Wednesday, 30 November 2022

How to Croatia - How Can I Work Legally and How Do I Find a Job?

November the 30th, 2022 - Imagining yourself lounging around on a Dalmatian beach with a cold beer in hand is all well and good, but unless you've won the lottery or have a foreign wage or pension coming in every month, how do you fund it? Here's how to get a job (legally), in this edition of our How to Croatia series.

I know, it might be funny to read ‘working in Croatia’ considering the reality that the Croatian economy isn’t exactly booming and an enormous number of people are out of work for various reasons. There is a demographic crisis which is still ongoing, a brain drain, and there are employers seeking employees but can’t pay them what they’d like to. It’s a complicated situation that requires a book of its own, but one of many Croatian paradoxes is that you just can’t get the staff, despite the fact that the staff are quite literally everywhere.

I’m aware that many expats in Croatia earn their money abroad, or are drawing a foreign pension. In that case, you can safely skip this part, but for those who want the experience of working for a Croatian company, read on!

Now, it’s important to note that being able to work in Croatia and under what conditions also depends, much like residence, on your nationality. 

So, who can work in Croatia? Do I need a work permit?

If you’re an EEA citizen, or you’re from Switzerland, you are free to take up work or self-employment in Croatia much like a Croat can. You don’t need any type of work permit or special permission to do that. If a Croatian company wants to hire you, they can.

If you’re a third country national, then things are a bit more difficult. Not impossible, might I add, but more difficult. If you’re a third country national and you haven’t yet been granted permanent residence, then you’ll need to seek a work permit if you’re offered employment.

If you’re a British national covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (a pre-Brexit Brit), then you can work without a work permit. Post-Brexit Brits, however, fall under the third country national category.

If you have permanent residence in Croatia, you can work in Croatia regardless of your nationality, be it an EEA citizenship or a third country one, being a permanent resident in Croatia more or less equals you with a citizen, especially in this regard.

Seems simple enough… How do I get a work permit?

In order to get a work permit, you'll need to either apply from within Croatia if you're already here, or at a diplomatic mission in your own country. Should you need to extend the work permit you've been granted when here in Croatia, you may do so in person at your local administrative police station (shock, horror, it’s the police again!)

Please note that the law states you must begin the work permit extension procedure 60 days before your current work permit is due to expire. There are exceptions of course, and discretion is commonly used by MUP, but it's best to stick to this rule to avoid needless complications and possible extra paperwork, not to mention a fine.

What does a third country national need to present when applying for a work permit for Croatia?

You'll need to present an official (government issued) ID, such as a biometric ID card or a passport, and a copy of the information page.

An employment contract (it's wise to make a couple of copies), or other appropriate proof of having concluded (signed) a work contract

If you're not technically being employed by a third party, and you intend to carry out your work in Croatia as a self employed person, you'll need to provide proof of you having registered your company/trade (tvrtka or obrt), etc, in Croatia. (Extracts from the relevant registers should not be more than six months of age).

A completed application for the work permit (this can be picked up at the administrative police station when you apply, or at the competent diplomatic mission outside of Croatia).

Your OIB (personal identification number used for tax purposes that was touched on earlier).

If you've registered your address in Croatia, you'll need to provide proof of you having done so (either via a registration certificate, proof of you having submitted that particular document, or your Croatian ID card if you already have it).

A photo of you (this is done in the same way as with the residence permit, so MUP will tell you more).

Proof of having paid the applicable fees for the application.

You may be asked for proof of your education and qualifications, proof of sufficient funds, and other documents depending on your individual situation.

You'll notice that unlike when you as a third country national applied for residence in Croatia, you may not need to provide proof of having Croatian state health insurance when applying for a work/stay and work permit if you are being hired by a Croatian employer/company, as this will be paid by them anyway.

In some cases, however, third country nationals continue to be asked for this, and it is prescribed by law even though this often isn't asked about, so do be prepared for the question.

Is Croatia part of the EU Blue Card scheme?

Croatia is indeed part of the EU Blue Card scheme, which often proves useful for third country nationals in Croatia. If you're highly skilled and are offered an EU Blue Card, this can entitle you to two years of being able to work in Croatia. Other work/stay and work permits typically only allow for twelve months at a time and in some cases can prove problematic to extend.

For certain jobs, you don't need a work permit, but a work registration certificate, and your employer can get this for you from the police. If you're unsure of whether or not this applies to you, ask MUP and your employer.

I’m a third country national going through this process, does my Croatian employer need to be involved at all in this process?

Yes.

The work/stay and work permit procedure can either be done by you, or by your employer who has their company seat in Croatia. You'll both be required to provide supporting documents as and when asked for them. You may also be asked to provide official translations for any documents you provide which are not already in Croatian.

There used to be a quota system in place, but it has been abolished… Why?

Croatia used to use a quota for the employment of third country nationals in various sectors in need of workers. This has been abolished, so I won’t go too deeply into it. 

Under the no-more-quotas-rule, an employer from Croatia seeking to hire a foreign (non-EU) worker will have to contact their Croatian Employment Service’s (CES) regional office to verify whether or not there are any unemployed persons in their records who meet their requirements.

