Saturday, 12 June 2021

Zagreb Zoo Celebrates 96th Birthday

ZAGREB, 12 June, 2021 - Zagreb Zoo celebrated its 96th birthday on Saturday, with Mayor Tomislav Tomašević expressing his satisfaction that the Zoo was being modernised with EU funding.

Tomašević said that the Zoo has made great progress since its beginnings when it had only three foxes and three owls. "I am really glad that the first infrastructure project in Zagreb to be funded by the EU was the Zoo," he said, adding that the project concerned the first phase of the modernisation of the Zoo worth about HRK 30 million, 95 percent of which was provided by the EU.

The mayor said that the forthcoming second phase of modernisation would be carried out in cooperation with non-governmental organisations. About 60 percent of financing would be provided by the EU and the rest by the City of Zagreb. He added that a third phase of modernisation was under preparation.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

EU Funds Turning Old Croatian Castles into Hotels and Museums

EU funds have opened up a wide variety of doors for Croatia, quite literally. As more and more EU funding is accessed, more former Croatian ''glory'' buildings, including old castles and palaces, are having new life breathed into them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 28th of May, 2019, in July in Suhopolje near Virovitica, a visitor's centre will be opened up at Janković castle, marking the creation of a brand new attraction for Virovitica-Podravina County, in which a total of 39.7 million kuna will be invested, of which 33.4 million kuna is being funded from European Union fund for Regional Development, permitted under the Preparation and implementation of Integrated Development Programs based on the Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage.

This is just one of the projects which directly involves the revitalisation of a series of castles, noble and ex-military buildings in the aforementioned county, and putting them into the function of tourism within the so-called. Plemićka ruta. At the moment, there are projects in their various phases of implementation or completion of a total value of up to 276 million kuna, as was revealed yesterday at the project's presentation in Zagreb by Josip Mikolčić, assistant director of the VPŽ (Virovitica-Podravina) Tourist Board. Last year, 16,033 tourists visited this continental Croatian county, achieving an impressive 40,276 overnight stays.

"Participating in EU projects is a great opportunity to rebuild many of the neglected facilities that we'll then put into the function of tourism. The county still has a bit of hotel accommodation, which we need to modify so that we can make a significant income from tourism," Mikolčić explained.

Namely, as EU funds can't provide non-refundable money for the construction of hotels, a solution has been found by the Croatian county in question to create presentation centre projects that later be turned into hotels. In addition to the multimedia exhibition hall, 5D cinema and creative lab, Janković will also have fifteen guest rooms, which will initially be registered as rooms for rent, and after five years have passed, another fifteen rooms will be added and the facility will be registered as a heritage hotel, at least that's what the current plan is.

Then, Virovitica-Podravina County will be able to sell that hotel to a private investor, as well as all of its other facilities.

As it is already known, an informative-educational centre and a hostel in a restored summer residence from the nineteenth century have been on the market for about two years now. The Heritage Hotel Kurija Janković is on the Plemićka ruta, and the opening of a museum in the renovated Pejačević Castle is expected this October.

The renovated Ružica grad from the fifteenth century will be receive its first guests within the next 1.5 years, while on the island of Križnica on the border with Hungary, former military facilities will be turned into a camp and a visitor's centre.

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Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Šibenik Continues to Impress with EU Fund Withdrawal for Cultural Heritage

Šibenik is an example of excellent practice when it comes to withdrawing the European Union funds made available to it, and while the rest of Croatia rather unsurprisingly lags in that particular field (among others), it seems that this Dalmatian city is quite easily outshining the rest.

As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 21st of May, 2019, although tourism is one of the major economic branches of Croatia, accounting for a significant nineteen percent of the national GDP, it seems that the country's leading individuals in Croatian tourism will have to work a little harder to make sure Croatia's numerous destinations, which were visited by just over 19.4 million tourists last year, manage to really remain competitive in the face of competition.

In order to successfully keep up with increasingly popular European destinations like Greece, an old ''king'' of tourism, and not to mention Turkey, which is returning from a rather tumultuous period, much more than sea and sunshine needs to be placed on offer to would-be tourists and visitors to Croatia. Packed with a wealth of possibilities, is the country really using everything as it could, and should?

