Thursday, 24 March 2022

9,500 Ukrainians Find Refuge In Croatia So Far

ZAGREB, 24 March - About 9,500 Ukrainians displaced by the war in their country have found refuge in Croatia, Tomislav Marević of the Civil Protection Directorate said on Thursday.

"These are still mainly women and children, and many of them are accommodated privately," Marević said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

He said he was proud that Croatia had responded in solidarity already in the first weeks of the war and that citizens were taking in displaced persons voluntarily.

He commended the government's decision to finance accommodation for refugees, adding that the Civil Protection Directorate would sign a contract with each user and owner of a property.

Anny Brusić, director of the association of small and medium-sized enterprises at the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), said that the business community was very interested in hiring Ukrainian refugees.

"We need a little more time to get the system going because certain procedures need to be simplified before hiring actually begins. A state authority should say that at this point Ukrainian workers are not required to show a certificate of education or a diploma. Our legislation is rather rigid," Brusić said.


Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Damir Trut: Unit for Maritime, Underwater and Cave Rescues Established

March the 8th, 2022 - A brand new diving Croatian unit for maritime, underwater and cave rescues has been established according to Civil Protection Directorate director Damir Trut, who spoke about it for Morski TV recently.

As Morski writes, Croatia has a very long coast and is one of the most indented countries in the whole world due to its complex network of islands, bays and peninsulas. As a result of its geography, it has become increasingly attractive to boaters, divers, as well as other guests who want to enjoy the Adriatic Sea in ways that go beyond having a swim at the beach. If we add speleology exploration to such types of tourism, and then add rivers and other freshwater areas on land, then we realise that the organisation of rescue units trained and equipped for rescues in diverse and often very dangerous conditions is more than necessary.

Due to the growing need for such a service, the newly formed specialist diving group within the water/maritime rescue module of the State Civil Protection Intervention Unit was presented to the public recently. The director of the Civil Protection Directorate of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Damir Trut, revealed more.

There will be centres of special diving forces in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek, says Damir Trut

''The range of tasks that Civil Protection Directorate carries out is really diverse. The State Civil Protection Intervention Unit is a unit that has the highest rank of equipment and training in all of Croatia for the care and assistance of the population. It has multiple segments; for rescue from rubble, rescue from water, rescue in contaminated areas, and the list goes on. These are all areas we've strategically improved and planned to add more to over the years.

In addition to the special training of rescue people, additional equipment is needed to make the job faster, more efficient and safer. All the conditions in which rescuers work are the most dangerous of all. Water rescues are another element that lifeguards need to actively work on. They must have good training and have proper licenses, but also good equipment in order to be able to help those most in need.

What is the number of members and where will these people and their centres be stationed?

''The diving unit is within the water rescue unit, which also works in floods, but we've expanded it to cover maritime and vessel rescue missions in the tourist season, which is something that is increasingly needed. These units are located in four locations: Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Osijek. At the Zagreb location, they have three more elements: the media part of it all and the technical team that deals with caves, mapping and the use of the most sophisticated technical equipment, such as robots or scanners. Today, this technique gives us information from greater depths on how and in what way something or someone is endangered.

There are two teams of eight members at each location, meaning the sixteen most capable and skilled divers, who go through different levels of licensing and who are then able to do such jobs. Much of this is funded by EU projects. The Slovenian water rescue unit has a robot that we don't have yet. We will also procure this equipment, we're just waiting for the tenders to open and then we'll start heading in that direction ourselves, too.

Human casualties do tragically occur, and unfortunately there have already been such situations in the Croatian Adriatic...

This is especially true during the tourist season. Accidents do happen then. And we in Croatia have various organisations under the coordination and auspices of the Coast Guard, which jointly participate in rescue operations at sea. This segment of rescue from the depths was not well covered, so we analysed and came to the conclusion that it is necessary to train and equip a unit that can perform very demanding tasks under the sea and at depths of over a hundred metres.

