Sunday, 6 September 2020

PHOTOS: Five Amazing New Murals Vukovar Street Art 2020

Sunday, 6 September 2020 – The Vukovar street art 2020 event VukovArt has just finished. Here are the five fantastic new works its left in the colourful Slavonian town.

The paints have dried, the scaffolding has been removed and all but the last few organisers have set off home. But, though VukovArt, the annual Vukovar street art 2020 has finished, the paintings from this year will remain.

These wonderful new works join a spectacular series of paintings which decorate the town, thanks to previous editions of VukovArt (you can check them ALL out on this link). Residents of the town now live their everyday lives among these incredible pieces of public art.

Here's a look at the Vukovar street art 2020 collection and a little from some of the artists who've made them.

OKO (Croatia)

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Because he’s Mister Strength, Courage and Health

Human bodies, dressed in Victorian finery, topped with the heads of animals and, especially, birds; OKO's intricate and sometimes sinister designs have been seen at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the European Parliament in Brussels and in more proletarian spaces such as Zagreb’s Medika club and Theatre &TD. Her murals are often similar, only produced on an industrial scale.

"I chose to paint a bear because this animal often symbolises amazing strength and endurance," OKO told TCN. "When they invited me to paint in Vukovar it seemed like best possible symbolism for a city that endured so much and yet which still stands strong.

Boogie (Germany / Switzerland)

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Boogie down Vukovar

Some 20 years ago, Boogie aka André Morgner formed the SML Crew in a region of eastern Germany not far from the Czech border. They've been active ever since, although Morgner himself moved to Switzerland. There, he's a now full-time artist, drawing his murals on walls of buildings, parks and offices, on commission for people like Google, Burton Snowboards and BMW. His pieces are vivid and contemporary in colour, but often take inspiration from the bragging tag work of vintage hip hop.

Tea Jurišić (Croatia)

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Bora

Having worked in many different modes of visual art, Tea Jurišić is, to many, known more for her drawings, paintings and illustrations than she is her street art. Yet, she has created various murals in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Norway. Since 2017 she has had 8 solo exhibitions in Croatia and overseas. She uses comedy and surrealism to add a playful edge to her simple storytelling.

"My challenge was a 300 square metre wall in the Olajnica neighbourhood, which I was painting between the 28th of August and the 3rd of September," said Tea. "The mural's name is Bora. It's the name of a fiercely strong wind that sometimes visits the coast of Croatia. I chose the name as I was trying to connect thematically two Croatian waters - the continental Danube river and the Adriatic sea. I relied on fresh colours that would bring a touch of summer to the gloomy days of winter that lie ahead. I tried to adapt the colours to the building, and the environment around the building. My experience in Vukovar was wonderful - from friendly people, a beautiful city and delicious food. It was an experience to remember for a lifetime."

Eugen Varzić (Croatia)

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Future Freedom

A graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, Eugen Varzić is something of a classicist operating inside wholly modern mediums. His paintings adorn city streets in Madrid, churches and the streets of his native Istria where, in Poreč, you'll also find his two mosaic sculptures, Trosjed and Konfin.

"This piece was a challange for me, because of the size, the positioning and the motif," Eugen said of his piece of Vukovar street art 2020. "The whole place used to be a military camp. After the fighting finished, they turned it into a memorial centre for the war, a kind of museum where you can see the planes, tanks, learn about Vukovar. Kids from all over Croatia come. There is a hostel where they can stay. When they asked me to paint this wall, because of where it is, that put some boundaries on my work. I had to think differently. This wall is not so easy to paint on – it's broken, it has windows, it's surrounded by steel, there are fire stairs."

"I decided on a half portrait of my daughter's smiling face. I wanted to show something happy and which looks forward into the future. Half of the face is pixalated, so it's clearly placed in the 21st century. I used squares within the piece because it's so connected to Croatia – you can see them on the shirts of the national team football players, on the Croatian flag. There are also 87 birds in the paintings. That number was chosen because there were 87 days of fighting before the town of Vukovar fell."