For the development of a much more varies tourist offer, Croatia has had a number of different forms of EU funds available to it for almost six years now, more specifically since the country joined the bloc. They're mostly related to the development of rural, regional tourism and OPGs, the reconstruction or building of more private accommodation, the development of domestic entrepreneurship, health, ethno and gastro tourism, as well as what is arguably the most important thing of all - the proper restoration of Croatia's countless pieces of cultural heritage.

Despite having EU funds readily available to it for a variety of purposes, according to increasingly numerous sources in the media, Croatia continues to be rather insufficient in taking proper advantage of that support. However, it seems that we can still find examples of good practice among the tourist destinations of the country and one of them is the historic Dalmatian City of Šibenik.

This beautiful coastal Dalmatian city, one of the few world cities to have been listed on UNESCO's prestigious list with two protected facilities, is an example of just how things should be being done when it comes to EU fund withdrawal in Croatia.

Although Šibenik has been being visited more and more in recent years, it still isn't one of the most visited Croatian destinations, and by the end of October last year, it counted only 287,872 visitors, Šibenik is certainly a pioneer in withdrawing funds made available to it by the EU when it comes to restoring its cultural heritage.

For the reconstruction of its famed fortification system consisting of three land and one sea fortress, Šibenik has withdrawn approximately 56 million kuna from EU funds over the last several years.

Financed by the European Regional Development Fund, totalling more than 1.6 million euro, of which the EU co-financed almost a million euro, the Fortress of St. Mihovil became an imposing open-air amphitheatrical stage with 1,077 seats. Thus, this ancient historical fortress which once used to serve as the defensive wall of the city, plays its current role for Šibenik of an urban and dynamic gathering place for both the local population as well as visitors to this stunning city.

The second in the series comes Šubićevac Fortress, or Barone, which has been transformed into the gastronomic centre of Šibenik. The reconstruction of this facility stood at slightly more than 1.3 million euro, and just like the fortress of St. Mihovil, it received most of these funds from EU funds, more specifically, 993,000 euro.

Although still unfinished, the farthest fortress from the city, Sv. Ivan, is also part of the ''Fortess of Culture of Šibenik'' and is financed with European Union money. The entire project was worth 49 million kuna, and as much as 41 million kuna came from the Regional Development Fund.

The fact that the entire project proved to be successful is the fact that more than 200,000 tourists visited last year alone, while revenues in 2018 amounting to a more than impressive 6.7 million kuna.

With the synergy of natural resources, culture and domestic products, Šibenik has proved that with planning and smart investment, every Croatian tourist destination can turn into a rounded whole that will meet the needs of even the most demanding tourists.

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Click here for the original article by Matea Grbac for Novac/Jutarnji

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

How are Croatian Towns, Cities and Counties Doing with EU Fund Withdrawal?

Just how do various Croatian towns, cities and counties compare in terms of EU fund withdrawal? Some unlikely names have appeared on top...

As Novac/Gradonacelnik.hr writes on the 14th of May, 2019, through the Rural development program, the Republic of Croatia will have over 2.3 billion euro (over 17 billion kuna) from EU funds provided to it to boost competitiveness of agriculture, forestry and processing industries from 2014 to 2020.

The aforementioned EU funds will also be used to improve general living and working conditions, ie, the construction of necessary infrastructure such as kindergartens, fire stations and social housing in rural areas.

As of the end of January this year, at least according to official data, of this more than 17 billion kuna, 10.37 billion kuna was contracted for projects, and a little more than half of that contracted amount was paid out.

Croatian cities, according to that same data (APPRRR), have withdrawn more than 438 million out of a total of 5.66 billion kuna in the past five years. As many as fifteen Croatian towns that are on top of the list in terms of the withdrawal of EU funds from the rural development program are smaller towns, when taking the per capita amount into consideration. That list of Croatian towns which withdrew the most money per capita was led by Nin with 4915 kuna per capita. In total, this ancient town close to the popular destination of Zadar has withdrawn 13.4 million kuna. The town of Nin readily awaited the Rural development programs from 2014 to 2020, Mayor Emil Ćurko stated.

