Thursday, 1 September 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina Opens General Consulate in Rijeka

ZAGREB, 31 August, 2022 - A general consulate of Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially opened in Rijeka on Wednesday and its consular services will cover seven Croatian counties.

A ministerial advisor at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zagreb, Zoran Perković, explained that consuls-general are appointed by the BiH Presidency, so it is expected that the Consul General in Rijeka will be appointed after the October election and the inauguration of the new BiH Presidency, probably in November.

He added that the consulate would start providing some of its services immediately, while other services would follow.

Present at the opening ceremony was Bosnia and Herzegovina's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bisera Turković, who said that this was the country's eighth general consulate and 58th diplomatic-consular office in the world.

"I hope that Croatia, as a member of the EU and NATO, will provide unconditional support to all our citizens and to BiH overall on its Euro-Atlantic path," she said, stressing that BiH is committed to strengthening relations with Croatia and wants to build strong, stable relations based on mutual respect and understanding.

Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Prefect Zlatko Komadina and Rijeka Deputy Mayor Goran Palčevski attended the opening ceremony too.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Plenković: We Want All INA Management Members to be Called to Account

ZAGREB, 31 August, 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that he will insist on calling to account all members of the INA Management Board, both the Croatian and Hungarian members, and making changes to the way INA is managed due to a scam in which INA is believed to have been defrauded of more than HRK 1 billion.

Plenković made the statement after a meeting of representatives of the parliamentary majority.

Five suspects, including an INA executive, were arrested last Saturday on suspicion of defrauding INA of more than one billion kuna by buying natural gas supplies from the company at below market prices and selling those supplies at market prices, thus making an illegal gain of at least HRK 848 million (approx. €113 million).

INA is jointly owned by the Hungarian energy group MOL and the Croatian state, with MOL being the biggest individual stakeholder.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

MP: Money Stolen from INA Could have been Used to Pay Bills for Every Household

ZAGREB, 31 August, 2022 - Commenting on the INA gas trading scam, MP Nino Raspudić said on Wednesday that in any democratic country, the ruling party would be directly responsible for such a crime but that that was not the case in Croatia, even though the billion kuna stolen would be sufficient to pay households' winter energy bills.

Raspudić, an MP of the opposition Bridge party, recalled that after the final corruption verdict against the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), its president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the HDZ he was leading had nothing to do with the HDZ led by Ivo Sanader, but that now it was clear that the then HDZ was nothing compared to Plenković's HDZ.

"We are facing a difficult winter. It will be difficult to convince citizens, when they face enormous energy costs, that there is no money, so the possibility of social unrest cannot be ruled out because in this scam alone, the amount of public money stolen would be enough to pay one bill for every household," Raspudić said.

He added that the past and present members of the INA supervisory board, Damir Vanđelić, Davor Filipović, and Tomislav Ćorić, who were now publicly accusing each other, should "start talking and blowing the whistle as much as possible."

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Jandroković: Photo from HDZ Event is Only Link to Škugor

ZAGREB, 31 August 2022 - A photo of Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and arrested INA executive Damir Škugor was taken in November 2017 at an event organised by the Maksimir branch of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), it is common practice to take photos with party members and the only link to Škugor, his office said.

The Parliament Speaker's office issued a press release on Wednesday after the photo of Jandroković and Škugor was posted by MP Nikola Grmoja (Bridge) on his Facebook page and was later shared on social networks.

"Mr. Jandroković was invited to that event in his capacity as Parliament Speaker and then secretary-general of the HDZ. On that occasion, he took a photo with the members of the Maksimir HDZ branch committee. This is common practice and photos are taken with numerous citizens and party members who want to take a photo with the Parliament Speaker. And that is the only link that exists to Mr. Škugor," the press release states.

The Parliament Speaker gives his full support to the competent state institutions to determine exactly what happened in the INA gas sales scam and who the responsible individuals are, regardless of their party affiliation, and that they be punished according to the law.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Croatia Logs 1,111 COVID Cases, 12 Deaths

ZAGREB, 31 August, 2022 - In the last 24 hours, 1,111 coronavirus cases, out of 4,119 tests, and 12 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID crisis management team said on Wednesday.

There are 5,636 active cases, including 624 hospitalised patients, 13 of whom are on ventilators, while 3,334 persons are self-isolating.

