Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Croatian Cannons Used in Homeland War Now Defending Ukraine

September the 21st, 2022 - Croatian cannons and other weaponry which were used to defend the likes of Zadar, Sukosan and Sibenik from Serbian onslaught are now being used once again to help defend Ukraine from Russian aggression.

Croatia's more recent experience with war than any other European country puts it in a better position to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia than most other nations, and to know that the weapons used during the Homeland War which saw Croatia become an independent state and fend off Serbian aggression are now aiding Ukraine in its mission to send the Russians packing is one of those full circle stories.

As Morski/Jurica Gaspar writes, the recently delivered Croatian cannons (M-46, 130 mm caliber) are already being used on the front lines in Ukraine, and these weapons are precisely those cannons which once defended Sukosan, Zadar and Sibenik, and were also an important factor in the Maslenica liberation operation.

''The Ukrainian Army is already using them on the front lines in the Donetsk region. In addition to the M-46 cannons, the Ukrainian Army received a significant amount of ammunition,'' it was announced on the Ukraine Weapons Tracker Twitter page.

''Those Croatian cannons were also with us in Zadar. More precisely in Sukosan,'' explained Zadar Weekly journalist Sinisa Klarica, who himself participated in the Homeland War in the 112th brigade of the ZNG and the 159th brigade of the Croatian Army.

''I saw them when I went to intervene in Debeljak in the 159th brigade. They were right next to the cemetery in Sukosan. At that time, we camouflaged the cannons well, so I'm not sure how many of them there were.

The Croatian cannons that defended Sibenik and were also key in the Maslenica liberation operation, and they're now doing the same job over in Ukraine in some of the areas of the country where the fighting is most intense.

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

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Young Croatian Humanitarian Andro Fabijanic Dies in Ukraine

September the 17th, 2022 - Young Croatian Andro Fabijanic, a selfless 29-year-old from Zagreb, who actively helped Ukrainian families and veterans with humanitarian work, died in Ukraine in an anti-tank mine explosion on Tuesday while delivering aid.

Ukrainian suffering caused by the Russian invasion which shockingly took place back in February of this year has been horrendous, but it has shown us just how many selfless individuals from across Europe have been ready to step in and help in any way possible.

The Republic of Croatia, with its relatively recent experience of invasion and bloody war has been praiseworthy in its efforts to help Ukrainian refugees, with the government quickly amending laws to allow refugees to stay and work here, and individuals offering up their homes to displaced Ukrainian families free of charge all over the country. Croatian humanitarian Andro Fabijanic is one such person who left the comfort of his peaceful country to head over to Ukraine to help directly.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the tragic news that Andro had lost his life quickly spread on social media and was later also confirmed by friends of the bereaved Fabijanic family. This altruistic young man from Zagreb, known to local athletes and recreationists as a personal fitness trainer, died in a delivery vehicle transporting sanitary materials to Ukrainian fighters.

The vehicle ran into a mine on the road and several of his Ukrainian colleagues were wounded. Unfortunately, there was no escape for Andro Fabijanic, who was supposed to leave for the safety of Croatia just one day later, writes Novi list.

He had bought a ticket home and otherwise worked for an association from Dnipropetrovsk that delivered bandages and other medical aid to Ukrainian veterans fighting against Russian aggression in their war-torn homeland.

For more on Croatian efforts during the ongoing Ukraine war, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 5 September 2022

Art Camp, Workshops for Ukrainian Teachers and Artists Held on Mali Brijun

September the 5th, 2022 - The gorgeous Mali Brijun has been playing host to Ukrainian artists and teachers who will use what they learned here in helping Ukrainian children cope with the terrible trauma of war upon return to their ravaged homeland.

As Morski writes, about thirty Ukrainians, mostly artists, teachers and pedagogues, arrived at Mali Brijun recently. By attending various music and movement workshops, they learned how to deal with war trauma of their own, and they will also apply their newly acquired skills when working with Ukrainian children when they return home to their country.

