Friday, 16 December 2022

Save the Date: Croatia World Cup Welcome Reception in Zagreb on Sunday!

December 16, 2022 - After an incredible reception in 2018, another Croatia World Cup welcome reception will be organized in Zagreb on Sunday! 

The Croatian Football Federation, in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Zagreb, will organize a ceremonial welcome for the Croatia national team after the exceptional success achieved at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

On Saturday, December 17, Croatia will play against Morocco for 3rd place in the FIFA World Cup. No matter the result on Saturday, Croatia has achieved another incredible result that caused euphoria back in the homeland. Regardless of the outcome, Croatia fans expressed a clear desire to greet their football heroes once again.

The Vatreni will land at Franjo Tuđman Airport in Zagreb on Sunday, December 18 at 5:10 pm and then head towards Ban Josip Jelačić Square along the same route they traveled after winning the silver medal in 2018.

The final destination of the ceremonial reception will be Zagreb's main square, where a stage will be set up, and one of the best football teams in the world will be welcomed along with an appropriate program. The director of the program will be Joško Lokas, while the bands performing include Prljavo kazalište, Jura Stublić and Film, Daleka Obala, Dalmatino, Zaprešić Boys, Opća pašnáš and Slavonia band.

The official anthem of the Republic of Croatia will be sung by the Croatian Navy Band "Sveti Juraj".

HNS, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the City of Zagreb, will subsequently announce the security details of the organization.

The Croatian Football Federation, on behalf of the national football team, thanks the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the City of Zagreb, the Ministry of Interior, the contractors and everyone involved in the organization for their effort and commitment so that the event can take place as the players and fans of the Croatia national team deserve.

Source: HNS

Friday, 16 December 2022

Croatia Airlines: New Brac-Munich Connection for Tourist Season 2023

December 16, 2022 - Croatian tourism never sleeps. Though it's only December, and the new tourist season is expected to start in the late spring or early summer months, the preparations are already underway. Among the first such news came from the director of commercial affairs of Croatia Airlines, Slaven Žabo, who announced that during the next tourist season, they would connect Croatia with a total of 22 international destinations.

As 24Sata writes, Croatia Airlines announced on Tuesday that it has introduced a new seasonal route, Brac - Munich, in cooperation with the Brac Airport and other stakeholders in the Croatian tourism sector, and the airplane on that route will operate once a week.

Flights on the Brac - Munich route are planned for the period from the end of May to the first half of October 2023, on Saturdays, and the aircraft to operate on that route will be the Dash 8-Q400 Croatia Airlines, with a capacity of 76 seats.

Croatia Airlines says that this route has significant potential, given that this year most foreign tourists arrived on Brac from Germany, which was a rise of 5 percent compared to the pre-pandemic 2019.

The director of commercial affairs of Croatia Airlines, Slaven Žabo, said that during the next tourist season, they would connect Croatia with 22 international destinations, make more than 17 thousand flights and offer more than 1.8 million seats, while the planes will fly on a total of 47 international routes.

"In this context, I would like to remind that we are again planning charter flights from Graz and Linz to Brac, as well as regular domestic flights Zagreb - Brac twice a week, which together with the new line Brac - Munich undoubtedly,, represents a strong contribution of Croatia Airlines to the business of the Brac airport, and at the same time, helps strengthen tourism in the Split-Dalmatia County," Žabo pointed out.

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

Friday, 16 December 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Schengen and Qatar

December the 16th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics has been dominated by upcoming Eurozone and Schengen accession, support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU candidate status, support for Kosovo's EU candidate status application, inflation, Ukraine, and of course - football.

Ursula von der Leyen announces her arrival in Croatia on the 1st of January, 2023

An incredible day for Croatian politics is set to occur as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December, 2022 - Eurozone and Schengen accession on the very same day. An impressive feat for any country indeed. European Commission (EU) President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that she intends to be present in Croatia on the maiden day of 2023 as Croatia scraps both the kuna and land border crossings.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has referred to Ursula von der Leyen's arrival on that particular day as a special marker of Croatia's much deeper integration into the European Union (EU), of which it has been a member state since July 2013.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has finally been given European Union (EU) candidate status, and Croatia will support it every step of the way forward

Significant disparities between the Republic of Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina appeared when Croatia became the newest EU member state back in the summer of 2013. These two countries which share a complex history suddenly ended up on very different political playing fields after enjoying an extremely ''free'' relationship, especially in terms of soft border crossings and freedom of movement. Bosnia and Herzegovina now finally has EU candidate status after many years grappling with its deeply complicated internal political situation.

