Tuesday, 23 August 2022

What Does Proposed New Law on Maritime Property Bring?

August the 23rd, 2022 - What exactly does the new proposal for the Law on Maritime Property bring with it? There are some concerning items to be aware of, and Otoci.eu/Islands.eu has a message for the powers that be.

As Andrea Beader/Otoci.eu writes, does the new proposal of the Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports bring us any restrictions or the fencing off of sea beaches to the public?

Reviewing the new proposal of the Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports, we were taken aback by the proposed items that explicitly enable the limitation of the general use of maritime property, its fencing off and even the potential charging for access to sea beaches along the coast of the mainland and on the islands, which would prevent all citizens of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the rest of the public, from enjoying unhindered public use of maritime property and sea beaches.

We consider parts of the proposed law inadmissible and completely contradictory to everything we have advocated for and communicated all these years, emphasising the importance of protecting Croatia's greatest social, touristic and economic potential - its maritime assets, which historically and culturally represents an extremely important resource for everyone.

Maritime resource management with an emphasis placed on sea beaches

Five years ago, together with numerous stakeholders in the working group for the drafting of the proposal of the Law on Maritime Property, we worked out the best models for the use of maritime property with a special emphasis placed on beaches, with shared knowledge and experience.

We all had the goal of protecting Croatia's maritime assets from devastation, the restriction of access and privatisation, and maintaining the concept of public good in order to enable all residents and visitors to swim and relax on the Croatian coast and on the islands. With the departure of Maja Markovcic Kostelac to another job, unfortunately the whole process was suddenly interrupted and the then proposal of the Law ended up stuffed down into a drawer after many hours of work.

Recently, this topic and the decision on the adoption of the new Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports has been brought up to date again. A new working group was formed, to which we weren't invited as representatives of both citizens and civil society organisations, despite our continuous work and advocacy for the preservation of maritime property and its public use, especially regarding sea beaches. A few months ago, we were contacted by phone and our opinion was sought.

However, since we weren't presented with a new proposal for the Law on Maritime Property, we could only give our comments by generally repeating our well-known position - sea beaches in Croatia must remain for public use, and we will not support any restrictions on their use.

Of course, we understand the need for the economic use of maritime property, the improvement of the coastline and raising the quality of services offered on beaches, in ports and at sea. However, we believe that a way must be found so that the maritime asset remains a public asset and that everyone is satisfied with the management method.

As an example of good practice, we sent Mr. Bilaver the Rulebook on the Economic Use of Maritime Property, which we drafted back in 2017 with Split-Dalmatia County and which could serve as an example for everyone to find a way to reconcile private and public interest when concessioning sea beaches.

A dispute of Article 11 of the proposal for the Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports

Finally, at the end of July of this year, we received the proposal of the new law from the state secretary, Mr. Bilaver, and a request to send our comments, which we did within a few days.

We consider the most controversial part of the proposal of the Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports to be Article 11, which we'll transcribe in its entirety:

(1) On part of the maritime property, in accordance with this Law, the general use of the maritime property can be limited, and exceptionally excluded for a certain period of time on the basis of a concession, approval for special use, granting the right to the temporary use of the maritime property, and granting the management of a port.port administration which is open to public traffic.

(2) A restriction on the general use of maritime property is considered to be fencing off or otherwise preventing access to a part of the maritime property with or without charging [a free] for the use of the maritime property, when such a restriction is permitted by a valid concession agreement, a contract on special use or an agreement on the temporary use of the maritime property and by granting a port open for public transport to be placed under the management of the port authority.

(3) The exclusion of maritime property from general use is considered to be the use of a maritime asset in a way that completely or partially excludes the general use of a part of the maritime property, when such exclusion is permitted by a valid concession agreement, a special use agreement or an agreement on the temporary use of the maritime property.

(4) The degree of restriction and exclusion of maritime property from general use and the purpose achieved thereby is determined by the decision on awarding concessions, the decision on granting approval for special use and the decision on granting maritime property for temporary use.

Dear Prime Minister, Minister, Secretary of State and all other members of the working group who are responsible for the preparation of the proposal for this Law, we ask you - do you really intend to limit the use of maritime property, i.e. sea beaches for the public, with this proposal of the Law, and/or enable the installation of fences and the charging for entry to the beaches?

