Monday, 29 August 2022

Young Man Who Drew Swastika on Monument to Holocaust Victims Charged

ZAGREB, 29 August, 202 - The Varaždin police have filed a criminal complaint against a 24-year-old man who painted a swastika and the insignia of the German SS on the monument to the victims of the Holocaust in Varaždin, the police reported on Monday.

The police have completed a criminal investigation of the 24-year-old from Varaždin suspected of having painted the swastika and the symbol of the SS with silver spray on the monument to the victims of the Holocaust in Varaždin between 17 and 18 August, the police said in a press release.

After the investigation was completed, a report was filed against the suspect for the criminal offence of damaging property, the Varaždin police added.

Monday, 29 August 2022

Croatia Reports 59 COVID Cases, 15 Deaths

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - In the last 24 hours, 59 coronavirus cases, out of 572 tests, and 15 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID crisis management team said on Monday.

There are 4,967 active cases, including 569 hospitalised patients, 23 of whom are on ventilators, while 3,176 persons are isolating.

Croatia has registered 1,211,979 coronavirus cases to date, the death toll stands at 16,673, and 70.87% of adults have been vaccinated.

Monday, 29 August 2022

Gas Trading Scam Suspects Remanded in One Month's Custody

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - One month's detention has been set for five persons arrested for wrongdoing with natural gas whom the USKOK anti-corruption office suspects of conspiracy, abuse of trust in doing businesses, aiding and abetting in that crime, and money laundering, the Zagreb County Court said on Sunday.

In an operation that USKOK and the police launched on Saturday, investigators suspect Damir Škugor, an executive in the INA energy company, Josip Šurjak, president of the Croatian Bar Association, Šurjak's business partner Goran Husić, with whom Šurjak co-owns the OMS Upravljanje company, Škugor's father Dane, and Marija Ratkić, Management Board president at the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distribution company.

It is suspected that INA has been defrauded of over HRK 1 billion, that the illegal gains of Škugor and his father amount to nearly HRK 500 million, that Husić made a profit of over HRK 90 million and Šurjak of HRK 68.9 million.

There is over HRK 200 million in illegal profit still in the account of Šurjak's OMS Ulaganje company.

Investigators believe that from June 2020 to 27 August this year, Škugor, head of INA's Gas and Power division and deputy chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije Supervisory Board, conspired with the other suspects to sell INA's gas at below-market prices.

As the mastermind of the scam, Škugor instructed the second accused to obtain, on behalf of the accused company, a permit from the HERA regulatory agency for the provision of gas trading services, which the second accused did, USKOK said.

Investigators suspect the accused and the accused company obtained at least HRK 848 million in illegal gains.

They said the suspects bought gas from INA for €19.5 and sold it for €28. During questioning, Škugor said he was not guilty and that the gas was sold in line with INA's business policy.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Monday, 29 August 2022

Economy Minister to Request Extraordinary Audit of INA's Gas Business

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - Economy Minister Davor Filipović said on Monday he would request an extraordinary audit of the INA energy company's gas business in 2020, 2021, and part of this year.

He was speaking to the press ahead of a meeting he convened with INA's management at which, he said, he would ask for detailed explanations of the latest events.

In an operation launched on Saturday by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the police, five persons were arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing with INA's natural gas, which was sold below the market price. Allegedly, the company has been defrauded by over HRK 1 billion (over €133 million).

One of the suspects, INA executive Damir Škugor, told investigators he was not guilty and that the gas was sold in line with the company's business policy.

The audit will also examine the role of INA's internal audit, audit committee, external audit, and its management and supervisory boards, Filipović said.

He said it was "very important" for the audit to examine all contracts, gas procurement and sale prices, and the conditions under which business partners signed those contracts with INA.

The minister said he expected independent auditors to also give recommendations for internal control at INA.

He congratulated the Finance Ministry, the police, the State Attorney's Office, and everyone involved in uncovering this affair.

As for questions raised by some about his responsibility as a former member of INA's supervisory board, Filipović said he spent a little over four months in that position.

"The contentious contract with the OMS company was signed two months before I was appointed to INA's supervisory board, and all this happened from mid-2020 onwards," he said, adding that it is known who the presidents and members of the supervisory and management boards at that time were.