Arsek & Erase (Bulgaria)

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The Golden Snake

Operating as a duo for 20 years, Arsek & Erase create playful, bright and colourful images - and highly memorable characters - using illustration and surrealism. They have painted works all over Europe, their own native Bulgaria, and in Russia, China, Taiwan, El Salvador and the United States.

All photos Vukovar street art 2020 © VukovArt

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Thursday, 17 June 2021

PHOTOS: Inspiring and Incredible Vukovar Street Art

June 17, 2021 - International artists have visited Slavonia for the 2021 VukovART Festival. We take a look at all their fantastic new works and see how they line up in the Vukovar street art collection.

In total, 33 breathtaking artworks have now transformed the Slavonian town via VukovART. Since 2016, famous artists from all over the of the region, Europe and further still have visited this place, where the Danube and Vuka rivers meet. They've joined an effort to keep Vukovar a contemporary, forward-thinking city. And, in doing so, they've left their mark. 2021 is no exception.

In this article, we look at the Vukovar street art made in every year since the festival began. And, we show you all of 2021's new works, and where you can go and see them. The VukovART Vukovar Street Art event takes place each summer.

2016: Inspiration

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Filip Mrvelj

Thanks to VukovART, the town of Vukovar is now permanently transformed, its buildings a constant source of inspiration. But, all Vukovar street art actually stems from one temporary 3D painting made on a town bridge by Filip Mrvelj from Slavonski Brod. Residents loved interacting with the 'collapsed' bridge for the few days it lived and willingly embraced street art thereafter.

2017: Expansion

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Eduardo Relero

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Filip

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Juandres Vera

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Nikolai Arndt

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Cuboliquido 1

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Alex Maksiov

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Cuboliquido 2

3D anamorphic art again played a large part in the event's first international occurrence, when no less than 6 artists visited the town. This time, bridge surfaces and undersides were addressed, park paving became a backdrop and, for the first time, Vukovar street art appeared on the walls of buildings.

2018: Year-long and permanent Vukovar Street Art

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Marina

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Vera

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Ricky

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Ella & Pitr

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Chez & Sarme

The first year of truly permanent transformation, 2018 saw Vukovar street art works explode onto the walls of residential buildings. It brought art into the very heart of Vukovar's communities. So grand was the artists' ambition, that this year saw the first joint works, with two pairs of artists working in collaboration. You can still visit some of these paintings today.

Vukovar Street Art 2019

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Mazza

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Mehsos

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WD

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Lonac

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Zabou

With VukovART having found its true raison d'être, the previous year's successes were built on with a glorious array of new works that again got up close and personal, infiltrating the lives of the town's inhabitants.

2020 Vukovar Street Art

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OKO

Human bodies dressed in Victorian finery, topped with the heads of animals and, especially, birds; Croatian artist OKO's intricate and sometimes sinister designs have been seen at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the European Parliament in Brussels and in more proletarian spaces such as Zagreb’s Medika club and Theatre &TD.

Boogie_Boogie_Down_Vukovar.jpgBoogie

German artist Boogie's sometimes self-aggrandizing pieces are vivid and contemporary in colour, but often take inspiration from the bragging tag work of vintage hip hop culture.

118851924_3850602011619889_3433812963959143422_o.jpgTea Jurišić

Croatian artist Tea Jurišić is known for her drawings, paintings and illustrations and has created various murals in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Norway. She uses comedy and surrealism to add a playful edge to her simple storytelling. In her piece of Vukovar street art, she depicts the seasonal Croatian wind, the Bora.

Eugen_Varzić_Future_Freedom.jpgEugen Varzić

A graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, Eugen Varzić is a classically trained artist operating inside wholly modern mediums. On this challenging canvass, he painted his daughter's face and 87 birds, representing the number of days of fighting before the town of Vukovar fell.

Arsek_Erase_The_Golden_Snake.jpgArsek & Erase

Bulgarian artists Arsek & Erase create playful, bright and colourful images - and highly memorable characters - using illustration and surrealism.

