Friday, 21 January 2022

Split Women Entrepreneurs Check In - A Stylish Success!

January 21, 2022 - The first Split Women Entrepreneurs Check In was held at Heritage Hotel Santa Lucia on Thursday, January 20, as the ultimate networking event for anyone interested in lifestyle and new business connections, all while indulging in a tasty brunch.

The Women's Entrepreneurs Check-in is organized under the Lifestyle Check-in brand, which organizes a series of B2B & B2C events focused on international fashion, beauty, and lifestyle companies, held in mesmerizing venues such as galleries, yachts, and hotels. Thursday's event was thus held at Kavana Central, part of the chic Heritage Hotel Santa Lucia, located at Narodni trg 1 in Split. 

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The Women Entrepreneurs Check In aims to raise awareness about women entrepreneurs and affirm women’s role in the Croatian and Dalmatian economies. Speakers and journalists from Croatia, Austria, and Romania joined the event through a panel discussion about women's entrepreneurship to celebrate great business minds and up-and-coming entrepreneurs while highlighting the influential role women play in the business community.

In addition to bubbles and brunch, the event featured 3 different panels with questions directed to the audience once the speakers finished. The breaks between each panel included artistic moments, with acoustic music by Michelle Rowsell, live portrait paintings by Sunčica Kuzmanić Perišin Tomljanović, and artwork by Esther Canata. 

The audience was also encouraged to use the breaks to network, test the Makeover Polyclinic Beauty Corner products, and enjoy the stunning reclaimed wood sculptures by Earth Wind Desire and Pierre Lang jewelry from Austria. 

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The Women Entrepreneurs Check In was introduced by Total Croatia News COO and event moderator Daniela Rogulj, who thanked everyone for joining and highlighted the importance of celebrating women, networking, and dressing up on a January Thursday in Split. 

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The opening words were shared by Joze Tomaš, Director of the Split County Chamber of Commerce (HGK), and Nevena Čikeš, manager of Heritage Hotel Santa Lucia. Tomaš reiterated his support for women business owners through HGK and various projects and promised to continue fighting for equal rights for women in Croatia. Čikeš stressed the importance of unity and pledged her support to Lifestyle Check In for future events. 

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The first panel discussed businesswomen in Europe and Croatia, the importance of connection, and social entrepreneurship, with speakers Tash Peričić and Barbara Marković. 

Originally from New Zealand and living in Croatia for almost 8 years, Tash Peričić has worked in hospitality and tourism for 17 years, including managing Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred restaurant – ‘Maze’ in London. Tash has worked in the field of Leadership based on Emotional Intelligence, as a writer for TCN, and more recently started giving guest lectures at Aspira University, delivering training for luxury yachts, and teaching the stewardess course for Atlantis Yachting Academy thanks to her experience working on yachts in Croatia for almost 10 seasons. Tash has also created an online community to support women which now includes nearly 600 members in Dalmatia.

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Tash spoke about her ethos being connection, collaboration, and community, how women's communities differ in the various parts of the world she's lived, and how it is imperative to dismiss competitive mindsets and instead support each other, which she has discovered through the community she has built in Dalmatia. 

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Barbara Marković has worked in different areas of tourism for over 20 years. She also spent 10 years in the United States, working for Marriott and the cruising industry, mainly in hotel operations. She has worked on projects with private accommodation owners for the last ten years. Barbara is the president of the Croatian Family Accommodation Association on a national level and has presented the project in the media and locally to assist and help private accommodation owners as much as possible. She also owns the Dalmagic travel agency, mainly specializing in Split county cruises, tours, and accommodation services. She also works part-time for the tourist boards of Croatia and Split-Dalmatia County as an educator for accommodation business owners.

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Barbara discussed the importance of being a good host, how he has adapted as a businesswoman to Split's rapidly changing tourism environment, and how we need to honor quality over quantity. 

The second panel touched on business trends and how we can design our feminine future through projects led by Hildegard Brandl and Cornelia Rieger. 

