Wednesday, 18 May 2022

24 Hours in Hvar: Hvar Town, Where History & Glamour Collide

18 May 2022 - If New York had a Croatian equivalent of a city that never sleeps, Hvar town would be it. The vibe here is a complete 180 from the chill, whimsical air of Stari Grad, so let’s dive right into 24 hours in Hvar town!

9.00 a.m. - 10.00 a.m.

After getting off the bus from Stari Grad, leave your bags at your next accommodation and walk over to Kava37 to start your day. Here, you can get an outstanding flat white, perfectly paired with a freshly baked, palm-sized, hazelnut and chocolate chip cookie.

Everything served in this cafe is organic and fair-trade, while the coffee beans are roasted in Kava’s Split-based roastery. They even offer milk alternatives such as oat, almond, and soy!

From this point, there are 2 options for spending the day, or better yet, the next 48- hours in Hvar Town.

OPTION 1

10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.

Time to make up for the lack of beach time and a dip in the turquoise waters of the Adriatic by exploring the nearby Pakleni Islands!  Honestly, the best way to go about this if you have a boating license is to rent a small boat and explore the nooks and crannies of the islands at your own pace.

Do note that prior to 2022, you might not have needed a boat license to rent a 5hp boat (€160 for a full day) but the rules have since changed!

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Discover your own magical bay by renting a boat and weaving through the islands. Hvar tourist board/Facebook screenshot.

With that said, you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning waters in the area. Imagine finding your own secluded bay, dropping anchor, diving into the crystal waters, and enjoying an ice-cold beer while soaking up the Mediterranean sun. And doing it over, and over, for the entire afternoon. Isn’t this what all vacation dreams are made of?

Better since these small boats usually come with an ice box (already filled with ice in our case) so you can bring your own snacks and drinks. Most tour providers will also rent you additional snorkeling gear, and towels, or even provide you with food and beverage packages to save you the trouble of bringing your own.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a boating license, there are also guided half-day (4 hours) or full-day tours around the islands. Or hire a skipper (€40) who will gladly take you to some of the best spots in the area.

OPTION 2

10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

Since Stari Grad was packed with activities, it’s time to sit and enjoy some time in the Adriatic Sea. Pokonji Dol is about a 15-minute walk from Hvar Town and is the most accessible beach from the downtown area. Like Pakleni Islands, you won’t miss out on the inviting clear, turquoise waters of the Adriatic, while the pebbled beach means no sand in every nook and cranny imaginable. Makes for easy clean-up!

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Pokonji Dol, Mekicevica and Bonj are some of the beaches within walking distance from Hvar Town. Image: Pixabay.

Sunbeds and umbrellas are also available for hire for around 100 kuna (€15) a day, and it’s good if you get there early since this beach tends to fill up quickly!

There are also a couple of restaurants along the cove that serve up the catch of the day, and make perfect pit stops to grab an ice-cold beer and seek a bit of refuge from the heat.

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From the comfy day beds to exotic cocktails, Hvar Beach Club's got you covered. Image: Hvar Beach Club/Facebook screenshot.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience (with an exorbitant price tag to match), Hvar Beach Club is where you’d want to be. This place is the embodiment of what Hvar Town is known for - chic and glamorous experiences.

1.00 p.m. - 2.30 p.m

After a relaxing time on the beach, slowly wind your way back towards Hvar Town’s harbor and head towards Lungo Mare. This popular family-run restaurant (notice a theme here?) mainly serves traditional Croatian cuisine including seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes.

The cozy restaurant has lovely terrace seating, nestled amongst the winding vines, and whimsical fishing nets scattered with huge shells dangling overhead. Do save room for dessert here such as the rožata, a local creme caramel, or the semifreddo with almonds, for a light, refreshing ending to your meal.

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Rožata is the perfect way to end a meal on a sweet note. Image: Pinterest.

Do note that they only open from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. for lunch and from 6 p.m. - midnight for dinner.

2.30 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.

After lunch, take a couple of hours to explore St. Stephen’s Square, reportedly the largest square in all of Dalmatia. Here you’ll find some of Hvar Town’s main attractions such as the 400-year-old Arsenal from Hvar’s military past; the Cathedral of St. Stephen’s, complete with a bell tower; and the Loggia, which used to be part of a palace in the 15th century when Hvar was under Venetian rule.

