Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Guardian's Best European Beaches of 2022 Ranks 3 Croatian Beaches

August the 4th, 2022 - The Guardian has once again showcased its love for Croatia with a new list of the best beaches of 2022, a list on which three gorgeous Croatian beaches have found themselves.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, The British publication The Guardian has compiled yet another list of 40 of the best beaches of 2022, which included three Croatian beaches. Croatian beaches are by no means strangers to such lists compiled by various publications and portals from around the world, and this time, travel writers have singled out locations in Losinj, Peljesac and the Pakleni islands near Hvar.

When it comes to Losinj they highlighted the stunning Krivica bay, for which The Guardian writes:

“Maybe the special thing about the pebbled Krivica beach lies in the fact that you have to walk along a stone path for 30 minutes - and back again. The reward for this is clear, deep, turquoise water in the bay surrounded by pine trees, and the only company here is sailboats in a narrow channel. Losinj, a long, unusual island in Kvarner bay, is one of the most heavily scented places in Croatia, with an incredible abundance of wild plants.''

For the beautiful beach on the Peljesac peninsula, it is stated that its name is very much justified because it really is beautiful - Divna beach.

“This beautiful beach is located on the northern coast of the Peljesac peninsula. A small pebble bay surrounded by hills overgrown with pine trees. There are several shady places, and the area between the beach and the islet is great for diving,'' The Guardian writes.

The top three Croatian beaches also included the bay of Mlini, which is part of the Pakleni islands which lie just away from the shores of the Central Dalmatian island of Hvar.

“Those who visit Hvar and want a change in the environment should take a water taxi to Mlini bay on the islet of Marinkovac. The pebble beach with the smell of pines provides a wonderful relaxed atmosphere, along with [the possibility of] rental deck chairs and a beach restaurant. As is the case with all Croatian pebble beaches, scuba shoes will make things more comfortable on your feet, and the incredibly clean blue-green water sees people diving for hours,'' The Guardian's travel writers said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

The Guardian Names Mediterranean Film Festival Split One of Europe's Best!

May 20, 2022 - The Guardian has included a Croatian film festival on the list of the 10 best European summer film festivals! The Mediterranean Film Festival Split (FMFS) starts in less than a month. 

"Croatia’s second-largest city has plenty of historic sights, museums and nightlife, and its stunning coastal setting makes for a particularly scenic film festival. During the day, screenings are at a cinema inside the walls of the 1,700-year-old Diocletian’s palace, a perfect base for sightseeing. As the name suggests, they focus on Mediterranean films that might be hard to access elsewhere. This is a festival that prides itself in its positive, friendly vibe and its parties, many held at the open-air cinema on Bačvice beach," writes The Guardian, which names Split in the company of other cities such as Venice, San Sebastián, Locarno, Annecy, and Karlovy Vary.

FMFS announces the biggest festival so far, with new programs and locations. The jubilee 15th edition of the favorite Dalmatian cultural event brings more films than ever screened at the Bačvice Open Air Cinema, Zlatna Vrata (Golden Gate) Cinema, on the plateau in front of the Youth Center and a new location - the northeastern bastion of Gripe Fortress.

FMFS is held from June 16 to 25. Split designer Karlo Kazinoti presented its visual identity.

"I wanted this year’s poster to be different in design from the previous years, but I wanted it to still tell its Mediterranean story. The poster is dominated by beach sand, a great inspiration to kids and grown-ups. It’s a fun material with which one can play games, build castles, and it can be mischievous if you let your hair down. The most popular activity is to bury ourselves in the sand and then emerge like a troublemaker, and since FMFS always covers us in films, like the sand, it will be a great pleasure and a challenge to see the entirety of this year’s program," said Kazinoti.

The Mediterranean Film Festival Split is held with the support of Creative Europe and its strand - MEDIA, for the first time, which the European Commission uses to support film festivals. 

"It is extremely important to us that this support is multiannual, and that means we have financial support for 2022 and 2023, which allows us to expand our program. So we have created “Parangal,” a program for films outside of the Mediterranean area, and we will offer films for all ages in our program for kids and young adults. Thanks to the support from Creative Europe, we will strengthen the industry program with a series of workshops and lectures for film industry professionals that are coming to Split for FMFS. All of this is guaranteed to bring back the ‘hubbub’ we have missed for the past two years," says director Alen Munitić who thanked FMFS partners, the Croatian Audiovisual Center, the city of Split, and the Split Tourist Board.