If there are any, the CES will mediate the employment of that (usually Croatian or EEA) individual, otherwise, it will issue an opinion on the basis of which MUP will issue work permits for foreigners. Once again, this refers to third country nationals, not EEA citizens, who can work freely just like Croatian citizens, without the need for any type of permit. If you’re an EEA citizen, just ignore this entirely.

It’s worth bearing in mind that these tests aren’t carried out in the case of seasonal agricultural workers, and there’s no need for the test in certain other professions either. I’m aware this comes across as somewhat vague, but these tests are also overlooked for occupations that are lacking on the local and regional labour market and cannot be 'stoked' by migration into the country, the implementation of strategic and investment projects, and ‘other circumstances relevant to economic growth and sustainable development’.

In other words, it’s all about context and the situation at hand. Much like just about everything else in Croatia.

Now that bit is (hopefully) cleared up, how do I actually find a job?

I’ll be honest, it’s no easy feat. Croatia is a nation of paradoxes in many regards, and this is just one of them. There’s an ongoing demographic crisis, employers can’t get the staff, everyone is out of work, there is plenty of work and there’s also no work. I know, it’s difficult to wrap your head around.

Employment in Croatia is, on the whole, very seasonal. The unemployment rate traditionally drops like a tonne of bricks the closer we edge to the summer tourist season, and we all get to read about it each and every year in the newspapers like it’s some economy-rescuing phenomenon. Talk about groundhog day. I digress, finding a job in the catering, hospitality and tourism sector isn’t that difficult as the warmer weather approaches, especially as the demographic crisis is biting even harder.

Traditionally, citizens of Croatia’s neighbouring countries such as Serbia and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina come to work as bar staff, waiters and chefs in coastal Croatian destinations to fill labour market gaps. Many people from Bosnia and Herzegovina also hold Croatian citizenship and of course speak Croatian, so it’s easy for them to hop over the border and get a job. Given that Dubrovnik for example is so close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, people from a town called Trebinje which belongs to Republika Srpska often travel the few miles into the extreme south of Dalmatia and gain employment as seasonal workers during summer, repeating the same thing each year, much to the disdain of Dubrovnik’s locals.

More recently, Croatia has been importing labour from much more distant countries, including India, Nepal and the Philippines. There are even agencies which facilitate precisely this. Since the war broke out in Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February 2022, many Ukrainians have also taken up residence and work in Croatia. Ukraine is hardly a distant country, but it is a third country (a non-EEA member state) and this is worth mentioning because the number of Ukrainians working in Croatia has increased significantly since Croatia facilitated this for refugees.

Many Croats have gone off to Ireland, Germany and all over the place to seek work and better prospects. This was made extremely easy when Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, allowing Croats to work in most countries across the bloc without the need for a work permit, with only a few continuing to maintain labour restrictions which would expire after a period of however many years. The United Kingdom and Austria were just two of several of the countries which imposed this. Those restrictions were eventually dropped.

Background over, let’s get back to the practicalities.

How do I find a job in Croatia?

There are a multitude of ways. In a country so set in the ways of connections and someone’s friend’s uncle knowing someone else’s cousin who used to work for so and so (apparently it’s called networking now), word of mouth is king. 

Talk to who you know, and ask them to talk to who they know

Word of mouth is, as I stated above, king in Croatia. Many people find jobs through someone who knows someone else, so put yourself out there. If you’re fluent in a language like English or German, you can absolutely use this to your advantage.

The Croatian Employment Service (CES)

In Croatian, this is Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje, or HZZ for short. It is a state institution which implements employment programmes. It is by no means a legal requirement as a jobseeker to apply to be kept up to date with new jobs on offer linked to your desired field of work, education and profession in this way, but it might help you. What you need to commit to if you do choose to do this is to visit their office once a month, then once every two months after some time passes. You’ll need to find the office closest to your place of residence if you choose to take this route. 

You can unsubscribe from their service and from receiving information on available jobs from them at any time, whether you’ve found work or not.

Facebook groups

There’s a Facebook group for just about anything, and finding jobs and staff is no exception. Numerous Facebook groups exist solely for this purpose. Many of these groups are regionally based, or city/town based. A quick Facebook search will allow you to narrow down the sort of thing you’re looking for, be that freelancing, work in the blossoming Croatian IT sector, seasonal work, or even work as a skipper, videographer or photographer.

Most of these groups will contain the words ‘trebam’ (I need), ‘tražim’ (I’m looking for), ‘nudim’ (I’m offering) and posao (work/a job). Add your location if that is important to you and you’re not a remote worker, and off you go. Just watch out for scams and spam posts. They’re usually obvious and properly administered Facebook groups will quickly take such posts down, but sometimes they aren’t as obvious as one might hope. This is a very legitimate way to seek and find work, with thousands of people doing it, but it always pays to keep your wits about you.

Websites and platforms

Just like in most other places, Croatia has its own array of websites and platforms dedicated to job searches. Posao (posao.hr) is a very popular one, as is Moj Posao (moj-posao.hr), Jooble (hr.jooble.org), Oglasnik (oglasnik.hr), Freelance (freelance.hr) and even Njuškalo (njuskalo.hr) all have a huge amount of jobs on offer spanning a very wide array of different fields and professions. There are some which offer information and even live chats in English, such as danasradim.hr, which is a Croatian language website with a live English language chat option, and PickJobs, which is available in multiple languages. 

