Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Health Minister says 6,136 Newly Infected, Pandemic Still Rages

ZAGREB, 24 November, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that in the past 24 hours Croatia had registered 6,136 new coronavirus cases, underscoring that while the epidemic was still raging there were people willing to build their political careers and score cheap political points on the deaths of their fellow citizens.

"Croatia has registered 6,136 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. The percentage of those who tested positive is 40%, which shows that the epidemic is still raging, that the virus is spreading, that we, as a society, are not cautious enough, that we are not observing the epidemiological measures and that we have not achieved the vaccination rate which would in a way prevent the spreading of the virus," Beroš told Croatian Radio.

He added that a share of the newly-infected would, over the next two to three weeks, end up in a hospital.

"The death toll in Croatia can also be expected to go up," the health minister said, calling on Croatian citizens to get vaccinated.

He said the COVID certificate "does not mean freedom restriction, on the contrary, it increases freedom."

"The only alternative is a hard lockdown," Beroš said.

Asked about possible new, stricter measures, the minister said the national COVID-19 response team was analysing the situation on a daily basis and would act accordingly.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Two Charged with Organising Saturday's Rally Contrary to Public Assembly Law

ZAGREB, 23 November, 2021 - The police have filed a report against Marko Francišković and Andrija Klarić for organising a rally of opponents of anti-epidemic rules in Zagreb on Saturday contrary to the law on public assembly.

The police said that the organisers did not announce the rally to the Zagreb Police Department and failed to take necessary measures to ensure the public order during the gathering of several thousand antivaxxers and opponents of mandatory COVID certificates.

Zagreb Police Department official Davor Posilović said on Sunday that the police were intensively searching for the organisers of Saturday's rally, as well as for attackers on an RTL television reporter who was covering the demonstration.

Steps are being taken to identify potential organisers and take appropriate action against them, Posilović told a press conference in Zagreb on Sunday afternoon. He added that pyrotechnic devices had been used during the rally, the organisers failed to bring security guards and the decision on the restriction of public assembly was breached.

A report on verbal and physical violence against RTL reporter Goran Latković has been lodged with the police in the meantime. CCTV and video footage of the incident will be examined to identify the perpetrators and the police will interview all witnesses.

On Saturday evening, a group of protesters led by Marko Francišković marched from Zagreb's central square to the headquarters of the HRT public broadcaster, calling for an end to "censorship" by the HRT.

Dissatisfied with the way the HRT covered their protest in the main square, the protesters shouted "We want elections", "Referendum and people's rule", "Thieves", "Treason", "God's law is above all laws", demanding to see the HRT director and have their rally covered live. "This is no vaccine, this is poison", someone in the crowd could be heard saying while some protesters said the world was ruled by "Bill Gates, Talmudists and Soros's followers".

The protesters were met by riot police, with a dozen police vehicles blocking access to the HRT building.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

FM Welcomes Opening of Swiss Labour Market to Croatian Nationals

ZAGREB, 23 November, 2021 - As of 1 January 2022, Croatian nationals will have the same status as citizens of other European Union member states on the Swiss labour market, which will provide fresh impetus to Croatian-Swiss relations, it was said at a meeting of the two countries' foreign ministers in Bern on Tuesday.

The Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, was on a working visit to the Swiss Confederation where he met with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a press release.

Grlić Radman welcomed the decision by the Swiss Federal Council of 1 October 2021 under which, after applying Protocol III to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons for five years, Switzerland will not request a further extension of the transitional period during which the access of Croatian nationals to the Swiss labour market was restricted.

In that way,  as of 1 January 2022, Croatian nationals will have the same status as citizens of other European Union member states on the Swiss labour market, which will provide fresh impetus to Croatian-Swiss relations, the press release said.

Grlić Radman emphasised the good and friendly relations between Croatia and Switzerland, firmly anchored in European values, noting that the Croatian community in Switzerland also contributed to this.

He thanked Cassis for the donation of 20 fully equipped mobile residential units and 12 sanitary containers for the earthquake-devastated Banovina region of central Croatia. In this regard, the possibility of further cooperation between the two countries' civil protection services was mentioned.