Croatia has logged 1,212,658 COVID cases to date, the death toll is 16,702, and 70.87% of adults have been vaccinated, including 68.84% fully.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

INA Case: How Croatian Government Directly Facilitated Theft of Century

September 1, 2022 - Citizens of the Republic of Croatia are not used to a high level of political culture, honesty, and truthfulness. While in the normal world politicians resign even for the smallest offenses or breaches of duty, in Croatia even those who are proven guilty should be forced out of their positions. Political responsibility and self-criticism simply do not exist. As the INA case unfolds, this becomes more and more apparent.

As Index writes, some statements are too much even for Croatia. It is one thing to cover one's ears, remain silent, and not admit responsibility for certain failures, and it is quite another to claim that these failures are proof of the abilities, moral qualities, and work of those who are responsible for them.

Plenković says that he should be congratulated after the theft of the century

This is what Andrej Plenković said at the press conference after the coalition meeting of the ruling parties where the INA case was discussed: "The key message is that the institutions of the Croatian state, rather the government, were the ones who discovered this case of abuse, not the police or the judicial authorities, but the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering, a department within the Ministry of Finance". He added that the opposition, instead of demanding elections, should - congratulate the government.

But the facts do not support his arrogant statements. Not only did the government not detect the theft of the century, but it also directly facilitated it. This is the real truth, and it is not difficult to prove it, no matter what Plenković arrogantly claims.

Plenković and the HDZ government directly appointed the INA Administration, at which he is now theatrically "furious"

First of all, the Prime Minister, who claims to be furious with the INA Board, should be reminded that he appointed the people who make up the Croatian quota. According to the agreement, Croatia has the right to three members of the INA Management Board, and they are appointed by the government.

In 2020, Plenković, i.e., the government, appointed Croatian members of the Management Board, with whom the same Plenković is now theatrically "furious". On March 31 of that year, a meeting of the Supervisory Board of INA was held, where new members of the company's Management Board were appointed at the proposal of the government, led by Andrej Plenković: Barbara Dorić, Darko Markotić, and Niko Dalić.

They were the replacement of the previous members, who were also appointed by the HDZ government in 2011, and the prime minister and leader of the HDZ at that time was Jadranka Kosor.

If the Administration appointed by Plenković had done its job, there would have been no theft

If the Board had done its job the case wouldn’t exist, and the Board was appointed by Plenković himself. Admittedly, he only replaced the former HDZ members with a new set, except for one man. That is Niko Dalić, who has been on the INA Management Board for more than a decade. Jadranka Kosor appointed him there in 2011.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell,  remember who managed Agrokor during its collapse and who the ringleader was of the Borg group. For her "services", she was awarded the position of president of the Podravka Management Board in February of this year, which was personally advocated by Plenković. She was even at his place for a kind of job interview, which the media and economists interpreted as the prime minister's direct recruitment in a state-owned company.

Niko Dalić from the INA Management Board is, of course, the husband of Martina Dalić, the Minister of Finance in Plenković's government, who was appointed head of Podravka by Plenković and who led, to put it mildly, the dubious "restructuring" of Agrokor. He is much less exposed in the media, but that is why he survived a whole decade on the INA Management Board.

He was the only one who survived Plenković's change of Croatian members. A trustworthy man, one would say. The current government did not only appoint the Management Board of INA, but also appointed HDZ member Damir Mikuljan as president of the Supervisory Board at the end of last year, and Davor Filipović, a man who had previously been spectacularly defeated in the elections for mayor of Zagreb, as a member.

>> Nacional: Plenković personally chose Dalić and her husband, they have a salary of HRK 200,000

HDZ minister was informed that Ina was losing money. He did nothing and could have prevented the theft

In an interview for N1, Damir Vanđelić, the former head of the Supervisory Board of INA, who was replaced by Damir Mikuljan in December 2021, said that he had informed the authorities, including the then HDZ Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić, that INA was losing money.

By the way, Damir Mikuljan, who replaced Damir Vanđelić, is the head of something called the Honorable Court of the HDZ. He will probably decide on the party line of the alleged organiser of the theft of the century, Damir Škugor. The arrested Škugor was also the man of honor for HDZ general secretary Krunoslav Katičić.

That Škugor is active in HDZ was revealed through photos of him hugging Plenković himself and the President of the Croatian Parliament, Goran Jandroković, although the government spokesman claimed before the photos were published that the Prime Minister did not know him.

"Last year in May, we reacted to the Supervisory Board and asked for a session because eight people in high positions in INA were dismissed," said Vanđelić. "I put the topic on for the Supervisory Board at that time, that is May 2021, I asked in English what the plan was when eight people were dismissed. I didn't know about Škugor at the time, but something was happening. Eight good people were dismissed then, they were paid severance pay to leave. That's why I asked what the plan was. We did not receive satisfactory answers."

