Wednesday, 27 October 2021

11 Excellent Reasons To Visit Zagreb in November 2021

October 27, 2021 – The Croatian capital really comes into its own after summer. From art exhibitions, exciting nature and film festivals, to live music, sports events and architecture, here are 11 excellent reasons to visit Zagreb in November 2021.

Explore Medvednica and the new Medvedgrad Visitors Centre

medvedgrad-iz-zraka-17-alan-caplar-dronee.jpgMedvedgrad Castle has a Visitors Centre, newly opened for Zagreb in November 2021 © Alan Čaplar / Croatian National Tourist Board

Medvednica mountain is the favourite, nearest natural escape for Zagreb. Popular year-round for walks, hikes and general recreation, in autumn 2021 it gained another great reason to go – the new Medvedgrad Visitors Centre.

Long offering some of the best views from the peaks, the 13th century Medvedgrad Fortress is the most impressive piece of architecture on the mountain. Renovated from its status as a beloved ruin, in late October of this year a new visitor's centre opened within the fortress walls.

On a Medvednica day trip, you can wander through the mountain's forests, challenge yourself by tackling the highest peak Sljeme and drop by this major new attraction. Not only will you be rewarded with spectacular autumn colours in the trees and fantastic views, but now also multi media-filled exhibitions that tell the history and myths of the mountain and its surroundings.

Welcome international stars of Zagreb Jazz Festival 2021

KURT-ELLING-b.jpgAcclaimed American jazz vocalist Kurt Elling performs in Zagreb in November 2021

The 12th edition of Zagreb Jazz Festival once again sees the genre elevated to the grand environs of Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall. In 2021, the event again welcomes globally recognised musicians, offering three very different flavours of jazz music.

On Friday 5th, NYC-based pianist Vijay Iyer visits with the latest incarnation of his trio. Offering a melodic take on free jazz, the lifetime-appointed Professor of the Arts at Harvard University will draw from 2021 album 'Uneasy' as well as a rich 25-year recording career.

On Sunday 7th, Lisinski's main hall welcomes 10 times Grammy-nominated jazz singer Kurt Elling. Informed by beat poetry and improvised vocalese, the stylish Elling spent the first decade of his career on Blue Note records. Fast forward two decades and his 2020 'Secrets are the Best Stories' won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. On this date, he is backed by brass-heavy Macedonian outfit ZJM Big Band.

On Tuesday 9th, composer and pianist Dan Tepfer offers a solo performance that revisits probably his best-known work. Released in 2011, 'Goldberg Variations/Variations' saw Tepfer play J.S. Bach's masterpiece series of compositions, offering improvised themes on each.

Race past the best city monuments after dark at Zagreb Night Run

cener2012.jpgZagreb Night Run

Zagreb city centre is an incredibly picturesque and romantic place, even by night. And, what better way to take in some of its key sights than on an autumnal night run?

Celebrating its 10th annual edition on 7th November 2021, Zagreb Night Run will welcome around 3000 international and local participants. Beginning on Ban Josip Jelačić Square, they'll run down Ilica almost until Franjo Tuđman Park.

Just before, they'll cut down Krajiška ulica and then take prilaz Gjure Deželića to chase past the spectacular Croatian National Theatre Zagreb. Thereafter, it's down Teslina to Zrinjevac park, then Trg žrtava fašizma and the Meštrović Pavilion, before heading back to finish where they started.

Julien_Duvall5tghbn.jpgAfter dark, the Meštrović Pavilion © Julien Duvall

The course is 10 kilometres long and there's an option this year to run virtually from anywhere in the world. You can find out more info and apply to enter here.

Authentic Croatian culture pristinely presented at the annual dance concert of LADO Ensemble

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Consistently one of the most authentically Croatian of all Zagreb's cultural expression, National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia LADO holds their annual festive dance at Lisinki Concert Hall on 9th November.

LADO_-_Prigorski_plesovi.jpgPrigorski plesovi

This year, the event will last 70 minutes and dancers will showcase material from Prigorje, Split, Linđa from southern Croatia and Bunjevačko momačko kolo. Additionally, the ensemble's musicians will play two new pieces from Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Parks of Zagreb in November 2021

S._Carek.jpgAutumn colours of Parks of Zagreb in November 2021 © S. Carek / Zagreb Tourist Board Facebook

The city parks of Zagreb are spectacular at any time of year. But, for a short period in autumn, their colours are at their most electrifying. One of the best short walks in Zagreb is the run through three parks between Glavni kolodvor (main train station) and Ban Josip Jelačić Square. Via Tomislav park you approach the incredible Art Pavilion.

BoškaKrešo.jpgAutumn colours of Parks of Zagreb in November 2021 © Boška & Krešo / Zagreb Tourist Board Facebook

Then, Strossmayer square and the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, before hitting Zrinjevac Park, which is particularly resplendent in autumn. Its coloured trees stand in front of a backdrop of incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture.

To the east of the centre, in Maksimir Park it's a whole other story. By comparison, its 316 hectares of forest, lakes, lawns and pretty pathways is vast and much wilder. In autumn, the forests are an ocean of reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns. These colours fall to carpet the walkways that weave through the park.

