Friday, 21 April 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - EU, OECD, USKOK, HDZ and Other Abbreviations

April the 21st, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've seen HDZ still being chosen as the favourite on the political scene, Croatia's WWII past has been revisited once again, and two big names from the OECD and the EU have paid visits to Zagreb.

A new survey has revealed that HDZ is still the favourite among voters, for some reason

As Index reports, just how much the constant turbulence within the weird world of Croatian politics really affects the popularity of the main actors on the ''stage'' was checked in HRT's recently carried out HRating. This monthly survey included 1,100 respondents, with the largest possible error being +/- 3.54%, and the reliability standing at 95%. This data was collected from April the 14th to the 18th, 2023.

No event or situation has yet appeared within Croatian politics that would quicken the pulse of the Croatian voter and change their long standing political sympathies. Remarkable, I know. The survey proves that - the months go by, the surveys are taken, but everything remains the same. This "same" means that HDZ is still somehow the favourite of the Croatian voter. Followed by... you guessed it! SDP.

Along with HDZ and SDP, only three other parties managed to cross the electoral threshold

The strongest among them - Mozemo! (We Can!), is close to 10%. It is followed by Most (Bridge) with the support of 9% of the country's voters. Domovinski pokret (Homeland Movement) concludes this group of five safe parliamentary parties. This month it is at 6%. From the "powerless" crowd for whom the parliamentary mandate should be just a fiction, the party headed by the mayor of Split jumps out - and Centar (Centre) is currently at 3.4% and its rating is currently stable.

All the others, and there are still 13 of them in the survey, may as well not even really exist. They stand little to zero chances of making it into any sort of powerful political position in Croatia as a single constituency unless some big changes occur. These are: HSS and Radnicka fronta (Workers' front) which tie in terms of their voter support, followed by Fokus (Focus) and Hrvatski suverinisti (Croatian sovereignists).

At a recently held government session, Plenkovic spoke about Jasenovac and claims that the behaviour of some MPs isn't acceptable

At the most recently held session of the Croatian Government, the decision on granting prior consent and the decision on granting a state guarantee for long term credit to the company Hrvatske ceste/Croatian roads were on the agenda. That consent and credit would be given in order order to finance ongoing projects and the company's business plan this year. The opening speech at the session was delivered by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

"The Ston ring road is very well made, it's an extremely valuable strategic project for Croatia," he began, before also referring to the latest assessment by the Fitch agency, which confirmed Croatia's BBB+ rating. "They recognise the direction we're going in, as well as the reform efforts and resistance to the crisis we've shown. We can also see that our trend is going better than planned, and that inflation is decreasing," Plenkovic said, adding that OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann had paid a recent visit to the country.

"This is an organisation that has very, very high standards, both in combating corruption and in numerous sectors, so we'll further stimulate our reform process with activities related to the OECD. For us, it's the last step for Croatia's international positioning," Plenkovic added.

The Prime Minister condemned some opposition MPs and their apparently "unacceptable" behaviour

He referred to the recent chaos in parliament which unfolded during the debate on amendments to the law on offenses against public order and peace. To quickly remind you, it was especially stormy when the discussion started about the greeting "Za dom spremni'' (Ready for the homeland), which is generally deemed an "Ustasa" phrase with Nazi connotations and for which an individual could be fined up to 4000 euros for using. Of course, the history behind that phrase is deeper than just "It was used during the brief period of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and so it must be banned'' but we won't get into the ins and outs of that (or any connotations with the Homeland War) in this article.

"We consider the performances and statements of individual members of parliament yesterday to be inappropriate, and we believe that this is unacceptable, especially the aggressive approach that was directed towards the president of the parliament (Goran Jandrokovic)," said Plenkovic.

This Sunday, a joint commemoration will be held at the location where the Jasenovac concentration camp stood, where representatives of Jewish municipalities will also be present, who in previous years refused to come because they were dissatisfied with the government's attitude towards Croatia's position during WWII and the Ustasa regime in general.

"We're glad that this year, the Council of the Jewish Municipality of Zagreb and the Coordination of Jewish Municipalities in Croatia will also respond to the invitation of the Director of the Public Institution of the Jasenovac Memorial Area to participate in the commemoration,'' concluded Plenkovic.

Is the new Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime's new boss going to be the woman put ex PM Ivo Sanader behind bars?

