Friday, 13 August 2021

Neretva Boat Marathon to Be Held in Line with Anti-Epidemic Rules

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - Everything is ready for the 24th edition of the Neretva Boat Marathon, which will be held on Saturday in compliance with the epidemiological measures, the organiser of the event told Hina on Friday.

This year there will be 35 crews in this amateur sporting event, said Hrvoje Lazarević of the Neretva River Boatmen Association that organises this 22.5 kilometre-long race of traditional boats along the River Neretva from the city of Metković to the seaport of Ploče.

Thus, 23 crews are from the Neretva valley, another ten are from other parts of Croatia and two from abroad: one from Mostar and one from Sombor, Serbia.

Each of the 35 participating crews comprised ten rowers, a drummer and a coxswain.

This Boat Marathon, which has become one of the brands of the local community, will be covered live by the national broadcaster (HRT) on Saturday afternoon.

 It is held under the auspices of Croatian President Zoran Milanović.

For more on sport, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from June 28-July 4

June 3, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from June 28 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac.

EURO 2020 elimination and Dario Šarić in the NBA finals. Zagreb witnessing a series of arrests related to corruption of Milan Bandić's reign and explosive device planted in Split. In the midst of it all, is COVID-19 vaccination on its way to becoming obligatory and not optional? You may prefer the good news or the bad news, but here is both, as another week in Croatia comes to an end.

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© Marin Tironi / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Uskok arresting Zagreb entrepreneurs and associates of former mayor Milan Bandić

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

As TCN wrote, several people were arrested on suspicion of corruption, including the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić, Andrea Šulentić, and Ana Stavljenić-Rukavina. Both Šulentić and Rukavina were directors in Zagreb administration offices and close associates of former mayor Milan bandić. At the same time, details Bandić's heavy corruption (suspected and known publicly earlier) came to light.

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© Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia eliminated from Euro 2020 after losing to Spain

Croatia and Spain met in Copenhagen on Monday for their EURO 2020 round of 16 match. It was a decent effort from Croatia, but not enough. Despite the Spain own goal in the 20th minute, the distraction as Rebić went to change his boots saw Spain even the score. The score towards the end of regular time went to 3:1 for Spain, but Croatia managed to lower to 3:2 and finally, in the added time, Pašalić scored for 3:3.

But, the euphoria was ruined for Croatia as in extra time, Morata earned Spain 4:3, and by 103rd minute, the total and final score was 5:3 for Spain. It was one of the more intense games on Euro so far as both teams show incredible spirit and persistence. 

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© Dusko Jaramaz / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Opposition parties against vaccination being required for job-keeping payments  

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday not to make vaccination a requirement for job-keeping payments, while the Most party said business owners were being blackmailed into vaccination.

As TCN reported, SDP leader Peđa Grbin elaborated his dissatisfaction via social networks.

"In Croatia, mandatory vaccination is possible, but the obligation is first established under the law on the protection of the population and then regulated and worked out under Immunisation Rules and the Mandatory Vaccination Programme. The obligation of vaccination can't be imposed in another way, notably not by linking support for entrepreneurs with vaccination," SDP president Grbin posted on Facebook.

"Most is against entrepreneurs, who are being forced into vaccination through blackmail, saving the government's mindless epidemic policy", stated the Most party on its official Twitter account. They added that Croatia was stuck with over 300,000 surplus vaccines because of poor government moves and communication omissions.

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© Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Dario Šarić becomes 5th Croatian basketballer in the NBA finals

Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! As TCN wrote, Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals, joining the company of Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak, and Ante Žižić. Šarić plays for Phoenix Suns. They topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Apart from basketball, Šarić also likes to enjoy sipping coffee on Šibenik cafe terraces, as portrayed in the photo. 

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© Milan Sabic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Bomb planted in Split. One person injured
In the night from Thursday to Friday, an unknown person placed an explosive device underneath a vehicle. The explosion damaged six cars, and one person required medical attention. The investigation is ongoing since Friday morning.  

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our TC website.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy - Friendly Relations between Croatia and Japan

June 17, 2021 -The eighth article in the series, "Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy", saw TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac sit down with Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji and discuss all things regarding diplomatic relations between Japan and Croatia. Overall, Croatia and Japan are friendly countries with many shared values. With Croats and their expertise in improvisation and the excellent crisis response of the Japanese, the two countries can benefit greatly by learning from each other.

Croatia and Japan officially established diplomatic relations on March the 5th, 1993.

I was nervous while the taxi drove me to the Ambassador's residence. Japan is known for punctuality, and I worried whether or not I'd manage to make it on time as my cab was trying to break through Zagreb's midday rush. But in the end, I managed to arrive ahead of schedule. It was great that I wasn't late, but that's still clearly a very far cry from the punctuality of a country where a train conductor apologised when the train left the station 25 seconds ahead of schedule.

As I was rewinding the questions I had prepared in my head, I thought about greeting my interlocutor-to-be. Handshakes are a bit of a risky thing due to the coronavirus pandemic, but even if that annoying virus was somehow erased from existence, in Japanese culture, people would still greet each other by bowing. Do I need to bow, or does the Ambassador need to follow the Croatian culture of handshaking (or perhaps bumping fists in these pandemic-dominated times)?

Cultural Attache, Yutaro Nishida welcomed me to the premises, and at last, introduced me to the Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji, who welcomed me with a smile, respect, and kindness. The debate on whether to bow or fist-bump was resolved by doing both, with both sides respecting and accepting each-others cultural background. For safety, I kept my mask on while the Ambassador removed hers so that her voice could be more clear as the interview was recorded. I moved my mask only occasionally to drink the amazing traditional green tea that was served during the interview, which was paired well with a warm and friendly atmosphere from the official representative of Japan in Croatia.

