Friday, 24 June 2022

Six Outdoor Sports and Activities and Where to Try Them in Croatia

June 24, 2022 - If you're the type who is always looking for some adrenaline rushes and adventure on your vacation in Croatia, why not try one of these six outdoor sports and activities? 

So many months have passed since you booked your accommodation and bought your tickets. Summer has finally arrived and so has your well-deserved vacation. All you want is to forget about work and college for a few days and focus on living your life to the fullest. You just want to lie on the beach or float in the calm waters of the Adriatic. Who doesn't?

But it occurs to me that maybe some of those many days that you will spend in Croatia could be reserved to try something new, something fun. And I'm not talking about what you may already know you can do in Croatia, like sailing or hiking (both great, by the way). You may have never tried some of the six outdoor sports and activities that we will mention below, but here is always a first time, and is there any better place than Croatia? Luckily, you will be in one of these destinations already, and if not, we will try to convince you to make some small adjustments to your travel itinerary!

Windsurf in Viganj

On the Dalmatian peninsula of Pelješac, about ten minutes west of Orebić by car, is the village of Viganj. In case you are not familiar with the Maestral winds in the area, they are very common strong winds in the summer that make Viganj a very popular destination in Croatia for windsurfing. Although many championships (some of them international) are held in Viganj, do not think that it is a sport reserved for professionals. Windsurfing is a very entertaining sport that you can do on calm and flat waters. In Viganj you can find instructors who will teach you and your family the basics. Additionally, in Viganj you will find a good number of bars and restaurants to refresh yourself and calm your appetite after an intense day.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Rafting in Omiš

The beautiful and historic town of Omiš is a 50-minute drive south of Split. While noted for its beaches, charming old town, and views from above, Omiš is located at the mouth of the Cetina River, the largest in Dalmatia. It has a length of 101 km (63 mi) and its basin covers an area of 1,463 km2. From its source, the Cetina descends from an elevation of 385 meters above sea level to the Adriatic Sea, making it a preferred destination for those who love river sports. In the city of Omiš, you will see numerous agencies and companies offering tours and rafting classes, ideal if you come in a group. Definitely an activity that you must try if you want some adrenaline and at the same time enjoy the beauty of the Cetina canyon.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Rock climbing in Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park is located 50 minutes by car from the city of Zadar and is one of the largest in Croatia, as well as one of the most spectacular. Paklenica has something for everyone, but surely what has brought it a lot of popularity are its huge stone walls, and every year thousands of daring locals and tourists visit Paklenica to climb them. Do not be intimidated, because although you will see many experienced climbers, you can start from a basic level and climb as necessary. Now, if you are one of those experienced climbers, you cannot miss this great opportunity, especially if you are in Zadar! Rock climbing on a hot summer day can be exhausting, but don't worry, because you will do it next to the Paklenica river, ideal for cooling off! The place also has bars to drink water, beer, whatever you want!

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Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

Scuba diving in Brijuni National Park

Brijuni National Park is located in Istria and is a string of small islands reachable by boat from Fažana, 20 minutes from the city of Pula. Brijuni, in addition to being recognized for its archaeological and cultural sites, also has incredible and diverse marine fauna and flora. The waters of the Brijuni National Park are extraordinary for scuba diving, which is organized by guided groups and gives you the opportunity to appreciate and photograph the National Park seabed.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Kayaking in Dubrovnik

Although kayaking is an activity that you can practice along the entire Adriatic coast, including the Croatian islands, we had to highlight Dubrovnik as a top destination to do it. It is one of the most practiced in Croatia because, although it requires technique and practice, it is an activity to do calmly and appreciate everything around you. If you dare to do it in Dubrovnik, you will see that there is something very special about kayaking next to the ancient walls of the Pearl of the Adriatic. You also have the opportunity to visit the island of Lopud, and of course, there will be plenty of time to get off the kayak on the beaches of Dubrovnik and cool off from the summer heat.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Kitesurfing in Nin

