Saturday, 18 June 2022

Croatian and Austrian Green Parties to Step Up Cooperation

ZAGREB, 18 June 2022 - The president of the Styrian Green Academy Sigrid Binder and the head of Croatia's Green Alternative, Zorislav Antun Petrović, on Saturday held a meeting at which they concluded that the bilateral cooperation between Green parties in Croatia and Austria was very good and vowed to further it.

Binder was quoted in a press release issued by the Green Alternative Orah as saying that she arrived in Zagreb to see how the local red-green coalition is functioning in the city.

She recalled that also in the Styrian capital of Graz, a coalition of the Greens, the Communist Party of Austria and Social Democrats of Austria is in power.

During their visit to Zagreb from last Wednesday to Saturday, members of the Green Academy were informed about the local municipal issues such as public transportation.

Binder noted that there are too many cars in Zagreb that do not only make transport more difficult but also worsen the air quality.

We hope that some of the solutions applied in Graz and Austria could be applicable here too, she said.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Croatian Valamar Company Purchases Another Austrian Ski Hotel

June the 5th, 2022 - The well known Croatian Valamar company has purchased yet another Austrian hotel in a popular ski resort, as it eyes further expansion and the offer of permanent work contracts for its employees.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Croatian Valamar company is continuing to expand its portfolio in Obertauern, Austria, by acquiring the luxury Hotel Kesselspitze, which will thus become the third Valamar-run hotel in Obertauern and the first Valamar Collection hotel in Austria. The Hotel Kesselspitze has so far been owned by the Lürzer family, which is recognised as a leader in development and innovation in the entire Obertauern destination.

The internationalisation of the Croatian Valamar company's overall portfolio with a focus being placed on winter destinations in the Alpine region is one of the company's strategic goals from back in 2018 with the opening of the first 4 * hotel, the Valamar Obertauern Hotel. The company's expansion in Austria continued throughout the year 2021 through the acquisition of the Marietta Hotel in Obertauern and the establishment of a new ownership structure within Valamar A GmbH, an SPV company in which Valamar has a minority investor but provides hotel management services to the entire portfolio.

The Hotel Kesselspitze 5 * is otherwise one of the most famous and recognisable hotels in Obertauern, it boasts 66 rooms, a restaurant, an indoor pool and wellness facilities, and enjoys an excellent location with direct access to the nearby ski slopes. The Valamar Collection brand represents the highest level of services and comfort for guests, as well as a range of services that Valamar will offer to guests. As the first Valamar Collection hotel in all of Austria, it will open its doors during the winter season of 2022/2023.

"The internationalisation of business by expanding our portfolio in winter destinations in the Alps is a strategic goal of Valamar. The acquisition of the third hotel in Obertauern represents another important step in the realisation of business synergies, especially the employment of our seasonal employees for the whole year,'' said Zeljko Kukurin, CEO of Valamar Riviera.

The Croatian Valamar company plans to continue investing in the quality of its portfolio in nearby Austria.

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

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Harald Kopitz Children Deaths: State Attorney's Office Files Indictment

February 23, 2022 - The State Attorney's Office has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz, who killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi last year. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

As reported by Total Croatia News, in September last year Austrian citizen Harald Kopitz was arrested by Croatian police in Zagreb for the murder of his three children. 

Harald and his wife were divorced, and she left her children to spend the weekend with their father while she was on a business trip in Dubrovnik. On the night of September 25, following a worrying Facebook status posted by Kopitz that was later reported by his contacts, Zagreb police entered Harald's apartment only to find the dead bodies of the children and their father in critical condition after attempting suicide.

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Harald Kopitz, an Austrian citizen residing in Zagreb, was arrested by the police for the alleged murder of his three children, which was later confirmed. In the Facebook status he posted, Kopitz wrote something of a farewell letter, noting that his ex-wife thwarted their current love relationship and that his job situation was not improving. In addition, he stressed that he did not receive the necessary support and that he was ''at the end''. The worrying post caught the attention of his contacts, who reported it to the police. You can read the full story here.

As Index.hr reports today, the State Attorney's Office (DORH) has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz for the murder of his three children. The Austrian citizen faces up to 50 years in prison.

