Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Croatian Orbico Group to Open Largest Logistics Centre in Zdencina

January the 31st, 2023 - The Croatian Orbico Group, a well known company headed by entrepreneur Branko Roglic, is set to open its biggest logistics centre yet, in Zdencina near Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the largest European distributor of consumer goods, the Croatian Orbico Group is continuing strongly with its development policies this year. With new investments financed primarily from the company's own funds and carried out according to the proven best model of cooperation with developers, Orbico's largest logistics and distribution centre is starting to be realised.

"With the investment of the company Orbico Hrvatska (Croatia) in Zdencina, a place situated along the Zagreb-Karlovac route, the construction of the first phase of our new logistics centre covering approximately 40,000 square metres is now beginning. We plan to move into it at the beginning of 2024," announced Roglic after the contract with the contractor was signed.

In the continuation of the project at the same location, a second phase is expected through the expansion of the centre to include another 20,000 m2. With this, the Croatian Orbico Group is sticking with the characteristic transformation processes of its business, all led by digitisation and robotisation and investments in logistics.

The new logistics centre is in the function of business optimisation through cost reduction, and the location itself was chosen based on the same assumptions of economy, productivity and the profitability of business.

Record revenues in 2022

For more than half a year, they considered several locations for a new investment, including nearby Sveta Nedelja, the home of Rimac Automobili, as well as near the Hungarian-Croatian border. In the end, the calculations showed that Zdencina in Zagreb County is ideal for a number of reasons for the new momentum of Orbico's business in Croatia.

The company already owns a number of warehouses across the country, and since a few years ago a large logistics centre in Dugopolje, as their main one in Dalmatia. With the new centre in Zdencina and further on the link with the existing one in Dugopolje, Orbico is completing a concrete solution for the biggest distribution problem in Croatia, which manifests itself in highly pronounced seasonality.

"When it comes to the distribution of goods, the main issue in Croatia is how to solve seasonality in the ratio of 1:17. This means that you need 1 tow truck for distribution in the winter, and as many as 17 in the summer, and I think this is the most difficult problem for all distributors in general. Under these conditions, you should also have optimal human resource management," explained Roglic.

The investor in the new project is Orbico Hrvatska with around 1,250 employees out of a total of 7,500, and its activities in 2022 totalled a record 520 million euros in total revenue. The entire system boasts operations in 20 European countries, all of which also enjoyed business growth, generating an impressive 3.2 billion euros in total revenue last year.

In its expansion and development on the basis of the adopted business plan in the medium-term period, i.e. on the horizon of 2028, Orbico should generate revenues of 6 billion euros, which means that it will become twice as large as it is today. Within its current framework, growth is being achieved using the leverage of modern logistics, meaning that the Croatian Orbico Group is leading the way with investments in more than 200,000 m2 of storage space and a total of five LDCs. In addition to Croatia, there are also new logistics centres in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Around 40 million euros was pumped into this investment

For this investment, which is still in the stage of tendering for the selection of developers and contractors, it was stated that the amount involved was around 40 million euros. Roglic hasn't revealed how much the post-pandemic crisis with the additional factor of inflation affected the final amount of the investment for now, but he did make sure to clarify that the company will first work under lease in the new centre, and that after the lease expires, Orbico will take over the facility fully.

"Through the rent, we pay for the investment and realise more new projects in cooperation with developers who are building our new logistics capacities. This is the best way to develop a business, especially when it takes place in several countries. Orbico operates in 20 different European countries, and we're continuing to grow at a good pace, and I must highlight the fact that we don't take loans. After some time has passed with our lease of the new LDC in Zdencina, we will buy the logistics centre," concluded Roglic.

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Return from Germany: Croatian Returnee Starts Up Business in Slavonia

January the 31st, 2023 - While we seem to hear little else about Croatia's demographic crisis than people abandoning parts of Croatia, particularly the east, to head off elsewhere in Western Europe in search of work, the opposite is also true. One Croatian returnee has moved home from Germany, bringing an innovative business idea with him - to Slavonia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VL/Branimir Bradaric writes, for a great many years now, Slavonia was the place from which people emigrated to other parts of Croatia or abroad and never returned. However, there are already an increasing number of cases where people have returned to their rural towns or villages and started a business of their own.

An excellent example of precisely this is the Zivkovic family, who after seven years of living and working in Germany, decided to return home to Vinkovci and start a business there. Jasmina and Petar opened their business, into which they transferred their rich experience gained from working in Germany.

In Germany, Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic worked in precision welding at Siemens plants, and now he has started a business in Vinkovci manufacturing steel structures and industrial furniture. In starting the business, he also used 170,000 kuna in government grants, and he was given space at a preferential price in the Vinkovac Business Incubator.

"The conditions were certainly the main trigger for our return, although we'd been dreaming about it for some time. I also saw that there's a need for this kind of work and craftsmanship here. There's a lot of interest in industrial furniture, so there is no shortage of work. I took advantage of the government grants, bought the necessary equipment and combined all of that with my experience and knowledge. I'm very satisfied with my decision,'' stated Petar Zivkovic.

He is currently the only employee in his trade, but he says that given the volume of work and needs in the future, there will certainly be a need for expansion and the employment of new people. He has equipped his business premises with high quality products, so, among other things, he also owns a locksmith's 3D table, which is currently the only one of its kind in all of Croatia.

Meanwhile, his wife Jasmina opened her own business in Vinkovci, and at the end of February, the Vinkovci Business Incubator will celebrate three years of existence. With 12 offices and 5 production spaces now filled, more space is being sought, especially when it comes to production capacities. The director of the Vinkovci Technology Park, Josip Gilja, said that they started filling the incubators at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but also that regardless of the problems which followed as a result of that unprecedented public health crisis, they still managed to fill all of their units.

"Today it's completely full. So far, 24 companies have passed through our premises, and they currently employ 40 people. Over the last three years alone, about a dozen companies have "outgrown" the Incubator, they've increased the scope of their work and their number of employees and have gone their separate ways. And that's our goal," said Gilja.

Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic's workshop was also visited by the mayor of Vinkovci, Ivan Bosancic/

"These people have returned home and started businesses here and I hope that this will become a pattern that will encourage everyone who wants to return at some point, to do so, and to bring experience with them to create more business opportunities in Vinkovci,'' said Bosancic.

There is a great need for business spaces, and since the Incubator is full, the design and completion of the Zaluzje Zone will begin at some point during the year.

"The new zone spanning 130 hectares will be aimed at entrepreneurs, we want to have bigger companies operating here. We expect that other returnees will also bring their experiences with them home to Vinkovci, and hopefully also their salaries," said Bosancic.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

Baby Boom in Stari Jankovci Municipality in Slavonia - 365, Full of Life

January 30, 2023 - Two years ago - 19 babies, last year 39. The location of the baby boom - Stari Jankovci, not far from Vinkovci. A small municipality all the way in the east of Croatia. Full of life. How come young families are building their future there?

"I grew up here and will continue my life here with my two children. So I think we actually have all that we need, even though we are a small community," Tena Draženović from Stari Jankovci told RTL / SiB.

A director of a kindergarten from Zadar also decided to move to this intimate environment.

"We are happy with our decision and have no regrets, on the contrary. It is a lot more peaceful here since it is a smaller place, there is less hustle and bustle, and that suits us best," said Ivana Jurčević, director of the Krijesnica Jankovci Kindergarten.

The fact that young people have started arriving to live in Jankovci also helps the locals.

"It's good because young people get married, buy their houses or build them and stay in the village, and that's good for us," said Marijan Boroz.

There are no overnight results in demography, but there is progress. For them, the most important thing is not incentive allowances for children but an encouraging climate for a quality life for young families.
"In the past ten years, the many measures we have implemented have resulted in 39 babies," said Dragan Sudarević, head of the Stari Jankovci Municipality.

Incentives in agriculture and economy, investments in infrastructure, social life, and young families. 5,000 kuna for the first child, 6,000 for the second, 7,000 for the third, and 10,000 for the fourth child.

"We co-finance nurseries; we gift 1,000 kunas for all primary school children; we co-finance high school transport, give out scholarships. There are also many free schools in our municipality, such as a dance school, a football school, a music school, a painting school," he added.

In the municipality of Stari Jankovci, they even financially encourage the adoption of dogs. Their budget is around one million euros, but with careful management and successful acquisition of European funds, they say, all that is necessary for a quality life and future can be provided.

"I have five children with six grandchildren so far; the seventh is on the way. So now I hope my daughter will also return to Jankovci; if she does, even better, and she is likely to do so," Marijan added.

To both new and old residents of Stari Jankovci, congratulations and wishes that their dreams come true. As SiB quotes a popular children's song - children full of imagination, children decorate the world! And Slavonia is full of life indeed.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

Chakavian Officially Declared a Language in 2020, Croatia Pays No Attention

January the 30th, 2023 - Back in 2020, the Chakavian ''dialect'' was officially declared a language in its very own right. The Croatian media paid absolutely no attention to it whatsoever, despite Chakavian being one of the three ''dialects'' from which modern standard Croatian is derived.

As Rijeka Danas/Marin Tudor writes, back during the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, without much fanfare and completely unnoticed by local media, Chakavian became a language which was officially recognised by the main international academic organisation that deals with the classification of all languages spoken by mankind. Chakavian thus received its own special ISO language ID code: ckm

This significant (at least linguistically) historical event paves the way for Chakavian speakers to receive much greater local and national recognition, which has been totally lacking until now because Chakavian was considered to merely be yet another dialect.

American professor of linguistics from the prestigious University of California, Kirk Miller, known in the academic world as a successful field linguist responsible for the research and popularisation of the lesser-known languages spoken by mankind, thought about the need to perpetuate Chakavian as one of the languages of our world.

Seeing that nobody had remembered to classify and identify Chakavian as an official language, Miller himself decided to send a painstakingly thought out and written request on September the 2nd, 2019, for the recognition and documentation of the Chakavian language to an organisation called SIL International.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics International is the full name of an international non-profit organisation based in Dallas, Texas, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document all languages used throughout the world, with the aim of expanding linguistic knowledge, promoting literacy in all languages, and ensuring the language development of linguistic minorities.

Once a year, SIL International publishes the prestigious academic magazine Ethnologue. It is a reference publication available both in print and online that provides statistics and other information about the world's living languages. What is actually perhaps an even more important responsibility of SIL International is to issue ISO type 639-3 codes for comprehensive coverage on behalf of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO, based in Geneva - of which Croatia is a member).

It is interesting to note that Professor Miller based a part of his request on the previous request of the main association of speakers of the Kajkavian language, which already managed to win the recognition of Kajkavian as an independent language back in 2014. SIL International then recognised Kajkavian as an independent language, but only in the literary form that was used in the period from the 16th to the 19th century and in some works from the 20th century.

Miller's entire argument was already confirmed as valid by SIL International back in 2020. Owing to his efforts, the Chakavian language was given the highest possible linguistic recognition that exists: it was recognised as a living (independent) language of its own, and not merely a dialect.

Who actually invented the word ''narjecje'' - the term the Croatian language mixes up with ''dialect''?

Chakavian and Kajkavian have long been considered languages in the international world of linguistic science, and not a mere branch of the Croatian standard language, that is, the Shtokavian Croatian language as we know it. Of course, both languages are actually much older languages than the standardised version of Shtokavian (in the first few centuries, all Croatian dictionaries were actually written only in Chakavian), which continued to exist and develop even after the creation of that standard, so, they in fact cannot be dialects of that standard at all. Chakavian might even be considered an international language of sorts, because it is spoken in Croatia and in four other member states of the European Union (in Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia).

