Saturday, 12 November 2022

Couple Missing, They Were on Their Way from Split to the Netherlands

November 12, 2022 - Tina Smoljo and Tonino Raic disappeared after they left for the Netherlands by car last Saturday. Their families have not heard from them since Monday, which is why they were reported missing. The Ministry of the Interior published information about the young couple missing on the Nestali.hr website.

Nestali.hr personal information on Tina Smoljo

Tina is a 22-year-old girl, and she is 165 cm tall. Her disappearance is being investigated by the PU Split-Dalmatia, and the date of her disappearance is listed as November 6.

Nestali.hr personal information on Tonino Raic

Tonino is a young man between 175 and 180 centimeters tall and of medium build. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing black sweatpants and a black and red T-shirt, and he has brown hair and brown eyes.

As Index writes, they left in Tonino's black BMW on Saturday, while every trace of them was lost on Monday, November 7, when they last contacted their families.

According to Vecernji, the two of them are in a relationship, and they were going to Rotterdam, where Tonino allegedly had a job waiting for him. Allegedly, an acquaintance from Solin was also with them, but his disappearance has not yet been reported. They also took Tonino's dog (in his arms in the picture published by Vecernji).

"The only reliable information is that they crossed the Slovenian border. We received the last WhatsApp message on Monday at 5:26 a.m. that they would call from a new number as soon as they replaced the card. From then until today, we have not heard anything," a member of Tonino Raic's family told Večernji. He is asking all those who might have information about the young couple missing to contact the police.

If you have seen Tina Smoljo and/or Tonino Raic, please inform the nearest police station or call 192. Any information can also be shared via the e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Croatian Agricultural Products as Much as 22% More Expensive

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian agricultural products are as much as 22 percent more expensive as inflation continues to bite and the costs of raw materials just keep on increasing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the average producer prices of Croatian agricultural products in the second quarter of this year increased by a considerable 22.1 percent when compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

The prices of vegetable products increased by 22.7 percent, and livestock, poultry and livestock products by 21.3 percent. The increase in prices of plant products was achieved in all groups of plant products, except for the group of fruits, in which prices fell by 8.1 percent.

The increase in prices of plant products in general was mostly influenced by the increase in prices in the groups of cereals (by 65.1 percent), vegetables (by 30.4 percent) and wine (by 9.2 percent).

In the group of products that have the largest share in animal husbandry compared to the same quarter of 2021, prices are much higher. For cattle, there has been a price increase of 28.6 percent, for pigs, there has been an increase of 19.5 percent, for milk - 18.4 percent, and eggs - 42.5 percent. Prices have also increased in other groups in animal husbandry.

The prices of goods and services for current use in the second quarter of this year when it comes to Croatian agricultural products compared to the same period last year increased by a very significant 50.1 percent, and this growth was mostly influenced by the increase in the prices of energy, fertilisers and animal feed.

As such, the prices of energy increased by 90.7 percent, fertilisers by 189.9 percent and animal feed by 27.5 percent. The prices of seeds and planting material also increased, by 17.9 percent, hitting the pockets not only of the farmers but of the end consumers quite hard.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Croatian Euro Coins You Can Buy As Of December 2022

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian euro coins will be available for purchase as of the 1st of December, 2022, but won't be legal tender until the first day of 2023.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the production of Croatian euro coins in preparation for the country's entry into the Eurozone started this summer, and by the end of the year, all the quantities planned for this year will finally have been minted. These quantities will be used, among other things, for packaging in so-called initial packages of Croatian euro coins for both individuals and businesses to purchase.

People will be able to get their hands on these initial packages of brand new Croatian euro coins from banks, FINA and post offices from December the 1st this year, with the Croatian National Bank (CNB) also publishing a picture of that initial package.

The initial packages of Croatian euro coins for citizens will be packed in small plastic bags containing 33 euro coins worth 13.28 euros in total. People will be able to purchase a maximum of two bags per transaction, and a total of 1.2 million pieces will be made available for these needs.

What about ATMs?

