Friday, 13 May 2022

77th Anniversary Of Bleiburg Tragedy Being Commemorated This Month

ZAGREB, 13 May 2022 - The 77th anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy and what in Croatia is known as the Way of the Cross marches is being commemorated this month, with the central commemoration, to be held under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, set for 14 May at Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery and in Udbina.

As part of this year's commemorative events, a mass will be served at the parish church in Bleiburg, Austria, at 6 pm today, and Croatia's Ambassador to Austria will lay a wreath there. The memorial service in "Hl. Petrus und Paulus" church in Bleiburg will be said in Croatian.

The central commemoration, including the laying of wreaths and Catholic and Muslim prayers, will take place at Zagreb's central cemetery on Saturday, after which mass will be celebrated at the Shrine of Croatian Martyrs in Udbina, some 140 kilometres south of Zagreb.

On 25 May, a commemorative gathering is scheduled to take place in the State Archive. On 29 May, Catholic memorial services will be held for the victims of the Bleiburg tragedy at Radimlja, Stolac, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since 1995, with a few interruptions during the SDP government in Croatia, the commemorations in the Loibach field near Bleiburg, in the southern region of Carinthia, have been held in tribute to tens of thousands of Croatian civilians and soldiers of the defeated pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia (NDH) who surrendered to allied forces there in May 1945, but were handed over by British troops to Yugoslav forces. Some were executed on the spot, while many perished during so-called death marches back to Yugoslavia in the second half of 1945.

In 2020, Austrian parliamentarian parties requested an expert opinion on whether such gatherings in the Loibach field could pass the test of constitutionality.

A task force consisting of historians, jurists and Catholic Church representatives as well as local officials in that Austrian province concluded that such gatherings should no longer be held in Bleiburg.

The commission was set up in 2020 in accordance with the decision of the parliamentary parties ÖVP, SPÖ, the Greens and Neos, and the decision of that think tank was prompted by discussion on the political dimension of the commemorations in recent years.

In 2019 the Catholic Diocese in Klagenfurt withheld permission for a mass to be said by someone of the bishop's rank. The Roman Catholic Church in Carinthia turned down the request by the Croatian Catholic Bishops' Conference to hold mass at Loibach, claiming the event was used for political purposes.

On 22 March 2019, the president of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, said Austria and Croatia should jointly deal with the historical issue of Bleiburg.

"I think we need a culture of dealing with history," the Archbishop of Vienna said after a meeting of the country's Bishops' Conference.

The cardinal said it would be good to form a joint commission that would deal with Bleiburg's "complicated history." "I think we need something like that, otherwise we will stay at the level of conflict," he added.

He concluded that for now Austria saw only a "fascist gathering" occurring at Bleiburg, while Croatia's focus was on the painful history of ancestors, the Austrian news agency APA quoted him as saying on that occasion. "Bleiburg symbolises a very painful period in the history of the Croatian people, with many thousands dead," he said.

Croatia protests to Austria over removal of historical coat of arms

On 5 May this year, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs lodged a protest note with Austria over the removal of the historical Croatian coat of arms from the monument commemorating Croats killed at Bleiburg in May 1945.

The monument is located on the private property of an Austrian association, the Bleiburg Guard of Honour, and the reasons for the removal of the coat of arms given by the Völkermarkt municipal administration "are unacceptable to Croatia from both the historical and the social and political point of view," the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

As regards commemorations held at Bleiburg, the ministry said that they must be dedicated solely to the memory of those killed and held as part of Requiem Mass for the thousands of civilian victims.

The Bleiburg Guard of Honour has removed the disputed inscription to avoid any connection between the inscription and the coat of arms, the statement said.

The protest note says that "the coat of arms itself was for centuries a constituent part of the heraldry of the Habsburg Monarchy and as such often displayed on various historical buildings and in historical documents, hence it does not and cannot have unconstitutional connotations."

The ministry also noted that "declaring the historical Croatian coat of arms a fascist symbol has done undue harm to the reputation of Croatia and the Croats living and working in Austria, and has created the impression that Croatia today uses unconstitutional symbols. Croatia strongly rejects such an interpretation."

