Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Croatian Flight Controllers: More Air Traffic Now Than 2019

June the 28th, 2022 - Croatian flight controllers have stated that there has been more air traffic in the country's air space than back in the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, representatives of the Croatian Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers (HSSKL) presented their forecasts of some truly excellent and encouraging business results from within the aviation sector so far in 2022, in spite of problems the industry is still faced with.

The above was presented at a recently held meeting of the Functional Airspace Block of Central Europe (FAB CE) in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest.

Representatives of seven European countries (Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia) all gathered within the FAB CE initiative jointly estimate that in the coming months, the crowds at airports will be greater than before due to an ongoing lack of workers, but also the fact that despite negative economic trends and other problems, particularly the ongoing and brutal war in Ukraine following Russian invasion, there has been no decline in interest in flights.

"With the full activation of international air traffic, we expect even higher traffic than the record year of 2019, to which traffic during the summer months will contribute the most. Regardless of the negative economic trends affected by the global coronavirus pandemic and the unstable situation in Eastern Europe as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, business forecasts in the field of aviation are very optimistic," say Croatian flight controllers.

"All statistical indicators and analyses indicate that by the end of 2022, we will witness an upward business trajectory. We're already recording better results than we previously predicted, and now a total and utter recovery of air traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight,'' said Kresimir Rakoci, President of the Air Traffic Controllers Union after the FAB CE meeting.

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Rudjer Boskovic Institute Coordinates AI Programme for Healthcare

June the 28th, 2022 - The Rudjer Boskovic Institute is no stranger to European and international praise and rounds of applause, and with its latest project, there could be a real turnaround on the cards in terms of healthcare provision.

Croatia has been given the opportunity to be a European driver of digital change in healthcare, and the project of the public-private consortium AI4Health "Artificial Intelligence for Smart Health and Medicine" was excellently evaluated by the European Commission (EC) within the Digital Europe programme.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, this means that the project, whose holder and coordinator is the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, along with the help of fifteen other partners, should become the Croatian EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hub).

The signing of the contract with the EC is expected in the third quarter, and it will provide the consortium with a sum of three million euros over the next three years. During that period, says Anja Baresic, the coordinator for partners from the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Croatia has the opportunity to position itself among the leaders in the transformation of European health systems with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

"Our goal is for at least part of the innovation based on artificial intelligence to come to life within the scope of Croatian healthcare, from which patients, healthcare professionals and innovators will benefit the most," Baresic pointed out.

Four types of service

As she explained, although this country does have a decent number of innovators and startups in the field of healthcare, their AI solutions find it difficult to find their way to the healthcare system itself and really enter into practical application for several reasons. A common challenge is that they have nowhere to test these innovations in the development phase, and there is a real vagueness in terms of legislation regarding the entry of AI solutions into the market, especially in the healthcare sector where the risks are high. That should finally change thanks to this Rudjer Boskovic Institute project.

“In the hub for the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare that we're going to establish, we'll provide four types of services; pre-investment testing, assistance in accessing funding sources, improving skills and knowledge and networking ecosystems,'' explained Baresic. All this will be possible because the consortium consists of actors from all sectors necessary for AI to come to life in practice - science, medicine, industry and the public sector.

According to Nina Sesto, the assistant director of the Magdalena Clinic and the project coordinator for health, this will be the key to the digitalisation of the Croatian healthcare system.

"The biggest shifts occur when different worlds grow closer, that is, when everyone comes and sits at the same table, jointly defines obstacles and also tries to find solutions," she said.

The assistant director of the Clinic, which has had a telecardiology centre for more than twenty years now and monitors patients remotely, says there are some huge obstacles to significant digitalisation and application of AI not only here in Croatia, but all over the world.

“New technologies and tools need to gain the trust of the clinicians who need to use these new digital tools in treating their patients. Maximum transparency and a clear legal framework are needed,'' she stated, adding that Magdalena is also working on developing their own innovation.

In the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, they launched an impressive virtual clinic, and by the end of the year, the digital assistant Megi, intended for chronic cardiovascular patients, should come to life. In the initial development of Megi, the startup Mindsmiths, the founder of which is Mislav Malenica, who is also the president of CroAI, an association that has been part of the AI4Health consortium from the beginning and which gave Andrija to the Croatian healthcare system in the middle of the pandemic, also participated.

