Friday, 29 January 2021

Hercegovac Begs Cro PM 'Open Borders So I Can Send My Wife To Her Mother'

January 29, 2021 – Lockdown is apparently taking a toll on one Hercegovac. The man from Široki Brijeg wrote to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and begged him to reopen the borders between Croatia and Herzegovina so he could eject his wife from the family home for a month and send her to his mother-in-law's

The message from Hercegovac Ante Zovko (Ante Marinkov) was reposted on the Facebook page Imocki crnjaci where it picked up some 3 thousand likes in less than 6 hours.

siroant.jpg

The town, Široki Brijeg, where this particular Hercegovac (a man from Herzegovina) lives is just 35 kilometres from the border with Croatia. Lots of Croatians live in this area, including this Hercegovac, his wife and his child. But not, it would seem, his wife's mother, who apparently lives in Croatia.

AnyConv.com__Panorama-široki07419.jpgŠiroki Brijeg in Herzegovina, around 35 kilometres across the border from Croatia © Anto (talk)

The Hercegovac's reason for wishing to eject his wife and child for a month was to change up the atmosphere for a time. One presumes he was not being entirely serious with his request.

The Hercegovac is not the first man to seemingly reach the end of his tether while restricted to staying in the family home. In April 2020, after just one month of being housebound, a man from a village near Osijek in Slavonia left his wife in the family home and went to live nearby in a tent.

Speaking anonymously at the time, the man's neighbour told the local SiB.hr news portal the couple have been happily married for 30 years. But, it seems the pressure of being around each other so closely during the lockdown was too much even for their strong union.

The neighbour was happy to report that since his friend pitched his tent in the nearby locale, relations between the man and his wife had actually returned to their usual levels of warmth and friendliness. The wife even came regularly to visit her husband in his tent.

6081683_f79a9255_originaldoggo.jpg© John Waring

"My neighbour has been in his tent for a few days now,” he told the portal back in April. “He puts up a table and chairs in front. Occasionally our other neighbour comes over to drink some rakija (with him). I visited him too.”

The neighbour said his friend had quit the family home due to boredom more than anything else. Even after being happily married for 30 years, being around each other 24 hours a day was apparently just too much.

Perhaps in this more chivalrous response from the Slavonian man, Hercegovac Ante Marinkov could take some inspiration? After all, it's surely easier if one person departs from his family home in order to change the atmosphere than if two are forced to leave. Ante should find a nice spot in the fields nearby – not too close – and simply pitch up a tent. Problem solved! If he's lucky, his wife might come to visit bringing rakija.

Friday, 29 January 2021

VIDEO: Prohibition-Era Nightclubbing Zagreb, 33 Fined

January 29, 2021 – It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb

It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone (main picture) or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb.

Croatian police have issued a video of a raid they undertook to shut down a Prohibition-era nightclubbing party in Zagreb. Inside the venue, they found 33 persons. None were wearing masks.

One young man at the party was caught with a pistol and bullets. If it weren't for the police's modern helmets with visors and the Balkan-cool neon lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Eliot Ness and The Untouchables busting an illegal speakeasy. All cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are supposed to be closed at the moment under measures adopted to counter the spread of Coronavirus.

Screenshot_129.pngThe pistol found by police while conducting a search on a 24-year-old at the club - Youtube screenshot

In the original era of America's Prohibition, under which the production, import, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, Al Capone ultimately received an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion and Lucky Luciano was looking at 30 - 50 years until he struck a deal and agreed to be deported to Italy. Thankfully, there are no mafia murders connected to this tale of Prohibition-era nightclubbing in Zagreb.

Depiction of an illicit nightclub - a speakeasy - in Prohibition-era America from the classic 1976 Alan Parker-directed children's movie and musical 'Bugsy Malone'

In addition to the video, the police released a statement about the prohibition-era nightclubbing raid:

"During the operation, a total of 33 people were found, identified and checked in said facility. No coercive measures were used during the actions of the police officers. 33 people were found not wearing protective masks, which is why the police officers issued them three Notices of Misdemeanor and 30 fines were collected for violations of Article 47, paragraph 2, item 9 of the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, for one of the caught persons, a 24-year-old was searched and a gas pistol was found in his possession, for which he was issued a Mandatory Misdemeanor Order for the offence under Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Law on procurement and possession of weapons by citizens.

