Friday, 13 January 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Eurozone Growing Pains & Price Increases

January the 13th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics has been dominated by many stores and service providers upping their prices and allegedly taking advantage of what's known as ''rounding'' following Croatian Eurozone accession. Plenkovic has also been busy dismissing ministers once again, and the reaction to that has been varied. 

Price rises are hitting pockets and bank accounts

Croatia officially (and finally) entered the Eurozone on the 1st of January, 2023, with the kuna still permitted to be used as legal tender until the 15th of this month, after which only euros will be allowed to be used to make payments for goods and services across Croatia. As most people expected, there were price increases which came along with the euro, and while this is something that has occurred to some extent or another in all countries which have adopted the bloc's single currency, introducing it during a period dominated by economic woes and inflationary pressures likely didn't help much either. 

Shops have increased their prices for many basic goods and in some cases, there appears to not have even been an attempt made to hide it. With individuals feeling the blow to their back pockets and bank accounts more than ever, the government was asked to step in and control the situation, with many claiming that companies are taking advantage of the introduction of the euro. 

Some politicians, such as Kreso Beljak, believe that PM Andrej Plenkovic already spends too much time meddling with things that politics shouldn't be spending much time on, and although he himself has admitted that he has been hopping over the border into Slovenia to do his shopping because it's cheaper, he has said he doesn't blame Plenkovic for the euro price hikes. He believes that the market and the level of demand determines the price of goods, and that Plenkovic's government should spend more time making sure wages match the cost of living rather than spending time trying to lower prices.

It's easy enough for someone such as Beljak who lives in Samobor, which is very close to the Slovenian border, to shop and spend less in Slovenia, especially now Croatia has joined Schengen and the border between the two nations is no more, but most of the population expects government intervention. A recently held government session saw the matter discussed at length. The differences between Slovenia and Croatia and why the same products are cheaper over the border have also been explained.

The government did decide on some measures to try to combat the issue with price hikes following euro introduction, however, and Plenkovic has made no effort to hide his sheer disappointment with those trying to take advantage of the situation.

Plenkovic promises action against ''unjustified price increases''

"This is nothing other than pure profiteering and we oppose it," Plenkovic said about unjustified price increases in his opening speech at the aforementioned recently held government session. He announced that inspections will be carried out in stores and called on them to lower their prices to the level they were at before the introduction of the euro. The government also tasked the Ministry of Economy to use all possible measures to collect complete and accurate information on price movements and monitoring.

"We found that some individuals have obviously seen fit to take advantage of the euro conversion to raise their prices for no reason. I'd like to thank the business entities that adapted in accordance with the proper regulations and those who didn't impose any unjustified price increases," said the Prime Minister.

He said that they and most other people were expecting minimal price increases, but that we're unfortunately now witnessing something else entirely, which is profiteering. He stated clearly that his desire is to protect individuals during this transition period and recalled the measures that the hovernment adopted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Then he talked about inflation, a burning topic for Croatian politics of late. "What's happening to us is happening to everyone else as well, but everyone else [in Europe] has a higher rate of inflation than we have here in Croatia and we're fighting against a phenomenon that reduces peoples' purchasing power, and that's why we'll sanction all phenomena that leads to an increase in inflation. The purpose of introducing the euro is to empower the domestic economy, not that the state gives billions and that someone gets rich at the expense of the people, so it's important that everyone understands that those who are doing this will not get away with it and that the state will act, and it will act on behalf of everyone," he said.

"There's just no justification for what has increased, for people to raise their prices like they have, it's pure greed. The government will do everything in its power to prevent this from continuing to happen. All authorities will contribute to uncovering unfair practices and everyone will be tasked to act on this. I call on everyone to distance themselves from those who have unjustifiably raised their prices, I'm also calling on all business entities to revise their prices and adjust them back to those from the end of December," said Plenkovic.

"The state will not simply sit back and watch this happen without doing anything about it. Everyone who thinks that they can cast a dark shadow on the strategic success of the state will not succeed. The Tax Office, Customs, and the State Inspectorate all know this. They will go out into the field to correct what individuals are doing for absolutely no reason," the Prime Minister warned.

The measures, as explained by Economy Minister Davor Filipovic

"All business entities, including credit institutions and other financial service providers, and all those who have raised their prices against the law, are obliged to revise the retail prices of their goods and services and make sure that they're determined by the price levels of December the 31st, 2022," Minister Filipovic said.

"The inspectorate, tax, customs, ministries, Croatian National Bank (CNB) will implement increased levels of supervision over entities within their jurisdiction without delay," he said.

In addition, the Ministry of Economy will be put in charge of preparing and launching a digital platform for monitoring prices.

State Inspectorate boss Andrija Mikulic chimes in on increased monitoring, inspections and supervision

The head of the State Inspectorate, Andrija Mikulic, spoke about price increases and unjustified price increases and the number of inspections being carried out at this moment in time. "We've started with the inspections," Mikulic assured, adding that more than 8,000 inspections have been carried out since September. "We found 1,744 violations of the law," he added.

