Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatian Architects Win Silver Medal at Architectural Olympics in Tokyo

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Krešimir Rogina, an architect and leader of the International Summer School of Architecture in Grožnjan, and Bernarda Ivančan, have been awarded a silver medal for their project Storiescapes, the Croatian Musical Youth reported on Wednesday.

Ivančan and Rogina presented their project at the International Architectural Design Competition in Japan.

The project won the second prize placing Croatia among the world leaders in this area.

The judging panel always includes leading Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma, Jun Aoki, and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.

This year's theme was Interpathetic Spaces dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and the way it has changed our lives.

Rogina and Ivančan presented a model and video animation with a five-minute film which was presented via video link to the judging panel.

Rogina has already been awarded twice at this competition - 1990 and 1999 - when he applied with his colleague Vinko Penezić.

Ivančan has been working with Rogina since 2016 when they established the R/INovation research and experimental center.

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

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

ZSE Indices Close in Red

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - The main Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices closed in the red on Wednesday, with the Crobex falling by 0.96% to 2,027 points and the Crobex10 by 0.66% to 1,235 points. 

Turnover at the close of the trading session was HRK 11.3 million, about 3 million higher than on Tuesday.

The highest turnover, of HRK 2.17 million, was generated by the Atlantska Plovidba shipping company. The price of its share fell by 1.18% to HRK 502.

It was followed by plastic car parts manufacturer AD Plastik with a turnover of HRK 1.92 million. It ended the day at HRK 154 per share, down by 9.14%.

The only other stock to pass the turnover mark of one million kuna was the HT telecommunications company. Its price rose by 0.27% to HRK 185.

A total of 46 stocks traded today, with 10 of them registering share price increases, 23 recording price decreases and 13 remaining stable in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.523152)

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

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Discovering Đurđevac: Legend of the Rooster and Croatia's Only Desert

October 28, 2021 – Where the fields and vineyards of the lower Bilogora foothills meet the Drava floodplain and Croatia's only desert, you find the town of Đurđevac.

The east of Croatia is not known for its mountains. And yet, a long stretch of more or less continuous hills separates the Drava river's long valley from the rest of Croatia. For around 80 kilometres, part of the task is taken by the relatively low-lying Bilogora mountains.

The land between the mountains and the river slopes gently from foothills to floodplains. It is fertile, filled with vineyards and fields of agriculture. But, inexplicably, within this terrain, you'll find a desert.

This remarkable anomaly is the only such sand-filled wilderness in the country. And it is at this point - where the fields and vineyards of the lower foothills meet the floodplain and the Croatian desert - you find the town of Đurđevac.

Old Town Đurđevac (Stari grad Đurđevac)

Marc345.JPG© Marc Rowlands

Old Town Đurđevac is the most iconic building in this part of Croatia. Given its name, you could be forgiven for thinking this fortified structure is the origin of the town. Not so. Located just to the south, Đurđevac was already an established village when, in the 1480s, Bishop of Pécs Sigismund Ernušt commissioned the defensive fort. It was built in response to the rising threat of the Ottomans from the east.

nemetDJI_0295.jpg© Ivan Nemet

The land on which the original village and Old Town was placed is wet - river meadows in the floodplain of the Drava. Still to this day, you'll not find anything built on this partial swamp for over two kilometres to the north of Stari grad Đurđevac. Like buildings in the original settlement, the fortification was constructed on sandbanks created to elevate the building from the marshland. Its location and sturdy, defensive build - with surrounding walls and 9-metre tower – served the town well. Though besieged many times, Old Town Đurđevac never fell.

DSC_1571.jpg© Mato Zeman

Today, Stari grad Đurđevac holds important art and artefacts of the town. Inside, you'll find the Picokijada Interpretation Centre and Đurđevac City Museum. The former explains the legend behind the town's greatest annual event. The latter holds one of the region's most important collections of paintings, statues and artistic posters, much of it a donation made by local artist Ivan Lacković. But, this building is not only a relic and reminder of the past.

Željko_Car_34_2.jpg© Željko Car

By day, re-enactments and events take place in the walled courtyard. By night, youngsters of the town often gather here. On the ground floor of the main fortress, an open-air bar and restaurant. It is one of the best places in town to eat.