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Originally from Romania, Hildegard Helene Brandl studied architecture in Bucharest, graduated in Dortmund, and set up her first architecture office in Venezuela. In 2009, she returned to Europe and opened UNITH2B Architects in Romania with her partner Anca Sandu in Romania. Hilde is strongly involved in volunteering projects - she is a member of the Romanian Business Leaders Association, a member of the AHK Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the leader of the ANTREPRENORESTI project - Adopt a village. She is currently the President of the Bucharest Entrepreneurs Organization and Coordinator of the National Business Environment Commission of the PNL. As a founding member & board member of the Association of Romanian Architectural Societies, she promotes public policies and leaner legislation within the construction domain. She is one of the founding members of ROBELO - Romanian Best Locations - a platform for exceptional tourist locations in Romania and passionately promotes the unique, wild landscapes and experiences that Romania offers. Hilde spoke about her unique experience as a woman in the male-dominated political world and the most significant lessons she's learned. 

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"I constantly ask myself - would it kill me? No. So I do it. Anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Saying yes to opportunities, even in areas like politics which was unfamiliar to me, is one of the biggest reasons I've grown and been successful in the business world," said Hilde.

Cornelia Rieger has been a businesswoman in Austria since 2003. She has worked as a consultant in the Back Office Work for Entrepreneurs and a Mentor and Trainer for Women in Leadership. She has also been part of the Real Life Academy since 2018, Partner Agency "We bring together, what belongs together " since 2020, and the Summer Rose Community - Inner Circle for successful People and Entrepreneurs.

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Cornelia stressed the importance of following your dreams and building many empires. 

A big take from the second panel touched on why women don't support each other. 

"Men naturally support each other. They get together, go for a drink, and talk about everything from life to business and politics. Through that connection, they naturally gain networks. Women aren't doing these things enough - women need to get together once a week to talk, have a drink, and genuinely connect and share with each other."

The final panel featured Larisa Čišić, Janine Widmann, and Rino Medić. 

Larisa Čišić, a licensed architect, and Daniel Poelzl, a wood artist, make up the artist/architect duo behind Earth Wind Desire, helping people reconnect to nature and their inner selves. Born in Croatia, Larisa studied architecture in Zagreb and Milan, worked in Japan, and traveled the world to master the skill of designing soulful architecture. Earth Wind Desire uses natural reclaimed materials to create exceptional artwork, architecture, and interior design. Based in Croatia, they endeavor to elevate your surroundings from dull & artificial to calming & natural or create wholly new and unique luxury experiences.

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Larisa spoke about how living in Japan and working in the rather militant Japanese business culture differed from Croatia and the lessons she now implements in her business having the experience working abroad. 

Janine Widmann is a former Sales Director within the hospitality industry that started her own business during her maternity leave in 2017. She now works with 120 business partners in 6 countries. Her partner in crime is the US Company Jeunesse, founded in 2009 and is now a billion-dollar company that continues to grow worldwide and is expanding further in Europe. Janine focuses her entire business on starting a new start-up every day, together with a prospect. She helps implement essential processes to support the latest startup to be successful.

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Janine stressed the importance of celebrating your achievements, not being humble about your success, how it is more important now than ever not to be entirely dependent on one income - and that it's okay to make more money than your husband! 

The final panelist and only male speaker was Rino Medić. Originally from Mostar, Rino received his MBA in marketing from the Zagreb School of Economics and Management in 2009. Rino earned his Ph.D. from the Faculty of Economics in Osijek last year with the thesis “The Role of Volunteering in Remote Communities” under the mentorship of professor Dan Ebener from St. Ambrose University.

Rino has worked for 13 years in publishing and education as a key account manager, event manager, project manager, and head of publishing and has led several exciting projects. He was a member of the program and organization committee of the WinDays Business Conferences, International Conference on Women in the Film Industry, and the Conference on Croatian Film Heritage. He is currently a member of the program and organization committee at the Mediterranean Islands Conference on Vis and the Creative Future Insights Conference in Zagreb. Rino has attended many educational programs and is the author of a few scientific articles and book chapters. In addition, he is an editor of Conference Proceedings from two international scientific conferences, and even a former athlete with many honors and awards. 