With the introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency scheduled for January the 1st next year, ATMs will allow people to withdraw 10 or 20 euro banknotes, and requested amounts such as 50 and 100 euros will be paid out in those same 10 and 20 euro banknotes, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) revealed.

From January the 1st next year, dual circulation of both kuna and euros will remain in effect for two weeks, during which time change from payments made in either euros or kuna when buying groceries in stores will be returned to customers solely in euros.

In the period from December the 15th to the 31st, 2022, free kuna withdrawals will be introduced at all and any ATMs across the country. This will be maintained until January the 15th, 2023, in order not to have a negative impact on the availability of cash in kuna, they stated from the Croatian National Bank.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Croatian Schengen Entry Provides Room for Domestic Economic Boost

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian Schengen entry which is set to take place on the same date as Eurozone accession (on the 1st of January, 2023) was given the green light by the European Parliament very recently. It is set to give the domestic economy a much needed boost.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes with the convincing support of the European Parliament, Croatian Schengen entry is now another significant step closer, and the final green light for the complete abolition of border crossings between Croatia and the rest of the European Union should be given by the Council of the EU at the beginning of December.

If it achieves this goal along with Eurozone accession, Croatia will further deepen its integration into the bloc and facilitate business and trade with European Union markets at the beginning of next year. It also all represents a very strong political message from the powers that be in Brussels.

At the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, Croatian Schengen entry was formally supported by a large majority. Of the 612 parliamentarians who voted for the draft decision of the EU Council, 534 voted for, 53 against, with 25 abstentions.

"Schengen has been waiting for Croatia. The Croatian people have been waiting for Schengen and now that moment has finally arrived," said the Parliament's reporter for Croatia's entry into Schengen, Paolo Rangel.

"Combined with the entry into the monetary union, this is going to represent a positive shock for the economy. The monetary union is not just a replacement of a country's currency, as is unfortunately often emphasised in the Government's own campaign, but an entry into a new institutional framework that gives investors a clear signal that we're now part of a unique space, significantly more complex than it was in previous crises. The differences between Croatia, Austria and Slovenia will be based on other factors in the future, such as logistical ones, and Croatian Schengen entry removes logistical obstacles," explained economist Damir Novotny, adding that, for example, a potential investor can now weigh up their investments, counting on the fact that there will be no more waiting at the border and related costs.

The report of the European Parliament, which previously passed the committees so that the final vote can actually be a formality, stated that all of the criteria have now been met and that there are no obstacles to Croatia becoming a full member of the Schengen area which is totally devoid of internal (passport) controls.

It is important to note that the role of the European Parliament regarding the issue of Schengen expansion is advisory in nature and not binding, but it is an indispensable step of the procedure that requires EU member states to request the opinion of the Parliament.

After meeting the technical conditions and the recommendation of the EP, the final decision is political and will be made by the 22 EU member states that make up the Schengen area, which is expected to happen at the session on December the 9th, 2022.

The fact that the ticket to the club of member states of the European Union without borders comes despite criticism of the behaviour of the Croatian police at the borders towards migrants and illegal "push backs", and illustrates the strength of political support for Europe in the face of the war in Ukraine.

Videos brought to light by the journalist organisation Lighthouse have showcased beatings and mistreatment of migrants on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina by Croatian police. This and similar reports apparently caused consternation, but the Schengen accession process was not seriously shaken by any of it.

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

Friday, 11 November 2022

New Turkish Owners of Petrokemija, a Troubled Croatian Fertilizer Company

November 11, 2022 - After two years of speculation, gossip and due diligence, on Thursday it was finally confirmed that the Turkish conglomerate Yildirim will buy a majority stake in Petrokemija

The only major Croatian petrochemical company produces mineral fertilizers, at such a rate that their production consumes a fifth of the total amount of gas consumed in Croatia. The Turkish company took over the Terra mineral fertilizers company from its previous owners, INA and PPD. That company owns 54 per cent of Petrokemija's shares. How much Ina and PPD earned from the sale to the Turks was not made public.

It was not easy sailing for the Petrokemija companies even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started the global energy crisis. Just three months ago, the CEO of Petrokemija Davor Žmegač told Bloomberg TV that the problems started since the earthquake, the supply chain crisis and the increase in gas prices, and that it is not economically profitable for them to do business at all because their monthly gas bills reach one hundred million euros.