Reader's digest: Interliber International Book Fair

76652259_1440234469479206_400562814827102208_n.jpgInterliber International Book Fair

As the largest literary event in Croatia, Interliber is a major platform for promoting books and their authors, reading, knowledge and education. International book publishers and retailers take up stands in the huge Zagreb Fair. Their audience is students, educators and general book fans from across Croatia, who are enticed by the latest books and audiobooks available, and entertained by visiting authors and speakers. This is the annual event's 43rd instalment and takes place between 11th and 14th November.

Premieres of international cinema at Zagreb Film Festival

zgg.jpgStudents Centre Cinema © Zagreb Film Festival

Seven days of debut screenings and keenly considered themes culled from the world of international cinema. One of the largest film festivals in this part of the world, this 19th edition of the annual event sees Zagreb Film Festival hold screenings across the city. Venues include Kino Tuškanac, &TD Theatre, HUB385, former cinema-turned-creative-space Urania and, after a 10-year absence, a return to the huge, 60-year-old Student Centre Cinema.

AnyConv.com__E2-UCzgWQAUYaiD.jpgOkul Tirasi aka 'Brother’s Keeper' by Ferit Karahan

Of course, there's the main competition programme. But, the whole festival is so well-curated, you'll often find as much wonder and joy in the permanent and side programmes. From the details already released, our top tips would be - 'Brother’s Keeper' by Ferit Karahan, which follows 12-year-old Yusuf and his best friend, wards of a Turkish boarding school for Kurdish boys and 'The Worst Person in the World', which is the final part of the Oslo trilogy by Norwegian director Joachim Trier.

The 19th Zagreb Film Festival runs between 14th and 21st November. Five classic selections by pioneering directors from Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland will be available to watch online from anywhere in the world. At least two of the contemporary selections will travel around Croatia for regional screenings. You can find out more here.

Some of the best local music at November Fest

Milan_Sabic.jpgTBF © Milan Sabic

On the weekend of 19th and 20th November, Zagreb's large Dom Sportova hall hosts four of the best talents of the regional music scene.

The first night of the event is a hip hop showcase featuring Zagreb's Elemental and Split legends TBF. Rock is the second night's theme and sees Dubrovnik band Silente open for time-honoured guitarist and singer Neno Belan.

Contemporary architecture explored at Days of Oris

Oris_Kuća_arhitekture_House_of_Architecture.jpgOris Kuća arhitekture

Days of Oris is an international architectural festival organised since 2001 by Zagreb-based Oris House of Architecture and their bi-annual Oris magazine. It is the largest architectural symposium in the region, welcoming around 2000 architects and professionals from related fields. The event presents current activities from the field of architecture, design and art, with a notable highlight being the guest speakers who attend. So far, more than 300 architects and experts from all over the world have participated.

In 2021, the event takes place over the weekend Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st at Concert and Congress Hall Vatroslav Lisinski

Sounds of West Africa, via Paris, from Fatoumata Diawara

Fatoumata_Diawara_Rudolstadt_14.jpgIn concert, guitarist and singer Fatoumata Diawara who visits Zagreb in November 2021 © Schorle

Even if you're not a fan of music from Mali, West Africa, you might recognise Fatoumata Diawara. Based in France, for the past 20 years she has simultaneously had a career as both an actress and musician. But, music is the reason she will be appearing at Boogaloo club on 24th November, when she makes her Zagreb debut.

Comparable to friend and mentor, Oumou Sangaré, Fatoumata Diawara's songs blend Wassoulou traditions of southern Mali with international influences. She received two nominations at the 2019 Grammy Awards, has performed with Paul McCartney, and recorded with Gorillaz and Disclosure.

Witness a lifetime spent in contemporary art and photography at the Živa Kraus exhibition

Živa_Kraus_Encounter_pastel_on_paper_1978.jpg'Encounter' by Živa Kraus, part of the exhibition at Museum of Modern Art Zagreb in November 2021

Živa Kraus is a Zagreb-born painter and gallerist famed for her 50-year career within the art scene of Venice. In the city, her cult gallery Ikona was the first to elevate photography to a high level of artistic appreciation. For some of the same period, she ran the Sebastian Gallery in Croatia. The exhibition, titled 'Živa Kraus – In the World of Art' features Kraus's paintings in pastels and oils, as well as detailing her achievements as a gallery owner and curator.

Paolo_Monti_-_Servizio_fotografico_Venezia_1981_-_BEIC_6354071.jpgŽiva Kraus by Paolo Monti

The exhibition runs at Museum of Contemporary Art, Novi Zagreb until 12th December.

If you want to find more great reasons to visit Zagreb throughout the year, check TCN's dedicated pages here

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Meet the Creators, Download Case Study

October 27, 2021 - The award-winning Dubrovink Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program has put the Pearl of the Adriatic firmly on the remote work map. Download the case study, and meet the team who conceived and delivered a program that was the first of its kind in the world. 

