Saturday, 31 December 2022

Croatian Hospitality Establishments Air Euro Concerns on Kuna's Final Day

December the 31st, 2022 - Croatian hospitality establishments, particularly bars, restaurants and cafes have been airing the last minute concerns as we are set to introduce the euro as Croatia's official new currency tomorrow. Will they all end up being more or less exchange offices for the next two weeks or so?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, will Croatian hospitality establishments double up as unwilling exchange offices during the first half of January? Who will have enough euro coins and cents and who won't? How will cash registers be closed on New Year's Eve? These are all questions currently troubling Croatian hospitality establishments, as with store closures, they'll be the first port of all for all euro transition confusion.

Cash problems

Dalibor Kratohvil, the president of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK), said that the state was asked, considering that on New Year's Eve there will be a lot of pressure on Croatian hospitality establishments, to continue making it possible to return the difference when giving people change in kuna.

"The Ministry answered saying that it is clearly written in the Euro Act, in Article 40, Paragraph 2, which says that in the first two weeks of January, in exceptional cases, they can return kuna, if there are no euros available to them at that moment in time,'' said Kratohvil, noting that this is only in exceptional cases such as a shortage of cash in euros.

When speaking about the concrete adaptation of the hospitality sector to the introduction of the euro, Hrvoje Margan, vice-president of the Catering Guild at the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, said that as far as the technical part is concerned, anyone who is a little more serious about things is ready for it and can do it.

"I think we're all somewhat ready and have a vision of how we'll work, and the biggest problem was that, in order to take some kind of advance supply of money, you had to have enough money in the bank account, and it's not like we're sitting on millions," he stated.

Closing the cash register

He added that IT experts did a good job and prepared the software for the transition to the euro. Thus, if and when a guest pays in kuna, the difference that they must return will be automatically converted into euros. Explaining what will happen at midnight from December the 31st (today) to January the 1st, he stated that, in order to be able to start anew on January the 1st, Croatian hospitality establishments would have to close their cash registers on December the 31st, make a calculation in kuna and then start working again. They'd then have to close all open items until then. The state, he added, came to the rescue and raised the cash limit from 10,000 kuna to 40,000 kuna for this purpose.

Clarifying what could be problematic when the euro comes into force, the vice president of the Catering Guild said that it isn't really a problem if a guest has a bill of 15 euros and pays it with a 200 kuna note, but when someone pays for a coffee of 1.60 euros with a 500 kuna note or more, then issues will arise.

"We're all afraid, not only cafe, restaurant and bar owners, but others as well, of becoming exchange offices," he stated, and when asked what about rounding up of prices and expected price increases, he added that he doesn't expect that to happen because in this situation, when people are looking at every single kuna, there isn't really much room for that.

"I don't know if any of my colleagues touched their prices at all, or if there's been price rounding, I don't expect that there will be any big price increases. Specifically, if we take for example coffee, which is now 12 kuna, it will cost 1.60 euros, or 12.07 kuna, from the New Year onwards, so there won't be a significant difference," he concluded.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

City of Split Updates Prices in Euros, Parking is Now More Expensive

December the 31st, 2023 - The City of Split has updated its prices in anticipation of the introduction of the euro in Croatia tomorrow, and while public transport may be cheaper, parking isn't...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with the introduction of the euro as this country's official currency, Split's local authorities, or more precisely two of its utility companies, decided to "round up" the prices of some utility services and, as they claim, in such a way as to benefit the end users themselves. Let's make that more simple: city car parks are now more expensive, but public transport is cheaper.

As confirmed to tportal, the prices of Split's car parks will be adjusted to higher amounts with the introduction of the euro, and the winter regime going forward will be similar to what it is currently, one euro in the first zone, while in the summer period, one hour of parking will cost 1.5 euros. A special item on this particular list is the car park on the Riva (promenade) itself, which will be significantly more expensive: from the current 15 kuna (equal to about two euros) for the first hour and 20 kuna for each subsequent hour to slightly more in the winter period (two euros for the first hour, and three euros for the next hour).

However, from the months of May to September, parking on Split's famous Riva will cost 4 euros for the first hour and as much as 5 euros for each subsequent hour.

"However, most of the other prices have actually remained the same: parking in public garages isn't going to increase in price, the price of tenant subscriptions won't change either," they explained to tportal from "Split parking". They then once again announced the intensification of the construction of new public garages in different Split city districts: one has just kicked off as far as construction is concerned, another is due in about three months, and several more are planned throughout the year.