Zeljka Mostecak, the deputy chief state attorney, has been mentioned as a potential new director of the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) after the departure of Vanja Marusic, reports

To be clear, we're talking about a female prosecutor who has many years of experience under her belt and who was the main prosecutor in some of the most famous cases related to corruption in independent Croatia. Mostecak was, it should be mentioned, the main prosecutor in the very well known Fimi Media affair, a multi-year proceeding that led to the final conviction of former PM Ivo Sanader (HDZ) and seeing him banged up.

It should also be noted that HDZ itself was actually convicted in that case, but as a legal entity. For that case, Mostecak received the prestigious state attorney's award. Mostecak was also a prosecutor in a series of cases arising from the Fima Media affair, including the HAC affair. Before Mostecak worked at DORH, she was the main prosecutor in the HAC-Remorker affair. Former HDZ Minister of Transport and Mayor of Zadar Bozidar Kalmeta was also accused of wrongdoing in that affair.

Kalmeta was acquitted of sharing over 15 million kuna and 850,000 euros from road maintenance and construction companies with his associates. Three of Kalmeta's co-accused were found guilty.

The former minister was also acquitted of part of the indictment according to which he damaged the Ministry of Transport for 600,000 kuna by ordering the promotional film "The Transport Renaissance of Croatia" from the marketing agency Fimi Media. The company was tried for filling HDZ's ''black fund'' with money from various state companies and institutions.

The Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union, Thierry Breton, visits Zagreb

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic received the Commissioner for the EU's Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in Zagreb this week. The pair discussed the state and ongoing development of the Croatian economy, the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine on the supply of energy sources across Europe, and the strengthening of the European defense industry as a whole.

Plenkovic explained to Breton that the Croatian economy is fully expected to grow more rapidly in 2023 than the initial expectations of the government, the European Commission and other international organisations initially predicted. They both also emphasised the need for continued military aid to Ukraine. The Prime Minister made sure to bring it up to the commissioner that Croatia offers the potential of energy support to its neighbouring countries by expanding the LNG terminal on Krk from 2.9 to 6.1 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

Plenkovic and Breton both expressed their ongoing sympathy and firm support for Ukraine as Russian attacks continue, both believing in the very pressing need for continued military aid being sent over to Ukraine. It was precisely in this context that they also discussed the production of ammunition for Ukraine, the overall security of the European Union and taking measures to increase the production capacity of the European defense industry, as touched on above.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Secretary General, Mathias Cormann, visits Zagreb as Croatia edges closer to membership

As Novi list writes, the OECD's Secretary General paid a visit to Zagreb recently, and he had nothing but praise for Plenkovic's government in its swift and fruitful responses to all sorts of issues we're currently facing in this economically unfavourable climate.

''For now, the Croatian Government is reacting very quickly and efficiently, and I have no reason to doubt that this will continue,'' said Mathias Cormann.

The HRT team spoke with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, and he talked about the areas will he focus on when it comes to implementing reforms and whether or not Croatia's accession process can be completed in two years.

''We cover the entire spectrum of economic, social, environmental, and public order. So, from competition, public management, the fight against corruption to environmental protection standards, agricultural policy, and trade. We review the entire spectrum of public order in order to assess Croatian practices, legislation and policies and assess how far they are already aligned with the OECD standards or to what extent further reforms are needed to improve either policies or practices,'' said Mathias Cormann.

When it comes to what sort of key reforms Croatia needs to implement to improve, Cormann said that this is an ongoing process, and that this isn't really a political procedure but a technical review. What we do know is that there are 25 OECD policy committees with experts from 38 member states that will review all Croatian legislative policies and practices in the economy and society and assess their alignment with the proper standards.

 ''At the end of that process, they will recommend what improvements should be made. I can get back to you at that point so we can talk about it,'' Cormann stated, adding: ''I will say that Croatia is obviously very committed. It's progressing as fast as it can to meet all the conditions it needs to,''

 The Croatian Government ambitiously mentions a deadline of two years for OECD membership, but can these goals be achieved in two years? Cormann says there's no time frame.

''I say we're making progress as fast as we can, but it will take whatever amount of time it takes. This is a thorough and very serious procedure. Ultimately, it depends on how quickly the government provides the requested information and how quickly the government and parliament introduces the necessary reforms to implement all of the recommendations. For now, the Croatian Government is reacting very quickly and efficiently, and I have no reason to doubt that this will continue. But it is very difficult to determine the time frame,'' he concluded.

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

Friday, 21 April 2023

Croatian Returnee Reflections: Danijela Andric Casson, from Dubai to Istria

April 21, 2023 - Whisper it quietly, but more and more people are relocating to Croatia from the diaspora. In a new TCN series, we meet them to find out how they are faring and what advice they have for others thinking of making the switch. Next up is Danijela Andric Casson, who moved from Dubai to Istria. 