Are you aware of the negative practices of neighbouring countries, such as Italy, where the beaches are mostly under the concessions of catering/hospitality and hotel facilities, and the numerous sunbeds, umbrellas and other facilities don't allow unhindered access to the sea, even though, according to the law, the public use of maritime property in Italy cannot actually be restricted?

This is an Invitation to the responsible representatives of the institutions of the Republic of Croatia;
Prime Minister, Mr. Plenkovic
Honourable Minister of Maritime Affairs, Mr. Butkovic
State Secretary, Mr. Bilaver

We invite you to review and consider the comments and suggestions that we have sent on the draft law, and be sure to foresee the possibility that the beaches and the sea can be accessed unhindered, regardless of whether they are public or not.

We believe that additional facilities such as sunbeds, umbrellas and other props should incur charges when on the beaches, but they must not endanger and/or prevent unhindered public access to the sea and part of the sea coast. As an example of Split-Dalmatia County's rules for concessioned beaches, it is defined that it is necessary to leave 30% of the surface for public use and provide pedestrian corridors through which everyone who wants to can enter the sea unhindered.

Practice has shown that both private and public interests are satisfied in this way, and that companies and citizens, in places where the laws are respected, can live a quality co-existence. Any restriction of access to the sea and maritime property is a threat to human rights and will certainly cause a series of citizen complaints, public resistance and protests, which will damage community relations and investment potential on the coast and islands in the long term.

For more, make sure to check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Could Croatian Hemp Growing Industry Rescue Domestic Economy?

August the 23rd, 2022 - Could the Croatian hemp growing industry boost the overall economic picture? Many believe so, but there are many obstacles to anything being made easy, such is Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it has been estimated that the value of the industrial hemp market across Europe should be almost nine billion US dollars by the year 2027. In Croatia, there are numerous organisations that deal with the cultivation and distribution of this particular plant, but they also encounter numerous problems, Dnevnik.hr writes.

Industrial hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) is a plant from the cannabis family that contains 0.2 percent or less of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although this industry is one of the fastest growing in all of Europe, planters and producers across Croatia continually encounter numerous problems that hinder their full potential and prevent the development of the potential Croatian hemp growing could have.

The Dom konoplje/Hemp house cooperative is a platform that gathers industrial hemp growers from all over Croatia. The executive director of the cooperative, Mihael Zlovolic, has been actively promoting the plant and the entire Croatian hemp growing industry for years. He believes that the future of this industry is too beneficial to ignore. "I think that, according to some of my estimates, the cannabis plant in Croatia will be legalised in 2025 at the latest. We're seeing similar movements across Europe, for example in Malta, Luxembourg, Switzerland... Germany also plans to legalise cannabis by the end of 2022, so this whole story is part of a wider movement," he said.

"I'm convinced that if this entire project was done properly and if systematic investments were made in the industry on a wider level, we'd be able to get rid of all of the country's debts and get out of the economic crisis in the mandate of one single Government. All of that with the help of industrial hemp," he said.

Systemic obstacles

However, numerous obstacles are continuing to slow down the development of this industry and hold back small producers. “Where do I even begin? First and foremost, there are so many cases where people shamelessly steal plants from small producers that it has become something that has to be factored into the cost of production,” he said.

He says that this is most often the result of ignorance. Legislation, which often lags behind industry development, is also an obstacle. "There are cases where people ended up in court, and the judge was not aware of the latest changes to the Drug Abuse Prevention Act. Not to mention the police. But I have to praise them, we actively cooperate with the police and competent inspectors who help us a lot, but there are often officials who see a cannabis plant and immediately think - drugs", said Zlovolic.

"These cases most often occur in smaller communities where not only are the officials not familiar with the legal framework, but they're also under pressure from the local population. We still live in a conservative society that, when it sees someone planting a field of industrial hemp, often reacts negatively to it," he said.

''We should be working on educating the population and providing a healthy basis for the development of the Croatian hemp growing industry. The goal is to form a kind of portal and centre of knowledge and information, where people who possess proven knowledge and skills will be able to educate everyone - not only producers and growers, but also ordinary people - because hemp is the future," said Zlovolic.