Similar to windsurfing, kitesurfing is also an activity in the sea where your best partner is the wind. While in windsurfing you combine surfing with sailing, in kitesurfing you will use a kite (sorry for the redundancy). On a good windy day, you can travel distances at impressive speeds, as well as being able to lift off the surface and basically fly, allowing you to perform mind-blowing tricks in the air. It sounds intimidating, but you will find instructors who will help you start small and you will see that it is very entertaining. You can kitesurf in places like Viganj, but another very popular kitesurfing destination is Queen's Beach in Nin, 30 minutes from Zadar. With spectacular views of the Velebit mountain range and an area known for its healing mud, practicing kitesurfing will be the highlight of your day.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Dubrovnik Hosts International Conference on Anthropological Genetics and Forensics

June the 24th, 2022 - Dubrovnik hosts the 12th International Conference on Anthropological Genetics and Forensics, which saw 550 scientists, doctors and other experts from across Europe and the rest of the world descend on the Pearl of the Adriatic.

As Morski writes, the 12th International Conference on Anthropological Genetics and Forensics brought together the above-mentioned number of individuals from various prestigious European and international universities and institutions to discuss forensics and personalised medicine in Dubrovnik on Thursday.

The conference was organised by the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences ISABS, the American Mayo Clinic and the Sv Katarina (St. Catherine) Special Hospital. ISABS President Dragan Primorac pointed out that the congress will primarily answer what the medicine of the future will look like.

''First of all, I'm referring to the development of pharmacogenomics, gene cell therapy in the treatment of a number of degenerative diseases, as well as cancer. The future of medicine is to break out of the clichés of the medical tradition. The new concept is personalised medicine, and that means that the right therapy goes to the right patient at the right time, which we can find out more about by analysing glycomics, genomics, proteomics and epigenomics. Those who don't accept that will not be competitive on the global market,'' said Primorac.

Dubrovnik hosts many famous names, and this time three Nobel laureates also took part in the congress: Sir Richard Roberts, Thomas Südhof and Aaron Ciechanover, and Primorac has announced that they will work with about 200 students from the USA, Europe and Croatia.

Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs pointed out that, in addition to the level of scientific thought and new achievements, the congress opened up opportunities for students to network and gain some new experiences.

''It's very important for young people. I'd especially like to emphasise forensics, but personalised medicine is also becoming more and more popular across the world, and that is certainly the future,'' said Fuchs.

Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic noted that the Ivan Vucetic Police Academy and the Centre for Forensic Investigations, Research and Expertise are scientific institutions within the Ministry of the Interior (MUP).

''Perhaps it's less known that these organiaational units of the Ministry of the Interior have scientific licenses, and in terms of forensics, the Ivan Vucetic Centre has an important role to play. The chief is a member of the American Academy of Forensics. We're at the very top of the global scale and we're certainly a leader in this part of Europe,'' said Bozinovic.

In cooperation with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the conference discussed new forms of cancer treatment, pharmacogenomics, translational and personalised medicine, gene and molecular therapy and diagnostics, regenerative medicine and the use of stem cells in treatment, as well as other achievements of modern scientific research.

For more on conferences and congresses Dubrovnik hosts, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

7-Year Itch or Continued Bliss? A Reflection on 7 Years in Split

June 24, 2022 - 7-year-itch or continued bliss? A reflection on 7 years in Split by TCN's Daniela Rogulj. 

June 24th marks my Croatia anniversary. It is officially the longest place I have lived outside the small town of Fallbrook, California - the so-called 'avocado capital of the world' and an agricultural oasis an hour north of San Diego, where I was born and raised. San Francisco took the cake before Split, where I spent six years attending university and launching myself as a fresh-faced 21-year-old into the fast-paced startup world. I had no idea then that I would end up in Croatia, let alone Europe, at 24. California was my home. The state that made me. But Croatia has transformed me into who I am today. 

