Monday, 7 March 2022

Russian-Owned Croatian Villas Line Adriatic Coast, What's Next For Them?

March the 7th, 2022 - Russian-owned Croatian villas are dotted all along the Croatian coastline, but with harsh sanctions in place and Croatia freezing all such properties related to the Russian regime, what's going to happen next with these luxurious properties?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the fact that Kvarner has been very interesting for rich Russian nationals for years now when it comes to buying real estate is proved by the fact that some of the most beautiful villas there are owned by Russians. Opatija, meaning the entire Opatija Riviera, is truly one of the most sought-after destinations for Russians in Croatia to buy luxury apartments and houses in attractive positions. This was confirmed by some of the large property agencies that have been doing business with Russian buyers for years, Novi list writes.

"When we talk about the number of Russian-owned Croatian villas and other properties, as far as foreign buyers are concerned, Russians aren't in the majority here, but they're in the majority in terms of the number of the most exclusive properties owned. We can say that in the period until 2015, there was a craze of wealthy Russian people coming for the most expensive villas in this part of Kvarner, along the stretch from Volosko to Medveja. In that period, they bought property as residential buyers, namely the most exclusive real estate, which was often located along the first row to the sea or with a beautiful view of all of Kvarner,'' said Vjeran Saina, senior agent of the Remax Real Estate Centre.

He explained that Russian citizens could initially buy real property only if they set up a company here in Croatia, but later the situation was simplified and today they can acquire ownership of property defined by the law of reciprocity, ie reciprocity between Croatia and Russia as individual buyers.

Speaking about buyers from the Russian market, Saina said that in fact, after making a purchase, the Russians, as a rule, did not stay long in their newly acquired villas. In conversations they often mentioned that there is a lack of quality content in the Kvarner area, such as shopping and nightlife, which forces them to spend their money, for example, in neighbouring Italy.

As for the interests of Russian buyers, this real estate agent explained that after 2015, the wave of them buying residential real estate in Croatia subsided.

"Competing countries such as Montenegro, Cyprus, Spain, allowed Russians to enter the country without hindrance, but also through other benefits. For example, when buying real estate in Montenegro above the value of 500,000 euros, buyers from the Russian market get the right to permanent residence. Over recent years we've noticed an increase in the interest of Russian buyers in investing. They're interested in large investments in the area of ​​Liburnia. Several projects were successful, but we could also notice some not so successful investments, which were still too big for our area in terms of planning and implementation, and they were simply not well received by the market. Given the current political situation, we haven't noticed that the Russians are turning to Croatia for the sale of the real estate they own in Kvarner. That property has not been frozen and the Russians aren't expressing concern,'' Saina told Novi list, adding that several Russian investors have been operating in Croatia for many years now and said recently that they were doing business as before.

"As agents who are part of the international brand Remax, we're in constant communication with our colleagues, but also sellers and investors from abroad, and we are waiting for the situation to unfold further," concluded Vjeran Sain in reference to Russian-owned Croatian villas and more.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Croatia Has Taken in Over 2,000 Ukraine Refugees, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 6 March 2022 - Croatia has received more than 2,000 Ukrainian refugees and does not plan to stop offering assistance, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday.

The whole system which the government has established to receive Ukrainian refugees is "ready", he said in Dubai, where he attended the marking of Croatian National Day at Expo 2020 and visited the Ukrainian Pavilion.

"It's time we show big solidarity and we are indeed doing it," Plenković added.

Commenting on the Kremlin's claims that President Vladimir Putin has requested a list of the states which have imposed sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, he said Croatia stood behind its actions regarding Moscow.

"We made our decisions, we are part of the European Union and NATO, part of those countries which respect international law and order and respect other states' borders. We stand behind our decisions, independently of what the list will be like," Plenković said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Hundreds Gathered in Ban Jelačić Square in Support of Ukraine

March 5, 2022 - A gathering was held in Zagreb today as a show of solidarity and support of Ukraine, nine days after the Russian invasion started. A large number of people were present in Ban Jelačić Square, waving Ukrainian and Croatian flags. The Ambassador of Ukraine spoke at the gathering with an emotional message.

As an expression of solidarity and support of Ukraine and Ukrainian people due to Russia's aggression against that country, a rally organized by the Croatian Helsinki Committee (HHO) and the Union of Ukrainians of the City of Zagreb began in Zagreb's main square in the presence of several hundred citizens, reports Ukrainian Ambassador Vasily Kirilich spoke at the gathering, who spoke through tears about Russia's aggression against his homeland, especially emphasizing the attack on the largest European nuclear power plant, Zaporozhye.