"Following an investigation, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office filed an indictment before the Zagreb County Court on 23 February 2022 against a citizen of the Republic of Austria (1965) for three offenses against life and limb and three aggravated murders under Article 111. items 1 and 2 in conjunction with Article 51 of the Criminal Code. 

The indictment charges the defendant that on September 24, 2021, at around 10:00 pm, in Zagreb, in the apartment where he was staying with his three minor children (2013, 2013 and 2016), with a premeditated intention to deprive the children of their lives, took advantage of the children's trust in him as a father and committed the aforementioned criminal offenses to the detriment of the children. In the indictment, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office requested that the defendant's pre-trial detention be extended until the end of the criminal proceedings due to the danger of recidivism and particularly serious circumstances of committing this criminal offense (Article 123, paragraph 1, items 3 and 4 of the criminal proceedings)", announced the DORH.

Let us remind you that Kopitz killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi at the end of September, and then tried to kill himself. He was sentenced to pre-trial detention because of the danger of repeating the crime, so as not to influence witnesses and because of the particularly difficult circumstances of the crime he is suspected of.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Austrian Minister Says Croatia's Admission to Schengen Area Important for EU

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Austrian Minister for the EU Karoline Edtstadler said in Vienna on Wednesday that Croatia's joining the Schengen Area was an important security issue for the EU which Vienna supported, the Croatian parliament stated in a press release.

Minister Edtstadler met with Parliament Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner, who is visiting Austria.

At the meeting, Reiner thanked Austria for its support in the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Croatia in 2020.

He also thanked Austria for its continued support for Croatia's foreign policy priorities -- joining the Schengen Area, the euro area and the OECD.

The parliament's press release also said that Reiner explained to the Austrian minister the problem of the current election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the status of Croats in that country.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Croatian-Austrian Startup PlanRadar Eyes Global Expansion

January the 23rd, 2022 - The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar has made quite the impression on investors, and they're now eyeing global expansion.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marina Bilus writes, the founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar has stated that it is absolutely imperative for them that companies work globally with their application and that through such a presence, they continue to bring the greatest value to the industry in which they operate. They claim to want to be the trigger for true change by transforming construction sites across the world.

The founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, Domagoj Dolinsek, summarised their ambitions, revealing for the first time that PlanRadar is embarking on a new round of raising fresh capital to continue on its path of global expansion, this time targeting primarily distant markets such as that of Australia and those of the Middle East.

Just a couple of months or so after revealing that, Dolinsek and his team achieved their goal by securing an impressive 69 million US dollars in Series B investments.

That investment line-up is led by Insight Partners and Quadrille Capital, and the existing investor Cavalary Ventures, as well as Headline, Berliner Volksbank Ventures and aws Gründerfonds, and Proptech1, Russmedia and GR Capital have also invested in this impressive company. The capital entrusted to PlanRadar will also serve to double their team in just one year and to increase the number of employees by as many as 200.

After the news of the exceptional success of this round of funding was officially announced, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar specified that their global expansion would include the opening of new offices in the USA, Australia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Southeast Asia and Latin America.

"We'll encourage investment in the R&D department, create a new technology hub and form a team of product innovation experts to create new technology solutions for the SaaS platform that sets new industry standards," they explained from PlanRadar, adding that in just 18 months, from a previous 30 million US dollar investment, their revenue swelled by a massive 250 percent and their number of beneficiaries doubled.

Their platform, which brings together a wealth of site workflow data and structures it to make it instantly available to any construction project participant through a single mobile app, is used daily by 100,000 professionals in more than 60 countries around the world.

"Our mission is to facilitate construction work and property management and we've proven that there is a huge global appetite for our technology," said Ibrahim Imam, one of the co-founders of PlanRadar, while fellow co-founder Sander van de Rijdt added that the global PropTech is transforming an industry that has historically been reluctant to digitise.

“The PropTech sector is poised for tremendous growth, and the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar is bringing the global construction and real estate industries into the digital future. The sustainable growth that PlanRadar has achieved is proof of their professional work and commitment. We immediately saw their potential, and their team continued to impress us with their commitment to growing customers, revenue and talent,'' said Thomas Krane, the CEO of Insight Partners.