2021: Biggest event yet

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Kerim Mušanović 'Strawberry Flavor'
Address: Šetnica uz Vuku, Vukovar

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BoaMistura 'OSTAJEMO (We stay)'
Address: Marina Drzica 2-4, Vukovar

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Mr.WOODLAND 'Inseparable'
Address: Domovinskog rata 18-20, Borovo naselje, Vukovar

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Bustart 'Kiss by the Danube'
Address: Zupanijska cesta 61, Vukovar

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Victor Splash 'Everything is on the surface'
Address: Stjepana Radica 12-14, Vukovar

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Marion Ruthardt 'Lipizzaner'
Address: Šetnica uz Vuku, Vukovar

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Juandrés Vera 'The Heart is the Commander (We, ourselves and us)' Welcome back, Juandrés!
Address: Ul. Josipa Jurja Strossmayera, Vukovar

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Artez 'Surprise Yourself'
Address: Ulica Hrvatskog zrakoplovstva 11, Vukovar

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Jana Brike 'Procession of life by a blue river'
Address: Županijska cesta 124-126, Vukovar

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Šumski 'Portals'
Address: TBC

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Sunday, 21 June 2020

Off-Road Cycling Route Between Vukovar and Sarengrad Presented

ZAGREB, June 21, 2020 - A 30-km-long cycling trail running through the countryside and vineyards from Vukovar to Sarengrad near Ilok was presented at the Vucedol Culture Museum, outside Vukovar, earlier this week.

The route is intended for the growing number of cycling tourists in eastern Croatia.

"The Vineyard Trail is an off-road route through the countryside and vineyards which we have designed because the road to Ilok is very busy and is not adapted for use by cycling tourists. The route goes past the Vucedol Culture Museum and many family farms," the head of the Vukovar-Srijem County Department for Tourism and Culture, Marija Budimir, said.

She said that last year the county had spent HRK 490,000 (€65,000) on the promotion of cycling tourism, of which 60% were grants from the Ministry of Tourism.

County prefect Bozo Galic said that Vukovar-Srijem County "has a lot of potential for cycling tourism and with the aid of EU funding we will build infrastructure for the development of this branch of tourism."

Friday, 19 June 2020

President: Football Fans' Clashes in Vukovar Indicate Situation in Town Not Normal

ZAGREB, June 19, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that conflicts between football fans' groups in Vukovar showed that the situation in that eastern town "is not normal" as local youth was constantly being poisoned, and he called for punishing the perpetrators.

"The perpetrators should be punished and that, I'm sure, is what will happen in this case, which is just an indicator of the situation in the town, which is not normal," Milanovic said in a comment on an incident in Vukovar's neighbourhood of Borovo Naselje, when six people were injured in clashes between supporters of the Dinamo Zagreb football club and those of Partizan Belgrade.

Milanovic does not believe such conflicts are accidental but he does not see how they are linked with the election campaign, noting that they happen all the time.

He said that he was not familiar with the details of the incident but that he did know that back in 2008 there had been an agreement between the then city authorities and representatives of the Serb minority on the official use of the minority's Cyrillic script, after which "the situation has simply regressed to the situation of years ago."

"A series of events in the political life of Vukovar and Croatia have resulted in a radical change of government at all levels, and, unfortunately, a group of people could not imagine their coming back to power without restoring the situation to how it was in 1991," he said.

He said that new generations of young people, notably men, who had been exposed to strong indoctrination on both sides, were now growing up.

"We know what happened in 1991 but 11-12 years ago, when I was just entering the world of politics, the situation in Vukovar looked much better than it is today. I think that one can identify by name the group of people who are responsible for this situation, and the majority is always at least equally responsible as the minority. The majority are we, Croats," he said.

The president would neither support nor criticise comments by politicians regarding the issue of abortion, saying that he was saving his neutrality for the duration of electioneering.

Nevertheless, he noted that his position on the matter is already known and that the right to choose is not only a technical right but also a complex matter.

