Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatia Joins Initiative to Have International Crime Courth Probe War Crimes in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 April (2022) - Croatia has joined the initiative of 38 countries to have the International Criminal Court open an investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine, the government said on Friday.

The initiative requests that ICC prosecutors investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide believed to have been committed in Ukraine since 21 November 2013.

Although Ukraine is not party to the Rome Statute whereby the ICC was established, it has accepted its jurisdiction over crimes against its citizens of which it accuses Russian officials and officials of the separatist regions in east Ukraine.

Besides Croatia, the initiative has been supported by 38 parties to the Rome Statute - all EU member states bar Lithuania, which submitted its request independently - Albania, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain.

The UN has documented the deaths of 1,480 civilians in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Croatian Government to Send HRK 1.5m Worth of Emergency Aid to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 8 April (2022) - As a sign of solidarity, Croatia will send slightly over HRK 1.5 million (€200,000) worth of emergency aid to Ukraine at Ukraine's request, the government decided on Friday.

The aid comes from the available reserves and funds of the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry, that is, the Commodity Reserves Directorate, the Culture and Media Ministry, and the Ministry of the Interior, that is, the Civil Protection Directorate.

In light of constant danger to the moveable and immoveable cultural heritage of the city of Lviv, Ukrainian museum workers have asked for help in the form of equipment to protect and evacuate the heritage, and help has also been requested in the form of medical equipment (first aid kits).

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Hrvatska Pošta to Issue Postal Stamp in Support of Ukraine

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Croatian Post (HP) stated on Wednesday that next week, it will issue a postal stamp with the motif of yellow rapeseed flower fields under a blue sky, as a  gesture of support to Ukraine whose flag consists of blue and yellow colours.

The postal stamp, with the title "For Peace in Ukraine", is designed to be a symbol of friendship between Croatia and Ukraine.

The issuance of the stamp is accompanied by a statement from the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry on Russia's unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, and Zagreb's condemnation of the invasion and full support to Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The author of the postal stamp is designer Alenka Lulić, and the author of the photograph used for the stamp is Darko Kešnjer.

The new postal stamp will be released on 12 April, and 30,000 copies will be in circulation.

For more, check out our lifestyle section

Monday, 28 March 2022

Up to €173M to be Necessary in Scenario that Croatia Cares for 20,000 Refugees

28 March 2022 - The Jutarnji List daily on Monday commented on recent estimates presented by Interior Minister Davor Božinović that in the scenario that Croatia should care for 20,000 refugees, this would cost HRK 1.3 billion annually provided that the refugees exercise all the rights they are entitled to.

There are now roughly 10,000 Ukrainians who have found refuge in Croatia since fleeing the war in their country.

Croatia has undertaken to care for 20,000 refugees from that eastern European country.

According to rough estimates prepared by the Interior Ministry, the daily costs per refugee are 143 kuna (€19). This average is calculated from the average costs for the adult and for the underage refugee.

Of the 10,409 registered refugees, 50% are women and 40% are children. The daily outlay from the state budget for all of them stands now at HRK1.44 million (€199,000).

The structure of covered costs includes accommodation costs, healthcare, kindergarten and school attendance, one-off grants, as well as transport costs.

Two thirds of the costs go for accommodation.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Complicated Formalities Must be Scrapped for Croatian Ukraine Refugee Integration

March the 26th, 2022 - When it comes to the current crisis facing Ukraine following neighbouring Russia's invasion last month, many believe that the complicated processed involving formalities for Croatian Ukraine refugee integration must now be scrapped.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the unprecedented influx of refugees from Ukraine presents a current very real challenge across the EU and non-EU Europe, as although Ukrainians are interested in getting involved quickly in normal life in their new countries, including gaining legal employment, potential employers offering them jobs has been plagued with complicated red tape. Successful Croatian Ukraine refugee integration relies on the typical draconian processes in this country being cut down significantly.

After the formal application and obtaining an ID card, which gives Ukrainian refugees opportunity to open a Croatian bank account, it is inevitable that they will then need to have the basic documentation for contracting certain jobs, from certificates of competency to diplomas, and this is proving to be a problem. As such, there are already calls for a model to simplify and speed up the inevitable formalities that face displaced Ukrainians here.

People fleeing grenades naturally didn't think to pick up and bring certificates or diplomas or notarised copies to Croatia with them, and on the other hand, for a large number of activities in this country, it is still necessary to go through the nostrification procedure.

These formalities are already a problem for overall Croatian Ukraine refugee integration and especially for jobs that require certificates of secondary education. For example, a large retail chain that wants to hire Ukrainian workers is still pending a decision because the applicant hasn't yet been issued an ID card or an OIB, nor do they have a certificate confirming their completion of secondary education in Ukraine.

Complex cases

Even more complex are the cases for jobs that are in the register of regulated professions, for which it is necessary to obtain certificates from the competent institutions on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications, and there are about 280 professions on that list for Croatia.

