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.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Croatia-Slovakia Scientific Cooperation: Conference in Zadar Continues Academic Friendship

June 30, 2021 - In 2019, an agreement was reached on the start of the Croatia-Slovakia scientific cooperation. The June 18 conference held at the University of Zadar presented the current progress in that agreement.

Along with countries such as Serbia, Slovenia, and Northern Macedonia, Croatia is a south Slavic country. The former Socialistic Federation of Yugoslavia got its name because of southern Slavs, a branch of Slavs, ethnolinguistic groups that arrived in Europe along with many other groups in what history remembers as the „Migration Period“, when Europe was dominated by the Western Roman Empire.

Other Slavic countries include Russia, Poland, Bulgaria (also south-slave, but not part of Yugoslavia), Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus, and also West Slavic country, Slovakia.

Sharing ethical and cultural heritage and diplomatic relations (formed on March 1, 1993), saw the intellectual cooperation with Slovakia raised on a high level and produced so much material, it required an entire scientific conference.

As reported by Ivo Pilar Social Research website, June 18 saw Zadar University host a conference „Intellectual relations of Croatia and Slovakia“, prepared by Slovakian-Croatian Board for Humanistic Sciences lead b professor Martin Homza from Comenius University in Bratislava and Ivo pilar Social Research Institute headmaster dr. Željko Holjevac.

The conference was supposed to be held last year but was canceled due to coronavirus, and the 2021 edition was managed in a hybrid model of the event, mixing live and online ways for participants to meet. Twelve Slovakian and Croatian scientists reported on the theme, and key Slovakian and Croatian players on the subjects of education attended and made speeches at the opening ceremony. This includes professor Zvjezdan Penezić, Zadar University's vice-chancellor. Peter Susko, Slovakian Ambassador in Croatia, Marián Zouhar, dean of the Bratislava's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Staša Skenžić from Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, as well as Martina Klofáčova from the Slovakian Ministry of Science and Education.

„Slovakian-Croatian Board for Humanity Sciences is active since 2019 as part of the program of collaboration between two ministries for science and education with the goal of developing bilateral scientific and educating activities in the field of history, linguistics, Latinism, art history, ethnology, and archaeology“, informed Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute about the program goals.

Is there a Croatian diaspora in Slovakia? Yes. You can learn more about the Croatian diaspora on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Croatia Satisfied With CAP Reform, Says Agriculture Minister

ZAGREB, 29 June, 2021 - Croatia can be satisfied with the agreement on key issues from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package because it takes into account its most important demands, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

At a two-day meeting in Luxembourg, EU agriculture and fisheries ministers on Monday confirmed the agreement on the reform of the CAP, reached with the European Parliament last week.

Vučković said Croatia was glad its most important demands had been taken into account, concerning the treatment of areas with natural constraints, animal welfare and certain exemptions and flexibility regarding small farmers.

The new CAP rules, to be in force from 2023 to the end of 2027, oblige member states to respect the social and labour rights of agricultural workers, encourage farmers to apply greener farming practices, envisage incentives for smaller farms and young farmers and advocate making financial support to farms more conditional on their results and performance.

Now that political agreement has been reached on the new CAP, the path is clear for both legislative institutions, the Council and the Parliament, to formally vote the new rules in.

The ministers also reached agreement on a control regulation that refers to fisheries.

Vučković said that monitoring and control in the fisheries sector were very important and that Croatia had made significant progress in recent years, notably regarding the application of innovations and new technologies in control and monitoring.

She commended the Croatian fisheries sector for undergoing a very important and difficult transformation, underlining the need to preserve the country's fishing resources, fishing fleet, small fishermen and their traditional way of life.

Vučković also called at the Luxembourg meeting for the continuation of support to wine makers, beekeepers and fruit and vegetable farmers.

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

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Friends of Croatia: Croatian Protocol Guide - Diplomatic Arrivals and Departures

June 23, 2021 - The ninth article in the series, "Friends of Croatia: Croatian Protocol Guide", brings you more details from the Protocol guide for diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic of Croatia issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs to ease the arrival of the foreign diplomatic representatives to Croatia.