''Investments in project documentation were prepared, public-legal conditions were prepared, investment took place in human resources, all for the purpose of the withdrawal of EU funds. The projects are large, infrastructural, necessary, and we've prepared them so that the maximum amount of European Union funds are used. From each measure, we tried to extract the most funds allowed by the tender condition. We've shaped a project team working on the preparation and implementation of EU projects and we believe that we'll continue to do even better,'' said Ćurko.

Among several other things, Nin received approval for the construction of a kindergarten worth 9.2 million kuna, out of which 6.6 million kuna is being provided by the EU, and 2.6 million kuna is from Nin.

Following Nin are Hrvatska Kostajnica (2745 kuna), Klanjec (2717 kuna), Opuzen (2377 kuna), and Mursko Središće (2276 kuna), followed by Skradin, Grubišno Polje, and Ozalj.

Orahovica has withdrawl 7.4 million kuna until now, and in December, the town was approved once again for almost nine million kuna for the reconstruction and extension of a kindergarten.

''There are still a lot of projects in the plan of the authorities when it comes to other EU funds. They have been prepared in the past year and a little over six months, and the more funds we withdraw from the EU and state funds, the more there is in the budget, which will raise the standard of Orahovica's citizens through various programs,'' said Mayor Ana-Marija Petin.

Mursko Središće, in turn, led the list of total funds received from the Regional development program by the end of January, with 14.3 million kuna of withdrawn funds. This small town in the northernmost part of Croatia received 6.8 million kuna for road construction to help develop the economic zone and 7.4 million kuna for the construction and equipping of kindergartens.

Following in terms of the total amount of funds is Koprivnica, with 13.9 million kuna of withdrawn funds, followed by Slatina with an amount of total withdrawn funds standing at 13.8 million kuna, with Nin coming fourth place with the same amount, and with Karlovac coming fifth on the list, having attracted less than 12 million kuna. Karlovac used those EU funds for the construction of kindergartens, totalling 4.4 million kuna.

On the list of Croatian cities and towns that have withdrawn the most funds, there is another medium-sized town - Bjelovar, which has withdrawn 11.5 million kuna.

In terms of Croatian counties, the Eastern Croatian county of Osijek-Baranja has contracted the most EU funds, or more precisely 1.3 billion kuna for numerous projects. Following are Sisak-Moslavina, Virovitica-Podravina and Pozega-Slavonia, all of which are continental counties.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

High Economic Expectations for Croatia's Brod Port Project

Despite the odd investment here and there, continental Croatia rarely gets a look in when compared to the coast, particularly when compared to Dalmatia. In Eastern Croatia, more specifically Slavonia, the situation is even more depressing, but it seems that not everything is as bleak as we sometimes like to imagine and even portray.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of April, 2019, the economic expectations from the Luka Brod (Brod Port) project worth more than 100 million kuna are high. Through the construction of new port infrastructure, the project has become the driving force for the development of Brod-Posavina County, as was highlighted by the Croatian Government.

As stated, the much anticipated construction of new port infrastructure is the driving force for the development of this Slavonian county, this was highlighted at the eighth session of the Council for Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, and according to the prime minister, it's essential for the Croatian Government and local self-government units to do everything to create the proper conditions for economic development that will end the mass exodus of citizens from Croatia.

Until now, contracted projects with EU funding amount to 9.7 billion kuna, stated the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds, Gabrijela Žalac. Another 1.85 billion kuna are contracted investments from the state budget.

For the strengthening of the Croatian economy, the development and enhancement of competitiveness, projects such as Brod Port are of great importance, stated the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Mirjana Cagalj. This is also an incentive for the development of a local environment that is particularly burdened with the exodus of the resident population who are leaving in their droves owing to the unfavourable economic situation, contributing to Croatia's worrying demographic crisis.

Its exceptional traffic position provides great potential for the development of the new port in Slavonski Brod in an intermodal logistics centre, which, according to Cagalj, would work to influence its future strategic role in international container traffic because Brod Port is located on the border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the crossing of the railway corridor X and the road corridor Vc, which is an international entry port for the EU.

