Tuesday, 29 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović Holds Working Meeting With Croatian Mountain Rescue Reps

ZAGREB, 29 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović held a working meeting on Tuesday with members of the HGSS mountain rescue service, with its leaders informing him of the HGSS's structure and the way it provides assistance to people in areas affected by earthquakes and floods.

They also informed Milanović of the preparations for the tourism season, saying that each year, the HGSS has a large number of interventions, the President's Office said in a press release.

HGSS is a voluntary, non-profit, humanitarian, national service, it was said at the meeting. It conducts rescue operations but its mission also includes prevention and education. The service numbers 1,100 members, and they are all volunteers who annually conduct about 1,000 interventions throughout Croatia.

HGSS was founded in 1950 and it marks its day on 15 June, the Feast of St. Bernard, the patron saint of mountain climbers and mountain rescuers.

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

 

 

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy - Friendly Relations between Croatia and Japan

June 17, 2021 -The eighth article in the series, "Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy", saw TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac sit down with Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji and discuss all things regarding diplomatic relations between Japan and Croatia. Overall, Croatia and Japan are friendly countries with many shared values. With Croats and their expertise in improvisation and the excellent crisis response of the Japanese, the two countries can benefit greatly by learning from each other.

Croatia and Japan officially established diplomatic relations on March the 5th, 1993.

I was nervous while the taxi drove me to the Ambassador's residence. Japan is known for punctuality, and I worried whether or not I'd manage to make it on time as my cab was trying to break through Zagreb's midday rush. But in the end, I managed to arrive ahead of schedule. It was great that I wasn't late, but that's still clearly a very far cry from the punctuality of a country where a train conductor apologised when the train left the station 25 seconds ahead of schedule.

As I was rewinding the questions I had prepared in my head, I thought about greeting my interlocutor-to-be. Handshakes are a bit of a risky thing due to the coronavirus pandemic, but even if that annoying virus was somehow erased from existence, in Japanese culture, people would still greet each other by bowing. Do I need to bow, or does the Ambassador need to follow the Croatian culture of handshaking (or perhaps bumping fists in these pandemic-dominated times)?

Cultural Attache, Yutaro Nishida welcomed me to the premises, and at last, introduced me to the Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji, who welcomed me with a smile, respect, and kindness. The debate on whether to bow or fist-bump was resolved by doing both, with both sides respecting and accepting each-others cultural background. For safety, I kept my mask on while the Ambassador removed hers so that her voice could be more clear as the interview was recorded. I moved my mask only occasionally to drink the amazing traditional green tea that was served during the interview, which was paired well with a warm and friendly atmosphere from the official representative of Japan in Croatia.

Misako Kaji graduated with a BA in the economy at the University of Tokyo, followed by an MA in philosophy, politics, and economy at no less than Oxford University. Inside the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she served in the Japanese Embassies in the UK and Vietnam, but also in Japanese EU and UN missions. As an Ambassador and deputy of the main representative, Kaji also served in Japan's Delegation to international organisations in Geneva. In Japan, she was the deputy spokesperson for the Japanese Prime Minister and was a professor at the Tokyo and Hitotsubashi Universities. Ambassador Kaji also has quite some experience with the United Nations (UN). She was a special advisor of the high committee of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as a member of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and a member of the advisory committee of the UN Peacebuilding Fund. She has represented Japan in Croatia since May 2019. Two years and twenty days, as she stated on the day of the interview that occurred last Friday.

Japanese culture is beloved in Croatia

''If you'd asked me a year ago, I would've said the Adriatic sea, the scenery, and the colour blue, all of these wonderful UNESCO heritage sites and nice people ready to help when you're travelling,'' started Ambassador Kaji, explaining what she had found most interesting and impressive in Croatia.

''But, after two years, I have something more to say, and what I like about Croatia is the 'Japan' I encounter in Croatia, and that is a very positive discovery. I didn't realise Japanese culture was so widely embodied in a variety of Croatian minds,'' noted ambassador Kaji.

