Friday, 17 September 2021

President Milanović to Attend 76th Session of UN General Assembly

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - President Zoran Milanović will fly to USA on Sunday to attend the 76th UN General Assembly in New York next week, the Office of the Croatian President said in a press release on Friday.

The 76th General Assembly of the World Organization starts on Tuesday, 21 September, and the Croatian head of state will address the General Debate on that day.

Milanović will also participate in the high-level meeting called "Transformative Action for Nature and People" on Wednesday.

During his stay in New York he is expected to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He will visit the local Croatian expat community and hold a lecture at Columbia University.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Friends of Croatia: UNICEF - Croatia an Example to the World When it Comes to Breastfeeding

May 27, 2021 - The sixth article in the "Friends of Croatia: UNICEF" series explores the work of the UNICEF Office for Croatia. What is done regarding children's rights in Croatia, positives, and negatives, and how can you help if you want to?

To ensure that our world even stays the same, let alone improves, new generations are essential. But, before they grow old enough to participate in society, society must first take care of the youngest ones to grow and develop. Society must ensure for kids that they grow up in families filled with love, make sure that kids can go to school, that they are healthy, safe from violence, that they are not hungry or thirsty, and give them overall opportunity to make it in the world. 

Basically, children have rights, and they are in more detail elaborated in 54 articles. For more details, have a look at the Convention on the Rights of the Child that came to power on September 2, 1990, by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

Centar_Tomislav_Spoljar.jpg

Regina M. Castillo, UNICEF office for Croatia representative with children with disabilities in Centre Tomislav Špoljar in Varaždin © Marin Ilej/UNICEF

The UN is dedicated to seeing this Convention is being respected, and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, commonly known as UNICEF, specializes in the issues of children's rights. Established in the aftermath of World War II, UNICEF has been at the frontlines of humanitarian crises, armed conflict, and natural disasters.

„Undeterred by the scale of the crises, we rise to the challenge, reimagine what is possible and respond by helping millions of children survive and thrive. Our on-the-ground expertise has reached more than 191 countries and territories, through committed partnerships and a passion for innovation“, says UNICEF on its official website.

Croatia signed and agreed with the Convention, and UNICEF today has its own office in Zagreb. Furthermore, it's worth noting that UNICEF has existed for 75 years, and despite firstly coming to Croatian territory while the country was part of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, UNICEF has been with Croatia since the organization was established.

„Many people do not know that UNICEF helped to eradicate malaria in Croatia and that UNICEF played a key role in the development of modern dairy. Dairies were built in Zagreb, Rijeka, and Split, and factories for the production of powder milk in Osijek and Županja. Milk was distributed in schools, and for many children, it was their only meal during the day“, says Regina M. Castillo, UNICEF Office for Croatia representative.

Regina_M_Castillo_1_UNICEF_Hrvatska.jpg

Regina M. Castillo, UNICEF office for Croatia representative © Marin Ilej/UNICEF

The UNICEF representative is elected for a five-year mandate, and Regina M. Castillo came to her function in Croatia in 2019. Her career in the UN started in 2001 and was in charge of economic and social questions in the Executive Office of the UN chief secretary Kofi Annan in New York. This was followed by Castilla moving to work in the mutual program for HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS. She was first the director of private sector partnerships in Geneva (2006-2012) and then moved to be the director for Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (2012-2015). She majored in International relations and public politics.

Born in Nicaragua, she first started her career in the 1990s as a diplomat, and she was also the headmistress for international trade in the Nicaraguan Trading Ministry.  

Helping Croatia before it was cool (or an independent country)

Castillo went on to continue that after World War 2, UNICEF fed six million children every day, which included many children in Croatia.

„One of those children was our dear colleague, prof. Josip Grgurić, who is still working tirelessly for the youngest. He still remembers the yellow cheese that was part of UNICEF's humanitarian package for families, as well as the chocolate that he then tasted for the first time. He later worked at the children's hospital in Klaićeva, which UNICEF helped found, and he still works hard on UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Hospital Initiative“, says Castillo indicating how valuable but also inspiring UNICEF can be to children. Castillo added that in the Homeland War, UNICEF was the first organization on the ground, making sure that children and families received the necessary psychosocial support and humanitarian packages. After the war, they educated children on how to protect themselves from landmines. 

Today Croatia developed, joined NATO and EU, and is a modern European country. With such progress, there have been many improvements in respect to children and their rights.

„Croatia has a low mortality rate of children under the age of five, extremely low stunted growth rate due to inadequate nutrition in the first years of life and the enrolment rate of children in primary school is almost 100 per cent“, pointed out Castillo.

„Croatia is an example in the world when it comes to the promotion of breastfeeding. It is rare that all public maternity wards in a country have the status of 'Child-Friendly Hospital'. With the support of UNICEF, partners have organized a network of breastfeeding support groups, and now we have more than 200 support groups in Croatia“, added Castillo on what the world can look up to this small South-Eastern European country.

Auto_Banka_mlijea_19062020.jpg

Regina M. Castillo at Human milk bank © Marin Ilej/UNICEF 

Still, there are some issues Croatia needs to address and are far from ideal at the moment.

