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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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Free Holidays for Austrians and Slovenes this September and October

September 3, 2020 – A bold and open gesture from the winemaking industry on the Pelješac peninsula to appreciated neighbours – cost-free accommodation will allow free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020

Of all the incentives to assist Croatian tourism in the troublesome year of 2020, this one may be the boldest. In order to show appreciation for visitors from two of Croatia's nearest neighbours, winemakers from the Pelješac peninsula are arranging to offer free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020.

In an interview published in Slobodna Dalmacija just yesterday, famous Pelješac winemaker Mato Violić Matuško revealed the plan. Matuško is also president of the Pelješac Wine Routes, a forward-thinking initiative in and of itself. It has massively increased wine tourism on Pelješac with its joined-up approach and has managed to bring together many individuals operating with the winemaking and tourism sectors of the region. Who better to organise free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes at harvest time?

Just one of the breathtaking views available on Pelješac. The peninsula is most famous for its incredible wines © Romulić & Stojčić

Winemakers who are members of the Pelješac Wine Routes Association are those who will be involved in offering the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes. The plan is to offer free accommodation to Austrian and Slovene tourists in order to thank them in particular for their returning custom. Visitors from these nations are among the most frequent to come. The incentive also aims to bolster tourism numbers well past the point of late summer.

Although some revenue in accommodation rentals may be lost due to the offer, the idea is startlingly inventive. It is hoped money put into the local economy by visitors taking advantage of the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes will benefit the wider population in what has been a difficult season for many. Austrians and Slovenes taking advantage of the incentive will also surely be offered some excellent Pelješac wine on their visit.

You can read here a TCN interview from August 2020 which also shows how the wines of Dubrovnik Neretva County have assisted in keeping visitor routes open during a difficult year for tourism in south Croatia  - Croatia Wine: ”Every Visit Is A Voyage Of Discovery”

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Old Vessels Turned into Floating Museums in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 21st of August, 2020, "Mala Barka 2: The preservation of the maritime heritage of the northern Adriatic" is a project from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County with which they entered the finals of the selection for the best EU county project within the Contribution to cross-border cooperation category. The project is part of the Interreg V-A Slovenia - Croatia 2014 - 2020 cooperation programme and relates to the location of the border area that includes Kvarner and Istria, as well as the Slovenian Littoral just across the border.

The project lasted from the 1st of October 2016 to the 31st of March 2019. The project holder itself is Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and the partners are the Kvarner Tourist Board, the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral of Rijeka, the Association and Ecomuseum “House of Batana” Rovinj - Associazione Ecomuseo “Casa della batana” Rovigno, the Municipality of Izola - Comune di Isola, the Izola Tourist Association - Ente per il turismo Isola, the Municipality of Piran - Comune di Pirano and Maritime Museum - Museo del mare “Sergej Masera” Piran - Pirano.

The value of the project stands at an enormous 2,124,018.17 euros, of which the amount of 1,805,415.44 euros is covered by the European Regional Development Fund. The financial part related to Primorje-Gorski Kotar County stood at 540,141.41 euros and the amount of 459,120.20 euros was co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund.

Maritime heritage is a great and untapped tourist potential of the northern Adriatic and unfortunately the urbanisation and modernisation of society are erasing the traditional maritime heritage of this area, which could largely disappear irretrievably.

''Our motive, but also our challenge, was how we can find a way to permanently protect and promote the valuable and rich maritime heritage of Kvarner and this part of the Adriatic. Therefore, the main goal of the project is the preservation, protection, promotion and development of the maritime heritage of the border area through tourist valorisation and based on the principles of sustainable tourism. This project sought to maximally protect the existing tangible and intangible maritime heritage throughout the coastal part of the border area and to use it systematically through a series of measures (the setting up of interpretation centres, holding educational and demonstration events, the establishment of a virtual museum, etc)'' they say from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

The Mala barka (Little boat) project started back in 2015 and continued with "Mala barka 2".

''We've upgraded our maritime network by creating small floating ''open-air museums'' - restored traditional wooden boats and interpretation centres in Krk and Losinj. The biggest attraction is the floating Interpretation Centre for Maritime Heritage of the Island of Losinj, the Nerezinac camp. We also included experts in maritime heritage in this project.