The heads of state or government of the current EU member states confirmed the recommendation agreed upon several days previously by the EU's ministers for European affairs that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted the official status of a candidate country for membership of the European Union.

Ahead of the meeting of ministers for European affairs which took place on Tuesday in Brussels, Croatian and Greek Prime Ministers Andrej Plenkovic and Kirijakos Mitotakis sent a letter to European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in which they emphasised their unwavering and strong support for the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the bloc.

The EU flag was placed in the very heart of Sarajevo, a city with an extremely traumatic and tumultuous past, and among the first to react to the decision of the European Council was the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt. Schmidt pointed out that EU candidate status offers a unique opportunity that should be taken advantage of.

He described this status as a key step in the further harmonisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with EU standards and regulations and another confirmation of the commitment of both parties to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was somewhat left behind following Croatia's accession, as a member of the European Union.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina must become a safe and prosperous multi-ethnic nation and prove that it is able to overcome its political and economic dysfunctionality and implement a reform agenda. This requires determined politicians and functional institutions, ready to work in the interest of the country," said Schmidt, announcing that everyone will continue to work to ensure the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement, which has been of vital importance to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina's post-war stability.

Plenkovic reacted on Twitter shortly after the decision. "We're proud and happy, the European Council has confirmed the candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which it strongly advocated! Our neighbour and friend deserves our support, which is also an incentive for further reforms and an agreement on changes to the electoral legislation. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart!" Plenkovic wrote on the social media platform. The tweet is a reminder of the enmeshment of Croatian politics and that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the two nations with (on many levels) a shared past have remained close.

Plenkovic subsequently made a statement to the media after the meeting of the leaders of the member states in Brussels, in which he said that "Croatia, as a friendly country, will help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European Union path.''

Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava says his party will vote against training Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, citing the Homeland War

Homeland Movement (Domovinski pokret) president and Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava has openly said that he isn't a fan of the idea of training Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia and will vote against such a move. The topic has been a burning one of late, with Plenkovic being absolutely for it, claiming those who are against it will have to carry that on their consciences for a long time to come, and President Zoran Milanovic initially being against it, once stating that Croatia doesn't need to taunt Russia or have another war dragged to its doorstep.

Tensions surrounding the idea have been high in the world of Croatian politics for several weeks now, and Penava is yet another politician to come out of the woodwork against the idea. Penava has openly stated that ''Croatia has been through a war'' and that his party is ''going to be voting against it.''

"Our parliamentarians came to this decision respecting their consciences, our electorate, our patriotic spirit and the programme declaration that we just adopted at the Homeland Movement's closing ceremony, and respecting above all the interests of the Croatian people, which have been neglected due to unreasonable moves, primarily made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who sought to privatise this topic.

There's also the President of the State, Zoran Milanovic, because of whom this topic was inflated and brought into frameworks that far exceed the importance for our people, especially in the context of people in Banovina still living and freezing in containers, in the context of the demographic devastation across the country, in the context of a huge increase in prices and a drop in the social standard and people's personal standards,'' said Penava.

Penava also said that "with a view to the Croatian people and the well-being of the Croatian state", the unanimous opinion of all the representatives of the Homeland Movement is that they will vote against the training of Ukrainian soldiers in this country, for the reason that "we have been through the war and know perhaps better than anyone what it means have a war" and "we don't want to bring any more war to our people and our country".

"And for us, there's a point and a limit below which we refuse to go. I'd like to thank all our parliamentarians for their quality critical reflection on this situation, for the maturity, experience and love they demonstrated, for not putting their ego in the foreground, but for voting in the interest of this country,'' Penava added.

PM Plenkovic gives a thumbs up to Kosovo seeking EU candidate status

Bosnia and Herzegovina now has EU candidate status, and it seems that Plenkovic's support far from stops there, with other countries in the wider region also lodging their own requests. Kosovo, which has also suffered a horrific time thanks to Serbian aggression, much like Croatia, has applied for candidate status. 

"We welcome Kosovo's request for membership in the European Union and wish them much success on their EU journey. We're going to continue to provide support and share Croatian experiences," Plenkovic said on Twitter.

Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti submitted an application for Kosovo's membership in the European Union in the Czech capital city of Prague on Thursday this past week, setting in motion a process that could take many years, if not entire decades, and which depends on the normalisation of relations with Serbia. Kurti submitted that request to the Czech Republic for a reason, as it is holding the presidency of the EU this semester.

