Thursday, 11 May 2023

25 Hilarious Croatian Place Names Explained: Big Fart to Grandma's Ass

May 11, 2023 - Would an island called Grandma's Ass be on your bucket list? A look at some of the funnier Croatian place names, and the reasons behind the names. 

Which Croatian island will you visit this summer?

Hvar, Mljet, Krk, or Losinj, perhaps?

Or how about the islands of Big Fart, Little Fart, Big Whore, Little Whore, or even Grandma's Ass?

Discover 25 hilarious Croatian (and one Austrian) place names, and how many of them got their name.

The latest from the Fat Vlogger, going live at 19:53 tonight. 

You can read the original article by Vedran Pavlic, which was the inspiration for this video here.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Thursday, 11 May 2023

Croatia's Changing Demographics: No Longer 'Whitest Country'

May 12, 2023 - A look at the changing demographics in Croatia from 2018 to 2023 - no longer the 'whitest country' in the world.

Back in July 2018, around the time of the World Cup Final, a French anti-racism league organisation insinuated that Croatia was somehow racist as its team were all white (there was no mention of the Nigerian team being all black).

It led me to look at the statistics of how many foreigners were living in Croatia with temporary or permanent residence.

Back then, there were less than 30,000 foreigners here (and most of them white) in a population of 4 million. With some 99.3% Croatian citizens, almost all of them white (I am not saying that is a good or a bad thing, just a thing), Croatia was arguably the whitest country in the world.

Five years on, things are changing. Find out how much, and where the new arrivals are coming from in a 2023 update of the statistics provided by the Ministry of the Interior.

The original video about 2018 is available below.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Thursday, 11 May 2023

Rimac Energy - Croatia's Serial Entrepreneur Turns to Energy Storage

May the 11th, 2023 - Croatia's serial entrepreneur, referred to quite frequently as Europe's Elon Musk, is now turning towards energy storage systems (ESS). Mate Rimac has now launched Rimac Energy, adding yet another item to his already incredibly impressive CV.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, the incredible Rimac Technology has announced its entry into the market of stationary energy storage systems (ESS) with a new brand - Rimac Energy. The announced step represents a significant milestone for this rather remarkable Croatian company, which is expanding beyond its strong position in high-performance electric vehicle technology, introducing innovative stationary energy storage systems. Realising the full potential of renewable energy production and encouraging the decarbonisation of energy networks are related to stationary solutions of this type.

Serial production in 2025

Within Rimac Technology, a specialised team has been developing over the last eighteen months or so, which today numbers sixty employees, all of whom are currently working on its first generation of stationary ESS's within the new Rimac Energy brand.

"Relying on the high expertise and standards demonstrated in the development and production of electric vehicles, Rimac Energy is applying the very same engineering philosophy to the development of stationary batteries. As a result, Rimac Energy has developed a new battery architecture that reduces losses by up to 50 percent and at the same time occupies up to 40 percent less surface area compared to the most modern solutions currently available. Additional technological advantages include an extended lifetime, built-in redundancy for increased availability, as well as competitive costs of the system itself and its installation," the company stated.

A continued commitment to the future, the climate, and not to fossil fuels

"At Rimac, we have always been motivated by innovation and the desire to push the boundaries of what is possible in the automotive industry. However, we also recognise the importance of stationary battery solutions to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. Considering our previous results in the field of innovative battery systems, we believe that we'll be able to play a key role in building the future energy ecosystems of Europe and raise them to the global level,'' stated Rimac Energy director Wasim Sarwar Dilov.

Rimac Energy will initially provide solutions in and for the commercial and industrial sector, as a support to the power grid, and solutions for fast and megawatt charging using batteries are already in full development. The company is negotiating several projects with clients, including a pilot project with one of the leading companies in the field of renewable energy that is looking for battery solutions for energy storage to support their solar and wind farms. It is expected that these pilot systems will be produced by the end of 2023, commissioning is planned for 2024, and serial production is on the cards for 2025.

The founder and CEO of the Rimac Group, Mate Rimac, explained the development of the company's new Rimac Energy brand with the urgent need for clean energy infrastructure to support the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid by providing energy storage and balancing capabilities.

