Sunday, 30 May 2021

Janša: Slovenia and Croatia Making Joint Efforts to Expand Space of Freedom

ZAGREB, 30 May, 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša said in Zagreb on Saturday that Slovenia and Croatia were two countries with similar histories and that nowadays "they are fighting together for the expansion of Europe and for all its parts to be free."

On Saturday evening, Janša arrived in Zagreb to attend a special concert in the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) on the occasion of Croatia's Statehood Day, observed on 30 May.

In reference to the early 1990s when his country and Croatia gained independence, Janša said that "those were the times of huge risks and courage both for Slovenia and Croatia."

"I can remember the steps we made to get rid of the yoke of the Yugoslav Communist system. Today, Slovenia and Croatia are members of the European Union and NATO, and we are together fighting  for the expansion of Europe and for all its parts to be free," said Janša, who was welcomed by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Janša went on to say that the two countries were now able to help other countries and "want to expand the space of freedom."

He invited his Croatian counterpart to ceremonies in Ljubljana on the occasion of Slovenia's Statehood Day on 25 June. Six days after that holiday, Slovenia will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, and this will be the first time for Ljubljana to be the EU chair.

Janša congratulated PM Plenković on Croatia's successful chairmanship of the Council of the EU  in the first half of 2020 against a backdrop of "very demanding circumstances marked by the (COVID-19) pandemic."

Plenković, who described Janša as a friend and good neighbour of Croatia, said that he was confident that during the Slovenian chairmanship in the second half of this year, Croatia's Schengen and euro area membership bid would be strongly supported by Ljubljana.

He noted that the third remaining objective in the foreign affairs was Croatia's admission to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As soon as we accomplish those three goals, we can say that we have fulfilled our tasks, having in mind the size of our country, Plenković said.

He pledged the further strengthening of Croatia's institutions, democracy and economy in the fourth decade of the country's independence.

We are committed to strengthening the social inclusivity and to the stronger positioning in the EU and NATO, he said adding also that Croatia was dedicated to green and digital transition.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Slovenian PM Supports Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša on Wednesday supported the Schengen entry of Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania as it would strengthen security in Europe.

We support Croatia's entry to the Schengen Area, as well as the entry of Bulgaria and Romania. We believe those are steps that strengthen security in Europe, he told a joint press conference with European Parliament President David Sassoli.

He spoke at the press conference via video link from Ljubljana after presenting to European Parliament leaders the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts on 1 July.

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Tuesday he expected Croatia's Schengen membership could be on the agenda during the Slovenian presidency.

"Croatia is on the right track to become a member of the Schengen Area in 2022 and then to enter the eurozone. I think that's possible. When we look at the very good relations we now have with Slovenia, it would be a great scenario if something like that happened during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU," he told the press.

Janša today also supported EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, saying many problems there, including the border issue, would be taken off the agenda with the accession of those countries.

EU enlargement is in our common interest. It should be our strategic response to numerous challenges, he added.

He said that when the EU was dealing with the financial and then the migrant crisis, neglecting enlargement, some other factors started expanding their influence in the Western Balkans.

Those foreign factors don't have the same values as we in the European Union, he added.

Janša said a European perspective was the answer.

We can solve problems by making borders less important. Slovenia is now part of the European Union and Schengen, where there are no physical borders, he added.

He announced an EU-Western Balkan summit for 6 October in Slovenia.

As for the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency, Janša highlighted respect for the rule of law and EU resilience to crises. He also underlined the importance of the Conference on the Future of the EU, which will end next year during the French presidency.

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Saturday, 15 May 2021

Slovenian Iskra Has Eyes on One of Largest Croatian Exporters

May the 15th, 2021 - Slovenia's Iskra wants to take over a very well known Zagreb-based company and one of the largest Croatian exporters as the business climate begins gaining some sense of semi-normality back again.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the business climate is gradually recovering, we have learned to live with the coronavirus and the vaccine is here, and for Iskra as well as for many other Slovenian companies, a new wave of development can start. That naturally means greater investments in automation, robotics and new innovative technologies.