Despite this, former Yugoslavian (and later a significant number of Croatian linguists) placed both Chakavian and Kajkavian in the category of "dialects" (narjecje) for decades.

The very term "narjecja" has always been a disputed concept when it comes to linguistics outside the vague borders of the Balkans. It's enough to know that there is no direct translation for this word in any other language of the world, nor is there one for the concept that we encompass within that word. In international linguistics, only the terms "language", "dialect" and "sub-dialect" are known. That is why Croatian and ex Yugoslavian linguists were forced to invent a rough English translation for the word themselves - "supradialect" (i.e. super-dialect) - in the desire to explain to the whole world the local concept of something that has all the linguistic, social and historical characteristics of a language, but we for some reason or another have the need to consider less than a language.

As is often the case, this approach is the product of the fact that in Croatia, political circumstances heavily directed science, and it wasn't that science gave the main direction to politics: the Croatian people fought frantically for their place under the sun for almost a century and a half. Being recognised by the world as an independent national community required enormous effort, dogged determination and deep desire of more than six generations of Croats. That meant that entire generations of Chakavian and Kajkavian intellectuals and scientists preferred to neglect their mother tongue and native culture in favour of the greater good of the entire Croatian nation, of which they strongly felt a part throughout history. It was a logical and noble move at the time, but it has left its scars.

Language – the soul and heart of any culture

"If a culture were a house, then language would be the key to the front door, and to all the rooms in it,'' says Khaled Hosseini, an American writer and doctor born in Afghanistan, who was also New York Times' bestseller three times.

Language is indeed the very essence of culture, because its soul begins and ends with language. It shapes the way people think, dream, communicate with each other, build relationships and create a sense of community. It's the main guardian of a value system, because it directly transmits a set of symbols, meanings and norms.

It is that first form of communication with the universe, those first children's words that initiate verbal contact between people. Knowing one's linguistic roots so well automatically enables one to more easily identify with the community around them and to keep the welfare of that community close to their hearts in the deepest sense.

Language is a technology that enhances and expands the capacities of categorisation that we share with those around us and those who came before us, and therefore plays a key role in the transmission of human culture to those who will come after us.

All of this of course also applies to that part of Croatia where Chakavian is the autochthonous language. Croatian culture will disappear when and if the languages on which it is based are lost to the hands of time. This isn't such an incredible possibility: if we continue with today's trends, it is quite likely that in two generations, Chakavian will more or less have the status of an extinct language. When it disappears, native Croatian culture will also disappear with it.

Unfortunately, the statesmen and strategists of Croatia's national branding failed to use the independence of our country, nor the next three decades of freedom, to valorise the linguistic and cultural specificities of its native people. If the Republic of Croatia and its representatives believe that culture is at least somewhat important, then they will have to activate themselves and work much harder to promote the Chakavian (and Kajkavian) languages.

Chakavian's future

This international recognition for the Chakavian speaking world is not only significant, but a truly epochal event. At the global level, the Chakavian language will be studied more seriously and more study and learning of the Chakavian language will be promoted at Slavic departments of universities outside of Croatian borders. A small boom in academic and non-academic literature on the Chakavian language is also to be expected over the next few years.

But above all, this brand new status will really open the door wide for Chakavian speakers to request official recognition of their language where it most needs to be recognised, that is, in the countries where Chakavians have lived for almost 1,500 years and maybe for even longer. It would indeed be a very sad and perversely ironic historical turning point if, after surviving all kinds of enemy invasions, legal prohibitions and changes in language fashions for at least twelve long and arduous centuries, the Chakavian language dies out precisely in the era of the first truly independent and free state of the Croatian people.

The international recognition of the Chakavian language and Croatia's next steps will thus surely become an important cultural factor on the European path of this proud little country and Croatian civilisation itself, because in Europe, local and minority languages have been lovingly nurtured for decades, and unique languages have some very efficiently (and profitably) regional and national brands built on them, and through these, the true respect of the people towards their local communities is promoted.

All municipalities and counties in which Chakavian is the original autochthonous language are now given the opportunity to recognise Chakavian at the very highest level, as a parity language alongside the standard one, and it is now the turn of Croatia to launch some proper initiatives and political guidelines to first preserve the language, and then to help the Chakavians to standardise it all to some extent and effectively promote it at both the local and global level.

Of course, this requires a lot of work and the orchestrated multi-year work of all participants in the Chakavian speaking world, but the goal is a worthy one and one which is definitely achievable (especially with the help of all the instruments and means offered by the European Community for these purposes). If it is possible to revive languages that have completely died out in Cornwall and the Isle of Man under the constant pressure of the most heavily spoken language in the world (English), or to revive the unwritten Maori language in New Zealand, then reversing the negative trend of a language that is still fluently and daily used by hundreds of thousands of people in a modern European country can't be that hard at all. It only requires good will, diligence and, of course, love. Things that were never missing among Chakavian speakers.

For more on the Croatian language, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Hotel Ambasador, Split's New 5-Star Diamond: Meet GM Stipe Medic

January 30, 2023 - I have stayed in many hotels on the Croatian coast over the years, but none with a view quite like the new 5-star Hotel Ambasador in Split. Learn more about that and this fabulous new addition to Croatian tourism by meeting Hotel Ambasador General Manager, Stipe Medic.  

Split has a 5-star hotel in a 7-star location, with simply the best hotel view I think I have seen in my life. Introduce Hotel Ambasador for us.  

Split had been waiting for something like Hotel Ambasador for a long time, and it is certainly a hotel that a destination like Split deserves. You said it yourself – Ambasador's God-given location with a perfect view over the Split harbor and old town was the starting point for management to think about and develop the hotel's features and amenities. They had to be as extraordinary, strong, and beautiful as the location itself. In short, Ambasador is a 5* hotel that opened at the tail-end of summer 2022. The hotel has 101 rooms and suites, each with an open view to the harbor and/or Split’s old town, with a direct path to the promenade connecting Diocletian’s Palace and the famous Riva on one side, and the port, the most beautiful beaches, and Marjan forest on the other. 

stipe-medic.jpg

The design is very distinctive. Tell us more. 