Back in July 2020, the city and tourist board of Dubrovnik agreed to a proposal from Total Croatia News and Saltwater Nomads to put it on the map for digital nomads. Following Croatia’s first Digital Nomads conference in October 2020, the city was presented with a program for 2021 that would help attract digital nomads to visit, and stay, in the city. Tanja Polegubic, the founder of Saltwater, proposed a unique event - a digital nomad in residence program. A competition to select 10 nomads from around the world, who would then live in Dubrovnik for a month and collaborate on a plan to make the city more attractive to the digital nomad community. The program was promoted through Total Croatia News and drew global interest. The event came to life in April 2021 with the digital nomads in residence arriving in the city. Over four weeks, the Saltwater program team facilitated a series of workshops involving the visiting nomads, the city, the tourist board, and the local community.

The outcome was a set of recommendations and a multi-year roadmap that the city of Dubrovnik has already started implementing.

It was, quite simply, the best project I have been involved in during my 18 years in Croatia. So much energy, so much creativity, the first of its kind in the world.

We have featured the 10 fabulous humans who were our nomads in residence extensively. Now meet the team who conceived, designed, and delivered the project. 

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Jenni Carbins, Australia/UK, founded specialist placemaking agency Mark London in 2013, to focus on sustainable urban regeneration by delivering innovative social and commercial solutions to showcase the best version of a place’s identity. Site-specific activation may include meanwhile uses, culture, art & design, leisure, community & education, science, tech & innovation, sport, health & wellbeing and sustainability.

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Erin Maxwell, New Zealand/Australia, has 16 years of global leadership experience in continuous improvement, solving problems through process and technology, building a highly successful process improvement team in one of the world’s most iconic consumer tech companies. Now based in Croatia, Erin is working remotely on local and global initiatives, and also learning to sail - making the most of the stunning Croatia coastline.

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Anna Traylor, UK, founder of Twine, helps fantastic people do wonderful things (and makes a difference as she goes). Anna is all about making connections and helping create something really special for a brand or business. It’s all bundled up in the business name.

1. The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program was the first of its kind in the world, with the weekly design-thinking workshops one of its core elements. How did the concept come about?

Erin: When Tanja told me about the program and the workshops, I asked her if she had considered using some design thinking principles. In particular, we talked about the human-centric approach to design thinking. How it can really pull together a group of people by harnessing individual ideas and experiences and then working together on solutions. It seemed like a good fit. Tanja had already engaged Anna Traylor to design the workshop experience, so we got on a call together and compared notes. Anna had come from a service design background and was already thinking in the same direction, so we quickly aligned on a design thinking approach.

Anna: When I was approached by Tanja Polegubić, founder of Saltwater and co-founder of the Digital Nomad Association (DNA) Croatia, she already had a brilliant concept - Dubrovnik 365 - making Dubrovnik attractive and liveable year-round for digital nomads and locals alike.

Initially, Tanja asked me to facilitate the weekly workshops with the digital nomads in one stream, and another separate programme would run for local businesses and officials. But, reflecting back with Tanja, I spotted other ways to make the program even better.

I noticed the nomad workshops didn’t yet take into account the ideas of, or engagement with, the local community. I knew local buy-in would be essential to the success of the program. So, I helped Tanja to step back and rethink, and introduced her to the concept of design thinking which uses co-creation as one of its key methods. By now, Erin Maxwell had joined the pop-up management team. Erin was very familiar with design thinking, having worked with the concept in the past, and together we created a new co-creation model for the workshops — which would include everyone’s needs and challenges as we searched for ways to make Dubrovnik a true year-round destination.

2. Tell us about the process of designing such a project - what were the biggest challenges? 

Jenni: The biggest challenge was that the concept was the first of its kind. However, this was readily overcome by Tanja’s insightful selection of team members and advisors. Within the core team, Tanja has a deep understanding of remote working combined with all-important local knowledge, Erin is a design thinking specialist, Anna brought facilitation and community, while my contribution was place-based - what makes a great sustainable city.

Secondly, filtering all the amazing ideas and solutions. There were enough to build another city.

Erin: Four full days of workshops is a lot of time to ask of people, so we wanted it to be tight. We needed to plan the sessions in enough detail to ensure we stayed on track and achieved our outcomes, but still allow fluidity to evolve the process as we went. A lot of time went into this aspect of planning and I think it really paid off. Also, due to Covid-19, there were a lot of “what-ifs" to anticipate. What if people couldn’t be in the room? What if we were limited on the number of participants in the workshop space? These things were changing week to week in the lead-up to the event, and we had to be ready for any eventuality.

Anna: Tanja had also identified placemaking as a key component of the program and Jenni joined the pop-up management team. I started by designing a three-day service design program, using design thinking, customer journey mapping, ideation, prototyping, and storytelling to work with the nomads, businesses, and local community. Jenni brought her placemaking expertise into the program and together we devised the content for the four weeks.

We knew the biggest challenge would be creating enough space and focus for the nomads to return each week and pick up the previous week's work because they were working all the while on their own businesses. Tanja had built in the group bonding elements with the fabulous weekend trips to explore the wider area. And this rapid building of a positive group dynamic was essential to maintaining the energy for the intellectual work on the Fridays. Erin's role in creating a consistent level of energy and focus cannot be underestimated! She was fantastic - calm under pressure and with exactly the right tone to keep things moving.

 

3. The workshops were run physically in Dubrovnik, but with some facilitators participating remotely. How challenging was that?