Everyday alarms were replaced by music, and art in general has become a refuge for Ukrainian children and their parents.

''This was an incredible experience for us, we had the opportunity to learn not only from a mentor but also from each other, to be here on Mali Brijun together, we'll take the energy from this place back home with us,'' said Svetlana Bazanova, a Ukrainian drama teacher.

''It's nice that we could come and be here, it's also important to me professionally as this experience will connect me with the whole community,'' emphasised Jana Zelenska, another drama pedagogue. Most of the Ukrainian families who have arrived in Istria are from war-torn Kharkiv. In a few days, they will return to their homeland and pass on the knowledge they have learned while spending time on beautiful Mali Brijun to their colleagues.

''Through art therapy, we learn how to deal with emotions, how to help ourselves to deal with fear and trauma, and how to help others, especially children,'' emphasised Veronika Skolarova, the project manager.

''It took us some time to build trust, a safe circle inside, but as the days progressed, people relaxed more and more and we all did more and more,'' said Irena Magas, a music therapist. This praiseworthy project was conceived by Lenka Udovicki and Nigel Osbourne from the Ulysses Theatre.

''We can do some simple things through art. Music and movement can regulate breathing, singing and emotions,'' pointed out Nigel Osbourne, who is a composer and a music therapist. After the workshops held on Mali Brijun, art therapy education is set to continue back home in Ukraine, HRT Magazin reports.

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

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Ukrainian Capital Market Reformists Seek Croatian Experience

September the 3rd, 2022 - The war in Ukraine is still raging on following the horrendous Russian invasion which began back in February this year. Hope, however, is still being found in this tragedy, and some Ukrainian capital market reformists are keen to hear the post-war Croatian experience of the late 90s and early 2000's.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, now having an official status of a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), Ukraine is slowly starting to align its legal acquis with the common European one, despite the ongoing war. The country is roughly where Croatia was back in 2004 in this sense, although it is impossible to predict the political will in the European Union to truly open negotiations with Kiev. Regardless of the circumstances, Ukraine isn't wasting any time, and representatives of the Ukrainian capital market regulator, the National Securities and Exchange Commission, paid a study visit to the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (Hanfa) this week.

A technical exchange of knowledge

The visit of the two commissioners, Maksym Libanov and Yurii Boik, is a continuation of the technical cooperation started back in 2019, and the first topics on the table were UCITS and alternative investment funds. As part of the visit, an Agreement on technical cooperation between the two regulators was signed.

"We've been in contact with Hanfa for three years now, and since Ukraine received its status as a candidate member state of the EU, we decided to deepen cooperation with European regulators," Maksym Libanov, whose area of expertise covers corporate management, securities, depository, investments and pension funds, explained. With special permits to leave the country, they arrived in the City of Zagreb. "We were guided by the logic that the Croatian experience, as the youngest EU member state, is very important to us. At the moment, our talks cover the technical exchange of knowledge and experience in the process," said Libanov, adding that they also met with representatives of ZB Invest and Maverick Wealth Management.

Ukraine has been in a state of emergency since the Russian invasion began back at the end of February, and the UNHCR estimates that nearly seven million people have fled the country. Economic activity is practically devastated, trading on the Ukrainian Stock Exchange was halted on February the 24th (being relaunched only one month with restrictions), and financing depends on injections from the West. Before the war broke out, the Ukrainian economy relied on metallurgy, mining and ore processing in the east and southeast, the territory now under Russian occupation, from where devastating images of Mariupol, the Azovstal iron and steel works being turned into a shelter for civilians and the area of the last stronghold of the Ukrainian Army horrified the world.

