helped us meet. The people in Croatia are truly wonderful, we could not have imagined such a turn of events. It was emotionally draining, but also beautiful. The mediator drove us to the restaurant where we met, introduced us and left after 15 minutes. My father is a warm and gentle person with a great sense of humor. We were both a little nervous at first, but he had a relaxed 'it happened' attitude, so it was easier. We spent several hours together, exchanged numbers and will try to stay in touch. We didn't do a DNA test, but it's him, the story matches and we look very similar physically - says Stefan.

He is not his only child and after the summer romance with Nettie, Gojko met his wife and built a family, so he will leave the remnants of the meeting and photos for himself. This is a shock to everyone, which is why the meeting was arranged in five days, but the most important thing is that they found each other.

- Emotions were everywhere. For most of my life, I was interested in who my father was. I've been looking for him for over 20 years, ever since I had my son, and my mother gave me that blurry photo and told me the basic information. This was my last attempt, to find him where he and my mom met. A month ago, I did not believe that I would find him. When we arrived two weeks ago, I was excited and nervous because it looked like you found it. And it is! At that moment, I could not even imagine that I would meet him. I am glad that he is understanding and accepted me from the moment we met. There were a lot of emotions in me, but happiness is the strongest one. Now I can say that I have found peace and that part of my family that I have been missing all my life - concludes Stefan.

And besides his father, he also got a large family. Life is unusual, so it turned out that some relatives live scattered around the world, some of them very close to Stefan. The unusual search, fortunately, ended in the best way: two families have expanded, and Stefan now knows what interests every person - where we come from. 

****

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

Friday, 14 October 2022

Drought Especially Tough on Croatian Sheep Farmers: Hardest Year in Last 30

October 14, 2022 - The drought created big problems for Croatian sheep farmers. The largest sheep farm in Krk produces five and a half tonnes of cheese annually. And while last year, despite the pandemic, was good for them, they are adding damage due to the drought this year.

As HRT writes, they do hope that the sheep will recover by the time they need to be milked and that they will persist in the quality of the cheese.

Both in summer and winter, about four hundred sheep of the Mrakovčić family roam freely in the pastures on the sunniest side of the island of Krk. They learned everything about sheep from their ancestors and founded their OPG and Sirana (family farm and cheese production) about thirty years ago. But due to the dry summer, this is their first year which they think could be critical.

"We normally do not add fodder or dry hay during the summer, but only during February and March when the vegetation is scarce. I don't remember having to add so much water and food," says Mirjenko Mrakovčić, owner of OPG from Kornić, Krk.

Typically, sheep consume a cubic meter of water daily and up to twelve hay bales." And you can see that the sheep are not in the best condition and have lost some weight. Well, you can't see it now because of the wool, but if you fleeced them, it would become apparent. They graze on grass, eat young olive leaves, blackberries, whatever they find, and laurel is the sweetest for them", said Marko.

Everyone hopes the sheep will have recovered by the time they need to be milked.

"We exclusively milk sheep who graze on vegetation; we do not add anything, which is why our milk and cheese are of high quality," emphasizes Mirjenko.

They are the eight-time champions of Croatia and the region. The flavours of their cheeses - Green and Black Bodul, Ordinary, and Magriž - are enjoyed on all continents. They even refined the offer on the doorstep with olive oil and sweet delicacies.

"One month is better; another is worse; we get some incentives from the county and some from European funds. We have had customers for about 20 years," pointed out Vesna Mrakovčić, owner of the OPG.

Their good results are spoiled by wild boars and jackals, killing about twenty sheep yearly.

"As far as I know, two farms are now selling sheep; there is no future if the wild boars and jackals are not removed from the island of Krk," emphasized Mirjenko.

The reality is these humble OPGs are just desperate to maintain the high quality of their products.

