Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Living in Vukovar - Support for Ukrainian Refugees

April 12, 2022 – Ukrainian refugees are welcome in Vukovar, the city that has felt their pain. It’s now time to rely on past experience to serve as a guide in supporting those in need. The city's institutions, organisations, and residents are coming together to provide a warm welcome and offer a helping hand to those living in Vukovar.

As Jutarnji writes, the citizens of Vukovar and members of refugee families from Ukraine all gathered in Vukovar on Monday, 11th of April to take part in the public forum “Living in Vukovar”, organised by Europe House Vukovar and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

“Since the people of Vukovar have experience of war and living in other areas, we know that we all needed friendly words and little signs of appreciation in the beginning. We thus wanted to organise a meetup for people in the local community with the aim of exchanging information, making new contacts and so that refugees from Ukraine can integrate into the local community regardless of how long they will stay”, said the executive director of Europe House Vukovar, Dijana Antunović Lazić.

According to the project coordinator at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Branka Smoljan, it is extremely important to work on integration to make sure that refugees have the best chance of fitting into a new environment.

“This is the first such project, to be followed by similar projects in the north of Croatia, in Koprivnica, Čakovec, and Varaždin, where the largest number of Ukrainian refugees arrive,” Smoljan said.

According to the secretary of the Ukrainian community in Croatia, Marija Semenjuk Simeunović, about 200 Ukrainians have so far arrived in the Vukovar-Srijem County.

“We recently organized a workshop to which we invited many displaced persons, especially children, to connect with our members and to feel welcome in our city”, said Semenjuk Simeunović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

European Conference for Social Work Research: Croatian And Swiss Scientists Participate in Social Work Symposium

May 19, 2021 - Held in Bucharest, Romania, the European Conference For Social Work Research saw Croatian and Swiss scientists jointly participate in scientific issues of social work in Croatia and Switzerland.

Earlier in May, the University of Bucharest, located after the biggest city and capital of Romania, held an online edition of the European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR).
Swiss and Croatian teams jointly participated in the symposium „Opportunities and Obstacles in the Evaluation of Homelessness from a Lifeworld-oriented International Social Work Perspective“, which saw prof. Matthias Drilling and dr. Zsolt Temesvary represent their University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), and dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović represent the Croatian Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute. The conference was organized by The European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA)

As stated by ESWRA's official website, the association was founded in 2014 with a goal to create social work research development, collaboration, and exchange across Europe. As the ECSWR conference saw overwhelming levels of engagement, the ESWRA association today counts 600 members from across more than 33 countries.

„ESWRA’s vision is to take forward the development, practice, and utilization of social work research to enhance knowledge about individual and social problems, and to promote just and equitable societies“, says ESWRA.

While Dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović presented Croatia at the conference, she is also a member of the team that includes Suzana Sakić and Paula Greiner. Along with the aforementioned Swiss team, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute informed that the Croatian team participated in a joint research project called "Exploring Homelessness and Pathways to Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Contexts and Challenges in Swiss and Croatian Cities (No. IZHRZO_180631/1).

„This work is financed within the Croatian-Swiss Research Program of the Croatian Science Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation with funds obtained from the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Program”, says the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website.

Looking at the „Homelessness and Social Exclusion in Croatia“ science paper whose author is Lynette Šikić-Mićanović from 2010, its abstract suggests that „homelessness is a relatively new phenomenon in most Croatian cities and has been largely ignored by policymakers and social scientists“. So, Šikić-Mičanović's paper aimed to research and contribute new data on a previously unresearched social group to answer the urgent need for a fuller understanding of the perceptions and experiences of homeless people in Croatia.