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St. Stephen's Church still holds mass today. Image: Rory321/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Also, take the time to pop into the Hvar Theater, which was the first civic theater in all of Europe! As well as the 15th century Franciscan monastery that houses a collection of artifacts like Roman and Venetian coins, and an ancient edition of Ptolemy's Atlas from 1524!

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The Franciscan monastery. Image: Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook screenshot.

Take the time to wander through the back alleys of Hvar Town, away from the buzz of the Riva and St. Stephen’s square. Here, you can hear yourself think, and be treated to another dimension of the Dalmatian way of life. One at a much slower and deliberate pace where neighbors stop for a quick chat, and cats lounge on the cool stone entryways.

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Explore the tiny alleyways of Hvar town at your own pace. Image: Pixabay

Along the way, you may stumble across the occasional boutique selling one-of-a-kind items that make perfect souvenirs for loved ones back home or capture a picturesque alcove as a memento.

5.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.

You should not leave Hvar without trying some desserts from Slasticarnica Hvar. This restaurant/cafe/ice cream bar offers a variety of treats that provide the perfect pick me up after all that walking, and its location right by the harbour makes it a great spot for people-watching.

6.00 p.m. - 7.30 p.m.

After a spot of people watching with your afternoon treat, time to head back to your accommodation to get dressed for an evening out on Hvar. Maybe even a nap if you plan on partying the night away!

7.30 p.m. - 9.00 p.m.

Again, because the sunsets in Croatia are some of the most spectacular in the world, time for a drink and a spot to watch the sun go down. I find it difficult to pick just one spot so here are a couple, Hula Hula or Falko Beach Bar.

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The spectacular Croatian sunsets. Image: Pixabay

Hula Hula has a much livelier crowd (sometimes, it can get downright rowdy), but is the ideal place to watch the golden sunset if you manage to nab a seat! The fact that it’s a short walking distance from the square is also a plus.

However, if you’re more like me and looking for a more chill, relaxed vibe with an equally spectacular view of the sunset, then you’re in for a 20-minute walk to Falko Beach Bar. Think hammocks, lounge music, and innovative cocktails.

9.00 p.m. - 10.30 p.m.

Tucked down an alley in Hvar’s old town is Konoba Menego. Cozy, rustic (also family-owned), and dotted with an eclectic mix of antiques and pictures, this place is well-known to both locals and tourists alike. Not only is it a must-visit whenever we’re in Hvar Town, but it also tops the list of recommended places when friends and family visit the area as well.

The food is slightly pricey, and the menu limited, but what they do make is nothing short of exceptional. Start off with the Dalmatian stuffed bread and cheese plate, followed by the boar, or for seafood lovers, the shrimp gnocchi. Pair this with a liter of their house red or white wine that is produced by the family’s neighboring vineyards.

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For a taste of home-cooked Dalmatian cuisine. Image: Konoba Menego.

Again, because you’re on vacation and calories take a back seat, finish off with the drunken figs that are so saturated with brandy, and the assortment of Dalmatian cakes and biscuits.

Do note that this is a small restaurant, so either head there early or after the dinner rush, otherwise the wait times can be around an hour. Bear in mind that they only accept cash!

10.30 p.m. - the sun comes up

Opened in 1999, Carpe Diem Beach Bar remains the most famous place to see and be seen in Hvar. After all, it’s a favorite haunt of star-studded celebrities when they happen to be in this part of town, so the prices tend to reflect their status.

While the party really gets going around 1 a.m., the club is a whole day affair where you can get coffee in the afternoon, lunch, and even a message all in one place. The short boat ride is included in the 150 kuna (€20) admission price (it might have changed since) and it runs every 10-15 minutes, so you won’t be kept waiting too long.

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Be literally and figuratively transported into a different world. Image: Carpe Diem Beach Bar/Facebook screenshot.

Once you’re there, it’s a completely different world with light shows, fire breathers, DJs, the occasional fashion show, and creative cocktails, which may be the perfect way to end your 24 hours in Hvar Town.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Zagreb ZOO Hosting EAZA Conservation Forum 2022

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Zagreb Zoo is hosting a three-day conference on the protection of animals and their habitats, organised by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

The event, which opened on Wednesday, has brought together 111 experts from 70 institutions from 24 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The topics on the agenda range from the protection of the Pallas's cat to the reintroduction of the extremely rare bald ibis bird to the nature.

"The protection of animals is our future, the future of zoos," Zagreb Zoo director, Damir Skok, said.

Formed in 1992, EAZA’s mission is to facilitate cooperation within the European zoo and aquarium community towards the goals of education, research and conservation.

