Sunday, 1 May 2022

German-Croatian Chamber of Industry: Ukraine War to Affect 70% of Companies

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - A majority of companies which are members of the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce estimate that the war in Ukraine will adversely affect their business in the future.

The German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce carried out a survey between 22 March and 22 April this year among 32 of its members to examine the possible impact of the Ukraine conflict on their business.

The survey revealed that at this point the situation in Ukraine was not having a negative effect on the operation of 55 per cent of the companies. However, 70 per cent of them believe that its impact will be negative in the future.

The vast majority of the companies (84%) do not have suppliers in Ukraine, 87% do not have buyers and 78% do not have subsidiaries there. Similar figures were revealed for their suppliers, buyers and subsidiaries in the Russian Federation.

Also, 90 per cent of the companies estimate that the war in Ukraine will have a certain effect, possibly a strong one, on the Croatian tourism industry this year, while 10 per cent believe the impact on this year's tourist season will be insignificant.

"The entire economy at global level will be affected by increased energy prices. We need to redefine our relationship with the Russian Federation and separate our energy needs from unilateral energy dependence," said Thomas Sichla, President of the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Podravka Food Group's Profit Down 15.6% Due to Ukraine Crisis

ZAGREB, 29 April (2022) - The Podravka Group generated a net profit of HRK 88.8 million in the first quarter of 2022, a decrease of 15.6% over the same period in 2021, the Koprivnica-based food company said in a financial statement on Friday, noting that the direct cause of the decreased profit was the Ukraine crisis.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was 7.7% lower while net profit was 15.6% lower than in 2021, which is a direct result of the Ukraine crisis, Podravka said in a press release.

Sales revenue amounted to HRK 1.18 billion, or 8.6% more compared to the same period last year.

The stronger revenue was generated by the food segment (+10.8%), while the pharmaceutical segment registered a growth of 0.6%.

Podravka generated a loss of 6.5% on the Russian and Ukrainian markets in 2021.

The company is continuing with its optimisation of costs and increasing efficiency to buffer the impact of increased input costs.

Podravka further reported that as of 1 March wages had increased by an average of 11% and the company would invest a further HRK 35 million this year to increase wages.

(€1 = HRK 7.557837)

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Varaždin County Delivered 10 Tons of Humanitarian Aid to Chernivtsi Region

April 27, 2022 - About 10 tons of humanitarian aid, food, and hygiene supplies were delivered to the residents of the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine, with which Varaždin County has friendly relations.

Varaždin County said that on the eve of Easter, according to the Julian calendar, humanitarian aid was delivered through the border crossing at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, to the Olimpia humanitarian aid depot in the city of Chernivtsi, reports HRT News.

Groceries and supplies were delivered thanks to citizens, local governments, and companies that, after the appeal of Varaždin County Prefect Anđelko Stričak, in just a few days, donated ten tons of groceries with a longer shelf life and hygiene supplies.

In addition to Varaždin County, aid was collected by: Varaždin, Varaždinske Toplice and Lepoglava and the municipalities of Petrijanec, Trnovec Bartolovečki, Cestica, Sračinec, Beretinec, Gornji Kneginec, Breznica, Breznički Hum, Mali Bukovec and Veliki Bukovec. The companies Ivančica, Hudek-Trgotrans, Siga, Krešimir Futura, Helcom Trade, Trgograd - BP Šilec and Nika konstrukcije also joined the initiative.

The city of Chernivtsi is the capital and largest city in the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine, the region with which Varaždin County signed a Cooperation Agreement in 2013.

Prefect Anđelko Stričak thanked everyone who responded to brighten up the Easter holidays to friends in Ukraine.

- As the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Croatia Vasil Kirilich informed us, who asked for help, today the region is a temporary residence of many Ukrainians from war parts of that country, so they urgently needed help, primarily in the form of long-term food duration, stressed Uncle.

As the devastation of the war in Ukraine does not stop, the Varaždin prefect announced that he would organize the collection of humanitarian aid for a friendly region in Ukraine in cooperation with cities and municipalities, and companies in the coming months.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Croatia Has Taken in 15,550 Ukrainian Refugees

25 April 2022 - Croatia has taken in 15,550 refugees from war-torn Ukraine and 2,446 of them are currently located in Split-Dalmatia County, the head of the Civil Protection Directorate, Damir Trut, said in Split on Monday.