However, in order to achieve this, systematic support and the formation of an official market are needed. "We have the knowledge, we have the conditions and we can do miracles. Especially when you have such people who also have a great will and desire to throw themselves into it. Now the question is how to get ordinary people to recognise it," he said.

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

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Jadrolinija Transports 1.1 Million Passengers in August 2022 Alone

August the 23rd, 2022 - The Croatian ferry company Jadrolinija is edging ever closer to the record numbers it and we all saw back during the pre-pandemic year of 2019, having transported 1.1 million passengers during the month of August so far alone.

As Morski/Alenka Juricic Bukarica writes, this year's tourist season, in terms of physical indicators, is coming extremely close to the eye-watering figures we saw back during the record year of 2019, and therefore the traffic in passenger ship transport is also returning, writes Rijeka portal Novi list.

As such, from the beginning of the year to August the 15th, Jadrolinija's fleet transported an impressive 7,850,000 passengers in total, which is just four percent less compared to the same period back in 2019, as well as 2,248,000 vehicles, which is 7.7 percent more than 2019.

During the month of August alone, more precisely from August the 1st to the 18th, Jadrolinija transported a total of 1,150,000 passengers, which is just 9.1 percent less than in 2019, and 400,000 vehicles, which is 3.5 percent less than during the record pre-pandemic year of 2019.

''We are approaching the figures we saw back in 2019. On certain Jadrolinija ferry lines, vehicle traffic is surpassing the figures from 2019, but passenger traffic is still lagging slightly behind.

The reason for the smaller number of passengers is the absence of larger tourist groups that regularly came to Croatia by bus in earlier years, Jadrolinija pointed out, adding that the lines with the most passengers are Valbiska - Merag, Brestova - Porozina, Prizna - Zigljen, Zadar - Preko, Split - Supetar and Split - Stari Grad (Hvar).

''In this jubilee year, when Jadrolinija celebrates a whole 75 years of existence, we are optimistic and hope for a successful season and that we manage to reach the results from the record-breaking year of 2019,'' Jadrolinija concluded.

For more on Croatian maritime transport, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 22 August 2022

River Cruises on Danube, Drava, and Sava Coming Back in Style

August 22, 2022 - The trend that saw continuous growth before the pandemic, river cruises, seems to be coming back in style. From this year, all Croatian river tourism piers will welcome guests with a uniform visual identity.

As SiB writes, from this summer going forward, Croatian river piers will have a common visual identity. A logo, six identical masts, and seven flags were created for the Danube ports of Aljmaš, Batina, Vukovar and Ilok, the Drava port in Osijek, and the Sava ports in Slavonski Brod and Sisak.

The project is worth slightly less than HRK 92,000 and was fully financed by the Croatian Tourist Board, and was realized with the cooperation of the project holder, the Tourist Board of the Vukovar-Srijem County, and the regional tourist boards of Osijek-Baranja, Brod-Posavina, Sisak-Moslavina and the competent port authorities of Vukovar, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, and Sisak.

“With this joint project, our goal is to raise the awareness and interest of the tourism sector in the area of ​​nautical tourism of river cruises. The common visual identity and its application at all seven river piers promotes and strengthens the visibility and position of the Croatian Danube and the Sava River on the market of organised tourist traffic for river cruises”, said Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board.

Before the pandemic, river cruises recorded continuous growth, and this year that trend has returned. Additional infrastructure investments on the Danube and Sava will make river tourism in Croatia more attractive.

“This is a rapidly growing product and market within which the Croatian Danube area has taken a significant position. According to data from the Port Authority of Vukovar, 339 dockings at Vukovar pier and 89 at Ilok pier were announced for this year. 75 dockings were announced in Batina, and 62 in Aljmaš, a total of 565 dockings only at the piers on the Danube. For comparison, in pre-pandemic 2019, a total of 557 river cruise ships docked on the Danube”, points out Rujana Bušić Srpak, director of the of the Vukovar-Srijem County Tourist Board.

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

Monday, 22 August 2022

Serbian PM Responds Sharply to Croatian Parliament Speaker Statement

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić has strongly dismissed statements linking Serbia's indictment against four Croatian Air Force pilots, charged with ordering the shelling of a Serb refugee column in 1995, with Serbia's EU entry talks, with attorneys for the survivors announcing more criminal reports.