Screenshot_139.pngBullets found by the police at the prohibition-era nightclubbing scene in Zagreb

Also, officials of the Directorate of Civil Protection found violations of epidemiological measures contrary to the Decision on necessary epidemiological measures restricting gatherings and introducing other necessary epidemiological measures and recommendations to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 through gatherings. Due to performing catering activities contrary to the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters, officials of the State Inspectorate, Tourist Inspection, Zagreb Regional Office found a violation of Article 9A of the Catering Act and issued an oral decision banning the work, and the facility was sealed for at least 30 days. Misdemeanor proceedings will be initiated against the legal and responsible person.

As part of the criminal investigation, the 45-year-old owner of a catering facility was taken to the official premises of the Zagreb Police Administration for a criminal investigation on suspicion of having committed the criminal offence of "Spreading and Transmitting an Infectious Disease" under Article 180. He will be handed over to the custody supervisor after the criminal investigation is completed”

Prohibition in the United States took place in a 13 year period between 1920 and 1933. It is highly unlikely that the bars and cafes of Zagreb will be asked to remain closed for such a length of time. This is not the first instance of Prohibition-era nightclubbing taking place irrespective of epidemiological guidelines in Zagreb. In late November 2020, Croatian media (including Juarnji List) widely reported on police raids that took place at two Zagreb venues, even though measures adopted in the fight against the pandemic were at that time more relaxed.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Franjo Tudman Face Masks A Covid-Era Hit On Social Media

January 24, 2021 – First President of Croatia makes a Covid-era comeback, as new Franjo Tudman face masks become a hit on social media

So far, the nationally specific Covid-era face masks seen on the streets of Croatia have been rather divisive. The logos of the country's bigger football clubs look good but could land you in grief if you travel to the other side of the country while wearing one. The outlawed slogans and insignia of Nazi-allied independent Croatia are a rather more gruesome reminder of the minority of fascist sympathisers that sadly linger in the village. Thankfully there are few tourists here right now to be appalled at such.

Three cheers, then, for the arrival of a distinctly Croatian covering of which the whole country can approve. Though released relatively recently, the new Franjo Tudman face masks have already proved to be a Covid-era hit on social media.

AnyConv.com__EsbHqylWMAEsB8rsaj.jpg

The Franjo Tudman face masks were designed by nationally recognized Rijeka singer-songwriter Dražen Turina, best known by the nickname Šajeta, which is also the name under which his music is released. Along with Pula singer Alen Vitasović and his band Gustafi, Šajeta is a key composer of contemporary Croatian music that uses the Chakavian dialect. Dražen Turina revealed the Franjo Tudman face masks on his Twitter social media account, where they became instantly popular.

Distancing himself from any misunderstanding that the Franjo Tudman face masks had been inspired by sentiments of nationalism, Šajeta instead playfully bemoaned the wearing of masks by young Croats that feature the images of foreign figures. He said he deliberately choose a photo of the former Croatian president smiling for the Franjo Tudman face masks.

It is not yet clear if Šajeta plans to make the Franjo Tudman face masks widely available. Followers of the singer on Twitter were keen to ask if he would be making other masks featuring nationally famous figures.

The Franjo Tudman face masks are far from the first tributes to be paid to the first President of Croatia. There are more statues dedicated to Franjo Tudman in Croatia than any other person. Following Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia, Franjo Tudman became the first President of Croatia and served in the position from 1990 until his death in 1999.

All images from the Twitter account of Šajeta

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

45 People With Fake PCR Tests Detained At Croatian Border In One Weekend

January 19, 2021 – 45 people tried to enter Croatia with fake PCR tests this weekend alone. They were caught by Croatian police, detained at the border and reported to the State's Attorney office. If found guilty, each faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison

Some 45 people tried to enter Croatia through the borders of one county with fake PCR tests this past weekend.

Travel from Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia currently requires the production of a negative PCR test or a doctor's certificate proving you have successfully passed through a COVID-19 infection in recent months.

Since the ban on entering Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina without a negative PCR test was introduced, fake PCR tests are increasingly being forged. Border police and customs officers at crossings in Brod-Posavina County have met many people trying to cross the border with fake PCR tests. But, this weekend a new record number of forged tests were found on the county's border crossings.

According to a statement from the Brod-Posavina Police Department, as many as 45 attempts to enter the country with fake PCR tests were discovered on Saturday and Sunday.

bolan.jpg

"At the Stara Gradiška border crossing, police officers determined that 43 persons, mostly citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented fake PCR tests issued in BiH at the border control. At the Slavonski Brod border crossing, two people were registered who gave forged tests," the Brod-Posavina police reported.

Police officers file criminal charges against all those suspected of committing the criminal offence of forgery of a document with the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Slavonski Brod. If found guilty, such persons face up to three years in prison.

