Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Osijek Software City - Best Place on the Planet for Family Life

August 24, 2022 - Nathan arrived in Osijek from Arizona via Colorado and Prague. Not only did he find a job there, but also what he calls the ideal place for family life. The Osijek Software City movement is slowly, but surely coming to life.

As RTL writes, Osijek is a city where IT companies produce good software. Where do you acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for that? Where are the educated and motivated workers employed in quality and promising companies? This is how the objectives of the Osijek Software City project were presented, were they achieved?

Ten years from the first vision of Osijek as a regional IT center, and seven years until the first company in the IT park. The story of Osijek Software City unfolded slowly.

“It went slowly and it was difficult, but now it's going faster and faster”, Denis, one of the initiators of this story, told RTL. Better cooperation with universities will create the necessary IT specialists and scholarship programs with the City and the County that will attract young people.

“For us, this current pool of young people is no longer enough to turn Osijek into a true center of the IT industry, and we will really need to attract and import a lot of foreign students”, says Denis Sušac, director of the IT company.

Nathan arrived in Osijek from Arizona via Colorado and Prague. Not only did he find a job there, but also what he calls the ideal place for family life.

“Osijek could be one of the best cities on the planet for family life”, said Nathan Chappell, a developer.

The family spirit is present in the workplace, and his family is also helping him learn the Croatian language.

Ivana, on the other hand, studied languages, but after finishing her studies, she felt that it was not her life's calling.

“And then, little by little, I started poking around in IT to see what was there and what I was really interested in and I came across this testing”, said Ivana Belak, software tester.

She didn't want to leave Croatia and rather wanted to find the job she desired here, and that, she says, came true.

“We think that today young people can live very well working in Osijek, without leaving, and this trend of going to Ireland, Sweden, Germany is slowly coming to a halt”, claims Sušac.

The number of IT people in Osijek is growing. The goal of recognising Osijek as a city where IT experts live and work is becoming closer, and without their skills life is almost unimaginable today.

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

KK Split is Up for Sale (Again)

Why it is not worth anything. Ništa. Not a single Lipa! (EDITORIAL)

 

Split, 23.08.2022 - The City of Split is again trying to find an investor for the Basketball Club KK Split. This time it is official. Read the invitation to tender here.

In the tender, the City of Split states the value of the shares which it offers for sale at 4'000'000 EUR, that's the shares it wants to sell, so they value the club at around 6 Million Euro, which is the amount at which all issued shares were handed out.

Our contributor Burak Canboy had considered to invest into the organization in 2013/2014 and has been covering the club for TCN during the last two seasons. 

Here is his personal opinion on the value of the club and the politics going on right now.

 

EDITORIAL:

Let me say it out loud first. Those who don't want to listen to arguments may call me a traitor, a rich foreigner who doesn't understand Croatia, they may want me banished or may crucify me at the next game and then those who actually like to deal with the matter will hopefully read this opinion. In the current state, KK Split is not worth anything. Ništa. Not a single Lipa!

 

Now it is out. So, why do I believe the team that dominated the late eighties and early nineties, the big Jugoplastika Split that was officially named the best European club of the 20st century by FIBA is currently not worth anything? The club that resides at Gripe, a gym that was built mostly by the hands of its members. In a mecca of basketball that hosts the biggest trophies and most valuable jerseys in the "yellow salon". The club that is quite correctly called one of the most successful clubs in the history of European basketball. Winning three consecutive EuroLeague titles, two Korač Cups plus 3 Triple Crowns, 6 Yugoslav Championships, 5 Yugoslav Cups, 5 Croatian Cups and 1 Croatian Championship. A club that competes in the prestigious ABA League and plays for championships in the Croatian National League. A club that created greats like Branko Radović, Ratomir Tvrdić, Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, Žan Tabak, Petar Skansi, Velimir Perasović (please forgive me that I did not list everyone, it is a very long list). 

 

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Mayor Puljak and Deputy Kuzmanić presenting their ideas for KK Split (Photo: Grad Split)

Well, in the world of business there is a word for value that cannot be measured by the sum of its assets. It is called "goodwill" or "value of intangible assets". When you look at the world's largest companies with high goodwill, Coca Cola used to be the example in the nineties, today it is companies like Microsoft and Amazon that mainly consist of value which stock markets assess because people are willing to pay more per share than the sum of assets listed in their balance sheets, divided by the amount of stocks issued. Where there is goodwill there is also the opposite. Companies worth less than their sum of assets. You hear stories of companies given away for a dollar sometimes but more often than not, those companies are not even worth the dollar. They disappear more or less silently because nobody wants to risk renovating, restructuring and rebuilding such companies. 

 

Now that I have given a short excursion to the business world in the US, let's get back to Europe, the Balkans (or as some people like to call it Southeast Europe nowadays), Croatia, Dalmatia, Split, Gripe, KK Split. There is a reason why I am listing them in this order. but all of these have a reason why the club is not worth anything. Ništa. Not a single Lipa!