How the new Turkish owners will deal with all of these problems remains to be seen. Local farmers will wait to see if they're still able to count on the fertilizers produced domestically, without which there is no sowing or harvest. The good news is that Yildirim has a rich experience in everything the Kutina company might need at this point.

Although Petrokemija operates with an annual income of around 300 million euros and has 1,250 employees, it will be only a small part of Yildirim Holding, whose annual income is reported to be around two billion euros and employs more than 16,000 people. Yildirim has companies operating in various industries, where the most profitable ones are mining, ports, petrochemicals, logistics and energy. The company was founded in 1963 as a construction business by Garip Yildirim, but has been the fastest-growing Turkish industrial group since 2005. Its current owners are the sons of Garip Yildirim, Ali Riza and Robert, who entered international trade outside the borders of Turkey in 1993 by importing coal from Russia. 15 years ago, they made their first foreign acquisition by taking over the metals company Vargön Alloys in Sweden, and today they have companies in 53 countries on five continents. 

Their annual production capacity of all types of fertilizers exceeds two million tons, and Petrokemija produced one million tons of fertilizer in 2020. Given that Petrokemija's production capacity is respectable compared to that of the Turkish owner, serious investments in Kutina and the continuation of operations can be expected. We will soon see what the first steps of the Turkish owners will be and how the integration into the Yildirim group will proceed, but Petrokemija could be on the verge of a renaissance, especially if its plants are able to get some cheap gas, which is probably something new owners have already looked at, and which might be an ace up their sleeve.

Friday, 11 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Fortenova, Foster Parents and Schengen

November the 11th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from still apparently not really knowing what's going on with Sberbank's shares in Fortenova and talk of the alleged Croatian desire to squash corruption, to more cash for foster parents, a blast from the past with COVID-19 and of course, Croatia's Schengen approval.

The Croatian Government is seeking additional financial help from the European Union following the coronavirus pandemic

With the utterly dire situation being faced by Ukraine following Russian invasion early this year and inflation causing us to have to dig deeper and deeper to make ends meet, the global coronavirus pandemic which rocked the world in 2020 almost seems like a distant memory. The government however is still working on patching up the enormous holes it left in the state budget and now wants additional financial help from the powers that be in Brussels.

Assistance in the amount of 550 million euros from the SURE instrument will be sought by the Croatian Government, and with the decision it recently made on that, it also obliged state-owned companies to pay 60 percent of last year's net profit into the state budget for the year 2022.

Taking into account the increase in public expenditures by 2.2 billion euros from February the 1st, 2020 to the end of April, 2022 due to national measures taken to address the socioeconomic consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia decided to request additional financial assistance from the SURE Instrument in the amount of 550 million euros, stated Finance Minister Marko Primorac, noting that the SURE Instrument (a European Union instrument for the issuing of temporary support to reduce the risk of unemployment in an emergency situation) provides extremely favourable financing conditions.

He also stated that on October the 25th, 2022, the Council of the EU adopted an amendment to the Implementing Decision of the Council, which approved Croatia's request for additional financial assistance to be paid out in the amount of 550 million euros.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi says there is a will to stamp out corruption in Croatia

Laura Codruta Kovesi stated that corruption can unfortunately be found absolutely everywhere and there are no "clean" countries anywhere in Europe. She added that Croatia is showing its willingness to uncover and investigate criminal acts that harm the financial interests of the European Union.

"There's a myth that I would like to dispel today. If Croatia or Bulgaria or Romania have more cases of corruption that come to light than some other EU member state, it doesn't mean that these countries are more corrupt than others. There is no 'clean' country in Europe. Corruption is everywhere," said Europe's chief prosecutor.

"Here in Croatia, I see the will to uncover these criminal acts, to investigate them, and I think that is very important because when we talk about corruption and the fight against financial fraud, how the authorities position themselves is very important. If they sweep everything under the rug and don't uncover any cases, it doesn't mean that things are clean. I think the number of cases shows that there is political will... And that everyone is doing an excellent job," she pointed out.

