Thursday, 25 March 2021

Zvonko Milas: "Serbian Croats Receiving More and More Threats"

ZAGREB, 25 March, 2021 - The head of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad on Thursday told the parliament that after the "shameful" decision of the Subotica city's authorities to give a status of an official language to the Bunjevci vernacular, local Croats in Serbia had been receiving more and more threats.

In the wake of the discussions about that wrong and shameful decision by the Subotica City Council, which were also soon followed by the propaganda film "Dara iz Jasenovca",  more and more threats were made against ethnic Croats, notably ethnic Croat leaders in Serbia, Zvonko Milas told the Sabor, while presenting the 2019 report on the implementation of the strategy pertaining to Croat communities outside Croatia.

He also warned that the Subotica decision on the Bunjevci vernacular was against the Croatia-Serbia bilateral agreement on the respective ethnic minorities and that it also led to the further fragmentation of the ethnic Croat community in Vojvodina and Serbia.

Milas said that Croatia would do its utmost to make sure that Slovenia can grant a status of ethnic minority to local Croats.

The community has more than 50,000 members, Milas said adding that Slovenia does not recognise any ethnic rights of those Croats.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Minority Leaders Push for Introducing Croatian as Official Language in Vojvodina

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - The Croatian National Council (HNV) leader Jasna Vojnić has sent a proposal to Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić that the language of the ethnic Croatian minority should be recognised as an official language in the whole territory of the northern province of Vojvodina.

The HNV web portal reported on Friday evening about this initiative launched by the leadership of ethnic Croats in Serbia in response to the plans of the local authorities in the northern Vojvodina city of Subotica to approve the official use of the Bunjevački vernacular spoken by members of a local community who identify themselves as non-Croat Bunjevci.

Under the current law, local government units must grant the official use of an ethnic minority's language and script if that minority accounts for at least 15% of the local population. According to the 2011 census, 13,553 citizens, or 9.57% of Subotica residents, identify themselves as Bunjevci.

Despite the fact that the size of the Bunjevci community did not reach the 15% share in the population requirement and despite the fact that this vernacular does not have a status of a language according to linguistic standards, Subotica Mayor Stevan Bakić of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) moved a proposal to amend the city's statute to introduce the Bunjevac dialect and script as an official language.

The HNV leader Vojnić says that being encouraged by this example of such positive discrimination which is applied in the case of the Bunjevci community, the Croatian community "is looking forward to future initiatives of local office-holders to help minorities to exercise similar rights in settlements where ethnic Croats live."

In this context she recalls that in the city of Sombor, Croats make up 8.39% of the local population, and  in the municipalities of Apatin and Bač 10.42% and 8.39% respectively. Therefore, following the precedent of the positive discrimination towards Subotica non-Croat Bunjevci, Vojnić expects Serbia's authorities to apply such positive discrimination rules in the whole of Vojvodina towards ethnic Croats.

Another ethnic Croat leader Tomislav Žigmanov recently warned that the relevant Slavic or comparative linguistics literature does not call the Bunjevac dialect a language.

Croatia's Ambassador to Serbia, Hidajet Biščević, has said in an interview with Hrvatska Riječ that the initiative fort the recognition of the Bunjevci vernacular as an official language is legally unfounded and that it also contains undesirable negative political and social consequences for the interests of the Croat ethnic minority in Serbia.

The diplomat also said that the initiative is contrary to the agreement between Croatia and Serbia on the mutual protection of ethnic minorities.

In the meantime Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry sent a protest note through its embassy.

"The Bunjevci dialect is not a language. It belongs to the new Stokavian-Ikavian dialect, it is one of the dialects of the Croatian language. The Bunjevci people in Hungary are also a sub-ethnic group who call their language Croatian," Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said at  news conference last Thursday, explaining the reasons for the protest note.

Around 16,000 Bunjevci who deny their Croatian origins live in the north of the Bačka region. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council, whose leaders are close to the  Vučić's SNS party.