European Union:

Let's start with Europe. During the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, which became a european financial crisis in the years after and lead to Greece being put under financial supervision (which just ended a few days ago btw.), some people started to wonder how football clubs and to some extent also basketball clubs in Greece could have such huge budgets if the country is basically bankrupt. Clubs like Panathinaikos, AEK, Olympiakos and PAOK were very successful in Europe and globally known to be paying very good salaries, frequently bringing in players from the NBA or stopping players from going there.

 

This was not just an exclusively Greek behavior, but also quite normal in Italy, France and Spain and obviously also in most other european countries, but they are not so well known for their well paying leagues. The spotlight was just shining brightest onto Greece, while Europe wanted to stop waste of taxpayers' money. 

 

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CEDEVITA: Money goes to Slovenia now (Photo: Burak Canboy)

The clubs and local governments had become so intertwined that big parts of the clubs' budgets consisted of money being transferred from the governments to the clubs declared as "sports education", "funds for sports equipment ", "youth support", "tourism support", "business growth support", "gym maintenance " and many other creative ways. While all these can be very much in the interest of the public and are surely worth spending public money for, in most cases that money was not used for that purpose, but for the running expenses of an internationally competing professional team. This practice has been deemed illegal by the European Union and is considered a "preferred subsidizing of business". Now, the City of Split has been very creative as well in the past years, but it is quite obvious that continued participation in the ABA League and playing for championships in the croatian league would not have been possible if all salaries, participation costs and travel expenses of the professional team had had to be paid for by income from TV broadcasting rights, ticket sales, sponsors and other revenues such as sale of merchandise. During the last years the club had over and over accumulated losses that the city had to cover by increasing the capital of the club. Now, creative as it may be, in the end it is the exact behavior that the EU wanted to stop. Now, if the club did not have money coming from the city, it would be bankrupt. Worth nothing. Ništa. Not a single Lipa.



Balkans/Southeast Europe:

Yugoslavia the former world force in basketball is shattered. Romania, Bulgaria, Albania were never really big. Bosnia & Hercegovina 45th in the world, Kosovo 71st and North Macedonia 52nd play no large role, Croatia as described later is in a free fall. Serbia (4th), managed to re-establish some of the former glory, Montenegro is a recent positive surprise (25th) and Slovenia is a rising star (3rd), but in general basketball business at successful clubs is mostly run by dubious owners/presidents or player agencies often enough operating in dark grey areas of the law and federation regulations (surely nobody wants to see KK Split becoming a front for some completely illegal business). In countries that are non-EU, strong government funding is still predominant. And if you watched the finals of this year's ABA League between Partizan and Red Star you got to see how some fans like to use the game to show how ugly and disgraceful sports can be.

 

Extra value for the club: Ništa. Not a single Lipa. 



Croatia:

The national team could not even pass a group with Finland (35th in the world) and needed 2 overtimes to barely beat Sweden once (51st in the world !), and now rightfully has to play in a group with Switzerland (world's 60th) and Austria (61st) to re-capture just the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup in 2025.

 

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Zadar and CIBONA on the floor? (Photo: Burak Canboy)

KK Split's competitors in the national league

- CEDEVITA, has seen the big money move to Slovenia.

- CIBONA is clinically dead, pretty much bankrupt, kept alive with tax payers' money and/or lack of transparency. 

- KK Zadar is clinically dead, kept alive with tax payers' money and/or lack of transparency. 

Most other clubs in the croatian league are - yes you guessed it right - clinically dead, kept alive with tax payers' money and/or lack of transparency. 

Apart from that, favoritism amongst coaches, referees and other officials more often than not stand in the way of effectively developing national talents. 

 

Extra value for the club: Ništa. Not a single Lipa. 



Dalmatia:

Turizam, Turizam i Turizam. Do I need to say more?

 

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Croatian Title Trophies. Too far to reach? (Photo: Burak Canboy)

Dalmatia lacks large global or at least international companies that can use a basketball team as their "travelling signpost". When you look for big clubs in Europe you will find Efes, Beko, Armani Exchange, ALBA as sponsors carrying weight for successful clubs or you find teams like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich profiting from the groundwork, their football clubs have done in finding sponsors and building a name for the organization.

 

Lack of potential large sponsors, preoccupation with a single economy. Extra value for the club: Ništa. Not a single Lipa. 



Split: Politics and Hajduk

 

The City of Split created an unprofessional presentation for the tender (no assets listed, very short time given for due-diligence, no contractual obligations listed, no own concept or ideas presented). So either some back-room deal is already made or the responsible people think they can find an idiot who is willing to buy the pig in a poke, or as they say elsewhere, buy the cat in a sack.

 

Then you should not forget that there is already a major power house in town. Football is King and in Split the King is called Hajduk. Instead of trying to benefit from the big brother, a separation is being forced and Torcida named unwanted guests on Gripe.

 

Lack of potential large sponsors, presence of an overwhelming football power means a lack of positive future paired with involvement of politicians in a business. Extra value for the club: Ništa. Not a single Lipa. (For the involvement of politicians this number should be very large. But negative!)


