Friday, 17 June 2022

Croatia and Turkey Continue Strengthening Political, Economic Relations

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - PM Andrej Plenković and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed on Friday that the two countries share the view about the importance of the full equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples and of closer relations between Croats and Bosniaks in the country's Federation entity. 

The Croatian prime minister and the visiting Turkish minister discussed security-related topics, energy challenges and the economic cooperation between Croatia and Turkey, as well as the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Croatia and Turkey share the view about the importance of the full equality of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as of the need to strengthen relations between Croats and Bosniaks in the Federation entity. In that context, the existing trilateral format, at the level of the foreign ministers of Croatia, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be used as an important diplomatic tool to deepen the Croat-Bosniak dialogue in BiH and help settle outstanding issues," the government said in a statement.

The two officials expressed satisfaction with the traditionally good political relations between Croatia and Turkey, as well as their ambition to further increase trade, which now amounts to one billion US dollars.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Minister: We are Monitoring Situation with Fuel Prices, Considering All Options

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - Economy Minister Davor Filipović said on Friday that the government was monitoring the situation regarding fuel prices and that calculations would be made over the weekend and all options would be considered.

"Fuel prices on the global market cannot be influenced by anyone, not even Croatia. Last week and this week fuel prices went up. We will wait today to see when trading closes. We will make some calculations over the weekend and then make decisions at the beginning of next week," Filipović told reporters when asked if the government is ready to react again to address the fuel price hike.

He recalled that last week the government decided on an additional reduction of excise duties by HRK 0.40 for petrol and HRK 0.20 for diesel fuel. The decision also reduced the trade margin by HRK 0.10 and limited the formation of prices to every two weeks.

"All of this has resulted in us having significantly lower prices in the past two weeks than we would have had if we had not reacted two weeks ago," said Filipović.

Asked by reporters if a new reduction in excise duties could be expected, he said all options would be considered.

"We will see over the weekend, we will consider absolutely all the options. As for excise duties, there is room when referring primarily to petrol and that reduction can be another HRK 0.36 and HRK 0.16 for diesel to reach the minimum level according to European directives. We are living in uncertain times. All options are open. We are constantly monitoring the situation and when we see what the situation will be like we will make some decisions," he said.

When asked why the price of fuel in Croatia is higher than in countries in the region, he said he would not agree. "When you look at Eurostat's figures, we are somewhere in the middle in comparison to EU member states," he said.

The last time the government reacted to the fuel price hike was on 6 June, when it further cut excise duties on petroleum products - an additional HRK 0.40 per litre for petrol, or a total of HRK 0.80, and for diesel fuel by an additional HRK 0.20 or a total HRK 0.40 all up. The government then reduced the margin to distributors by an additional HRK 0.10 - for petrol and diesel fuel from the current HRK 0.75 to HRK 0.65 and from HRK 0.50 to HRK 0.40 for blue-dyed diesel.

A government decision ten days ago introduced a 14-day accounting period and since then the price of fuel is changed every two weeks, and not every week as it was until then.

Friday, 17 June 2022

SDP Leader: Government is Not Fighting Inflation Systematically

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin warned on Friday that inflation in Croatia had reached a record high of 11% and that the government was not using measures at its disposal to fight inflation systematically.

"Inflation affects all people, but not equally. It affects people with the lowest incomes the most. That's why the bulk of our measures is aimed at the poorest people," Grbin said while presenting his party's package of anti-inflation measures at a press conference in the northern Adriatic city of Pula.

The SDP is proposing a change to the pension indexation method, ensuring funds for a new energy allowance for the most vulnerable groups, notably workers and pensioners with a monthly income of less than HRK 4,000 (€533), modifications to the method of calculating oil prices, and an aid package for businesses suffering the consequences of the Ukraine war.

Grbin expressed hope that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, who attends EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council meetings, would take that opportunity and put two initiatives on the table - one relating to the amount of excise tax on fuel and the other concerning the calculation of VAT on excise tax on fuel.

