Thursday, 6 May 2021

Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Possibly Associated with Horror Movie Set Fire

May 6, 2021 – The Split-Dalmatia County Prefect was recently observed delivering an unusual anecdote in which he boasts defending the feelings of the religious by helping to stop a horror film from being shot.

The bizarre video clip shows Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blazenko Boban bragging to the Minister of Tourism about helping to thwart the filming of a horror movie Omen 666 back in 2005. He thought was telling a funny anecdote while touring the Roman ruins of Salona. But he may have said too much.

Horror movies and religious feelings

Solin and Split were some of the filming locations for a remake of the horror classic - Omen. By December of 2005, the production attained all the necessary permits by the Ministry of Culture to shoot in historical locations of Salona and Split. However, after the details of the movie became known, the local Catholic Church officials became raising their voices against the film. Omen 666 is a story of the Antichrist being born and adopted by an unsuspecting family. It relies heavily on biblical themes. According to Boban himself, the scene with the Antichrist rising up from a grave in Salona caused the most controversy. The Split-Makarska Arch-bishop’s Office made an official appeal to have the filming permit withdrawn. Boban began pressuring the Minister of Culture about it, but with no luck. Eventually, he organised a few people “to stage” a fire on the set. When the news of the fire reached the Minister, he revoked the filming permits. The production left Salona and Croatia.

In the movie clip where County Prefect Boban is seen telling the story, as published by Slobodna Dalmacija, the face masks are not enough to hide nervous smiles on everyone’s faces. Even though he told the story jokingly, the fact remains there actually was a fire. Not only that, but the movie director John Moore has since stated in an interview with Irish Times how the set had been vandalised and burned down. A subsequent move to a different filming location supposedly cost the film company around half a million US dollars.

Will there be a sequel?

It is incredible that such a story would come out to the public the way it did. In his careless attempt at comedy, County Prefect Boban might have bitten off more than he could chew. This story first came out almost a week ago and it was fairly quickly put to rest. The original police report was for a crime of “destroying and damaging private property”. There is an expiry deadline for this type of crime in Croatia during which it needs to get to court. This deadline has passed. However, reports State Attorney’s Office in Split is still looking into the case in light of new information. Because of the amount of incurred damages and the description of the event, it is apparently still possible to change the charge into a more serious one with a longer expiry deadline. While unlikely, if this case does ever get to court, it will be one of the more unusual stories from the wild world of Croatian politics.

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

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Former Croatian Politicians as Entrepreneurs: Some Failures, Some Successes

They thought they knew how to run a country, and they couldn't even run their own companies... Slobodna Dalmacija has compiled an interesting list of Croatian politicians who failed as entrepreneurs, with some exceptions...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of February, 2020, Nikica Valentic is considered one of the most successful Croatian prime ministers, as Anita Belak Krile writes for Slobodna Dalmacija.

He led the Croatian Government through some difficult times, inflation was halted during his mandate and the kuna was introduced, the Croatian Armed Forces was put into action for liberation operations, and 650,000 refugees and displaced persons were taken care of.

But when he stepped into private waters and started his own business, things took a dramatic turn for the worse. His business empire went almost completely down the proverbial toilet.

According to a report this week, the bankruptcy trustee of Nive Engineering (a company founded by Niva d.d. and headed by former Prime Minister Nikica Valentic) was handed over to the Zagreb Commercial Court, 99 properties have been sold so far, as well as failed companies from which creditors claimed as much as 130 million kuna.

The selling of real estate via the courts just a continuation of the collapse of that particular business empire that has been going on for years.

When he retired from politics at the end of 1995, Valentic started a business importing Malaysian Proton cars and an insurance company, but this soon failed. He then moved to real estate, building attractive residential complexes in desirable locations in Zagreb. For a while, business was going well, but with the arrival of the economic crisis, this also started to go downhill.

Year after year, the company recorded large losses, and accounts were constantly being blocked.

Valentic is far from the only high-ranking former Croatian politician who was much better off managing state affairs than his own private ones. Two more ex Croatian politicians, former Minister of the Economy, Goranko Fuzulic, and Radimir Cacic, the first deputy prime minister and former leader of HNS, today the head of the Reformists, also did poorly on the market.

If you can remembe "Magma", "Turbo Limac" and "Turbo Sport", then you'll know what this means. There is no Croatian home where there were no toys or baby clothes from Turbo Limac.

Prior to entering politics, Goranko Fizulic had an enviable entrepreneurial experience. With his wife, Biserka, he created "Magma" d.d. which included the Turbo limac children's empire and then the Turbo sport store. He has been an advocate for brands such as Esprit and Mexx, and in March 2003, Magma International was established over in Hong Kong.

