Friday, 18 September 2020

Six of the Best! Croatian Protected Produce On Sale in China

September 18, 2020 – Six items of Croatian protected produce are among the 100 European items to go on sale in China

Six items of Croatian protected produce are among the 100 European items to go on sale in China. In a reciprocal deal, 100 Chinese products will also be recognised and recommended on the European market.

34933c5e0f633c5d1e4f45c5b0cd6dc9_XL.jpgDalmatian prosciutto © TZ Vrgorac

Baranja kulen, Dalmatian prosciutto, Drniš prosciutto, Lika potatoes, Dingač wine and Neretva mandarins are the premium six Croatian protected produce chosen to be among the European 100. All of the Croatian protected produce is already recognised at a national and at an EU-level and designated its status based on its unique place of origin.

Dingač.jpgDingač wine © Silverije

339ed3435d099dd0a91c267af376e8f0_XL.jpgNeretva Mandarins

The European products will be specially marked and receive special privileges when they go on sale in China. Alongside the Croatian protected produce, other items on the European list are French champagne, Greek feta cheese, Italian Parma prosciutto, Italian mozzarella, Irish whiskey and Portuguese port. On the Chinese list of products are distinct varieties of rice, bean and vegetable products, some of which will already be popular with Europeans who eat or cook Chinese cuisine.

_DSC5737_DxO.jpgDrniš prosciutto © Tourist Board of Drniš

The full list of Croatian produce protected at an EU-level currently includes Istrian olive oil, Dalmatian prosciutto, Pag cheese, Lika lamb, Poljički Soparnik, Zagorje turkey, Korčula olive oil, Istrian prosciutto, Sour cabbage from Ogulin, Neretva mandarins, Slavonian honey, Drniš prosciutto, Cres olive oil, Pag salt, Baranja kulen, Bjelovarski kvargl, Varaždin cabbage, Pag lamb, Šolta olive oil, Meso 'z tiblice, Zagorje mlinci, Krk prosciutto, Lika potatoes, Slavonian kulen, Krk olive oil.

MK4_5082.jpegBaranja kulen, featured within a traditional Slavonian platter © Romulić & Stojčić

b9def02b6d20f4f0adb6e889f99af491_XL.jpgLika Potatoes

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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Is Birdwatching Future of Neretva Valley Tourism?

August 11, 2020 - Dalmatia is a paradise for those who enjoy birdwatching, but also other visitors eager to use their adventurous spirit, who are eagerly awaiting to visit the Neretva Valley, otherwise an ornithological reserve, already this autumn.

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that unlike the current tourism, which has recorded losses around Dalmatia, the corona crisis could open new tourist products such as kitesurfing or birdwatching.

And while kitesurfing proved to be a complete success, bird watchers and nature lovers have yet to arrive in Croatia. Since these are guests who are of generally higher spending power, Neretva caterers are rubbing their hands with excitement.

There are several birdwatching sites in Europe.

These are most often large wetlands in Gibraltar visited by millions of migratory birds, followed by Donana in Spain, the Camargue in France, Eilat in Israel.

Alongside them are the Dalmatian bird habitats of the Neretva Valley, Vrana Lake, Kolansko Blato, which should be promoted as "birdwatching" destinations.

The significance of the Neretva delta for bird watchers is best illustrated by the numerous finds of ringed birds that were in this area in winter or during spring and autumn migration. In the Neretva, there are various species of ducks, herons, terns, eagles, jays, terns and rods rest, which is a real treat for bird and nature lovers.

"It is the greatest pleasure for foreign visitors to be in nature outdoors. Birdwatching is a novelty in the local tourist offer," reveals Pavo Jerkovic, a tourist worker with many years of experience in promoting selective forms of tourism, starting with photo safaris through the Neretva swamp. Bird lovers bring binoculars and bird identification literature with them. Some even record the birds singing and photograph them with special telephoto lenses.