The overall number of people detained on Croatia's border with fake PCR tests this weekend could actually be higher - the figures of 45 persons detained with fake PCR tests were released by the police of just one county in Croatia - Brod-Posavina County. A further eight Croatian counties exist along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each has border crossings between the two countries.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

What Kind of Life Awaits Croatian Anti-Vaxxers Who Refuse Vaccination?

December 29, 2020 – The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Croatia has been met with much relief by many people. But, not everyone is happy. Conspiracy theorists - those who favour disreputable sources and 'whispers on the wind' to real science - are reticent, some even angry. So, what kind of life awaits Croatian anti-vaxxers who refuse to take the vaccine?

The people who inhabit the lands now known as Croatia have a long history of being pushed around. For this, they cannot be blamed. Greatly outnumbered by the occupying armies of some of the most powerful empires of all time - the Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans - their rebellions against such overlords have been relatively small in number. Their default setting has been to visit the kafana at the end of the day and moan, grumble, gossip - perhaps even plot - against those who make their lives disagreeable.

Croatia was finally freed of its last imposing masters over two decades ago. But, true to form, the grumbling in the kafanas has continued. Except, now that the kafanas are all closed in response to Coronavirus, the moaning has moved almost exclusively to the internet. And, it has reached a shrieking pitch.

Kafana_znak_pitanja_-_Bašta_kafane.JPGThe tables of the kafana lie empty because of Corona - the traditional moaning that inhabits them has moved online © Zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture grada Beograda

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Croatia has been met with much relief by many Croatians. The news of the first vaccinated citizen, followed by the first vaccinated healthcare workers, was also well received. You can tell this from the overwhelmingly large amount of 'likes' such news generates when posted to social media. These warm welcomers of good news in Croatia could be best described as the silent majority. And, in the same way most Croatians lay subdued for lifetimes under bullying empires, this silent, sensible majority is drowned out by the deafening vitriol of the unhinged within the comments sections underneath.

These arch-moaners appear in the comments on most issues, railing against the increasingly modern ways of the world. On the issue of Coronavirus and the incoming vaccines, it is the Croatian anti-vaxxers who are angrily dominating the discourse.

It appears near pointless to debate with them. They are not ones for science, facts nor reasonable debate. Not for them are the reports of scientific journals, the BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, or The Washington Post. Instead, they cite the most spurious of sources – a website nobody else has heard of, a document written by a friendless doctor from the Texas farming community who has a curiously photoshopped profile picture, a Youtube video made for the same price as a hamburger and narrated by a 17-year-old from the outside toilet. There's no point telling them that the vaccines coming onto the market were actually designed back on January 13, just two days after the Coronavirus genetic sequence had been made public and that it has taken until now to produce them, due to stringent testing on their safety. No. Because for Croatian anti-vaxxers, whispers on the wind, the horoscopes, crystal ball of the fortune-teller and the inescapable stare of Braco are just as reliable - if they're telling you what you want to believe. For whichever lunatic theory you want to adopt, you can look online and you'll be sure to find some crackpot to back it up. The internet is the great leveller for Croatian anti-vaxxers as well as everywhere else - a place where deposed Nigerian royalty who want to put money in your bank account have just as much credence as an 80-year-old media title with a blemishless reputation.

gem-602252_1920.jpg

Of course, while life is too short to even debate with anti-vaxxers in Croatia or anywhere else, that's not to say they are undeserving of sympathy. In our recent interview with a doctor working on the Coronavirus frontline in a Croatian hospital, they generously raised an interesting defence of the tin-foil hat brigade - “It's not always the content of the conspiracy theory that appeals to these people as much as it is their inability to accept facts – the truth – because they have little faith in the authorities that are telling them.”

Finding fault in authorities is far from unique to Croatia. Yes, there is a certain amount of kafana moaning and grumbling all over the world, and often for good reason. Politicians are more than aware of this. And, in an era of widespread voter apathy and low voter turnout, where yet another silent majority has the potential so easily to change the names of those who govern, this is exactly why politicians will abstain from making the Coronavirus vaccines mandatory. With things as they currently stand, it is near inconceivable that Coronavirus vaccines will be made compulsory in Croatia or in any other western democracy. Good news for Croatian anti-vaxxers? Well, not quite, because it is highly likely that the private sector will be among the greatest of persuaders for vaccination. It is not unthinkable that we are about to enter a wholly new two-tiered society – the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. And signs of what that life might look like for Croatian anti-vaxxers are not good. They are not good at all.

billgatesmeme.jpg

“Vaccination could become one of the measures that would make it possible to come to events,” Stefan Breitenmoser, general manager of the Professional Association of Swiss Organizers of Concerts, Events and Festivals, told Sonntags Blick in the past week. In Switzerland, vaccination began on Wednesday and it is free. It is not only the entertainment events industry that is considering the measure - the Swiss Football League similarly said it is giving it serious consideration. Professional sports and the events industry have lost billions during the pandemic. The 2021 Olympics hangs on a knife-edge in regards to accepting audiences into its stadiums – it has already been delayed by a year. It is highly conceivable that access to all large events in future will be dependent on proof of vaccination.