Misako Kaji graduated with a BA in the economy at the University of Tokyo, followed by an MA in philosophy, politics, and economy at no less than Oxford University. Inside the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she served in the Japanese Embassies in the UK and Vietnam, but also in Japanese EU and UN missions. As an Ambassador and deputy of the main representative, Kaji also served in Japan's Delegation to international organisations in Geneva. In Japan, she was the deputy spokesperson for the Japanese Prime Minister and was a professor at the Tokyo and Hitotsubashi Universities. Ambassador Kaji also has quite some experience with the United Nations (UN). She was a special advisor of the high committee of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as a member of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and a member of the advisory committee of the UN Peacebuilding Fund. She has represented Japan in Croatia since May 2019. Two years and twenty days, as she stated on the day of the interview that occurred last Friday.

Japanese culture is beloved in Croatia

''If you'd asked me a year ago, I would've said the Adriatic sea, the scenery, and the colour blue, all of these wonderful UNESCO heritage sites and nice people ready to help when you're travelling,'' started Ambassador Kaji, explaining what she had found most interesting and impressive in Croatia.

''But, after two years, I have something more to say, and what I like about Croatia is the 'Japan' I encounter in Croatia, and that is a very positive discovery. I didn't realise Japanese culture was so widely embodied in a variety of Croatian minds,'' noted ambassador Kaji.

The most recent instance was last week's handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, which took place at the Ambassador's residence. Some of the members have been engaged with this artistic papercraft (taught in Japanese kindergarten) for over 20 years now.

''They are very much interested and dedicated without being imposed or forced to be, and its members included chemistry students, medical doctors, and even an 11-year-old boy. There were so many different categories of profession, and some even folded Origami while on probation, and that is where they'd encountered the art of origami,'' continued the Ambassador, fascinated with such love for one of the essentials of Japanese culture, keeping hold of plenty of works donated by participants of the ceremony.

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The handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

She is also particularly delighted with Biograd na Moru, a Croatian city in the Zadar area that not only commemorates the Atom Bomb falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also has a metal crane bird as a monument to this dreadful tragedy that occurred on August the 6th, 1945.

''There is a legend that cranes live for a thousand years, so they are often used as presents for somebody who has been met with disasters or illness. In Hiroshima, they have a thousand cranes (made in the origami technique) folded and presented for the wish of peace,'' explained the Ambassador. Such a ceremony was also seen in Biograd na Moru, initiated by mayor Ivan Knez with a large metal crane made to outlast paper for generations to come.

The Japanese martial art of Karate is also popular in Croatia with some quite good successes achieved by Croatian athletes. Last month, the European Karate Championships were held in Poreč, where Ambassador Kaji was invited and was again fascinated with the use of the Japanese language and overall traditions despite there not having been a single Japanese athlete present there.

With so much of Japanese culture being present here in Croatia, it's difficult to say what the most beloved aspect of Japanese culture is for the Croats.

Before the pandemic struck, Ambassador Kaji remembered the Japan Day event in Zagreb's popular Mimara Museum, which saw huge attendance and a presentation on Japanese food, sake (Japanese rice schnapps) degustation, Ikebana (flower art), a tea ceremony, bonsai (aesthetical horticultural shaping of small trees), martial arts such as Karate, Judo, Kendo, haiku poetry workshops, calligraphy, Igo chess and much more.

2019 was also a big year for a Japanese promotion with the 2020 Olympic Games, which saw Croatian athletes from the 1964 Olympics attend the promotion for 2020. Additionally, for Japan, as Ambassador Kaji pointed out, the Paralympic Games are an important measure for the general success of the Olympics, which was evident in the ParaBOX installation (where visitors were challenged to find a ball in complete darkness), and the presentation of the Japanese car company Toyota's car which is designed to be able to be driven by people with disabilities.

However, when it comes to younger people, particularly students of Japanology (which Croats can study at either Zagreb or Pula University), one cultural trend emerged.

''The Japanese language is very tricky to learn, so I asked one graduate student how she first encountered Japan and heard the language, and it was anime,'' Ambassador Kaji recalled. She added that the Japanese cartoon art of anime became pretty universal and is no longer limited only to Japan. (The same goes for Japanese comics such as manga, with both of these pieces of pop culture being incredibly diverse in genres and having something for everyone, covering all social groups and even not avoiding vivid graphic images of violence and/or sex).

''At the Foreign Ministry of Japan, we have an award from a world competition because of the promotion of manga, but without trying to focus or push deliberate energy into that promotion,'' stated Ambassador Kaji.

As Japanese pop culture, anime and manga are indeed very popular here in Croatia, which is visible at the Pandakon conference that is held annually at Zagreb's Močvara club. Fans often dress up as their favourite characters, and there are often rewards for the best cosplay.

However, there are also heated debates between fans and people in the manga/anime industry that also affect Croats. On the one hand, representatives of the anime and manga industry are unhappy with cosplay, viewing it as a copyright infringement and believing that fans should be paying for cosplaying these characters. On the other hand, fans say they are just trying to show love and appreciation for their work, and they are also promoting and attract new audiences. It's indeed true that someone might not know what is ''Deadman Wonderland'', but upon seeing a brilliantly crafted cosplay of Shiro, they may ask the cosplayer about the character and then watch anime or read manga.

Ambassador Kaji says the Japanese Government is aware of the problem.

''Earlier in January, the Minister for the "Cool Japan“ Strategy (with Cool Japan being a brand strategy, aiming to disseminate Japan's attractiveness and as a unique culture throughout the world), Shinji Inoue said that he was aware of an opinion among the cosplay community rising, and this could be a real legal problem. It was important to secure an environment in which people can enjoy cosplay at ease, without worrying about possibly breaching laws. So, the Minister declared that he would come up with ways to deal with it but has not yet specified what those ways will be,'' explained the Ambassador. 