She said that all cases are equally important, whether they involve ministers or ordinary people, because everyone is equal before the law and investigations into corruption are conducted in the same way. More than 1,200 cases of corruption are now under investigation by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), but she said she couldn't talk about them publicly and couldn't comment on individual cases and cases which are currently under investigation.

It is estimated that the loss from VAT fraud, especially related to organised crime, amounts to 60 billion euros annually across the EU. In the first year of the EPPO's operations, criminal assets worth 250 million euros were confiscated. The EPPO's annual budget otherwise stands at a massive 44 million euros.

The Fortenova saga continues, and it has now come to light that the Dutch court never gave its approval for the sale of Sberbank's Fortenova shares to anyone

The competent Dutch court did not approve the sale of Sberbank's stake in Fortenova to an investor from the United Arab Emirates, claims the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating that permission was neither sought or issued at any point.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an answer to the question of whether the Dutch authorities had given approval for the above transaction. They received an answer that permission was never requested, nor was it issued.

The MVEP states that the ministries will cooperate in order to determine all of the relevant information regarding the violation of the EU sanctions regime which has caused this scandal. It should be noted that the approval for the sale of Sberbank's 43 percent stake in Fortenova was not even given by the competent authorities right here in Croatia.

According to the EU regulation, a possible exemption can be provided for such transactions in the event that the competent authority of that EU member state grants its approval, but considering that the competent authorities here in Croatia and up the Netherlands have not done this, it is likely that the mystery surrounding the Fortenova saga will continue.

The police contact the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia in regard to the Fortenova situation

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic recently confirmed that the police have approached the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH) regarding the sale of Sberbank's shares in Fortenova. He also pointed out that at the stage when the Council for the Implementation of Sanctions is in session and they are collecting all the necessary information, nobody can give any concrete answers.

When asked if the Arab investor to whom Sberbank sold its stake in Fortenova is coming to Croatia and if there will be a meeting in the government, Bozinovic repeated that he did not know and that there were many things that needed to be investigated and clarified before he could speak on anything.

When asked if the government had received SOA's report on Fortenova, he said that SOA regularly reports to the state and institutions about this and other such matters. When asked repeatedly whether he had received information from the SOA, he answered in the affirmative, but added that he could not reveal anything at this moment in time.

The government increases allowances paid out to foster parents 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated at a recent government session that by increasing the basis for calculating the compensation to be paid out to foster parents and maintenance allowance for the year 2023, an additional step forward will be made for 2,504 Croatian foster parents.

"We are making an additional step forward for 2,504 foster parents and 5,838 beneficiaries in foster families," Plenkovic said, adding that this is a continuation of the increase in financial resources being poured into the field of foster care.

The government provides 160.5 million kuna in EU cash for the construction of a new port terminal in Osijek

The Croatian Government recently secured state co-financing in the amount of 160.5 million kuna for the construction of a bulk cargo transshipment terminal in the Port of Osijek. Government decisions have as such given consent to the Port Authority of Osijek to assume obligations at the expense of the state budget throughout 2023, 2024 and 2025 in the total amount of 160.5 million kuna.

Back in September this year, the Board of Directors of the Osijek Port Authority made a decision to enter into a contract for the construction of a new port terminal with GH Holding from neighbouring Slovenia. The value of the works was determined in the total amount of 143.5 million kuna without VAT, or 179.3 million kuna with VAT, with a deadline of 28 months.

The financial resources needed to settle the anticipated contractual obligations have been secured from the European Cohesion Fund and the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia for 2022 and projections for the years 2023 and 2024.

The new terminal for transshipment of bulk cargo in Osijek will be located on the right bank of the Drava River in the eastern part of the port area, and it will include two new connections spanning a length of 240 metres, the installation of facilities for the transshipment, loading and unloading and transport of goods, an access road which will be 300 metres long, railway tracks with a length of 610 metres, crane tracks and roads with a length of 285 metres, a substation and the construction of the necessary communal infrastructure, according to the State Secretary in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Josip Bilaver.