In parallel with the increase in the price of parking, public transport in Split is becoming cheaper: a monthly ticket for the first zone, which until recently cost 290 kuna, will cost the people of Split 30 euros in the future, equal to around 226 kuna. The difference from the actual price, which is set at 35 euros, so about five euros, will be subsidised by the company "Promet" from Split's own city budget.

It is this company that recently implemented a new ticketing system, meaning it's now possible to buy a ticket for the use of Split#s city buses in several different ways - at card machines, through a mobile application, on prepaid cards and the like. They will be slightly cheaper from the current eight kuna, costing around one euro in 2023.

For more, check out our news section.

Sunday, 18 December 2022

How Will Croatian Eurozone Membership Look for Cafe Culture?

December the 18th, 2022 - Cafe culture is a big deal in Croatia, from business meetings to concluding contracts to getting together with the neighbours to gossip about other neighbours, it's more or less all done over a (usually) very tiny cup of coffee that one somehow manages to make last for three hours. The sight of kuna and lipa coins left on tables on top of receipts is also common, but how will that sight look following Croatian Eurozone membership?

Croatia is set to scrap the kuna and adopt the bloc's single currency in just two weeks, and there are already issues arising surrounding cash, how to get it, and how to avoid getting stuck with large denominations of euros in cash that you actually can't spend anywhere.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the changing of the national currency is now very much in full swing and many people are already ready to carry out their business operations with the new currency as early as today. However, Dnevnik Nova TV reports that some are worried that there could still be some problems in the first days following the euro's adoption here.

When the first customer wants to come and pay for a coffee in euros in the new year following Croatian Eurozone membership, restaurant owner Franz Letica says he will definitely be ready. He says that he could do business in euros today if it was necessary.

"As far as catering and hospitality in general is concerned, I guess our sector was born ready because we're used to constantly introducing something new and seeing things change at the last minute, so that's normal for us," says Letica.

However, some people are worried about the possibility that in those first days of Croatian Eurozone membership, before there is much money in circulation, customers will come to them trying to pay for items with large denominations of 50 or 100 euros. After they return the rest, they wonder if they will have enough money to return any change to others.

Franz has his own solution for that. He says that it is unacceptable that 100-euro notes should ever be accepted for coffee, and he cites Germany as an example: "You cannot buy bread in a store with a 200 or 500 euro note, you must be prepared and take small change with you."

The Croatian National Bank says that the law does not stipulate whether or not a restaurant or shop or cafe owner or indeed anyone else can refuse an excessively large banknote in exchange for goods or services being sold or rendered. 

For more, check out our news section.

Friday, 16 December 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Schengen and Qatar

December the 16th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics has been dominated by upcoming Eurozone and Schengen accession, support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU candidate status, support for Kosovo's EU candidate status application, inflation, Ukraine, and of course - football.

Ursula von der Leyen announces her arrival in Croatia on the 1st of January, 2023

An incredible day for Croatian politics is set to occur as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December, 2022 - Eurozone and Schengen accession on the very same day. An impressive feat for any country indeed. European Commission (EU) President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that she intends to be present in Croatia on the maiden day of 2023 as Croatia scraps both the kuna and land border crossings.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has referred to Ursula von der Leyen's arrival on that particular day as a special marker of Croatia's much deeper integration into the European Union (EU), of which it has been a member state since July 2013.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has finally been given European Union (EU) candidate status, and Croatia will support it every step of the way forward

Significant disparities between the Republic of Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina appeared when Croatia became the newest EU member state back in the summer of 2013. These two countries which share a complex history suddenly ended up on very different political playing fields after enjoying an extremely ''free'' relationship, especially in terms of soft border crossings and freedom of movement. Bosnia and Herzegovina now finally has EU candidate status after many years grappling with its deeply complicated internal political situation.

The heads of state or government of the current EU member states confirmed the recommendation agreed upon several days previously by the EU's ministers for European affairs that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted the official status of a candidate country for membership of the European Union.

Ahead of the meeting of ministers for European affairs which took place on Tuesday in Brussels, Croatian and Greek Prime Ministers Andrej Plenkovic and Kirijakos Mitotakis sent a letter to European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in which they emphasised their unwavering and strong support for the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the bloc.

