Sunday, 29 August 2021

American Travel Mag Lists Rovinj Among Best 17 Small Towns in Europe

August the 29th, 2021 - The popular American Travel and Leisure magazine has listed the gorgeous Istrian coastal town of Rovinj among the best seventeen small European towns.

As Novac writes, the Travel and Leisure magazine has published a list of the seventeen best small towns in Europe in their opinion, which includes Rovinj.

The article, signed by journalist Anne Olivia Bauso, points out that their chosen charming European towns are adorned with amazing landscapes, delicious food and much more, she adds that for every Paris, Rome and London, there are a hundred small European cities that capture the spirit of their nation; from a tiny Icelandic suburb surrounded by amazing landscapes to an ancient coastal settlement on the Black Sea, and advises readers to add these seventeen little places in Europe to their wish list.

The aforementioned writer describes Rovinj as a small town whose facades are painted in bright colours, with a baroque church on a hill. All this was created on a small peninsula that makes up the ancient fishing port of Rovinj - the flagship of the Istrian part of the Croatian coast.

The text also mentions freshly caught sardines from the Croatian Adriatic sea, famous local truffles, wine from indigenous Istrian grapes, as well as the fact that it is worth tasting various wildly popular Istrian delights, such as truffles and wine and cheese.

The description ends with a proposal to visit a famous Istrian National Park, which stretches across the stunning Brijuni Islands and is an excellent idea for a day trip by boat from nearby Fazana.

Here is the list of the seventeen best small towns in Europe according to this American publication, from as far north as Iceland and England to as far south as Greece and Spain:

Zell am See, Austria
Gangi, Sicily, Italy
Bled, Slovenia
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Cadaqués, Catalonia, Spain
Sozopol, Bulgaria
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France
Otepää, Estonia
Otranto, Italy
Zermatt, Switzerland
Idbidos, Portugal
Rovinj, Croatia
Castelsardo, Sardinia, Italy
Ambleside, England
Pyrgi, Greece
Telč, Czech Republic

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian Defence Minister and Chief-of-Staff on Official Visit to USA

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Croatian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff , Admiral Robert Hranj are on an official visit to the USA to mark the 25th anniversary of cooperation with the Minnesota National Guard, as part of the State Partnership Programme, the Defence Ministry reported on Wednesday.

This is Minister Banožić's first official visit to the United States since stepping into office.

Banožić and Hranj visited the Sikorsky helicopter factory in Connecticut on Monday where they met with the company's executives and president Paul Lemmo.

The company is a subsidiary of the Lockhead Martin company which also producers UH-60 Black Hawk and SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. 

The Defence Ministry (MORH) points out the importance of military and technological cooperation with the USA which includes donations and the procurement of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the armed forces. During the meeting, Minister Banožić said that a US donation in 2019 was an important support to Croatia's national policy aimed at transitioning to equipment originating in the West.

"After that donation, we decided to procure two more Black Hawk helicopters and have allocated $85 million for that purpose. Our ambition is to continue developing this investment because, being a reliable and credible member of the NATO alliance, the transition to Western technology is the only possible and correct path," Banožić said. He expressed his satisfaction that at the moment Croatia's military pilots and aviation technicians are attending various training courses in the US, specialising in particular on the  Black Hawk helicopter.

"We also have two pilots gaining additional flying hours in Minnesota in cooperation and assistance of the Minnesota National Guard. This is important for us, not only in the context of buying equipment but in the context of security because we will obtain the necessary support in training," added Banožić.

Black Hawk helicopters can be used to support civilian institutions - in fighting wildfires, search and rescue missions, and emergency medical transport.

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

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Time to Strengthen Trade And Investments Between USA and Croatia - Conference

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The imminent visa waiver for Croatian citizens and the advanced negotiations on double taxation avoidance, are a good basis to strengthen trade and investments between the USA and Croatia, it was said on Wednesday at a conference on  doing business in the U.S. market. 

The hybrid conference was organised by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) in cooperation with the US Embassy in Croatia and two consulting companies -- the Armatus Prudentia and Trans-Atlantic Market Development -- which are engaged in helping Croatian businesses to come out on the US market.

