Monday, 19 December 2022

3 Croatian Cities Ready to Dip Feet in Pool of Almost 700 Million Euros

December the 19th, 2022 - Three Croatian cities are the most ready of all to dip their feet in the proverbial pool of almost 700 million euros provided by the European Union (EU) through the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, through the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, the EU has provided a massive 681.3 million euros to be spent on increasing the quality of life and the green transition of Croatian urban areas, and most Croatian cities have plans for projects that they will apply under this particular programme.

22 Croatian cities are entitled to access funds from the Integrated Territorial Programme (ITU mechanism), and Bjelovar is one of only three Croatian cities that already have prepared all of the necessary documentation ahead of time.

If we're to include municipal projects, there are fourteen priority projects in Bjelovar alone, with Mayor Dario Hrebak highlighting the restoration of the old prison building in the centre, a protected cultural property whose restoration is demanding and cannot be submitted to other tenders, as well as the revitalisation and furnishing the building for the needs of the student dorms.

"Bjelovar and the neighbouring municipalities of Veliko Trojstvo, Stefanje, Rovisce and Kapela have all acquired the right to a financial envelope of 22 million euros from the ITU mechanism, with Bjelovar receiving 70 percent and the municipalities 30 percent of that amount," says Hrebak. In addition to the revitalisation of the old prison, they also list some other projects in Bjelovar; a digital innovation centre, the Jabuceta business incubator in the municipality of Kapela, the Rovisce development centre, the proper arrangement and equipping of the social centre in Narta, pedestrian and bicycle paths with storm drainage in Gornji Plavnice, the revitalisation and equipping of the student dorms,Terme Bjelovar, and much more.

"Bjelovar currently has prepared documentation for investments worth 1.2 billion kuna in total. I expect that through the ITU mechanism, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and all other sources of funding available to us, we'll manage to realise 80 percent of these projects over the next four years. Equally, we expect that the participation of Bjelovar in this will stand at 250 million kuna", explained Hrebak. In order to realise the projects from the ITU mechanism, Bjelovar established the Administrative Department for the implementation of the ITU mechanism.

Rijeka also has a horse in the EU funds race. Back during the period from 2016 to 2021, during which the implementation of several projects important for the development of the City of Rijeka and the city's agglomeration was contracted, and this included public transport.

"The preparation of projects for the period until the year 2027 is currently underway, and they'll be presented only after the decision of the Coordination Council as the governing body of the Agglomeration, and we believe that in January 2023 we will be able to state which projects we're talking about. There is no doubt, however, that the newly proposed projects must be shaped within the established priorities, that is, the specific goals on which the Integrated Territorial Programme for the period 2021-2027 is based, and they are; the industrial transition of Croatian regions, strengthening green, clean, smart and sustainable of city traffic and the development of urban areas through the rehabilitation and revitalisation of brownfield areas, the restoration and presentation of cultural heritage for the development of sustainable tourism, and the development of green infrastructure, etc, they explained from the City of Rijeka, headed by Mayor Marko Filipovic.

Of the other ''most ready'' Croatian cities, Osijek also started preparing for the ITU financial period 2021-2027 last year with the establishment of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration. The territorial scope of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration consists of ten local self-government units: the City of Osijek and the municipalities of Antunovac, Bilje, Bizovac, Cepin, Erdut, Ernestinovo, Petrijevci, Vladislavci and Vuka.

As they revealed from Administrative Department for Finances and EU Funds of the City of Osijek, during 2021 and 2022, the establishment of the Urban Agglomeration of Osijek took place alongside the establishment of the Coordination Council. The drafting of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration Development Strategy, a strategic document that defines development goals and is a precondition for the use of funds from the ITU mechanism, has now been started. For this purpose, on November the 22nd, 2021, all local self-government units from the scope concluded an agreement on cooperation on the development and implementation of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration Development Strategy 2021-2027.

