Saturday, 27 November 2021

PHOTOS: Secret Video Mapping Artists Visit Croatian Yugoslav Monuments

November 27, 2021 – On a dark November night in 2021, Hungarian artists chose their moment to project vividly colourful video art at Petrova Gora, one of the remaining Croatian Yugoslav monuments.

They left their Hungarian city early in the cold morning. Not for another 5 hours would they reach Petrova Gora, the site for that evening's video mapping. Throughout the long journey, the three friends chatted excitedly about the art they were about to create. They'd been planning it for months. But, when they reached Petrova Gora they stopped talking.

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“These are absolutely incredible pieces of architecture,” exclaims Dan, one of the three-man team from Secret Mapping Experiment who visited Croatia this month. “They have a real power in their environment. Sometimes you can feel frozen in your body when you're around them.”

“A lot of the time we work around them in silence,” agrees Gabe, Dan's accomplice. “You just feel too small next to them. They really have an impact on you.”

SecretMappingExperminent_pres_Partizan_Basis_6.jpgCroatian Yugoslav Monuments: Petrova Gora in 2021

“Before we visit, we work for many months in front of a computer screen with a tiny template of the monument,” admits Dan. “So, it's a really special feeling to come and see all the work you planned on such a big scale.”

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Their long, involved preparation is the creation of video mapping art. In detail, this is moving art and animations, designed to be projected onto a specific backdrop or structure. On this occasion, that backdrop was the 37 metre high Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija, otherwise known as the Petrova Gora Monument.

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Each of the 3 members on this Secret Mapping Experiment excursion brought something slightly different to the project. Gabe studied fine art and is now a painter and educator. He teaches computer graphics, 3D modelling, video editing, creating animation. Third member David works a lot with VR installations, 3D and animation being his speciality. Dan does lighting design and video mapping in the commercial sector, for large events, concerts, art installations.

“In commercial work, usually the client will dictate colours, or ask for logos to be added,” says Dan. “When I do Secret Mapping, I have total artistic freedom. This is my playground, a place to experiment and be free. It's a good combination to go out into nature to do this kind of work. Outdoors and abandoned places are not the usual places you would see our equipment being used.”

Croatian Yugoslav Monuments: Petrova Gora (Spomenik ustanku naroda Banije i Korduna), Podgarić (Spomenik revolucije naroda Moslavine) et al

SecretMappingExperiment_pres_Partizans_basis_total2_4.jpgCroatian Yugoslav Monuments: Secret Mapping Experiment at Petrova Gora

The Croatian Yugoslav Monument at Petrova Gora is built on Veliki Petrovac, the highest peak of the small Petrova Gora mountain range. The mountains run across the borders of Croatia's Sisak-Moslavina County and Karlovac County, just 10 kilometres north of Velika Kladuša in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is a little known and little-visited part of Croatia.

Formally titled Monument to the uprising of the people of Kordun and Banija (Spomenik ustanku naroda Banije i Korduna), this is just one monument in a series that were built all over the former Yugoslavia after World War II. Many famous sculptors and architects were employed to design the monuments, such as Bogdan Bogdanović, Gradimir Medaković, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Jordan and Iskra Grabul. This series of monuments (spomenici) is the largest single collection of abstract sculptures in the entire world. Together, they tell the tale of the victims, triumphs and struggle of the former Yugoslav people against the Nazis and their allies.

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"During the socialist era, the monuments were used for different purposes, marking different events,” says Gabe. Secret Mapping Experiment visited Croatia's Monument to the revolution of the people of Moslavina in Podgarić in 2019. “But, since the end of communism, a lot of them have been damaged, destroyed or are uncared for, particularly in Croatia. The last time we visited, we saw lots and lots of graffiti covering the monument. It feels like you're standing in a long-abandoned film set."

Today, these abstract Yugoslav monuments are several decades old. Amazingly, many still look futuristic. Their design deliberately doesn't focus on individual heroes or dwell on pain or suffering. Instead, motifs such as hands, wings and flowers are used, suggesting perpetual movement and progress. The same style of monuments does not exist anywhere else on earth. They are exclusive to the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

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Because they mark different events and have different authors, each is unique. The monument at Petrova Gora is formed from a huge amount of concrete poured onto a steel frame. Originally, the structure was covered - at great expense - with polished stainless steel sheets. Over the last three decades, these stainless steel sheets have begun to disappear from the surface, a classic case of 'Balkan recycling'. The author of the Petrova Gora monument is renowned Croatian sculptor Vojin Bakić (1915 - 1992).