While we didn't have such a unit, there were situations such as an unfortunate situation in the Sibenik area when special forces from Lucko in Zagreb had to wait to retrieve the body of the injured fisherman, because it was very inconvenient to dive down to the wreck itself. Will these types of interventions be easier now?

We did and we still do have divers who can carry out such tasks, but they weren't properly organised. They existed within different organisations and bodies and as a result it was very difficult to carry out an organised rescue. It's important for the unit that it is organised and has a sufficient number of people and that they also have backups and replacements.

You've recently done exercises in this particular segment. What did they look like?

''We did it through several elements, we wanted to see if all we'd discussed could be harmonised with the procedures according to which the divers will continue to work. We carried out the rescue of someone who was drowning in a river, then we undertook a cave rescue and dealt with the rescue of people from a vessel that had sunk out at sea. We also did the technical part of filming that ship and making a 3D model of the ship so that we could analyse and see from the land everything that was needed. After the 3D analysis, a 3D model can be printed, so that literally on the table in front of you, engineers who are not divers can provide advice or prepare all the technical elements needed.

In addition to all of that, do rescue divers also use submarines, underwater and flying drones, as well as amphibious vehicles?

Yes, they do.  A diver without equipment is still a diver, and with the equipment he is a specialist who can quickly and efficiently provide assistance to a victim and in the particular area in which an unfortunate event has happened.

Have there been rescues so far in caves and in flooded areas?

Yes, the response to such situations has so far been mostly provided by the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, but that still isn't enough, because they don't have the capacities for a longer and stronger rescue. We've invited all those who are the best at this to the personnel organisation of the State Intervention Unit. So we have members of the police, firefighters, and the Mountain Rescue Service. Everyone on the team is a volunteer. They're placed on call as needed, as it isn't necessary to have active professionals all the time,'' concluded Damir Trut.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Croatian Company Owners Seek Compensation from Civil Protection Directorate

July the 22nd, 2021 - Five Croatian company owners are seeking not only answers but compensation for their extreme losses incurred owing to lockdowns and limitations from the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate.

As Novac/Gordana Grgas writes, five Croatian company owners are refusing to let this issue drop as their very existence was threatened during the pandemic. As such, they have filed a lawsuit against the state seeking compensation for what they claim are discriminatory decisions by the Civil Protection Directorate and inadequate economic measures introduced by the government, funded and logistically supported by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP).

The amount they're asking for in court hasn't yet been publicly stated, and they say that it was calculated in relation to the turnover and profit that each of the companies had back during pre-pandemic 2019. The Croatian companies in question are "Djurina hiza" from Varazdin, Caffe & Wine Bar from Rijeka, the travel agencies "Svi koncerti/All concerts" from Varazdin, "Locuples" from the vicinity of Split and the Shark Attack trade from Primosten.

The first step in the lawsuit against the state for damages is a request from the Croatian company owners to attempt to come to a peaceful solution, which was sent to the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office, it was said yesterday at a press conference organised by the UGP. As explained by the Matic and partners law firm who decided to take these cases, this means that within the legal deadline of three months "the state has a good chance to find modalities and an adequate solution." In other words, they believe that lawsuits shouldn't be filed with the competent courts if the state decides to settle in another manner.

Although the Constitutional Court has so far confirmed in its opinions that the measures adopted due to the pandemic were in accordance with the Constitution, lawyer Mato Matic believes that the Civil Protection Directorate directly violated the constitutional rights of Croatian company owners and states that there are serious violations of three articles of the Constitution (49, 50 and 54).

''Who exactly are those behind the Civil Protection Directorate? On what basis did they make thirteen decisions? On the basis of nothing,'' stated Matic, explaining that the state should have announced the introduction of a state of emergency so that the aforementioned group could make decisions, and noted that President Zoran Milanovic once spoke about it. Thus, Matic believes, there was no legal basis for these decisions to have been made, and no research has ever been conducted to suggest otherwise.