"The woman is the one to decide. I also respect the more conservative views but I do not agree with them and believe that a line should be drawn somewhere."

As for his predecessor Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic showing her middle finger as a sign of protest at some positions on the right to abortion of raped women, Milanovic said that such a style was always a method of fight and should be viewed in a certain context.

"The middle finger does not mean anything to me, it can be funny, it can be vulgar. It depends on the context," he said.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Six Injured in Clashes Between Dinamo and Partizan Fans in Vukovar

ZAGREB, June 19, 2020 - Six people were injured in clashes between supporters of the Dinamo Zagreb football club and Partizan Belgrade in Vukovar on Thursday, and they were given treatment in the local hospital.

Local police spokesman Dragoslav Zivkovic said the police had arrested several people and we're looking for other participants in the conflict which occurred in the neighborhood of Borovo Naselje.

According to eyewitnesses, about 20 people participated in the fight between Dinamo's Bad Blue Boys and Partizan's Global (Grave-diggers), using flares, clubs, and other objects.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Vukovar Donates HRK 200,000 to Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 29, 2020 - The eastern city of Vukovar has decided to donate HRK 200,000 (approx. €26,700) to Zagreb to help it remove the consequences of an earthquake that hit the capital city on March 22.

Offering Zagreb congratulations on the occasion of its day, May 31, and the Feast of Our Lady of the Stone Gate, Vukovar City authorities said they hoped reconstruction work in Zagreb would be completed as soon as possible and the city would emerge even more beautiful and stronger than it was before the quake.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Employment in Vukovar: Workers to Make Parts for Boeing and Airbus

The words ''employment in Vukovar'' aren't commonly said or heard. Vukovar, as well as the entire eastern region of Croatia is known more for its workers abandoning it in favour of Germany and Ireland than its workers generating their income there. Vukovar, once ravaged by war, isn't a place that draws much attention from would-be investors or business owners. Is all of that about to finally alter?

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of March, 2020, interest in Vukovar has been expressed by a Zagreb-based company which employs 650 people in Croatia, Germany and across the Atlantic in the United States. Just when the factory in Vukovar is due to begin work is unknown so far, but the plans for employment in Vukovar look promising.

Although speculation about the arrival of a company from the aviation industry sector to Vukovar has been rife for some time now, official confirmation of what will likely be a much needed spring in Vukovar's step arrived this week. Namely, Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava visited the headquarters of Enikon Aerospace in Zagreb, which manufactures plastic parts for aircraft interiors.

Penava announced on the occasion that the employment of fifty people in Vukovar is expected in April, and that, ultimately, 200 workers will be employed by Boeing and Airbus in Croatia's beloved Hero City on the Danube.

It is not yet known exactly when production could begin in Vukovar, as fifty of the first workers will be sent to training after signing their contracts, which will last, as Penava points out, between six and twelve months.

''The arrival of Enikon Aerospace in Vukovar, in addition to the fact that it brings with it the creation of 200 new jobs, also sends us a clear message that new opportunities are being created in terms of acquiring and improving knowledge and skills in the field of this technologically advanced industry, which did not exist here until now. Considering the fact that the needs of Enikon regarding the profile of workers and their qualifications are really diverse, I believe that in this area, we'll find the necessary workforce, which will be trained and improved for all further needs of the company,'' Penava said.

Enikon points out that at first they plan to produce 100 parts per day here, and as many as 1500 later on in the year, meaning increased employment in Vukovar.

''We came to Vukovar exclusively for business reasons. The airline industry is specific and relatively small, and quality and precision are the primary things to take into consideration. Certainly, a commitment is necessary, and there are all these virtues in Croatia,'' said Enikon's Vice President Jakov Baricic.

It's worth recalling that last year, the Austrian FACC bought land in Jakovlje near Zagreb, where it plans to invest thirty million euros in its aircraft parts factory. In the first phase, they plan to hire 600 people, and ultimately it could result in the creation of several thousand new jobs.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Croatian Railways Building 400 Kilometers of High Speed Track

Croatian Railways is building 400 kilometers of high-speed track and trains on several key routes will be running at speeds of up to 160 km/h within 10 years. The average speed of a current Croatian train is only 58.2 km/h! Only Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro have railway systems worse than ours.