„Based on the research findings of this study, a number of recommendations can be made for the provision of comprehensive information, services, and assistance to lessen social exclusion among homeless persons as well as to facilitate their routes out of homelessness“, says the paper. Based on scientific research, there are overall five recommendations, as follows:
1.) Special attention – apart from accommodation – needs to be paid to the quality (or lack) of services that homeless people urgently require, such as medical, counseling, legal, supportive holistic assistance from professional qualified and sensitised staff, and so on.
2.) Continual and systematic evaluation is required at shelters and among the wider homeless population by teams of qualified persons, researchers, and/or non-governmental organisations for the assessment and articulation of their needs, abilities, aspirations, and problems.
3.) Programmes need to be developed at the local level to meet different contextual needs. These could include more accessible (less public) soup kitchens, perhaps with special menus (e.g., for diabetics); the introduction of public bathhouses, day centres, doctor’s/dentist’s surgery, or subsidised accommodation for homeless persons, depending on the context.
4.) Volunteers from all age groups should be found and trained with a view to increasing public awareness of homelessness and social exclusion and dispelling the myths and stereotypes about homeless people.
5.) Former shelter users should be monitored and assisted with accommodation and other support services (e.g., utility bills, furniture, therapy, financial aid, help with education) to prevent them from becoming homeless again.

These recommendations are directly quoted from the scientific paper for the sake of accuracy, and hopefully, for a better tomorrow, the policies of the state will follow the scientific findings and discoveries in social sciences.

Learn more about Croatia: location, facts, economy, and more on our TC page.

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


Friday, 30 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Society's Obligation is to Work More, Work Smarter

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday issued a congratulatory message on the occasion of International Workers' Day on 1 May, saying that "it is the obligation of all of us, as a society, to work more, smarter and more thoughtfully because the world around us has also changed due to the crisis".

"This year again we are celebrating International Workers' Day in the circumstances that prevent Croatian workers from celebrating that important date traditionally and appropriately. It is an even bigger problem that many people don't have a reason to celebrate because they have either lost their job or are not allowed to work and provide for themselves and their families. For over a year, the main reason for that has been the coronavirus pandemic but also the vague and dubious regulations adopted in order to protect against coronavirus which limit the right to work," the president said in the message.

He added that the state is helping entrepreneurs, "which is its obligation in a situation when it is at the same time preventing them from normally conducting business".

The current short-term measures to help the economy are welcome, but their purpose should also have been and should be to protect workers and everyone living from their work, and not profit. Those measures are not sufficient to ensure stable growth in the long term and, which is equally important, to ensure a fair wage for fair work, social security and certainty for workers, Milanović said.

Croatia has the opportunity, he says, to ensure all this if it uses the money available to us through the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in a smart, transparent and responsible way.

The biggest responsibility is on the state, the policy it leads, to recognise the new circumstances and use the opportunity that can ensure long-term stability in Croatia and a better life for our people, said President Milanović, wishing all Croatian workers and citizens a happy International Workers' Day.

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

Life After Pandemic and Tourism Recovery Discussed at Communication Management Forum

March 21, 2021 - The fourth online edition of the Communication Management Forum held from 19 to 20 March discussed what awaits us after the pandemic. There was also talk of tourism recovery, the industry hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Communication Management Forum (CMF) was held online and was attended by scientists and experts from several countries, including Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Russia, and India. The scientific event proved to be an excellent opportunity for a multidisciplinary discussion necessary about a crisis like pandemics. The conference opened numerous topics in sociology, communication, economics, and tourism, and gathered scientists and experts offered their views on what awaits us once the pandemic is over.

A key issue discussed at the CMF was what awaits us after the pandemic. The participants at the virtual roundtable "Post-pandemic world: a bad picture or good opportunity?" came to a common conclusion that adaptation was inevitable and that the change of business and social paradigm is something else we need to work on. Therefore, the pandemic and the post-pandemic world are equally seen as a good opportunity for all segments of private and business life.

"The situation caused by the pandemic was a threat to humanity. We are stuck in our own homes, and everything very quickly shifted from the real world to online. The way we live now is our present and near future, we have to accept that, but we don’t have to come to terms with it. We should try to lead a life as normal as possible. Still, the big question remains, how we will recover as a society in the anthropological sense?" said Slovenian anthropologist Dan Podjed.

The pandemic flooded the media with negative headlines, followed by a bit of encouraging news when the first vaccine appeared. Still, with a new wave of pandemics increasing, we returned to a negative perspective. Nevertheless, some sectors and segments of life have experienced tectonic changes, which will significantly affect the recovery and development perspective.

"Before the pandemic, tourism was mass, and it was focused on the number of as many guest arrivals possible in destinations around the world. This has completely changed the concept of tourism functioning. Stakeholders in tourism will have to accept the new reality and focus on the quality offered to attract tourists to their destinations, who will return in the future," said Jeremy Sampson, CEO of Travel, a leading NGO in the travel and tourism sector.