1. You made the switch to Croatia. Tell us a little about the decision process and how long it took for you to get on the plane?

To be honest, there was no plan behind it, it just happened... My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Kelly had developed severe asthma, and she was suffering from the dusty, sandy climate in Dubai, where we have been living since 2013. My vet suggested changing the climate for Kelly for a few days or weeks so that her lungs could recover.

No sooner said than done... we left Dubai on 20 March 2020 with one of the last possible planes to spend a few days in our holiday home in Croatia that we bought in the Autumn of 2019. A few days turned into months as all of Europe was in lockdown due to Covid 19. We enjoyed the contrast in the environment and started loving the peace, the freshness, the nature, the scents, and the freedom in Istria. I’m living now 9 months a year in Istria and 3 in Dubai which is a nice escape from the European winter! My husband travels extensively for business and so is able to use Istria as a base for his European travel while maintaining his office in Dubai for that part of the world.


2. What did your family and community back home think of your decision at the time?

No one could believe that I prefer the simple country life to my privileged and jet-set life in Dubai, least of all my mother. You need to know that, until this move, I haven't lived a day in Croatia – Yes, I've been on annual holidays over the years and we had a family home there. I was born and raised in Germany, so it was hard for my family to imagine that I was the only one in the family who moved back to my roots.

My friends from Dubai came to visit me to see with their own eyes and experience why I give rubber boots priority over high heels. Everyone, without exception, had recognised the renewed spark and happiness in me since I have been in the powerful nature & environment of Istria.

Family and friends visit us often during the year visit me regularly and enjoy the weather, nature, sea and food & wine as they explore with us the wider area.


3. Where did you get your information about the realities of Croatia prior to coming?

We kind of discovered and learned as we went, relied on friends as well as great resources such as TCN and Expats Istria on Facebook. Being a native Croatian speaker of course helps tremendously.

4. What were you most nervous about making the switch? What was your biggest fear, and how was the reality of what you found?

As I slipped into it unintentionally, I honestly wasn't afraid or nervous of anything because, as I said, I only intended to stay for a few weeks. A few weeks turned into months because of the severe worldwide travel restrictions due to Covid. I'm slowly feeling my way back into everyday life - still with the thought that in a few months I'll be going back to Dubai... Now it's time to get a foothold here as well as possible and slowly come to terms with the peculiarities of the Peninsula. Research has to be done like “where is a good dry-cleaning, where are the good winegrowers, where can you eat local and good food“, questions of everyday life.

When the travel restrictions for Dubai eased in the autumn of 2020, we flew back to the UAE where I didn't stay long! I knew then that I had to go back to Istria, as Dubai no longer gave me that feeling of being at home nor comfortable. In Feb. 2021, I went back to Croatia and continued where I had left off.... I was able to continue my job online, so I didn't suffer any restrictions here.

Many things are different here compared to Dubai, I don't say better or worse, just different, but I can deal with it. Dubai, for example, is a very service-oriented country. There is nothing that is not delivered to your home whether it is things or services, could be massages, pedicures, hairdressers, chefs, blood tests, everything! Istria presents a simpler life but a rich and rewarding one on so many levels.


5. Think back to the time before you arrived. What were your perceptions about Croatia and how were they different from the reality you encountered?

As mentioned, I had all through my growing up years visited Croatia, keeping in touch with my roots and then thru an earlier role in travel got to travel and see most of the Country over several years and so have certainly been familiar and so, for me, the gap was not too dramatic.


6. You are still here, so obviously the pros outweigh the cons. Tell us about some of the things that you love about being in Croatia, as well as some of the things you don't like.

I probably hadn’t anticipated the kindness or help of so many people that helped us settle in, and it was a joy to rediscover the food and wonderful wines of the region. On the flip side the bureaucracy gets frustrating at times, lack of consistent supplies in the shops and, coming from Dubai I do miss truly the variety and tasted of international food, especially Asian.

We bought our house, extensively renovated & enlarged it as well as buying large plots of land and dealing with the world of lawyers, land agents, Government departments contractors, craft workers and all the trades has been crazy at times, I could write a book. The end justifies the means though, as we love the home and environment, we have created, our little piece of heaven!


7. What advice do you have for others thinking about making the move from the diaspora?

Well, firstly, it seems the days of cheap real estate and land has largely disappeared over the past few years, as Croatia caught up with many areas of Europe. And with the Euro now in play, prices are less cheap than they had historically been. Speaking the language is pretty essential to get things done, especially with Government and locals. Healthcare is quite good on a basic level, but for more serious issues you would have to be prepared to go to Germany, Switzerland or UK.