1280px-New_national_stadium_tokyo_1.jpgThe National Stadium in Japan was due to host some of the key events of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The whole event has been delayed until summer 2021, in response to the pandemic © Arne Müseler

In an interview on N1 television in Croatia over recent days, epidemiologist Branko Kolarić - a member of the Scientific Council of the Government of the Republic of Croatia - echoed similar thinking. He stated that a list of the vaccinated will be carefully maintained, most likely through some kind of e-documents, and although vaccination will not be mandatory, vaccination will bring some benefits - such as air travel, group gatherings and attendance of concerts and festivals. You are surely not going to see police or soldiers checking your vaccination status at the entry to a dance music festival in Dalmatia. But, it is highly likely that event organisers will insist on proof of vaccination before granting entry. Even if they don't wish to, it is more than conceivable that they would not be granted the necessary licenses nor insurance without assuming such a position.

Another industry that has lost billions in the pandemic is the travel and tourism sector. Little surprise then to have found budget airline Ryanair launching a new campaign of 'Jab and go' over the last few days. The suggestion is crystal clear – get vaccinated, you can come on our planes, we'll allow you to travel. Ryanair will certainly not be the last airline to assume responsibility for vetting passengers' vaccination status. Croatian anti-vaxxers had better be really happy to be here, because international borders may well be permanently closed for them while they remain unvaccinated.

psychics-1026092_1920.jpg

So, a life with no spectating at big sports events, no more large concerts or music festivals and no more international travel is what seems to be just around the corner for Croatian anti-vaxxers. Sounds harsh, unpleasant. But what if it extends to libraries, schools or even hospitals? We don't yet know anything concrete about the lower tier of existence Croatian anti-vaxxers may choose to dwell in. But, it's not where I want to live. Perhaps they'll even be forced to drink exclusively in their own anti-vaxxer kafanas? For sure they'll be easy to identify – they'll be the ones from which the loudest moans are coming.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Total Croatia News

Monday, 28 December 2020

Croatian Healthcare Workers: Christmas's Forgotten Heroes?

December 28, 2020 – Amidst the difficulties of a second lockdown, a socially distanced Christmas and yet more earthquakes, have we forgotten about Croatian healthcare workers? TCN decided to interview a doctor working on the front line of the fight against COVID

During the first lockdown, it was all about the balconies. Saxophonists, DJs, opera singers – we were entertained on social media by a string of balcony-based stunts that somehow showed resilience, community spirit, humour. Zagreb was no exception. A trend of clapping on balconies in appreciation of healthcare workers passed from country to country and was picked up in Zagreb. After the applause finished, people went back inside. Nothing much had changed. It was a nice enough gesture.

Since the start of summer, no such applause has been heard. Perhaps the release from lockdown gave the signal that the lives of Croatian healthcare workers had also become much easier? That certainly wasn't the case. Though the number of people infected with COVID has grown significantly over recent weeks, Croatian healthcare workers have been treating people sick with COVID since springtime.

city-947113_1920.jpg

Croatian healthcare workers are currently busier with COVID patients than at any time before. And yet, there are no more trips out onto the balconies to show our appreciation for them. Perhaps it's now too cold outside? Perhaps some aren't aware how busy Croatian healthcare workers currently are with COVID patients? Are we perhaps guilty of taking Croatian healthcare workers for granted? Or, maybe we have simply put Croatian healthcare workers to the back of our minds as we struggle with our own challenges?

Throughout this year, TCN has been pleased to report many instances of generosity and innovation directed towards the fight against COVID. Certainly, not everyone in the country is guilty of forgetting about the Croatian healthcare workers who are on the front line fighting this disease. But, how much impact do these instances have on the general lives of Croatian healthcare workers? What is it like to no longer hear the nightly appreciation from our balconies? And, just what is life like as one of the many Croatian healthcare workers battling COVID in the year of the pandemic? TCN decided to interview one to find out.

