Friday, 4 September 2020

Osijek Have The Best Coach In The Croatian First League Nenad Bjelica

Friday, 4 September 2020 - Dinamo Zagreb's loss is NK Osijek's gain, as the rising Slavonians make a surprise start to the new season, lead by the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica

There has been a taste of optimism in the air of Osijek for a while now. And much of it has been centred around the city's NK Osijek football club. However, expectations have flown through the roof this week as it has all but been officially confirmed that the team will start the impending season under the guidance of the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica.

It is the most surprising move within the Croatian first league since Niko Kranjčar left his boyhood club Dinamo for bitter rivals Hajduk Split in 2005. At the start of last season, Bjelica was the coach of Croatian champions, Dinamo Zagreb.

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The best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica, pictured during his time at FK Austria Wien © Steindy

But, this time, there can be no bitterness directed towards the moving man, no anger assigned to Bjelica for seeking a job in his hometown after his dismissal from Dinamo. Even if you attribute blame to those running the farce that Dinamo Zagreb has become, this latest shame for the club comes at the end of a very long list of grievances. Grievances that Dinamo supporters have proven all too quick to forgive, as soon as their wealthy club again win the league or lift the cup.

In recent years, Osijek has suffered more than any other major Croatian city from population decline. The streets of its westerly lying centre are often deserted in comparison to how the city was 20 years ago. And that's not just because of out-of-town shopping centres. Many young people born here, unable to find work for their considerable talents and skills, can now be found in Germany or Ireland. An accepting but unhappy resignation lies with those who've remained. It shouldn't be like this. Those emerging from the city's excellent university are among the best educated in Croatia. The computer sciences and programmers who graduate from Osijek are second to none.

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Gradski Vrt, on the border of Sjenjak, in Osijek. It is the current home of NK Osijek. It will be used for the B team when the new stadium is finished © NK Osijek

One of the chief mood lifts for the men deserted by old school friends has been the attendance of Gradski Vrt, which currently remains NK Osijek's home ground. Not so long ago, it was a visit that only added misery. Though they are one of only four clubs never to have been relegated from the Croatian first league, NK Osijek was facing financial ruin as recently as 2016. But, then, Hungarian businessman Lőrinc Mészáros and Croatian Ivan Meštrović bought majority shares in the club.

Under the new regime, the squad was improved and a can-do spirit returned to the stands at Gradski Vrt. The club finished 4th in the league in 2017, just after celebrating the 70 year anniversary of playing under the name NK Osijek. It was their highest league finish in nearly 10 years and took them to qualifying matches for the 2017–18 UEFA Europa League. There, they beat Santa Coloma, Luzern and even former European champions PSV before their run was halted by Austria Wien. It hardly mattered. The ambition and optimism had returned for good. You could feel it throughout the city, not least when rumours of a brand new stadium began to filter through the stands.

Securing fourth in the domestic league the next year again took Osijek to the UEFA competition and in April 2018, plans for the impressive new Pampas Stadium were revealed. A state of art UEFA category 4 stadium for 12,000 rain-shielded fans, the new ground will be fully compatible with televised coverage of international competitions. This is an indicator of Osijek's ambition. Not a day goes by when football fans from the city - indeed, from all over Croatia - check on the progress of construction.

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The progress of construction of Osijek's new ground is being watched by football fans across Croatia. it is a fitting home for the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica © NK Osijek

That the team should be starting the new season with the best coach in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica, is yet another measure of that ambition. But, unlike the visible rise of the new stands, few saw this one coming. After the mess of his departure from Dinamo Zagreb, it had been anticipated that Bjelica might go to La Liga or Serie A. He's certainly good enough.

A former player for NK Osijek, Bjelica spent four early seasons at his hometown club before moving to Spain to play for Albacete Balompié, Real Betis and Las Palmas. Following a spell of injuries, he returned to Osijek for two seasons and featured for them in the UEFA Cup competition. He played the last eight years of his career as a professional in Germany and Austria, before retiring in 2008. He bowed out after having represented Croatia nine times as part of the national side.

He began his managerial career at the same club from which he retired as a player, Austria's FC Kärnten, but by 2013 had moved to Austria Wien where he helped secure their qualification for the Champions League group stage. He spent time in Italy and Poland before returning to the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica signed for Dinamo Zagreb in 2018.

