Thursday, 23 September 2021

Austrian Company PicoPack to Begin Knin-based Packaging Production

September the 23rd, 2021 - Knin has faced economic issues for a long time now, with many people leaving for either Zagreb, seasonal work on the coast or heading abroad. The Austrian company PicoPack could be set to turn things around for this inland Dalmatian town as it sets up local production.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, an new opportunity is opening up Knin, known for its role during the Homeland War, to do better economically and become a European brand for polypropylene jumbo bags. These bags are applied in a wide variety of sectors, including the agriculture, petrochemical and food processing industries. These are highly sought-after products that are otherwise imported into Croatia, but with this move, the Croatian packaging industry will soon get its first representative in the segment of the production of industrial packaging for bulk products.

The Austrian company PicoPack had the best conditions offered to them in Knin

The Austrian company PicoPack Group, a manufacturer and distributor of industrial packaging, is finalising an agreement regarding its new project, which they have decided to implement right here in Croatia. In order to supply their numerous customers from Europe and the Russian Federation and to invest in production capacity of about 18,000 square metres, the investor chose Knin. The inland Dalmatian town was chosen above all other options.

The holder of the project is the newly established company Velebit ambalaza, in which the Austrian company PicoPack will hold a 51 percent share and the entrepreneur Goran Jerkovic will hold one of 49 percent. Austrian entrepreneur and leader of PicoPack, Manfred Pribyl, confirmed that good offers from other countries, such as Bulgaria, were also considered for the project, but the best conditions and in that sense support for the project, after Jerkovic's engagement, were received from Knin. The new Knin factory could be one of the largest in all of Europe, Pribyl says, adding that the company is expanding its production globally under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic, in response to increased transport costs and longer delivery times.

Production in India, organised sixteen years ago, is now being redirected solely to the African, Australian and American markets, but the model of how they work will be replicated at the Croatian Knin factory. In addition to the workers at the plant, they will additionally have a larger number of them in education within their small educational institution, so they will always have enough workers. Pribyl stated that he will motivate them with net salaries of up to 1,000 euros, but also with the distribution of about 20 percent of profits to workers every six months, which is an unprecedented positive example in recent entrepreneurial practice.

Since back in 2007, nine entrepreneurs have been operating in the Preparandija zone, but Knin is completing the reconstruction of two significant facilities, one of which is the former Kninjanka facility. According to the head of the Knin Administrative Department for EU Programmes and Economy, Josko Nedoklan, the project is worth around 33.34 million kuna, is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, and the works on the facility should be completed by April 2022.

For more, check our our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

President Says Reciprocity Important for Reconciliation and Forgiveness

ZAGREB, 26 Aug 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said at a ceremony commemorating civilian victims of the war who died 30 years ago in Kijevo, outside Knin, that reconciliation and forgiveness required reciprocity and not arrogance and haughtiness.

Speaking of Karst areas where residents of Kijevo live and where the early medieval Croatian state hails from, Milanović said "our first churches were built here, our identity is here, our roots are here, this is stone."

"Hardly anything grows in stone, and those who survive, who are strong, who resist, those have a worth and those cannot be rooted out. Those are the people of the Dalmatian hinterland, the people of Herzegovina. They suffered during the war but I don't see them as victims or those who need charity, I see them as winners. Winners who are dignified and at the same time those who forgive and have mercy," Milanović said.

The European Union is founded on the culture of forgiveness, self-reflection, faith into a better future and the right to a new beginning, the president said adding that reconciliation and forgiveness require reciprocity and not arrogance and haughtiness. He recalled that brave soldiers had died in Kijevo, but that defenceless civilians had also been killed there.

"When I visit Grubori, the place where atrocities were committed, I come as president, as a Croat, as a citizen of this country and as a common human being. I have no ultimate expectations, but as a human being it would make me happy if the other side, and I say 'the other side' with caution because I am not a fan of such divisions, would be reciprocal. This is the only way the European civilization, good neighborly relations, and unity survive," the president said.

Milanović took part in ceremonies, marking the suffering of civilian victims from Kijevo during the Homeland War.