„There are still differences when it comes to access to services for children, depending on where they live and the conditions in which they grow up. Children with disabilities, as well as children from the poorest families, especially in rural areas, often do not have the opportunity to attend kindergarten and do not have the same access to specialized health services and therapies as children in urban areas. The focus of UNICEF in Croatia is on the most marginalized children: children with disabilities or developmental delays, children growing up without adequate parental care, children from minority groups, children at the risk of poverty and exclusion. UNICEF’s programs are focused on the well-being and protection of every child, with a special focus on the most vulnerable children“, pointed out Castillo.

Campaigns and programmes such as “Every child needs a family”, “The first three are the most important”, and “Stop violence among children” are perhaps the most known public action by UNICEF in Croatia, but returning to the good practices of breastfeeding, Castillo emphasizes the establishment of the Human Milk Bank in her current mandate.

„Thanks to the Human Milk Bank, prematurely born and seriously ill newborns (who do not have access to their own mother's milk) can receive milk donated by other mothers. We continually work on reducing the risk of disasters, support the development of quality foster care and provide support to parents in the upbringing and care of children through workshops and we work a lot with young people“, said Castillo.

In general, UNICEF has different types of offices in countries, and regarding the Croatian office, it’s a Country Office. In other words, most of the resources (human and financial) are invested in programs in Croatia. Castillo says that the five-year mandates have priorities that are determined in cooperation with partners. And while 80 percent of the funds raised are invested in programs for girls and boys in Croatia, there are funds and support programs for children outside of the country.

“For example, in 2018, UNICEF supported child health care in parts of Ukraine affected by the conflict and helped the building of five inclusive children's playgrounds in two refugee camps in Jordan in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in 2019. Through the ‘Schools for Africa’ program ​​, which includes many kindergartens and schools throughout Croatia, UNICEF supports the education of girls and boys in Madagascar", Castillo listed several examples. 

IMG_6894.jpg

Regina M. Castillo, UNICEF office for Croatia representative with children on Media Literacy days press conference with Radovan Fuchs Minister of Science and Education, Krešimir Partl, State Secretary at Ministry of culture and media and Robert Tomljenović, Deputy Director of the Council for Electronic Media © Marin Ilej/UNICEF 

Overall, the UNICEF Office for Croatia works closely with the Croatian Government, and most notably, with the Ministries of Social Welfare, Education, Health, and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Other partners also include experts (Croatian experts, but also building on expertise and good practice from all over the world), professional associations, academia, services providers, and NGOs.

“UNICEF’s goal is to connect all stakeholders and to advocate and support systemic change for the well-being of all children. System change is a gradual process, and it can be challenging, but when it comes to children’s rights, every step forward is well worth the effort”, explained Castillo.

Croatian citizens showing support for UNICEF

On one hand, Croatia is a good country with low mortality rates of kids and a role model for breastfeeding promotions. On the other hand, however, peer to peer violence (on whose suppression the aforementioned “Stop violence among children“ campaign works heavily on), and unequal approach to education between rural and urban areas show Croatia has both its ups and downs. Unfortunately. The downside sometimes overshadows all the positive things.

One such instance was the tragic death of a two-year-old girl from Nova Gradiška on Easter Sunday. The death of a severely injured girl, who was brought to Zagreb's children's hospital after suffering abuse and heavy beating from her biological parents (and from whom the girl was taken and given to a foster family but was then returned back to biological parents), sparked controversy and citizens outrage, culminating in changes in social welfare law, as well as sacks and investigations in the welfare center in Nova Gradiška.  

„We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of two-and-a-half-year-old Nikoll on Easter Sunday. There are no words to express the pain of such a terrible event. Unfortunately, there are no simple and quick solutions to prevent violence against children. For years, UNICEF in Croatia has been continuously and persistently working in the field of child protection, educating experts from the social welfare system, but also other experts who work with children and families, such as experts from the health care, education, and justice systems. UNICEF implements various support programs for parents, and it is fully committed to the development of foster care and the improvement of the legislative framework. However, UNICEF is also aware that society as a whole, has a long way to go to achieve the goal that every girl and every boy is guaranteed the best possible care and protection. UNICEF will continue to work actively, persistently, and dedicatedly with all partners to achieve it”, commented Castillo.

IMG_6933.jpg

Regina M. Castillo talking on Media Literacy days press conference © Marin Ilej/UNICEF 

However, Croatians recognize the importance of the UNICEF mission. Before Covid, UNICEF annually collaborated with the Museum of Illusions on the Museum of Reality exhibition which displayed the problems children faced worldwide, but which also showed what changes and solutions UNICEF brought to those areas. 

“Experience tells us that citizens are ready to support the youngest, in Croatia and beyond. Implementation of our programs would not be possible without the support from citizens and companies that placed the focus of their CSR activities precisely on children. We especially value the support from our Childhood Guardians, donors who support our work with regular monthly donations and allow us to regularly conduct our programs for boys and girls, as well as react quickly with much-needed assistance in crisis situations like the earthquakes in Croatia and the COVID-19 pandemic that affected all families. UNICEF is always in the field with the most vulnerable children and their families”, notes Castillo.

In the end is important to note, that while children are recognised as a particularly vulnerable group, all human rights apply equally to children. 

“All the rights enshrined in the Convention apply to every child, regardless of a child’s country of origin, gender, religion, and nationality. Every child, by birth, has all his/her rights, the right to grow up in a safe environment, to have a family, to have access to health care and education, to be able to play and develop his/her interests and reach his/her full potential”, concludes Castillo.