Festival tickets with access to multiple screenings can be purchased from May 26. Individual tickets will be released once the program is announced at the beginning of June. All ticket info can be found at

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Three Croatian Beaches Named in The Guardian's 40 Best in Europe

May 8, 2022 - Three Croatian beaches have been named among the 40 best in Europe, though they aren't the beaches you might think. 

From pink to wild shores and everything in between, travel writers from The Guardian chose the 40 most beautiful European beaches, and among them are three from Croatia! However, the selected beaches were not so predictable this time, with Saharun on Dugi Otok, Lubenice on Cres, or Pasjača in Konavle nowhere to be seen, reports T.portal

Namely among the 40 most beautiful beaches in Europe are Krivica on Lošinj, Divna on Pelješac, and Mlini on the Pakleni Islands near Hvar.

"Maybe it’s the fact that you have to hike down a rocky path for 30 minutes – and back up again – that makes Krivica’s pebbly beach so special. The reward is clear, deep turquoise water in a sheltered pine-fringed bay, with only sailing boats in the narrow channel for company. Lošinj, a long, misshapen island in the Kvarner gulf, is one of Croatia’s most fragrant places, with an incredible profusion of wild herbs," writes The Guardian begins about Krivica on Lošinj.

Divna, on the other hand, lives up to its name. 

"Living up to its name – beautiful beach – Plaža Divna is on the north coast of the Pelješac peninsula, with pine-covered hills flanking the little pebbly bay. There are a few shady spots, and the marine life between the beach and the tiny island facing the bay makes for brilliant snorkelling. A cafe sells drinks and basic food, and behind the beach is the small Camp Divna campsite set in an olive grove," The Guardian adds. 

And those visiting Hvar should not miss Mlini on the Pakleni island of Marinkovac.

"There’s a wonderfully laid-back air to this pine-scented pebbly beach, along with sunloungers for rent and a beachfront restaurant. As with all Croatia’s pebbly beaches, protective swimming shoes will make things more enjoyable, and the amazingly clear blue-green water has people snorkelling for hours."

You can find the full list of The Guardian's 40 most beautiful beaches in Europe HERE

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

The Guardian Features Hidden Croatia: Where to Visit Off the Beaten Track

April 3, 2022 - The Guardian recently featured 'hidden Croatia' or the lesser-known gems in the country you should visit this year. 

The British daily The Guardian published an article about Croatia as a tourist destination, emphasizing hidden destinations it recommends visiting this year, including Silba Island, Papuk Nature Park, Tribunj, Mrežnica River, and other locations, the CNTB reported.

This is a special series in The Guardian about hidden destinations worth visiting this year the first of which is dedicated to Croatia.

The article about Croatia and its tourist offer is featured on four pages of the printed edition and online and was created as a result of the cooperation of the CNTB with the editorial board of The Guardian. The Director of the CNTB office in London, Darija Rejić, believes that the publication will reach millions of readers and positively impact the perception of Croatia as a quality, attractive, and sought-after destination.

"This extensive presentation of the Croatian tourist offer and lesser-known sites on four pages is the result of quality cooperation with the editorial board of The Guardian. We are extremely pleased when, with logistical support in the field and quality cooperation with journalists, we, in turn, receive valuable media releases that reach millions of readers, which significantly affects the perception of Croatia as a quality, attractive and sought-after destination," said Reić in detail. 


The article on Croatia suggests places and destinations for this year's tourist discoveries, natural beauties, distinctive and picturesque towns, and preserved and untouched landscapes of seven lesser-known Croatian regions, said the expert and multi-award-winning journalist Mary Novakovich.

This is how The Guardian thus showcases Tribunj and its rich historical heritage, Papuk Nature Park as a wooded and exciting UNESCO Geopark, the island of Silba for its preservation, the river Mrežnica for its beautiful environment enriched with 93 waterfalls, and the cities Karlovac and Slunj. The journalist also mentioned the Neretva Valley, Dinara Nature Park, and more prominent destinations near these sites and presented the authentic gastronomic offer of local restaurants, the unreal beauty of Croatian beaches, and numerous bike trails.