"We're delighted to continue to encourage the rapid growth of PlanRadar and join the group of investors. We're extremely impressed with the technology, the team and the way it is helping to digitise the construction industry and the real estate sector,'' said Brice Delome, a partner at Quadrille Capital.

When Dolinsek revealed how they managed to transform the otherwise traditional construction industry into something more digital, he stated their formula for success - a user friendly application that, he claims, is simple for everyone who uses it, while at its heart has a huge anount of technological "machinery" that unites all complex compounds into a meaningful whole that is easy to manage via an app.

“Construction sites are quite complicated systems, and people associated with them often project this complexity through their way of working. But the trick is that by simply using the technological solution provided by PlanRadar, we eliminate the complexity of their workflow so that they work more simply, become more efficient and thus improve the sustainability and success of their projects,'' explained the head of PlanRadar.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Austrian Die Presse Praises Mate Rimac for Dogged Determination

January the 5th, 2022 - The Austrian Die Presse newspaper has praised Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac's strong will and determination, referring to him as a total outsider to the automotive world until recently.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Austrian Die Presse newspaper recently published an article entitled Croatian wunderkind must explain some things in which it writes about the "pioneer of electric motors Mata Rimac", who has ''amazed the professional world, as well as his compatriots."

The Austrian Die Presse publication writes that Rimac was initially a total outsider in the automotive industry.

“University professors told me ten years ago that it's impossible to produce a car in Croatia. And they were right - it was impossible,'' Rimac told Die Presse.

With his creative thirst for innovation, improvisation and his dogged determination and sheer strength of will, the young entrepreneur, who was born in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1988, growing up in Frankfurt, annulled all the laws of the capital-intensive car industry, and he did so in Croatia, a country that was nobody and nothing in the automotive context,'' believes the Austrian paper.

"Everything is impossible until someone does it. I wanted to show people that electric cars can be faster than conventional ones,'' Rimac told the Austrian Die Presse.

The Austrian paper writes that the Rimac Group, with its 1,100 employees, "has long since flourished into an innovative development laboratory serving international automotive companies for high-performance electric motors, propulsion systems and batteries".

"Since the takeover of Bugatti back in July, Porsche's partner Rimac has established strength in the automotive industry," the Austrian paper noted. After moving the company to the futuristic Rimac Campus, which is planned for 2023, Die Presse writes, the company's workforce is expected to increase to 2,500 employees.

The Austrian paper also noted that Rimac has so far produced just under twenty prototypes of his electric sports car, the famous Concept One, and the Nevera is planned for a limited series production of 150 cars.

"The value of the Rimac Group, which has risen sharply thanks to the share of international corporations, is already estimated at two billion dollars," writes Die Presse.

“Rimac delights his business partners and compatriots not only with vegetarian menus in the company's canteen and with open offices adapted for dogs. A casual looking bearded man, without a tie, but wearing trainers, announced his entry into Bugatti together with the bosses of Porsche,'' writes the Austrian Die Presse, pointing out that Rimac is present on social media and that he continues to showcase his "almost childish joy in driving fast cars".

"Experts consider the positive effects of Rimac's success for this Adriatic country to be enormous," the Austrian paper said. Porsche has, as we know, entered into a joint venture with the Zagreb-based IT company Infinum and is now taking over majority ownership of e-bike maker Greyp, which was also founded by Mate Rimac, according to the paper.

"Thanks to Rimac, Croatia is no longer perceived only as a country with a beautiful coastline and good food, but also as a country with a positive investment climate and innovation,'' said marketing expert Petar Tanta, as published by Die Presse.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Croatian Staff Could Benefit Greatly From Valamar Austrian Hotel Purchase

December the 5th, 2021 - Valamar's purchase of an Austrian hotel could be fantastic not only for those who are investing in Croatian tourism but also for Croatian staff who want something much more permanent than seasonal work over summer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, a Valamar Austrian hotel, a new one that is, could finally iron out the issues faced by temporary employment and the extremely seasonal nature of the Croatian economy, making things far more stable for Croatian staff who crave a regular income without worries.

Such an exchange, however, can hardly be expected at an institutional, interstate level, either because of legal barriers or the fear of hoteliers that they will lose workers who will simply drop everything without a second thought for a better salary in a ski-oriented, higher paying country.