Vojin Bakić and the Monument to the victory of the people of Slavonia (Spomenik revolucionarnoj pobjedi naroda Slavonije)

AnyConv.com__2880px-Vojin_Bakić_radi_na_skulpturi_Bika_1956.jpgVojin Bakić at work on one of his well known 'bull' sculptures, captured by famous Croatian photographer Tošo Dabac

Born in Bjelovar, Vojin Bakić studied at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts under two of Croatia's most globally recognised sculptors - Ivan Meštrović and Frano Kršinić. One of the leading modernist sculptors of his era, Vojin Bakić was employed to create many pieces of public art within Yugoslavia.

e73a14_4dc4e466b1bb4b6f9a169a0818742a47_mv2.jpgFoliated Form (Razlistana format), one of Vojin Bakić's Croatian Yugoslav monuments/sculptures still visible, located in the centre of Zagreb

In addition to his work at Petrova Gora, Bakić is famous for monuments in Kamenska, Kragujevac (Serbia) and Dotršćina (Zagreb). Indeed, you can still today see some of his much-loved sculptures as you walk around the Croatian capital. Upon completion, his Monument to the victory of the people of Slavonia (Spomenik revolucionarnoj pobjedi naroda Slavonije) in Kamenska was the largest postmodern sculpture in the world. Unfortunately, it was destroyed at the end of the Croatian War of Independence and the impoverished part of Slavonia in which it sat was robbed of a world-famous visitor attraction.

temp_1.jpgMonument to the revolutionary victory of the people of Slavonia (Spomenik revolucionarnoj pobjedi naroda Slavonije), one of the now-destroyed Croatian Yugoslav monuments

Secret Mapping Experiment

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The Secret Mapping Experiment has been visiting monuments, landscapes and abandoned structures for six years. By necessity, the video mapping projections always take place at night, under the cover of darkness. Although, the team do sometimes encounter people.

”In the past, we've had locals approach us while we are working,” says Dan. “They're interested. They enjoy it. Sometimes they'll have stories about the monument. But, the last time (in Petrova Gora) we only met cops. They questioned us for about 10 minutes and then they let us continue. They must have decided it was a good project.”

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”It hasn't always been like that,” remembers Gabe. “Two years ago we were stopped by police at a monument in Greece and they took us to the station for the questioning. We were there for hours. Afterwards, they let us leave, but they advised us not to go back to the monument.”

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Monuments visited by the team exist under different levels of protection, depending on where they are. There are some who think it disrespectful to repurpose these monuments as art canvasses without mention of their raison d'être. Dan disagrees. He thinks Secret Mapping Experiment's videos and photos pay greater attention today to some monuments than they otherwise receive. It's hard to disagree in the case of the disintegrating monument at Petrova Gora.

And besides, Croatia has always best preserved its past by repurposing it, one example being Diocletian's Palace. Another is the World War II Monument to the Revolution (Spomeniku revolucije) on Glavica hill in central Makarska. After suffering several years of neglect, the monument's cylindrical tower was turned into an observatory. Today, the site is a revitalised tourist attraction and a wonderful backdrop to concerts and other public events.

54516047_2197069537021042_4760558114711797760_n.jpgMonument to the Revolution in Makarska, one of the repurposed Croatian Yugoslav monuments © MARA - Makarska razvojna agencija

From months in planning on a miniature scale, the art of Secret Mapping Experiment assumes its vast, true size only briefly. Thereafter, the work returns to miniature – as photos or videos. “We are working on a road movie project, a documentary,” says Dan. “I really hope we will finish it next year.”

After the team visited Petrova Gora, they did not return to Hungary. Instead, they visited another famous World War II monument in the region (this article will be updated with those images as soon as they are processed and ready). When asked if they plan to revisit any Croatian Yugoslav Monuments in order to finish their documentary, Dan isn't giving anything away.