Erin: This was a real combination of technology and teamwork. Anna was remote, so Jenni and I did the in-person facilitation in the room. Anna did a lot of the structure for the workshops, setting the vision and objectives for each session. We collaborated strongly on the planning to ensure we knew how the sessions would run, in alignment with that vision. We also did what we could to include Anna in the room - we had a roaming camera / tripod that we called “Virtual Anna”, so we could bring her into any breakout discussions.

Anna: I was the facilitator contributing remotely! I had always intended to come in person, but the spike in Covid in the UK and personal circumstances meant I wasn't able to join the team at Lazareti. Erin had planned to be co-facilitator originally and when we knew I couldn't make it in person, she stepped in to be the facilitator in the room. And we made really imaginative hybrid arrangements for me to contribute from my location in the UK.

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(With key local partner, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelka Tepsic) 

4. The energy and co-creation of the group who participated - from the 10 DNIRs to the city, tourist board and community members - was incredibly positive. Did you expect such cohesion? Tell us about the experience of running the project.

Jenni: Fundamental to the cohesion was that all the players were focused on the same goal - sustainable tourism and development for Dubrovnik. How we got to solutions was a fun ride of community-based research, brainstorming and enormous respect for each and every viewpoint in the room.

Erin: The design of the workshops intentionally fostered a “co-creation” approach - ensuring everyone was heard, and were part of the ideation and solutioning. But to be honest, it was better than I could have hoped for. We spent so long planning, then we got there and met all these amazing people - and they were just like “BOOM!”. The people in the room were so engaging, honest and motivated. Tanja and the extended Saltwater team did such a great job of crafting the group. It was a buzz for me to be a part of it. And it didn’t stop when the event finished… Many of the people involved are still connected now - sharing ideas, opportunities and meeting up in person in different countries. Long-lasting connections and friendships.

Anna: I expected the outcomes to be positive because Tanja and we in the pop-up management team had worked extremely hard to create that outcome. Although this group of people hadn't done precisely this type of program before, all the elements were in place to create such an outcome. 

The experience of running the project was fantastic. It was a highlight of my 2021 and I am delighted that the results have been enacted by the City such as coworking spaces and the Dubrovnik card, and other great outcomes, such as being recognised by Conventa.

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5. Sum up the key findings of the roadmap and recommendations which emerged from this very productive month.

Jenni: As a snapshot, the aim and the achievement was to generate both quick results as well as solutions for longer-term growth and sustainability. So the recommendations were categorised:

1. ’Now’ - the low hanging fruit; easy wins, readily able to be implemented by individuals (eg. opening a coworking space)

2. ’Next’ - achievable with some collaboration, planning, communication and minor investment (eg. hosting an annual conference)

3. Future’ - larger game-changing projects that require policy changes and/or larger investment.

Erin: The team came up with so many great ideas. Some were real lightbulb moments, others were more obvious but were confirmed as being critical. One of the key themes was about community building - there was a whole section of the roadmap around enabling digital nomads to connect better with each other and also to the local community.Another critical point was about how much there was to see and do outside of the Dubrovnik city walls, and recommendations for how to attract nomads to explore and stay in those areas.

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6. What worked better than expected, and anything which was not so successful?

Erin: It really was a great experience. It was an intense few days, so it was important that we had some lighter exercises, getting people up, outside, mini competitions etc. Those activities worked well and I would do more of them in future events. Having a strong team of facilitators between Anna, Jenni and myself worked really well. One surprising element for me was finding someone in the extended group who had experience in design thinking, so he joined our core facilitation team partway through. So great!! Thinking forward to future opportunities, one challenge I foresee is how you would (or should?) offer quality remote participation to these types of sessions. The work we do is by nature very physical, tactile - e.g. walking around research walls, physically grouping ideas etc. Also, the people interactions that happen in the room are so important - creating connections, trust, empathy - this is harder to replicate online. This is something I’d like to put some more thought into to see what’s possible.

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(Photo Zoltan Nagy) 

7. If you were to implement this concept for a future destination, what changes would you make? 

Jenni: Potentially only more lead time, to allow for expanded immersion, research and understanding within each new place.

Erin: To be honest, I’m not sure I would change a whole lot in the overall approach. I’d probably suggest some tweaks in some of the workshop activities, but they would be minor things.

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8. And a final comment on Dubrovnik and the impact you feel the project had - and will have. Where could Dubrovnik be in 1 and 5 years if it implements the key findings from DNIR (as it seems to be doing already). 

Jenni: Dubrovnik is leading the globe, and having been first to market with this kind of forward-thinking, and importantly ‘listening’, they are well placed to stay out in front of the pack. And the project can be expanded to assess the needs and opportunities for different sectors of tourism. 

Embracing change will certainly lead to a holistically balanced and harmonious city of visitors, locals, new residents, businesses and commercial opportunities. All of which create a joyous place to live, work and visit, which in turn equals sustainable economic growth. What’s not to love?

Erin: I’m so excited that Dubrovnik has embraced the outcomes of the workshop and is actively executing the roadmap. This is incredibly rewarding to see. If they keep up the energy they are putting into it, Dubrovnik could well become a key hub for digital nomads in Croatia and also in Europe, which would really help with getting year-round visitors.