Sociologist Branko Ančić from the Institute for Social Research believes that crises like this increase the problems we have had as a society before.

"The pandemic has opened up many problems. On the one hand, we see an increase in hate speech in relation to different social groups, and on the other, we are witnessing immense togetherness. To deal with everything that this crisis has brought us, we need more responsible behavior of everyone in society," said Ančić, one of the co-chairs of the CMF Committee.

The Communication Management Forum 2021 was organized by Edward Bernays University College, the Institute of Tourism, and the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb. The two-day conference offered answers to questions about developing business and private life after the end of the pandemic. Scientists and experts agreed that the crisis had created many backs, but that adjustment has been key. Many agreed that the pandemic indicated that we were facing crises and challenges relevant in the next few years.

In four editions, the CMF has gathered more than 750 scientists and experts. The conference has also contributed to the conclusions from the communication and tourism aspect for many years. As Damir Jugo, Dean of Edward Bernays University College points out, this year’s edition has been the most scientifically relevant so far.

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

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

We Can!: We Come to Change Politics and Society

ZAGREB, June 16, 2020 - The political platform We Can! - Zagreb Is Ours! has published its election platform, saying that it is ambitious and that it will "change our common future".

"We see this moment as a necessary turning point for our society to recover and become more resilient to future challenges that are certain to come. We bring the knowledge and fighting spirit with which We Can! do it. There is no going back to the old ways. The political elites have been trying for years to convince us that Croatia cannot do better. We can!" it said, stressing that Croatia can be transformed into "a just, green, solitary and prosperous society".

The program is based on three main pillars: a green resilient economy and dignified work conditions, social equality, and democratization, and international solidarity, and is the result of a broad participatory consultation process.

We Can! said that its election platform is the plan for the recovery of Croatia from the current crisis and from the HDZ and political elites that have been leading the country since its independence. "We come not just to change politics but to change this society," the group said.

They said that the crisis caused by the global coronavirus pandemic had laid bare old problems and that society had to change.

"There is no going back to the old ways, but the burden of change must not be placed equally on everyone's shoulders because not all of us are equally responsible, and not all of us equally benefited from the failed Croatian development model," We Can! said.

"We should urgently abandon the harmful development model based on a clientelist and rent economy, erosion of workers' rights, devastation of the industrial base, and extraction of profit from untenable and speculative projects that do not correspond to the needs of the local population and our common long-term interests," they said.

They also said that they do not want the fight against climate change to be delayed under the pretext of the ongoing pandemic or economic recovery, noting that this fight requires international solidarity and commitment to achieving European and global solutions. 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Frustrated and Aggressive: Croatian Psychiatrist ''Diagnoses'' Country

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Ivica Markovic writes on the 24th of March, 2019, in these turbulent and often strange times in which we live, the best illustrators tend to be the ''black chronicles'' plastered across newspapers in the Croatian media.

There isn't a week that goes by in which Croats aren't shocked by some undesirable scene or another from one or more Croatian cities. The Croatian public was, to name just a few such cases, totally shocked by the beating up of a security guard at a nightclub in Požega, which seems to have been an entirely unprovoked attack by three aggressors in masks. The infamous domestic abuse case of Daruvarac beating his eighteen-year-old girlfriend up in Zadar repulsed the public, the father who threw his four children off the balcony of the family home sent shockwaves through Croatian society, and in Trilj, a teenager of just fourteen years of age killed his mother with a knife.

After such events are continually forced in front of our eyes, we can't help but ask the question: What's happening? What causes such levels of primitive aggression in people? To try to shed some light on the situation and find some answers to these questions, Slobodna Dalmacija talked to doc. Dr. Boran Uglešić, a well-known Croatian psychiatrist from the Clinical Center for Psychiatry at KBC Split.

''Behind every type of aggression there is a frustration in the aggressor. We live in a society that is socio-economically deteriorating, in which generally dissatisfied people live, in a society where there aren't adequate rewards for work, where irresponsibility is more appreciated than responsibility. We live in a system of egoism, selfishness, greed, alienation, malice, envy, jealousy...

