Saturday, 10 July 2021

Borrell Calls for Vigilance due to Emerging New Coronavirus Strains

ZAGREB, 10 July 2021 - There is a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, but we must stay vigilant due to emerging new variants, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell said in Dubrovnik on Saturday and called for cooperation with Russia and China.

We are reaching the end of the tunnel, but the pandemic is still raging, especially in South America, Africa and India. We must stay vigilant because new strains are emerging, said Borrell at the 14th edition of the ministerial forum in Dubrovnik. This year's gathering focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on geopolitical relations and the world economy.

We still have a long battle ahead of us, said the chief of European diplomacy, adding that one the consequences of the pandemic will be an increasingly insecure, unequal and less free world.

Inequality will be visible, he said, not only between countries but also within each individual country.

The decisive factor for overcoming the pandemic are vaccines without which we cannot win this battle, Borrell said.

There was a lot of division at the international level, there was a lack of cooperation, but the scientific world worked hard and produced the vaccines in a very short time, Borrell said.

China increasingly intrusive, but cooperation necessary

Certainly, we need to do more, but there is one positive aspect. The EU is the only region in the world that has vaccinated its population and at the same exports the vaccine to other countries and donates to the COVAX programme, Borrell underscored.

He accused Russia and China of using vaccines to achieve their interests and warned that we had to be aware of that.

Those countries are using vaccine diplomacy, we must be aware of that, he said.

He pointed out that it was important how the EU would position itself in the triangle with the US and China, recalling that China is recording amazing economic development and that they received a very defiant message from President Xi Jinping from Beijing that foreign forces will face broken heads if they try to bully or oppress China.

(China) is becoming increasingly intrusive, cooperation with it is becoming more difficult, Borrell said.

However, he added there had to be cooperation with China in many areas and that the economic potential was still very large.

As much as 25% of global economic growth this year is from China, Borrell said, adding that in the the United States there are comments that China is a competitor, rival and partner.

He thinks that the competition between China and the US would shape the world in the decades to come, and the EU had to set a clear direction.

We share history, political and economic system with the US. We will always be close to Washington, but we must view the world taking into account our own interests, said Borrell, stressing that the dialogue between the EU and American President Joe Biden's administration on China was real, positive and constructive.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

VukovART 2021 to Return Art, Culture and Joy to the City of Vukovar

April 20, 2021 - With a five-year tradition already in place, VukovART 2021 promises a month of fun and exciting activities for Vukovar with visual eye candy as souvenirs to last.

A unique concept in the culture and art of Vukovar, the VukovART festival will be held from May 15 all the way to June 15, writes HRTurizam.  

With a five-year tradition, the streets and squares of Vukovar will once again host numerous exhibitions and workshops, debates, children's programs, film, and literary programs, panel discussions, colorful lectures, and concerts. This event, organized by the City of Vukovar and Val Kulture association, co-financed by the European Social fund, promotes Vukovar as a Port of Art, changing the visual identity of the city making it a beautiful place to live. In addition to the local community, tourists also enjoy the eye candy of the city's open-air gallery. Artists Boa Mistura (Spain), BustArt (Switzerland), Jana Brike (Latvia), Mr Woodland (Germany), Victor Splash (Russia), Artez (Serbia), Juandres Vera (Mexico), Kerim Musanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marion Ruthardt from (Germany), and Croatia's own Forest are ten artists who will come this year to give their contribution to the growing visual content of the city.

The festival will be opened by a beloved Croatian band Vatra (Fire), with performances of Mia Dimšić, musical composition CLUE, and vocal composition Watercolor in the following days too. During every larger event of the festival, „a superb craft scene and street food“ offers will be offered to visitors too. 


© VukovArt - Art Harbour

Famous Croatian singer from Psihomodo Pop with a neck in painting as well, Davor Gobac will exhibit his paintings and also host Motivational and Art Workshop for children.

