Monday, 25 July 2022

PM Says Pelješac Bridge to Strengthen Bonds Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Pelješac Bridge marked the achievement of Croatia's goal to connect its territory.

"We are very proud of it," Plenković said during a visit to Mostar, southern Bosnia, and Herzegovina, ahead of Tuesday's opening ceremony for this largest infrastructure facility built in Croatia since its accession to the European Union in mid-2013.

He said that this project would further strengthen the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The idea was to alleviate the flow of people and goods through Neum."

Pelješac Bridge will provide an uninterrupted link between southernmost Croatia and the rest of the country by bypassing a short stretch of the coastline at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Chinese Ambassador Qi Qianjin on Pelješac Bridge, Relations, Tourism, Flights

July 25, 2022 - Ahead of the official opening of the Chinese-built Pelješac Bridge, TCN visits His Excellency Qi Qianjin, Chinese Ambassador to Croatia at his official residence in Zagreb to talk about the bridge, Chinese-Croatian relations, tourism and more. 

1. The opening of the Pelješac Bridge on July 26 will be a historic occasion for Croatia, joining the county for the first time thanks to the Chinese-built bridge. How significant is this project from a Chinese perspective - I understand that the Chinese Prime Minister will be speaking at the opening ceremony by video link?

The Pelješac bridge will be officially opening tomorrow, and I will be there joining the ceremony. I hear that there will be an excellent range of events to mark the occasion. In terms of political significance, I think this is an excellent example of cooperation not only between China and Croatia, but also China and the EU. It is the biggest project so far for a Chinese company, and it will finally realise a long-held dream to connect the south of Croatia to the rest of the country.

I think the Pelješac Bridge is an example of friendship between Croatia and China, and I am already thinking about what could be the next project. It has been an excellent example of cooperation between the leaders of both countries, who have shown a strong willingness to boost political trust, business and trade.

The bridge will have a big impact on the local economy. Now Dubrovnik will be connected to the rest of Croatia, which will be great for tourism, with no more long queues at the two Bosnian borders. This will save a lot of time.

There have been lots of benefits locally, with the project hiring some 1,500 people, which obviously had a significant impact on the local community. In addition to employment, local workers have also learned from Chinese expertise, and 7 Croatian engineers have gained certification from the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Zagreb University, specialising in management and technology. These are additional successes of the bridge story. It is not just about completing the bridge or making a profit. It is about taking responsibility, educating local people, and creating job opportunities. So now Croatians have the know-how to build bridges quicker.

And we even have a Pelješac Bridge love story! A young Croatian girl called Ana Vulić, who graduated from China and came to work on the project, as did the future man of her dreams, who is from Africa and also working on the project and met Ana in China previously. They have now got married, so that is one more happy international story from this great project.

The impact of all the Chinese workers on the local economy has also been significant, especially in the local village. The need for shops, hotels and restaurants has had a considerable impact on the local economy. Great friendships are made, and there is some sadness that the project is ending, but those friendships with Chinese people will continue. So I would say that yes, this project has had a major impact on the local economy.

Our Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, will be taking part in the proceedings via a recorded message. I am not sure exactly what the content will be but I think it will express the continued friendship between the two countries. But not only China and Croatia, for this is a great example of trilateral cooperation between China, Croatia and the EU.

2. Can you tell us a little about the Chinese Embassy's involvement in the whole project from the start? After years of talking about the project (starting around 2005), things moved very quickly. 

The Embassy has been a bridge to help facilitate things, but nothing could have been finished without the dedication and partnership of both leaders. The bridge is important to China, and President Xi Jinping talked about it at the summit he chaired between China and Central and Eastern Europe.

Our Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, visited the bridge back in 2019 with Prime Minister Plenković on a day when it rained heavily. I saw the pictures – it was very dark. And our Prime Minister said that we would need to use the very best technology and equipment to make the Pelješac Bridge a Chinese brand of construction excellence in Croatia, which can resist any challenge.

