Tuesday, 15 June 2021

US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia: Week-Long Visit Regarding Visa-Free Travel

June 15, 2021 -  The US Department of Homeland Security officials in Croatia will continue to work in strengthening diplomatic relations with Croatia and ensuring visa-free travel between the two countries situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are currently in Croatia on a weeklong visit. As reported by US Embassy on social media, the visit is in regard to Croatia's progress towards Visa Waiver Programme Membership.

If Croatia joins the programme, Croatian citizens will not need a visa to travel to the USA for tourism, transit, or even for work as long as they don't extend the 90 day limit placed on their stay in the country.

As TCN reported earlier this year, The American Embassy in Croatia formally confirmed back in February that Croatian citizens will be able to finally enjoy the right to travel to the USA without the need for a visa later this year, by the 30th of September 2021 at the very latest, as was reported by Večernji list.

The final prerequisite for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of November 2020. Back then, sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this criterion had been met, and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. That final bar was set by the USA to Croatia.

''Our two governments are continuing their close cooperation on meeting the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme participation. US Department of Homeland Security officials are currently here, working with their Croatian Government partners on further advancing our shared goals, as well as addressing any remaining technical and policy requirements. People-to-people ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia are robust,'' says the press release by the US Embassy in Zagreb.

They added that the US Embassy is continuing to focus on strengthening ties between the two countries and that Croatia is a trusted partner, and these new travel arrangements will also contribute to deepening bilateral relations.

This bit of news comes as a refreshment when taking into account some other recent events. Croatia and the USA enjoy a close connection thanks to their NATO membership, and recently, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic stated that he would not accept a NATO closing declaration if it failed to mention the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples.

That statement was criticised even by Željko Komšić, the Croatian member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, saying that ''the concept of constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obsolete.''

Additionally, a bit of challenge can be seen with the fact that while the US Embassy has a diplomatic mission in Croatia, there is no appointed Ambassador to Croatia at the moment. But nevertheless, cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations remain tight.

As TCN reported back in May, Croatia participated in a military exercise of transporting American military supplies, before that, in March, the US donated the GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital and also invested $480,000 in the Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre.

In addition to their cooperation in terms of safety and health issues, the US additionally cooperated with the science-technology park - Step-Ri to bring entrepreneurship expertise to the Croats. With this diplomatic friendship evident and constantly being nourished, visa-free travel between the two countries is both fully deserved and now needed.

Learn more about visas in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Monday, 14 June 2021

National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation and Croatian Fraternal Union To Celebrate Thirty Years of Croatian Independence

June the 14th, 2021 - This article was co-written by Steve Rukavina and Anna Maria Sicenica, NFCACF Board Members.

On Saturday, June the 26th at 11:00am Eastern time, the NFCA will be co-hosting with the Croatian Fraternal Union, a global webinar salute to the founding of the Republic of Croatia's democracy. The NFCA’s webinar will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Independence Day and the honoring of another “Statehood Day” (1990 milestone) and Croatia’s successful and historic road to democracy and its independence achieved especially in the 1990-1991 time frame.

Please let us invite you to a virtual celebration to mark thirty plus years of Croatian Independence (Croatian: Dan Državnosti), filled with traditional Croatian music and notable speakers. This event, as stated, will be held on June the 26th via a webinar to benefit the Special Olympics organization in Croatia!

Register Now for the 30th Anniversary of Croatia's Independence Celebration Webinar

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We will also commemorate this momentous day with keynote speeches by Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, the former President of the Republic of Croatia, and Peter Galbraith, the first  U.S. Ambassador to Croatia. We are honored to feature co-headliners like these two very prominent diplomats and principals whose leadership to assist Croatia's developing democracy was so instrumental at critical junctures over the past thirty years.

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Independence Day festivities will include a live singing performance from Dubrovnik. Petar Sambrailo (left) and Marijo Anđelić (right), are well-known 1st and 2nd tenors in the Croatian Klapa world. Both have performed with the group Klapa Kaše, who have won many awards at Klapa festivals throughout Croatia.   