”Who knows?” he says, with a smile

SecretMappingExperminent_pres_Partizan_Basis2.jpgThe Secret Mapping Experiment team in 2021

The names of Secret Mapping Experiment's team members were changed for the purpose of writing this article. To see more photos of their work and to follow their progress, look here

You can read more about Zagreb here, Makarska here and for more great reasons to visit these and other Croatian destinations, be sure to bookmark Total Croatia News travel pages here.

All images © Secret Mapping Experiment or public domain unless otherwise accredited.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

SeneCura Continues Croatian Market Expansion with Bjelovar Business Move

October the 6th, 2021 - The Austrian company SeneCura is continuing its Croatian market expansion by making business moves in continental Croatia, more precisely in Bjelovar.

As Novac/Jozo Vrdoljak writes, the international group SeneCura, specialising in care for the elderly and infirm, is continuing with its Croatian market expansion with the acquisition of the Vita Nova care home located in Bjelovar. SeneCura, based in Vienna, has been operating in Austria, the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovenia for more than twenty years, and has been operating in Croatia since 2020. After taking over the Severovic care home in Novaki Bistranski, this year saw further acquisitions.

The latest acquisition is, as stated, the Vita Nova care home in Bjelovar, which has been operating since 2012. Vita Nova has 180 beds in 118 rooms, and the users of this care home are cared for by a professional team consisting of a head nurse, a social worker, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist, and in addition to providing care, Vita Nova offers its users laundry services and the use of a hair salon. The property also has a restaurant and a park with a lake for residents to enjoy some fresh air.

The SeneCura Group announced that, as always, the high quality of business and customer care at Vita Nova was crucial in making the decision to purchase and integrate the home into the SeneCura Group. The CEO of the SeneCura Group, Anton Kellner, pointed out that the continuation of their Croatian market expansion is in line with the desire to offer the highest quality of care across Croatia according to the standards of excellence of the SeneCura Group.

"We know from experience that each new home we integrate into our Group is special and for that reason each one requires an individual approach to that integration. As before, we'll first get better acquainted with internal work processes, and then adjust the business to SeneCura standards as well as prescribed national norms,'' said Jasna Krijan, Regional Director of SeneCura Homes for the Elderly in Carinthia, Austria and Chief Operating Officer in Croatia.

The SeneCura Group notes that all homes within the SeneCura Group are characterised by the highest standards in the quality of customer care. They're complemented by a variety of programmes, such as scientific pain management, palliative care, occupational therapy, remobilisation, and physiotherapy. They explain that the various activities offered to customers are the most important part of SeneCure's offer, so that the Central Quality Management Department sets and harmonises standards for all markets in which this group is present, so that each institution is an example of best practice in nursing, social care, as well as across wide range of many other services according to customer needs.

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

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Kaštelor-Labinci, Motovun, and Veliko Trojstvo in the Race for UNWTO Awards

September 21, 2021 - Three Croatian municipalities and villages, two in Istria and one in Bjelovar, are among the candidates for the novel initiative of the World Tourism Organization to promote rural tourism, and this is why Kaštelor-Labinci, Motovun, and Veliko Trojstvo will compete in the UNWTO Awards.

With the aim of improving the role of rural tourism, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a pilot initiative "Best Tourism Villages", reports HrTurizam.hr. As part of the activities, UNWTO member states, until 15 September, had the opportunity to apply for up to three candidates: villages or municipalities. They will present their places as drivers of sustainable change in the social, economic, and environmental aspects. The Municipality of Kaštelir-Labinci, the Municipality of Motovun from Istria, and the Municipality of Veliko Trojstvo from Bjelovar-Bilogora County were elected as Croatian representatives.

The initiative includes three pillars and two awards. Villages that are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination and that are committed to sustainability in all its forms - economic, social, and environmental - will be awarded the label "Best Tourist Villages of the UNWTO". Villages that do not fully meet the criteria for the label will be provided with an upgrade program to support the UNWTO and their partners in working in problem areas. Finally, a network will be created that will provide space for the exchange of experiences and good practices, learning and creating new opportunities for development. It will include representatives of villages awarded the “Best Tourist Village” label by the UNWTO, villages participating in the Upgrade Program as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of rural development tourism.