"Since January the 1st, 2023, we've received an increased number of reports about price increases, whether in trade, catering and hospitality or service activities. Bearing in mind that business entities freely set their own prices, inspections have begun based on the received reports. From January the 2nd to the 4th, over 200 inspections in the field of retail trade were carried out, including at bakeries and service activities, mainly hairdressing, body care and different kinds of maintenance services.

"We will determine whether price increases we uncover are unjustified or not. If it is established that they can't be justified, misdemeanor measures will definitely be taken".

In the service industries (hairdressing salons and the cosmetics/beauty field), increases ranging from 10 to a whopping 80 percent were observed. In the tourism industry, within which 151 inspections have been carried out, about 50 irregularities were observed, as well as price increases of up to 10 percent. In 306 inspections, 96 violations were determined.

Mikulic assured once again that the proper measures will be taken against those who are taking advantage of the introduction of the euro and of inflation in order to try to pull the wool over peoples' eyes and line their own pockets at the expense of individuals.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated section, and keep an eye out for our Week in Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Eurozone Croatia: Zagreb Cafe Owner Irritated by Lipa Payments

January the 12th, 2023 - Eurozone Croatia is now finally a reality, and while the country grapples with the new currency, price hikes and attempts to get rid of kuna left in sock drawers and under mattresses, one Zagreb cafe owner is sick to the back teeth of being paid in mountains of lipa coins for coffee.

Many people thought they were prepared for the birth of Eurozone Croatia, but it seems as if most of us have forgotten the unholy amounts of rather pointless lipa coins we all have lying around at home, in jacket pockets and more than likely under the living room rug. These tiny golden coins which have more or less always been somewhat good for nothing are now an even bigger thorn in the side than they were when the kuna was the official currency. Cafe owners are now being bombarded with them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Zvonimir Varga writes, there are only a few days left during which people can continue to pay for items and services in kuna and lipa, and some people are using the opportunity to get rid of excess coins while it lasts.

While banks and other financial institutions are happy to transfer small denominations such as lipa into a bank account without any major problems, cafe owners are faced with a bigger problem. Some people have decided to make the recent cafe-based nightmare of ''becoming an unwilling exchange office'' come true leave all of their lipa change on their tables. As previously mentioned, even when the kuna was the country's official tender, nobody was a fan of lipa coins, people are even less of a fan now that the kuna is set to enter the history books entirely.

To make matters worse for cafe owners and staff, some people simply leave their money on the table and leave after having a coffee, and one Zagreb cafe owner from the Jarun lake area has had more than enough of having lipa coins thrown at him.

After finishing their drinks, one couple left a pile of kuna, lipa and even equally annoying euro cents on their table and left while the waiter was busy doing something else. The staff of the cafe were not even that annoyed by the fact that they ended up being paid like that as such, but by the fact that the couple left the coins in this way and got up and left.

"What kind of people are they, it looks like they ran away" asked one of the waiters, while another concluded: "This way of paying is shameful!".

For more on Eurozone Croatia, make sure to keep up with our news section.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

2023 Australian Open: Borna Ćorić, Donna Vekić, and Petra Martić Learn 1st Round Rivals

January 13, 2023 - Croatian tennis players have learned their rivals in the 1st round of the 2023 Australian Open, which begins next week in Melbourne. 

Croatian tennis player Borna Ćorić will open the first Grand Slam tournament of the season against Czech player Jiri Lehecka. In the first round, Petra Martić will face Swiss tennis player Viktorija Golubic, and Donna Vekić will meet Russian qualifier Oksana Selehmetova.

Ćorić, who is the 21st seed and who will be the only Croatian representative in the men's competition after Marin Čilić's withdrawal due to a knee injury, will fight to advance to the second round against Lehecka, 78th in the ATP rankings. The two have never met before. 

Martić (WTA - 37th) will fight for a spot in the second round against Golubic, the 81st tennis player in the world, whom she has met once so far and beat in 2015. 

Donna Vekić (WTA - 60th) will face the qualifier Oksana Selehmeteva, 179th in the WTA ranking. It will be Donna's first time playing against the Russian player. 

As for the favorites, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who returns to the Australian Open after last year's COVID-19 vaccination debacle, will face Spaniard Roberto Carballes (ATP - 75th) as his opponent in the first round. This year, Djokovic will try to equal Rafael Nadal's record, who has 22 Grand Slam titles.

Spanish tennis player Nadal, who became the first seed after compatriot Carlos Alcaraz pulled out of the tournament, will face Briton Jack Draper (ATP - 40th) in the first round.

The women's world number one, Polish player Iga Swiatek, will begin her campaign for her first crown in Melbourne against German Jula Niemeier (WTA - 68th).

Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur, second in the WTA ranking, will play against Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek (WTA - 88th), and the third best tennis player in the world, American Jessica Pegula, will play against Romanian Jaqueline Cristian (WTA - 143rd). 