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

Friday, 14 October 2022

Croatian Entrepreneurs Ready to Fight Growing Crisis

Zagreb, October 13, 2022 (GIA) – The growing crisis should be used as an opportunity! The speakers of the Entrepreneurial Mindset conference, the fourth edition of which was held in Zagreb's Lauba, had the subtitle Unbreakable. More than 20 extremely successful entrepreneurs from various fields, from IT to education and the hotel industry to show business, shared their vision of success in challenging times with 500 entrepreneurs, businessmen, and young people. The conference was organized by the media platform Poduzetnik in cooperation with program partner EY Croatia and Algebra.

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While the world fears the extent of the new crisis, entrepreneurs are pushed forward by their indomitable spirit. It is their obligation, they explained, towards employees and society.

"Companies do not exist because of the founder and his family, but because of the wider social community! Over the years, the responsibility of the founder grows, so companies must last because of other people", agreed Miljenko Borščak and Stiven Toš, winners of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 award, whose company Bomark Pak became the largest producer of stretch film in Europe this spring. The results follow the company's large investment cycle, i.e. investment in the construction of plants and warehouses. Bomark Pak will realize exports worth more than HRK 1 billion this year.

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(Entrepreneurial Mindset conference founder, Ognjen Bagatin)

Davor Tremac, CEO and co-founder of the company Fonoa, which deals with tax automation, told those who are just starting out in entrepreneurship to live locally and work globally: "You only live once, but your ambitions must be global." Don't wait years to get out of Croatia onto the foreign market!"

"I don't remember a crisis like this - from the coronavirus pandemic and war to interrupted supply chains and rising prices of raw materials to inflation. We don't even know what lies ahead. We need to know our long-term goal and focus on the short-term one. In order to be able to meet business goals, we need to take care of the organization. This is where good leaders are important to us," said Lada Tedeschi Fiori, member of the Atlantic Grupa Management Board. Speaking about leadership, she pointed out that it has no gender, but that it should be responsible, correct, and long-term sustainable.

Serial entrepreneur Jaka Andabak said that he remembers difficult times from childhood, but that man always found a solution. Commenting on the current situation, he pointed out that entrepreneurs are in favor of a free market, but that state mechanisms should work so that there is no chaos in the market.

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Knowledge irreplaceable in the development of innovations

The conference participants also touched on education in the role of strengthening the entrepreneurial climate in the country. Hrvoje Josip Balen, founder and co-owner of Algebra and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, confirmed that investment in knowledge is growing in Croatia, and that the war in Ukraine confirmed the value of the Latin saying "I carry everything with me".

Stjepan Orešković, co-owner of M+ Group, emphasized the inextricable connection between entrepreneurship and education: "The best investments are in ourselves! Nothing without hard study and hard knowledge!"

Zlatko Hrkać, CEO of SofaScore, said that you don't have to be the first in something, but you have to be the best. He told future entrepreneurs: "Whoever wants to swim in entrepreneurial waters, should stop expecting success overnight."

Nikola Kapraljević, CEO of Infinum, wants that company to become one of the largest digital agencies in the world. Infinum already employs more than 400 people in 7 offices around the world.

Strong cooperation between large companies and entrepreneurs

Dajana Mrčela, president of the Management Board of Saponia i Kandit, and Maja Šuput Tatarinov, entrepreneur, presenter and singer, presented how successful cooperation between large companies and entrepreneurs can be, in a conversation with moderator Ana Radišić on the panel called I Can - I Want - I Know.

Maja Šuput Tatarinov explained that a man whose life is under the spotlight must toughen up in order to know how to deal with the stories of people who do not know him. In business circles, she is recognized as a person of inexhaustible energy, and she herself admits that she wakes up every morning with a hundred ideas and wishes. She adds: "When you love what you do, you attract good things."

Dajana Mrčela described the cooperation with her as a great thing. Mrčel's attitude towards work was also influenced by the fact that he comes from a family that was involved in sports. He loves beating the competition and conquering new markets. She is proud of the fact that while many companies in Slavonia struggle to find employees, in Saponia and Kandit most workers stay until retirement.