The five-year mandate is an agreement that sets priorities in advance, so Castillo warned that there is no opportunity for making donations outside of that framework. UNICEF office occasionally does get messages from citizens who need advice or help on issues outside of that frame, but nevertheless, UNICEF can offer them help by referring them to institutions and addresses that can offer citizens the necessary support, financial support, or information. 

With expertise mentioned several times throughout this story as the insurance of delivering the best solutions to issues children face, UNICEF is always on the lookout for new people. If you want to make a change in the world while earning a fair wage yourself, check out what expertise UNICEF is looking for right now.

IMG_8282.jpg

Regina M. Castillo on a foster family gathering © Marin Ilej/UNICEF 

UNICEF Croatian Office is situated on Radnička cesta 41/7. To inform the public of their work, they built a considerable presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Linkedin. You can also find all UNICEF-related info for Croatia on their official website, and contact them via mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on phone numbers: +385 1 2442 660 and +385 1 2442 661. You can use the website to donate to a cause in Croatia too. Additionally, there are numbers: +385 1 4095 855, +385 99 2692 196, and +385 91 621 1039 for more details on donating to Croatia as well as e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also leave a donation to UNICEF in your will, and a phone number +385 1 3031 640 specializes for the issue in Croatia. If you find yourself in Croatia and you want to volunteer for UNICEF, more info can be found by sending a mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on phone number +385 1 3031 646.

And of course, you can donate for a good cause to UNICEF for any action the fund is internationally involved in. 

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about UNICEF in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Friends of Croatia: Basic Terms of Diplomacy

April 29, 2021 - The second article in the series "Friends of Croatia" covering all things diplomatic, looks into an overview of the basic terms of diplomacy both for a more accessible following of the series,as well as for safer travel and for being more informed in general.

When exploring Croatian diplomatic relations, terms such as diplomats, embassies, ambassadors, and consulates are the keywords of the topic. Diplomacy is important of course for countries to communicate, express and arrange mutual cooperation, push their respective interests, and offer help to their citizens in another country. But, what is for what and who is for who?

The embassy is for everything, the consuls are for more minor details

As Postoffice.uk points out, to a fellow traveller these questions may not be of too much importance, but having a bit of trivia knowledge never hurts.

''An embassy is the base for a country’s diplomatic mission abroad – meaning all of the political, cultural and social relationships between the two countries. There will only be one embassy for one nation in another country, as it is where the country’s ambassador works (and sometimes resides). A consulate is where consular services are performed. Embassies will normally have a consular section. While there will be only one British Embassy in the country you visit, there may be a number of consulates. These would usually be in cities with the most tourists,'' writes Postoffice.uk.

It's worth noting that while the aforementioned explanation is written from the British perspective, this difference is appliable to any country.

The Thought.com page illustrates that very well, explaining the difference in the case of the United States of America.

''An embassy is responsible for representing the home country, for handling major diplomatic issues (such as negotiations), and for preserving the rights of its citizens abroad. Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) handle minor diplomatic issues such as issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates,'' writes Thought.com. The site adds that usually when a country recognises another as being sovereign, an embassy is established to maintain foreign relations and provide assistance to travelling citizens.

Embassies and consulates can help a person out with many things. For instance, if you lose your passport, the diplomatic representatives can acquire you a new one. If you get sick, they can offer you the contacts of local doctors or lawyers in case you're the victim of a crime.

They can't offer you healthcare which is of a different level than the one there is in the country already, nor can they lead any sort of investigation themselves; they can't even pay you money or offer remuneration, but the contacts they can provide as well as the advice they can give can help you tremendously when coming unstuck in a foreign country.

This is why its important to be informed where the embassies or consuls of your country are located in the country you're visiting. But, don't expected them to help you if you end up in trouble with the law in another country yourself, as they can't interfere in those legal processes in respect of other nation's sovereignty. Despite that, they can give you lists of lawyers and guides to the legal process in the country you're visiting, visit you if you're arrested, and maintain contact with your family to inform them of what happened. While you hopefully won't end up in a dire situation it is still better to travel while being as informed as possible. Usually, a bit of common sense and decency will let you avoid such incidents.

Your country is a host to the embassies of other countries too, and you can visit them if you want to travel to another country to check your visa requirements. Keep in mind that in embassies, the country where the embassy is located doesn't have jurisdiction in the embassy, and you can be arrested in the embassy by security forces or ask for protection to avoid arrest from the forces of the country the embassy is in. The ever-controversial Julian Assange finding refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest is perhaps the best-known example of this, and he was arrested by the British police only after negotiations with Ecuador were conducted.

handshake.jpg

pixabay

Ambassador and diplomat: the same job, but the ambassador is the boss

Similar to all toes are fingers, but not all fingers are toes – the ambassador is the highest-ranked of all diplomats in the embassy.

''The ambassador is the highest official in the embassy and acts as the chief diplomat and spokesperson for that embassy's home government. Ambassadors are typically appointed by the highest level of the home government. In the United States, ambassadors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate'' writes Thought.com.

 As Wikidiff compares it, the ambassador is ''a minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent his sovereign or country there. (Sometimes called ambassador-in-residence )'' or ''an official messenger and representative''. A diplomat, in essence, is, as Wikidiff continues: ''A person who is accredited, such as an ambassador, to officially represent a government in its relations with other governments or international organisations.''