DSC_5088.jpg© Mato Zeman

Authentic food of Đurđevac

MarcfghjkWHEEEL.jpgAward-winning cheeses, fresh from the farm shop at Family Farm Imbrišić (here) in Kozarevac, near  Đurđevac © Marc Rowlands

Recognisable as the cuisine of continental Croatia, you have to look a little closer to identify the distinct menu of Podravina and Đurđevac. Meat preserved as sausages and river fish from the nearby Drava feature on the Đurđevac menu, as they do a little further downstream in Slavonia. But, Đurđevac and Podravina have a much greater tradition of dairy products than Slavonia. You'll find many local cheeses on the menu at Restoran i pivnica Stari grad (here), within the walls of Old Town Đurđevac and at Restaurant Đurđevečka iža (here), inside the town's Hotel Picok. The fresh river fish from the Drava you can try year-round at nearby Ribička hiža (here).

Marc788.JPGBreakfast at Restoran i pivnica Stari grad © Marc Rowlands

Croatian Sahara (Hrvatska Sahara): Stari grad Đurđevac Zoo

DJI_0285.jpg© Ivan Nemet

Sitting just next to Stari grad Đurđevac, Hrvatska Sahara is the small zoo of the town. It is titled after the Croatian Sahara, a near-forgotten moniker for the desert nearby. And, just like in the deserts of North Africa, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, you'll here find camels. They share the sands with goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, peacocks and llamas.

ZooStarigradurevac-1010186.jpg© Ivan Nemet

Natural assets: Đurđevac Sands (Đurđevački pijesci) - the only desert in Croatia

Mato_Zeman3ertgh.jpg© Mato Zeman

Born high in the Alps of Italy, the Drava river crashes down 1000 metres through Austria and Slovenia before reaching Croatia. Any rock that falls on the same path is pulverised by the time it reaches here. Formed by deposited glacier sediment, the sandy riverbanks of the Drava and the Đurđevački pijesci are testament to this. Đurđevački pijesci are simply sands of the river that were blown to this area by persistent, strong winds.

Mato_Zeman12.jpg© Mato Zeman

There was a time when people sought to tame this wilderness. As recently as the 20th century, an active process to afforest the sands was underway. And it was successful. While Đurđevački pijesci cover around 20 hectares today, at one time they were known to stretch some 12 kilometres. In fact, the dunes were so vast that it wasn't uncommon for people, horses and carts to disappear in the desert. For this reason, the Croatian Sahara earned the more sinister nickname of the 'Bloody Sands'.

Mato_Zemanfghjk.jpg© Mato Zeman

In 1963, part of the Đurđevački pijesci was declared a special geographical and botanical reserve. This protection now preserves the peculiarities of the vegetation here - only certain plants were able to adapt to living in this desert. Among them are several endemic species. Over 30 distinct species of butterfly can be found in and around the area of the sands. They can be seen when visiting Đurđevački pijesci, along with the spectacular dunes.

Đurđevac Sands Visitors Centre (Posjetiteljski centar Đurđevački pijesci)

Željko_Car_15.jpg© Željko Car

Within recent memory, the town's Picokijada Interpretation Centre found itself among the most popular museums in Croatia. Taking inspiration from its immersive experience, the Đurđevac Sands Visitors Centre is the next-generation version. At the time of writing, it is likely among the most modern, multimedia museum experiences in southeastern Europe.

On paper, a visitors centre dedicated to a geological irregularity doesn't sound that exciting. But, Đurđevac Sands Visitors Centre offers such an engaging experience, it's easy to see why kids don't want to leave.

Your journey begins not with a scientific explanation, but in the mysterious world of myths and folklore. In the roof space, a planetarium-like projection space introduces you to the local legends on which the region is founded. Thereafter, a series of rooms with different multimedia, augmented reality and interactive elements keep a firm grip of your attention. At the end of the tour, you've learned not only about the Đurđevac sands and the Drava river, but also the diverse fauna and flora that lives here.

Natural assets: Drava river

MarcDrava345.jpgThe Drava, near Durdevac © Marc Rowlands

Although it doesn't run through the town, the Drava river shapes almost everything about Đurđevac. Certainly, the river is part of the reason the town is here. It informs not only the river fish section of the local menu but also the wine list. The incredible white wines that are made all around the town are a product of the sandy soil deposited by the river.

The river also offers the nearest recreational escape for town residents. Sitting less than 10 kilometres away, there's plenty of room on the banks for local fishermen and guests. So too, children on horseback. Canoeing, rafting and boating are great ways to see the river and its wildlife up close. If you want to learn more about the sights and activities available on the Drava river near Đurđevac, then look here.

Picokijada and the Legend of the Rooster (Legenda o picokima)

Željko_Car_21_2.jpg© Željko Car

While the Old Town fort remained unconquered by the Ottomans, that's not to say the invaders didn't try to overcome the town and those inside its walls. In fact, on at least one occasion, it's said they came very close to succeeding.