The construction of the brand new Osijek port terminal will reduce traffic congestion in the city centre and the negative impact on the environment and noise, and the safety of ships in the port will increase, he added.

Croatia is given the nod to join Schengen by the European Parliament

Last but by absolutely no means least, the moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived and Croatia has been given the final nod from the powers that be to join the Schengen zone at long last. This is certainly a moment HDZ is likely to run with as a scamp of their perceived success in Croatian politics.

In his opening address at a recently held government session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the European Parliament had just voted for Croatia's entry into Schengen.

"We are very satisfied with the presentation of the Commissioner, that is, the Vice-President of the EC, who gave very clear and strong support. There were 534 votes in favour of Croatia's membership of the Schengen zone," said the Prime Minister, congratulating Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and the whole team who have been leading the activities to push for Croatian Schengen accession for the past few years.

"We are moving towards the final steps of the final adoption at the level of the EU Council on December the 8th" said the Prime Minister, adding that "with this, in addition to the decisions already made regarding membership in the Eurozone, Croatia will complete its two goals of deeper integration within the EU with both Schengen and Eurozone entry as of the 1st of January, 2023.

"These are such major capital foreign policy state goals that have now finally been realised, and in the years ahead we will have the opportunity to talk about the fruits of Croatia's additional international positioning," he said.

 

For more on Croatian politics, 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, 10 November 2022

AWFT22: Resilience and War – Tourism in Kharkiv, Ukraine

November 10, 2022 – On October 27 and 28, TCN had the honour of attending the A World for Travel Forum in Nimes, France. With the theme of the forum being sustainability in travel and tourism, there was a lot of talk aimed at climate change, the issues of cross-sector collaboration, involvement of local communities and industries; small businesses were sharing their visions of sustainable travel, companies like Mastercard and Google had their say, you name it – the forum covered it. There was one panel that stood out, though. One topic that made us feel it is just as important now and long-term. One that reminded us of home. A Case Study: Resilience and War, the agenda said, or how Kharkiv in Ukraine is preparing to protect their cultural heritage and monuments in times of crisis.

Sorry, what? Who thinks about tourism in times like that? It turns out it’s those who need to. Sustainability seems to be a lot more than offsetting your carbon footprint, eating locally, or even government policies supporting the development of such tourism. It is a common goal; it is about the ordinary person; it is the realisation that we must support each other. In every sense of the phrase, we must stand together, now and again, to ensure a better future for all. Even if cities fall and disappear, people remain; our culture lives on and becomes our legacy.

On a panel moderated by Peter Greenberg, the CBS News Travel Editor, his guests Yuliia Zghurska (Deputy Director, Kharkiv City Council), and Hon. Yuliya Sosyukina (Goodwill Ambassador, IHRCHQ/Mrs. Universe Monaco 2021) spoke about what the city of Kharkiv is currently facing and what measures have been taken to preserve its culture as much as possible. The most important message: keep sharing, keep spreading the word, help any way you can. Though both lovely Ukrainian ladies were fully booked for interviews on both days, we had a chance to sit down with them and share experiences, stories, frustrations, and feelings of love, respect, and support.

Our conversation started with the reasons why they came to the forum. It is important, they said, because they need to be able to plan their future. The war will be over, and they need to speak about Ukraine, about Kharkiv – now. Kharkiv is the second biggest city in Ukraine and one of its most visited places, with a million tourists annually. Even in these times, they say, tourism in Kharkiv is alive, just with a different definition. Now tourists are the diplomats, journalists, and people who care and want to see what is happening and how they can help. The city’s officials have now become its tourist promotors in an entirely new way. Their primary mission is to save and preserve their country. What a job, huh?

When we mentioned the Homeland war in Croatia, they pointed out that it is now important for other countries who have been through similar events to share their experience, teach Ukraine how to cope, look into the future, and above all, show their support. They do think that Croatia’s Vukovar has set a good example. Memorial tourism, they say, is something we need to accept but must not allow to become the whole identity of a place. And even though it might seem like that in Vukovar, especially in November, the energy of the city and its young minds, we are sure, will drive tourism forward. Just ask any of our friends from the Vukovar 365 series.