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Tanja Polegubic, Australia/Croatia, CEO of Saltwater Nomads, which developed and delivered the DNIR concept, also had some thoughts:

What was your role?

I developed the overarching concept and project managed its delivery from start to finish, in close consultation with the program partners. The delivery included devising the competition, curating the group and forming an expert program team. Also, ensuring inclusivity, enjoyment and mutual benefit for the program participants. I was the one posting all information on Discord, if anyone asked. And ask they did. ;)

What were your main takeaways?

Every destination has something which defines it, with some stronger than others. This was a bold yet confident move by the city, as it had a reputation which made this effort seem quite a feat. It showed me Dubrovnik can continue to lead in Croatia, and become a premium destination for this growing niche, ensuring mid and long-term stays. This is only possible with the ongoing support by the city’s leaders. The quality of the applicants, and ultimately the selected DN-I-Rs demonstrated to me, before we even began, this was going to be a remarkable and intense four weeks - with dedication from all who were involved.

The bonds formed between DN-I-Rs, a group of strangers who now have a memorable, shared and history-making experience was a rewarding thing to witness. By creating a positive environment, the best of everyone could emerge. I am confident the input from all involved will serve as the foundations for success, as long as it is a strategic approach. Curation is key; the right environment and people produce the best results. Many of the DNIRs and team have met up again, including competing in the World Championships in Olive Picking on Postira, Brac.

What do you expect to have the most impact / other insight into the findings?

What I am most impressed about with this program is the reach. Dubrovnik is now synonymous with digital nomadism. Over the last 12 months we see it associated with digital nomads in the Washington Post, Fast Company and most recently the Times (UK). 

Along with “getting on the map”, the city now also has a plan (roadmap). This is remarkable.

The biggest impact in the immediate future will be the notion of month-long stays being more commonplace and readily available. I consider this will bring big changes to the city, particularly in the Autumn/Winter period. Following this, working with the markets that gravitated toward the program. There are several very strong initiatives proposed in the roadmap, and I am confident, when implemented, they will ensure the long-term success of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program.

I know I am committed to this journey as it will realise its potential, especially with ‘1 month stay’ remote professionals (my prediction). I am also incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and to all involved - especially Anna, Jenni and Erin who are featured in this interview.

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You can download the DNIR case study here

Read more in Beyond the Walls: DN-i-R Presents Sustainable Dubrovnik Tourism Direction.

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Finance Minister Maric: Croatia to Reach Pre-Recession Levels in 2 Years

October the 27th, 2021 - Finance Minister Maric has been discussing the completion of the rebalance of the state budget for 2022, and has stated that all of the processes and procedures which need to be done have been passed, as reported by N1.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Finance Minister Maric stated that the rebalance and domestic economic growth is higher than expected, that he and his team are busy finalising the macroeconomic projections and that they're going over 8 percent, which is a very good result and we can be satisfied with it.

''The Republic of Croatia will reach pre-recession levels of GDP in two years, which is a fantastic result. That rate had its repercussions, revenues will be slightly adjusted for the better, but that said, we also have not the best news, as the expenditure side of the budget is growing slightly more than the revenue.

We had a slightly higher indexation of pensions, primarily due to inflation, but as a government, we're glad that pensions are rising. We also have a situation with measures to preserve jobs, they were envisaged only for the first couple of months, but for some sectors they're still valid. As for salaries, we knew from the beginning that we had insufficient funds, but now we're securing them. At the level of the general government, the deficit is slightly higher,'' explained Finance Minister Maric.

On the debt to wholesalers, he said that healthcare is in the first budget, so now, given the situation with coronavirus, this enfeebled sector inevitably needs a quality reform on the expenditure side.

''Revenues provide their contribution, and this year, we'll allocate over 9 billion kuna to keep the payment deadlines at 180 days for hospitals and 120 days for pharmacies. If we look at wholesalers, at the moment, with a small deviation, the debt of hospitals stands at 2.8 billion kuna, and pharmacies some 400 million kuna. To compare, over 9 billion has been paid off so far and will be paid by the end of the year to meet those deadlines. That's when we'll need to come to increasing expenditures,'' he added.

When asked how much the rebalance for the healthcare system will amount to, Maric said quite frankly - one billion and six million kuna.

"You'll get to hear about the deficit on Thursday, and then we'll have to dose it a little, it will certainly be over 4 percent but it won't reach some unsustainable level," he said.

“It brings us back to the trajectory we had before the pandemic. We had a continuous reduction of public debt for four years, then we had a jump due to coronavirus, and this year alone we've been returning to the path of reducing public debt,'' he said.

''l’ll finish up with a bit of good news - public debt will decline at the end of the year. It's something we want to emphasise, it's a clear message to everyone, you know yourself, fiscal policy has been put into the function of preserving health and life and jobs from day one,'' said Finance Minister Maric.

''The inflation projection is still below 3 per ent. Despite the acceleration, it's stayed at that level, but we're still taking it very seriously, not only because of the Maastricht criteria, but also because of people,'' concluded the Minister of Finance.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatian Strujni Krug Association Brings Together Charging Stations

October the 27th, 2021 - The Croatian Strujni Krug Association (Electric Circle) has been at the forefront of promoting all things electric for some time now, and they are now bringing together important actors for the benefit of electric vehicle owners.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Strujni Krug Association has brought together the five largest charging station operators in the Republic of Croatia, which together make up 99 percent of the entire domestic market, in order to enable electric vehicle drivers to have access to almost all chargers across Croatia and a large number in the European Union (EU), the association revealed this week.