As a professional Holistic Practitioner I’m playing my part in creating dedicated wellness retreats in Istria. The first of these will be here in September and you can find full details in this link: 

Furthermore, I’m going to open my holistic practice here in Mofardini in July 1st , where we are offering Kinesiology-Session, Counselling, Nutrition & Supplement support according to your blood-group-type and parts of Traditional Chines Medicine. The treatments can be conducted in English, German and Croatian and cover a wide range of protocols. More details you will find on my homepage:


8. How do you think Croatia can better assist those who are looking to return to the Homeland?

I never really sought nor expected help as it’s a personal decision that I was happy to make, and so then made sure to inform myself as I went along. I´m sure Paul´s new book will be of practical help to many, both a great read and practical resource!


Thanks, Danijela, and good luck with the retreats! 

You can follow more stories in the Croatian Returnee Reflections series in our dedicated TCN section.

Would you like your returnee story - positive or negative - to be featured in this series? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee.


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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.


Friday, 21 April 2023

Galerija Bakar Retail Park Opens as Biggest Shopping Centre in the Area

April 21, 2023 - A new shopping centre, "Galerija Bakar", was opened on Wednesday in the Bakar Industrial Zone on Kukuljanovo, on an area of more than 30,000 square meters, in which about 35 million euros were invested, and 350 employees will find work there.

As stated in the announcement of Galerija Bakar, the new shopping centre is designed as a 'retail park', i.e. a series of shopping units located in the same complex, each with a separate external entrance, writes Poslovni.

The retail area of the centre exceeds 30,000 square meters, making it the largest shopping centre in Bakar and its surroundings. The press release states that three hundred fifty new jobs will be created, and additional funds will be added to the local budget for the development of infrastructure and a better quality of life for citizens.

"Currently, 20 halls are being built in the Bakar Industrial Zone, a tender is underway for the design of a large sports centre with three swimming pools and a hall, as well as business premises, and we are getting closer to realising the construction of a kindergarten. This year, more than 500 people will be employed in the Bakar Industrial Zone, of which more than 350 will be employed in Galerija Bakar," said Tomislav Klarić, the mayor of Bakar.

In the first phase of construction of the Galerija Bakar specialised shopping centre, 15 brands will open their doors, and customers will have 550 parking spaces at their disposal. The total investment for the first phase is about 35 million euros, stated Neven Marić in front of the investor AM PS Lambda Nekretnine d.o.o.

"On the southern part of the plot, in about a year, five more stores, a stand-alone McDonald's, and a warehouse will open their doors, and the investment for the second phase amounts to more than 10 million euros. All phases of project development, from financing, land purchase, design and space rental, construction and reconstruction, would not have been possible without our partners City of Bakar, Industrial Zone Bakar, competent services of the City of Bakar and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, as well as utility companies, BKS Bank, companies Brodokomerc Nova, companies Spiller Farmer, Arhinet d.o.o., Elterm d.o.o. and our tenants", pointed out Marić.

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

Friday, 21 April 2023

Ukrainian Refugees in Croatia: Most Find Work, Doctors Become Waiters

April 21, 2023 - There are currently around 20,000 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia, half of whom are children. Among the adult population, there are about five to six thousand who can be employed, which is good for Croatia, as it needs workers, both in sectors with low professional qualifications and in those with high ones.

This was presented yesterday at the conference on the project "Private Sector Initiative for the Integration of Refugees from Ukraine", writes Index. It is a project initiated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in cooperation with the Solidarna Foundation and the Svoja Association, and it is fully financed by donations.

Over 200 Ukrainians have already been employed through the Svoja association in Croatia, the vast majority of whom are women, and many of them work in the companies Studenac, Mlinar and Pan Pek, which also joined the project.

Simple positions

"The idea behind the initiative is to ensure the empowerment of Ukrainian refugees and women, provide them with jobs based on their existing skills, improve those skills and advance the economic development of Croatia," said EBRD Regional Director for Central Europe Victoria Zincuk.

Ukrainians currently occupy the more simple positions in the Croatian labour market because they do not speak the language. These are positions in the tourism sector, in sales or hospitality, explained Irina Pronenko, an employment expert from the Svoja association.

"The women who came to Croatia, about 86 percent of them, came with their children who attend schools and kindergartens. Croatian society has received them very well, both the women and their children. They have integrated into Croatian society and feel quite good about it compared to refugees in other countries, so Croatia is a good choice for Ukrainians," Pronenko explained.