Furthermore, we invited skilled masters of traditional construction who participated in the renovation processes, and passed on their knowledge to younger generations through the Academy of Maritime Crafts and Skills. They also joined the traditional interpretation events and presented their knowledge and skills to visitors and tourists. We haven't forgotten to highlight other important forms of maritime heritage, such as old ports, museums, old maritime factories, craft workshops and other smaller maritime elements. Our goal was to make it visible and recognisable,'' they say from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

Furthermore, a strong promotional campaign was conducted based on many traditional events, including traditional small boat regattas, exhibitions of restored old wooden boats, etc. Cross-border tourism itineraries were also developed in the name of this prokect. A virtual museum was created, which enables the availability of the entire tangible and intangible maritime heritage to all groups of society. The practice was even transferred to Italy as part of the current implementation of the Arca Adriatica project, which is implemented within the Interreg Italy-Croatia Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Croatia On Slovenia RED List. What Does That Actually Mean?

August 20, 2020 – Slovenians must quarantine if returning from Croatia after the weekend, but what are the implications of Croatia on Slovenia RED list?

Update on August 20, after the official placement of Croatia on Slovenia RED list by the Slovenian government was made public: in order to make things easier for their nationals currently vacationing in Croatia, Slovenia has decided to extend the deadline for the return to Slovenia until Monday. Slovenians who own real-estate and boats in Croatia are given an extra 48 hours, so they can take care of their property before leaving Croatia without self-isolating upon return. 

As reported in TCN yesterday, Slovenia has designated Croatia on Slovenia RED list as a country on its red list for travel. Sounds bad. But, what does it actually mean?

Well, for Slovenes, the choice is pretty simple – return home before the end of the weekend, or you'll face a mandatory two-week quarantine and Coronavirus test when you do. The quarantine and test will apply automatically to any Slovene travelling to Croatia after Friday.

But, what are the implications of Croatia on Slovenia RED list?

Well, the mandatory quarantine and test apply to any Croatian entering Slovenia after the weekend. There are exceptions – if you're just passing through, say, on your way to Austria or Germany, the quarantine doesn't apply. You'll have a maximum of 12 hours to travel into, through, and out of Slovenia. The same goes for delivery drivers who are just dropping off or picking up. You can stop for gas and use the WC. Special permits are also available for those who have to cross the border for daily trade.

Not such a big deal for Croats, then? Well, we'll have to wait and see. But, it doesn't look good. The economic implications could bite much harder.

From June, Slovenians have accounted for 7 million overnight stays in Croatia. As reported continuously in TCN's 2020 travel and tourism coverage, regional tourism - lead by those travelling by car – has accounted for the largest number of arrivals this year. Numbers of Slovenes holidaying in Croatia are actually up by as much as 3 percent compared to the same period last year.

In 2020, visitors from Croatia's next-door neighbour have been more important - and more numerous - than ever before, until Croatia on Slovenia RED list

According to the Croatian National Tourist Board, Slovenes accounted for 8.7% of arrivals and 11.5% of overnight stays in total over 2019, second only to Germans. During this 2020 season, in which their custom is more important than ever, the financial impact on Croatia may be much more damaging than that incurred from similarly imposed classifications by Austria and Italy, who recently announced mandatory testing for all returnees.

The peak days of the season are already behind us but, truth be told, the season only began in earnest a month ago. There was no pre-season this year. Hopes of an extended season, based on the optimistic numbers of July / early August, now seem to be dashed, due to the rise in number of COVID-19 infections. Certainly from the Slovenian market.

Will Slovenes and others accept a mandatory quarantine in exchange for their annual break on the Croatian coast? Some may. Surely, some won't. Any Slovenes planning trips in late August or September have been given serious cause to reconsider, thanks to the new classification. School and work start again in September – how does a two-week mandatory quarantine fit into that schedule?