Its revenues exceeded an impressive 1 billion kuna. Then in 2008, it all went downhill with the recession. He went bankrupt and endured two bouts of serious illness. Fizulic was among several former Croatian politicians to be hit badly by the economic crisis, with share prices plummeting from 315 kuna to just 1.2 kuna.

''I went through an extremely difficult period of my life. In addition to the two illnesses, I also experienced business collapse. But in every trouble, a new opportunity must be sought. Now I'm starting over,'' Fizulic said in an interview with Globus.

He admitted that he even considered suicide.

''I didn't want to inflict pain and suffering on my family. I managed to pull myself out of that without medication and doctors,'' he said.

After trying to find his place in the 3D printing industry, he launched the online service “LikeFigures”, but today he is better known to the public as a Telegram columnist.

Radimir Cacic was the construction minister and the first deputy prime minister at a time when motorways were being built across Croatia. Before joining the government and as such a list of Croatian politicians who also had their fingers in the business world, he was a successful entrepreneur, but those times are now long gone.

The backbone of the former Cacic construction and tourism business empire, the company "Coning" d.d., has been in bankruptcy for a year and a half, and just recently the sale of that real estate has been estimated at around 180 million kuna.

The Varazdin Commercial Court announced the sale of the Trakoscan Hotel and the Zelena Punta apartment complex in Kukljica on the island of Ugljan, both owned by "Coning" d.d., now in bankruptcy.

Politics in Croatia was often the entry visa for entry into the often harsh world of business and entrepreneurship, but there were also those Croatian politicians who did things in reverse, such as Zeljko Kerum.

Most of the former Croatian politicians and other officials who didn't end up in prison like Ivo Sanader, or who are not awaiting trial like Nadan Vidosevic, are doing consultancy work today, or have thrown themselves into the well-paid banking sector, or even better, the golden haunches - sports organisations, such as Croatian Olympic Committee (Zlatko Matesa).

Former Croatian politicians include those who live well today, although their first steps in entrepreneurship were a complete failure. One of those is Dr. Franjo Tudjman's former adviser, Ivic Pasalic, a general practitioner who, after leaving politics, began getting involved in the construction business. For a long time he was unsuccessful, and as quickly as any business was started, it failed just as quickly.

However, lately, since turning to the development of furniture design, things have improved. His company, Mundus Viridis, received the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in the home furniture category last year.

For more on Croatian politicians-come-entrepreneurs, follow our politics and business pages.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Croatia EU Ambassador: 'Good Riddance' UK Becomes English School Billboard

“Good Riddance, UK!” After Irena Andrassy, Croatian ambassador to the EU, delivered her side-splitting parting statement to the UK; one English language school in Zagreb, Croatia used the ambassador’s English language fail to their advantage. She emitted the Freudian slip (?) while chairing the last meeting between the envoy of the United Kingdom and the European Union.

‘Good Riddance’ Becomes Croatia Ad Campaign

To widespread amusement, Andrassy told British Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow "Thank you, goodbye, and good riddance" which means "Thank you, goodbye, good to be rid of you", according to JutarnjiList on February 6, 2020.

The Američki institut (American Institute), a private English language school based in Zagreb, ​posted a photo of the new jumbo roadside billboard promoting the ambassador’s gaffe. The poster says: “Good riddance", and attributes those apparent no love lost parting words to the Croatian ambassador. The American Institute logo and message follow below along with the slogan: “Rid yourself of bad English”.

"Tree tousand young people" | Irena Andrassy

Croatia Ambassador Scrambles for Control of Runaway Gaffe

The Brexiting British and English speakers around the globe have enjoyed many laughs at Ambassador Andrassy's expense. After realizing the joke was on her, she rapidly responded in a Twitter post implying that her apparent gaffe was intentional, but that she was only kidding.

This isn’t the first time the American Institute has used the poor English skills of celebrities for its advertising campaigns. In 2017, the language school advertised English lessons with a photo of Melanie Trump on a roadside billboard: “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English.”


First Lady Dispatched Legal Team to Threaten Language School

The First Lady of the United States was displeased with this representation of her considerable accomplishments and command of the English language. Through her legal team, the she demanded that the school remove the billboards within 24 hours or face severe legal consequences. The American Institute bowed to the demands of Trump's powerful legal team. However, because they had already leased the advertising space, they replaced the poster with another clever billboard; this time without Melania’s image.