"The guest takes binoculars and observes the birds on the check for several hours. This is where their lunch is organized and it is an unforgettable experience for them. Guests also love to fish. When they catch a plotica or catfish, they immediately cook it in a brudet," says Pavo Jerkovic, who hopes for a more intensive visit by birdwatchers in the off-season when the autumn migration of birds begins.

Birdwatchers are usually wealthy and highly educated clientele, who do not regret the money if they get what they want in return. It is not a problem for them to travel halfway around the world to observe birds in the Neretva, explore certain species, or write in their notes that they have seen a rare bird.

More than 150 bird species regularly appear in the Neretva Valley, most of which are considered to be the target species of the Neretva Delta ecological network area.

As the largest reed complex in the Republic of Croatia, the entire Neretva delta area is important as a resting place during the migration of birds to Africa, as well as for wintering bird populations from northeastern and central Europe. That is why the Neretva Valley wants to be protected.

"The Municipality of Zazablje supports the initiative that after 15 years the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy declares a special ornithological reserve in Kuti. Thus, the municipality gained additional value, the potential for the development of selective forms of tourism, and at the same time, the preservation of this area," said the mayor of Zazablje, Maja Vrnoga. The main tourist offer in the area of the proposed special reserves is a photo safari in a traditional boat, sport fishing, diving, kayaking, bird watching, cycling and hiking.

"This area was supposed to be protected 25 years ago, but it is never too late and I welcome all activities that protect nature. However, it is necessary to inform the local population about everything and explain exactly what they gain or what they lose when a certain area is protected.

People need to adapt to nature and live and work in harmony with nature," says Jerkovic, who built a "Neretva house" on the shores of Lake Kuti, which is visited by several thousand foreign visitors during the season in Neretva boats, because there is no other way.

"Foreign visitors are happy when they ride in boats and meet our farmers who treat them to figs, strawberries, cherries, mandarins. There is no such thing anywhere in the world," emphasizes Jerkovic, who hopes that the proclamation of a special reserve of Lake Kuti will intensify the tourist offer of this area, which will benefit both tourist workers and local farmers.

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Saturday, 8 August 2020

Zagreb and Stablina Share First Place at 23rd Ladja Marathon in Neretva

August 8, 2020 - Zagreb and Stablina are the winners of the 23rd Ladja Marathon on the Neretva River.

HRT reports that these two crews alternated in the lead throughout the race. Zagreb was the first to enter the finish line, but the judges later decided that both teams were the winners and that there would be no second place, for the first time in the history of the competition.

The reason for this move was that at one point in the race, the Zagreb team took away the advantage from Stablina.

Sveti Ilija from Metkovic came in third.

On the 22.5-kilometer-long track from Metkovic to Ploce, organized by the Neretva Boatmen's Association, 35 crews competed for the Great Shield of Prince Domagoj. Each boat crew consists of 10 rowers, a drummer and helmsman.

Before arriving in Opuzen, the crews of Stablina, Crni put Metkovic, Zagreb and Slivno were in the lead, and in Komin, for more than half of the race, the leaders were Zagreb and Stablina. After almost two hours of racing, Stablina and Zagreb were still at the top, followed by two Metkovic crews, Sveti Ilija and Crni put.

This year's marathon was held without spectators and under the auspices of the President of the Republic Zoran Milanovic.

Last year, Gusari from Komin celebrated.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

First Step Taken to Declare Special Reserves in Neretva Valley

May 19, 2020 - The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy has drafted a Proposal to proclaim new special reserves in the Neretva Valley. 

Namely, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy has drafted a Proposal for a Decree on proclaiming the "Blue Eye (Modro Oko) and Desne Lake", "the mouth of the Neretva" and "Kuti Lake" as special reserves. 

The protection of these areas in the category of special reserves is of special interest to the Republic of Croatia, thus achieving the preconditions for long-term conservation of wetland ecosystems and its biodiversity, landscape and geological diversity.