Finally, athletes from the Croatian Showshoeing Special Olympic Team (which qualified for the Russian Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2022) will talk to us about their sport and their achievements. Founded back in 1992, the Special Olympics in Croatia has forty affiliated chapters all over the country and brings 16 sports to over 1,300 Croatians. The organization's mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to develop physical fitness and to find joy in the participation of sports. Croatia's Special Olympics organization has been led by Executive Director, Franjo Horvat and associate Sladjana Tatic for over twenty years.

The NFCA has four primary sponsorship tiers from $100 Bronze to $250 Silver from the $500 Gold to the $1,000 for the Platinum level. Of course, donations of any amount are welcome and encouraged! 100% of the sponsorship proceeds and earmarked funds raised during this event will go to Croatia's Special Olympics organization. The NFCA is very proud to be a major sponsor and partner of this truly incredible organization. For inquiries about donations, please contact Steve Rukavina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We hope you will join us for a wonderful seventy-five-minute event full of Croatian music, culture, and history on June 26th from the comforts of your home whether you're in Croatia, anywhere globally or here in the USA!  

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Summer Business School: A Chance for Entrepreneurs at Step-Ri Science-Technology Park

May 27, 2021 - This June, a five-day Summer Business School organized by Step-Ri Science-Technology Park and the American Embassy in Croatia makes Rijeka the place for entrepreneurs.

Science parks, research parks or technology parks or less intriguingly known as innovation centers, are a purpose-built cluster of office spaces, labs, workrooms, and meeting areas designed to support research and development in science and tech, says Bidwells, one of the UK's most reputable property consultancy companies. Common infrastructures worldwide and in Europe, the biggest city in Kvarner, Rijeka, is no exception in having one.

Step-Ri is a science-technology park, part of the University in Rijeka, and a place where science and economy meet to encourage entrepreneurship based on knowledge and new technologies.

„As one of the leading institutions in Croatia when it comes to entrepreneurship, Step Ri brings the newest knowledge in innovation and management from around the world through interesting education and business consulting. With our knowledge and experience, singlehandedly and with the help of the international network of partners and friends, we create projects and specialized programs to encourage entrepreneurship initiatives for both employed and unemployed, students, and the scientific community. With new services, business models, personal and organizational competencies, we make already successful entrepreneurs more competitive“, says Step-Ri's official website.
One example of such initiatives is the upcoming Summer Business Camp which will take place from June 23-27. And what's more interesting, this five-day program is brought to Step-Ri in collaboration with the American Embassy in Croatia.

„Summer Business Camp brings teams from all Croatia that want to improve or refine their business ideas and solutions through exercises, lectures, and individual coaching, “says Step Ri, promising extraordinary mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and investors.

This year, special attention will be given to the gaming startups, but other industries are also welcome. Regardless of whether you are already an entrepreneur or just aspiring to be one, you are welcome to apply if you have a developed business idea or a functional prototype.

Learning how to bulletproof your idea, experienced entrepreneur as a mentor, a chance to hear directly from investors what are they looking for and how to deliver it, valuable feedback and honest thoughts to accelerate your project, creating new opportunities, meeting other people in the business, and a having a good time- are some of the promises by Step-Ri for those who apply.

But, it would be best if you hurried, as June 6 is very close, and that's the deadline to beat. At least ten teams will be selected after a committee of experts evaluates project applications. Bed and breakfast accommodation for up to two team members, lunch at the venue, local bus tickets for getting to the venue, and a commemorative T-shirt await for those who are selected. And once in, a panel of venture capitalists, business angels, and business people will award the best with Apple iPad Pro (1st prize), Apple iPad Air 4 (2nd prize), and Apple iPad 8 (3rd prize).