What the aforementioned law firm considers to be important is that judgments have been passed in several EU countries in support of such arguments, stating that the Spanish Constitutional Court declared the spring 2020 lockdown illegal, and the Belgian courts in Brussels declared the ban on the work of caterers and those in the hospitality industry to be illegal. They also cite the decision of the General Court of the European Union, which, as they say, interprets that everything that is prohibited or restricted for Croatian company owners by the decisions of the Government and the Civil Protection Directorate should be compensated in some way.

Hrvoje Bujas, the president of UGP, says that the lawsuits of the group's members are far from a bluff and says that the "gentlemen in the government" should take them very seriously. He emphasises that these are companies that were doing very well until the outbreak of the pandemic, and "became ruins" through absolutely no fault of their own.

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Croatian Civil Protection Directorate Plans for Wider "Covid Passport" Use

July the 4th, 2021 - The Croatian Civil Protection Directorate is planning for the even wider use of the controversial ''covid passports'', and the plans, although not set in stone yet, could irritate a lot of people.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the vaccine against the novel coronavirus isn't going to be made mandatory, nor are there any plans to change the law to allow for that, but people who don't have possession of the covid-digital certificate will be very limited in what they can do, Jutarnji list writes on Saturday.

As the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate told Jutarnji list, everything can be “elegantly” solved by, for example, introducing the obligation that every person who enters a health institution or hospital, be they an employee or a patient (of course except in emergencies) must have a digital covid certificate.

In translation, if this does occur, if an employee hasn't been vaccinated or can't prove that they have recovered from the disease, in order to come to work they will have to be tested every 48 hours. If someone is a patient and there is nothing urgent to be dealt with there and then, there can be no entry into the hospital.

This was partly confirmed by the Minister of Health Vili Beros for Index, saying that they are considering introducing testing when entering hospitals to ensure safety, but also that health professionals work for as long as their covid-confirmation lasts or be tested for the presence of the virus every 48 hours.

However, given the information Jutarnji received from the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, in the foreseeable future it is expected that something similar will be prescribed for the entire public sector and beyond.

“First of all, we're going in the direction of vaccinating the people who are in the greatest contact with other people. These are drivers in public transport, teachers, professors, educators, healthcare workers, people who work at counters or are otherwise in daily contact with a large number of people. Our goal is to prevent the spread of the disease and create conditions so that in autumn, we don't end up with the same wave we had last year,'' explained Beros.

By all accounts, this will be a way to start living as before, at least for those who have a QR code or a certificate proving that they have recovered from the disease, that they have been vaccinated or that they have been tested within the last 48 hours.

This decision from the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, as Jutarnji unofficially finds out, will probably concern even shopping centres, where people who have certificates could walk around freely without a mask and without maintaining social distancing. The only difference from the time before the coronavirus pandemic would be the reading of the code at the entrance to such centres.

''According to the information we have, it is very likely that in the near future entry into all larger spaces, which include shopping centres, will be possible only with a covid certificate/confirmation,'' reports Jutarnji list.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Croatian Mountain Rescue Service Book Presented by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute in Gospić

May 16, 2021 - Suitable for the 30th anniversary of one beloved Croatian civil protection organisation, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book was presented by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute based in Gospic.

With many tourists and visitors (and Croats too), not being too careful when going on ''their little adventures'' up mountains such as the Dinara, Velebit, or elsewhere, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) is as busy as Batman in Gotham. What with saving people who get lost, being bitten by poisonous animals that live on the mountains, or dealing with people who have hurt themselves in any way, they truly are praised as superheroes and are often the most beloved people on Croatian TV, either in commercials or when the press, telling their heroic tales.

Apart from mountains, their training was also shown to be useful for easing the numerous issues left following the 2020 earthquakes too.

Marking the 30 year anniversary of HGSS's station in Gospić, the Gospić Culture And Information Centre saw the presentation of the book ''The Day Replaced the Night, The Bura Wind Cleared Our View“ (Dan Je Zamijenio Noć, Bura Nam Očistila Pogled), last Friday. As reported by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute website, the authors of this pop-science monograph are dr. Ivan Brlic, dr. Nikola Simunic and Dr. Anita Busljeta Tonkovic.