Source: Gol.hr

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Breakthrough Scientific Discovery at Ruder Boskovic Institute in Croatia

January 12, 2023 - How does the cell build a supporting structure for chromosomes? For years, scientists have been trying to understand how spindle fibers form, which are cellular structures crucial for the proper distribution of chromosomes. A new paper by Croatian researchers from the Ruder Boskovic Institute published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications sheds light on this issue.

Researchers from the team of prof. Dr. Sc. Iva Tolić from the Ruder Boskovic Institute (IRB), in collaboration with colleagues from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb (PMF), and Croatian scientists in the diaspora, described how the cooperation of kinetochores and microtubules is crucial in the assembly of the spindle fibers and in determining the movement of chromosomes during cell division, as reported on the Ruder Boskovic Institute's official website.

The scientists reached these results by applying their knowledge of cell biology and theoretical physics and thanks to new approaches and methods of cell microscopy that they developed for this research, which enabled them to study hitherto unseen structures of the spindle fibers in the earliest stages of cell division.

The results, published by this interdisciplinary research team are extremely valuable because they contribute to understanding cell division and the diseases associated with this important process.

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Iva Tolić, Marin Barišić and Nenad Pavin - Ruder Boskovic Institute

How are chromosomes organised during cell division?

Our bodies are made up of about one hundred trillion individual cells created by division from a single cell. Spindle fibers, dynamic micromachines composed of protein tubes - microtubules, are responsible for that division. Although the assembly of the spindle fiber is essential for proper chromosome division, this process has not been fully elucidated due to its complexity.

The spindle fiber has a unique architecture consisting of evenly distributed bundles of microtubules - kinetochore bundles, which are attached to chromosomes, and bridging bundles composed of microtubules, which connect the two poles of the spindle fiber by folding in the middle.

While the formation of kinetochore fibers has long been investigated in many laboratories around the world, how the bridging bundles are assembled has remained unknown. Without these bridging bundles, spindle fibers end in a star shape that cannot separate chromosomes. This is proof that bridging bundles play an indispensable role in cell division.

To clarify the formation of bridging bundles of microtubules, group of Professor Iva Tolić teamed up with the group of Professor Marin Barišić from the Danish Cancer Research Center in Copenhagen and the group of Professor Nenad Pavina from PMF Zagreb as part of the project of the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ) under the programme encouraging cooperation with Croatian scientists in the diaspora.

The project was completed with the publication of the results of interdisciplinary research in which, combining cell biology and theoretical physics, the researchers discovered the phase transition of microtubules from a sparse network structure to dense, well-separated, and properly organised bundles of the spindle fibers.

Experiments conducted by student Jurica Matković showed that this transition occurs because motor proteins on kinetochores, which are located in the central part of each chromosome, bind to microtubules.

Binding requires the activation of motor proteins by Aurora kinase B, a protein that has multiple roles during cell division. This result was proven by experiments based on motor protein mutants by researchers led by Prof. dr. sc. Marin Barišić.

When motor proteins bind to microtubules, cross-linking proteins cross-link the microtubules into a bundle attached to the kinetochore. The mutual repulsion of the condensed chromosomes, which push against each other on the equatorial plane of the spindle fibers and thus lead to the separation of the bundles to which they are attached and the expansion of the structure into a characteristic spindle shape, is responsible for not all microtubules joining into a single bundle. This novel mechanism of bundle formation is relevant not only to microtubule-based structures but also to cytoskeletal self-organisation in general.

Young researchers have developed new approaches and methods in cell microscopy

"To be able to reveal these complex processes, our research team devised new approaches and developed better methods for observing the spindle fibers. Rapid imaging of microtubules in the cross-section of the spindle fibers allowed us to monitor the dynamics of microtubule redistribution in a living cell. Until now, it was impossible to achieve this with conventional approaches due to the large number of microtubules and the high speed with which they are reorganised. With the help of super-resolution STED microscopy, young researchers were able to analyse the previously unseen architecture of microtubules in the earliest stages of cell division,'' explains Professor Iva Tolić, head of research at IRB.

Super-resolution microscopy protocols were developed on a microscope purchased as part of a project financed from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020.

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Jurica Matković, Mateja Ćosić and Subhadip Ghosh - Ruder Boskovic Institute

The group of Professor Nenad Pavina studied the physics of the formation of microtubule bundles from PMF, where postdoctoral student Subhadip Ghosh developed a theoretical model that allows for identifying the conditions necessary for the formation of the bundles. Since this is a complex process, a minimal model is helpful in understanding the interplay between microtubules, kinetochores, chromosomes, and crosslinker proteins and their roles in bundle formation. The model results support the central hypothesis that the attractive and repulsive mechanisms revealed in the experiments drive the formation of microtubule bundles.

The functional importance of this concept is evident in the context of proper chromosome division, given that PhD student Mateja Ćosić showed in this paper that improper formation of bundles leads to errors in chromosome division due to failure to correct improper connections between microtubules and kinetochore.