I’m not endorsing any of the above websites, nor do I have any affiliation to them, but this is just an example of (only a mere handful) the amount of websites in Croatia dedicated to employment, be you the employer or the would-be employee. LinkedIN is also extremely helpful and will show you jobs best suited to you, as will websites like the aforementioned Moj Posao which have a newsletter you can subscribe to.

Target Croatian companies specifically

If you’re qualified and interested in a highly specific field, such as engineering for example, the likes of Rimac Automobili and Infobip might well be on your radar. There are many rapidly growing, wildly successful companies in Croatia (contrary to what you might hear and read), and they’re more or less constantly expanding and trying their hands at new things. These are the types of companies that you need to contact directly. They might be a safer option if you’re a non-EEA national without permanent residence, meaning you need a work permit in order to legally work in Croatia, as highly qualified employees who aren’t EU Blue Card holders are still deeply desired by companies like the aforementioned who are willing to go the extra mile to get you sorted legally.

Language schools

There are multiple language schools spread across Croatia who are often on the hunt for native English speakers (and indeed the native speakers of a number of other languages). A quick Google search will reveal their details. It’s absolutely worth contacting them.

Things to note

There are more and more large multinational companies popping up in Croatia, particularly in larger cities Zagreb and Split, who require staff who speak other languages. Some don’t even make speaking or understanding Croatian a requirement.

When the quota system (which I talked about a little bit in the Working in Croatia chapter) was in force, things were a bit different for companies seeking to employ third country nationals. They didn’t have to contact the Croatian Government and were free to facilitate the employment of a third country national (and have their work permit approved) as long as their skills matched what the quota needed. That is no longer the case. Now quotas are a thing of the past (and have been since January the 1st, 2021), employers must still contact the powers that be and make sure there are no Croats or permanent residents registered on the labour market who would fit the bill for the job before being able to hire you.

Many job posts being posted on Facebook groups in particular will state that they want people who have ‘EU papers’ (meaning either an EU passport, or someone who isn’t an EU citizen but who does have permanent residence in Croatia).

The economy isn’t ideal at the minute (it feels like we’ve been saying that for an eternity, doesn’t it?), and finding a job is not easy, so don’t be put off if you don’t hear back from some of the places you apply to. Unfortunately, ignoring applications as opposed to sending out a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ in response has become the norm just about everywhere.

As I talked about before, because Croatia’s demographic crisis is becoming more and more problematic, many Croatian employers are importing foreign (non-EEA) labour, either from neighbouring countries or from much further afield. If you are a non-EEA national and you manage to land a job, just be prepared for MUP to take a while to approve your work permit. They have been struggling with an increasing backlog and there are unfortunate (and infuriating) cases in which Croatian employers in the tourism, catering and hospitality sectors are waiting for weeks for their employees’ work permits to be processed, leaving them short of staff in the height of the summer season purely due to complicated red tape. 

Because of this, if you’re a non-EEA citizen and you want to work in Croatia’s tourism, catering or hospitality sector, you must begin your job hunt months before summer arrives to make sure (as best you can), that your paperwork is all done and dusted and you can begin work and legally receive a wage before the tourist season hits.

You’re much more likely to find work in less formal ways than through the CES. I’m not saying that it doesn’t help, but most people simply don’t fall into jobs through that service, particularly if they’re foreign, and every other way I’ve listed is more popular and usually yields more fruit.

For more on our How to Croatia series which is published each week, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Dalić and Kovačić ahead of Belgium: "A Tough Match Awaits, but We are Ready"

November 30, 2022 - The national teams of Belgium and Croatia held press conferences the day before their final 2022 World Cup Group F match in Qatar. 

Croatia and Belgium meet on Thursday, December 1, at 18:00 local time at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. Both national teams held press conferences with the coach and one player, with Belgium taking the floor first. 

Player Timothy Castagne answered questions first.

How did you feel after Monday's meeting, and will it change something on the pitch?

"It wasn't a crisis meeting, as you might have heard. There were no insults. We used it as a way to improve and be better."

Is Belgium in war mode?

"We are trying to show more solidarity with each other. We are trying to be more focused. We know there is a lot of pressure. We are trying to rediscover the values we had before and enjoy ourselves; that's when we play better. It's important for us, for Croatia, and the country. We need to play more aggressively. We need to show more control."

Why will Belgium beat Croatia?

"I am convinced that we will win. I know the quality of our team. I know what we are capable of. We don't need to prove anything to anyone. We will win it for us and our country. 

We have been united, but not enough. You need to be united if you want to go far in a World Cup tournament. You need to fight for your teammates. The meeting was helpful in that respect. We expect a lot from each other. I don't think our confidence is as low as people think. We are not in crisis mode like the press has said. We have been worse. If we want to be a big team and go far, we must show that even under pressure, we can deliver. It's a big game; if we win, we go through. 

We let the criticism affect us. Maybe we heard people saying we were a golden generation and started doubting ourselves. We lost some of the confidence we had. We know that we believe in ourselves."

