Monday, 5 July 2021

EU Climate Pact Presented: Mediterranean Still Under Greatest Threat From Plastics

July 5th, 2021 - At a presentation of the European Climate Pact, a new European Commission initiative, experts warned earlier this week that the Mediterranean Sea was still the area in the world under the greatest threat from plastic waste and that the enormous consumption of bottled water was an increasing problem.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 55% of the world's plastic waste is accumulated in the Mediterranean Sea. With poor waste management and mass tourism without adequate infrastructure, high consumption of plastic packaging, especially bottled water, is an increasing problem.

The Mediterranean is the region in the world under the greatest threat from plastic waste. We are literally suffocating in plastics. In Croatia, huge quantities of bottled water are bought. Don't buy water in plastic packaging. Croatia is a country rich in water sources, said Nataša Kalauz of WWF Adria at the online presentation of the European Climate Pact in Zagreb.

The European Climate Pact is an initiative launched by the European Commission in 27 EU member states to raise awareness of the problem of climate change and encourage joint action. WWF Adria is the project coordinator for Croatia and Slovenia.

Julije Domac, the Croatian president's special advisor on energy and climate and European Climate Pact ambassador, said that "unless the future is green, we wouldn't have it."

He also said that Croatia, as a country rich in renewable resources, could recognize an opportunity in that, not only for the production of energy for its own needs but also for export.

Perhaps a fifth of energy production comes from renewable resources globally, and in about twenty years, it should reach four-fifths. That is an opportunity for Croatia, said Domac.

The director of the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development, Mirjana Matešić, cited the unsustainability of the current tourism model as one of the major problems Croatia is facing at the moment, referring to the devastation and degradation of space for tourism as well as corruption in spatial planning in mass tourism.

Dunja Mazzocco Drvar, head of the Directorate for Climate Activities at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, said that on 2 June, the Ministry adopted a new low-carbon strategy.

We are waiting for new European laws announced for mid-July, so in about two weeks, we will have new laws that will reflect the latest European ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, said Mazzocco Drvar.

The results of a study recently conducted among young people in the EU were also mentioned at the panel discussion, and they show that even though 78% of young people are concerned about climate change, most of them, 90%, are not ready to give up various amenities to reduce their harmful impact on the environment.

Mazzocco Drvar stressed that all citizens had to be educated about sustainable living and energy use.

The CountUsIn platform ( was also presented, and citizens can use it to choose a way to reduce their harmful impact on the environment or to have a positive effect on the climate crisis.

The online panel discussion was the first event within the European Climate Pact project, and WWF has announced that new panels, forums, and other forms of education and interaction with citizens will take place soon to raise awareness of the climate change problem and support citizens in their attempts to contribute to positive change.

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Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatia to Join MED 7 Alliance Says Minister of Foreign Affairs

May 13, 2021 - After his visit to Spain, Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gordan Grlic Radman announced the possibility of Croatia joining the Med 7 alliance.

Croatia might be joining the alliance of Mediterranean and southern European countries know as MED 7. Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman returned from a two-day visit to Madrid where he discussed this option with his Spanish colleague Minister Arancha Gónzalez Laya. The official announcement is expected in autumn at the yearly meeting of the alliance on Crete.

MEDT 7 or EuroMed 7 is an alliance of 7 countries of the Mediterranean region. Member countries are Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus. Portugal is the only country within the alliance that is not a Mediterranean country. However, it is a part of the wider region. MED 7 was established in 2013 following the initiative by Spain and Cyprus. The idea behind the group is to be able to form common stances on issues of interest. All countries in the group are EU countries.

Croatia to Fit in Well

According to Minister Grlic Radman, as reported by, Croatia fits well into the group and satisfies all necessary prerequisites for joining the alliance. He also expressed his belief in the need for Croatia to participate in discussions about the issues facing the Mediterranean region. Minister noted how the group will gain much from Croatian participation as well. In order to join the alliance, Croatia will have to approach each of the member countries individually.

Some of the main issues that the alliance might deal with in the near future are climate change, illegal immigration, pollution, and cooperation with non-European countries of the Mediterranean region.

It makes sense for Croatia to join such an alliance. After all, it does make up for most of the eastern Adriatic coastline. With the political power balance in the EU changing with Brexit finally coming to its end stage, it will be interesting to see whether Mediterranean countries can take a more important role in shaping EU policies.