For more, check out our news section.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Future Bjelovar Communal Geothermal Power Plant to be First in Croatia

December the 14th, 2022 - The future Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant will be the first in all of the Republic of Croatia, and despite already being the very heart of the use of geothermal power in this country, this will throw the spotlight on Bjelovar even more.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as stated, the continental Croatian town of Bjelovar is already the national centre of the use of geothermal sources, and the only geothermal power plant for the production of electricity (GE Velika Ciglena) is located on its territory. This town will raise its leadership position in this segment to the European level in the coming period with the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant.

Although electricity can be produced from hot water, this technology is much more useful for thermal energy, especially for public hot water systems, in which Bjelovar will also lead the way. Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak announced that this town will embark on just such a project - the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant that will supply heat to the majority of public and apartment buildings across the area.

"The documentation regarding the boreholes made by INA over the past 60 years, done in search of gas and oil, shows that our entire area, including the centre of Bjelovar itself, is very suitable for the application of geothermal technology. We estimated that the green area next to the stadium is the location where we'll start the feasibility study and the investment in the first communal power plant of this kind in all of Croatia. It's an ideal position because within a small radius of just 800 metres, there are a large number of public buildings and large energy consumers - three high schools with a sports hall, a primary school with a hall, the police station, a retirement home, student dorms, and, in particular, a hospital that needs very large amount of heat to function. In addition, there are two districts with multi-apartment buildings, and it's clear what the benefits of this project would be", Hrebak explained, adding that the necessary infrastructure is relatively small because everything is already located nearby.

If this project is implemented according to plan, they expect to be able to build two to four more such thermal power plants in Bjelovar over the coming years and thus cover the entire area with hot water pipes where the water temperature is higher than 70 degrees Celsius.

They don't want to speculate about the specific deadlines and costs of the so-called "Operation Stadium" because the project has only just started, that is, a feasibility study is underway, which should be completed by the end of the year. However, Hrebak is more than sure that it will show profitability and expects that it should all have a similar process to the deadlines and dimensions of their already advanced Veliko Korenovo project on the outskirts of the town, next to the Bjelovar Fair. This was a large investment of 3.5 million euros that was developed over two years.

He estimates that Bjelovar has a total potential of around 30 MW of installed energy capacity in geothermal technology. Given that the town has a maximum, or peak, consumption of 40 MW of electricity, it's clear that with only its hot water sources, Bjelovar could become a very elegant, long-term and inexpensive energy-neutral environment. So far, there is only one operational geothermal power plant in all of Croatia, Velika Ciglena near Bjelovar with a capacity of 10 MW, and there are about ten more such projects in some stage of development.

Despite the ownership struggles of Dragan Jurilj and his Turkish partners from MB Holding, GE Velika Ciglena has shown that such projects can be realised in this country despite issues and that energy can be produced. Although they also plan to produce electricity in Bjelovar, currently their primary focus is being placed on heat. The construction of a well for the use of geothermal energy in the settlement of Veliko Korenovo will also soon begin. It is a project whose goal is to increase the production of energy from renewable sources, reduce CO2 emissions and increase security of supply. The total value of the project stands at 3.47 million euros, of which 1.3 million euros are grants.

A quick return on investment

Hrebak pointed out that the return on the investment poured into the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant is planned in just a few years after exploitation, and it will indirectly create a large number of jobs. He added that a public procurement for the contractor is planned to be announced some time this month, and drilling is expected to begin in the middle of next year. Drilling will take a little more than one month to carry out, and it is expected that they'll find a source of water with a temperature of around 70°C, which would be used to heat the greenhouses, the Bjelovar Fair, and the Veliko Korenovo business zone. The mayor noted that it could be the first real "district heating" project in all of Croatia.

The project was co-financed by the "Energy and Climate Change" Programme of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union (EU) Funds, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland as donor countries and the programme partner of the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute.