The US Embassy's charge d'affaires, Mark Fleming, said that the US continued to be the best place for doing business in the world. With a market of 325 million consumers it is the most attractive and strongest consumer market in the world and it can help companies to build global success.

Fleming underscored Croatia's progress towards the aim of having the U.S. visa waiver program being applied on its citizens as well as the advanced negotiations on concluding a double taxation avoidance agreement.

It's time to strengthen bilateral trade and investments, the diplomat said and added that he expects more Croatian companies to explore the possibilities of doing business on the American market in the years to come.

He said that some Croatian companies were already doing business on the US market such as Infobip, Five, Infinum, HS Produkt, Šestan Busch, Dok-Ing and others.

HUP president Mihael Furjan thanked former US ambassador Robert Kohorst because huge steps were achieved during his ambassadorial term and as a result a double taxation avoidance deal should be signed soon.

Croatia mostly exports medicine and handguns to USA

Furjan said that Croatia's exports to the US were relatively low, and mostly involved medicine and handguns, however, there were at least 50 IT companies doing serious business in the USA.

"If you wish to come out on the global market to develop business then the most important step is entering the US market...if you succeed there you will succeed anywhere," said Furjan, underscoring the importance of competitiveness, cost efficiency and good ideas aimed at attracting consumers.

There are huge American investments in Croatia which are not that evident because many are coming via the Netherlands due to efforts to avoid double taxation, he said.

Businessman: easier to do business in USA than most European countries

Emir Avdić of the Trans-Atlantic Market Development company confirmed that the most popular pistol in the US is the one produced by HS Produkt in Croatia.

Avdić claimed that it is easier to do business in the US than most European countries. The US is known for its minimal red tape and it is quite easy and cheap to launch a business there, he added.

He cited low import tariffs compared with other markets, access to global supply chains which could facilitate accessing other markets like Canada and Mexico as advantages..

Mauro Lukić from the Croatian, Armatus Prudentia consulting firm said that the conference has motivated Croatian businesses to internationalise their business.

The wish is to strengthen economic relations with the USA, said Lukić, expressing hope that this will add a new rhythm and impact a gradual growth of Croatia's economy.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia: Week-Long Visit Regarding Visa-Free Travel

June 15, 2021 -  The US Department of Homeland Security officials in Croatia will continue to work in strengthening diplomatic relations with Croatia and ensuring visa-free travel between the two countries situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are currently in Croatia on a weeklong visit. As reported by US Embassy on social media, the visit is in regard to Croatia's progress towards Visa Waiver Programme Membership.

If Croatia joins the programme, Croatian citizens will not need a visa to travel to the USA for tourism, transit, or even for work as long as they don't extend the 90 day limit placed on their stay in the country.

As TCN reported earlier this year, The American Embassy in Croatia formally confirmed back in February that Croatian citizens will be able to finally enjoy the right to travel to the USA without the need for a visa later this year, by the 30th of September 2021 at the very latest, as was reported by Večernji list.

The final prerequisite for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of November 2020. Back then, sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this criterion had been met, and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. That final bar was set by the USA to Croatia.

''Our two governments are continuing their close cooperation on meeting the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme participation. US Department of Homeland Security officials are currently here, working with their Croatian Government partners on further advancing our shared goals, as well as addressing any remaining technical and policy requirements. People-to-people ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia are robust,'' says the press release by the US Embassy in Zagreb.

They added that the US Embassy is continuing to focus on strengthening ties between the two countries and that Croatia is a trusted partner, and these new travel arrangements will also contribute to deepening bilateral relations.

This bit of news comes as a refreshment when taking into account some other recent events. Croatia and the USA enjoy a close connection thanks to their NATO membership, and recently, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic stated that he would not accept a NATO closing declaration if it failed to mention the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples.

That statement was criticised even by Željko Komšić, the Croatian member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, saying that ''the concept of constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obsolete.''

Additionally, a bit of challenge can be seen with the fact that while the US Embassy has a diplomatic mission in Croatia, there is no appointed Ambassador to Croatia at the moment. But nevertheless, cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations remain tight.