What do you think about the Croatia team?

"It's tough to say there is a favorite. We know Croatia is very good and went to the final last time. We also know we have beaten them. We have the quality to win. It'll depend on how badly Croatia or Belgium wants it."

Does finishing 3rd in 2018 put a lot of pressure on the Belgium players?

"Yes. We know that is the standard you set yourselves. We need to not think about what might happen if we lose, but what will happen if we win."

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez Montoliu answered the questions next:

"We were not happy with our performances. Losing 2-0 was a shock; we were unhappy with it. I think we have listened too much to the noise. The less you listen to the noise, the better."

What does he think about Dalić?

"Dalić is a thinker, a gentleman, and we share many values. He joined in a chaotic moment. You can see a clear direction from him. He has only gotten better. I cannot speak highly enough of the job he has done.

I was impressed with Croatia against France in Nations League. The quality of this team is excellent. They have togetherness; they are brave. Lovren coming back brings added value. I would highlight this team's competitive dynamics, not just the midfield."

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić and Mateo Kovačić followed:

"It's a deciding game for our group. One of the best teams in the world. We await a tough match. We saw a slightly weaker Belgium in the last two games. We are ready. We are not going for a point or to play for a draw. We need to play how we did against Canada. It will be a very tough game," said Dalić. 

"Belgium is a top team. We will show our true face as we did against Canada," said Kovačić. 

"Belgium was first on the FIFA list for a long time. The coach is amazing, and the team is amazing. We have our quality, and they have theirs. We know how challenging this game will be. We await the toughest Belgium tomorrow. We are ready for that," added Dalić. 

"We all came here to have the best World Cup. We know what we are capable of. There isn't fear. We will do what we did against Canada," added Kovačić. 

"I've known Lukaku for a long time. He is a phenomenal player. We have been training for this match and how to be ready for them. De Bruyne has played in the Premier League forever. We need to be careful with him. We must focus on ourselves, though; that is most important."

How is the atmosphere in the Croatia team?

"I am not taking into consideration anything about the meeting Belgium had. I am only thinking about them as the 2nd national team in the world. Nothing can change overnight. They are an incredible national team. They are #2, and we are #12. Our atmosphere is excellent, calm, no drama," said Dalić. 

"We played great against Canada. When we play together like that, we can beat anyone. We are going to show tomorrow that we can replicate that against Belgium. We need to show the same face we showed against Canada," said Kovačić. 

"This game is even more important than the last two. The team will give the most of themselves. It will be a much different game than against Morocco and Canada. It will be much harder. No disrespect, but Belgium is a class above," said Dalić. 

What's the plan for Lukaku?

"We have prepared the team as if Lukaku is playing. He will get the ball, guard the ball, and find Hazard. He is a big player. He hasn't played many games lately, but it doesn't matter for that type of player," said Dalić. 

"The atmosphere in their team doesn't worry us. We are only analyzing their game; that's all that matters," concluded Kovačić.  

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Croatian Weather Service Finally Has Full Radar Coverage

November 29, 2022 - The Croatian national weather service (DHMZ) reported today that the latest in the series of radar devices was installed and fully operational on the Pelješac peninsula, which makes the entire national area covered with such devices.

With the completion of the test operation of the radar device at the MRC Uljenje location on the Pelješac peninsula, radar data for the south of Croatia is available to the public, the DHMZ reported. It is the third, final modern meteorological radar on the Croatian part of the Adriatic. Its antenna and the dome were installed on October 19, 2022, after which the final equipment installations and test operation of the radar device began.

As of today, the C-band Doppler meteorological radar on the top of Uljenje on Pelješac started working, and thus for the first time in history the entire territory of Croatia, including the Croatian coast, sea and islands, is covered by radar measurements. A better understanding of the state of the atmosphere in southern Dalmatia is a long-standing wish of Croatian meteorologists, which was finally realized with the start of the operation of this radar device.

All users of DHMZ services can access radar measurements via their mobile devices or computers and thus not only better plan their daily activities, but also assess how far some dangerous weather system is from them and make a timely decision about their safety. Currently, 5 radar devices are in operation at the locations of MRC Gradište, MRC Bilogora, MRC Goli, MRC Debeljak and MRC Uljenje (or check out the composite image created by them all). By the time the entire project is finished, the radar at the location of MRC Puntijarka (on Sljeme, near Zagreb) will also be in operation.

The DHMZ shared the on their social networks, including the photos of the radar itself and the first composite image from the radars. See if you can see something else recently opened in Croatia in the photo of the radar dome!

The measurements from 5 meteorological oceanographic buoys anchored this summer along the Adriatic Sea and two altitude stations in Slavonia and Istria, and after the installation of sensors at more than 400 locations of ground stations, create a modern meteorological observation system. The project to modernize the meteorological monitoring network in the Republic of Croatia - METMONIC, implemented by DHMZ, will further improve the early warning system for extreme weather and hydrological phenomena and climatic conditions. With this, the Croatian weather service will provide additional support to the development of the economy, tourism, fishing and boating, as well as adaptation to climate change. The total estimated cost of the METMONIC project is HRK 343,914,506.50, of which 85% or HRK 292,327,330.52 is financed from EU funds through the Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion, while 15% of the national component in the amount of HRK 51,587,175.98 is co-financed The Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Croatia Airlines Signs Contract with Airbus, Purchases A220 Planes

November 29, 2022 - Croatia Airlines and Airbus have signed a contract for the purchase of the most modern Airbus A220 aircrafts, a step towards Croatia Airlines replacement of all their aircraft with a new unified fleet by 2026 and a complete switch to jet propulsion.