After a successful first year in charge, most were of the opinion that in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica was the best coach. After guiding the team through a good Europa League campaign, Bjelica's successes resulted in attaining the highest number of qualifying places ever for Croatian domestic teams in European competition. He returned Dinamo Zagreb to the Champions League for the first time in three years before his winning run at the club was halted by their latest debacle.

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How NK Osijek's new Pampas stadium complex will look when complete © NK Osijek

How they could have let him slip through their fingers is eye-raising and yet, at the same time, not surprising. This is Dinamo Zagreb. Their supporters are resigned.

“Honestly, I am so happy for Osijek,” frustrated Dinamo Zagreb supporter David Kutleša told TCN upon hearing of the appointment.

“He accepted Osijek? What a legend!” said another, Martin Žunec. “This next season is going to be sick (great).”

For too long have the tarnished successes of Dinamo Zagreb taken the full limelight in Croatian domestic football. Though eminently predictable, their lifting of consecutive cups has nevertheless brought cheer to supporters of a club riddled with trouble. Such domestic achievements may not immediately follow Bjelica to Slavonia. But, it barely matters right now. NK Osijek will start the new season with the best coach in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica. In his acceptance of this appointment, it is to a building momentum of optimism that Bjelica is contributing. And nowhere is that more needed than Osijek.

The official announcement of the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica's appointment to NK Osijek is expected on Saturday 5 September 2020

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Monday, 17 August 2020

49-Year-Old Man Stabs Two Children In Darda And Mece, Near Osijek

August 17, 2020 -Two shocking incidents, one in Darda, one in Mece, happened at around 10am this morning. Police have arrested a man.

Two children were this morning stabbed in the areas of Darda and Mece, just north of Osijek. The incidents happened at around 10am. The injured children were taken to the Clinical Hospital Centre in Osijek for treatment.

Police took a 49-year-old man into custody at approximately 10.40am. He is described as being a Croatian national. Further details about the man, such as his name and ethnicity, have not yet been revealed. It is understood police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the crime.

Local portal SiB.hr are reporting that the 49-year-old first stabbed a boy with a screwdriver at the NTL store in Darda, then returned to Mece by bicycle where he knocked down a girl on a hoverboard before stabbing her repeatedly.

Investigations into the incidents are taking place simultaneously in Darda and Mece, lead by the Deputy County State's Attorney from Osijek in cooperation with Osijek-Baranja Police. After being examined, one of the children was released from hospital and sent home with minor injuries. The other has been kept in for treatment. Police expect to release more information in the next 24 hours.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Visit Osijek on the Croatian Road Less Travelled

July 8, 2020 - TCN travel series The Croatian Road Less Travelled with Marc Rowlands. In this edition, we visit Osijek in eastern Croatia, on the banks of the Drava river and look at things to do in Osijek 

Situated in the far east of Croatia, the city of Osijek is a sizeable distance from the regular coastal or capital city footfall of visiting tourists. Indeed, considering its history, importance and its vast, unique appeal, its surprising just how many Croatians you meet who have also never been to Osijek. Sitting on the banks of the Drava river, the city is the de facto capital of Slavonia and the administrative centre for Osijek-Baranja county and served as a strategically important outpost in the Roman, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Osijek was the first city in Croatia to have a tramway and, after Rijeka, the first Croatian city to be serviced by an international train route (running to Pécs in Hungary via Beli Manastir, this very line was re-opened in 2018).

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Osijek's Old Town, Tvrđa, is the largest and best-preserved ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia. It sits spectacularly by the Drava river, separated by the defensive walls of its Hapsburg-era fort © Romulić & Stojčić

Why visit Osijek?


Osijek is an incredibly beautiful place and perhaps Croatia's only option which simultaneously offers all the thrills of a genuine city coupled with incredible nature. It's possible to walk from one end of the city to the other passing only through statue-littered parks, the air is constantly fresh and, being Slavonia, the ground is entirely flat, making it a great place for bicycle enthusiasts. It's also a great place for swimming and other water activities such as fishing, rowing and boating. Osijek has a range of great nightlife options; three catering to fans of turbo-folk, two for those who prefer tamburica and Croatian folk music, one for students, one for the alternative crowd and several bars which host live music including jazz. Specialist monthly club nights offer drum n' bass, hip hop, house music and the techno night, Traum, is well known across Croatia and fronted by two of the country's finest DJs in the genre - Insolate and Volster.