As TCN reported back in May, Croatia participated in a military exercise of transporting American military supplies, before that, in March, the US donated the GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital and also invested $480,000 in the Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre.

In addition to their cooperation in terms of safety and health issues, the US additionally cooperated with the science-technology park - Step-Ri to bring entrepreneurship expertise to the Croats. With this diplomatic friendship evident and constantly being nourished, visa-free travel between the two countries is both fully deserved and now needed.

Learn more about visas in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Summer Business School: A Chance for Entrepreneurs at Step-Ri Science-Technology Park

May 27, 2021 - This June, a five-day Summer Business School organized by Step-Ri Science-Technology Park and the American Embassy in Croatia makes Rijeka the place for entrepreneurs.

Science parks, research parks or technology parks or less intriguingly known as innovation centers, are a purpose-built cluster of office spaces, labs, workrooms, and meeting areas designed to support research and development in science and tech, says Bidwells, one of the UK's most reputable property consultancy companies. Common infrastructures worldwide and in Europe, the biggest city in Kvarner, Rijeka, is no exception in having one.

Step-Ri is a science-technology park, part of the University in Rijeka, and a place where science and economy meet to encourage entrepreneurship based on knowledge and new technologies.

„As one of the leading institutions in Croatia when it comes to entrepreneurship, Step Ri brings the newest knowledge in innovation and management from around the world through interesting education and business consulting. With our knowledge and experience, singlehandedly and with the help of the international network of partners and friends, we create projects and specialized programs to encourage entrepreneurship initiatives for both employed and unemployed, students, and the scientific community. With new services, business models, personal and organizational competencies, we make already successful entrepreneurs more competitive“, says Step-Ri's official website.
One example of such initiatives is the upcoming Summer Business Camp which will take place from June 23-27. And what's more interesting, this five-day program is brought to Step-Ri in collaboration with the American Embassy in Croatia.

„Summer Business Camp brings teams from all Croatia that want to improve or refine their business ideas and solutions through exercises, lectures, and individual coaching, “says Step Ri, promising extraordinary mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and investors.

This year, special attention will be given to the gaming startups, but other industries are also welcome. Regardless of whether you are already an entrepreneur or just aspiring to be one, you are welcome to apply if you have a developed business idea or a functional prototype.

Learning how to bulletproof your idea, experienced entrepreneur as a mentor, a chance to hear directly from investors what are they looking for and how to deliver it, valuable feedback and honest thoughts to accelerate your project, creating new opportunities, meeting other people in the business, and a having a good time- are some of the promises by Step-Ri for those who apply.

But, it would be best if you hurried, as June 6 is very close, and that's the deadline to beat. At least ten teams will be selected after a committee of experts evaluates project applications. Bed and breakfast accommodation for up to two team members, lunch at the venue, local bus tickets for getting to the venue, and a commemorative T-shirt await for those who are selected. And once in, a panel of venture capitalists, business angels, and business people will award the best with Apple iPad Pro (1st prize), Apple iPad Air 4 (2nd prize), and Apple iPad 8 (3rd prize).

Pieces of technologies such as the aforementioned above can certainly come in handy to entrepreneurs, but what about money? The actual finance for your projects?
„Many teams in the past received funding from participating investors and judges. However, nobody but you can answer that! Come and pitch your idea and see how far it will take you!“concludes Step-Ri regarding finance possibilities to turn your vision into a reality.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

DEFENDER-Europe-21: Zadar Doing Its Part in Large NATO Exercise

May 7, 2021 - As part of NATO, Croatia participates in a large military exercise called DEFENDER-Europe-21, and UK and US navy ships arrived in Zadar with valuable equipment to be distributed among training areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Large-scale, multinational, and army-lead, DEFENDER-Europe is a joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO, and partner militaries. This year's edition DEFENDER-Europe-21, as reported by U.S. Army Europe and Africa website, focuses on „Building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations is defensive in nature and focused on responding to the crisis if necessary“, and also shows that „the U.S. commitment to NATO is ironclad.“

The exercise also includes strict COVID prevention and mitigation measures, such as pre-deployment COVID testing and quarantining and the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy show significant involvement and will utilize key ground and maritime routes bridging Europe, Asia, and Africa – continues the website.