MatoZeman_1.jpg© Mato Zeman

The Legend of the Rooster (Legenda o picokima) tells the tale of the most famous encounter between the Ottoman forces and the town. So the story goes, leader of the attacking forces Ulama-beg encountered such unexpected resistance that he was unable to take the town fortress. He decided on an alternate strategy. By laying siege to the Old Town of Đurđevac, he hoped to exhaust the resources of the people and eventually starve them into submission.

Željko_Car_33.jpg© Željko Car

It almost worked. As it is told, the long siege took a terrible toll on the town. Food inside the walls had all but disappeared. Saved by an elderly woman of the town, there was only one small rooster left - in the Đurđevac dialect, a 'picok'. It wasn't nearly enough to feed all those inside. So, as a last roll of the dice, the old woman suggested the rooster instead be put in a cannon and fired into the Ottoman camp.

_Mato_Zeman2.jpg© Mato Zeman

Exhausted themselves by the long siege, the Ottomans are said to have lost all heart upon seeing the bird shoot into their encampment. If there was still so much food that those inside could freely scatter and mock, surely there was no near end in sight? The ploy was successful. Ulama-beg gave up the siege and ordered a retreat from the battlefield, cursing the people of Đurđevac as 'picoki' as he left. It's a nickname they proudly keep to this day.

Picokijada2021-3807.jpg© Ivan Nemet

The Picokijada is an annual re-enactment of this legend and is one of the most important cultural events in Koprivnica-Križevci County. It has been held at the end of June since 1968 and now takes place over three full days.

Since 2006, the event has been protected as an intangible cultural heritage of Croatia. It has a cast of thousands and draws many more thousands of visitors. Alongside the theatre and legend, Picokijada features sports, games, activities, a procession and a popular cake competition.

Picokijada-Cakeexhibition-2021-02566.jpg© Ivan Nemet

This article was produced with the co-operation of Koprivnica-Križevci County Tourist Board. Both the author and Total Croatia News would like to sincerely thank Željko Car, Mato Zeman and Ivan Nemet for the kind permission to use their photography here.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Dinamo, Gorica, Istra 1961, Lokomotiva Secure Croatian Cup Quarterfinals

October 27, 2021 - Dinamo, Gorica, Istra 1961, and Lokomotiva are the latest Croatian clubs to advance to the Croatian Cup quarterfinals. 

Dinamo secured a spot in the Croatian Cup quarterfinals. After a lot of trouble, the Blues defeated the leading team of the 2nd HNL BSK 3:2 away in Bijelo Brdo.

The Zagreb club took a quick lead in the second minute of the match thanks to Amir Gojak. However, BSK's Mory Gbane equalized in the 33rd minute.

Two minutes later, Josip Čikvar scored for 2:1 BSK after a mistake by Dinamo goalkeeper Vladimir Zagorec.

However, Dinamo equalized in the 39th minute thanks to Komnen Andrić, and Mislav Oršić brought Dinamo the victory in the 71st minute. 

Gorica also advanced to the Croatian Cup quarterfinals after beating Mladost Ždralovi 2:0 in the round of 16.

Vlatko Stojanovski scored for Gorica in the 41st minute and Martin Šroler in the 60th for the final 2:0. 

Istria 1961 also reached the quarterfinals after beating Rudar 3:2 in the round of 16 in Labin.

It was the 'Istrian Derby' where the victory went to the Pula club, although Rudar offered excellent resistance.

Istra took the lead in the 6th minute with a goal by Drena Beljo, but the 3rd division team turned the score around with goals by Tina Licul (32') and Lorenzo Boucaux (52)'.

Beljo equalized with his second goal in the 70th minute, and Serder Serderov brought Istra the victory seven minutes later for the final 3:2.

Lokomotiva defeated Varaždin in the final Wednesday match for the Croatian Cup quarterfinals, winning 3:2 in Varaždin. 

Lokomotiva led from the 6th minute when Aliyu scored for 0:1. Varaždin equalized in the 22nd minute when Stolnik cheated Nevistić with his head.

In the 28th minute, Stolnik pulled Aliyu by the hand, and Pivarić scored for 1:2 Lokomotiva. 

Varaždin opened the second half a bit better and equalized thanks to Postonjski in the 49th minute. However, Kacavenda's goal in the 72nd minute allowed Lokomotiva to retake the lead and ultimately the win. 

Hajduk, Osijek, and Slaven Belupo advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Rijeka and Oriolik will play the final round of 16 match on November 13. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatia Water Polo Future: Coach Tucak Asks for Patience with New Generation

October 27, 2021 - With five key players retiring in the last few months, how does the Croatia water polo future look? Croatia coach Ivica Tucak and Federation director Perica Bukić weigh in on what to expect with the new generation. 