So many thanks to Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Plenković for all their efforts. Did you know that the opening of the bridge is part of Croatia's four strategic goals, in addition to the Euro, Schengen and membership of OECD? Things are moving well.

Mr. Plenković has visited the bridge more than 10 times, and we at the embassy have been very busy helping to build channels and facilitate, make connections and enhance understanding, with excellent work done by my predecessor, the previous ambassador. We have also been active in encouraging Chinese entrepreneurs to abide by local laws and customs. Getting this project done was not straightforward, and there were plenty of political and economic pressures, but we succeeded thanks to great teamwork on all sides.

3. Once the tender was won, construction moved quickly, and the Pelješac Bridge was finished more or less on time and on budget, something that rarely happens in Croatia. How were the Chinese companies able to deliver when so many projects here are delayed and over budget?

China has developed very rapidly in the last 30-40 years and we have become an expert in construction. We have overcome many challenges with this bridge, including the pandemic, earthquake, Ukraine, and inflation, but we have succeeded, even delivering the project 3 months earlier than planned.

Some people think of Chinese products as cheap and poor quality but I think this bridge will help change that perception. We have lots of experience in bridge building. Pelješac is 2.4 km long, but our longest bridges to Macau and Hong Kong are almost 40 kilometres. We have learned how to build quality with speed. That is part of the secret – but also cooperation and teamwork.

But it is important to note that we are strictly adhering to the rules regarding environmental protection. It is a project that has had some noise pollution issues, and so we introduced some special procedures to minimise the influence on local life. Similarly for waste management and avoiding water pollution.

4. China has a lot of key infrastructure projects all over Europe. How significant is this project in the overall portfolio of European infrastructure projects?

It is very important to China, as this shows the quality and delivery of Chinese excellent here in Europe. China has become an infrastructure Superman, and this bridge shows the quality of the build, as well as excellent cooperation with our European partners.

I think it is a project that has showcased what Chinese companies and workers can do, and it should lead to more projects. Chinese workers and managers have been welcomed because they are humble and hard-working. It has been easy to deal with local people, and this has been a great first partnership with the EU, which provided most of the investment. But there have been lots of other international cooperation – the architect who designed the bridge is Slovenian, for example.

We can also say that the bridge has indicated the significance of the relationship between China and the EU. I cannot deny that we have some major problems with the United States, which regards China as an imaginary enemy. The United States is used to finding enemies, they are very good at that.

But I think Chinese relations with Europe are quite good. President Xi Jinping has held virtual meetings with European leaders during the Ukraine crisis. China is willing to maintain a good relationship and partnership with European countries, and to help develop them on the basis of protecting international peace and promoting economic growth.

It is true that China has a very different ideology than the West, but we have to have dialogue and find points of common interest. We see European countries as friends and partners, and the Pelješac Bridge is one example of that working in practice.

5. Will the Pelješac Bridge project attract much media coverage back in China?

Yes certainly. There will be a lot of social activity, and the China State News agency will cover it. This is a day of celebration for China, as well as Croatia. 

6. Tell us a little about China's strategic goals in Croatia, how big is the Chinese community here, and what are the key activities? 

The Pelješac Bridge might be the most high-profile project, but the biggest Chinese investment so far is in wind farms and green technology. I think China has a role to play in supplying energy, particularly now as Europe has an energy crisis due to the conflict in Ukraine.

We also have some coordination in sports. Croatia is small but it is well-known for sports in China as Croatia is very strong. We love sports but are not so strong by comparison.

And of course tourism. Tourism is about 20% of GDP in Croatia, and it was just starting to take off when the pandemic came. Before the pandemic, there were about 400,000 tourists coming from China each year. I expect this to increase as Chinese tourists become more aware of Croatia. We now have a middle class of some 400 million people.

I also think it is important to enhance relations to push both countries forward. I encourage Chinese companies and entrepreneurs to invest, as well as invite Croatian people to go to China to study or do business. I think we have achieved a lot in the first 30 years of relations and look forward to the next 30.