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Ex-commission Chair: Decision on Karamarko Served to Prevent Probes into Plenković

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - After the High Administrative Court quashed the Conflict of Interest Commission's decision that former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko had been in a conflict of interest, former Commission chair Dalija Orešković said the case was a political pretext serving to prevent the Commission from investigating PM Andrej Plenković.

"It was clear what epilogue the situation would have from the moment the Constitutional Court ruled on that case in July 2019. All subsequent decisions by administrative courts, including in Karamarko's case, as well as in all the cases in which the Commission decided about the violation of principles of conduct, followed the basic decision and instruction of the Constitutional Court," Orešković told reporters in the parliament.

She was commenting on the High Administrative Court's final ruling quashing the 2016 decision by the Conflict of Interest Commission which found that former HDZ leader and Deputy PM Tomislav Karamarko had been in a conflict of interest, which was why he withdrew from politics.

Orešković, a member of parliament from the Centre party, said the Constitutional Court's decision contested the Conflict of Interest Commission's authority to decide and make declaratory decisions on breaches of principles of conduct.

"That decision was not primarily motivated by justice-seeking or defence of constitutionality in the case of Tomislav Karamarko but was a political front for aborting the Conflict of Interest Commission as an anti-corruption body with the aim of preventing it from looking into cases involving Andrej Plenković," she said.

Orešković recalled that at the time when the Constitutional Court decided on the Karamarko case, the Conflict of Interest Commission was expecting to deal with reports filed against PM Plenković (concerning the appointment of his close friend Igor Pokaz as ambassador to the UK, the HDZ party's trip to Helsinki aboard a government plane, and the Agrokor and Borg affairs), which involved Plenković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and former Economy Minister Martina Dalić.

"The degree of conflict of interest in Karamarko's case is insignificant compared to the gravity of violations of law in Plenković's case, and if such practice had been supported by the system, the government of Andrej Plenković would have fallen long ago," she said.

The Constitutional Court's decision not only protected Plenković from facing political responsibility but was used by the HDZ to fully erase from the new Conflict of Interest Act the provision on the violation of principles of conduct, she said.

Orešković said that instead of the Conflict of Interest Commission "we now have a scandalous novelty that has enabled the government to adopt a code of ethics for office-holders, with the relevant decisions being made by a body directly under government control."

"The standards are being eroded and today we have a completely paralysed anti-corruption system," said Orešković warned.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Funds for Reconstruction Not Decreased but Increased, FinMin Tells Lawmakers

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Speaking in the Sabor on Wednesday, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić denied claims by some opposition MPs that allocations for post-earthquake reconstruction had been decreased in the 2022 budget revision was decreasing allocations for reconstruction.

Funds are not being decreased, in fact, they are being increased by about HRK 300 million and the use of funds has been facilitated, Marić told lawmakers during a debate on the state budget revision.

Prior to the formal debate on the budget revision, the opposition made a series of objections to the government's document, saying that funds for healthcare had not been planned well and that funding for reconstruction was being decreased.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin asked why funds for reconstruction were being decreased by more than HRK 100 million.

He recalled that when the budget was adopted the SDP said that the allocation for the health sector had not been planned well and concluded that another budget revision would be necessary in the autumn and possibly a third one by the year's end.

Anka Mrak Taritaš (Glas) said the budget revision was proof that there would be no reconstruction. She said that funds had been increased for the health and defence ministries, which, she said, were headed by the two least successful ministers.

MP: Damage caused by inflation possibly HRK 20 billion

MP Zvonimir Toskot (Bridge) said that his party had calculated that the damage caused by inflation could amount to HRK 15 or even HRK 20 billion and that "nobody is discussing how to compensate for that damage," to be paid by the entire society.

If the cost of corruption of HRK 70 billion is added, we get an amount of HRK 90 billion, which is half the budget, he said.

Željko Sačić (Sovereignists) said that he was unpleasantly surprised that the revision did not allocate more funds to the USKOK anti-corruption office or the state attorney's office to improve their working conditions.

"It seems as though the state has profited in this crisis. The question though is how will citizens and enterprises survive," said MP Ružica Vukovac, noting that the state had collected HRK 1.8 billion more in VAT and HRK 1.9 billion more in contributions on wages.

HDZ group supports budget revision

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) group supported the government's budget revision proposal.

Grozdana Perić (HDZ) recalled that the start of the year brought new geopolitical problems resulting in problems in energy supply and inflation growth, which was why the government had to deal with additional problems, such as ensuring the sustainability of the health sector, pensions, and help citizens with energy prices.