The doctor we spoke with is a resident physician, working at a smaller community hospital in the continental part of Croatia. They agreed to speak with us on the condition that they do so anonymously.

door-349807_1920.jpg

Looking back at the first lockdown, we didn't know so much about COVID back then. We didn't know exactly how it was spread, the different manifestations of the disease, what course the disease took, nor what the recovery could be like. I think the government did a really good job of responding to the threat as they saw it. We had a small spike in cases, but that is minuscule to what we have now.

I think people generally did what they were told because they thought it would be temporary and they could see the sense in starving the disease out.

At the hospital, we were at first caught a little off guard with the amount of PPE we had and some other resources that we needed. For ICU and ventilators, we were well equipped.

Some of the residents were given some paid leave. It was important to put human resources into tiers. Croatian healthcare workers were certainly more predisposed to catching the disease, simply because they were around it every day.

After such great early successes, I was surprised that everything was relaxed later on to allow the tourist season to take place how it did, and for events like the Vukovar commemoration. It felt like it was a calculated risk. The lockdown we are now in is perhaps too little, too late. The disease is out there now, wild. The numbers of infected people are significantly higher.

The difficulty with this disease is that people can be infected and have very few or no symptoms at all. They might not know they are spreading the virus. You might not know you're sitting next to someone who has it.

blood-test-5601437_1920.jpg

Even though we're not at the centre of care for a major population area or city, we saw cases of the disease almost immediately. Our community hospital services an area containing around 150, 000 people. The first cases in April came from nursing homes – elderly, vulnerable people, many with pre-existing conditions. We were well equipped to handle it. Now, we are stretched on a daily basis. We fill the beds with sick people as soon as we empty them.

We wear masks and PPE all day, all the time. All Croatian healthcare workers in hospitals currently do this. Every patient who comes in, regardless of their symptoms, we treat them as though they are carrying the disease.

A lot of residents like me, who are working towards getting their specialty, go to do some periods of work in larger hospitals in the bigger cities. Now, many of those residents have been called back to their community hospitals – we are short on human resources.

The hospital has had to restructure itself significantly. Lots of doctors have been asked to provide cover in the emergency department. Over half of that area is now fully dedicated to COVID.

insulation-station-4984462_1920.jpg

What do COVID patients look like in regards to their symptoms? It depends on their age and risk group, but you see people who look like they have flu or bacterial pneumonia, you see people who are in acute respiratory distress. Sometimes they have neurological changes, some of them look like they have had a stroke. Some people who have been infected and have supposedly got over the worst of the symptoms, come back in after a month or two with blood clotting problems – blood clots in the legs, which have a tendency to travel up to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. That's a pretty big medical emergency. Some who have pre-existing heart conditions come in with a heart attack triggered by them catching COVID – it's more complicated trying to revive someone when you know they have COVID. The presentation of the disease is so variable.

It's not only older people. I've seen young people be admitted with serious reactions to COVID - young, healthy people who have no pre-existing conditions. I've seen young people come in with mild symptoms, they are sent home with antibiotics and steroids. That is the standard treatment – antibiotics to prevent a bacterial super-infection and steroids to prevent an acute reaction by the body's immune system to COVID. - that's what can cause big problems later on, in the course of the illness. But, sometimes that's not enough. I had a young patient just last week - super healthy, worked out regularly, no pre-existing conditions – and his lungs just looked awful. He had to go to the ICU immediately (sadly, this patient later died). That's like no disease I've ever seen before. Really, COVID is a completely new kind of animal.

The new strain of COVID? There is evidence that it can be spread more easily, and that it can affect more younger people, but there is no evidence that it is any more severe. The vaccines will work against it.

We're short on ventilators now. Really, we need two free ventilators at any time, in case there is an emergency admission. We are not currently in the position where we always have two free ventilators – sometimes they are all in use. That's a worry. I worked one shift where the anaesthesiologist said “We just don't have any more space for them – we will just have to put them in the hallway”. I've never seen that before.

I've heard of Croatian healthcare workers, colleagues in other hospitals getting sick with COVID and the hospital asks them to prove they got sick at work. It's pretty clear that's the most likely place they would have got sick because they're working with COVID patients. They were forced to be off work, but only on a lower level of sick pay. If you get ill because of being at work, you get full pay. But, they couldn't prove it, so they didn't get that.

doctors-2607295_1920.jpg

I've been lucky – I haven't caught COVID yet. Well, as far as I know. My pay hasn't gone down, it's gone up – but only because I'm working so many double shifts. I volunteer to provide cover when other members of staff get sick. The specialists – the consultant doctors – they have it worse than us resident doctors. They are more responsible, so they are expected to work more hours. Nobody is pressured or threatened into picking up extra shifts, it's just something that almost all of us just do.