"Any European country that respects the values referred to in Article 2 and undertakes to promote them may apply for membership of the European Union," says Article 49 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

In all previous cases, when deciding on the candidate status of a country, the discussion surrounded whether the applicant country fulfills the conditions for membership, that is, the candidate status for membership. Here, however, another matter must be resolved first - whether Kosovo is even a country in its own right. For the 22 EU members, the answer is unquestionable, they have long since recognised Kosovo and established diplomatic relations with it. But the decision requires the consensus of all 27 member states, and Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain do not recognise Kosovo's independence for their own internal reasons. Therefore, we should not expect a clear answer from the EU until the situation regarding the status of Kosovo becomes clearer.

Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic send a message of support and pride to the Croatian national team in Qatar following Argentina's 3-0 victory

The President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, and the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, both stopped butting heads for thirty seconds and sent their support to the Croatian football team on social media after the crushing semi-final defeat by Argentina (0-3) this week.

"Keep your heads up, Vatreni! Getting into the semi-finals of the World Cup is a magnificent success. We're with you in the fight for third place!" Plenkovic wrote on Twitter.

"Congratulations to the Croatian national football team! The Vatreni have entered the semi-finals and will play for third place - that's a big deal," Milanovic wrote on his Facebook. Milanovic is otherwise on an official trip to Chile and watched the match with the Croatian community in Punta Arenas, and he was in Qatar for the match between Croatia and Belgium.

Croatia's hopes were crushed following defeat in the semi-finals against Argentina, where we were beaten 3-0, and on Saturday the team will play for bronze against France or Morocco. Minister of Foreign Affairs Goran Grlic-Radman, who came at the invitation of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic were also in Qatar this past week.

Plenkovic claims that the government has reacted so well to ongoing inflationary pressures that "people don't even know what kind of crisis they're living in"

I think quite a few people may just beg to differ to that statement, but once again Plenkovic has showcased his enormous confidence in both himself and the capabilities of his HDZ government with this rather bold claim. 

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP/NPOO) offers "unbelievable investment opportunities", Plenkovic pointed out at a conference dedicated to the plan, where it was also said that Croatia was set to receive a second tranche of 700 million euros today (that is, the 16th of December, 2023).

The first annual conference on the Croatian Plan for Recovery and Resilience - Ready for Tomorrow was organised by the European Commission's representative office in Croatia in cooperation with the government.

The Vice-President of the European Commission for Demography and Democracy, Dubravka Suica, announced on that occasion that on December the 16th, the second tranche of 700 million euros will be paid out to Croatia under the NPOO, and assessed that the implementation of the plan in Croatia is going well so far. With the payment of the second tranche, Croatia will have received a total of more than 2.2 billion euros, i.e. 40 percent of the allocated grant funds, by the end of this year within the framework of the NPOO.

The government's National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026 was adopted back at the end of April last year, the European Commission approved it in July, and through it Croatia received an advance payment of 818 euros million last September, while the first installment in the amount of 700 million euros was paid out in June this year.

At the same time, through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, a key component of the European Commission's "Next Generation EU" instrument, and based on the accepted NPOO, Croatia has at its disposal 5.51 billion euros in non-refundable loans, as well as 3.6 billion euros in soft loans. Suica reported that the implementation of that mechanism is progressing according to the initial plan at the EU level as well, with a total of 136 billion euros having been paid out so far.

The "Next Generation EU" instrument is a reaction to the "unprecedented crisis", Plenkovic stated, noting that this is the European Union's reaction to the "unprecedented crisis" caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, there was an "extremely strong" political will among EU leaders to provide a proper answer to a real problem together.

In less than 20 days, Croatia will enter the Eurozone and the Schengen area, which is one of the "most tangible transformative moments" in the context of the tenth anniversary of Croatian membership of the European Union. "Nobody has yet managed to enter both the Eurozone and Schengen on the same day," said Plenkovic. It is indeed an enormous move for Croatian politics and in this country's turbulent history.

He also recalled the government's "appropriate, comprehensive and generous interventions in crises". "I think we even reacted so well that most people aren't even aware of the extent of the crisis they're living in," said Plenkovic, adding that people can rest assured of a peaceful autumn and winter, with electricity and gas prices being stable.

For more on Croatian politics on both the domestic and the EU stage, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Croatian Treci Maj Shipyard to Complete Vessel Started 15 Years Ago

December the 15th, 2022 - The Croatian Treci Maj shipyard is set to complete a vessel which started being worked on fifteen whole years ago in Russia for another client.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Treci Maj shipyard has contracted the completion of the construction of a massive chemical tanker with a capacity of 45,000 tonnes for the company Viterlef Management, and with this and other contracted jobs, capacities have been ensured for the next year, and new jobs are still being negotiated.