Ivana Posavec Krivec (Social Democrats) responded by saying that the budget revision was not due to the situation caused by global circumstances but rather due to the government's poor budget planning and the failure to implement crucial reforms.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Parl. Speaker Says it's not MPs' Job to Call for Somebody's Arrest

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Wednesday that it is not up to MPs to call for somebody's arrest, dismissing criticism from the opposition that the prime minister was pressurising chief state attorney to discourage her from prosecuting ministers suspected of criminal offences.

"Should someone commit a criminal act and that is proven, they will be arrested," Jandroković told Urša Raukar Gamulin of the Green-Left Bloc after she said she hoped State Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek would withstand pressure and make arrests.

She was commenting on Defence Minister Mario Banožić, who she said had defrauded the state of millions of kuna and committed several offences, from abuse of office to influence-peddling.

"Government ministers are falling one after another under the charges of influence- peddling and abuse of office, while the prime minister is making threats and giving instructions to the state attorney general to not prosecute them," she said, stressing that in a civilised EU country this would make the prime minister and the entire government fall.

"The legislature is not the one to decide who will be arrested, you mentioned here people by name and spoke about arrests, that is not the way to do things. You do not have the right to call on state institutions to arrest people, that is not your job," Jandroković said.

Dalija Orešković (Centre/GLAS), too, commented on the Office of the State Attorney General, stressing that in a healthy state, the chief state prosecutor does not listen to political instructions over the phone.

"We do not have a state because we do not have independent institutions," she said.

Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) warned of a speech by an MP who after habitually spreading intolerance towards the Serb Orthodox Church and its members said, "We have reduced the Serbs to a tolerable number."

"The session chairman issued no warning and did not distance himself from that statement," Pupovac said, adding that "the 20th-century reductions of the historical minorities - Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, Italians, Jews, Roma and Serbs - to tolerable numbers has made Croatia neither freer nor safer," the Serb MP said.

Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) criticised Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević for refusing to sponsor the Walk for Life event and refusing to have the organisers' flag displayed on city flagpoles, saying the mayor had privatised the city and marginalised those whose worldviews he did not share.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Foreign Minister: Finland and Sweden's NATO Aspirations Have Croatia's "Unreserved" Support

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday that Finland and Sweden have Croatia's unreserved support for their NATO membership bids, adding that he has instructed Croatia's Ambassador to NATO to endorse the two countries' NATO applications.

"During an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin last weekend I said on behalf of the Croatian government that we give our unequivocal and unreserved support to those countries," Grlić Radman told Croatian Radio.

He recalled that because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the consequent reconfiguration in the global order, two traditionally neutral countries have decided to seek security in NATO which guarantees that security for its member states.

"They feel threatened and are welcome in the Alliance, considering their potential, they will strengthen NATO's democratic standards and overall potential (...). Croatia's Ambassador to NATO in Brussels, Mario Nobilo, has my instructions to approve Finland and Sweden's membership application and he will be given power of attorney to sign a protocol that will follow in the next few days," Grlić Radman said, adding that "some consultations with Turkey are still under way." 

Turkey has threatened to block Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO unless they fulfil Ankara's demands. Ankara wants the two countries to stop supporting terrorist groups, primarily the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and provide clear security guarantees as well as abolish restrictions on arms exports to Turkey.

Grlić Radman said that after their application is approved, the parliaments of NATO member states are required to ratify the relevant agreement.

"I am absolutely certain that the Croatian Sabor will ratify the agreement when it arrives from Brussels in Zagreb," he said.

Commenting on statements by President Zoran Milanović that Croatia should block the two countries' accession until such time that the election law in BiH is amended, Grlić Radman said that was "blackmail" and "un-European."

He added that the Andrej Plenković government is fighting the most for the status of the Croat people in that country.

"The rights of the Croat people are achieved through legal mechanisms, political and diplomatic efforts and not blackmail (...). The President is ruining our international reputation with his statements and causing political damage that can jeopardise our national interests," Grlić Radman added.

He reiterated that a stable BiH is a strategic interest for Croatia, underscoring that if the election law is not changed, a security problem could emerge in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the election.

"Being the smallest, the Croat people is trapped between Serb separatism and the hyper-unitarism of high-ranking Bosniaks," Grlić Radman said.

He believes that the visit by European Council President Charles Michel to Sarajevo on 21 and 22 May, who will "try to intercede," will be important.