The remaining majority of the Bunjevci, including the leadership of the Vojvodina Croats, formally identify themselves as Bunjevci Croats.

In the 2011 census, nearly 58,000 people in Serbia identified themselves as Croats.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Final Criteria Met: Croatians Don't Need A Visa For The USA From 2021

September 26, 2020 - A 20-year-old diplomatic and business stumbling block has finally been resolved - Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021

With a considerable amount of the country's diaspora living in English-speaking countries, the issue of visa requirement to enter the USA has been of significant interest to Croatians for years. Discussions have been ongoing since the late 1990s, complicated by the fact Croatian passports can be issued in a different country altogether - Bosnia and Herzegovina. But now, the wait is finally over - Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021.

As detailed in Total Croatia News on 7th September, the final hurdle for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of this month. Sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have revealed this criterion has now been met and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. This was the bar set by the USA to the Croatian state.

Meeting this figure was complicated by the decrease in travel due to the ongoing pandemic. Therefore, with full disclosure to their American counterparts, sections of the Croatian government set about orchestrating the required number of applications. They enlisted the help of the Croatian business community and members within it who were sure to submit successful applications.

Next Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Croatia. Final details for the abolition of visas will be discussed between his accompanying team and that of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Minister of Defense Mario Banožić, who will meet him in Dubrovnik. The official announcement that Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021 could potentially come as soon as the end of the US Secretary of State's visit.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Interview with Ruza Studer Babic: Croatian Diaspora Also Wants Croatia 2.0

June 20 - In addition to strong support from parties from across the political spectrum, the Glas Poduzetnika Association received clear support of the Diaspora's new list, led by Ruza Studer Babic. Josip Hrgetic, one of the founders and the director of the conference Meeting G2 for Croatians from the Diaspora, intended for all business people who wish to connect their homeland and the expatriated Croatia better, is also on the list led by Ruza Studer Babic.

The conference has taken place for five years already, and Ruza was the regular guest. The impression from these conferences is that Croats living in the Diaspora think in a very entrepreneurial way, having the same values which the Glas Poduzetnika Association points out in their postulates. For these reasons we also wanted to do a short interview with Ruza:

How did you come up with creating a new list that will offer an option in the electoral division for the Diaspora?

Emigrants, returnees, and immigrants face many problems and are often left on their own in these situations. I have been actively engaged in issues and challenges of emigration for the last seven years. Many ex-pat congresses and conferences I participated in and met many expatriates signal that many are ready to invest in their homeland. All this, along with the ineffectiveness of political structures concerning emigration, is the reason why we started a list, the goal of which is to reach the emigrants and encourage them to go to polls.

You very quickly agreed with the UGP Pledge that we also sent to all the critical parties, how much does it match your goals?

The UGP overview is similar to our reasoning and goals. The fact that our list includes people who came from emigration to Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina says that we have people who have chosen their homeland. They recognized the obstacles that hinder new investors and can, with their experience, be of great help to new investors. We want to launch an entrepreneurship incubator for expatriates, wherewith the support of the state, and together with entrepreneurs, we would initiate economic projects through which they would gain access to foreign markets. We would stimulate the foreign investors to invest and the expatriated entrepreneurs' return and create work opportunities in the homeland. As an example, we would keep young people in the country.

You managed to gather Croatians from all parts of the world. What is the one thing that unites you, and do you think this will increase your chances of entering the parliament?

Keeping in mind that we did not have much time, the ex-pats' readiness to be a part of this is admirable. The love for the country unites us, and we all have the same goal — to stimulate the return of ex-pats, to top the trend of emigration, and to encourage foreign investors to invest in Croatia.

How are Croatian media treating this initiative so far?

Upon sending a press release to all the media, we received four responses expressing the willingness to donate space for our initiative. For major media, such initiatives do not seem to be of interest.