Malenica predicts a bright future for this Rudjer Boskovic Institute project on the basis of which Croatia could become part of the digital revolution. He noted the healthcare sector was not randomly selected.

“When AI started to develop we thought it would contribute to greater equality across all segments of life and in our society, but it ended up making some even bigger differences. We gathered together a team of experts from various fields and realised that healthcare is a sector that lacks digital innovations and that we can be the first to implement something in this area,'' Malenica recalled.

He added that the problems in different healthcare systes around the world are a reality and that there is an obvious need for solutions. Hospital systems are becoming increasingly congested, and this is putting pressure on both staff and hospital costs, not to mention patient waiting times which may well be critical.

The solutions provided by AI, according to Deloitte research, can save about 400,000 lives a year, save about two million man-hours and about 200 billion euros a year.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

German Portal BR24 Warns German Tourists of High Croatian Prices

June the 28th, 2022 - The German portal BR24 has warned would-be German tourists of the currently ''high Croatian prices'' as ongoing inflation continues to pinch pockets and tighten belts.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the German portal Bayerische Rundfunk 24 has stated: ''Whether it's a city trip to Dubrovnik or a beach holiday on Krk - tourists must be prepared for higher Croatian prices.''

Back in 2019 - before the global coronavirus crisis - 2.88 million inhabitants of Germany spent their summers here in the Republic of Croatia, and travel agencies in Germany are announcing that this year, the number of visiting Germans could exceed 2019's figures, reports BR24.

However, the aforementioned German portal also warned its fellow citizens about high Croatian prices as a result of inflation, which amounts to almost ten percent, and they say that the price of everyday basic items in stores is now even higher, RTL reports.

“It seems that in some cases, the prices have remained the same, but the packaging has become smaller. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages in May 2022 increased by 15.2 percent compared to the same month last year,'' stateed BR24 when explaining high Croatian prices.

They also say that the huge increase in prices is noticeable in the hospitality industry. Thus, they state that before the coronavirus pandemic, a beer in a pub in the City of Zagreb cost twelve kuna, or about 1.60 euros, and that German visitors will now have to pay 19 kuna for it.

"In places and islands popular with tourists, such as Split, Dubrovnik or Rovinj, the prices are much higher. Lunch for a family of four can cost 700 kuna and more, which is the equivalent of about 93 euros. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, hotel prices have also risen. They were more expensive by more than twelve percent this May compared to May 2021,'' writes BR24.

In the end, BR24 warned the Germans to be careful when exchanging money, more precisely switching euros to the Croatian kuna.

“You can try to save at least some money. Because, depending on where you exchange euros for kuna, the exchange rate varies. As a rule, exchange rates in exchange offices are much cheaper than when you withdraw money from ATMs,'' they say.

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Croatian Electric Car Purchase Incentives Prove an Absolute Hit

June the 28th, 2022 - Croatian electric car purchase incentives which were only introduced yesterday have proven an absolute hit among all those choosing to opt for electric vehicles.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the tender for the award of Croatian electric car purchase incentives from the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency was opened yesterday at 08:00, and by 08:30, literally thirty minutes later, 99 percent of the provisions of a total of 103.3 million kuna were filled. As of 08:50 that same morning, applications for Croatian electric car purchase incentives was no longer possible.

"The method of application for both people and companies was the same as it was last year. At the end of May, we published a public call/invitation for expressions of interest towards car distributors, and at the end of June, a public call for co-financing the purchase of electric cars for people and companies came to be. The amount of Croatian electric car purchase incentives per vehicle wasn't set to change this year and amounted to between 20 and 70 thousand kuna, depending on the category of vehicle and type of drive,'' they said from the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency.

This means that this year, too, the implementation of grants for the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles was carried out according to the procedure introduced last year, which has proven to be more efficient than the previous practice(s).

To be more specific, last year, a new, changed procedural method was introduced, according to which the famous "first come first served'' method was avoided, ie the model according to which incentives were given to those who managed to apply first. Apart from the fact that such a system was criticised by both individuals and legal entities, it was also unsuccessful because in the end, only 50 percent of people to whom the incentive was granted, actually bothered to use the incentive. Under this new system, individuals and legal entities no longer apply to the public call directly, but through authorised motor vehicle dealers based here in the Republic of Croatia.

As such, this year as well, the aforementioned Fund first announced a public call to which dealers were able to apply, who then reported points of sale and available vehicle models through the Fund's application. At their points of sale, individuals and legal entities received an offer for a vehicle and dealers applied for the Croatian electric car purchase incentives on their behalf.