Around a third of Ukraine's GDP was created by agriculture, leading to Ukraine often being called the world's breadbasket. Back in 2021, Libanov says, about 95 million tonnes of grain, such as wheat and sunflowers, were produced in Ukraine, two-thirds of which went to export markets. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, 16 percent of the world's corn production and more than 40 percent of sunflower oil come directly from Ukraine. Moldova alone, for example, gets more than 90 percent of its wheat from nearby Ukrainian fields. Russia's invasion, in addition to terrorising Ukrainian citizens and seeking to destroy the Ukrainian nationality, also disrupted the world's grain supply chains and sent food prices sky high.

Despite long-standing political tensions with Russia, the occupation of Crimea back in 2014 and the invasion of Ukraine in February, Ukraine struggled with accumulated economic and social problems. The grey economy, an extremely disordered market, a lot of corruption, the generally low living standards of workers which were even worse for pensioners - this series of events is very well known to other transition countries.

From about 42 to 44 million inhabitants, and this is an estimate because the last census was done in 2001, 20 million Ukrainians are of working age. Among them, only 13 million pay pension contributions, the rest are in the grey echelons of economic activity or outside the labour market, while there are also about 11 million pensioners. With these ratios of employees and dependents, the Ukrainian pension system and the labor market have always been very hot topics. This has especially been the case since the imagined pension system which would have had three pillars never came to fruition. The first pillar of generational solidarity is the only functional one, and the second should have been put into function 2023 if there had been no invasion and no war.

The third pillar, based on voluntary payments, had about 50 funds before the war broke out, but the total assets amounted to only around 150 billion euros, they say. "

This Ukrainian pension system is young and still developing. The average pension is around 2,800 hryvnias, so about 100 euros. The problem is that the average pension is very close to the minimum because many people don't have documentation about their work before 2004, and there's no central register," explained Libanov. His parents' situation reflects these disparities; the father's pension is about 3500 hryvnias, while the mother's is five times higher thanks to her working life spent at the Ukrainian Academy of Science. However, they add that this problem has been present for 30 years now and that a lot has been achieved through digitisation, but the consensus is that the reform of the pension system is an absolute necessity. Croatian experience, as the newest EU member state and a country which was at war just 30 years ago, is invaluable in this regard.

According to a survey conducted among company directors, as many as 39 percent have stopped doing business entirely since the beginning of the Russian invasion, and just 11 percent continued to do business as they did before or increased their activities, stated Yurii Boiko, commissioner for the area of ​​investments, communications and project management. He pointed out that, judging by that survey, we should praise how businesses are coping with the war, illustrating that about two-thirds of people are voluntarily involved in the fighting in some way.

"Undoubtedly, the war affected Ukrainian businesses and the way the economy works. There was a wave of layoffs and 1.28 million people lost their jobs in small and medium-sized companies," says Boiko.

With a surprising number of parallels that can be drawn between Croatia and Ukraine, we need to look at what reforms are the most desperately needed. Both Ukrainians said that judicial reforms are needed right now. They explained that a number of steps must be taken in the long term for the country to be competitive, attract capital and investors, build infrastructure, but everything is secondary to the functional rule of law. We know very well how true this is in Croatia, which still suffers tremendous problems in this sense to this very day.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business and politics sections.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Kids of Ukrainian Soldiers Holidaying in Novi Vinodolski

August the 30th, 2022 - The children of Ukrainian soldiers, police officers and firefighters have been holidaying in Novi Vinodolski this summer thanks to the praiseworthy and selfless efforts of the ''Croatia helps/Hrvatska pomaze'' Association.

As Morski writes, the children of brave Ukrainian soldiers, police officers and firefighters have been enjoying some very well deserved summer holidays in Novi Vinodolski. In this way, the "Croatia helps" Association has been providing the most innocent victims of the Russian invasion of all, children, some play and fun and time to be children. The City of Bjelovar and the host town of Novi Vinodolski helped the most. Thirty-six Ukrainian children between the ages of 9 and 14 were also visited and given gifts by the Croatian ambassador to Ukraine, Anica Djamic, on Sunday.