The aim of the UNWTO Awards is to strengthen the role of tourism as a positive force for transformation, rural development, and community well-being. It seeks to increase the sector's contribution to reducing regional inequalities and combating the depopulation of rural areas. It also seeks to enhance the role of tourism in valuing and protecting rural villages, along with landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values, ​​and activities, including gastronomy.

To find the most complete information on all the destinations in Croatia that you can visit, take a look at the Total Croatia guides HERE. Now in your language!

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Int'l Bjelovar Autumn Fair Expects about 300 Exhibitors

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - The Bjelovar Autumn Fair, which will be held from 3 to 5 September at the Gudovac fair compounds, will include 300 exhibitors.

Local authorities and the fair's executives told a press conference on Monday that the state exhibition of cattle will be held with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture.

 The fair will be opened by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The exhibition will be held outdoors considering epidemiological recommendations.

Entry to the fair will require a COVID certificate of vaccination or negative test, and testing will be available at the fairgrounds. The fair's director Zlatko Salaj estimates that this year's autumn fair would reach about 60% of the level of the record 2019 year.

Bjelovar-Bilogora County Prefect Marko Marušić described the Autumn Fair as a Croatian brand.

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Sunday, 2 May 2021

Labour Day Motorcycle Vigil in Bjelovar

May 2, 2021 - Early yesterday morning, the Labour day motorcycle vigil Bjelovar was held.

Bjelovar Info reports, traditionally, about 500 motorcyclists accompanied by the police drove through the city streets for one hour. It is a continuation of the tradition from the 1930s, when workers protested against the capitalists of that time by driving without an exhaust.

On May 1, 100 years ago, they removed the mufflers on motorcycles and drove to the Kamenitovac mountain lodge and returned to the City before 7 am to arrive on time at work, wanting to point out all social injustices in this way.

"Last year we organized the Moto Vigil as a normal participation in traffic. We rode in several groups and that was all. For epidemiological reasons, this time we did not have any official gathering, nor did the motorcyclists hang out before and after the vigil, but only the formation of a column in the parking lot before 5.00 in the morning. Accompanied by the police, we drove through the pre-determined streets, after which we dispersed. All participants adhered to epidemiological measures so that they did not move away from their motorcycles and did not take off their protective helmets. Also, unnecessary stopping was not allowed. Given that the Bjelovar vigil is of great importance for citizens and motorcyclists, we decided to organize it at least in a slightly more modest edition and in accordance with all epidemiological regulations", said Alen Krce, president of the Moto Club Bjelovar.

As in previous years, the organizer of the traditional Bjelovar Moto vigil was "Moto Club Bjelovar". Today, there are only few people who do not know that the vigil became a recognizable manifestation of the city of Bjelovar, which is held from year to year at dawn on Labor Day. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, it was not organized in the way that the people of Bjelovar and the participants themselves are used to.

"In 1930, the Moto Club Bjelovar was founded, and then took over the organization of this moto vigil, which had been there for several years before. Throughout history, there may have been some interruptions due to various conditions, but a few years ago this became an event beyond the borders of the city of Bjelovar, and, beyond the county when we had an international visitor", said Alen Krce, president of Moto Club Bjelovar.

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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

City of Trogir Third in Croatia to Introduce Full Budget Transparency

February 9, 2021 – By introducing an interactive mobile application for full budget transparency, the City of Trogir will soon join the Croatian cities of Split and Bjelovar and the municipality of Omišalj and become one of the most transparent local governments in Croatia.

Together with the Science and Society Synergy Institute, the City of Trogir signed an agreement to introduce the city budget's full transparency. The contract represents the first phase of a project to create a simple and visually attractive application that would give citizens a different budget view.

With the application, citizens would have an insight into ongoing or planned projects, the performance of previous budgets and the budget for next year, or the supplementary budget for the current year. The application would provide an overview of the current budget. At the same time, additional options will compare the plan with the performance and a comparison with previous years' budgets.