"It's not a war anymore, it's genocide. I ask NATO to stop this devil. If we do not stop today without being late tomorrow, I am asking Europe, the world, and NATO to close the skies in Ukraine and save thousands of lives. No time to think and make statements. It is time to act.", Kirilic said. The Ambassador thanked the Republic of Croatia, the Government, and the Prime Minister. Gathered citizens greeted his speech chanting: "Ukraine, Ukraine."

Several banners were seen at the gathering. On the fence in front of the stage on Ban Jelačić Square on the Ukrainian national flag is the message "I stand with Ukraine", "#stoprussianagression", and songs by Ukrainian bands are played on the loudspeaker. More citizens who came to express their support for the attacked country came to the Square in robes or carrying Ukrainian and Croatian national flags.

Some of them carry banners written in Croatian, Ukrainian, and English, which read, among others, "Glory to the Heroes of Ukraine" and "Glory to Ukraine", "Let's Help Ukraine", "Help Ukraine to save Europe, establish no-fly zone!", “Stop the war in Ukraine!”, “Pray for Ukraine”, “Stop Putin, stop the war”, “Stop the war, save Europe”, “Ukraine is the heart of Europe”.

A leaflet printed in Croatian and English was distributed to those gathered, which reads - We want freedom! Help us realize the dream of our freedom. Russia is just brutally bombing our cities. Putin denies and denies the existence of the Ukrainian nation, we just want freedom and live as free people. Please support Ukraine and our people.

Announcing the rally in Zagreb, Croatian Helsinki Committee (HHO) President Ivan Zvonimir Cicak on Wednesday called on leaders of other cities and counties to join in supporting Ukraine with their rallies, which will take place in several cities - Split, Vukovar, Rijeka, and Pula.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Anica Djamic: Croatian Ambassador to Ukraine Who Refused to Leave

March the 5th, 2022 - Who exactly is Anica Djamic, the Croatian Ambassador to Ukraine who refused to leave the besieged capital of Kiev during the first week of the Russian invasion?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Anica Djamic is one of the few Western diplomats who chose to remain in the Ukrainian capital for such a long time following the Russian attack and regularly reported on the tragic unfolding situation in the country, despite the fact that Kiev was under the constant threat of Russian rocket attacks.

Fifteen days ago, before the direct Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were about one hundred foreign ambassadors residing in the City of Kiev, but after the attack they began to leave and only a dozen of them remained, including Croatian Ambassador Anica Djamic.

Anica Djamic flatly refused to leave Kiev until all Croatian citizens in the capital of that time were safe, but on Monday, PM Andrej Plenkovic decided she had to leave the city and report on the invasion from a safer place. "Given the deteriorating security situation in Kiev and the attacks on the Ukrainian capital, I instructed our ambassador Anica Djamic to leave the city," Plenkovic told parliament, adding that she was, at that point, on her way to Lviv, where she would stay and continue to perform her duties, help Croatian citizens and monitor the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

The name of the Croatian Ambassador to Kiev became known to the public because of her courageous speech, her talks with Croatian citizens in Ukraine and her regular reporting from Kiev despite the extremely dangerous situation there.

Three days ago, for example, she appeared on HRT's show Dobro jutro, Hrvatska/Good morning, Croatia from a shelter. "It's the fourth night we've spent in the shelters. An alert was issued four times from last night to this morning. Since we receive warnings that there is a serious danger of attack, citizens are urged to stay in their homes, and when the sirens sound, they go down to the shelters. These shelters are very often ordinary basements, but it should be said that the city has opened up metro stations to be used as shelters, so entrance to the metro is free,'' said Ambassador Djamic for HRT.

"From last night until this morning, the alarm sounded four times. We heard the detonations. It has become an every day thing for us now. Of course, it's smarter to remain in the places in which we feel the most protected,'' she said.

At the end of the conversation, Anica Djamic said that she was in Ukraine and that her place was now there. "If there's a need to leave, then we'll look at the roads," concluded Djamic, who then said she did not want to leave Ukraine while there were Croatian citizens still in the country, reports Index.

Mesic: She was a good analyst

Not much was previously known about Ambassador Anica Djamic, but she is an experienced diplomat who worked in the Office of the President back in the mid-1990s, where she was an assistant foreign policy adviser. Prior to going to Ukraine, she was Ambassador to Sweden from 2014 to 2018. Since 2019, she has been the Ambassador to Ukraine.