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Efforts in Vain on Gripe? (Photo: Burak Canboy)

Gripe:

Despite wonderful gyms being available in the city like the two larger gyms on Gripe, the small court under Spaladium Arena, the gym at the Pool on Poljud, Spaladium Arena and probably others I don't even know, KK Split continues to practice at Gripe. The home court advantage is canceled out by the limited usability of the space and the poor condition of the building. It is not possible to have multiple teams practice in the gym at the same time. The space in the back of the gym that Dino Rađa helped to renovate a few years ago is good for individual training but overall the layout of the gym is miserable for a basketball club with ambitions. 

The building's energy efficiency is terrible, operating costs, high. Existing tenants have been there forever and are probably paying below-market rent. 

If the city does not spend considerable money to renovate the gym and give a reasonable long term concession, the extra value for the club: Ništa. Not a single Lipa.

Unless we go back to the plans of Ivo Baldazar or Željko Kerum to sell all or part of Gripe to some real estate investment company and to have them take care of the club in return. But still the value of the club remains: Ništa. Not a single Lipa.



Yellow Salon:

This is a cultural item. It cannot be transferred to a new owner. It has value as a museum. It has value for the city, for the citizens, for the players, for the employees of the club. It should be moved to a place where everyone has access to it. It cannot and should not be transferred to an investor because Cups and Medals cannot be bought.

 

Value for an investor: Nothing. Ništa. Not a single Lipa.



K.K. Split:

The club has a very long history of not being able to operate profitably. The last administration was not long ago and not much seems to have changed since then when it comes to control, supervision and direction. A long history of mismanagement and even what may be called accepted corruption and embezzlement when it comes to how talented players were treated. Surely Dragan Bender's and Ante Žižić's move to Maccabi with Nikola Vujčić were not "kosher" but nobody was interested in suing for damages. While thinking about things that went missing: the whereabouts of the Korač Cup that disappeared from the Žuti Salon is still not known. Is it?

 

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Shannon Shorter praying for help (Photo: Burak Canboy)

K.K. Mislav a small club without a gym in Podstrana just had the second player go abroad (Tomislav Buljan just moved from Zadar to Spain after Stipe Jelić had already left for Italy in 2019). How many talented players has K.K. Split produced that went abroad. Let's say there are more than Perković and Perasović, but how much money has been paid to the club for players leaving during the last 20 years? 

How many young players in the current roster have long term contracts that may lead to income from a sale at some point in the future?

Sorry to say, but the only value in the club is the right to play in ABA League and the croatian first league. But again, what is that worth without the city's subsidies?

 

Yes. Nothing. Ništa. Not a single Lipa.

 

Opportunities:

Now, when could an investment into the club make sense? When the city and all people involved understand that the value of shares is nothing. Ništa. Not a single Lipa.

 

Once that is understood, the company can process the opposite of a recapitalization, a capital reduction. When all existing shareholders have their shares reduced to a value of close to zero or zero, and all existing debts have been cleared, then you can start a fair partnership by raising new money. If the city then wishes to have a 25%+1 controlling share, it will need to invest at the according rate, as a new investor would. Twice as much, if the city of Split wishes to keep 50% of shares.



A sample mission & vision for the club was already gifted to the club and the city in 2014. Look for yourself how much of it has been adopted and how much more needs to be done before you can call the club valuable: KK Split Mission & Vision 2014

 

"Grado" and his boat "Žuta ljubav"

To give a more local comparison of how the City of Split calculates the value of the club, I will explain by using the example of a boat and a fisherman. Now, at some point in the past, someone sold a boat named "Žuta ljubav" to a local fisherman who wanted to take tourists to beautiful bays that you could only reach by boat. The fisherman was called Grado because he could exactly tell the temperature to the tenth of a degree. The boat was old but it was a wonderful boat. It used to be quite a beauty back in the days. The design had aged well and it was still floating. It could sail near the coast and even a little further out but no longer in blue waters as it once did. "Žuta ljubav" needed a lot of crew to operate and a lot of maintenance, because former owners had taken away important parts and just replaced them with whatever they could find for cheap. Every year, the boat needed an expensive crew to operate, it needed new sails, the engine needed to be repaired, leaks needed to be filled and all moving parts needed to be serviced. The berth needed to be paid. And despite all the work time and money put in, it never looked as good as it once did and always barely stayed afloat because Grado could not afford a full renovation. Even though the boat used to drive people around and conducted business, every year the owner needed to add money from his own pocket. Sometimes more, sometime less.

 

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Tomislav Buljan: From Podstrana to Zadar to Spain (Photo: Burak Canboy)