To read more breaking news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 January 2020

American Croat Creates App Which Bridges Dating and Fertility Industries

As Novac/Tena Sarcevic writes on the 19th of January, 2020, it was back in 2011 when Ivan Fatovic, an American Croat sat down for dinner with a few of his female friends in New York. They hadn't seen each other for a long time, so they had plenty to talk about. Warm friendly smiles, jokes and laughs over a bottle of wine. The conversation started off as it usually does, about what has happened to anyone since the last time they saw each other, how their families are, what's new at work, etc.

Then, his female friends, back then all single and around the age of 35, began to talk about love and relationships in the manner of the hit American show "Sex and the City".

Each of them had an aspiration to become a mother one day, and they were all aware that if they wanted to fulfill their wish, they didn't have long left to do it because of their ticking biological clocks. All of the women were beautiful and successful, but they just couldn't find the man they wanted to have a baby with.

They were looking for the real deal, in real life as well as through various dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid, they'd tried them all. But it seemed to them that the men on these apps were only interested in a bit of fun and nothing serious or further than that.

"These apps are more appropriate for people in their twenties," concluded one of Ivan's friends, who felt particularly frustrated about her relationship status.

''After three drinks, I've started telling guys that in the next five years I want to have three children. I don't care that people don't want to hear that on the first date,'' said one of the women. She was persistent in her position that it was better to express such wishes at the beginning than to wait for months, or even years, and then realise that the other party doesn't even want the same.

''Ivan, I don't care, I'm going to find someone who feels the same way I do,'' she told him. He jokingly replied that she didn't need Tinder but the Date and Disseminate app, to which everyone laughed.

''Is there anything like that out there? That's not a bad idea at all, I'd join such a network immediately,'' a friend told him. And that is where the idea of ​​an application to be used exclusively by women who are ready to bring their offspring into the world without waiting around for Mr. Right was born. A year after that meeting with his friends, Ivan Fatovic, an American Croat, launched a website and the Modamily app.

It defines its platform as a kind of bridge between the dating and fertility industries. What people have in common is that everyone using the app is ready to start a family, and by using the app, they are looking for people to start a family with, as well as working out the methods by which they will do so.

''Modamily can help people start a family by getting them into a relationship and then they simply decide on the next step, but we also help them out if they've opted for one of the alternative options. We educate them about freezing their eggs, testing their genes, helping them find a surrogate mother, a sperm donor or an egg donor. And they may also opt for so-called co-parenting, an option where you find a best friend you decide to have a child with. The latter case is particularly popular with some friends, one of whom is gay. This is where the ''Will and Grace'' moment comes into it,'' the 44-year-old American Croat explained. He currently resides in Los Angeles and has been living exclusively from this business for eight years now.

Modamily, which is available worldwide, is a far cry from the classic dating app. When signing up, you not only answer basic questions about your own sexual and romantic preferences, but also address more complex topics, such as your attitudes toward child-rearing or religion.

''The app asks you how important religion is to you, whether you want to bring up your child in the spirit of the religion you grew up with, whether see your child attending public or private school, whether you want to live with the potential person with whom you have a child or you want them to live nearby, who is going to pay for what, how you'd like childcare to look, etc. These are important questions that many women in their forties don't want to ask the guy they're dating, because they don't want them to think they're being attacked, but they still want to know,'' explained Ivan Fatovic.

Registration on the app is free. Before you can meet someone, you first have to like each other, and if that happens, you have 24 hours to report to the other party. After one day goes by, you can't see the people who liked you unless you pay a 30 US dollar monthly subscription.

''A subscription lets you see everyone who liked you, but it also has some other benefits. For example, you might get more search filters. You can search for single women between the ages of 30 and 40 who live within 100 kilometres of you for example, and if you pay for a subscription you can search for multiple criteria; for example, to see who is Catholic, who is of a certain race, who went to Harvard and earns a certain amount of money annually,'' explained Ivan Fatovic, who is Modamily's only full-time employee.

This application is quite progressive when considering the options it offers, such as the aforementioned co-parenting. That's why, as the American Croat added, it was targeted by Rush Limbaugh, a conservative and host of talk shows and radio shows and, among other things, a friend of Donald Trump.