However, December has proven to be the month of railways when it comes to major projects in this area of Croatian infrastructure, according to Krešimir Žabec/Jutarnji List on December 30, 2019. For years, there have been reports of billions of euros coming to Croatia to upgrade our catastrophic rail network.

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Map of Current and Upcoming Croatian Railways High-Speed Projects | Croatian Railways

Average Speed of Current Croatian Train: 58.2 km/h

The state of railway infrastructure in Croatia is perhaps best illustrated by the indicator of 58.2 kilometers per hour, which is the average speed of trains running in Croatia. Only Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro have railway systems worse than ours. But until recently, promises of a brighter future for Croatian Railways have sounded like the dreams of politicians which never produced any visible results. However, a turnaround began to take hold this past month.

First New Railway Line in 50 Years Launched in December 2019

First, after 50 years, a new railway line was launched in Croatia: from Gradec to Sveti Ivan Žabno. Then, in Vukovar, a contract was signed with the Spanish company Comsa to upgrade and electrify the Vinkovci - Vukovar railway. Eight years after its launch; the Turkish company Cengiz was selected as contractor for the Križevci - Koprivnica - Hungarian Border section of the project. And a 321 million EUR contract was finally signed to build the Lowland Railway section of Hrvatski Leskovac to Karlovac, which is being co-financed by the European Union.

Three Billion EUR Investment in Croatian Railways

Croatia, the European Union and the World Bank are expected to invest more than 3 billion EUR in designing, renovating and upgrading Croatian railway infrastructure over the next ten years. There are 18 projects in different stages of progress, of which only the Gradec - Sv. Ivan Žabno line has been finished.

Overview of the 250-Kilometer Lowland Railway Project

The international Mediterranean railway corridor connects Rijeka with the Baltic. The Croatian part of this corridor is divided into a section from Zagreb to Rijeka, known as the Lowland Railway, and the section from Zagreb to Botovo (the Hungarian border). It is a 250-kilometer railway line, and only 22 kilometers, from Zagreb to Dugo Selo, are currently two-lane and have been electrified. The estimated value of the modernization and construction of this route is approximately 2.6 billion EUR, and that tab does not include the cost of modernizing the Zagreb hub.

The other sections of this route are in different stages of completion. Work on the 38.2-kilometer Dugo Selo – Križevci section is underway and running about two years behind schedule.

The contract for co-financing and a tender for a contractor have been signed for the section from Hrvatski Leskovac to Karlovac.

Two Options for Most Expensive Lowland Span: Karlovac - Škrljevo

The Hrvatski Leskovac – Karlovac section is connected to the most difficult and expensive span, running from Karlovac to Škrljevo, which is about 150 kilometers long. Construction costs could reach 1.5 billion EUR, but he total cost of will depend on whether the Northern or Southern option is selected. Kupska, the Northern option, is 150 kilometers long, of which 61 kilometers involve tunnels and bridges. Drežnička, the Southern option, is 170 kilometers long with 45 kilometers of tunnels and bridges.

It is unknown at this time whether this section will be put into concession or the European Commission will decide to co-finance the project, due to concern over utilizing Chinese capital. EU funding for Croatia is a more favorable option as it won’t impact public debt. In the event of a concession, a Chinese company would build and finance the project, backed by state guarantees of around 1.5 billion EUR. And it would be difficult for the Croatian state to allow that.

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Close-Up of the Zagreb - Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac - Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani Line | Croatian Railways

Location Permit and Plans for Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani Section

A location permit has been obtained for the Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani section and the main plans are being drawn, and are being co-financed by the EU with 8.5 million EUR. A final solution is currently being worked on for the Zagreb hub. According to projections, the entire Lowland Railway could be completed by 2030.