7. As a global power with a population approaching 2 billion versus a declining population of less than 4 million, it is understandable that the relationship between Croatia and China is reflected in that. How do you see the relationship with Croatia, and what are the key areas of common interest?

I see it as an equal relationship. Chinese people are deeply influenced by our culture. Confucius teaches us to be humble, to treat people the same if they are rich or poor. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, it was on a policy of peaceful coexistence, not interfering with other countries internal affairs.

China and Croatia have never had any major disagreements, even though we are very different in size and ideology. We accept that there are differences in ideology, and we do not try and input our system into other countries. We think that Communism and the one-party ruling system work well and efficiently for China, but that does not mean it will for other counties.

We don't want to export our political ideology to other countries. Instead, we focus on the similarities which exist. So, for example, Croatia and China both have administrations that care about the well-being of their citizens and economic prosperity. So both governments can work together to find ways of solving problems and raising livelihoods.

Both countries also support globalisation and multilateralism. I think this is fundamentally important.

8. How active and successful are Croatian companies in the Chinese market, and what are the main opportunities for them?

There are not so many Croatian businesses in China. There is Rimac of course, who is the symbol of hi-tech. He has a Chinese partner. I met Mate Rimac - he represents high technology, and China is the factory of the world, and this could be a great cooperation. 

There is also Infobip, the first unicorn in Croatia. They started operations in China in 2013, and they now have offices in 5 Chinese cities. I met the Infobip CEO last week, and he said the Chinese market is good. We need more Croatian businesses in China. 

We are facing the same challenges - pandemic, inflation, supply chains. The original forecast for GDP growth was 5.8% but now that has been scaled back to 0.2%. This has never happened before, so now is a real challenge. But China remains the biggest market, the factory of the world, and it can produce everything, from a small pen to aircraft. China needs the world, and the world needs China. We have the consumer power of 400 million people in the middle class. Even the United States cannot ignore it. It is a huge market. And China will never close its doors to foreigners because China depends on globalisation. This provides huge opportunities for Croatian businesses. 

9. What advice and mechanisms for help do you have for Croatian businesses looking to enter the Chinese market?

It is important to build these channels. The first stop is here at the embassy, where we are ready to assist in person, as well as having information on the embassy website. Travel to China has been difficult over the last 3 years, but nothing compares to face-to-face contact and trade fairs. We have excellent fairs and expos where you can connect with Chinese businesses. These could be the main channels for Croatian businesses. Additionally, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is active, and they have an office in Shanghai.  

10. Turning to tourism, how well known is Croatia in China? Tourism was increasing slowly before the pandemic. What is Croatia best-known for in China?

I would say that Croatia is not so popular. When it comes to Europe, Chinese tourists know about Rome, Paris and London, but not so much Croatia. Television is an important medium, and Game of Thrones, which was filmed in Dubrovnik and elsewhere, was very popular and helped put Croatia on the map. 

I was at the Dubrovnik Forum last week and saw tourists from all over the world, but very few Chinese. But next year I think we will see a rise in Chinese tourists - there were 400,000 in 2019. I should also point out that this summer, there are 8 Chinese policemen in Croatia, who are working in partnership with their Croatian counterparts on joint patrols. One more example of partnership, and it is a positive signal.

11. There have been periodic discussions of direct flights to Croatia from Beijing. The pandemic obviously slowed down a lot of things, but are there any ongoing initiatives, and can you expect a direct flight any time soon?

Direct flights would obviously make things easier. When our Premier Li Keqiang visited Croatia in 2019, the topic was discussed with the Croatian Prime Minister. And it was agreed in principle of market and business that when certain conditions are met, then this issue can be moved forward. I am involved in some discussions, but there is nothing concrete to announce yet. Discussions are ongoing but some technical details have to be resolved. But it can succeed. 

12. What advice do you have for Croatian tourism businesses looking to cater to the Chinese tourism market - the potential is huge?