"He said we were demolishing the American family institution," Ivan Fatovic recalled. But other reactions have been almost positive from the very start, and he wholeheartedly disagrees with Limbaugh's criticism.

''We don't lead people to make any type of decision, nor do we claim that it's best have a child without being married. Nor do we claim that people need to be married in order to have a child. We just offer alternative options, we help people see all their options. Nobody is going to meet someone via the app and make a baby next week. People get to know each other, become best friends, trust each other, and decide for themselves what they want to do. And I believe that at least half of the straight people who find themselves on the app do indeed develop a classic romantic relationship,'' explained Ivan Fatovic.

''I've seen situations where parents have been fiercely quarreling and hating each other for years after their divorce. This is where the child finds themselves stuck in the middle and suffers the most. But I also know of cases where former partners have remained friends and are jointly caring for the child. Modamily is very useful for finding people whose views you agree with so it reduces the chances of misunderstandings. To more traditional people, this may still be unusual, but I believe that young people understand it. More and more people want to have children, but they don't necessarily see themselves with one person for their entire lives. Maybe the person you want children with is different from the one you will grow old with,'' added this innovative American Croat.

''In addition to classic relationships, it happens that people are looking for a sperm donor or an egg donor. These can be straight couples who have fertility problems or, for example, lesbian couples who need a sperm donor. So, they want to be parents themselves, they don't need that third party, but they want to get to know her, or maybe they believe the child will want to know who their biological parent is before the age of 18. Then they sometimes suggest that the biological parent should still be involved in the life of the child, but more through a role more akin to that of an aunt or uncle than to the parent,'' Ivan Fatovic noted.

His app is used by about 25,000 people around the world, and he estimates that about one hundred babies were born owing to it. 67 percent of the members are women, one-third of whom are under 35 and the rest older. The men using the app are a little older, on average, between the ages of 30 and 40, but there are those who, in their 60s, have decided they would like a child.

About 65 percent of the this American Croat's app's users are from the US and Canada, and the rest are from around the world.

''We are strong in Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Australia, with several thousand users in each of these countries. There are only a few in Croatia, but I believe the number will grow over time,'' noted the American Croat, adding that he adores Croatia.

His mother is from the island of Korcula and his dad is from the City of Zadar and he goes to Split every summer because they have an apartment on Znjan. His parents met in America, so he was born in New York, but he attended elementary school in Dubrovnik because they moved there briefly. Therefore, his Croatian is very fluent. At one time he often came to Zagreb, too.

''It seems to me that Croats, unlike Americans, are less obsessed with work, they're people who know how to take a break and enjoy the great things life has to offer,'' he says when asked about the character of Croats, adding that he is sorry that many great young minds often they leave the country for work elsewhere. Croats and Americans, he believes, have certain cultural similarities.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Man Abandons Comfortable Job at Mercedes in Germany to Move to Croatia

As Novac writes on the 6th of January, 2020, while many young Croats take advantage of Croatia's European Union membership and head off in their droves to Ireland or Germany, Kristian Hostić decided to move to Croatia from Germany, the country of his parents, to which he had only been going on holiday so far, writes DW.

He grew up in Stuttgart, where his parents moved to from Croatia originally. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics and got a comfortable job at Mercedes. Although he had good conditions and a good salary, he decided a year and a half ago to leave a secure job in Germany and move to Croatia. Ge returned to his family home in Đakovo.

''I always wanted to live in Croatia, but at the time I graduated from college, the salary level in Croatia was still very low. I looked at job postings occasionally and a year and a half ago I simply decided to do it. I feel at home in Croatia, my heart is where it's meant to be here, even though I grew up in Germany and have friends there, it's just a feeling, you either feel it or you don't feel it,'' he says, adding that his parents supported him in his move to Croatia, as did his friends, even though they were in shock, they didn't try to deter him. 

He now lives in his parents' home in Đakovo and travels 40 kilometres to Slavonski Brod every day for work. He found his job at a German certification and risk assessment firm - Tüv Nord, where the working language is German. This German company has been operating in Slavonski Brod for five years now, employing 50 people, mostly Croats who have returned from Germany.