„There will also be an active weekend led by the Vukovar Half Marathon, and for a slightly more relaxing activity, a bicycle race will be organized to tour previous works of art“, says HRTurizam article.

Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish, Dusan Bučan, and Robert Knjaz will host travel lectures and the full program and more details can be found on VukovART official website and on social networks.  

Learn more about Croatia's festivals on our TC page.  

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


Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Health Minister Beroš Calls on Russian Side to Expedite Delivery of Vaccine Documentation

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that during his talks with a Russian delegation he had called for expediting the delivery of documentation on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine so that Croatia's HALMED regulator could evaluate the vaccine's safety and efficiency.

"The meeting yesterday with the Russian ambassador does not indicate that we are abandoning the European Commission's common procurement but is rather a sign that we are looking for complementary methods that will be in line with the EC and Croatian regulations," the minister told a news conference.

He said that it was possible to obtain the vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency and that the analysis by HALMED would take some time, but that he was talking about days and weeks, not months.

Yesterday's meeting was held at the proposal of the Russian ambassador, it was pleasant, constructive and friendly and focused on possibilities of obtaining the vaccine, Beroš said.

It was stressed that procuring the vaccine from Russia was a possibility and that it had to be in line with EU and Croatian regulations, Beroš said.

He noted that the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has sent a note to the Russian Embassy specifying the 11 documents HALMED needed in order to be able to evaluate the safety of the vaccine.

"I thank our Russian friends for their efforts to help us in the fight against the pandemic because vaccination, along with restrictions, is the main weapon in preventing the spread of the infection," he said.

He noted that it had already been said that HALMED could evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency if so requested by Croatian health authorities, in order to secure emergency vaccine imports.

"I believe it is a legitimate government effort to ensure for citizens everything that science can offer, but the main criterion must be safety, efficacy and quality," he stressed.

As for the debt to drug wholesalers, which have limited drug deliveries to hospitals because of their debts, Beroš said that it was a problem that had persisted for decades and that it should be dealt with through a reform of the health system as well as talks with drug wholesalers.

He said the government would do its best to secure an unobstructed supply of drugs for citizens and that it would hold talks with drug wholesalers.

The Croatian health system is financially unsustainable and the crisis year 2020 accentuated the negative financial effects due to an increase in health spending as well as the cost of procuring the COVID-19 vaccine, which amounted to more than two billion kuna last year, said Beroš.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Croatia and Russia Sign Programme for Boosting Cultural Cooperation

ZAGREB, Dec 16, 2020 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Croatian Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek signed on Wednesday the sixth Programme of Cooperation in the Field of Culture for the 2020-2022 period, the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media said.

The program was signed as part of the Russian Foreign Minister's official visit to Croatia, and it encourages exchange and cooperation between artists, cultural and art institutions, and associations, as well as direct cooperation between cultural institutions of mutual interest, the MKM said.

Mutual cooperation, the Ministry said, encompasses a wide range of activities related to museums, galleries, performing arts, literature, and publishing, as well as the existing high level of cooperation in the area of audiovisual activities.

The Ministry recalled that in the domain of cultural heritage the cooperation was especially pronounced between the Underwater Research Centre of the Russian Geographical Society, the Lomonosov Moscow State University Marine Research Centre, and the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, a UNESCO Category II Centre.

Signing the Programme will improve, the Ministry said, the existing cooperation between organizations, artists, and experts.

In addition to a good and meaningful bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which is achieved through direct contact between cultural institutions and artists working in Croatia and Russia, the cooperation within international platforms will also continue, the Ministry of Culture and Media said.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev Will Be At ''New'' Agrokor's Head

Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletajev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško are a list of names that will enter the ''new'' Agrokor, or Fortenova's management.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of March, 2019, Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev will be the head of Fortenova's board of directors, as was decided upon by the concern's owners during meeting in London, Večernji list writes.