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Challenges of management transfer in family companies

Entrepreneurs from Serbia and Croatia recounted what the transfer of ownership and management in family businesses looks like.

Nikola Anđelković, director of the Anđelković AI company and winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 award, who took over the management of the company from his father, said: "A successful family business is built over generations for a reason and everyone contributes, and comparing the success of individual generations is not healthy because they differ in approach, time and circumstances. Who is better - father or son?! These are not the same disciplines! Someone created the company with his great energy, and we, the heirs, are the managers. If I do things Dad's way, it will limit us. He is satisfied with our upgrade in the management of the company. True leadership means giving people a free hand."

Brothers Jakov and Juraj Urbanke from HSM informatics discovered that the key to successfully running a family business is to have different opinions, but to know that family members who work together are on the same page.

The leading award program for successful entrepreneurial stories

Berislav Horvat, Country Managing Partner of EY Croatia, invited entrepreneurs to submit their own and others' successful entrepreneurial stories to the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Applications are open until the end of November, and the winner of the eighth edition, who will defend the colors of Croatian entrepreneurship in Monaco, side by side with the world's leading entrepreneurs, will be announced at a ceremony in March 2023.

Ognjen Bagatin, the founder of the Entrepreneurial Mindset conference, emphasized that an ecosystem should be built where the excellent help the excellent in order to bring Croatia closer to developed European countries in terms of well-being, income, and ease of living: "True leaders are strong, durable and resilient, they believe in themselves and their future, they are truly unbreakable - a guide for all of us towards a better and better Croatia."

Petar Pavić, co-founder of Star Digital Group, urged other entrepreneurs to, if possible, provide scholarships to students who want to study abroad.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset conference was organized by the media platform Poduzetnik in cooperation with Algebra and program partner EY Hrvatska.

Source: Millenium promotion Photo: Krume Ivanovski

For more about business in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 14 October 2022

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from Posao.hr (October 14, 2022)

October 14, 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.

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WEEKLY SELECTION OF JOB LISTINGS

CoachVision GmbH is hiring a Business Development in Startup (m/f) candidate for work in Zagreb, Croatia. They are offering remote work, agile working hours and a starting pay 7.000 kn. Apply by Oct 25th via this link.

Falkensteiner Hotelmanagement d.o.o. is hiring the Head of Sales MICE & Sports (m/f) in Zadar, Croatia. The company is offering a competitive salary, all-inclusive onboarding, a buddy program, individual development planning and support and much more! Apply by clicking this link until Nov 12th.

A Client is hiring a Content Marketing Manager (m/f) in Zagreb, Croatia for remote work. If you have 2 years of marketing / social media / communications experience, great communication and creative writing skills and full proficiency in both English and Croatian, apply by Oct 18th by clicking here.

Metro Cash & Carry d.o.o. zapošljava Learning and Development Experta (m/ž) za rad u uredu uprave u Zagrebu. Ako su tvoja strast edukacije i razvoj zaposlenika, imaš sjajne komunikacijske i organizacijske vještine, a voliš surađivati s drugima, ovo je sjajna prilika za tebe! Prijavi se do 12.11.2022. klikom na link ovdje.

Strabag BRVZ d.o.o. is hiring a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solution Architect (m/f/d) for work in Zagreb, Belgrade, or Moscow. They are offering work with advanced IT technologies in a leading European company, a friendly international team, voluntary medical insurance, extended periods of paid leave, and much more! Applications can be submitted until Nov 3rd through this link.

Pfizer Inc. is hiring a Patient Experience Partner (PEP) Adriatic (m/f) for work in Ljubljana, Slovenia. All the requirements and details can be seen by clicking here, and applications can be submitted until Oct 28th.