The above was conveyed by the assistant director for commercial affairs of Treci Maj, Sinisa Ostojic, saying that it is a vessel on which about 75 percent of the work has been completed, and which was started about fifteen years ago in Russia, but back then it was for another client.

The ship was of course not completed then, so the company Viterlef Management from the British Virgin Islands purchased it and intended to finish it in another Croatian shipyard, more specifically Brodotrogir, however, the ship wasn't completed in that shipyard either. Last year it was brought to the shipyard in Split (Brodosplit), and then to this shipyard in Rijeka.

The works on the vessel at the Croatian Treci Maj shipyard will include the installation of pipelines, the equipping of the tanks themselves, the finishing and equipping of the superstructure, and the final paint job, all within one single year.

Ostojic says that another vessel for the transport of bulk cargo, with a carrying capacity of 29,000 tonnes, is also being completed for a Canadian client at the Croatian Treci Maj shipyard. The construction of that huge vessel is now finally nearing the end, and they are also working on equipping a polar cruiser for the customer from Australia. Decisions are also being made about another similar ship.

The construction and partial fitting out of the first of three hulls for fifty-metre yachts for an Italian customer is now coming to an end, and for the third year in a row, the construction of cruiser hull parts continues, also being carried out for an Italian customer. When asked if this is enough for the survival and business of this shipyard, which is no stranger to economic woes, Ostojic replied that, based on the signed contracts, employment is guaranteed at the shipyard throughout 2023 and for the first half of 2024.

He added that, if the jobs that are being negotiated now, and some of which are in an advanced stage of negotiations, are successfully implemented, then employment within the Rijeka shipyard will be ensured for a longer period as well. As he said, discussions are also currently underway about the construction of new pontoons for Dok 11 at the Viktor Lenac Shipyard.

Negotiations are ongoing with a Cypriot company on the construction of two smaller ships for the delivery of liquefied natural gas, for the construction of two chemical tankers for a customer from Italy, and state guarantees will be required for both jobs should they be given the green light to go ahead, Ostojic concluded.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Schengen Croatia: New Border Crossing and Motorway to Connect Baranja to EU

 December 15, 2022 - Approximately two weeks are left until the moment when Croatia's entry into the Schengen area will become apparent "in the field". Schengen Croatia might significantly benefit the east of the country with the possibility of a new border crossing opening at Knezevo - Sarok in Baranja.

As Glas Slavonije writes, on the first day of next year, border controls towards EU member states will be abolished, and border ramps will go into history. This, however, does not mean that, if necessary, they cannot be closed again.

The stalls remain

The infrastructure at the border crossings, such as the stalls for checking documents, will remain in their current locations, but there will be no police or customs controls there. Kilometre-long queues of heavy trucks that used to form daily on both sides of the Dubosevica - Udvar border crossing will go down in history, at least for now. For the people of Baranja, for example, it will be much easier to go to Mohac and Pecs, which they will be able to reach quickly, just as they go to Osijek, without stopping.

Robert Jankovics, a member of parliament of the Hungarian national minority, who was also involved in the process of "abolishing borders", agrees. "The entry into the Schengen area is one of the great successes of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, achieved thanks to political stability, in which we from the Hungarian community in the Republic of Croatia also helped. The very fact of the entry of the Republic of Croatia into the Schengen area means a lot both for Hungarians in Croatia and for all Slavonians and the people of Baranja, who will no longer have to wait at the border. We will see additional benefits, I hope very soon, with the completion of the full profile of corridor 5C through Croatia, i.e. Baranja," says Jankovics, continuing that all this provides great opportunities for everyone who lives here - to live better.

On a smaller scale, he emphasises that people who migrate every day because they go to work in Hungary will benefit the most. There are few of them for now, which does not mean that there will not be more of them in the future. Speaking about his participation in the whole process, he says that he did what he could and what was within his authority. He also conveys parts of parliamentary political discussions about the future of border policemen and customs officers, emphasising that it was promised that no one will be out of a job and that their wages will not be reduced.

Furthermore, Croatia's entry into the Schengen area opens up several more possibilities. First of all, a greater number of "border crossings". More than 10 years ago, Glas Slavonije wrote about the need to build a road between Knezevo in Baranja and Sarok in Hungary. At that time, the Hungarians had already built a road from Sarok to the border with Croatia, but it turned out that the road - lead nowhere. In 2009, the leaders of the Popovaca municipality were invited to neighbouring Sarok for a discussion about the future road, and even the Hungarian Minister of Transport was at the meeting. The idea sounded great, especially since the two places were connected for centuries because they were in the same country, Austria-Hungary when they were connected by a macadam road that can still be seen today.