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Budapest, Innsbruck, Grenoble Mayors Support Tomislav Tomašević For Zagreb Mayor

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - The mayors of Budapest, Innsbruck and Grenoble have sent video messages of support to Tomislav Tomašević, the green-left coalition's candidate for the mayor of Zagreb, the We Can! political platform said on Wednesday.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony says in his message that Zagreb and Budapest are not only geographically close but also friendly cities with many links, underlining how important it is for the progressive green agenda to strengthen its position in the region and to act together to achieve a viable, democratic future.

Karácsony says the policies Tomašević advocates, such as green public transport and recycling, are the key issues on which he is working as mayor too, and calls on the people of Zagreb to vote for Tomašević

Innsbruck Mayor Georg Willi says the challenge today is to find the right response to climate change and that green changes will primarily occur in European cities. That's why Zagreb needs strong advocates of those changes under Tomašević's leadership as mayor, Willi adds.

Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle says he is looking forward to cooperating with Tomašević in the network of ecological cities flourishing across Europe, from Innsbruck and Amsterdam to Bonn and Hannover as well as many cities in France.

Piolle says Tomašević has been fighting for the environment for years, working on transparent policies and including citizens in shaping their city.

By electing Tomašević as mayor, Zagreb has a chance to join the increasing number of European cities governed by progressive green-left political forces which are making important steps forward in improving quality of life by taking account of climate change and other challenges of the 21st century, Piolle says in his video message.

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

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Croatia the Most Sought-After Summer Destination for Austrians in 2021

February 9, 2021 – In a survey conducted by HomeToGo, the largest Austrian search platform for holiday homes, Croatia has once again proved to be a desirable destination. The results showed Croatia the most sought-after summer destination for Austrians in 2021.

After a well-known Austrian travel organizer Gruber Reisen recently published their research results, declaring Croatia the most sought-after destination for the Austrian market, the survey from another Austrian travel platform HomeToGo showed the same estimates.

Namely, HomeToGo, the largest search platform for holiday homes on the Austrian market, conducted a survey on Austrians' habits, travel preferences, and favorite holiday destinations in 2021. The research results were published on the Austrian portal, and Croatia was in the first place of the most sought-after summer destinations, reported Branimir Tončinić, Croatian National Tourist Board director in Austria.

The survey is based on a total of 200,000 searches. As in the previous year, the survey shows that Croatia is the leading and most sought-after destination with 41 percent of searches. Austria follows Croatia with 19.5 percent and Italy with 19 percent of searches, and then France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Of the Croatian destinations, the most sought after are the Istrian peninsula and the island of Krk.

The obtained data clearly show the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on travel behavior. Looking at the top three most popular destinations – Croatia, Austria, and Italy – it can be concluded that this year, Austrians prefer sunny sea destinations in the immediate vicinity. Their choices are primarily motivated by the precarious situation with the coronavirus pandemic that prevents long-term planning and long trips.

Tončinić stated earlier that consumers pay special attention to the destination's safety and that the possibility to change their booking for free or other cancellation options at minimal cost is very important for them when booking a trip.

The survey results also show that 70 percent of Austrians plan to travel in the next 12 months. When it comes to accommodation, 63 percent of them prefer booking accommodation in holiday homes. Regarding the mode of travel, 71 percent of Austrians will travel by their own car.

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Sunday, 10 January 2021

Slovenian and Austrian Firefigthers Bring Aid for Earthquake Victims

ZAGREB, 10 January, 2021 - In a humanitarian campaign organised by the Breznicki Hum Municipality with the help of a Slovenian volunteer firefighters association, PGD Paloma Sladki Vrh,  and Austrian OBR fire brigade, 24 trucks and vans on Saturday delivered aid for people in the quake-hit areas of Sisak, Petrinja and Glina.

The convoy entered Croatia on Saturday morning at the Dubrava Krizovljanska border crossing.

According to the press release, the convoy, accompanied by police, delivered large quantities of construction materials, construction tools, beams, planks and slats, generators and heaters, textiles, pillows, blankets, field beds, food, water and numerous other necessities for the many inhabitants of the quake-hit area.

Upon arrival at the storage terminal of a company called NIL-Z in Petrinja, they were welcomed by Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic, who thanked them for collecting and delivering valuable help.