Culmena d.o.o. zapošljava Marketing Managera (m/ž) za rad u njihovom uredu u Zagrebu na određeno vrijeme. Poslodavac nudi priliku za rad u dog-friendly uredu, u fleksibilnom i pozitivnom okruženju s raznim timskim aktivnostima! Prijavite se do 18.10.2022. klikom na link ovdje.

AA Euro Croatia d.o.o is hiring a Senior Backend Developer (m/f) for remote work. Benefits for working with them include a 12 month contract with the possibility of extension, a competitive salary on a weekly basis, and a chance to work with a skilled team of professionals. Apply by Nov 11th via this link.

Eumetsat is hiring a Network Architecture Engineer (m/f) in Darmstadt, Germany. All the details about this vacancy are available here, and you can use the same link to apply until Nov 8th - good luck!

Scalable Global Solutions d.d. is hiring a Marketing Coordinator (m/f/d) in Zagreb! They are looking for a positive, detail-oriented, and diligent person who has knowledge and skills with WordPress, Canva, Illustrator, and other similar programs related to Marketing tools. Apply via this link until Nov 7th.

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

Friday, 14 October 2022

Croatian Air Traffic Among the Closest to Pre-COVID Levels in Europe

October 14, 2022 - Passenger air traffic in Europe's airport network rose by 51% in August compared to the same month in 2021 but was still down 12% from the record in 2019, according to a newly released analysis by the International Airports Association (ACI).

As Poslovni writes, in general, the recovery of the aviation market is visible because the differences compared to 2019 are decreasing month by month - in July 2022, the decrease was 14.4%, while in June, this was 17.3%. Tourist countries, such as Croatia, are recording the most remarkable recovery and have the slightest difference compared to the pre-coronavirus situation.

According to ACI Europe, the EU+1 market, which consists of the EU countries and the United Kingdom, is leading the recovery with an increase in passenger traffic at airports by 64% in August compared to the same month last year.

The best results were achieved by airports in the United Kingdom (+178%), Finland (+175%), and Ireland (+147%). Compared to pre-pandemic levels, airports in Greece (+4.5%), Luxembourg (+6.4%), and Iceland (+0.2%) achieved complete recovery in passenger traffic in August.

Meanwhile, airports in other major tourist markets, including Portugal (-5.8%), Spain (-7.4%), Italy (-8.5%), and Croatia (-8.6%), are closest to a full recovery. In contrast, airports in Slovenia (-40.1%), Finland (-37.7%), Latvia (-31.1%), the Czech Republic (-30.5%), and Bulgaria (-29.3%) came significantly short, which is largely a reflection of the impact of the war in Ukraine and related sanctions against Russia and Belarus. Among the larger markets, the results of airports in France (-13.5%) and Germany (-14.2%) were similar, while those in the UK (-19%) still lag behind.

In airports in the rest of Europe, passenger traffic increased by only 7% compared to the same month last year, which was a decrease of 16% compared to 2019. However, airports in Albania (+60.3%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (+ 31.2%), Kosovo (+22.7%), and Armenia (+21.4%) far exceeded their 2019 figures.

Russia's figures also grew by 5.7%. At the other end of the spectrum, airports in Belarus (-60.6%) and Moldova (-20.4%) recorded a steep decline. Istanbul was Europe's busiest airport, receiving 6.8 million passengers during August, and it is the only major European hub whose passenger numbers exceeded the pre-pandemic levels by 1%.

Istanbul itself grew by almost 50% compared to last year. London-Heathrow is second with 6.04 million passengers, followed by Paris-CDG with 6.02 million passengers. Amsterdam recorded 5.33 million and Frankfurt 5.19 million passengers in August.

"The statistics from August show how polarised the situation is becoming for European airports as they are dominated by externalities. On the one hand, the public appetite for travel is undiminished – as the wave of holidays shows. On the other hand, there is the reality of war. It seems that a simple geographical fact will affect the stability of our members for some time," said Olivier Jankovec, general director of ACI EUROPE based in Brussels, while the global ACI, which manages 2,000 world airports, is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, in August 2022, the total passenger traffic at Croatian airports amounted to 1.77 million, which is 41.8% more than in August 2021. Compared to August 2019, that was a decrease of 9.2%.