Filipović said he did not support adopting the minutes of a supervisory board meeting at which this year's business plans were adopted because he did not take part in those decisions.

Asked if he had talked with management board president Sandor Fasimon, he said he had talked with the Croatian members of the supervisory and management boards.

He said he asked the management board's Croatian members to convene an urgent meeting of the board, expected to be held on Wednesday, at which they would ask for additional explanations, analyses and documents to find out how something like this could happen.

Journalists noted that according to some reports, the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distribution company had warned the government about things not adding up and extra profits. Asked if he had any information about these events prior to Saturday's operation, the minister said he did not.

Filipović reiterated that the contentious contract was signed before his arrival in INA and said this concerned the fourth level of decision-making in the company.

"INA's management board has to give many answers as to what happened with internal control and the internal audit," he said, adding that the affair was uncovered and assets were blocked thanks to the Tax Administration's independent money laundering division.

"We see that the system is working, from the police to the Finance Ministry," Filipović said, adding that he has not spoken with his predecessor Tomislav Ćorić.

"I don't want to be his attorney, but minister Ćorić couldn't have known what the fourth management level in INA was doing," he said.

Monday, 29 August 2022

Baranja Paprika Harvest Begins, Customers Must Expect Higher Prices

August the 29th, 2022 - The Baranja paprika harvest has begun! For many, this is an absolute favourite and a ''must buy'' Croatian product, but buyers must expect higher prices.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Baranja paprika harvest has started somewhat earlier than usual, and due to the bad weather conditions that accompanied its cultivation, there will be less of it, but fortunately, what has managed to grow is of very good quality.

Due to the increase in production costs, the price of Baranja paprikas will rise significantly, with the price per kilogram now expected to reach up to 180 kuna. A small village which deals with the production of paprika, Lug, has seen many of its residents live on the Baranja paprika harvest for centuries now, according to a report from HRT.

"It's very difficult to find good paprika, you need to put in lot of effort and you do almost everything by hand," said Zuzana Jozef, a local resident who has been dealing with this for many years.

''The drought reduced the amount of crops we got, but thankfully we still do have crops. It won't be anywhere near the amount we managed to get year, but the quality is still very good. Baranja paprikas this year are of very good quality, they're fleshy and they're full of seeds, so I hope our customers will be satisfied anyway,'' said Borivoje Stojanovic.

The only thing is that its price will have to increase, but true fans of Baranja paprikas will certainly continue to buy it regardless.

"Everything went wrong, including with the raw materials, and we probably irrigated it twice as much as usual for it to succeed," added Jozef.

Those who love and use Baranja paprikas for various reasons in their food know just how important watering is for these crops, and the fact that there has been a drought could have spelled disaster very easily. Regardless of whether it is sweet or hot pepper that customerd want, there can be no top specialties, especially at this time of the year, without them.

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

Monday, 29 August 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 7: Rijeka Drops to Last Place, Osijek Takes 3 Points against Hajduk

August 29, 2022 - The 7th round of the SuperSport HNL was held from August 26 to 28, 2022. The most exciting match of this round was the Osijek-Hajduk derby at City Garden Stadium, in which Osijek took 3 points. A look at the SuperSport HNL round 7. 

Gorica v. Istra 1961 (0:2)

Gorica and Istra opened the 7th round in Velika Gorica on Friday, August 26, 2022. 

After a scoreless first half, Erceg's goal was disallowed in the 70th minute after consulting VAR. Erceg found the back of the net just 11 minutes later to put Istra in the lead with 0:1. Erceg scored again in the 4th minute of stoppage time for the final 0:2 for Istra. 

 

Gorica is currently in 9th place with 5 points and one game in hand, while Istra is in 6th place with 8 points. 

Lokomotiva v. Slaven Belupo (0:1)

Lokomotiva and Slaven Belupo met in Zagreb on Saturday, August 27, 2022. 

The first half was full of yellow cards as Belupo was shown three and Lokomotiva one, though the match went into halftime without goals. The match's only goal came in the 80th minute when Kocijan scored for 0:1, which was the final result. 