Friendly Nations: sharing values, but trade could be better...

The cosplay question is one of the political issues in Japan, but when it comes to politics, what exactly is going on between Croatia and Japan?

''We're friendly countries; we share the same values. Unfortunately, you can't speak your own mind in every country, but Croatia and Japan belong to those countries where you're free to have as many children as you want, free to say what you like, free to travel where you want, free to choose your own vocation. In other words, we're both free countries that share the same values, democracy, human rights, and rule of law,'' said Ambassador Kaji, adding there are occasional disagreements, but that is normal and nothing to worry about.

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The Emperor and Empress of Japan grant an audience to the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković and Mrs Jandroković during their visit to Japan upon the invitation of Speaker Oshima of the Japanese House of Representatives, June 2019 © The Imperial Household Agency

Kaji also pointed out that Croatia is pretty prevalent in Japan thanks to its sporting heroes. ''Everybody knows who Modrić and Čilić are; Croats are disproportionately present in world sport,'' she said.

Ambassador Kaji also rates Croatian EU membership as a great advantage.

''Through the EU, you're very well represented. When Croatia held the European Council Presidency during the first half of 2020, one of the most important parts of Croatian foreign policy concerned the Western Balkans and you advocated the EU's perspective for them as we don't want to roll back into a conflict or the changing of the borders after such a great sacrifice,'' Ambassador Kaji stated, referring to the war back in the '90s.

An important instance of that is the Zagreb Declaration from June the 22nd, 2020.

''We're part of the group that supports the European idea, and through that, the Croatian idea, as we share the same values,'' confirmed the Ambassador.

She added that while it may seem far away, the issues of the Balkans are relevant to such ideas like the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and advocating the peace and freedom of nagivation, for example, is required on both locations, and Japan sees Croatia as a partner in that regard.  

Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP), the Government, Parliament, the President's office, various cultural institutions, sports institutions such as the Croatian Judo Federation, the Croatian Karate Union, and the Croatian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, educational institutions, local government units and more. She also works on maintaining friendly ties with other ambassadors and diplomats in Croatia.

''My diplomatic colleagues know that only those who are blessed get to be stationed in Croatia,'' revealed Ambassador Kaji, not hiding her happiness for representing Japan in this Southeastern European country.

She is also particularly excited about going to Virovitica this week since she has never been. The visit is to attend the exhibition on Japanese pottery titled ''Yakishime: Earth Metamorphosis'' which is coming to Virovitica after already having been held in Vukovar and Pula.

Commenting on the most frequent contact she keeps in Croatia, she said that it's very hard to say, but statistically, maybe the Japanese Embassy communicates the most with MVEP. ''We're only two minutes away from the Ministry,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Of course, not everything can be equally balanced and trade is unfortunately currently sitting on pretty low branches of the overall tree.

''When it comes to trade, we made up only 0.28% of Croatia's exports with tuna being a major portion - which is nice. In addition, when it comes to investments in Croatia, only 0.5% of all investments come from Japan. So there's room for improvement there,'' stated Ambassador Kaji with optimism.

Some of the instances of trading and business between the two countries can be seen in the Japan-based company Nipro taking over Piramida, a Croatian pharmaceutical packaging producer from Sesvete near the City of Zagreb last month.

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A visit to Nipro PharmaPackaging Croatia, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Knowledge – the way forward while not forgetting culture or tradition

As mentioned, Japanese culture is widely popular and much loved among Croats, the Japanese love Croatian athletes, and the two countries share friendly relations. Both Croatia and Japan have their traditions and cultural heritage. With ever-present technological development, some people in Croatia do fear that progress will lead to Croats forgetting their traditions, ways, and cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan has seen huge technological development evident in very fast internet, modern trains, robotics, and more. Yet, their tradition and culture remain well preserved. What's the secret, and how can technological advancement be balanced with keeping a focus on tradition?

As Ambassador Kaji explained, the gist is to ''keep your spirit, but introduce technology''. While the Ambassador believes that the path of economic development makes sense in the long term, it wasn't always so easy. In the past, economic development was accompanied by pollution, and Japanese people, apart from developing health issues, entered an atmosphere that wasn't very kind to their traditional ways. But things have improved since then.

''In the 21st century, people and governments are more focused on green technologies and digital technologies which can be friendly towards and resonate with keeping up with traditions. Like when drinking tea, you have a ceremony, but the leaves for the green tea need to be carefully nourished in a kind environment, so that isn't very compatible with mass production or polluted air. But when, for example, you use the wind to produce energy, that's a nice eco-friendly way that co-exists with traditional culture,'' explained Ambassador Kaji.

She added that this way of co-existing then becomes mutually supportive and crafted to be resilient and long-lasting. That being said, new technologies also need to be carefully crafted to keep an eye on traditions, and improvisation is troubling in that regard.

''If you show respect for tradition, and you use academic knowledge or research, then there must be a way of remaining aligned with tradition and pursuing technology to have them both be mutually supportive,'' concluded Ambassador Kaji, and her belief about Croatia's technological development is that it will not be fatal to Croatian tradition.

Speaking of tradition, traditions form habits that then become accepted in various societies. With the already mentioned Japanese love for punctuality and the general perception of the Japanese as organised people that like order and plans, the perception of Croats can be quite the opposite. Many see Croats as laid back and relaxed, not making a fuss if they are a bit late. However, Ambassador Kaji sees a different picture of the Croats from her experience, particularly when it comes to Croatian women.

''A cleaning lady from Slavonia that comes to clean my office every day just starts working and cleans meticulously. She doesn't leave one small thing out and she is very responsible. In Japan, you don't see so many women gardening, and here, the women that watch over my garden are very powerful and professional, and that is very impressive,'' she noted. The work ethic and responsibility are something she sees with all of the Croats working for her.