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Cooling off in the Drava river, right in the heart of the city - just one of Osijek's great swimming options © Romulić & Stojčić

Osijek has, by far, the longest waterfront promenade in Croatia. Both banks of the Drava are pedestrianised. On the side of the city, the prom is lined with parks, cafes, bars and restaurants built within converted river-cruising boats. This side also holds the impressive Osijek city walls, behind which lies the Old Town centre, Tvrđa. On the opposite banks, you'll be walking alongside wild nature, with the vast open-air swimming complex Copacabana at one end and Osijek Zoo at the other. Osijek's pedestrianised bridge links both sides in the middle; it's is one of the city's most iconic sights and looks particularly special at night when colourfully lit.

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Osijek pedestrian bridge by night © Romulić & Stojčić

Osijek and wider Slavonia are Croatia's least-heralded gastronomic powerhouses. The cuisine here is as unforgettable as the warm Slavonian welcome. Paprika-rich stews such as čobanac (made with locally caught wild boar and deer), fish paprikaš and perklet are a clear influence of nearby Hungary and most attempts to faithfully reproduce them outside the region fall extremely short. Although all you'll ever hear about is pršut from Dalmatia and Istria, Slavonians are masters of curing pork and even have their own high-quality breed, Slavonian black. Authentic kulen from Baranja is unquestionably the highest quality sausage from Croatia and you'd have to look hard to top Slavonia's paprika or garlic-flavoured kobasice too. In Osijek, as in its wider region, you can go to a restaurant and order one of the best pizzas you'll ever try and pay the same as you would for a starter course on the coast.

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A selection of Slavonian meats. Kulen is a speciality of Slavonia and Baranja, the best quality sausage made in Croatia. It is preserved, made from top cuts of pork, richly red from paprika and versions from both Slavonia and Baranja are protected at an EU level. You can spot the one from Baranja by its irregular shape © Romulić & Stojčić

If you're a fishing or hunting enthusiast, this is also the place for you – days floating down the Drava along the 15 kilometre stretch before its confluence with the Danube can be as unforgettable as the monster-sized fish you can catch here. Osijek also makes a great permanent base for travel in the wider region, with trips across the nearby Serbian and Hungarian border offering different cuisines and culture again. The Slavonian white wine industry can also be explored from here. Equidistant between Zagreb, Budapest and Zagreb international airports, it's conveniently placed on the intrepid backpacker's route too.

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Rowing on the Drava river in Osijek. The city has produced several champions in the sport © Romulić & Stojčić

How to get to Osijek


Osijek has its own airport. With established internal and international routes, this holds huge potential for the city. However, it is not without its problems. That no public transport service runs between the airport and the city is shameful. Unless you know a local, your only option is a taxi, whose fixed rates are substantially higher than the 25 kuna maximum it will cost you to travel between any two points in the city itself. Conflict between budget airlines and authorities has resulted in some international routes being cancelled. Bargaining budget airlines demand lower landing fees in return for the tourists they can deliver into the local economy. But, largely, those using the routes are not tourists; they are locals from Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia and, in particular, Serbs from Vojvodina, for whom Osijek is the most convenient airport to fly to on their way back from work in Germany or Ireland. Why should Osijek subsidise their travel? One solution may be to implement a passenger landing fee which can be fully recouped by tourists via vouchers for any accommodation they take in the city or wider Slavonia.

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Osijek train station, one way to arrive when you visit Osijek © Romulić & Stojčić

Osijek is well connected by bus; you can travel there from Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia, from Zagreb, direct from coastal regions Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia and even from Montenegro, via Dubrovnik and Imotski. It is accessible by train from all of northern Croatia and Zagreb although the lines and stock have not been updated in so long that, shamefully, it's actually quicker to take the fast train from Zagreb to Vinkovci, disembark and take a local bus to Osijek than it is to travel on the direct train there from the Croatian capital.

Where to eat: Slavonska Kuća, Kod Ruže, Vrata Baranje or Čarda kod Baranjca are brilliant, informal places to try traditional Slavonian cuisine, including all dishes mentioned previously. Further out of the city, Ugostiteljski Obrt Varga in Bilje, Citadela and Darócz in Vardarac and Didin Konak in Kopačevo are really special versions of the same. Rustika is the best sit-down pizza restaurant in the city, has a lovely summer courtyard for dining and is extremely affordable.