With diplomatic immunity already being mentioned in this series, we saw that the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) following the terms of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, dedicated a special part to diplomatic immunity in its Protocol guide for diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic of Croatia. This guide is another confirmation of how MVEP, as it previously explained to TCN, finds diplomatic relations very important, particularly representing the interests of Croatian companies and the Croatian economy, which back in March was evident in a successful agreements FM Gordan Grlić Radman achieved for Croatian entrepreneurs on the Egyptian market.

„In a constant effort to provide, in a timely fashion, quality support to diplomatic missions, diplomats, and other members of missions, the Diplomatic Protocol is happy to present a brief guide for diplomatic missions with useful guidelines concerning ceremonies and visits, and privileges and immunities. The guide is meant for information purposes only, and we hope it will help diplomatic missions and their members enjoy successful terms in office in Croatia“, says the opening of the Protocol guide. Guide also points out how „The Diplomatic Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is the principal address for diplomatic missions accredited to Croatia“.

Apart from previously mentioned diplomatic immunity, the guide also explains the details of welcoming new diplomats as well as the procedure of escorting the diplomats on their departure from Croatia.

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Ground/air arrivals

So, when the Ambassador arrives in Croatia, the Diplomatic Protocol, Ceremonies, and Visits Department informs the competent authorities. What is interesting is that the rules in the protocol differ in practice pending how Ambassador comes to the country.

„If the Ambassador arrives by a road border crossing, then the head of the Ceremonies and Visits Department will schedule the earliest convenient date for a visit to the newly appointed Ambassador at the official residence or the Embassy of the sending state“, explains the guide.

The other option is by airplane.

„When the newly appointed Ambassador enters the state territory of the Republic of Croatia for the first time at a border crossing at the Zagreb International Airport, his/her VIP treatment will have been arranged and, during office hours, he/she will be greeted by the head or a representative of the Ceremonies and Visits Department“, says the guide.

The Embassy also sends a diplomatic note to the Diplomatic Protocol to arrange details and date regarding the presentation of credentials to the President of the Republic of Croatia and of copies of the credentials to the Head of the Diplomatic Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia. This is important as it confirms the Ambassador is not just a visitor but a legitimate representer of his/her country and appointed by the authorities of the country that enjoys bilateral relations with Croatia. And proper goodbyes at the end of the Ambassador term are in order as well.

„When an Ambassador is to depart from the Republic of Croatia, his/her Embassy will send a note to the Diplomatic Protocol advising of the date and time of his/her departure. The Ceremonies and Visits Department then notifies the competent authorities of the time and place of his/her departure from the state territory of the Republic of Croatia. VIP treatment at Zagreb International Airport will be arranged“, explains the guide.

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Friendly and safely

As foreign ministers frequently travel to other countries, embassies have a key role in making those visits.

„An Embassy in the Republic of Croatia notifies the Diplomatic Protocol in a diplomatic note of the visit of a Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Republic of Croatia. All further details concerning the visit are conveyed to the Diplomatic Protocol in a diplomatic note. In the case of an official or working visit, the Ceremonies and Visits Department is responsible for the logistic support. The Ceremonies and Visits Department will in further communication with the Embassy in the Republic of Croatia arrange the details of the organization of the meetings requested. This includes accommodation in the previously agreed format, transport, protocol and security. At the proposal of the Ceremonies and Visits Department, or at the request of the Embassy, free time will be organized as well. If the proposal is accepted, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs will cover the expenses of the proposed part of the program“, explains the guide.

There is even an interesting prescription regarding the safety of politicians visiting the country. As the guide points out, the arrival of a protected person, delegation and security staff needs to be announced at least 48 hours prior to entering the territory of the Republic of Croatia. Pending on the rating of the protected person varies the allotment of firepower allowed to be carried in Croatia by the security staff. Three pieces of firearms along with ammunition for the Head of State, 2 pieces of firearms for a Parliament Speaker or a Prime Minister, and one piece of a firearm for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or a Head of an International Organization and Institution. Of course, this norm can be changed pending „on the basis of the judgment of the security department in charge, or on the basis of reciprocity“.