Speaking about the sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia, Grlić Radman said that there are several countries who are opposed to an embargo on Russian oil imports due to their dependence on Russian energy products.

"The sanctions need to be felt in Russia itself and we are trying to eliminate all the negative effects that the sanctions could have on Europe's economy," he explained.

Commenting on Slovenia's possible blockade of Croatia's accession to the Schengen passport-free area, he said that he doesn't expect Slovenia "to spoil the plans."

"I hope there won't be a step backwards. We have had very good cooperation over the past two years with the Janša government. Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area is for the most part in the interest of Slovenian citizens. I am certain that we will find a common solution with our Slovenian friends," he underscored.

Asked about the fate of a Croatian citizen who joined the Ukrainian forces and has been captured by Russian troops, Grlić Radman said briefly, "It is our duty to return him home," and that the procedure requires "discretion."

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Dairy Farmers Say Farm Gate Price Insufficient to Cover Production Costs

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - Milk producers on Wednesday reported about a meeting with the ministers of agriculture and finance, Marija Vučković and Zdravko Marić, at which they warned the ministers that the milk farm gate price was insufficient to cover production costs.

"The situation in the dairy sector is dramatic, if concrete action is not taken, we fear the sector will continue to collapse, dairy farms will continue to be closed, and the number of dairy cows will continue to fall, as will the quantity of milk produced," the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HGK) said in a statement.

Igor Rešetar of the HGK Dairy Sector Committee says the Agriculture Ministry had done a lot in the past three years but not enough since dairy farms had been affected by crises on the global food and energy markets as well as by problems caused by the war in Ukraine.

Dairy sector representatives said that the farm gate price of milk had increased by 28% since June 2021 but that they received information from primary producers on a daily basis saying that their production costs had increased by more than 300%.

The farm gate price of milk should be increased because crop husbandry costs, which are also rising, will in the autumn affect cattle breeding and milk production, they said.

Dairy farmers also called for increasing subsidies, reducing VAT on dairy products as well as investment costs, etc.

Recalling the government support to the sector so far, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement that the government would continue providing comprehensive solutions and called on stakeholders in the dairy supply chain to invest additional effort in order to maintain the current production level.

The ministry also noted that work was underway on the adoption of a programme for the development of the national dairy sector in the period until 2030 with strategic goals, priorities and measures designed to make the sector stronger and more competitive.

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

HDZ BiH Hit by Avalanche of Criticism, US Embassy Joins in

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - The Bosnian Croat HDZ BiH party has been strongly criticised over the fact that ministers from that party on Tuesday blocked the adoption of a decision on election financing, with the leading BiH Croat party resolutely dismissing the criticisms, including by the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

"Unprecedented public and media pressure on BiH Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda has culminated with an open call to violate the law. Such attempts can be described as an act of undermining the rule or law," the HDZ BiH said in a statement on Tuesday amid an avalanche of criticism over its attempt to block the implementation of 2 October general elections.

The BiH government on Tuesday held a conference call at which a proposal was made to finance the elections with slightly less than €6.5 million from budget reserves accumulated over previous years.

This fallback option was proposed by the Central Election Commission (SIP) because the budget for 2022, which was to have envisaged funds for elections, has not been adopted yet. 

Its budget has been obstructed for a year and a half by Bosnian Serb officials, but Serb and Bosniak government ministers were on Tuesday willing to support SIP's proposal.

The BiH Finance Ministry, however, described the proposal as unconstitutional, and the three HDZ BiH ministers on the government voted against.

Under the Council of Ministers rules of procedure, the government cannot make any decision unless at least one minister from all three constituent peoples votes for it.

Shortly after yesterday's government session, Bevanda issued a statement explaining that elections can be financed without the budget but not the way it had been proposed.

"Law and lawful conduct were evidently not a priority in proposing this decision," said Bevanda, who was fully supported by his HDZ BiH party.

Nevertheless, the HDZ BiH has suddenly found itself isolated because in addition to criticism of its ministers, almost all major Bosniak and Serb parties called for ensuring money for the elections, noting that their blockade must not be allowed.

The Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) was the most vocal in its criticism, saying the HDZ BiH is doing everything possible to prevent the October election because it is dissatisfied with the failure to reach agreement on changes to the election law.

The SDA called for prosecuting those responsible for blockades and urged the international community to intervene and impose a decision to ensure funds for the elections.

The US Embassy said in a Twitter post that the HDZ BiH's blocking election financing is irresponsible and unjustified.