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The courtyard at Rustika, a great, casual place to dine and try Slavonska pizza when you visit Osijek © Grill pizzeria Rustika

Food to go / home delivery
: Lipov Hlad and Pizzeria Novi Saloon do the best home delivery pizza in the city (Rustika deliver too). Other choices are thin on the ground, save for the standard fast-food chains and pekara (the El Pan bakery on the edge of Sjenjak hood does the best burek with meat).

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Get to know Slavonian wine when you visit Osijek © Vinoteka Vinita

Where to drink
: The simple but extremely passionate Vinoteka Vinita is one of the best places to try Slavonian and Croatian wines, with many top and rarer titles sold by the glass. If you're more into beer, Beertija in the modern city centre has a great range. General Von Beckers on Tvrđa is the best place to try the leading local craft ale, Beckers, but all of the bars on Tvrđa are worth investigating and during the summer their terraces stretch far into the historic square creating a unique atmosphere.

What's new? Osijek's football club is undergoing a renaissance following its purchase by new investors. An impressive new stadium is reaching completion and you shouldn't be surprised to see this team challenging for the top domestic titles, or reaching European competitions, in the near future.

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Fiš paprikaš is a Slavonian speciality. Spicy from paprika, it is made from river fish and can often be seen being cooked in a large pot over a blazing open fire if you visit Osijek in warmer months © Romulić & Stojčić

What not to miss:
The protected nature park Kopački rit is wonderful to visit at any time of year, a sanctuary for all manner of wildlife, particularly rare species of birds. On Tvrđa, Slama Land Art hosts workshops, art and music events and you'll meet great creative types there. There's an extreme sports event, Pannonian Challenge, which sees international competitors visit Osijek and an annual Osijek Beer Festival which feels more like a street party. There's also a music festival called UFO. Osijek Wine Days and the celebrations celebrating the end of term at the city's sizeable university are each year accompanied by great partying and music performances. Look up the art deco Cinema Urania. At over 100 years old, it's Croatia's best independent cinema outside Zagreb. If you're looking for something a little more upmarket than the aforementioned Copacabana outdoor pools, or if you're visiting in cooler months, the renowned Bizovac Toplice is close by and there are free bus shuttle services from the city. It's a sprawling spa complex with multiple pools, offering fun and wellness therapies. But, whatever you do, don't miss the extraordinary and varied architecture of Tvrđa or Slavonian cuisine.

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Kopački rit. The nature reserve is a must all year round when you visit Osijek © Misalalic

What to buy:
If you're heading somewhere else in Croatia after you visit Osijek, take some Baranja kulen with you for posh sandwiches. Slavonia is famous for its honey, which is protected at an EU level. Take some back home with you. Local designers Lega Lega make cool t-shirts and accessories emblazoned with words exclusively used in the local dialect. Pick up some Slavonian white wine when you visit Osijek. Graševina is the most commonly made white wine in Croatia and the most popular. They make the best Graševina in Slavonia, but also look out for Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminac too. There are countless excellent wine producers in Slavonia to look out for, including Kutjevo Graševina, Krauthaker, Galić, Trs, Adžić, Kolar, Enjingi, Antunović, Erdut and Iločki Podrumi.

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'Lega' in local dialect is short for colleague. It is a term affectionately (and exclusively) used when speaking to someone from Osijek. Try using it when you visit Osijek © Lega-Lega

On these links you can read about the other destinations in our The Croatian Road Less Travelled series:

Ludbreg - a site of Holy pilgrimage where the historic meets the contemporary

Donji Miholjac - a hidden gem in the heart of the Pannonian basin

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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

23 New COVID-19 Cases in Osijek Area Alone, 10 Nuns Infected at Djakovo Convent

June 23, 2020 - A press conference was held at noon in Osijek, where the Headquarters revealed the new details about the coronavirus outbreak at a Djakovo monastery. 

Index.hr reports that the Osijek-Baranja County Headquarters has been reporting new cases for several days now, and today it became known that as many as 10 nuns were infected at a Dakovo monastery.

There are 23 new patients, and 12 new cases since last night, with potentially two hotspots.

"Six patients have been hospitalized. They are not life-threatening. We are ready and available," the doctor said.