Therefore, those who wanted to get their hands on Croatian electric car purchase incentives this time around still had to be fast, meaning they needed to fully prepare before the announcement of the public call, which meant studying the offer of the vehicles for which they could apply for subsidies, and which were being offered on the Croatian market, and there were more and more every day. According to information from the Fund, the utilisation of the funds from last year's public call has been much better than it was in previous years, but they don't yet have an accurate analysis. The reason is that the deadline for the purchase of these vehicles, ie the use of the reserved funds, had been prolonged due to the extended deadlines placed on the delivery of cars on a global level. The procedure after a successful incentive booking is, therefore, exactly like it was last year.

The buyer has been required to pay a minimum advance of 7 percent of the Fund's requested funds, for example if an incentive of 70,000 kuna was requested, the dealer would have to be paid out a sum of 4,900 kuna. The deadline for delivery and use of incentives will be nine months from the approval of co-financing. By far the most sought-after vehicles for co-financing last year were electric cars, for which 70,000 kuna was made available this year as well.

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

Monday, 27 June 2022

Contracts Awarded for Co-Financing School Meals for Children at Risk of Poverty

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Minister of Labour and Social Policy Marin Piletić awarded 17 contracts on Monday to county and city authorities, worth more than HRK 14.6 million, which will provide a daily school meal for children at risk of poverty in more than 200 primary schools next school year.

"This is the ministry's annual regular activity since 2015, and we have allocated HRK 30 million for the next 2022/2023 school year for this very purpose," said Piletić.

Contracts were signed with 17 beneficiaries today which will provide school meals for 14,500 children at risk of poverty, and more contracts will be signed with other elementary school founders. The minister believes that the allocated HRK 30 million will all be spent during the next school year.

The funds allocated so far through the European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD) will be allocated next year through the European Social Fund Plus. An allocation of just over €35 million is planned to continue funding this activity until 2027.

Piletić underscored that local government units will also additionally finance these activities, which will include about 30,000 children at risk of poverty in the next school year.

Speaking about children at risk of poverty, Piletić pointed out that only data from 2020 is currently available and the percentage of these children dropped to 16.8%, which is slightly lower than the European average of 21%.

"The poverty rate is highest in Slavonian counties for well-known reasons, but because there are children at risk of poverty in the whole of Croatia, including developed areas, our goal is for school founders in all of Croatia to be potential beneficiaries in the next programme period," Piletić said.

The contracts today were signed by seven counties: Krapina-Zagorje, Sisak-Moslavina, Varaždin, Bjelovar-Bilogora, Međimurje, Koprivnica-Križevci, Brod-Posavina; and 10 cities: Slavonski Brod, Vukovar, Bjelovar, Križevci, Zadar, Čakovec, Vinkovci, Šibenik, Makarska, and Virovitica.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Prime Minister Receives Representatives of Five National Sports Federations

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received representatives of five national sports federations in Government House on Monday, and among other things they discussed the importance of investing in the development of sports and sports facilities, the government said in a press release.

Attending the meeting along with Plenković were Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

"Prime Minister Plenković underscored the numerous top results of Croatian athletes, who have for years been one of the most important promoters of Croatia in the world, and their successes also contribute to strengthening national identity and pride," the press release said.

The sports representatives expressed their satisfaction with all that has been done so far in the field of sports and commended the government's initiative to draft a new Sports Act, which was last amended in 2006.

Plenković said that the government would continue to provide financial support to sports. He underscored that the popularisation of sports is important for Croatian society, especially among children and young people, because it has a positive effect on the adoption of values of a healthy lifestyle and encourages discipline and socialization.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Milanović Expected to Meet Finnish Counterpart, Swedish PM During NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović will attend the NATO summit in Madrid from 28 to 30 June and is expected to meet bilaterally with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, his office said on Monday.

The summit is being held in the midst of a major security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic area caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and therefore a discussion on strengthening aid to Ukraine is also expected.

A topic of the NATO summit will also be Finland's and Sweden's accession to the military alliance.

Earlier, the Croatian president said that the entry of the Nordic countries into NATO should be made conditional on amendments to the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid an official visit to Croatia last week, and Milanović told her that in principle he was not opposed to Finland's accession to NATO, but at the same time, he underscored the difficult position of Croats in BiH and the security problems facing Croatia due to the unstable situation in that country.