These procedures are the most demanding and rigid in the cases of doctors of medicine. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, these processes were complex and time-consuming, under the jurisdiction of various state bodies, and now many would-be employers are hoping that this will be an opportunity for it to improve the system in general.

Anny Brusic, the director of the HUP Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, has stated that employers expect the state to make a decision for Ukrainians to not need certificates for certain occupations. "In this situation, it can be possible to introduce a mentoring system for occupations that require certificates, it can be a good and effective solution," said Brusic.

For weeks, the European Commission (EC) has been asking national bodies to find solutions to determine the equivalence of both European and Ukrainian qualifications frameworks, and is considering new guidelines to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications acquired in Ukraine. It is also a priority to provide assistance to persons interested in vocational training and retraining, in order to enable those who are interested in overcoming any lack of certain skills as easily and quickly as possible.

EBRD coordination

Here in Croatia, these activities are coordinated by the EBRD and involve representatives of the private sector, NGOs, while public employment services, in this country's case the CES, will play a key role in assisting newcomers from Ukraine in determining their skills, qualifications and connecting them with job possibilities.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Prime Minister: 9,357 Ukrainian Refugees in Croatia, Accommodation, Costs to be Resolved

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that so far 9,357 Ukrainian refugees had entered Croatia, telling representatives of county and city authorities that the most important thing was to resolve the issue of accommodation for the refugees and to cover those costs.

During a meeting with county heads, representatives of the Association of Cities and the Association of Municipalities, as well as an inter-departmental task force dealing with the reception and accommodation of Ukrainian refugees, Plenković said that by Wednesday morning 9,357 refugees had entered Croatia, 4,556 of whom were women (48.7%), 1,172 were men (12.5%) and 3,629 were children (38.8%).

The prime minister said the purpose of the meeting was to improve coordination between the state and county governments.

"The issue of accommodation and covering the cost of accommodation, as well as a comprehensive policy towards refugees are particularly important. That is a policy of welcome, solidarity and acceptance of Ukrainian refugees. That is our duty and we want to do that," he said.

"We will continue to help with all available resources, particularly humanitarian aid. At this time, Croatia is on the right side of history and international law but also on the side of the values enshrined in our Constitution", the PM said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Bizarre Fake Pro-Putin Zagreb IKEA Photos Circulating in Russia

March the 23rd, 2022 - The situation in Russia is bizarre to say the very least. With the media tightly controlled and threats of imprisonment imposed on those publicly opposing the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, it's even odder to think that someone has employed their Photoshop skills into creating fake Zagreb IKEA photos which showcase Vladimir Putin.

Do you remember the quote that you'd wish on someone you weren't really the biggest fan in the world of? ''May you live in interesting times''. I think someone has said that to the majority of the population of the world over the last couple of years. As if a pandemic and now a war accompanied by soaring prices wasn't quite enough. Now someone has decided to try to frame Zagreb's IKEA store, of all places, as being a pro-Putin establishment.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Russian media, which can barely be called free-thinking or independent, reported this week that here in Zagreb, the employees of IKEA are pro-Putin. Yes, you read that right.

''In Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, IKEA employees posted photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of the special operation in Ukraine," Russian media reported.

"In Zagreb, at the local IKEA, portraits of Vladimir Putin were placed in all photo frames in their salons. Obviously, the IKEA employees did it themselves," the Russian channel went onto try to claim to the Russian public.

Based on the results of the audit, IKEA was very quick to confirm that these were fake photos that the state agency RIA Novosti were publishing.

“These pictures are fake and not real photos from the real store. We have no other information so far,'' said a company spokeswoman of the extremely strange Zagreb IKEA photos. The fact that someone has too much time on their hands is evident, but trying to use an IKEA store to clutch at straws for Putin support is perhaps one of the oddest events in this dire situation so far. Even Blahaj the famous IKEA shark looks displeased sitting next to Vladimir.

For more, check our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Pogarcic Auto: Rijeka Company Opening Doors to Ukrainian Workers

March the 20th, 2022 - Pogarcic auto, a Rijeka-based car showroom and service centre, is more than ready to take on Ukrainian workers and provide them with a steady and stable income, as well as a permanent job.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Vedran Pogarcic, the owner of Pogarcic auto, says he is more than ready to immediately hire a few professionals needed to work in his centre who were forced into exile by the war troubles in Ukraine.

''Of course, with the help of the competent services that will issue them work permits, I'm willing to offer a good salary for Croatian conditions, as well as permanent employment,'' Vedran assured.

According to Novi list, this is the clear position expressed a few days ago by Vedran Pogarcic after several inquiries for the employment of mechanics with extensive experience in Ukrainian service workshops appeared on social media within groups formed to help refugees fleeing from war torn Ukraine.