I've read some nice stories about fundraising efforts and donations to Croatian healthcare workers and hospitals in different parts of the country. Everything is appreciated. But, I personally haven't seen any effect of that on our day to day lives at work. Not at our hospital. Maybe there were PPE donations or cash donations, but it hasn't impacted the daily lives of me and the Croatian healthcare workers who are my colleagues. I think I heard that a local garage was giving free cups of coffee if you show your medical ID. Every little is appreciated.

For me and the Croatian healthcare workers who are my colleagues, instead of any kind of personal discounts or donations to staff, we would much prefer if people just took this disease more seriously. Things look very different when you work in a hospital compared to someone outside who maybe doesn't know anyone who got sick.

I came off a particularly difficult double shift a couple of months ago – it was just non-stop COVID admissions, some severe cases. As I was walking home, I walked past a bar that's near to the hospital. They had signs on the walls telling people to keep their distance. But, the bar was absolutely packed – full of young people. It just felt so disappointing. I couldn't help but think of the older relatives they would come in contact with, some who might get really sick.

mask-5503416_1920.jpg

Instead of people clapping on balconies, I think Croatian healthcare workers would just prefer more general vigilance and personal responsibility – wear your mask, wash your hands regularly, no more parties in the basement. Clapping on balconies is a nice gesture, but ultimately it's an empty one.

How does it feel to know that there are some people out there, in every country, all around the world, who believe COVID is a hoax, or a plot, or not so serious, or that the vaccine is dangerous or something other than what it is?

Well, it's not always the content of the conspiracy theory that appeals to these people as much as it is their inability to accept facts – the truth – because they have little faith in the authorities that are telling them this. Here in Croatia, I think that distrust is quite high – a lot of people are disillusioned with the state and politics, because of corruption. Sometimes over 50% of the population choose not to vote. The dissemination of misinformation over social media doesn't help - if that's where people get their news from. If you look at that example from your own country, where strict measures about movement were put in place by your government, and immediately afterward, the Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, was caught breaking them to travel across the country with his family to a second home in the countryside, going out on day trips. And he was defended by his colleagues after he was found out! When people see those kinds of things happening, the distrust between people and the authorities just grows.

towel-759980_1920.jpg

All of the images in this article are used as illustrations only. None of the places or people depicted are in Croatia or Croatian, except for the first image, a panorama of Zagreb

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Global Terrorism Index 2020: Croatia is a Completely Safe Country

ZAGREB December 2, 2020 – Croatia is a completely safe country, according to the latest figures from the Global Terrorism Index

According to the Global Terrorism Index, Croatia is a completely safe country. Their findings are reported annually by the Institute for Economy and Peace. In their most recent report (published late November 2020), from the year beginning 2018 and ending in 2019, Croatia scored an index rating of 0.0 on the impact of terrorism. This means that, in regards to the threat of and the fallout from terrorism, Croatia is a completely safe country.

In the report, terrorism affects most the citizens of three countries: Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Terrorist groups are powerful and active in these three nations. On a daily basis, they affect and change the lives of all the people who live in these countries, particularly those who inhabit larger population centres.

The situation is particularly tragic in Afghanistan (with an index rating of 9.5). 41% of all fatal victims of terrorist globally live in that one country alone. The second country most-affected on the list is Nigeria with 9%. Afghanistan and Nigeria were the only two countries which each suffered more than 1,000 deaths from terrorism.

Global-Terrorism-Index-2019.jpgA map showing the impact of terrorism globally. The figures were compiled in a one year period between 2018 and 2019, published as an annual report in late November 2020 © Institute for Economy and Peace (IEP)

Globally deaths from terrorism fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2019 to 13,826, a 15 per cent decrease from the prior year. The peak of deaths from terrorism occurred in 2014 and this coincides with the high point of influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL). The figures from 2019 show a decrease of 59% since then.

A total of 63 countries recorded at least one death from terrorism in the most recent report. Although dismal reading, this is in fact the lowest number of countries to have reported such since 2013.

The global economic impact of terrorism was US$16.4 billion in the twelve-month period covered by the report, a decrease of 25 per cent from the previous year. However, the true economic impact of terrorism is much higher as these figures do not account for the indirect impact on business, investment, and the costs associated with security agencies in countering terrorism.