From 2000 to 2005, former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic appointed her as an adviser on European integration. He said for the 24sata publication that she was one of the most conscientious advisers he'd ever had, adding that she was very educated and spoke multiple languages.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Companies Supplying Accommodation, Croatian Buses Picking Up Refugees

March the 3rd, 2022 - Croatian buses and Croatian companies are all making themselves available with either free transport for Ukrainian refugees or with food and accommodation offers when they arrive in the country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak/Lucija Spiljak writes, the refugee wave of, at this moment in time, half a million people seeking refuge due to the war in Ukraine has activated all institutional mechanisms in the countries of the European Union, and companies are increasingly involved in helping refugees. Croatian buses are also busy transporting those who have fled their country.

Many Croatian companies have become involved in helping refugees with donations of money, materials or the services they provide. In the first step, the help of Croatian buses who can remove refugees from war zones is very important.

Free to Poland

The Association of Croatian Bus Lines announced that they are ready to make part of their fleet with more than 1,000 Croatian buses available. As Drazen Divjak, director of Arriva, explained, Croatian buses are ready to engage their services and drivers for the transport of refugees from the Ukrainian border areas to the safety of the Republic of Croatia.

"We want to give our contribution in manpower and vehicles because it's our responsibility, but also the only way in which refugees can be organised and efficiently transferred from the Ukrainian border to designated locations in Croatia," said Divjak.

They say from FlixBus that their teams are working tirelessly to come to the aid of Ukrainian refugees and offer free transportation across the border in the direction of Poland to all those who need it.

"Several more refugee buses have been added on the lines connecting Ukraine and Poland. In addition, we're additionally transporting all the necessary food and equipment to those in need. Our operational teams are at the border crossings to provide on-site support,'' said Ante Grbesa, the director of the FlixBus CEE South Region.

Humanitarian actions for Ukraine were also launched by Caritas, the Croatian Red Cross and the NGO ADRA Croatia, which made their human resources available and also raised funds. Social media has also been a source of help in the form of offers of accommodation to donations, food and beyond.

The Facebook group "SOS UA Ukraine" has numerous minute-by-minute posts in which Croatian residents are offering transportation and travel services directly to Ukraine in order to transport as many vulnerable Ukrainians as possible. They organise accommodation and all necessities. Additionally, the non-profit organisation Translators without Borders has announced that there is a growing need for translators who speak Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Romanian, Moldovan or German, to whom they have appealed.

7.5 million children in Ukraine are also facing a crisis and danger, so UNICEF is trying to step up its efforts to provide all the necessary humanitarian aid, as well as psychosocial support for children. Regina Castillo, Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, sent an appeal to Croatian residents, companies and the media to help the children of Ukraine with their donations.

Constant contact

The Croatian IT company Span, which also has an office in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, which is currently under siege, has expressed great concern, and they are in constant contact with 32 of their Ukrainian colleagues.

“Span immediately activated its crisis team, which aims to help our employees and their families in the most efficient way possible. This primarily includes assistance in reception, transportation, accommodation in Croatia, psychological assistance as well as assistance when it comes to bureaucratic affairs,'' they explained from Span.

Just like after the devastating earthquake in Banovina at the end of December 2020, chefs from the initiative "The chef is cooking at home" became active to help refugees arriving in Zagreb. Brodosplit provided a temporary home and food for two of the seven Ukrainian workers employed by the DIV Group company who arrived yesterday from Lviv and Ternopil.

Croatian companies are also trying to provide Ukrainians with a place to work when they arrive in Croatia. As such, the Bruketa & Zinic & Gray agency announced that it could provide office space for four Ukrainian designers/illustrators and help them find accommodation in Zagreb.

The Ministry of Tourism is also taking care of the accommodation of refugees, and Minister Nikolina Brnjac held a meeting with hoteliers recently during which she invited private Croatian renters/landlords who want to help reluctant Ukrainians to contact them with their options and offers by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

What Will Happen to Croatian Gas Prices if Russians Cut it Off?

March the 3rd, 2022 - With the Russians stepping up their wanton destruction in Ukraine following their unjustified invasion of that country around a week ago, what might happen to Croatian gas prices and overall supplies should the Russians press the button and simply cut it off to this country?

As Novac/Jutarnji/Dora Koretic writes, despite Russia's continued attack on Ukraine, Croatian gas prices for households shouldn't rise by more than 20 percent, as was announced by the government back in mid-February after the measures were presented, but all this, of course, falls dead in the water if the Russians do decide to cut off gas supplies to Europe.

Jutarnji made contact because of the level of interest in whether the calculation on Croatian gas prices presented by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic back on February the 16th was still valid, especially considering the fact that in the meantime, Russia had invaded Ukraine and gas prices on the market had risen significantly.