The authors propose the intriguing hypothesis that Aurora kinase B not only promotes the formation of overlapping bundles by activating motor proteins, but uses these same bundles as pathways to kinetochores to correct misconnections there.

Irregular and overly thin bundles lead to lagging of individual chromosomes, due to which one daughter cell may receive too many chromosomes, and the other too few.

"The wrong number of chromosomes is characteristic of tumor cells and is associated with the formation of metastases. That's why errors during chromosome division are intensively investigated in laboratories around the world, and this work adds a piece to the puzzle of understanding cell division and diseases associated with this important process,'' the scientists concluded.

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

Thursday, 12 January 2023

All Wine Roads Lead to Slavonia: WineOS, 8th Osijek Wine Festival

January 12, 2023 - The 8th edition of WineOS, the Osijek Wine Festival kicks off later today, an event being attended by TCN.

Osijek in January. Slavonian hospitality at its finest. Why aren't you here?

All roads lead to Slavonia this weekend, as the 8th edition of WineOS Osijek Wine Festival takes place - a wonderful mix of fine Slavonian (and other wines), Slavonian hospitality, and the heart of a Slavonian winter. 

As with last year, it promises to be a fine event of quality wine and good company, which I will be visiting in the company of the one and only legendary Ribafish. I only hope he behaves a little better this year... 

More information about the event from Vinoteka Vinita, translated below.

At the beginning of the new year, 2023, a new, eighth edition of the famous Osijek fair of wine, delicacies and hedonism is being organized. On January 13 and 14 (Friday and Saturday), the eighth wine and delicacy fair - WineOS will be held in the Gradski vrt hall, at Kneza Trpimira 23, Osijek.

Both days offer moments of pleasant living, top wines and delicacies from the east of Croatia, and the opportunity to meet numerous guests from other Croatian regions and abroad in almost 1,900 square meters of exhibition space.

Also, guests will have the opportunity to visit around 90 exhibition stands where more than a hundred producers will be presented, and those interested will be able to attend educational workshops that will repeatedly offer unusual stories and rarely available wines.

Tickets for the fair can be purchased at the price of 20 euros per day at the Vinita Wine Cellar and on the day of the fair at the entrance to the hall. Tickets for the workshops will be purchased exclusively in advance.

The workshop schedule follows below:

Thursday, January 12, 2023 - Hotel Osijek, Hall Kesten, 3:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

3:00 p.m. – Belje – time machine to the wine past - entrance fee HRK 200

4:30 p.m. - Klaudio Jurčić - My friendships with winemakers - entrance fee HRK 150

18:00 - Kopar, the vertical of the best Hungarian black Attila Gere - entrance HRK 200

Friday, January 13, 2023 - City Garden Sports Hall, VIP lounge, 1:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m. – All Kozlović's Malvasias - entrance fee HRK 150

2:30 p.m. – Uroboros, a wine that pushes the boundaries of what is possible - entrance fee HRK 150

16:00 - Omnibus Lector - chardonnay for the best wine psychotherapy - entrance fee HRK 150

5:30 p.m. – Umčani - Small village of wine masterpieces - entrance fee HRK 150

Saturday, January 14, 2023 - City Garden Sports Hall, VIP lounge, 2:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m. – Grgić Pošip, a wine that changed the attitude towards that variety - entrance fee HRK 150

2:30 p.m. – Sea Ego by Joze Galić - entrance fee HRK 150

4:00 p.m. – Maurer and Kadarka - from gravity and rock'n'roll to vineyards from 1880 - entrance fee HRK 150

5:30 p.m. – Why is Nuić's Trnjak the best red wine in Herzegovina? - entrance fee HRK 150

The daily ticket for all workshops is HRK 500 per day, and 20 tickets are available for each workshop. See you and cheers!

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Croats Living in Croatia, Earning Abroad: Kosjenka Muk near Karlovac

January 12, 2023 - The Croatian dream - to live in Croatia and get income from abroad. Meet the locals who are living that dream, and find out how you could, too, in a new TCN series. In the latest in the series, meet Kosjenka Muk, who is enjoying life in Istria.

Croatia, great for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for full-time living unless you are very rich, so the perceived wisdom goes. The Croatian dream is to live in Croatia with a nice income from abroad, as many foreigners and remote workers do. For Croatians, if I read the comments in my recent video, Croatia is the Best Place to Live: 8 Reasons Why (see below), salaries are too low and people are forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

While there is definitely an element of truth to this, it got me thinking. The era of remote work is here, and the workplace is increasingly global, with a labour shortage for many skills. It doesn't matter if you are from Boston or Bangladesh if you have the skills, desire, and work ethic, and are able to work remotely online.  And while it is certainly true that salaries in Croatia are low, what about the opportunities that the global online marketplace offers? If foreigners can find ways to live in Paradise and work remotely, why not locals? Curious, I posted this on my Facebook and LinkedIn:

Do I know many Croats who are living in Croatia, but working remotely for international companies who would be interested in being part of a TCN interview series showcasing living in Croatia but earning online, including advice to others on how to get started? It could be an interesting series. If interested, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

Some 15 emails - and several inspiring stories - later, and I think we have the makings of what could be a rather interesting series, Croats Living in Croatia & Earning Abroad. Next up in the series, Kosjenka Muk near Karlovac.