The most recent instance was last week's handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, which took place at the Ambassador's residence. Some of the members have been engaged with this artistic papercraft (taught in Japanese kindergarten) for over 20 years now.

''They are very much interested and dedicated without being imposed or forced to be, and its members included chemistry students, medical doctors, and even an 11-year-old boy. There were so many different categories of profession, and some even folded Origami while on probation, and that is where they'd encountered the art of origami,'' continued the Ambassador, fascinated with such love for one of the essentials of Japanese culture, keeping hold of plenty of works donated by participants of the ceremony.

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The handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

She is also particularly delighted with Biograd na Moru, a Croatian city in the Zadar area that not only commemorates the Atom Bomb falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also has a metal crane bird as a monument to this dreadful tragedy that occurred on August the 6th, 1945.

''There is a legend that cranes live for a thousand years, so they are often used as presents for somebody who has been met with disasters or illness. In Hiroshima, they have a thousand cranes (made in the origami technique) folded and presented for the wish of peace,'' explained the Ambassador. Such a ceremony was also seen in Biograd na Moru, initiated by mayor Ivan Knez with a large metal crane made to outlast paper for generations to come.

The Japanese martial art of Karate is also popular in Croatia with some quite good successes achieved by Croatian athletes. Last month, the European Karate Championships were held in Poreč, where Ambassador Kaji was invited and was again fascinated with the use of the Japanese language and overall traditions despite there not having been a single Japanese athlete present there.

With so much of Japanese culture being present here in Croatia, it's difficult to say what the most beloved aspect of Japanese culture is for the Croats.

Before the pandemic struck, Ambassador Kaji remembered the Japan Day event in Zagreb's popular Mimara Museum, which saw huge attendance and a presentation on Japanese food, sake (Japanese rice schnapps) degustation, Ikebana (flower art), a tea ceremony, bonsai (aesthetical horticultural shaping of small trees), martial arts such as Karate, Judo, Kendo, haiku poetry workshops, calligraphy, Igo chess and much more.

2019 was also a big year for a Japanese promotion with the 2020 Olympic Games, which saw Croatian athletes from the 1964 Olympics attend the promotion for 2020. Additionally, for Japan, as Ambassador Kaji pointed out, the Paralympic Games are an important measure for the general success of the Olympics, which was evident in the ParaBOX installation (where visitors were challenged to find a ball in complete darkness), and the presentation of the Japanese car company Toyota's car which is designed to be able to be driven by people with disabilities.

However, when it comes to younger people, particularly students of Japanology (which Croats can study at either Zagreb or Pula University), one cultural trend emerged.

''The Japanese language is very tricky to learn, so I asked one graduate student how she first encountered Japan and heard the language, and it was anime,'' Ambassador Kaji recalled. She added that the Japanese cartoon art of anime became pretty universal and is no longer limited only to Japan. (The same goes for Japanese comics such as manga, with both of these pieces of pop culture being incredibly diverse in genres and having something for everyone, covering all social groups and even not avoiding vivid graphic images of violence and/or sex).

''At the Foreign Ministry of Japan, we have an award from a world competition because of the promotion of manga, but without trying to focus or push deliberate energy into that promotion,'' stated Ambassador Kaji.

As Japanese pop culture, anime and manga are indeed very popular here in Croatia, which is visible at the Pandakon conference that is held annually at Zagreb's Močvara club. Fans often dress up as their favourite characters, and there are often rewards for the best cosplay.

However, there are also heated debates between fans and people in the manga/anime industry that also affect Croats. On the one hand, representatives of the anime and manga industry are unhappy with cosplay, viewing it as a copyright infringement and believing that fans should be paying for cosplaying these characters. On the other hand, fans say they are just trying to show love and appreciation for their work, and they are also promoting and attract new audiences. It's indeed true that someone might not know what is ''Deadman Wonderland'', but upon seeing a brilliantly crafted cosplay of Shiro, they may ask the cosplayer about the character and then watch anime or read manga.

Ambassador Kaji says the Japanese Government is aware of the problem.