„When announcing the arrival of a protected person, delegation and security staff, a detailed program of activities needs to be submitted“, informs the guide.

Info such as times of arrival in and departure from the Republic of Croatia, the border crossing to be used for entering and exiting the state territory of the Republic of Croatia, personal information including passport numbers of nationals of non-member states, ID numbers for citizens of EU Member States as well as brand, type and a serial number of firearms and quantity of ammunition that foreign security staff will be bringing into the Republic of Croatia must be provided in the program of activities.

It may sound a bit strict but easily manageable by professionals in a friendly bilateral relationship, allowing to conduct diplomatic relations without fuss. One such important recent visit to Croatia came from the US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia regarding visa-free travel. No doubt, these established rules were vital for that visit as for many others to come in the future as Croatia continues to nourish diplomatic ties with its allies.

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

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

 

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

IMF: Generous EU Funds Offer Croatia Historic Opportunity

ZAGREB, 23 June, 2021 - Despite the considerable setback dealt by the pandemic, Croatia has a rare opportunity in the next five years to restore its economy to health and to ramp up the public investments necessary for appreciably higher growth rates with the help of EU funds, an IMF mission says in a Concluding Statement.

"Following a painful contraction of 8 percent in 2020, the economy looks set for growth between 5 and 6 percent in 2021 driven by a rebound in the services sector and investment - provided the pandemic does not provide further unwelcome surprises," the mission says the statement published on Wednesday after visiting Croatia as part of regular consultations with member states.

"With sufficient luck regarding tourism outcomes, and a successful vaccination drive within the next months, growth could even exceed 6 percent this year. Assuming the pandemic fades by the end of this year, growth could remain high over the next few years, if the country makes full and timely use of the potentially sizable forthcoming inflow of EU funds," according to the statement.

"Since the first quarter, the recovery has picked up noticeably with areas like construction and manufacturing already reaching activity levels higher than in 2019. Overall, the number of registered unemployed persons has fallen by nearly 13 percent since a year ago. However, tourism and directly related sectors are yet to fully recover. This process is likely to take another year or two."

Swift measures by the authorities

"Between the pandemic and two large earthquakes, Croatia has been severely tested, and the country’s resilience has come through. The economic contraction in 2020 - painful as it has been -was not as severe as those experienced by many other economies with a strong tourism component. This is mainly due to the swift measures enacted by the authorities," the IMF staff said.

"Support measures must remain in place until the health of the population and the economy have been fully restored. As conditions improve, support measures need to rotate toward preparing the workforce for the post-pandemic world, and facilitating balance sheet repair of viable businesses. Thereafter, the challenge of once again reducing deficits and the public debt whilst shifting growth into a new high gear must be taken on. The generous funding from the EU represents a historic opportunity, to help meet these challenges successfully - an opportunity that must be fully utilized, in a timely fashion," the IMF mission said.

Not the right time to further cut taxes

Noting the government's support measures, the mission said, "Just as these support measures were essential during the worst of the crisis, they must now be better targeted to lagging sectors of the economy - and they must remain in place till the economy has more fully recovered."

"It is paramount that a vaccination drive be as successful and widespread as possible, that extra healthcare costs are fully met and arrears in the healthcare system are reduced to the maximum possible extent," according to the statement.

"Complementing the use of funds such as the European Social Fund, fiscal resources saved this year due to improving conditions can also be usefully redeployed to train more workers in sectors like greening and digitalization."

"In sum, in the view of IMF staff, the most important fiscal goal in 2021 is to focus on spending available resources wisely to restore the economy to health. If this is successfully accomplished this year, it will more firmly ground the efforts to reduce the deficit and debt over the next few years," said staff said in the Concluding Statement.

"Regarding revenues, the authorities need to conserve all available resources to meet any unexpected expenditures into 2022, and well beyond. This is one clear lesson from this completely unforeseen shock the world has suffered. We hold that this is not the right time for any further tax cuts or weakening of the tax base. Current conditions are still far too fragile for the country to afford them," they said. 