It also noted that HDZ deputies in the state parliament were against the adoption of EU-required laws, which it said was contrary to their professed commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.

Under the current election law, 19 May is the deadline by which the Council of Ministers must secure funds for the implementation of elections, and Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija said after the failed vote that an attempt was made to do it in a way that was not in line with the law.

"I call on all those in charge to continue with preparations for the implementation of elections in October 2022 and by the time SIP needs the money for elections, it will have it," said Tegeltija.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

HZZO to Cover Cost of Pregnancy Termination in Slovenia for Mirela Čavajda

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - The Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO) will cover the cost of pregnancy termination for Mirela Čavajda in a hospital in Ljubljana.

The HZZO said this in a statement issued after earlier in the day the Jutarnji List daily reported that Čavajda would most probably not have the cost of her pregnancy termination abroad covered by the HZZO.

Čavajda is a woman six months into her pregnancy who who could not have her pregnancy terminated in Croatia despite the fetus's serious malformations.

Jutarnji List says is has learned from unofficial sources that Croatian doctors, even though they refuse to perform the procedure guaranteed by law, are also unwilling to put their refusal down in writing, and that hospitals have sent the HZZO notifications saying that Čavajda has been offered the necessary medical procedure - induced labour.

"Since she does not want that procedure but insists on pregnancy termination, the HZZO considers this to be a refusal of the medical service offered in Croatia, which makes it questionable if there are legal grounds for the HZZO to cover the cost of the medical service she will seek in Slovenia", the daily says.

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Only 24 of 500 Government Bodies Provide Information on Advertising via Media

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - The Electronic Media Council (VEM) has confirmed that following its request, only 24 of some 500 government bodies, public institutions and legal entities whose majority owner is the state have submitted reports on their advertising via local media programmes in 2021.

Public institutions and legal entities have until 31 March every year to report to VEM on their advertisements published in the previous year, and post the relevant information on their web sites.

The response by public institutions was relatively poor, with 24 reports having been submitted by 31 March, while one was submitted after that deadline.

Of the institutions that submitted their reports, many submitted incomplete reports.

VEM nevertheless says that it is worthwhile noting that reports were submitted by the FINA financial agency, Ministry of Culture and Media, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Croatian Employment Service, Agency for Vocational Education and Training, Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, and the Market Competition Agency.

Of the large public companies, reports were submitted, with subsequent numerous objections by the regulator, by Croatia Airlines, the forest management company Hrvatske Šume, Hrvatske Autoceste highway operator and the Croatian Lottery.

Reports were also submitted by the Vukovar Homeland War Memorial Centre, the national parks Paklenica, Risnjak and Krka, the State Archive in Pazin, and only one local government unit - the town of Ploče.

VEM says that the relatively small number of reports is due to the lack of fines for noncompliance with the recently adopted Electronic Media Act.

The Office of Information Ombudsman Zoran Pičuljan notes that financial transparency and  publication of information on how public funds are spent is a standard of transparent conduct and the fight against corruption.

This is an obligation both for media publishers and for public institutions paying for their services, the ombudsman says, noting that noncompliance violates not only the Electronic Media Act but also the Right to Access Information Act as well as the Local Government Act and the Budget Act.

The legislative framework is clear and well designed, but additional education effort is needed to ensure compliance with the legal obligations, he says.

The GONG nongovernmental organisation notes that the lack of clear rules and supervision of their implementation could lead to advertising by government bodies, public institutions and state-owned legal entities becoming a powerful tool for favouring individual media outlets in the awarding of public funds, which is conducive to censorship and results in uncritical media willing to work in the interest of their clients.

Croatian Journalists Association (HND) head Hrvoje Zovko says the HND had been warning for years of the problem, as stated in its proposals for the current Electronic Media Act, which were rejected.

He says this concerns the legal provision under which government entities as well as legal entities whose majority owner is the state are obliged to spend 15% of their annual amount intended for the advertising of their services or activities on advertisements in audiovisual or radio programmes of regional and local television and/or radio stations.

"That means that ministries and public companies like the HEP power provider use budget and public money for advertising via local radio and TV stations, and those decisions are usually discretionary, made most often by a political leader without any public tender. To make things worse, the public has no information whatsoever on what the money is spent on," Zovko adds, noting that public money should be directed to journalism in the public interest through transparent allocation mechanisms.

"Public sector advertising should be called by its real name - public support, and should be developed accordingly", he says.

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

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