In 2019, before the pandemic, there were 155 million international tourists from China, spending US$134 billion, so the potential is huge. Using technology is one key strategy. Technology is a part of our lives, and we are all - including me - addicted to our phones. Channels such as Tik Tok, which is Chinese of course, is increasingly influential.  

13. We live in uncertain times, and energy is a hot topic in Croatia and Europe. How is China able to assist to help solve this problem?

The Ukraine crisis has now been ongoing for 5 months. No country in the world has been unaffected - food supply, inflation, energy supply, and instability.  There is a lot of uncertainty, and nobody knows when it will end. The first thing we need to do is stop the fighting, to get a ceasefire. The United States, EU and Russia must come together and make it stop. 

And then we need to coordinate a strategy to develop green and renewable energy. Energy is a huge issue, and you can see Germany going back to coal,  for example. China is very strong in green and renewable energy and is ready to partner. This could be a new era of cooperation on green and renewable energy between China and Europe.

But as our President said, we must also not forget the poorer in society, especially in African countries. We need to coordinate, and China is ready to play its part.

14. And finally, a little about your personal reflections on Croatia. Tell us about your experience so far. What has surprised you about Croatia? What is your favourite place, and some thoughts on the food and wine?

I love Croatia, and especially Zagreb. It is a great city, so green and safe, and the food is excellent. And the cafe culture - people seem to have coffee from morning until sunset. 

The architecture is incredible, especially that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th-century. Croatia has been at the front line of conflict and cultures over the centuries, and there are many stories in its buildings. I love to walk around the city, zig-zagging while looking at the architecture. It is a country of great culture. 

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Pelješac Bridge Access Roads to Be Finished on Time, Strabag Director Says

ZAGREB, 24 July 2022 - Strabag Hrvatska director Veljko Nižetić has said ahead of Tuesday's inauguration of Pelješac Bridge that the construction company will finish all works on access roads on time and in line with the contract.

The works are worth HRK 478.3 million without VAT and the deadline is 13 August.

Speaking to Hina, Nižetić said an annex to the contract signed during the works put the deadline earlier and that the works would be completed in line with the contract.

Under the contract, Strabag was given the construction of a route of over 10 km, including 1,300 m on the mainland and 9,220 m on the Pelješac peninsula. Strabag also built three underpasses, two tunnels, one viaduct, and two bridges.

Despite being satisfied with the work done, Nižetić pointed to the many problems affecting the construction industry in recent years, notably labour shortage. Most workers are from Croatia, followed by those from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and some are from Albania, he said, adding that soon they will probably have to hire workers from faraway countries.

Other major problems include higher construction material prices, disrupted supply chains, and higher energy prices.

The Croatian Bureau of Statistics has said that construction material producer prices in Croatia in June were 9.7% higher on the year and 17% higher than the 2015 average.

According to Nižetić, the costs should be split with investors. He said the problem was bigger for small contractors without enough capital to finance projects.

Nižetić said projects were many and that a lot of money was being absorbed from EU funds.

However, he called for caution, saying that builders were facing shocks on a daily bases due to the consequences of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which result in losses.

He hopes that clients will take that into account and that new price calculation models will be defined in order to share the risk more fairly.

Nižetić recalled that Strabag has been in business in Croatia since 1996, that it has over 1,500 employees, and that it has participated in the construction of many important motorways and tunnels.

Strabag Hrvatska is also interested in a rail transport upgrade in Croatia. The HŽ Infrastruktura rail company has selected the Strabag AG-Strabag d.o.o.-Strabag Rail a.s consortium as the best bidder for reconstruction and construction works on the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway. The bid is HRK 1.71 billion without VAT.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 22 July 2022

HP Issues Postage Stamp with Motif of Pelješac Bridge

ZAGREB, 22 July 2022 - A postage stamp with the motif of the Pelješac Bridge will be put into circulation on Tuesday, 26 July, when the bridge is expected to be formally inaugurated, Croatian Post (HP) said on Friday.