This was stated by Iskra's Dusan Sesok, whose family-owned company has come back into focus again here in Croatia as well. The last time it was on Croatia's business radar was on the occasion of them taking over the shipyard in Sibenik from the former owner there - today they're successfully developing a business called Iskra shipyard. Now, the media is following the Slovenian publication related to the takeover of Zagreb's Elka, otherwise the largest regional cable company and one of the largest Croatian exporters.

Following Iskra's information regarding the process around this company, one of the biggest Croatian exporters, which they informed the Slovenian regulator about, it has been found out that the transaction hasn't been completed. The process is still ongoing, according to the director of Iskra.

A recently held meeting was attended by representatives of the ownership ''staff'' of both companies; Matija Sesok, one of the juniors who runs Iskra's operations, as well as a member of the Croatian Elka company, Miljenko Hacek. Apparently, this was an all-day meeting.

Hacek said that with more than half a billion kuna in revenue, Elka is a recovered company, it is stable. It has operated positively for the last two years and even achieved growth last year despite the coronavirus pandemic. They have promising plans for this year, and growth is expected to continue.

Matija Sesok, referring to the same topic, said that Elka's business last year and this year was such that it had become very interesting for Iskra.

Iskra's director, economist Dusan Sesok, who was the Minister of Economy and Finance in two Slovenian Governments, pointed out that his domain included taking over other companies, as well as environmental projects.

He confirmed that Iskra wants to enter a new field of activity - in the field of energy and telecommunications cable production, but didn't want to comment on the alleged potential takeover of one of the largest Croatian exporters - Elka.

''We're still in a sensitive phase,'' he said, and according to him, the first statements on this topic can be expected in about ten days at the earliest. Otherwise, the Slovenian Iskra had a record 130 million euros last year.

Good political relations

This, he says, will be a long-term trend, as after production was transferred to Asia, it is now returning home to Europe as everyone tends to buy in short supply chains from European producers. Iskra employs a total of 1,300 workers, of which 170 are in the Dalmatian city of Sibenik, where they also have about 100 subcontractors.

"Political relations between Croatia and Slovenia are good again after a number of years of tension, which is a good basis for greater connections between our companies," concluded Iskra's Sesok.

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Monday, 10 May 2021

Slovenia Donates €67,000 to Earthquake-struck Petrinja

ZAGREB, 10 May 2021 - A humanitarian campaign for the children of Petrinja by the Slovenian "Zveza prijateljev mladine Slovenije" NGO and Radio-Television Slovenia have managed to collect €67,000 for the construction of the "Our Children" house in Petrinja in the aftermath of last year's earthquake, the Our Children NGO said on Monday.

Based on the wishes of Petrinja residents, and in particular families with children who wish to remain in the town, the funds were collected to build a prefab house that will be used as a play centre and to provide psychosocial support and entertainment for children, youth and families.

Various events will be organized there, expert and creative workshops, while the funds collected are also earmarked to purchase equipment and other supplies. The house will also provide help with learning and expert psychosocial assistance for children, adolescents, and parents.

The director of Slovenian Television, Natalija Gorščak, said that in the past 50 years Slovenia experienced destructive earthquakes in Kozjansko and Posočje, hence it is aware of the misfortune and powerlessness of people after an earthquake.

"These incidents are very difficult to explain to children and adolescents and it is hard for them to understand. In the hope that their lives will be back to normal as soon as possible, we gladly launched the fund-raising campaign for all of them as part of our December campaign," she said.

A donation agreement, as the first step towards building the house, was signed by Martina Botužić Dževerlija, the president of the Our Children Petrinja NGO, and Darja Groznik, the president of the "Zveze prijateljev mladine Slovenije" NGO from Slovenia.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Investors Can Now Invest in Best Slovenian Shares in Croatian Kuna

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of November, 2020, the listing of the first two ETFs or exchange traded funds has finally started on the Zagreb Stock Exchange. This news was announced half a year ago by the head of Hanfa, Ante Zigman, confirming that Hanfa had received a request for approval of the listing prospectus. This means that the best Slovenian shares can now be invested in in the Croatian national currency.

The first Croatian listing of "exchange traded funds", whose shares are traded on the stock exchange as well as all other shares, was taken care of by the InterCapital group, ie its asset management company (ICAM).

