Friday, 14 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - INA, Russians and Sylvester Stallone

October the 14th, 2022 - Let's have a look at the past week in Croatian politics with just some of the stories from the political stage, the bad, the embarrassing, and the just plain weird.

HDZ earns its second worst rating since Andrej Plenkovic has been at the helm of the party

HDZ hasnt done brilliantly in its latest rating, with it being the second worst one since Plenkovic has been top dog. Index reports that in cooperation with Promocija (Promotion) plus, RTL published the CRO Demoskop for the month of October 2022. The survey was conducted from October the 3rd to thr 6th on a sample of 1,300 respondents. The standard error of the sample was +/- 2.77 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

For most people, the INA situation is the most important issue within Croatian politics and in the country at this moment in time, and this continues to affect the rating of the ruling party and of the prime minister himself.

Although HDZ is still the first choice when it comes to political parties for almost a quarter of respondents, this is HDZ's second lowest rating since the arrival of Andrej Plenkovic at as head of the party (October 24.4 percent - September 24.2 percent). SDP (October 16.7 percent - September 16.6 percent) and Mozemo! (We Can!) also have similar support as they did back in September. (October 10.6 percent - September 10.6 percent.

With a slight drop, the fourth choice of the respondents was Most (Bridge), slightly above 9 percent (October 9.2 percent - September 9.4 percent), and another right-wing option, Domovinski pokret (Homeland Movement), which is growing when compared to September (October 6 percent - September 5.5 percent).

The Croatian Government apparently wants to go ahead with the much talked about plans to build the country's national stadium in Zagreb, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no, and the City of Zagreb has been left in the dark

If you follow the world of sport, particularly football, you've probably wondered why a country so famed for its sportsmanship and for churning out top class athletes doesn't actually have its own national football stadium. You wouldn't be the only one who has asked that question. It is a subject that people have gone back and forth on for years now, and it appears that the situation is as clear as it has ever been (clear like mud, that is), as the government says we're set to go ahead with the stadium's construction, but the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no.

A spokesperson for the Croatian Government, Marko Milic, has said that a stadium is going to be built, finally, and that it is a priority, but in just as much time as it took him to make the statement, the aforementioned ministry said that wasn't going to be the case. To say he is a government spokeperson, Milic doesn't take the stand as it were very often, and his confidence surrounding this matter has obviously confused some.

"Soon it could be a reality. And yes, I can tell you that we are going to build a stadium in Zagreb," said Milic, adding that addition to the state, other stakeholders will participate in the work, without specifying who exactly those stakeholders actually are.

Milic also said that preparations and consultations for the new budget year are currently underway, and that investments for the apparently upcoming stadium are also being taken into account in these calculations. Hr also noted that a financial framework is being sought for the construction of a stadium in Zagreb where Dinamo would play. Milic later mentioned other larger cities such as Rijeka and Split, where there are stadiums that have "national significance".

"The priority is to build the stadium in Zagreb, which is in a bad condition," said Milic, adding at the end that both Dinamo and the Croatian national team have shown that they deserve an adequate stadium.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sport was quick to deny what Milic had stated. 

"The state isn't building the stadium, nor is it financing the stadium independently, nor is this the model we're thinking about, but the state could potentially co-finance the construction and equipping of sports buildings, according to clearly developed criteria and based on the conducted tender," the Ministry led by Nikolina Brnjac stated in response.

As she explained, the draft Law on Sport will give the government the opportunity to declare certain sports buildings as buildings of national interest, but it is, in typical Croatian style, entirely unclear what the criteria for something to be of national interest actually are. Also in typical Croatian style, the City of Zagreb apparently has absolutely no idea of any of these plans. ''We know absolutely nothing about any of these government plans,'' Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic's office stated.

It also begs the question as to why this is even a topic within Croatian politics when parts of Zagreb and particularly Sisak-Moslavina County are still waiting for renovations and reconstruction following the earthquakes of 2020.

Most tries to twist the knife with HDZ by publishing a list of the party's apparently ''forgotten'' ties with Russia

Most took to good old Facebook to respond to PM Andrej Plenkovic, who, just to quickly remind you, rejected the opposition's claims that the government and HDZ were to blame for the catastrophically embarrassing and expensive INA affair, and said that the opposition is attempting to come together and overthrow the government in a joint operation.

"There are no doubts about any of this, it's all just an orchestrated operation and the actions of very clearly visible and recognisable actors, we just have to see how much of it is internal, and how much is external. That's the only question we still need to look at in a little more detail, but we'll examine that too," Plenkovic said.

Most then made a list of links between HDZ and Russia.

"Here are all of HDZ's ''forgotten' connections with the Russians. Since HDZ is trying to move away from the topic of its corruption and high treason in regard to INA to the topic of Russian players, mercenaries and Russian influence, we'll be very happy to oblige and remind them a little about their own connections:

- HDZ borrowed 4.2 million kuna from the company Gas trading d.o.o., owned by PPD, which in turn created its wealth from the sale of Russian gas.