"So far, we have registered a total of 156 positive patients since the beginning of the epidemic. You don't have to worry, everything that happened is under the strict supervision of the Public Health Institute. All contacts are under our measures. It is important that we adhere to all measures," said the Osijek epidemiologist Kozul.

"We have a certain breakthrough, but it is crucial that we have people who will do everything; there is no panic, and we detected everything in time. We closed our institutions for the elderly, KBC and hospital in Našice. The situation is epidemiologically much better than a few months ago. The old and infirm must be cared for more thoroughly than the younger population. But the message is that there is no panic and that the matter is under control. There is no reason for large restrictive measures, but it is very important that we must act responsibly. Keep a social distance, and those who have crossed the border need to report it and go into self-isolation. Certain infected people were across the border in BiH, Kosovo and Serbia," Anusic revealed. 

"We assume that the source of the infection is the nuns from Kosovo. The sisters returned from Kosovo 2-3 days ago," Kozul said, adding that it was good that everything was controlled in one facility. "All the nuns will be processed. Today we are waiting for new results. We will also process their contacts," he announced.

 

More soon...

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Friday, 5 June 2020

Open Cellar Days: Best of Osijek-Baranja County Wine Featured in 4 Vineyards over 4 Weekends

June 5, 2020 - The Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board and Osijek-Baranja County are organizing a wine month titled “Open Cellar Days” from June 12 to July 11.

In principle, it is 4 vineyards and 4 weekends of wine hedonism, reports HRTurizam.

Thus, visitors will be able to enjoy the open cellars of the most famous winemakers from the area of ​​Slavonia and Baranja, which will be open from 10 am to 7 pm. In each vineyard, there will be an educational program titled "Little School of Wine", where visitors who pre-register will be able to learn about wines, and there will be concerts, exhibitions and poetry readings.

Ivana Jurić, director of the Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board, pointed out that this is the first major event since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and due to the epidemiological measures in force, the Open Cellar Days will be dispersed according to the principle "4 vineyards, 4 weekends" to prevent all wine lovers from gathering at the same time at the same place.

"About ten days ago, we came up with a formula to make an event without a large concentration of people in one place, so we are doing a dispersed event Open Cellar Days of Osijek-Baranja County, which is held in accordance with the National Civil Protection Headquarters. The event is held in our four vineyards - Baranja, Feričanac, Erdut and Đakovo vineyards, while the finale will be held in Osijek, with the Evening of Wine and Art, one of the largest wine events in Osijek-Baranja County.

With open cellars, visitors will be able to learn something new about wine through organized 'Small Wine Schools' in each vineyard, enjoy concerts, poetry readings and guided walks through the vineyards. "We believe that enjoying wine, wine cellars and vineyards is the best social remedy after a period of restrictive measures," concluded Jurić.

Tatjana Roth, Head of the Administrative Department for Tourism, Culture and Sports, emphasized the importance of wine as a tourist product of Osijek-Baranja County. "Food and wine are closely linked to the identity and promotion of the destination, and the rich wine-growing area has a significant impact on attracting tourists to our county. Throughout the Osijek-Baranja County Wine Month, visitors will have the opportunity to visit our four vineyards and enjoy the beautiful products produced by our hardworking winemakers who once again showed their willingness to join the event, open cellars, and generously welcome guests to present their wines."

The Open Cellar Days begin with the vineyards of Baranja, from June 12 to 14. The next weekend (Saturday, June 20) is reserved for the Feričanci vineyards, and the weekend after that, June 27 and 28, is reserved for the Erdut vineyards to celebrate International Danube Day on June 29. The Đakovo vineyards are on offer from July 3-4. Wine month ends on July 11 with the Evening of Wine and Art in Osijek, one of the most popular events in Osijek.

Matej Perkušić, director of the Baranja Tourist Board, pointed out that Baranja, as the flagship of continental tourism, will offer everything that visitors expect from this type of event - quality wines, great food and a beautiful natural environment. "Open Cellar Days give us hope, after these difficult times caused by the virus, to offer quality content to many tourists who are already slowly arriving in our area to relax and enjoy."

There will also be a wine safari, guided walks through vineyards and wine cellars with wine tasting, and nature lovers will be able to enjoy cycling, triathlon and hiking.