The total passenger traffic from January to August 2022 was 6.9 million, i.e., 83.7% of the traffic from the same period in 2019. In August, Split Airport had the highest passenger traffic, with 623 thousand passengers, followed by Dubrovnik with 428 thousand passengers, and Zagreb with 346 thousand passengers.

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

Friday, 14 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - INA, Russians and Sylvester Stallone

October the 14th, 2022 - Let's have a look at the past week in Croatian politics with just some of the stories from the political stage, the bad, the embarrassing, and the just plain weird.

HDZ earns its second worst rating since Andrej Plenkovic has been at the helm of the party

HDZ hasnt done brilliantly in its latest rating, with it being the second worst one since Plenkovic has been top dog. Index reports that in cooperation with Promocija (Promotion) plus, RTL published the CRO Demoskop for the month of October 2022. The survey was conducted from October the 3rd to thr 6th on a sample of 1,300 respondents. The standard error of the sample was +/- 2.77 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

For most people, the INA situation is the most important issue within Croatian politics and in the country at this moment in time, and this continues to affect the rating of the ruling party and of the prime minister himself.

Although HDZ is still the first choice when it comes to political parties for almost a quarter of respondents, this is HDZ's second lowest rating since the arrival of Andrej Plenkovic at as head of the party (October 24.4 percent - September 24.2 percent). SDP (October 16.7 percent - September 16.6 percent) and Mozemo! (We Can!) also have similar support as they did back in September. (October 10.6 percent - September 10.6 percent.

With a slight drop, the fourth choice of the respondents was Most (Bridge), slightly above 9 percent (October 9.2 percent - September 9.4 percent), and another right-wing option, Domovinski pokret (Homeland Movement), which is growing when compared to September (October 6 percent - September 5.5 percent).

The Croatian Government apparently wants to go ahead with the much talked about plans to build the country's national stadium in Zagreb, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no, and the City of Zagreb has been left in the dark

If you follow the world of sport, particularly football, you've probably wondered why a country so famed for its sportsmanship and for churning out top class athletes doesn't actually have its own national football stadium. You wouldn't be the only one who has asked that question. It is a subject that people have gone back and forth on for years now, and it appears that the situation is as clear as it has ever been (clear like mud, that is), as the government says we're set to go ahead with the stadium's construction, but the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no.

A spokesperson for the Croatian Government, Marko Milic, has said that a stadium is going to be built, finally, and that it is a priority, but in just as much time as it took him to make the statement, the aforementioned ministry said that wasn't going to be the case. To say he is a government spokeperson, Milic doesn't take the stand as it were very often, and his confidence surrounding this matter has obviously confused some.

"Soon it could be a reality. And yes, I can tell you that we are going to build a stadium in Zagreb," said Milic, adding that addition to the state, other stakeholders will participate in the work, without specifying who exactly those stakeholders actually are.

Milic also said that preparations and consultations for the new budget year are currently underway, and that investments for the apparently upcoming stadium are also being taken into account in these calculations. Hr also noted that a financial framework is being sought for the construction of a stadium in Zagreb where Dinamo would play. Milic later mentioned other larger cities such as Rijeka and Split, where there are stadiums that have "national significance".

"The priority is to build the stadium in Zagreb, which is in a bad condition," said Milic, adding at the end that both Dinamo and the Croatian national team have shown that they deserve an adequate stadium.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sport was quick to deny what Milic had stated. 

"The state isn't building the stadium, nor is it financing the stadium independently, nor is this the model we're thinking about, but the state could potentially co-finance the construction and equipping of sports buildings, according to clearly developed criteria and based on the conducted tender," the Ministry led by Nikolina Brnjac stated in response.

