Thursday, 10 November 2022

AWFT22: Resilience and War – Tourism in Kharkiv, Ukraine

November 10, 2022 – On October 27 and 28, TCN had the honour of attending the A World for Travel Forum in Nimes, France. With the theme of the forum being sustainability in travel and tourism, there was a lot of talk aimed at climate change, the issues of cross-sector collaboration, involvement of local communities and industries; small businesses were sharing their visions of sustainable travel, companies like Mastercard and Google had their say, you name it – the forum covered it. There was one panel that stood out, though. One topic that made us feel it is just as important now and long-term. One that reminded us of home. A Case Study: Resilience and War, the agenda said, or how Kharkiv in Ukraine is preparing to protect their cultural heritage and monuments in times of crisis.

Sorry, what? Who thinks about tourism in times like that? It turns out it’s those who need to. Sustainability seems to be a lot more than offsetting your carbon footprint, eating locally, or even government policies supporting the development of such tourism. It is a common goal; it is about the ordinary person; it is the realisation that we must support each other. In every sense of the phrase, we must stand together, now and again, to ensure a better future for all. Even if cities fall and disappear, people remain; our culture lives on and becomes our legacy.

On a panel moderated by Peter Greenberg, the CBS News Travel Editor, his guests Yuliia Zghurska (Deputy Director, Kharkiv City Council), and Hon. Yuliya Sosyukina (Goodwill Ambassador, IHRCHQ/Mrs. Universe Monaco 2021) spoke about what the city of Kharkiv is currently facing and what measures have been taken to preserve its culture as much as possible. The most important message: keep sharing, keep spreading the word, help any way you can. Though both lovely Ukrainian ladies were fully booked for interviews on both days, we had a chance to sit down with them and share experiences, stories, frustrations, and feelings of love, respect, and support.

Our conversation started with the reasons why they came to the forum. It is important, they said, because they need to be able to plan their future. The war will be over, and they need to speak about Ukraine, about Kharkiv – now. Kharkiv is the second biggest city in Ukraine and one of its most visited places, with a million tourists annually. Even in these times, they say, tourism in Kharkiv is alive, just with a different definition. Now tourists are the diplomats, journalists, and people who care and want to see what is happening and how they can help. The city’s officials have now become its tourist promotors in an entirely new way. Their primary mission is to save and preserve their country. What a job, huh?

When we mentioned the Homeland war in Croatia, they pointed out that it is now important for other countries who have been through similar events to share their experience, teach Ukraine how to cope, look into the future, and above all, show their support. They do think that Croatia’s Vukovar has set a good example. Memorial tourism, they say, is something we need to accept but must not allow to become the whole identity of a place. And even though it might seem like that in Vukovar, especially in November, the energy of the city and its young minds, we are sure, will drive tourism forward. Just ask any of our friends from the Vukovar 365 series.

Kharkiv4.png

A World for Travel

As for Kharkiv, its representatives do believe in its bright future. They carry hope and walk bravely into every new day. Their inspiration, as they say, are Kharkiv’s 30 sister cities all over Europe and the world, some of which have joined the list recently, like Turku in Finland. The financial and humanitarian support from these and many other places make the difference.

And what made the difference for us was meeting these lovely ladies, thinking about resilience and war with them, and witnessing some genuine, warm human moments. The single most memorable one had to be a young Russian stepping up to the Ukrainian ladies to express their full support and heartbreak over the situation. As they pointed out, war has already ruined many lives on both sides of the border, and the longer it goes on, the more it takes away from the everyday human. No one wants war; no one deserves it. We stand with all its victims, equally inspired by Kharkiv’s panel and the words shared between its guests.

If you would like to help, we will share a few links where you can do that. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do so, but do stay wary of scams. If you are looking for other ways, we recommend checking out the lists of verified sources like CNBC or Forbes.