Starting their own businesses

She also said that many have started their own businesses. These are primarily people who had their own companies and trades in Ukraine and wanted to continue doing so. Plavi Ured helped them a lot in this, having provided consultations for more than 60 Ukrainians, among whom, she notes, there are IT experts.

"We employed more than 200 Ukrainians, mostly women. Many want to learn the language, get a job and plan their life in Croatia. Some people lost their houses and property there. Women who lost everything see an opportunity in staying," Pronenko said.

Their biggest problem is the language, and the association Solidarna has organised more than 1,000 hours of Croatian language classes for them since the beginning of the war. Another big problem is dealing with Croatian institutions and their slowness.

The problem of nostrification of diplomas

"The nostrification of diplomas represents a big problem. The process is slow in Croatia, so at the moment, several dozen doctors are forced to work as waiters even though there is a shortage of doctors in Croatia. Currently, according to the accelerated procedure, the nostrification of diplomas takes about two years", warned the director of the Solidarna Foundation, Ivan Blažević.

He notes that, despite the private and civil sector initiatives, the institutions do not follow integration into the labour market. "Doctors are required to speak Croatian at the B1 or B2 level, which is not a problem because a course can easily be organised for them. In these extremely specialised professions, such as dentists or doctors, you have to pass some kind of exam, so then the problem is not only the employment service but also the chamber that conducts the exam, so it's really all a matter of how fast things can be done," he says and adds that there are much better practices in the EU, especially in Germany and Poland, which received the largest number of refugees.

In Mlinar, 15 percent of the workers are foreigners

24 refugees from Ukraine currently work in Studenac, and the company plans to hire more. Michal Halwa, a member of the Finance Board of the company, says that currently, it is easy for them to hire Ukrainians because the procedure is more straightforward than with other foreigners.

"We appreciate their motivation and positive energy. Language is a barrier, especially in stores where they are in contact with people, but it is not such a big problem because Slavic languages are close. At the moment, we can offer them contracts for permanent and seasonal work, but in most cases, we accept them as permanent workers, Halwa says.

"We also offer refugees permanent work and treat them like other employees. I can say that this has a good effect on team dynamics and prepares us all for the fact that our workplaces and environments will look different, that not everyone will speak Croatian, and that, in some cases, will give the worker a glossary of 200 words. It will be enough for them to know how to say 'burek', 'hello', and '2 and a half euros'. Customers respond well to that; it's not just the language that matters," said the executive director of human resources in Mlinar Petra Glasnović.

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

Friday, 21 April 2023

Croatian Meat of Good Quality, Minister Vuckovic Claims

April 21, 2023 - Minister of Agriculture Marija Vuckovic said on Thursday that the results of meat control on the Croatian market have been quite good. In 2021 only 1.5 percent of samples of Croatian meat were recorded as not having met the criteria.

"The findings of all these years are quite good as far as I've followed it. According to the results for the year 2021, the number of non-compliant samples was only three out of 202 that were taken. As for the level of nitrites, we had two non-compliant samples out of 140", said the Minister of Agriculture for RTL Danas, as reported by Index.

"Hormones are forbidden"

The minister added that business entities that put meat on the Croatian market behave responsibly. Otherwise, according to the Food Additives Act, they will pay fines, which usually range between 30 and 50 thousand Croatian kuna for legal entities, with the most severe offences amounting to around EUR 13 thousand.

"As far as hormones are concerned, they are prohibited. We control that through authorised laboratories and the State Inspectorate. The findings have also been good in that area, with the percentage of non-compliant samples being below one percent," the minister answered when asked if Croatian citizens were buying hormone-filled chicken meat.

"Additives are injected into fresh meat"

However, this does not mean that food with additives is not consumed in Croatia, but they must be injected in accordance with the regulations. Illegal additives must not be injected, and the composition must be clearly declared, noted Vučković. "Additives are injected into fresh meat, but only fresh meat that is not intended for fresh consumption, rather as a processed product," she said.

When it comes to the presence of meat of domestic origin on the market, Vučković answered that 70 percent of cow meat, about 60 percent of pig meat, and over 90 percent of poultry is of local origin.

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

Thursday, 20 April 2023

UEFA Documentary to Feature Hajduk Juniors Success in Youth Champions League

April 20, 2023 - The Hajduk Juniors will play in the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League final tournament on Friday, April 21, against the young AC Milan side. 

All matches are played at Servette FC stadium in Geneva. Sporting and AZ Alkmaar will play in the first semi-final match, while Hajduk will meet Milan in the second on Friday at 6 pm. 