In such circumstances, it is difficult to expect employers to seek formal education when hiring, which is advocated by professors from the Croatian education system, especially because students are educated according to outdated and inappropriate curricula. That could change once the Regional Centres for Competences in Vocational Education come to life, and the first effects on the labour market should be seen in around 2028. All of this could be heard at a panel discussion held at Zagreb's Faculty of Economics on Thursday.

The discussion on the connection between education and the labour market with as many as 10 panelists was organised by Zabok High School and the Faculty of Economics within the ESF project Zabok Regional Centre.

As many as three large tourist companies operating here in Croatia have facilities in their portfolio at Austrian ski resorts, and they're all fresh acquisitions. The Falkensteiner Group opened the Hotel Kronplatz in South Tyrol last year, this September it was announced that the Arena Hospitality Group is buying the Franz Ferdinand Mountain Resort hotel in Nassfeld. Valamar Riviera is currently buying its second hotel in Obertauern, and the plan is to employ more than 130 Valamar employees from Croatia during the winter at the ski resort.

"At Valamar, the focus is on permanent employment, we also have over 1,000 permanent seasonal workers, and the strategy of the internationalisation of our business in winter destinations has fitted in perfectly with these efforts. This gives Croatian staff the opportunity to continue working in this market, which has higher salaries, after the summer season, as their income in hotels in Obertauern is in line with Austrian law. In addition to the financial opportunity, they get a chance to expand their knowledge and experience, as well as improve their knowledge of the German language, which is important.

At the same time, they're sure that they will be accompanied there by the heads of departments they already know from Croatia, and they're also sure that they will have a job on the Adriatic by the time spring rolls around. This is also our attempt to address the problem of the emigration of Croatian staff abroad in this way,'' said Ines Damjanic Sturman, the director of the Human Resources Department at Valamar.

Although this is being considered, the institution of exchanging employees between countries with higher needs in the summer or winter season will be difficult to implement, said Sonja Holocher-Ertl, the director of Advantage Austria, a branch of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce's foreign trade department. On the Advantage Austria website, about 40 travel companies are currently looking for workers from Croatia.

“Hotel owners in Austria have similar problems when it comes to finding workers as Croats do. The most basic occupations are in demand, waiters, chefs, receptionists, housekeepers, janitors... and most employers are small or medium-sized family businesses, owners of 4 or 5 star facilities. This winter season, a desirable criterion is that workers be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Exchanging workers is an attractive idea, but it can best be done if someone happens to be the owner of said facility, who then relocates his workers as he wishes.

Without that, the matter can easily become very complicated, either because of legal procedures or because of the fear of employers that workers will simply stay where the conditions are better, in Switzerland, for example, Croatian staff are paid significantly more than they'd ever be in Croatia,'' explained Holocher-Ertl.

When it comes to labor migration, Natasa Kacar, director of the employment agency Gate2Solutions, claims that there are a lot of Croatian citizens who do, despite all, want to return to Croatia eventually.

"A lot of workers who work abroad call us because they're looking for jobs in tourism back home in Croatia, but they want decent wages and off-season work as well, and they want to know what conditions their would-be employers offer, and it's very difficult for us to find employers who can offer them what they need,'' concluded Kacar.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Milanović Say His Office Will Summon Austrian Ambassador

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Monday his office would summon the Austrian ambassador to convey his concern over "fundamental human freedoms" in that country after the government in Vienna recently summoned the Croatian ambassador over Milanović's comments on COVID rules in Austria.

The Croatian diplomat was summoned last week after Milanović recently commented on the Austrian government's anti-epidemic measures, noting that they were reminiscent of Fascism.

Asked by the press today about Austria's imposing an all-out lockdown and its plan to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 as of February 2022, Milanović called it a disaster.

"I think the Swedes are much cleverer than they are than their authorities. Considering that our diplomats are being summoned, today the Austrian ambassador will be summoned so that we can convey our deep concern for the fundamental human freedoms in Austria," Milanović said.

"Our ambassadors are constantly summoned over some nonsense, so we will summon theirs," he said.

On 17 November, Croatia's Ambassador to Austria, Danijel Glunčić, was called to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over Milanović's statement about the Austrian coronavirus policy. "I can confirm that I was called to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Glunčić told Hina last week, declining to reveal details of the discussion.