Rejić also points out that the added value of this publication is confirmed by The Guardian's position as a leader in the growth of online subscribers, with a reach of one million readers in the UK.

For more, check out our travel section.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Two Croatian Players Among The Guardian's Top 100 in 2021

December 28, 2021 - The Guardian, which has been making a list of the 100 best footballers of the year since 2012, recently published its ranking for 2021. Two Croatian players made the list. Find out who they are and where they rank.

Since 2012, The Guardian publishes a list of the 100 players who stood out the most in the year. The collective achievements with both their clubs and national teams, as well as their individual performance, are decisive factors in assembling the ranking. In 2021, two Croatian players have been included in the top 100 footballers of the year: Luka Modrić and Marcelo Brozović. You can check the full list here.

Despite the fact that the Croatian national team failed to repeat in EURO 2020 what they achieved in the last World Cup in Russia in 2018, they managed to secure their ticket to the next World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. In this way, Croatia finishes in 15th place in the last FIFA ranking of the year, being 11th in Europe.

But 2021 was, despite everything, a year of very good results for Croatian players around the continent. For example, Mateo Kovačić managed to lift his fourth Champions League, his first with Chelsea FC. However, the two Croatian players on The Guardian's list were Real Madrid's Luka Modrić and Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozović.


Photo: Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL

The historic captain of the Croatian national team continues to defend the Real Madrid crest with the same energy and passion as in the past decade, despite his 36 years. Years pass and the Zadar-born footballer continues to own his position in the white midfield, well ahead of young footballers who have come to the club in recent years such as Federico Valverde, Martin Odegaard, or Dani Ceballos. Luka is ranked 40th on the list, and The Guardian writes the following about his inclusion:

‘‘Ah, Luka, don’t ever go. At the start of last season it looked like he might, like time had finally caught up with him, like Madrid’s midfield was about to be renewed, and that was reflected in this list: he was 71st. But then he returned to the heart of everything good and this season he has been superb. Up 31 places – and he could be even further up than that. Aged 36, he’s still better than the rest. Just don’t say the word rest to him. “I feel happier when I’m playing,” he says.’’

Indeed, Luka did not get any title with Real Madrid at the end of the 2020/21 season, but he was chosen as the Player of the Season by the club and the fans. Likewise, in the course of this season (which is also taken into account when drawing up the list at the end of the year), Luka has been decisive in placing Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, much less in front of their eternal rivals, Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona. For his teammates, Luka continues to play as a promising youngster and that is, in addition to motivating, important for the team's performance both in attack and defense.

Marcelo Brozović is the second national representative on the list of the 100 best footballers in 2021. The 29-year-old Zagreb-born midfielder won the Serie A title with his club, Inter Milan, thus breaking the dominance of his eternal rivals, Juventus, who had just won 9 Scudettos in a row. Brozović was in fact one of the determining players in Antonio Conte's team, along with Nicolo Barella in midfield, and Lautaro Martínez and Romelu Lukaku in attack, all of them also included among the 100 best footballers of the year.

''Brozo'' arrived on the neroazzurro team in 2015 from Dinamo Zagreb, and it has been the passage of time that has managed to forge his maturity as a footballer. Thus, the midfielder has gone from being a discreet player to one of the most notorious for his involvement both in defensive work, as well as when providing assists to his teammates and even scoring goals on his own.

About Brozovic, who was ranked 81st on the list, The Guardian wrote:

‘‘Antonio Conte defined Brozović as “the darling of the [Inter] team” that won the Scudetto for the first time since 2010. Even in a side that prided themselves on hard graft, the Croatian pushed himself further than the rest – covering more distance per game than any other player in Serie A last season. Yet Brozovic is much more than a domestique peddling away anonymously so that teammates can shine. His vision and incisive passing were fundamental to Inter’s fast-break approach under Conte, and remain so now that Simone Inzaghi is adapting the Nerazzurri to a more possession-focused approach.’’