Marc Finaud, the Head of Arms Proliferation at Geneva Centre for Security Policy (an international foundation for promoting the building and maintenance of peace, security, and stability), writes that diplomats have five main tasks in accordance with the international Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961. ''Representation, protection of national interests, negotiations, reporting, and the promotion of friendly relations. Such skills can also be of interest for non-diplomats engaged in professional activities involving contacts with foreign people or cultures,'' writes Marc Finaud for GCSP.

Diplomacy is interesting, challenging, and above all, an important profession, and much more can be written about it than just this text. Still, these are the basic facts of diplomacy to follow in this series and to arrange safer and more informed travel abroad.

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Friends of Croatia: New TCN Series On All Things Diplomatic

April 20, 2021 - Check out the newest TCN series "Friends of Croatia", dealing with all things diplomatic, by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac

December 22, 1990, the Croatian parliament known as Sabor brought its first independent constitution, known as „The Christmas Constitution“. After that, the same parliament officially declared Croatia as an independent country and no longer part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. Then followed the Ex-Yu War known in Croatia as a Homeland War, which lasted until 1995.

While this war is one of the foundations of Croatian independence, noted by the modern constitution as well as on other grounds of historic events, the dedication of soldiers, tactics, weapons, force and combat skills weren't the only cards Croatia had to achieve its sovereignty. It was also the communication with the international community and international recognition. This allowed Croatian citizens to not end up in the trap of Transnistria, a sovereign state officially recognized as part of Moldova, where Moldova does not rule due to the army and force monopoly by the Transnistrian government, but whose passports have no benefit for its citizens and despite being a state, in official maps does not exist.

Iceland was the first sovereign country to recognize Croatia as a sovereign state on December 19, 1991, followed by Germany in whose recognition took effect on January 15, 1992. Slovenia technically did recognise Croatia first, the same as Croatia was the first to recognise Slovenia, but neither country had international recognition at the time, which is the reason Iceland counts first. Floored by Iceland and Germany, other countries started to recognize Croatia and the new-found Republic joined the UN on May 22, 1992. The international status was then additionally boosted with joining Nato on April 1, 2009, and the EU on July 1, 2013.

Today, Croatia has 176 diplomatic relations; and for TCN writers, reporting on diplomacy is nothing new. Diplomatic relations can be viewed, in layman terms, like friendships, and this is why this series is called „Friends of Croatia“. As stated by the E-International relations site, diplomacy has existed as long as the human race. It can be viewed in the first negotiations amongst individuals before graduating to the level we know today.

„Among the many functions of diplomacy, some include preventing war and violence and fortifying relations between two nations. Diplomacy is most importantly used to complete a specific agenda. Therefore without diplomacy, much of the world’s affairs would be abolished, international organizations would not exist, and above all, the world would be in a constant state of war. It is for diplomacy that certain countries can exist in harmony“, writes the E-International relations site.

And indeed, shutting down diplomatic relations is a final step before potential war escalation and the spread of violence. Even with certain diplomatic tensions, Croatia has with Slovenia around Piranski Bay, or with Serbia regarding uncleared questions from the Homeland War, the fact there are diplomatic relations both with Serbia and Slovenia ensures that these tensions can be solved by peace and not violence.

But what exactly are the details of Croatian diplomatic relations with other countries and international organizations? This is precisely what this series strives to bring by explaining the history of Croatian diplomatic relations by talking to diplomats, embassies, and representers of international communities, with an informative, unique approach to each specific relation. The series wants to inform of the ups and downs of Croatian international collaboration, how to make them better, what benefits are there in these relations for Croatia, and what benefits are there for other countries. Keep your eyes open for articles in these series with more details and interesting facts about diplomacy in general too.

If you are working in the embassy or in an international organization in Croatia, feel free to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

International Poetry Day Croatia: Non-Croatian Poets about Croatia

March 21, 2021 - In honour of International Poetry Day Croatia, TCN's Ivor Kruljac met with non-Croatia poets to share their views on Croatia through their art.

Since 1999 and the 30th General conference of UNESCO, March 21 is recognized as International Poetry Day. As said by the United Nations official website, the date was dedicated to poetry to celebrate „one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity“, which history remembers practiced in every culture on every continent. 

„Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings“, states the UN.

Supporting linguistic diversity and an opportunity of endangered languages to be heard within their communities along with encouragement to bring back the oral tradition of recitals, the promotion of poetry teachings and poetry in the media, as well as connecting this ancient art form with other art forms such as music, painting, and theatre, are all goals of the International Poetry Day. And here at TCN, we want to do our part and connect poetry with what we always struggle to report on: Showing all aspects of Croatia.

To the fans of contemporary poetry, it's no secret that poets today are very much alive, productive, and regularly present their work. If not in books then at poetry events, open-mics, and on social networks – either from their private accounts, blogs, or in groups dedicated to this wordy-art.

We asked non-Croatian poets through social networks and private group chats dedicated to poetry who either visited Croatia or know about Croatia to send us poems about Croatia with a promise that the top 5 will be published and authors presented. Now, to be fair, while the author of this article is a poet, that is far from being a legitimate poetry critic and the rest of the TCN's editorial team (at least to public knowledge) aren't even poets. The idea was to pick the poems based on how it resonates with us as individuals who gave the art a chance. The academic acknowledgment is nice, but resonating with the audience, the everyday people, should be the goal of any art publically displayed, right?