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Rino shared a personal story about collectivism versus individualism for sustainable growth. 

Music and Artists

Michelle Rowsell

Originally from the small island of Jersey, Michelle’s love of traveling upon the open waters ultimately brought her to Split. Michelle’s background and training are in theatre, contributing to her diverse musical taste, spanning from old classics by Sam Cooke and The Shirelles to contemporary pop-rock songs performed in a stripped-back, acoustic style.

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Sunčica Kuzmanić Perišin Tomljanović

Croatian-born, Suncica Kuzmanic Perišin Tomljanović is an international artist with a worldly soul. Sunci studied in London, graduated in fine arts at St. Martins College of art & design, lived in Rome, and has exhibited in Italy, London, New York, Mexico, Paris, and Istanbul. Her collectors are from all walks of life and all parts of the world.

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While Sunci works with many themes and painting mediums, performance portraits are at the center of her work, usually working with watercolors or oil on canvas. Suncica was born drawing and painting, but only after seeing Andy Warhol’s portrait of Mick Jagger at 16 that she fell in love with portraits. Sunci has experimented with portraits and collected people and stories ever since. Sunci’s portraits and works share the same element of interaction – in person or remotely; this ‘live element’ is essential to her work. However, Sunci’s true magic lies in her ability to connect with her client, dive into their world and create from this space, bringing an energetic element to each painting.

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Esther Canata

Esther Canata is a former stage and screen actress, singer-songwriter, poet, and self-taught visual artist. Esther was born and raised in New Jersey to an Italian family with Irish and South American roots. She studied the arts through high school and continued her creative growth to NYC where she worked as an artist model and studio apprentice at the School of Visual Arts for two years. Esther partook in various performative and visual works, aligning with street artists, gallerists, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives in downtown Manhattan’s underground music and arts scene. A multicultural, tough-love childhood combined with leaving home at a very young age armed Esther with a natural street edge – an artful arsenal – baring many layers of life fully lived, helping cultivate her signature style. Esther’s approach is authentic, a stream of conscious abstract expressionism. Esther plays in mixed-mediums, and her style is influenced by street art and great masters such as Basquiat, Picasso, Chagall, Miro, and Klimt. Her work is emotionally charged, moody, complex, and empowering – embodying femininity, sensuality, diversity, and soulful depth of character. 

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Esther has exhibited through New York, Miami, LA, and Europe. As an emerging international artist, some career highlights include her solo exhibit entitled “ELEMENTAL” at the Museum of Trogir in Croatia and ART BASEL Miami as a featured artist in the ARTBOX. In addition, private collectors have exhibited her work in their homes, hotels, restaurants, and workspaces. 

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The event was sponsored by the Central Dalmatia County Tourist Board and Amarea Travel, which offered a guided city tour after the event. Journalists attended an elegant dinner at Zrno Soli in Split on Thursday evening, sponsored by the Central Dalmatia County Tourist Board. 

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More information about upcoming events can be found here: https://lifestylecheckin.com/

All photos by Maksim Bašić

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Krka National Park is 37! You're All Invited to Breathtaking Birthday Party

January 21, 2022 – Celebrating its birthday this week, Krka National Park is 37 years old. To mark the occasion, the park is inviting everyone to visit this weekend for free.

Just 20 minutes drive from the seaside town of Šibenik, Krka National Park is one of Croatia's most famous, most popular and most spectacular National Parks. Within 109 square kilometres of the Krka river valley, you'll find seven spectacular waterfalls, wonderful wildlife, epic karst rock canyons and thrilling views. It is a recreational playground of limitless enjoyment.

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Over one million visitors come each year to Krka National Park. On the birthday weekend that Krka National Park is 37, park authorities are opening the entrances to everyone for free. It's the perfect opportunity to come and explore. From hiking trails and cycle paths to bird watching and landscape or nature photography, there's lots to see and do.