Pieces of technologies such as the aforementioned above can certainly come in handy to entrepreneurs, but what about money? The actual finance for your projects?
„Many teams in the past received funding from participating investors and judges. However, nobody but you can answer that! Come and pitch your idea and see how far it will take you!“concludes Step-Ri regarding finance possibilities to turn your vision into a reality.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

DEFENDER-Europe-21: Zadar Doing Its Part in Large NATO Exercise

May 7, 2021 - As part of NATO, Croatia participates in a large military exercise called DEFENDER-Europe-21, and UK and US navy ships arrived in Zadar with valuable equipment to be distributed among training areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Large-scale, multinational, and army-lead, DEFENDER-Europe is a joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO, and partner militaries. This year's edition DEFENDER-Europe-21, as reported by U.S. Army Europe and Africa website, focuses on „Building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations is defensive in nature and focused on responding to the crisis if necessary“, and also shows that „the U.S. commitment to NATO is ironclad.“

The exercise also includes strict COVID prevention and mitigation measures, such as pre-deployment COVID testing and quarantining and the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy show significant involvement and will utilize key ground and maritime routes bridging Europe, Asia, and Africa – continues the website.

„Exercises new high-end capabilities such the new U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades, air, and missile defense assets and the recently reactivated V Corps and demonstrates our ability to serve as a strategic security partner in the western Balkans and the Black Sea regions while sustaining our abilities in northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Africa“, adds the exercise goals the official U.S. Army website.

Apart from the U.S., Approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in 12 countries, and as a NATO member, Croatia has not been left out of the drill.

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U.S. Naval Ship Yuma arrives in Zadar, Croatia © Sgt. Alexandra Shea

As part of the exercise, U.S. Naval Ship Yuma and U.K. Vessel Hurst Point off-loaded more than 300 pieces of military equipment in Zadar, Croatia’s Gazenica port, after ferrying it from Durres in Albania. The delivery started on Tuesday, May 4, and it was concluded on Friday. The journey of the equipment started back on March 24 at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida. The local U.S. National Guard units were shipping the equipment for three days onto USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) after which, the ship stopped by Portsmouth in Virginia for the final pieces of equipment before heading towards Durres in Albania. In Durres, the smaller vessels took the equipment and finally loaded it to Yuma, and Hurst Point, which brought it to the gem of Northern Dalmatia, Zadar.

„This process is called Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, a method used to ensure swift delivery of supplies and equipment in a variety of port situations“, explained the press release.

U.S._equipment_leaves_for_training_area-c-Sgt._Joshua_Oh.jpgU.S. equipment leaves for training area © Sgt. Joshua Oh 

While many would probably stop at Zadar and chill for a lovely holiday, the equipment, however, will continue its journey. Part of the equipment will remain in Croatia, but it will be transferred to Slunj, home of the Main Training Area, and the rest goes to training areas scattered in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In BiH, the drills and maneuvers for which the equipment will be used are under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21” which will culminate in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” at the end of May. Not just as a test of possibility in the „God-forbid-we-are-attacked“ scenario, Croatian Rampart 1991-2021“ also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatia Armed Forces.

The Main Training Area in Slunj, Croatia and training areas throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to be used in drills and maneuvers alongside members of the Croatian Armed Forces, under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21.” The exercise culminates in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” - which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces at the end of May.

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British Major Dan Cornwell talking to Croatian press, screenshot / Defense Flash News

British Major Dan Cornwell told the Croatian press that the idea of being in Zadar is that Croatian, U.K., and U.S. forces operate together in loading U.S. equipment and personnel.

„We've done this before, on exercise last year in Germany, and I can say, it's a lot better down here in the south, it's absolutely amazing to be here in Croatia to do this alongside Croatian Armed Forces where we can better understand how we operate differently, how we operate similarly and equally building up our interoperability and our ability to operate better in the future“, said Maj. Cornwell, indicating that perhaps he can find Zadar, like many others, as a great holiday destination and not just the line of duty.

Learn more about Zadar on our TC page.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Commander of U.S. Air Forces For Europe, Africa Visits Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa and of Allied Air Command, visited Croatia on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Harrigian met with the ministry state secretary, Zdravko Jakop, the director of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, Major General Ivica Olujić, and the commander of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec.

They discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in defence and Agile Combat Employment, which is based on interoperability, as well as agreements regulating access to the Allied infrastructure and air space.