"The answer was that they were improving the organisation," he added. "I didn't get any answer. I got some calls, mocking us from Supervisory Board because we are problematising the topics of staffing and gas business," he said. "Ćorić told me to politicise and do some other business".

HDZ's Čorić responded: "Vanđelic is very creative in presenting alternative facts". After that statement, evidence was published, an e-mail in which Vanđelić stated that he noticed the "leakage of funds from INA" and informed Ćorić about the problem. Vanđelić sent the mail to his colleagues in the Supervisory Board two weeks earlier and then forwarded it to Ćorić, in which he compared the operations of INA and MOL.

>> Published email in which Vanđelić warned Ćorić that Ina was losing a lot of money

Soon after that, he was removed from the head of the Supervisory Board and was replaced by the previously mentioned Damir Mikuljan, head of the Honorable Court of HDZ.

It is not difficult to notice that just last year, while the theft of the century was taking place, HDZ's staffing in INA was going on. It is arrogant and insulting to the intelligence of the citizens that Plenković claims that the government exposed the theft. By all accounts, the government directly set up Škugor and all the others who made a billion kuna disappear right in front of their noses.

>> Tomislav Ćorić could have prevented the theft of the century. Vuković: This is astonishing

Rakar: The theft was discovered by the banks. It is impossible to declare this a discovery of the government

HDZ's responsibility does not end with staffing at INA. The government is, of course, only a branch of HDZ, and HDZ recruits all over the country.

"I don't see how it is possible to declare the fact that the banks discovered a suspicious payment to the account of a natural person (in no less than a nine-digit amount in kuna) a victory or a great discovery when that same money was created by manipulation and de facto theft from an extremely organised company traded on the stock exchange in which the Republic of Croatia possesses almost 50 percent of the ownership, the president and several members of the Supervisory Board and several members of the company's Management Board. In addition, the entire operation took place through another company, which is owned by a utility company owned by the county, and CroPlin (which is 100% owned by the same INA)", Marko Rakar from the Association of Authorized Fraud Investigators told Index.

"This is proof that the mechanisms of management, control, and supervision in a whole series of companies, but also the state and counties, have completely failed", he concluded.

One of the channels through which money was extracted from INA is The Gas Company of Eastern Slavonia, headed by Marija Ratkić, also a member of HDZ. She defended herself before USKOK that she was only carrying out the orders of her party colleague Damir Škugor.

The Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia is owned by the Vukovar-Srijem County, whose prefect is Damir Dekanić. You guessed it, he is also an HDZ member. He has been a member since 1990 and since 2020 the vice president of the party in Vukovar-Srijem County. You don't need to guess a lot to conclude which party is recruiting in Plinara of Eastern Slavonia.

>> Gas plant revenues from the theft of the century jumped sharply last year. No one found this strange

Fina praised the company through which the theft from INA happened. And Fina, of course, is managed by HDZ

The ones who reported the suspicious events that led to the exposure of the theft of the century in Croatia are - private banks. And in addition to the internal controls of INA and Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia at least two state institutions, Fina and the Tax Administration, also failed.

The first one had all the information related to the company OMS-Upravljanje d.o.o., through which money was primarily extracted from INA. "The small and micro-entrepreneurs with the highest profit for the period in 2021 were: CENTRICE ZAGREB d.o.o., HT HOLDING d.o.o. and SUPERNOVA BUZIN d.o.o. (small) and CENTAR BUNDEK d.o.o. in bankruptcy, BELVEDERE d.d. in bankruptcy and OMS-UPRALJANJE d.o.o. (micro)", announced Fina in a press release just two months ago.

According to information from Fina, OMS-Upravljanje is in third place among the micro-entrepreneurs with the highest profit. Their profit was HRK 117 million 277 thousand. In 2021, OMS-Upravljanje had a higher profit than all those who were on the list of the top 5 small entrepreneurs.

The fact that a micro-company with one employee founded in 2019 had a higher profit than most medium-sized entrepreneurs, which have from 50 to 250 employees, should have immediately set off an alarm in Fina. But nobody reacted, and by chance or not, the head of Fina is another HDZ member, Dražen Čović.

>> The key company from the INA theft was on Fina's top list. Nobody even blinked

Plenković insults the intelligence of citizens

Nothing was suspicious, and no one knew anything. And many not only could but had to know. They get paid to do it. Internal control and management of INA, external auditors of INA, internal control and external auditors of Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia, FINA, Tax Administration, and many others.