Although it is a German company, the salaries at Tüv Nord are not German. Kristian doesn't mind that, and he says that he is pleased because he has been given the opportunity to move to Croatia and work in a normal workplace, where the Croatian mentality prevails. In addition, he found love in Croatia - his girlfriend Marijana. He wants to build a future in Croatia, precisely with her.

According to official statistics, most of the Croats who have left Croatia were precisely from the overlooked Eastern region of Slavonia, and their destination was mainly Germany. From 2008 to 2018, 240,000 young Croats went to Germany and Ireland. Kristian is convinced that most of these young people or their children will return or move to Croatia once, as he did.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Croatian Night in Frankfurt Features Croatia's Biggest Music Stars

November 12, 2019 - Gibonni, Petar Graso, Mate Bulic, Miroslav Skoro, Domenica, Indira Forza, Prljavo kazaliste, Mladen Grdovic, Klapa Rispet and Zeljko Bebek will perform at the Croatian Night in Frankfurt this weekend. 

Namely, Dalmacija Danas reports that Croatia’s biggest music stars can be found in the same place on Saturday, November 16, in Frankfurt, where they will perform at the largest Croatian diaspora concert for an estimated 12,000 Croats and their guests at the Fraport Arena.

“As organizers, we are proud that 'Croatian Night' is recognized all over the world and has established itself as the most significant event of Croats abroad. Every year we strive, and fortunately, we manage to bring the best possible Croatian music team. This year, on the day of the concert, our Vatreni is playing for a spot at the European Championships, and we believe that the support of the 12,000 people in the arena will be felt and heard all the way to Rijeka. We believe that the atmosphere will be special and celebratory at the end of the game,” says Robert Martinovic on behalf of the Croatian Night organizers. 

Croatian Night gathers thousands of visitors every year at Frankfurt's Fraport Arena with the biggest music stars from the homeland. 


This year, the audience is eagerly awaiting Miroslav Skoro.

“Yet another Croatian Night in Frankfurt will be held this November, and I will have the honor of performing again at the largest gathering of us all outside Croatia. Come and have a good time with us in Frankfurt,” said Skoro. 

“We hope that this year, a lot of Croatians from Germany and Europe and all over the world respond and come to the largest manifestation of Croatian music in the world among the Diaspora. It is a beautiful occasion for all of us to gather and socialize. We are honored to have the luck to build even stronger ties between Croatians, those in the Diaspora and in our homeland,” the organizers added.

Just how eager our Diaspora is to experience Croatian music is shown by the fact that they come from all over the world: from Europe, Australia, America, and Canada.

To read more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Croatian Swimmer Returns from Studies in USA to Family Tradition

As Novac writes on the 1st of September, 2019, many customers, including both Rovinj locals and foreign tourists, who visited the Rovinj market this summer would likely have been greeted by Matea Peteh, recently married and now bearing the surname Bjelančević. Few people would expect that this former Croatian swimmer would serve them at stands in the realm of colourful vegetables.

After making a big circle around the world, she returned from where she came from, to the fertile land of Calandra, near the Palud Ornithological Park. She completed her studies in the United States, and although there were numerous opportunities for her over there, according to Novi list, Matea returned home to Croatia.

She chose the Swimming Spring League as the time to say a final goodbye to taking part in active competitions, and back in May 2013 at the Kantrida swimming pool, with the applause of a loyal audience, at the age of 23, she concluded her swimming career. Everyone expected her to stay in that field, to teach young people and train others. Matea Peteh, however, had other ideas and chose a completely different path.

''I've been everywhere, but my parents have been in agriculture for 30 years, so I felt it was time to come and help them. They've always supported me, took me to my training, helped with my schooling, and constantly invested in the farm so that they could be competitive on the market.