Architects Nora Roje, Neno Kezić, and Emil Šverko are the authors of the project. The idea behind it was a contemporary reinterpretation of the original hotel building that was the center of Split's social life since 1937. Both the interior and exterior were designed to be in line with Split and the Mediterranean’s notoriously relaxed lifestyle, summed up by one word – 'pomalo'. We believe that we managed to deliver this with equal parts of luxury, subtly refined design, and above all, inviting and cozy architecture. The interior decor was conceived by studio Arhiv, with special attention to the highest-grade natural materials and their key accents. It tells the story of Ambasador’s tradition and exclusivity, which has been there from the beginning. Several objects represent a direct dedication to Croatian architectural heritage, but the hotel's most distinctive feature is its orientation towards the outside because Ambasador's greatest value lies, literally, in its surroundings.

stipe-medic_2.jpg

One thing that is immediately obvious is the connection between a luxury hotel and the city. Giant photos of life in Split in the 1960s make a real impression on arrival in reception. Tell us more about that concept. 

Split's heritage is a crucial part of the hotel's identity. We wanted to represent it in the common areas in the best way possible. We wanted our guests to emerge in the laid-back Split vibe from the moment they enter the reception. We thus contacted Feđa Klarić, a great photographer and Split photo chronicler. Our cooperation resulted in what you can see now - his works mostly, and the authors he chose. Famous pieces from his vast collection of Split motifs throughout history are a sort of permanent exhibition in our hotel. We take much pride in that! 

stipe-medic_3.jpg

The location is superb for several reasons, not only the views and the proximity of the marina, but also due to its distance from Diocletian's Palace and the riva - close enough to walk to but far enough to avoid the noise. How important is the location do you think? 

Ambasador's location on the coast, just footsteps away from the hustle and bustle but outside the epicenter of nightlife, is ideal not only because of the breathtaking views and scenery. Guests can exit the hotel and, within minutes, be in a beautiful pine forest, on the best beaches, or in the heart of the city. You can even feel the buzz of the nearby islands. I'd say it is our Croisette. 

stipe-medic_9.jpg

You are a local man. What impact will such a luxury hotel have on life and tourism in Split? 

Hopefully a big one! I think we all want more upscale locations and services in Split. The fact is, a prime destination like Split deserves and surely needs more high-class hotels. Ambasador is here to fill that need. The profile of guests visiting largely defines the offer of any tourist location, so by bringing in travelers looking for that premium experience, Ambasador will contribute to the diversity of what Split has to offer.

stipe-medic_7.jpg

You opened at the end of the season. How have things gone so far, and what lessons have been learned? 

We are more than satisfied with the first results. The most important thing is the feedback from our guests, and their response is great! We decided to soft open Ambasador to have enough time and resources to dedicate the whole team to the needs of our guests. And what have we learned? Those challenges, which are an essential part of beginning in any business, make us stronger and push us forward. It goes without saying that we should always strive for more and be better at our work.

stipe-medic_4.jpg

How are bookings for next season, your first full year, and what kind of season are you expecting? 

Bookings are going well, and the announcements for next year give us reason to be happy and optimistic. We expect our first full season to be exceptional. All the interest shown in Ambasador after opening is further proof that this is what Split was missing. 

stipe-medic_8.jpg

Tell us a little about what guests can expect from a stay at Ambasador.  

We are delivering the highest standard of luxury service but with a relaxed, casual feeling that makes Split famous. We encourage our guests to take their time and truly feel the life of this vibrant and welcoming city. And what can we offer? Rooms with unforgettable views, furnished and decorated in accordance with the highest standards, our fine dining restaurant Méditerranée, the lively Bar Split, outdoor pool, top-notch beauty and spa services at Hacelia Spa, which spans over 500 square meters, a rooftop bar with even more magnificent views over Split's archipelago, a multipurpose conference room, and a highly personalized approach to every guest's needs. In short – our guests can expect a superior Mediterranean experience.

stipe-medic_5.jpg

How accessible will the hotel and its services be for locals and non-residents. 

We want Ambasador to live with, and not next to, Split's residents. The entire philosophy is to be an integral part of the city. Our terraces, bars, and restaurants are part of the promenade, and our events are oriented not only toward guests visiting Split but also toward people who live here because they make Split what it is. We want to show that distinctive vibe to our guests because we want them to develop a sort of crush on Split, to feel they want to come back for more. And that is not a hard task! 

And finally, as a local man, your 3 favourite things about Split. 

I am from Brela, but I am also in love with Split. First and foremost, because of our football team, Hajduk Split, which has given me so much excitement (and so many headaches) in life. My second favorite thing about Split is sitting on Ambasador’s terrace and enjoying all the beauty that was given to this city. I also love Split’s mentality and humor, and at the same time, the fast-paced, slightly nervous, but really nurturing and laid-back ‘pomalo’ way of life. Split is easy to love, and I think everybody can agree on that.

To learn more about the magic of Split's new tourism star, check out the official Hotel Ambasador website.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Sali Municipality Offering Generous Incentives for Demographic Revival

January the 30th, 2023 - The Sali Municipality on Dugi otok has decided to pour very generous sums of cash into trying to ensure a demographic revival for the area, with each family who has a child being granted an enviable amount of cash from the local authorities.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a positive example of proper care for families and tackling the ongoing demographic crisis can be found in the Sali Municipality on Dugi otok, which holds the record in Croatia for the benefits it provides for each newborn child. Each family that has a child receives a massive 60,000 kuna - almost eight thousand euros in the new currency, in six equal annual installments.

Negative demographic growth is a problem for most of Croatia, and it especially affects the islands. Dugi otok has a little more than 1,500 inhabitants, of which about 650 live in the Sali Municipality. The fee paid out by the powers that be for each newborn child was introduced back in 2017, and now amounts to slightly less than 8 thousand euros, according to a report from HRT.