Nobody really knows how long the 'red card' Slovenia has given Croatia will last, nor when it will end. The answer presumably lies in Croatia's ability to address its number of newly infected. Before all criticism for the stranglehold this classification places on the 2020 season is attributed to Slovenia, Croatia must first ask itself some tough questions; could Croatia – from staff and owners in the service industry, right the way up to state level - have done more to keep the numbers down? For it is the numbers now that can help save the remainder of Croatia's 2020 tourist season, not the Slovenes.

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac: Croatia is a Safe Destination for Tourists from Slovenia

August 20, 2020 - The coronavirus spokesman of the Slovenian government, Jelko Kacin, confirmed on Wednesday what was speculated - Slovenia will put Croatia on the red list Thursday night. However, he said that in reality, Croatia is already on the Slovenian red list. Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac responded. reports that Slovenian tourists will most likely have until the end of the week to return to Slovenia to avoid a two-week self-isolation.

"In reality, Croatia is already on the red list today, and formally it will be tomorrow," Kacin said, adding that the situation in Croatia is dramatic.

He went a step further and said that Croatia no longer controls the situation with the coronavirus.

"We have to be realistic and understand that they are no longer in control of their situation; their epidemiologists can no longer do that. There will be big problems in the health system. The situation requires sober heads and decisive moves," Kacin said.

"The situation in Croatia is so bad that we have no choice but to call on our citizens to return to Slovenia as soon as possible. Things are getting worse quickly and it will be much worse," Kacin added.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, answered him.

The press release received from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is transmitted in its entirety:

"Following the latest statements by the coronavirus spokesman of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Jelko Kacin, we reject his allegations that the situation in Croatia is dramatic.

We remind you that Slovenia is continuously at the very top of the market crucial for the overall result of Croatian tourism, which is illustrated by eVisitor indicators according to which in June 2020, we recorded approximately 207 thousand arrivals and 1.1 million overnight stays from the Slovenian market. July reached a level of approximately 382 thousand arrivals and 3.4 million overnight stays.

According to preliminary indicators for August (as of August 18), we are currently at the level of approximately 238 thousand arrivals and 2.2 million overnight stays of Slovenes, of which 71.4 percent are realized in Istria, Kvarner and Lika. We want to point out that in these three counties, a total of 10 cases of newly infected with COVID-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours.

The perception of Croatia is extremely good for most Slovenian tourists; in Croatia, they feel safe since they know it well and are the owners of numerous properties (more than 100,000).

Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac is in constant contact with representatives of associations in the tourism system, to ensure full compliance with epidemiological measures in tourist facilities, as well as the possibility of introducing testing for foreign tourists in tourist facilities.

Croatia will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that the relevant foreign institutions have all the accurate and precise information on the basis of which they make decisions on the inclusion of countries on risk lists, i.e., on the lists of safe countries," the Ministry said.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Brnjac: Regular Communication With Austrian And Slovenian Colleagues

ZAGREB, Aug 19, 2020 - Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac has said that she has been in touch with her Austrian and Slovenian counterparts regarding measures taken due to the coronavirus and the number of infections in Croatia while some tourism companies have introduced free testing for COVID-19 for Austrian citizens.

"The epidemiological situation is a very important factor and that is why we are constantly transparently presenting data on the situation in Croatia and individual counties," Minister Brnjac told reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet on Wednesday.

Asked by reporters if Slovenia, like Austria, would introduce mandatory tests for coronavirus for their citizens returning from Croatia, Minister Brnjac said that the authorities "are trying to explain to those countries that their tourists feel safe in Croatia, particularly when looking at the situation in other countries in the neighbourhood."

She underscored that she expects and hopes that the Slovenian government will take into consideration that some counties with a better epidemiological situation could be exempted from some measures, such as Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties.

"Each country is concerned about its citizens and has its own ways and methodology of counting," she said and added that the most important thing is that everyone in Croatia adheres to measures recommended by the national Covid-19 response team. "It is difficult to expect the number of infections to drop suddenly but we expect that to occur in the period ahead and based on that, some of those measures could be revised," she said.

Asked by reporters about the precise number of Austrians who left Croatia last weekend due to the latest measures by Austria, Brnjac said that most of the guests left because their vacations had ended and that this was a logical exchange of guests which usually occurs in the second half of August.