Prime Minister Plenkovic then presented a set of measures that would work at the state and government level to prevent the price of energy from increasing beyond measure, and the value of the package, according to the then announcements, was 4.8 billion euros.

It included a permanent reduction in VAT on gas and electricity from 25 to 13 percent and the equalisation of VAT on gas, electricity and heat, and in the period from April 2022 to March the 31st, 2023, VAT on Croatian gas prices will be reduced to five percent.

Monthly vouchers for the most vulnerable amomg us for electricity and gas were raised from 200 to 400 kuna, and the package also included a monthly fee for social service providers, 46,000 of them, as well as special one-time benefits for retirees.

As Dalibor Pudic, president of the Croatian Gas Association, told Jutarnji List, the price of gas on the world market has risen between 20 and 25 percent over more recent days, but if all the measures announced by the government are applied, there will be no major Croatian gas price increases for households.

''The prices of public services will be according to plan and in that sense the price increase for households, should not occur until April 2023. But when we talk about legal entities, here the matter is left to the market and contracts will be concluded at prices that will be valid at the time when individual entities renew those contracts. It's really difficult to guarantee that there will be no change in prices because the price of gas on the world market has risen between 20 and 25 percent and the situation is changing day by day,'' said Pudic.

The president of the Association of Gas Suppliers and Distributors of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Srecko Ezgeta, confirmed the same.

''When it comes to households, it's certain that the calculation presented earlier is valid, according to which Croatian gas prices for households will not increase more than what was announced. But the problem is what will happen if the Russians suspend gas supplies to Europe,'' Ezgeta said.

In that case, he continued, Croatia should be insured thanks to the LNG terminal, but the price of gas arriving by ship would certainly have a different price than the one we currently pay for Russian gas.

''Even if the Russians stopped the gas, we could still get it from other sources, but at what prices, it's difficult to say. In addition, if Europe's gas supply is at stake, it is likely that some other energy sources will have to be used,'' he explained to Jutarnji list, adding that the price of gas on the global market has risen due to the war, but not yet drastically.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Donations for Ukraine Being Collected in Split Today Between 4pm and 8pm

March 2, 2022 - A group of volunteers from the Association for Ukrainian Culture in Dalmatia - CVIT, with the help of a married couple conformed by a Ukrainian and a Chilean of Croatian descent, have set up a space to collect donations for Ukraine to support the refugees at the border. Here is what they need.

Yesterday, the people of Split once again showed their great heart, responding to the action of collecting humanitarian aid for Ukrainians organized by volunteers of the "Association for Ukrainian Culture in Dalmatia - CVIT", reports Slobodna Dalmacija. As we learn from Olga Kysliuk, a Ukrainian woman married to Rafael Barria, Chilean of Croatian descent who brought her spouse to Split, the space they rented for other purposes was made available to collect aid until further notice.

''We had a really good response today, even some Russians came to us with donations for Ukraine, so we decided to leave the door open as long as there is interest. A lot has been collected, and in contact with Ukrainians on the ground we learn that there is still a lack of medical supplies, compresses to stop bleeding and first aid kits, and thermal clothing and flashlights, along with hygiene supplies and instant food, so please adjust their donations to these needs'', Kysliuk states.

According to her, part of the already collected donations will be taken over by Ukrainian volunteers on the way to the border in the early morning hours, while the rest is being organized for transport.

''We do the best we can on our own. We are in contact with the embassy, ​​but the organization is on us. People from all over are really coming and offering what they can, and the smiles they come to our door are worth a lot. Of course, they are not in good spirits, none of us are, so we appreciate that effort. I feel much better today than in the previous days, because I did something useful, not just sitting and crying with my arms crossed while my dear people spend the night in shelters'', says our interlocutor originally from the newly destroyed city of Chernihiv, stating that her family at the last minute found refuge in the countryside, but still in Ukraine.

Donations will be collected at the same address, Ulica kralja Zvonimira 7, today between 16:00 and 20:00, and apparently in the coming days as well. Anyone interested in more information can call 095/542 4292.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Croatian Visual Artists' Association Joins in Condemnation of Aggression on Ukraine

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 2022 - The Croatian Association of Visual Artists (HDLU) strongly condemns the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine and supports Ukraine's territorial integrity, the HDLU has said on its website.

Expressing its support to the Ukrainian association of artists and cultural workers, HDLU underscored that it will not cooperate with institutions and individuals from the Russian Federation and Belarus until the aggression ends and Russian occupying forces are withdrawn from the entire internationally recognised territory of Ukraine.