- HDZ negotiated for a long time with Ivan Vrdoljak about ousting Most so that HNS, which was connected to Russian capital through Vrdoljak, would take its place. By the way, Ivan Vrdoljak asked the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) in a written document to give the Russian tycoons Grigory Edel and Mihail Zhukov Croatian citizenship, which they needed to break through Russian capital of dubious origins, which was, strangely enough, linked to Oksana Dvinski, HDZ's great "benefactor".

- HDZ minister Zdravko Maric came into his job [as finance minister] from Agrokor came and stayed with the government after securing Russian money from Russian banks for Agrokor. At the same time, Agrokor was a donor to HDZ through various different companies.

- HDZ's Minister of Construction Ivan Paladina has business ties to Russian tycoons, especially to Sergey Glyadelkin, who is connected to the Russian secret service.

- The Russian Foundation called ''New Generation'', led by the already mentioned Russian citizen Oksana Dvinski, the wife of Maksim Poletaev, was a donor to HDZ with 2.6 million kuna after completion.

- The HDZ government awarded the contract for the overhaul of the Mi-171Sh helicopter worth 206.9 million kuna to the Russians, and that overhaul turned out to be very problematic.

As you can see, HDZ members are the last ones who should be talking about Russian mercenaries," Most concluded in their rather damning Facebook post.

An HDZ parliamentarian claims that his role model is Sylvester Stallone

What does the world of Croatian politics and Hollywood have in common? Apparently more than you'd think, and not just because of the endless drama. HDZ Parliamentarian Ante Bacic Baco, who is enrolled in military school and attends it with HV officers, once told Dalmatinski portal that his role model is actor Sylvester Stallone.

"I like such people who don't really have the prerequisites to succeed, but still succeed with motivation and persistent effort," Ante explained, saying that Stallone inspires him because of that fact.

His life motto is, as he said in an interview: "Keep punching" - a statement from the classic Stallone movie, Rocky.

Aside from idolising Rocky, Baco has been quite the hot topic of sorts over more recent weeks. President Zoran Milanovic commented on his enrollment in the "Ban Josip Jelacic" War School, judging that it was "a criminal offense because there's no place in the war school for parliamentarians, who by definition are state officials".

"If they don't withdraw, we'll report them and I will personally forbid the entry of such people into the premises of the Croatian Army,'' Milanovic said of the matter.

Following Ivo Sanader's acquital, President Zoran Milanovic wasted no time in claiming that while Sanader was a thief ''solely for his own gain'', HDZ has advanced its tactics of theft

Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic make very little effort (if any) to hide their utter disdain for each other. The pair frequently come to blows (not literally of course, Sylvester Stallone isn't involved in this particular feud), and Milanovic has quite the way with words when it comes to insults and being a troll. One may hope the pair would have more pressing issues to tackle, but I digress.

Milanovic was quick to hop on the band wagon in regard to the massive INA scandal, of course blaming HDZ entirely, and claiming that while Ivo Sanader was indeed a thief, he was in it for himself, unlike HDZ which he claims has ''improved its methods'' of theft.

"The story surrounding INA is the story of HDZ. All these slurs about Russian people are attempts by Plenkovic's martyrs to bury that story with whitewash. But that isn't going to work, it doesn't work because these things are just obvious. Did HDZ set up people there? Is Skugor connected to the top people within HDZ? Yes. Was he going to get rich in this underhanded way? Did he panic because he got too rich? Was the gas sold through the county company where Banozic is? Those are the facts," he said.

"Ivo Sanader fell like the greedy private thief he was, but he stole for himself. He was accused in the way in which he stole. HDZ was declared to be an organisation of robbers. They didn't learn anything [from matters involving Sanader], they just improved their techniques when it comes to robbing. Plenkovic ignores it all, but to me that just means he supports it," Milanovic said.

For more on Croatian politics, keep up with our Week in Croatian Politics articles which will be published every Friday.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Discover the Croatian Danube: One With the River, Vukovar

October 12, 2022 – We have written about Vukovar before. You might know a little about how its history affects those who live there, what they do, or what happens in the city year-round. You might even be planning your weekend there. Maybe you’ll let the place change you like it changed Paul. In any case, when you do go, make sure you stop and honour its Danube.

This city and the river are one. The Danube is why people settled in the Vukovar area, Vučedol, as early as around 3000 BC. The Vučedol culture revolved around the riches provided by the river – fishing was, of course, a big part of their daily lives, and the kind of soil on which the settlements were built was especially fruitful thanks to its proximity to the river. The Vučedol settlement was only a couple of hundred metres away from the riverbank. If you visit the museum built on the actual site, you will surely see what it means to be so close to the Danube and to be close with the Danube.