"So far, fewer than 10,000 people have applied for temporary protection and they have the right to education, accommodation, healthcare and other needs," Trut said after meeting with Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban and local civil protection personnel included in organising the reception of refugees.

A Ukrainian doctor and psychologist are available to refugees, while unaccompanied children have been placed in foster care. According to the head of the local civil protection organisation, Srđan Kušćević, children are attending online classes.

Trut and Boban discussed options for the Ukrainian refugees who are currently staying in accommodation that is usually rented out during the tourist season.

Of the children staying in the county, 106 are attending elementary school, 7 are secondary-school students and 17 are attending kindergarten.

Elderly refugees are learning Croatian at the Centre for Life-Long Learning.

Split-Dalmatia County is "one of the few counties that has its own operations centre where all the information related to refugees can be obtained in one place thanks to the Red Cross," Boban said, adding that activities are also being prepared with the Ukrainian ambassador.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

PM Says Croatia Will Provide Ukraine With Additional Assistance

ZAGREB, 19 April 2022 - Croatia will provide Ukraine with additional assistance, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wrote on his Twitter account after his telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday.

"I have expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condolences on all the victims of the Russian military aggression. Croatia will provide additional assistance to Ukraine," PM Plenković twitted. He did not specify what kind of help would be offered.

The Ukrainian president twitted that he had "informed about the course of countering Russian aggression. Discussed the importance of increasing sanctions pressure on Russia. Thanked for supporting Ukraine's movement to the European Union and for the important defensive assistance."

The Croatian PM also twitted that Zagreb strongly supported the intensification of process of bringing Ukraine closer to the EU, "in line with our declaration adopted in Kyiv in December 2021," when the two countries signed the joint declaration on Ukraine's European perspective.

Earlier on Monday, Zelenskyy handed to the EU envoy the completed questionnaire which will form a starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv.

During the ceremony at which he formally submitted the completed questionnaire on European Union membership,  the Ukrainian president said he believed this step would lead to his country gaining candidate status within weeks.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Šimonović Einwalter: System Must Change After the Verdict On Madina's Death

April 18, 2022 - Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter believes that, after the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that holds the Croatian government responsible for the death of little Madina Hosseini, the system must be changed to one that guarantees the security and respect for the human rights of the refugees who enter to Croatia. She points out, in relation to the current situation in Ukraine, that she would like a future response from the EU to be the same for all those escaping the horrors of war.

Ombudswoman Tena Šimonovic Einwalter said in an interview with Hina that, following the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the death of Madina Hosseini, it is important to change the system because ''as a state we want to respect human rights. This is the complete opposite of what Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Croatian representative in the Strasbourg court, Štefica Stažnik, claim''. Namely, they both assure that this is not a systemic problem, because Croatia has not been declared responsible for the death of little Madina, but for an ineffective investigation into her death.

The six-year-old girl, Madina Hosseini was killed in November 2017 when she was hit by a train on the Croatian-Serbian border after her family had allegedly been denied the opportunity to seek asylum by Croatian authorities and were ordered to return to Serbia via the tracks.

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Madina Hosseini (Photo: Family album)

The ECtHR confirmed that in Madina's case, Croatia had violated rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. As stated in the verdict, Madina's right to life, humiliated her family's children by keeping them in custody, illegally deprived the whole family of their liberty, and collectively expelled part of the family from Croatia and denied them access to a lawyer.

Why is this verdict significant?

In an interview with Hina, Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter commented on the significance of the verdict itself and the moves that Croatia needs to make in order to execute the verdict of that court.

Speaking about the human rights situation, Šimonović Einwalter announced that, in addition to the annual report already published, she would soon present a special report to the Croatian Parliament on the impact of the epidemic in the last two years on human rights and equality.

HINA: The ECtHR passed a verdict deciding in this particular case, but can it be said that it also said that Croatia is systematically violating the rights of refugees at the borders?

ŠIMONOVIC EINWALTER: It is difficult for the ECHR to say that in that way, in those words. This verdict addresses the issue of the treatment of Madina's family, in this specific situation. But the court also says that the case "raises several important issues about migration control by the Croatian authorities" and that "the impact of this case goes beyond the special situation of the family". The court also took into account a number of earlier allegations of violations of migrants' rights.

Some sentences from the decision, it seems to me, therefore indicate that the impact of the case goes beyond this particular family situation and I think it is good to read it that way if we want changes. It is important to carefully analyze and seriously implement this court decision and change the system because as a state we want to respect national law, European law, international law, and human rights. Is there the will to do it? I really hope so.