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You may have seen Skradinski Buk and the pools near the southern section of the park and Šibenik. But, have you found Roški Slap waterfall further up, just a few kilometres west of Drniš? Or did you see the northern entrance of the park and its series of waterfalls near Knin? There's more in Krka National Park than you could discover in just one weekend.

'People from the Krka' photography for Krka National Park is 37

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An extra attraction added in time for the birthday weekend is a public display of a specially curated photo series.

The landscape of what is today Krka National Park has been marked for millennia by the hands of man. People have existed alongside the Krka river since prehistory. Within the park, you can see evidence of how people have lived here across the ages.

People from the Krka is an exhibition of photographs that show folks whose lives and work happen within the river Krka canyon. The photographs are taken in the period from the founding of Krka National Park until today. The exhibition has been authored by renowned photographer Damil Kalogjera, who is particularly noted for his portrait work. It is the first in a series of NP Krka exhibitions that will present the people who live along the Krka.

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The opening of the photo exhibition will take place at 12 midday on Saturday 22 January at the Imperial Plateau on the lookout point above Skradinski Buk. It offers an unforgettable view of Krka's largest and most famous waterfall. Performing at the opening ceremony will be Skradin acapella group Klapa Skradinski Buk.

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On the weekend that Krka National Park is 37, admission to the park is free on Saturday and Sunday. The park is open from 9am to 4pm. Entry into enclosed spaces is only possible with an EU digital COVID certificate.

Why not take advantage of the offer and visit Krka National Park for a full weekend? You can find brilliant accommodation in nearby Šibenik (here), Knin (here) or Drniš (here).

Roski.jpgRoški Slap waterfall near Drniš © Krka National Park

For more information about Krka National Park, look here.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Dario Hrebak: Croatian Covid Certificate System Should be Scrapped

January the 21st, 2022 - Should the Croatian covid certificate system be scrapped? With all eyes now on 2022's summer tourist season and the arrival of the much more mild but highly infectious Omicron variant, questions are hanging in the air.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at a recently held coalition meeting, the situation with the spread of coronavirus, the new Omicron variant, and all of the accompanying epidemiological measures, including the issue of the Croatian covid certificate were discussed.

"What is good is that the Prime Minister comes and listens to us every Tuesday, and new proposals are always on the table. I talked publicly recently at the coalition meeting about what Israel has done, I think Israel is doing a good job as far as the coronavirus pandemic is concerned, I think we're doing a good job too, but it's precisely because I think we're doing a good job that we need to rethink some things. We have 16 thousand infected people, and yet hospitalisations are drastically dropping, the number of positive results among those tested is still growing, I don't think there is any need to test people anymore. As soon as over 50 percent of those being tested return positive results, there is no longer any need for testing.

I'm going to be open now, I always speak responsibly, but I always try to speak with common sense as well. We also have to think about the upcoming summer tourist season. We now need to simply revoke the Croatian covid certificate. They should have been adopted when they were adopted, but now is the time to abolish them, I suggested that at the meeting of the ruling coalition,'' said Dario Hrebak, president of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) for HTV's Otvoreno (Open).

Asked whether or not the ruling party, HDZ, was ready to support this proposal, Josip Boric, vice president of the HDZ MPs' Club, said he had not been to the meeting and did not know what the discussions were, but has always listened to what the Civil Protection Directorate advised and said.

PM Andrej Plenkovic has since stated that the Croatian covid certificate system will remain in place for now, with Beros adding that the vaccination rate among the domicile population is still much too low to consider removing any epidemiological restrictions.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Croatian Ferry Company Jadrolinija Purchasing 6 New Vessels for 2022

January the 21st, 2022 - The Croatian ferry company Jadrolinija is set to add a further six vessels to its fleet throughout 2022. The move brings with it some considerable hope that there will be more tourists visiting the country this year, particularly during the warm summer months, who will require transportation from the mainland to various islands and between them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, announced this week that the procurement procedure for six new ships for the Croatian ferry company Jadrolinija will be launched this year, one of which will be for the line connecting the extreme southern Dalmatian islands of Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep with the City of Dubrovnik.