The EU flag was placed in the very heart of Sarajevo, a city with an extremely traumatic and tumultuous past, and among the first to react to the decision of the European Council was the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt. Schmidt pointed out that EU candidate status offers a unique opportunity that should be taken advantage of.

He described this status as a key step in the further harmonisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with EU standards and regulations and another confirmation of the commitment of both parties to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was somewhat left behind following Croatia's accession, as a member of the European Union.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina must become a safe and prosperous multi-ethnic nation and prove that it is able to overcome its political and economic dysfunctionality and implement a reform agenda. This requires determined politicians and functional institutions, ready to work in the interest of the country," said Schmidt, announcing that everyone will continue to work to ensure the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement, which has been of vital importance to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina's post-war stability.

Plenkovic reacted on Twitter shortly after the decision. "We're proud and happy, the European Council has confirmed the candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which it strongly advocated! Our neighbour and friend deserves our support, which is also an incentive for further reforms and an agreement on changes to the electoral legislation. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart!" Plenkovic wrote on the social media platform. The tweet is a reminder of the enmeshment of Croatian politics and that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the two nations with (on many levels) a shared past have remained close.

Plenkovic subsequently made a statement to the media after the meeting of the leaders of the member states in Brussels, in which he said that "Croatia, as a friendly country, will help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European Union path.''

Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava says his party will vote against training Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia, citing the Homeland War

Homeland Movement (Domovinski pokret) president and Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava has openly said that he isn't a fan of the idea of training Ukrainian soldiers in Croatia and will vote against such a move. The topic has been a burning one of late, with Plenkovic being absolutely for it, claiming those who are against it will have to carry that on their consciences for a long time to come, and President Zoran Milanovic initially being against it, once stating that Croatia doesn't need to taunt Russia or have another war dragged to its doorstep.

Tensions surrounding the idea have been high in the world of Croatian politics for several weeks now, and Penava is yet another politician to come out of the woodwork against the idea. Penava has openly stated that ''Croatia has been through a war'' and that his party is ''going to be voting against it.''

"Our parliamentarians came to this decision respecting their consciences, our electorate, our patriotic spirit and the programme declaration that we just adopted at the Homeland Movement's closing ceremony, and respecting above all the interests of the Croatian people, which have been neglected due to unreasonable moves, primarily made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who sought to privatise this topic.

There's also the President of the State, Zoran Milanovic, because of whom this topic was inflated and brought into frameworks that far exceed the importance for our people, especially in the context of people in Banovina still living and freezing in containers, in the context of the demographic devastation across the country, in the context of a huge increase in prices and a drop in the social standard and people's personal standards,'' said Penava.

Penava also said that "with a view to the Croatian people and the well-being of the Croatian state", the unanimous opinion of all the representatives of the Homeland Movement is that they will vote against the training of Ukrainian soldiers in this country, for the reason that "we have been through the war and know perhaps better than anyone what it means have a war" and "we don't want to bring any more war to our people and our country".

"And for us, there's a point and a limit below which we refuse to go. I'd like to thank all our parliamentarians for their quality critical reflection on this situation, for the maturity, experience and love they demonstrated, for not putting their ego in the foreground, but for voting in the interest of this country,'' Penava added.

PM Plenkovic gives a thumbs up to Kosovo seeking EU candidate status

Bosnia and Herzegovina now has EU candidate status, and it seems that Plenkovic's support far from stops there, with other countries in the wider region also lodging their own requests. Kosovo, which has also suffered a horrific time thanks to Serbian aggression, much like Croatia, has applied for candidate status. 

"We welcome Kosovo's request for membership in the European Union and wish them much success on their EU journey. We're going to continue to provide support and share Croatian experiences," Plenkovic said on Twitter.

Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti submitted an application for Kosovo's membership in the European Union in the Czech capital city of Prague on Thursday this past week, setting in motion a process that could take many years, if not entire decades, and which depends on the normalisation of relations with Serbia. Kurti submitted that request to the Czech Republic for a reason, as it is holding the presidency of the EU this semester.

"Any European country that respects the values referred to in Article 2 and undertakes to promote them may apply for membership of the European Union," says Article 49 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

In all previous cases, when deciding on the candidate status of a country, the discussion surrounded whether the applicant country fulfills the conditions for membership, that is, the candidate status for membership. Here, however, another matter must be resolved first - whether Kosovo is even a country in its own right. For the 22 EU members, the answer is unquestionable, they have long since recognised Kosovo and established diplomatic relations with it. But the decision requires the consensus of all 27 member states, and Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain do not recognise Kosovo's independence for their own internal reasons. Therefore, we should not expect a clear answer from the EU until the situation regarding the status of Kosovo becomes clearer.

Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic send a message of support and pride to the Croatian national team in Qatar following Argentina's 3-0 victory

The President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, and the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, both stopped butting heads for thirty seconds and sent their support to the Croatian football team on social media after the crushing semi-final defeat by Argentina (0-3) this week.

"Keep your heads up, Vatreni! Getting into the semi-finals of the World Cup is a magnificent success. We're with you in the fight for third place!" Plenkovic wrote on Twitter.

"Congratulations to the Croatian national football team! The Vatreni have entered the semi-finals and will play for third place - that's a big deal," Milanovic wrote on his Facebook. Milanovic is otherwise on an official trip to Chile and watched the match with the Croatian community in Punta Arenas, and he was in Qatar for the match between Croatia and Belgium.

Croatia's hopes were crushed following defeat in the semi-finals against Argentina, where we were beaten 3-0, and on Saturday the team will play for bronze against France or Morocco. Minister of Foreign Affairs Goran Grlic-Radman, who came at the invitation of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic were also in Qatar this past week.

Plenkovic claims that the government has reacted so well to ongoing inflationary pressures that "people don't even know what kind of crisis they're living in"

I think quite a few people may just beg to differ to that statement, but once again Plenkovic has showcased his enormous confidence in both himself and the capabilities of his HDZ government with this rather bold claim. 

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP/NPOO) offers "unbelievable investment opportunities", Plenkovic pointed out at a conference dedicated to the plan, where it was also said that Croatia was set to receive a second tranche of 700 million euros today (that is, the 16th of December, 2023).

The first annual conference on the Croatian Plan for Recovery and Resilience - Ready for Tomorrow was organised by the European Commission's representative office in Croatia in cooperation with the government.

The Vice-President of the European Commission for Demography and Democracy, Dubravka Suica, announced on that occasion that on December the 16th, the second tranche of 700 million euros will be paid out to Croatia under the NPOO, and assessed that the implementation of the plan in Croatia is going well so far. With the payment of the second tranche, Croatia will have received a total of more than 2.2 billion euros, i.e. 40 percent of the allocated grant funds, by the end of this year within the framework of the NPOO.

The government's National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026 was adopted back at the end of April last year, the European Commission approved it in July, and through it Croatia received an advance payment of 818 euros million last September, while the first installment in the amount of 700 million euros was paid out in June this year.

At the same time, through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, a key component of the European Commission's "Next Generation EU" instrument, and based on the accepted NPOO, Croatia has at its disposal 5.51 billion euros in non-refundable loans, as well as 3.6 billion euros in soft loans. Suica reported that the implementation of that mechanism is progressing according to the initial plan at the EU level as well, with a total of 136 billion euros having been paid out so far.

The "Next Generation EU" instrument is a reaction to the "unprecedented crisis", Plenkovic stated, noting that this is the European Union's reaction to the "unprecedented crisis" caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, there was an "extremely strong" political will among EU leaders to provide a proper answer to a real problem together.

In less than 20 days, Croatia will enter the Eurozone and the Schengen area, which is one of the "most tangible transformative moments" in the context of the tenth anniversary of Croatian membership of the European Union. "Nobody has yet managed to enter both the Eurozone and Schengen on the same day," said Plenkovic. It is indeed an enormous move for Croatian politics and in this country's turbulent history.

He also recalled the government's "appropriate, comprehensive and generous interventions in crises". "I think we even reacted so well that most people aren't even aware of the extent of the crisis they're living in," said Plenkovic, adding that people can rest assured of a peaceful autumn and winter, with electricity and gas prices being stable.

For more on Croatian politics on both the domestic and the EU stage, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 9 December 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Schengen, Bomb Scares and ATM Shortages

December the 9th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've finally had a bit of good news - Croatia has successfully filled all of the requirements to finally join Schengen and will officially do so on the 1st of January, 2023, on the very same day of Eurozone accession. That isn't all, though...