The two ministers expressed their mutual satisfaction with the ongoing implementation of the Swiss-Croatian cooperation programme, which will continue to be carried out through various projects until the end of 2024 and thereafter, once Switzerland pays its financial contribution to the EU cohesion policy.

The meeting also focused on EU-Swiss relations, migration, the situation in southeastern Europe and Ukraine, the possibilities of further strengthening cooperation in multilateral formats, and increasing economic cooperation and investment.

Another topic discussed was regulating the work status of teachers of Croatian-language classes in Switzerland. "Croatian classes are of vital importance for maintaining and fostering the linguistic, cultural and national identity of younger generations of Croatian emigrants in Switzerland," Grlić Radman said.

During his visit, the Croatian minister also met with representatives of the Croatian expat community in Switzerland.

"The 30th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations next year will be an opportunity to further deepen and expand Swiss-Croatian bilateral relations," Grlić Radman said. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Zagreb Hosts Conference on Fight against Bribery in International Business Transactions

ZAGREB, 23 November, 2021 - Fighting bribery in international business transactions is increasingly important for good governance and sustainable development, it was said at a conference organised in Zagreb on Tuesday by the Justice and Public Administration Ministry, the European Commission and the OECD.

The day-long conference on the impact of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and new perspectives in Croatia brought together experts from member states of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OECD) and Croatia. It was part of efforts to raise awareness of the importance of the struggle against bribery in international business transactions.

The convention on further combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions has so far been signed by 44 countries, of which 38 are OECD members.

Addressing the event, Croatian Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that the fight against foreign bribery was a prerequisite for creating a safe environment for foreign investment and for strengthening the national economy and international trade.

Croatia is particularly committed to adjusting its national norms and institutional framework to international standards for the struggle against bribery, the minister said.

Croatia applied for OECD membership in January 2017, and in October of that year the government also applied for admission to the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, which was established in in 1994 and is responsible for monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Mathilde Mesnard, Acting Director of the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, said that the OECD supported Croatia's efforts to join the convention.

Nathalie Berger, Director for the European Commission's Support to the European Union's Member State reforms, said that the EC was strongly committed to providing support to EU member states to curb corruption and bribery while offering financial and technical assistance in efforts to eradicate corruption.

Answering questions from the press, she said that they were satisfied with the cooperation with the Croatian authorities in this regard.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Protesters against COVID Certificates are Hypocrites, Health Minister Says

ZAGREB, 23 November, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Tuesday that protesters against COVID certificates are hypocrites because now they are opposed to testing, vaccination and restrictions, and "then they will come knocking on the doors of the overburdened healthcare system."

"It seems that Saturday's protest produced a new motto - take care of yourself, infect others. You can be against, but give us an alternative," Beroš said in a message to opponents of COVID certificates while speaking to the press after a meeting of the ruling coalition.

"The government, trying to avoid tougher restrictions such as a lockdown, has offered an alternative. Take advantage of testing because that's the way to stop the infection from spreading to others. Think of others, don't be hypocrites. Don't avoid testing, vaccination and epidemiological measures and then coming knocking on the doors of the overburdened healthcare system," Beroš said.

"I know that there were no flat-earthers among the protesters, but I know that there were doctors and intellectuals, which can mean only one thing - these people are manipulated, and the manipulators have shown their true colours," Beroš said, adding that "populists are using the deaths of our fellow citizens to promote their political views and score political points."

He called on the citizens to trust the medical profession and doctors, and criticised those refusing to get tested.

Beroš said that European countries that had introduced COVID certificates earlier were now witnessing the benefits of their use. "COVID certificates do not stop the epidemic from spreading, but help contain it. If people are responsible enough, epidemiologists believe that that should suffice," the health minister said.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Mozemo!: Report over Overrepresentation of Women Absurd

ZAGREB, 23 November - The Mozemo! party said on Tuesday that it considered a report filed against it by local prosecutors to the Osijek Municipal Court over the overrepresentation of women and underrepresentation of men on the party's slate for the Osijek City Council as absurd.

Mozemo! MP Sandra Benčić told a news conference in Osijek that the purpose of the provision of the Gender Equality Act under which a slate must contain at least 40% of candidates of the underrepresented gender is to increase women's participation in politics.