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Steve Tsentserensky

The Vučedol Culture Museum is the perfect place to start your Vukovar Danube tour. It was opened in 2015 and received an award for its architecture in 2016. It is among the few museums built on the actual site of the single culture it represents. If you would like to learn a little about how people lived in the area five thousand years ago and why they were just as cool and important as Egyptians, treat yourself to a visit to the museum. As a reward, you will enjoy some exceptional rooftop views at the end of your tour.

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Steve Tsentserensky

If you were to follow the Danube from Vučedol towards the city centre, it would ensure the perfect itinerary. Firstly, you could stop by the Memorial Cemetery and light a candle for those who have given their lives for the Homeland. During autumn, just taking a walk there will be peaceful and serene, and on the way out, you can buy a little bag of roasted chestnuts to warm your soul. The next logical stop would be the Watertower. You can take the 198 stairs to its top or the panoramic lift. Either way, the journey will make you truly understand the sacrifice of Vukovar’s heroes, and the Danube will again display its grandness.

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Vukovar Tourist Board

From there on, you can take the side streets and visit the Franciscan monastery and church on the hill or follow the main road to arrive directly at the baroque streets. These were initially built during the 17th and 18th centuries and were preserved and rebuilt time and time again, keeping their recognisable decorative look. This is the heart of Vukovar. You will find the shops of many of its small businesses and entrepreneurs nestled right under the famous arches. Take a right, and you will find your way to the riverbank yet again. Follow the newly built promenade, which will take you past the shopping street, the Municipal museum with its lovely open backyard, and finally, to the recreation part, where you’ll often find locals walking, cycling, skating, or catching some sun rays. You can even engage in our favourite pastime and sit down for a cup of coffee or two, followed by a beer or two, while overlooking the Vukovar Ada, making sure the Danube flows in the correct direction.

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Vukovar Tourist Board / Marko Balaži

And just like the baroque street is the heart of the city, Ada is the heart of Vukovar’s Danube. In Croatian, the word ada means river island. And that’s what it is. And so much more. It’s a place of gathering, relaxation, recreation, pure fun, and joy. It’s Vukovar’s home in the summer. It’s the unique spot from which you can observe the silhouette of the city, almost feeling like the city is watching over you. If you enjoy camping, this is where you want to be. Perfectly calm during nighttime, full of life during the day. In Vukovar, there are two types of people – those who have their boats and those who take other boats to reach Ada. Usually starting in June until late August, boats will go up and down the river all day to take everyone to the island and back, and they will do it free of charge. In the middle of the island, facilities are set up so you can enjoy a quick bite or a refreshing drink between swims, naps, or rounds of beach volleyball.

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Vukovar Tourist Board

Finally, if you would like a taste of the river along with a little glimpse into the culture, we recommend that you visit Vukovar either in June during the Danube Fest or in September for its Autumn Festival. On both occasions, you will have a chance to experience local tradition and way of life and taste some of the best products brought by the river and the soil of Vukovar, made possible by the crafty and hard-working hands of its experienced and knowledgeable home and fair, sometimes competition, chefs.
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Vukovar Tourist Board / Vedran Barić

We could continue telling you of the riches the Danube provides for Vukovar, but we will leave some to your imagination and discovery. If you happen to visit this December, stay tuned for the dates of TCN’s presentation of a very special little something that we’ll call the Vukovar Card.

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Vukovar Tourist Board / Marko Balaži

If you are only tuning in now, check out the previous editions of the Croatian Danube series - Aljmaš parts I and II, Erdut, and Dalj.

 

How good is your knowledge of eastern Croatia? Take the CROMADS test above - how many places do you recognise?

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

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Zadar Breaking Nautical Records, 150 Cruisers Announced for 2023

October the 13th, 2022 - Zadar has broken records left, right and centre when it comes to nautical tourism, with more vessels having entered the waters of this Dalmatian city in a single day this year than ever before. 150 cruise ships announcements for next year are also encouraging for many.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, yesterday in the City of Zadar, the record for the number of vessels that entered the city's waters in the same day was officially broken. After the July record of four cruisers, there were as many as five present in Zadar yesterday, and it represented a new test for the Gazenica Passenger Port, reports HRT.

The General Director of the Gazenica Passenger Port, Rebeka V. Pevec, said that everything went smoothly, and that the plan for next year is already being prepared, with the announcement of new cruises and their arrival in the city currently more than great.

"The most important thing to emphasise is that there will most likely be no further restrictions regarding the capacity of ships, and that's the most important thing for us,'' said Pevec, adding that diversity is also very important for the destination itself, because different profiles of guests are arriving. Zadar has that advantage, however, it needs to be raised to a higher level and offer new events.

The recovery of the cruise industry has also been well and truly confirmed by the 130,000 passengers who will pass through Zadar's international terminal this year. For the local economy, it is important to add that about sixty thousand crew members are also involved.

"The entire economy in Zadar County benefits enormously from these cruise ships. Year after year, we're witnessing that the level of service in the hospitality industry and tourism as a whole is rising,'' emphasised the President of the Zadar County Chamber of Crafts, Ante Lukacic.