Electric car drivers have long faced the problem of a large number of applications that need to be installed in order to activate the charger to which they intend to connect their vehicles. The reason for this is that every Croatian bottling plant operator has its own application.

Last week, therefore, the first meeting was held between the representatives of the Croatian Strujni Krug Association and the largest Croatian filling station operators: ELEN, Petrol, Hrvatski Telekom (Croatian Telecom), MOON and Absolute, and an initiative was launched to establish full and proper cooperation between the aforementioned entities.

It was proposed at the meeting that all operators connect to a common platform, and in the second step, they should conclude bilateral agreements that would avoid additional roaming costs.

In this way, it will be enough for electric vehicle drivers/users to use only one application, from any of these operators, in order to have access to all publicly available filling stations of their partner operators.

"What we've achieved in Croatia puts us ahead of most other European Union member states. If we continue to do down this path, I'm sure that the Republic of Croatia will achieve 100 percent of the sales of new electric vehicles before 2032, when this goal is expected to be achieved,'' said the president of the Croatian Strujni Krug Association, Hrvoje Prpic.

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

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Solar-Powered Catamarans for Croatian Smart Islands Being Developed

October the 27th, 2021 - Croatian smart islands are set to have something new, with as many as 21 autonomous, solar-powered catamarans set to connect them to the mainland.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Republic of Croatia is very much a ''maritime country'' and ships, mostly ferries and catamarans, are often the only connection to civilisation for tens of thousands of inhabitants on 47 of the nation's inhabited islands. That's why efficient and ecological shipping is of strategic importance for the country. Part of the solution could be a system of autonomous electric ships, the proposal of which was presented very recently in Zagreb.

At the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB), the initiative "Autonomous electric ships for smart islands and cities" was signed with the aim of developing modern shipping, using a zero emission rate, relying exclusively on "green" fuels.

At the FSB, they point out that technologically advanced propulsion on ships is accompanied by partial or complete autonomy, where the safety aspects of passenger transport come first, and autonomous docking is the first development step.

The initiative envisages the development and construction of 21 passenger ships with a capacity of 100 to 300 passengers, which will be built in three sizes, and one of each model will be located throughout the Croatian Adriatic as part of a pilot project to test the possibilities of individual destinations. A total of seven destinations will be selected on the basis of joint deliberations with the competent authorities and the aim will be to connect Croatian smart islands in a far better way.

These modern green vessels will be for the benefit of both residents and tourists

The development of this fleet of electric ships is accompanied by requirements for the development of energy infrastructure for the supply of ships with electricity. The project also envisages the development of charging stations with battery tanks and solar power plants for green electricity generation.

By connecting to the energy infrastructure, the battery tanks of ship charging stations will contribute to the development of Croatian smart islands and cities as part of a system of "smart" networks that will enable the storage and delivery of the said electricity.

As explained by Tomislav Uroda, the director of the company "iCat - integrator and shipbuilder" on whose ships electric propulsion and autonomous navigation will be tested, based on the existing iCat model, they'll develop a passenger ship project and ship management and control system based on advanced methods and artificial intelligence (AI).

"Ship monitoring and control, a robotic system for replenishing the ship's energy tanks, and a system of high-power smart charging stations that use energy from renewable sources are the backbone of the development and application of modern technical solutions in maritime transport.

In order to significantly improve the lives of islanders and residents in coastal cities, as well as the many tourists who visit these areas, with this initiative, Croatia has a unique opportunity to contribute to the implementation of green and digital transition through the National Recovery and Resilience Programme and other EU funds. Rich in renewable energy sources, Croatian smart islands can lead the energy transition to a completely carbon-neutral economy in 2050,'' said Uroda.

Power plants on the islands of Vis, Cres…

Croatian islands don't have larger plants that use energy from fossil fuels, and there are more and more and more construction projects for plants that use green, renewable sources, such as solar power plants on islands such as Vis, Cres, Unije and elsewhere.

Given the above, the decarbonisation in electricity consumption and production will be implemented quickly, and the transport and connection of Croatian smart islands is an essential item that depends on fossil fuels.

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

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatian Unemployment Rate Falls, Fixed-Term Contracts Dominate

October the 27th, 2021 - The Croatian unemployment rate is continuing to fall, particularly and apparently encouragingly among the youth. Fixed-term contracts currently dominate.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, as of yesterday, there were 123,000 unemployed people regisered at the Croatian Employment Service (CES). When compared to the end of last month, this represents an increase of 3910 people, but on an annual basis, this number still indicates a decrease in the number of unemployed people in the country - compared to the end of last October, there are 21,000 fewer of them.

According to the latest monthly report, for September, the annual Croatian unemployment rate was almost a fifth (19 percent) or 28,340 lower. In year-on-year comparisons, the number of unemployed people in the age group of 20 to 24 decreased the most, by almost 30 percent, which brought its share in the total number of unemployed people in the country below ten percent.