The Hrvatska Pošta plans to issue 60,000 copies.

The designer of the stamp is Dean Roksandić who has used a photo of the bridge taken by Dubrovnik photographer Mario Babarović as the basis for his design.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.


Thursday, 21 July 2022

Pelješac Bridge To Be Formally Inaugurated On 26 July

ZAGREB, 21 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Pelješac Bridge would be opened next Tuesday, 26 July, and invited everyone to attend the ceremony.

"The construction of the bridge is a sovereignist move to connect the Croatian territory," the premier said at the cabinet meeting.

The entire project, including access roads, cost €525 million, of which €357 million was secured as a grant from the European Union.

The official name of the bridge is Pelješki Most in Croatian or Pelješac Bridge in English.

The 2,140-metre-long bridge spans the strait between the village of Komarna on the mainland and the village of Brijesta on the Pelješac peninsula.

The bridge will provide a direct road link between the southernmost part of Croatia and the rest of the country, which is currently cut off at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea. 

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said today that the bridge marked significant headway in Croatian infrastructure development and an important step in ensuring road connectivity while providing a fresh impetus to the development of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The bridge has been built by the China Bridge and Road Corporation.

The contract was signed on 23 April 2018 between the HC road operator and the China Road and Bridge Corporation. Work on the bridge officially started on 31 July 2018.

A 74-metre long test pile was hammered in the seabed on 10 January 2019, and the bridge was fully joined together at a ceremony on 29 July last year.

The 2,440-metre bridge has 13 spans, of which five central spans are each 285 metres long, six 33-metre-high centrally installed pylons made of reinforced concrete, and two lanes, plus a hard shoulder for bridge maintenance.

The navigation profile under the bridge is 200 by 55 metres.

The bridge was designed by Marjan Pipenbaher.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Pelješac Bridge Opening Ceremony: New Details Emerge for July 26

July 18, 2022 - From Rimac Nevera to European champion racecar drivers, brass bands, and Croatia's political elite, a look at the Pelješac Bridge opening ceremony details so far. 

The first car to cross the Pelješac Bridge at the ceremonial opening on July 26 will be the Rimac Nevera, the most powerful electric vehicle today, produced by the Croatian company Rimac Automobili. Three-time European champion racecar driver Niko Pulić will be on the bridge's other end. 

Nevera will start from one side of the bridge, and the famous Croatian racecar driver's Croatian-made car on the other, before they both pass through fireworks.

After this show, the first to officially cross the bridge will be members of the first and fourth guard brigades, 40 of them on motorcycles, writes Jutarnji List.

The solemn opening ceremony of the Pelješac Bridge will begin at 8:15 pm, with a live broadcast on HRT, and everything should be finished by 10 pm, although there were some initial ideas that it should go past midnight.

The audience will be introduced to the entire program by brass bands and trombone players on HRT at 8 am, and a cultural and art program will last all day at the rest area on the Pelješac side.

The party will last until the fireworks and torches on the boats under the bridge begin with the Anthem of Freedom.

The government is still putting together the list of guests because many people are interested in coming. Therefore, there are few places in the official program and the actual ceremony location. There will be several hundred guests in total. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was invited to the ceremonial opening of the bridge since most of the project was co-financed by the European Union. The government is still waiting for the final confirmation of her arrival, which should happen in the coming days. Because of this, the final protocol, guests, and speakers cannot be determined yet.

The plan is for Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to address the guests via video message since the Pelješac Bridge was built by the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), and the Chinese Prime Minister visited the construction site in 2019 when he was on an official visit to Croatia.

All representatives of the contractors and designers of the bridge and the entire Croatian government were invited to the opening. In addition, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, with colleagues and ministers, and Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković will attend the opening, and President of the Republic Zoran Milanović will also be invited.

The government says that they will try to invite all those who were in any way involved in this project, former heads of state and government, ministers, and members of parliament, but that there is also much greater interest, so the final list of invitees will have to be determined over a couple of days. Representatives from the county will also be invited.