''For next year, we already have an announcement of 150 cruise ship arrivals. What I can say is that sixty percent of them go to visit the national parks, go to the cities of Nin, Pag... and some forty percent stay in the area of ​​the City of Zadar itself,'' said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka.

For more, make sure to keep up to date with our dedicated news section.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

One of Europe's Most Wanted Caught Owing to Croatian Border Police

October the 13th, 2022 - Thanks to Croatian border police at the border crossing at Pasjak near the border with Slovenia, one of Europe's most wanted criminals was apprehended and taken to custody.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on the 11th of October, Croatian border police officers performing their normal duties at the Pasjak border crossing came upon a 27-year-old Croatian citizen who had arrived at the aforementioned border crossing wanting to enter Croatia from Slovenia on foot.

They were met with this man during the regular border control procedures of the entry of passengers into the Republic of Croatia. The Primorje-Gorski Kotar police administration had issued a warrant for the arrest of this particular individual, as was later announced by the police on its website.

They pointed out that the search for the aforementioned individual was initially announced by the County Court in Rijeka owing to their suspicion of the person committing a criminal offense as part of a criminal association, as well as the unauthorised production and trafficking of drugs being tied to them.

In addition to the above, for his arrest, international searches were launched within the Schengen Information System and the INTERPOL database making this person one of Europe's most wanted, as reported by HRT. They emphasised that due to the suspicion of committing the aforementioned criminal acts, the suspect was arrested and escorted to custody.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Split Hospital Lacking Staff, Bans Contract Termination by Mutual Agreement

October the 13th, 2022 - Split Hospital (KBC Split) is lacking the staff to such an extent that it has taken the rather surprising measure of banning the termination of employment contracts based on mutual agreement.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the decision that N1 received from an employee of Split Hospital, it is clearly stated that "it is forbidden to conclude, by mutual agreement, the termination of an employmer/employee relationship except in the case of the need to conclude it due to the announcement of entry into retirement, as well as in the case of the provision of an employer's consent for the transfer of said employee from one healthcare institution to another for the undertaking of appropriate work."

Furthermore, it is stated that the ban applies to nurses, medical technicians and midwives, with the document stating that this decision will enter into force on the day of publication (which was October the 7th, 2022) and will remain in force until the date on which it is revoked.

"Given the current difficult staffing situation, i.e. the chronic shortage of nurses/technicians and midwives due to high rates of sick leave as well as due to the lack of the aforementioned staff on the labour market, it was necessary to come to this decision,'' it is stated in the explanation of the decision.

In the letter given to 24sata by Split Hospital discussing the details of this matter, they further clarified their decision, emphasising that they're lacking a total of 595 nurses/technicians and midwives and that this decision was made in order to provide the best possible quality of healthcare to those who need it for whatever reason.

"At the same time, there's a shortage of nurses throughout the Republic of Croatia, and our recruitment drives are constantly open to the public. In the aforementioned circumstances, due to the organisation of the services on which the care of patients depends, it is impossible to terminate an employment relationship with the person it regards expecting to be able to leave Split Hospital within a few days.

An employee is of course absolutely free to terminate their employment contract using the institute of the termination of employment while continuing to respect the proper notice period they must give. For this reason, the only motive for making this decision is that the staff member remains at their workplace for as long as it is necessary to reorganise the services being provided following their departure, and thus enable the continuity of care for our patients. In no case is there a right to severance pay, but only in the case when the employer themselves terminates the employment contract,'' Split Hospital explained in the letter.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Croatian Copenhagen: 170 Kg Waste per Resident is Separated in Koprivnica

October 12, 2022 - In Koprivnica, you will not find areas full of garbage. Or bags in the city centre waiting to be picked up. In Koprivnica, neighbours don't snitch on others because, in Croatian Copenhagen, everyone knows how to separate waste.

As RTL reported, "Every house here has a small composter, and everything is separated. Well, no problem. There are plenty of containers, there are recycling yards. You just need education and discipline," said Ksenija from Koprivnica.

"Did you know that Koprivnica is in the top 5 cities for waste separation? - I didn't. - You didn't know? - No. - Do you separate waste? - Yes. We are well trained here, paper one bin, plastic other, food in the third..." said Zlatica from Koprivnica.

If you thought that Koprivnica could only boast of Vegeta or Pajo Kanizaj - you were wrong. Eighteen years. For so long, have they known where paper, metal, and plastic go. They are our Switzerland; they separate waste better than the Parisians. They are better than Zagreb and Split. They are number two in waste separation in Croatia. Fifty-five percent was their performance for last year. They separate 170 kilograms of waste per resident. That's half a kilo every day. They promise that this year the stats will be even better.