There are more and more job ads...

The overall better picture of the domestic labour market compared to last year is evidenced, among other things, by the fact that as many as 44 percent more vacancies were registered in September this year (23.5 compared to 16.3 thousand).

Relatively speaking, the largest increase was recorded in Istria County, where the number of workers needed was twice as high as it was last September, in Split-Dalmatia County, 80 percent more employees were sought, Zagreb also recorded 73 percent more September searches for workers. More than 700 workers were sought for work abroad, which is 37 percent more than in the same month last year.

At the same time, slightly more than 21,400 people de-registered as unemployed last month (12 percent less than last September).

In 16,800 of them, the reason was the fact that they had found work, but more than 900 people ceased to have this status due to other forms of business activities, such as people who had started their own business (by registering a trade or company).

Of those who found employment, almost nine out of ten cases were fixed-term contracts, and almost half of new employees found work in education. Of the total number of those who found a job last month, 6,300 of them are from the group of people who have a higher education.

At the same time, more than 4,600 people were deleted from the unemployment register for other reasons, and in addition to leaving the world of work due to retirement or inclusion in regular schooling, about 1,500 people were ''deleted'' from the list due to non-compliance with legal provisions.

In more than half of the people in this group, the reason is that they aren't actively looking for a job. For 75 of them, the reason is refusing to look for or accept a job, and a further ten have refused to enroll in some form of education. Of the total number of unemployed people, the share of those who receive CES cash benefits has actually been declining for years. Currently, the benefit is received by a little more than 25 thousand people, or just a little more than every fifth unemployed person.

In the structure of those who are unemployed according to the level of education, it is noticeable that the share of highly educated people has been slightly growing this year as well, although at the end of September this year there were nominally 24,000 or almost 500 less such people in this situation than there were last year.

For more on the Croatian unemployment rate, the economy and working in Croatia, make sure to check out our business section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Split Policemen Rescue Tangled Dolphin Near Ciovo (PHOTOS)

October 27, 2021 - Not the everyday mission as Split policemen rescue a tangled dolphin just off the coast of Ciovo. 

The commander of the Split police vessel, Mate Merčep, and his two fellow police officers (Marko Tadić and Jure Katavić) from the Split-Dalmatia Police Department set out to monitor the state border towards Vis on Tuesday morning. However, a sudden call for help diverted them eight kilometers from their route, report Slobodna Dalmacija.

The policemen turned the vessel around and embarked on a new mission - rescuing a two-meter long and 70-kilogram dolphin, which they untangled from a net near Ciovo for about forty minutes.

"The fishers noticed a wounded and helpless dolphin and informed the 112 Center, and they informed us. If we had arrived half an hour later, the dolphin would not have been alive. He was wrapped in ropes that inflicted deep wounds on his body, so he didn't even move from helplessness. That bundle of ropes damaged the back of his fin, and about fifty meters of rope were wrapped around him," they said. 

Marko Tadić went down to the ship's edge and carefully tore those ropes after the three lured the dolphin to the boat.

"The dolphin received us as if he felt we wanted to help him. He was calm the whole time, and I guess he couldn't be any different since he was exhausted. Who knows when the poor thing got entangled in a fishing line? Maybe it was five hours, and maybe it was a couple of days, we don’t know that. While I was slowly cutting the ropes around the dolphin, I was careful not to cut the rope with which my two colleagues held the dolphin," Marko said.

dupin_ppp_split.jpeg

Split-Dalmatia County Police Department

"The dolphin jerked a little because he thought we had released him, but it didn’t go that fast. A professor from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb helped us with advice and guided us on the phone. He told us that when the dolphin breathes and dives several times, then he can swim away. That's how it was in the end," Katavić and Merčep added.

In March 2019, Merčep was on a similar animal rescue mission, saving a Maltese dog that was drowning in the cold in the Lora area.

"Now he is housed in Kaštela, and I am thrilled that he is safe and warm," said Merčep.

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

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Vukovar Council: Conditions Not Met for Enhancement of Ethnic Serb Rights

ZAGREB, 26 October, 2021 - The Vukovar City Council decided on Tuesday by a majority vote that conditions had not yet been met to enhance the rights of local Serbs, primarily the right to bilingual official signs in the area of this eastern Croatian city.

The Council adopted a conclusion which reads that the degree of mutual understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue among residents of Vukovar -- the Croats and members of the Serb ethnic minority -- had not reached the benchmarks required to upgrade the rights of ethnic Serbs, and this primarily refers to the use of the Cyrillic script.

Under recommendations and instructions delivered by the Constitutional Court, the city council in Vukovar is expected to hold a debate every October to decide whether bilingual officials signs can be introduced in the city, as defined by the Croatian Constitution and the constitutional law on the rights of ethnic minorities.

During today's debate, Mayor Ivan Penava of the Homeland Movement party said that ethnic Serbs exercised all the rights they were entitled to and that there were still no prerequisites for additional rights.

In my opinion tolerance is such that it enables normal functioning and atmosphere in the City of Vukovar. Any move in any direction can create tension, he said.

The mayor said that for the last 10 years residents of Vukovar had been disputing the outcome of the 2011 population census for the city, as they did not believe that the findings reflected the real state of affairs, including the number of residents of Serb ethnic background.