I know I've said this many times, and anyone who knows me or has followed my journey here knows that I moved to Split accidentally. After spending six months in London, I was desperate to finalize my Croatian citizenship to either stay in London or move anywhere else in Europe (like Berlin). During that time, my parents moved to Split to retire, and one month later, I visited them to sort out citizenship paperwork and enjoy the same Croatian summer I had since I was a little girl. 

I arrived on June 24, 2015. It was the summer that changed my perception of Split. It was no longer the port city I had remembered. It had transformed from the transport hub we would visit as a family on the way to Hvar or a short stint for a Hajduk match. Split had come to life in a different light in 2015. There was a new renaissance. Bustling restaurants and bars. Expats. And locals that I still call friends. 

After the season's changed and my citizenship was approved, I was convinced to stay in Split a little longer. It wasn't easy to find work here at first, and it took almost a year after I arrived to find the gig that changed my course in Croatia. My professional work experience was in marketing and communications, first as a sales & marketing intern at a San Francisco startup before taking on a role as the community manager of a new photo/video app rivaling Instagram, then ultimately co-founding an app in e-commerce. What in the world could I do with that in Split? Was tech even a thing here? Did a startup environment even exist? 

I graduated from university with a degree in political science, which I completed to become a political journalist. Otherwise, I've always been right-brained, favoring creativity, imagination, and arts. I knew I was a good writer. I knew what I was capable of in terms of marketing. But I also knew my work in hospitality was limited to managing a cupcake shop while studying at university. I didn't want to work a seasonal hospitality job because it was the norm. I was motivated and hungry to start something but knew I needed to start somewhere first. 

My first 'job' in Split was working alongside a booking agent known for his roster of big bands like TBF and up-and-coming artists like Sara Renar. With my dad's background in the music industry as a travel agent for entertainment, this felt like a good fit. It was a good insight into how things worked in Croatia and how coffee meetings were king, but it was only the beginning. 

A few months later, my mom sent me a Facebook post about how Total Split of the Total Croatia News brand was looking for a new writer. Well, this seemed perfect, but I hadn't written blogs in a few years, nor did I know Split inside out yet. I applied, anyhow. I didn't hear anything for a few weeks and assumed that was the end. In the meantime, I had to take a last-minute trip back to the States, which would keep me in California for three weeks. I received an email from TCN the second I landed at LAX. The TCN team was still eager to continue with my application process, and I met with Paul Bradbury the day after I arrived back in Split. I started working with TCN the day after that and celebrated my 6th anniversary with the company last month, which is also officially the longest time I've spent employed at a single place. 

My role with TCN has evolved over the years, from writing for Total Split and Total Inland Dalmatia to covering travel news and lifestyle events. Though it really took form when I took over as Sports Editor in 2017, especially after a former colleague told me I would never see a press pass for Croatia national team games. As an avid football player for most of my life, a coach's daughter, and a FIFA referee's granddaughter, I wasn't going to let anyone get in the way of my love for Croatian football. Since then, I've been an accredited journalist at nearly all Croatia national team matches, Hajduk matches, and traveled around Europe for Europa League, UEFA Nations League, and EURO 2020. I recorded 20+ international radio interviews during the 2018 World Cup and even became the Croatian correspondent for the largest sports radio station in the world. Today I am not only the Sports Editor of Total Croatia News but the COO. Did this all stem from a local telling me, "I will never get X in Croatia"? It was certainly part of it. Do I think I would have achieved the same success in the US? I'm not sure. But this also shows that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it, and it feels even better when you do it in Croatia. 

Always running into people that needed my native English flair for various tourism projects, I also launched a copywriting business in 2017, which has grown to more clients than I can handle by myself. It is a niche, but it is needed, and the increasing demand for storytelling in Croatian tourism has undoubtedly helped. I'm busier than ever, and my work doesn't stop when the seasons change. I am eternally grateful to everyone that has given me an opportunity here, told me I couldn't, or motivated me to do more. I work from home, have flexible hours (which, let's be honest, is 7 am to 11 pm every day), and can afford an apartment I love, on my own, without any help from the money I made in America (that was all spent in 2015). I am proud of what I have achieved here but am even more appreciative of what Croatia has taught me about myself. 