Recovery and Resilience Fund provides unique opportunity for economic development

They said that there were few doubts that a post-pandemic "will be more digitalized in the most basic aspects of our lives, and that it should be greener. In these two areas, Croatia has great strides to take, from which there will be a sizable return on investment, for decades to come."

The IMF reiterated that "our most important recommendation was to raise public investment, for the sake of future growth. Now, that conviction has only deepened, as it is important to acknowledge a singular aspect in which Croatia is actually better off than it was before the pandemic."

That is "the generous allocation of EU Funds, including from the Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF). The RRF resources amount to 10.6 percent of GDP in grants to be utilized by 2026."

"These funds reflect a truly unique opportunity along the path of economic development, which many countries in the world are not fortunate enough to have. It is important for all stakeholders in Croatia to fully understand the significance of this opportunity. These funds are available, but they need to be absorbed efficiently, and in a timely manner. They must also be accompanied by needed reforms," the IMF said.

"Thanks to the influx of these EU funds beginning towards the end of this year, Croatia can significantly upgrade its public capital stock, decarbonize its economy, catch up with digitalization, and improve its maritime and rail transport systems. If the projected investments go according to plan, we currently assess that the funds from the RRF alone could add as much as 2.9 percentage points to real GDP over the next twenty years."

Opportunity to reduce income gap in relation to EU

"When the effects of the planned reforms, as well as the other EU structural funds are put together, Croatia now has its best chance since independence to significantly narrow the current 35% gap in per capita income with respect to the EU average," the mission said.

It added that "the prospect of living in a vibrant society with prosperity rapidly converging to EU levels could cause the young to fundamentally re-evaluate their future, thereby further stemming the tide of outward migration. That, in turn, would have the positive effect of reducing risks to the sustainability of the healthcare and pensions systems. It is very much possible now, and unlike ever before, to start a virtuous cycle - and to definitively escape past vicious circles."

The authorities have requested a Public Investment Management Assessment from the IMF, to take place in August 2021, the statement noted. "This assessment will help prepare an action plan to help make sure investment spending is effective, is sensitive to climate change related considerations and supports sustainable long-term growth."

The authorities’ National Recovery and Resilience Plan "has laid out major complementary reform commitments across five components: green and digital economy, public administration and judiciary, education, science and research, labor market and social protection, and healthcare. These are essential for the flexibility Croatia needs to operate its economy smoothly, once inside the eurozone."

Reforms needed for stronger public finance

Within the reform areas where the strength of public finances is the focus, IMF staff re-emphasizes the importance of support, from all stakeholders, for civil service and administrative reforms, "including a modernization of the public salary system, as well as improving the territorial organization of sub-national governments."

Support is also called for ending "stop-gap measures to take care of healthcare arrears, through an overhaul of its cost structure" and "exploring a more sustainable revenue base, to preserve healthcare quality standards."

The IMF also recommends the development and implementation of a full-fledged strategy for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), "including the separation of core from non-core businesses, and a strengthened oversight system for the former to ensure that they contribute their fair share to the budget by remaining financially durable after their public service obligations are met. The authorities’ commitments to sell some non-core SOEs over the next few years is a promising start." 

Also recommended is ensuring the long-term sustainability of the pension system, given population aging.

In addition to these areas, constantly improving the competitiveness of the Croatian economy through active dialogue with the private sector, remains essential.

"For the forthcoming increase in public investment to have maximum effect on the economy’s growth rate, it must be complemented by increases in private investment, as well. Reforms to the framework of debt restructuring, insolvency, and efforts to further improve predictability and efficiency in legal procedures remain central to unlocking more resources from investors, as it allows them to invest with greater confidence."

Banking system liquid and sufficiently capitalized

"Monetary policy remains highly expansionary, within the exchange rate anchor in place since 1993. This stance is appropriate given the need to nurse the economy fully back to health," the IMF staff said.

The recent pick-up in inflation is more likely than not to be transitory in nature, but should inflationary pressures prove more persistent than in the euro area, the central bank "may consider reducing excess liquidity in the banking system, while maintaining exchange rate stability."