''When it comes to Japan, we plan for perfection, so the dark side of that characteristics is, for instance, being late with the vaccination rollout. There are all sorts of verifications that take place there, making sure everyone can get them, and yes, they're proven safe abroad, but we had our own evaluations done, and that was the main reason we've been criticised for being too slow. Here in Croatia, you're really good at improvising. We can learn from each other,'' Ambassador Kaji said, sharing her observations on the habits of Croats and people in Japan.

She added that one such thing where Croatia can learn from Japan is crisis response, particularly when it comes to earthquakes.

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At the Civil Protection Headquarters for Dealing with the Aftermath of the Petrinja earthquake in December 2020, March 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Post-earthquake reconstruction by Japanese experts: Zagreb's buildings can keep their looks and also become safer

Japan is famous (or as Ambassador Kaji rated with a humorous touch, perhaps notorious) for regularly having earthquakes. Tsunamis happen as well. This was even noticed by reporters from the Croatian paper Jutarnji List, who, when following the earthquakes in Zagreb and Petrinja, interviewed Ambassador Kaji in search of advice on living with earthquakes. An equipped backpack with water, food, batteries, and lights ready for evacuation, along with agreeing on a location at which were to meet with your loved ones, are some great bits of advice for planning once you accept that earthquakes can happen at any time, anywhere.

''You can't stop earthquakes, but if you're prepared, you can mitigate the damage they cause and protect lives. People often think earthquakes happen, and that's that, but earthquakes are never over,'' said the Ambassador when recalling that interview.

''I was at my residence when the Zagreb earthquake happened more than one year ago, and the epicentre was just three kilometres away. It was pretty bad but not serious with only small cracks on the wall,'' recalled Ambassador Kaji, not seeming to feel unsafe in a Japanese earthquake-conscious building, while Croatia isn't always so aware that the Earth's plates can move and cause total chaos.

The earthquake that gave Zagreb such a heavy blow in March 2020 is a normal monthly, if not weekly, occurrence in Japan. The country's ultra-modern buildings and skyscrapers were built to sustain such rumbling, but even the traditional signature Japanese style of architecture (such as the signature Pagoda of Horyuji, the oldest wooden high-rise Japanese building built in 680A.D.) sustained numerous earthquakes over centuries, as Japanese builders always had to try to cope with earthquakes. But, with Zagreb being proud of its architecture, particularly in the downtown area, can the Croatian capital possibly preserve its signature look but also become safer for its residents if such magnitudes or higher strike once again?

''I asked some Japanese experts about whether or not it would be possible to preserve the nice, historic architecture of Zagreb and not just totally transform it into a modern but very common city, and they said it was possible. That needs investment, but there are ways to somewhat reinforce the basic structures and preserve their looks,'' assured Ambassador Kaji. She also added that the speed and focus of reconstruction is something Croatia can learn how to be better at from Japan.

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Towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, December 2019 © Japanese Embassy Croatia 

The Adriatic is nice, but UNESCO heritage really excites Japanese people

With data acquired before coronavirus, Ambassador Kaji stated that there were 150 Japanese nationals living in Croatia, and 150,000 Japanese tourists visited the country. What several people noticed was that while many foreigners come to Croatia primarily to enjoy the coast and swim in the Croatian Adriatic, Japanese tourists can rarely be seen on the beach and prefer sightseeing.

''Japan is surrounded by the sea, so the sea isn't something amazing to them, but Japanese people are very interested in cultural heritage, and when something is recognised by UNESCO, people in Japan really rejoice. So, the Japanese are very much interested in historical or artistic values Croatia offers,'' explained Ambassador Kaji, clarifying why so many Japanese tourists can often be seen as frequently in continental Croatian towns and cities and not just on the coast.

Despite some Croats sometimes being a bit xenophobic or looking differently at people of other races, Ambassador Kaji was surprised when asked about whether there were any racial issues that Japanese people experienced and reported in Croatia.

''I don't know if things were different before regarding racial issues, but the story I heard when I came to Croatia was that back in 2011, many Croats gathered in front of the Embassy of Japan with flowers, candles, and cranes to express their grief and support regarding the Fukushima Tsunami and the earthquake,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Just like those who came with flowers, the Embassy is equal and open, too. The Embassy issues scholarships for people wanting to study in Japan twice a year, and apart from being open to anyone that wants to travel to Japan and get informed about the country and visa requirements, the Embassy also has a library people are welcome to come to and read through Japanese books and literature.

Apart from being in regular contact with other colleagues based in Croatia, Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ambassador in Japan, Drazen Hrastic.

''Before I left Tokyo, we had dinner together, and now we talk often, as well,'' said Ambassador Kaji with a smile.

With Japanese culture being so appreciated in Croatia, and Croatian sporting heroes and UNESCO heritage being so beloved in Japan, spiced with common political values and friendly diplomatic relations, Croatia and Japan truly have the chance to learn from each other and continue to work on the further nurturing of their diplomatic ties, and their shared trade.

If you're a Japanese citizen or a Croatian citizen in need of information, here is how you can reach a Japanese diplomatic mission in Croatia:

In Zagreb:

Japanese Embassy

Adress: Boškovićeva 2

Mail:

Consular Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Political Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Economic Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Section of Culture / Public Relations: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone number: +385 1 48 70 650

In Split:

Consulate Office

Adress: Marasovićeva 67

Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Phone number: +385 21 32 35 80

And of course, you can find all the latest news concerning Japanese-Croatian relations on the official website.