At the moment, this information remains unofficial and should be confirmed at the end of March, when new functions will be recorded in the Court Registry of companies. Namely, on the first day of April, the Fortenova Group, formerly Agrokor, will be chaired by a board of nine directors and an executive board consisting of three members. Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletaev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško, Agrokor's current extraordinary administrator, are already known.

Maxim Poletajev of Russia's Sberbank, will be at the helm of this body which will make all strategic decisions on the involved companies.

This body decides on the selling and acquiring part of the business, appointments, and other major contracts. Along with Poletajev as a representative of Sberbank, the largest shareholder, which has a 39.2 percent stake in the new ownership structure, Sergey Volk will also enter the body, who as a member of the temporary creditors' council has been present within Agrokor since the very beginning of the extraordinary administration process. Both bankers are well acquainted with the opportunities within Agrokor, over the past two years they have become well acquainted with Agrokor's suppliers and most of the owners of major Croatian companies.

In an interview with Večernji list, Poletajev announced that the company, which will continue to operate under Fortenova's name, will boast some powerful management names.

For now, all operating company directors have retained their positions in mirror companies, and some very powerful names are set to enter the board of directors. Miodrag Borojević is certainly one of them. He currently runs the O'KEY Group, one of the leading retail chains in Russia, and also boasts an exceedingly rich career in the sector. He was the director of REWE Italy, which was rescued during his mandate, he has also operated Kaufland's business in Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and in the Czech Republic.

Foley has valuable long-standing experience in large retail chains and has been leading the large chain of Aldi in his career and is now in the Magnitum Management, a Russian chain where VTB Bank, which owns about seven percent of the new Fortenova, bought and sold shares from February to May 2018.

The board of directors also includes a workers' representative whose name is as yet unknown. The executive board of directors who will operate the company will have three members, Fabris Peruško, Irena Weber and a member who will be responsible for finances, their name is as yet is unknown.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Agrokor.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

From Clubbing to Camden to Chicken Farming in Croatia, Leaving London on a Hunch

From the booming nightlife of one of the world’s major cities, to helping my mother raise GMO free chickens on a family farm, it’s not the transition in life many young adults would willingly take.

In my introduction to Total Croatia News, I mentioned leaving the fast paced and opportunity “haven” of London instead to start afresh in a small village of the Croatian Zagrebačka region. By small village, I mean one street with a milk depot, several farms and a café bar. There is one bus that runs through at 6am connecting you to the nearest big town but returning is near impossible without a car. In short, I decided to move as I thought I had a sign from the universe to do so.

It sounds more than crazy to move based on a suspected “hunch” to a place famed for war and political corruption, and I was stubborn up until the last minute. There were many reasonable factors that influenced my decision to leave and many just as reasonable telling me to stay: Croatia offered a safer way of life but was lacking in professional opportunity. I was young and it could be a “life changing experience” but I also did not know the language or have a clear plan ahead.

Despite the constant back and forth, the ultimate choice to plunge headfirst into Croatian life was based on instinct and the fact that I thought (half jokingly, but probably more seriously than I will admit) the universe was guiding me to so do. It was this gut instinct combined with the phrase “heck, why not” that dictated most of my decision making process, and later adopting from my mother the philosophy of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” that guided me to where I am today.

After my family moved, I stubbornly stayed behind with my Grandmother in a small hippie village of East Sussex. Christmas time was upon us and I was desperate to see my family over the festive period. Broke from travelling around the UK and London visiting friends at university, tired of vegan food in the village, I decided to browse online at my potential options in Croatia. To figure out what all the fuss was about.

I would take my laptop to Costa coffee most days to get my daily dose of free wifi and I scoured the internet for university and job opportunities in Zagreb. After a long argument with my mum over the phone about what I will do in the coming future (and subsequent existential crisis in the corner of the cafe with a mocha and brownie in hand), I booked my one way flight to Zagreb Airport and breathed a sigh of relief that I’ll be able to see my family over the Christmas holidays.

I had the intentions of returning and to begin my university degree, but that was until I heard back about one of my job applications in Zagreb. I had been invited for an interview!