"Give that a huge increase in fuel prices has been announced for next week, obviously we need to take action already today," Grbin said.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Marić: This Year Could Surpass the Record 2019 Tourist Season

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - The value of fiscalised receipts in tourism in the first five and a half months of 2022 is significantly higher than in the same period in 2019 and Croatia could have a record tourist season this year, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Friday.

"The value of fiscalised receipts in the tourism industry in the first five and a half months of this year is 22% higher than in the record tourist year 2019," Marić said in Luxembourg, where he attended a meeting of EU finance ministers.

He, however, suggested caution with predictions, considering that the peak season is yet to come, because the first months of the year may not be the best indicators. These results are very good though as data on booking is also showing.

"Despite all the challenges, the war in Ukraine, inflationary pressures, I think we have every right to expect a good tourist season. We hope there will be no negative shocks, and this year might surpass 2019," said Marić. 

He added that the government is considering how to further help the tourism sector, especially in the key challenge of labour shortages.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Ecofin Approves Recommendation on Croatia's Readiness for Euro Introduction

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - EU finance ministers on Friday approved a recommendation on Croatia's readiness to join the euro area, another procedural step towards a final decision on 12 July.

The finance ministers, who met in Luxembourg, also confirmed a letter that the Ecofin chair, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, will forward to European Council President Charles Michel ahead of a discussion at an EU summit, when member states' leaders are expected to support the recommendation.

"This is a great day for Croatia, the last step towards a formal decision on accession to the euro area on 1 January 2023," Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said after the meeting.

Ecofin chairman Bruno Le Maire also said this was great news.

This is great news, recognition for the significant efforts Croatia has made, Le Maire said.

He added that he is especially attached to Croatia because he started his diplomatic career there about 30 years ago.

I am happy that Croatia will be joining the euro area. I believe that this proves that the European Union is continuing to strengthen and integrate and that in today's turbulent circumstances, this is the best news we can have, Le Maire said.

Answering reporters' questions, Marić said that the current inflation has nothing to do with joining the euro area.

He said that in all the countries that introduced the euro there was rounding off of prices in the first year, especially in service industries, hairdressing salons and cafes. As these are everyday things, it creates the impression of rising prices, but calculations show that inflation was between 0.2 and 0.4 percent in all the countries that introduced the euro, "which is not much, but also not negligible."

"Despite everything, we have to do everything to prevent euro introduction from being used to put additional pressure on inflation," Marić said.

He stressed the need to ensure respect for the principles of consumer protection, provide all relevant information and secure transparency.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Turkish President to Visit Zagreb Soon, Says Cavusoglu

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Zagreb on Friday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit Croatia soon, adding that he hoped for a positive outcome of talks on the election law reform between Croat and Bosniak political officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cavusoglu and Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman arrived in Zagreb together aboard the Turkish minister's plane from Ohrid, North Macedonia, where they had attended the Prespa Forum.

Speaking at a news conference at the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry, whose post-earthquake reconstruction would be taken over by a Turkish company, Cavusoglu said he and Grlić Radman used their joint journey for talks. 

The two ministers exchanged expressions of gratitude for the help Croatia provided Turkey during the 2021 wildfires and the help Turkey gave Croatia after the disastrous earthquakes in 2020.

Grlić Radman said that there were no outstanding issues between the two countries and Cavusoglu said their relations were based on "great friendship."

The Turkish official announced that Turkish President Erdogan would visit Zagreb soon, but he did not reveal any details.

A large part of the two ministers' talks was about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Cavusoglu will travel later today after he meets with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, but the news conference heard only general messages.

Ankara's official position has been clear and unchanged for a long time, we fully support the stability, peace and economic integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Turkish minister, who met in Istanbul recently with the Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, after which he met with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade, and with Croatian President Zoran Milanović in Ohrid.

We always keep our distance as regards all political sides in BiH. We treat everyone equally, we are not biased, said Cavusoglu, who is to meet in BiH with the international community's High Representative, Christian Schmidt, and BiH Presidency members Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić. He is also expected to visit the grave of former BiH President Alija Izetbegović.