At the beginning of the Homeland War, the Croat-populated village of Kijevo was besieged by the local Serb rebels supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) units under the command of Ratko Mladić.

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

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Number of Knin Enterprises Increases by 28.9% in Ten Years

August the 8th, 2021 - The number of Knin enterprises has increased by almost 30 percent in the last decade alone, which is excellent news for this otherwise often forgotten (at least economically) part of inland Dalmatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, in the ten-year period from 2011 to 2020, the number of Knin enterprises has increased from 76 to 98, marking an increase of 28.9 percent, according to data from the Financial Agency (Fina) presented on the occasion of the recent Victory Day. This celebration is traditionally and historically associated with Knin, where every year on August the 5th, the central celebration takes place.

During this period, the number of employees in Knin also increased, from 653 workers in 2011 to 684 in the previous year, which is a 4.7 percent increase. The total revenues generated by Knin enterprises during the observed period were the highest of all back in 2011, when they amounted to 429.2 million kuna, and the lowest in 2018 with 163.7 million kuna.

Throughout the observed period, Knin enterprises operated positively, with the highest net profit in the amount of 15.8 million kuna in 2020, even when compared to pre-pandemic 2019 when their net profit amounted to 12.1 million kuna, recording significant growth of 30.7 percent.

Compared to the result in the initially observed year, 2011, when the net profit amounted to 9.7 million kuna, the generated net profit in pandemic-dominated 2020 was higher by 63.2 percent for Knin enterprises.

The share of Knin enterprises back in 2020 in the number of companies headquartered in the wider Sibenik-Knin County stood at 3.7 percent, in terms of the number of employees, 5.5 percent, in terms of total revenues 3.4 percent, in terms of total expenses 3.4 percent, in profit periods 4.8 percent and in loss periods - 0.5 percent.

The average monthly net salary calculated for employees of Knin enterprises back in 2020 amounted to 4263 kuna and is 20.2 percent lower than the average monthly net salary calculated for employees of companies based in the wider Sibenik-Knin County, where it was 5342 kuna.

For comparison, the average monthly calculated net salary of employees in enterprises at the level of the whole of Croatia in 2020 amounted to 5,971 kuna and is higher by 40.1 percent than the average monthly net salary calculated of employees working for Knin enterprises, and is 11.8 percent higher than the average net salary of employees of companies based in Sibenik-Knin County.

According to the total revenues recorded back in 2020, the most successful companies in Knin are: Transport beton Lubina with 19 employees and 36.5 million kuna in total revenues and Efficient Powerful Successful with 248 employees and 36.3 million kuna in total revenues.

The company Transport beton Lubina was founded back in 2007 as a small family company, and today it has successfully spread throughout Croatia. It is engaged in the production, transport and delivery of concrete for tourist, residential, business and energy facilities. Efficient Powerful Successful, on the other hand, is engaged in the production of metal structures and their accompanying parts.

For more, follow our business section.

Friday, 6 August 2021

SNV Commemorates Serb Civilians Killed at Uzdolje Near Knin in 1995

ZAGREB, 6 Aug 2021 - The southern municipality of Biskupija and the Serb National Council (SNV) on Friday held a commemoration in Uzdolje near Knin for civilian victims of the 1995 military and police Operation Storm, at a site where eight Serb civilians were killed on 6 August 1995.

In 2017 the SNV branch in Biskupija and the association of the families of missing persons "Protiv zaborava" (Against oblivion) unveiled a memorial commemorating the civilians killed at Uzdolje.

Today a religious service was held for the victims at the site and wreaths were laid and candles lit at the memorial by local ethnic Serb officials and Serb minority MP Anja Šimpraga.

The SNV recalled in a statement that the Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past nongovernmental organisation in August 2017 filed a criminal report against unidentified perpetrators for the crime committed at Uzdolje.

"The criminal report, which no institution has yet acted on, relies for the most part on facts about the crime on which light was shed in an investigation by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), primarily by witness statements," the SNV said.

It recalled that the investigation by the ICTY showed that three men, wearing camouflage uniforms with Croatian Army insignia on them and armed with machine guns, arrived by car in Uzdolje's hamlet of Šare in the morning of 6 August 1995.