"Given our experience in high-performance electric vehicle technology and our commitment to sustainable development, this path seems like a natural sequence for us. Our team is very much looking forward to creating solutions that make clean energy more accessible, as we work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and encourage a greener future,'' Mate Rimac concluded.

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

Thursday, 11 May 2023

Croatian Startup Ani Biome Wants to Conquer Global Market

May the 11th, 2023 - The Croatian startup Ani Biome wants to take on and conquer the ever-demanding global market with its fermented microbeverages, but it needs to raise a few million euros first.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the Croatian startup Ani Biome, which has developed a very personalised approach to microbiome health, has opened a new investment round in which it aims to raise a massive ten million euros.

The lowest amount that can be invested is 100 thousand euros, and they have already collected their first 100K. The investor, as revealed by Bruno Balen, the co-founder of Ani Biome – is a lawyer and business angel from Germany, and he cannot reveal his identity. According to Balen, co-founder Nika Pintar wrote the contract with the help of the controversial ChatGPT.

"The investor said it was excellent," he pointed out. The young TechAgeBio company, with the very ambitious goal of becoming number one in the world in the longevity industry, plans to invest a third of the desired 10 million euros in scientific integrity, i.e. into studies that will prove that the product they are working on is not just a "cute brand'', but that it is backed up by science. They plan to invest the second third in their production capacities, in which 600 thousand euros have been invested so far, Balen announced, adding that the last third will go to marketing efforts.

Metabolite studies

The products the Croatian startup Ani Biome plans to conquer the world with are fermented microbeverages. "Our product is a kind of revolution in potential intervention in the field of the longevity industry, that is, in increasing healthy longevity. Therefore, it isn't only important how long we live, but how well we live. We see metabolic fermentations as a tool that can improve everything that is damaged during the aging process and by diseases related to aging,'' explained Iva Hlapcic, the coordinator for scientific projects at Ani Biome, who also pointed out that the Croatian startup Ani Biome is currently in the phase of comprehensive metabolite research.

"We're investigating their interactions, their synergistic influence, i.e. in which metabolic pathways they're involved, so that we can use them to target exactly that pathway and use it as an intervention for a health condition that has caused impairement," explained the young scientist in the field of biomedicine and healthcare, who joined the Ani Biome team three months ago. They also want to confirm the effects of their products with ongoing clinical research.

At the event held at Zagreb's Bird Incubator, where the Croatian startup Ani Biome announced their plans, Hlapcic explained that in addition to metabolite research, their goal is to combine everything discovered with machine learning models in order to personalise them as much as possible. Ani Habit, an app for interacting and anticipating client needs, is already out, but will continue to be upgraded.

Ani Biome's fermented microbeverages improve the overall health of the intestines, that is, the gastrointestinal tract, according to Hlapcic. "We know that the intestines aren't isolated and that they communicate with all parts of the rest of the organism in multiple ways. Today, for example, we know that various neurological disorders such as depression, anxiety and similar conditions can be influenced through gut health. We also know that at the level of mitochondria, which are responsible for the energy levels in the body, we can carry out certain interventions in the body using metabolites and thus improve the level of energy and vitality present. This is something we strive for and something we ultimately believe in," Hlapcic pointed out.

In order for the effect of their products to be as good as possible, the Croatian startup Ani Biome is also developing a bank of metabolites, which currently holds 1,500 of them and which will serve for a personalised approach to each client.

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

Thursday, 11 May 2023

20 Million Euros for Digital Development of Rural Croatian Areas

May the 11th, 2023 - A massive 20 million euros is set to be pumped into the digital development of rural Croatian areas which still struggle with weak mobile signals. These so-called white zones where there is no high-speed mobile signal doesn't allow the normal use of digital technologies.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, as Oleg Butkovic, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, announced last week, the aforementioned issue should soon finally be resolved through a project financed from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026.

More rural Croatian areas are the targets for improvement

"In terms of the development of the 5G network, we're in the lead in terms of Europe, and we have a significant competitive advantage in terms of qualified workforce in the ICT sector, as well as regulations that enable so-called digital nomads. There's also a project under way that will cover areas across fourteen different counties with a high-speed mobile signal, and these are all places that currently don't have high-quality internet," explained Minister Butkovic.