Connectivity and development

Although there are only three kilometres of road from Knezevo to the border, the project was halted from the Croatian side, with the explanation that everything would be started when Croatia enters Schengen, which was also confirmed by the higher levels, announcing at that time the construction of a total of 17 crossings, including Knezevo - Sarok, after Croatia becomes part of the Schengen area.

"Now is the time to revisit the issue and intensify it. I would like the whole story to end satisfactorily and for Baranja to get another border crossing. The two crossings on the future motorway and the one between Knezevo and Sarok would serve the population on both sides of the border, and Baranja would reach the level of Western Europe in terms of connectivity. Between Belgium and Germany, for example, there is a border crossing every 10 kilometres," explains Jankovics, emphasising that transport connectivity enables faster development, especially since the southernmost parts of Hungary and the northernmost or northeastern regions of Croatia are among the most underdeveloped areas of the two countries because they are a sort of dead end where "bus turning points" because they have nowhere to go. The new border crossing, along with the motorway, will mean the opening of Baranja to Europe.

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

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Euro in Croatia: Changes on ATMs Effective From Today

December 15, 2022 - Croatia, one of the countries with the most widely developed ATM network, is gradually adapting to a new currency due to the introduction of the euro on the first day of the next year. The arrival of the euro in Croatia is affecting the ways in which cash will be available in the transition period.

As N1 writes, ATMs of commercial banks are the most important channel for the supply of cash in kuna in the Republic of Croatia and will also be the key channel for the supply of citizens with euro banknotes.

They should be adapted so that from January 1, 2023, they pay out exclusively in euros, while banks are obliged to ensure adequate availability of the Croatian kuna covering all of the ATM network until December 31, 2022.

ATMs are being gradually temporarily shut down during December and early January to allow the banks to adjust their ATM network for euro withdrawals by January 15, 2023.

In order for this adjustment process not to negatively affect the availability of cash in kuna in the period until the end of December 2022 or the availability of euro notes after January 1, 2023, in the period from December 15, 2022, to January 15, 2023, a few changes will be introduced to the ATM network in Croatia. The banks will temporarily abolish fees for cash withdrawal transactions with debit cards at ATMs outside the ATM network of a particular bank (at ATMs of other banks) in the Republic of Croatia.

Thus, from December 15 to 31, the Croatian kuna can be withdrawn free of charge at any ATM in Croatia, while from January 1 to 15, euros will be available for withdrawal from ATMs free of charge as well.

Considering the density of the network of ATMs in Croatia, it should provide citizens with a high degree of availability of cash in Croatian kuna until December 31, 2022, and cash in euros after the first day of the new year 2023.

The Croatian Bank Association has published an interactive map of all available ATMs during this period.

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

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Zadar Turisthotel Plans to Invest 113 Million Euros Over Next 5 Years

December the 15th, 2022 - The Zadar Turisthotel is set to invest 113 million euros into its offer and facilities over the coming five years, aimed at not only improvement but sustainability.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the next half a decade, the Zadar Turistihotel plans to invest 113 million euros in the renovation and construction of new accommodation facilities and entertainment, which was approved by the company's Supervisory Board and presented by the Management Board on Tuesday at the first open day for Turisthotel shareholders.

Financial strength

"Since we started with the construction of a new entertainment and catering and establishment on the beach, which is worth more than 8.7 million euros, Zaton has been a large construction site. At the Zadar Turisthotel, we haven't had any significant investments since back 2018, and we recently adopted a strategic capital investment plan for the next five-year period with the aim of increasing the quality of our offer and content, higher revenues and ensuring the further growth and development of the company.

The Zadar Turisthotel has managed to enjoy significant financial stability, liquidity and creditworthiness, and we're confident that, as long as there are no major global disturbances and instability, we'll manage to realise our plans. In order to ensure success and future growth, we must invest in our offer, our employees and the destination as a whole, all while making sure we're engaging in sustainable and socially responsible development,'' explained Meri Matesic Sicic, the president of the Turisthotel Management Board, adding that the legislative and tax framework is stable and encouraging, as is the financial stability of the company, which remains the basis for planning and implementing new investments in tourism.

Annual figures

The new investment cycle of the Zadar Turisthotel will include the additional improvement and raising the quality of its existing facilities, new catering, hospitality and entertainment facilities, the complete remodeling of the main street within the resort, the reconstruction of the remaining apartments from 3 to 4 stars, the construction and introduction of new facilities, and the Aenona Park project, which includes a new camp, hotel and sport and entertainment facilities in the northern part of the settlement in Zaton.

In Zadar, there are also plans to build a city hotel located within the city centre on the site of the former Pobjeda (Victory) cinema, and to convert the Boutique Hostel Forum into a hotel. According to the plan, Turisthotel will annually invest approximately 22 million euros in those new projects.