The greatest wealth and diversity of fauna refers to the world of birds, and fish at the mouth of the Neretva. Over 150 species of birds regularly appear in the Neretva Valley, and a total of over 300 species have been recorded.

Of these, 65 species are considered target species in the Neretva Delta ecological network area (HR1000031). As the largest reed complex in the Republic of Croatia, the entire Neretva delta area is important as a resting place during the migration of birds to Africa, as well as for wintering bird populations from northeastern and central Europe.

The Neretva is one of the largest rivers of the eastern part of the Adriatic basin and flows through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia until reaching the Adriatic Sea. It is also the largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps in the eastern part of the Adriatic basin/watershed.

The total length of the Neretva Riva is 225 kilometers. Two hundred eight kilometers are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the final 22 kilometers are in Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The documentation to proclaim the "Blue Eye and Desne Lake", "mouth of Neretva" and "Kuti" special reserves are available for public inspection on the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy website.

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Sunday, 12 April 2020

Neretva Valley Will Soon Boast Wind Organs - First Installations Begin

As Morski writes on the 11th of April, 2020, 21 ''tubes'' for the Neretva Valley's upcoming wind organs were delivered to the construction site of the unique wind organ project, which sits 114 metres high on Trovro hill in Rogotin, and the installation of the first tube into a 15.5 metre long concrete structure built by Trag employees from Dubrovnik began on Monday.

These tubes are made of a special type of stainless steel, they're resistant to even the most harsh weather conditions, and were built by the Kvaternik Orguljarstvo company from Koprivnica. The director of the aforementioned company, Alen Kvaternik, came to the site to organise the works on the installation of the tubes with chief construction engineer, Ivan Simovic, and supervising engineer, Matko Medak. Through pipes which are 120cm in diameter, air will flow in and produce sound. The pipe will be delivered from Koprivnica to Rogotin after the tubes have been fully installed.

Currently, two of the three structures have been completed, while the third is being completed, followed by the installation of the instruments and the stonework, which is the final phase of the wind organ project in the Neretva Valley.

The wind farm investment is worth just over three million kuna, and besides the installation of the tubes, it includes paving the path with stone slabs from the site, installing benches made of natural materials, such as stone and wood in accordance with the local environment, setting up an information map, creating a plateau from stone drywall, the construction of a panoramic binocular observatory and construction of an eco garden.

These new wind organs are one of the nine planned infrastructure activities undertaken as part of the project "Promoting the Sustainable Development of the Natural Heritage of the Neretva Valley", sponsored by Dubrovnik-Neretva County, with partners from the DUNEA Regional Agency, Ploce, Metkovic and the Public Institution for the Management of Protected Areas of Nature of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The project is being implemented under the Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020 operation programme and is funded by European Structural and Investment Funds. The total value of the project stands at a massive 14.3 million kuna, of which 10.5 million kuna is being co-financed by the EU support system.

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Sunday, 3 November 2019

Guidelines for Protecting Rural Landscapes, Sustainable Tourism Development of Neretva Valley Presented

November 3, 2019 - The CO-EVOLVE project is looking to revitalize the Neretva Valley.

Guidelines for the integral protection of rural landscapes and sustainable tourism development of the Neretva River Delta were presented this week at the Valamar Lacroma Hotel in Dubrovnik, at the final conference of the CO-EVOLVE project organized by the DUNEA Regional Agency.

HRTurizam writes that the guidelines have created conservation, urban, landscape, and architectural bases that identify and valorize neglected, or abandoned, villages and hamlets in the hinterland of the Neretva, and planning guidelines that can be implemented in the spatial planning documentation of local self-government units in the Neretva valley.