One ETF will be linked to CROBEX 10tr, ie the index of the 10 most liquid shares on the ZSE, and the other to its Slovenian counterpart, SBITOP, which includes the 11 most traded Slovenian shares, often referred to as the best Slovenian shares.

An effective instrument

As the ETF usually monitors the performance of the selected stock index, this marks a type of passive investment, which makes this product especially suitable for small investors who want to invest in the shares of the best companies, but don't have enough knowledge and other resources to invest in individual stocks.

A similar argument usually accompanies "classic" index funds, but primarily due to technological features, investing through ETFs is, among other things, far simpler, so ETFs have been the fastest growing segment of the asset management industry globally for a long time.

In the thirty years since the first ETFs appeared in the world, their number to date has exceeded 2,300.

Industry associations, on the other hand, estimate that in the next five years, their assets will exceed those of actively managed traditional funds, according to ICAM. With about 15 years of experience in this business and about three billion kuna of assets under management, they are known as the leading independent "asset manager" here in Croatia, and with this recent very significant step forward, they say, they're opening a new page in terms of doing business.

Although the stock industry in Croatia has seen far better days, especially in the segment of equity funds and when it comes to small investors whose confidence has been shaken considerably in the economy-rattling case of Agrokor, InterCapital believes that things could change with the benefits provided by ETFs as a cost an effective financial instrument.

They hope that Croatian investors, in addition to simply entering and exiting the ETF or the fact that the dividends it collects are non-taxable, will recognise the opportunity to buy the best Slovenian shares in kuna through the ETF, see the opportunity to buy the best Slovenian shares in Croatian kuna, without the need to hire a custodian, exchange kuna for euros and pay withholding tax in neighbouring Slovenia.

They also take into account the fact that the launch of ETFs on the stock exchange comes at a time of historically low interest rates. Stock yields from the CROBEX10 or SBITOP index over the past 10 years support such expectations.

For example, those from CROBEX10 in that period paid an average annual dividend of 4 percent of the investment, while the dividend yield for Slovenian shares in the same period was 5 percent. This year, which has been marked by an ongoing global pandemic, the dividend yield of the CROBEX10tr index is 1.5 percent, and the SBITOP index 4.2 percent.

"Guided by our mission to develop the domestic capital market through innovation and the application of international asset management industry best practices, we've developed a product that we firmly believe will be extremely attractive to all potential investors," said Hrvoje Cirjak, ICAM Board Member.

He added that their intention is to list the same two funds over on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange next year, which will enable the ease of investing in Croatian shares for Slovenian investors. With the listing of the first ETFs on the ZSE comes new terms such as indicative NAV (iNAV).

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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

How Will Slovenian Travel Decision Affect Croatian Tourism Sector?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 28th of September, 2020, the Croatian tourism sector is very satisfied with the Slovenian travel decision which will see all of the Croatian counties located along the border with Slovenia placed on the orange list, which means that from these areas, people can enter Slovenia with a negative test and without having to go into self-isolation/quarantine.

Brod-Posavina, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Lika-Senj, Požega-Slavonia, Sibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, Virovitica-Podravina and Zadar counties have all remained on the Slovenian Government's red list.

"I'm pleased that the Slovenian Government has recognised the efforts that Croatia is making to remain an epidemiologically safe destination, and has removed some Croatian counties from the red list for Slovenia. Slovenes are our dear and faithful guests, a large number of tourists from Slovenia visit Croatia on weekends, come here on day trips, and also visit throughout the year, so I think this Slovenian travel decision will contribute to the continuation of the tourist year,'' said the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac. In addition to Slovenian guests visiting Croatia for a holiday, a significant number of businessmen travel from Slovenia to Croatia, which is excellent news for Zagreb's hotels.

The Croatian Tourism Association (HUT) also welcomes the decision to introduce a regional approach to Croatia, which is crucial for enabling the normalisation of the travel regime between Croatia and Slovenia. HUT is convinced that this is only the first in a series of similar decisions, which is in line with the proposal of Germany, which demands that such a travel regime be accepted by all members of the European Union (EU).