The Turkish minister announced the strengthening of dialogue that is part of a mechanism of trilateral consultations between Zagreb, Sarajevo and Ankara, also to be discussed in BiH.

We see that that there have been talks between Bosniaks and Croats in BiH lately, we will definitely support them and we hope for a positive outcome, he stressed.

Addressing the news conference, Grlić Radman spoke about the "historic role of the two charismatic presidents" - Suleyman Demirel of Turkey and Franjo Tuđman of Croatia - for regional stability.

Grlić Radman thanked his Turkish counterpart for support to Croatia's accession to the OECD and Cavusoglu thanked Croatia for its support to Turkey's EU membership bid.

Cavusoglu said that trade between the two countries, which has seen a significant increase, could amount to one billion US dollars this year, and as much as US$ 5 billion over a five-year period.

Turkish companies are in charge of numerous projects in Croatia, in construction, energy and tourism and the two countries are also discussing cooperation in the military industry, Cavusoglu said.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Finance Minister Says Euro Area has Benefits from Croatia's Entry

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - Not only Croatia but also the euro area will have benefits form our country's entry into that zone, Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Friday in Luxembourg where he arrived to attend a meeting of the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin).

Economy and finance ministers are expected to complete several steps in the procedure to allow Croatia to join the euro area: they will discuss Croatia's convergence report and they will adopt the recommendation by the euro area member states to the Council on the adoption of the euro by Croatia on 1 January 2023.," according to the information on the Ecofin's web site.

They will also endorse a letter from the Council Presidency to the European Council on the issue of euro area enlargement.

The letter will be discussed by the European Union's summit meeting, set for 23 and 24 June.

The draft letter notes that it is important that, after entering the euro area, Croatia should continue to meet the obligations undertaken two years ago when entering the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II).

Croatia is invited to implement further structural reforms and investments under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and pursue a sound fiscal policy.

Minister Marić said today that the implementation of the reforms must go on, and it is important both for the economy and the whole society.

We believe that not only Croatia but also the euro are itself will have benefits from admitting Croatia, as its enlargement reinforces its international role, and deeper integrations are beneficial to the European Monetary Union and to the European Union, said Marić.

On Thursday, the Eurogroup endorsed the positive convergence assessment of Croatia, agreeing that Croatia has fulfilled all convergence criteria required to join the euro area, proposing that Croatia should introduce the euro on 1 January 2023.

This is the first step in a process by which the EU Council adopts legal acts that will enable Croatia to become a member of the euro area and to benefit from using the euro.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Croatia Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Deaths

ZAGREB, 17 June 2022 - Croatia has registered 68 new coronavirus cases and two COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Friday.

The number of active cases in the country currently stands at 2,061. Among them are 150 people who are being treated in hospital, including seven who are placed on ventilators, while 1,038 persons are self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the country, 1,141,115 people have been registered as having contracted the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, of whom 16,024 have died and 1,123,030 have recovered, including 337 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 4,912,741 people have tested for the novel virus, including 674 in the last 24 hours. 5,256,273 vaccine doses have been administered and 59.54 per cent of the total population, i.e. 70.81 per cent of adults, have been vaccinated.

Friday, 17 June 2022

6th ACAP Conference Kicks Off in New York

June 17, 2022 - The 6th ACAP (Association of Croatian American Professionals) Conference, a three-day event, kicks off today, June 17, at one of the city's most iconic venues - the New York Athletic Club.

The sixth annual ACAP conference (https://www.croampro.com/page/nyc2022) will bring together professionals from all facets of the American, Croatian and international professional community — communication and social media specialists, scientists, artists, healthcare professionals, athletes, engineers, journalists, attorneys, business executives, accountants, and students — for networking, education and socializing. With presentations by two unicorns, one shark, and one 40-time Emmy Award-winning producer, as well as fireside chats and panels with some of the most prominent Croatian business leaders and innovators, this historic event is the largest gathering of the Croatian professional community in the USA.

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The conference hosts 30 events over three days with the first day featuring a keynote and 17 different panels, fireside chats, workshops, and networking events (https://www.croampro.com/page/confagenda). Today’s keynote speaker is Robert Herjavec, a globally recognized motivational, business, and cyber security leader.