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My name is Kosjenka Muk, and I work as a coach for emotional and relationship issues. I grew up in central Istria and now live close to Karlovac, working mostly online while enjoying gardening and traveling in my free time.

My passion for psychology started around the age of 15 when I found some books about positive thinking and self-esteem in my local library. From my adult perspective, those books now seem oversimplified and superficial, but at that time, they gave me a breakthrough change of perspective. They helped me turn my adolescent depression around and made me realize that many of my uncomfortable emotions and beliefs were not the reality – and could change. I remember thinking, "How is it possible that nobody around me knows anything about this? How much would the world change if more people knew about this!” Of course, I was way too idealistic and inexperienced at the time, but from then on, my path in life was clear to me.

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I decided to study what was then called "social pedagogy” rather than psychology, after being told that the study of psychology in Croatia is much more theoretical than practical. But where I truly found myself was in an extracurricular method of coaching called Integrative Systemic Coaching.

After some years of practice in Croatia only, I slowly moved on to online work in both Croatian and English. Now my clients are partly from Croatia, and partly from all over the world. Online work enables me not only to reach more people, but to live in the countryside rather than in a city, which I prefer as a nature lover and a bit of a farmer at heart. The Internet made it possible for me to achieve most of my dreams, and I keep thinking how lucky I am to live at this time in history, even with all its problems.

1. Many Croats are emigrating but you not only chose to stay, but managed to achieve the Croatian dream - living here and working for an international company. Tell us how you did it.

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I'm actually self-employed rather than working for a company. It was quite a rough ride at first. I started in 2004, when the Internet was still relatively young in Croatia (but developing quickly), not many people even had an e-mail address yet, there was no tradition of coaching or voluntarily going to therapy, the market was small but the competition already fairly strong.

The first 2 years were bare survival. I tried various ways to promote my work, some rather expensive but none successful. I had no money to pay for web design, so I learned basic HTML to create a simple website myself. Then I started writing articles, which at first I sent to my friends' emails. Many people forwarded my articles around, which prompted new people to ask for them, and so my mailing list and practice grew. I also started giving regular public talks, often in libraries.

I'm a rather shy introvert, so all of that was quite scary for me, but my drive was stronger. Not to mention that I should live what I preach, right? After a while, I got an offer from a small publishing company to publish my articles as a book, which I eventually decided to publish myself. I also got an offer from a friend to make some CDs with guided exercises, which we did, but they didn't sell well.

Things were going well for a few years, and then the 2008 recession struck. Within a few months, I lost 80% of my income. Survival mode again! Luckily, my (now late) first partner, who was also my business partner at the time, was there to help. Together, we decided to include online coaching into our work. That was also tough at first, but slowly grew. I published my second book and decided to translate the first one into English and put it on Amazon. While researching Amazon publishing, I noticed that many people prefer short books they can read quickly, so I also wrote and published several short "workbooks”. Those don't bring much income, but are a source of credibility. I even recently met my new partner through them, so they obviously weren't a waste of time.

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2. Looking for jobs based in Croatia can be a challenging task. How challenging was it for you to get where you are today - it must have taken a lot of determination and rejection.

My only experience of working for someone else was 2 years of part time work in a social service project in Istria, which was a part of the then government program called "S faksa na posao” ("From study to work”), which was meant to give graduate students some work experience so they would be more employable. After that, I got an offer for a full-time job in a local school, but I also wanted to start my own practice, which was a tough decision, especially for my parents' peace of mind. But I knew what I wanted, and I never looked back. The rest is history which you already know.

3. If you can do it, presumably others can too. Are you aware of others who have had similar success, but maybe in different industries?

I know of a few people in my own "trade”, as well as of quite a few IT experts, a couple of translators, a graphic designer, and a woman who promotes Croatian tourism and has published several successful books of Croatian recipes. The more the Internet and related industries grow, and especially with the recent jump in popularity of home office and online work, creative and persistent people have more opportunities than ever before.

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4. What is the general feeling among people in Croatia today. Is it possible to have a good life here, or is the grass greener on the other side?

We all know the grass is always greener on the other side. But of course it's often more a matter of perception than reality. For some people, it might be easier to succeed in the West rather than Croatia, but it's also much easier to succeed from Croatia than from many other places in the world, especially nowadays. Living in rich countries also has its downsides, as foreigners who choose to live in Croatia well know.