She said the law in question defined the gender that accounts for less than 40% of members of representative bodies as the underrepresented gender, and in order to apply the measure that gives an advantage to a certain gender, the gender in question must be underrepresented in the bodies for which it runs.

This is one of the few laws that has defined its concrete goal, and that is to have 52% of women in bodies of political representation in three election cycles, which is the share of women in the general population. Three election cycles have passed since the law entered into force, and not only are we not even close to that goal, we are almost where we used to be, Benčić warned.

She believes that men are not underrepresented in representative bodies because slightly more than 20% of MPs are women while women account for less than 20% of the Osijek City Council, and the situation is similar across the country, with women continuing to be significantly underrepresented in bodies of political representation.

Benčić called this "a classic absurdity of our judiciary" where a norm is used contrary to its intended purpose, and she expressed hope the Osijek Municipal Court would dismiss the report.

She said that her party would put forward changes to the Gender Equality Act to ask that the term 'underrepresented gender' refer to the gender that is underrepresented in a body of political representation and not to a slate.

She added that the party was prepared to take the case to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice.

Mozemo! considers the case exceptionally important for the interpretation of real equality. Real equality cannot be viewed only as a form. Instead, the real result of a certain norm needs to be considered, that is, whether or not we have achieved better representation of women in political bodies, Benčić said in Osijek after the first hearing in the case.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Huawei for Digital Slavonia project presented in Osijek

ZAGREB, 23 November, 2021 - Chinese ICT provider Huawei presented the Huawei for Digital Slavonia project in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek on Tuesday, which will be implemented through two programmes - ICT Academy and Seeds for the Future Scholarship.

The ICT Academy programme will be carried out in collaboration with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology (FERIT) of the University of Osijek. It will provide access to advanced knowledge and education about state-of-the-art technology and its application. Students will be able to obtain internationally recognised certificates.

The Seeds for the Future Scholarship programme will be implemented in partnership with the Faculty of Agribiotechnology (FAZOS). The value of the programme this year is €60,000, and a scholarship of €6,000 will be awarded to all ten full-time students enrolled in the new Digital Agriculture programme, which FAZOS has launched this year together with FERIT.

Croatia is among the first countries in the region where Huawei has launched its global Seeds for the Future Scholarship programme.

The CEO of Huawei Technologies Croatia, Kevin Zhang Qiming, said that Croatia has great potential for the development of the technological sector.

Slavonia is building an impressive technological base and we are confident that further investment and the development of this technological knowledge and success can encourage the achievement of the full economic and social potential of Slavonia, he said.

The Dean of FAZOS, Krunoslav Zmaić, said that the development of digital technology and its implementation in the agriculture and food production sector was a chance for Croatia to produce enough high-quality food while preserving its natural resources.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

The Realities of Life as a Vukovar Tour Guide (Interview)

November 24, 2021 - As the annual November 18 interest in Vukovar subsides, TCN's interest in this majestic city on the Danube is only just beginning. In the first of a series of interviews with the people of Vukovar, new CROMADS recruit Katarina Anđelković on life as a Vukovar tour guide, and tourism and the future.

Vukovar lives 365 days a year, not just on November 18, and there is plenty to see and do apart from doing a war tour, as Katarina explains in our first interview in an occasional series on the people of Vukovar. 

Vukovar is globally known for the horrendous events of 1991, which brought tremendous suffering to Vukovar's residents. What is it like to do war tours with something which has affected you and your family so personally and recently?

It’s never easy. I don’t mind talking about it at all and I am of the opinion that history definitely needs to be taught. However, sharing stories feels very different to me than doing a whole war tour. That should be just a part of your visit to Vukovar.

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What are the general reactions of tourists who come, and how much do people from other parts of Croatia know about what actually happened?

It’s very hard to generalize, as we get different reactions from different groups. The one thing that our visitors have in common is that they are touched by the bravery and humanity of those who helped Vukovar.

As for the history, foreigners will usually not know that much and will react in an empathetic way, genuinely wanting to learn about the events. Croatian tourists are more likely to come here with assumptions, attitudes, opinions and tend to be more interested in politics and the way things are now. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when we get to focus on the future.