They also planted greenhouses with outdoor vegetable gardens, so I decided that it would be normal for me to continue with my family business, as it would be a great pity for all of that, behind which lies a lot of hard work, to just go to waste. My dad Mate and my mum Marica have been continuing to work for years when they should really be taking that time to relax a little, but alas, their work drives them on.

While I was intensely involved in swimming and studying in the US, my sister Tea was born, and she's already 14 years old. She has those sporty genes like I have, a preference for aerobic sports and the sea, so I take her for sailing. She started with an optimist, and then she won third place at the Croatian Open,'' says Peteh.

The work day at Calandra farm, where you will be greeted by several lovely dogs, chickens and other domestic animals, begins in the early morning when the fresh vegetables are harvested and transported to the market. The Peteh family has two stands, one of them is run and arranged by Matea and the other is handled by her mum, Marica. Matea is the youngest Rovinj vegetable grower, and many others of her generation have been asking her how and why she chose this job and a ''Croatian life'' after staying in the US and experiencing American opportunities.

''People have this notion that America is just a country of prosperity in itself. However, living there at an accelerated pace, young people need to quickly become independent and move for work. There is a lot to do to achieve the American dream, idealised in those cliché films. After five years, I decided that nothing could replace my peace on Calandra, even though that meant working from dawn til dusk, so much so that I didn't even manage to go for a swim this summer on the nearby, Cisterna beach, otherwise one of Rovinj's most beautiful,'' Matea continues.

''In the 15 years since I was away from Calandra, vegetable growing technology has changed so much that I have so much to master. However, my new job is a work in progress, so every day I'm learning something new, and encouragement is given to me from my dad Mate and my mum, Marica. Mostly, my dad is in charge of the field. He's constantly on the tractor and behind the miller and the grinder,'' explains Matea.

People in Rovinj are well aware of biologically produced vegetables. For example, the Calandra chard looks a bit different, there are holes in the leaves, meaning that it hasn't been treated with any pesticides. Because of this, locals don't bother with the shopping centres selling vegetables from unknown destinations, under the motto "from Croatian fields", but rather prefer to return to the markets with vegetable growers they know well. Matea says, therefore, that their business is not dependent on tourists who buy fruit and veg here and there, but on Rovinj's locals, who buy from her throughout the year.

''We're now nearing the end of the summer season, so we're already preparing for autumn and winter. We've already planted new plantations of cabbage, kale, spinach, chard, winter salads, chicory and other winter vegetables. On the market, we sell almost everything we produce, and only small quantities are bought by those from the hospitality industry. To reach the market and attract customers, you need a wide variety of vegetables and fruits so that customers can be supplied with everything they need all in one place,'' explains Matea.

It is a rare example that after such a rich sports career, such as thirty-year-old Matea, that a person returns from abroad and continues on with their Croatian family tradition. In the once economically diverse, now extremely touristy Rovinj, many young people, after completing their studies, seek opportunities in the cities where they study, especially if they're abroad. Matea Peteh has been there and done that. She knows that her place is in Calandra.

''There is a future for young people in agriculture. The market exists, it just needs to get going and especially focus on organic production. My love for the land was instilled by my father Mate and my mother Marica, there is also my sister-in-law, and after work, my husband Marko. We all know each other in our small town, so local housewives know where to come to buy fresh vegetables. Despite the summer crowds and the inability to park, our loyal customers come even though they have to walk for a long time,'' concludes Matea Peteh, the ex-swimmer turned youngest vegetable grower in Rovinj, boasting her own OPG.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Owner of Korčula Boutique Hotel: ''I Came Home and Fulfilled My Dreams''

As Novac/Dora Lozica writes on the 25th of August, 2019, Novac met Zlatko Fabris, 41, at his hotel on Korčula, engrossed in figures and tables. He received the journalists cordially, though limping, telling them that he had injured his leg when splitting firewood, he had to undergo surgery, but that there's no time for that now!

When the season starts, there's no time for health either, Zlatko says, only work! The times of hotel owners simply sitting back and watching as hotel and restaurant workers do the hard work have passed.