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Trogir / Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

Trogir to become the most desirable small town on the coast

The City of Trogir wants to bring concrete budget items closer to the citizens through clear and simple numerical indicators and through aggregate indicators that are difficult to understand. They want to educate and sensitize citizens for certain types of strategically important projects. In other words, citizens would get an insight into what exactly their money is spent on.

"Through this project, we continue to introduce smart practices. The goal is to show how city money is managed and involve citizens in the City Administration's work as much as possible. So far, we have done this through participatory budgeting, 'And you are asked!', a project through which citizens themselves directly decide on spending part of the budget money. Last year, the Institute of Public Finance gave us grade five for transparency for the first time. We have also published an online register of city property, and with this application, we are going a step further," said Mayor of Trogir Ante Bilić.

The average assessment of Croatian cities' transparency for 2020 is 4.5, compared to the previous 2019 when it was 4.3. In 2019, Trogir received a grade of 4, and in 2020, thanks to the publication of all five city documents required for insight into transparency, a rate of 5. The number of Croatian cities of excellence increased from 65 in 2019 to as many as 87 in 2020, a positive trend.

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Budget transparency of Croatian cities and municipalities / Institute of Public Finance

"Budget transparency is our obligation and one part of the smart city strategy we will develop this year. This is a necessary level of development planning by which we want to make Trogir the most desirable small town on the coast in every sense. Precisely such projects by which we raise democratic standards are a guarantee that we will never end up in the problems we were in three years ago," said Bilić.

Striving for complete city transparency

This interactive visualization of the budget will be available to citizens in two months. It will be implemented by the Science and Society Synergy Institute based in Čakovec, headed by Vuk Vuković.

"The application we will create for Trogir offers an in-depth and visually attractive presentation of all revenues and expenditures up to the fourth level of the budget, according to the functional and economic classification. This data, the functional classification up to the fourth level of spending, has not been given to city councilors at budget hearings who receive budget expenditures up to a maximum of the third level. For example, the fourth level means that you can enter within each city's budget user – kindergartens, schools, museums, libraries – and see who spent how much on salaries, maintenance, what they bought, etc. The third level gives only the total amount received by which user, without going into details. With this presentation, citizens have a more detailed insight into city spending than city politicians," Vuković explained.

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Ante Bilić and Vuk Vuković / Photo: Trogir.hr

Following an interactive budget guide, the next step will be a detailed overview of all budget accounts. Citizens would have an insight into each transaction from the budget, from public procurement to entertainment expenses. Then there will be complete transparency of the city towards users.

Bjelovar was the first to introduce transparency application

Thus, Trogir will be one of only three cities in Croatia and Southeast Europe with a completely transparent budget. A similar practice has been introduced by the Croatian cities of Bjelovar and Split and the municipality of Omišalj, which also introduced applications for insight into the city budget. The City of Bjelovar presented a similar application in February 2019. Vuković also helped them, making them the first most transparent city in Croatia, for which they were awarded that year.

"Bjelovar has thus embarked on a unique undertaking in Croatia and this part of Europe, which is to raise transparency to a level that has not been introduced in any public authority so far, to raise the quality of the City Administration's work and strengthen public confidence," said Vuković at the time, as reported from Bjelovar.

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Bjelovar Pavilion / Photo: Bjelovar.hr

Bjelovar's positive example was followed by the municipality of Omišalj, which introduced the transparency application at the end of March 2020. The largest Croatian city on the coast – Split – also decided to do so, and neighboring Trogir took over its practice.

Namely, the citizens' right to access information held by public authorities is guaranteed by the Republic of Croatia's Constitution. Therefore, in addition to the moral, the public authority also has a legal duty to provide information on public money spending. However, while in developed democracies such transparency is considered the standard and, for example, all individual transactions from the US federal budget of 1.5 billion dollars are available to the public through an interactive Internet search engine, in Croatia it has never existed before, nor are public authorities considered this possibility.

This trend seems to be changing in Croatia. The transparency of Croatian cities is presented in an interactive map of the Institute of Public Finance.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Terme Bjelovar Wants Indoor, Outdoor Pools, Recreation and Water Park

January the 30th, 2021 - Local residents and other visitors to continental Croatia are always in need of some very welcome refreshment and cooling off during the hot summer months. Could Terme Bjelovar be a project that proves worthy?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, local elections are due to be held in Croatia in just a few months, and many projects across numerous Croatian cities and municipalities will be announced in the coming period. Whether Terme Bjelovar will be one of the successful ones could be found out soon.