The time spent by the youngest little islanders in the new kindergarten in Sali is also co-financed by the municipality, and money is also allocated for Christmas gifts and school workbooks. In short, allocations for children make up a large part of the local budget, which means a lot to their parents.

''Children get a better treatment, they can get access to better services, better food for babies, better strollers can be bought. It's a big deal because everything is more expensive on the islands, so that money means a lot and goes a long way,'' said Sebastijan Raljevic, the father of a one-year-old girl in Sali.

Another fact that is often forgotten is precisely what Sebastijan mentioned - that everything is more expensive for islanders, from basic food and hygiene items to fuel and building materials. In addition, everything that is taken for granted in the city, such as arranging extracurricular activities for the kids, becomes a real undertaking. However, there are quite a few children in the Sali Municipality, and their numbers are steadily on the up.

''When we look purely statistically, since 2017, more than ten children have been born in the Sali Municipality every year. If we look at the number of students attending the local primary school, in the eight classes there are, only three classes have ten or more children. I think the greatest importance of this support is to make life easier for both children and their parents and for them to stay at home here on the island, which is the goal of this measure, said Zoran Morovic, the mayor of the Sali Municipality.

As such, parents of two or more children receive already very large amounts from the local authorities, with the help of which they can start a business, or equip and modernise an existing one, which will make life on the island easier for adults and ensure a carefree childhood for the youngest residents.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

Croatian Government Increases Pressure on Trade Sector Regarding VAT

January the 30th, 2023 - The Croatian Government is stepping up its game in putting the pressure on stores and good and service providers. Many have allegedly unjustifiably increased their prices following Eurozone accession, and now they're receiving rather unpleasant questionnaires about their price lists and VAT.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the state (with considerable delay, might I add) is now asking retailers and others providing goods and services to provide it with information on their item prices before and after the reduction of the VAT rate back in April last year. They say they need that information for their analytics.

On February the 6th this year, yhe addresses of as many as 30,000 retailers will receive a query in which they'll have to justify whether they increased, decreased or froze the prices of certain items on sale in their stores after the state lowered the general VAT rate for some products at the beginning of April 2022 (at 5 and 13 percent). This was announced by Finance Minister Marko Primorac at the Tax Conference held at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb recently.

"The goal is not to punish them, but this will be part of the analytical basis for the subsequent assessment of the effects of the regulations so that we can enact better tax regulations and rates in the future. We're going to monitor what the prices were before the reduction of the VAT rate, just before the reduction, the day after the reduction of the VAT rate and the day when the next price change occurred," explained Primorac.

The form that traders will receive through the ePorezna (eTax) system will have to be filled out and submitted by February the 22nd, 2023. This form, unlike the one requested from the largest retailers by Davor Filipovic, Minister of Economy, due to doubts about price increases after the introduction of the euro, will not be optional. Enterprises will have to fill it in and send it back, otherwise they will face misdemeanor fines.

With this, at least as Primorac has claimed, the Croatian Government wants to obtain analytical confirmation of what is already widely known among Croats, namely that the reduction of tax rates is usually not felt by customers, that is, products don't actually end up becoming cheaper despite the tax reduction.

However, the timing of sending such a questionnaire to traders is interesting, so one cannot avoid the impression that this is a kind of pressure being put on them because most of them didn't agree to be on the so-called "white lists" of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, which were supposed to enable the comparability of price movements.

As it seems, however, they don't currently have an instrument with which they could force traders to submit their price data before and after the introduction of the euro, so the Ministry of Finance decided to use the VAT change from April last year to put them in the hot seat. Then, the VAT rate was reduced on a number of food products, such as meat, eggs, fish, oil, butter... down to five percent, while natural gas, firewood, briquettes, wood chips, heating from thermal cells were reduced to a slightly higher thirteen percent.

The fact that this is the first time that the Croatian Government has used questionnaires to check whether prices have been lowered or not after lowering the VAT rate also supports the suspicion that it is a form of backhanded pressure on traders. It's also known that tax relief was implemented on several occasions, and there was never a systematic check of its effect.

In addition to this news, Primorac also announced that they're currently working on changes to improve the efficiency of tax debt collection. They, as he explained, often end up in the statute of limitations, so the changes will establish new finance departments at the Administrative Courts, which will be dedicated to tax debts. Amendments to the Court Registry Act, which are also underway, will prevent those with debts from opening new businesses.

On top of all of that, he announced, the creation of a platform for comparing taxes in EU member states is now being considered. The goal is to dispel misconceptions that the income tax in Croatia is too high. "Income tax in Croatia stands at 28 percent, while the EU average is currently 38 percent. The story about the excessive tax burden on labour just doesn't hold much water. We have to demystify that," said Primorac.

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

Monday, 30 January 2023

ACI Marina Rijeka: Largest Croatian Nautical Tourism Investment Ever

January the 30th, 2023 - The largest investment in the blossoming nautical tourism sector to ever have occurred in the Republic of Croatia - ACI Marina Rijeka, will likely see this sector of tourism excel in an unimaginable way.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the largest global nautical fair, Boot Dusseldorf (Germany), reopened its doors this year after a two-year break due to the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic, and ACI d.d., the largest chain of marinas in the entire Mediterranean, presented its impressive project for the construction of the future ACI Marina Rijeka, the 23rd port of nautical tourism in its huge system.

With 230 moorings with an average length of sixteen metres, the future ACI Marina Rijeka will primarily aim to transform Rijeka from a traditional transit port into an important tourist and nautical destination, aimed at guests with deeper pockets.

After two pandemic-dominated years, Boot Dusseldorf gathered all the leading global representatives of the nautical industry together, and on that occasion, ACI d.d. presented key current events in its business operations. At the same time, the project of building the future ACI Marina Rijeka in the nautical tourism port of Porto Baros was in the foreground. As the Croatian public already more or less knows, this is the largest investment in nautical tourism in the history of the country, worth around 50 million euros in total.