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Japan - Croatia relations, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 31- June 6, 2021

 June 6, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from May 31 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

From significant political changes after the local elections to the losses and preparations in sport, the week was hyped by a strive for hope in Croatia. But, the tragic murder of Nino Čengić in Varaždin was a painful kick to the stomach. Here is another weekly selection of the news depicting the bittersweet life in Croatia. 

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© Patrik Macek / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Tomislav Tomašević officially. becomes the new mayor of Zagreb

Zagreb local elections winner Tomislav Tomašević met with Jelena Pavičić Vukičević for an official ceremony of transferring power on Friday, which makes Tomašević officially the new mayor of Zagreb.

Media attention was also caught for the fact that Tomašević was four minutes late to the ceremony because he was waiting for the ambulance on Cibona because a woman fell ill in the middle of the street. But, for the bigger public interest, it's important to note today was the first time for Tomašević to have a detailed view on the financial situation of the City of Zagreb, giving him a clear picture of the debt problem Zagreb has. 

As TCN reported earlier, Tomašević told the press after the ceremony that the situation is not good, but there are solutions. Still, so far, no more details were given on the two-thousand-odd-page reports on the 2020 budget execution and preliminary figures. Additionally, the new city assembly would hold the founding meeting on 17 June.  

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© Slavko Midzor / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Zlatko Dalić on Croatian National Football Team

The Croatian National Football Team is preparing for the friendly clash with Belgium. As reported by TCN, Zlatko Dalić faced the press on Friday ahead of the match. 

„I am satisfied with everything except the result. We had minor injury problems. We did the rest as expected, but the draw with Armenia left a bitter taste. In that game, we had to win 4-0 or 5-0, not draw 1-1. I am dissatisfied with this result. Plus, we created 5-6 percent chances, and we didn't do that in three games in a row at the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta. We were nonchalant and irresponsible and did not realize them. We were not specific, and that is a minus“, said Dalić to the press. 

Dalić also pointed out that the national team is aware of its obligation to the Croatian people. He spoke about the problems in the national team, the pros and cons of the draw against Armenia, and the expectations from players who are dissatisfied with their status. One of them is Andrej Kramarić, who, after 20 goals scored in the Bundesliga this season, is not safe among Dalić's starters. A few days ago, he advised the media to ask Davor Šuker what he would say after such a season. 

Expectionsare big ahead of the EURO championship, and no doubt fans will pay attention with close interest. 

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© Vjeran Zganec Rogulja / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Anđelko Stričak, new prefect

The power transfer ceremony on Friday also took place in Varaždin where Anđelko Stričak defeated current Varaždin prefect Radimir Čačić. 

„The victory is well deserved. In the past nine years as the president of Varaždin county organization of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), and in six years as a member of the parliament, I've been to every corner of Varaždin county and talked to everybody. I heard the needs of our citizens, and I tried to solve them by cooperating with coalition partners on every level. Of course, I'm not the best, most capable or most perfect, but I will try with my team to give my best that everybody in the county feel changes for the better“, said the new Varaždin County prefect Stričak, as reported by Varaždin county's official website

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© Sanjin Strukic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia Loses to Spain in the Under-21 European Championship

Spain was better than Croatia after extra time in the Under-21 European Championship quarter-final in Maribor on Monday. The match ended 2:1. As reported by TCN, Croatia was solid in the first half and threatened the Spain goal on a few occasions. Despite Spain's high pressure, Ivanušec had a chance from 20 meters in the 7th minute, and in the 23rd, Bradarić's shot was blocked by the Spain defense. Spain retaliated with a Diaz shot from 20 meters, but Croatia's defense made it difficult for them to do much more. 

The young Croatia national team fought against Spain for a spot in the semifinals. 

Igor Bišćan's side met Spain at Ljudski Vrt stadium in Maribor. 

"The guys are aware that we have a great chance, they are motivated to do something, and we are all around them to give them that chance and be supportive. They have quality," Bišćan announced before the match.  

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© Vjeran Zganec Rogulja/ PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Nino Čengić funeral in Varaždin

The Funeral of the English professor Nino Čengić who passed away last Sunday, was held on Wednesday. Nino Gengić, a substitute English professor in one Varaždin school, was brutally beaten with bats and chains in front of the local club in Varaždin called Kulturana. He was 35 years old.

As Jutarnji List reports, four suspects aged 24-29 are currently in custody while the investigation is ongoing as to what lead to this attack. Suspect's apartments were searched, and one suspect illegally possessed a considerable amount of ammo and fire weapons to match. All suspects were previously known to the police for troubling behavior, and the most tragic was the fact that 15 people witnessed the beating, but nobody stopped it.

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our TC website.

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

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 17-23, 2021

May 23, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from May 17 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

From Local elections to released details of the Euro 2020 championship strategy to the release of Zoran Mamić. Add Besana company attempting to boost its position in Croatia, and you have a truly exciting week. Here are the highlights.

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 screenshot / Jutarnji list

Highlights of the Week: Zagreb mayor candidates Tomašević and Škoro had a debate ahead of the second round of elections

Jutarnji List invited on Friday mayoral candidates Miroslav Škoro (Homeland Movement), and Tomislav Tomašević of the green-left party We Can! to debate ahead of new elections.

In the first round of the elections, We Can! earned 147.631 votes (45.15%), while Homeland Movement had 39.789 votes (12.16%). Before officially entering the second round, Škoro declared Tomašević and We Can! party extreme left and pushed the narrative of elections as an ideological referendum among right-wing and conservative circles. Škoro also accused We Can! of being foreign mercenaries working for a philanthropist George Soros or wanting to revitalize Yugoslavia and Škoro's associate Zlatko Hasanbegović earlier in the week called We Can! a lesbian syndicate. Additionally, Nikola Grmoja (Most Party) stated for N1 that We Can! are Soroshians and accusations of their weird name-calling saw a random generator on the internet designed to mock these terms by random options of name-calling. Meanwhile, Tomašević continued the campaign talking about solutions to the problems Zagreb is currently facing but occasionally makes remark accusations while keeping it clean. The debate on Jutarnji List saw similar rhetoric from both candidates in their public performances, and overall, at least for the people of Zagreb, May 30 can't come soon enough.Hrvatski_nogometni_savez.jpg

screenshot / Hrvatski nogometni savez

Highlights of the Week: Zlatko Dalić announces preliminary EURO 2020 Croatia player list

Coach Zlatko Dalic has announced the preliminary EURO 2020 Croatia player list on Monday. Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea) are some of the names that made it on the list.