Namely, as was confirmed over recent days by Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak, the construction of Bjelovar spas in the Veliko Korenovo zone is getting closer and closer to realisation.

He explained that the Terme Bjelovar project is worth a quarter of a billion kuna including VAT, which includes all of the costs so far - the purchase of the land, the construction of a geothermal well, equipment, projects, and consulting.

The hopes and plans are, they have pointed out from Bjelovar, indoor and outdoor pools, ie Olympic sized ones, recreational pools and even a water park. Everything relies on a geothermal spring with a constant water flow of 10 l / s and a temperature of 30 ° C.

They expect that the development of Terme Bjelovar's ''thermal riviera'' will be the induction of new facilities that will encourage the development of other tourist infrastructure and the development of tourism in that otherwise often overlooked area of the country.

Hrebak explained that they decided on a "somewhat megalomaniac" project and an Olympic indoor pool after talks with national sports associations in Zagreb, where it was concluded that this is a unique opportunity to raise sport in Bjelovar to a much higher level.

"I held a meeting with the leaders of the swimming and water polo federations where it was concluded that it would be a real shame not to take the opportunity now and just skip the construction of the Olympic pool. Given that in 2021 the National Programme of Recovery following the coronavirus crisis will be created, within which all counties, cities and municipalities in Croatia will be included in the catalog with all projects in a high stage of readiness, I think we can get additional financial funds,'' said Mayor Hrebak.

Bjelovar had an indoor swimming pool until 2019 within the Retirement Home, but it was closed due to excessive maintenance costs. The outdoor swimming pool, on the other hand, was renovated in 2018 and has been attracting thousands of guests every summer since.

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Monday, 4 January 2021

Strongest Croatian Brands Survived and Succeeded After Independence

January 4, 2020 – A map showing production across the former Yugoslavia details the sustained prosperity of many Croatian favourites as some of the strongest Croatian brands are shown not only to have survived but have succeeded following independence

Media across Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia have surprised younger readers and reminded older readers with the publication of a map detailing production in the former Yugoslavia. While this trip down memory lane has caused a range of reactions across the countries of the former republic, looking at the map from a purely Croatian perspective gives some enlightening information. Namely, many of the strongest Croatian brands visible on the map are recognisable today. Some of the strongest Croatian brands not only survived independence but have since grown.
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Bajadera - one of the most popular products made by Zagreb-based chocolate and confectionery manufacturers Kraš

Zagreb-based chocolate and confectionery manufacturers Kraš, Požega-based confectionery and drinks manufacturers Zvečevo, oil company INA, Koprivnica-based food company Podravka and Koprivnica-based pharmaceuticals company Belupo, vitamin drink Cedevita, Varaždin-based food company Vindija, Vukovar shoemakers Borovo, Varaždin clothes designers and manufacturers Varteks and multi-use condiment Vegeta are just some of the strongest Croatian brands that are present on the map. You are still likely to see these brand names on many Croatian high streets. Some have succeeded in reaching further into international markets since Croatian independence.

1440xauto_1474445556Vegeta_SAD_1_kg.jpgCroatian-made condiment Vegeta is sold all over the world

Of course, not every brand visible on the map of Yugoslavia production has fared so well. In their coverage of the map, Ri.portal reminds that “Some of the Yugoslav products were used by literally the whole world - ships, cars, planes, trucks, weapons and even computers were produced... However, many of these companies no longer exist or are bankrupt.”

In their coverage of the map, Bosnian website Klix reminds that Croatian shipyards Uljanik in Pula and 3 Maj in Rijeka were at world level and produced large ships for customers from all over the world. Split-based shipyard Brodosplit, which can also be seen on the map, survives to this day.
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Croatian vitamin drink Cedevita comes in a range of flavours

Ri.portal goes on to remember that Yugoslavia was one of only five countries in Europe at the time that manufactured its own computers. “Probably the most famous is the Galaxy, while the first computer produced was the CER-10,” they say. One of the Yugoslav computer makers on the map, popular in the late 1970s, was Digitron, based in Buje in Istria.