HINA: The court found that the convention had been violated because the police at the border did not assess the individual situation of the refugee family before they were deported to Serbia. It did not accept the state's argument that the refugee family was crossing the border illegally. What does this mean now, since the beginning of that refugee crisis, it has been persistently emphasized that we are "defending" ourselves at the borders from those who break the law by crossing them?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: In fact, the legal situation was clear even before this decision. It is often pointed out that the police should guard the border, that illegal crossing of the state border is prohibited, and that is exactly what the law says. At the same time, it is legally defined that persons have the right to seek international protection, regardless of the manner of entry into the country. Therefore, there must be an individualized procedure. It includes, because of the risk of violating international law, the possibility that people who are in a specific situation because of fleeing war and exposure to practices such as torture or the death penalty in their countries of origin have the right to seek international protection. It is also needed by people who are victims of human trafficking, rape, or severe violence.

You can't know if that person will have the right to asylum without conducting a procedure - to ask who that person is, where he is fleeing from and why, it is not written on anyone's forehead. As a first contact, officials should try to identify vulnerable people who may want to apply for international protection.

This is a matter of individualized approach, where special vulnerability is sometimes visible at first, for example in children or unaccompanied children, and the best interests of the child must take precedence.

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Tena Šimonović Einwalter (Photo: Zeljko Hladika/PIXSELL)

HINA: In the next six months, Croatia must conduct an effective investigation into Madina's death, but also draw up an action plan to eliminate the violations identified by the court. Will this change the situation and the protocol for treating refugees?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: Within six months, but maybe earlier, the Office of the Representative of the Republic of Croatia before the ECtHR must adopt an action plan. In this regard, through a body in which representatives of various institutions participate, we can also give expert opinions and proposals, and it includes ministries, courts, the Constitutional Court, and others. The point of the ECtHR judgments is justice for individuals, but also to change the practice, if necessary the laws, in order to respect the legal standards of human rights protection. It can also be a question of, for example, how to conduct an effective investigation, which was an important issue in this case. We have also heard that Minister Davor Božinović has publicly stated that the responsibility in such cases is on the system and that we need to see what are the things that can and should be corrected.

HINA: Has the Ukrainian crisis shown that those fleeing the war can be treated differently?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: We are currently witnessing great solidarity of citizens towards Ukrainians, but I would like to remind you that we saw this solidarity of citizens in 2015 as well - and then many were ready to help. However, now the European Union has reacted differently than in 2015. The Temporary Protection Directive existed even then, and could theoretically be activated. It is a political decision at the EU level.

With the recent activation of the directive, IDPs from Ukraine have a much simpler and faster procedure. What can be discussed is whether it should have been activated in the past. Could it have been any different for some other people fleeing another war? I believe that a new level of solidarity and assistance to refugees is now being seen. In an ideal world, I would like to see Europe respond in this way to all refugees fleeing the horrors of war.

HINA: Your report makes recommendations on how to address the shortcomings you have identified in the implementation of human rights. Judging by the number, a total of 156 recommendations, a lot of work, what needs to be worked on the most?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: There are many problems, and I would like to point out the problems of access to health care and health services, the need for stronger support and protection of senior citizens, the issue of access to information for citizens regarding rights, and how to exercise them. It is necessary to ensure that the institutions suit them, that the procedures do not take too long, that they are less formalistic, and that their work shows the understanding that they are there for the citizens, to provide them with an easier way to exercise their rights. In some areas, the problems are long-lasting, I have been working in this institution for 14 years and changes are happening slowly.

We also point out systemic problems analytically and comprehensively. What I am always happy about are the improvements, and of course, there are some, especially when fulfilling some of our recommendations, either in an individual case or these systematic ones from the annual report, lead to a higher level of rights for citizens. That is the point of these recommendations. From the Report for 2020, 43 percent of the recommendations were implemented, which is a big jump compared to 2019, when 20 percent of them were implemented. I hope this trend continues.

HINA: In times of insecurity, the most socially vulnerable groups are particularly hard hit. How should the state act on this?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: Those who have been ill before always suffer the most. It will be the same now - it is the poorer senior citizens, but also those who live near the poverty line. Single-parent families and those with three or more children are in a difficult position.

Government measures to alleviate the situation are welcome, but they will certainly not remove all concerns from citizens. It is important to monitor at the state level whether the measures should be corrected, with special attention to the impact on those who find it particularly difficult, and we will monitor this as well.