Here is what they say about the people of Zagreb:

"Of course, it all makes sense, but people need to get used to it. It seems revolutionary to them now, maybe it came too suddenly, but people will get used to it. If the city insists," commented Alojz Balog. Because in Koprivnica, they did insist. You put plastic in paper, cans in mixed recycling, or cooked food in organic waste. It doesn't matter - instead of a fine, they'll leave a note on the bin. "If people often make mistakes, let's leave a message, let's warn them. There aren't many problems with separation. Sometimes they put a tetrapak in paper when it should go in plastic, so we leave a note of that," said Hrvoje Kuzmic, a worker at Komunalac.

They have boxes, underground tanks, overhead bins, recycling yards, and disposal sites for cooking oil; everything is possible in Koprivnica. And while in Zagreb, there are blue, brown, and yellow bags, there are none in Koprivnica.

"With mixed recycling, we immediately started with bins; for the rest, we started with bags, but then we decided not to create additional waste because it doesn't make sense, and now we have bins for all four types of waste," said the director of the waste management sector, Saša Grubacevic. This means that if you get a bin annually, you pay HRK 74 for the 120-litre one, which includes one removal per month.

As for biowaste - they make compost from it, which they use to fertilise gardens, fields, and flowers in the city. And while in natural conditions, the process would take months, in Koprivnica, they produce organic fertiliser in eight weeks. And everyone wants to buy Koprivnica's fertiliser - from Zagreb to Zadar.

"We make first-class compost with the bio-waste we collect at the doorstep. It is further used in agriculture. People can buy it here; they can get some for free sometimes," said Grubacevic.

It wasn't easy at first. But they learned quickly. Now everyone, from kids in kindergarten and the elderly in nursing homes, knows how to separate. They manage their waste so well that the Brazilian embassy asked for advice. "We are Podravci. We have learned to deal with all issues," says Balog.

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

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Former Croatian PM Ivo Sanader Acquitted of War Profiteering

October 12, 2022 - Former Prime Minister and President of the HDZ, Ivo Sanader, was acquitted of war profiteering in the Hypo scandal in a retrial on Wednesday, for which he was convicted twice in earlier proceedings.

As Poslovni writes, the verdict was announced by Zagreb County Court judge Saša Lui after the prosecution and defense presented their closing speeches last week. Sanader once again asserted that he was not responsible for war profiteering, stressing that he stands by the defenses he presented in earlier proceedings.

Disputed commission of HRK 3.6 million

Sanader was tried for the third time for the Hypo affair. He was convicted twice before, and the Constitutional and Supreme Courts overturned the verdicts.

Uskok's prosecutor, Marija Vučko, asserted in her closing speech that even in the repeated proceedings, it was proven that Sanader had committed the crimes for which he was accused.

Sanader's lawyer Čedo Prodanović pointed out, on the other hand, that there was no war profiteering in this case and that, despite the conclusions of the higher courts, Uskok did not deviate from its initial position.

The prosecution accused Sanader of receiving a commission of HRK 3.6 million from Hypo Bank as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in late 1994 and early 1995 after Croatia was granted a loan to purchase embassy buildings.

This way, according to the prosecution's claims, in the difficult financial and economic situation caused by the war, Sanader achieved an illegal financial benefit that is disproportionate to the threatened fundamental values ​​of the state and social community, as well as state interests.

Sanader has been in prison since 2019

Sanader has been in prison since April 2019, when the Supreme Court increased his sentence for corruption in the Planinska case to six years in prison.

In mid-October 2021, the Supreme Court partially confirmed the verdict from the repeated proceedings in the Fimi Media case, according to which HDZ must pay HRK 3.5 million in fines for extracting money from state institutions and companies, while Sanader's sentence was reduced from eight to seven years in prison.

At the end of October 2021, the Supreme Court confirmed the first-instance verdict by which Sanader was sentenced to six years for accepting a bribe from the head of the Hungarian MOL, Zsolt Hernadi, while the unavailable Hernadi was sentenced to two years in prison.

In mid-November 2021, the Supreme Court confirmed the only acquittal against Sanader, by which he was acquitted together with entrepreneur Robert Ježić for selling cheap electricity to Ježić Dioki to the detriment of HEP.

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

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Allianz Global Wealth Report 2022: Here is Where Croatia Ranked

October 12, 2022 - With net financial assets of EUR 14,400 per capita, Croatia is currently in 35th place on the list of the world's wealthiest countries, which is led by the US, according to the the13th edition of the Allianz Global Wealth Report published on Wednesday.

Poslovni writes, as pointed out in the analysis, that last year was the third year in which global financial assets recorded double-digit growth and reached 233,000 billion euros. But 2022 marks a turning point, with the war in Ukraine halting the post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery and "turning the world upside down." Allianz wrote that inflation has taken off, there is a shortage of energy and food, and the tightened monetary policy is "suffocating" the economy and the market, adding that the wealth of households will feel the consequences.

"Global financial assets will fall by more than two percent this year, the first significant decline since the so-called great financial crisis of 2008. In reality, households will lose a tenth of their wealth. However, unlike the major financial crisis, which was followed by a relatively quick turnaround, the medium-term forecasts are quite pessimistic this time. Namely, it is expected that the average nominal growth of financial assets will amount to 4.6 percent until 2025, compared to 10.4 percent in the previous three years", says the Allianz forecast.