Help Kharkiv:

https://www.helpkharkiv.org/

https://www.kharkivfoundation.org/home

Help Ukraine:

https://donate.redcrossredcrescent.org/ua/donate/~my-donation?_cv=1

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

https://vostok-sos.org/en/ukraine-under-fire-support-vostok-sos-aid-operation/

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

Thursday, 16 June 2022

EIB: Croatian Companies Among Worst Hit By Ukraine War

ZAGREB, 16 June 2022 - Over the next year, Croatian companies will be among the EU companies hardest hit by the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the European Investment Bank (EIB) says in its latest report.

"Firms in countries closer to Ukraine and Russia, such as Hungary, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, will feel the pressure. Moreover, firms in Greece, Croatia and Spain will also be more affected than the EU average," says the report, entitled "How bad is the Ukraine war for the European recovery?"

The EIB published a ranking of countries whose companies face the greatest risk from the current situation. The most vulnerable companies are those in Greece, while those in Croatia rank seventh in terms of the risk of losses and bankruptcy among the 27 EU member states.

The EIB noted that EU companies, particularly small ones, were already weakened by the COVID-19 crisis.

"The war will exacerbate firms’ vulnerability through three channels: (1) a reduction in exports, (2) lower profit due to higher energy prices, and (3) difficulty finding funding as banks avoid risk," the report says.

According to the EIB, Croatian companies will be mostly affected by increasing energy prices.

"Firm-level simulations conducted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) suggest the proportion of firms losing money will increase from 8% to 15% in one year, and that the share of firms at risk of default will rise from 10% to 17% over the same period," the bank said.

For more, check out our business section.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Grlić Radman Says Life of Croatian National Taken Prisoner by Russians Is Priority

ZAGREB, 14 May 2022 - The life of the Croatian national who has been taken prisoner by Russian forces is our priority, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

"Yes, I am optimistic, especially after we have seen the pictures," the minister told Nova TV, which broadcast footage of a conversation between a Republika Srpska Television reporter and the Croatian national.

"Croatia still has an embassy in Moscow and is invoking conventions, assistance under international law and bilateral relations, and it expects cooperation," Grlić Radman said and added: "The life of the Croatian national is our priority."

The Croatian national said in the footage that he was being treated well in Russian prison. He advised Croats wishing to fight for Ukraine to first check where they were going.

Grlić Radman will be in Berlin this weekend for an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers. He said that on that occasion he would express Croatia's support for the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

The Croatian government disagrees on this matter with President Zoran Milanović who wants to make the two countries' NATO entry conditional on the reform of electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rejecting media reports that Croatia was disunited abroad, Grlić Radman said: "We speak about our country abroad in such a way that we protect the Croatian institutions."

Speaking of relations with the new government in Slovenia, he estimated that it would not block Croatia's accession to the Schengen passport-free travel area. "I don't believe in that. The word blockade appeared in the media."

Slovenia's Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that rules defining Schengen accession should include the implementation of the arbitration ruling on the border between Slovenia and Croatia.

"I am sure that my Slovenian counterpart will support Croatia's accession because it is in Slovenia's interests, and I am confident that it will be in a European spirit," Grlić Radman said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Croatia Understands Best What Ukraine Is Going Through, FM Says

ZAGREB, 9 May 2022 - Croatia is the youngest and only EU member state which experienced the kind of aggression Ukraine is experiencing, so it understands best what it is going through, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday on the occasion of Europe Day.

"We know what's going on, we know how they suffer, we know how proud they are, we know how brave they are and we know they are not allowing their identity to be attacked," he added.

EU membership has brought Croatia additional protection, security and opportunities for growth and development, which is why Croatia is practically predestined to encourage enlargement, the minister said.

He also spoke of his visit to Ukraine yesterday with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, during which they talked with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk.

"We visited the towns of Irpin and Bucha, which were bombed without reason or motive, houses were razed to the ground, civilians killed and thrown into a mass grave, 400 of them," Grlić Radman said.

On the occasion of Europe Day, the European Parliament's Croatian office organised numerous events and workshops focusing on young people as 2022 was designated European Year of Youth.