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Close-Up of Railway Line Upgrades to Hungary and Serbia | Croatian Railways

Work Progressing on the Zagreb - Serbian Border Railway

Another important international route is railway from Zagreb to the border of Serbia. The sections of Vinkovci – Tovarnik – Serbian Border and Okučani – Novska have been modernized and plans reconstruction and upgrade of the Dugo Selo – Novska section are underway. The estimated price tag for work on this section is 580 million EUR. Project plans for the modernization of the Okučani - Vinkovci section are also in development.

In addition to the construction of the Dugo Selo - Križevci section, two more projects are underway. As part of the modernization and electrification of the Zaprešić - Čakovec railway, work is progressing on the Zaprešić - Zabok section.

Zagreb and Rijeka Port Hubs Undergoing Upgrades

The railway network within the greater Zagreb metropolitan area plays a crucial role in passenger transport. The value of this project, which is being carried out by the Swietelsky construction firm, is estimated at 529 million EUR, with a planned completion date of 2021.

Another important project is the reconstruction and capacity expansion of the Rijeka Brajdica freight railway station.

This project includes the complete reconstruction of the existing nine tracks and the extension of the Sušak railway tunnel to a length of 423 meters. The total value of this project is 35.6 million EUR. This project is extremely important for expanding the capacity of the Port of Rijeka.

Along with these and a few other projects in the upcoming ten years, Croatia is expected to finally upgrade its railway infrastructure. As mentioned in an earlier TCN article, these upgrades will allow train passengers to travel at speeds of 160 kilometers per hour.

Croatian Railways Project Overviews:

Here is an overview of six key railway projects; their statuses and expected dates of completion:

Dugo Selo - Križevci:

Length: 38.2 kilometers
Details: Upgrade of the existing track and construction of the second track.
Contractors: Zagreb Montaža, DIV, Dalekovod Integral
Completed: 65 percent of the financial part of the contract.
Deadline: 48 months
Cost: 196.9 million EUR

Križevci - Koprivnica - Hungarian Border:

Length: 42.6 kilometers
Details: Upgrade of the existing track and construction of the second track.
Contractors: Cengiz (Turkey)
Completed: Signing of construction contract in Spring 2020.
Deadline: 48 months
Cost: 400 million EUR

Vinkovci - Vukovar:

Length: 18.7 kilometers
Details: Track upgrade and electrification.
Contractors: Comsa
Completed: Signed construction contract.
Deadline: 24 months
Cost: 55 million EUR

Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac:

Length: 44 kilometers
Details: Upgrade of the existing track and construction of a second track.
Contractors: Tender in process.
Completed: EU approved co-financing with 361 million EUR.
Deadline: TBD
Cost: 450 million EUR

Zaprešić - Zabok:

Length: 23.9 kilometers
Details: Railway modernization and electrification.
Contractors: Swietelsky
Completed: In progress.
Deadline: End of 2021.
Cost: 80.8 million EUR

Rijeka Brajdica:

Length: 4 kilometers
Details: Connecting track to the container terminal of Adriatic port.
Contractors: Kolektor and Euro Asphalt
Completed: In progress.
Deadline: 45 months
Cost: 29.5 million EUR

Follow our Travel page for our continuting coverage of high-speed train track upgrades in Croatia. Train schedules, tickets, route maps and news can be accessed on the Croatian Railways site here.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Bratislava Names Street After Vukovar, Marking the Bond Between Cities

December 8, 2019 - The capital of Slovakia is the first city outside of former Yugoslavia to name a street after the Croatian hero city, Vukovar!

N1 and the Croatian State Office for Croats Abroad report that the honor of unveiling the street nameplate in the Devínska Nová Ves Municipality on Friday went to Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava and the Mayor of that municipality, Darius Krajčir, who initiated the idea and also has Croatian roots.

"The Danube River connects Bratislava and Vukovar, Vukovar is a symbol of all Croats in the world, and this act is an expression of true respect and friendship towards the heroic city," said Mayor Krajčir, stating that the municipality of Devínska Nová Ves has always been a municipality with a Croatian population, and through history has still been called Croatian.