However, while Croatia may well be performing well when it comes to 5G, the country remains at the very end of the line in terms of actual coverage with 4G and 3G networks, which is why the government has launched the public discussion procedure entitled "A call for expressions of interest for the development and implementation of passive electronic communication infrastructure in rural and sparsely populated areas". It is worth around twenty million euros in total.

This document defines the target areas for the possible construction of electronic communication infrastructure as part of such an investment. As stated by the proponent, the preparation of the Feasibility Study is underway and, following this and a public consultation on the expression of market interest, the final areas for the implementation of the investment in question will be determined.

"The investment's target areas are rural Croatian areas that include parts of counties with extremely low socio-economic indicators, meaning those primarily characterised by extremely low demographic, social and economic conditions compared to the national average," the Maritime Affairs Ministry stated, adding that investment in Croatia's 5G networks must be located in areas where mobile networks haven't been introduced or where only mobile networks that can support mobile services up to 3G are available and where there are no 4G or 5G mobile networks, nor is their introduction planned within the next three years.

It is estimated that around 58 poles will be installed, however, the exact selection of their locations and their final numbers will be defined only by the Feasibility Study, the preparation of which is currently underway. In the proposal, it has been noted that the poles won't be placed in all acceptable areas defined through this public consultation, but in those confirmed by the Study as possible locations that will justify the economic profitability of the investment.

As part of the Study, the exact needs for certain types of communication and the need for signal coverage in precisely defined areas will be determined, and in accordance with the results, passive infrastructure will be built to connect the infrastructure points. Croatia also lags behind the EU average in this area (broadband infrastructure coverage), and although in the category of new generation fixed broadband network coverage, it has equaled the EU average, it is still far behind in the widespread use of 100 Mbps broadband access and isn't ready for the introduction of a 5G network.

In addition to all of the above, due to high construction costs and a reduced population, there are insufficient investments in digital development in more rural Croatian areas in general.

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

Thursday, 11 May 2023

Museum of Illusions Awarded Franchise Brand Leader Award 2022

May the 11th, 2023 - The much loved and wildly popular Museum of Illusions, which attracts large numbers each year here in Zagreb, has been awarded the Franchise Brand Leader Award 2022.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, approximately 220 franchises are currently active across the Republic of Croatia in various industries, and in the last three and a half years, there has been a noticeable growth of domestic franchises. Among the names on that ever-expanding list is the Museum of Illusions, and it has been declared the winner of the Franchise of the Year 2022 Award.

The Franchise Brand Leader Award 2022 was launched last year by the Croatian Association for Franchise Business-FIP and Darko Bukovic, the director of the online radio Poslovni FM/Business FM.

The fact that there is a lot of room for the export of various kinds of Croatian franchises has been well and truly showcased by the examples of last year's awarded car rental companies Carwiz International and Surf 'n' Fries, as well as this year's main winner of the award - the Museum of Illusions.

In addition to the Franchise of the Year 2022 Award, the Museum of Illusions also received the award for the best Croatian export franchise and for the biggest export breakthrough. This particular unique museum franchise will represent the Republic of Croatia at the franchise fair in Frankfurt and will also compete for the "2023 European Franchise Award" at the end of September this year in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Since its beginnings back in 2015, the Museum of Illusions has expanded from the City of Zagreb to more than 40 locations in 25 countries around the world. According to the plan, the office and museum will open this year in Atlanta, as well as in several other cities across the pond in the United States of America.

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

Thursday, 11 May 2023

Croatian Exports Increase by 14% But Less Trade with USA, Hungary

May the 11th, 2023 - Croatian exports have increased by almost 14 percent, but less trade has been being done with the United States, China, and even with neighbouring Hungary.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, for the first time in two years, state statisticians have been recording faster growth in Croatian exports than imports. In the first three months of 2023, Croatian exports increased at a rate of 13.7 percent, more than double the growth of imports, which were higher by 6.1 percent.

In absolute terms, the value of Croatian exports reached 5.82 billion euros in the first quarter of this year, while imports exceeded 9.78 billion euros. As such, there is still a large deficit in trade.

Considering that this is only preliminary data, there are no official figures yet that would indicate what contributed the most to the stronger growth of Croatian exports back in March, which improved the picture at the level of the first quarter of 2023. However, from the preliminary data we currently have for imports, it is evident that the procurement of goods from third countries, meaning from countries which aren't EU menber states, has slowed down. In the past year, this segment of foreign trade recorded the strongest growth, mostly thanks to the import of LNG from the USA, and the rise in oil and gas prices.