Marcelo Brozović continues to be decisive in the functioning of the Italian team, and this is how they are currently positioned at the top of the Serie A table. Inter is currently working on the renewal of the Croatian midfielder's contract, as they consider him as a fundamental piece of the neroazzurro project. It should be noted that the two Croatian players faced each other in the group stage of the Champions League, and both made it to the round of 16.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Marko Brkljača Among Best Young Talents in World Football

October 8, 2021 - In this year's Next Generation, a list in which The Guardian carefully selects the 60 best prospects in world football, a Croatian player has stood out and it is 17-year-old Hajduk Split midfielder Marko Brkljača.

Every year since 2014, the British medium The Guardian publishes a list called Next Generation, in which 60 young players in world football stand out for their precocious and surprising performance in the minor divisions of their clubs and national teams. Some of them even add minutes with the first team, but the main objective of the list is to recognize the main promises in football.

The list is compiled by a diverse number of journalists and soccer analysts, who constantly follow the major soccer leagues not only in Europe but all over the world. Although any type of list can be subjective in nature, it is true that many of the players who have appeared on these lists in the past are today part of the football elite, such as:

  • Ousmane Dembélé - Barcelona (Next Generation 2014)
  • Luka Jović - Real Madrid (2014)
  • Dayot Upamecano - Bayer München (2015)
  • Manuel Locatelli - Juventus (2015)
  • Dani Olmo - RB Leipzig (2015)
  • Christian Pulisic - Chelsea (2015)
  • Federico Valverde - Real Madrid (2015)
  • Kai Havertz - Chelsea (2016)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma - PSG (2016)
  • Matthijs de Ligt - Juventus (2016)
  • Vinicius Júnior - Real Madrid (2017)
  • Alphonso Davies - Bayern München (2017)
  • Jadon Sancho - Manchester United (2017)
  • Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund (2017)
  • Ferrán Torres - Manchester City (2017)
  • Mason Greenwood - Manchester United (2018)
  • Eric García - Barcelona (2018)
  • Eduardo Camavinga - Real Madrid (2019)
  • Ansu Fati - Barcelona (2019)
  • Pedri - Barcelona (2019)
  • Jamal Musiala - Bayern München (2020)

Many Croatian players who are now part of the national team also appeared in previous editions, such as Nikola Vlašić (2014) and Josko Gvardiol (2019). Other Croatian players who were selected for the Next Generation roster were Ante Ćorić (2014), Davor Lovren (2015), Michele Sego and David Colina (2017), Antonio Marin and Mario Vušković (2018); and Bartol Barišić, Ivan Ćubelić, and Tomislav Duvnjak (2020).

This year, The Guardian has placed a Croatian player on the list, the Hajduk Split midfielder Marko Brkljača, born in Zadar on July 15th, 2004. This is how journalist Aleksandar Holiga describes Brkljača on The Guardian's Next Generation 2021 list:

''A left-footed box-to-box midfielder in the vein of, say, Georginio Wijnaldum. Regarded the biggest national prospect of his generation by some distance, Marko Brkljača attracts immediate attention with a smooth first touch and impressive physical capacity. His coaches particularly praise his ability to withstand challenges against older and bigger opponents, but also his sense for timing runs from behind, which regularly gets him into goal-scoring positions. Juventus tried to sign him last winter but they are not the only big club interested. Hajduk will want him to establish himself in the first team before considering any offers and he will get his chance soon enough – he made his senior debut in a cup game in September''.

The 17-year-old Croatian midfielder has yet to make his senior debut but continues to add minutes for the Hajduk U-19 team, where he is currently playing the UEFA Youth League, and the Croatian U19's. In a Croatian national team where the absence of the great Luka Modric will be felt in the coming years, it would not be bad for another Zadar-born midfielder to emerge as his successor. Let's hope so!

The Croatian national team plays today against Cyprus for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at 8:45 p.m. Stay tuned for updates from Total Croatia News.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

The Guardian: Croatian Police Accused of Sexually Abusing Afghan Woman

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - A woman from Afghanistan claims that she was sexually abused by Croatian border police, and even held at knifepoint, after crossing the border, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

According to a dossier from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the incident occurred on 15 February, in Croatian territory, a few kilometres from the Bosnian city of Velika Kladuša, the British newspaper said.

In the report the woman said she tried to cross the border with a group of four others, including two children, but they were stopped by an officer who allegedly pointed a rifle at them.