Uncertain days are ahead of the Croatia water polo team after losing five core players since the Tokyo Olympics, reports

A generation change is now inevitable, and Ivica Tucak wants a national team ready for big competitions next year. Recall, the European Championship is played in Split next September, after all. 

The last few weeks have been turbulent for Croatia water polo as five key players said goodbye to the Barracudas.

Already in Tokyo, Xavi Garcia and Paulo Obradović announced they would be retiring from the national team. Next, the legendary captain Andro Bušlje followed in their footsteps, then the deputy captain Maro Joković, and the center Luka Lončar.

Croatia coach Ivica Tucak and the Croatian Water Polo Federation thanked everyone for their contribution and decided to turn a new page. Next up are preparatory matches, in which coach Tucak invited 15 players from three Croatian clubs to the redesigned national team.

"We are entering a new cycle of patience, it will take time, but these are guys who have been going through preparations for several years, and the team will be a little easier, but we have a lot of work to do, that's for sure," said Tucak. 

The director of the Federation, Perica Bukić, is also aware that it will take some time and patience but doesn't believe there will be any problems.

"Of course, the generation change carries its own, and it will take us some time to sort it out, but I personally really believe in these guys, I believe in the coach and his staff, and I expect that Croatia will continue to be competitive and fight for the top and at European and world competitions," added Perica Bukić.

The real challenge will be European Championship, which will take place in Split next year. Tucak is aware of high expectations.

"We will certainly have one national team that will be able to play on an equal footing with everyone, but I cannot promise gold, Olympic, or European medals at this moment. We have a difficult period ahead of us, I repeat, but we must be optimistic, and I believe that we will continue to be at the top of world water polo," added Tucak. 

And while there is no fear for the water polo team at the moment, the problem is much deeper in club water polo.

"Unfortunately, there is a gap in the status of sports in our country, primarily team sports concerning our competitors, Hungary; Italy, Spain, and even Serbia and Montenegro in the segment of professional work, the status of coaches, the status of the best players, national team players, and that is something that I think is the most important problem in the long run," says Bukić.

While there are always young talented athletes in club sports, including water polo, competent institutions must find a way to create new great successes in Croatian sports, concludes

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

MPs Talk Online Classes, Euro Referendum, Serb Rights in Vukovar

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Social Democratic Party MP Sabina Glasovac said on Wednesday the measures against the spread of COVID-19 were inconsistent and illogical, calling out Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for deciding to close schools without explanation.

"We still don't know on what basis the measures are being adopted. Is it based on the number of new infections or those hospitalised? Or those who end up on ventilators? Or based on the number of deaths?" Glasovac said in parliament.

Euro referendum

Hrvoje Zekanović of the Croatian Sovereignists called on MPs to sign today a petition for a referendum on the introduction of the euro.

"It's time we say that we stand by the people, that we are not politicians but activists," he said, adding that the will of the people was more important than protecting the national currency and that "the people must decide on key matters."

Jeckov: Fight against Serbs is the basis of politics in Vukovar

Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party criticized a conclusion of the Vukovar City Council on the need to expand the rights of ethnic Serbs.

She said that every year the conclusion stated that the degree of tolerance between Croats and Serbs "has not progressed and that conditions have not been created for expanding the rights."

"This year, that justification sounds bad, which is that we must wait for the data of the population census to see exactly how many Serbs live in Vukovar," Jeckov added.

As long as the current city administration remains in power, the conditions to expand Serbs' rights will not be met because collective guilt is ascribed also to those born in 1997, 2007, and 2017, she said.

"The fight against Serbs and presenting Serbs as scapegoats are the basis of politics in Vukovar," Jeckov said, adding that Serbs only wanted what they were entitled to under the law and the constitution.

She said the city leaders continue to stigmatize Serbs. "They make the treatment of Serbs a measure of their own patriotism in order to be recognized as the only true patriots because they are always and strictly against anything Serb. Serbs are a threat to all in Vukovar, except during local elections when good and suitable Serbs are put on slates and then those same Serbs vote that there are no conditions to expand Serb rights in Vukovar."

Jeckov said it was not only about Cyrillic signs on public buildings but also proportionate representation and the rights to education and housing. "I am much more worried that the climate was better in 1997," she added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

MP Calls for Resignation of National COVID-19 Crisis Management Team

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - MP Renata Sabljar-Dračevac (Social Democrats) said on Wednesday there was no longer any trust in the national COVID-19 crisis management team and called for its resignation.