 

Lokomotiva is currently in 8th place with 6 points, while Belupo is impressively in 2nd with 14. 

Rijeka v. Varazdin (1:2)

Rijeka and Varazdin met at Rujevica Stadium on Saturday, August 27, 2022. 

Another scoreless first half was quickly changed at the start of the second when Djouahra put Rijeka ahead in the 47th minute. Pavlovic was shown his second yellow in the 73rd minute, forcing Rijeka to play with a man down for the rest of the match, and Teklic equalized a minute later from the penalty spot. Kolaric made it 1:2 for Varazdin in the 87th minute, and it could have been 1:3 if Peric's goal was not called offside in the 3rd minute of stoppage time. 

 

Rijeka has dropped to last place with 5 points and one game in hand, while Varazdin is in 4th place with 9 points. 

Sibenik v. Dinamo (1:2)

Sibenik and Dinamo met in Sibenik on Sunday, August 28, 2022. 

Ivanusec put Dinamo ahead in the 35th minute for 0:1. Mina equalized just two minutes later for 1:1 at the half. A penalty taken by Petkovic put Dinamo back in the lead in the 68th minute, which was the final score. 

 

Sibenik is currently in 7th place with 7 points, while Dinamo sits in first place with 19. 

Osijek v. Hajduk (2:1)

Osijek and Hajduk closed out the 7th round at City Garden Stadium on Sunday, August 28, 2022. 

It was an emotional game for Hajduk as Marko Livaja learned of his father's tragic passing early on Sunday morning. Leovac scored Osijek's first goal in the 23rd minute for 1:0, before Beljo scored a penalty for 2:0 just 4 minutes before halftime. Livaja scored a penalty for Hajduk to reduce the score to 2:1 in the 72nd minute. Mlakar's goal was called offside by VAR in the 83rd minute, and the match ended 2:1 for Osijek. 

 

Osijek is currently in 5th place with 8 points, while Hajduk is in 3rd place with 9 points and two games in hand. 

You can see the full HNL table HERE

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

Monday, 29 August 2022

Do Benefits of Croatian Eurozone Accession Outweigh Risks?

August the 29th, 2022 - Croatian Eurozone accession is just around the corner, with all requirements filled, all boxes ticked and the date for entry marked out for the 1st of January, 2023. The public is still divided on the issue, however, so what are some of the advantages and some of the risks and costs of Croatia finally becoming a Eurozone member?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marina Marovic writes, here is no alternative to joining the Eurozone for Croatia, as it was part of the referendum the country held on joining the bloc. It did so back in July 2013 and according to experts, all the benefits of Croatian Eurozone accession greatly exceed the potential costs and risks. The Croatian economy has an extremely high degree of euroisation despite still using the kuna as it is tied to the euro, and around 70% of people's savings in Croatia are in the bloc's single currency.

Therefore, kuna devaluation is simply not an option, because the balance effect would be significantly more difficult for the Croatian economy to handle than any gains on the export front.

The biggest advantages of Croatian Eurozone accession

This high rate of Croatian euroisation originates from the time of the former state of Yugoslavia when, due to hyperinflation, the German mark was the currency used to preserve the value of money in the country. This means that regardless of Croatia having its very own currency for less than three decades, this sense of illusory monetary sovereignty will not actually be lost, but the risks involved in everything financial will be greatly reduced.

The absolute biggest advantage of Croatian Eurozone accession on January the 1st, 2023 comes in the form of significantly lower risks and reduced borrowing costs. In addition to the reduction in interest rates, which also maintains a better investment rating, additional borrowing will be made much easier because joining the Eurozone frees up significant funds (about 160 billion kuna in total) currently tied up as minimum foreign currency claims. In addition to that, the country's banks will reduce currency risks and improve overall stability.

In addition to lower interest rates and borrowing costs, Croatia will become more attractive for both investors and tourists (75 percent of them come from the Eurozone, and tourism makes up 20 percent of the nation's economic activity). Additionally, conversion costs for capital transactions such as the sale of property and land, the prices of which have been expressed in euros for a long time now, will be reduced.