Ten beautiful days of summer were made better for the children of Ukrainian soldiers, firefighters and police officers, who have gone through what absolutely no child should ever have to.

''The children came from different regions of Ukraine, more precisely from the occupied territories. There are children of Ukrainian soldiers and other veterans, and also children whose parents have been killed. We're very grateful to Croatia and the "Croatia helps" Association for organising this, it's very important for the children that this was done. They got to relax and enjoy the sunshine and sea in Novi Vinodolski,'' said Olesja Cuboha, Head of the Department for Youth and Prevention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

All of this was done in order to help them forget, if just for a single moment, about the horrors which are still tragically unfolding over in their homeland.

''The children really had a great time and had an active holiday. They were accompanied by social workers, animators and volunteers. They really felt good there and say that they returned feeling better,'' said Djurdja Adlesic Association "Croatia helps".

This is the second group of a total of 86 children from Ukraine who stayed on the Crikvenica-Vinodol riviera, and a visit was organised for them to several locations in the City of Zagreb as well, writes HRT.

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

Friday, 26 August 2022

Ukrainian IT Company Eleks Opens Croatian Office in Split

August the 26th, 2022 - The Ukrainian IT company Eleks has now opened its brand new Split office, exactly half a year after the beginning of Putin's Russia's horrific and unjustified aggression against Ukraine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the Ukrainian IT company Eleks is a global software engineering company with around 2,500 employees based across Europe and the USA, which, even before the attack on their homeland, began to expand and chose Croatia as one of its locations in Europe.

At the beginning of the year, more precisely at the end of January, it was registered as a company in the court register, but the preparation process itself began months earlier.

Partners to the world leaders

The events of the horrendous war in Ukraine following Russian invasion only accelerated these activities, but even before the first shelling took place, 20 families of Eleks employees had arrived in Croatia from Ukraine. Offices have since been opened in Zagreb and now in Split. According to Marko Modrusan, head of the Croatian branch of the Ukrainian IT company Eleks, most of the employees are Ukrainian nationals, numbering around one hundred. They're mostly from the areas most affected by the war's unfolding events and engaging in their work there is impossible.

The remaining 30 members of Eleks' team are Croats. Since the City of Split was chosen as the business base here in Croatia, the largest number of them are of course located in Split, where there are 85 employees. There are also 25 in Zagreb, and they also have 20 employees in other cities spanning Croatia.

Eleks has otherwise been operating for 31 years, providing ICT solutions and consulting services. The founders are Oleksij Skripnik and Ihor Skripnik, and in the meantime managers have joined the ownership structure. Last year, the company achieved a revenue of 62 million euros, it is recording continuous growth and is also expanding on the international market.

They cover market niches from custom software development for client needs to product design and technology consulting. Thanks to such a wide and varied spectrum of activities, they say they are partners with many of the world's leading companies, as well as technology startups.

The Ukrainian IT company Eleks has its 17 offices in 13 countries spanning three continents, of which in the area of ​​European countries, in addition to Croatia, there are offices in Poland, Estonia and Germany, and Great Britain. They already have offices across the pond in the USA, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, and after Croatia, the intensification of their business will follow in their already opened office over in Tokyo.

"The decision to expand in Croatia was a logical step in our business growth strategy," explained Andrij Krupa, the president of Eleks. "We plan to further expand our team and develop ICT solutions, professional services, customer support and increase the possibilities of providing services to current and future markets," added Krupa.

When asked why the choice for the central office in Croatia fell on Split, Modrusan explained that as part of the consideration and search for the best location, care was taken to ensure that it would be a location in Croatia that would be suitable for the application of the "work and holiday" working model. This means that Eleks employees from any of their branches in other countries will be able to come to Croatia, work for a few weeks, and then use the opportunity for an annual holiday in Croatia.

Due to its location, the City of Split is rated as ideal, because the nearby islands, the southern and northern coasts and excellent traffic connections are within reach, and the city is large enough to provide the necessary comfort and amenities to their employees.