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

Monday, 8 February 2021

Forbes Ranked Mljet Among Five Undiscovered Mediterranean Islands

February 8, 2021 – Another recognition to the Croatian islands as Forbes ranked Mljet among the top five Mediterranean undiscovered islands.

As reported by Ina Rodin, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in the USA, the renowned American magazine Forbes ranked the Croatian island of Mljet among the top five undiscovered Mediterranean islands for travelers who like to explore destinations "off the beaten track."

The article states that many beautiful destinations on the Mediterranean coast are still unexplored. The author of the article brings a list of five idyllic islands, perfect for those looking to escape from the crowds and mass tourism.

The island of Mljet is presented as a perfect place for all visitors looking for an active vacation, whether it is exploring the Mljet National Park, swimming, kayaking, or numerous hiking and biking trails on the island. On the other hand, all history and culture lovers can explore Polače, one of the oldest settlements on the island, known for its Roman palace dating back to the Roman Empire.

Along with Mljet, the list includes the Greek Syros, the Spanish island of Tabarca, the Kerkennah Islands off the coast of Tunisia, and the island of Kekova in Turkey.

"Announcements about Croatia and Croatian destinations in the most popular American media such as Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post confirmed the popularity and position of our country as a desirable tourist destination on the American market. Although the greater realization of tourist traffic from distant markets is currently difficult, our presence and visibility in the American media are important for future trends and travel," said the Croatian National Tourist Board director Kristjan Staničić.

Let's add that the world's leading brand of tourist guides Lonely Planet in its article provides an overview of four beautiful car routes in the southeastern part of Europe, and among the selected routes was a ride from Dubrovnik to Montenegro, which according to the author simply "takes your breath away."

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Thursday, 8 October 2020

Interview: Meet Najfiniji Sapuni Itd., All-Natural Croatian Cosmetics

October 8, 2020 - Najfiniji sapuni itd. (Finest Soaps, etc.) is a line of all-natural cosmetic products, owned by two Croatian single moms, Maja Pejcic and Jasminka Grbelja. With a breath of the Mediterranean and a lot of will, they have become noticed in Croatia.

So, “Najfiniji sapuni / Finest soaps, etc.” Not at all mundane or standard. How did you come up with the name? 

Najfiniji sapuni started with solid soaps. After that, we decided to start making face creams, lotions, balms… In essence, the name comes from a combination of what we are - the finest cosmetics for body care and growth. And now, we are going further with our product range.

What is in your product range? What are the ingredients used?

Najfiniji sapuni now has a nice range of body care products. Face creams, lip balms, butter and body lotions, part creams, hydrolats, solid and liquid soaps, shower gels, salt and cream peels, hand creams, and soon micellar waters and facial cleansing foams. We decided to go with simple basic raw materials: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and butter, Mediterranean essential oils. We try to weave all the best from nature into our body care products (following all legal regulations and norms, of course). We want our consumers to understand what they are reading when they check out the ingredients on the bottle. That the raw materials are recognizable - we go to a lot of ingredients to win over the audience with a lot of text on the packaging - we go to quality and comprehensibility.

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© Matej Paluh

I believe that you like every product, but which one are you especially proud of and why?

All our products are loved and created with a lot of love. But we have our pride.

Maja: I am very proud of the solid soaps - they were basically made according to my grandmother's recipe. So here’s my significant sentimental connection. And deodorant creams.

Jasminka: Deodorant cream! My firstborn in the Finest Soaps.

When moving into each new product design, the guiding thread was: what would we want on our skin? What are the ingredients that are really good and what we don't like in the products? How do we use that wonderful Mediterranean of ours and its essences? So there was a lot of imagination, love, and effort to create the product.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

What hindered you the most in starting a business? What motivated you?

Like everyone else, it is the bureaucracy. Collecting documentation, finding regulations, applicable regulations, reading the law, fighting various offices. These are things you need to learn on the go. No one prepares you for such a struggle; no one prepares you to understand systems and norms.

And what motivated us? Well, of course, the desire to put everything on a sound footing and start with the finest story. When you want something strong enough, then you have a powerful motive to fight for it.

The word "Mediterranean" runs through the whole story - how did it find its place in your laboratory?

It was a logical sequence. Najfiniji sapuni made our first steps in Baška on Krk. All these fragrant herbs, all these benefits were at hand, so why not use them and create something useful, that is, in body care? Thus, olive oil, essential oils of immortelle, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, immortelle, lavender hydrolats, orange, and cherry found a place in our laboratory. The Mediterranean provides a great treasure.