In the first quarter of this year, the value of imported goods from markets outside the European Union practically remained at the same level as it was a year ago, more precisely at 2.3 billion euros.

21 percent less trade with neighbouring Hungary

Indications of the movement of goods exchange can be obtained to some extent from the data processed by the CBS for the first two months of 2023. It is true that Croatian exports actually slowed down during that period and the rate of its growth after a long time, practically three years, wasn't in the double-digits.

Goods worth a total of 3.45 billion euros were exported, which is 9.2 percent more than a year earlier, while imports were at the same time higher by 12.4 percent, or 6.14 billion euros in value. The drop in energy prices left the biggest mark of all, which is very much evident from the trade data we currently have with Hungary.

Last year, Hungary was the fastest growing foreign trade partner Croatia could boast of, rising to the third place among this country's main export markets, after Italy and Slovenia, overtaking Germany. The beginning of this year, on the other hand, was very much marked by a decline in the value of trade with Hungary, a significant 21 percent in terms of exports, while imports were weaker by 0.8 percent.

Germany is once again on the throne of buyers of Croatian products, and trade with Slovenia is also strengthening, in both directions. While Italy currently remains in the middle, the beginning of the year has been marked by an extremely strong jump in already high levels of imports, by as much as 37 percent, and out of 6 billion euros in total imported goods, 922 million of those euros arrived from Italy.

Changes and the weakening of imports, on the other hand, have been the most noticeable in terms of Croatia's relationship with the USA and Mozambique, as well as with China. Crucial in the case of the first two countries is LNG, the import of which for the Krk terminal well and truly exploded last year. This year, significantly weaker figures were recorded in Croatia's exchange with the USA, as imports fell by 39 percent, to slightly less than 250 million euros.

On the other hand, back in January this year, Mozambique entered the list of international markets with which Croatia is monitoring trade for the very first time, precisely thanks to LNG. In the first two months of 2023, the value of its imports reached as much as 145 million euros. Imports from China, on the other hand, fell by 9.3 percent, to 200.5 million euros. Compared to these figures, Croatian exports to China are rather symbolic (10 million euros) and also have a negative trend attached to them.

At the beginning of the year, a little more work was done across the pond in the USA (exported goods totalled 92 million euros), but also in Russia, where over 32 million euros worth of goods, which weren't covered by sanctions, were placed. Imports from Russia, on the other hand, were of course minimised, falling by 39 percent (to less than 14 million euros).

On the export list, there is still strong recorded growth in Croatian exports to neighbouring CEFTA countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, with which for a short time last year a trade deficit was recorded for the first time, but this year, Croatian exports with growth of 36 percent once again exceed imports. Goods worth 218 million euros were exported, and 183 million were imported.

If you look at the data in terms of activities, the food industry, which sold 286 million euros of goods (25 percent more), as well as the clothing industry, electrical equipment, machines and devices stand out the most in terms of exports. Wood processors and metal production have had a far weaker start, while mining has recorded the biggest decline. The value of Croatian exports fell by almost a third compared to the first two months of 2022 (124 million euros), but at the same time imports were three times higher, growing at a rate of 41 percent and exceeding half a billion euros.

In their review, analysts from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) pointed to a trend of calming the growth of producer prices on the international market. In the first quarter of 2023, they were at their lowest levels since the middle of 2021, meaning that now they have less influence on the nominal inflation of the value of Croatian exports.

They estimated that after the deflation of the total value of producer prices on the foreign market, the value of Croatian exports in the first quarter of 2023 grew by 7.4 percent in real terms. In March, if you look at their earlier estimates, Croatia recorded considerably strong export growth, because in the analysis of the data for January and February, they determined that the value of exports grew in real terms by only 2.3 percent.

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Opus Arena: New NK Osijek Stadium Nearly Finished (VIDEO)

May 10, 2023 - NK Osijek will play in a brand new stadium next season, and the popular 'Pampas' finally received an official name - Opus Arena.

The sponsor of the new stadium is the largest Hungarian media empire, Opus Global Nyrt, and it is one-quarter owned by the NK Osijek owner Lorinc Meszaros.