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Click here for the original article by Suzana Varosanec for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Rijeka-Karlovac Railway Line Heading for Chinese or EU Hands?

As the Chinese show greater interest in various Croatian strategic projects, the EU and the EC become more and more uneasy at the thought of such a heavy Chinese business presence in Croatia. As the EC changes its attitude towards some Croatian projects to which it reacted negatively in the past, has the Chinese influence rendered this change of heart senseless?

As Novac/Kresimir Zabec writes on the 13th of April, 2019, Croatia wants to finance the construction of the railway line from Karlovac to Rijeka, covering a length of 170 kilometres with EU funds, because that's more favourable to Croatia than doing it through a concession, stated Croatian Minister of Transport Oleg Butković at the construction site of Pelješac bridge recently.

Ironically much like Chinese whispers, it began to circulate in the media that everything had already been agreed with the Chinese, and that China's CRBC which is already building Pelješac bridge would construct the railway line via a concession model. Economy Minister Darko Horvat has thus announced giving the Chinese company a fifty year concession. However, Butković has very clearly stated that there has been absolutely no direct agreement with the Chinese and that everything will go through a tender, as usual.

''If we decide on a concession tender, then Chinese companies can also apply. If the line is built using EU funds, Chinese companies will be able to bid to be the contractors for the project,'' said Butković.

EU funding for the project is much more favourable for Croatia because it doesn't affect the growth of public debt. Should the case result in giving a concession to a Chinese company, they would build and finance it, but with government guarantees amounting to 1.7 billion euros, which is something the state can ill afford. According to current projections, the entire line should be completed by 2030.

Of the 270 kilometre of railway line from Botovo on the Croatian-Hungarian border, to Rijeka on the shores of the Northern Adriatic, the section from Karlovac to Rijeka is currently not covered at all by any form of EU co-financing.

A few years ago, the European Commission told the Croatian Government quite clearly that they would not finance that part of the line from Karlovac to Rijeka because it was too expensive and it just doesn't pay off. After that, the Croatian Government turned to the Chinese who were constantly showing interest in constructing that section. Now that the negotiations between China and Croatia have entered a much deeper and more serious phase, signals from Brussels, more specifically the European Commission, have been arriving which indicate that they are, despite all, still interested in the project.

Although that railway line is not officially part of the trans-European transport network, senior officials of the European Commission's Directorate General for Transport have openly told reporters that the Commission is ready to co-finance this project, and that it is a very important part of the European budget planning in the period commencing in 2021. Quite a turnaround, no?

In addition, this railway line is part of the line from Rijeka to the Hungarian border, which the European Commission has invested around 400 million euros into the modernisation and construction of, and that obviously doesn't quite sit well with the idea of the entrance of the Chinese into this project. According to statements, the ultimate goal of the overall project is to build a new bridge to the island of Krk and to build a new port on the island for container transport, which is an idea that the Chinese are also very interested in.

What stage are the works in?

Rijeka - Zagreb

The railway line from Rijeka tp Zagreb to the Hungarian border is part of the international Mediterranean Corridor connecting southern Europe with Central and Eastern Europe. The modernisation of this line would be of great importance to the Port of Rijeka. The modernisation and the construction of these lines are all in different stages of execution.

Botovo - Koprivnica - Križevci

In 2016, the European Commission approved 240 million euro for Croatia to build this section, but the contractor for the job hasn't yet been selected. A tender is in progress, but it has been stopped once again due to an appeal lodged by an Italian company.

Križevci - Dugo Selo

This is the only section of the track where works are ongoing. The European Union has invested about 180 million euros in this project, but works began a year and a half late because of contractor issues.

Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac

The design of this part of the line was co-financed by the EU in the amount of about 6 million euros. It is expected that tenders will be announced to modernise the existing works and build another track. The value of the works is estimated at 315 million euros and is planned to be funded through EU funds.