The Croatian Army, as an active NATO member, is participating in many international military exercises and activities which enhance the common capabilities and intensify cooperation between the member states, including the DEFENDER-Europe 21 and Astral Knight 21 exercises.

Jakop thanked the U.S. for donations and training assistance, saying that the bilateral relations were developed and that the U.S. "is the most important strategic partner in global security building."

Harrigian said he was looking forward to joint participation in Astral Knight, an exercise taking place in Croatia which, he said, offers an exceptional opportunity to train with some of the strongest allies.

Križanec underlined the importance of joint participation in international military exercises and activities this year, including  Adriatic Strike 21, Astral Knight 21 and Immediate Response 21.

Air forces, owing to rapid action and deployment in an exceptionally wide operations area, play a significant role in supporting deterrence as a key element of NATO's collective defence, he said.

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

USA Not Recommending Travel to 100 Countries, Including Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - The U.S. State Department has added about 100 countries this week to its "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisory list, putting Croatia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and others on the list, citing a "very high level of COVID-19," Reuters reported.

On Monday, the State Department said it would boost the number of countries receiving its highest advisory rating to about 80% of countries worldwide.

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Do Not Travel." The State Department now lists about 131 countries at Level Four, says Reuters.

The State Department said Monday the move "reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) existing epidemiological assessments."

Other countries in the "Do Not Travel" list include Finland, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. Some countries like China and Japan remain at "Level 3: Reconsider Travel."

Most Americans already had been prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa, Reuters says.

On Tuesday, the United States extended by another 30 days restrictions barring non-essential travel at its Canadian and Mexican borders.

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

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

American Film Producer Don Victor Cisternino Ends Up in Remetinec Jail - Jutarnji List daily Reports

ZAGREB, 14 April, 2021 - US actor and producer Don Victor Cisternino has found himself on an international arrest warrant because the United States wants him for fraud of millions of dollars in subsidies for his employees affected by the pandemic, the Jutarnji List daily said on Wednesday.

I was afraid that the new administration under President Joe Biden would prosecute me for this kind of business, even though it was allowed during the Trump administration. That is why I decided to flee to Europe after the election in the US and seek asylum in Russia or some other country. And that's how I came to Croatia where I wanted to seek political asylum, Cisternino was quoted as saying.

The 45-year old actor and producer, known for his episode role in the television series ER, was arrested on an international arrest warrant on Sunday evening when he entered Croatia from Slovenia in a vehicle.

Over the past few years Cisternino has been running his own company, Magnifi Co, providing consulting services in the film and art industry. The state attorney in Orlando, Florida has charged Cisternino with embezzlement of $7.2 million of a state loan for support to companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cisternino submitted fraudulent details to obtain a jobkeeping loan claiming that his company employed 422 employees, yet it only has two - Cisternino and his wife.

Irregularities were discovered by the tax authorities as Cisternino's tax return noted that all his workers paid the same tax of $3,356. However, due to tax deductions related to the number of children, unemployed spouse and other benefits, taxation varies from employee to employee which then raised suspicion as all 422 workers paid an identical tax amount.

Cisternino has declared that he objects to being extradited to the US. That means that his extradition won't be expedited and the formal extradition procedure will follow, the daily reported.

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

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

$480,000 Invested in Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The refurbished building housing Rijeka's Maritime Crisis Centre for Faster Response to Any Disaster off Croatia’s Coastline was officially opened on Tuesday.

The investment into the upgrade of this offshore emergency response centre in the biggest Croatian seaport totalled US$ 480,000, and the lion's share of the investment was provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During the ceremony, the state secretary of the Croatian Sea, Transport and Infrastructure ministry, Josip Bilaver, thanked the U.S. administration and military as well as the US Embassy in Zagreb for this donation in the amount of HRK 3.2 million.

The ministry has invested a million kuna, while the local county authorities provided 100,000 kuna for the project.

"The U.S.-Croatia partnership at sea is essential to the two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security. That is why the United States, through the U.S. Military’s European Command (EUCOM), provided assistance to the Croatian Ministry of Sea, Transportation and Infrastructure and the Rijeka Harbor Master’s office to advance training and emergency-response capabilities at sea," the embassy said on its website.