The stadium is practically finished, and Osijek fans have finally welcomed a beautiful new pitch. 


"The stadium itself is part of the NK Osijek camp and the NK Osijek Football School, which has seven fields. The characteristics of the stadium are a UEFA category four stadium, and all Croatian League and European matches can be played there," said Valentina Koprivnjak, a member of the NK Osijek Board.

The best view is from the west stand or the Sky boxes. The away fans will sit in the north, the east is reserved for home fans, and the south for Osijek's ardent fan group Kohorta. 

In addition to beer, the restaurant will serve excellent cuisine. Visitors will also be delighted by a fan shop, cafes, and 13 four-star hotel rooms for footballers. The field boasts automatic watering and even underfloor heating.

The construction of Pampas cost around 65 million euros and was funded thanks to the Hungarian owners of the club, but also by the Hungarian government and sponsors.

"In the beginning, exotic, unusual things for stadiums were also imagined, such as constructing a jacuzzi to watch the games. However, that was withdrawn from our plans because the real idea was to build a sports gladiator arena, so the money for these exotic facilities overflowed into the stadium's expansion from 12,800 to 13,005 seats, as it is now," they explained. 

Stay tuned for the official Opus Arena opening!

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Croatia Left with 50 Days to Use 140 Million from EU Funds

May 10, 2023 - Vice president of the Government and Minister of Spatial Planning, Construction, and State Property Branko Bacic stated on Wednesday, in the context of the dynamics of reconstruction after the earthquake and the use of EU funds, that another 140 million euros should be used in the next 50 days.

"The deadline for using the funds for the Zagreb and Petrinja earthquake reconstruction is practically the same, so by June 30, we have to use the funds in the total amount of one billion and three million euros. As of today, we have reached 863 million euros, so there are still 140 million euros left to use in the next 50 days," Bačić said on Croatian Radio's show A, sada Vlada.

Problems caused by inadequate laws

He assumes, as he said, that at this pace the EU funds could be used even before the deadline. "In the less than four months that I have been at the head of the Ministry, we have achieved a dynamic in which we realize projects on a daily level of around 4.5 million euros. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we will use the full amount from the Reconstruction Fund for the Petrinja earthquake," he predicts.

Bačić also listed the problems his ministry is facing due to inadequate laws.

"What I have witnessed in the past four months is that in Zagreb, in the Ministry or the Government, we spend time deciding on managing small parcels worth around 1,000-2,000 euros, which are necessary to realize a project. There are many situations in which it is unnecessary that the center of Zagreb decides on parcels in the area of, for example, Dubrovnik-Neretva County," he points out.

"We inherited 50,000 pending cases"

In this sense, he says, he announced the draft of the new law on real estate management. "As a ministry, we are not sufficiently educated to manage the financial assets of the Republic of Croatia. We are primarily architects, engineers, and surveyors. Therefore, we have shared financial management with the Ministry of Finance," he continued.

He added that many unresolved cases are hindering the economic growth of the Republic of Croatia. "In the Ministry, we inherited 50,000 unresolved cases. That number is a terrible brake on the economic development of the Republic of Croatia. It is important that it works and permeates," he asserted.

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Azerbaijan to Become an Important Source of Gas for Croatia?

May 10, 2023 - Azerbaijan, a country on the border of Europe and Asia, could become a gas exporter to Croatia in the coming years, as Croatia is considering connecting to the gas pipeline there.

The morning fog hangs over the Caspian Lake, which some consider a sea because of its size and brackish water. At a distance of 70 kilometers lies the Shah Deniz gas field, with an area as large as the two largest Croatian islands, Cres and Krk, combined, as Poslovni writes.

Six oil companies extract gas from a depth of 600 meters, then press it into pipes that stretch to neighboring Georgia. From there, they go through Turkey and Greece to Albania. One branch then enters Italy, while the construction of the other, which would go through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia, is being considered.

"Croatia supports this project. We believe it is important to have another additional supply route where the gas from Azerbaijan would reach Split, where our gas pipeline network goes," Croatian Economy Minister Davor Filipović recently said for Hina.

He and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković discussed this project in January with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at a forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"At that time, we talked with the representatives of Montenegro; we continued to talk with our friends in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is a lot of interest in that direction, so I believe we will eventually do that project," adds Filipović.