To be honest, there wasn't really any competition as, by the end of the deadline, we received only four poems. Nonetheless, the beauty of these poems and great resonation with TCN was there and we are happy to publish these poems and ranked them, from fourth place to the very best. You can decide for yourselves which poem you like best (and the messages you see in their work), but here the four poems that „knocked on the doors of our mailbox“ (metaphorically, quite poetically, speaking).

#4: „Croatia“ by Jesus McFridge 

Poets such as Charles Bukowski and Walt Whitman are very well known by their name, but just as in many other arts, poets are no exception in sometimes preferring to use pseudonyms to present their work while keeping their identity unknown and privacy secured. Such is the author that goes by the name of Jesus Mcfridge. Quite active in a Facebook group Poetry Criticism For Cool Cats, he revealed in his application that he is from California and described himself as a „24-year-old American that watches too much television“. He added that his knowledge of Croatia is limited to the country at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but he has fallen in love with the Croatia national football team's checkered uniforms. Despite never visiting Croatia, after „Croatia's tragic loss in the 2018 World Cup final“, he found himself also crying just as many Croatians did.

„In this poem, I have attempted to capture the feeling of this tragic loss that we have shared together, despite the vast seas that separate us“ concluded Mcfridge in his application.

His bittersweet poem simply titled „Croatia“ indeed brings some painful memories but presented in a short and funny way allows us to look at the past in a brighter way, bring back smiles, and give us the strength to cheer for our Croatia national team as they prepare for the next trophy hunt.

 

Croatia

They

Almost won

The world cup

But

Mandzukic scored

An own goal.

Jesus_Mcfridge-c-_Jesus_Mcfridge.jpg

Jesus Mcfridge © Jesus Mcfridge

#3 „Daniela's song“ by Christian Sinicco (English translation by Daniela Sartogo)

Christian Sinicco was born in Trieste, Italy, and his poetry is published in various anthologies and magazines and an editor of the magazine Argo with which he has dealt with the widest overview of poetry in the Italian dialect from 2000 to the present day. He published three books of poetry: „Passando per New York“ (Lietocolle, 2005), „Ballate di Lagosta“ (CFR, 2014) and „Città esplosa“ (Galerie Bordas, 2017). He won the first Italian Slam Poetry Championship and served as the president of the slam poetry association LIPS - Lega Italiana Poetry Slam (2013-2014) and is the current vice president of Poiéin. He is also active in a global initiative of slam poets organizing the world slam championship which early results can be followed on Twitch.   

He participated in numerous book festivals including four festivals in Croatia: Zagreb Contemporary Poetry Festival, Forum Tomizza (in Umag), Pula Book Fair, and Rijeka Book Fair.

His second book of poetry „Ballate di Lagosta“, translates as Lastovo Ballads and it's actually a preview while Sinicco plans to soon publish the full book dedicated to this beautiful Croatian island on the southern coast.

„I was on Lastovo several times. I know a poet from there, Marijana Šutić and I spent a vacation there with other poets such as Ivan Šamija and Silvestar Vrljić“, said Sinicco in his application where he offered a poem from „Lastovo ballads“ which already seen its presentation on a prestigious literary site Versopolis.

„Daniela's Song“ may not bring out the most visual and most explicit Croatian motives, but the discrete and specific localization of Croatia is there all wrapped in a love poem to touch the heart and help us remember the summer sweethearts and romance in Croatia.

Daniela's song

I.

She talks about how beautiful it is without knowing where to go

perhaps into the water of the sun like her cheek

simply necessary as the wet dream

in a wider galaxy if it can be understood,

she seduces you through valleys and dusty vineyards

with eyes towards the bay with the waterfall:

Za Barje the sign said, and so also barked the dog tied

under the cypress – his teethed mouth was the buried reason

the fishermen had left him there – near a house

covered with ivy and blackberries, in which had grown

an apple tree with sour fruits and roses

that only you will taste:

avoiding the asphalt and dirt road holes you followed Daniela

targeting yourself and the asphyxia of your life

that follows the path to erect the intelligence of the species

that on the concept of work has built its republic of theft,

then you saw her dancing on the beach between the warm rocks

and the boat pulled out of the lobster pot, the fishermen are back:

good and evil are triangles of waves that spread

on the sea towards the two islands where we swam

– the fish are not aware of it,

and so the man under the pine and his child

with the mask, another fisherman with the fishing line,

only you maybe on the petals you bite as the words

 

II.

after quite a while we are outdoors and eat figs

at dusk time on this meadow

sliced on the wooden bowl,

we take the bread and tear it many times

because paradise is close to the fire

and the village to our left rises white in pink

made with scales like the barracuda

Korčula has no intention to leave our sight

I shouted as my usual self

you lit the candle and made me notice

we are not alone, but you can stay calm

slowly also the hut

and its fire have become attractive

calming the natural tension

of a darkening sky, not preventing us

from tasting the happiness

of a grilled fish, of tomato and capers

you are attractive when you smile

with a glass of water on the lips

too quietly they get up,

wanting to be born in the response they seek outside

the people at the tables next to us, and from the cottage

where they grill they come to clear up

a woman and the cook, as in a ceremonial

we ask for the check with the hands

they will be intertwined when we emerge from the field

toward the parking lot where we’ll get in the car

and head out to the highest point

of a series of bends, before descending to the valley

the vault of stars surprises us

we stop everything, propped on pillows of a land

that is still hot, we’re sure

that the star will fall, and it comes true

 Christian_Sinicco-c-Daniele_Ferroni.jpeg

Christian Sinicco © Daniele Ferroni

#2 „The Lakes of Plitvice“ by Vanni Schiavoni (English translation by Graziella Sidoli)