Aside from property and other forms of real estate, renting an apartment or buying a car is also usually expressed in euros. By joining the Eurozone, Croatia is merely formalising some of the existing conventions. An additional advantage is that Croatia will be able to count on ECB support in case of any liquidity problems.

Croatian banks will lose out when it comes to conversion fees (about a fifth of their profit, or 1.5 billion kuna), and have additional ATM costs (totalling about 900 million kuna). Exchange offices will largely be out of business. The one-time cost of introducing the euro in Croatia will cost the banks an enormous 100 million kuna, and the cost of the entire adjustment will be paid for by other sectors of the economy, especially retail and telecoms. The average cost for large retail chains will stand at around 30 million euros, for telecoms it is around 20 million euros, and for smaller companies the cost of introducing the euro isn't expected to exceed 10,000 euros.

Uncertain times...

Croatian Eurozone accession is finally occurring in incredibly uncertain times in which it is really difficult to comply with all the requirements for convergence - known as the Maastricht criteria - and yet all the basic indicators were assessed as positive and successful in the latest report and decision back on July the 12th, 2022 The biggest risk is in the galloping rate of inflation.

Back in April 2022, the annual average rate of HICP inflation in Croatia stood at 4.7%, which is below the reference value of 4.9% for the price stability criterion. This value was decisive for the final decision on Eurozone accession in 2023. That said, by the time June rolled around, inflation crossed over into the concerning land of double digits, and the last July value of 12.3% was significantly higher than the average inflation in the Eurozone of 8.6%. The Baltic countries, all of which are now members of the Eurozone, have already registered inflations of more than 20%.

Just joining the euro brings a one-time increase in prices, but on average such an increase amounts to about 0.3% and in the context of current inflation is negligible. The dual display of prices (in both kuna and euros) serves to reduce this risk, and in general, the preparation for the introduction of the euro in Croatia is systematic and thorough, so that these risks are minimal.

In the long term, one would expect convergence of both prices and real income, but in practice there are many other factors that influence whether this actually happens or not. In addition to inflation - foreign exchange markets have experienced tectonic shifts. Croatia is now joining the club of prestigious countries when the euro is at its worst so far - and is at parity with the dollar, which has not happened in the last 20 years. There are several reasons for a strong dollar and a weak euro, but the most important one lies in the fact that the ECB is reluctant to raise interest rates.

The reason for the ECB's lack of reaction is multifaceted, but the fact is that inflation in the EU hasn't been caused by an increase in demand, but rather by an increase in energy and food prices. On the other hand, inflation across the pond in the United States of America is more a consequence of the post-pandemic recovery of the economy than anything else.

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

Monday, 29 August 2022

First Row to the Sea! Fiat Driver Parks in Shallows on Murter Beach

August the 29th, 2022 - We all want to be as close to the sea as possible when summer arrives in Croatia and the temperatures become, frankly, intolerable. Some people take this to the absolute extreme, however, parking their cars quite literally on the beach, with the shallows of the sparkling, refreshing Adriatic Sea lapping at their alloys. One Murter beach was recently a victim of such parking.

As Morski writes, an unfortunate lack of intelligence and an even more lack when it comes to adequate punishments for people parking all over the place during the summer months have led to an increasing number of bizarre incidents all along the Adriatic coast. One Murter beach which should have been full of swimmers, those keen to get a bit of a tan and those seeking to relax with a good book under a parasol was visited by a car.

On Facebook page called ''Live from Slavonia's roads'' recently published photos from one Murter beach where a tourist took the expression "first row to the sea" a little too literally, parking his Fiat Grande Punto car literally in the shallows on the beach. It seems that some people will quite literally stop at nothing to get in the crystal clear waters of the Croatian Adriatic Sea, and why would you bother clambering over rocks and getting yourself overheated when you can quite simply drive directly into the sea?

"Greetings... this isn't somewhere in Slavonia, it's Murter... I couldn't resist not sending this picture to someone... So that everyone can see how rude and arrogant people have become...'' the post which contained the photos read, with an array of comments echoing the sentiments of just how pompous some people can be, especially when it's every man for himself when it comes to getting a good spot on the beach!