Prefect Nikola Dobroslavic discussed the importance of the CO-EVOLVE project for Dubrovnik-Neretva County. "These Guidelines provide answers on how to revitalize the Neretva and give it new value through tourism development. We must work to raise awareness of the importance of the quality of the space we have and at the same time protect them to create the preconditions for the development of sustainable tourism,”  said Dobroslavic, adding that the Neretva is an example for the development of other rural parts of the county.

The importance of this project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund was also addressed by the director of the DUNEA Regional Agency, Melania Milic. “With a budget of €215,000, the DUNEA Regional Agency, together with the Institute for Physical Planning of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and external experts, created integrated management plans and activities for the Neretva River Delta - one of seven pilot areas. This was also the aim of the project - raising awareness, analyzing the situation and promoting the cooperation of man and nature in coastal areas with high tourism rates and high tourism potential. Through joint efforts, exchanging experiences, and searching for the best solutions, we have come to the end of this project and we can really be proud of the Guidelines that have emerged from the project,” said Milic, expressing her desire to provide funds for other clusters in order to continue developed rural areas.

Director of the Institute for Physical Planning of Dubrovnik-Neretva County Marina Oreb warned that most of the villages in Neretva, but also in other parts of the County, are not protected as cultural property by law. “Dubrovnik-Neretva County will ask the Ministry of Tourism to consider and recommend this pilot project to be implemented in all of Croatia, and to introduce a special measure, namely the program ‘Revitalizing rural landscapes’, from which funds would be allocated for projects that are aimed at the tourist valorization of abandoned villages,” Oreb explained.

The Guidelines for Integral Protection of Rural Landscapes and Sustainable Tourism Development of the Neretva River Delta consist of three documents: "Recognizing the Values of the Rural Landscapes of the Neretva Valley", "Guidelines for the Integral Protection and Revitalization of Rural Landscapes of the Neretva Valley" and "Guidelines for the Sustainable Development of Rural Tourism in the Neretva Valley" .

They rely on the previously prepared Neretva Cluster Tourism Development Plan 2015-2025 and serve as a recommendation and example of good rural development practice for other Dubrovnik-Neretva County tourism clusters.

The budget of the project is EUR 3 million, while the budget of the DUNEA Regional Agency is EUR 215,000, and 85% or EUR 2,559,000 is co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg MED Program.

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Sunday, 27 October 2019

First-of-its-Kind Wind Organ to Enhance Neretva Valley Tourism

October 27, 2019 - After the sea organ in Zadar, Croatia will receive another similar attraction next year - a wind organ in the Neretva Valley. 

Namely, a wind organ is being built above Rogotin near Ploce in the Neretva Valley. The project is also a successful case of utilizing European funds - of the 3 million kuna needed to construct it, Brussels will finance 80% of the costs, HRT reports.

The wind organ will be built as part of the edu-eco complex on Tovro hill, which is part of the project "Promoting the Sustainable Development of the Natural Heritage of the Neretva Valley". The prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, when signing the contract for the project, emphasized that with the implementation of this project, the area of the Neretva Valley will gain new values in the form of tourism, and educational and cultural content.


HRT Screenshot

The conceptual design and the unique wind organ project were done by Ploce engineer Zeljko Skoric. The principle of operation is the same as that of all other organs. "Three pairs of seven instruments play where each pipe has a different length, on which the tonality of the organs themselves depends,” he said.

"In terms of the power of the organ and the sound it will produce, this is one particular experience that no one has encountered yet, at least as far as we know. It's unknown to the contractor and us,” emphasized Ante Sunjic, a resident of Rogotin.

"I hope that Rogotin will be raised to a much higher tourist level and that we will get a lot with this," said Marin Glamuzina.

When the works are completed, the Rogotin wind organ will become a tourist attraction, and by all accounts, the first of its kind in the world.

You can check out a video of Tovro hill below. 

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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Emergencies from Neretva River Valley to Be Handled by Mostar Hospital

ZAGREB, June 5, 2019 - Patients from the Neretva River valley and the area of Vrgorac - heart attack and stroke patients, multiple trauma patients and seriously ill children - will soon be able to seek medical care at the Mostar University Hospital.