The Belgrade Appeals Court has upheld the High Court's decision which upheld an indictment by the War Crimes Prosecutor's Office against Croatian Air Force pilots Vladimir Mikac, Zdenko Radulj, Željko Jelenić, and Danijel Borović.

They are charged with having ordered, on 7 and 8 August 1995, the shelling of Serb refugee columns near Bosanski Petrovac and at Svodna, near Novi Grad (formerly called Bosanski Novi), northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which 13 people were killed, including four children, and 24 were wounded.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Sunday that Croatia considered the indictment legally unfounded, promising assistance to the pilots.

"Croatia will use (Serbia's EU entry talks) to send a message to Serbia that it will not tolerate such things. If they want to join the EU, they have to behave in a European manner. They have to decide who they want to go with, Russia or the West," said Jandroković.

Commenting on Jandroković's statement, Brnabić said on Sunday that "Croatia's leadership is now officially threatening to block Serbia's EU accession process because, after 27 years of silence and injustice, we want someone to finally answer for the horrible crime near Bosanski Petrovac."

"An EU member country has the nerve to publicly say that, if we want justice for the Serb children killed - and four were killed there, aged 6 to 13, we cannot be part of the EU," Brnabić said in a Twitter post.

As for Jandroković's remark that Serbia should turn to the future, Brnabić said that Serbia had turned to the future. "... That is why we are finally seeking justice in the case of the monsters who killed those children," Brnabić said.

She ended her Twitter post by asking when conditions would be met for Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to visit Jasenovac, "the biggest place of suffering of the Serb people", recalling that Belgrade "is still waiting for a response to the announcement of an official visit."

Earlier in the day, Vučić said, in a comment on the indictment against Croatian Air Force pilots, that Serbia did not have anything against Croats but that it would prosecute criminals responsible for the killing of children and elderly people.

Meanwhile, Belgrade-based media have carried a statement by attorneys for people who survived the shelling at Bosanski Petrovac, who said that they would file another criminal report in this case.

A criminal report, including "written evidence by the Croatian Army", will be filed against "Admiral Davor Domazet Lošo, head of the Croatian Army General Staff Intelligence Directorate at the time of Operation Storm", Brigadier Ilija Maričić, assistant chief-of-staff in charge of the Air Force, and General Pavao Miljavac, head of the Operation Team A at the General Staff at the time relevant to the indictment, said attorney Dušan Bratić.

Monday, 22 August 2022

New Sit&Meet Tourist Tour of Zagreb Promotes 13 Croatian Greats

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 -  A new cultural and tourist attraction "Sit&Meet – Path of Croatian Greats" has enriched downtown Zagreb with sculptures of 13 of the most significant and popular Croatian greats, created by prominent Croatian and foreign sculptors, the project's organisers said on Monday.

Thirteen interactive sculptures of Faust Vrančić, Slavoljub Penkala, Nikola Šubić Zrinski, Nikola Tesla, Marko Polo, Ivan Meštrović, Ruđer Bošković, Dražen Petrović, Marin Getaldić, Milka Trnina, Ivan Vučetić, Andrija Mohorovičić and Josip Belušić are exhibited around downtown Zagreb.

Those interested can learn about the lives and works of those mentioned inventors, scientists political leaders, artists, and athletes on a guided short or long tour or on a self-guided tour. This is the first of its kind in Croatia and will be available as of Thursday where visitors can get to know the names of famous Croatian people in history with an audio guide.

Hrvoje Markešić, one of the founders of the project, underscored that Sit&Meet presents Croatian inventions that are globally important, such as electricity, the parachute, the pen, the speedometer, and many others.

Co-founder Ante Bogdanić, is an expert in branding countries through sports and culture, explained that in addition to getting to know Croatian culture, history, and gastronomy, this tourist tour also offers a visit to iconic Zagreb hospitality facilities and to public exhibitions of the works of contemporary young artists.

The entire project was financed by the founders themselves and was supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Croatian Tourist Board, the City of Zagreb Tourist Board, and the Zagreb City Office for Tourism and Culture.