"The banking system has remained liquid and is on average well capitalized," the mission said, adding that there was more than enough money to meet the demand for corporate loans.

Housing lending remains strong, while uninsured household cash loans have decreased, which the IMF said was positive.

Although the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans has remained stable, the so-called stage II loans, a forward-looking indicator of future asset quality problems, has risen - particularly for non-financial corporations. This development warrants continued close monitoring."

"The pandemic has not affected the upward trend in house prices in Zagreb and coastal areas. To the extent that housing purchases are not driven by excessive household borrowing, they do not constitute an immediate financial stability risk," the IMF said.

However, this also requires continued monitoring by the central bank, If circumstances require it, the central bank "might wish to consider putting in place more formal macro-prudential measures (than the current implicit debt-service-to-income ratio included in the Foreclosure Act)."

"Despite the considerable setback dealt by the pandemic, Croatia has a rare opportunity, over the next five years, to restore its people and economy to health. It can ramp up the public investments necessary for appreciably higher growth rates, with the help of EU funds. Such opportunities should not be taken for granted. The onus of efforts is not exclusively on the authorities. All stakeholders in society must offer them the support for vital reforms, while doing their parts to re-energize private investment, and innovation. Adopting the euro will help remove some existing economic frictions by removing exchange rate risk. Yet, reaping the full benefits of the currency union requires strong focus and preparation. A brighter future is very much within reach. The time to act is now," according to the Concluding Statement.

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

 

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Documents Confiscated From Dubrovnik Archives Returned

ZAGREB, 23 June, 2021 - Documents that were confiscated from the Dubrovnik State Archives and were found in the Salzburg Diocese Archives were handed over on Wednesday in the presence of Croatia's Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and Croatia's Ambassador to Austria Danijel Glunčić.

The operation ended successfully with the return of Croatia's cultural heritage, Minister Obuljen Koržinek said, noting this isn't the first or last time this has been done.

Ambassador Glunčić underscored that the Salzburg Diocese had full understanding that the medieval documents could not be considered to be part of Austria's or Salzburg's history.

The documents involved are two pontifical documents which the diocese was immediately prepared to return to Croatia, and this was also approved by Austria's state authorities, he said, adding that the documents will be placed in Dubrovnik's Archives.

Police working on issues related to cultural heritage

Police Director Nikola Milina said that the police were working on cultural heritage issues, adding that they have had good results so far.

A soon as the information was released, the Croatian police contacted the police in Austria and the documents were quickly identified which led to them being returned, he said.

Digitalisation to facilitate return of other missing documents

Director of Dubrovnik State Archives Nikolina Pozniak is convinced that digitisation will contribute to other documents that have gone missing from the archives and other institutions to be returned.

The head of the archive's collection, Zoran Perović, explained that the documents returned today are two pontifical bulls dated 1189 and 1252. The first notes that the Pope is deploying Archbishop Bernard to Dubrovnik while the other bull refers to the appointment of an archbishop to be a judge in a dispute between the Bar and Dubrovnik Archdioceses.

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

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman For Opening EU Entry Talks With N. Macedonia, Albania as Soon as Possible

ZAGREB, 22 June, 2021 - North Macedonia and Albania have met all the criteria to open EU accession negotiations as soon as possible and Kosovo deserves visa liberalisation, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday in Luxembourg.

"Albania and North Macedonia have met all the criteria and we believe that accession negotiations should be opened with them as soon as possible," said Grlić Radman upo arriving in Luxembourg for a General Affairs Council meeting.

The General Affairs Council is composed of foreign or European affairs ministers of the member states. They convened today to discuss preparations for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday on migration, enlargement and the stabilisation and association process.  Furthermore, the Portuguese presidency will inform the EU ministers about the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

One of the more important topics to be debated within Article 7 is the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.

Accession intergovernmental conferences with Serbia and Montenegro will be held on the margins of today's meeting, but without opening or closing any policy chapters. So-called political intergovernmental conferences are a new approach in the accession process.

Agreement still has not been reached to open negotiations with North Macedonia due to objections by Bulgaria and no progress is expected before elections in Bulgaria scheduled for next month.