There were also plans to open the bridge to pedestrians during the day, but this will not be possible due to the pyrotechnics in the middle of the bridge. Therefore, pedestrians will be able to cross the bridge, those who want to, only up to the first pylon on one and the other side, although it is intended for vehicles. That is why people will not be invited to come en masse to the bridge that day because there could be a traffic jam with cars. For this reason, transportation by minibusses is planned, and it will be possible to park much further from the bridge.

Space for guests is limited. Therefore, everything will take place in the rest area with two stages; one for the speakers and the other for the orchestra and performers, in addition to HRT's equipment for live broadcasting.

Although Croatian Roads put up a sign that says "Pelješac Bridge," it is just a working name, and the bridge will officially be called "Pelješki Most". A new sign will be installed before the actual opening.

The key decision to finance it by the Union was made in the fall of 2017 after the Croatian side submitted an extensive argumentation to the Commission, which refuted all objections from BiH. A group of ten people, coordinated by Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, convinced the EC that the bridge's height of 55 meters was more than enough for even the largest ships to pass under the bridge towards Neum.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Krešimir Dolenčić Reveals Details of Pelješac Bridge Opening Ceremony

July 10, 2022 - The Pelješac Bridge opening ceremony will be held later this month. Event organizer Krešimir Dolenčić revealed some of what we can expect. 

According to the Croatian Government, a use permit for the access roads should be issued on July 18, and one for the Pelješac Bridge has already been issued. Therefore, the bridge opening with part of the access roads is expected on July 26.

Ahead of the Pelješac bridge opening, journalists from Jutarnji List spoke with Krešimir Dolenčić, who is in charge of the opening ceremony. He has been planning the opening ceremony for more than a month. He said he has no time to enjoy himself for now, but that doesn't mean he isn't excited.

"The Pelješac bridge is a huge thing. I know that firsthand. I was there when they put it together, and there was spontaneous joy in Dubrovnik. The whole town was partying. Finally, after 304 years, Dubrovnik will be connected with that part of the hinterland. I saw what it means to the inhabitants of that part of Croatia. And that's why the highlight of the opening ceremony, broadcast live by HTV, will be a beautiful scenography with hundreds of boats surrounding the bridge and truly magnificent fireworks. In addition, there will be a musical program with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, the Libertas Klapa, and the choir of the HNK Split with Gotovac's 'Hymn to Freedom,'" said Dolenčić, who also worked on the opening of the Dubrovnik Bridge, mentioning only some of the numerous contractors.

The preparations, he pointed out, are proceeding exactly as they should.

"Many people from different sides participate, and everyone prepares their part of the task. From Croatian Roads, which are excellently equipped, through protocols, the police, the County, cities... So far, everything is fine," he confirmed.

He did not want to go into the details of the opening program because he would not want to spoil the surprise for the citizens completely. Still, he announced numerous local performers from Dubrovnik, Korčula, and Neretva and briefly revealed how the opening was conceived.

"The bridge will be partially open to the public during the day. But, of course, with a lot of security and control, only on foot and not along the entire route. Festivities in the cities are also planned; although the bridge was not built for festivities but for vehicles, it is the most demanding part of that day. There will be pyrotechnics, and we expect boats and ships under the bridge," he said.

Dolenčić is no stranger to designing massive public celebrations. In 2000, this respected theater director staged a massive stadium production of Verdi's opera 'Aida' in Shanghai with 2,300 participants, and three years later, he repeated the feat in Beijing with 3,000 participants.

He cited the space where the event takes place as the biggest challenge of such projects because it is usually not intended for that. It is necessary, he noted, to predict the number of visitors at the event, organize and ensure all logistics (energy, auditoriums, stages, lighting, sound system, security, ambulance, parking, police, media, and a hundred other things). It is demanding, he continued, and there can be a lot of performers. Therefore, rehearsals are also needed that do not take place on the spot but on several sides.