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

Monday, 29 August 2022

The Sun Shines Spotlight on Isolated Croatian Porer Lighthouse

August the 29th, 2022 - Ever fancied really heading off the beaten path and embracing true isolation? It might well be the last thing on your mind after having to suffer through two years of intermittent periods of isolation, lockdowns, and the threat of being fined for daring to meet up with other people, but if the coronavirus pandemic made you develop a taste for getting away from the world, perhaps the Croatian Porer lighthouse is right up your street.

The Sun has thrown the limelight on the Croatian Porer lighthouse, which was constructed back in the 1830s and sits atop a rocky islet just southwest of the Istrian peninsula's southernmost cape. You can stay here, and The Sun has caught on to just how cheap it is, which would make sense considering there are absolutely no amenities and it's recommended that you don't attempt a swim in the surrounding waters, however inviting the sparkling Adriatic might look.

As Morski writes, the British tabloid The Sun devoted several lines to the Croatian Porer lighthouse, which is located less than a mile away from the mainland of Istria. A 35-metre-tall tower rises above the house where the apartment which can be rented is situated, and the islet itself only three metres high without the lighthouse included.

The apartment there has two bedrooms, each with a double bed, a bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen.

''Make sure you're ready when you arrive - you can get there only by a 35-minute boat ride from Premantura, which will cost you 373 kuna. Be sure to bring enough food and drinks for your stay on the island because there is nothing else on it, so you will need to cook your own meals during your stay,'' the British tabloid warns its readers who might be eager to engage in some post-pandemic Robinson tourism. The Sun adds that you've shot it if you need an Internet connection and WiFi, because there is none, but everything is compensated for by the amazing view on offer, especially at sunset.

If you're a keen swimmer and just can't keep yourself dry for five minutes when spending time near the glorious Croatian Adriatic Sea, then this destination might not be for you. Due to the extremely strong and dangerous sea currents which surround the Croatian Porer lighthouse, which can reach speeds of up to three knots in stronger winds, swimming, especially for children, isn't recommended. The currents around the islet are very strong even throughout the day, so even good swimmers shouldn't swim out more than fifty meters from the shoreline of the islet. The waves are extremely strong, especially in winter.

The underwater area near the islet of Porer is attractive for diving, characterised by shoals of fish and underwater cliffs. In the surrounding shallows lie Krsin, Fenoliga and Veliki Balkun, all of which are the ghostly remains of ships which mate watery fates during storms.

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

Sunday, 28 August 2022

A1 Motorway Incident - Masked Hajduk Fans Create 9-kilometre Queue

August 28, 2022 - In the afternoon on Sunday, there was a standstill on the A1 motorway, and several kilometres long queues were formed due to an incident with Hajduk fans who stopped on the motorway and got out of their vehicles masked.

As Dnevnik writes, the police prevented a clash between the fans, but the traffic problems continued even after that. Although Croatian Auto Club (HAK) announced around 4:00 p.m. that the part of the motorway in question was reopened to traffic, readers of Dnevnik reported around 5:00 p.m. that they were still standing in place and not moving.

24sata video

“It's a kilometer-long queue. We're not even moving forward. People with small children started getting out of their cars”, a Dnevnik reader reported.

The police department of the Lika-SenjCounty explained that a long queue has formed and that it took time for traffic to start again.

“It's going slowly, the column is almost not moving towards the north. The police are on the ground and they are solving the situation so that traffic can start as soon as possible”, they said.

The Croatian Auto Club announced earlier on Sunday that traffic was stopped between the Gospić and Gornja Ploča junctions near the Jadova rest stop in the direction of Zagreb due to an incident with fans, and the queue was nine kilometres long.

Twitter: Ministry of the Interior

Police found baseball bats by the side of the road

As reported by PD Lika-Senj, there was no conflict between the fans who are now under police surveillance.

The Ministry of the Interior published photos from the motorway on Twitter and information that traffic was stopped by Hajduk fans traveling to Zagreb and Osijek, who got out of their vehicles masked with helmets and clothes. They added that the possible cause was a conflict with Dinamo fans traveling to Šibenik.

The police also announced that they found baseball bats on the side of the road, but they emphasised that the conflict between the fans was prevented without police intervention and the use of coercive means.

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

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