As is already fairly well known, the Zadar-based shipping company Tankerska plovidba entered Turisthotel back at the beginning of November, becoming the largest single shareholder of the company by purchasing 24.53 percent of the shares. With the transaction, former longtime director Frane Skoblar dropped to second place with 11.8 percent, and the rest of the shares are held by around 600 small shareholders.

Mario Pavic, the president of Tankerska plovidba, explained that the company wants to diversify its operations as part of its long-term strategy of alignment with the global direction of decarbonisation, although the core business remains shipping. As the largest single shareholder, they plan to coordinate with the co-owners the way the company will be managed as we go forward.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Rijeka City Museum Nominated for Title of European Museum of the Year

December 15, 2022 - The Rijeka City Museum has been nominated for the flattering title of European Museum of the Year. The competition is fierce, and the winner will be announced at the conference of the European Museum Forum in Barcelona in May 2023.

As Poslovni / HRT write, the Rijeka Museum will compete for the title of the best with 32 other European museums. This is the first nomination at the European level.

"This would be the greatest recognition and success, but being nominated is a success in itself. Even the nomination for an Oscar counts, and we already had two awards from the Croatian Museum Society," said Ervin Dubrović, director of the Rijeka City Museum. Those were for the exhibition of restored works by Gustav Klimt and Merika - an exhibition dedicated to emigration. The permanent display in the magnificent Sugar Refinery Palace also received awards. It covers two floors and thirty rooms.

In the museum, you can learn about the first torpedo in the world, the history of the theater, or the legendary rock music scene in Rijeka, which is only the beginning of the story. The home of the permanent museum exhibition has been attracting many curious visitors for two years since its opening.

"In two years, 32 thousand people visited the Palace. From the beginning, it was our fellow citizens who wanted to see the new city attraction; tourists came to the fore later," says Velid Đekić, head of public relations at the Museum of the City of Rijeka.

This is not an empty, lifeless space; quite the opposite! It breathes and lives alongside its fellow citizens; many find inspiration in the space. "The sugar refinery is a representative object that we found fits very nicely with our models, which will fit well into the space so that they can show all their beauty," pointed out Renata Štefan Barišić, a professor at the Rijeka Trade and Textile School.

The European Museum Forum will decide the best museum on our continent, and the winner will be announced in May next year.

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

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Croatia and Morocco to Fight for 2022 World Cup Bronze Medal

December 14, 2022 - After Croatia lost to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, they will play the match for 3rd place on Saturday. After losing to France tonight, Croatia will fight Morocco for the 2022 World Cup bronze medal. 

It wasn't Croatia's night on Tuesday. A penalty that likely should have never been called disrupted Croatia's otherwise stunning football in the first 34 minutes of their semi-final match against Argentina. And that was all the Messi-led Argentina needed to come out and score another two goals to win 3-0, ending Croatia's World Cup final dreams. 

But not all hope is lost, and not only is Croatia still among the four best national teams in the world, but they have the chance to win their third World Cup medal since 1998. They fight for the bronze on Saturday at Khalifa Stadium in Qatar against Morocco. Recall, Croatia opened their 2022 World Cup campaign against Morocco, drawing 0-0 in their first match of Group F at Al Bayt Stadium on November 23. 

France and Morocco met at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday night. France's first goal came early - in the 5th minute. A lapse in the Morocco defense was followed by a failed save from Bono. Hernandez was alone on the left to score for 1-0 France. 

But Morocco wasn't far from a goal, either, and managed to attack most of the first half. Their best chance was a bicycle kick by Jawad El Yamiq, which got caught between the post and Lloris' hands. The entire stadium was painted red for Morocco, and their fans did not stop with synchronized chants and songs the entire first half. 

Morocco was playing far more physically than they did against Croatia, and France was not having an easy time, especially with their chances on goal. 

Morocco tried dominating much of the second half, too but failed to capitalize on their chances at goal. France had a few good chances but nothing good enough to increase their lead. But their golden opportunity finally came in the 79th minute. An Mbappe masterclass in the penalty area found Kolo Muani alone on the far post to make it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go.  

Croatia will have no easy task going up against Morocco for the World Cup bronze medal. Khalifa Stadium will be dominated by Morocco fans, and after the display the team put on tonight, it will be a much different game than their World Cup opener almost one month ago. 

Croatia and Morocco will meet at 6 pm local time on Saturday, December 17. 

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

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Croatia’s Border Disputes with Neighbours in Light of Schengen Entry

December 14, 2022 - As the day of the Croatian entry into Schengen area approaches, we take another look at the border disputes Croatia has with its neighbours.