"HDLU will not issue its members who continue to individually cooperate with institutions and individuals from the Russian Federation and Belarus, with HDLU certificates regarding such cooperation until those individuals or institutions sign a statement on the condemnation of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and support to Ukraine's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders," HDLU said in a statement.

Last Thursday, the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts (HAZU) expressed its solidarity with Ukraine in a letter to Ukraine's National Academy of Science in the wake of Russia's aggression on Ukraine.

The Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) together with states that "they stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people following the invasion of Ukraine which violates the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation."

Croatian cultural associations and associations of artists and cultural professionals are joining in the condemnation of the Russian aggression and in the support to Ukraine.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Istria Russians' Association Against War in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - The Russian Home association of the Russian national minority in Istria County said on Tuesday it was "against war and any war events."

"Our business is the Russian language and nurturing Russian culture among those living outside their homeland," the association said in a press release.

It has about 200 members, not just Russians, but also other nationalities from the former Soviet Union, including Ukrainians.

"We feel pain because thousands of innocent people are suffering and blood is being spilt. We feel despair because it seems as though this war was started on behalf of all Russians, which is absolutely incorrect," the association said, appealing to "everyone not to link the Russian language and culture with politics and aggression."

It added that "a peaceful coexistence in a multicultural area is a way to open to the whole world, that's tolerance and respect for people from different countries and of different faiths."

"We are for peace and friendship between peoples," the association said.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.


Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Europe Facing Refugee Influx Unseen Since WWII, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday Europe would be faced with a refugee influx unseen since WWII, and that no country could deal with that alone.

According to last night's numbers by Frontex, more than 600,000 people from Ukraine have entered the EU, he said on Croatian Radio.

The influx is not big yet because the UNHCR and other agencies estimate that five million people could leave Ukraine, Božinović added.

This is a humanitarian situation that is becoming dramatic, and can be dealt with only if everyone stands together, he said.

Speaking of meetings of EU interior ministers and what they had to agree on, Božinović said it was necessary to resolve the status of refugees first as more and more would be coming. "This is an exodus for which an adequate response will have to be found."

545 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia to date

Božinović said 545 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Croatia and that 39 were in reception centres, while the rest were in private accommodation.

He said Croatia must prepare for a major influx as almost 100,000 had entered Hungary. It is difficult to expect Russia to stop at the moment as it is preparing a bigger escalation with attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, he added.

Božinović said the entire Civil Protection system was getting ready, together with the health and education systems, so that the arrival of refugees passed with as little difficulty as possible.

Accommodation capacity will be expanded as needed, there are plans for using numerous state-owned facilities, and meetings are being held with the Croatian Tourist Board, hoteliers and the Tourism Ministry, he added.

Božinović went on to say that Croatia's first relief convoy left for Ukraine at 3 am today and that such things should be organised well by the institutions in charge.

Europe has no alternative but to defend its values

Commenting on Russia's threat that the countries donating military equipment to Ukraine, including Croatia, would be held accountable, he said not only NATO member states but neutral ones as well had decided to do that.

"Today we are seeing a change of the paradigm that has been in force in Europe since World War II and determination that everything that Europe has achieved must not be brought into question," Božinović said, adding that in that time the EU has become the most developed part of the world alongside the US, an area where human rights are protected and technology and living standards progress.

"If someone threatens that, and this is a threat, they will face a very clear and harsh European response because Europe has no alternative but to defend its values."

Speaking of fears that some might use the Ukraine crisis to destabilise Southeast Europe, Božinović said there were always some who were interested in destabilisation, those thinking their only trump card was force and armament, and that one could see in Ukraine that stability did not suit them.

As for Southeast Europe, he said the most important stakeholders had sent messages to every country in the region and that he was sure they would consider them well.

To be in Europe and not head for integration is not smart

Commenting on the stand of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who has not imposed sanctions on Russia and is accusing Croatian politicians, Božinović said "it's a rhetoric we are used to." 

"Now is the time for states which have doubts to make the best long-term decisions for the future of their citizens because to be in Europe and not head for integration is not the smartest thing to do", he added.

Božinović also said he expected the political unity of the opposition and those in power on Ukraine to continue in Croatia.

The government's position is clear and one of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's first visits was to Ukraine, which is just one sign of knowing the situation and Ukraine's importance for Europe and our bilateral relations, he added.

Speaking on coronavirus, he said there were about 2,500 new cases today, 33% fewer than a week ago, a sign the steep decrease was continuing.

"If such trends continue, we will consider further relaxing restrictions", said Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 crisis management team.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

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