In the context of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, the EU's importance as a community of solidarity, values and rule of law was underlined.

Speeches were delivered by the head of the office, Violeta Simeonova Staničić, the head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, Ognian Zlatev, Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych and French Ambassador Gael Veyssiere.

Congratulating young people on Europe Day, Kyrylych said Europe was a strong international community which put up a strong resistance to the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

"They are calling what is happening in Moscow today a victory parade. Victory is not a parade, victory is not a thing, victory is the wisdom and solidarity of the international community, victory is when leaders of peoples visit the guardian of Europe," he said.

"That's what the strong do, that's what the wise and those who look to tomorrow do. Ukraine's big friend, the Croatian prime minister, did that, visiting Kyiv yesterday with the foreign minister," he added.

Zlatev said the role of young people was more important than ever and called on them to use the possibilities and the potential at their disposal, highlighting the Erasmus+ project.

Europe is at your disposal. Research, science and innovation are at the centre of the Union's strategy to stimulate growth and employment, he added.

2022 should have been the year of big recovery, of coming out of the pandemic, of economic growth, of green recovery and digital transition, said Simeonova Staničić.

But, because of the Russian aggression, the struggle for peace and security now comes first, she added.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Foreign Ministry Confirms Croatian National Taken Prisoner in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 7 May 2022 - The Croatian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that a Croatian national was taken prisoner in Ukraine and that it was working on solving the case in cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities.

The ministry said that due to the delicate situation, it could not divulge more details at the moment.

Russian media said a "Croatian mercenary" was taken prisoner in Mariupol.

N1 television reported that a Croatian national told Russian RT television that he had been a soldier in a Ukrainian marine brigade which was hiding in Mariupol and that the Russians took him and several other fighters prisoner as they attempted to flee the city under siege.

RT showed a photo in which he is sitting in a room at an unknown location.

"We were leaving Mariupol, walking 260 kilometres by night, hiding, avoiding every possible contact. But our plan failed when we ran into a Russian artillery unit. We had to surrender," he said, according to N1.

According to the Russian portal pikabu, the Croatian national said he had heard that Ukrainian paramilitaries did "terrible things to civilians, to prisoners" and that among them were "many criminals, drug addicts."

"They probably even shot at us sometimes," he told the portal.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Plenković: Trust Between Bosniaks and Croats in Federation Needs To Be Restored

ZAGREB, 7 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday it was necessary to restore the trust between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina because without it, it would be difficult to ensure the functioning of the country which is choosing a new parliament in October in accordance with the old law.

The issue of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina is important to Croatia and it is regrettable that the Bosniak and Croat parties have failed to reach an agreement on the electoral law reform ahead of the 2 October general election despite US and EU mediation, Plenković said at a working dinner held as part of the Global Europe Seminar in Salzburg on Friday.

In the autumn, "institutions will again be elected according to the old law and one constitutional people will not have its legitimate representatives," the prime minister said and added: "That's why we will try to restore the trust between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation because it will be difficult for the country to function without it."

Earlier this week, the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina called the general election for 2 October even though the election law was not amended to prevent the more numerous Bosniaks from outvoting the Croats and to ensure the election of legitimate representatives of the Croats.

War in Ukraine

Speaking of the war in Ukraine, Plenković said that Russia had largely underestimated Ukraine's resistance, adding that Ukraine should be assisted in different areas and its ambition to get a special status in the EU should be supported.

"Russia has largely underestimated Ukraine, the courage of its people, the heroism of its soldiers and their determination to to fight back," the PM said. "We should support Ukraine's ambition to get a special status in the EU, but we should also support the EU membership ambitions of other countries."

He went on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have diverted attention from other global crises such as the nuclear threat from North Korea, negotiations with Iran, tensions in the South China Sea, US-China relations, climate change and illegal migration. "Unfortunately, none of these have disappeared."