ISIS (or ISIL)'s centre of activity has been shown to have moved to sub-Saharan Africa in the period. Total deaths by ISIL in the region have increased by 67%. ISIL and their affiliates were also responsible for attacks in 27 countries in the year period ending 2019.

GTI-2020-twitter-2020-41-per-cent-ISIL-sub-saharan.jpg© Institute for Economy and Peace (IEP)

The GTI uses a number of factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and property damage. The Taliban remained the world's deadliest terrorist group in 2019; however, terrorist deaths attributed to the group declined by 18%. ISIL's strength and influence also continued to decline. For the first time since the group became active, it was responsible for less than a thousand deaths throughout the year.

It is not yet known whether the attack on government buildings in Zagreb in 2020 will affect Croatia's rating on the index published next year. Although a lone endeavour, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is the most high-profile commentator (of many) to have said the attack had elements of terrorism. The global increase in threat from domestic attacks is clearly evident within the rest of the most recent report.

In North America, Western Europe and Oceania, terrorist attacks by groups or individuals involved in far-right politics have increased by 250 per cent since 2014. They are now higher than at any time in the last 50 years. There were 89 deaths attributed to far-right terrorists in 2019. In the USA, white supremacists and other rightwing extremists have been responsible for 67% of domestic terror attacks and plots so far this year.

SaintMark'sChurch.jpgSaint Mark's Square in Zagreb, scene of a shooting in 2020, perpetrated by a Croatian citizen © Marc Rowlands

There have so far not been any terrorist actions attributable to fundamentalist Islamic groups in Croatia, unlike other European countries such as Spain, Germany, France and the UK. Eastern and southern Europe have experienced more civil unrest in direct correlation with the rise of far-right politics in the region. The popularity of far-right politics has risen ever since the 2008 financial crisis and has continued through the economic recession which followed.

Such trends are expected to continue because of the anticipated and extended economic downturn caused by COVID-19, which is likely to increase political instability and violence. Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020, preliminary data suggests a decline in both incidents and deaths from terrorism in most regions in the world. However, it is expected that the pandemic is likely to present new and distinct counter-terrorism challenges.

Of Croatia's neighbours, Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded the largest improvement in the whole of Europe with their 2019 index rating (followed by Austria and Sweden). Only two terrorist attacks were recorded in the country in 2019, compared to six the previous year. Slovenia also scored a 0.0 rating, meaning it can say that it, like Croatia is a completely safe country.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Open For Autumn: Istria the Only Coronavirus Free Region in Europe

October 15, 2020 – Istria the only Coronavirus free region in Europe, is safe to visit this autumn

Travel information provided by Belgian Foreign Affairs authorities currently places the Croatian region of Istria as the most successful in Europe at curbing the spread of Coronavirus. The region stands alone in being coloured green on the Belgian governmental map. As things currently stand, it can confidently be referred to as Istria, the only Coronavirus free region in Europe.

The map is produced by Belgian authorities as a travel guide. Although it currently says Istria the only Coronavirus free region in Europe, the situation could change at any time. The travel advice and map are constantly updated.

The green colour allocation is the highest possible allocation on the map. It means that 'travel is possible - hygiene and social distancing rules still apply.' This is great news for those hoping to visit Istria during autumn.

The autumn season is particularly inviting to many fans of Istrian cuisine as it is the time of year in which fresh truffles can be taken from the county's forests. Anyone planning to this year join the hunt for truffles can now do so confidently as Istria the only Coronavirus free region in Europe.

On 6th October 2020, Total Croatia News's Donatella Pauković wrote about the county's excellent epidemiological situation in an article in which Boris Miletić, mayor of Pula said 'Istria is Again an Example to The Rest of Croatia!'

The head of Istria County's COVID-19 crisis management team, Dino Kozlevac, praised residents of Istria for their widespread respect of suggested hygiene measures. Explaining the county's good epidemiological situation, he said that residents of Istria have been wearing protective masks in closed spaces for three months, and it is those efforts that have created these positive results. While the awarding of the green status does not mean there is zero risk of Coronavirus being currently present in Istria, its lone standing within the continent does mean that Istria is right now the safest place you can travel to in Europe.

Istria was in the world headlines earlier this month when it was voted the world's best olive oil making region in the world, for the sixth year running. Today it may be famous as Istria the only Coronavirus free region in Europe, but it will always hold its title as one of Europe's best areas of gastronomy. As well as olive oil and truffles, Istria is internationally recognised as one of southern Europe's best wine growing regions. Istrian malvasia and teran are famous all over the world.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Life Expectancy Compared To Average Age Of COVID-19 Fatalities

October 1, 2020 - People in Croatia live for an average of 78 years, and the average age of COVID-19 fatalities is 76 years old

The average age of COVID-19 fatalities or those dying as of consequence of Coronavirus is 76.3 years, according to the latest statistics from the Croatian Institute of Public Health. At the time of writing, a total of 280 Coronavirus-related fatalities have so far been recorded in Croatia.