The above line is very important for not only locals of the islands and of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area, but for tourism, as many people plan trips to these beautiful islands when visiting the so-called Pearl of the Adriatic.

"This year we plan to procure six new vessels, three passenger ships and three catamarans through the National Recovery Programme (NPOO), and the construction of these ships will begin in 2023. Dubrovnik can expect a new vessel," said Minister Oleg Butkovic regarding the procurement of the new Jadrolinija vessels for public transport in response to Dubrovnik Mayor Mate Frankovic (HDZ).

The Dubrovnik Mayor has otherwise warned of the dilapidation of the "Postira" vessel which currently runs connecting the City of Dubrovnik and the nearby Elafiti (Elaphite) islands on numerous occasions.

Until then, the good old "Postira" ship will be fully serviced in order to continue doing its job, or, in case that proves pointless, another used ship will be procured in order for the line to continue in its regular function, the minister added.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business and travel sections.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Government to Cap Rising Croatian Fuel Prices Again?

January the 21st, 2022 - Rising Croatian fuel prices was an issue for drivers several weeks ago, more precisely back at the tail end of 2021, and the government had to step in and place a cap on the price of fuel in order to make the situation sustainable. It looks as if the same is going to need to be done again with a new packet of measures.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the government is set to compile a new package of measures to reduce the impact of rising energy prices on people if prices continue to rise, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced on Wednesday.

''In the case of price increases, in addition to limiting Croatian fuel prices, we'll raise the fees provided to socially disadvantaged households, and when it comes to the price of electricity and gas, we're going to be relying on HEP, which can take over and reduce the impact on people and households,'' announced Plenkovic in response to a question on the matter asked by Mirela Ahmetovic (SDP).

As the third element, PM Plenkovic mentioned VAT, which amounts to 13 percent for electricity and 25 percent for gas. He explained that the rise in energy prices was caused by supply disruptions, the ongoing disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and extremely high demand.

"Households across the Republic of Croatia haven't yet seen an increase in electricity prices and will not experience them until April the 1st, and the same is true with the price of gas," he assured.

Earlier on Wednesday, he announced that the state could step in and limit Croatian fuel prices again, if prices continue to rise next week.

When it comes to the price of Croatian fuel prices, the government limited the price to approximately 11 kuna just three months ago and kept that price for a period of two months, thus avoiding a blow to driver's wallets and bank accounts.

"After that, we left things to the market, and yet we noticed that the current fuel prices are higher once again. If we have an estimate that the price will continue to rise next week, we will once again step in and place a cap on Croatian fuel prices, with the exception of premiums,'' concluded Plenkovic.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

More Croatian Electric Vehicles on Road Than Ever Before

January the 21st, 2022 - There are more Croatian electric vehicles on the country's roads than ever before, and despite their high asking price, it seems that the reason for Croatian residents purchasing them is still more economical than it is ecological.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, we've been witnessing record high Croatian fuel prices over recent months, which is an additional reason to think about alternative fuels and electric vehicles (EV).

The fact that Croats are seriously thinking about and working on this is shown by some interesting recently published data, according to which as many as 1,436 new and 340 used Croatian elecric vehicles were sold in 2021, which is the highest ever.

According to the Electric Circuit Drivers Association, this is a record because last year the country recorded an increase in sales of new EVs of as much as 154 percent compared to the previous year of 2020.

"During 2021, 1436 new Croatian electric vehicles were sold, which together with existing EVs and used imports makes up a total of 3054 registered electric vehicles according to statistics from the Croatian Vehicle Centre - CVH," said Hrvoje Prpic, the president of the Circuit.

He added that almost all new Croatian elecric vehicles were purchased with their accompanying state incentives, which shows that the new incentive model that came to life last year has finally become functional. The Renault Twingo E-Tech was expected to be the best-selling electric car in all of Croatia with a total of 444 units sold, followed by the Tesla Model 3 with 219 units and the Hyundai Kona Electric with 94 units.