After a lot of nail biting and waiting, Croatian Schengen accession has been officially approved

After much deliberation, a lot of back and forth and eyebrow-raising from Austria apparently not being quite understood, Croatia got the green light to become a Schengen member state on the first day of 2023. Austria's initial issues with proposed Schengen expansion (which would have also included Romania and Bulgaria, but that won't be the case for now) weren't with Croatia as a country but with Schengen expansion as a whole. One Austrian minister was quoted as saying that Schengen is all well and good until there's a political issue, when it suddenly ''ceases to exist''. I dare say that for as excellent as Schengen is, he's far from alone in those opinions.

Despite all of that, and despite reports from the likes of the Financial Times (FT) that neighbouring Hungary and Viktor Orban could be the ones to throw a spanner in Croatia's Schengen plans, both Austria and Hungary (and even Slovenia, which was expected to cause many more issues than it actually did) gave the green light alongside the other deciding nations.

Croatia is now set to become a fully-fledged member of the Schengen area and in less than one month, border controls will be abolished at land, as well sea border crossings, and then on March the 26th, 2023, the same will be done at the country's airports.

Bulgaria and Romania apparently did not receive support because there was a lack of consensus on them joining. 

"Croatia received the unanimous support of the Council for Internal Affairs and Justice - on January the 1st, 2023, we will become a member of Schengen! During this, a year of delivery, we achieved the government's strategic goals, from which both people and the economy will benefit the most!" Plenkovic tweeted after the official announcement.

ATMs cause trouble as we approach Eurozone accession

Moving the Schengen celebrations and the promise of totally free movement aside for a moment, the same unfortunately can't be said for the freedom of cash withdrawals as we approach the day on which we introduce the euro as our official currency. Thousands of ATMs were put out of function this past week as we prepare to enter the Eurozone, leaving many people scratching their heads about where to get cash. Some ATMs have already had the kuna drained from them and been filled up with euros, and around 40 percent of them across the nation will eventually become unavailable as we get closer to D-Day, or should I say E-Day. 

Throughout this final month in which the kuna remains the country's official currency, around 2700 ATMs will be put out of function. Only those which have the ability to allow both kuna and euro withdrawals will continue to work, with the rest gradually being adapted to the euro.

The mass shutdown of ATMs will begin in about ten days, with a small number being shut down by December the 15th, and from that date, the Croatian Association of Banks (HUB) will publish an interactive map of all ATMs in Croatia that remain active in real-time so that people know where they can withdraw banknotes.

It's worth noting that this is also the time to get that old sock with rolled up notes in it out, lift up the mattress, and check your old coat pockets for 10 and 20 kuna notes. The traditional Croatian practice of keeping banknotes in odd items of clothing hidden somewhere in the house could come back to bite those who fail to bank their extra cash lying around so that it can be automatically converted to euros free of charge when we make the official switch over from the kuna to the euro on 2023's maiden day.

PM Andrej Plenkovic says that those who are against Ukrainian soliders being trained here will have to carry that on their conscience for a long time to come

There has been a lot of talk about the idea and then the plan to train Ukrainian soldiers here in Croatia. President Zoran Milanovic (SDP) quite openly said that he was very much against the idea and that Croatia's unwavering support for Ukraine and warm welcome to Ukrainian refugees said enough. He believed that training soldiers to fight against the Russian invaders here could end up bringing unwanted problems to Croatia's doorstep, a mere 30 years after a bloody war of its own.

Others are totally for the idea, and this includes other EU countries who have agreed to also train Ukrainian soldiers in their fight against continued Russian onslaught. 

Plenkovic claimed that he hasn't yet heard any valid, logical or reasonable argument for possibly not making a decision on Croatia's participation in the EUMAM military aid mission to Ukraine and said that the burden of political responsibility isn't on those who are in favour, but on those who aren't. He said he'd be voting for it and that he didn't understand the political logic of those who have reservations about that decision and mission.

How parliament members will vote on Croatia's participation in the EU military aid mission to Ukraine "will be a mark they'll carry with them in the long term," he added.

It's important that Croatia supports Bosnia and Herzegovina on its EU candidate path, according to its senior international representative

During a recent meeting with the State Secretary for Europe at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Andreja Metelko Zgombic, the senior international representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, assessed that it is important for that country that Zagreb fully supports its acquisition of EU candidate status.

"Croatian support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's candidate status for EU membership is very important," wrote Schmidt on his Twitter profile. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also expressed his expectation that the Council of Europe would be able to approve the candidate status of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of the year. Earlier on, the European Commission had indeed recommended that the Council make such a decision.