The Croatia national team has entered the last month of preparations for the European Championship, which opens on June 13 at Wembley against England at 3 pm.

RTL.jpg

screenshot / RTL

Highlights of the Week: Zoran Mamić released from custody

Former Dinamo football coach Zoran Mamić will remain free while in Bosnia and Herzegovina; however, he will have to report to the police once a week, and his personal documents have been temporarily confiscated, the court in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided on Wednesday.

Zoran Mamić was arrested early Wednesday morning by officers from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) based on an arrest warrant issued against him in Croatia.

After that, Mamić was handed over to the court in Sarajevo. Judge Branko Perić determined his status, including his citizenship of BiH. The judge ruled that Mamić would remain free with precautionary measures and was ordered to give in his personal identification documents.

The court did not discuss the matter of Mamić's extradition, considering that Croatia has not sent a formal request yet.

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screenshot / Radio Labin

Highlights of the Week: Former football player Vedran Ćorluka new Croatian assistant coach

The new Croatia national team assistant coach Vedran Ćorluka was officially presented by coach Zlatko Dalić at a press conference in Zagreb ahead of EURO 2020.

Although there was a lot of speculation, Croatian football player Vedran Ćorluka officially announced the end of his playing career and was confirmed as the new Croatia assistant coach on Monday.

"I did not plan it, but the moment has come," said Ćorluka at the press conference at which coach Zlatko Dalić presented the list of players for the upcoming European Championship.

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Pixabay

Highlights of the Week: Italian company Besana strengthening position in Croatia

The Italian company Besana, which is otherwise one of the strongest European companies in the production and processing of nuts and dried fruit, is working to further strengthen its position here in Croatia.

As TCN reported on Monday, the Italian company Besana currently has 50 subcontractors located in Croatia, from whom it buys about 100 tonnes of hazelnuts per year. But, much more can be expected if their plans go well.

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our newly launched TC website.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 3-9, 2021

May 7, 2021 - TCN's regular retrospect of Highlights of the week, through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

President Milanović loved by locals in Plaški. Firefighters quickly reacted to the fire in Zagreb recycle yard. Pula celebrated its liberation while Šibenik received new doses of coronavirus vaccines. Dinamo and Hajduk end their match in a tie. Overall another interesting week in Croatia, and here are more details on all highlights.

 Highlights of the week: President Milanović loved in Plaški county

 president_milanovic-c-Kristina_Stedul_FabacPIXSELL.jpg

© Kristina Stedul Fabac/ PIXSELL

Croatian president Zoran Milanović visited Plaški county near Ogulin on Tuesday to visit the newly-build Firefighter's home and Plaški Culture Home. The locals welcomed president Milanović with ovations, and many use the opportunity to handshake and take a photo with the president. As Večernji List reports, Milanović took the visit as an opportunity to comment on the hate speech incident at Borovo Selo. He stated that the President of Serbian National Council Milorad Pupovac and Croatian Prime Minister „should use the police, but they don't, they are causing incidents.

Highlights of the Week: Pula celebrating its liberation in WW2

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© Srecko Niketic/ PIXSELL

Pula celebrated its annual liberation day and the Pula City Day, marked on May 5. In Tito's park, the traditional commemoration to the fallen WW2 soldiers of Tito's partisan army saw Tiziano Sošić (president of Pula City Council), Elena Puh Belci (vice mayor of Pula), Aleksandar Matić (chief of the City of Pula Office) and Fabrizio Radin (vice-county ruler of Istria county) paid their respects. Representatives of associations of anti-fascist fighters and anti-fascist of the city of Pula were present too. 

 Highlights of the Week: Dinamo and Hajduk end with an even score 1:1

dinamo_hajduk_-c-Milan_SabicPIXSELL.jpg

© Milan Sabic/ PIXSELL

Hajduk and Dinamo's eternal opponents played another game at Hajduk's home of Poljud Stadium in Split on Wednesday. The match was the 22nd round in Croatian First League, and fans couldn't wait for it as the game was postponed.

Hajduk opened the match well and had a chance to take the lead in the first 20 seconds. Kačaniklić received an excellent long ball and ran on the right side. He rushed into the penalty area and shot diagonally, but Livaković came out and closed his corner. Dinamo improved and took the lead in the 16th minute with a goal by Majer, and Livaja returned the favor in the 44th minute. Diamantakos hit the crossbar in the final minutes of the match but without success.

After three victories in the previous three clashes with Hajduk this season, Dinamo failed to achieve maximum performance and almost mathematically secured the title but entered the last four rounds with a seven-point advantage over Osijek. The fail happened despite Dinamo facing Hajduk with the strongest possible lineup.  

Highlights of the Week: Vaccination in Šibenik continues successfully

 sibenik_vaccine-c-Hrvoje_JelavicPIXSELL.jpg

© Hrvoje Jelavic/ PIXSELL

Larger quantities of vaccines came to Šibenik on Friday, allowing vaccination in Baldeki Sports Hall to go without problems for the second day in the row. The vaccination attracts a number of citizens, so the area got quite crowded.