''Earlier in January, the Minister for the "Cool Japan“ Strategy (with Cool Japan being a brand strategy, aiming to disseminate Japan's attractiveness and as a unique culture throughout the world), Shinji Inoue said that he was aware of an opinion among the cosplay community rising, and this could be a real legal problem. It was important to secure an environment in which people can enjoy cosplay at ease, without worrying about possibly breaching laws. So, the Minister declared that he would come up with ways to deal with it but has not yet specified what those ways will be,'' explained the Ambassador. 

Friendly Nations: sharing values, but trade could be better...

The cosplay question is one of the political issues in Japan, but when it comes to politics, what exactly is going on between Croatia and Japan?

''We're friendly countries; we share the same values. Unfortunately, you can't speak your own mind in every country, but Croatia and Japan belong to those countries where you're free to have as many children as you want, free to say what you like, free to travel where you want, free to choose your own vocation. In other words, we're both free countries that share the same values, democracy, human rights, and rule of law,'' said Ambassador Kaji, adding there are occasional disagreements, but that is normal and nothing to worry about.

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The Emperor and Empress of Japan grant an audience to the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković and Mrs Jandroković during their visit to Japan upon the invitation of Speaker Oshima of the Japanese House of Representatives, June 2019 © The Imperial Household Agency

Kaji also pointed out that Croatia is pretty prevalent in Japan thanks to its sporting heroes. ''Everybody knows who Modrić and Čilić are; Croats are disproportionately present in world sport,'' she said.

Ambassador Kaji also rates Croatian EU membership as a great advantage.

''Through the EU, you're very well represented. When Croatia held the European Council Presidency during the first half of 2020, one of the most important parts of Croatian foreign policy concerned the Western Balkans and you advocated the EU's perspective for them as we don't want to roll back into a conflict or the changing of the borders after such a great sacrifice,'' Ambassador Kaji stated, referring to the war back in the '90s.

An important instance of that is the Zagreb Declaration from June the 22nd, 2020.

''We're part of the group that supports the European idea, and through that, the Croatian idea, as we share the same values,'' confirmed the Ambassador.

She added that while it may seem far away, the issues of the Balkans are relevant to such ideas like the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and advocating the peace and freedom of nagivation, for example, is required on both locations, and Japan sees Croatia as a partner in that regard.  

Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP), the Government, Parliament, the President's office, various cultural institutions, sports institutions such as the Croatian Judo Federation, the Croatian Karate Union, and the Croatian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, educational institutions, local government units and more. She also works on maintaining friendly ties with other ambassadors and diplomats in Croatia.

''My diplomatic colleagues know that only those who are blessed get to be stationed in Croatia,'' revealed Ambassador Kaji, not hiding her happiness for representing Japan in this Southeastern European country.

She is also particularly excited about going to Virovitica this week since she has never been. The visit is to attend the exhibition on Japanese pottery titled ''Yakishime: Earth Metamorphosis'' which is coming to Virovitica after already having been held in Vukovar and Pula.

Commenting on the most frequent contact she keeps in Croatia, she said that it's very hard to say, but statistically, maybe the Japanese Embassy communicates the most with MVEP. ''We're only two minutes away from the Ministry,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Of course, not everything can be equally balanced and trade is unfortunately currently sitting on pretty low branches of the overall tree.

''When it comes to trade, we made up only 0.28% of Croatia's exports with tuna being a major portion - which is nice. In addition, when it comes to investments in Croatia, only 0.5% of all investments come from Japan. So there's room for improvement there,'' stated Ambassador Kaji with optimism.

Some of the instances of trading and business between the two countries can be seen in the Japan-based company Nipro taking over Piramida, a Croatian pharmaceutical packaging producer from Sesvete near the City of Zagreb last month.

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A visit to Nipro PharmaPackaging Croatia, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Knowledge – the way forward while not forgetting culture or tradition

As mentioned, Japanese culture is widely popular and much loved among Croats, the Japanese love Croatian athletes, and the two countries share friendly relations. Both Croatia and Japan have their traditions and cultural heritage. With ever-present technological development, some people in Croatia do fear that progress will lead to Croats forgetting their traditions, ways, and cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan has seen huge technological development evident in very fast internet, modern trains, robotics, and more. Yet, their tradition and culture remain well preserved. What's the secret, and how can technological advancement be balanced with keeping a focus on tradition?