After years of losing money Grado became tired of taking care of "Žuta ljubav" and asked his oldest son if he wanted to have the boat. He declined, so did his second son and his youngest son. They didn't tell their father the real reason because they were afraid he may be disappointed and die from sorrow. The oldest used his family as an excuse and said that he needed to keep his stable job. The second son said he could not swim and the third wanted to become a musician. So one day Grado took his sorrow to his neighbor and friend Stino. Stino who was known to be brutally honest, gave him a glass of Orahovac and a big glass of cold water. "Enjoy the Orahovac" he said, "you will need the cold water later." "Why?" asked Grado. "Well, my dear friend. Love has made you blind. You have spent so much money on your boat during the last years, and you think it is worth a lot, because you have spent so much time and money on it. But today after almost 6 million Euros spent, it still barely floats, it still costs you a fortune to operate and maintain and even if you didn't use it, you would still need to pay for the berth. Your sons love you too much to tell you, but you managed not to sink the boat, instead you have sunk all your money. No-one will buy your boat, because it barely stays afloat and doesn't make any profit. My friend, when you open your eyes, you will understand that the value of your boat, even though it floats, is zero. Nobody who knows the slightest bit about boating would buy it. If you paid someone to take it, maybe you can get rid of it. But if you ever want to make money selling it, you need to first either spend a fortune renovating it or at least make it profitable. So profitable that you can easily pay the crew, the maintenence, the berth, everything and have money left at the end of the season so you can enjoy a long winter without having to work. Then my friend it will still be hard to sell an old boat, but at least it will be a profitable business. But now it is not worth anything. Ništa. Not a single Lipa."  Grado finally understood and when the truth arrived, it hit him like a truck, but at least he still had the small joy of a cold glass of water to look forward to.

 

Still don't believe me that the value of the club is nothing? Ništa? Not a single Lipa? Well, just go ahead and ask any of the employees of the club to reduce their salary by 50% and give them the rest of salary in shares. Or you could even ask Mayor Puljak and Deputy Kuzmanić who are trying to sell the shares, if they would agree to have their salaries in the next 4 years paid in shares of K.K. Split instead of money. I dare anyone to come forward and say that they would prefer to be paid in shares of KK Split than in Kuna. Guess how many would agree to that and what they would probably say: The shares are worthless, because the value of the club is nothing. Ništa. Not a single Lipa!

 

The views of the author are not necessarily the views of TCN.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

August is the Right Time to Explore Šibenik's Fortresses!

August 23, 2022 - Looking for an example of a Croatian destination with a masterclass in combining heritage and tourism - meet the fortresses of Šibenik.

 

I often get asked for advice on tourist destinations in Croatia – and that is the easiest one for me to answer, as my top recommendation has not changed in 5 years since my first extensive visit - Šibenik!

You can read about my fabulous day in 2017 when the whole family was stunned by the city's magnificence and offer in Croatia's Most Underrated Destination? Stunning Fortress Šibenik Has It All.

The Šibenik fortresses were truly an inspiration for anyone learning how to maximize quality tourism and heritage. 

 

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In addition to being surrounded by two national parks and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Šibenik is a Dalmatian gem for a long vacation or quick getaway. Recently, the meeting place of history, culture, music, and gastronomy has turned from a sleeping beauty into a lively city in recent years.

Thanks to its rich cultural offer, the city has greatly surpassed its former tourist image of a "sun & sea” destination and has found itself on the map of visitors looking for culture and entertainment - thanks in large part to the open stages at the revitalized St. Michael’s and Barone Fortress. The newest addition to revitalized fortification monuments is St. John’s Fortress, the largest and highest land fortress in Šibenik opened in June this year. These three are gathering places for history buffs, music connoisseurs, and those who simply love a good rhythm, as well as technology enthusiasts.

 

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Since 2014, St. Michael’s Fortress hosts numerous concerts and dance performances at one of the most prestigious outdoor stages in the region. If you want to find out why come to one of this summer's concerts. Past concerts of Lorde, Jack Savoretti and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and the upcoming Kings of Convenience are just a part of this summer’s lineup. Also, they are a great addition to the past performers' list - Bryan Ferry, Anna Oxa, Michael Kiwanuka, Gregory Porter, Skye & Ross (from Morcheeba), Jacob Collier, Kruder&Dorfmeister, Roisin Murphy, and many, many Croatian artists.

 

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Technology enthusiasts will enjoy the underground part of the fortress, i.e., the two cisterns from the 15th century, which, just like a time machine, take visitors to past centuries thanks to 3D mapping technology. Projections cover over 70% of the surface, which is curved in parts, which makes this undertaking the first of its kind in Croatia. By the end of the year, St. Michael’s Fortress will receive a new exhibition display and interactive content that will show the origin of an idea to place an open-air stage at the oldest Šibenik fortress. All these spots can be explored using an audio guide.

 

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The smallest of them - Barone Fortress, has been leading its new life since 2016 as a more intimate summer stage and summer cinema under the starry sky. It is open all year round and a great place for that first-morning coffee or an evening glass of wine with one of the best views in the city. Of course, after you discover all its secrets through an augmented reality tablet that allows you to witness the angry Ottoman attacks during the greatest battles for Šibenik.

 

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It was during this time and for this reason that the St. John’s Fortress was built. Recently renewed, the largest and highest land fortress in Šibenik opened in June this year. It consists of two parts – 'star', a fortified southern part of the fortress, and 'pliers', an outer fortification in the northern part.

The educational campus is situated below the so-called pliers, the northern part of the fortress. The campus is equipped with interactive classrooms, bedrooms, and conference rooms. The campus is intended for student groups, young experts, and artists who are coming to Šibenik for study visits or other educational purposes. This kind of space will also contribute to the development of educational tourism.