Plenković said that the situation in the Western Balkans should be monitored closely. "We must not let those issues be overshadowed because they, too, require action."

Noting that "every crisis is, at the same time, an opportunity," the prime minister praised the EU for its COVID-19 response, saying that it was a sign of European solidarity that showed the Union's purpose and mission.

Plenković estimated that it was too early to say whether the EU would manage to resolve the energy crisis in the same way, by showing solidarity, expressing hope that it would.

He mentioned the strategic decision to phase out the EU's dependence on Russian energy sources by taking into account the specific circumstances of each country and creating alternative supply routes and networks. In this context, he emphasised the importance of the LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Plenković Meets With Business Executives to Discuss Aid for Ukraine

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter on Tuesday he had met with the chief executives of several large Croatian companies to discuss ways of helping Ukraine, particularly in supplying medicines and water.

"I met with the presidents of the management boards of the Atlantic Group, Fortenova Group, JGL, PharmaS, Pliva and Podravka regarding further aid to Ukraine, particularly with regard to supplying medicines and water. I will join with my contribution at the donors' conference in Warsaw along with the government and Croatian companies," Plenković tweeted.

A high-level international donors' conference for Ukraine is being held in Warsaw on 5 May.

The initiative aims to provide humanitarian support to Ukraine. 

According to the UN, 13 million people in Ukraine need vital humanitarian aid, including shelter, food and medical supplies.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Milanović Says He Will Veto Finland's Admission to NATO

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he will veto NATO's invitation to Finland to join the alliance.

"In my capacity as the head of state representing Croatia at the NATO summit, I will veto the invitation, if it is extended at that level," Milanović told the press in Vukovar.

NATO is holding a summit in Madrid later this month.

If the invitation is sent through lower levels, he said he was not sure he would be able to make the Croatian ambassador accept his position and veto the invitation.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said in his channel in the Telegram messenger on Monday that Milanović risked Kyiv's retaliation over his views and messages about Russia and Ukraine.

In reference to Medvedev's statement, Milanović said he did not want to "bite that hook", insisting he was not taking Russia's side.

"The Russians are playing their game. They are the aggressor in this war, and we have our own clique  working actively against the interests of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took the oath to protect them, too, and I will die a political death for them, if necessary," said Milanović

Milanović added that he was not afraid either of Russia or of Ukraine, and claimed that he was on the Croatian side and was fighting "for the Croatian state and nation."

"We are being treated like fools and a third-class nation," he said, accusing Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of supporting all that "like a scoundrel".

Milanović reiterated his accusations against the Plenković government, claiming that it was pursuing "a treacherous policy" towards the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

HND and SNH Mark Press Freedom Day By Paying Tribute to Reporters Killed in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) in Zagreb on Tuesday paid tribute to reporters killed in Ukraine and to all reporters whose freedom is threatened.

Gathered in front of the memorial plaque commemorating reporters killed during the Second World War antifascist struggle and the 1991-1995 Homeland War, HND president Hrvoje Zovko, his deputies Branko Mijić and Goran Gazdek, SNH leader Maja Sever and their colleagues held photographs of reporters killed in the war in Ukraine.

Sever read excerpts from the Perugia Declaration for Ukraine saying that the Russian military aggression against Ukraine has once again underlined the essential role of independent and ethical journalism in informing people, assisting them in making life-or-death decisions, and holding the powerful to account.

"As a powerful antidote to disinformation and propaganda that characterise hybrid warfare, and as a pillar of democracy upon which other freedoms and rights depend, journalism in Ukraine is undergoing a terrible assault. The targeting, torturing, and killing of journalists is abhorrent and must be stopped. Those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice under national and international law," Sever said.

The declaration says that vicious online attacks against news organisations and individual journalists must cease, condemning Russia’s attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. It expresses solidarity with all journalists and independent media covering Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

"The greater the threat to Ukrainian journalists’ lives, livelihoods, and ability to do their jobs, the greater will be our efforts to support them. Funding, protective gear, equipment, housing, training, office space in foreign cities, and psychosocial support – we will do everything we can to support our Ukrainian colleagues’ ability to continue reporting and serving the urgent needs of their audiences," the declaration says.