On their Facebook page, the American Institute posted a photo of a new billboard with the caption “Take 2": “Invest in your English and billboards. People love a good billboard,” the new billboard sign advised.


Click here for more Total Croatia News articles on the First Lady, her accomplishments and English-speaking skills. Follow this link for TCN articles on prominent Croatians speaking English. Check out the Američki institut’s Facebook page for more amusing promotional imagery and an illustrated array of vocabulary builders.


Sunday, 12 January 2020

Croatian Politicians Speaking English: Top Ten Review

Having a working knowledge of the English language is probably not necessary for all Croatian politicians. But for Damir Krstičević, who negotiates major international arms deals, or Dubravka Šuica, who represents Croatia in the European Parliament, the ability to communicate effectively in English would seem essential. And they make up the foundation of the image Croatia presents to the world.

A recent video of Krstičević, Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, struggling through a speech in English at an event in the United States went viral. It was then rapidly incorporated into a spoof advertisement for a "Basic English For Dummies" language course on a local Croatian comedy TV show. And Index recently posted a video montage of Dubravka Šuica, HDZ member of EU parliament and Vice President of the European Commission, attempting to communicate to her audience in English, even though she obtained a college degree in the language.

RTL Direkt created a video montage of Croatia’s top politicians speaking English on January 10, 2020. And TCN included a video of attempts by RTL Direkt to interview Croatian politicians in English, which occurred on the same day, and also revealed mixed results.

Here’s a closer look at ten of the most powerful Croatian politicians giving speeches or interviews in English, from best to worst, plus a surprise bonus at the end. Politicians' English-speaking abilities are rated on the following four criteria: fluency, grammar, vocabulary and accent.

#1 Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

The current Croatian President’s English-speaking skills are flawless. Not only does she deserve a number one ranking, but she’s in that number one spot by far. Grabar-Kitarović spent a year in Arizona in the 1980’s as a high school exchange student and speaks English with a strong Southwestern American accent. Her confidence in the language is obvious and well-deserved. In this interview with Good Morning Britain, she discusses her views on Brexit and the challenges of being a woman in Politics.

Fluency: 5
Grammar: 5
Vocabulary: 5
Accent: 5
Total: 20

#2 Andrej Plenković

The current Croatian Prime Minister is proficient and confident in English. He speaks with a slight Croatian accent with palatalized t’s and rolled r’s. He pronounces Theresa May’s first name with a “th” rather than a “t”. In this interview with France 24, he discusses Brexit, Catalonia independence and other EU topics.

Fluency: 5
Grammar: 5
Vocabulary: 5
Accent: 3
Total: 18

#3 Zoran Milanović

The former Croatian Prime Minister and current President-Elect also shows a strong command of English. He pronounced “th” with a soft “d” or “t” and misses some a’s and the’s in his sentences. He discusses the 2015 Migrant Crisis in Croatia in this video with France 24.

Fluency: 5
Grammar: 4
Vocabulary: 4
Accent: 3
Total: 16

#4 Ivo Sanader

The former Croatian Prime Minister, who is serving a 6-year prison sentence for corruption, also appears to have a strong command of English. He rolls his r’s and missed some the’s and a’s. In this video for AP, he provides a brief summary of his meeting with former US President George W. Bush.

Fluency: 5
Grammar: 4
Vocabulary: 4
Accent: 3
Total: 16

#5 Ivo Josipović

The former President of Croatia speaks a more heavily palatalized version of Croatian-English. His delivery is slower, with short pauses. Like others, he misses some the’s and a’s, and pronounces th’s with a very soft “d”. In this interview for TRT World, he discusses his return to music and plans to compose a musical about John Lennon.

Fluency: 4
Grammar: 4
Vocabulary: 4
Accent: 3
Total: 15

#6 Davor Bernardić

The current President of SDP speaks a slightly palatalized English and his sentences also miss the’s and a’s. He pronounces the word happy “heppy” and his speech at the International Crime and Punishment Film Festival, as recorded by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was very brief, which suggests a limited working vocabulary.

Fluency: 3
Grammar: 4
Vocabulary: 3
Accent: 3
Total: 13

#7 Dubravka Šuica

The current HDZ member of EU parliament, Vice President of the European Commission and former Mayor of Dubrovnik, received a degree as “Professor of English” according to media reports. Her Croatian-English, as compiled in a recent Index video, is so heavily accented that it’s almost intelligible. In addition to heavy palatalizing and missing the’s and a’s; she comes up with several humorous sentences and word segments including:

“I don’t need anyone’s emotions here.”

“This is closed circle.”