Vladimir Putin's attack increased their workload

When asked how Eleks will function here in Croatia and who their clients will be, Modrusan says that Eleks has a delivery centre in Croatia, and most of the partners will be from European countries and from the USA.

However, it is also expected that the new centre for the realisation of projects in Split will work to strengthen the regional presence and strengthen the partnership with new clients in Southeastern Europe.

"We're excited to contribute our experience and expertise to the quality of software development and also to meet the growing demand for software development and digital transformation in the region. We're looking forward to being a part of the local IT community where we will certainly participate in its construction,'' pointed out Modrusan, inviting Croatian software experts to join the Eleks team, as they are planning further expansion.

Despite the attacks of the Russian army on Ukraine, Eleks didn't stop working, quite on the contrary, they received increased requests for jobs, which is why the need for new employees is growing.

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

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Availability of Books Helps Integration of Ukrainian Refugees Says Minister

ZAGREB, 19 July 2022 - During the handover of books by Ukrainian authors to the National and University Library (NSK) on Tuesday, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said that their availability in Croatian libraries can help refugees from Ukraine to integrate more easily into their new environment.

The handover was held as part of the "Ukrainian books on the shelves of the world's libraries" project, launched at the initiative of the wife of the Ukrainian president, Olena Zelensky.

"This is our contribution to efforts to make the Croatian and Ukrainian people closer to each other in these difficult times and our contribution to help the refugees integrate as easily as possible during their stay in Croatia and to help them with the availability of books," Obuljen Koržinek said.

NSK Director-General Ivanka Stričević said that the books, which were donated to them by the Ukrainian Embassy in Croatia, represent a wealth that will be passed on in future times when the war in Ukraine ends.

"We want to help our libraries respond in the best way to the needs of their users, Ukrainian citizens who find themselves in their environment, and to create the foundations for future cooperation," said the director.

As a sign of solidarity and support for Ukraine, NSK launched a series of activities, including free admission to the Library for Ukrainian refugees over the age of 16 and the publication of three special bibliographies and thematic collections "War in Ukraine."

The purchase and distribution of books by Ukrainian authors in Croatian libraries was initiated jointly by the AidHub foundation together with Croatia's Ministry of Culture and Media in order to help publishers who have found themselves in a difficult situation.

"Our goal is to acquire books by Ukrainian publishers who suffered greatly in these war circumstances. We are also working on an initiative for every Croatian publisher to print at least one book in Ukraine in order to at least help save jobs in that country," said Mišo Nejašmić from AidHub.

In addition to the purchase of books for Ukrainian citizens who took refuge in Croatia AidHub is working on the organisation of a summer camp, where 700 children of different ages will stay, most of whom will be high school graduates. They will spend time in the camp learning the Croatian language.

Ukrainian books are already available in more than 200 libraries, said Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych.

"The Ukrainian book is aimed at Ukrainians who have the urge to read. The book is the depth of the sea, it is alive if it is read," said the ambassador.

This is not the first such donation in Croatia, as books by Ukrainian authors were donated to public libraries across the country at the end of June.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Official: It Is in Our Interest to Transport Grain from Ukraine to Croatia

ZAGREB, 11 July 2022 - State Secretary at the Transport Ministry Josip Bilaver confirmed on Monday that it was in Croatia's interest that as much grain from Ukraine as possible, which cannot be transported via the Black Sea, be 'transferred' to Croatia.

It is in our interest to shift as much of freight as possible to Croatia, and we are working on that together with the European Commission, Bilaver said in Croatian parliament to HDZ's Ivan Radić, who wanted to know whether Croatian ports could have a role in the export of Ukrainian grain.

The state secretary said it was clear that Ukrainian grain couldn't access the world market via the Black Sea, so talks were underway on how to export a large part of the grain via the Danube.