The top 10 best-selling new Croatian electric vehicles also include the Škoda Enyaq with 90 units sold, the Volkswagen ID.3 with 79 vehicles, the Volkswagen ID.4 with 72 cars and the Dacia Spring Electric with 63 electric vehicles. Also on the list are the Renault Kangoo Z.E. with 53 cars sold, the Audi Q4 e-tron with 29 and the Škoda Citigo iV with 27 units sold.

According to Electric Circuit, if we're to go off the information provided by the statistics of the Croatian Vehicle Centre, it can be concluded that about 340 used electric vehicles now in the country were imported elsewhere, so the overall growth of the fully electric fleet in Croatia is as high as 127 percent.

The fact that electric cars are becoming more and more popular, but also that a large number of customers still have reservations about this type of technology, has been showcased by a global survey published recently by the consulting company Deloitte.

“While global carmakers are trying to deliver on their promises of a more electric future, consumers are only interested in sustainable (electric) propulsion if it will reduce fuel costs, provide them with better driving experiences and a sense of environmental contribution. However, due to certain limitations that electric vehicle drivers still face, many customers continue to turn to proven, well-known internal combustion vehicles, meaning that only some consumers are willing to pay for these advanced technologies,'' Deloitte believes.

Some of the main highlights of this analysis, which included 26,000 consumers from 25 different countries, are that despite growing societal interest in ecology and sustainability, most consumers are still unwilling to pay more than 500 US dollars for advanced technologies such as alternative source energy engines.

Furthermore, consumers are reluctant to pay for other types of advanced equipment including autonomous driving, increased safety and connectivity. Consequently, as they pointed out, vehicles with internal combustion engines will continue to be the leader, the future choice of American customers (69%). When it comes to alternative engines, consumer interest in battery-powered electric vehicles is highest in the Republic of Korea (23%), China (17%) and Germany (15%), while Japanese buyers (48%) are more inclined to buy hybrid electric vehicles. Most future buyers of electric vehicles intend to charge their vehicles at home, especially in Japan (76%), India (76%), the US (75%) and Germany (70%).

Gordan Kozulj, a former celebrated Croatian swimmer and the now director of Deloitte's business consulting department, pointed out that the automotive industry remains resilient despite the coronavirus pandemic affecting almost all aspects of its business operations.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

ZSE Indices Dip

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - The main Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices ended their positive run on Thursday, with the Crobex shedding 0.33% to close at 2,205 points and the Crobex10 falling by 0.16% to 1,340 points.

The Crobex ended its 19-day winning streak during which it had gained 9% in total, while the Crobex10 had been on the rise for eight consecutive trading days.

Turnover at the close of the trading session was HRK 12.86 million, which is 2.9 million higher than on Wednesday. A further HRK 23.26 million was generated by a block transaction with shares of the Span IT company at HRK 212 per share.

Four stocks passed the turnover mark of one million kuna.

The stock of the HT telecommunications company turned over HRK 2.8 million, its price stagnating at HRK 185.5 per share.

The Podravka food company saw its share price drop by 0.57% to HRK 696, turning over HRK 2.35 million.

The stock of telecommunications equipment manufacturer Ericsson Nikola Tesla turned over HRK 1.83 million, closing at HRK 1,995 per share, down 1.72%.

The stock of the Atlantska Plovidba shipping company turned over HRK 1.16 million. Its price fell by 2.12% to HRK 369 per share.

Forty stocks traded today, with 13 of them registering price increases, 19 recording price decreases, and 8 stagnating in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.519819)

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Plenković: I Want No Involvement in Conflict Between Banožić and Milanović

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he wanted no involvement in the conflict between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, adding that President Zoran Milanović's letters to him were irrelevant but that the ministry and the president's office had to communicate.

"Sending me letters and then making them public via the media is absolutely unacceptable, I consider all of his letters totally irrelevant," Plenković told reporters after a government session.