The sculptures along the tours are the works of Nikola Vudrag (Nikola Tesla), Jelena Mavrić Varga (Ivan Meštović, Ruđer Bošković and Dražen Petrović), Georgette Yvette Ponté (Marin Getaldić), Iva Šintić (Marko Polo), Jelena Kašić (Milka Trnina), Sanjin Vinković (Slavoljub Penkala and Ivan Vučetić), Paula Banić (Nikola Šubić Zrinski), Petar Popijača (Andrija Mohorovičić and Josip Belušić) and Petar Varga (Faust Vrančić).

Monday, 22 August 2022

Price of Diesel up HRK 0.23, Petrol and Blue-Dyed Diesel Unchanged

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - The government adopted a new decree on Monday on capping retail prices of petroleum products and, as of Tuesday, a litre of petrol will remain at HRK 11.19 per litre while the price of a litre of diesel HRK will go up by HRK 0.23 to HRK 12.35, and the price of a litre of blue-dyed diesel will remain HRK 8.49.

Thus, diesel prices will go up, and the prices of petrol and blue-dyed diesel will be unchanged in the next seven days.

The latest calculation will be in force for the next seven days and will apply only to fuels without multifunctional additives (Eurosuper 95, Eurodiesel, and blue-dyed diesel), while prices of premium fuels can be formed freely.

The government noted that without the latest intervention, Eurosuper 95 would have cost HRK 13.07, Eurodiesel HRK 14.82, and blue-dyed diesel HRK 9.62 per litre.

The margin is HRK 0.65 per litre for fuels.

(€1 = HRK 7.513726)

Monday, 22 August 2022

Croatia's Long-Distance Swimmer Levačić Swims from Scotland to Ireland (VIDEO)

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - Croatia's long-distance swimmer Dina Levačić swam the North Channel on Sunday, becoming thus the first Croat to swim this 34-kilometre-wide strait between north-eastern Northern Ireland and south-western Scotland.

It took 10 hours, 26 minutes and 58 seconds for this 26-year-old girl from Split to conquer this channel, and she is the 104th person and 43rd woman to complete this adventure.

In June this year, she swam the Strait of Gibraltar.

So far, she has completed six of the Oceans Seven swims.

Oceans Seven

The Oceans Seven is a marathon swimming challenge consisting of seven open water channel swims. It was proposed in 2008 as the swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. It includes the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait, and the Strait of Gibraltar.

The one remaining challenge on Levačić's agenda is the 23-kilometre-long Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Her first success was the 45.9-km  Manhattan Island marathon on 25 June 2017.

That year she swam the Catalina Channel, 32.5 km between Catalina Island and the California mainland. In September 2017, she swam the English Channel.

In 2018 she also accomplished the Molokai Channel swim in a 41.8-kilometre-long waterway between the islands of O'ahu and Moloka'i in the State of Hawaii.

In August 2019, Levačić conquered  30-kilometre Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.

Monday, 22 August 2022

Number of Employed Croatians Reaches 1.63 Million in July, Rising MoM and YoY

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - There were 1.63 million employed citizens in Croatia in July, which was 1.6% more year-on-year and 1.1% more month-on-month, the national statistical office (DZS) reported on Monday.

According to the data provided by the DZS, the country's total active population stood at 1.74 million, or 1.2% more than this June, or 05% more than in July 2021.

Furthermore, 109,600 persons were out of work in July, rising 3.6% month-on-month and falling by 13% compared to July 2021.

The total registered unemployment rate in July 2022 was 6.3%, growing by a mild 0.2 percentage points from June 2022.

The vast majority of employed persons were in legal entities (1.4 million).

This July, there were 215,000 employed persons in micro businesses and as freelancers, up 1.7% m-o-m and 1.5% y-o-y.

As many as 18,660 were registered as employed insured private farmers, rising 0.1% from this June and 0.2% from July 2021.

Monday, 22 August 2022

Croatia Registers 46 New COVID Cases, Eight Deaths

ZAGREB, 22 August, 2022 - Croatia has registered 46 new cases of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours and eight related deaths, the national COVID response team reported on Monday.

There are 5,537 active cases in the country, including 603 hospitalised patients, 22 of whom are on ventilators.

Since the outbreak of COVID in Croatia on 25 February 2020 to date, a total of 1,206,633 cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered, and 16,579 people have died as a consequence, while 1,184,517 people have recovered., including 1,030 recoveries in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 3,454 people in self-isolation.

To date, 59.59% of the total population, or 70.86% of the adult population, have been vaccinated.

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