Hence Croatia ports are also attractive, especially Vukovar, which has the capacities for the transhipment of such freight, which can be transported via rail to our sea ports, Rijeka and Zadar, Bilaver said in a debate in parliament on the proposal for a development strategy for inner waterway transport until 2032.

While the HDZ praises the strategy, the opposition parties SDP and DP announced that they would abstain and Social Democrats that they would support it.

Hajdaš Dončić: We have only 138 vessels

Siniša Hajdaš Dončić (SDP) said that the strategy until 2032 envisaged an increase in the share of river transport to three percent, while a transport strategy from 1999 envisaged an increase to 15%.

Speaking about limiting factors, he pointed out that we only had 138 vessels, the small carrying capacity of our river fleet, its age. He also said that the Netherlands transported 359 million tonnes of freight per year by rivers and canals, Germany 198 million, while we transported a mere 5.2 million.

Davor Dretar (DP) joined colleagues who warned that inner waterway navigation was becoming a very uncertain form of transport due to climate change and that the impact on the environment should be taken into account.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

FM: Croatia Ready to Assist Ukraine in Post-War Recovery and Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 5 July 2022 - Croatia is ready to provide Ukraine with support for post-war recovery and reconstruction, and has so far sent emergency humanitarian and technical aid worth €7.3 million and received more than 20,000 refugees, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday.

Grlić Radman participated on Monday and Tuesday in the International Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, organised by Swiss President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to start the process and agree on a plan for the reconstruction of that country as well as its recovery and development, the ministry said in a press release.

"As a country that experienced war on its own territory in the recent past, Croatia has a unique experience in post-war transition and peaceful reintegration. We are ready to provide support for the post-war recovery and reconstruction of the independent, sovereign and democratic Ukraine, which is a priority country for Croatia in terms of development cooperation," Grlić Radman said addressing the conference.

He added that in response to the current crisis in Ukraine, Croatia has sent emergency humanitarian and technical aid worth €7.3 million and received more than 20,000 refugees, who have been provided with adequate education, access to the labour market and social welfare services.

He underscored that Croatia and Ukraine are already cooperating closely in areas such as demining, care for war veterans, protection of displaced persons, reconciliation and building trust.

He in particular underlined that Croatia is ready for stronger engagement in demining, given the fact that Croatia has experience in demining which is highly applicable in Ukraine. He further stressed that the protection of cultural heritage is also an area in which Croatia can provide support.

In his speech, the minister said that Russia's aggression against Ukraine showed a complete disregard for the principles and beliefs of the international community, on the basis of which decades of peace, cooperation and progress were achieved.

"There is no place for a neutral attitude towards this brutal violation of international law, especially international humanitarian law. Together with our transatlantic and European partners, we are focused on a concerted multilateral response."

Grlić Radman met on the margins with the manager of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Achim Steiner and his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod, and during his stay in Switzerland Grlić Radman will also meet with representatives of the Croatian community, the ministry said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Port of Rijeka: Requests for Ukraine Grain Transshipment Trice Higher than Capacity

ZAGREB, 24 June 2022 - The Port of Rijeka is receiving inquiries about its possibilities for the transshipment of Ukrainian grain, blocked currently in silos in Black Sea ports due to the war, however, the port's limited capacities make it impossible to grant all the requests, says the Rijeka port's management chair.

The management boar's chairman Duško Grabovac has recently told Hina that "the pressure is mounting".

A new harvest is to start, and their silos (in Ukraine) are full, Grabovac told the Croatian reporters during a recent business forum within the Three Seas Initiative summit meeting in the Latvian capital city of Riga.

In 2019, Ukraine exported 16% of the global reserves of maize and 42% of sunflower oil, according to the data provided by the United Nations.

Over the recent weeks, traders are seeking alternative routes for the transport of grain from Ukraine and the Port of Rijeka is therefore is receiving more and more requests.

Grabovac said that the capacity of the silo in this northern Croatian seaport is 55,000 tonnes.

Therefore it is difficult to meet all the requests, he explains.

For more, check out our business section.

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