The project, known as the Adriatic-Ionian pipeline, has been under consideration since 2012 when the Croatian natural gas transport company Plinacro and the Ministry of Economy began participating in meetings of interested countries. However, implementation was not started at that time because gas from Russia was cheaper, and the amount of gas from Azerbaijan was limited.

Everything changed five months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The EU, which until then imported 40 percent of its gas from Russia, turned to liquefied gas from the USA, Norway, Algeria, and Azerbaijan.

Five hundred kilometers of gas pipeline to Split

The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, signed a strategic partnership agreement with President Aliyev in July.

"More than 10 European countries are asking us to increase deliveries," Aliyev said at the political Global Baku Forum. The country of the former Soviet Union exported a total of 19 billion cubic meters of gas in 2019 and plans to deliver 24 billion this year.

"Half of that will be exported to Europe," said Alijev, who visited Sarajevo last month.

Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Šabazov Ogtaj says their goal is not only to increase the volume of existing partners "but to add new partners, including those in the Western Balkans."

The Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline from the Albanian town of Fieri to Split would be 511 kilometers long.

With it, Croatia would get half of the total five billion cubic meters of gas per year, what would be its capacity, Plinacro reported on its website. He announced the completion of the project in 2025.

"It is difficult to talk about the time dynamics now because talks are still being held, but there is interest in all countries," says Filipović.

Croatia would export the imported gas and part of that from the LNG terminal on Krk to EU countries because these quantities would exceed the domestic needs of Croatian households and industry.

Filipović notes that Croatia wants to position itself "as the energy hub of this part of Europe" and help other countries with supply.

Land of fire, oil, and gas

The Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Lake was discovered in 1999, and production began in 2006.

Toghrul Velijev, an analyst at the Baku Research Institute, believes that Azerbaijan can meet five to six percent of the EU's gas needs from there. The European Commission reported last summer that Azerbaijan will deliver 20 billion cubic meters to the EU by 2027.

"That statement is too optimistic for both parties," says Velijev, who believes that his country can export between 12 and 13 billion cubic meters to the EU.

At the same time, traffic jams are forming on roundabouts in Baku. The streets are full of cars because a liter of the cheapest gasoline costs 0.53 euros.

"Almost everything here was built with oil and gas money," says taxi driver Orkhan as he passes between the opposites, blocks of concrete apartment buildings built during socialism and modern glass shopping malls.

On the postcards of Baku, there are three glass hotels with 30 floors, built in the shape of a flame.

"Azerbaijan, the land of fire" is a tourist advertisement from the jerseys of the football club Atletico Madrid in 2014, which played twice in the final of the Champions League.

Baku was one of the stadiums where the 2021 European Football Championship was played, and since 2017, Formula 1 races have been held on its streets.

Companies should increase their investments to continue the oil expansion, but some are restrained.

"For companies to be interested in investing in infrastructure and increasing exports, they need contracts for 20 to 25 years, not five years," explains analyst Velijev.

He notes that the EU initiative on reducing the use of fossil fuels

of fuels, including natural gas, makes companies reluctant to invest in infrastructure.

Hydrogen - solution or promise?

Currently, the world is discussing the use of hydrogen, which would be produced from renewable energy sources and transported through adapted gas pipelines.

"Hydrogen can be a solution, but it is more of a promise," says Dimitar Lilkov, an analyst at the Belgium-based Wilfred Martens Center for European Studies.

Hydrogen usage is currently below one percent worldwide.

"In the short term, it is not a solution, so in the coming years, the EU will still have to think about how to import natural gas and connect to various gas pipelines," believes Lilkov, who spoke about it ten days ago at the economic forum in Delphi.

Hydrogen could also go to Croatia through the future pipes of the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline.

"Plinacro will ensure these pipes are ready for hydrogen when expanding our gas pipeline network. We also have to think about the future," notes Filipović. "Everything we do now, we think about how to use it in the best possible way," he adds.

Work on the depths of the vast Caspian Lake continues while passers-by stroll carelessly along its shores. The glass shopping center, in the shape of a blossoming flower, attracts the residents of Baku to shops like those found in Western Europe.

"There are more and more modern buildings like this," says driver Orkhan. "And it will grow sky high and become more and more luxurious if oil and gas continue to be exported."

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

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