The Hajduk U19s qualified for the 'Youth Champions League' semi-finals after defeating Borussia Dortmund on penalties at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. Milan advanced to the semis with a 2-0 victory against Atletico Madrid.

The young Hajduk side trained at Poljud until Wednesday when UEFA's production team arrived to film a short documentary about their journey to the semi-finals and the Split club itself.

"They will follow the young Hajduk players and their activities from the last training session at Poljud stadium until the departure and landing in Switzerland, where on Friday, they will have the support of over 3,500 fans who have bought tickets for the Hajduk sector," said earlier this week. 

Hajduk coach Marijan Budimir took 24 players to compete in the final tournament: Ivan Bosančić, Borna Buljan, Davyd Fesyuk, Niko Đolonga, Mateo Jurić-Petrašilo, Luka Vušković, Boško Jemo, Marko Capan, Mate Antunović, Jere Vrcić, Roko Brajković, Šimun Hrgović, Noa Skoko, Rokas Pukštas, Domagoj Begonja, Tomislav Arković, Duje Reić, Nino Duić, Krešimir Nazor, Niko Pavić, Marin Ćalušić, Mark Hrvojević, Frane Bobanović and Ante Kavelj.

Šimun Hrgović will try to continue a series of excellent games in this elite European competition.

"Our first goal is to get to the final. I have played all the previous Youth Champions League matches, and now we have reached the semi-finals, and we are proud of that. Of course, Milan is a respectable opponent, but we want to finish this," said the young Hajduk player.

Hajduk's assistant coach Zvonimir Milić pointed out that it is an exceptional honor to represent one's club, city, and country on the big stage.

"In two seasons of the Youth Champions League, we played 12 games and were never defeated in 90 minutes. All the players are available this time, which we are thrilled and grateful for, and the fact that many fans will be cheering us on in Geneva gives us special satisfaction," said Milić.

Hajduk is the first Croatian club to reach the semi-finals of the Youth Champions League and the first from Croatia to reach the semi-finals of any UEFA competition since Hajduk's seniors played in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in the 1983/1984 season. 

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

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Neretva Valley Archaeological Discovery Stalls Expensive Project

April the 20th, 2023 - An interesting Neretva Valley archaeological discovery has seen the pause button pressed on a long awaited project worth half a billion kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, for almost a decade in the very south of Dalmatia, more precisely in the Neretva Valley, residents been waiting for a systematic and long-term solution to the problem of salty sea water that penetrates upstream and slowly kills agricultural production, the main (and extremely important) economic activity of that region of the country.

A glimmer of hope appeared with the National Project of Irrigation and Agricultural Land Management, within which the Lower Neretva was selected as a pilot project.

EU funds

The value of the venture was estimated to stand at more than half a billion kuna, and its envisaged realisation spanned two phases, firstly the physical barriers to the penetration of salty water coming in from the sea, and then in the second phase, the construction of a distribution network system to arable agricultural areas. EU funds would drive the project forward.

However, during the preparations, a problem arose that suddenly stopped this undertaking, which is crucial for the preservation of production in the entire wider Neretva region. The site chosen for the construction of the barrier, more specifically between Komin and Opuzen, turned out to be a place hiding a very valuable archaeological site.

During the surveying of the terrain and the underwater part of the research which was carried out back in 2021 by Hrvatske vode (Croatian waters), under whose authority the project was prepared, it was determined that the remains of two wooden vessels were buried in the riverbed. In addition to them, ancient amphorae and fragments of Roman ceramics and processed wood were also found, and last year, they had five underwater archeological probes investigate within this narrow zone and fragments of processed wood were found that probably belong to the ship's construction, while part of the amphora was laid in a row, indicating that this is the old ship's cargo.

It was concluded that this Neretva Valley archaeological discovery was the remains of a shipwreck from the Roman period, all of which were found at the location intended for the construction of the bulkhead, where part of the cargo and possibly the ship's structure were probably preserved. Based on data from Croatian waters, it is estimated that the vessel dates from the period from the end of the 1st century BC.

The valuable artefacts were partially or completely buried in sand and mud and were documented by sounding, and now, before starting any activities on the project of installing a dam and building an irrigation system, Croatian waters is hiring experts who will carry out underwater research and conservation/restoration works.

Conservators from Imotski

A contract has just been concluded with the Institute for Maritime Heritage Ars Nautica from the island of Pasman near Zadar, which won the rights to the job in a public tender at a price of 600,000 euros and for which it has four months from the start of the work.