The impression is that many people knew, or at least more than have been arrested (so far). HDZ appears in one way or another connected with the name of everyone involved with this theft of the century, whether it was a person directly involved or someone who should have reacted to obvious signs that something strange was going on.

If Plenković had just said today that HDZ and the government have nothing to do with what is happening around INA, it would be a blatant lie. Claiming that the HDZ government is responsible for uncovering the looting is a step beyond lying, making fools of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia.

The arrogance of that statement alone is enough for resignation, and as it has been proven that HDZ and Plenković directly staffed INA while the theft of the century was taking place, the resignation should be insisted on because of the direct responsibility for the disappearance of billions of kuna.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Vir Burger Costs 1200 Kuna, Creator Says He Needs to Double Price

September the 1st, 2022 - One Vir burger comes with a hefty price tag of over 1200 kuna, and the owner of the facility serving it claims that he'll still need to double the price.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Kraken Bar on the island of Vir offers its guests an apparently very special burger, which they'll have to set aside a whopping 1250 kuna for, and the young caterer Ante Basic behind this Vir burger claims he will have to raise its price.

Basic says he is aware that for many people, purchasing this wildly priced Vir burger is something that isn't accessible, but explained that these are top ingredients. He states that he is aware that prices in general are too high, but he wanted to make something very different and better than the usual offer.

''Yes, that's right. We do a burger that costs 1250 kuna. But because of it, I'm in the minus every time I make it because the ingredients are incredibly expensive. That's why I'll have to double the price next season. It will cost 2,500 kuna,'' Ante revealed to local portal Zadarski.

There are two types of top-notch and aged beef inside the burger. The pastry itself is made right there and is caramelised with brown sugar. The Grand Marnier sauce is made of top quality cognac, and the burger also includes goose liver, caramelised onion in a red wine, and green vegetables grown using UV light in 100 percent balsamico vinegar. The burger also has English cheese on it which they had to get special permits to import, and an Italian cheese known for having matured inside a cave. In addition to all of that, the cherry tomatoes get put on the burger in vinegrette tangerine sauce, and as a decoration there's also a large lobster tail.

''I worked out that every burger costs me 1248 kuna to make when all of the costs of the ingredients are added up. That's why I will have to sell it next year at double the current price because this is unprofitable.

The ingredients that go into it are extremely delicate and some are very difficult to find, given that my family has been working in the catering and hospitality industry for a long time, I've travelled a lot and tasted various things at all kinds of restaurants. Maybe this is the most expensive burger in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but it isn't the most expensive one in the world. In Belgium, there's a burger made from diamonds and gold leaflets which costs 30,000 dollars,'' Ante told Zadarski.

Over the past year, they have sold seven of these Vir burgers, but Basic has stated that they also have other favourable specialties in their offer. Recently, a father and son from Vukovar came to try out one of these burgers because they read about it on the internet and wanted to try it.

''It's true that that happened, but this isn't a dish that you'll eat every week, maybe you'll have it once in your entire life. A guy might want to show off to a girl on a date by taking her for the most expensive burger in all of Croatia, and they'll share it, because it's saturated enough that it's enough for two people. My desire is to turn this into a special story, and those who don't want to pay so much can always choose something from our offer in a price range of 50 to 100 kuna. Our drinks cost from 10 to 2600 kuna, so there's something for everyone,'' Basic concluded.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

25% More Overnight Stays Realised by German Tourists in Campsites

September the 1st, 2022 - German tourists have always been extremely populous and very important for the Croatian tourism sector, and there has been a significant 25% increase in the amount of overnight stays realised by German visitors in Croatian campsites.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Republic of Croatia is very well recognised over on the German market for its rich camping offer and the country is one of the absolute favourite foreign destinations for German tourists when it comes to this particular segment.

German guests have realised about 860,000 arrivals in various Croatian campsites up and down the country this year and achieved about 6.5 million overnight stays so far, which represents growth of about 25 percent when compared to the same period back in the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019.

''The continuation of these extremely positive trends from German tourists and the German market is also expected during the post-season,'' said Romeo Danghicchio, the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board's (HTZ/CNTB) representative office in Germany, on the occasion of the participation of HTZ at the Caravan Salon Fair, which is being held in the City of Dusseldorf until September the 4th, 2022.

The aforementioned German event is otherwise one of the world's leading fairs of this type, whose visitors have the opportunity to view the offer of a total of 736 exhibitors, whether they are popular destinations or a wide range of vehicles and all kinds of camping equipment.