ACI will realise this investment together with the company GITONE Kvarner, which is owned by the Lurssen group, the world's most famous manufacturer of luxury vessels. The joint company ACI-GITONE received a thirty-year concession for the construction and establishment of this new Rijeka marina, which will certainly stand out among the ports of nautical tourism in the entire Mediterranean with its capacity, luxury and technological attributes.

The future ACI Marina Rijeka represents a key element in expanding the portfolio of the two companies involved, but also in changing the vision of the City of Rijeka and improving the quality of life of the local community. The project for the construction of the new ACI Marina Rijeka is extremely important for Croatia's national competitiveness, especially in the tourism and economy segments, which will certainly be reflected in the growing tourism indicators in the future.

As many as 1,500 exhibitors partook in this year's edition of the fair, spanning sixteen halls in total.

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

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Croatian Skier Zrinka Ljutić Records First World Cup Podium Finish, Career Result for Leona Popović!

January 29, 2023 - A historic day for Croatian skiers as Zrinka Ljutić finishes on the podium for the first time and Leona Popović finishes fifth in the slalom at the World Cup in Špindlerův Mlyn on Sunday! 

Nineteen-year-old Zrinka Ljutić, who had a starting number of 17, was third in the first run. In the end, she finished 49 hundredths of a second behind the winner German Lena Duerr, who had a time of 1:30.91. American Mikaela Shiffrin was second, six-hundredths of a second behind Duerr. Leona Popović was 84 hundredths of a second behind the winner (1:31.75).

This is historic for Croatian skiing for many reasons. For starters, this is Ljutić's first podium finish of her career. So far, her best result at the World Cup was fifth place in Courchevel last year. Popović also achieved the best result of her career after winning fifth place today. She finished sixth place twice last year - in Levi and Schladming.

Ljutić thus secured the first podium finish for Croatian women's skiing after 16 years. This is also the first time after 18 years that Croatia has two skiers among the top ten (Janica Kostelić and Nika Fleiss were second and sixth, respectively). Never before have two Croatian representatives been in the World Cup's top 5. 

With today's result, Shiffrin secured the small Crystal Globe in the slalom but failed to achieve her 86th victory and equal the record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark for the number of wins at the World Cup.

In the standings of female slalom skiers, Shiffrin has 785 points, Swiss Wendy Holdener is in second with 530, and Petra Vlhova is in third with the same number of points. Popović is seventh with 237 points, and Ljutić is tenth with 190 points.

In the overall standings, Shiffrin is first with 1697 points, Vlhova is second with 966 points, and Swiss Lara Gut Behrami is third with 906 points. Popović is 28th and has 237 points, and Ljutić is 33rd with 208 points.

HRT

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

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Croats Falling Prey to Internet Scams: An Overview

 January 28, 2023 - Online scams are more and more prevalent in Croatia, reports Vedran Salvia on Index.hr.

There are more and more online scams in Croatia. Hardly a day goes by without the police sending out reports about all the people who have been scammed.

Huge increase in 2022 vs. 2021

Ten years ago, most people scoffed at attempted scams. At that time, it was mostly about various Nigerian princes who needed your help to free their millions. Today, Nigerian princes with funny Croatian language, which were made possible by then still undeveloped translation programs, are no longer in fashion. Today, the impression is that people of all ages fall for scams, and they do so for substantial sums for which they have been saving for years.

As for the year 2022, the Ministry of the Interior answered Index that a total of 1,864 criminal acts in the field of cyber security crimes were recorded, which is an increase of 19.3 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

"The largest number of cyberattacks is represented by various forms of computer fraud, the number of which increased from 1,158 to 1,425 criminal offenses, which represents an increase of 23.05 percent compared to the same period last year. The resolution of cybercriminal offences is 62.3 percent," said the police response.

How much damage is involved? We do not have data for the entire year 2022, but for the first 11 months, as informed by the head of the Cybersecurity Service of the Police Directorate, Renato Grgurić, in December of last year when he presented the project Strengthening the capacity of the police to combat cybercrime.

It is about the damage resulting from the cases that have been reported. Logically, there are indications that some do not register because people are ashamed.

"Damage this year was over six million euros, and this is only about the reported cases, which means that this number could be much higher, and that is a good enough reason for conducting this campaign to make citizens aware and prevent them from becoming victims of criminal acts," he emphasized.

We also checked how many cases of computer fraud there were in 2012, ten years ago. At that time, 505 computer frauds were recorded, which is almost three times less than today.

These are the most common scams

What are the most common internet scams? Here is how the police categorize them:

1. Identity theft (an independent crime or a preparatory act):

· Vishing - Phishing: A telephone scam in which fraudsters call you and try to get you to reveal your personal, financial or security information or to pay them money.

· Phishing - Online identity theft with fake e-mail messages: Fraudsters send you fake e-mail messages that try to trick you into sharing personal, financial or security information.

· Smishing - Identity Theft by SMS: This is an attempt by fraudsters to obtain personal, financial or security information via a text message.

2. CEO fraud / director fraud - Fraudsters pretend to be your boss or superior in the organization and trick you into paying a sum of money into a fake account or making an unauthorized transfer of money from a business account.

3. BEC (Business Email Compromise) Scam or Account Fraud - Scammers pretend to be your customers/suppliers and trick you into paying future bills to another bank account.

4. Counterfeit bank websites - A fake bank email with a link to a fake website is used. Once you click on a link, various methods are used to collect your financial and personal information. The page looks like a real website with a few small differences.

5. Romance Scams - Scammers pretend to be interested in a romantic relationship. These usually take place on online dating sites, and scammers often use social media or email to make contact.

6. Investment Scams and Online Shopping Scams - Trick you into thinking you're on a smart investment trail… or give you a great fake online deal.