''We can see that the epidemiological situation can vary considerably from region to region within a country, so a regional approach to travel restrictions is the only way to simultaneously maintain a level of activity between two member states while maintaining effectiveness in fighting the spread of the pandemic. HUT supports the definition of a common travel regime based on a regional approach, with clearly defined epidemiological criteria that will be valid at the level of the entire EU,'' said Veljko Ostojic, the director of HUT.

HUT believes that such an approach will be adopted as soon as possible by countries such as Austria, Italy and others that are important emitting tourist markets for Croatia.

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Monday, 28 September 2020

Time To Reflect, As Loyalty Not Luxury Saves 2020 Croatia Tourist Season

September 28, 2020 – The tail end of 2020's unparalleled summer offers opportunity for pause, contemplation and appreciation, as it's loyal and not luxury guests that have saved this year's Croatia tourist season.

In this day and age, things always have to get better. There's no room to sit still. Life without improvement is deemed a failure. Nowhere is this more true than the Croatia tourist season.

The numbers of overnight stays in the Croatia tourist season sometimes seem to be the only measure by which its success is judged. Year after year, the numbers must rise. Any decrease is unthinkable. At the same time, hungry eyes still want more. Some want to reposition themselves. A new class of guest is wanted, from faraway nations. They must be of a better quality. They must stay longer, in more expensive dwellings. They must spend more.

Incredible initiatives are undertaken to turn this want into a reality. But, at the end of the 2020 Croatia tourist season, perhaps it's time to pause and reflect. For this year, it is undoubtedly loyalty and not luxury that's saved the Croatia tourist season.

In the year the coronavirus pandemic hit, arrivals by charter plane and cruise ship were seriously curtailed. So much for the flying visits of premium guests from far-flung lands. Instead, the tourists who came were from much closer to Croatia.

The English language that most on the coast are so familiar with was this year useless. On the beaches of Istria and northern Dalmatia, it was Slovenian, Polish, Czech, German, Slovakian and Italian that was heard. The packed bars of Makarska echoed with the familiar call of 'Đe si, bolan?' (where are you, bro? - in Bosnian dialect). Many of those who came drove to Croatia. And many do so every year.

1024px--Sharing-_Friday_night_pizza_(17405004226).jpg© Jeremy Segrott

Sighs and light-hearted jokes about some of these guests persist in some places. “That family come every year, but they only ever order one pizza to share between the four of them.” The choice of footwear of some German-speaking and Czech visitors frequently draws chuckles, in particular, the classic sock and sandal combo. But, just where would the 2020 Croatia tourist season have been without the 60,000 Czech and Slovak visitors who this year arrived by train?

Just two days ago, Jutarnji reported on phenomenal numbers of Polish visitors this year. Would anyone else really have taken the place of the returning family of four sharing a pizza? Just what would the season in Makarska have looked like without bolan?

Croatians are famously very appreciative hosts. On the ground, there's no doubt that such loyal guests are warmly welcomed and thanked each year by accommodation renters, restaurateurs and others. They greet returning visitors with smiles of familiarity and reserve for them their favourite place. In September 2020, gratitude to such guests was echoed by The Croatian National Tourist Board as they launched a new campaign 'Thank you', directed at the tourists who this year chose Croatia.

Perhaps it is time to ensure that this gratitude extends into any grand new initiatives for growth in the Croatia tourist season? Such loyal guests should not be taken for granted, nor forgotten.

Initiative within the Croatia tourist sector is vital. The unlocking of continental Croatia's potential is simply a must. That too of the Dalmatian hinterland and inland Istria. The exploitation of world-class Croatian assets such as nature, agriculture and health and wellness services are also perfectly on-point. The desire to attract a better class of bigger-spending visitor to luxury holidays on the Croatian coast should surely be a lower priority. After all, eyes that covet can all too frequently fail to appreciate that for which they should already be thankful.

SANDALS.jpg© Oddman47

Lead image adapted from an original photograph by © Marco Verch

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Thursday, 10 September 2020

Slovenia Loses Another Lawsuit Against Croatia in EU General Court

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of September, 2020, neighbouring Slovenia has lost another lawsuit against Croatia before the General Court of the European Union (EU), although in this case the European Commission was sued for allowing the name Teran to be mentioned as a grape variety on the label of wines produced in the Republic of Croatia, according to a report from Vecernji list.