The average age of COVID-19 fatalities has decreased slightly compared to figures released earlier. At the beginning of May 2020, Croatia's Minister of Health announced that the average age of COVID-19 fatalities was 79.2 years.

Most Coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in the age group of 80 to 89 years. There have been 81 such deaths since the beginning of the epidemic. In the 70 to 79 age group, 71 people died, in the 90 to 99 age group, 34 people died, and in the 60 to 69 age group, 31 died.

In the age group of 50 to 59 years, 21 deaths occurred, and five deaths were recorded in the age group of 40 to 49 years. There have so far been no Coronavirus-related deaths among those under the age of 40 in Croatia. One person over the age of 100 has died from Coronavirus.

There is currently no accurate data on the average age of COVID-19 fatalities worldwide. The World Health Organization has previously said that of all Coronavirus-related deaths in Europe, more than 80 percent of the deceased had at least one pre-existing chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. Extremely serious, life-changing and even fatal cases of Coronavirus have been recorded in the under 40s in other countries.

The figures used in this news item were originally compiled by Index journalists Ilko Ćimić and Davor Tomšić. This news item is a direct translation of their original, which can be found in Index

Neither the author nor Total Croatia News draws any conclusion from this translation, the figures reported, or their comparison.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Expect Many English Speaking Visitors to Croatia in 2021, says Google

September 25, 2020 - Croatia is the 14th most searched holiday destination in the world for next year. With over 810, 000 searches on Google, the country should expect a big return of English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021

Aside from the drop in numbers, the country's accessibility and the implementation of epidemiological guidelines, the biggest effect the Coronavirus pandemic had on Croatia's tourist season of 2020 was the change in visitor demographic. The British, Americans, Canadians and Australians largely stayed away. All that looks set to change next year as Google indicates a big return of English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021.

Over 810, 000 searches have already been made of Croatia as a holiday destination for 2021 on Google, informing that many thousands are already researching or actively planning a trip. Croatia ranked 14th among the most searched for 2021 destinations, trailing slightly behind the likes of Italy, the Maldives, Mexico, Thailand, Spain and Greece.

01-4_gradska_centralna_plaza_makarska_tz_makarska.jpgTheir language mostly absent from beautiful Adriatic beaches in 2020, English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021 look set to return © Croatian National Tourist Board

The good news for the return of English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021 was published by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The data has been taken from a period starting not before March 2020. This means that all searches took place in full knowledge of the ongoing Coronavirus and epidemiological situation. English speaking visitors are undeterred.

Iva Bahunek, the head of the Croatian Tourist Board in Los Angeles has not had the easiest of tasks since the pandemic began. Her appointment is a relatively recent one. Nevertheless, she has clearly done an excellent job of promoting Croatia as a destination for American tourists in 2021. She confirmed the trends are correct - that US citizens are ready for international travel again - by analysing data from the large American travel insurance company Squaremouth. 65% of all reservations for next year refer to international destinations.

52331947_10157169672643675_7765862747379597312_n.jpgIva Bahunek accepting her Mediterranean Stars Award for outstanding achievement in promoting Mediterranean tourism, awarded at the 6th Mediterranean Tourism Forum in Malta, 2019. She now heads the Croatian Tourist Board in Los Angeles and analysed data which backs up Google's prediction for a return of English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021

Indications from the British market are the same. Total Croatia News recently published an interview with Vedran Meniga, organiser of a music festival site in Sibenik that successfully hosted over 10, 000 festival-goers in summer 2020. Sadly, they were the only ones who braved it. All of the international music festivals that usually take place on the Croatian coast cancelled their 2020 events.

But, some organisers of these festivals have been seen in Croatia over recent weeks, inspecting improvements to the famous The Garden Tisno festival site, which lies at the approach to Murter island. The festival's hugely popular beach stage has had walls removed, its space widened and now looks very well equipped to take on social distancing advice. Music festivals bring tens of thousands of people to Adriatic beaches each summer and the return of the international events will entice English speaking visitors to Croatia in 2021. On the below video you can see Alex Lowes of the Suncebeat Festival and Nick Colgan of The Garden Tisno recently checking out the new layout of the site in preparation for the return of festivals in 2021.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Page 8 of 9

Search