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Strategic address will be delivered by Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Croatia. Panel ““Educating the Next Generation of Tech Entrepreneurs” will present Croatian companies that are leading the way in K-12 space as well as college level curriculum. Our panelists from CircuitMess, TinkerLabs and STEMI will discuss about Croatia's carving out the presence in leading educational applications in Europe, and soon, in the USA. Three other discussion panels are: “US Health Tech Companies Tapping into Croatian Talent”, “Building a Sustainable Tourism Ecosystem”, and “The Evolution of Environmental Social Governance in Croatia”.

Participants in Networking4All sessions will have an opportunity to meet experienced Croatian entrepreneurs and start-up companies looking to expand to the American market, American professionals looking to enter the Croatian market, Croatian professionals and company representatives looking to meet investors, students and job seekers looking to meet Croatian and American entrepreneurs and potential employers, and other Croatian professionals from the USA that are looking to expand their network and make positive changes in Croatia and Croatian professional community in the USA.

B2B workshops include Taxation workshop, Education & foundation workshop, Medical Tourism committee workshop, and Croatia and web3 workshop. A topic that has occupied many Croats in the USA is a long-awaited Croatia-U.S. Double Taxation Treaty. Taxation workshop topics will cover both individual and company tax-related topics. For individuals, the two main topics covered are Croatia-U.S. Double Taxation Treaty and tax issues for Croatian citizens living in the USA. For companies, topics of corporate taxation in the USA and Croatia will be covered. Furthermore, the workshop will also look at the EU funding opportunities and other Croatia tax hot topics.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Beyond the Dubrovnik Walls: 4. The Island of Sipan

June 17, 2022 - Continuing the new TCN series, Beyond the Dubrovnik Walls, yet another magnificent reason to explore beyond the historic old town UNESCO World Heritage Site - the island of Sipan. 

So you think Croatia's islands are more or less the same?

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It can be hard for a tourist looking at the map trying to differentiate between all the different islands, to see which one might be the most suitable. But delve a little deeper, and you can find some rather extraordinary things - the oldest public theatre in Europe (Hvar), the oldest cricket club in mainland Europe (Vis), the birthplace of Marco Polo and the first abolition of slavery in 1214 (Korcula), and the birthplace of naturist tourism in Croatia after an abdicating British king went skinny-dipping (Rab). 

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And an island which is in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest density of olive trees per square metre in the world, more than one million trees. That is a lot of natural gourmet goodness, and perhaps one of the clues for one of my favourite images of luxury Croatian tourism - the super yacht meets the simple and delicious way of life.

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Given its proximity to Dubrovnik and the first islands near the Montenegrin border, the Elaphiti islands - and Sipan in particular - have proved to be very popular sailing destinations, particularly among the super-rich, who enjoy a more anonymous visit generally away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. And they are rewarded by some of the best fish on the Adriatic, which Sipan is known for, as well as a number of excellent restaurants focusing on the finest local ingredients. And when you start with the finest fresh fish and abundant quality olive oil, combined with the freshest local produce, it is not hard to see why Sipan's restaurants have become a hit for the luxury tourism market. 

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Not that having lots of money guarantees you a place at dinner. One of my favourite stories during my visit concerned a very well-regarded restaurant in Sipanska Luka, whose simple quality Dalmatian fare is much sought after. The owner is very particular and insists on reservations only. No reservation, no place at the table, even if there is room. The story goes that on one unusually slow evening, a particularly wealthy gave entered the restaurant and tried to sit at one of several empty tables, only to be told that if he did not have a reservation, then he could not sit for dinner.

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"But you are almost empty. Why would you turn away paying customers when you have empty tables, just because we don't have a reservation?"

"When I have reservations, I know exactly how much food I need to prepare, and I do not need any extra stress." Ah, Dalmatia... 

Of course you don't need to be a multi-millionaire to visit the island of Sipan, far from it, and the regular daily ferries to Sudurad, via the other Elaphiti islands of Lopud and Kolocep, will get you there in just over an hour from Dubrovnik if direct, and 10-15 minutes longer if they stop at the other islands. 