There are no blockades regarding Albania, however some countries do not wish to separate the issue of opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Grlić Radman that Croatia supports the motion for liberalising the visa regime for Kosovo as soon as possible.

Croatia would like talks on candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be launched as soon as possible too, said Grlić Radman and once again underscored the need for the election law in that country to be changed so that it ensures the equality of all three constitutent peoples.

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

Monday, 21 June 2021

Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) to be First Nearly Zero Energy Building in Croatia

June 21, 2021 - An exciting new step for Croatian energy efficiency is happening at the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP), as the Institute makes significant changes to its building which will also help to educate other experts for energy efficiency.

As the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) gave great support and input in REPLACE Project that brings energy efficiency to Rijeka and Kvarner region, just put a new log in Croatian energetic efficiency. The start of June saw the contract for granting non-returnable funds for founding nZEB- the National Training Center on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, EIHP reported on its website. The project is financed from the „Energy and Climate Change“ Fund, part of the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021 in Croatia, courtesy of the European Economic Area (EEA).

1,600,000 Euros is the total value of this project on which EIHP collaborates with the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Zagreb. The goal is to empower all the actors in reconstructing buildings to meet the nZEB standard.

With the center being established in the building of the Požar Institute undergoing reconstruction at the moment, it will be a vivid example of the modern technologies that are implemented in nZEB design.

„We will show and share with the widest professional community the solutions that will be developed through this project. The whole process of reconstruction will be followed and documented, and detailed, and serve as an example in the training program as the Institute becomes the first public building in Croatia reconstructed in such a manner. With the appliance of green energy technologies (electrification of heating and cooling systems with a crane that uses shallow geothermal source, integrated photo charged electric plant on the roof, energy containers, efficient lighting), we also wish to include E-mobility, which is certainly the future of traffic as well as accomplish complete digitalization of all technical systems the building is using. That way, the building will be the showcase example of the double transition – green and digital“; said the EIHP headmaster, Dražen Jakšić.

Jakšić attended the signing of the contract, along with the regional development Minister Nataša Tramišak, Norwegian Ambassador Haakon Blankenburg (as Norway also supports the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021), Ministry secretary of economy and sustainable growth dr. Mario šiljeg, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering dean dr. Stjepan Lakušić.

„After this pandemic, we will not develop by repeating the things from before. A historical change is afoot, and we will meet it with green development and with new 'Green Deal'“, concluded Jakšić while Minister Tramišak also pointed out that securing financial mechanisms for advanced technologies and energy renewal.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Calls on Remaining EU Countries to Recognise Kosovo

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Croatia encourages the remaining EU countries who have not done so to recognise Kosovo's independence, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday, which is a move that Serbia certainly will not be pleased with as it does not recognise the sovereignty of its former southern province.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 and it has been recognised by about one hundred countries, including all EU member states with the exception of Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia.

"Croatia encourages the remaining five EU member states to recognise Kosovo because that would contribute to stabilising the region and Kosovo itself," Grlić Radman told reporters.

Today Grlić Radman is participating at the international GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, convened to discuss also the situation in the western Balkans.

Croatia's foreign minister said that three things were key to the region's stability: respecting countries' territorial integrity, equal constitutional rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the establishment of mutual trust after the 1990s wars.

"The territorial integrity of Balkan countries needs to be preserved and respected, hence without changing borders like we heard over the past few months in some much-vaunted non-papers that were heading in that direction," said Grlić Radman.

He believes that trust can be achieved through sincere talks, by resolving the issue of the war missing, processing war crimes and providing justice for the victims.

Speaking about BiH, he said the country is trapped between two political tendencies - centralism, or rather unitarism, and separatism.

"That undermines the foundations of a stable BiH and negatively reflects on the status of the Croat people in BiH," he underscored.

He reiterated Croatia's stance that the multi-ethnic BiH needs to reforms the election law to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of equal rights.

Grlić Radman said that Croatia is a "sincere advocate" of BiH's Euro-Atlantic pathway and that at all international forums it keeps that country in the limelight because it is in its interest to have a stable, functioning and prosperous country in its neighbourhood.

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.

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