HINA: A large number of complaints were related to the use of covid certificates and vaccinations. How has the epidemic affected equality and human rights in Croatia?

SIMONOVIC EINWALTER: We have been through a lot in these two years. The epidemic is still actually going on, so while many of us are feeling relieved, no one knows what will happen in the fall. These experiences should be used to learn and strengthen the key sectors: health, social, education, and civil protection. We are currently finalizing a special report on the impact of the epidemic on human rights and equality in those two years, which we will soon submit to Parliament. The purpose of this report is to see what the effects of the epidemic are and how to manage it. It has changed our lives and we need to see what can be done better and differently.

That is why we analyze the impact on certain human rights and certain groups of citizens because some have fared worse. These are the elderly, but they are not the only ones. There is also the impact of poverty and the availability of different services. The fact is that not everyone could be vaccinated, for health reasons, and at the same time, we had the question of the availability of testing, which was not the same for everyone. There are also lessons about informing citizens, given the fake news and misinformation. We will include all of this in the recommendations, and I hope that this report will be the basis for positive progress towards strengthening the resilience of society in the future, to the epidemic, but also to other possible crises.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Primamed Hospital Launches Humanitarian Fundraiser for Ukraine

ZAGREB, 12 April 2022 - A total of HRK 550,000 (€73,300) has been raised for Ukraine as part of a campaign launched by the special hospital Primamed, a press conference was told in Zagreb on Tuesday.

The campaign was launched at the beginning of this month and the idea was for doctors and nurses working at Primamed to donate 10 per cent of their monthly salaries and the management to donate 10 per cent of revenues generated between 12 and 24 April. In the meantime, it has been joined by about 20 companies.

The donations will be paid into the account opened for this purpose by the Ukrainian Embassy, the hospital's director Gzim Redžepi said.

The presentation of the campaign was attended by Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych.

 

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Caritas Croatia Sends €400,000 Worth of Aid to Ukraine to Date

ZAGREB, 12 April 2022 - The Caritas charity of the Zagreb Archdiocese dispatched two more trucks full of humanitarian aid to war-torn Ukraine on Tuesday, whereby the total value of aid shipments by the national Caritas organisation exceeded HRK 3 million (€400,000).

The two trucks carried 25 tonnes of food and basic hygiene products to the western Ukrainian city of Mukachevo where the partner organisation, Caritas Spes, has a distribution centre.

A total of 116 tonnes of humanitarian aid, worth over HRK 3 million, has been sent to Ukraine to date, the deputy director of Caritas Croatia, Suzana Borko, said, announcing an additional shipment for Thursday.

"Another truck leaves on Thursday, straight for Kyiv. We hope it gets there on Saturday, the day before Easter," she said.

Borko extended condolences to the families of the Ukrainian Caritas Spes staff killed in a Russian artillery attack on Mariupol on Monday night. Two Caritas Spes workers and five people who found shelter at the local Caritas distribution centre were killed.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Russian Diplomats Have Until 25 April to Leave Croatia

ZAGREB, 12 April 2022 - The Russian diplomats expelled by Croatia have until 25 April to leave the country, Ambassador Andrey Nesterenko told the Rossiya-24 broadcaster.

They have been given until 25 April to leave the country, the TASS news agency quoted the ambassador as saying.

"That is a serious blow to our bilateral relations because the expelled diplomats are upstanding people," he said.

Croatia on Monday said that it would expel 18 Russian diplomats and six members of the administrative and technical staff.

By doing so Croatia has joined a number of European countries that have done the same "due to the brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine," the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS on Monday that Russia would respond accordingly, from which it can be concluded that Russia is preparing a reciprocal measure.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Property Owners Can Now Create a Ukraine Refugee Rate Through Booking.com

April 1, 2022 - As a support measure for those who have fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, Booking.com has enabled the Ukraine Refugee Rate, a special rate that allows its partners to offer accommodations for free or at a significantly lower price to Ukrainian refugees.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 this year, has forced more than 4 million Ukrainian citizens to leave their homes and cross borders to seek asylum in neighboring countries. The majority of refugees are women and children, who have found a very warm reception at the borders of countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, and more. As of March 30, 11,200 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia. Although many have had to stay temporarily in refugee centers in different parts of the country, there are those who are looking for alternative accommodation such as apartments and hotels.