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Central State Office for Croats Abroad

Mayor Penava expressed great gratitude but also pride because this Slovakian street now bears the name of the Croatian hero city. 

"This is not just about the street, but about what is behind it. This act speaks to Croats who came here 500 years ago and managed to preserve their language and culture, their consciousness about their nationality and Croatian roots, about the Homeland War, the symbolism and power of Vukovar and its significance for all of the Croatian people. My heart is full to be among my people in such a beautiful setting,” he noted.

The Croatian ambassador to Slovakia, Alexander Heina, also could not hide his satisfaction. 

"When a street in Croatia is called Vukovar, it is an act of recognition, but an action we expect. But when something like this happens outside the borders of Croatia, it is something special, something that needs to be recognized, because it proves the truth about the destruction of Vukovar and what happened during the Homeland War outside of Croatia,” Heina emphasized.

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Central State Office for Croats Abroad

A reception and commemorative program were organized for guests from Croatia in the Municipality of Devínska Nová Ves along with a visit to the Museum of Croatian Culture, built with donations from the governments of the two countries in Devínsko Novo Selo.

Just a few days ago, another issue was positively resolved for the Croatian national minority in Slovakia, which is a quality and long-term solution to the status of the building of the Museum of Croatian Culture in Slovakia. Societies and associations of the Croatian national minority in Slovakia have thus obtained legal certainty for the long-term use of the building for 99 years, which has become and remains the center of Croatian events, joint meetings and activities. A lasting solution to this issue is of great importance to the Croats in Slovakia.

To read more about made in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

CORRECTION: The first version of this article stated that Bratislava was the first city outside Croatia to name a street after Vukovar, as is written in the official PR material by the Government Office for Croatians Abroad. We've since fact-checked that statement, and found that Belgrade, Mostar, Skopje, Petrovaradin, and Bačka Palanka (at least those are the towns we're aware of when writing this correction) also have streets named after Vukovar. We are thus correcting that mistake.

 

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Vukovar: How to Honour the Fallen and Assist the Survivors?

November 27, 2019 - As the emotions of the Vukovar week remembering the sacrifices subside for another year, how to continue to honour those who died while assisting those who survived?

I don't think I will ever forget his face. 

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On a day of deep emotion and traumatic memories, one family watched the Vukovar Remembrance Parade pass their window, as tens of thousands took part in the parade from the hospital to the memorial cemetery. The father nodded his assent to requests for photographs. 

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And then he bounced into the room, a bundle of joy on this most solemn of days. Such youthful innocence. May the politicians not fail his generation. 

But what can be done by the rest of us as well?

I have been thinking about Vukovar a lot over the last week, and especially about the face of that young boy. So many memories of my time in Rwanda came flooding back, of all the orphans wandering aimlessly around the country in shock. 

I have never written about Vukovar before because it is one of the most sensitive of topics in the Croatian psyche, and I didn't know enough about it to write with authority. I decided to take part in the remembrance day parade this year, however, and to document it for, although 30,000 people a year go, there is very little information in English about it. You can read my impressions on this very emotional day here, as well as a truly fascinating barbecue that evening as all the foreign veterans gathered in an English pub in a field somewhere near Vinkovci

The articles have been broadly well-received, and my inbox and the comments section flooded up with comments and messages of thanks. But there was one comment which struck me the most, from a returnee from Venezuela:

The year we moved to Croatia, we visited Vukovar 5 times. Every time somebody came to visit us, instead of going to the beach, we went to pay our respects to Vukovar. It's a big, open wound. So, so sad. Then and now...

A humble, concrete way to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as spending money to support the businesses of those who survived and are trying to rebuild their lives. 

But the image of the boy would not leave me. And neither have thoughts of Vukovar, or reawakened thoughts of Rwanda. 

I have spoken to lots of locals about Vukovar since my return from the parade. Now that I have written about it, I feel courageous enough to ask questions. The general consensus I am finding is that there is considerable anger at the way that the Vukovar memorial has been hijacked by politicians for their own purposes, and the people of Vukovar and their needs have largely been forgotten. 