A short walk uphill is worth the while as the St. John’s Fortress is maybe the best photo spot in town! Fortress’ shop is placed in an old gun powder magazine; overlooking the west part of the town is a Tobruk-type bunker from Second World War. And yet, the fortress still has a lot of secrets to be discovered. One of them is the underground tunnel beneath the fortress (71 meters long, 2 meters high, and at places 5 meters wide) that is yet to be placed in function. The plans for the future also include implementing VR content that will offer a new, interactive, and fun experience for future visitors.

 

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All these locations and their contents are available all year round, so it can be said that the revitalization of the fortresses also brought the revitalization of Šibenik and positioned the city as a hit destination and cultural hotspot that guarantees unforgettable experiences.

 

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The newest addition to Šibenik's cultural scene is the House of Arts Arsen (named in honor of the Croatian artistic genius Arsen Dedić) officially opened in June 2021. From September to June, this venue is transformed into a cinema, concert hall, dance stage, space for presentations and exhibitions, workshop area - or anything your mind sets up upon! Thanks to a specific modular floor whose height can be adjusted to any need, the space transforms easily. This August House of Arts Arsen was a gallery, as it hosts an exhibition by one of the most important Croatian painters, Vatroslav Kuliš.

 

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The easiest way to explore all these locations is with Mastercard, whose cardholders get many benefits throughout the year thanks to Mastercard’s partnership with Fortress of Culture. This public institution that manages the fortress House of Arts Arsen made sure that like-minded partners follow its every step in creating a fortress of good music, knowledge, and a new cultural audience.

So don’t lose any more time and visit Šibenik’s fortresses and see what’s all the fuss about.

 

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You can learn more about the incredible Šibenik fortresses on the official website.

Learn more about this fabulous city with the Total Croatia Šibenik in a Page guide. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Discover the Croatian Danube: Fishing Village of Aljmaš (part 2)

August 21, 2022 – In TCN’s new series, Discover the Croatian Danube, we explore the little villages that lie on the banks of this mighty river. We started from the point where the river Drava “surrounds its water and name to the Danube”, in a small fishing village called Aljmaš. If anything, you might know that Aljmaš is a Marian shrine with a big modern church and that it’s somewhere in Slavonia (could be Baranja?). There is a lot more to these few streets that make the village. A very long and rich history in a geographically important and interesting position. Legends, traditions, and stories of hardship, friendship, and mischief. Learn about the former in Aljmaš part one and buckle up for the latter in the following paragraphs.

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Photo: Aljmaška ribarska noć

Every village has its traditions. They are usually tied to the big holidays or otherwise important events, serve to bring people together, and are overseen by village Google. If you don’t know about the phenomenon, just ask any local grandmother about current events. In Aljmaš, its geography was used to make sure that things run smoothly. Before the modernisation of the infrastructure which took place in the 2000s, there were three canals for the rainwater to drain into the Danube. The embankments were used for social purposes where boys would gather and hang out on one, girls would do the same on another, and the third, you guessed it, was reserved for the smooth running of surveillance.

Other events couldn’t do without it, either. One of them was something called lelujle. In the spring, on Palm Sunday, there was a tradition for the ladies to let their romantic interests know who they were. This was, of course, done using old pots and pans which the girls would throw over the gates of their hopefully future husbands. This all gave the security something to do, as they would have to be the ones to either prevent the accumulation of unwanted old pottery or clear it out afterward. Usually with the words “better take this rubbish back to your mother’s house”.

The final quirky tradition presented here, and the author’s favourite is called buše. It occurs as the accompanying content, or the entertainment to go with the hard work that is the winter preparation of pig meat traditional for Slavonia. To lighten the mood, it was the task of a volunteer trickster to manage mischief. The primary goal was to play a trick on the host and acquire as much meat and snacks as possible, all while making sure that your identity remained completely hidden. Among other things, wine barrels were used to that end. The loot would then be served at a party.

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German fishing crew enjoying a delicious dinner

The Danube is the heart of Aljmaš. Fishing, camping, and picnics on the riverbanks are a way of life. Naturally, one of the most important local dishes is fish stew. This delicious, hearty meal is usually made with carp, catfish, pike, or a combination of those, over an open fire in a hanging pot, with an addition of smoked sweet and spicy paprika, onions, and wine. The ingredients can vary, and every good cook will keep their secret, but one thing is sure – love is always the primary spice. And Aljmaš breathes love for the river, for food, for good company, and a good time. A true testament to this is the annual Aljmaš Fishing Night. It was born spontaneously out of a night of good fun, cooking and a friendly cook-off between Dalmatian cooks with fish from the Adriatic Sea and local cooks with Danube fish. The eighth Aljmaš Fishing Night held in 2019 hosted over 8000 visitors who all cooked, ate, sang, and danced all night long. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the festival was put on temporary hold, but the organisers cannot wait to be back and have already started planning Fishing Night 2023. A little fishy told us it might be the biggest and best one yet. It is usually held in late May or early June. For more info, to get a feel of the atmosphere, and to make sure you don’t miss the next one, follow Aljmaška ribarska noć on Facebook.