The Croatian national airline announced the signing of the contract today, reminding the public that the replacement of the fleet represents a long-term process of transition, and that there will be a period of adaptation of all business processes to the new aircraft. This, they say, will further optimize the operations of the national airline, ensure better occupancy of the passenger cabin, and better utilization of the crew, while Croatia Airlines will become an even more environmentally friendly airline and will significantly reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

In addition, significantly higher quality and more pleasant flights will be provided to passengers, but also far more economical and sustainable business, according to the press release, which does not include financial details of the contract. The President of the Management Board of Croatia Airlines, Jasmin Bajić, stated that considering the demands of passengers, trends in the highly competitive Croatian and global aviation market, fuel prices and CO2 emissions, as well as the goals of the EU's green policies and the no less important fact of the ageing of the existing fleet, the decision on fleet replacement of Croatia Airlines is imperative and fully compliant with the adopted post-covid strategy. "I am happy that we are entering a new business development cycle with a partner we know well and who, based on long-term cooperation, really offered us conditions that we are currently able to accept," Bajić said.

Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International Business of Airbus Christian Scherer stated that he is glad that Croatia Airlines is the new customer of the A220 aircraft. "The A220 is ideal for Croatian aviation needs due to its operational flexibility and efficiency, which will help the company achieve its ambitions of regional and international connectivity and the provision of superior services in any aspect, whether it is passenger comfort or travel economy and flight occupancy," he said.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

FIFA Disciplinary Case Opened against Croatia for Fan Taunts at Canada Goalkeeper

November 29, 2022 - The FIFA Disciplinary Commission opened a case against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) due to the fan behavior at the 2022 World Cup match between Croatia and Canada on Sunday, November 27. 

"HNS was reported due to the discriminatory and xenophobic behavior of some Croatia fans at the match against Canada, as well as for the banners with the same content," released HNS on Tuesday. 

A group of Croatia fans insulted Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian roots and who previously made statements about the Homeland War.

When Croatia won 4-1, an offensive poster appeared in the stands, accompanied by offensive shouts. 

"Borjan, Ustašo" was among the chants, though special attention was drawn to a John Deere banner. In addition to "Knin 95" written on it, the company's slogan was changed from "Nothing runs like Deere" to "Nothing runs like Borjan". John Deere is the most famous brand of tractors in the world. This means of transport is a symbol of the mass flight of Serbs during Operation Storm, which liberated Croatia from the occupied territories in 1995. Around 200,000 Serbs left the so-called "Republic of Serbian Krajina" in August of that year, including the then 7-year-old Borjan, reports Index.hr.

Borjan reacted by showing the fans a three-finger sign or Serbian national salute. After the game, Borjan said he received several messages from 'primitive' Croatia fans after his phone number was leaked before the game.

"Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated due to the behavior of some of our fans. I cannot comment on individual proceedings, but HNS always condemns discrimination and racism. We have six days to respond, and the Federation will most likely make a statement, and then we will see what happens next," said HNS spokesman Tomislav Pacak.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Advents in Slavonia Bringing Enchanting Atmosphere and Exciting Events

November 29, 2022 - The fairy lights are on, and the smell of mulled wine, sauerkraut, and gingerbread fills the air wherever you go. The famous Advent in Zagreb is already attracting visitors, as are Split, Zadar, Opatija, and many other cities. Make sure you don't miss out on the fun in the east, though! Visit some of the Advents in Slavonia, and we promise you'll want to stay and live in the winter wonderland in the east.

Adventiranje Osijek

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Advent Osijek official website

The long-awaited Adventiranje in Osijek is officially kicking off on the 2nd of December at the beloved Tvrđa location (Osijek historic old town). Events in Tvrđa are always special with the 17th and 18th-centuryth century charm of the old town's streets. Pair that with Christmas decorations and a giant Ferris Wheel, and you've got yourself a perfect little evening of touring the stalls, tasting the sweets, and enjoying the lights and the music. The Advent stalls will be open from 4 pm until 10 pm on working days, while on Fridays and Saturdays, they will remain open until midnight. They will be open from 10 am until 5 pm on Christmas Eve. The Advent programme includes concerts, cooking and wine workshops, seminars, lectures hosted by Osijek's Slavonia and Archaeological museums, and workshops and events for the little ones.

Advent iz Davnina Slavonski Brod

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Slavonski Brod official website

The fairytale Advent, inspired by the most famous author of Slavonski Brod, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, will this year, too, shine its light and open its pages to all for a magical experience. Voted #4 in Croatia for the year 2021, Slavonski Brod has again prepared an ambitious programme consisting of concerts, theatre, culinary events, and gatherings, ensuring that every Advent weekend is full of fun. The programme started on the 26th of November when the first candle was lit and will continue all the way to the 30th of December.