What’s even more humorous about her “massacre” of English is her disproportionately confident delivery. Her behavior suggests that of a very senior esteemed college professor casually gifting her vast pool of knowledge to a group of eager students, who hang on to her every word. Not only is that not the case; she doesn’t seem aware that the joke is on her. Simply not understanding what she was trying to say wasn’t the only reason EU parliament members might have appeared perplexed or unimpressed.

Fluency: 2
Grammar: 2
Vocabulary: 3
Accent: 2
Total: 9

#8 Jadranka Kosor

The former Croatian Prime Minister is clearly uncomfortable reading her speech in English at the 2010 Zagreb Annual Meeting and Business Forum as recorded by Radio Federacije BiH. At one point she stumbles on the name of an organization and reverts to Croatian. Her delivery is heavily palatalized and filled with most of the common letter mispronunciations including rolled r’s and separated g’s. Her struggle suggests that her knowledge of English is probably very limited and she seemed particularly eager to sit down at the end of her short speech.

Fluency: 1
Grammar: 2
Vocabulary: 2
Accent: 2
Total: 7

#9 Damir Krstičević

This is the viral video of Damir Krstičević, Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, speaking English at an event in the United States. It was later integrated into a spoof commercial “Basic English for Dummies” on the Croatian TV show Prime Time on N1. Like his HDZ contemporary, Dubravka Šuica, Krstičević comes up with several curious phrases:

“The same idylls we fought for in our honor war.”

“Keep in mind that every success is merrily a stepping-stone to new challenge.”

At the end of his speech, he suggests:

“You ask me great questions. Ah…probably I will speak in Croatia, and my advisor…she will translate, if you agree.”

Fluency: 1
Grammar: 2
Vocabulary: 2
Accent: 1
Total: 6

#10 Ingrid Antičević Marinović

A former member of Prime Minister Ivica Račan’s cabinet and current justice of the Croatian Constitutional Court, the Honorable Justice Antičević Marinović speaks English with a lovely Croatian-Italian accent. Many of her words and sentences end with an extra soft “a” syllable, which gives her diction an oddly pleasant lilt, even though her content is virtually unintelligible. In this 2013 video, she discusses the problem of corruption in Croatia.

“I think-a it’s a job-a that never-ending ending-a. It’s-a our permanent task.”

Fluency: 1
Grammar: 2
Vocabulary: 2
Accent: 1
Total: 6

#BONUS Milan Bandić

In this Index video, the infamous Mayor of Zagreb is asked “What are you wearing tonight?”

“Yes,” he answers a few times.

After a few more attempts by the interviewer, he answers “speaking Croatia.”

Fluency: 0
Grammar: 0
Vocabulary: 0
Accent: 1
Total: 1

Follow our Politics page for more information on the English language speaking skills of prominent Croatian politicians, and important developments taking place during Croatia’s six month EU presidency.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

VIDEO: RTL Asks Questions in English to Croatian Politicians

January the 12th, 2020 - Considering the fact that the level of fluency in the English language is incredibly high in Croatia, it's always amazing to see just how many Croatian politicians, ministers, public servants and other officials struggle to get their words out.

Many Croatian politicians do an excellent job of spinning the truth in their native language, so it seems a shame that those who don't understand Croatian can't experience the same level of sheer cringe as the rest of us get to on a daily basis.

English is a difficult language, especially when the rules and the grammar are so different from the rules typical of Slavic languages, so it isn't that absolute perfection should be expected, but one would certainly imagine that Croatian politicians, for all of their bluff and chest pounding, would do their best to learn as much English as they can, especially now that Croatia is holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, placing the EU's newest member state on a pedestal for all and sundry to gawp at.

We've had some funny examples in both English and Croatian, however, and we wouldn't want to come across like we're making fun of fails in one language only. Tihomir Orešković, the former Croatian PM, was from Canada, and one of his funniest linguistic blunders was referring to Croatian citizens as buildings in his speech on how he'll serve them (Služit ću hrvatskim građevinama) as opposed to citizens (građanima)

As for English cock-ups, we've had Ingrid Antičević Marinović and her classic line Pipl mast trast as (People must trust us) which was even remixed into songs. 

The list goes on and on, and RTL decided to take it one step further and pretend they were RTL from Germany and approach various Croatian politicians at Markov trg (St. Mark's square) asking them fairly simple questions in English. Some attempted a conversation, others didn't understand the question, some ignored the reporter, and some literally ran away from her. Yes, ran away.

Watch the amusing and extremely uncomfortable video from RTL Direkt below:

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more on Croatian politicians, politics and the Croatian EU presidency.


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