They started abusing and intimidating elderly people they found in the hamlet, taking away a group of villagers to a location near the Knin-Drniš road, where one of the three men opened fire at them, killing seven, including three women. One person survived and managed to escape to a nearby forest.

Another person, an elderly woman, was killed in her house.

The SNV said it was not clear what prevented prosecutorial authorities to further investigate the crime and called on them to do so.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

President Zoran Milanović: There's no Boycott, Some Generals Received Invitation Too Late

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that the fact that some of the army generals will not attend the Victory Day celebration in Knin is not a boycott, but that they received invitations too late.

Who has announced a boycott? Ljubo Ćesić Rojs has not. Josip Đakić is not a general, he is a bum, and a member of parliament, in other words he is nobody. Rojs will be there, Pavao Miljavac will be there and Ante Kotromanović will be there. Of course, not everyone can come every year, but most  people will be there," Milanović said during a visit to the southern town of Sinj.

He said he did not think there was any pressure on some of the generals by the Defence Ministry "because no one can exert pressure on those people," but noted that some of the generals and commanders were put in an awkward position because they received the invitation the day before the event, which was the ministry's responsibility.

During the visit, Milanović conferred high state medals on retired Brigadier Dušan Viro and posthumously on Franciscan Frane Bilokapić for their acts of humanity during the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

He said he did not consider the decoration of General Mladen Kruljac disputable even though he had been found guilty of corruption. "He is a war commander and is decorated what he did in the war. No one is perfect, but what he did in the war is without a doubt impeccable, and he is not the only one."

Judge Dobronić is my candidate for Supreme Court President

Answering questions from the press, Milanović confirmed that 61-year-old Judge Radovan Dobronić is his candidate for the position of Supreme Court President.

He has responded to the call for applications and "now we will see what will those who undermined, torpedoed and dishonoured my previous candidate do," Milanović said, describing Dobronić as smart, educated, honourable and incorruptible.

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Minister Tomo Medved: Central Celebration of Operation Storm to be Held at Knin Stadium

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - The 26th anniversary of Operation Storm will be organised in accordance with epidemiological measures and the central celebration will be held at the football stadium in Knin, while the ceremonial part will take place at the Knin Fortress, Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said on Tuesday.

Based on guidance from the Croatian Public Health Institute on compliance with coronavirus restrictions, it has been assessed that the Knin stadium is the best place to organise a dignified commemoration of this important date in our recent history while respecting the epidemiological measures, Medved told a press conference after a meeting of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and relevant cabinet ministers with representatives of the association of retired Croatian army generals.

Before the commemoration, senior state officials will lay wreaths in front of the monument to the casualties and the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Asked whether he expected representatives of the Serb minority to attend, after Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević of the Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS) attended last year's ceremony, Medved said that an agreement had not yet been reached as to which cabinet members would be attending.

Reporters were also interested in hearing whether anyone from the Croatian Defence Force (HOS), the paramilitary arm of the right-wing Croatian Party of Rights,  would attend, Medved said that the position of the Council for Facing the Past was clear and that all components of the Croatian army and police, as well as associations of Homeland War veterans and casualties, would be invited to attend that important anniversary.

Miljavac: The problem is that young people are being recruited with HOS insignia

The head of the association of retired army generals, Pavao Miljavac, said that the association supports the idea for the commemoration to be held at the stadium due to the COVID-19 situation.

As for HOS's participation in the war, Miljavac said that its members need to be honoured as they went to defend Croatia without any ideology.

"The problem to me is that young people, 19 or 20 year olds,  are again being recruited with HOS insignia," said Miljavac and quoted the late president Franjo Tuđman as saying: "Had we continued down that path, Croatia would hardly have been recognised."

During the meeting, the participants discussed disagreements over the Civilian Casualties of the Homeland War Act.

Miljavac underscored that the minister assured them that the law would be implemented in such a way that it will minimise any possible abuse of the law.

"Strict coordination will be conducted between the Interior Ministry and Croatian defenders. We have a list of who was where - almost 95%, so that it will be strictly implemented, and there shouldn't be any abuse," he said.