How many years would that innocent look of joy remain on the face of the boy? 

Driving down to Trogir the other day, my mind wandered back to Vukovar. I tried to imagine being one of the fallen heroes looking down from Heaven at the November 18 parade 28 years after his death. He would have been proud. Some 30,000 people remembering his sacrifice, a city rebuilt in terms of infrastructure, Vukovar Streets all over the country lined with candelit red lanterns of memory. And all over something called Facebook, Croats posting statuses of Vukovar, Never Forget. 

From his elevated position in Heaven, our hero could observe the Adriatic coast in July, a tourism country truly booming. The free and independent Croatia he fought and died for seemingly doing very well. 

But then, what's this? Vukovar ten days later. The parade gone, the flags taken down, the people no longer there. A tale of emigration, lack of economic opportunity, a forgotten corner of Croatia, as far from those idyllic Adriatic beaches as one could imagine. And all those Facebook profile statuses also consigned to history to be replaced with something called selfies or pet photos. 

And what was there for the boy in all this?

I started to think of my Facebook feed, all that gratitude, all those promises of never forgetting. And while it is great that people are not forgetting, there was nothing for the boy in all that, and the more I thought, the more it seemed that many of these status updates were mostly for the benefit of the poster - to bring them closer to their Croatian roots. For the boy there was nothing. 

And I wondered what our fallen hero in heaven would have thought about that?

Or was there a way that people can honour the fallen but also contribute to Vukovar's rebirth in a way that has more of an impact than a Facebook status update?

There is. Something I call Vukovar Week, an idea born from the comment from the Venezuelan returnee above. 

There are other ingredients in the Vukovar Week concept. Every child is required to visit Vukovar in 8th grade by law currently (I personally think this is too young). Croatia is introducing a Cro Card scheme (or already has). And the Chamber of Economy has run a campaign called Buy Croatian. Add to these ingredients the fact that most people outside Slavonia and the east have never visited, apart from that school trip, from the diaspora even less. 

And yet it is a fascinating, really fascinating place, as I have been reporting in recent weeks. So why not introduce a concept of Vukovar week, a sacrifice (actually a perceived sacrifice, for the rewards will be numerous) the next time you go on holiday in Croatia, locals and diaspora Take a week and HeadOnEast instead. Pay your respects in Vukovar, but also meet the people there, eat their food, drink their coffee and wine, take tours of their countryside. 

Vukovar is just a small part of Vukovar Week, however. and it gives visitors a chance to get to know much more about Croatia. I am constantly surprised that so little is known about what is east of Zagreb by locals living on the coast. Osijek, Vukovar and not much else. 

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I got SO many messages, for example, when I did the big piece on Vucedol - although people knew something of it, they had no idea it was this amazing. Vucedol is 4km from Vukovar

A riverboat down the Danube from Vukovar to fabulous Ilok and those incredible wine cellars of Ilocki Podrumi, or north to historic Osijek, the nature park of Kopacki Rit, the wine roads of Baranja, the Lipizzaner horses and cathedral of Djakovo, the oldest continuously inhabited town in all Europe at Vinkocki, the imposing fortress of Slavonski Brad, Papuk nature park and the 800-year wine story from Kutjevo. Just some of the many things available from Vukovar Week. A concrete contribution to the economy of the east, but this is not charity, for what you get in return is worth much more. Here is what we managed to pack into a family weekend recently - incredible

And, as I drove into Dalmatia and was approaching Trogir. I wondered how practical it could be to make this an official 'thing'. A range of itineraries, after each one of which, you would receive your Vukovar Week card, a card that would entitle you to some discounts on the coast. 

And a card that one could post the following November 18 on the Facebook status to show that yes, one will never forget and one is proud and thankful, but also that one has done something concrete to ensure that the sacrifice was not in vain for the surviving families. 

And maybe - just maybe - that smile of the boy might stay a little longer. And who knows, one day, that smile might belong to a business owner in Vukovar, who was not forced to emigrate. 

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