Allianz Chief Economist Ludovic Subran said that 2021 marked the end of an era. "The past three years have been exceptional, and for most depositors, they represented a period of prosperity. But this year and the coming years will be different. The cost of living crisis will test the concept of the social contract. Policymakers face the enormous challenge of mastering the energy crisis, implementing a green transformation, and stimulating growth while simultaneously curbing monetary policy. There is no more room for any mistakes in policies. The key to success lies in innovative and targeted measures at the national level, as well as in European unity at the supranational level", read Subran's statement, reported in the publication.

"A real danger of a debt crisis"

Allianz also expressed concern about the level of global household debt, which at the end of 2021 amounted to 52,000 billion euros, with high annual growth of 7.6 percent. At the same time, an increasing share of this debt is held by emerging economies, primarily Asia, with the exception of Japan.

"We are concerned about the sudden debt growth at the beginning of the global recession. Over the past decade, household debt in emerging markets has grown at double-digit rates, five times faster than growth in advanced economies. Still, overall debt levels appear manageable. However, given the unfavourable structural conditions faced by the aforementioned markets, there is a real danger of a debt crisis," said Patricia Pelayo Romero, co-author of the Allianz report.

The gross financial assets of Croatian households jumped by 10.9 percent last year.

The gross financial assets of Croatian households amounted to EUR 79 billion last year, with an annual jump of 10.9 percent, the highest growth in the past ten years.

"This outstanding performance was based on all three major asset classes and was driven by dynamic equity markets combined with massive savings efforts," Allianz wrote. After two strong years, they stated, total net inflows last year reached 7.2 billion euros, almost three times more than the long-term average. Nearly half of the new savings were converted into bank deposits, representing the most popular form of savings in Croatia, i.e., 49 percent of total assets. Thus, this category of assets achieved a growth of as much as 9.5 percent, despite "no" interest rates, Allianz said.

Furthermore, savings in the form of investments in shares, investment funds, and other securities recorded the highest growth rate of all asset categories, by 12.7 percent. "However, given its share in the portfolio of only 21 percent, it is clear that Croatian households still invest only a small part of their savings in capital market products, even significantly less than the average in Eastern Europe, which is 34 percent," they noted.

Among other things, insurance and pension products recorded a strong growth of 11.1 percent, whereby savers in Croatia invest 27 percent of their financial wealth in this asset category, which is almost ten percentage points more than they invested at the beginning the previous decade. On the other hand, there was a significant increase in debt last year, by four percent, much higher than the long-term average of 0.8 percent. In the same period, the debt ratio (liabilities as a percentage of GDP) fell by about six percentage points to 36 percent. Net financial assets, however, amounted to 58 billion euros, achieving a growth of 13.7 percent, according to data from the report.

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

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Next Stop Zadar! 50+ Attendees at TCN/AVG Returnee Reflections Night

October 12, 2022 - The inaugural TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections night took place in Zagreb last night. It will be the first of many. 

Things are changing.

Slowly. 

But I can feel it.

It is still a trickle, but the diaspora is starting to return to the Homeland.

A younger generation, not blinded by politics and Communism conspiracy theories, but rather enthused with love of their roots and with an entrepreneurial spirit. 

And this whole thing escalated VERY quickly. 

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One month ago, I posted a status on Facebook and LinkedIn. I have always had lots of email from the Croatian diaspora over the years, but it has increased considerably this year. My haters still send in their abuse and occasional death threats, but less so. I do miss their love though - does anyone have a better epitaph on their tombstone than me? 'Tito cock-sucking British Jew writing fluff to humanise mass murderers in the Jewish style when socially engineering a people for ruin.'

But the increased email activity is coming from returnees, both actual and wannabes. More and more people are getting in touch to tell me about their experiences returning to the Homeland and giving it a try. And even more telling me how they would like to return but there is so little information. 

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And so a month ago, I posted that I would be happy to do interviews with any returnee who wanted to share their experiences. I was stunned by what happened next. No less than 63 returnees contacted me, all wanting to share their story. Not all were positive experiences, but I agreed to publish them all, good and bad, to give those thinking of returning a better overall picture. The Croatian Returnee Reflections series has been the most interesting thing on TCN in recent weeks, and you can follow it in the dedicated section here

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A few days ago, another returnee called Marija Franic contacted me on LinkedIn to ask if we could organise a returnee event, so that people could meet, exchange experiences, and network. I tested the idea on social media and invited those who had done interviews for the series and lived in Zagreb. The response was very positive, and Sime Lisica from Bibinje via Sydney also got involved. And so the concept of TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections Nights was born, the first of which took place at the fabulous Swanky Monkey Garden in Zagreb last night. 