Exchanging emails with the representative, eventually we settled on a date. The day after my plane would land, I would have an interview. I sat in the chair surrounded by the miasma of coffee and pondered the success. After months of applications to various jobs in England without success, here, I had an interview ready only a few days after application. Living in England on my own I had encountered many roadblocks and became overcome with loneliness and defeat, but any moves I made directed towards Croatia seemed to fair well with relative ease. I took it as a sign, and realised I had to give Croatia a serious chance when I arrived.

At the time before moving, I saw London as the pinnacle. The huge transport network would take me anywhere I needed to be, which, at my age just meant Pryzm or XOYO. I had my established group of friends and knew more or less how the country functioned - Never count on Southern Rail, Wetherspoons for cheap drinks, and Peckham is the bit you go around. In short, I understood and saw a convenience in London I didn’t want to walk away from.

I am still infatuated with this convenience. I can’t deny that London is a more modern, booming city and I often find myself missing the variety and ease of access it had to offer that Croatia so poorly lacks in. What Croatia does offer in place of convenience for me though, is a sense of belonging. With a strong Russian background, there were many times I simply did not understand or connect with the British culture. I felt the same kind of “click” in Zagreb, as I did when visiting Moscow or our hometown of Yaroslavl.

This “hunch” or feeling of rightness is what kept Croatia in the back of my mind as a legitimate option despite having no real foundations there, only the experience of a few family holidays. So when everything fell into place while preparing to visit, and subsequently when I arrived, I couldn’t help but feel like the universe was screaming at me to go.

On the plane ride over, it was my first time flying totally alone. Nervous and self conscious, I made sure I read every sign and checked my bags over and over. I was petrified. Then on the second plane, connecting me from Warsaw to Zagreb, I had the pleasure of meeting a young Croatian man from Rijeka. We chatted about life in London where he had been working and he prepared me for life in Croatia, giving me advice on the best coffee spots too. We continued our conversation all the way up until we had to depart at the exit of the airport.

I got a taste for what was to come. I felt at ease waiting for my ride, and quietly thanked the universe for showing me what life can bring. What is possible when you give yourself completely up to chance.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Agrokor: Will Russia's Sberbank Sell Share? It Depends...

You know that old British saying ''It ain't over til the fat lady sings''? Well, you could easily apply that to the ongoing Agrokor saga. Yes, things have calmed down enormously, with the company having made a miraculous turnaround from pre-bankruptcy to regaining its strength and operating normally, but the story isn't over yet.

Fabris Peruško, the current extraordinary commissioner leading Agrokor's administration, stated recently that Agrokor is finally back on its feet, and not only that, but that it still has all the potential to remain one of the strongest and largest companies in this part of Europe.

While Agrokor is expected to return to totally normal business next year, under a different name and with Russia's Sberbank as a majority owner, things still aren't all steady, and this is one of them. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of December, 2018, Russia's Sberbank, one of Agrokor's largest shareholders, has already begun receiving bids for its huge share in the Agrokor Group.

Maxim Poletajev, advisor to the CEO of Sberbank, stated that Sberbank has already begun receiving bid for its share from various funds from the United States, Canada, and much closer to home in Europe, from the United Kingdom, according to a report from N1.

"Everything will depend on the price, we're currently considering offers," Poletajev stated very briefly. He also said that Russia's Sberbank was currently in talks with various investors who could potentially take part in refinancing Agrokor's debt.

Fabris Peruško should become the president of the board, Poletajev added.

As the Agrokor story continues to write its own pages and as its former owner, Ivica Todorić, pays a million euros in bail to leave prison and announce his entry into the Croatian political world, it's more and more difficult to predict exactly what will happen next, but in any case, follow our dedicated business and politics pages to stay up to date.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Despite Recovery, Todorić's Legacy and Agrokor's Debts Paint Bleak Picture

Ivica Todorić has returned to Croatia after more than a year in London, having landed on the territory of a country in which he is no longer the owner of the largest regional company. Exactly one year after handing himself in in the British capital, living under the watchful eye of the Metropolitan police and after an agonisingly long court battle, Agrokor's former untouchable main man returned to his homeland utterly powerless. A far cry from the not so distant reality Todorić once enjoyed, having once owned his own private island, Smokvica.