He revealed that such projects as concerts, sports events, and opening and closing ceremonies carry a strong emotional charge.

"It can easily turn and go sideways, so you need to know how to drive it," he believes.

Do such projects differ from country to country? What are the biggest differences between large projects in Croatia and abroad?

"While some countries bigger than Croatia have companies that deal only with such events, they have employed producers, scenographers, and designers, while others have no experience with this. For example, one hundred seven of us from Zagreb went to Muscat, Oman (for the opening ceremony of the Asian Beach Games); the entire production - video, audio, and author teams, dancers, choreographers, and make-up artists. In China, several companies organize huge events, concerts, fireworks... But, on the other hand, there is no difference. It's always the same default elements and similar problems, of course, in different formats," he explained.

During his fruitful career, Krešimir Dolenčić has directed 119 plays and worked on over 150 events.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Europa Bridge: Famous Croatian Journalist Suggests Name for Pelješac Bridge

July 5, 2022 - Retired HRT journalist Branka Šeparović believes that the Pelješac Bridge should be named 'Europa Bridge'. Here's why.

Retired HRT journalist Branka Šeparović once connected the mainland with the Pelješac peninsula with a convoy of boats and thus sent a message to the authorities in Zagreb and Brussels that it was high time to unite the 'split' Croatia and the European Union. Šeparović's ideas shook the structures, and the idea was finally initiated with joint money from the EU coffers, reports Slobodna Dalmacija

Branka Šeparović warned for a long time on behalf of the association 'Pelješki Most' that Croatia is the only country in the world whose land territory is split in two and that constructing a bridge is of strategic interest to Croatia but also to the EU because Croatia will through further integrations become part of the Schengen area.

Branka Šeparović now points to another problem. According to her, 'Most Pelješac' is a complete misnomer that does not carry any message. On the contrary, it is a project of exceptional importance for the local population, Croatia, and the continent.

"Pelješac is not even a toponym in that sense; it is just an ordinary board placed until the right name is found. Technically and bureaucratically, 'Hrvatske ceste' has all business contracts and technical documentation under the name 'Most kopno - Pelješac.' Therefore, the location of the construction is indicated, and not the name of the bridge, which was chosen for some reason. The name of the bridge, which belongs to public projects, is not given by the state companies that participated in its realization, such as 'Hrvatske ceste', but by the Government of the Republic of Croatia," says Šeparović, who believes that such an important project for the entire European Union, all the more so because next year Croatia will undoubtedly become part of the Schengen area, to which the construction of this essential infrastructural facility contributed in the first place, must undoubtedly be seen in the name of the bridge.

"That's why my suggestion is to name the bridge 'Europa.' It is a land raised from the sea and a union of differences in mutual harmony, understanding, and acceptance. Europe, with two percent of the world's population and 11 percent of the planet's territory, welcomes and transmits the further reaches of human genius with wide-open doors," explains Šeparović, who disagrees with the name Most Pelješac, which, she points out, is not even grammatically correct.

"'Pelješki most' is logical and correct, but everything points to the fact that the 'Europa' bridge has no alternative. Europe is the wider homeland of the Croatian genius Faust Vrančić, who, from the end of the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, gave it, among other inventions, the suspension bridge. All the bridges that have been built so far, including this European bridge in Croatia, remember their constructor that way, as well as the one that should be called Europa because it is placed in the five most strategically important points on our continent," claims Branka Šeparović.

The European Union has already paid respect to this colossal project, so it is time to reciprocate, added Šeparović.

"All paper bills have a picture of a bridge on their back as a symbol of connection. Europe means freedom, justice, and peace. This was written back in 1949 in Pax Europa. There is no alternative for Croatia in this sense. The great European visionaries Alcide de Gaspari, Conrad Adenauer, and Robert Schuman are quite clear: Europe is an alliance in which no one loses, and every part of it, in this unity of diversity - gains. That is why the most beautiful Croatian bridge deserves to be named 'Europa,'" Šeparović is convinced, and once again warned that the current name is technical and that a mature decision must be made as soon as possible. In her opinion, the bridge's name after the Old Continent - has no alternative.