Advent in Vukovar

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Vukovar Tourist Board

An Advent Full of Magic is this year's slogan for Vukovar. It kicked off on Sunday, the 27th of November when the first candle was lit, and the ice rink was opened. It will go on until the 23rd of December, featuring a variety of music concerts, workshops and events, exhibitions, theatre plays, and a Christmas market. The market will be there on the weekend from the 16th until the 18th of December from 5-7 pm, while on the 23rd, it will be open from 9 am to 12 pm. The ice rink will be open every day from 9 am until 9 pm, while on Fridays and Saturdays, it will remain open until 10 pm. The location of most of the events is the backyard of the Eltz Manor (Vukovar Municipal Museum), and some will take place in the city library.

Advent in Vinkovci

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Advent u Vinkovcima Fb Page

The oldest city in Europe also brings an advent full of fun for its residents and visitors alike. Moving from the Korzo promenade, this year's circular ice rink will find itself next to the river Bosut for magnificent views and a truly magical winter atmosphere. It will open on the 9th of December. The Advent Film Tuesdays kick off today, on the 29th of November, at 7 pm at the Joza Ivakić city theatre. The list of films includes The Stolen Princess, Paddington 2, Free Guy, and Arthur Christmas. The entrance is free. Those looking to buy Christmas ornaments or local products or donate to charities can do so every Saturday from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Christmas market in the city centre, where the candles will be lit, followed by concerts. On the 16th of December, the event of the season will take place - the Christmas treasure hunt race. The route is just shy of 2 kilometres and includes challenges, riddles, and tastings of local delicacies. Teams of up to three players can apply. It starts at 6 pm at Franjo Tuđman Square.

Advent in Požega

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Požega Tourist Board

Sparkly and bright is the slogan of Požega's advent this year. Having unofficially started on the 26th of November when the first candle was lit, the official opening will take place on the 3rd of December with a theatre play, the opening of the ice rink, and a music and dance show. The rich programme will continue until the 31st of December, with the New Year's Party being the final event. This season's events will include movie nights, storytime, concerts, workshops, and many charity events. The city will come together to create a winter wonderland, including its museums, theatres, and schools. The Christmas market will have its stalls set up from the 22-24 of December in the morning hours. And we especially like that there will be a Fitness recovery workshop on the 26th of December.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

 

 

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

ETF Airways is First Croatian Company With Permission to Fly to USA

November the 29th, 2022 - The Croatian company ETF Airways, which was born during the pandemic, has become the first company registered in Croatia to be able to fly to the United States of America.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, following on from an excellent second summer flight season since its establishment, the Croatian charter carrier ETF Airways has become the very first Croatian airline to receive approval from the US Department of Transportation for flights to the USA, which will initially also open up the Caribbean market for them.

For next year, this company's main plan is additional growth, with an increase in the fleet from three to five Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which will depend on the dynamics of signing contracts for the next summer season, but things are looking very certain, Stjepan Bedic, the CEO of ETF Airways, revealed.

ETF Airways has transported 300 thousand passengers

As is already quite well known, ETF Airways was founded back during the global coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of last year by Croatian investors and bankers, investor Ratko Bajakic, economic analyst Velimir Sonje and banker Zdenko Adrovic, who is involved in the project through his own company - Korta. Among the founders are pilots Dragan Stefanovski and Marko Bankovic, a team of enthusiasts who have already collaborated with Bedic on several startup projects in the wider region, and spent a good part of their careers working for different foreign companies.

ETF Airways took to the skies last June and they aren't a liner company, they instead specialise in flights based on ACMI - aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance contracts, and this year they mostly flew on the Paris - Greece route, Bedic stated, adding that 2022's summer season was excellent - this company which has about 60 employees will end the year with a profit, but they aren't ready to reveal any of the more detailed figures yet. The potential for growth is significant, and it would be much greater if Croatia made it easier for staff to be employed, explained Bedic.

"In one single year, we flew between 5,500 and 6,000 hours at 150 airports, and transported around 300,000 passengers to different destinations. With two planes in Paris and one in Pristina, we also flew to destinations such as Svalbard, Greenland, and Reunion in the Indian Ocean. We operate on the EU's very competitive market, where there are hundreds of such companies, but there is also a lot of demand. Therefore, growth is planned, but currently the biggest challenge for us is the employment of pilots, because Croatia has a significantly higher cost of labour than some other EU menber states, with a much higher tax burden. Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ireland and other countries are therefore much more competitive than Croatia, which, with a different tax treatment for pilots, similar to seafarers, could have a much more developed aviation industry, i.e. more companies like us," explained Bedic, who believes that and the payment of benefited seniority is outdated and redundant.

Conquering the Caribbean market

ETF Airways is currently hiring cabin crew, and then it will look for more pilots, which will be additionally challenging because strong companies such as Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways are also in the process of hiring, and their impressive salaries cannot be compared to those offered by smaller companies such as ETF Airways. Although there are 60 employees employed directly by the company, that figure rises to 150 if external service providers in the entire ecosystem are added into the mix.