The secretary of the Slovenian firefighters association, Valentina Oslovnik, its commander, Robert Oslovnik, and the commander of Austrian OBR fire brigade, Johannes Matzhold, expressed their satisfaction with participating in the campaign.

The head of Breznicki Hum Municipality, Zoran Hegedic, thanked the participants of the campaign and firefighter from Breznicki Hum, Slovenia and Austria.

Hegedic also thanked the Croatian customs for the excellent cooperation during the arrival of the convoy, Croatian police for accompanying them and all those who helped in any way.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Google Knows about New Exodus: Ireland and Germany No Longer Most Popular, Which Country Is?

ZAGREB, October 18, 2020 - Before we decide on an important step in life, we first Google it, and in short, this is the principle on which a new scientific discipline is based: digital migration - a model for monitoring emigration through social networks.

As reported by Dalmatinski portal, the result of extensive studies completely coincides with the official data on migration, and they also provide much more information on the trends according to which more exoduses from Croatia await us.

Bewerbung, or job application in German, was searched as often this year as in Croatian.

The new scientific discipline of digital demography predicts migration trends based on what is being searched. Ireland is no longer "in", but the coronavirus and the lifting of employment restrictions in some countries, such as Austria, are bringing new trends.

"Those counties that are geographically closest to Austria, such as Međimurje or Karlovac, are most often searched for in Austria, in general, living conditions in Austria, which is again a strong indication of a new wave of emigration, probably this time to Austria", said Tado Jurić. professor of history at the Croatian Catholic University.

Even though the search engine is not lying, few have admitted to us that they have googled outside of Croatia while looking for a job.

Every fifth job seeker in Croatia is looking for a job abroad, of which 80 percent of them googled jobs in Germany.

Ten days after major corruption scandals, job searches outside of Croatia intensified, and it is not only the unemployed who are looking for a job abroad.

"We saw that based on the time when these terms are searched, it is before the working day, somewhere around half past six and around 3 pm", Juric explained.

According to statistics from the German Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 400,000 Croats live and work there, and once they do, Croatian citizens search for language learning and divorce the most.

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Monday, 14 September 2020

Croatians in Austria get Croatian Hall in Vienna

ZAGREB, Sept 14, 2020 - Croatians in Austria have got their Croatian Hall in Vienna well ahead of the Christmas deadline, and it will host the first meeting of Croatian associations on September 17.

The building, located in the city's 23rd district, is currently being renovated. It stretches over 2,000 square meters and has two large halls, offices, and multifunctional rooms.

"I am proud and very happy. The building is just concrete now, but it is our Croatian Hall. Tireless people, enthusiasts, and professionals believed that we can achieve this and now it is up to us to move on in a spirit of unity," said the president of the Croatian Hall Vienna, Andrej Lucic.

Speaking at the first convention of Croatian associations in Austria last December, which brought together over 2,000 guests, Lucic said that their goal was to realize the Croatian Hall Vienna project before Christmas this year.

"After intensive searches and meetings, this goal has now been accomplished," the Croatian Hall said.

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Free Holidays for Austrians and Slovenes this September and October

September 3, 2020 – A bold and open gesture from the winemaking industry on the Pelješac peninsula to appreciated neighbours – cost-free accommodation will allow free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020

Of all the incentives to assist Croatian tourism in the troublesome year of 2020, this one may be the boldest. In order to show appreciation for visitors from two of Croatia's nearest neighbours, winemakers from the Pelješac peninsula are arranging to offer free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020.

In an interview published in Slobodna Dalmacija just yesterday, famous Pelješac winemaker Mato Violić Matuško revealed the plan. Matuško is also president of the Pelješac Wine Routes, a forward-thinking initiative in and of itself. It has massively increased wine tourism on Pelješac with its joined-up approach and has managed to bring together many individuals operating with the winemaking and tourism sectors of the region. Who better to organise free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes at harvest time?

Just one of the breathtaking views available on Pelješac. The peninsula is most famous for its incredible wines © Romulić & Stojčić

Winemakers who are members of the Pelješac Wine Routes Association are those who will be involved in offering the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes. The plan is to offer free accommodation to Austrian and Slovene tourists in order to thank them in particular for their returning custom. Visitors from these nations are among the most frequent to come. The incentive also aims to bolster tourism numbers well past the point of late summer.