According to a statement from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Glunčić was called over "highly unusual statements by the Croatian president," which were "sharply rejected".

"Comparing the measures against the coronavirus pandemic to fascism is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to protect the citizens of Austria and we are acting accordingly," the Austrian ministry said, as quoted by APA news agency.

Austrian media quoted the Croatian president as saying after an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday that the Austrian decision to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people was "reminiscent of the 1930s" and called it foolish.

Commenting on the latest developments, Milanović said today that the governments of some Western European countries kept criticizing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Poles, while some of them behave as if they are "sacred cows that do everything perfectly".

"No, it's stupid. It is not scientific and you terrorize people. Given that this is the European Union and I am a European statesman, I have a problem with that," Milanović said.

He went on to say that if the Dutch can comment on Bosnia and Herzegovina every week, he can comment on the situation in Rotterdam.

"Your people have revolted (against COVID measures). And they are not immigrants but blonde and blue-eyed Dutchmen. Use your head, gentlemen," Milanović said, referring to violent riots in that Dutch city over the weekend.

Commenting on increasingly stringent restrictions being imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, Milanović accused "dull-witted" Eurocrats in Brussels of such policy, adding that no such restrictions are in place in the Scandinavian countries.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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.

Friday, 17 September 2021

DANUP-2-Gas Project: Danube Countries United in Introducing Renewable Energy

September 17, 2021 - The DANUP-2-Gas Project, developing renewable energy opportunities for all Danube countries, is set to hold a stakeholder event on September 28 at the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Engineering and Computing (FER).

The beautiful Danube region in Slavonia, apart from boasting natural beauty, also has a lot of historical and archaeological significance. This is evident with the European Commission having recognised the ''Iron Age Danube Route'' earlier this year.

That being said, the Danube river also boasts a political and economic factors, the one that unites all the countries through which the Danube flows. One form of such international cooperation is the DANUP-2-GAS project.

''The Danube region holds huge potential for sustainable generation and the storage of renewable energy. However, to date, this region has remained highly dependent on energy imports, while energy efficiency, diversity and renewables share are low. In line with the EU climate targets for 2030 and the EUSDR PA2 goals, DanuP-2-Gas will advance transnational energy planning by promoting generation and storage strategies for renewables in the Danube region by coupling electric power and the gas sector,'' says the official website of Interreg Danube which is handling the project.

In an effort to achieve their goals, the DANUP-2-Gas project aims to bring together energy agencies, business actors, public authorities, and research institutions to join the cause.

The project started on the July 1 2020, and it will last until the end of 2022. So far, 24 institutions from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and of course Croatian partners have begun cooperating for DANUP-2-Gas, united by the geographical fact that the Danube connects them all. The Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute (EIHP), the International Centre for the Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, and the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) are the project's Croatian representatives. Check out the full list of partners in the project here.

As (EIHP) reported on its website, September 28 will be an important date for the DANUP-2-Gas project as FER will hold a stakeholder event from 09:30 to 12:30, the lectures held in English will explain the potential of the project, as well as the uses and benefits of renewable energy in the hope of encouraging more support.

The event is imagined as a hybrid event, being held partly online and partly in person, but as EIHP warns, there is a risk of the event ending up being held entirely online, depending on the epidemiological situation.

''Based on the platform developed during the DTP project ENERGY BARGE, it will incorporate all pre-existing tools and an atlas, mapping previously unexamined available biomass and energy infrastructure. Further, a pre-feasibility study utilising an optimisation tool for efficient hub design will identify suitable locations for sectors coupling hubs and a combination of two idle resources in the Danube region.

The unused organic residue (e.g., straw) will be processed to biochar for easy transport along the Danube river and as the basis for synthesis gas generation. Adding hydrogen produced from surplus renewable energy allows for the upgrading of this syngas to a renewable natural gas. This will enable the storage of surplus energy in the existing gas distribution grid, increasing energy security and efficiency. All of the resources required for this process are available in the Danube region and the ten partner countries,'' the Interreg Danube website stated, elaborating the positive changes it is attempting to achieve.

Learn more about Croatian inventions and discoveries from Tesla to Rimac on our dedicated TC page.

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

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