Defence Minister Mario Banožić said earlier today that President Milanović should declassify documents on his travels and that he would then declassify the findings of an inspection in the office of the Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

The PM said that he had not read the report on the inspection in Hranj's office but would do so once he found the time.

"I do not consider it to be very important, the minister has stated his position on the matter," Plenković said.

As for Milanović's statement that he sees no possibility of cooperation with Banožić over the latter's campaign of strategic harassment, Plenković said that he could say the same about Milanović.

"I think the President of the Republic has been strategically harassing a huge portion of civil institutions, commentators, media, and political actors and we do not see any possibility of further cooperation, yet we are open to dialogue," the PM said.

Asked if he would demand that Banožić make the said report public, Plenković said that he would not because it was not Banožić who had classified the document.

Asked again why he would not, given that Banožić had been the one to request the inspection, the PM said that Banožić had not requested it for the public's sake but for his own sake.

"Banožić has said that he is satisfied with the report, if he is satisfied, it's fine with me," he added.

Asked if the Armed Forces could function if there was no communication between the Defence Ministry and the Office of the President, Plenković said that they had to communicate and that he recommended they do so.

He confirmed that he would soon forward agreements on the purchase of the Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets to the Office of the President.

"He has every right to it, he is the head of state. Whether there is room for cooperation is irrelevant, he has the right to see the agreements and he will obtain them, of course, they, too, are confidential."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Ina to Set Up Two Solar Power Plants

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - The INA oil company and the Končar electrical, transport, and energy company have signed a contract for the construction of the solar power plants Virje and Sisak, INA reported on Thursday.

The Virje solar power plant will be built as part of INA's gas processing facility Molve while the plant in Sisak will be located on INA's industrial premises and is one of the projects to transform the former refinery into a modern industrial center, INA said in a press release.

The power plants will be able to produce 16,000 megawatts of electricity a year, which can cover the average consumption of 4,800 households in Croatia or cities the size of Makarska or Jastrebarsko.

Works at both sites are expected to start in the spring and should be completed during 2023.

The project is yet another step in the process of transforming INA into an energy company and is in line with our development guidelines. Our aim is to upgrade the existing value chain and these solar power plants are the start of creating a sustainable portfolio in producing electricity from renewables. With this project, INA will contribute to supply security and to compliance with the climate objectives Croatia has taken on as an EU member, INA Management Board President Sandor Fasimon said.

Končar's Management Board President Gordan Kolak said that state-of-the-art technology would be used to construct the solar power plants. Končar won the tender amid stiff international competition.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Beroš: COVID Restrictions Not to Be Lifted for Now Given Low Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Due to its low vaccination rate, Croatia, for now, cannot consider lifting some of the COVID restrictions, and medical professionals continue to recommend compliance with the epidemiological measures in place to contain the virus, Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

He was commenting on plans by countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, which have high vaccination rates, to lift the restrictions and the COVID pass mandate. He warned that in Croatia, a considerable number of people aged 75 and over were unvaccinated.

Despite the surge in the number of new infections, for now, there has been no increase in the number of COVID hospitalizations, so health care is also available to non-COVID patients, the health minister said.

"Today, 1,792 infected persons are being treated in hospitals, four fewer than yesterday. The COVID bed occupancy rate is 53.4 percent, which allows for other patients to be provided with the necessary health care as well," Beroš said.

Croatia today registered a record 17,489 new COVID cases, with the PCR test positivity rate reaching 51.44 percent and the rapid antigen test positivity rate 18.82 percent. The number of COVID patients on ventilators today is 195, nine fewer than on Wednesday. 

Beroš said that 18.63 percent of the total population had received an additional vaccine dose.

He noted that people being admitted to hospitals with the Omicron variant of the virus were mostly elderly and unvaccinated with other underlying conditions.

He said that the latest data published by the European Medicines Agency showed that mRNA COVID vaccines were safe during pregnancy.

The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the travel ban on arrivals from South Africa and other African countries where the Omicron variant first appeared had been lifted given that this variant has become dominant in Croatia and Europe.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

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