My impression is that young people are moving further and further away from the socialist mindset of relying on somebody else for employment, although the older generations still often have discouraging views on entrepreneurship. Many people have moved out, many people (rightfully) complain, but I hope as time goes by, Croatia will be an increasingly attractive place to live.

5. Apart from corruption and nepotism, low wages are often cited as a reason to emigrate. But with the remote work revolution, as your example has shown, as well as the influx of many foreign workers to the likes of Rimac and Infobip for example, show that a good quality of life IS possible in Croatia. What are your thoughts on that?

Personally, I never had any particular "connections” to pull, nor did I ever consider finding some or bribing anybody, although I'm well aware that many local people get through life that way and sometimes don't seem to have a choice. There are some objective obstacles and difficulties to succeeding in Croatia, slow bureaucracy and high taxes, for example, on top of what you already mentioned. Still I would say that the biggest obstacles are in one's head. I hope with time more and more Croatian people will learn to think in terms of "Why not?” and to see difficulties as challenges, rather than the reasons to not try. Modern times give us so many opportunities. And hopefully we can collectively smarten up and start working on removing the obstacles, as well.

I must add I'm glad I'm only responsible for my own salary, though. Having employees would be much more difficult.

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6. What advice do you have for others who would like to stay in Croatia, but have no idea where or how to find a possible remote work job or business as you have managed to do?

Your head is where you start. Be willing to take (reasonable) risks and get out of your comfort zone. Be willing to learn, including learning things beyond your primary area of interest. Expect some struggle in the early years and be patient, don't expect too much too soon. Develop your creativity and brainstorm ideas. More important than anything, think of mistakes and failures as the fastest way to learn, rather than proof you can't make it.

7. Three reasons you decided to stay in Croatia, and the one thing you would like to change in this country.

1) Balance. The work-life balance, the balance between industry and nature, even between rules and freedom (although the latter sometimes brings some headaches). I like that Croatia is not overpopulated, and most people still don't measure others by how much they earn, even if the introduction of wild capitalism in the 90s made things worse in this context.

2) Nature. I took Croatia for granted when I was a kid, and preferred long-distance travel at first, but the more experience I have, the more I realize how much beauty we have in a relatively small area.

3) Prices of real estate, especially of land if you want a garden, especially if you don't feel you must live at the coast or in Zagreb.

4) (optional) To not feel treated like an immigrant and a second-grade citizen, although as a taxpayer in Croatia, I have certain doubts about evading the latter.

What I would most like to change is the attitude to voting in Croatia. Not only to coming out to vote at all, but also voting along party lines, tribal lines, inertia lines, or even corruption lines. Only when we change that, can we truly start solving the other problems.

Contacts:

You can learn more about Kosjenka Muk via her website and Facebook.

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Thanks Kosjenka, very inspiring, and congratulations on all your success.

You can follow the rest of this series in the dedicated TCN section here.

If you would like to contribute your story to this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Thursday, 12 January 2023

Croatian Winter Tourism 2022 at 96% of Pre-Pandemic 2019's Level

January the 12th, 2023 - Croatian winter tourism 2022 traffic has managed to reach an impressive 96% of what was realised back during the same period in the pre-pandemic (and record) year of 2019. While 2022 might be in the past, the Croatian winter tourism period is yet to end.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, eVisitor, Croatia's much-praised system for registering guests has returned the aforementioned encouraging data, and from December the 23rd, 2022 to January the 8th, 2023, there were 19 percent more tourist overnight stays realised in the country than there were last winter. On top of that, there were 28 percent more arrivals, and the strongest traffic was again recorded in Zagreb, whose Advent almost returned to the state it was in before the global coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 earthquake.

Almost 600,000 overnight stays were realised across Croatia, and in Zagreb alone, 92 percent of the overnight stays realised before the pandemic and the earthquake, or 31 percent compared to last winter, were realised. The number of overnight stays realised by foreigners had also grown by 35 percent.

Although this year hoteliers were doubtful that they would work over the New Year due to high energy costs, at the end of 2022, 394 hotels remained open across Croatia, which is still 49 less than were open back at the end of 2019. The sunny weather so far in January has also contributed to the biggest jump in visits in the first days of the new year.

"We've entered 2023 with better results than we did back at the beginning of 2019. At the moment, we're recording 32 percent more overnight stays, which includes a 10 percent increase in the continental part of the country, and this is an excellent indicator of continued growth in demand for Croatia and our further positioning as a year-round destination with a diversified, high-value offer.

According to the latest research by the European Travel Commission, Croatia is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in this part of the year, and we want to maintain that status. In our development and promotional activities, we emphasise the offers we have available throughout the year and the fact that by entering the Schengen area and the Eurozone, Croatia is an even easier to reach and safer destination," said Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sport.

During the Christmas and New Year period, the most overnight stays were realised in Istria (133 thousand), in Kvarner (123 thousand) and in Zagreb (97 thousand).