Kharkiv4.png

A World for Travel

As for Kharkiv, its representatives do believe in its bright future. They carry hope and walk bravely into every new day. Their inspiration, as they say, are Kharkiv’s 30 sister cities all over Europe and the world, some of which have joined the list recently, like Turku in Finland. The financial and humanitarian support from these and many other places make the difference.

And what made the difference for us was meeting these lovely ladies, thinking about resilience and war with them, and witnessing some genuine, warm human moments. The single most memorable one had to be a young Russian stepping up to the Ukrainian ladies to express their full support and heartbreak over the situation. As they pointed out, war has already ruined many lives on both sides of the border, and the longer it goes on, the more it takes away from the everyday human. No one wants war; no one deserves it. We stand with all its victims, equally inspired by Kharkiv’s panel and the words shared between its guests.

If you would like to help, we will share a few links where you can do that. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do so, but do stay wary of scams. If you are looking for other ways, we recommend checking out the lists of verified sources like CNBC or Forbes.

Help Kharkiv:

https://www.helpkharkiv.org/

https://www.kharkivfoundation.org/home

Help Ukraine:

https://donate.redcrossredcrescent.org/ua/donate/~my-donation?_cv=1

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

https://vostok-sos.org/en/ukraine-under-fire-support-vostok-sos-aid-operation/

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

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Canary Black Filming to Disrupt Zagreb Trams for Several Days

November the 10th, 2022 - Canary Black, a film which stars Kate Beckinsale, is still being filmed in different locations across the City of Zagreb. Owing to that continued filming, Zagreb trams won't be running through the very centre of the city during the evening hours for several days.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, ZET reported on Thursday that due to the filming of Canary Black in the city, Zagreb trams will not run along Frankopanska ulica (street), Ilica, through Ban Jelacic Square, Franjo Racki street or through Zrinjevac during the night from Saturday, November the 12th into Sunday, November the 13th, and this will last until Thursday, the November 17th.

To be more specific, on Saturday, November the 12th, from 21:15 until Sunday, November the 13th, at 18:00, tram traffic will be suspended entirely along Frankopanska and llica (from Republic of Austria street to Ban Jelacic Square). This will encompass Ban Jelacic Square, Jurisiceva, Franjo Racki street and Zrinjevac due to ongoing filming.

In addition to the above, Zagreb trams in the same locations will not run from Sunday, November the 13th, to Thursday, November the 17th, from 19:15 to 05:30.

At the same time, tram lines 1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17 will operate along modified routes in both directions, and bus substitutions of night lines 31, 32 and 34 will drive through the Central Station instead of going through Ban Jelacic Square.

For the same reason, from Monday, November the 14th, to Thursday, November the 17th, from 19:00 to 22:15, bus line 150 will not operate either, ZET announced.

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

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Rijeka Startup Gamio Seeking Experts After Attracting Investment

November the 10th, 2022 - The innovative Rijeka startup Gamio, which was born out of a love of video games, has attracted an impressive five million kuna, and now it is on the hunt for experts to add to its team.

As Josipa Ban/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, young entrepreneur Marko Matijevic decided to turn his passion for video games and gaming into a proper business. Last year, he launched the Hall of Game (HoG), the largest gaming arena in all of the Republic of Croatia, while simultaneously working on the development of the unique and innovative platform Gamio.GG, which is based on web3 technology.

Thanks to that platform, gamers should soon (as early as next year) start making money while playing. This play2earn concept is in complete contrast to the traditional gaming concept where players have to pay to play. Investors were quick to recognise Marko's unique idea, and the Rijeka startup Gamio recently received an investment of five million kuna. How the Gamio.GG platform will function, what the money will be invested in, and when we can expect it on the market, was explained by founder Marko Matijevic.

How did the idea and then the work on the development of the Gamio.GG platform come about?

The idea was actually "born" through the Hall of Game (HoG) in a conversation with various brands we work with. Before the very opening of HoG, there was an idea of the ​​parallel development of an eSports platform, but after the initial few events and tournaments that we did for brands, we realised that, as much as we love eSports, a lot of platforms are already trying to break into that segment, and the number of players who participating in esports competitions is limited.