Before Croatia's accession to the European Union back in July 2013, Slovenia sought the protection of the Slovenian Teran with a protected designation of origin valid for the entire European Union, and the European Commission tried to help find a common solution four years after Croatia's accession to the bloc, to which Slovenia of course did not agree.

Finally, back in 2017, the European Commission adopted a delegated regulation that allows the name Teran to be used on Croatian bottles with the designation of origin "Croatian Istria". The delegated regulation has been applied retroactively, since the date of Croatia's accession to the European Union on the 1st of July 2013, given the fact that teran is traditionally produced in Croatia as well.

However, Slovenia was deeply offended by the European Commission, taking things as far as to go to the EU General Court in Luxembourg, claiming, among other things, that the move retroactivity violates the principle of legal certainty and the legitimate expectations of Slovenian wine producers. According to the Slovenian arguments, they expected that the Croats wouldn't be able to continue with the use of the name Teran after joining the European Union, of which Slovenia has been a member state for longer.

The court ruled yesterday that the Slovenian lawsuit against Croatia has no basis and as such should simply be rejected.

It was crucial for the EU's General Court to examine whether the European Commission regulation had any significant shortcomings as a result of that retroactive application. And it has been concluded that there hasn't been.

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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Slovenian Sava Insurance Announces Continued Expansion in Croatia

As Vedran Marjanovic/Novac writes on the 4th of September, 2020, the Slovenian Sava Insurance (Sava Re) plans to expand on the markets where it is currently already present, and the most important countries for expansion are Croatia and Serbia, as was announced by a member of the Management Board of the Slovenian Sava Insurance, Polona Pirs Zupancic.

Appearing on a recent morning podcast of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, a member of the Management Board of the Slovenian Sava Insurance (Sava Re osiguranje) explained that the insurance company is in actual fact not interested in breaking into new markets, but instead in increasing its market shares in the countries where it already operates, which includes countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Here in the Republic of Croatia, the Slovenian Sava Insurance operates through its subsidiary Sava Osiguranje Podruznica Hrvatska, which ended the last business year with a gross written premium of 202 million kuna, and doesn't even appear among the ten largest insurers on the Croatian market, in either the life or non-life insurance segment. Otherwise, the six largest insurers in Croatia hold 73 percent of the non-life insurance market.

In an attempt to increase the company's market share here in Croatia, Sava Osiguranje Branch Croatia purchased Ergo osiguranje and Ergo zivotno osiguranje in a transaction concluded at the end of last year.

The Slovenian Sava Insurance (Sava Re), along with Triglav Osiguranje (Insurance) and Generali, which is otherwise the largest Slovenian insurer, ended the last business year with a total revenue of 640 million euros and a profit of 50 million euros.

The announcement of the expansion of Sava Re comes after it itself was linked to the acquisition plans of the German Allianz last year. One of the largest shareholders of Sava Re is the Rovinj-based Adris Group with about 20 percent ownership, and Slovenian media have on several occasions speculated about Adris's ambition to increase ownership in the Slovenian insurer.

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Slovenian Official Says Croatia's COVID Situation Dramatic

ZAGREB, September 3, 2020 - The Slovenian government's spokesman for COVID-19 said on Thursday that due to the rise in infections in neighbouring states, Slovenia would next week revise its list of safe countries and that the daily rise of new infections in Croatia was dramatic.

Jelko Kacin ruled out the possibility of Croatia being put back on the green list of countries either as a whole state or some of its counties.

He was responding to a question from the press in Ljubljana about the situation in Croatia and the possibility of relaxing the current border crossing regime in light of suggestions of a regional and differentiated approach based on the epidemiological situation in each county.

The epidemiological situation in Croatia is rapidly deteriorating and becoming dramatic, Kacin said.

Croatia will soon have 100 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, which is red list level. Split-Dalmatia County could have 200 and the number of infections in Istria County is also rising, he added.

Asked about the possible relaxation of border crossing measures for Croatian citizens wishing to visit the graves of their dear ones in Slovenia, notably in the border area, Kacin said the government was considering the possibility of an "elastic" solution.

That primarily refers to All Souls' Day, when the graves of predecessors are visited, he added.


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