Sadly, not all of the strongest Croatian brands have made it until today. Famous tractor and agriculture equipment manufacturer Tomo Vinković of Bjelovar is no longer in production. Their famously-reliable machines are much in-demand on the secondhand market. Two new tractor manufacturers, Hittner doo and the Prima tractor factory still make tractors in Bjelovar.

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Sunday, 3 January 2021

Bjelovar Mayor Hails 2020 'Most Successful Year Ever' as McDonalds Opens Bringing 40 Jobs

January 3, 2021 - While 2020 was a terrible year for most, there were plenty of success stories in Croatia. For some, such as the business-friendly Bjelovar Mayor, Dario Hrebak, it was the most successful year in his city's history.

It is almost a year since I wrote the most unlikeliest of titles in the modern Croatia - Seeds of Change: My City is Corruption-Free, Claims Croatian Mayor.

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Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak appeared to be a mayor with a different agenda than the ones I was used to in local politicians - lining their pockets, rewarding party loyalists and cousins with the top jobs, and using the position to maintain the status quo rather than working for the citizens of the town. 

Reducing the number of people in his administration to make it more efficient (never a vote winner), slashing local business taxes to encourage investment, and digitising the system to make it more efficient and user-friendly. Not things one was sadly accustomed to in public administration in Croatia. 

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The pandemic has prevented me from taking a more active interest in Bjelovar on the ground this year, but we have been following progress from afar.

The Bjelovar mayor has always been very communicative on social media, and his latest post on Facebook today hails not only the opening of the first McDonalds (and accompanying 40 jobs) in his city, but also the fact that his policies seems to be working - he claims that 2020 was the most successful year in the history of Bjelovar, and that there is more to come in 2021:

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For years we have been building Bjelovar as ′′business-friendly", a city with one of the best business environments in Croatia, where the entrepreneurial kuna is valued more than in most other cities in Croatia. McDonald's opened today in Bjelovar. The investment, greater than 2 million euros, was implemented within a short period of only a few months. 40 new employees will have jobs, and this investment is proof that Bjelovar has become a desirable destination for many investors. The city that abolishes its taxes, quickly issues all necessary permits, reduces public administration and makes it more efficient, I'm sure there will be targets and new manufacturing investments.

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(Site of the new McDonalds in Bjelovar - before and after)

All entrepreneurs and investments are welcome to our Bjelovar, and the competition encourages us to be better, faster and more agile.

And to finish, some more good news, despite the crisis, we have completed one of the more demanding years in which after 20 years we abolished the apparatus, exempted payment entrepreneurs and other taxes and compensation so that they could keep their jobs, and on the other hand by implementing a budget of about 250 million kunas, this is the most successful year in the history of our city! Happy new year 2021. to us!

I'm convinced it will be even more successful!

You can follow the latest from Bjelovar in the dedicated TCN section.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Bale and Bjelovar Win Miko Tripalo Award for Promotion of Local Democracy

ZAGREB, November 9, 2020 - The Istrian municipality of Bale has been given the Miko Tripalo Award for promoting local democracy through participatory development and local governance while Bjelovar, a town east of Zagreb, has been awarded for promoting local democracy through budget transparency.

The Miko Tripalo Centre for Democracy and Law, established in tribute to the prominent Croatian politician, reformer and dissident, said the award went to the two local government units which "are bright examples of local democracy in Croatia, creating room for the necessary change of the public governance paradigm at the local and regional levels and promoting the values of a democratic and open society."

Since 2019, residents of Bjelovar have had access to information on payments from the town budget, including payments to legal and natural persons as well as daily allowances for town employees.

With participatory development, Bale municipality has turned to the strategic planning of development based on environmental protection and the preservation of natural resources and the cultural and historical heritage.

The award-giving ceremony, held in Bale, was addressed by the president of the Miko Tripalo Centre for Democracy and Law, former president Ivo Josipovic, and the chair of its Steering Board, historian Tvrtko Jakovina, as well as Bale municipality head Edi Pastrovicchio and Bjelovar deputy mayor Igor Brajdic.

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