All in all, however, I would say that people are interested in learning, and that is quite encouraging.

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30 years later, Vukovar is still known mostly for the war and not about its tourism offer. How do you feel about that?

I am on a mission to change that. Even though war tourism will always be a part of our offer, it should not be our identity. We are the cradle of civilization in Europe, we offer the finest dining, the purest nature and the warmest people. Come and check that out.

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The water tower has reopened and is now in use again as a museum and viewing point, while keeping its damaged exterior. What are the opinions about the project locally? 

Just like with anything, opinions vary. There is a lot of pride in calling the water tower our symbol of perseverance and unity. For some, it’s a painful reminder, for others it stood even though it was beaten. It’s all about perspective. For me, the views from the top are undeniably magnificent.

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November 18 is obviously a very emotional day each year. How do you spend it, and how do you feel about the influx of tens of thousands who come?

I am touched by the rivers of people who flood in to show support and walk the walk, and I am especially moved by those who do so by walking, running, cycling. What I don’t like (and many will tell you this) is that the next time you will hear about Vukovar in the media is around the same time next year.

As for how I spend the day – it depends. Some years I walk and some years I do something else in an attempt to distract those who lived it all. The same thing does not always feel right.

Now let's talk about tourism of the future. What incredible things do you have to show us? Give us a flavour with your top 5 things to see and experience.

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Vučedol, Vučedol, Vučedol! When was the last time you visited a museum that was built on the very site where an ancient civilization lived? Completely blended into nature as well, with a number of awards for its architecture! Everyone will tell you about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but not many know about their contemporaries who lived right here. It never fails to leave our guests speechless,

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The Austro-Hungarian legacy and the Eltz castle. With our city museum displaying historical as well as contemporary artifacts in a wonderful area right next to the Danube, an afternoon spent learning and sipping coffee with a view will surely leave you feeling fulfilled. Can you tell I kinda like museums?

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The baroque city centre. With its architecture completely reconstructed to showcase the decorative style of the era, today it houses traditional artisan shops as well as some modern endeavours to tickle your senses. I’ll keep that one as a little secret to share with those who visit around lunchtime.

 

Cruising the Danube with a glass of wine. Take the Vukovar WaterBus into the sunset, witness the beauty of this powerful river and forget about worry for this truly relaxing experience. 

Its people! Wherever you go you will be met with a smile, a shot of rakija and some kulen just to start you off. What follows is stories, experiences, places, just incredible things. I especially love talking to our older residents who will happily tell you about the times of glory in Vukovar.

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I have not even scratched the surface there. The fabulous food, wine and craft beer, our parks and forests, our river island, the murals done by some amazingly talented artists, the tradition, the future in the form of VR and AR, so so much to discover.

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You are the tourist board director of Vukovar for the day. How would you brand Vukovar for tourism, and what are its key strengths? 

As much as it pains me as a tourist guide, the key strengths of Vukovar might lie in what’s been hidden for so long. It is so rewarding watching people react to all that we show them which they had absolutely no idea about. And the magic behind that. You will find something in the east that is quite unique in Croatian tourism – we try so hard. We don’t see others as competition but rather as allies in bringing people here and showing them what is there to see, experience and taste. All chased down by some unbelievable stories.

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Tell us a little about the energy of the small but fabulous eco-system of tourism businesses and offers which are emerging in Vukovar. 

As I said in my previous answer, the uniqueness of Vukovar’s tourist offer lies in the fact that all the businesses work together rather than against each other. The quality of their products is just outstanding, everything works so well together and choosing just one thing to take home sometimes seems impossible.

For more news and features from Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN Vukovar section.

Do you have a business or social initiative in Vukovar that you would like to have featured on TCN? If yes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Vukovar. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Fully Developed and Modernised Croatian Railway System in 10 Years?

November the 24th, 2021 - The Croatian railway system has needed a ''lick of paint'' for some considerable amount of time now, and with this more sustainable way of travel being promoted on all levels by the EU, the Croatian railway system hopes to be fully developed and modernised in 10 years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, railways are the main and key mode for the development of the sector of the future in the whole of the bloc, including Croatia, it was said at the panel discussion "Modern railways in a liberalised market" organised by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Hakom and the Alliance for Railways held on Monday in Zagreb.