In order to make it easier for refugees from Ukraine to find accommodation in the country where they are, as well as to allow property owners a way to help them, the company Booking.com has made available to all those who rent their properties on their platform the Ukraine Refugee Rate option. Thus, the accommodations can now create a special rate, exclusive for Ukrainian refugees, that allows property owners to offer accommodation for free or at a significantly lower price to them.

''We want to work together to help refugees from Ukraine find a place to stay via our platform'', reads the email sent by Booking.com. ''If you’re able to help, you can now create a Ukraine Refugee Rate to support people in need. This special rate allows you to offer accommodations for free or at a significantly lower price''. Additionally, Booking.com points out that they will waive commission for these stays.

Among the conditions to apply this special rate, Booking.com indicates the following:

''We appreciate any support that you’re able to offer. We want to make this process as smooth as possible for you and the people you’re helping:

The Ukraine Refugee Rate is only available to people leaving Ukraine who make a last-minute booking (0–3 days before check-in). This condition is designed to help you better manage the number of rooms you can commit to this effort.

Given the challenging circumstances people leaving Ukraine are facing, the Ukraine Refugee Rate will offer them control and flexibility, allowing them to cancel for free anytime''.

Booking.com has also prepared a FAQ article with more details about the Ukraine Refugee Rate, in order to clear doubts about this special rate for both Ukrainian citizens and property owners.

Which partners can offer a special rate to refugees from Ukraine?

At the moment, partners in the following countries can create this rate: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The special rate currently applies for bookings and stays until June 30, 2022.

Who can book a stay using this rate?

This special rate enables partners to offer people leaving Ukraine a place to stay for free or at a significantly reduced rate. When your guests arrive, we recommend that you ask them for some form of identification document to confirm that the rate was booked by eligible guests.

Bear in mind that people may have had to leave their homes with little time to prepare. We recommend that you accept passports, ID cards, or any other form of documentation that shows your guests were residing in Ukraine.

You can cancel reservations within reason should you find that this rate wasn’t booked by eligible guests.

Rate details and cancellation policies

Given the incredibly challenging circumstances people leaving Ukraine are facing, you can only use the Ukraine Refugee Rate in conjunction with Fully Flexible rates. This allows the people you’re helping to have as much control and flexibility over their booking as possible. They’ll be able to cancel anytime without charges. If you haven’t already set up a Fully Flexible rate for your property, do this before creating a Ukraine Refugee Rate.

When you create this rate, you can choose to either:

  • Offer a discount of between 50% and 99% on your usual rates, or
  • Offer accommodations for free. In this case, for technical reasons we’ll display the price of the room or unit as EUR 0.01 (before any taxes and fees) or the equivalent in your local currency, but your guests won’t need to pay anything.

If taxes or other fees apply to the booking based on relevant laws and regulations in your country, handle these as you normally would since they're beyond our control. However, we do encourage that you waive any additional booking-related fees, such as cleaning fees.

How the reservation process works

This rate currently applies for bookings and stays until June 30, 2022. Last-minute bookings can be made from zero to three days before check-in, and for stays of up to 30 days. This condition is designed to help prevent double-bookings at your property and to ensure space for those who need it.

To best support these guests, we encourage you to collect payment (where applicable) during check-in using a pay at property policy. If that's not possible, we'll support payment options for you. Because you can only use the Ukraine Refugee Rate in conjunction with Fully Flexible rates, these guests will be able to cancel anytime without charges or no-show fees. Of course, Booking.com will waive our commission fee for these reservations.

Creating this rate

If your property is eligible to create a Ukraine Refugee Rate and you’d like to offer people leaving Ukraine a place to stay, here’s how to get started:

  1. Log in to the Extranet
  2. Click Promotions
  3. In the Humanitarian aid section, click Assist next to Ukraine Refugee Rate
  4. Select whether you’d like to offer a percentage discount on your usual rates or offer accommodation for free
  5. If you choose to offer a percentage discount, enter a percentage between 50% and 99%
  6. Select the rate plans and rooms or units you’d like the rate to apply to
  7. Click Review
  8. Review the details you’ve entered, then click Activate

Canceling ineligible bookings

If a guest books the Ukraine Refugee Rate but isn’t eligible for it, you’ll need to cancel the reservation. You can do so by sending the guest a cancellation request with a note explaining that you believe the booking was made in error. Alternatively, you can contact our Customer Service team who will support you with the cancellation process.

Rent A Local Croatia has prepared a very helpful guide for Ukrainian citizens seeking asylum in Croatia. You can read it HERE.

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

For more, check out our business section.

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