So, after 7 years in Croatia, what have I learned? 

Paul Bradbury is famous for saying, "don't expect to change Dalmatia but expect it to change you." And it has. 

To start - has it aged me? Tremendously, because I've never worked harder in my life. But I am thankful that my continued work ethic helped launch a career here that I love, that is my own, and that gave me a world of opportunities I never imagined, making the increasingly appearing frown lines a bit easier to look at every morning. 

I've learned to stop drawing comparisons between Croatia and the US because you can't. Croatia has what the US doesn't - both good and bad. While I likely work just as much as I would have in the States, er, maybe more, I'm happier. I am not following the rat race of the working world in America. I wake up to the Adriatic Sea every morning. And I feel at peace. The anxieties that come with living in America alone aren't worth the higher salaries. And I make sure to tell every Uber driver that questions why I would swap California for Split about how good we have it here and how the grass isn't always greener on the other side (political circus and bureaucracy aside). 

I remember being so worried about making new friends in Split when I arrived, but the truth is, it was easier than I thought - and much more genuine than some of the relationships I had in California. I quickly found my pack here, and while it has evolved over the years, the foundation has remained the same. It's not hard to surround yourself with equally driven people. Most of my friends are business owners, many foreigners, and incredible locals doing amazing things. I've learned that the community in Split is beyond special, but you must be careful who you choose to be a part of yours. With that said, I still maintain the importance of staying in your bubble and only letting those you trust in. You never know when someone's pride may get in the way. And you know how proud some Croatians can be. 

I've only recently learned that setting boundaries are essential. Once you put yourself out there as a yes woman, people expect that of you, and you hold those standards for yourself. Maybe part of me needed to do that for the last seven years to finally be in the place of comfort I am now and gain that respect, but people can also easily take advantage of your eagerness, and while they're getting what they want - you're the one suffering. Transparency and communication are key in all work here because miscommunication or misunderstandings often happen. It's important to work with people you wholly trust and build those relationships as they will ultimately bring more. 

And back to "don't expect to change Dalmatia but expect it to change you." Dalmatia - is a beast. The best of the best and the worst of the worst at times. Overall, you learn to adapt, become softer and tougher simultaneously, and learn how to navigate what works and what doesn't. You can push for something for years without seeing the light of day, or something can fall into your lap. You never really know what will take off and won't, which can be disheartening. But that doesn't mean you should give up if you believe in something. 

Also, it's okay to celebrate your success. I know that's sometimes 'taboo' in Croatia, but we should all pat ourselves on the back for what we have achieved here, as even the smallest victories can make the biggest impact. 

In the last year alone, my experiences in Split have shaken my core. I've had my heart broken, my world rattled, and I thought about leaving Croatia for good. But I always came back to the same thing - could I really leave this place? The place that has given me everything? I couldn't. And I wouldn't change the passion and pride of Split people (or the frustrations) for anything in the world. 

Seven years in Split and at least another seven more - here's to the place that changed me for the better. 

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

6th ACAP Conference in New York: Silvio Kutić Announces Further Growth of Infobip in US

June 24, 2022 - The sixth annual conference of the Association of Croatian-American Professionals (ACAP) in New York gave the opportunity to the leading Croatian entrepreneurs to present their successful companies and projects to representatives of global investment companies.

The co-founder and CEO of InfobipSilvio Kutić, in a fireside chat with Iva Vukina, managing director in Goldman Sachs, told the inspiring story of a company that grew from a Vodnjan startup into the first Croatian unicorn. 

"Croats who are part of the US technological and financial community are not sufficiently familiar with the domestic entrepreneurial scene. That is why such events and informal socializing are important in order to get acquainted with the numerous opportunities that we have been developing in Croatia. Infobip has been present in the US market for a long time, and our plan is to further grow and take the lead, which is why it is important for us to further meet customers and expand the network of contacts - said Silvio Kutić, CEO and co-founder of Infobip. 