Tonko Obuljen, President of Hakom's council, pointed out that a regulated market in which the exact rules will be known and within which everything will adhere to the precondition for the good functioning of the railway system is key. State Secretary at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Alen Gospocic announced that after the stabilisation of the situation in the road sector, the ministry is now moving towards the restructuring and modernisation of the Croatian railway system.

“Over the next decade, we want to have a developed railway system that provides quality services to society and is fully integrated with other branches of transport. There's also the establishment of a single European railway area which will lead to the consolidation of rail transport through long-term investment in infrastructure. First of all, I'm referring to two corridors which will run through Croatia, one of which leads from Slovenia to Serbia and the other from Hungary to the Port of Rijeka,'' said Gospocic.

EU funding for the Croatian railway system...

He added that he expects that most of these investments will be realised through the European Recovery Plan, from which more than 4.5 billion euros could be withdrawn for precisely that. According to him, what has already started is the restructuring of HZ Infrastructure so that they can be more functional, and also so that they can apply for EU tenders.

The pandemic is a circumstance that has caused great damage to rail passenger transport across the world, due to lockdowns, the general lack of travel, but also the requirement to limit the number of passengers who can be in one car at any one time. The State Secretary announced that there will be reorganisations of HZ Passenger Transport, which will receive about 80 new trains in the next 3 to 4 years, mostly from the local Koncar plant.

The European Commission has declared 2021 the European Year of Railways, as part of European Union efforts under the European Green Plan, a plan drawn up by the EU with the aim of creating a sustainable economy and achieving climate neutrality by the year 2050. One of the key elements of this plan is to launch cleaner and healthier modes of transport, as the transport sector is currently responsible for 25 percent of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Green Plan calls for a 90 percent reduction in emissions in the transport sector by 2050 and the activities within the European Year of Railways are intended to provide momentum to increase the share of rail transport across the bloc's transport market as a whole.

Through various events, projects and activities held across the bloc, different dimensions of railways stand out, from the world's leading European railway innovation industry to the role of railways in European culture and heritage, the important role of connecting regions, people and businesses and the role of sustainable tourism, as well as its involvement in Europe’s relations with neighbouring non-EU countries.

A sustainable mode of transport

While the European transport sector is responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time, railways across the European Union are responsible for less than 0.5 percent of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it the most sustainable mode of passenger and freight transport we currently have.

Among other advantages, travelling by rail is extremely safe and connects European people and the economy via the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Despite these benefits, only about 7 percent of passengers and 11 percent of goods are actually transported by rail. These are all facts that prompted the European Commission to launch a complex project to organise the European Year of Railways.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

1.58 Million Officially Employed Croatian Residents at End of October 2021

November the 24th, 2021 - The end of October this year saw 1.58 million officially employed Croatian residents as the domestic economy continues to grow steadily as we emerge delicately from the global pandemic.

The rocky situation with the global economy has made sure that no country could easily escape the dire economic consequences that this truly unprecedented situation has caused, and countries like Croatia, which relies very heavily on tourism, took a very heavy blow indeed. It seems however, that things are on the up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the end of October this year, there were 1.58 million officially employed Croatian residents, which is 0.2 percent more than in September and two percent more than in October last year, while the registered unemployment rate in October stood at 7.2 percent, which is an increase by 0.2 percentage points on a monthly level, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

According to the CBS, there were 1,581,743 officially Croatian residents during the month of October, which is 3,599 or 0.2 percent more than at the end of September this year. At the annual level, the number of total employees in the country increased by two percent.

1,368,324 persons were employed within legal entities, which is 11,746 persons or 0.9 percent more than a month before. Compared to the same month last year, this growth was stronger and amounted to 1.8 percent.

According to the data that the CBS takes from the records of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, there were 194,810 employees in crafts and trades at the end of October, which is 8,165 or four percent less than in September 2021. At the annual level, the number of officially employed Croatian residents in crafts and trades was higher by four percent.

More detailed statistics on the number of employees in legal entities show an increase on a monthly basis in most activities, with the largest increase in the number of employees in the education sector, by 8.2 percent, to 121,331 persons.

For more on working in Croatia, and employment, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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