The visit to the Đakovo vineyards is planned at the time of the popular Đakovački vezovi, while the visit to the Erdut vineyards is planned to mark the International Danube Day on June 29.

Marija Burek, director of the Đakovo Tourist Board, pointed out the contribution of additional program content to this year's Đakovački vezovi. "The 54th Đakovački vezovi is held from Jule 3 to 5, and the Open Cellar Days of Osijek-Baranja County is a great opportunity to supplement the program content of this well-known event, which this year, due to coronavirus, will be held on a smaller scale than in previous years. As part of the event, wine cellars will be opened on the wine-tourist road "Zlatarevac" Trnava and the wine-tourist road Mandićevac."

In the end, we should certainly praise the synergy and the completed quality tourist product in four destinations. So far, Slavonia is not too recognized or branded as a wine region, although it certainly is. In fact, in Slavonia, there are top and famous wineries such as Ilok cellars, Belje, Erdut vineyards, Feravino, Kutjevo, Daruvar winery, as well as many other famous top winemakers such as Josic, Kalazic, Krauthaker, Galic, Enjingi, Antunovic Turk , Papak and many others.

It is important to point out that the visual of the event is a continuation of the #HeadOnEast brand, premiered at the Days of Croatian Tourism.

Such events are more than ideal as a motive for arrivals as well as branding Slavonia as a top wine region.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia,  follow TCN's dedicated page

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Osijek-Baranja County to Utilise China's Economic Expansion for Its Projects

ZAGREB, April 21, 2019 - Osijek-Baranja County wants to utilise the opportunities stemming from China's economic expansion and investment possibilities created in Croatia's cooperation with that country, and one of local projects suitable for such investment is the river port and airport, it was said at a meeting between county officials and the Chinese-Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA).

After visiting the sites of the river and air ports, County Prefect Ivan Anušić recalled that contacts with Chinese partners were established a few months ago, primarily regarding tourism and now at the enterprise level.

Osijek's river port at the Drava has potential because it can enable connections to the Black Sea via the Drava and Danube rivers, which is one of the few inland waterways to the Black Sea. The airport is in a favourable location because of its geographic position and potential for passenger and freight transport, Anušić underscored, adding that the county needed investments that won't be solely in buying concessions but investments that will "bring jobs and generate turnover of goods and people."

Speaking about the possibilities of future investments, Chinese entrepreneur Jian Yu said that this is the first visit to Osijek and now the investment team needs to analyse the possibilities and prepare an evaluation as a starting point.

CSEBA president, Mario Rendulić recalled that during his recent visit to Croatia, China's Prime Minister Li Kequiang said that the intention is to included Croatia in investment plans and economic cooperation, adding that this "year is an ideal opportunity for that."

The Chinese are considering possible projects and potential for investments and cooperation and possible joint-venture system or cooperation with local companies that already exist here are not ruled out, Rendulić said.

More news about Osijek-Baranja County and the possible Chinese investments in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Number of Children Enrolled in Osijek-Baranja County Schools Down by 10,000

ZAGREB, April 16, 2019 - Compared with the 2000-2001 school year, the number of children enrolled in Osijek-Baranja County elementary schools in 2019 is down by 10,000, heard a round-table debate held on Monday at the Faculty of Agriculture in the eastern Croatian town of Osijek where the national campaign aimed at stopping brain drain was presented.

The round debate was organised by the Večernji List and Poslovni Dnevnik dailies.

The event was also attended by Osijek-Baranja County Deputy Prefect Petar Lagator who voiced his concern over the departure of young people. He said that economic indicators in the county over the past year were somewhat better, adding that monthly salaries recorded an increase and the number of jobless was reduced, but that the demographic picture was nevertheless worrying.

The proof of that is that a total of 23,000 children were enrolled in Osijek-Baranja County elementary schools in the 2000-2001 school year, while this year there were slightly over 13,000 enrolled pupils.

He also presented figures released by the Employment Service according to which there are 105,000 people economically active in the county last year, of whom 87,500 were employed and 17,500 were seeking employment.

"This year, the number of the unemployed was reduced by 4,000, while the number of the employed increased by 2,500, which means that approximately 1,500 people have disappeared somewhere. It is hard to say whether they moved abroad or have resolved their status in another way," the deputy prefect said.