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The annual ACAP conference entitled ‘AN EVOLVING MINDSET: Innovation, Collaboration & Sustainability’ was also attended by a large number of domestic startups whose projects have attracted significant interest from potential investors.  - It is great that a lot of Croatian startups that have global potential are present at ACAP conference. This is an ideal opportunity to introduce ourselves to the American market and our expatriates who are active and want to boost the domestic tech sector. I believe that an important goal for all of us should be to connect domestic startups with global venture capital funds that can help them further expand in the US market - added Nikola Pavešić, director of startup ecosystem at Infobip and project manager of Startup Tribe. Infobip's Startup Tribe program provides startups with product, logistics, and mentoring support, opening the door to faster development through its network in the USA, but also in other markets in which they operate. 

Friday, 24 June 2022

First Case of Monkeypox in Croatia Confirmed

June 24, 2022 - The first case of monkeypox in Croatia has been confirmed by the "Dr. Fran Mihaljević" Clinic for Infectious Diseases.

The suspicion of the disease was confirmed during the evening by PCR test, reports Index.hr

A man who was in Italy and Spain was infected
He is a man who has lived in Italy and Spain. He has milder monkeypox and is not hospitalized but in home isolation. Last week the first case of infection was confirmed in Serbia.

What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease but can be transmitted through direct contact during sexual intercourse. It can also spread through clothing, bedding, or towels used by an infected person, by touching lesions, or by droplet transmission.

It was first discovered in 1958 when it appeared in monkeys used in research. However, the first case of transmission to humans was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Markotić: There is a possibility of transmission from person to person
The director of the "Dr. Fran Mihaljević" Clinic for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić, explained the infection's symptoms.

"It is a viral disease. These are DNA viruses, most often small, small rodents, including mice, rats and squirrels, and numerous primates," Markotić explained, adding that there is a possibility of transmission from human to human, from animal to human, but also from man to animal.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
When it comes to symptoms, Markotić said that the disease starts with a high temperature, like most other infectious diseases, with a generally bad condition, exhaustion, and a severe headache.

"It is common for many diseases, but on the third or fourth day, a rash appears, first at the site of the initial entrance, then spreads further from the face, extremities, and finally on the palms and soles. The symptoms themselves resemble smallpox. Fortunately, there is no smallpox in circulation. This disease has been completely eradicated by vaccination. In monkeypox, we also have very swollen lymph nodes," Markotić explained.

Who can get monkeypox?
When asked who gets monkeypox, Markotić said all categories of people get sick.

"We can say that now in this phenomenon of some kind of epidemic in Europe, it is mostly men who have had relationships with men. But, further, the disease can spread to other groups. Immunocompromised people, pregnant women, and young children are particularly vulnerable. They are at the greatest risk. This disease is much easier than smallpox. Mortality is somewhere up to 10 or 11 percent. Again more in vulnerable populations," Markotić concluded.

HZJZ: The disease is not very contagious
HZJZ pointed out that the disease is not highly contagious, i.e., in most cases, very close contact with the patient is required. The causative agent is a virus similar to the smallpox virus, and its natural reservoir is most likely some species of squirrels and other rodents in the wilds of Central and West Africa.

Although the disease is called monkeypox, it seems that monkeys are not a reservoir of the virus but accidentally become infected, like humans, in contact with other animals and their secretions. The disease can be transmitted from person to person by droplets and contact with skin changes in patients.

Occasionally, monkeypox occurred outside of Africa, most commonly in travelers who became infected in Africa and in persons who came in close contact with them. For example, in the United States, an epidemic was reported in 2003 among children and young people who became infected through contact with prairie dogs, infected by rodents imported from Ghana.

It passes in two to four weeks
Monkeypox manifests as fever, headache, chills, exhaustion, fatigue, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, and rash, as in chickenpox. Vaccination against smallpox is thought to provide solid protection, but it is unknown how long protection lasts after immunization.