An agreement to that effect was signed in Zagreb on Wednesday by Croatian Health Minister Milan Kujundžić, Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation entity Health Minister Vjekoslav Mandić and Mostar University Hospital head Ante Kvesić.

"Most of the hospitals in Croatia are an hour-drive away from patients' place of residence and due to historical circumstances and the proximity of the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, people who live in the Neretva River valley do not have the same status as other citizens in cases of serious illness, multiple trauma and heart attack and stroke. This agreement makes their status equal to that of other Croatian citizens," Kujundžić said.

Emergency cases from the Neretva River valley will be treated at the Mostar hospital, which is open 24 hours a day, has good results and offers procedures that guarantee safety and quality, Kujundžić added.

Mostar University Hospital head Mandić said that the hospital had the necessary capacity to take in patients from the Neretva River valley in Croatia, who, he said, had gravitated to that medical institution before 1991.

More medical news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

From Dalmatia to Karlovac and Rijeka, Chinese Eye Up Croatia

As Gordana Grgas/Novac writes on the 8th of April, 2019, if there was a European tender held solely to attract Chinese investment, the champion would certainly be Great Britain, followed by Germany, and then immediately by Italy and France. Croatia might not be anywhere near the top of China's European ''wish list'', but despite that, the Chinese interest just keeps on coming...

The countries which make up Central and Eastern Europe are low on the aforementioned European scale, even though with China, at least since the year 2012, they have enjoyed a special relationship through the China + 16 initiative, which, as a parallel diplomatic format, tends to irritate the larger, more powerful members of the European Union, as well as the European Commission itself. One of lowest on the list is Hungary with its Eurosceptic government led by Viktor Orban, and Croatia is at the very bottom, but the desire is to alter that.

This week, there is an official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqianga to Croatia, and the eighth summit of sixteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe with China down in Dalmatia's southernmost city of Dubrovnik, and it might be the easiest thing to look at it all as part of a political show that could act as bait for investment. Whether or not this investment will really happen and what shape that might take, whether it will be done mainly through private projects, for example in tourism, or through major state projects in the rail and port sector, is not yet clear at all.

Croatia will sign nine general memoranda with China in the areas of trade, investment, agriculture, transport, science, technology and innovation, education, sport and tourism, and the most convenient customs administration protocol that will enable the export of Croatian dairy products, which are greatly loved in China. Croatia also intends to join the Asian development investment and infrastructure bank headquartered in Beijing, how much that will cost Croatia however, is not yet known.

How large European countries cooperate with China was demonstrated just ten days ago by the Italians and the French. For the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Rome signed 20 agreements (and joined One Band, a one way system that connects China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and expands its trade and influence). In Paris, 15 such agreements were signed, where either contracted or announced transactions amounting to billions of euros were dealt with, covering a wide range of areas - from exports of Sicilian red oranges and French frozen chicken to the opening of Italian ports for Chinese investors, sales of 300 Airbus aircraft, energy projects, shipbuilding, etc.

After the construction of Croatia's much anticipated Pelješac bridge, which is funded primarily by European Union money, Croatia hopes for more Chinese investments in national transport projects. This regards the port of Rijeka and the entire Rijeka traffic route, including the line from Rijeka to Karlovac, as well as projects such as airports.

According to data which takes the whole of Europe into account, during the period from 2000 to 2018, almost 47 billion euros of direct investment from China was invested in Britain, Germany saw 22 billion euros, Italy saw 15.3 billion euros, and France saw 14.3 billion euros. Hungary saw a significantly smaller figure of 2.4 billion euros from the Chinese, Poland saw even less with 1.4 billion euros, Romania saw 900 million euros, and Croatia saw just 300 million euros. A stark contrast to the United Kingdom, which is by far one of Europe's most powerful nations.