As Ambassador Kaji explained, the gist is to ''keep your spirit, but introduce technology''. While the Ambassador believes that the path of economic development makes sense in the long term, it wasn't always so easy. In the past, economic development was accompanied by pollution, and Japanese people, apart from developing health issues, entered an atmosphere that wasn't very kind to their traditional ways. But things have improved since then.

''In the 21st century, people and governments are more focused on green technologies and digital technologies which can be friendly towards and resonate with keeping up with traditions. Like when drinking tea, you have a ceremony, but the leaves for the green tea need to be carefully nourished in a kind environment, so that isn't very compatible with mass production or polluted air. But when, for example, you use the wind to produce energy, that's a nice eco-friendly way that co-exists with traditional culture,'' explained Ambassador Kaji.

She added that this way of co-existing then becomes mutually supportive and crafted to be resilient and long-lasting. That being said, new technologies also need to be carefully crafted to keep an eye on traditions, and improvisation is troubling in that regard.

''If you show respect for tradition, and you use academic knowledge or research, then there must be a way of remaining aligned with tradition and pursuing technology to have them both be mutually supportive,'' concluded Ambassador Kaji, and her belief about Croatia's technological development is that it will not be fatal to Croatian tradition.

Speaking of tradition, traditions form habits that then become accepted in various societies. With the already mentioned Japanese love for punctuality and the general perception of the Japanese as organised people that like order and plans, the perception of Croats can be quite the opposite. Many see Croats as laid back and relaxed, not making a fuss if they are a bit late. However, Ambassador Kaji sees a different picture of the Croats from her experience, particularly when it comes to Croatian women.

''A cleaning lady from Slavonia that comes to clean my office every day just starts working and cleans meticulously. She doesn't leave one small thing out and she is very responsible. In Japan, you don't see so many women gardening, and here, the women that watch over my garden are very powerful and professional, and that is very impressive,'' she noted. The work ethic and responsibility are something she sees with all of the Croats working for her.

''When it comes to Japan, we plan for perfection, so the dark side of that characteristics is, for instance, being late with the vaccination rollout. There are all sorts of verifications that take place there, making sure everyone can get them, and yes, they're proven safe abroad, but we had our own evaluations done, and that was the main reason we've been criticised for being too slow. Here in Croatia, you're really good at improvising. We can learn from each other,'' Ambassador Kaji said, sharing her observations on the habits of Croats and people in Japan.

She added that one such thing where Croatia can learn from Japan is crisis response, particularly when it comes to earthquakes.

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At the Civil Protection Headquarters for Dealing with the Aftermath of the Petrinja earthquake in December 2020, March 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Post-earthquake reconstruction by Japanese experts: Zagreb's buildings can keep their looks and also become safer

Japan is famous (or as Ambassador Kaji rated with a humorous touch, perhaps notorious) for regularly having earthquakes. Tsunamis happen as well. This was even noticed by reporters from the Croatian paper Jutarnji List, who, when following the earthquakes in Zagreb and Petrinja, interviewed Ambassador Kaji in search of advice on living with earthquakes. An equipped backpack with water, food, batteries, and lights ready for evacuation, along with agreeing on a location at which were to meet with your loved ones, are some great bits of advice for planning once you accept that earthquakes can happen at any time, anywhere.

''You can't stop earthquakes, but if you're prepared, you can mitigate the damage they cause and protect lives. People often think earthquakes happen, and that's that, but earthquakes are never over,'' said the Ambassador when recalling that interview.

''I was at my residence when the Zagreb earthquake happened more than one year ago, and the epicentre was just three kilometres away. It was pretty bad but not serious with only small cracks on the wall,'' recalled Ambassador Kaji, not seeming to feel unsafe in a Japanese earthquake-conscious building, while Croatia isn't always so aware that the Earth's plates can move and cause total chaos.