She adds that Croats will travel to the world through that bridge, and Europeans will arrive here in large numbers and continue further south, which will be the case already this summer.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Minister: Final Works Going On as Planned, Pelješac Bridge to Open on 26 July

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - All is going as planned concerning Pelješac Bridge and access roads, and the inauguration of the bridge is expected on 26 July, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Friday.

"All is going on well," said Butković after a meeting of the coordinating team in charge of the "the Road Connectivity of South Dalmatia" project.

He admitted that the current spell of the heatwave is making work more difficult.

Nevertheless, the operating permit is due to be issued on 18 July, he said, without revealing the details of the programme for the inauguration ceremony on 26 July.

or more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Bolette Cruiser is First Large Vessel to Pass Under Pelješac Bridge

June 23, 2022 - The Bolette cruiser, under the command of Dubrovnik Captain Jozo Glavić, passed under the Pelješac Bridge in the direction of Neum this morning with just over a thousand passengers on board.

This ship passed successfully at 6:18 am. It is the first large ship to pass under the newly built bridge, officially opening in late July. Passengers on board could enjoy the view of the bridge, which has just now ticked off another test, reports Slobodna Dalmacija. You can find all photos HERE.

Namely, after heavy trucks drove across the bridge, testing the durability of the steel structure and windbreaks were tested, it was time to check the permeability of maritime traffic between the pillars of the bridge.

The Bolette ship is slightly more than 237 meters long and 32.5 meters wide. The ship has 12 decks, can accommodate 1,380 passengers, and can sail at 25 knots. "Air Draft," or the height from the water to the highest point on the ship, is 48.1 meters, while the maximum allowed height under the Pelješac Bridge is 55 meters.

Bolette had no problems entering the Neum area. Experienced captain Glavić managed fantastically at the helm. And how could he not when he gained world fame by maneuvering a ship in the narrow Corinth Canal with a 195.82-meter-long and 22.5-meter-wide cruiser without significant problems, setting a new world record.

It should be reminded that the maritime society from BiH and politicians there have repeatedly pointed out that the Pelješac bridge will prevent ships from entering Neum. The Bosnian academic community went the furthest, suggesting cutting the Pelješac bridge and making it movable, which would be raised and lowered so that large ships could sail into Neum.

However, the designer of the Pelješac bridge, Slovenian Marijan Pipenbacher, calls such claims from Sarajevo nonsense that are placed for daily political purposes.

"Such statements have nothing to do with the profession. The Republic of Croatia has opened a maximum passage to Neum, 55 meters high, and every ship can pass. It passes as in the largest European ports. Large ships and cruisers have nothing to do here because it is a protected area through Natura 2000. Large propellers would dig up the seabed," Pipenbacher explained.

"Up to 35 meters in height would be enough for this bridge. So sailboats with a 25-meter high mast can pass. However, the area is too sensitive, and Neum has such a small port that a large ship can't even turn around," Pipenbacher added, emphasizing that they have four passages under the bridge 285 meters wide, so those passing towards Neum can choose where to go, which was confirmed by the Bolette.

However, it seems that they are not thrilled with the arrival of the first cruiser. It has nothing to do with the Pelješac Bridge, but the people of Neum do not want mass tourism, city crowds, and the pollution that cruisers bring. They are also allegedly preparing a protest against cruise tourism.

The President of the Municipal Council of Neum, Daniela Matić, believes that the announced entry of Bolette into the Neum area is inadmissible.

"I think that something like this is inadmissible. Neum is not a port; therefore, big ships have nothing to do in our bay. The entry of this and similar ships into the Neum Bay means automatic endangerment of the ecosystem and pollution that will cause significant damage to Neum," Matic said in a statement sent to the BiH public just before the cruise ship sailed.

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

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