Along with the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant, they also plan to build a Thermal Riviera, or a spa, on the basis of geothermal sources. The plan, as explained by Mayor Hrebak, is to submit the Spa and Stadium project to the tenders of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in February next year, from which the majority of the investment would be financed.

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

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Annual Terezijana Festivities Taking Place in Bjelovar

ZAGREB, 18 June  2022 - Over 500 costumed participants walked through the centre of Bjelovar on Saturday evening within the annual Terezijana festivities in memory to Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa during whose rule in the 18th century Bjelovar developed into an urban centre.

On Saturday evening Croatian President Zoran Milanović attended the costumed procession through this city 80 kilometres east of Zagreb.

The first edition of the annual festivities called "Terezijana" was launched 26 years ago. Every June since then, Bjelovar prepares this tourist and entertainment programme.

This year, the festivities are being held from 15 to 19 June, and feature regional rock and pop stars.

Typical meals of the local cuisine were also offered to visitors.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Express Train Service to Connect Osijek, Bjelovar and Zagreb as of December

ZAGREB, 10 April 2022 - The Croatian Rail (HŽ) company will introduce an express train between Osijek and Zagreb via Bjelovar as of this December, and will soon introduce low-floor trains on the Zagreb-Bjelovar-Virovitica route.

This is the outcome of a recent meeting between Bjelovar-Bilogora County Prefect Marko Marušić and HŽ Putnički Prijevoz (HŽPP) executives.

In 2021, 120,398 passengers boarded trains at railway stations in this county, a 5% rise from 2020, it was said during the meeting, held in Bjelovar, at which Marušić also requested more favourable train ticket prices for locals.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Bjelovar to Host Croatian Catholic Youth Meeting on 17 Sept

ZAGREB, 3 April 2022 - Several thousand young people are expected to gather in Bjelovar, 80 kilometres northeast of Zagreb, on 17 September for the Croatian Catholic Youth Meeting, to be held under the motto "Hearts are burning".

Participants will gather in the seat of the Bjelovar-Križevci County Diocese. The programme of the meeting is being prepared by its Youth Pastoral.

Croatian Catholic Youth Meetings have been held since 1996, the first one being held in Split. Every meeting draws thousands of young people from every Croatian archdiocese and diocese as well as Catholic missions.

The meetings have also been hosted by Rijeka, Osijek, Šibenik, Pula, Varaždin, Zadar, Sisak, Dubrovnik, and Vukovar. Zagreb was to have hosted in 2020 but the meeting was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the earthquake that struck the capital that year.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 April 2022

23rd International Bjelovar Spring Fair Opens

ZAGREB, 1 April (2022) - The 23rd International Bjelovar Spring Fair opened in Gudovac on Friday, with more than 400 exhibitors from a dozen countries showcasing their agricultural products and services.

The Spring Fair, which is open until Sunday, also includes the 17th Beekeeping Fair, the Horticulture Equipment Fair and the Construction and Utility Equipment Fair. Gudovac is located near Bjelovar, about 80 kilometres northeast of Zagreb.

The show was opened by Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, who noted that in the past few years Croatia had been exposed to challenges it could have no influence on, such as natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. He recalled that the government had invested a huge amount of money in a job retention scheme and adopted a HRK 4.8 billion package of measures to preserve living standards and expand the scope of welfare measures.

Bjelovar Fair director Zlatko Salaj expressed satisfaction with the number of exhibitors although it was about 30 per cent lower than in the record 2019.