As she explained, the draft Law on Sport will give the government the opportunity to declare certain sports buildings as buildings of national interest, but it is, in typical Croatian style, entirely unclear what the criteria for something to be of national interest actually are. Also in typical Croatian style, the City of Zagreb apparently has absolutely no idea of any of these plans. ''We know absolutely nothing about any of these government plans,'' Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic's office stated.

It also begs the question as to why this is even a topic within Croatian politics when parts of Zagreb and particularly Sisak-Moslavina County are still waiting for renovations and reconstruction following the earthquakes of 2020.

Most tries to twist the knife with HDZ by publishing a list of the party's apparently ''forgotten'' ties with Russia

Most took to good old Facebook to respond to PM Andrej Plenkovic, who, just to quickly remind you, rejected the opposition's claims that the government and HDZ were to blame for the catastrophically embarrassing and expensive INA affair, and said that the opposition is attempting to come together and overthrow the government in a joint operation.

"There are no doubts about any of this, it's all just an orchestrated operation and the actions of very clearly visible and recognisable actors, we just have to see how much of it is internal, and how much is external. That's the only question we still need to look at in a little more detail, but we'll examine that too," Plenkovic said.

Most then made a list of links between HDZ and Russia.

"Here are all of HDZ's ''forgotten' connections with the Russians. Since HDZ is trying to move away from the topic of its corruption and high treason in regard to INA to the topic of Russian players, mercenaries and Russian influence, we'll be very happy to oblige and remind them a little about their own connections:

- HDZ borrowed 4.2 million kuna from the company Gas trading d.o.o., owned by PPD, which in turn created its wealth from the sale of Russian gas.

- HDZ negotiated for a long time with Ivan Vrdoljak about ousting Most so that HNS, which was connected to Russian capital through Vrdoljak, would take its place. By the way, Ivan Vrdoljak asked the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) in a written document to give the Russian tycoons Grigory Edel and Mihail Zhukov Croatian citizenship, which they needed to break through Russian capital of dubious origins, which was, strangely enough, linked to Oksana Dvinski, HDZ's great "benefactor".

- HDZ minister Zdravko Maric came into his job [as finance minister] from Agrokor came and stayed with the government after securing Russian money from Russian banks for Agrokor. At the same time, Agrokor was a donor to HDZ through various different companies.

- HDZ's Minister of Construction Ivan Paladina has business ties to Russian tycoons, especially to Sergey Glyadelkin, who is connected to the Russian secret service.

- The Russian Foundation called ''New Generation'', led by the already mentioned Russian citizen Oksana Dvinski, the wife of Maksim Poletaev, was a donor to HDZ with 2.6 million kuna after completion.

- The HDZ government awarded the contract for the overhaul of the Mi-171Sh helicopter worth 206.9 million kuna to the Russians, and that overhaul turned out to be very problematic.

As you can see, HDZ members are the last ones who should be talking about Russian mercenaries," Most concluded in their rather damning Facebook post.

An HDZ parliamentarian claims that his role model is Sylvester Stallone

What does the world of Croatian politics and Hollywood have in common? Apparently more than you'd think, and not just because of the endless drama. HDZ Parliamentarian Ante Bacic Baco, who is enrolled in military school and attends it with HV officers, once told Dalmatinski portal that his role model is actor Sylvester Stallone.

"I like such people who don't really have the prerequisites to succeed, but still succeed with motivation and persistent effort," Ante explained, saying that Stallone inspires him because of that fact.

His life motto is, as he said in an interview: "Keep punching" - a statement from the classic Stallone movie, Rocky.

Aside from idolising Rocky, Baco has been quite the hot topic of sorts over more recent weeks. President Zoran Milanovic commented on his enrollment in the "Ban Josip Jelacic" War School, judging that it was "a criminal offense because there's no place in the war school for parliamentarians, who by definition are state officials".

"If they don't withdraw, we'll report them and I will personally forbid the entry of such people into the premises of the Croatian Army,'' Milanovic said of the matter.