She added that currently there were more than 170,000 German tourists in Croatia, who are the most numerous guests, followed by Slovenians, Poles, Czechs and Austrians. 

Valamar Riviera offering free testing for Austrian guests

Considering the situation regarding Austrian tourists, the Valamar Riviera group, the largest tourist company in Croatia, on Wednesday said that as of this week it would ensure free testing for Covid-19 for its guests, which means a discount of €100 for each guest.

Valamar underlined that not one case of the virus had been registered among any of their guests since the start of the epidemic, which it considers an indication that preventative measures are being implemented well and that tourists are very safe in Croatia.

Falkensteiner too to conduct fee PCR tests

Due to warnings of the risk of travelling to Croatia that Austria issued on August 17, the Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences has introduced free PCR tests for all their guests from Austria who have at least a three-night booking in one of the group's hotels or campsites in Croatia.

Additional testing for tourists on Kvarner islands and in Rijeka

Since the end of last week already, additional PCR testing has been organized on the Kvarner archipelago and in Rijeka for tourists and Croatian citizens travelling to countries where these tests are required.

Testing can be conducted in Rijeka, Mali Losinj, Cres, Rab and Krk from Monday to Friday, and in Rijeka also on Saturdays, during the morning hours. It is recommended to book in advance.

A test for the coronavirus costs HRK 698.21 (approx. €93).

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Friday, 14 August 2020

Slovenian Government Spokesperson: Croatia Could Find Itself on Red List!

The Slovenian Government will introduce a red list for those countries where the epidemiological situation has significantly worsened, and for all those who enter that country from countries that are on the red list, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of August, 2020, Jelko Kacin, the spokesman of the Slovenian Government for coronavirus, stated that Croatia could very easily be end up on the Slovenian Government's red list due to the large increase in the number of infected people, the Slovenian media reports. According to the media in Croatia's neighbour to the north, Kacin is worried about the latest data from Croatia in regard to the number of newly infected people.

On Wednesday, Jelko Kacin told 24ur that the Croatian numbers could add to those infections that were recorded in Slovenia which were actually imported from Croatia, N1 reports.

"Then those Croatian numbers are much higher," Kacin commented. The key fact is that they test less than us, he pointed out, adding that tourists do not trust the Croatian health care system and that they prefer to return to their homeland if they get sick during their vacation.

Kacin believes that this will certainly have negative consequences for Croatian tourism in the future. He added that Croatia "could quickly find itself on the red list" because there is too much contagion among tourists.

"It should be emphasised that a large percentage of Slovenes behave extremely responsibly even when on vacation," the Slovenian Government spokesman said. However, he is worried about the data coming from Croatia in recent days.

"What saddens me is the fact that Croatia will change the law on infectious diseases, but only after August the 20th," Kacin said. The holiday season will be over before the measures are actually implemented.

For more on coronavirus and relations between the Slovenian Government and the Croatian Government, follow our politics page.


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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Slovenia Won't Put Croatia on Red List for Now

ZAGREB, July 23, 2020 - Slovenia will not put Croatia for now on the red list of countries for which quarantine is mandatory, Slovenian Health Minister Tomaz Gantar said in Ljubljana on Thursday.

For now "there is no initiative to declare Croatia a red zone," he told press.

Decisions on putting countries on the red list are not made so fast and epidemiologists who follow the situation in neighbouring countries want these decisions to be agreed and that there is a joint response, Gantar said.

It is good, he added, that Croatia has imposed new measures to contain the spread of coronavirus and restricted entry from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, all of which are on Slovenia's red list.

According to its Public Health Institute, Slovenia had 12 new cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight. Croatia had twice as many. Both are in the yellow epidemiological zone.

Gantar said that in order to determine a destination's safety, besides the number of coronavirus cases, additional criteria were being used over the past fortnight, such as whether a country was a neighbour with a high passenger frequency or a distant one from which the risk of importing the virus was far smaller.

Also taken into account is the number of persons tested per inhabitants and a comparison with Slovenia's epidemiological situation.

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