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

Friday, 4 June 2021

Veterans Minister: Knin Remains Central Location for Operation Storm Commemoration

ZAGREB, 4 June 2021 - War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said on Friday the 5 August 1995 Operation Storm would be commemorated across the country but that Knin remained the central place for the Victory Day celebration.

He was commenting on President Zoran Milanović's proposal that this year Victory Day be commemorated in Glina instead of Knin.

Speaking to the press in Petrinja, Medved said 50 towns and municipalities had been financed every year since 2016 where Operation Storm was commemorated, notably in previously occupied areas, adding that the Croatian Army's symbolic victory near Glina had not been forgotten.

That's why, he said, the government and he as the minister of war veterans stand by their position that Operation Storm will continue to be commemorated across the country, but that Knin, as the central point of the victory in the 1991-95 Homeland War, remains the central location for the commemoration.

Medved said Knin was a "symbol of our victory" and that "ours as well as all future generations have the obligation to value that symbol of victory."

Asked "what if veterans and generals propose commemorating at another location," Medved said someone was evidently always looking for a motive for discussions.

He recalled everything the Andrej Plenković cabinet had done for veterans since 2016.

Medved said a big commemoration was held in Glina two years ago and that the commemoration in Knin had been a tradition since 1995. 

He also said that there were 150 mass execution sites and graves in Croatia, including 44 in Sisak-Moslavina County, such as Baćin, the second largest mass grave after Ovčara.

Post-earthquake reconstruction

As head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of last December's earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County, he said damaged and unsafe buildings were being demolished and that reconstruction had been stepped up.

He said the Central State Reconstruction and Housing Office had already reconstructed 60 houses, that over 100 were undergoing reconstruction, that studies for the reconstruction of 3,000 would be ready this week, and that contracts for the reconstruction of over 6,000 houses would be signed by 15 July.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: "I'm Considering Not Having Army Attend Operation Flash Commemoration"

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he was considering not having the army participate in the coming commemoration of the 1995 military and police operation "Flash" in Okučani, to protect it from politicking, and that he would discuss the matter with Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

"A situation where soldiers have to stand for hours while politicians and government officials successively lay wreaths to comply with epidemiological measures puts in an awkward position the Army Chief of Staff as well as the commander of the land army who, if they do not want to offend anyone, have to be on duty... after arriving with me, they have to wait for (PM Andrej) Plenković, then, I guess, also for (Parliament Speaker Gordan) Jandroković," said Milanović, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

"So I'm thinking about telling them to stay home, to simply protect them from any politicking... I will talk with the minister," said Milanović while visiting the Gašinci military grounds.

Milanović said that he did not see anything contentious about the fact that on Monday, at a reception he gave for retired officers and wartime commanders of the Croatian Defence Force (HVO) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he also met with retired HVO general Tihomir Blaškić, who was in the HVO delegation. 

Blaškić was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and served a nine-year prison sentence for the cruel and inhumane treatment of Bosniak civilians and POWs from 1992 to 1994.

"Had Blaškić been responsible for something that, let's say Ratko Mladić was responsible for, I would not have received him," he said.

He announced that he would also receive General Milivoj Petković when he is released from prison "because he isn't a war criminal."

The convictions against Blaškić and Petković were political convictions, he added.

The ICTY convicted Petković of crimes committed in 1993 against Bosniaks in the territory that was under the control of the Croat authorities of Herceg-Bosna

Asked if he would attend a ceremony marking the anniversary of the establishment of the 4th Guards Brigade in Split, Milanović said that he would attend the ceremony in Knin.

"I'm going to Knin, not Split, that brigade is in Knin and the army will conduct such events in barracks," the president said.

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

Monday, 12 April 2021

Knin Entrepreneurship Centre Worth 27.5 Million Kuna Planned

April the 12th, 2021 - Knin is planning on getting business in the area going again with the creation of the new Knin Entrepreneurship Centre, worth over 27 million kuna in total.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the former complex of buildings of the now-defunct Kninjanka Knin clothing and lingerie factory has been closed and rotting for two decades now, but life should return to this facility by the time next summer rolls around.