''The Gospic HGSS station, even though with a relatively small member count, operates on the biggest and toughest rescue surfaces in all of the Republic of Croatia. This monograph, through geographical, historical and sociological context, aims to explain how important, but also how difficult the mountain rescuer's job is. The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book, covering over 150 pages in an honest and interesting way, shows why HGSS is one of the cornerstone operative forces of civil protection and that, in its professional, altruistic, and humane approach, contributes to the overall civil rescue system with the goal of saving human lives,'' they stated from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Apart from the authors of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book themselves, the event saw HGSS Croatia's main man, Josip Granic, the director of the HGSS Gospic station, Josip Bozicevic, Deputy Interior Minister Damir Trust, as well as the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Headmaster, Dr. Zeljko Holjevac sit down and speak. All of them agreed that this book is an important statement of gratefulness to HGSS members for all of the hard work they do.

The book is a product of the Ivo Pilar Institute's successful collaboration with the institutions in Gospic, and the wish for the further and deeper continuation of that cooperation was expressed too. In case of need, HGSS can be reached by calling 112. But, to prevent becoming yet another damsel (or a bachelor) in distress, it's not a bad idea to check their safety guidelines for enjoying the outdoors in Croatia.

Not to far from Gospic is the North Velebit National Park with its glorious mountains, about which you can learn more on our TC page.

For more about the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Constitutional Complaint Being Prepared Against Croatian Civil Protection Directorate

May the 17th, 2021 - A constitutional complaint is being prepared against the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate by the country's event industry, claiming that while they are more than aware that measures must be taken to try to prevent infection, they believe their constitutional rights have been violated.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, members of the Croatian event industry have stated that while they are aware that the danger of infection exists and that they don't question the need for epidemiological measures, they believe that those measures must be accompanied by the rights guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution.

"The current epidemiological measures significantly encroach on our rights guaranteed by the Constitution," their statement said.

They claim that the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, in its decisions and recommendations, violates the following norms prescribed by the Croatian Constitution:

1. Equality in treatment,

2. The rule of proportionality, ie the real danger of infection at public gatherings and the prescribed measures,

3. Entrepreneurial and market freedoms as the basis of economic structure and the guarantee of equal legal position on the market, and finally the right to work and earn an income as guaranteed by the Constitution.

"For all these reasons, and to try to prevent the collapse of our industry, we have no choice but to file a constitutional complaint against the decisions of the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate," they say.

They have also provided examples of just some of the illogical Croatian measures, citing several examples that they claim prove the measures are unconstitutional. Example number one is:

"According to the current epidemiological regulations, a group of catering and hospitality facilities on the Split waterfront (riva) can accommodate a total of over 500 people on their terraces, while at an organised and controlled event, such as a nautical fair, on the same waterfront on the other side with five to six times the space, we can only have up to 25 people. It's a fair of a specific character with non-mass visits, and the visitors walk around the ships and their equipment. We wonder where there is equality in treatment lies here, or where there is proportionality in the application of these restrictions.''

Example number two is:

“Currently, all shopping centres, unlike our industry, are allowed to operate, and according to the prescribed measures, they can accommodate from 1,000 to 5,045 people in their indoor spaces, while we can only accommodate 25 people at our events on the same square footage, which are also held outdoors.

Where's the proportionality if, according to all statistical analyses conducted so far, we know that this infection spreads in the open air at a percentage of 0.01 to 0.1 percent? Therefore, the epidemiological conditions for organising outdoor events should be much milder than those which govern people gathering indoors in shopping centres, and as you can see from the above examples, it turns out that they're hundreds of times stricter, and of course applying such rules and recommendations violates our entrepreneurial freedom in a disproportionate and unequal way.''