Democratic Serb Party (DSS) councillor Srđan Milaković said that it was not true that the said population census was contentious and that what was contentious was the overall treatment of ethnic Serbs.

"You will never recognise bilingualism, regardless of the results of population censuses," the councillor told Penava.

Srđan Kolar of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), who fills the designated position of Deputy Mayor for the local Serb community, said that ethnic Serb were only "a toy in the political relations in Vukovar".

He went on to say it was not true that local Serbs did not want to see the improvement of interethnic relations, mentioning in that context former Serbian president Boris Tadić's visit to Vukovar in 2010, when he paid tribute to the war victims. "That is not a small thing, it should not be forgotten," said Kolar.

Željko Sabo, an independent councillor and former mayor, called for mutual tolerance and respect and for dialogue. "Please sit down at the table and talk at least for the sake of our children, who are separated in schools and kindergartens, which is not good," Sabo said, describing knowledge of the Cyrillic script as an asset.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

MP Puljak: Split Did Not Take Loan from OTP Bank but Agreed Overdraft

ZAGREB, 26 October, 2021 - MP Marijana Puljak of the Centre party said on Tuesday that the Split city administration had not signed a contract for a HRK 135 million loan with OTP Bank but had just agreed an overdraft, to be used if necessary.

Split city councillor Davor Matijević of the Social Democratic Party said last Friday that Mayor Ivica Puljak had signed a HRK 135 million loan agreement with OTP Bank in mid-July about which the public and the partners in the then ruling majority knew nothing.

"The SDP has evidently never had a bank account with an overdraft. The Split city administration agreed an overdraft with the bank in which it has an account. If you have an account in OTP Bank, you cannot ask for an overdraft at some other bank. These accusations are ridiculous," said MP Puljak, who is Split Mayor Ivica Puljak's wife.

She added that the overdraft had nothing to do with her because she left her job at OTP Bank in 2019, after working 25 years in its IT department.

"I am being accused of being a banker and I am an IT specialist. I made sure computers operated 24 hours a day. I left the bank to start working in an IT company and I have been a professional politician only for a year. When I withdraw from politics, I will have a vocation while those who owe everything they have to politics are making up problems and trying to topple us," she said, adding that the new city administration in Split was putting things in order and introducing a number of changes, which the City Council had been unwilling to follow.

"This is the first time in the history of parliamentarianism that the Opposition is refusing to go to elections... They had the opportunity to dissolve the City Council. If things are not working, let's ask citizens at the ballot box what they want," Puljak said.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Plenković: Bosnia Can Function Better Only if All Its Peoples are Satisfied

ZAGREB, 26 October, 2021 - Bosnia and Herzegovina can function better only if all its constituent peoples are satisfied, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Zagreb on Tuesday, stressing that it is necessary to ensure that the Croats choose their own representatives at all levels of government by themselves.

"Our position towards Bosnia and Herzegovina is clear and friendly," Plenković told reporters after a meeting of the ruling coalition.

Bosnia and Herzegovina can function better, it can be easier for it on its reform path and it can be faster on its EU journey only if all its constituent peoples are satisfied, the prime minister said.

Earlier today, Plenković met in Zagreb with the US State Department's special envoy for electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Matthew Palmer.

"We presented our position and listened to his," Plenković said, adding that Croatia's position is that the constituent peoples should elect their own legitimate representatives to the highest representative bodies and the presidency.

"The legitimate representation of the Croats as a constituent people is of particular importance. There should be no anomalies such as that representatives of another people in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely the Bosniaks, choose a Croat member of the presidency for the Croats. This has been going on since 2006 and we are not pleased with this situation," the Croatian PM said.

The existing electoral law makes it possible for the more numerous Bosniaks to choose a Croat member of the tripartite state presidency and Croat delegates to the upper house of the parliament of the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity.

To prevent such practice, Bosnian Croat leaders demand that electoral legislation be changed in accordance with a Constitutional Court ruling, while Bosniak parties give priority to ensuring compliance with the European Court of Human Rights ruling, which says that Bosnia and Herzegovina discriminates against members of its non-constituent peoples because they cannot run for the state presidency.

Plenković said that the US and the EU should help the political parties and leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach an agreement on amending the electoral law before the end of 2021.

"Our wish is for any such amendments to be agreed by consensus, if possible, of all stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

INA not the only issue important for relations with Hungary

Commenting on the final court ruling against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for taking a bribe from the CEO of the Hungarian energy group MOL, Zsolt Hernadi, Plenković said that the ruling would not undermine Hungarian-Croatian relations.

The issue of INA, the Croatian oil and gas company, "is not the only issue that is important for cooperation between the two countries," Plenković said.

The Croatian Supreme Court said in the rationale of its judgment that Sanader and Hernadi had agreed to ensure, for a bribe of €10 million, the conclusion of unfounded amendments to the agreement on INA, in which the Croatian government has a slightly lower stake than MOL. The amendments were meant to give MOL predominant control over INA.

Sanader and Hernadi also arranged the conclusion of an agreement on divesting INA's unprofitable gas business, which was to be entirely taken over by Croatia.

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