Karlovac - Oštarije

An entirely new two-track railway would be constructed on this part of the track, and the value of the works would be estimated at about 400 million euros. Project documentation has been produced, which has been paid for by the EU in the amount of 9 million euros.

Oštarije - Škrljevo

This, which is considered to be the most challenging part of the line, hasn't yet been fully defined, and technical documentation is being prepared by the EU, for which it has paid nearly 6 million euros. The value of the works on this section is estimated at as much as one billion euros.

Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani

Project documentation was produced by the EU at a cost of 8.5 million euros. The value of the works is estimated at 270 million euros in total.

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Click here for the original article by Kresimir Zabec for Novac/Jutarnji

Friday, 12 April 2019

Croatia in Plus of 14.4 Billion Kuna from EU Membership

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of April, 2019, in terms of the use of EU funds, the Republic of Croatia has a total of 10.7 billion euros available to it, and at this moment in time, 66 percent of allocations have been contracted, almost 85 percent of the tenders have been announced, while 21 percent of the funds have been disbursed to their respective beneficiaries.

As one of the members of the European Union, Croatia has paid 19.7 billion kuna into the EU's joint budget since its accession back in the summer of 2013. The Republic of Croatia has since received 34.1 billion kuna in the same period, resulting in a welcome plus of 14.4 billion kuna, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds stated.

''With the faster and better absorption of EU funds available, this difference will continue to grow. At present, more than 80 percent of all public investments and 8,306 private companies in Croatia are funded by the European Union's non-refundable funds,'' the aforementioned ministry added in its recent press release.

For the purpose of achieving economic and social growth and the development of Croatia at all levels, the financing of large infrastructure projects in the areas of transport, health, science, entrepreneurship, environmental protection [have taken place], such as the construction of Pelješac bridge, currently the largest and most important project in Croatia, the upgrading of Dubrovnik Airport, the upgrading and the electrification of the existing Vinkovci-Vukovar railway line which is of significance for international traffic, the modernisation of tram infrastructure in Osijek, investment, the equipping and reconstruction of hospitals and health centres, the construction of computer and data clouds, the research and education centre for health and medical ecology and radiation protection, the construction and renovation of student homes, the construction of business zones, the management centre for Krka National Park, the Vučedol archaeological park, etc...

''Since joining the European Union, the general economic trends in Croatia show that they're going in a positive direction: the increase in gross domestic product (GDP); the reduction of unemployment; the growth of exports, especially in the European Union, as a result of Croatia's free access to the EU's single market which consists of 500 million inhabitants.

The stable environment within the EU also favours the development of tourism as an extremely important economic branch [for Croatia]. With regard to fiscal policy, a major step forward has been made, and significant efforts have been made in the field of public finances, while trends that have been extremely unfavourable have also been reversed, along with the many opportunities that are offered by EU funds,'' the ministry said in its statement.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Infrastructure and EU Funds: Port and Breakwater Renovation for Senj

Along with the current works on the renovation of the Senj harbour, the Senj Port Authority has begun to develop projects for the extension of Senj's port, so that the breakwaters can be lengthened.

As Morski writes on the 2nd of April, 2019, the Điga breakwater, more specifically the Sv. Marija breakwater, would be extended by a further one hundred metres, adjusted to the length of Jadrolinija's ferries, and the Hungarian riva (waterfront), would be extended by another thirty metres. The construction of a brand new waterfront instead of Senj's current wooden waterfront would add another pier to the southernmost part of the harbour, opposite to Tičak house. According to the conceptual solution which has been drawn up for the project, this operation would cost around 110 million kuna net, and VAT still needs to be added to that figure, Novi list writes.

An assessment on the environmental impact for this project has already been prepared, which is already in process at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and after the release of the competent ministry's observations, what further steps which need to be taken will be known, eventually followed by the issuance of the required building permits.

''Breakwaters can be co-funded from EU funds and we've already asked for this and have received a firm opinion on it, and internal arrangements such as the 300 new communal berths can be funded from national funds and from the Port Authority's budget,'' said Senj's port authority director Predrag Dešić, adding that with the realisation of this project, Senj's port would boast much greater functionality.