The Afghans asked for asylum, at which one of the officers laughed, after which the woman was singled out for a search, the Guardian said, quoting her as saying that she insisted that he should not touch her because she was a woman and a Muslim, after which the officer slapped her.

The officer allegedly touched her breasts and behind, and ordered her to remove all her T-shirts, which she refused. The five migrants were then taken away in a police vehicle, after which the police again hit the Afghan woman, ordering her to strip naked and starting to sexually abuse her, at one point putting a knife to her throat.

The police physically assaulted other migrants from the group as well, and ordered them to walk back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Guardian said.

It added that the European Commission condemned this alleged act and called on the Croatian authorities to investigate all allegations and punish those responsible.

DRC secretary general Charlotte Slente was quoted as saying that despite the Commission’s engagement on the migrant issue on the Croatian border, there had been no progress in recent months either in investigations of reports of brutal treatment by police or in the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms.

According to the Guardian, the Croatian Interior Ministry said there were no recorded dealings with "females from the population of illegal migrants" on the day in question and that Croatian police, by saving the lives of hundreds of migrants from minefields, rivers and snow, showed not only an organised and professional approach in the protection of the state border but humanity as well.

The Interior Ministry says the Croatian police are persistently portrayed as brutal without a single piece of evidence and that illegal migrants, when they fail to cross the border, are ready to falsely accuse those same police of abuse, the Guardian said.

According to the DRC, since May 2019 almost 24,000 migrants have been illegally pushed back to Bosnia, including 547 between January and February 2021.

For more about violence against migrants in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Where to Travel in 2021? The Guardian Recommends Ilok

January 3, 2021 - If you can travel in 2021, where would you most like to go? In 21 places to go in 2021, The Guardian recommends Ilok. 

As we say goodbye to a year spent mostly at home, it's safe to say the travel bug in all of us is crawling.

However, tourism may never be the same, and the COVID-test-free days of tour groups and packed planes won't be back so soon. But that doesn't mean we can't still travel and that the most undiscovered places have become the most appealing gems in the corona era. 

In a piece titled 21 Places to Go in 2021, The Guardian has moved away from the travel hotlist they usually launch in January and instead gave the floor to writers across Europe to share the local spots they're dreaming of visiting this year. 

Along with big shots like Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece is Croatia - and instead of the crowded coastal towns we're familiar with seeing in international media, The Guardian recommends Ilok. 

Zrinka Marinović writes:

"The eastern region of Slavonia is off-the-radar Croatia, and I’m planning to go as soon as we can travel. Specifically to Ilok, Croatia’s easternmost town, which is like a fairytale.

Ilok is surrounded by fortifications, including two monuments from Ottoman times and a medieval fortress rising above the Danube, but the main reason to visit is the 15th-century wine cellars. These supplied wine for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, and a bottle can cost £5,000. Happily you can taste it more affordably at the Festival of Traminca, which is usually in June."

Marinovic continues by talking about the food in Ilok, inspired by Austria, Hungary, and Serbia, like the standout fiš paprikaš. However, Marinvoic especially can't wait to dig into a specialty just north of Osijek, at a small winery called Vina Gerstmajer - drunken meat. 

"Where they cook meat in 10 litres of wine. You can prepare it with them and drink rakija (fruit brandy) while it’s cooking. It’s like being at a friend’s place – something we’ve all been missing in lockdown."

You can find the full list on The Guardian HERE.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Croatian Police Dismiss New Accusations of Violence against Migrants

ZAGREB, Oct 21, 2020 - The Croatian Interior Ministry on Wednesday dismissed new allegations of violence against migrants after The Guardian, citing the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), said that Croatian police beat and robbed migrants and mentioned a case of sexual abuse.

Alongside photos and medical reports, the newspaper carried DRC claims about numerous instances of brutality on the Bosnian-Croatian border on October 12-16.

"The testimonies collected from victims of pushbacks are horrifying," said Charlotte Slente, DRC secretary-general. "More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse."

The ministry said this was not the first time The Guardian and the journalist in question wrote about the alleged conduct of the Croatian police, "accusing them of various types of inhumane treatment of persons who illegally crossed the border, without providing any facts or evidence, or even basic verifiable information."

On the other hand, the ministry said, they never wrote about even one case in which Croatian police saved lives, including women and children, on inaccessible terrain in harsh winter.