The German politician at the head of the international administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina assessed having EU candidate status as important for the entire country. "Obtaining EU candidate status would be a much-needed boost for the country and an important sign for people that the enlargement process is working for Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

During that same day, State Secretary Metelko Zgombic headed the delegation that held working consultations with colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josip Brkic, also stated on his Twitter that the interlocutors expressed satisfaction with the "extremely good bilateral relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina".

"Croatia remains the most important supporter and friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to both the EU and to NATO," said Brkic.

President Zoran Milanovic visited Chile, the home of a huge number of Croats and their descendents

President Zoran Milanovic went to Chile for the first time recently, on his first trip to South America since taking office in February 2020. It is a vast continent of many opportunities where around 600,000 Croats and their descendents live today. Approximately 160 years ago, the very first wave of Croatian migrants, forced into making difficult decisions by poverty along the coast, set out for Chile. Two more emigrant waves to South American countries followed later, motivated by both economic and political reasons. I won't go into the political ones here.

Historian Ljuba Boric, who works at the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Santiago de Chile, says that the first Croats arrived there from all over the Dalmatian coast between 1860 and 1870 because of a disease of the grapevines and olive trees which sank their (typically) only means of making a living. They often took up mining careers in Chile.

Milanovic will spend a week in Chile and among other things he;ll meet with Chilean President Gabriel Boric who has been in power since March. Ljuba Boric, who is also related to Gabriel Boric, says that the president's great-grandfather Ivo Boric and his brother Sime came from the island of Ugljan (close to Zadar) to Punta Arenas in about 1885.

Institutions from Croatia, a country with 3.8 million inhabitants according to the 2021 census, have been trying to determine the number of Croats in all of South America for some time now, claiming that approximately 600,000 ''members of the Croatian nation and their descendants live in various countries in South America.''

Milanovic says that the recent reports about bombs being in various large shopping centres have nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine

If you've been following the news over the last few months, every now and then there are very strange reports about shopping centres (usually in Zagreb) being evacuated because there have been reports of a bomb being planted there. Odd indeed. They have all been false alarms and for some extremely bizarre reason, it has become somewhat of a trend to claim bombs are being hidden in shopping centres. Odd indeed, yet again. One of the people who made such a claim was a security guard who simply didn't want to come to work. He has since been dealt with by the authorities, and probably regrets not just calling in sick. Hopefully anyway.

This week, the bomb scare/shopping centre stories got a bit more of a spring in their step and more such scares were announced in multiple shopping centres in multiple areas. In sixteen counties, to be exact! Milanovic has been quick to squash the rumours that it has anything at all to do with the Russia-Ukraine war. On Tuesday he said that he thinks that these weird false reports about bombs have nothing to do with the horrific ongoing situation in Ukraine and said that those making these false claims should be located and arrested because creating panic among people like this for no reason is an act punishable by law.

"Find and aprehend these individuals - these are obviously people who don't have these means (bombs) at their disposal, nor do they have anything to do with them, but they have the capacity to sow fear and panic among people, and that's a punishable offence,'' Milanovic told reporters in Dubrovnik. He added that he believes that it has absolutely nothing to do with the war between Russia and Ukraine, as some have been quick to try to claim. He also said that no normal person would show any sort of support to Russia.

Dubrovnik honoured its defenders and marked the 31st anniversary of the darkest day in its history - the siege

The 6th of December 1991 will remain etched deeply into the memories of all those who were there when the JNA attacked the city, and will forever be an unhealed wound for the Pearl of the Adriatic. 

On the aforementioned date back in 1991, the City of Dubrovnik was viciously attacked by the JNA (Yugoslav Peoples Army), it was the culmination of a siege which sought to raze the globally adored UNESCO World Heritage Site to the ground. A similar and unfortunately successful action was seen much more recently in Palmyra at the hands of ISIS. The horrific bombardment of Dubrovnik resulted in international condemnation of the JNA and rightly became a public relations disaster for Serbia and Montenegro, contributing to and furthering their diplomatic and economic isolation and winning them powerful enemies across Europe and the rest of the world. It was a shot in the foot from which the still-estranged Serbia has hardly ever recovered in the eyes of the international community, and rightly so.

You can read much more about that day, the lives that were lost and the tremendous damage that was done by clicking here.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section and follow our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Is Eurozone Accession Better or Worse for Croatian Retirees?