Although some revenue in accommodation rentals may be lost due to the offer, the idea is startlingly inventive. It is hoped money put into the local economy by visitors taking advantage of the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes will benefit the wider population in what has been a difficult season for many. Austrians and Slovenes taking advantage of the incentive will also surely be offered some excellent Pelješac wine on their visit.

You can read here a TCN interview from August 2020 which also shows how the wines of Dubrovnik Neretva County have assisted in keeping visitor routes open during a difficult year for tourism in south Croatia  - Croatia Wine: ”Every Visit Is A Voyage Of Discovery”

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Foreign Ministry Urges Austria to Find Solution to Traffic Jams on Borders

ZAGREB, Aug 23, 2020 - Croatia's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has expressed concern about the situation on the Slovenian-Austrian border, where there are huge traffic jams, urging the countries' authorities to find a solution.

Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has contacted his Austrian colleague Alexander Schallenberg, the Croatian Embassy in Vienna has been in contact with Austria's Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry since early morning, and the Assistant Foreign Minister has spoken on the phone with the Austrian Ambassador to Croatia, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Croatian officials expressed concern about the situation on the Slovenian-Austrian border and called for an urgent solution in order to enable a faster flow of vehicles and reduce the "worryingly long wait" for entry into Austria, also for transit vehicles.

On Saturday Vienna introduced strict controls on the border with Slovenia because of the coronavirus, which has resulted in traffic jams that did not clear even on Sunday morning.

"We believe that we will soon find a solution, for the benefit of all travellers, so that they reach their destinations as soon as possible, and the latest information from the Austrian Interior Ministry is on easing up the strict measures and procedures and improving the flow of vehicles entering Austria," the Ministry said, adding they would continue monitoring the situation on the Austrian border and respond accordingly.

In recent days, Vienna has been reporting a steady increase in the number of infections in Austria, to which holidaymakers returning from Croatia have been contributing.

Last week, Austria included Croatia on the list of high-risk countries and warned against travel to Croatia, and since 17 August holidaymakers returning from Croatia have had to show a current negative test for the coronavirus or undergo testing within 48 hours and self-isolate in the meantime.

On Sunday, Austria reported 191 new cases of the coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, underscoring that fewer tests were conducted on the weekends.

In the previous days, the number of new infections rarely dropped under 300.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, Austria has had a total of 25,253 positive cases and 732 deaths.

The situation on the Slovenian-Austrian border crossing of Karavanke was slowly getting back to normal on Sunday afternoon, the Slovenian police and traffic services said.


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Sunday, 16 August 2020

Austria Expects Influx Of Returning Holidaymakers From Croatia To Peak On Sunday

ZAGREB, Aug 16, 2020 - Austria braces for traffic jams on motorways and at border crossings on Sunday, as travellers are expected to shorten their holidays after Vienna put Croatia on the list of high-risk countries due to a resurgence of COVID cases.

On Saturday, the Austrian Automobile Club (ÖAMTC) stated that it expected that traffic from the south to intensify in the evening on Saturday evening and during Sunday.

According to some figures, there are currently 3,000 Austrians vacationing in Croatia. However, Vienna believes that there are many more people from Austria who are spending their summer holidays in Croatia.

The Austrian government decided to include Croatia on the list of high-risk countries on Friday after Croatia reported a record highly number of COVID cases in a day.

As of Monday, 17 August, travellers returning from Croatia must show a current negative test for coronavirus or undergo testing within 48 hours.

This would obviously prompt some of those holiday-makers to shorten their stay in Croatia.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Austria Cautions Citizens Not to Travel to Croatia

ZAGREB, Aug 14, 2020 - Austria's foreign ministry on Friday warned against travel to Croatia, as concerns grow that vacationers could catch the coronavirus and spread it once they return, the Reuters news agency reported.

Austria fears that when holiday-makers return from Croatia, which on Thursday recorded a record number new cases of the infection, that could lead to accelerating the spread of the virus on its territory.

The ministry said that the warning is effective from August 17 (you can read the full text of the warning, in German, on this link).

On Thursday Italy introduced a mandatory test for the coronavirus for anyone arriving from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. That same day spokesman for Slovenia's COVID response team, Jelko Kacin, hinted that Croatia might be denoted to the red list of unsafe countries.

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