Saturday, 12 February 2022

Former Military Base in Pula to Become Home of Green Industry, Drive Progress and Change

February 12th, 2022 - Pula Mayor Filip Zoričić has big plans for Vallelunga, a suburban area that was last used as a military base and now stands empty, yet full of potential. If everything goes according to plan, Vallelunga just might become Croatia’s Silicon Valley

‘I don’t know what those who came before me had planned for this space; after all, it doesn’t even matter anymore. What matters is that transforming Vallelunga into the generator of green industry in Pula was the basis of my pre-election campaign. Considering that I won the citizens’ trust with my campaign, it’s absolutely my obligation to bring my promises to life’, said Zoričić for Novi list/Edi Prodan, adding that he wasn’t one of those people who, immediately upon winning the coveted chair, become the opposite of everything they stood for in their pre-election campaign.

‘Even though my conduct as a mayor, most of all my transparency in regards to allocating funds from the city budget, as well as my so-called ‘ordinariness’, are infuriating to the current political establishment, I remain exactly who I promised to be. And in the same way, I’ll do my best to implement everything I’d announced over the next four years. And the place to begin, the place of radical transformation of Pula, is right here’, said the mayor about Vallelunga.

He calls it a beautiful area, full of fantastic flora; the proximity of the sea and the unique view of Pula only add to its appeal. Vallelunga is also known for numerous structures left behind by various armies that resided in the area over the course of some 150 years. The last one being the Croatian Army which withdrew after a short period of time, allowing for the area to finally become open to the public.

At present, Vallelunga is under the authority of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets. Since the beginning of his mandate, Zoričić has sent a letter of intent to the Ministry on three occasions, specifying what the City of Pula is planning to do with this area of massive potential.

‘Our wish is for this space to be expropriated for a period of one hundred years, and for us to create business incubators where start-ups would be developed, a centre for the development of digital technologies and new considerations of energy for the future. This is a space which, in our opinion, should never be used for the purposes of tourism or housing, at least not in a typical sense’, Zoričić explained his plans for Vallelunga.

The former army barracks and military depots are now vacant, ruinous, and shamefully neglected. Croatia is full of post-industrial and post-military ruins, but there aren’t many to be found in locations as fantastic as this one. In this case, it’s a breathtaking bay, a part of which also houses the city of Pula.

The Pula mayor’s vision for the neglected suburb is in stark contrast with the typical tendency in these parts to approve foreign investments in tourism only to collect taxes; he strives for something completely different to hotels and camps operating in full capacity for 100 days a year. 

‘Since the census data were published, demography has been the most important topic of discussion on all levels. From the cabinet of the Government and the Parliament, to terraces of cafés. And yes, it’s true that [demographics] can be helped with a financial incentive granted to families who decide to have more children. We also saw an increase in the number of newborns in Pula last year, but this in itself cannot drive change. Change can only be made possible by investing in a new industry that will attract - new people’, said Zoričić with resolve.

Locals are fond of Vallelunga; they love to spend time outdoors and aren’t happy that the area was left to ruin. People come here to sunbathe, to repair their fishing nets, moms are taking babies out for walks; locals are cycling, jogging, walking their dogs.

‘Try to imagine this place as a big park, a compound of renovated objects built of ecological, modern materials; young people creating a new industry, or rather a green industry as we like to define it. What I definitely want to point out is, when the said transformation happens, because I’m sure that the Government will soon positively respond to our letter of intent, all the people that we see around here now will still be able to do everything they’re doing today. Or rather, they’ll be able to do even more, because of the large green areas that will allow for many more activities’, he said.

Zoričić says the project is well underway, far from only being wishful thinking. The City is already working on the framework, and has signed on Infobip, CARNET and the University of Juraj Dobrila in Pula as partners. They’re now waiting for the Government’s decision in regards to the Vallelunga area.

‘Everyone’s amazed by Infobip or the fact that Rimac brought experts from around the world to Sveta Nedjelja. It’s exactly what we’ll see here at Vallelunga, and all these young and smart people will have one of the most beautiful workspaces on the planet. I truly don’t understand why we so lightly decide that life is better somewhere else without even trying to do what we’re good at in the place where we already live’, said the mayor.

He’s not impatient in regards to the Government making a decision regarding the state property at Vallelunga, saying he understands it’s a complex question. Our coastline is one of our most important resources, and it’s understandable that we as a nation would care about retaining control over it.

‘People have the right to be cautious as they’re constantly subjected to the terror of manipulation, setups and affairs of corruption, so they’re more likely to accept a space that’s devastated and neglected than the idea of it being given to someone. I guarantee two things: when Vallelunga is appropriated by the City of Pula, there won’t be any tourist and hospitality facilities apart from the most essential ones, nor will there be any apartments for sale. Yes, housing units can be implemented, but only for the purpose of temporary accommodation of visiting experts, scientists, or persons in need of accommodation in the first few months of their residence in Pula. There will be nothing commercial of the kind that proved to be detrimental to our coast, such as the cheap construction of tourist apartments. This is my promise’, said Mayor Zoričić.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Several Cities and Counties Get New Heads After Predecessors' Long Terms

ZAGREB, 4 June 2021 - Following Croatia's local election runoffs on 30 May, several long-standing county prefects and mayors were unseated while some decided not to rerun, and on Friday transfers of powers were held in those units of local government and some other cities and county seats.