Due to the high COVID-19 mortality rate and extreme irresponsibility, we call for the resignation of the national COVID-19 crisis management team and the appointment of serious experts who would restore the trust of citizens with consistency and expertise, achieving thus a better vaccination rate, the MP said.

According to unofficial data, Croatia has 4,400 new cases today, there have been 30 deaths over the past 48 hours, and the number of active cases is nearly 18,000 yesterday, Sabljar-Dračevac said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

PM Says Minimum Wage to Increase by HRK 350 as of January

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced on Wednesday in the parliament that the minimum net wage would increase by HRK 350 or 10.3% as of January, from HRK 3,400 to HRK 3,750, that is to €500.

The government would pass the decision on Thursday, the prime minister said, submitting to the parliament the annual report on the work of the government.

He underscored that the government was raising the minimum wage for the first time to more than 50% of the average net salary and to over 60% of the median net salary, which would impact 51,000 workers.

Five years ago, he recalled, the minimum salary was 38% of the average salary.

The prime minister also said that the number of employed persons was higher by 51,000 than last year and that it had reached 1.6 million employed persons, which was to date the highest number in August after the record 2008 and the second-highest since independence.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

The unemployment rate, which stood at 13.3% five years ago, declined in August to 7.3%, he said, adding that this was the result of active employment policy measures, in which about HRK 5.5 billion had been invested over five years, encompassing 165,000 persons.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Zagrebačka Banka Makes HRK 1.07bn in Profit After Taxes

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - In the first nine months of 2021, Zagrebačka Banka generated HRK 1.07 billion in profit after taxes, up 22% on the year, according to an unconsolidated financial report released on Wednesday.

Operating revenue was HRK 2.8 billion, down 1.8% on the year, while operating costs were HRK 1.2 billion, up by HRK 9 million on the year. The cost-revenue ratio was 42.3%.

The bank's assets totaled HRK 131.3 billion, up 5.5% on the year, while net lending totalled HRK 68.6 billion, up by HRK 1.1 billion as a result of higher exposure to the government.

Client deposits were the primary source of financing and totalled HRK 106.9 billion, including a HRK 8.7 billion increase resulting mainly from household and corporate deposits.

Deposits by credit institutions were HRK 2.6 billion, down by HRK 3.1 billion.

According to a consolidated financial report for the first nine months of 2021, the Zagrebačka Banka Group generated HRK 1.28 billion in profit after taxes, up 16.2% on the year, the main contributors being Zagrebačka Banka, UniCredit Bank Mostar and UniCredit Leasing Croatia.

The group's operating revenue was HRK 3.6 billion, down 3.9% on the year, while operating costs were HRK 1.7 billion, down by HRK 4 million.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)


Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Faculty of Law Opposes Governments' Plan to Reform Social Welfare System (Večernji List)

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - The proposal to replace social welfare centers with a central institute prompted a reaction from university professors, who say yes to reform, but a professional one, not one imposed by the minister, Večernji List daily reported on Wednesday.

One of the key reforms announced by the Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Josip Aladrović, in the presentation of an action plan for the improvement of social welfare and the announcement of a social welfare bill was the replacement of social welfare centers with a central social welfare institute and with branch offices, the Faculty of Law in Zagreb said.

In a letter signed by the head of Social Work Study Centre, Associate Professor Gordana Berc, the head of the Department of Labour Law and Social Security Law, Professor Željko Potočnjak, and the head of the Department of Administrative Science, Professor Gordana Marčetić, the Faculty of Law stated its opposition to the government's plan.

We consider that the proposal, which is opposed by all professional associations, will not contribute to a more efficient structure and operation of the system, said the professors at the Faculty of Law, adding that the proposal was not put forward by representatives of workers in social welfare or by working groups that worked on the new bill, but that it was being imposed by the minister and the ministry.

They underscored that the system was already highly centralized and that the proposal deprived local and regional authorities of the possibility of impacting the social welfare system, even though they had obligations to finance certain rights.

Further centralization of the system, the Faculty pointed out, is not in accordance with the Constitution, which states that local government units perform tasks at the local level which directly meet the needs of citizens.

Under the new bill on social welfare, the Social Welfare Institute has no obligations towards local government units in terms of submitting reports, nor are local and regional authorities represented in the steering council of the new institute. The change in the structure is clearly modeled on the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, but social welfare pension insurance systems operate on different models, the Faculty said.

The justification for the reform is the inefficiency of the current system and its uneven performance. However, it is not clearly stated what kind of uneven performance occurred or what caused it, Večernji List reported.

For more, check out our politics section.

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