More news about Croatia’s demographic crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Osijek Offers Investors Hope With Numerous Attractive Measures

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of January, 2019, Osijek's "IT park" business zone story is beginning to develop after a lot of back and forth on the issue, much to the satisfaction of interested parties. The City of Osijek and its numerous IT companies whose business results and success have put Osijek firmly on the map, are leading it to become a focus of the Croatian IT scene.

Glas Slavonije reported that its very last session last year, Osijek's City Council adopted a proposal for a decision on the establishment of the "IT Park" business zone with the aim of attracting investment and opening up new jobs in the IT sector. The value of the investment stands at a massive eighteen million kuna. In the IT park itself, which boasts a total area of ​​2.5 hectares, bigger companies will be able to buy plots of land for the construction of their own buildings, and the City of Osijek will deal with and construct all the necessary infrastructure and business buildings for small IT companies.

In addition to this measure, the City of Osijek has also implemented a program of incentives and breaks for the purchase of plots in this zone, which became valid after being published in the Official Gazette. Osijek's city administration has, once again, prepared a set of "different modules which contain certain measures (incentives and facilitations) aimed at attracting both domestic and foreign investors from the IT sector to long-term investments in the ''IT park'' business zone in Osijek.'' The goal of this measure is very clear, the aim is to create new jobs, reduce unemployment and ensure a high quality environment for the development and operation of the IT sector in Osijek.

Basically, companies will have the right to incentives and numerous forms of breaks if, according to the national classification law, they belong to one of the three priority groups. In the first group, there are, for example, computer programming or computer hardware and software management, in the second group lies production (electrical components, computer and peripheral equipment), in the third group comes processing and computer games.

The reduction in the price of plots of land intended for construction is 10 to 30 percent, depending on the group. If Osijek's new economic facility is built within 24 months of the conclusion of a construction contract, the land price will be reduced by as much as 40 percent. If, in the year preceding the year of the conclusion of the sales contract, a minimum of 1 million kuna is realised, the right to a price reduction of 10 percent will come into force.

Of course, the biggest reduction in the price is related to creating jobs and offering new employment possibilities. An entrepreneur who, from the moment of signing a contract on the establishment a land sale for construction maintains the existing number of employees, earns the right to a 10 percent reduction, if he or she hires up to ten workers, a 30 percent reduction follows, and if he or she hires more than 20 workers, the price reduction will stand at a massive 60 percent.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know about investment and doing business in Osijek and in Croatia as a whole by following our dedicated business page.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Croatian Demographic Picture: Cash for Birth in Least Populated Municipality

There can be no denying that Croatia's overall demographic picture is grim. An astonishing amount of people have left, mainly since the country's accession to the European Union, when borders ''opened'' and life was made easier for those seeking opportunities abroad, but also since before then. With an enormous number of Croats having fled the country, mainly from the overlooked continental and eastern areas, the already poor Croatian demographic picture is growing more and more bleak.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, over the last six or seven years, all the first graders from the entire territory of the Levanjska Varoš municipality, with its 136 square kilometres, in which there are just nine settlements, will sit behind just three school desks, according to a depressing report on Croatia's continually worsening demographic crisis by Glas Slavonije.

The small number of children born in this part of Osijek-Baranja County this year offers no hope for this municipality, at least at the moment, and with very little room for optimism in expectations of its demographic recovery, other measures are being sought.

Cash for every birth is an incentive for many, as the aforementioned area is one of the least populated areas, the first association of which is one of ​​poor development, a small population, and one of the areas in the whole of the Republic of Croatia which is the most in need.

In Levanjska Varoš, there are currently less than 6.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The last census, which was carried out back in 2011, stated that there are 1,250 inhabitants, but, according to the mayor Slavko Tidlačka, for a long time now there have been less than 1,000, about 950 people who live in one of the nine settlements.

Like the poor Croatian demographic picture in general, the prospects for many local villages in this area, as well as across the country as a whole, with a little more ''leg room'' in some areas, are still extremely bad.

Until recently, this municipality has been awarding parents a sum of 1,000 kuna for each newborn child, but now that amount has been significantly boosted. Last year's decision on the right to financial compensation for newborn children in the area was passed. According to the details of that move, parents are paid 2,000 kuna for their first and second child, 5,000 kuna for a third, and for the fourth and then every next child, as much as 10,000 kuna.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more information on the poor demographic image in Croatia and much more.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Robotics in Croatia: Osijek Startup Has First Croatian Industrial Robot

Robotics in Croatia is a growing trend, with the constant advancement of technology and innovation, Croatia is putting both feet forward when it comes to developing not only robots, but knowledge.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, one Osijek-based startup has successfully developed an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transfer and has since presented it to some major global players, names including Orbico, Atlantic and Tokić are now testing it.