Looking at the destinations individually when it comes to the Croatian winter tourism 2022 results, during the period of Christmas and New Year break, Zagreb has been recording the most overnight stays with the aforementioned figure of 97 thousand overnight stays, Opatija comes in second with more than 42 thousand, followed by Split with almost 36 thousand overnight stays. Then follows Dubrovnik with almost 35 thousand overnight stays, Rovinj with more than 31 thousand and Porec with almost 28 thousand overnight stays.

In addition to domestic guests who are responsible for the most overnight stays realised in the aforementioned winter period, more than 190,000 were foreign guests. The most overnight stays among foreign tourists were realised by Austrians, Slovenians, Germans and Italians. In Zagreb, the most overnight stays were from people visiting from elsewhere in Croatia, followed by those from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Serbia and Austria.

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

Thursday, 12 January 2023

8 Platforms Developed for Croatian Village Digitalisation Project

January the 12th, 2023 - Eight platforms have been developed for Croatian village digitalisation as the country hopes to help more rural areas catch up and transform as we go forward.

As Josipa Ban/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the CEKOM Food&Rural project, which will enable the Croatian village digitalisation and the overall digital transformation of more rural areas, was successfully completed recently. According to InfoDom, the company that developed as many as eight platforms as part of the wider project, all of them will be free for all of their users.

"Our experts and partners in the project have successfully realised the expected outcomes of the Nikola Tesla Innovation Centre. This is in relation to good practices for the application of digital technologies in agriculture and rural development that will be available to 170,000 OPGs (family farms) and small and medium-sized companies that will be able to digitise their business processes," said Boris Blumenschein, head of the CEKOM project, who is also a member of the InfoDom Management Board.

Cooperation to find a proper solution to Croatian village digitalisation and allowing rural areas to keep up

This project is worth a massive 13.14 million kuna and was co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund in the amount of 7.7 million kuna. It should contribute to greater competitiveness of entities based in the country's more rural areas, accelerate social development and work to preserve the populations living in rural areas. Villages and more rural parts of the country are the primary victims of the demographic crisis, and their local populations are increasingly emigrating due to worsening living conditions and difficulties finding secure jobs.

This project in which, together with InfoDom, the Institute for Informatics Activities of Croatia (ZIH), the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics (FOI) and the Nikola Tesla Innovation Centre all participated, resulted in the creation of eight brand new products, all of which form something unique and are available for free use.

An IoT platform, a decision support system, a food distribution platform, an ecosystem development portal, a checklist and self-check system, a knowledge base, a BigData platform and a healthcare and rural tourism portal have now all been successfully developed. Registration on these platforms, the aforementioned groups assure, is simple and quick.

Food processing and distribution

"Through the research and development activities carried out within the scope of this project, a digital ecosystem of agrotechnological solutions was created for the successful commercialisation of CEKOM results related to the development of mechanisms for the more efficient use of resources, the application of knowledge and innovation in food production, processing and distribution, and the system will continuously connect mutually complementary groups of companies, individuals or things that share standardised solutions,'' they explained from InfoDom.

All of the developed platforms should result in numerous positive outcomes when it comes to Croatian village digitalisation and allowing rural areas to keep up, from the advancement of technological development, commercialisation, the application of various innovations, the branding of the food industry and other local products through the application of innovative design and promotional activities.

Ultimately, all this should strengthen the competitiveness of the food industry in rural areas of Croatia. All that remains is for OPGs and small and medium-sized enterprises to start using all these solutions.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Austrian Best in Parking Takes Over 50% of Croatian Company Verso Altima

January the 12th, 2023 - The Croatian company Verso Altima, which deals with IT and software, has sold a 50 percent share of its ownership to the Austrian company Best in Parking (BIP).

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, while this is now public information, the Croatian company Verso Altima's management don't want to reveal the amount of money involved. This domestic company otherwise designs, develops, implements and maintains advanced ICT solutions, and in 20 years of doing business, it has worked for more than 170 clients from 50 different countries.

As they stated, with this investment, they will try to strengthen their international presence and ensure the commercialisation of their own development solutions, especially those in the field of digital and green transition.

"The regional presence of the company, as well as twenty years of ICT experience in creating additional value for our users, was recognised by the Austrian group Best in Parking (BIP), with which we've entered into a strategic and ownership partnership," stated Mario Gerencir, the director of the Croatian company Verso Altima.

As he added, the sale of the 50 percent share was due to market needs and the search for additional specialisation within the scope of the wider digital and green transition. This is a company which, over recent years in Central and Eastern Europe, has primarily focused on the digital and green transition with an emphasis placed on Smart City solutions, and in 2021 they achieved 8.13 million euros in revenue. Gerencir is also not ready to disclose last year's business figures, instead pointing out that although 2022 was challenging, the company's planned activities were mostly realised.

The merger with the Austrian BIP, a company that is the leading owner and operator of parking and mobility infrastructure in the markets of Austria, Italy and Croatia, should give the Verso Altima a significant boost.