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Photo: Susi Petrijevčanin

The driving force of the events, traditions, and all other ways in which Aljmaš lives, is of course its residents. There might not be many, but they are the most generous and friendly bunch. Not only will they greet you with a smile, but they will also host you, show you around and feed you. One of them is Susi Petrijevčanin, a German nurse who decided to move to Aljmaš for love, the fresh air, and the perfect lifestyle. In her words, it’s a place where you can let your child go outside to play all day. They might come back muddy, tired, knees scraped, but they’ll always be happy and healthy. To ensure that a lunch of delicious fish stew is followed by lovely desserts, Susi has opened her dessert shop in Aljmaš, which you can follow here.

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If any of this inspires you to visit Aljmaš, we encourage you to do it yesterday! Our guide Marina will be more than happy to help and will ensure that you have the best time. She will tell you a story or two about the village, her family who has lived in Aljmaš for five generations and might be traced back to Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as what the best ways are to catch and prepare fresh Danube fish. If she likes you, she might even show you her house which has stood in the village since before the 1900s. Whether it’s the original bricks, wooden structure, or the wine in the cellar, there is an incredibly special feel to the place.

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Marina with her father in traditional wear. Standard atmosphere in the village.

If you would like to contact Marina and plan your visit, email TCN This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Subject Aljmas.

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.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Gov't Delegation Pays Tribute to Victims of Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes

ZAGREB, 23 August, 2022 - A Croatian government delegation on Tuesday laid wreaths on the islands of Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur in tribute to people imprisoned there by the Communist regime, on the occasion of the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the Victims of all Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes.

Transport Minister Oleg Butković, who headed the government delegation, said that Croatia was honouring all victims of the authoritarian Communist regime, which, he said, had left its mark on Croatia and the Croat people in the 20th century.

It is important to promote the culture of remembrance because, without it, there can be no respect for or awareness of all victims and no reconciliation in the context of every European nation, including Croatians, he said.

Butković: Remains of the infamous prison

Asked if places like Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur could be revitalised for tourism and education, Butković said that the two locations today feature the remains of the infamous prison where people were imprisoned during the Informbureau period (era of Yugoslavia's history following the Tito-Stalin split in mid-1948), after which other political prisoners were interned there. Before its closing (in 1988), it served as a juvenile detention facility, he said.

Today the prison facilities are in a poor condition due to neglect. The prison complex is big and would require a lot of money to restore, but one of its sections could possibly be used for tourism purposes, as there would probably be interested visitors, Butković said, adding that the government should look into how this could be done, mentioning private investors in that context.

Asked if one of the options was to keep the prison complex in its present state for the sake of history, Butković said that it would be best to keep a part of the complex in its present condition.

Between 17,000 and 32,000 people imprisoned, number of victims not known

The Goli Otok concentration and prison camp also included a penitentiary for women convicts on the nearby Sveti Grgur island. The complex was opened in 1949 after the adoption of the Informbureau Resolution, at the time of purges of the proponents of Stalinism in the Yugoslav Communist Party.

It was later used to imprison other political opponents as well, mostly based on administrative decisions and less on the basis of court rulings.

The complex was notorious for its harsh conditions, including torture and forced labour.

It is estimated that 17,000 to 32,000 people passed through the prison camp, while the exact number of those who were killed or died there has not been determined.

In 1956 it became a penitentiary and later a juvenile detention facility. It was closed in 1988.

The Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the Victims of all Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes was today also marked in Split, with Split Mayor Ivica Puljak and Split-Dalmatia County deputy head Stipe Čogelja laying wreaths at a location in the city from where political opponents of Communist authorities in the aftermath of WWII were taken away for execution.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Minister: Croatia will Not Allow Issuance of International Arrest Warrant

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - Croatia will use all available legal means to protect its pilots, Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said on Monday, calling the proceedings in Serbia a politically staged attempt that could be a reason for blocking Serbia's accession to the European Union.

"The Croatian government has clearly stated that it will protect all its citizens, all its defenders, generals, and, in this case, pilots. Therefore, we will use all available legal means if such a moment comes," Malenica said in an interview for RTL Danas.

This means that in this case, which refers to the pilots, Croatia will not allow an international arrest warrant to be issued, the minister said.

According to Malenica, this is one of the mechanisms and tools at Croatia's disposal, although it is too soon to speak of specific legal moves since Croatia has not received any information yet regarding the proceedings conducted in Serbia, and all that is being discussed is based on reports in Serbian media.

"Nothing official has come from Serbia yet. For now, we only have information from Vučić's media. There is no official communication on this case," the minister noted, adding that Croatia would do everything to protect its generals and the dignity of the Homeland War.

Commenting on the statements by lawyers of the injured parties that it is a lie that the rights of the Croatian pilots were violated because they didn't have a chance to make a statement, Minister Malenica said these were "untruths".

He pointed out that Croatia had conducted approximately 3,000 criminal proceedings related to war crimes and in the past year there were no unanswered subpoenas referring to Serbia.

He said that with regard to legislation, Croatia had clearly aligned itself with the European Union, "so the question is what Serbia is doing and whether it really wants to join the European Union."

Malenica added that Croatia would employ all legal mechanisms at its disposal and insist on certain issues being resolved bilaterally.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

N1 Broadcaster Publishes Parts of Indictment against Four Croatian pilots

ZAGREB, 23 Aug (Hina) - In its indictment against four Croatian Air Force pilots, charged with complicity in a war crime against civilians during Croatia's 1995 military operation "Storm", the Serbian judiciary also states grounds for its jurisdiction over the case, which Croatia has categorically challenged.