„Exercises new high-end capabilities such the new U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades, air, and missile defense assets and the recently reactivated V Corps and demonstrates our ability to serve as a strategic security partner in the western Balkans and the Black Sea regions while sustaining our abilities in northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Africa“, adds the exercise goals the official U.S. Army website.

Apart from the U.S., Approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in 12 countries, and as a NATO member, Croatia has not been left out of the drill.

U.S._Naval_Ship_Yuma_arrives_in_Zadar_Croatia_Sgt._Alexandra_Shea.jpg

U.S. Naval Ship Yuma arrives in Zadar, Croatia © Sgt. Alexandra Shea

As part of the exercise, U.S. Naval Ship Yuma and U.K. Vessel Hurst Point off-loaded more than 300 pieces of military equipment in Zadar, Croatia’s Gazenica port, after ferrying it from Durres in Albania. The delivery started on Tuesday, May 4, and it was concluded on Friday. The journey of the equipment started back on March 24 at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida. The local U.S. National Guard units were shipping the equipment for three days onto USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) after which, the ship stopped by Portsmouth in Virginia for the final pieces of equipment before heading towards Durres in Albania. In Durres, the smaller vessels took the equipment and finally loaded it to Yuma, and Hurst Point, which brought it to the gem of Northern Dalmatia, Zadar.

„This process is called Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, a method used to ensure swift delivery of supplies and equipment in a variety of port situations“, explained the press release.

U.S._equipment_leaves_for_training_area-c-Sgt._Joshua_Oh.jpgU.S. equipment leaves for training area © Sgt. Joshua Oh 

While many would probably stop at Zadar and chill for a lovely holiday, the equipment, however, will continue its journey. Part of the equipment will remain in Croatia, but it will be transferred to Slunj, home of the Main Training Area, and the rest goes to training areas scattered in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In BiH, the drills and maneuvers for which the equipment will be used are under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21” which will culminate in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” at the end of May. Not just as a test of possibility in the „God-forbid-we-are-attacked“ scenario, Croatian Rampart 1991-2021“ also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatia Armed Forces.

The Main Training Area in Slunj, Croatia and training areas throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to be used in drills and maneuvers alongside members of the Croatian Armed Forces, under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21.” The exercise culminates in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” - which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces at the end of May.

major.jpg

British Major Dan Cornwell talking to Croatian press, screenshot / Defense Flash News

British Major Dan Cornwell told the Croatian press that the idea of being in Zadar is that Croatian, U.K., and U.S. forces operate together in loading U.S. equipment and personnel.

„We've done this before, on exercise last year in Germany, and I can say, it's a lot better down here in the south, it's absolutely amazing to be here in Croatia to do this alongside Croatian Armed Forces where we can better understand how we operate differently, how we operate similarly and equally building up our interoperability and our ability to operate better in the future“, said Maj. Cornwell, indicating that perhaps he can find Zadar, like many others, as a great holiday destination and not just the line of duty.

Learn more about Zadar on our TC page.

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

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Ambitious Business Plan to See Famous Brac Stone Placed on US Market

May the 6th, 2021 - Brac stone, famous both inside and outside of the Republic of Croatia, could find itself more regularly placed on the demanding US market thanks to an ambitious plan.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the end of bankruptcy proceedings for the Brac-based Jadrankamen occurred back at the end of January and the official transfer to the ownership of the American MRC Rock & Sand from California, owned by the Croatian emigrant Mile Grbic, was finalised. The move is rapidly turning in the direction of development, with emphasis on achieving the very first goals.

The backbone of the aforementioned move consists of the vision of this US-based entrepreneur to bring Jadrankamen, and as such the famous Brac stone, to the level of a global brand, with his American company which has an established business through clients and numerous contacts obviously helping this Croatian acquisition in terms of perspective and market penetration for Brac stone and other such products. Among the activities with which they immediately started, the renovation of production halls and the installation of solar panels is visible.

This project is a link with the ports in Slit and Ploce for container traffic and is important for strengthening the export business because large placements of Brac stone on the US market are planned. On the expected wave of changes in the chain of steps to a turnaround in business, plans are being made for significant capacity expansion, which will mean possible new employment, while strategically it will be important to increase revenues as soon as possible to service existing liabilities. After recapitalisation with a massive 45 million kuna, Grbic's company undertook the responsibility to pay 103 million to creditors.