The earthquake that gave Zagreb such a heavy blow in March 2020 is a normal monthly, if not weekly, occurrence in Japan. The country's ultra-modern buildings and skyscrapers were built to sustain such rumbling, but even the traditional signature Japanese style of architecture (such as the signature Pagoda of Horyuji, the oldest wooden high-rise Japanese building built in 680A.D.) sustained numerous earthquakes over centuries, as Japanese builders always had to try to cope with earthquakes. But, with Zagreb being proud of its architecture, particularly in the downtown area, can the Croatian capital possibly preserve its signature look but also become safer for its residents if such magnitudes or higher strike once again?

''I asked some Japanese experts about whether or not it would be possible to preserve the nice, historic architecture of Zagreb and not just totally transform it into a modern but very common city, and they said it was possible. That needs investment, but there are ways to somewhat reinforce the basic structures and preserve their looks,'' assured Ambassador Kaji. She also added that the speed and focus of reconstruction is something Croatia can learn how to be better at from Japan.

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Towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, December 2019 © Japanese Embassy Croatia 

The Adriatic is nice, but UNESCO heritage really excites Japanese people

With data acquired before coronavirus, Ambassador Kaji stated that there were 150 Japanese nationals living in Croatia, and 150,000 Japanese tourists visited the country. What several people noticed was that while many foreigners come to Croatia primarily to enjoy the coast and swim in the Croatian Adriatic, Japanese tourists can rarely be seen on the beach and prefer sightseeing.

''Japan is surrounded by the sea, so the sea isn't something amazing to them, but Japanese people are very interested in cultural heritage, and when something is recognised by UNESCO, people in Japan really rejoice. So, the Japanese are very much interested in historical or artistic values Croatia offers,'' explained Ambassador Kaji, clarifying why so many Japanese tourists can often be seen as frequently in continental Croatian towns and cities and not just on the coast.

Despite some Croats sometimes being a bit xenophobic or looking differently at people of other races, Ambassador Kaji was surprised when asked about whether there were any racial issues that Japanese people experienced and reported in Croatia.

''I don't know if things were different before regarding racial issues, but the story I heard when I came to Croatia was that back in 2011, many Croats gathered in front of the Embassy of Japan with flowers, candles, and cranes to express their grief and support regarding the Fukushima Tsunami and the earthquake,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Just like those who came with flowers, the Embassy is equal and open, too. The Embassy issues scholarships for people wanting to study in Japan twice a year, and apart from being open to anyone that wants to travel to Japan and get informed about the country and visa requirements, the Embassy also has a library people are welcome to come to and read through Japanese books and literature.

Apart from being in regular contact with other colleagues based in Croatia, Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ambassador in Japan, Drazen Hrastic.

''Before I left Tokyo, we had dinner together, and now we talk often, as well,'' said Ambassador Kaji with a smile.

With Japanese culture being so appreciated in Croatia, and Croatian sporting heroes and UNESCO heritage being so beloved in Japan, spiced with common political values and friendly diplomatic relations, Croatia and Japan truly have the chance to learn from each other and continue to work on the further nurturing of their diplomatic ties, and their shared trade.

If you're a Japanese citizen or a Croatian citizen in need of information, here is how you can reach a Japanese diplomatic mission in Croatia:

In Zagreb:

Japanese Embassy

Adress: Boškovićeva 2

Mail:

Consular Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Political Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Economic Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Section of Culture / Public Relations: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone number: +385 1 48 70 650

In Split:

Consulate Office

Adress: Marasovićeva 67

Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Phone number: +385 21 32 35 80

And of course, you can find all the latest news concerning Japanese-Croatian relations on the official website.

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

For more about Japan - Croatia relations, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Satisfied With World Bank Support in Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the World Bank's support to Croatia's efforts to reconstruct the areas hit by the 2020 quakes, and with cooperation in projects aimed at facilitating the recovery of the private sector's exporters affected by the corona crisis. 

A press release issued by the government notes that the premier held a meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, and a few other WB officials in Government House.