The Conservation Department in Imotski will decide where the exhibits from this Neretva Valley archaeological discovery will end up showcased. After that, activities with the project to save production in the Neretva Valley will continue as they were until now. The project of setting up a mobile barrier and creating a pool of desalted water that would be transported to agricultural areas through a pressure distribution network system would enable salt to be washed from the surface layer of the soil and ensure quality water for the cultivation of agricultural crops.

The next step for Croatian waters will be to prepare everything so that it can finally start investing, which will require 73.5 million euros in total.

For more, check out our news section.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Eight Chinese Companies Eyeing Croatian Business Opportunities

April the 20th, 2023 - Eight Chinese companies have their eyes peeled on the lookout for Croatian business opportunities as the country's economic recovery proves more rapid than anticipated.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, China is on the rise once again and is, as stated above, recovering more rapidly than expected, and at the same time it is again in a proactive campaign to break into all kinds of foreign markets. As such, a new delegation will arrive in the Republic of Croatia for the Chinese Business Forum next week.

New B2B talks between Chinese and Croatian businessmen will be held under the scope of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), and this time, representatives of companies from the Shaanxi province, from the north-east of China, the place from which the historic Silk Road ran, are coming in search of partners.

The delegation consists of eight Chinese companies that are interested in cooperation in the field of the metal industry, mechanical engineering, parts for shipbuilding, materials for the furniture industry, solar energy, transport and trade. According to the HGK announcement on the matter, the delegation will be led by Zhai Beiqin, Deputy Director General of the Shaanxi Commerce Bureau.

Certain companies have prepared a list of companies in the Croatian business world in advance with which they want to meet and establish cooperation, for example; the company Ambohr Electric wants to export its ozone and oxygen generators to Croatia, and among others, they are interested in the distribution business of a company that deals with leading a healthy life - El kolibri.

The last such meeting of businessmen took place half a year ago, when a delegation of about fifteen Chinese companies arrived in the City of Zagreb for talks with those in the Croatian business world. The interest of Chinese companies in Croatia has been increasing since back in 2013, more precisely since joining the EU, but the coronavirus pandemic significantly slowed down activities and direct meetings.

However, imports into Croatia from China also grew strongly last year, in contrast to the export of Croatian goods to that large market, while this year started with a large decrease in the value of trade in both directions.

Namely, 85.5 million euros worth of goods were exported last year, which is a result worse by 3.7 percent than back in 2021, while imports grew strongly, by as much as 34 percent, to the sum of 1.369 billion euros. In the first month of 2023, however, exports fell by 36 percent on the annual level, and imports by 23 percent.

For more, check out our news and business sections.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Zagreb Tourism Overnight Stay Figure Beats That of Pre-Pandemic 2019

April the 20th, 2023 - The Zagreb tourism picture is looking brighter and brighter, and the number of overnight stays has now surpassed the numbers recorded this time last year back in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Zagreb tourism sector can now officially say that the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has finally well and truly passed, at least in terms of the physical traffic of tourists here in the capital. Visitors to Zagreb have now officially realised one percent more overnight stays than they did back during the same period of 2019.

This, of course, also includes the busy Easter weekend, which fell later on that year, more precisely on April the 21st, but this encouraging result has been realised despite the fact that guests from distant markets, primarily from Asia, haven't yet returned in full, while the return of Americans is more rapid.

In view of the return of guests from across the pond in the USA, as well as the growing renewed interest of guests from South Korea and other Asian countries, the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb has started a new promotional campaign in cooperation with Turkish Airlines.

As such, by using the strong communication network of Turkish Airlines, as a strategic partner of the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, the recognition of the Croatian capital as an attractive tourist destination is significantly increased. Activities as part of the campaign are being carried out throughout April on all digital channels of this multiple award-winning airline with the aim of their mutual promotion in the aforementioned markets.

"We're satisfied with the results so far, which once again show that we've succeeded in positioning Zagreb as an attractive year-round destination. The American market is extremely important for Zagreb, and I'm pleased that, in cooperation with the Association of North American Tour Operators (USTOA), as well as with Virtuos, the leading network of the best American travel agencies specializing in luxury and leisure travel, we've also launched a campaign with Turkish Airlines. Within the Zagreb Tourist Board, we carry out a series of activities in accordance with our strategic plans, and with campaigns like this one, which is a great example of cooperation between a destination and an airline, we strive to improve the positive Zagreb tourism trends with a focus on the long-term and sustainable success of Zagreb as a tourist destination," stated Martina Bienenfeld, the tourist board director.