The Zagreb office of the regional N1 broadcaster on Monday reported having obtained the Serbian indictment, a 26-page document issued on 31 March and upheld by the Belgrade Appeals Court in mid-August.

Excerpts of the indictment state, among other things, that the indictees, "by violating rules of international law defined by the Geneva Conventions, ordered - and their orders were carried out - air attacks on civilians not participating in hostilities", who should be treated humanely in every situation, without any discrimination based on ethnic background, and protected from any form of violence.

The attacks resulted in the killing and wounding of a number of Serb civilians, whose names and dates of birth are stated in the indictment, which stresses that the victims included four children - Jovica Drča (1989), Darko Vuković (1982), Nevenka Rajić (1984) and Žarko Rajić (1986).

Cited in the indictment are also statements made by then Croatian President Franjo Tuđman at a meeting of the Croatian military and political leadership in Brijuni on the eve of Operation Storm in late July 1995 (so-called Brijuni transcripts), including his statement that Croatia has the support of Germany, NATO and the United States for the operation, its aim being to "inflict such blows that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear."

The indictment underlines that the then conflict in Croatia's territory did not have the character of an international conflict because parties to the conflict were the Croatian Army and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior on one side and units of the army of the so-called Republic of Serb Krajina on the other.

According to statements made at the 31 July 1995 meeting of Croatia's military and political leadership in Brijuni, Serbs should be ostensibly guaranteed civil rights and be called on publicly not to leave their homes while at the same time, they should be provided with information, via radio and television and leaflets, about the road routes the population is moving along while leaving Croatia.

The indicted pilots, by carrying out the Brijuni decision and realising the set goals through coordination between lower and higher levels of command in the Croatian Air Force, ordered air attacks on the refugee column.

Under the indictment, the four pilots were part of the chain of command in which further orders were conveyed and issued, up to an unidentified pilot of the 22nd Squadron who, with a MiG 21 jet, attacked the refugee column as it was moving along the Bosanski Petrovac - Ključ road in the afternoon of 7 August 1995, in the locality of Kapljuh in Bravsko, part of the municipality of Bosanski Petrovac in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The indictment alleges that the unidentified pilot first flew over the refugee column and on his way back, even though he was aware that it was not a legitimate military target, he attacked, with aircraft cannons and S24 rockets, the column with carriages, passenger and freight vehicles and tractors, killing ten civilians.

Under a decision of the Belgrade High Court's War Crimes Department, given the nature of the crime, the four indictees were to be remanded in custody on 29 December 2021 even though they are beyond the reach of the Serbian judiciary.

Since neither Serbia nor Croatia allows the extradition of their citizens, the indictment proposes that the indictees Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić and Danijel Borović be tried in their absence.

The indictment states that there are more than reasonable grounds to do so, including the allegation that they are charged with war crimes against civilians and are beyond the reach of Serbian authorities.

The War Crimes Department further holds that it has jurisdiction over the case as to the substance of the matter, in line with Article 3 of the Act on Organisation and Jurisdiction of Organs of State, which says, among other things, that Serbian state organs defined by that law have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or the victim.

Serbian war crimes prosecutors hold that the time that has passed since the crime gives sufficient reason to doubt that countries in the region, for example, Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina, would launch criminal proceedings and try to prosecute those responsible for the crime.

"That is one of the reasons why the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor has decided to launch the case, even if it means holding an in absentia trial," reads the indictment.

The Croatian government and senior state officials have, in the meantime, stressed on several occasions that Croatia does not recognise Serbia's jurisdiction in the case.

On the other hand, legal experts are divided on the matter - some support the position that Serbia cannot prosecute Croatian citizens while others recommend that the Croatian government and judiciary treat the case as a criminal law matter and prepare the pilots' defence accordingly.

Zagreb attorney Anto Nobilo has thus suggested that the evidence that the pilots did not commit the crime can be sought and obtained "from the state, at the Croatian Defence Ministry, which can provide it."

"Someone must go to the archives, investigate the matter, interview people who worked at the air bases. The actions that constitute classic criminal defence should be performed in Croatia. One should get in touch with colleagues in Belgrade and hire lawyers whose services will be paid for; the state can cover that cost and secure the best possible defence for the pilots. That's what would help the pilots, while platitudes that (Serbia) should look itself in the mirror or deal with its past won't help them," Nobilo told N1 Zagreb on Monday.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Contracts Signed for Post-Quake Reconstruction Work Worth HRK 944 mn

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - All houses covered by the programme of non-structural reconstruction in the earthquake-affected areas of Petrinja and Glina should be renovated before the start of the heating season, with construction work currently underway on eight apartment buildings in Petrinja and four in Glina.

The value of the reconstruction contracts is estimated at HRK 944 million, it was said at a meeting of the task force in charge of dealing with the consequences of the December 2020 earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Gordan Hanžek of the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing said at the meeting that non-structural repair work had been completed on 3,222 houses and another 223 that had been repaired by their owners, who were compensated with HRK 6.63 million for that purpose.