(This is an updated article from the original back in 2016)

The total length of the land borders of Croatia is 2,370 km, and all of those borders will experience a change on January 1st, when Croatia joins Schengen: the borders to Slovenia (659 km) and Hungary (355 km) have been the outside borders of the Schengen area until now, and will become much less important now as Croatia joins the Agreement and all border controls within the Area are abolished. The borders to Croatia's other neighbors, the longest one to Bosnia and Herzegovina (1011 km) as well as to Serbia (326 km) and Montenegro (20 km) are set to become the outside borders of the Schengen area.

Among many problems which burden relations between republics of former Yugoslavia, one of the main issues are numerous border disputes which are a consequence of the fact that Yugoslavia, while having strictly defined borders with other countries, did not have precisely marked or defined borders among its constituent parts. That fact explains why Croatian relationship with Hungary is not burdened by yet another problem, unless you count the current Hungarian Prime Minister recently claiming most of the Croatian territory.

While the disputed areas between the former republics are usually relatively small, they represent a major headache for governments of now independent states, since they are under pressure from the media and voters not to compromise and “give away” an inch of supposedly their territory.

Border disputes with Slovenia and Croatia are certainly the most well-known of all. Not only do they burden the bilateral relations, but they even delayed the entry of Croatia in the European Union. The most important part of the dispute concerns the border at sea. At issue is whether the border should follow the middle line between Croatian and Slovenian coast (which would mean that Slovenian sea would border just Italy and Croatia), or should be drawn in a way which would allow Slovenia to reach international waters. The dispute has been unsolved since early 1990s, with occasional incidents at sea between police and fishermen’s boats. There were repeated attempts by the two governments to come to an agreement, but they would inevitably be impeded by pressure from the media and public against any compromise.

Border piran

Slovenia knew that the best time for an agreement to be reached was during Croatia’s accession negotiations with the European Union. Since Slovenia had entered the EU earlier, it was able to blackmail Croatia and that is exactly what it did in 2008 when it blocked the negotiations. The move caused a complete breakdown in relations, with Croatia accusing Slovenia of hostile behaviour. After Ivo Sanader, Croatian Prime Minister at the time resigned in July 2009, new Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor prioritised the unblocking of negotiations. Later that year, Kosor reached an agreement with Slovenian government that negotiations would continue and that the border dispute would be decided by arbitration proceedings. In return, Slovenia unblocked the negotiations and Croatia became a member of the European Union in 2013.

After that, there was an entire international scandal during the arbitration process, in which the media published evidence of collusion between a supposedly independent arbiter and Slovenian Foreign Ministry, which led to Croatia dropping out of the arbitration process completely. The arbitration concluded in 2017 with a win for Slovenia, and Croatia still not acknowledging that decision as binding.

And that's more or less where we stand today still. Once the decision of Croatia's entry into Schengen was announced, both Croatia and Slovenia issued their reaction to their border dispute, and it seems the disputes are here to stay. Both Croatia and Slovenia issued one-sided statements upon the confirmation of the decision, both standing firmly at their previous stances.

There are several disputed sections of the land border as well, with the one in Istria being very important since the endpoint of the land border will influence the sea border as well. River Dragonja in Istria used to be a border, but when an artificial channel was made about 500 metres in Croatian territory in order to control flooding decades ago, Slovenia decided that this was now Dragonja and that the border should be there.

Border istria

Another point of contention is Sveta Gera peak in Žumberak hills. Actually, even Slovenia more or less accepts that the peak itself and a military installation which is located there belong to Croatia, but that has not prevent its army from “occupying” the facility for the last 25 years. This was the first major border dispute between the two countries, but in recent years it has been somewhat overshadowed by the sea border issue. There are also several other sections of the land border that both countries claim for themselves.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Compared to Slovenia, the border disputes with Bosnia and Herzegovina seem insignificant, but listening to some politicians in the past, you could get the impression that it was the most important thing in the world.

The entire disputed area is around Neum, Pelješac Peninsula and, obviously, the Pelješac Bridge, whose exact location was one of the reasons so many unimportant problems kept being brought up. The first is the small Klek peninsula, rather, its very tip, which Croatia has claimed as theirs for a while, together with two small islands next to it, Veliki Školj and Mali Školj. Both islands are uninhabited and too small to serve any useful purpose, but Croatia insisted that it should have control over them. While Croatia has hundreds of similar islands in its part of the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very short coast around Neum, and these two islands would virtually be the only ones it would have, so they have great symbolic importance for it as a supposedly “maritime” country. Another disputed area is a part of the border near Hrvatska and Bosanska Kostajnica, where at issue is a small castle currently controlled by Croatia, with both countries claiming it as theirs.