Born in Manduria, Italy, but living in Bologna, Vanni Schiavoni published five poem collections: "Nocte" (1996), "The Suspended Balcony" (1998), "Of Humid and Days" (2004), "Salentitude" (2006), and  "Walnut Shell" (2012). He also published two novels "Like Elephants in Indonesia" (2001) and "Mavi" (2019) and edited the poetic anthology "Red - between eroticism and holiness" (2010). Most recently, he also published poetical plaquette „Croatian Notebook“ which features twelve poems dedicated to six Croatian sites: Plitvice Lakes, Kornati, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, and Dubrovnik. Schiavoni wrote the "Croatian Notebook" after a week-long journey in the summer of 2017. His birthplace Manduria is located in the region of Puglia which is 30 miles away from the Pelagosa (Palagruža), the most distant Croatian island, and his surname originates from the name of the Slavonia region in Eastern Croatia.

„For me, it was not just a holiday trip but a journey in and out of everything that I am, a travel diary through which to bring out the game of mirrors between me and that place, between what I am and where I come from and what I have encountered“, said Schiavoni. This journey impacted him with images of the signs of Italy engraved in stone, mournings of the war, communist history („most heretical Communist party in the east in front of the largest Communist Party in the west“, as Schiavoni puts it) and as he added, „the same Adriatic Sea which gives both of us fishes and earthquakes“.

His poem „The Lakes of Plitvice“ is a lovely description of the mixture, the game, and visual eye-candy of the waters in Croatia's oldest National Park, and it linked with a search for bravery and the encouraging point that good and beauty can defeat evil and change it to something better.  

THE LAKES OF PLITVICE

The first day they always plunge down into the same spot

the river rapids that come to the encountering

of the white river with the black river

and the more we think ourselves ready with our shrewd eyes

the fewer the adjectives made available to us before that wonder:

the green rush pushes our pupils towards a wild frenzy

it pushes them inside the tearful torrents by our feet

in the shrouded darkness of the sequential caves

and in the vertical caverns sculpted

as if by a hand capable of it all.

Yet Judas must have passed by this place

and though perhaps not the one with burning lips

a simple Judas must have become lost

in this mysterious grid of remorse.

These lakes fall into lakes as lashings on yielding branches

they flow into other waters and so they rain

endlessly

and perfectly untouched.

Vanni_Schiavoni-c-Dino_Igmani.jpg

Vanni Schiavoni © Dino Igmani

 

#1  „Dubrovnik Rock“ by William Vastarella

After Schiavoni and Sinicco, our first-ranked poet is the conclusive evidence there is something so incredible about Croatia it really inspires poetically-inclined neighbors across the Adriatic. Born in Napoli in 1974, William Vastarella is a teacher of Italian Literature, geography, and History. He's has a Ph.D. in semiotics from the University of Bari and writes for several literary and cultural magazines in Italy. He also edited several poetry anthologies as well as semiotic essays. Vastarella visited Croatia several years ago and had a cultural and relaxing holiday on the seaside. „I found her so full of the Mediterranean spirit that I wrote a poem in Italian. I tried to translate it in other words, trying to leave intact the sounds of that memory“, said Vastarella about his poem on Dubrovnik.

The poem „Dubrovnik Rock“ is fantastic in the way, Vastarella visually invokes the images from the history of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) Republic and the relationship it had with Italians at that age with the waves of the Adriatic Sea as the link between Italy and Dubrovnik but also between past and present.

 

Dubrovnik Rock

Other singers claim to feel

singular vibes in the waves

Nearby this shore,

and so do I.

Ragusa, Dubrovnik

A name is not enough

To trap a soul.

I ask myself

Who’s the other side

Of the other side

As the seawater shuffles.

I touch with my finger

and now I know it’s real

the steel and the wood of the boat

powerful works of man

that wipe out weapons

and I ask no more.

I realize

we have been both

pirates and emperors

centurions and barbarians

through the centuries

each one to the other

a flurry flow

of slavers and Slavs,

slayers and saviors.

Sometimes when the north wind blows,

melting the white in waves,

painting clouds of amazing blues

mirroring the water in the sky,

space seems to become so narrow,

so easy the neighborhood,

then all

the voices of the ancient age

of an ancient game

of thousands lost

in that spot of time,

that spot of sea,

mutate in a mute roar singing

in which merge the rage of riot

and the call for help of a lot

castled in the rock

waiting for a drop of rain to drink

or friend sails on the horizon.

 William_Vastarella-c-_Vito_Signorile.jpg

William Vastarella © Vito Signorile

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Calls for Reform of UN

ZAGREB, Sept 25, 2020 - The crises that have impacted the world in 2020 show that commitment to multilateralism is more relevant than ever, Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in an address at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, calling for reform of UN.