As a third example, they cite:

“In public transport (buses and trams), which cover a space of approximately 30 to 60 m2, 20 to 80 people can sit or stand in a confined space. A minimum of 20 students are sitting in classrooms no larger than 40m2 for 5 or more hours, again indoors, and we in the event industry and in the 50 times larger outdoor open space are still limited to 25 people per event. It isn't only an issue of constitutional rights, but also one which involved some common sense," they say.

As a final example, they state:

“Currently, in all premises of economic entities, offices, workshops, halls, etc., depending on the number of employees, up to several thousand people work indoors, while in our country there is a limit of 25 people at open/outdoor events.

In this case, our property rights, market and entrepreneurial freedom are placed in an unequal position. While some can work in fairly normal conditions, we're completely blocked, we're completely banned from working, because it's unprofitable to organise events for a mere 25 people.''

They claim that their rights guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution have been revoked in a "disproportionate, unequal and discriminatory manner without a valid explanation and adequate financial compensation for the damage they have suffered and continue to suffer".

They are demanding an urgent adjustment of the anti-epidemic measures set by the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate.

“We aren't even able to cover our minimum overhead costs, regardless of the fact that our industry is the most limited of all industries in terms of work and entrepreneurial activity. This situation is simply no longer sustainable. More and more successful companies from our industry are giving up on it all because there's no longer a basis for borrowing to maintain the status quo.

We demand an urgent adaptation of the measures to the real situation and the current situation, and respect for our constitutionally guaranteed rights, which have so far been grossly violated without any need. Let us work, let the music play,'' they conclude.

For more on the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate and coronavirus in Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Measure Relaxations Coming? 3 Things Civil Protection Directorate Must Approve

May the 12th, 2021 - Could Croatia soon relax its anti-epidemic measures? If so, there are three things that the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate must approve in order for anything to alter going forward.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with the aim of putting a halt to economic downturn and job losses, at yesterday's Civil Protection Directorate of the City of Zagreb's meeting, conclusions were reached on sending an initiative to the National Civil Protection Directorate to revise and amend the decision on the necessary epidemiological measures restricting gatherings and introduce other necessary epidemiological measures and recommendations to prevent transmission of COVID-19 during gatherings.

Proposals for amendments to the decision on the necessary epidemiological measures relate to the following:

- A work permit for catering and hospitality facilities with a detailed prescribed manner of their work organisation

- Permission to organise events and weddings with the rapid testing of guests and external service providers related to the event

- Permission to hold fairs and exhibitions out in the open air

- Given that we already have a lot more knowledge about preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, and a large number of people have been vaccinated, they believe that it is possible to re-apply the recommendations for infection prevention in restaurants both with and without terraces with the gradual easing of restrictions related to COVID-19 that were in force back in May last year, which prescribe the organisation of the facility's work, limit the total number of visitors and alter the method of serving food and drinks.

- In the same such facilities, the method of the work of employees and the serving of guests should be changed, and special rules for restaurants in accommodation facilities and others that have a buffet style of serving food should be provided.

- The possibility of implementing this recommendation would especially help the work of those in that particular industry who don't have outdoor terraces or other open spaces on which to offer their services. The City of Zagreb also supports the Safe Event/Wedding Standard project, which specifies proposals for the rapid testing of guests and external contractors before the event takes place and limiting the number of people present both indoors and outdoors.

On top of all of the above, the Civil Protection Directorate of the City of Zagreb also reiterated the problems caused by the ban on holding fairs and other forms of economic and tourist events, especially those where products are sold or exhibited. The existence of a large number of small companies and family farms (OPGs) depends on the production and sale of products at such open fairs. Since we're currently deep into the season of selling planting material, lettuce, spring onions and the like, and if producers have no way to offer their products, much of it will fail, and customers will settle, among other things, for products from supermarkets where they often buy imported goods, and not Croatian produce..

The City of Zagreb would, in compliance with all of the other epidemiological measures, hire additional covid wardens in order to ensure the proper control over the implementation of the altered epidemiological measures.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.