In addition to the HTZ as the main exhibitor, the Kvarner Tourist Board, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Camping Association of Croatia and Valamar, are also presenting their respective offers at the fair.

In Croatia this year, faithful German tourists have realised more than 2.6 million arrivals and over 19 million overnight stays, which is impressive growth of about 15 percent compared to the record year of 2019.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

NP Ucka Hosting Biggest Fair of Traditional Istrian, Kvarner Products

September the 1st, 2022 - NP Ucka is set to play host to the largest fair of traditional products from the Istrian peninsula and Kvarner on September the 4th, with free transport heading there from the gorgeous town of Opatija.

As Morski writes, the fourteenth edition of the Ucka Samanj will be held on Sunday, September the 4th, 2022 at NP Ucka, from 10:00 to 20:00. The fair will also be expanded to cover lectures, workshops and the screening of a film which will take place during the morning hours.

This traditional manifestation will finally take place once again after two pandemic-dominated years, and it is otherwise known as the largest fair of traditional products in Istria and Kvarner. Ucka Samanj will also showcase sales and exhibitions, educational lectures and workshops, a programme for children and a cultural and entertainment programme this year.

This event at NP Ucka will work to promote the cultural and natural heritage of this protected area and support local producers of traditional products from across Kvarner and Istria. As such, this year, local products from both sides of NP Ucka will be presented at the fair, and visitors will have the opportunity to experience the legacy of the Istrian peninsula and the hinterland of the Opatija Riviera, through the presentation of associations that nurture the traditional culture of this area, as well as through the presentation of old crafts and native animals. About 50 exhibitors, associations and organisations will participate in the event. 

Visitors will be able to get much better acquainted with the traditional production of locally-made instruments in this part of the fair, including the forging of iron, the making of wooden figurines, mushroom hunting, local cultural heritage and much more.

The sales part of the fair will cover the rich offer of local manufacturers, and among other things, various dairy, meat and dried products, honey, fruit, brandy and liqueurs, wines, craft beers, teas, vepin products, jams, and natural cosmetics will be sold at the booths. Free bus transport to the NP Ucka fair will be provided from Opatija.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Less and Less Slavonian Employees Working on Croatian Coast

September the 1st, 2022 - There are less and less Slavonian employees working along the Croatian coast, particularly in Dalmatia where they were once commonplace in bars, restaurants and in hotels.

As Morski writes, the number of Slavonian employees who work seasonally along the Croatian coast has dropped significantly. For years, Slavonian employees were a kind of "sign" of every summer tourist season along the Adriatic, but that seems to have come to an end.

The statistics of the Osijek Regional Office of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), which was the (second) largest pool of seasonal workers for the Adriatic, show that there has been a significant drop in the number of seasonal workers from Eastern Croatia.

During the first seven months of this year, around 1,100 people from Osijek-Baranja County were employed in various seasonal jobs along the coast. Compared to the same period back in 2019, there's been a decrease, as 1,823 people were employed in those jobs back then. The figures were even lower over the past two summer seasons, but these were the unprecedented pandemic-dominated years, which cannot be compared to anything else.

Ankica Vuckovic, head of the Labour Market Department of the Osijek branch of the Croatian Employment Office, concluded that there is less interest in Slavonian employees heading to work at various Adriatic hotels because there is an increasing need for employers in Osijek-Baranja County itself, meaning that much more stable job offers are now available to the unemployed in their own home county through year-round employment.

The strengthening of Croatia's continental tourism is one of the main reasons why there are fewer Slavonian employees now working on the Adriatic coast, but it isn't the only one. Well known Croatian economic analyst Damir Novotny believes that there are three aspects of this reduction. First of all, the costs during the height of the summer season are very high; if an employer doesn't provide workers with accommodation, seasonal employees simply cannot survive.

People from Slavonia aren't ready to live in containers or similar accommodation units, which their employers along the coast intend for them to stay in. Second of all, the wages on the coast are lower than what they can earn in, say, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, which has opened up to Croatian workers and absorbed a lot of labour from here. Higher-quality staff, who speak the languages of those countries, could very easily get a good job in the aforementioned Central European countries, especially in the ''boom'' after the pandemic. There's a great demand for catering, hospitality and tourist services in these countries, so the labour force from Slavonia is mobilised more towards these countries than towards Dalmatia,'' explained Novotny.

He added that the domestic component should not be neglected either, i.e. the increase in the number of small OPGs and family tourist accommodation capacities, which is visible in the entire Danube region, from Baranja to Ilok, as reported by Vecernji list journalist Suzana Lepan-Stefancic/N1.

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

Page 17 of 3694

Search