The Osijek startup, Gideon Brothers, has thus developed the first Croatian industrial robot. What it involves is an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transport, within the scope of the ''warehouse of the future'' that is increasingly being used by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, as well as numerous other major logistics and merchants.

It doesn't have a name, at least not for now, but the Croatian autonomous ''robo-warehouse'' has an enviable performance. It can work properly without interruption for 24 hours per day, every day of the year. Its battery allows it to withstand a shift of six hours per piece, and then when the discharged battery is replaced with full one, and the job can continue. It's also fast.

The new step forward in robotics in Croatia, which is also miracle of high technology in itelf, was developed by a team of five doctors of science and 26 experts in the field of hardware and software in Croatia. The robo-warehouse is also a very attractive business product. In less than two years since its inception, this Osijek startup has developed technology which is ten times cheaper and more powerful in collecting its environmental data than the type which is currently the most widely used - the LIDAR driving system.

One example of this are the systems used by Tesla motors in their cars and trucks. Gideon has upgraded LIDAR with its own solution that combines stereo cameras and artificial intelligence (deep learning).

When asked whether the robot has already been seen by some of the biggest global players, such as Amazon and Alibaba, Milan Račić, the co-founder and director of development of Gideon Brothers didn't want to reveal any specific names, while emphasising that they have indeed presented their product "to some of the world's biggest players".

What has been very openly confirmed is that the Osijek startup will target both small and medium-sized companies on a global scale with its product.

"Such robots enable small and medium-sized companies to boost their efficiency and come up to the scale of the same level of competitiveness in transport and logistics which only some of the biggest international companies currently have. Of course, the biggest players are aware of this and they're actively following this technology," Račić says.

Three companies, operating in more than thirty countries and having a massive annual income of over three billion euro, are the first buyers, more specifically, they're the first commercial reference of Gideon's robo-warehouse, which is a major boost not only to this startup in particular but to robotics in Croatia as a whole.

The use of various robotics in Croatia is on the up, and Milan Račić says their product will provide a competitive advantage for Croatian companies and will continue to transform them. Mladen Pejković, senior executive of the Atlantic Group, says that digital transformation is considered an important element for future competitiveness. "That's why we're very excited about the pilot project with Gideon Brothers in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics in our logistics operations," noted Pejković.

"The pace of change will only accelerate in the future, and our partnership with Gideon Brothers will give us tools in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics that will help shape that future," stated Branko Roglić.

Ivan Gadže of the large company Tokić said that in parallel with engaging the best people to help them realise plans to spread to other EU markets, they want to provide their employees with the very best tools to help them achieve this.

"Strategic cooperation with Gideon Brothers is seen as an opportunity to introduce smart automation into our business and we reiterate the success we've achieved in Croatia on the international scene," said Gadže.

Matija Kopić, co-founder and CEO of Gideon Brothers, revealed that along with Milan Račić, his new startup, Gideon Brothers has three other co-founders who have helped significantly in the development of the first Croatian industrial robot. One of those individuals is Josip Cesić, he is one of the authors of the most successful algorithms in the world for simultaneous localisation and mapping, which is based on stereo cameras.

Then comes Edin Kočo, who led in the design and production of robo-warehouse, and had previously designed and manufactured robots for inspection in nuclear power plants. Last but by no means least, the fifth co-founder of Gideon Brothers is Kruno Stražanac, who is a big data expert, extremely knowledgeable in data analysis and technical support.

Kopić stated that he is lucky to live in such an incredible age, because Gideon Brothers has managed to accomplish something that many of the previous theoreticians of robotics could have only dreamed of.

He points out that this success is a result of very strong support from both Croatian and foreign investors. "The support of our investors and clients confirms our conviction that autonomous robots equipped with visual perception will deeply and positively change our society," added Kopić.

In just two years, the Croatian startup Gideon Brothers underwent two rounds of investment. It received 16.3 million kuna or 2.2 million euro in investment from 21 investors.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on robotics in Croatia and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

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