Highlights of the Week: Recycling yard in Zagreb on fire, reasons unclear

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© Matija Habljak/ PIXSELL

Zagreb's recycling yard, located on Sarajevska Cesta in Novi Zagreb, was victimized by fire but quickly localized and put under control on Tuesday. The fire caught four containers, and 21 firefighters with six fire trucks rushed to the field. Police investigated the cause of the fire, but the reason is, for the moment, unknown. Firefighters managed to operate despite the lack of hydrants, and the thick white smoke was noticed by citizens who live in the buildings close to the yard, reported Večernji List. 

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our newly launched TC website.

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

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Wild Sports on Promina, Breathtaking Mountain Activities in Drniš

March 14, 2021 – The annual season of sports on Promina mountain begins in a couple of weeks with the trekking event Promina Trail. Whether walking, hiking, running or mountain biking, Promina, Drniš and the neighbouring Čikola river valley offer stunning scenery and thrilling activities such as zip line and canyoning.

The Dalmatian Trail League visits the city of Drniš next week. On the Promina Trail event, runners, walkers and hikers can catch breathtaking views of the rivers Čikola and Krka, the historic Miljevci plateau that lies between them and, over 30 kilometres in the distance, the Adriatic sea. They will be gifted such exceptional sights from the Promina mountain.

Promina mountain near Drniš


naslovnaprominaaaaaa.jpgPromina mountain near Drniš © Općina Promina

Standing at almost 1150 meters high, Promina mountain is the highest peak in the area. Although the pretty, nearby town of Drniš itself is scattered across inclines of the Dinaric Alps, these gentle rises are nothing compared to Promina. The mountain dominates the skyline. But, Promina is much more than an impressive backdrop to photos. This vast area of natural wilderness is a brilliant place for recreation.

From far away, Promina looks like a rather intimidating rock. The grey of karst, omnipresent throughout Dalmatia, forms some of its colours. Greenery looks sparse and scorched by the sun. Indeed, there are parts of the Dalmatian hinterland that look so arid, you wouldn't be surprised to see them in a dry and dusty Sergio Leone western.

But, as you get nearer the mountain, green colours emerge and become more varied. Thick forests of oak and pine come into view. Their scent is year-round, following you on your route across the mountain. As you embark on your path upwards, you may pass mountain springs that feed into the Čikola canyon below.

viewfrompromina.pngView from Promina mountain during the Promina Trail event, held in March © Drniš Tourist Board

This part of Dalmatia, away from the nearby shoreline, often benefits in summer from slightly cooler temperatures. This refreshing air only increases the higher up Promina you go. By the coast, it's frequently far too hot in summer for any sports or activities that aren't centred on the beach and sea. That's not the case here. Activities and sports on Promina mountain are year-round.

Come in spring and summer and feel Promina's pine forests buzzing with life, a patchwork quilt of greens stretched out across the land below. In autumn, those greens give way to orange, brown and yellow. And, in winter, Promina looks pristine when capped in brilliant white.

Recreation, activities and sports on Promina mountain near Drniš


DrnisMainslotCropFin.jpgThe city of Drniš with Promina mountain in the background © Drniš Tourist Board

Activities and sports on Promina mountain include walking, hiking and running. Aside from recreation by foot, pathways up the mountain now also include mountain bike trails. Once you get up high enough, the entire topography of this part of the Dalmatian hinterland opens up. You trace two rivers – the Čikola and Krka – destined to converge at the nearby Krka National Park. Within the deep and picturesque river valleys they have formed, you'll find canyoning and zipline activities.

Promina Trail


isolatedonprominatrail.pngHigh on the mountain during the Promina Trail © Drniš Tourist Board

Activities and self-directed sports on Promina are available all year. But, the organised calendar of annual sports on Promina begins each March with the Promina Trail.

Certificated by ITRA (International running association), Promina Trail is part of the year-long Dalmatian Trail League competition. Some people enter all 12 races, which are held once a month. And, it's a brilliant way to see the varied landscapes of Dalmatia. Others choose to take part in just one or a few installments, including international visitors.

startofprominatrail.pngStart of the Promina Trail in the city of Drniš © Drniš Tourist Board

Though the starting point is less than 30 km from the coast, Promina Trail is one of the more remote stages of the league. Beginning on the wide, central streets of Drniš within just a few minutes you're out into a wide-open expanse of nature. There's more than enough room for all to feel free. Your mind can escape any thoughts of city living. And, if you deliberately choose to run solitary, you won't be interrupted by anything other than the drinks and food stations that line the route.

youthonPromina.pngPassing through forests on the Promina Trail© Drniš Tourist Board

The race has three routes which vary in difficulty. By having such options, the event opens itself to family participants who make prefer a walking pace, right up to competitive athletes. All races run through stunning scenery and finish at the same mountaineer's hut on Promina. All routes are one-way and marked throughout with flags or lanes and arrows at each turn. All runners must carry a cell phone and arrive with ID.

Liluša Cave - 9km ↑ 623m ↓ 76m. Liluša Cave track is designed for walkers, families, children including under 14s, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who wants to experience trail running. Orientation is simple. An easy walk, it takes 3 and a half hours.

Little Wheel - 20km ↑ 1099m ↓ 552m. The Mali Točak (Little Wheel) track is quite long, but it's not a technically demanding course. Children over 14 may enter, accompanied or with written permission.

Big Wheel - 30km ↑ 1604m ↓ 1057m. The Veliki Točak (Big Wheel) track is technically demanding and requires a high level of fitness. It's designed for experienced runners. Children over 16 may enter, accompanied or with written permission. It passes across Promina's highest peak before descending back to the mountain hut.

Promina Trail is organized by Mountaineering Association Promina. The registration and starting point for all three races is Poljana Town Square in the centre of Drniš. Registration starts at 8am.