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The furthest of the Elaphiti from Dubrovnik, Sipan is also the largest and the grandest, and some of the architecture is simply astonishing. In all, there are some 39 churches on the island, which cater to the present population of about 450, but the most impressive building for me was located right at the heart of the Sudurad bay -  a Renaissance palace dating back to 1563. 

The palace is equally impressive on the inside, with many original features on display - and still functioning, as well as a very well-maintained Mediterranean garden. The property sold a couple of years ago and is not in private ownership, but a private tour is possible to arrange. To get a flavour of what awaits you, Dalmatian Island Heritage: The Stunning Sipan Renaissance Palace in Sudjuradj.

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The impressive Renaissance palace is by no means an exception, and the grand stone buildings dotted around are testament to the island's history as a summer retreat for the aristocracy in summers gone by. with its fertile land, water source, and peaceful setting, Sipan was an ideal escape for the rich and famous. Just as for the aristocracy in the 16th century, so too for the celebrities and superyachts today. 

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And yet, despite Sipan being attractive to the rich, it also has the chilled Dalmatian vibe of another gorgeous island, with pretty waterfront settlements offering the relaxed cafe lifestyle.  

After visiting the two car-free islands of Kolocep and Lopud, it was something of a surprise to find cars on Sipan, as well as a decent paved road. The drive through the heart of the island between the two main settlements of Sudurad and Sipanksa Luka was magical - vineyards, and olive groves, those Guinness Book of Records olive groves. The land looked SO fertile and reminded me very much of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Grad Plain on Hvar, where little has changed with the agricultural process since the arrival of the Ancient Greeks almost 2,500 years ago.  

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Sipanska Luka (which literally translates as Sipan Harbour) also has its own ferry once a day in season (although not with Jadrolinija) and is a much deeper bay than at Sudurad. It is popular for the sailing community for those excellent restaurants and relaxed way of life, and it also has more than its fair share of historic buildings. 

The island of Sipan has been gaining local acclaim as a very serious dining destination, especially when it comes to fresh fish and olive oil. It helps that chartered boats and Three Island Cruises (Elaphiti Island Tour from Dubrovnik) stop for lunch on Sipan. Places like Kod Marka or Tauris have long lists of satisfied customers singing them praises. A recent addition, Bowa, is nothing less than spectacular. It is a restaurant in a secluded bay. It is accessible mainly by boat and it features seating on the wooden pontoons over the water. The owner is an avid big game fisherman and the resulting food is fresh, delicious and above all – local. 

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Hotels on Sipan are Hotel Bozica in Sudurad and Hotel Sipan in Sipanska Luka. Hotel Bozica is a 4-star property, highly rated and situated in a beautiful location in the bay of Sudurad (Read more from my visit in Hotel Bozica on Sipan: An Elaphite Delight in Sudjuradj). Consequently, it overlooks the bay and surrounding islands. It is built in a typical Mediterranean style fitting in nicely with the local houses. At the same time, Hotel Sipan is in the middle of Sipanska Luka bay and is a great choice for those wishing to be centrally located with easy access to great restaurants, bars and beaches. Private accommodation is also available but not in plentiful supply, so you are advised to book early. 

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Sipan is also a great walking, hiking or trekking destination. The island houses 39 old churches as well as 42 medieval residences of varying degrees of upkeep. Apart from examples of old architecture, hiking across Sipan means walking through olive orchards and shrubs of Mediterranean aromatic herbs, a wonderful aromatic experience. The highest peak of Sipan is Velji Vrh at 243 metres above sea level. Hiking up to it is not too strenuous, but you should bring water and sunscreen along. From there you will have a great view over the island and the surrounding archipelago.

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Dubrovnik beyond the walls, a new way to look at the Pearl of the Adriatic. And with so many different options available, tailor your Dubrovnik experience to your specific needs. 

To learn more about the Beyond the Dubrovnik Walls series, follow the dedicated section

 

 

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