The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Victoria Taylor, who today joined State Secretary Bilaver for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, expressed satisfaction with the completion of this project.

Over the last decade, the USA has set aside HRK 4.5 billion to support numerous civilian and military projects in Croatia, she said.

The Rijeka centre is described as a a renewed facility that will become "the central point for planning, training, and management in response to emergencies at sea, from supporting persons and vessels in need to addressing maritime accidents and oil pollution."

"The upgraded center will therefore play a critical role in maintaining the safety and environmental stewardship of Croatian coastal waters, ensuring quick action in response to a potential environmental disaster. Protection of the environment is a key priority for both Croatia and the United States, and joint capacity to mitigate against incidents and accidents at sea can make all the difference in a crisis."

The embassy recalls that "Rijeka is already a hub for U.S.-Croatia cooperation, with the port city benefiting economically from nearly 900 million kuna in contracted services by the U.S. Navy for ship maintenance and support since 2011."

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

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering Scientific Study Recommended by ACI

February the 25th, 2021 - The Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering is known for its innovation and the type of successful students it ''breeds'' within its walls, and recognition from the United States is the latest accolade this Croatian institution has received.

As Novac writes, the American Concrete Institute (ACI) is the world's leading organisation in the field of design and construction of concrete structures, which deals with the development and preparation of proper standards, technical recommendations and reports, as well as the organisation of various educational programmes. It is an impressive organisation which can boast of over 30,000 members in over 120 countries. ACI publishes the "ACI Concrete SmartBrief" e-news on a monthly basis, with highlights for its members in the field of innovation.

It was precisely that monthly publication in which ACI recommended the work of researchers from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Zagreb earlier this month. The article is called Non-Destructive Corrosion Inspection of Reinforced Concrete Using Ground-Penetrating Radar: A Review and was published in Materials magazine, published by MDPI (ISSN 1996-1944) by Ksenija Tesic, Ana Baricevic and Marijana Serdar, employees of the Department of Materials at the Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering. The American review analysed the advantages and challenges of using radars to determine the corrosion of reinforcement in concrete in real time.

The article was created as part of the doctoral research of Ksenija Tesic, a doctoral student employed on a project entitled "An autonomous system for reviewing and predicting the integrity of transport infrastructure - ASAP", which is co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund.

The Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering (GF) of the University of Zagreb is otherwise the main beneficiary and coordinator of the ASAP project, which is implemented in cooperation with its partners, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB) and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) of the University of Zagreb.

By connecting the fields of construction, robotics and computing through the ASAP project, an interdisciplinary core has been created that offers an innovative solution for maintenance, monitoring and management of buildings, and is a future strong strategic partner to the public and private sector in the field of construction modernisation, and the Americans think so too.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2021

US Embassy Croatia Officially Confirms Croatians USA Visa-Free Travel

February 16, 2021 – It's official! The American Embassy in Croatia today formally confirmed Croatians USA Visa-free travel. Croatians will have the right to travel to the USA without a Visa from later this year.

The American Embassy in Croatia today officially confirmed Croatians USA Visa-free travel. Having met the final stipulation set by the USA in 2020, Croatians right to travel to the USA without a Visa will be open later this year.

Tweeting from the official account of the American Embassy in Croatia, the news of Croatians USA Visa-free travel was released at 16.49 on Tuesday 16 February 2021. This is the first time that official confirmation of Croatians USA Visa-free travel has come from America authorities.

The main precondition set by the USA for the abolition of visa requirement for Croatians visiting America was a drop in the number of denied Visa applications to below 3%. Croatia attained that result back in September 2020. Total Croatia News was the first English language media in the world to reveal the stipulation had been met, granting Croatians USA Visa-free travel.

"It's official! The final rejection rate for Croatian tourist / business visa applicants fell to 2.69% last year, an important step forward in joining the US visa waiver program. We look forward to Croatians travelling to the United States visa-free in the near future, ” wrote Victoria J. Taylor, Deputy American Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. She went on to thank the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian government for their help in securing Croatians USA Visa-free travel.

 

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.

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