Race start times:
Veliki Točak - 9:30am
Mali Točak - 10am
Liluša Cave - 10:30am
Organised meal - 1pm
Event end - 5pm

endofPromina.pngEnd stages of the Promina Trail © Drniš Tourist Board

Originally slated for Saturday 27 March 2021, in case of severe weather or the enforcement of epidemiological measures, the event may be postponed, with Sunday 28 March 2021 penciled in as a replacement date. Runners will be notified on social media networks and pre-registered runners by email.

On-line applications last until March 21 at the website https://stotinka.hr

Thereafter, runners can register on the day of the race, 27 March 2021

More info:
www.pd-promina.hr/PROMINATRAIL
Facebook page
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
phone: +385 98331922 - Božo - race leader
+385 981776924 - Tomislav - president of PD Promina

More activities and sports on Promina mountain near Drniš


askmenocanyon.jpegCanyoning in Drnis © Drniš Tourist Board

Mountain biking on Promina mountain near Drniš


cycling-1533270_1280_1.jpg

All of the tracks used in the Promina Trail and more are open year-round so walkers, hikers and mountain bikers can explore the mountain. You can check out a mountain bike trail here (there are more Drniš and Promina trails linked to the page)

Zip line Čikola / Zip line Šibenik near Drniš


Zipline_21fhjljhflh_1.jpegZip line Čikola / Zip line Šibenik near Drniš © Tourist Board of Drniš

Sometimes referred to as Zipline Šibenik, in order to attract visitors from the popular beachside city in summer, the Čikola zip line is actually around 30 km from Šibenik but just a few from Drniš. Transfer to the thrilling high wire by organisers is short and fast from either city.

The zip line course is 1.4 km long zip line and runs at an altitude of between 120 metres to 30 metres. There are three separate zip lines to complete in the run. Zipline riders control their own speed – you can take it easy and enjoy the breathtaking views, or you can go for maximum adrenaline rush and reach up to 70 km / h. You can take the lines alone or in pairs, with instructors available to partner you.

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Saturday, 6 March 2021

Croatian Shot Putter Filip Mihaljević Wins Bronze at European Indoor Championships

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - Croatian Filip Mihaljević grabbed a bronze medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in the Polish city of Torun on Friday evening, with a throw of 21.31 metres.

Czech Republic’s Tomas Stanek became the European champion with his fifth round mark of 21.62m, while home favourite Michal Haratyk finished second with a throw of 21.47 metres. Polish Haratyk is the current European track and field outdoor champion in the shot put event.

Mihaljević is now the second Croatian track and field athlete to win a medal at European indoor championships. Before him it was runner Branko Zorko with a bronze medal in the 1,500 metre race at the  22nd European Athletics Indoor Championships in Genoa, Italy, in 1992, and a silver two years later in Paris in the same event.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

World Class: New Dubrovnik Sports Hall For 2025 World Handball Comp

February 4, 2020 – The new Dubrovnik Sports Hall will have world-class facilities and be multifunctional, capable of holding cultural events as well as sports. It will be completed in time for the city joint hosting the 2025 World Handball Championship

The City of Dubrovnik has revealed plans for a new world-class Dubrovnik sports hall. The venue will have ultra-modern facilities and will be a multifunctional space, allowing it to be also used for cultural events such as music concerts. The city will apply for European funds to help pay for the new Dubrovnik sports hall.

In February 2020 it was announced that Dubrovnik would be one of the hosts of the World Handball Championship in 2025. The announcement and impending visit of the competition is the impetus for launching the project of the new Dubrovnik sports hall. Croatia is one of three countries - alongside Denmark and Norway - that will jointly host the World Handball Championships in 2025. 

The new Dubrovnik sports hall is planned as a multifunctional sports and congress hall and cultural centre, which will sit next to the existing sports hall in Gospino polje. The old hall and the new Dubrovnik sports hall will be connected, creating a venue capable of holding some 4200 spectators. It will be a complex containing three handball courts for competition or recreation, alternatively to be used as a congress hall or for music concerts, at which the capacity would be 4000 guests.

1609255067.jpg© Grad Dubrovnik

Plans for the new Dubrovnik sports hall were presented jointly by Mayor Mato Franković, Head of the Administrative Department for European Funds, Regional and International Cooperation Zrinka Raguž and Director of the Sports Facilities Dubrovnik Lukša Klaić. The city aims to obtain building permits by the end of 2021 and complete construction by the end of 2024.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2020

HOO: Croatia and China Continue to Cooperate in Sports

ZAGREB, Sept 15, 2020 - A video conference was held at the Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) on Tuesday reaffirming that Croatia and China continue to cooperate in sports, notably between the Croatian Table Tennis Federation and the Chinese Embassy in Croatia.

The cooperation, established in 2018, includes sponsorship and exchanges of the coaching staff, which is very important for Croatian table tennis because it has the world's biggest table tennis power as its partner, the HOO said.

Speaking via video link, Chinese Ambassador Xu Erwen recalled Croatia's recent sports successes, adding that Croatia and China did not cooperate only in table tennis, but also in water polo, handball, and gymnastics.

What has always impressed us and what many of my compatriots ask me is that they do not understand how a country of just four million people can achieve such excellent results globally in practically all sports, the ambassador said.

HOO President Zlatko Matesa spoke of handball cooperation. He said that a Chinese team had for the first time participated in the last season of the regional SEHA League.

"They practiced and were accommodated in Croatia, they played games here and were led by a Croatian coaching team. That is a unique example in the world that a Chinese team played in an official competition in Europe, and the link was Croatia," he said.

Matesa also mentioned the excellent cooperation between the Zagreb Faculty of Kinesiology and the Beijing University of Sport. He said that Croatia and China also cooperated in many other areas, citing the construction of the Peljesac Bridge.

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