The ministry said that following the latest accusations, it launched an investigation into them as its interest and goal was to remove any doubt about the conduct of Croatian police and to punish and remove possible irregularities.

Pushbacks near Siljkovaca tented settlement

According to migrants’ accounts, The Guardian said, the pushbacks occurred in Croatian territory over the border from Velika Kladusa in Bosnia, close to Siljkovaca, "a tented forest settlement of around 700 refugees and migrants."

"All of the persons interviewed by DRC bore visible injuries from beatings (bruises and cuts), as a result of alleged Croatian police violence," reads the DRC report.

According to The Guardian, "On 12 October, five Afghans, including two minors, crossed the Croatian border near the Sturlic settlement. On the same day, near Novo Selo, a uniformed police officer stopped them and then called two more officers. One of the migrants ran, and the other four were detained at a police station. Two days later they were taken to court, where they say they were to 'appear as witnesses in the case launched against the fifth member of the group - the one who escaped', who had been accused of violent behavior towards police."

"The asylum seekers told the DRC that the original officers then took them 'to some unknown location, where they were put in a van in the charge of 10 armed people," The Guardian said. "Their money was taken, their belongings torched and they were ordered to strip to their underwear. The migrants allege that they were forced to lie face down on the ground."

"One man in black was standing on the victim’s hands, preventing any movements," reads the report, adding that they "were punched, kicked, whipped and beaten" and that medical reports "confirm that migrants’ injuries are consistent with the use of a whip."

One migrant says that he was sexually assaulted by a man using a branch, The Guardian said, adding that the DRC shared its report with the European Commission, which has yet to investigate.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Croatia Police Incident Not as The Guardian Reported - Nigerian Ministry

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission for the government of Nigeria, responded to the allegations of two Nigerian students who came to Croatia to play table tennis and mysteriously ended up in Bosnia, after The Guardian article appeared on a local Nigerian portal.


Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Intervened

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs is on this matter. It’s not as straightforward as you have reported, but the Mimster (sic) has personally intervened. We should give an update as the intervention continues,” she revealed in a tweet on Saturday, December 7.

The Guardian article titled “Police in Croatia deport Nigerian table tennis players to Bosnia” appeared on December 5. Since then the story has been picked up by DW, The Telegraph and others. And, then it appeared in TheCable, a Nigerian portal.

Croatian Police 'Kidnapped' Nigerians According to Žurnal

Žurnal, a portal based in Bosnia, broke this story on December 3 with the headline: “Croatian Police Kidnapped Nigerian Students and Took Them into Bosnia”. The Žurnal article also included a video interview with the students, Kenneth Chinedu Eboh and Uchenna Alexandro Abia, who alleged that Croatian Police apprehended them on a tram in downtown Zagreb. According to the students’ account they were brought to the police station on the evening of November 17, put into a van with other illegal migrants and forced at gunpoint by the Croatian police to cross the Bosnian border.

Žurnal Story Gets Picked Up by The Guardian

Writing from Tuzla, Bosnia - Lorenzo Tondo, a correspondent for The Guardian based in Palermo, Italy - referenced the students’ Žurnal interview in his December 5 article for the publication. He also interviewed Alberto Tanghetti, organizer for the Fifth World InterUniversities Championships in Pula, where the students had showed up without rackets and sports equipment, and competed in table tennis. Mr. Tanghetti confirmed that the young men had attended the competition and that he had identified them for volunteers at the camp in Velika Kladuša, where the men ended up.

However, Mr. Tondo’s December 5 article didn’t include the statement from the Croatian police which had appeared in Croatian media mid-day on December 4. Among other things, their statement disputed the students’ reported Zagreb travel dates and noted that another student in the group of five, had tried twice to cross the border to Slovenia and eventually applied for asylum in Croatia.

First Guardian Article Missing Police Statement

I contacted Mr. Tondo on the evening of December 5 to ask why he hadn’t included the police statement, which had appeared the day before and contradicted key details in the students’ allegations. I also pointed out that several Croatian media outlets had just interviewed the manager of HI Youth Hostel (also on December 5), where the students stayed. I added that the HI Youth Hostel is only 230m from the central police station on the same street, which calls into question why the police wouldn't have accompanied the students back to their hostel to verify their passports. According to the students’ allegations; the Croatian police brought them to the nearby police station instead.