Am very grateful to our named speakers for sharing their stories - Eugene Brcic Jones, Andrian Juric, Maria Pokrivka, and Sime Lisica - as well as about 10 others who stood up to share their stories. 

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I think many were surprised at just how many returnees showed up, and I also think that people are slowly beginning to see that there are a growing number of returnees bringing their positive mindset. 

It is time to connect them, to tell their stories, and to show those thinking of making the move that - as flawed as Croatia undoubtedly is - the benefits outweigh the problems. Not for everyone, as Croatia full-time is most certainly not for everyone, but for many. 

It was a wonderful evening of new connections, heartwarming stories, and lots of laughs, and one which we agreed we would repeat soon. 

Sime has agreed to work with me on this, and we will start to organise regular TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections Nights all over the country in the coming 12 months. We will do one more in Zagreb next month, then Zadar is next on the list, as there seems to be a growing returnee community there. We plan to do this in December when I visit Zadar for the book promotion event for Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, which is out now on Amazon.

I will create a TCN/AVG Returnee Networking Facebook Group in the coming days to see if we can find ways to better connect and get the story out. Additionally, with the imminent relaunch of TCN, the online magazine with news, we will have a big section on How to Return. This will be full of practical advice as well as real experiences. If anyone wants to help me with this, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee Help. 

Thanks to all who came last night. I think we took the first step in what could be an incredibly interesting journey. 

If you would like to share your returnee experience, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee

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What's it like living in Croatia, and where can you get the best survival tips? TCN CEO Paul Bradbury and TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds have teamed up to publish Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners - out now on Amazon.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Altruism and Residence Permits - How to Volunteer in Croatia

October the 12th, 2022 - Volunteering is always an excellent way of showcasing altruism and selflessness. On the more practical side, it’s often a way into a paid position or simply to beef up the level of experience you have in a particular industry or field on your CV. To volunteer in Croatia, you'll need to get acquainted with some paperwork, nationality depending, of course.

When it comes to volunteering abroad, you tend to get back just as much as you give in the form of a wealth of new experiences, the taking in of another culture or language, and an array of things volunteering in your home country couldn’t give you.

Did you know that if you volunteer in Croatia, it's also a way you can legitimately gain residence if you plan to stay for longer than ninety days?

The rules surrounding becoming a volunteer in Croatia are handled by the Law on Volunteering (Zakon o volonterstvu) and there are two ways in which you can volunteer in this country - short and long-term. Welcome to the world of the udruga (non-profit association/organisation).

How can I find out about volunteering opportunities?

A fantastic resource for finding volunteering opportunities all over the country, even in more obscure locations, is the Zagreb Volunteers’ Centre. This NGO provides all kinds of information for both Croatian and foreign nationals, including facilitating connections between different associations and organisations in different locations, even outside of Croatian borders but within the EEA. They can be found on social media under the name ‘Volonterski centar Zagreb’, and emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Short-term volunteering

The first is the simplest of all - volunteering for ninety days or less within a single calendar year, with those ninety days either being in one chunk, or split up into shorter time periods. In this case, you don’t need to apply for residence or have a permit to prove you can stay in the country. While this is by far the simplest way to go about volunteering, it wouldn’t be Croatia without at least a little paperwork, would it?

Work registration certificates

Most foreign citizens who plan to volunteer need to get a work registration certificate (potvrda o prijavi rada), even if they’re not planning on staying longer than ninety days, and despite the fact that they won’t be earning a wage for carrying out said work. You’ll notice I said ‘most’ foreign citizens, and that means that anyone who has foreign citizenship, as well as individuals who hold Maltese, Austrian, British, Dutch or Slovenian passports, require a work registration certificate. All other nationals of the European Economic Area don’t require it (this includes Swiss nationals).

How do I get my hands on such a certificate?

You guessed it, the administrative police station (yet again). In this case, you don’t need to involve the administrative police station responsible for your area of stay, but rather the one responsible for the area in which the headquarters of where you’re volunteering is registered. These certificates can be obtained by either you as the volunteer, or by the udruga you’re volunteering for.

What do I need to provide?

First of all, you’ll need a document (which is an application form) called ‘an application for the issuance of a work registration certificate’ which will be provided to you by the police when you go there. You’ll need to fill it in as instructed on the form, with information including your full legal name, your date of birth, place and country of birth, and the citizenship you hold. On top of that, you’ll also need to make clear the amount of time you require the work registration certificate to be valid for, the type of volunteering you’ll be engaged in, and the exact number of days you intend to spend engaged in it.

You’ll also need to provide the following:

The tourist visa you entered the country with (if applicable to you)

A copy of your passport or government-issued ID card as well as a certified translation into Croatian from whatever language it is in, if that language isn’t English. So, to be perfectly clear there, if your passport or ID card is in English, you don’t need to get it translated.

Proof of the arrangement you’ve entered into in which you plan to volunteer. You can prove this in two ways, either through a partnership agreement or through a volunteering contract. You’ll be provided with one of the above by the organisation you’re volunteering for upon reaching your agreement with them. 