Also, in a recent telephone conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Milanović said that he was not opposed to Finland's entry into NATO, but that he expected to understand from that country for the protection of the rights of BiH Croats.

Invited non-member heads of state and government - Australia, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Finland, and Sweden - and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the summit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the summit via a video call.

On the first day of the NATO summit on Tuesday, Milanović and his wife Sanja Musić Milanović will attend a gala dinner along with other heads of state, hosted by King Philip VI of Spain and Queen Letizia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

8,951 Drug Seizures Recorded in Croatia in 2021

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Last year there were 8,951 drug seizures in Croatia and a stable trend of addicts in treatment, 80% of whom were opiate addicts, the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) said on Monday on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse.

The number of new opiate addicts in treatment keeps declining and cannabis prevails among non-opiate addicts, HZJZ assistant director Željko Petković said.

In 2021, 84% of those in treatment for psychoactive drug abuse were men, while the rest were women, he added.

The average age of persons treated for drug abuse is 40.4 years, experimenting with drugs begins at 17.2 years on average, and the average age of persons seeking treatment for the first time is 28.5 years.

The HZJZ estimates there are between 7,200 and 11,547 high-risk opiate addicts in Croatia.

Last year saw an increase in seizures of cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines.

An analysis of narcotics in wastewaters in 75 cities in 23 EU member states shows that in the last decade Zagreb has been recording an increase in urine cocaine metabolites (546.82 mg per day).

The highest cannabis metabolites in wastewaters have been discovered in Croatian, Spanish, Dutch and Slovenian cities.

Maja Valentić of the HZJZ said 5,378 persons in Croatia were being treated for drug abuse in 2020, including 518 for the first time.

Of all those in treatment, 83% were addicted primarily to opiates, 10% to cannabis and 2.6% to cocaine and other stimulants, she added.

Istria and Zadar counties had the highest number of persons in treatment last year, 561 and 546, respectively.

The number of new heroin addicts in treatment keeps falling.

The HZJZ said the pandemic incited the digitalisation of the drug market.

Dražen Rastović of the police office for the suppression of corruption and organised crime said there was no drug addiction epidemic in Croatia, although the number of consumers seems to be increasing.

There are no open drug scenes nor major drug production, apart from marijuana growing, he added.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Croatia's Part of Vc Corridor to be Completed in 2024, Minister Says

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - The Pan-European transport corridor Vc's section to Beli Manastir will be opened in late October and Croatia's 88-kilometer-long part of the corridor will be completed in 2024, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said in Osijek on Monday.

After visiting the construction site, he said works were proceeding very well and that after the inauguration of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section, the HAC motorway operator would invite bids for the remaining five kilometers to the Hungarian border, a section estimated at HRK 300 million.

The total investment, including the bypass near Beli Manastir, is HRK 570 million, the minister said.

This transport corridor has big prospects as it will connect Budapest and the southernmost Croatian seaport of Ploče, he said, adding that works on the corridor in Bosnia and Herzegovina are expected to intensify.

HAC director Boris Huzjan said more than 90% of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section had been completed.

The 17.5-kilometer section is worth HRK 495 million, he said, adding that 59 kilometers of the Croatian part of Vc are currently in use and that 83 will be in use after the completion of the Osijek-Beli Manastir section.

Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić said Vc had a big impact on the City of Osijek and the county as well as on other Slavonia counties. This international route will facilitate the flow of people and goods between Budapest and Ploče, he added.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Monday, 27 June 2022

International Croatian Language Summer School Ends in Krk

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - The International Summer School of Croatian Language and Culture for Croatian Language Teachers and Students in the Diaspora, which began on 18 June has ended in Krk with participants receiving appropriate certificates.

The summer school is organized by the Croatian Studies Faculty at Zagreb University of Zagreb for participants from Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, with lessons and exercises in the Croatian language.

Participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and teaching competencies and gain new acquaintances. They were also acquainted with the heritage and culture of the islands of Krk and Cres and attended the launch of a book of poems by Vlasta Sindik Pobor.

This is the fifth edition of the Croaticum Summer School of the Croatian Language and Culture and is part of the project of cooperation with ethnic Croatian communities in the Diaspora. The school is supported by the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, the Ministry of Science and Education, and this year, the City of Krk.

For more news about the Croatian diaspora, visit our dedicated section.

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