7. Theft of personal information - Your personal information is collected through social media channels.

Frequent thefts via Njuškalo or Facebook Marketplace

The police added that by frequency we can single out the reported computer frauds where the victims sold items of negligible value on various online advertising platforms.

"The perpetrator would contact the seller-damaged through messages on various social networks/mobile applications, that he was supposedly interested in buying the item, stating to the victim that he had directed a postal delivery person to pick up the item he was selling, that he had already paid for the item and the cost of delivery to the online advertiser or to the delivery person or that he intends to pay the costs to the seller's bank account.

The victim is sent a phishing link that redirects them to a fake website, for example, which in terms of graphic design resembles the Croatian Post website, where a pop-up window opens for the victim to authorize payment by bank card. Thinking that he is paying the delivery man, the victim actually sends his confidential bank details to the perpetrator and thus ends up without money.

When we talk about internet platforms for which computer fraud is reported, these are Njuškalo, Facebook Marketplace and other online platforms for advertising," MUP states.

Due to the "new version of mobile banking", the company was left without several thousand euros

We wrote on Thursday that the company near Bjelovar was left without several thousand euros due to a computer fraud after the fraudsters induced its responsible person by e-mail to update the supposedly new version of mobile banking, but in fact it was about the so-called malicious message.

The Bjelovar-Bilogor police announced that a message was received on the e-mail of a company from Nova Rača with the name of the bank where it has an account and an alleged request to update the new version of mobile banking.

For that, you had to sign up at the link that was in that message, and when you clicked on the link, you were asked for your mobile banking login user number, PIN, and a one-time password that you received via SMS from the bank's number. During the day, a new e-mail message from that bank arrived, asking users not to open the earlier message because it is a malicious e-mail, that is, a phishing campaign aimed at the bank's clients.

Since the aforementioned employee opened the malicious message earlier, she called customer service and found out that several thousand euros were missing from the company's business account.

She paid a total of 17 thousand euros on 13 occasions

Just a day before, we wrote that the Dubrovnik Police Station received another report of the criminal offense of computer fraud.

"The fraud was reported by a 51-year-old woman who stated in her report that, after searching for information on how to trade cryptocurrencies, she received a phone call from a male person who communicated with her in English about the procedure for investing in cryptocurrencies," the police write.

Following his instructions, the injured party created her user account on the website of the company he recommended, after which she installed an application that enables remote control of a remote computer or mobile device.

"She then paid a total of 17,000 euros on 13 occasions, and when she saw a profit of 100,000 euros on her account, she requested the payment of said money. Since she has not received any response until today, she realized that she had been deceived and reported the whole case to the police," described the police.

The police announced at the time that in the case of cryptocurrency investment scams, the perpetrators usually contact the victims by phone from the +44 area code (area codes from Great Britain), and then direct them to fake investment websites.

In addition to fake sites, which really seem legitimate, the first step is to ask people to install applications that allow control over your computer, and then, if it is a scam, after installing various fake platforms that show a false statement about the earned income, potential victims are encouraged on further investments, which leads the victims to increasingly large sums for which they will eventually be defrauded.

There are a lot of investment sites and they are constantly shutting down and creating new ones. It is best to do some research before making any investments, suggests the police. "Sites that are used for fraudulent investment will usually offer posts in the Internet search engine itself, in which people express their negative experiences through comments and report these sites as fraudulent," the police write.

She wanted to trade in oil shares, she was left without half a million kuna

We also remember the case from December when a 63-year-old woman from Krk was left without half a million kuna, who, in the hope of making a profit in trading oil shares, paid money online to fraudsters who falsely presented themselves as brokers.

In the Primorje-Gorski Kotar police, they stated that the injured woman had complained to them that since September, unknown persons had repeatedly called her on her mobile phone and, posing as brokers, had convinced her of the profit by trading oil shares through their "trader" on the website .

Under the delusion that she would make a profit, she paid them about half a million kuna to various accounts on several occasions until December. But soon she came across warnings on the Internet and information that it was a group of organized fraudsters and that they would not return her money. She realized that she was deceived and reported everything to the police.

An "American woman" promised him marriage and then robbed him

It's not always about brokers or cryptocurrencies. In February, we wrote that a case of romantic fraud was reported to the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Department, when at the end of January the year before last, a 57-year-old man was contacted via social media by a woman who introduced herself as an American citizen who is currently in Syria with her father, who is there engaged in the military.

The communication soon intensified and became romantic, the police write further, after which the woman announced her arrival in the Republic of Croatia in order to legalize their relationship. She soon announced that her father was killed in the war and left a sum of 200,000 dollars, which she wants to bring to the Republic of Croatia and put in the account of the 57-year-old, to which he agreed.

Then they described how the fraud and robbery took place.

"After that, the woman switches the communication to an alleged agent who will bring the money to the Republic of Croatia, and who asks the 57-year-old on two occasions to pay money for customs duties in order to successfully bring the money into the Republic of Croatia, to which the 57-year-old agreed and pays on two occasions a total of 4650 euros.

When he was asked to pay the money a third time for the same purpose, the injured man realized that he had been deceived, after which he reported the whole case to the police," they add.

Cyber security expert Morić: It is easier for fraudsters to find victims today

Index talked about this topic with Zlatan Morić, head of the cyber security department at Algebra University. It tells us that there are more scams today than there were in the past.

"Primarily due to the growth in popularity of the Internet and the increased amount of information being transmitted over the network. One of the reasons is that fraudsters are now able to use more sophisticated technologies and tools to produce fake websites and e-mail messages that look legitimate.

In addition, today it is easier for fraudsters to find potential victims through social networks and other online platforms. Today, people are more inclined to turn to the Internet for shopping and banking, which provides more opportunities for attacks," he adds.

"Fraudsters are now able to use more sophisticated technologies and tools to make an attack difficult to detect. Most commonly, various phishing techniques (content that looks legitimate and distributed via email or web pages) are used to gain personal information and/or access user accounts.