In the region, the intensity is getting stronger, and in neighbouring Serbia, Chinese loans have come in handy when building transport infrastructure and energy projects and, but that medal, like any other, has two sides, and the takeover of companies hasn't always been met with welcome arms by the Serbs.

The aforementioned data report shows that the culmination of Chinese investment in the EU was reached back in 2016, largely through the take over of companies, and over the last two years, it has fallen, which is attributed to more stringent rules implemented by some EU member states, as well as increased capital controls conducted by Beijing.

For Zagreb, it was a bit uncomfortable to get closer to Communist China in the above mentioned period, as the common policy of overseeing and limiting the Chinese penetration of the ''Old Continent'', especially in strategic and technologically sensitive areas, was being undermined. That chapter however, appears to be well and truly over in Croatia's eyes.

While large investments and projects are anxiously anticipated here in Croatia (and the Chinese interest in Rijeka and the Rijeka-Karlovac line is at least nine years old), data on trade relations show that there is a deficit. State Secretary Nataša Mikuš Žigman notes that there has been a noticeable increase in the volume of trade between Croatia and China, but imports are growing more than exports are. Last year, exports of goods amounted to 133.4 million euros, an increase of 19 percent when compared to 2017, while imports amounted to 803 million euros, an increase of 15.6 percent.

Croatian companies might be able to export more to China in the future, and the business forum being held in Dubrovnik is an excellent chance to showcase some innovative Croatian export ideas, but for now, the main export products continue to be raw or semi-finished products such as stone, leather, untreated wood and polymers, while when it comes to imports, we can see the reign of traditional Chinese consumer goods, white electronics and telecommunications equipment, as well as a constantly increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia, too.

As the Chinese continue to ramp up their business in Croatia, from Pelješac bridge to Rijeka's port, more announcements continue to appear, and just recently we reported on the Chinese plan to open up a car factory tucked away among the citrus trees of southern Dalmatia's fertile Neretva valley, more precisely in the Nova sela business zone near Kula Norinska in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. While many remain concerned about Chinese influence in Croatia, many others are much more occupied and lured by the promise of an economic boost and employment opportunities.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on China-Croatia relations and much more.


Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas for Novac/Jutarnji

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Chinese Building Car Factory in Dalmatia, Jobs for 500 People

Chinese-Croatian relations grow ever closer as the Chinese expand their business empire in Dalmatia, not merely stopping at Pelješac bridge. The Chinese are now setting their sights on a vehicle factory in southern Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of April, 2019, an army of unemployed people, almost three thousand of them in total who are registered at the employment centres in Metković and Ploče in the Neretva region, received the news with understandably huge enthusiasm.

The Chinese will re-launch the Neretva valley, Slobodna Dalmacija writes, breathing life back into a part of Dalmatia that really needs it. Apart from the fact that they are already working on the aforementioned construction of the much anticipated Pelješac Bridge, the Chinese will soon embark on yet another major project in Croatia - a factory for electric cars and scooters in the Nova sela business district, which has so far been being developed in the Neretva valley's Kula Norinska area, but at a very slow pace.

This slow page is set to change a lot when the Green Tech Group, registered as a company in Zadar by Karl Soong along with Croatian entrepreneurs Mladen and Anthony Ninčević, starts with the construction of electric vehicles intended for the markets of Central and Eastern Europe down in Nova sela.

There are many unemployed people living in and around the Neretva valley, which is close enough yet just a bit too far away from potential employment in tourist areas like Dubrovnik. This news naturally brought a smile to the faces of many seeking steady work as in Kula Norinska, work began on the infrastructure in the future business zone in Nova sela, thus making this potentially enormous capital project start right there on ground in Dalmatia.

Twenty people would be employed to start things up at Dalmatia's brand new factory. However, when investment in the production of electric scooters, automobiles and batteries begins to add up and things gain some motion, up to 500 workers will be able to gain employment in various positions in the electric vehicle production facilities.

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