With this philosophy, Zlatko came from South Africa to beautiful Korčula exactly fifteen years ago. Born in South Africa, Zlatko has always dreamed of one day returning to his roots, his old Korčula surname, Fabris, called him back to the Dalmatian island. However, it was not easy to decide to come to Croatia without knowing the language and the everyday ways of life, Fabris revealed.

His family is engaged in construction and tourism, but South Africa's dark history of the coexistence of blacks and whites was turbulent, to say the very least. 

''Back there, people will put a gun to your head there for money,'' Zlatko admits, so he decided to come to Korčula, hoping to find his peace there and a place where life is worth more than just money. And he wasn't mistaken. First, he tried his best to learn the Croatian language, because how can someone named Zlatko not speak Croatian!? It's simply impossible! And then he got to grips with what's best for him - his business, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

With his initial capital, he bought a house on Plokata, the main town square in the very centre of Korčula. He bought the house from the City of Korčula itself, who then bought the birth house of Marco Polo with that money. The house soon became the famous "Happy House" hostel, with dozens of backpackers staying overnight. There was always a loud and cheerful atmosphere at "Happy House", Zlatko admits they had a good time with alcohol, song and laughter, but that it annoyed the people who lived nearby.

''They were absolutely right and I understood them one hundred percent, I started thinking how I could change the concept. I have to say, hats off to the team from the Lešić Dimitri Hotel and the Korsal Hotel, they were the first to start the story of the boutique hotel, they had the courage to do it first.

When one begins, the other is encouraged, and in 2015 one of them was me. The Fabris opened its doors,'' Zlatko says, referring to his four-star boutique hotel, which is not really a hotel because it has no elevator. Namely, in order to register his facility as a hotel, he has to have an elevator for four floors, and circumstances don't allow him to install an elevator, so he calls his facility simply "The Fabris''.

But "The Fabris" is, after all, a small "boutique" four-star hotel.

Increasingly, the term "boutique" hotel can be heard in Croatia as an ideal destination for those who, in addition to their holidays, want to experience and know more about the destination they're visiting.

"Boutique" or "lifestyle" hotels are a new trend of tourist offer, only a few decades or so old. They are smaller in capacity, but are designed in a luxury and indigenous style, relying on the values, culture and customs of the area in which they are located.

This was exactly the concept that Zlatko used to manage the interior of his building in Korčula, so he could leave everything in its original form when it was renovated. The interior walls, as well as the exterior ones, are made of antique stone, and the stairs, floors, beds and openings are made of solid oak. In all the bathrooms, there is a combination of stone and glass, the floors are adorned with expensive carpets that Zlatko brought from different parts of the world, while on the walls are old photographs of the Fabris family, which tell the visual stories of formerly world-renowned Korčula shipbuilders, including Zlatko's great-grandfather.

"The Fabris" is an attractive yet relaxed blend of tradition and a modern, minimalist approach. Zlatko didn't make the mistake of taking his initial success for granted, and last year, he decided to make another investment. About ten metres from the hotel, he bought another abandoned ruin in the heart of Korčula.

With an investment of one million euros and a lot of hard and dedicated work, that ruin has been transformed into "The Fabris 2" this season, with eleven luxurious rooms decorated in the same tone as the first hotel. The capacity of "The Fabris" is currently 21 rooms, with a rating of 9.4 on His guests are delighted, they don't want an industrial environment, but the ability to enjoy Korčula's history, architecture and authentic culture. Most of Zlatko's guests are English-speaking, as many as 80 percent of them.

Zlatko does not take all the credit for his success.

''In the season, I employ 11 people for 6 months, half of them for longer than that. They do a fantastic job and it's important to me that they have good salaries. Money motivates people and if you want loyalty and quality, you have to pay. In addition, I want people on the island to live well all 12 months of the year, I wish that every year I could travel somewhere to get to know other countries and cultures so that they would be good hosts themselves. Yes, the season has been 30 percent weaker, but that's temporary, next year, it will be even worse, So, 2015 or 2016 will happen again. You just have to always do your best,'' Fabris explained.