Apart from the focus on the change of power in Zagreb, where the new mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the Green-Left bloc took over office from the acting mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, who temporarily stepped into office after the death of Mayor Milan Bandić on 28 February, the transfer of powers in Pula, Osijek, Sibenik-Knin and Varaždin counties also grabbed media attention.


In the biggest Istrian city of Pula, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) lost the mayoral elections for the first time. The former mayor, IDS leader Boris Miletić, decided not to rerun for this position after his 15-year-long mayorship. However, he vied in the race for County Prefect which he won by a slim margin.

The IDS mayoral candidate was defeated by Filip Zoričić, an independent candidate, who took over the post on Friday morning. Concerning the city council, the IDS was a relative winner, with 32% of the vote, and Zoričić's slate won 16.87%, and was followed by the We Can slate (16.84%) and the Social Democratic Party (15%). Currently Zoričić and the two latter groups are conducting negotiations on the future majority in the city's legislature. The deadline for the founding session of the Pula city council is 19 June.


The new mayor of Čakovec, Ljerka Cividini, took over the powers from the SDP mayor Stjepan Kovač, who was at the helm of the city since 2013. Cividini said today that concrete projects would be on the agenda after the new authorities got full insight into the finances of this biggest city in Međimurje County, which re-elected Matija Posavec as its county prefect.

Cividini, supported by Posavec's slate, as well as by several parties including the HNS, Democrats, HSLS and HDSS, said today that as far as the future majority in the 19-seat city council was concerned, the topic was being negotiated by her slate, that won 8 seats, with the Fokus party, that had three seats.

Varaždin County

The change of powers in the office of the Varaždin Prefect was highlighted by media as a development that could impact the relations in the ruling majority in the national parliament. Former county prefect Radimir Čačić of the Reformists party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, was unseated by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) official Anđelko Stričak.

Upon the transfer of powers, Stričak today announced negotiations on forming the majority in the county assembly in which the HDZ will have the largest number of seats, and is followed by the Reformists.

Šibenik-Knin County

The new prefect in Šibenik-Knin County, Marko Jelić, who was the mayor of Knin in the previous term, stepped into office at today's formal ceremony. Jelić, who ran as an independent candidate, unseated the former county prefect, Goran Pauk of the HDZ, who had run the county for 15 years.

However, the county assembly will have the largest number of HDZ councillors, as this party won 35% of the vote, the independent list of Stipe Petrina followed with 16.6% of the vote, and Jelić's slate was third with 15.6%.

Lika-Senj County

The transfer of powers was also held in Gospić, with Ernest Petry of the HDZ party succeeding Darko Milinović, who founded a new regional party after his conflict with the HDZ leadership a few years ago.

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

Friday, 9 April 2021

Four Schools Combating Period Poverty in Croatia

April 9, 2021 - Following Scotland's policy and relevant scientific research on period poverty in Croatia, four schools in Croatia want to help female pupils in their struggles of womanhood.

10% of women in Croatia can't afford menstrual pads and tampons – showed the results of the first big research on period poverty in the country. Following these results, as reports, Machinery and Traffic School Varaždin was the first to secure free menstrual products for pupils, and three schools in Istria are on the same path.

As confirmed to Istra.In, Vladimir Gortan High School in Buje already secured free menstrual products, Pula Gymnasium's execution is coming soon, and Buzet High School is trying to find a way to implement it.

„Graduation pupils from 4.B, class of Hotel-tourist technicians came to the idea to place a pads dispenser in the girl's bathroom so that girls can take pads when needed“, said psychologist Petra Bošnjak for Istra.In.

She added that the pupils originally thought to finance this change by themselves, but the school decided they can cover the expenses, while the pupil's duty is to follow the development and fill the dispenser with new pads when needed.

„Their notion was immediately accepted and put in place“, concluded Bošnjak.

While Pula Gymnasium still hasn't put the free menstrual products scheme in practice, they announced it to start this Monday, April 12th. 

„Looking at the Varaždin school, we talked with the pedagogy service in school and decided to secure free menstrual products ourselves. I think it's a good approach to be more open towards women and as a school to send a message that we want a clear approach to topics we don't speak loud enough about and to more frequently talk about topics like equality which today is very very important“, said principal of Pula Gymnasium, Filip Zoričić. 

The school will finance menstrual products and which will be available to the pupils in the psychology and pedagogy office. 

As already mentioned, Buzet High School wants to implement the same help to girl pupils too, but the project is in the early stages, and the school vows to do everything in its power to make it a reality. Last week, they sent an inquiry to a drug store asking to sponsor free menstrual products for the girls at Buzet High School, but the drug store so far didn't respond.

„We still didn't get an answer, but we only sent it last week. We certainly want to make this idea a reality, and we won't give up until we find a sponsor for this action“, said principal Margareta Gumilar persistently.

With different stages of success in ensuring free menstrual products for their pupils, these schools are positioning themselves as champions of positive change for gender equality. They are fighting to remove one financial struggle for the pupils that certainly gives uneven position. The prices of menstrual products in Croatia range from 10 to over 20 kunas. 

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