In the port part of the Hungarian waterfront, the conditions for accommodating tourist ships and smaller cruisers would be created, which would substantially restore the basic role of the harbour, while ferries to nearby islands and liner ships would have their place at Điga. After this extension, Senj could be a significant port for tourists from Istria and from the islands, such as Lošinj and Cres, who would like to visit Plitvice Lakes because a combination by sea to Senj and buses to Plitvice would shorten their journey by about two hours, make it much more enjoyable, and the actual visit to Plitvice would last longer. This is a very desirable combination, given that road traffic, especially in the summer, is slow and cumbersome.

New funding in the amount of three million kuna, approved by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure for the Senj Port Authority this year, will be intended for the repair of the main harbour, which is essentially a continuation of the works on the current project of renovating Senj harbour as a whole.

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Click here for the original article by Dorotea Prpic for Novi list

Friday, 22 March 2019

New Ferry Dock for Island of Kaprije Before Summer 2020

As Morski writes on the 21st of March, 2019, the first conference regarding the construction of a brand new ferry dock in the port of Kaprije has been held at Šibenik's city hall, handled by the Port Authority of Šibenik-Knin County.

The total value of the island's ferry dock project currently stands at over 11 million kuna, of which 9.3 million kuna is being financed by European Union funds, 1.6 million kuna is being co-financed by the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, head by Oleg Butković, while the Port Authority of Šibenik-Knin County is participating in the project with a bit more than 42,000 kuna.

The details of the new Kaprije project were presented to those gathered by the director of the competent port authority, Željko Dulibić, who pointed out that the new pier will be 55 meters long, with a surface measurement of 330 square metres, and will allow for vessels with deeper beams that are less susceptible to the impact of winds to dock, and so that the island of Kaprije's inhabitants will be better connected to the mainland.

The location on which the ferry dock is set to be constructed is located in an area which is managed by by the Port Authority of Šibenik-Knin County and is located about 700 metres northwest of the centre of Kaprije.

The main objectives of the project are to improve the traffic connections of the island of Kaprije with the mainland City of Šibenik and the other islands which belong to the Šibenik archipelago, improve traffic safety within the centre of the bay and Kaprije, improve the access of Kaprije's residents to their respective workplaces, education facilities, medical facilities and other such locations which typically lie on the mainland, and reduce traffic congestion and noise as well as aim to improve overall traffic safety within the centre of the bay and Kaprije.

The current foreseen deadline for the completion of this infrastructure project is summer 2020.

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Vela Luka: Construction of Passenger Terminal and Fishing Port in 2019

As Morski writes on the 21st of March, 2019, a session of the Municipal Council of Vela Luka on the island of Korčula was attended by the county's deputy prefect Joško Cebalo, who expressed the wider county's support for all of the innovative projects currently being prepared and implemented by the municipality, which are aided by EU funds.

''This time especially, I'd like to emphasise sincere congratulations to all of the employees of Vela Luka's home for the elderly for the municipal award that will be given to them today,'' Joško Cebalo stated, adding that the project of energy renovation for the home, which is worth more than four million kuna, will soon begin.

Port infrastructure is still seen as a top priority for Vela Luka. Deputy Prefect Cebalo stressed the fact that this issue really is a matter over which the county's administration is continuing to take care and that one of its main priorities is the continued renewal and further construction of Vela Luka's highly important port infrastructure.

According to him, the county is currently preparing as many as eight projects worth over 500 million kuna in total, and the most important for Vela Luka's residents were highlighted, these include the construction of a new ferry-passenger terminal worth 60 million kuna, which should be implemented this year, and the project of the construction of a fishing port, for which the project documentation is currently being prepared.

''As the completion of the construction of Pelješac bridge will be the symbol of the first decade of Croatia's membership of the European Union, these two projects in Vela Luka will symbolise [our] development thanks to EU funds, as well as our care for the islands,'' concluded Vela Luka's deputy prefect.

Make sure to stay up to date on the construction of infrastructure in Vela Luka and far beyond by following our dedicated lifestyle and business pages. If it's just the island of Korčula you're interested in, give Total Korčula a follow.

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