Work is still underway on 670 houses, and judging by the dynamic of reconstruction work so far, all family homes from the programme of non-structural reconstruction will be completed before the start of the heating season, Hanžek said.

Speaking of the construction of replacement homes, he said that so far, 87 contracts had been signed and that work was underway on 76 houses. The process of selecting contractors to build an additional 260 houses has been completed, and contracts will be signed soon, he said.

A tender for the seismic retrofitting of housing units will be published in early September. Fifty contracts have been signed for the removal of family houses as a precondition for construction work. So far, around 2,500 units have been removed.

Construction work is also underway on eight apartment buildings in Petrinja and four in Glina, and contracts are to be signed for the construction of two more buildings in Glina and one in Dvor, it was said.

The task force noted that contracts signed under all reconstruction programmes were worth HRK 944 million, plus an additional HRK 469 million envisaged by ongoing tender processes, which is a total of HRK 1.413 billion.

Contracts have also been signed for HRK 4.4 billion from the EU Solidarity Fund for the reconstruction and construction of public facilities and infrastructure.

Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved called on all stakeholders in the reconstruction process to step up their activities, notably regarding construction work on housing units whose owners or tenants are still staying in housing containers or mobile homes.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Net Assets of Croatian Mandatory Pension Funds up HRK 3.2 bn in July

ZAGREB, 23 August, 2022 - The net assets of mandatory pension funds stood at HRK 132.3 billion at the end of July 2022, which is HRK 3.2 billion or 2.5% more than in the previous month, a monthly report by the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA) shows.

In July, the downward trend in the value of the pension fund's net assets, which had lasted since April, ended. After a decrease of HRK 3.1 billion in February, in March, there was a partial recovery in assets with an increase of HRK 2.1 billion in the month, but a decrease was recorded again in April, of HRK 717.8 million, as well as in May, of HRK 515.3 million, and June, of HRK 1.8 billion.

At the end of July 2022, the mandatory pension funds had 2,140,454 members, which is 7,081 members or 0.3% more than in June 2022.

The structure of the mandatory pension funds shows that bonds continued to be the predominant form of investment, with HRK 85.5 billion invested and a share of 64.6%. Their share decreased by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.

On the other hand, the proportion of investment in shares remained unchanged at 20.3% or HRK 26.8 billion. Investments in investment funds amounted to HRK 14.3 billion, accounting for 10.8% of the assets of these funds.

At the end of July, eight open-end voluntary pension funds and 20 closed-end voluntary pension funds operated in Croatia. The open-end funds had 364,783 members, and the closed-end ones had 46,699 members.

Total monthly payments into the voluntary pension funds amounted to HRK 53.6 million, a decrease of 3.8% compared with June 2022, while monthly disbursements totalled HRK 23 million, down by 18.6% or HRK 5.2 million.

The net assets of the voluntary pension funds in July totalled HRK 7.7 billion, increasing by 176.5 million (+2.3%) from the previous month. The bulk of the investments was made in bonds (56.6% of the total net assets), followed by shares (25%) and investment funds (10.5%).

(€1 = HRK 7.510450)

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Minister No Question New Law Would Enable Misuse of Coastal Belt

ZAGREB, 23 August, 2022 - Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, said on Tuesday that the new Law on the Coastal Belt and Sea Ports would in no way privatise the coastal belt or prevent citizens from using the seaside and that there is no way that the law would enable any misuse of the coastal belt.

"We have to adopt a law on the coastal belt and seaports by the end of the year for several reasons," said Butković, stating that it is a precondition to absorb money from the National Recovery and Resilience Program, adding that that includes reforming the maritime sector and one of the measures for that is the adoption of that law.

He added that the bill has been in preparation for 20 years and that it was last amended in 2003.

Butković also underscored that the bill has not yet been put to public consultation, and so far it is just a draft prepared by the task force comprising maritime experts, representatives of the ministry, and the State Attorney's Office.

Butković said that the bill was released to the public even before public consultation and that "misinterpretations were made by certain people, who criticised the draft bill claiming that entry would be restricted to some beaches and beaches would be fenced off or privatised," adding that "there is no chance of that occurring."

According to Butković, the intention of the law is not to privatise the coastal belt nor to fence it off or to prevent citizens from using the seaside. "No normal person would do that," he added.

"On the contrary, the bill will give greater powers to local government so they can determine the purpose of the beaches in their area through the coastal belt management plan." He said that in principle, the incumbent law included local government in deciding what happens on the coastal belt and beaches in their remit."

According to Butković, the local government will play an active role based on the new bill, and stricter measures will be taken with greater penalties for those who do not comply with the regulations on the coastal belt.

"There is no question that this law will allow any kind of abuse of the coastal belt," he underscored, and that it was necessary to wait for the bill to be put up for public consultation.

He invited everyone - cities, municipalities, counties, and all interested parties to get involved with their comments and that the best solution will be found at the level of the ministry, including the task force and the State Attorney's Office after which the bill will be presented to the government and Sabor.

In mid-August, the Island Movement association claimed that the bill would enable restrictions on the use of the coastal belt, allowing the seaside to be fenced off and even denying access to beaches. The association sent an open critical letter to the government.

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