December the 5th, 2022 - Eurozone accession is set for the 1st of January, 2023, but with inflation still raging and concerns about price hikes when we switch over to the single currency reigning strong, we can't forget about Croatian retirees. Will they be better or worse off when Croatia becomes a Eurozone member state?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of January the 1st, 2023, the lowest pensions will increase by a mere three percent, and a new model for the payment of family pensions will be launched in the country. The director of the Pension System Administration of the Ministry of Labour, Melita Cicak, pointed out that this is an additional increase, along with the regular adjustment of pensions, as reported by HRT.

"Beneficiaries of the lowest pensions will receive a pension that is higher than what they received during their working life," Cicak said, emphasising that the lowest pension will be higher the greater the number of years of service worked. Stefica Salaj from the Union of Croatian Pensioners welcomed the increase in pensions, but said that it was still not enough for the often difficult lives of Croatian retirees struggling to make ends meet from month to month.

"All Croatian retirees, as we've been pointing out for a long time now, should have their pensions increased by 10.5 percent," she added.

The president of the Social Democrats, Davorko Vidovic, said in no uncertain terms that he believes Croatian retirees will be worse off next year.

"Their pensions and the income they get each month will be lower, those amounts are going to be smaller. With this increase, it will be slightly less bad than it could be. And that's it," said Vidovic, stating that Croatian pension expenses are lower than the EU average.

Vidovic also said that this isn't about social rights, but about something that belongs to earnings, which people have made by paying into the intergenerational solidarity system. However, HSU MP Silvano Hrelja said that "not all pensions have been earned".

''278,000 of the lowest pensions haven't been earned. These people receive one third more than they ever paid. This is the solidarity of all those who paid more, who could eventually have more, according to them, who were either simply not lucky, or didn't want to pay themselves because they had the right to choose,'' said Hrelja.

"We'd like to have a pension system like the one in Germany, not to pay contributions and take as much as we need from the budget," he also said.

The new model for paying out family pensions was also discussed, and the topic of possible new price increases for care homes was also discussed. Vidovic said that he can understand the price increases because the costs of just about everything have increased, but that the local and regional self-government units and the state must help people who are in a state of existential threat.

Cicak said that the prices will not increase in the three care homes founded by the state itself, and she called on people to contact the social welfare centre and determine whether they're entitled to help with their expenses if there is an increase in prices.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Croatian Euros Can be Purchased Tomorrow But Can't be Used Yet

November the 30th, 2022 - Croatian Eurozone accession is drawing ever closer, with the final month in which the kuna will remain the country's official currency beginning tomorrow. You'll be able to purchase Croatian euros tomorrow, but you won't be able to spend them yet.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in order for people to be as ready as possible to use the euro in the first days of 2023, banks, the Financial Agency (Fina) and Croatian post (Hrvatska posta) will make it possible for people to come and purchase a maximum of two initial packages of Croatian euros (coins) per transaction.

The initial package of the new Croatian euros contains 33 euro coins with the Croatian national motifs on them. They will be in all denominations and amount to the value of 13.28 euros. For one initial package of brand new euro coins, you will pay 100 kuna.

People will only be able to use these Croatian euros for legitimate payments in this country and abroad only from January the 1st, 2023. Namely, euro and cent coins with Croatian national symbols on the reverse will only become legal tender in the Republic of Croatia and the rest of the Eurozone on the actual day of Croatia's accession to the Eurozone, which is scheduled for the very first day of 2023.

There are a mixture of feelings among the residents of this country when it comes to sending the now historic Croatian kuna to this history books and replacing it with the single currency of the Eurozone. While some are mourning the loss of a part of Croatia's unique identity in the face of continued EU ''encroachment'', others will be more than happy to no longer be victims of exchange rate fluctuations, and this will be the particular case for those who have taken out bank loans.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Euro Countdown: Where Can I Exchange Kuna Banknotes and Coins for Free?

November the 28th, 2022 - We're now coming very close to the final full month in which the kuna will be the official currency of this country, with the euro set to replace it as of the 1st of January, 2023. Where can you exchange kuna banknotes and coins for euros free of charge?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the country's many banks, Fina and Hrvatska posta (Croatian post) will all play the main role in the kuna exchange process as we head towards Croatian Eurozone accession at the very beginning of next year. Throughout the first twelve months from the day of the introduction of the euro as the country's main currency, it will be possible to exchange kuna coins and banknotes in all banks, Croatian post offices and Fina branches without any charge and with the application of a fixed conversion rate.