On that occasion, Plenković expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the World Bank and the support that institution had provided to Croatia in the reconstruction since the earthquakes had struck Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County in March and December 2020.

He was quoted as saying that he was satisfied with the permanent cooperation in projects aimed at helping exporters in the private sector to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister in particular thanked the World Bank for its support until now in preparing Croatia's 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan. He underscored the importance of fostering further cooperation and the implementation of projects for Zagreb's reconstruction and revitalisation of the Banovina area in Sisak County, the press release said.

In June last year the World Bank approved two $500 million projects to provide urgent support to the government in an attempt to relieve the impact of the tremors that hit Croatia and of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank also provided technical support in preparing a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA 2020), which was an important document to mobilise €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The World Bank also provided technical assistance in the RDNA for the earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Bjerde was accompanied at the meeting by World Bank's Country Director for the European Union Gallina Andronova Vincelette, the World Bank's new country manager in Croatia Jehan Arulpragasam, and Special Assistant at World Bank Group Fanny Weiner.

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

 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Demolition of Private Houses Damaged by Zagreb Earthquake Starts

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - The authorities in Zagreb on Thursday started demolishing the first houses, which were given red warning notices due to the extent of the damage they suffered as a result of the 22 March 2020 earthquake.

The demolition started with the removal of a property, owned by the Sunek family, in the northern suburb of Granešinski Novaki.

The head of the post-quake reconstruction fund, Damir Vanđelić, said that the decisions on the demolition of the damaged property and on the reconstruction were within the remit of the Construction Ministry.

He called for the acceleration of the whole process of decision-making and for making joint efforts to step up the reconstruction 446 days after the 5.5 earthquake hit the capital city, killing a girl and causing extensive damage.

For the latest news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Elementary School in Vrpolje Damaged in 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - The 80-year-old elementary school in Vrpolje near the coastal city of Šibenik, which was the epicentre of a 4.7 magnitude earthquake that struck on Tuesday morning, was damaged, suffering cracked walls and part of the ceiling on the first floor caving in.

The school's deputy principal Stipe Komadina said that structural engineers were expected later today to determine the condition of the school.

About 60 children attend the elementary school in Vrpolje. Lessons will be held in the school today and all the children have been instructed of what to do in the event of an aftershock.

The earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale hit the Šibenik are at 5.59 a.m. on Tuesday. The epicentre was in the Vrpolje area, some 13 kilometres southeast of the city, the Croatian seismology service said.

The national railway operator Hrvatske Željeznice said that traffic between Knin and Split and between Knin and Šibenik was suspended pending completion of an inspection of the railway lines. Traffic resumed later in the morning after no damage was found.

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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake in Šibenik Wakes Up Dalmatia

June 8, 2021 - A 4.7 magnitude earthquake in Šibenik was recorded this morning at 6 am and was felt around Dalmatia. 

Tuesday morning at 5:59, the Seismological Service of the Republic of Croatia recorded a strong earthquake with an epicenter about 13 km southeast of Šibenik. The quake was felt from Senj to Dubrovnik, reports Index.hr.

The magnitude of the earthquake was 4.7 according to Richter, and the intensity in the epicenter of the VI degree of the EMS scale, writes the Seismological Service of the Republic of Croatia.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) reported earlier that the quake was 4.8 on the Richter scale, and on Twitter users reported that it was short but very strong and woke them.

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The quake was felt in the wider area of Zadar and Šibenik-Knin counties. Citizens from Brodarica and Primošten reported on the EMSC application that the tremor was strong and unpleasant.

Citizens also wrote on social networks that a stronger earthquake was felt, which lasted longer. No damage has been reported so far.

"We had a lot of calls. People call scared, asked us what happened, some thought it was an explosion due to a loud rumble, some are confused. In general, we have no reported significant damage, we have information that in Vrpolje, a piece of rock that broke off from the house hit a car, but no one was injured," the 112 Center told SibenikIN.

"This is a new epicenter compared to those who have been active so far. During the day and in the coming days, we can expect more weak earthquakes in the area," seismologist Mustać told N1.