In addition, smallpox vaccination was abolished worldwide in the late 1970s, after smallpox was declared eradicated. Treatment is symptomatic, and in most cases, the disease passes in two to four weeks.

There is a difference between smallpox and monkeypox
The HZJZ also mentioned a big difference between smallpox and monkeypox because smallpox is anthroponosis, i.e., the man was the sole host and reservoir of the virus. Thanks to this fact, the disease could be eradicated. On the other hand, monkeypox is a zoonosis, i.e., the natural host and reservoir of the virus are wild animals, and therefore it is impossible to eradicate the disease even if there is an effective vaccine.

Most importantly, they pointed out that the transmission of apes from man to man is much less efficient than the transmission of smallpox, i.e., monkeypox is less contagious. 

For more news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 24 June 2022

New FIFA Rule Allows 26 Croatia Players at 2022 World Cup

June 24, 2022 - A new FIFA rule allows each national team to bring 26 players to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But which 26 Croatia players will coach Dalić choose?

FIFA has officially announced that coaches will be able to register 26 players for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is a rule for the first time in the World Cup's history. 

The national team coaches were divided. Some advocated a larger number of footballers; others opposed it because they hold that leading a group of 26 players makes it difficult to maintain a competitive stimulus and atmosphere for everyone. However, most of them are satisfied with the rule, especially those who, like Zlatko Dalić, may have doubts and face difficult decisions about who to write off.

Thus, the Croatia coach will have a surplus of candidates. FIFA will allow anyone who wants to have 23 players as the minimum number allowed. Although Dalić has yet to make an official statement, he will likely lead with 26 players, as he did for Euro 2020. 

“Given the need to retain additional flexibility due to the unique timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the global calendar, as well as the wider context of the devastating effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on the team, it was decided:

- the maximum number of players on the preliminary list has been increased from 35 to 55,

- the number of players to be included in the final list has been increased to a minimum of 23 and a maximum of 26,

- the last day of matches at the club level will be the deadline for registration of 23 to 26 players who will make the final list, which is November 13, 2022,

- there will be 26 on the bench, of which 15 reserve players and 11 officials, one of whom must be a doctor."

The last provision is important because 23 players were allowed minutes at the Euros, meaning the coach had to send three players to the stands before each match. Now, all 26 will be on the record, so as many as 15 on the bench.

Zlatko Dalić has two Nations League games until the final selection. Logically, he will bring three goalkeepers - Livaković, Ivušić, and another, and 23 players - eight in defense, six each from the midfield and attacking line, and three as a bonus where he needs it.

In the defense, it is clear that Juranović, Gvardiol, Erlić, J. Šutalo, Sosa, and likely Barišić are safe; in the midfield, Modrić, Kovačić, Brozović, Majer, Pašalić, although he is a candidate for attack and very likely Jakić, and in the attack Perišić, Kramarić, Livaja and very likely Budimir and Brekalo. That is already 20 names to which the third goalkeeper should be added (L. Kalinić, Grbić, Labrović?). For the other five positions, strong candidates are Stanišić, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Ćaleta-Car, Vida, though not all of them from the defense will be able to come, and Vlašić and Oršić. Sučić, Petković, Pongračić, Ivanušec, Musa, and Krovinović are also candidates.

Source: Sportske Novosti

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Pizza Festival Opens In Zagreb For First Time

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- The Pizza Festival, held in Zagreb for the first time, opened in Dr Franjo Tuđman Square on Thursday, and it runs through 3 July.

"Delicious pizzas, excellent music and chilled drinks have the main role in this new gastronomic adventure," said the organisers from the Chicken or Egg agency.