Bjelovar-Bilogora County Prefect Marko Marušić spoke of the long tradition of agriculture in the region and the measures being undertaken by the regional government to help farmers, while Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak emphasised the importance of the use of geothermal energy, which is abundant locally, in agriculture.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that Croatia was the fourth biggest user of EU rural development funds. She said that the autumn sowing had gone well despite all the challenges and that six per cent more land had been sown than the previous year. She also mentioned an emergency measure of HRK 868 million to remedy the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Bjelovar to Explore Hidden Potential with New Project and Norwegian Money

March the 22nd, 2022 - Bjelovar, known more recently as one of the most forward-thinking, anti-corruption, pro-transparency towns in all of Croatia, is set to explore its further hidden potential with a new project and a generous amount of Norwegian cash.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after the Ministry of Regional Development approved the amount of 2 million kuna recently for the preparation of project documentation for a new geothermal well in Veliko Korenovo, even better news arrived for Bjelovar. The continental Croatian town also got the green light for the construction of the well itself.

The project, worth a total of 3.5 million euros, will be co-financed from the same source as the preparation of the documentation - from the "Energy and Climate Change" programme of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, funded by the Kingdom of Norway, as reported by

''The total value of this project stands at 3.5 million euros, and the maximum amount that could be achieved through this tender is 1.5 million euros. We haven't yet received confirmation that we've been approved in the full amount, but given that very few projects have applied for this tender, and ours is highly rated, we're hoping for the best,'' said Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak.

In other words, there is a possibility that Bjelovar itself will provide almost half of the money for the investment in this tender, and Hrebak added that he isn't afraid for the other half of the required amount. ''I believe that in the near future there will be more tenders for such projects, so I believe that we will find the required amount. This is a great investment, we'll definitely realise it,'' says Hrebak.

The project's realisation could end up going faster than anyone could have expected, especially in Croatian terms.

''The conceptual project is already being completed, and I believe that we could have a building permit by the end of this year. This means that the construction of the well itself could be completed by the end of next year, and we've already been contacted by some potential investors,'' announced Hrebak, who isn't bothering to try to hide his overall satisfaction with the realisation of this extremely important project for Bjelovar.

''It's important, especially in light of current global events when energy self-sufficiency is one of the key issues. The new well will be the foundation for the heating plant and the heating pipeline through which future spas should be heated, the business zone in Veliko Korenovo, the Bjelovar Fair and other facilities in that part of the city,'' said Hrebak, adding that estimates are being made on the savings this investment will bring over time.

''We already know that this is going to result in really huge savings. By comparison, the 10-megawatt geothermal power plant at Ciglena produces 130 million kuna worth of electricity a year. We're going to have a power of 4 megawatts in Veliko Korenovo, so we can also expect millions in energy savings,'' said Hrebak.

Bjelovar started a serious examination of the well in Veliko Korenovo a little over one year ago in cooperation with experts from the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute and the Geotechnical Institute. Initial tests have already indicated the enormous potential of the well and that the water temperature at this place is much higher than that which will be used for the nearby spas. To speak more specifically, a water temperature of 70 degrees was measured at that location.

''We have information that in other parts of the city there are underground springs where the water temperature is between 70 and 100 degrees celsius. Bjelovar has a great geothermal potential that we definitely plan to utilise,'' concluded Dario Hrebak.

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

Friday, 18 February 2022

Bjelovar Veterinary Station Takes Over Dog Shelter in Severin Village

February 18, 2022 - Thanks to a four-year contract initiated by the City of Bjelovar, the dog shelter in Severin village is now run by the Bjelovar Veterinary Station. 

Based on a public procurement conducted by the City of Bjelovar, the Bjelovar Veterinary Station will care for the stray dogs in the Bjelovar area. The animal shelter is located in the village of Severin and currently cares for 109 dogs. In addition to dogs from the Bjelovar area, the shelter also takes care of dogs from nine municipalities. The four-year care contract is worth two million kuna, and about 240,000 kuna has been used so far, reports Vecernji List.