For this reason, we turned our attention to everyday players, who actually make up the vast majority of HoG visitors, and to a slightly more "casual" approach. We tested the initial ideas with the players themselves, pivoted them and finally found the perfect investor and partner - Hellens Rock.

In that process, I was lucky and met the core development team, without which such rapid progress wouldn't have been possible. We've come up with many solutions together and I'm extremely glad that we've been participating in the development of the company together from the very beginning.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced in developing the platform?

Quality personnel is the greatest issue I've come across yet. I'm not just talking about product development, but also operationally speaking. Gaming is interesting to everyone, but not everyone understands the business side of "playing games". So, we're also looking for experts from other industries who primarily have an interest in this type of product and understand the gaming culture.

How will the platform actually work? Which video games will all gamers be able to play and earn GG cryptocurrency?

Players simply select the tasks they want to complete while playing their game. This can be in the form of "Get the highest score in one single game" or "Assist 10 times in one hour". The so-called "Ticket" currency is collected, which is used to enter exclusive tasks that then carry our GG cryptocurrency. In addition to all that, there are many options that players can use to increase their chances of winning bigger prizes or simply take a bigger risk for a bigger reward.

What kind of interest do you expect, especially considering that the crypto market isn't doing well at the moment?

Our primary market is gamers, and only then crypto users. For investment reasons, we postponed the release of the cryptocurrency and devoted ourselves to product development. The interest of early testers was even greater than expected. We plan to launch GG during the next year, depending on the growth of the number of users and the state of the crypto market going forward. During this time, users can decide whether they want to exchange their GG tokens for rewards within our "Shop" system, wait until they can cash out on their cryptocurrency exchanges, or simply reinvest them within the platform itself.

You recently received a pre-seed investment for its development, i.e. initial investment in the development, in the amount of 660 thousand euros, i.e. five million kuna. What will that money be invested in?

It takes considerable time to develop a custom-made blockchain-based platform. Headlines about investments in web3 companies always look bombastic, but most of the investment goes to development itself and later to marketing. The investment is being used primarily for employment and product development, but also for the first permanent users. We also equipped some modern offices in Rijeka and a smaller regional office in Zagreb, which is soon expected to move to a more attractive location.

You received the investment from the Hellen's Rock investment fund, which was founded by entrepreneur Sacha Dragic. How easy or difficult was it to secure the investment? How did you attract the investor?

Sacha is an extremely capable entrepreneur surrounded by experts like Stjepko and Andrea Cordas, who have immense experience in managing tech companies. Since we're friends from a similar industry, it wasn't difficult to have a similar view on the future of the company's business. The whole process didn't really last long because we all knew what numbers were important and what realistic goals to set in the coming period. As I already mentioned, an acquaintance from the same technology sector actually made it possible for us to speak a "similar language" and also made it possible for us to achieve cooperation much faster than it would have been through some more classic VC paths.

When should the platform be finished and be made available on the market?

The MVP is already ready and has been tested several times. We're now dealing with all of the final preparations in order to start the closed phase of market entry and the beginning of marketing. In the beginning, we're going to be targeting a few hundred gamers and will gradually increase the number of players on the platform. Finally, with the issuance of GG tokens to the cryptocurrency market, the platform will become available to everyone.

Which markets are you targeting, and which gamers from which countries?

We're starting with Croatia's more immediate region because through the Hall of Game, we've gained a very good insight into local trends, cooperation with various organisations, and we also want to give our players the opportunity to try the product first. After a short phase with Croatia and the region's market, our goal is certainly America, but until that moment comes, we're going to focus on markets such as Latin America and Turkey. The USA is a logical choice, but it's also the most financially demanding, and we'll start with it after we prove our profitability here on these other markets. Of course, then there's the rest of "Tier1" in European countries like the UK, Germany, France...

Last year, you launched the Hall of Game, a gaming centre in Zagreb's Z shopping centre, in which one million euros was invested. Are you satisfied with the level of attendance and your work there?

The first year was phenomenal. We've done a lot of events, both our own and partner's. We put ourselves on the "gaming map" not only of this particular region but also of Europe with the recent Call of Duty tournaments.