Visitors will be able to try 19 different pizza flavours from four Croatian hospitality establishments. The working hours of the festival are from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., and admission is free.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Probe Shows Mechanical Damage On CA Plane, Rules Out Shooting

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- The damage which was spotted at a Croatia Airlines plane after landing at Sarajevo Airport on Wednesday evening, was not caused by shooting, as earlier speculated, but by mechanical damage.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina State Prosecutor's Office stated that based on the preliminary findings of an investigation there were no indications that the damage was caused by shooting from firearms.

There are no traces of gunpowder at the spot where the damage was noticed, and there is no other evidence showing that the damage could have been caused by a gunshot.

The damage has probably been caused by a mechanical impact, the Prosecutor's Office said.

After the Croatia Airlines plane landed in Sarajevo on Wednesday evening, damage was noticed on the fuselage. There was speculation that it could have been caused by a gunshot.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

EU-Western Balkans Summit Ends Inconclusively

ZAGREB, 23 June  2022- An EU-Western Balkans summit, which lasted more than three hours, ended in Brussels on Thursday without a joint statement and without a press conference.

The European Council President Charles Michel's cabinet said that a scheduled press conference was postponed due to the lack of time as the meeting lasted longer than planned and a joint declaration had not been planned at all.

Despite the absence of any results, Michel's associates said the "meeting went well."

The leaders of the 27 member states will begin their regular summit later this afternoon and are expected to give the green light for candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova.

These two countries will overtake Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo on the road to the EU, the only two Western Balkan countries that do not have candidate status as yet.

The EU promised the Western Balkans a European perspective back in 2003 at the Thessaloniki Summit.

The French presidency of the EU has been trying to lift Bulgaria's blockade of North Macedonia's progress on its path towards EU integrations. Skopje and Albania are awaiting a green-light to open accession talks.

However, those hopes were dashed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who said ahead of the Western Balkans summit that there was no prospect of unblocking and opening talks with North Macedonia at the summit, but hinted that a solution could be reached in the days to come.

Some proposals emerged saying that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be awarded candidate status, but there is no consensus on that.

The draft conclusions to be adopted by EU leaders during the summit reiterate "full and unambiguous commitment" to the perspective of the Western Balkans and call for accelerating the accession process.

At the insistence of Croatia, the draft conclusions call on BiH leaders to urgently deliver on their promise to complete constitutional and electoral reforms.

The draft conclusions welcome an agreement reached by BiH parliamentary party leaders at a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel on 12 June, in which they pledged, among other things, to implement limited constitutional and electoral reforms.

The European Council calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina's political leaders to immediately deliver on the promises made in the agreement and complete constitutional and electoral reforms, which will enable the country to make decisive progress on its European path, in line with the Commission's priorities, so that it can be awarded candidate status.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Defence Minister Promises Further Strengthening Of Army Capabilities

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić on Thursday during a working visit to the Croatian Navy at the "Admiral Sveto Letica-Barba" barracks in Split commented on the upcoming Defence Strategy of the Republic of Croatia and Long-Term Development Plan of the Croatian Armed Forces.

Thanking the members of the Croatian Navy (HRM) for impeccably carrying out their duties, the defence minister said that the Croatian government would continue to pursue a policy of strengthening the capabilities of the Croatian Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence (MORH) said.

He recalled that many measures had been adopted with regard to the improvement of the material rights and living and working conditions of soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, and that since 2016 the salaries of active military personnel had been rising continuously every year, MORH said.

Banožić said that amendments to the law regulating the service in the Croatian Army introduced the first, two-year fixed-term, contract for sailors and soldiers and after that the next contract as permanent one.

"The new solution provides job safety and the possibility of life planning with all the rights related to permanent employment. In 2020 and 2021, 70 sailors were employed in this way," the defence minister said.

He also underscored significant investments in the Croatian Armed Forces, such as the procurement of multi-purpose fighter jets and the Black Hawk helicopters for the Croatia Air Force, Bradley fighting vehicles for the Croatian Ground Army, and the construction of patrol vessels for the Croatian Navy.

Patrol vessels will improve the ability to monitor and protect the rights and interests of Croatia at sea, the minister said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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