More sophisticated scams also include the use of technology such as malware (malicious programs - viruses), ransomware (malicious programs that demand a ransom) and Trojan horses (programs hidden inside another legitimate program) to break into users' computers and data.

Scammers also use advanced machine learning and data analytics techniques to automate the process of finding potential victims and personalize their scams. For example, today online translation services are much better than before and it is increasingly difficult to detect that it is a machine translation," he says.

"People believe what they see on the Internet"

He also touched on the question of why people fall for scams so easily.

"One of the main reasons is the desire for easy money. They can easily be deceived when they are offered the opportunity to make quick and easy money. It is also affected by carelessness or ignorance. People often do not pay attention to the details or do not understand how Internet fraud works , which makes them more susceptible to fraud.

Attackers try to take advantage of people's vulnerability (social engineering) because most people have difficulty responding rationally to different emotions (fear, guilt, empathy...) and make decisions without thinking. In addition, we also have the problem that people believe what they see on the Internet and do not check the information before using it in making decisions," he adds.

He says that it is difficult to determine precisely the ratio of frauds that concern financial gain and those that concern the destruction of computer systems, because different types of frauds intertwine and can have multiple goals.

"In general, in the last 10 years or so, behind most attacks is some form of financial gain. Fraudsters use a combination of different methods to get as much benefit as possible from each fraud. For example, fraudsters who use malware (primarily used for attacks on computer systems) often they also use the data they collect on the computer for financial fraud," he says.

"Cybercrime can be considered easier to carry out than the usual one"

Is cybercrime easier to commit than ordinary crime?

"Cybercrime can in some respects be considered easier (or safer for the attacker) to commit than conventional crime. One reason is the anonymity provided by the Internet. Fraudsters can remain undetected and operate from any location in the world, allowing them to avoid criminal prosecution.

Another reason is the wide availability of tools and technology to carry out cyber attacks. There are many free tools and scripts that can be downloaded online, allowing even inexperienced fraudsters to carry out cybercrime.

Attacks can also be automated, making it possible to attack a large number of potential victims regardless of where they are in the world. "When an attack is carried out on a large number of people, even with a small percentage of people being deceived, the attackers can make a lot of money," he explained.

There is also deepfake technology, it uses fake videos and has not reached us yet

Are there any frauds that, for example, have not yet come to us, but are frequent abroad?

"Throughout history, we are constantly playing 'cat and mouse' in the world of cyber security. Attackers discover new methods to exploit vulnerabilities, and then solutions are developed to prevent these attacks. As most attacks are based on social engineering (attacking people), there technical measures cannot give us complete protection.

I think we all lack a positive dose of mistrust. The Internet is global and most attacks occur in all countries. Sometimes, some more advanced methods are first discovered in more developed countries for potentially greater financial benefit.

The reason is that when a type of attack is detected, the manufacturers of antivirus solutions make an upgrade that prevents it. Attacks that are already happening in developed countries, and as far as I know, have not been reported here, are attacks based on deepfake technology (deepfake is a technique of using machine learning to create fake videos or audio recordings that look like they were recorded by another person).

As part of the Internet users are aware of the danger, and when they receive an email asking them for something unusual, they will try to do a check.

That's why attackers started using machine learning to simulate the voice of a person known to the victim (colleague, superior, etc.) and make the same request via phone/video call. With such attacks, our level of mistrust decreases and we are more ready to fall into the attacker's trap," he says.

These are tips

He points out that the development of technology leads to a greater number of attacks.

"The reasons are various, the increase in the number of Internet users also increases the number of potential victims, the increase in the number of different services increases the number of vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit," he states.

We asked him what he would advise people about their behavior on the Internet.

"In general, try to behave online as you would in real life. If someone approached you on the street and asked for your credit card number/PIN, you probably wouldn't be willing to give out such information without being sure who is asking and why. Likewise you should also act when they ask you for the same information via e-mail," he adds.

He explained the basic safety tips for staying safe online:

Be careful when someone asks for your personal information.
Don't trust fake emails or messages asking you to enter your information.
Do not click on unknown links in e-mails or messages.
Do not disclose your PIN or password to anyone.
Don't answer numbers that have a strange area code or that ask you to enter financial information.
If you find yourself in a situation where you doubt the sincerity of the person you are communicating with, try to verify their identity or contact a professional for help.
Download and install a computer security program that will protect you from malware and other harmful programs.
Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
Be aware that scammers often use emotional tricks to get you to take quick action.
Police: Cybercrime is unlikely to decrease
Also, the police add that cybercrime is very dynamic and it is difficult to predict in what forms it will appear in the long term.

"However, cybercrime is unlikely to decrease, and new threats that emerged during the covid-19 pandemic will continue even after the current crisis is over.

The measures to prevent the spread of disease introduced during the pandemic significantly expanded the types of attacks and attack vectors (directions), as both citizens and companies used digital and Internet solutions more than before.

Lifestyle changes that emerged during the pandemic, such as working online, widespread online shopping, are unlikely to disappear after the pandemic is over. Cybercriminals will continue to look for opportunities to exploit these habits by adapting existing or devising new attacks," they added

In all police departments there are specialized police officers for cybercrime

"We believe that the risk of cyberattacks, including the misuse of personal data on the Internet, is still high, and in this context, the Croatian police continuously undertakes preventive activities to raise awareness of the public through thematic press conferences, announcements and the creation of audiovisual materials available on our website, Twitter and YouTube channel of the Ministry of Interior, and a web domain specialized in helping victims of cyberattacks with cryptolocker ransomware.

Below is the website of The No More Ransom Project and the announcement of the held press conference - Presented results of the NUBES operation and the redesigned NoMoreRanso website.

All police departments have specialized police officers for cybercrime, and any fraud or attempted fraud should be reported to the nearest police station. When applying, all available 'evidence' should be attached, i.e. correspondence that occurred during the commission of the fraud," said the Ministry of the Interior.

Page 4 of 3744

Search