The crises of 2020, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent economic downturn, "clearly showed that our collective commitment to multilateralism is more relevant than ever," Plenkovic said via video link.

The current crises must not lead to isolationism in the international community but motivate readiness for cooperation in the spirit of solidarity and mutual support, and no other organization is better placed than the United Nations for global delivery of the goals of international cooperation, he said.

That is why "we need a United Nations fit for the 21st century," Plenkovic said, calling for a reform of UN, including its founding document, the UN Charter, as well as of the Security Council, the most powerful body in the UN in which relations reflect the situation at the end of World War II.

"Our organization has to maintain its core values and principles on which it has been founded but it must also reflect the realities and needs of our times," he added.

Critics often call out the UN for allegedly irrational spending, slowness to act, failure to implement its decisions, and bias in adopting them.

The organization's budget last year lacked 768 million of a total of 2.85 billion US dollars because 51 countries did not meet their financial obligations, including Brazil and the USA, Reuters has reported.

Experts underline that the financial problems are a symptom of a broader crisis of confidence in that institution.

Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats

Apart from going down in history as a year of crises, 2020 is also a year of anniversaries - the 75th anniversary of the UN and the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Dayton-Paris Peace Agreement, which put an end to the "bloodiest war in Europe since the Second World War," said the Croatian PM.

Meanwhile, this part of Europe "has profoundly changed for the better but some problems still prevail and merit our full attention".

Croatia believes that the anniversary of the Dayton peace agreement should be used to reflect on its achievements as well as the contemporary situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Plenkovic, calling for full equality for Croats as a constituent people in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as for the adoption of appropriate election law to prevent electoral engineering.

Plenkovic recalled the Zagreb Summit of 20 years ago and the second edition of that event, held this year online during Croatia's EU presidency, as well as the country's unequivocal support for the European perspective of Western Balkan countries.

Looking back, much has been achieved, much has changed for the better. Looking ahead, sincere reconciliation is essential to regional stability. It can be built only on truth and grounded in facts, in conjunction with finding all the remaining missing persons and rendering justice for all victims, he said.

Plenkovic also stressed in his address that he was proud that for the first time ever Croatia has a candidate for a judge at the International Court of Justice - an international law professor and vice-dean for international cooperation of the Zagreb University Faculty of Law, Maja Sersic.

"Besides her professional qualities, we believe that her election would also be important for achieving a better gender balance and fairer participation of states within the Court's composition."

Plenkovic also recalled that Croatia was dealing with the consequences of a disastrous earthquake that hit Zagreb in March and thanked world leaders for sending messages of support and offer assistance.

Vaccine for all and protection of the planet

Plenkovic welcomed the UN's resolution on a "Comprehensive and Coordinated Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic" and said that "it clearly demonstrates the need for a global joint approach in addressing the impact and consequences of the pandemic."

"The vaccine must be available to as many as possible and we should spare no effort to make it so," he said.

He also spoke about "the perils of global climate change, which will be the challenge of this century."

He said that world leaders must not ignore the fact that "the past five years hold the highest record for global ocean temperatures", noting that "the oceans play a central role in regulating the Earth's climate."

"Ocean plastic pollution is also unfolding at an alarming rate," he added.

"If we do not act now, the damage (to our planet) will become irreparable," he said.

"Let us, therefore, unite as nations and assume our responsibility to create a healthier, equal, and more sustainable world for the generations to come," Plenkovic said.

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

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

 

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Plenkovic Says United Nations Must Fit 21st Century

ZAGREB, September 22, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN, that it was necessary to "make the United Nations fit for the 21st century" and called for reforming the Security Council and combating climate change.

"Today we live in a much different world than 75 years ago. The technological revolution changed and improved our lives beyond comparison. Yet the scourge that plagued the world in the autumn of 1945, the hunger and poverty, the disease and refugees, still burdens parts of our planet," the prime minister said in a video message.

The UN has 193 member states and Croatia has been one since 22 May 1992.

Plenkovic said "unprecedented progress has been achieved in the past 75 years."

"Whereas two out of three people lived in extreme poverty at the end of the Second World War, today this share has fallen to less than one in ten, and by 2030 this should fall under one in 16," he added.

But the world is facing new challenges and it is necessary to revitalise the UN, he said, calling this year's General Assembly session "a springboard for that."

"We must make the United Nations fit for the 21st century... The revitalisation of the United Nations's work has to go beyond the General Assembly. Reform of the Security Council is long overdue. Our historical anniversary should also be an occasion for revisiting the UN Charter to meet the needs and realities of the new era."

Plenkovic also called for combating climate change, saying "climate change is one of the pivotal fields for the future of humanity. This is where we cannot afford to fail. We have to adjust to new realities, find the way to meet new challenges... achieve all Sustainable Development Goals and avoid the pitfalls of the past."

 

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

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Nigerian Students in Bosnia: We won't go to Croatia without UN Escorts!

According to yesterday’s interview for a Bosnian portal, the Nigerian students say they want to go home to Nigeria immediately. If the Bosnian authorities intend to transfer them back to Croatia, they will only agree to go if they are accompanied by United Nations escorts.

Azra Omerović, of the Bosnian portal Žurnal, caught up with the students in East Sarajevo on December 10, 2019.