Border Klek

In the late 1990s, then presidents of the two countries, Franjo Tuđman and Alija Izetbegović, signed an agreement on the border demarcation, which provided for the disputed area at Neum to be given to Bosnia. However, the Croatian Parliament never ratified the agreement, claiming that a mistake was made by experts who were working on maps which are part of the agreement. Interestingly, then Croatian President Tuđman was never accused by “patriots” of being a traitor for signing such an agreement, as opposed to Prime Minister Račan, who in early 2000s tried to solve border problems with Slovenia by almost coming to an agreement with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek and who is still being blamed for all the border problems with Slovenia (any many other things). Luckily, these days, with the project of Pelješac Bridge finished in spite of the opposition by (some) Bosnian politicians, nobody is really talking about the tip of Klek or the small islands any more. 

Montenegro is the smallest of all of Croatia’s neighbouring countries and its part of the border is the shortest one, so it is understandable that there is just one disputed area. It again concerns sea border, at the Prevlaka peninsula, which is with its Oštra Cape the southernmost tip of Croatia. In 2002, Croatia and Montenegro signed an agreement on temporary border regime. There have been no major incidents since, but it has still not been defined whether the temporary line will be turned into a permanent one. There were some disputes between the two countries when both of them announced tenders for oil and gas exploration in the area, with both countries claiming that the other one had no right to publish such tenders, but tensions soon calmed down.

border prevlaka

Every list of Croatia’s problems has to include Serbia, and this one is no exception. If you think that the fact that the border between them is in a large part defined by the Danube, one of major European rivers, would make it easy to know where the border is, you would be wrong. The Danube has an unfortunate habit of changing its course, which leaves an open question of whether the border moves with it or not. Croatia claims that the border should follow an old course of the river, while Serbia wants the border to follow the middle of the current course.

According to Croatian proposal, both countries would have significant parts of territory on the “wrong” side of the river. While a perhaps logical solution would be for the two countries to exchange these pieces of land, the problem is that Croatia has about 10,000 hectares of land on the Serbian side of the Danube, while Serbia has just 1,000 hectares on the Croatian side.

Border Dunav

Any compromise about borders is difficult, but when it comes to the border with Serbia, it is absolutely impossible that any Croatian politician would survive giving an inch of territory. Since the border area was occupied during the Homeland War and was only returned to Croatian jurisdiction after seven years, in 1998, the pressure from the public and the media would be impossible to resist. And, while “our people have bled for this land” argument is being used against compromise for all the disputed territories, in the Danube area that is literally true, making any compromise virtually unattainable.

The border on the Danube does not involve just the territory on the other side of the river, but also the issue of small pieces of land in the middle. And that leads us to Croatia’s final border “dispute”.

Liberland (?)
While border disputes usually involve two or more countries claiming that the same piece of land or sea belongs to them, due to peculiarities of the border dispute on the Danube, there are several areas which Croatia claims belong to Serbia, and Serbia claims belong to Croatia. One such area is Gornja Siga, a 7-square kilometre large uninhabited area on the Croatian side of the river. In 2015, Czech libertarian politician and activist Vit Jedlička proclaimed “the Free Republic of Liberland” there, saying that, since both countries claim that they do not want the territory, it was “terra nullius” and could be claimed for a new state.

Border liberland

Reactions from Croatia and Serbia were different. Serbia announced that, although it considered the whole affair to be a trivial matter, the “new state” did not impinge upon the Serbian border, which it believes should be on the Danube river. Croatia, which currently administers the land in question, has stated that, after the resolution of the border dispute, the territory will be awarded to either Croatia or Serbia and therefore cannot be considered as “terra nullius”.

People coming to the island, including “President” Jedlička, have been occasionally arrested by Croatian police, which appears confused whether people should be arrested when coming from Croatian or from Serbian side of the river. Croatian courts first ruled that it was forbidden to cross from Serbia to Liberland, but then realized that they were actually confirming that the area was not part of Serbia, which was precisely what Serbia wanted. In later verdicts, courts ruled that it was forbidden to enter Liberland from Croatia. In recent years, it seems that everyone's interest in the stunt has subsided, probably around the time when the Liberland government announced that they would be issuing their own cryptocurrency. In light of the newest developments, with Croatia getting rid of any border controls with Hungary, it would be interesting to see what would happen if "President" Jedlička or some of his supporters decided to take a river boat from anywhere within Schengen and come to the island following the Danube, thus not entering from Croatia nor from Serbia.

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