"I would say this is a real dog hotel. The property is really beautiful, very well decorated, and has all the important elements. Bjelovar Veterinary Station is a very serious company with 45 employees who do a great job. About 120 dogs pass through the shelter annually. We are glad that they have been adopted quite successfully, which is the main goal of this whole story. I want to thank the "Šapa" Society for the Protection of Animals and Mrs. Marija Horvat, with whom the City of Bjelovar had excellent cooperation. However, the current space is more adequate, there is a lot more space for dogs, and they have everything they need, from veterinary care, food, space for running, sleeping, and the like," said Igor Brajdić, Deputy Mayor of Bjelovar.

The problem of abandoned dogs is one of the burning issues both in Bjelovar and in the surrounding area. According to Brajdić, the only way is to educate and inform citizens in cooperation with the Bjelovar Veterinary Station. The city's municipal warden is regularly on the ground, he claims, and has a very extensive job, including caring for abandoned animals. He called on interested citizens to consider adopting abandoned dogs. The head of the animal shelter in Severin revealed details regarding the shelter's operation, capacity, and operation.

"Our facility had to comply with the Ordinance on the care of abandoned animals. For this reason, we have invested considerable financial resources in arranging the shelter. The inspection confirmed one of the best shelters in Croatia, perhaps the highest quality. There are a total of 32 of them in the country. Our shelter can accommodate up to 180 dogs, and the most important thing is that we have adopted about 120 of them in a year. The shelter employs four people, one doctor, two technicians, and another employee. During the morning, the shelter is cleaned, dogs are washed and fed, followed by treatment and therapy. For the time being, we are performing surgical procedures in the outpatient clinic in Bjelovar, but we also have one room here, and we can do some smaller procedures. We also arranged a food warehouse and a large bathroom for washing and caring for dogs," says veterinarian Ante Ćorić.

The municipal warden is obliged to inform the shelter about any stray dogs, after which someone from the shelter goes out on the field and checks if the dog is chipped. In any case, the animal is taken to the shelter, and if it has a chip, the owner is notified, who bears all the costs incurred.

"In case the dog is not chipped, we get in touch with the veterinary inspection, which can help us a lot. The municipal warden is very important, and we have excellent cooperation with them. Some local governments often do not understand that they are a specific service for citizens and have to take care of stray dogs, i.e., the problems that arise from that. At the Severin dog shelter, all dogs have been neutered. After the arrival of a new dog, it stays in the shelter for some time before castration," explains Ćorić and adds that the adoption process is straightforward; all that is needed is goodwill, as well as love for dogs.

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

Friday, 14 January 2022

Direct Railway Line Between Bjelovar and Split Will Start this Summer

January 14, 2022 - The Bjelovar-Bilogora County has managed to reach an agreement with HŽPP, and Bjelovar will be connected to the Adriatic by a direct railway line for the first time from July 1st, this year.

The seasonal tourist train will run once a day on the route Osijek-Virovitica-Bjelovar-Zagreb-Split, reports HrTurizam.

It will depart from Osijek at 8 pm, in Bjelovar at 11.35 pm, and at its final destination in Split it should arrive at 8.42 am. Return from Split is planned every day at 22.06 hours, the train would arrive in Bjelovar at 8.11 hours, and in Osijek at 11.36 hours. The line will run until August 27.

"The direct railway line that will connect Bjelovar to the Adriatic for the first time is the result of our efforts and talks we started last autumn. We are extremely pleased with the agreement reached with HŽPP and consider it important progress in connecting Bjelovar with other parts of Croatia," said the prefect Marko Marušić, who talked with the representatives of HŽPP about the better connection of Bjelovar with Zagreb and the possibility of introducing a student train from Bjelovar to Zagreb.

Namely, children and students of primary and secondary schools will be able to travel for free, in accordance with the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the introduction of a pilot project of free public rail transport, which is in force until the end of this year.

Recall, this pilot project includes unlimited daily train journeys from the place of residence to the place of schooling and occasional trips, such as day trips, trips to the doctor, on vacations and other trips in the 2nd class of regular trains.

If you want to learn more about train travel in Croatia, be sure to check Total Croatia's guide HERE. Now available in your language!

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

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.

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