Therefore, we can also ask, how can an individual function in such a system? Very often, the reasons for these types of unacceptable behavior are sought after in the consumption of alcohol, narcotics, broken interpersonal relationships, or in some psychopathological elements. Seldom are the possibilities for normal function and fitting in with the rest of society seen,'' Dr. Uglešić claims.

''The development of each person needs to be divided into several phases, each of which brings about or invokes the way in which a person will behave in the future. Much of this lies in home education, or certainly the earliest years of life and the child's upbringing, which affects his later behaviour within society.

In our childhood, we had posters of Mickey Mouse, Bruce Lee, Blondie, or some other people in our rooms, and they were our idols that we wanted to be like. Today, children find some other ''idols'' on social networks who propagate aggression, who are bullies, that is to say, people who are living outside of what are socially acceptable norms. Of course, such learned patterns of behaviour and the very people they identify with provoke aggressive behaviour.

We're all usually a copy of our parents and what we have seen in our homes at the earliest of ages is our pattern of behaviour in later life. It's very important that parents of a young man are seen as values ​​of the system and of life. If someone in his house saw aggression in his earliest youth, and this is happens repeatedly, it's possible that he will, in the future, when he's grown up, repeat that pattern of behaviour,'' says Dr. Uglešić.

So, are the Croats a frustrated nation?

''They are, and that goes for the vast majority of Croatian residents. We live in a frustrating society. That is, we live in a capitalist system that everyone wanted so much, but when that capitalism arrived, most of it was disappointing to many. We live in a consumer's society today, in which we all want to do the same thing.

But we can't all be the same. We can't all drive expensive cars. We don't all have the same standards, we can't all buy expensive and sometimes overpriced items. After all, we don't have all the same system of values. That is precisely the essence of capitalism that we as a nation weren't prepared for. Everyone thought that the promises of a better life would be real, that everything would be beautiful, and then it became obvious that it wasn't that way.

And then "group frustration" happened, of course consisting of those who can't afford all that was promised to them, and there are so many more of them than there are of those who can. There was talk of material abundance, great happiness, unrestricted personal liberty, unlimited progress,'' says Dr. Uglešić.

That lack of abundance, of great happiness, and of unlimited progress in many, has caused the frustration that provokes aggression.

"Therefore, in all this, every person must be careful and responsible, given that everything is offered, but that not everyone can have everything, yet they think they can. Then frustration leads to various types of aggression (verbal, physical). What's decent is no longer thought about, all of that leads to egoism, selfishness, greed, jealousy, envy, aggression...

Unfortunately, in today's Croatia, but also in a large part of the world, it's "normal" to behave in such an unacceptable manner and thus attract attention, and we know that such behaviour in people is causing a fake sense of power, size, strength...'' continues Dr. Uglešić.

He claims that the emergence of social networking has greatly increased the level of aggression in society.

The emergence of social networks appeals to people who support aggressive behaviour and who identify themselves with the perpetrator. An the modern day, aggression comes from all sides, it's unpredictable, uncontrollable, and can't be prevented. So, we have a very common occurrence of aggression in traffic, which does come with an ''older date'' to it, but we also have a recent bout of aggression in healthcare institutions where patients are attacking doctors and nurses, which was almost without precedent before.

The types of people don't refrain from anything, they aren't scared of anyone and they think their behaviour is normal and acceptable. Therefore, in the medical sense of the word, they need help to not repeat violent acts,'' says doc. Dr. Boran Uglešić.

''The problem of increasing violence in Croatia is sometimes the punishment that such people receive. They [punishments] certainly do need to be more drastic and heavier, and they should be an example to all those who might consider being violent or aggressive in the future.

In addition to punishments, which certainly shouldn't be minor, such people should get treatment which focuses on controlling impulses and changing their behavioral patterns over a longer period of time. If a violent person has committed a serious criminal offense, let's say attempted murder, and gets a five-year prison sentence, I think their treatment should be carried out for that entire five year period, while they're in prison, and if possible and if those circumstances require it, such treatment would have to continue even after leaving prison,'' Dr. Uglešić concludes.

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Click here for the original article by Ivica Markovic for Slobodna Dalmacija