You’ll then need to pay a small fee for all of the above in tax stamps. These tax stamps look like your usual postage stamps and are typically required for administrative payments made to the state. You can buy them from kiosks such as Tisak, particular shops which have the words ‘Narodne novine’ on them, banks, courts, some book stores and various other locations, including from notaries. You’re more than likely to find a Tisak kiosk nearby, wherever you are, so that should be your first port of call. You can also buy them from an institution called ‘Fina’, and you’re also likely to find one without much effort.

You will need to come back to that same administrative police station to pay another administrative fee once your work certificate is approved. You will be given a paper payment slip and be instructed on how to pay it. If you’re not immediately told how to pay it, do ask. It is very simple, but if you’re not sure, ask, ask, and ask again.

Long-term volunteering

If you intend to volunteer in Croatia for a period which exceeds ninety days, but no longer than one year in total, then you’ll need to apply for residence in Croatia in order to have a lawfully regulated stay here. In this case, despite the fact that as a volunteer you won’t be receiving a salary for volunteering, you’ll need to apply for a work and residence permit (dozvola za boravak i rad). First I’ll go into what you need to provide when you apply, and then explain a few caveats.

What do I need to provide?

You’ll need to provide a filled in application form for temporary residence (privremeni boravak), which will be provided to you by the administrative police station when you go there to make your application. The form is called ‘1B’ and they are slightly different depending on whether you hold EEA citizenship or not.

A copy of your passport or government-issued ID card and a new photo of yourself (30x35 millimetres).

Your registered address in Croatia. You’ll need another form for that, and there is once again a form for EEA citizens and a form for those who come from third countries, both of which can be asked for at the police station. You’ll be given back an officially stamped copy of this same address registration form. Don’t lose or misplace this because you’ll need it, precisely for this part of the long-term volunteering application, for example!

Proof of you having valid health insurance (this can be travel insurance, foreign health insurance or an EHIC from your home country. You can also of course use the card proving you’re insured in Croatia by HZZO if you’re already insured here).

In many (but not all) cases, you’ll be asked to provide a criminal background check from your home country.

Proof that you have enough money to take care of yourself throughout your intended period of stay in Croatia. You will likely also be asked to show proof of any costs the organisation you’re planning to volunteer for will cover, be that accommodation, food, and anything in between.

Proof that the organisation you intend to volunteer for is registered and headquartered in the Republic of Croatia and that said organisation has a third party liability insurance policy. This requirement doesn’t need to be fulfilled if it is part of the European Solidarity Force.

On top of all that, you’ll also need…

Proof of your agreement with the organisation you intend to volunteer for which includes the period of time you intend to carry out volunteer work for them, a description of the programme, the number of hours you’ll spend volunteering, and the list could be longer depending on your individual situation and the type of volunteer work you’ll be doing.

A volunteer’s contract

This document needs to include many things, so I’ll start with what it needs to say about you as the would-be volunteer. You’ll need to provide the following:

Your full name, your ID card number, your address and your OIB.

The full title, address and OIB of the organisation or association you’ll be volunteering for.

The period of time and location at which you’ll be volunteering.

What exactly you’ll be doing.

Your signature.

The organisation you’re going to be volunteering for needs to provide the following:

The organisation’s obligations towards you as the volunteer, as well as your rights and obligations to them.

The level of safety you as the volunteer will be guaranteed during your time spent with the organisation.

Proof that your rights as the volunteer will be respected and how that will be ensured.

A statement that you won’t be paid for your work, but with details of things that will be covered (such as the cost of food, accommodation or travel) or reimbursements that the organisation will pay for you as the volunteer.

Clauses from the Croatian Law on Civil Obligations and the Law on Volunteering.

The conditions and procedure of and for the termination of the volunteering contract.

The signature of the association or organisation (udruga).

Things to note

A stay and work permit issued to a person in order for them to engage in long-term volunteer work doesn’t allow them to work for a Croatian company in exchange for money. 

Once your long-term volunteering is approved, you can volunteer for that same organisation anywhere in the country, if said organisation has multiple outposts, but bear in mind that you’ll need to make another application for a different residence card for each new contracted time period.

There are third country nationals who have attempted to gain temporary residence in this way, thinking that it might be an easy route if they have no other ways at their disposal, but have found it to be quite cumbersome of a task. This isn’t an issue for EEA citizens, because they’re entitled to residence based solely on the citizenships they hold, but for those who don’t have an automatic right to stay in the country for longer than ninety days, just be aware that the volunteering idea isn’t as straightforward as you might think it will be. Even altruism comes with application forms and formal processes. 

Volunteering is not a path to permanent residence because the time spent in Croatia on stay and work permits for this purpose isn’t calculated into ‘time spent in Croatia’ to rack up to the five years you need in order to apply for that status. If it’s permanent residence you want, don’t opt for this route.

Make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section for more.

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