Branimir Markač, the hostel manager, also disputed the students’ claimed check-in and check-out dates. The students stated that they checked in to the hostel on November 17, went for a walk in the city and were apprehended by police, who refused to allow the students to prove their identities and legal visas in Croatia, and took them in a van to Bosnia instead. The manager confirmed the Croatian police account that the students had checked in on November 16, rather than November 17, and checked out with their passports and belongings on November 18.

Mr. Markač also disputed the students’ account that an unidentified “friend” came to his hostel (the name of which the students couldn’t remember), retrieved their passports, and sent them to Bosnia, where local sources confirmed their arrival on November 25. The manager confirmed that no one came to his hostel in search of the Nigerians’ passports. He also emphasized that he would not have handed them over to a stranger.


Second Guardian Article Missing Hostel Managers’ Account

Mr. Tondo maintains that he didn’t obtain a police statement until 6 hours after his first article was published. In fact, he would have had that information the day before if he had been following Croatian media. He also didn’t include the hostel managers' account in his second article, written in Split, and titled “Croatia and Bosnia play political ping-pong over table tennis players”. That article, which appeared in The Guardian on December 6, quotes the Croatian police statement and refers the other Nigerian who attempted to cross the Slovenian border. However, it makes no reference to the hostel manager, even though I had provided him with this information and sources on the evening of December 5.

My correspondence with Mr. Tondo continued December 6, when I asked him the following:

  • Did you read articles from any of the Croatian media outlets beforehand?
  • Do you follow Croatian media?
  • Do you read/speak Croatian/Serbian/Bosnian?
  • Do you have an understanding of politics in Croatia?
  • Did you contact anyone in Zagreb (besides the Croatian police) where this alleged incident happened?

Mr. Tondo declined to reply and responded that he was going to send my email to his lawyer. To my request for his editor’s name and contact information, he responded that he had already forwarded my emails to his editor and I could seek out that information by myself.

Does Lorenzo Tondo Know Croatian?

Upon contacting The Guardian by phone on December 6, I obtained the contact information for Tracy McVeigh, Editor of The Guardian’s Global Development Desk. I included my correspondence with Mr. Tondo and asked if The Guardian has a dedicated correspondent in Croatia who can follow news in Croatian/Serbian/Bosnian. I also indicated that Mr. Tondo would have a difficult time following the news developments in Croatia if he can’t read or speak the language. And, surely, there is a considerable pool of capable journalists living in Zagreb.

The Guardian Cannot Afford Croatia-based Correspondent

Ms. McVeigh declined to confirm whether Mr. Tondo knows Croatian/Serbian/Bosnian, and indicated that The Guardian, an international publication with over 8 million Facebook followers, cannot afford to keep a permanent correspondent in Croatia. Instead, she assured me that The Guardian has highly-skilled and experienced correspondents who travel to many different countries to write for their “British audience”.

According to the Croatian portal MojaPlaća (My Salary), the average monthly full-time salary for a journalist in Croatia, after taxes, is 4792 HRK (541 GBP, 644 EUR). So, it appears that The Guardian chose instead to assign this story to Mr. Tondo, a correspondent based in Palermo, Italy - who has not indicated whether he knows the local language. And he also appears to have accepted the Nigerian students’ story, reported by Žurnal, as fact.

No Witnesses to Students’ Alleged Zagreb ‘Kidnapping’

Other than contacting the Croatian police for a statement, which was already available to the public on December 4, there’s no evidence that Mr. Tondo made any other attempts to confirm the details of the students’ story. He apparently did not contact the manager of HI Youth Hostel, nor is there any evidence that he was following Croatian media as this story developed. There’s also no evidence that he made any attempts to reach out to the other Nigerian student in the group, who applied for asylum status in Croatia, and is currently being housed at the center for asylum seekers in Zagreb.

“I always knew there’d be a back story to this!” read one response to Abike Dabiri-Erewa’s tweet on Saturday.

“There is. But whatever the circumstances, the most important thing is to get them back,” the senior Nigerian government official replied.

Follow our Politics page for updates on this developing story and the migrant crisis in Croatia.

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