The media often tells the fact that you are single mothers. When combined with the context of what you have achieved, is it a compliment to you, or do you feel it is not necessary to mention it?

In one segment, it is important for the very reason that many think that it is impossible with such a status to be equally committed to your home and work. The proof is there - it can be done. A lot has been achieved, but the fact is that it was not at all easy to reconcile everything. We don't consider it a handicap, but maybe even a benefit, because we are used to holding all four walls of the house by ourselves. Let that struggle be something to us every day, and we may have found it easier to cope with all the obstacles than others. We know nothing but persistence and strength.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

Speaking of kids, are they faithful helpers, or do they still not know what mom is concocting in her dish?

Of course! Little Iva is a master at mixing with a spoon in her dish. She is a real lady who enjoys applying lip balms and hand creams. And Antonio is a teenager who uses solid soap and faces cream. They are faithful helpers because they are with us. They know what we are doing, but it is our job for them. Of course, with us, they learn to use the natural, to protect the environment - and when they grow up, who knows, maybe they will follow in our footsteps.

Where can potential customers find you, and what would you recommend from your product range?

All fans of our cosmetics can find us all over Croatia. We are on the shelves of specialized stores, souvenir shops, and we are also in the offer of larger retail chains. To make it easier, we have created an overview list of cities and shops under the contacts section on our website. For all those who do not have a point of sale in their vicinity, they can order directly from us through our Najfiniji sapuni webshop.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

Do you have a message for the youth or maybe adults who would like to start something similar one day?

Our cosmetics are used by people ages 9 to 99 years. Women and men are equally represented, which we are happy about. People have recognized the benefits of such products. Anyone who wants to embark on a story like this must first know exactly what they want to produce. Furthermore, they have to be educated because, without knowledge, there is nothing. They also have to be ready for one big battle with bureaucracy. And now that they have set it all up like that and decided they have to know nothing happens overnight. It takes over half a year of effort and financial resources for a product to appear on a shelf and be ready for the consumer. Nothing will go smoothly right away, but when you succeed and see your product in someone’s hands - it’s a reward for everyone.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Kvarner Bay - Where the Mediterranean Meets Vienna And Budapest

August 19, 2020 - If you thought that the entire Croatian coast is about easy-going life, with antique remnants and hot-blooded people who sing all the time under the olive oil tree - you haven’t seen Kvarner Gulf. Kvarner Gulf is also a Mediterranean region in the Adriatic sea and is somewhat similar to Dalmatia, but its culture is totally different. Think the Mediterranean with Austro-Hungarian moderation, diligence, and attention to details.

Kvarner Gulf is bordered by Tuscan-style Istria in the north, a petite arcadia of vineyards, lovely woods with truffles, pleasant coastal towns, beaches, and charming hamlets on the rolling hills. In the south, Kvarner Gulf borders Dalmatia, a region where natural beauties and amazing cultural heritage co-exist with architectural atrocities, traffic mess, and a dose of chaos here and there.

Between rustic Istria and hot-blooded Dalmatia, Kvarner lives its quaint, diligent, and neat life with tourism that was conceived in the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Dalmatia - there are ancient houses and entire towns made of stone and marble. In Kvarner, you will see narrow houses with colorful facades, villas from the belle epoque built as summer residences of a European aristocracy, and lovely houses of Kvarner’s captains with palms and exotic plants they brought from all over the world.

Dalmatia is pretty - for the most part. Yet, its turbulent history heavily influenced by the Ottoman Empire created a culture that sometimes misses keeping all things pretty, neat, and organized. This part of the Mediterranean inclines toward loud emotions that can slightly fog rational thinking, creating a charming dose of chaos and slothfulness (google: fjaka). And that’s why we love it.

Dalmatian chaos gave birth to amazing arts - klapa singing is beyond beautiful and the legendary Malo Misto TV series can stand side-by-side with Jirzi Menzel’s and Fellini’s depictions of small-town life.

But, if you want to experience another kind of Mediterranean - less dramatic and loud, visit Kvarner. The history of Kvarner was somewhat different than Dalmatian history - while Dalmatia was dealing with the attacks of the Ottoman empire, more civil rule of the Venice and Austria defined the largest part of Kvarner area, leaving good infrastructure and carefully tended gardens in front of the lovely houses lining the orderly streets of the neat colorful towns.

Colorful facades of Kvarner vs stone houses of Dalmatia