Due to the inspection of the railway after this morning's earthquake in the Šibenik area, the railway sections Knin - Split and Knin - Šibenik were closed to traffic, the Croatian Railways (HŽ) announced on Tuesday morning.

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

Saturday, 29 May 2021

MEP Zovko Pushes for Croatia's Use of Opportunities from New European Bauhaus

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - The new European Bauhaus, an initiative about climate adaptation of the built environment, is an opportunity for Croatia to raise the architectural and living standards, notably in the quake-hit areas, Croatian MEP Željana Zovko told Hina on Saturday.

The idea about a new European Bauhaus was presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union speech last year. In her address to the European Parliament on that occasion, she outlined her plan to create a "new European Bauhaus" to kickstart a cultural and sustainable movement in the European Union.

The New European Bauhaus, named after the influential German design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, will be part of the €750 billion NextGenerationEU investment and recovery plan put in place following the coronavirus pandemic. 

Zovko, a member of the European Parliament from the ranks of the European People's Party (EPP), says that the initiative "is still in its infancy", however, the purpose is to encourage citizens, experts and professionals to develop their communities in accordance with the principles of energy sustainability and taking spatial planning approach.

The European Union is set to provide financial support to innovative ideas in that regard, with the aim of ensuring the green and digital transformation of aesthetically pleasing structures, according to this Croatian MEP.

Green construction will be the basis of a new vision of cities and rural areas in the European Union, she said.

"The new European vision will satisfy climate neutrality, and at the same make cities and villages tailored to man" she added.

The European Commission has recently published "Renovation Wave", explaining that a refurbished and improved building stock in the EU will help pave the way for a decarbonised and clean energy system, as the building sector is one of the largest energy consumers in Europe and is responsible for more than one third of the EU's emissions.

The EC calls for effective action to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.

Until 2030, 35 million buildings are supposed to undergo energy efficient renovation.

Thus, the EC aims to double annual energy renovation rates in the next ten years. "These renovations will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and create up to 160,000 additional green jobs in the construction sector," the EC says on its web site.

New Bauhaus seen as opportunity for post-quake reconstruction of central Croatia

Earlier this year, Zovko sent a request to the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, for expanding the New European Bauhaus initiative to include the safety of construction and architecture, having in mind two devastating earthquakes that hit Croatia in 2020.

Zovko is confident that funds envisaged under the New European Bauhaus scheme could be made available for reconstruction of the quake-affected areas.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Faculty of Science (PMF) Donation: Five New Laptops For Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak

May 25, 2021 - Following the issues caused by the earthquake in Petrinja, a Faculty of Science (PMF) donation o the Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak ensured five laptops for students that need them the most.

The devastating 6.3 earthquake that hit Banovina / Banija on December 29 saw Croatia still have a troubling situation in Petrinja, Baranja, Glina, and other places, which also attracted huge public interest regarding voters mood in those areas on local elections.

The need for help and donations is still for rebuilding and restoring functional infrastructure is still needed, and on top of it all, it's one of the poorest regions in the whole country. Sadly, that also goes for the students of the Faculty of Metallurgy, the University of Zagreb, which is based in Sisak.

As reported by the official website of the Faculty of Science (PMF) at the University of Zagreb, the Metallurgy Faculty dean, dr. Zdenka Zovko Brodarac wrote to PMF asking for a donation for five functional computers for their students of weaker economic status, coming from quake-hit areas. Computers are even more needed due to the coronavirus pandemic; online classes are ever-present in the education of the new generations of Croatian experts and intellectuals.

„PMF knows that the big demands of online learning are put before students, and it's very challenging to deal with that form of learning, particularly for families with lower incomes. To ensure quality participation in online learning, PMF decided to donate five laptops“, informed PMF.

Student representatives and the deans of two faculties were present while receiving computers. Zovko Brodarac thanked them for the computers promising they will find their way to those who need them the most, while PMF dean dr. Mirko Planinić pointed out that he supports all activities regarding education and youth, and overall raising the living standards of people in the area.