ETF Airways is entering the demanding American market through a joint venture company with a local French company, and their license to provide services across the pond in the USA will enable them to position themselves in the market of local flights to the Caribbean, as well as to popular American destinations such as Miami. There is a demand for their services there, and depending on the number of contracts signed during the winter for the next summer season, the acquisition of two new aircraft may also come to be. Namely, as Bedic pointed out, the situation on the market is still unstable in terms of last minute flight reservations, and ETF doesn't fly without signed contracts and deposits.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Croatian Startup qSoft Involved With Platform Which Uncovers Corruption

November the 29th, 2022 - The Croatian startup qSoft has worked alongside multiple other agencies and bodies and created a platform which works to uncover corruption, stating that the situation is far worse than we think.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, in cooperation with ICCrA - the Institute for Compliance, Criminal Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering, the WRAP (Whistleblower Reporting App) application was launched to achieve greater efficiency in the organisation of business, which serves both to detect and correct anomalies from the corruption zone, but also to improvement of work processes, regardless of the size of entities, type of ownership and industries.

How important WRAP now is for the overall Croatian economy and the domino effect in which whistleblowers massively report abuse and corruption was explained by ICCrA president Davor Iljkic, who is also the director of the Fraud Prevention Service at the Fund for the Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb, with previous experience of sixteen years with the Ministry of Interior (MUP) working on the detection of economic crime.

"Corruption is a vicious circle, and the situation is much worse than you think," claims Iljkic. This is confirmed by the results of the research of the International Association of Certified Fraud Investigators (ACFE) on the forms and types of fraud from 2014 and 2021, which show that the dominant forms are corruption and embezzlement of funds and fraud with financial statements, with the fact that 8 years ago 40% of detected cases were on the basis of a tip (TIP irregularity report), and in 2021, it stood at 42 percent.

"We need to strengthen the prevention and detection system, and WRAP can help with that," Iljkic believes.

The Croatian legislator also recognised that the system for the protection of whistleblowers needs to be strengthened. The new law on whistleblowers introduces the possibility that a professional, i.e. a third person from outside the organisation, can be appointed as a confidential person when establishing a channel for whistleblowers. Iljkic recommends this very solution in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest within an organisation itself in relation to the management body.

As far as WRAP is concerned, the application platform was born as an idea that integrates the aforementioned law, the EU ​​Directive 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of individuals reporting violations of EU law, and new obligations in the field of non-financial reporting (ESG) - environmental, social and personnel issues, as well as issues related to respect for human rights and the fight against corruption and bribery.

At that meeting, the Croatian startup qSoft, with headquarters in Zagreb and partner offices in Canada and Switzerland, decided to use these laws to help organisations become more efficient. Instead of just formally fulfilling obligations, a platform was created that contributes in various ways, including a modern version of business intelligence, to organisations with the aim of creating databases from which software analytics generate valuable information, on the basis of which business management can react in time.

"Organisations rely on a real wealth of data that they don't actually process themselves, and as it's dead capital for them, we see this as our greatest advantage. In its application, the platform hasn't been limited by industry, nor by the size of the entity in question," says Drazen Mrkonjic, the director of the Croatian startup qSoft. They started, he explains, from a process to which technology is adapted, and each entity can then use the solution within its own processes.

"It's important to obtain an effect in terms of meeting legal obligations, for which the information reported is needed. It's motivating for the employee that they can report irregularities without needing to suffer any consequences as a result, with guaranteed anonymity,'' states Mrkonjic.

Similar software services are being developed in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, meaning that this country and the Croatian startup qSoft is once again among the first EU member states in terms of the application being offered. The coronavirus crisis, the war in Ukraine and now inflationary pressures also pushed things along a bit, but so did Croatia's entry into the OECD.

"To provide an additional benefit for any company, we've also built risk management into the application, which allows each application to be evaluated from the aspect of how it affects the business itself,'' says Mrkonjic, who has specialised in this field through 24 long years of work experience in process management.

For Croatia's impending membership of the OECD and the recommendations of the organisation for the improvement of corporate governance bodies in the state sector, WRAP is, he says, just what the proverbial doctor ordered because the state is the first to be invited to tackle this. The state must show - by example - how such laws are applied in the state sector, not only technologically, but also procedurally.

Even the results published by the US Government across the pond easily prove that it is possible to achieve great results with the use of such advanced solutions. Just a decade ago, through the motivation of people to report irregularities to state authorities, they saved about 35 billion dollars by preventing corruption in the USA. What are known as neural networks are what gives the Croatian startup qSoft and its platform the edge.

"A neural network is a combination of a large number of methods used for connecting data and inferring what kind of data that is in order to obtain information and be able to manage it properly. The management of each organisation can then get better acquainted with which segments of the organisation has anomalies occur that must be reacted to and corrected. With the help of a neural network, numerous scams would be detected and prevented,'' explains Mrkonjic.

The system, he adds, is intended for administrations that run operational businesses. It was created as a combination of analytics and reports, a type of modern BI that, as a platform, receives data from various sources, while this is a platform that integrates within the system and creates data because employees feel safe and their reports create data that is categorised into information. The Kaizen methodology designed in Japan to manage efficiency within organisations in order to achieve continuous success was used, and it involves all employees so that every day, regardless of where they might be, they think about how they can improve their work and workplace. Through this platform, employees are motivated to report everything to the central system in an easy way.