Of course, collaborations with big brands only improved the perception of HOG. We also had problems and learned some things the hard way, but that's why we are extremely confident in what we do. I think it can always be better and I hope this is just a fraction of what we want to achieve.

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

Thursday, 10 November 2022

How Many Fines Have Been Issued for Incorrect Zagreb Waste Disposal?

November the 10th, 2022 - The rather unpopular (initially, anyway) new rules surrounding Zagreb waste disposal came into force on October the 1st. Just how many fines and warnings have been dished out to people failing to respect the new rules here in the capital?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of December the 1st this year, there will be no more ''blue and yellow bag'' weeks, and plastic (yellow) removal will increase to once a week, announced the head of Cistoca, Davor Vic. By the end of next year, the new Zagreb waste disposal system should be fully operational across the entire capital city, he said for Vecernji TV.

He expressed his satisfaction with the speed with which the residents of Zagreb accepted the model that came into effect on the first day of October. In the first month of the new rules surrounding Zagreb waste disposal, the capital's residents produced 27 percent less mixed municipal waste, increased the separation of bio-waste by 30 percent, while plastic is 40 percent heavier in terms of weight and even more by volume.

"Even on the ground, it can be seen that there is less mixed waste in general, so the prerequisites have been created for us to shift our capacities to recyclable waste," Vic said.

For this reason, for 90,000 service users living in family homes, the removal of mixed waste will be gradually abolished from twice to just once a week. This was introduced for about 60,000 houses by Monday, and it will cover the rest as well before end of the month.

"In family houses, their charged volume is sufficient for removal once a week. But in multi-apartment buildings, where the tanks are outside, we'll reduce the removal of such waste gradually,'' he explained.

Paper, glass and especially plastic will be picked up more often after December the 1st this year. "We have about 100 critical locations from which we collect waste every night because the yellow containers are spilling things out there. In cooperation with communal wardens, we also started issuing fines, which turned out to have an effect,'' said Vic.

This can best be seen in the very centre of the city, where, despite the initial skepticism, the new model for Zagreb waste disposal worked very quickly because people recognised the advantage of not having bins lift out on the pavements. In the first month of its implementation, not many fines were issued or collected, he revealed.

"Over the past few weeks, Cistoca employees stuck warnings or thank you notes on the bins and as such let it be known that we're actually monitoring what bin users are doing. Most of the fines were written for non-compliance with communal rules, which is nothing new. It has always been stipulated that waste can't just be dumped anywhere. We immediately punish people for doing that, and after that we'll start checking what is being thrown in the rubbish containers. The punishments aren't symbolic or excessive, but they're definitely sufficient for people to correct themselves and to understand that we're doing all this for the common good," Vic said.

The focus is on the centre of Zagreb, he added, because it is quite a specific case. As in any city, the highest volume of people stay and pass through there and it is the most touristic.

A big problem, Vic added, is being caused directly by unscrupulous owners of catering and hospitality establishments who use other people's rubbish containers for their own waste.

"We're dealing with that with the municipal police, because they have to deal with their packaging in their own arrangement with Cistoca or with another company. We're in charge of taking away their municipal waste," he said. He also commented on the complaints of residents from Novi Zagreb about the unbearable stench and bad readings at the Zagreb 3 air quality measuring station.

"We haven't yet come across any parameter according to which this could be related to what we're doing at the Jakusevac landfill, because nothing has changed in our business except that we have less mixed waste. It is "business as usual" with us,'' Vic said. As a possible source of the stench, many are pointing the finger at the Zrinjevac compost plant, where biowaste from households is currently processed.

"We have impurities in bio-waste, but we separate it all first and take it to the landfill in the form of mixed waste. There's more biowaste than there was before, but it is still within the planned capacity of Zrinjevac. We constantly have inspections due to reports, but the more they come, the more they determine that we're working according to the permits and rules of the profession," emphasised Vic.

Project documentation for the biogas plant and composting plant in Novska is now also being prepared, sources of financing are being sought, and proper solutions are expected soon. Applications for landfills are still ongoing, two have been built so far, and three are in the process of being constructed.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

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