The document has been signed by the European Federation of Journalists and another 149 organisations, as well as by the HND and SNH.

Friday, 22 April 2022

The Road to Freedom: Vukovar Welcomes Ukraine from the Front Line

April 22, 2022 - Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom. Meet Vukovar 365, full of compassion. The city that is still recovering over 30 years later knows the pain. Its people have been through hell and back. They would not wish this upon anyone, yet it's happening. Ukrainian people have always been Vukovar's friends, their culture enriching the area that this minority has historically been a part of. Not that we should seek reasons to help, but the people of Vukovar have got plenty and they are always willing to step up.

Hrv reports on a conference that was held in Zagreb, titled "Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom", citing Vukovar's hero war reporter Siniša Glavašević who said, "You have to rebuild. First, your past, your present, and then, if you have any strength left, invest it in the future".

As the title suggests, the topic of the conference was the similarities between the ongoing war in Ukraine with the war that Croatia fought in 1991 to gain its independence and freedom. Damir Luka Saftić, representative of the "Za Vukovar" association commented that the pearl of the Danube bled 31 years ago like the Azov Sea's Mariupol is today, saying that "the resemblance is appalling".

The participants of the conference included Vasilj Kirilič, Ambassador of Ukraine to Croatia, Željka Antunović, former Minister of Defense, Yevhen Stepanenko, Ukrainian journalist, Tomislav Marević of the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, Robert Barić, military analyst, Jakov Sedlar, film director, and Vukovar veterans Damir Poljaković and Tomislav Orešković.

"Croatia has defended its independence and the message for Ukraine is that it can do so too because we are strong in spirit and I believe that we will defend our country. The city of Mariupol is a symbol of defense, as is the Croatian city of Vukovar", said Ambassador Kirilić.

"When you know that your whole family, wife, child, and parents are in the basement, your whole city is in that basement, everyone from your street, friends, your football club, factory, then your strength appears from somewhere and it was either us or them, there was nothing else," said Damir Poljaković, a Vukovar hero who defended the city in 1991 at Trpinjska cesta.

Following the conference, and with Orthodox Easter approaching, the city of Vukovar in partnership with the local Red Cross organised a humanitarian donation action for the Ukrainian refugees in the city. 

A total of 40 refugees from Ukraine are accommodated in Vukovar, writes hrv, which includes 16 families with 18 children. To provide assistance in difficult times, but also to celebrate the upcoming Easter holidays, the City of Vukovar and the Vukovar Red Cross Society provided special food packages for refugees from Ukraine in the Vukovar area, as well as candy packages for the youngest.

The packages were handed over to the Ukrainian people by the Deputy Mayor of Vukovar, Filip Sušac, who emphasized that the City of Vukovar, in cooperation with the Red Cross, is trying to make life easier for refugees. "The city of Vukovar has decided to help Ukrainians who are in the area of ​​our city through a series of measures. In cooperation with the City Museum, the City Library, and sports clubs, we have ensured that all Ukrainian refugees can use their services completely free of charge. The City of Vukovar has called on all fellow citizens to help the refugees as much as they can, and we appeal to the Government of the Republic of Croatia to make Hostel Zagreb available - explained Sušac.

Marija Semenjuk Simeunović, Secretary of the Ukrainian Community of the Republic of Croatia, emphasized that all persons who came from war-torn Ukraine feel welcome in Croatia and thanked everyone for their support.

"Displaced persons who came from Ukraine to our city, county, but also the Republic of Croatia, in general, feel welcome. We have all shown compassion and solidarity in some way, especially since we went through the horrors of war 30 years ago. Through their programs, our Ukrainian associations from the entire Republic of Croatia want to include and integrate the Ukrainian people into our society", said Semenjuk Simeunović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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