"By changing the ownership structure, we'll enable the rapid and high-quality development of our own resources, increase the visibility of reference products, and ensure new employment and investment in development and research. The change we initiated is aimed at the development and improvement of business, whereby we will continue to be maximally dedicated to our existing users and projects. Joint and future strategic decisions will be strongly focused on the development and expansion of production and development capacities, which represents the provision of new services for the digital and green transformation with an emphasis placed on Smart Connect solutions, and a continuous presence in network business, IoT and digital transformation," announced Gerencir.

The Austrians, on the other hand, expect that with this investment they will manage to upgrade the offer of their own digital services and thus become a pioneer of solutions for smart and climate-efficient cities. They began implementing this strategy back in 2021 by purchasing the company RAO, which offers software solutions for the management and control of public car parks and road space, as well as payment systems, solutions for access and ticket sales for national parks and nature parks, recreational facilities and marinas.

By purchasing this share of the Croatian company Verso Altima, they will further complete their offer of smart and green solutions to their own clients. "With our investment in Verso Altima, we're even going a step further. We aren't only deepening our digital competences, but also strengthening our position as an active partner of public administrations in order to increase quality of life, while acting in a way that saves resources,'' noted Johann Breiteneder, the CEO of Best in Parking.

The Croatian company Verso Altima is also developing digital and green solutions with the help of European Union (EU) money. Gerencir stated that Verso Altima was granted European co-financing last year from the Next GenerationEU recovery fund for the implementation of a project called "The Commercialisation of Innovative Citizen Engagement and Open Smart City platforms" worth 1.4 million euros in total.

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

Thursday, 12 January 2023

2023 Brings New Challenges for Croatian Electric Car Owners

January the 12th, 2023 - Croatian electric car owners have had somewhat of a financial shock ever since we entered the new year. Just like with almost everything else, there has been a price increase for the use of public car chargers across the country, but there are ways around it if you have your wits about you...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the previous price of 5/kWh kuna (or 0.66 euros) is no longer that price because one single kWh of electricity from public charging stations across Croatia has jumped to 8.59 kuna or 1.14 euros. The price refers to fast charging with a power of up to 150 kW, but the price is identical at charging stations that offer a power of 50 kW, according to a report from HAK.

Nevertheless, in some locations, Croatian electric car owners can still come across more favourable charging prices of 0.31 euros or 2.44 kuna, also for 50 kW DC charging. Please note that the high prices of 1.14 euros don't apply to chargers on motorways where the prices could be higher than in populated areas. An electric care was charged in the heart of Slavonski Brod the aforementioned price. At some locations here in Zagreb, one kW is charged at 0.53 euros or 4.00 kuna (for AC 22 kW charging). Driving over more recent days on Croatian roads and through various cities, DC 50 kW charging via CCS chargers for 0.44 euros per kWh, or 3.32 kuna, were also found. A kilowatt cost the same at one charger via the CHAdeMo charger.

It is extremely important for Croatian electric car owners/drivers to really check the charging price through several different mobile applications (if they work, that is). Croatian electric car owners also have at least five or six apps available to them on their smartphones, and sometimes using a service provider's app doesn't guarantee you'll get a cheaper charge somewhere. There are apps like Plugsurfing with which you can charge your vehicle at different charging stations.

At the same time, while the price of one kilowatt approaches the price of a litre of fuel, the question of the profitability of charging at public stations arises, that is, of travelling outside the place of your residence with an electric vehicle just to charge it up. If we take into account the average consumption of 15 kWh of electricity and 7 litres for thermal engines, we arrive at the following results:

Driving a section of 100 kilometres using petrol will cost you 9.31 euros or 70.15 kuna, while using a diesel-powered vehicle it will amount to 10.29 euros or 77.53 kuna. If you charge your battery at home, with the price of the night tariff standing at around 0.08 euros (about 0.60 kuna) per kWh, the 100 kilometres travelled will cost a mere 9 kuna or 1.19 euros. Charging your vehicle at a public charging station with a kilowatt price of 4 kuna (0.53 euros) will ultimately cost 60 kuna (7.96 euros). If Croatian electric car owners end up using a charger at a public station costing 8.59 kuna (1.14 euros), they'll pay 128.85 kuna (17.10 euros) for 100 kilometres travelled.

It should be noted that the majority of Croatian electric car owners typically charge their batteries at home or at work and use charging at public chargers only as a rare alternative. This is something that can be fairly clearly seen all over Croatia and has been visible for some time now - public charging stations are usually sitting empty and the current situation with charging prices doesn't suit anyone.

The solution is subscription models such as the Elli application, which for 7.99 euros per month (60.20 kuna) enables charging at a preferential price per kWh of 0.64 euros (on DC chargers) or 0.50 euros on AC chargers, while on Ionity chargers the price is 0.79 euros/kWh. A subscription with a price of 14.99 euros lowers the price of a kilowatt hour even more. Across Croatia, HEP and other electricity operators could offer a combined subscription that includes consumption of electricity at home and at public chargers.

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

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