With that offer of stability and work, without it really being his primary  intention at all, he kicked off talks on an interesting topic that is being widely discussed, but is still outside the public sphere. Even for lay people, it's clear that without the significant immigration of young families that will bring employment opportunities to Croatia, there will be absolutely no significant demographic recovery. Banally speaking, the Croatian path to total depopulation can be prevented only by mechanical immigration. Pogarcic's offer fits into such thinking, and it's one of those that can be welcome for the country's survival.

“What do we even think we're talking about a lot of the time? We Croats are really two faced. We don't want foreigners, but... there are no locals here either. We went through a very strict procedure to get our service centre up and running, which specialises in maintaining a whole range of car brands, from Ford to Jaguar, and we're a reference point for conducting student internships. You know what we got for that? Next to nothing! The profile of occupations we need enrolls very few students, and if we look at the age structure of Rijeka, less and less are going to be enrolling as time goes on. And yet, there is work to be had, there is certainly work. However, when you honestly expose the current Croatian present and the future in public, you're classed as just being a negative person,'' the owner of Pogarcic auto explained.

With all the regret and deep sadness over the tragedy that recently befell Ukraine at the hands of Russia, it's clear that the permanent settlement of thousands of Ukrainians can be something that will be very welcome for Croatia. These are people with a similar culture and mentality as people in Croatia and they are people who are typically quick to learn the Croatian language.

In addition, tens of thousands of workers are lacking in a whole range of occupations, from highly skilled ones such as those in medicine, all the way to those who are needed to work in tourism, Croatia's most lucrative economic activity. As it usually happens, even the best intentions are criticised by the public, and Vedran Pogarcic also experienced them.

"As soon as I announced that I was offering a job to workers from Ukrbaine, Facebook warriors without an identity came forward and started calling me names. Their thesis is that local people must get a job first. I agree with that, but as hard as it is to have unemployed people in your country, it's even harder and sadder not having people in your country at all. I'm looking in every way to hire local workers, professional people who are needed in this job profile. But they're gone. They been gone for years. There are a lot of jobs to be had and salaries to be earned in my service, but there aren't enough workers to do the job here in Croatia,'' said Pogarcic auto's owner for Novi list.

For more, check out our business section

Monday, 7 March 2022

Government Adopts Decision on Temporary Protection for Displaced Persons from Ukraine

7 March 2022 - The government on Monday decided to introduce temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine and Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović said the most important thing was to prepare the system well for a possible larger influx of refugees.

"This is an unprecedented situation after the Second World War and thanks to the rapid reaction of the European Union and the activation of the temporary protection mechanism, the Republic of Croatia will take care of all displaced persons from Ukraine who express the wish to enjoy temporary international protection in our country," Minister Davor Božinović said at a government session.

Explaining the proposal for the decision on the introduction of temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine, he said that the intention was for all those people to be taken care of and integrated in the Croatian society as quickly and easily as possible.

"Our duty is to provide them with everything they need," the minister said.

He said that with today's decision temporary protection was being introduced for displaced people from Ukraine in Croatia in accordance with the Act on International and Temporary Protection and the Council Implementing Decision (EU) of 4 March 2022.

Croatia will grant temporary protection to several categories of displaced persons who have left Ukraine since 24 February 2022.

This applies to nationals of Ukraine and their family member, stateless persons and nationals of third countries who benefited from international or equivalent national protection and their family members legally residing in Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Temporary protection will also be granted to nationals of third countries legally residing in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 in accordance with Ukrainian regulations who are unable to return to their country or region of origin in safe and durable conditions.

Persons who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February 2022 due to the security situation and cannot return to their country as a result of the armed conflict will also be granted temporary protection.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for organising the reception and care of persons meeting the criteria for temporary protection and for receiving and processing requests for temporary protection.

Other state administrative bodies are responsible for other rights of foreigners under temporary protection, including basic resources for living and accommodation, healthcare, primary and secondary education, working without the need to obtain a residence and work permit, the minister said.

The decision on the introduction of temporary protection in Croatia for displaced persons from Ukraine enters into force on the day of its adoption.

Monday, 7 March 2022

PM: If You Are on Russia's List, You've Pursued a Good Policy

7 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday commented on a list of enemy countries released by Russia, which includes Croatia, and added that "if you're on that list, then you've pursued a good policy, you can be proud of that".

He said that 1.8 million people had fled Ukraine to date and that according to estimates, the number would be higher and higher.

Plenković reiterated that he supported Ukraine's EU path, adding that the method of accession required some time.

"I understand that political desire, Croatia will definitely be a voice of support," he said, expressing some doubt whether all of that was realistic "in such a short time."

He also pointed out that the stability of Southeast Europe, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, was in Croatia's interest.

"The most important thing is that a political agreement is reached between the constituent peoples on just changes to the electoral law which will stop the long-term practice of electoral engineering," he said.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leadership today also discussed the government decision on cushioning fuel price hikes.

"Our basic tasks will be to ensure energy supply, security, which has gained a new dimension, and we will try to reduce the impact on the citizens' standard of living," Plenković said, adding that the circumstances were such that they required intervention from the state.

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