As Jutarnji/Vanja Nezirovic writes on the 9th of November, 2018, unlike back on the 10th of April 2017, when he signed Lex Agrokor, which activated the law to allow the Croatian Government to step in and rescue Agrokor, and unlike in the autumn of the same year when he temporarily "emigrated" to London, Agrokor's largest single owner is now Russia's Sberbank with a 39.2 percent stake. The settlement was a long and painfully complex process, however, in order to execute such a settlement, creditors, primarily financial lenders, had to write off a large part of their claims, around 60 percent.

Namely, the exact amount and percentage of the final write-off of the creditor's claims will be known at the time when Agrokor is sold. To recall, on April the 10th, 2017, Agrokor had 7.7 billion euro in debt, of which about 1.5 billion euro was debt within the group, which means that the debt to third parties actually amounted to about 6.2 billion euro.

If we know that the framework calculations of Agrokor's value are projected at about 2.3 billion euro, this would mean that the creditors, primarily financially (based on this nominal projection), were forced to give up an enormous total of about 4 billion euro. This was the price of the survival of Agrokor, which for now, following these write-offs, has a debt of 1.06 billion euro in so-called roll up loans.

Agrokor's medium and large suppliers have so far averaged 60 percent of their claims for goods and services, were paid 500 million euro in cach for old debts, with 46 percent of them having a return of between 80 and 100 percent. When the rest of the debt is paid out over four years, and when part of Agrokor's property is converted, their return will amount to about 80 percent. The bonds' return rate ranges between 40 percent and 80 percent, while the largest number of domestic and foreign financial institutions and other creditors will have an average return on demand of up to 20 percent.

At the time of signing Lex Agrokor, Todorić's Agrokor Group was blocked in the amount of 3 billion kuna, and it was naturally expected that this dire situation could lead to Croatia into a short-term recession. The possibility of Agrokor's bankcruptcy could have, according to CNB/HNB (Croatian National Bank) projections, lead to several smaller banks entering into a very dangerous situation indeed, yet while the banking system luckily remained stable, the losses bigger banks suffered were felt almost immediately.

Even with the implementation of a specially regulated bankruptcy proceeding through Lex Agrokor, several contract suppliers ended up in bankruptcy or having to undertake pre-bankruptcy proceedings, some stabilised the recapitalisation of third parties, some are still awaiting ownership and business restructuring, but a stronger economic and social shock was thankfully avoided.

Today, Agrokor's debt has been reduced to levels that should be viable, things are generally much more stable and the company is expected to return to normal function in 2019. The results of companies like Jamnica and Ledo, are once again very good, Konzum seems to be more than just recovering, but some other companies from within the large Agrokor umbrella, like Velpro and Konzum BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) are still very vulnerable.

It's also clear that agricultural companies such as Vupik will need some more time to recover properly, but the overall picture of the company today is much more healthy than it was a year ago, thanks to the current extraordinary commissioner, Fabris Peruško.

That means that the Croatian economy, a much more than significant part of which is made up by Agrokor, has gone from being under grave threat, to being more stable, more safe, and more competitive.

Want to keep up with the latest news and detailed information on Ivica Todorić and his swapping of London for Remetinec prison? Make sure to follow everything here.


Click here for the original article by Vanja Nezirovic for Jutarnji List

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Equipment from Croatia Helps Upkeep of Russian Nuclear Plants

The Croatian company deals with liquid flow control technology and the designing and manufacturing of electro-hydraulic equipment.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Croatian Beer Market Still Feeling Effects Of World Cup High

Croats are turning more and more towards craft beer, and this summer many craft beer bars had TV's showing the World Cup, contributing to beer sales.

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