This is the place where the City of Knin, in partnership with the Local Development Agency Matica and with co-financing from European Union (EU) funds, will realise the largest individual investment in entrepreneurial infrastructure in the area, the construction of the Knin Entrepreneurship Centre.

A tender is currently underway for the renovation of the aforementioned buildings and the conversion of the former Kninjanka factory into the Knin Entrepreneurship Centre, the value of which is estimated by the City of Knin to stand at an impressive 27.5 million kuna.

It is a space that has represented a certain level of misery and sadness among Knin's locals for years, because it used to employ about 800 workers, mostly women, but after the war and the lack of interest in taking over and continuing the industry, Kninjanka has been completely closed and left to rot since 2003.

After an unsuccessful attempt at the rehabilitation of the buildings, the former Kninjanka building was taken over by Jadranska banka (Adriatic bank), from which the complex covering 11,000 square metres was purchased by the City of Knin back in 2018. Since then, preparations have been underway for a project to renovate and build a centre for the starting and developing of new businesses, for which there is growing interest and potential across Knin.

In previous years, people had a hard time coming to terms with the disappearance of many industrial companies for which Knin was once famous, and of the former "giants" only the production of screws continued in the premises of TVIK, which was taken over and renovated by Samobor DIV.

Lately, the desire has prevailed in Knin for the city to no longer merely perceived solely as a place of special Croatian patriotism during August and as an area where people live on state aid. There are more and more people wanting change to come, especially among the younger population who think differently and decided to seek help for their entrepreneurial ideas.

Ivona Malenica, director of the Matica Local Development Agency, pointed out that a visible progress has been made when it comes to Knin's tourism and services, as well as agriculture.

During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the aforementioned development agency organised a web market and networked local producers, and it turns out, according to the director, that there is a lot of room to start up the local economy and develop new ideas in Knin.

"It's the infrastructure that Kninjanka boasts that will be a much-needed injection for entrepreneurship and will offer a different picture of Knin for those who live there and those who may recognise Knin as a place to come and live and work," added Malenica, whose agency is announcing a tender for two associates who will prepare things and attract potential users of the future Knin Entrepreneurship Centre.

As far as the renovation of the Kninjanka building is concerned, the reconstruction for which the contractors are required envisages comprehensive interventions on several facilities, from the factory hall, the two-storey building, the boiler room, to the fuel oil storage and the fuel station.

The construction of these facilities began primarily back in 1975, and in the past twenty years of non-use, all of the installations, windows and doors have been destroyed, as have roofs and partition walls which all need to be replaced, new waterproofing needs to be installed on all roofs and all of the other surfaces, etc.

The City of Knin is collecting bids for the renovation of the Kninjanka building electronically through the EOJN until April the 19th this year, and the deadline for submission is within 30 days, while the contractor has 10 months left to complete all the work following conclusion.

However, given that it is now known that local elections will follow, it is quite likely that the contract for this job will be concluded by the successor of the current Knin mayor Marko Jelic, who did a great job on the Knin Entrepreneurship Centre project so far when it comes to obtaining EU money and preparing a lot of paperwork.

For more, follow our business page.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Ex-Intelligence Officer Whose Body Was Found Near Knin Committed Suicide

ZAGREB, 23 March, 2021 - Toni Matas, whose corpse was found in his car near Knin on Sunday afternoon, committed suicide, the Šibenik-Knin County police department said on Tuesday.

The autopsy confirmed the identity of the victim as Toni Matas, who used to work for the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA). His body was found near Knin on Sunday afternoon when passers-by informed the Šibenik-Knin County police department that they had seen a corpse in a car.

Matas's last job was as corporate security director at the Croatian Post.

Local media outlets speculate that Matas had private and business problems lately. Some also claim that his name was implicated in the recent wind park graft scandal. Several days before the tragic event, Matas was questioned by the USKOK office for prevention of organised crime and corruption.

Some media allege that Matas left a suicide note in his car and that the note mentioned pressure he had been exposed to due to his role in the said scandal.

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

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