In addition to banks, Fina and Croatian post, many shops and other companies will have to be supplied with euro cash in a timely manner in order to be able to carry out cash transactions in the new currency from the day of the introduction of the euro.

After the first twelve months of Croatia using the euro as its official currency expires, the country's banks, Fina branches and Croatian post will all stop providing their free, fixed rate kuna exchange services. After that first year, kuna banknotes and coins will only be able to be exchanged at the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) and that too will continue to be of charge.

According to euro.hr, the Croatian National Bank will exchange kuna banknotes for free permanently, while kuna coins will be able to be exchanged within three years from the date of introduction of the euro, and after that it will not be possible to do so.

For more on upcoming Croatian Eurozone accession and other important news, keep up with our dedicated news section.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Croatian Euro Coins You Can Buy As Of December 2022

November the 12th, 2022 - Croatian euro coins will be available for purchase as of the 1st of December, 2022, but won't be legal tender until the first day of 2023.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the production of Croatian euro coins in preparation for the country's entry into the Eurozone started this summer, and by the end of the year, all the quantities planned for this year will finally have been minted. These quantities will be used, among other things, for packaging in so-called initial packages of Croatian euro coins for both individuals and businesses to purchase.

People will be able to get their hands on these initial packages of brand new Croatian euro coins from banks, FINA and post offices from December the 1st this year, with the Croatian National Bank (CNB) also publishing a picture of that initial package.

The initial packages of Croatian euro coins for citizens will be packed in small plastic bags containing 33 euro coins worth 13.28 euros in total. People will be able to purchase a maximum of two bags per transaction, and a total of 1.2 million pieces will be made available for these needs.

What about ATMs?

With the introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency scheduled for January the 1st next year, ATMs will allow people to withdraw 10 or 20 euro banknotes, and requested amounts such as 50 and 100 euros will be paid out in those same 10 and 20 euro banknotes, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) revealed.

From January the 1st next year, dual circulation of both kuna and euros will remain in effect for two weeks, during which time change from payments made in either euros or kuna when buying groceries in stores will be returned to customers solely in euros.

In the period from December the 15th to the 31st, 2022, free kuna withdrawals will be introduced at all and any ATMs across the country. This will be maintained until January the 15th, 2023, in order not to have a negative impact on the availability of cash in kuna, they stated from the Croatian National Bank.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

From Mattress to Bank - How Much Deposited Kuna Cash is Legit?

October the 26th, 2022 - With Croatian Eurozone entry looming, more and more kuna cash is appearing in bank accounts having made its way there from sock drawers and under mattresses. How much of it is legitimate, however? With many of these amounts not exactly being small, these deposits might well attract the taxman's unwanted radar.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as RTL has learned from the Croatian Association of Banks (HUB), back in June this year, household deposits reached 255.2 billion kuna, in July they rose to 259.6 billion kuna, and according to the latest Croatian National Bank (CNB) data, they rose to 263.4 billion kuna this August.

When compared to the same month last year, at least according to the Croatian National Bank, this is an increase in deposits of this kind by 22.3 billion kuna or 9.4%. Peoples' deposits have been growing rapidly for a couple of years already, meaning the growth of deposits was similar a year earlier compared to 2020, when they grew by 20.7 billion kuna or 9.2%. People in this country typically deposit far more foreign currency than they do kuna cash, so the share of foreign currency deposits was 59.4% or 156.5 billion kuna, while the share of kuna cash savings and stood at 7.1% or 18.9 billion kuna.

In this way, some of the money that has been under the radar until now will surely end up being deposited into various different bank accounts. If a larger amount appears on someone's account, the spotlight might well be switched on and the bank's due diligence and analysis procedures will automatically be activated. On top of that, there there is also the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, which also prescribes which alarms need to be raised and when.

"Measures of in-depth analysis should basically ensure that banks get to know their clients and the transactions being carried out in detail, and include establishing the identity and verifying the identity of the party, collecting data on the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship, and carrying out the constant monitoring of the business relationship", they stated rom the CNB.

If an amount greater than 200,000 kuna appears in someone's account all of a sudden, regardless of who is carrying out that cash transaction, the bank is also obliged to collect information on the source of the funds.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

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