PMF is the home to the geophysical department, whose domain of scientific interest also includes earthquakes. Furthermore, within the department operates a Croatian Seismological Survey that collects and analyzes these powerful forces of nature in Croatia – both in their most destructive editions and in unnoticeable ones too. The shocking aftermath saw Croatian authorities taking the threat more seriously, and as TCN reported earlier in 2021, acquiring new equipment for measuring seismic activity that was placed on Petrinja cemetery.

The Metallurgy Faculty in Sisak saw its constitution as an independent unit within the Zagreb University on February first, 1979, while its scientific-educational council was established a year earlier, specifically on November 3rd, 1978. This was an answer to the educational need to meet the industrial development of Sisak, which in Croatia remains a synonym for the heavy industry even today.

The faculty offers education for metallurgy (specializations for metallurgical engineering and industrial ecology on bachelor level), as well as workplace security and health studies (major level), and the course on metallurgy engineering (machinery. shipbuilding, and aircraft).

Did you know that an hour and five minutes drive from Sisak is Lonjsko Polje Nature Park? Learn more on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

EP Seeks Easier Access to Solidarity Fund for Regions Struck by Natural Disasters

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - The European Parliament on Tuesday adopted a report on the review of the EU Solidarity Fund and called on the Commission to facilitate the use of aid from the fund for regions struck by natural disasters, noting that 2020 was a great challenge, in particular for Croatia.

The EP pointed to the difficulties faced by beneficiary countries when it comes to determining precise amounts of damage in very short periods of time. It said that climate change and the intensification of natural disasters were making member states increasingly vulnerable and that the EU should speed up aid disbursement to regions affected by natural disasters.

MEPs therefore called on the Commission to explore ways of removing administrative barriers and to demonstrate maximum flexibility in fund allocation.

Parliament called for special attention to be paid to outermost regions, islands and regions prone to seismic or volcanic activity that are the most at risk of natural disasters.

The report was adopted by 668 votes in favour, 10 against and 18 abstentions.

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said that 17 member states, including Croatia, and three accession countries had been allocated funds to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

He noted that Croatia was one of the countries that had been allocated the largest amount of financial aid, given that it was also struck by two strong earthquakes and a series of minor tremors. A total of €683.7 million was disbursed to Croatia already after the first earthquake in 2020. This is the largest amount ever paid out after a natural disaster, he added.

Schmit said that Croatia would take a long time to recover and would need additional funding, adding that this only showed how important the Solidarity Fund was.

The EU Solidarity Fund was established in 2020 to provide aid to member states in the event of major natural disasters and other emergencies.

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Monday, 10 May 2021

Slovenia Donates €67,000 to Earthquake-struck Petrinja

ZAGREB, 10 May 2021 - A humanitarian campaign for the children of Petrinja by the Slovenian "Zveza prijateljev mladine Slovenije" NGO and Radio-Television Slovenia have managed to collect €67,000 for the construction of the "Our Children" house in Petrinja in the aftermath of last year's earthquake, the Our Children NGO said on Monday.

Based on the wishes of Petrinja residents, and in particular families with children who wish to remain in the town, the funds were collected to build a prefab house that will be used as a play centre and to provide psychosocial support and entertainment for children, youth and families.

Various events will be organized there, expert and creative workshops, while the funds collected are also earmarked to purchase equipment and other supplies. The house will also provide help with learning and expert psychosocial assistance for children, adolescents, and parents.

The director of Slovenian Television, Natalija Gorščak, said that in the past 50 years Slovenia experienced destructive earthquakes in Kozjansko and Posočje, hence it is aware of the misfortune and powerlessness of people after an earthquake.

"These incidents are very difficult to explain to children and adolescents and it is hard for them to understand. In the hope that their lives will be back to normal as soon as possible, we gladly launched the fund-raising campaign for all of them as part of our December campaign," she said.

A donation agreement, as the first step towards building the house, was signed by Martina Botužić Dževerlija, the president of the Our Children Petrinja NGO, and Darja Groznik, the president of the "Zveze prijateljev mladine Slovenije" NGO from Slovenia.

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