According to e-Visitor data, from the beginning of the year to mid-April, Zagreb tourism saw the highest number of arrivals and overnight stays in all of Croatia, i.e. 29 percent more arrivals than last year and 19 percent more overnight stays compared to the same period last year. Among foreign guests, the most overnight stays were realised by guests from Italy, followed by those from Germany, the USA, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. Compared to 2019, the blossoming Zagreb tourism picture stands at 92 percent in terms of arrivals and has experienced an increase of 1 percent in terms of overnight stays.

As has since been learned from the Zagreb Tourist Board, since the beginning of the year, American guests have been the fifth most numerous tourists to visit Zagreb in terms of arrivals and the third in terms of overnight stays. Since the beginning of the year, Asia has also broken through to 10th place in terms of arrivals (5,111 arrivals), and they are not among the top 10 in terms of overnight stays either.

Korean nationals realised 1,231 arrivals in the city in April alone and are in 9th place among all foreign guests in the results for this month so far, so their return is noticeable. Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 400,000 tourists from South Korea came to Croatia in 2019, realising more than 511,000 overnight stays.

For the City of Zagreb, guests from South Korea came second in the overall number of foreign guests. It's also worth noting that the capital is entering the 2023 season with the same number of beds in private accommodation than before the pandemic (and the earthquake), there are 9 percent more beds in hotels, and only the number of beds in hostels has fallen by 25 percent, from about 2,400 beds to about 1,800.

In 2023, 60 percent of the total overnight stays within the Zagreb tourism picture so far have been realised in hotels, 32 percent in apartments and only 7 percent in hostels.

For more, check out our news and travel sections.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

First Dalmatian Startup Acceleration Programme Coming This Autumn

April the 20th, 2023 - The very first Dalmatian startup acceleration programme is set to launch in autumn this year, and Digital Dalmatia (Digitalna Dalmacija) is planning to provide the Dalmatian startup scene with a much needed spring in its step.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, Digital Dalmatia is currently busy arranging the launch of the first Dalmatian startup acceleration programme in the City of Split. The plan is for the programme to be launched this autumn, more specifically in October, and negotiations are currently underway with several foreign partners.

The goal, as explained by Damir Brcic, the head of Digital Dalmatia, is to provide the young Dalmatian startup scene with further education, mentoring and ultimately capital. In order to provide them with all of this, they're in negotiations with various European acceleration programmes and a few VC funds.

Brcic has stated that over more recent days, they signed an agreement on cooperation with the well known Slovenian VC fund Silicon Gardens, they are also negotiating with Digitalhub from Bonn in Germany and Silicon Castles from Austria, and Startup Wise Guys were also their guests recently. It is a multiple award-winning European and African accelerator and VC fund that has invested in more than 350 startups in their early stages of development since 2012, when it was founded in Estonia by technology entrepreneurs.

Digital Dalmatia pointed out that this year, Startup Wise Guys has a massive 25 million euros available for investments in startups in their early stages of development, and that their acceleration fund is especially dedicated to areas where startups don't have sufficient access to capital, such as the region of Central Eastern Europe, which includes the Republic of Croatia.

Razvan Suta, Startup Wise Guys' business expansion manager in charge of Central Europe, arrived at the agreement regarding the launch of the first Dalmatian startup acceleration programme in Split with Digital Dalmatia, a project initiated by Split-Dalmatia County to encourage the development of the blossoming ICT sector.

"I'm delighted with the ideas, the teams and projects that I had the opportunity to see. I'm already thinking about the next steps to launch these young startups on the global market,'' said Razvan Suta.

Damir Brcic from Digital Dalmatia explained that they have been actively working on the creation of young startups for four years now through three different startup programmes - Student Entrepreneurship Projects, StartIT Academy and GrowIT competition. He pointed out that to date, they have educated more than 50 teams, of which almost 20 have opened a company or trade.

"Now is the time to launch them on the international market, and for that we need cooperation with experienced foreign investors and accelerators," he said. In cooperation with them, Split should soon receive its first acceleration programme, which should help Dalmatian startups, through education, mentoring and investments, to confidently step into foreign markets.

"The startup scene in Dalmatia is gradually becoming richer, and there's no shortage of quality teams and projects. What is currently missing is an accelerator, which would enable all these startups to learn, grow and further develop in Split, without the need to develop their businesses elsewhere outside the country,'' Brcic pointed out.

The Dalmatian startup acceleration programme could be a tailwind for the development of the startup scene and ecosystem across Dalmatia, which still lags behind Zagreb, and in which Include's Ivan Mrvos stands out.

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

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