''I believe in Croatia and our future. We're not just any old country or any old city, we have centuries of culture and history and this is our strongest asset. We quarrel with each other, but when there is a serious problem, we are one. I think the workers from the hospitality sector from the island need to meet once a month, we have to have a common plan and strategy, stick together and help one another. From the first day, the Korčula locals have accepted me just as I am, and I'm grateful to be able to live and work here,'' Zlatko concluded.

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Friday, 19 April 2019

Croat in Germany Reveals Whether or Not Life Really is Cheaper There

A Croatian YouTuber in Germany reveals all about double standards when it comes to your weekly shop...

All too often the Croatian media is plagued by depressing stories of Croats fleeing the country in search of better lives elsewhere. Since Croatia's accession to the European Union, this trend has only grown worse and the level at which emigration from Croatia has been is hardly sustainable for the country these people are leaving behind. 

Many people leave realising that hard work and a difficult adjustment period awaits them, however many assume Western European nations like the UK, Ireland and Germany boast rivers of milk and honey and that everyone earns a huge amount for doing very little, and well, the basic fact that higher wages are typically designed to manage the high cost of living seems to bypass many in their lust for a better economic situation. Some stay, and some return with a stark realisation that life abroad isn't quite as easy as they expected.

With all that said, just how much difference is there in the general price of things between Croatia and Germany? One Croatian YouTuber who moved to Germany back in 2014, just one year after Croatia's accession to the EU, made a video for all those would-be Croatian emigrants.

As Novac writes on the 18th of April, 2019, Ivan Lovric, the oner of the YouTube channel Lovra who moved to Germany with his family in 2014, compared some basic food prices in Germany to those in Croatia in his new video.

''I thought it would be a really good idea to buy some stuff in a shop in Germany, and get my wife to buy the same things over in Croatia. To make a comparison and check whether or not it's really, as it's often said, that it's cheaper in Germany,'' explains Lovra in his video's introduction, which is in Croatian.

They arranged for Ivan's wife to visit the exact same store, a German merchant which has their own stores in Croatia, and buy the same basic foods like bread, milk, eggs, and flour. Although Ivan didn't want to name the store in his video for various reasons, he says that it will not be difficult for people to realise which store it is when they see the branded products.

The first product that the pair checked was bread, more precisely ciabatta. Ivan bought it in Germany and paid the equivalent of 5.13 kuna, and his wife spent 5.99 kuna for the exact same thing here in Croatia. The difference is a mere 86 lipa, less than 1 kuna, so Lovra concluded that that's not so terrible. Once again, the next difference is very small, but again, it leans in favour of Germany when compared to the Croatian price of milk. One litre of milk in Croatia stands at 4.99 kuna, and in Germany, at a lower price of what would be 4.61 kuna. A packet of toast and and a kilograms of fries (chips) in Germany, is cheaper by about 1.50 kuna when compared to Croatia, while sour cream is cheaper in Croatia, sold at 2.99 kuna, whereas in Germany it costs 3.64 kuna.

Still, the biggest surprise, and not in a positive way, are eggs. A box of ten eggs for which Lovro gave 8.85 kuna, his wife paid a significantly higher 13.49 kuna here in Croatia, almost five kuna more. The difference is almost 3 kuna more when comparing the prices of Nutella, a favourite of many. Over in Germany, a 400g pack costs 20.75 kuna, and in Croatia it costs 23.49 kuna.

In the end, Lovra paid a total of 131.54 kuna for his basket, and the exact same basket from the exact same German store, but in Croatia, was almost 20 kuna more, or 150.03 kuna.

''Yes, I unfortunately have to say that in Germany it's cheaper than it is in Croatia. There's not a big difference, but I believe that when everything is calculated at an annual level, the difference is a lot bigger,'' concluded Lovra.

He also added the fact that the average wage in Croatia is considerably lower than in Germany, and thus Croats have a lower standard of living than the Germans.

If you're able to understand Croatian, watch Ivan's video here:

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