Following Ivo Sanader's acquital, President Zoran Milanovic wasted no time in claiming that while Sanader was a thief ''solely for his own gain'', HDZ has advanced its tactics of theft

Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic make very little effort (if any) to hide their utter disdain for each other. The pair frequently come to blows (not literally of course, Sylvester Stallone isn't involved in this particular feud), and Milanovic has quite the way with words when it comes to insults and being a troll. One may hope the pair would have more pressing issues to tackle, but I digress.

Milanovic was quick to hop on the band wagon in regard to the massive INA scandal, of course blaming HDZ entirely, and claiming that while Ivo Sanader was indeed a thief, he was in it for himself, unlike HDZ which he claims has ''improved its methods'' of theft.

"The story surrounding INA is the story of HDZ. All these slurs about Russian people are attempts by Plenkovic's martyrs to bury that story with whitewash. But that isn't going to work, it doesn't work because these things are just obvious. Did HDZ set up people there? Is Skugor connected to the top people within HDZ? Yes. Was he going to get rich in this underhanded way? Did he panic because he got too rich? Was the gas sold through the county company where Banozic is? Those are the facts," he said.

"Ivo Sanader fell like the greedy private thief he was, but he stole for himself. He was accused in the way in which he stole. HDZ was declared to be an organisation of robbers. They didn't learn anything [from matters involving Sanader], they just improved their techniques when it comes to robbing. Plenkovic ignores it all, but to me that just means he supports it," Milanovic said.

For more on Croatian politics, keep up with our Week in Croatian Politics articles which will be published every Friday.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Discover the Croatian Danube: One With the River, Vukovar

October 12, 2022 – We have written about Vukovar before. You might know a little about how its history affects those who live there, what they do, or what happens in the city year-round. You might even be planning your weekend there. Maybe you’ll let the place change you like it changed Paul. In any case, when you do go, make sure you stop and honour its Danube.

This city and the river are one. The Danube is why people settled in the Vukovar area, Vučedol, as early as around 3000 BC. The Vučedol culture revolved around the riches provided by the river – fishing was, of course, a big part of their daily lives, and the kind of soil on which the settlements were built was especially fruitful thanks to its proximity to the river. The Vučedol settlement was only a couple of hundred metres away from the riverbank. If you visit the museum built on the actual site, you will surely see what it means to be so close to the Danube and to be close with the Danube.

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Steve Tsentserensky

The Vučedol Culture Museum is the perfect place to start your Vukovar Danube tour. It was opened in 2015 and received an award for its architecture in 2016. It is among the few museums built on the actual site of the single culture it represents. If you would like to learn a little about how people lived in the area five thousand years ago and why they were just as cool and important as Egyptians, treat yourself to a visit to the museum. As a reward, you will enjoy some exceptional rooftop views at the end of your tour.

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Steve Tsentserensky

If you were to follow the Danube from Vučedol towards the city centre, it would ensure the perfect itinerary. Firstly, you could stop by the Memorial Cemetery and light a candle for those who have given their lives for the Homeland. During autumn, just taking a walk there will be peaceful and serene, and on the way out, you can buy a little bag of roasted chestnuts to warm your soul. The next logical stop would be the Watertower. You can take the 198 stairs to its top or the panoramic lift. Either way, the journey will make you truly understand the sacrifice of Vukovar’s heroes, and the Danube will again display its grandness.

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Vukovar Tourist Board

From there on, you can take the side streets and visit the Franciscan monastery and church on the hill or follow the main road to arrive directly at the baroque streets. These were initially built during the 17th and 18th centuries and were preserved and rebuilt time and time again, keeping their recognisable decorative look. This is the heart of Vukovar. You will find the shops of many of its small businesses and entrepreneurs nestled right under the famous arches. Take a right, and you will find your way to the riverbank yet again. Follow the newly built promenade, which will take you past the shopping street, the Municipal museum with its lovely open backyard, and finally, to the recreation part, where you’ll often find locals walking, cycling, skating, or catching some sun rays. You can even engage in our favourite pastime and sit down for a cup of coffee or two, followed by a beer or two, while overlooking the Vukovar Ada, making sure the Danube flows in the correct direction.