"Through these reports, you get information about how your organisation functions. With this technology, we want to motivate people to say something and to create a pool of data, which will ultimately give a picture of how the organisation functions,'' says Mrkonjic.

For those organisations that want to connect with other data sources, the Croatian startup qSoft's platform also provides such opportunities. For example, at the moment of detection of an irregularity for a certain account, data can be pulled from Fina for that particular company and the owner, and the situation can be looked into. The platform also connects to other sources, and the more sources there are, the clearer and faster the picture of where problems arise can be obtained, and this includes the Register of Real Owners and the Tax Administration. It is an ideal tool for domestic anti-corruption organisations like DORH, which has access to all data, but it can be more effective through data processing in the detection of white-collar crime.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Did You Know About the 300 Kilometre-Long Slavonia Hiking Trail?

November 28, 2022 - The Slavonia hiking trail is an interesting story that started on July 27, 1957. The trail is the oldest and longest hiking trail in Croatia.

As written by the Turističke Priče portal, the trail is 300 kilometers long, and you can hike it in one piece or separately through a total of 5 sections. For the whole trip in one piece, even a well-prepared hiker must account for nine days or 85 hours of walking, and not many can boast of having crossed it.

This interesting route has a circular shape with 31 mandatory and four optional checkpoints, and includes Papuk, Psunj, Krndija, Požeška, and Dilj gora.

The 300-kilometer trail through the Slavonian mountains is divided into five sections

"Psunj": mountain lodge Petrov vrh - mountain lodge Strmac
"Požeška gora": mountain lodge Strmac – Komorica
"Dilj gora": Komorica - mountain lodge Borovik
"Krndija": mountain lodge Borovik - mountain lodge Jankovac
"Papuk": mountain lodge Jankovac - mountain lodge Petrov vrh

Stamps as proof of visit to the Slavonia trail

To acquire the Badge of the Slavonia Trail, hikers have to go through all the mandatory control points, where they will find stamps that they can use as proof of having passed through each of them. In case a stamp cannot be found, a photo of the hiker at the checkpoint will be needed. It is recommended to visit the checkpoints in 5 two-day trips. The stamps are located in the corresponding boxes at the checkpoints or in the hiking facilities that the trail passes by.

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Photo: Dorian Dražić-Karalić

The Slavonia hiking trail can be visited in unlimited time and in any chosen direction. The hike is done at own risk with compliance with the rules of safe hiking and staying in the mountains, recommended by the Croatian Mountaineering Society.

To date, more than 150 hiking trails have been opened in Croatia, which vary in difficulty and duration. Usually, they allow hikers to get to know the most valuable hiking checkpoints on a mountain or in the region by taking the most accessible or attractive routes. Numerous hiking trails allow a choice of interesting hiking checkpoints according to a condition or criterion determined by the trail organiser.

On the official website of the Croatian Mountaineering Association, you can find information on all hiking trails opened in Croatia so far, regardless of their status. Detailed information on registered hiking trails is available in the Mountaineering Trails Register, which is managed by the HPS Mountaineering Trails Commission, according to the Croatian Mountaineering Association.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Hvar in Travel + Leisure Best Places to Travel in 2023

November 28, 2022 - Another day, another Hvar reccommendation, this time as Travel + Leisure's only Croatian entry in its top 50 places to visit in 2023.

Another week, another list, another mention of Hvar.  

Croatia's premier is rarely out of the media when it comes to the best places to be - it is famously known as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. So it is little surprise that the recently-released Travel + Leisure 50 Best Places to Go in 2023 included the island of Hvar. 

Also encouraging is that this year's inclusion did not include the usual cliched sentences, but paid tribute to the new and renovated hotels on the island, including the island's first sustainable hotel, traditions such as the lavender festival, and the new attraction in Jelsa - stargazing. Here is what they had to say about the only Croatian inclusion in this year's list: 

Those seeking a brighter 2023 will find it on Hvar: This Dalmatian Coast island calls itself the sunniest in Croatia. That means plenty of time for cycling more than 100 miles of bikeable terrain or kayak trips to secluded beaches. At night, those clear skies make for incredible stargazing: Jesla, on the island’s north shore, was named the first International Dark Sky Community in Southern Europe in 2022; and Moeesy, the island’s newest luxury hotel, has one room with an over-the-bed skylight for bedtime viewing. The town of Velo Grablje’s 14th-century charm peaks in July, when the lavender festival blooms with food, drink, and family-friendly activities all centered around the fragrant Mediterranean plant. And in Hvar proper, the harborside Riva Marina hotel reopened in June 2022 with refreshed waterfront terrace suites and a new restaurant and bar concept focused on local ingredients. Just down the block is the island’s first sustainable hotel, Beach Bay, which opened this past summer 2022 with an off-grid solar power system and a commitment to honor UNESCO’s Sustainable Travel Pledge.

To see the full Travel + Leisure list fo 2023, click here

How well do you know the island of Hvar? After living on the island for 13 years and having written more than 9,000 articles about Croatia's premier island, here are 10 things that blew my mind about my new home. And there isn't a beach or mention of nightlife anywhere...

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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