According to insiders, under this new leadership, Jadrankamen will almost immediately strive for significantly higher revenues than those generated by the continuation of production in bankruptcy (about 30 million kuna). It seems that they aren't going to have a problem with an annual income of around 10 million euros, last realised about 15 years ago, before the problems that caused the company to end up in the deep and unpleasant waters of bankruptcy.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Commander of U.S. Air Forces For Europe, Africa Visits Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa and of Allied Air Command, visited Croatia on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Harrigian met with the ministry state secretary, Zdravko Jakop, the director of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, Major General Ivica Olujić, and the commander of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec.

They discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in defence and Agile Combat Employment, which is based on interoperability, as well as agreements regulating access to the Allied infrastructure and air space.

The Croatian Army, as an active NATO member, is participating in many international military exercises and activities which enhance the common capabilities and intensify cooperation between the member states, including the DEFENDER-Europe 21 and Astral Knight 21 exercises.

Jakop thanked the U.S. for donations and training assistance, saying that the bilateral relations were developed and that the U.S. "is the most important strategic partner in global security building."

Harrigian said he was looking forward to joint participation in Astral Knight, an exercise taking place in Croatia which, he said, offers an exceptional opportunity to train with some of the strongest allies.

Križanec underlined the importance of joint participation in international military exercises and activities this year, including  Adriatic Strike 21, Astral Knight 21 and Immediate Response 21.

Air forces, owing to rapid action and deployment in an exceptionally wide operations area, play a significant role in supporting deterrence as a key element of NATO's collective defence, he said.

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

USA Not Recommending Travel to 100 Countries, Including Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - The U.S. State Department has added about 100 countries this week to its "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisory list, putting Croatia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and others on the list, citing a "very high level of COVID-19," Reuters reported.

On Monday, the State Department said it would boost the number of countries receiving its highest advisory rating to about 80% of countries worldwide.

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Do Not Travel." The State Department now lists about 131 countries at Level Four, says Reuters.

The State Department said Monday the move "reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) existing epidemiological assessments."

Other countries in the "Do Not Travel" list include Finland, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. Some countries like China and Japan remain at "Level 3: Reconsider Travel."

Most Americans already had been prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa, Reuters says.

On Tuesday, the United States extended by another 30 days restrictions barring non-essential travel at its Canadian and Mexican borders.

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

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

American Film Producer Don Victor Cisternino Ends Up in Remetinec Jail - Jutarnji List daily Reports

ZAGREB, 14 April, 2021 - US actor and producer Don Victor Cisternino has found himself on an international arrest warrant because the United States wants him for fraud of millions of dollars in subsidies for his employees affected by the pandemic, the Jutarnji List daily said on Wednesday.

I was afraid that the new administration under President Joe Biden would prosecute me for this kind of business, even though it was allowed during the Trump administration. That is why I decided to flee to Europe after the election in the US and seek asylum in Russia or some other country. And that's how I came to Croatia where I wanted to seek political asylum, Cisternino was quoted as saying.

The 45-year old actor and producer, known for his episode role in the television series ER, was arrested on an international arrest warrant on Sunday evening when he entered Croatia from Slovenia in a vehicle.

Over the past few years Cisternino has been running his own company, Magnifi Co, providing consulting services in the film and art industry. The state attorney in Orlando, Florida has charged Cisternino with embezzlement of $7.2 million of a state loan for support to companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cisternino submitted fraudulent details to obtain a jobkeeping loan claiming that his company employed 422 employees, yet it only has two - Cisternino and his wife.

Irregularities were discovered by the tax authorities as Cisternino's tax return noted that all his workers paid the same tax of $3,356. However, due to tax deductions related to the number of children, unemployed spouse and other benefits, taxation varies from employee to employee which then raised suspicion as all 422 workers paid an identical tax amount.

Cisternino has declared that he objects to being extradited to the US. That means that his extradition won't be expedited and the formal extradition procedure will follow, the daily reported.

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

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