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Vukovar Tourist Board / Marko Balaži

And just like the baroque street is the heart of the city, Ada is the heart of Vukovar’s Danube. In Croatian, the word ada means river island. And that’s what it is. And so much more. It’s a place of gathering, relaxation, recreation, pure fun, and joy. It’s Vukovar’s home in the summer. It’s the unique spot from which you can observe the silhouette of the city, almost feeling like the city is watching over you. If you enjoy camping, this is where you want to be. Perfectly calm during nighttime, full of life during the day. In Vukovar, there are two types of people – those who have their boats and those who take other boats to reach Ada. Usually starting in June until late August, boats will go up and down the river all day to take everyone to the island and back, and they will do it free of charge. In the middle of the island, facilities are set up so you can enjoy a quick bite or a refreshing drink between swims, naps, or rounds of beach volleyball.

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Vukovar Tourist Board

Finally, if you would like a taste of the river along with a little glimpse into the culture, we recommend that you visit Vukovar either in June during the Danube Fest or in September for its Autumn Festival. On both occasions, you will have a chance to experience local tradition and way of life and taste some of the best products brought by the river and the soil of Vukovar, made possible by the crafty and hard-working hands of its experienced and knowledgeable home and fair, sometimes competition, chefs.
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Vukovar Tourist Board / Vedran Barić

We could continue telling you of the riches the Danube provides for Vukovar, but we will leave some to your imagination and discovery. If you happen to visit this December, stay tuned for the dates of TCN’s presentation of a very special little something that we’ll call the Vukovar Card.

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Vukovar Tourist Board / Marko Balaži

If you are only tuning in now, check out the previous editions of the Croatian Danube series - Aljmaš parts I and II, Erdut, and Dalj.

 

How good is your knowledge of eastern Croatia? Take the CROMADS test above - how many places do you recognise?

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

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Zadar Breaking Nautical Records, 150 Cruisers Announced for 2023

October the 13th, 2022 - Zadar has broken records left, right and centre when it comes to nautical tourism, with more vessels having entered the waters of this Dalmatian city in a single day this year than ever before. 150 cruise ships announcements for next year are also encouraging for many.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, yesterday in the City of Zadar, the record for the number of vessels that entered the city's waters in the same day was officially broken. After the July record of four cruisers, there were as many as five present in Zadar yesterday, and it represented a new test for the Gazenica Passenger Port, reports HRT.

The General Director of the Gazenica Passenger Port, Rebeka V. Pevec, said that everything went smoothly, and that the plan for next year is already being prepared, with the announcement of new cruises and their arrival in the city currently more than great.

"The most important thing to emphasise is that there will most likely be no further restrictions regarding the capacity of ships, and that's the most important thing for us,'' said Pevec, adding that diversity is also very important for the destination itself, because different profiles of guests are arriving. Zadar has that advantage, however, it needs to be raised to a higher level and offer new events.

The recovery of the cruise industry has also been well and truly confirmed by the 130,000 passengers who will pass through Zadar's international terminal this year. For the local economy, it is important to add that about sixty thousand crew members are also involved.

"The entire economy in Zadar County benefits enormously from these cruise ships. Year after year, we're witnessing that the level of service in the hospitality industry and tourism as a whole is rising,'' emphasised the President of the Zadar County Chamber of Crafts, Ante Lukacic.

''For next year, we already have an announcement of 150 cruise ship arrivals. What I can say is that sixty percent of them go to visit the national parks, go to the cities of Nin, Pag... and some forty percent stay in the area of ​​the City of Zadar itself,'' said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka.

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

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