Original Žurnal Story Went Viral

On December 3, Žurnal published the story of two Nigerian students, Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, who allege that Croatian police illegally transferred them to Bosnia and Herzegovina. That story was picked up by several international publications including The Guardian and The Cable, a Nigerian portal. In the meantime, the students were transferred from Velika Kladuša to the Immigration Center in East Sarajevo, after being detained for questioning in Bihać.

The Croatian Ministry of Interior has dismissed allegations by the Nigerian students that they had been illegally transferred to Bosnia by the Croatian police.

Youth Hostel Manager Denies Students’ Account

Branimir Markač, the manager of HI Youth Hostel, the Zagreb hostel where the students stayed, has also disputed the students’ arrival and departure dates. He also denies that the students disappeared on the evening of November 17. He dismisses the students’ claims that an unidentified “friend” later came to pick up their passports, which they claim remained at his hostel after the students were allegedly “kidnapped” by Croatian police. The fact that the students could not remember the name of their hostel further muddies the narrative. There is unconfirmed speculation that the unidentified “friend” might be the other student in their group, who tried to enter Slovenia twice, applied for asylum in Croatia and is currently being housed in Zagreb.

nigerian_students_bosnia_croatia_02.jpg

Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Intervened

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairperson of Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), responded to the students’ claims on Saturday, after their account was picked up by The Cable in Nigeria.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs is on this matter. It’s not as straightforward as you have reported, but the Minister has personally intervened. We should give an update as the intervention continues,” she wrote.

In their most recent interview with Žurnal, students say they cannot believe what is happening to them and have responded to allegations by the Croatian media and police.

We are Telling the Truth!

“We are scared, we were telling the truth about what the Croatian police did to us. They have accused us of lying because we want asylum in Croatia. We were legal in Croatia, and if we had wanted to seek asylum, we could have applied for it because we had visas,” Kenneth Chinedu insists.

The two Nigerian students are currently being housed in East Sarajevo, at the Center for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia. They say that they have been in custody the entire time.

nigerian_students_bosnia_croatia_03.jpg

Currently in Custody in East Sarajevo

“The police questioned us. We told them what happened, and we've been in custody here ever since. We are not allowed to go outside and we're not doing well at all. We need help, have someone help us. Send us home immediately or allow us to be escorted back to Croatia with UN representatives. We will not go to Croatia without UN representatives, maintains Alexandro.

Students Demand UN Escorts for Croatia

“If they want to send us to Croatia, we must be accompanied by the UN. They (the Croatian police) denied everything we said they did to us. We need someone to accompany us every moment and to keep track of what's happening. We are terrified of returning to Croatia after everything that they have done to us. We told the truth and stand by our story!” Alexandro reiterates.

Nigerian Official: There is ‘Back Story’

The Nigerian students are asking the Bosnian authorities to resolve their situation as quickly as possible because they did not enter Bosnia and Herzegovina illegally. However, the details of their transfer to Bosnia remain in dispute, and top Nigerian government official Abike Dabiri-Erewa confirmed that there is a “back story”.

“But whatever the circumstances, the most important thing is to get them back,” she emphasized in Saturday’s tweet.

Follow our Politics page to keep updated on this story and the migrant crisis in Croatia.

Monday, 19 November 2018

UN Sustainable Development Agenda, Croatia Takes 21st Place

Croatia appears on many a list, and while it's typically placed at number one or close to it on ''must visit'' locations around the world, when it comes to much more serious matters to do with the economic and political climate, Croatia doesn't tend to fare too well, and with good reason. For a change, Croatia has managed to do quite well according to a recently published list by the United Nations (UN), which regards its Sustainable Development Agenda.

As Ljubica Gataric/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of November, 2018, according to a new report on the impact of social transfers on poverty within the European Union (EU), social transfers made in 2017 raised one third of the population's income above the currently accepted poverty risk limit.

Despite Croatia's unfavourable ''press'' when it comes to lists outside of travel bloggers and their often very surface level glance at the country, Croatia has taken 21st place the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, through which national governments committed themselves to eradicating poverty and hunger, developing education, making proper healthcare accessible for all, gender equality, and eradicating other forms of inequality.

Croatia has taken 21st place out of 155 on the UN's Sustainable Development List for 2018, and in relation to its first release back in 2016, the country has progressed by as many as fifteen places.

Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and France are doing the best of all, with neighbouring Slovenia taking 8th place, Czech Republic taking 13th place, and behind Croatia lie many EU member states considered to be very developed, which is both encouraging in Croatia's respect, and concering with regard to those countries.

As mentioned, according to the new report on the impact of social transfers on poverty within the EU, social transfers made back in 2017 raised one third of the population's income above that of the considered poverty risk limit.

According to the members, social assistance withdrew 57 percent of Finns and 51 percent of Danes from their respective poverty zones, while social transfers made in Greece and Romania removed 16 percent of the risk groups out of the accepted poverty zone.

When it comes to social transfers made in Croatia, the number of those below the poverty line has been lessened by an entire quarter. Croatia is among the countries for which social transfers account for less than 6.2 percent of GDP, which is 2.7 percent below the European Union average.

Want to keep up with more information like this? Make sure to follow our politics page.

 

Click here for the original article by Ljubica Gataric/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 10 February 2018

UNHCR Office Head Visits Asylum Seekers Reception Centre

ZAGREB, February 10, 2018 - The head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Croatia, Giuseppe Di Caro, visited the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb on Friday, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.

Page 1 of 2

Search